Executive Intelligence Review


Defense Secretary Mattis Wants CAATSA Act Waiver, or Sanctions Become ‘Catch-22’

April 27, 2018 (EIRNS)—In testimony yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary James Mattis requested that the State Department grant a national security waiver under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which currently mandates that sanctions be imposed on countries that purchase arms from Russia.

Such a waiver is necessary, Mattis said, because as things now stand,

“Russia is in a position, basically, to checkmate us.... We only need to look at India, Vietnam and some others to recognize that eventually we’re going to paralyze ourselves.”

Without the waiver, it will be harder to convert countries that have historically depended on Moscow’s defense exports to become American allies, Defense One reported.

Other countries that might be subject to sanctions under CAATSA, without a waiver, include India, Indonesia and Turkey. The fact that Turkey has decided the buy Russia’s S-400 air defense system has caused much alarm in Washington, such that last week, Assistant Secretary of State Wes Mitchell told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Turkey’s purchase could lead to sanctions under CAATSA’s section 231, and warned Turkey not to stray from the NATO fold.

One interesting comment in the hearing came from Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), who asked Mattis about a lack of flexibility in Russia sanctions generally. After the Crimea vote to reunite with Russia and events in Ukraine, the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act prohibited bilateral military-to-military cooperation with Russia, “which at the time seemed to make perfect sense,” he said. But, he continued,

“at this moment, when we’re in a very challenging situation in many areas of the world, would it make sense to review those provisions and give you more flexibility in ways in which you could conduct military-to-military dialogue with Russia in certain situations?”