National Security Brief: Romney Says Russia An ‘Adversary,’ Not An ‘Enemy’

— Mitt Romney tried to clarify his statement last March that Russia is America’s “number one geopolitical foe” on CNN yesterday. “I’m talking about most of the United Nations and actions of a geopolitical nature, Russia is the number one adversary in that regard,” he said. “That doesn’t make them an enemy. It doesn’t make them a combatant. They don’t represent the number one national security threat.”

— Obama administration officials say that the threat of defense industry layoffs is overblown and that Republicans are playing up the possibility rather than trying to head it off. The Labor Department said Monday that it would be “inappropriate” for contractors to send out large-scale dismissal notices, because it is unclear whether the federal cuts will occur and how they would be carried out.

— House and Senate lawmakers agreed on a bill yesterday that moves the U.S. closer to imposing more sanctions on Iran. The bill includes measures to curb Iran’s oil business and crackdowns on human rights.

— Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sent a tacit message to Israeli leaders on Monday, urging that diplomacy and economic pressure be given more time to work before they move ahead with any military strike on Iran.

— Turkey has sent more troops and military equipment to the Syrian border to shore up its defense there. Meanwhile, Arab and Muslim men from Libya, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Britain, Belgium and even the U.S. have traveled to Syria to join the Free Syrian Army forces.