03/28/2021 News & Commentary – National Security
News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs. 1. The U.S.
Doesn’t Know How to Treat Its Allies 2. Why the International Order Is Tilting Toward Autocracy 3. In Suez Canal, Stuck Ship Is a Warning About Excessive Globalization
4. Negotiating [Im]plausible Deniability: Strategic Guidelines for U.S. Engagement in Modern Indirect Warfare 5. U.S. wages psychological war on Moscow – Russian defense adviser
6. Re-Budgeting for a Right-Sized International Counterterrorism Posture 7. Pentagon linguist pleads guilty to exposing U.S. intelligence sources to Hezbollah 8. New conspiracy theory claims US Air Force shot down MH370 in a failed bid to intercept it and seize electronic equipment on its way to China
9. America Needs to Rediscover Strategic MacGyverism 10. ‘Things really are very bad’ — Biden navigates cyber attacks without a cyber czar 11. War is Changing.
So Should the Pentagon’s Budget 12. Malign or benign? China-US strategic competition under Biden
13. Prosecutors struggle with consistent story in cases involving Capitol riot 14. Chronicles of an American Diplomat: John Quincy Adams 15. Under Biden, Diplomacy Is an Attractive Career Again
16. Stop asking the US military to fight terrorism and rebuild countries 17. U.S.-China sanctions battle escalating under Biden with focus on Xinjiang abuses 18. US-Taiwan coast guard partner to blunt potential Chinese invasion
1. The U.S. Doesn’t Know How to Treat Its Allies Foreign Affairs . by Alexander Cooley and Daniel H.
Nexon . March 26, 2021 Conclusion: Having allies requires sacrifices grounded in common values; it does not mean that other democratic countries must in every case do what the United States wants.
The Biden administration should compromise on Nord Stream 2, securing concessions that mollify Central Europe and Ukraine, and then let go of this outdated concern. Far from showing that “America is back,” our uncompromising stance impedes the deepening of allied cooperation for our more important problems. 2. Why the International Order Is Tilting Toward Autocracy
Foreign Affairs . by Alexander Cooley and Daniel H. Nexon . March 26, 2021
This is the question I often wonder about: What comes next? What will replace the international rules based order? What will replace liberal democracies? Excerpt: “But if the current liberal international order is in trouble, what kind of illiberal order might emerge in its wake? Does an illiberal order necessarily mean competition for naked power among increasingly nationalist great powers, rampant protectionism, and a world hostile to democratic governance?”
Conclusion: “The good news is that there are few effective pro-corruption norms. Kleptocrats prefer to convince their citizens that everyone is equally corrupt and weaponize anticorruption measures against political opponents. Thus, opposition to corruption remains politically relevant in illiberal powers such as Russia and China, even as these countries increasingly use corruption strategically to buy off and capture elites, bureaucrats, and regulators overseas.
The success of efforts to develop an illiberal order does not mean that liberal powers lack opportunities to shape norms and institutions. No international order is homogeneous. There is nothing unusual about variations in arrangements and values across different regions or policy domains.
Some aspects of contemporary liberal order, however, particularly in the economic domain, require reform lest they continue to undermine the viability of domestic liberal democratic institutions. Indeed, policymakers interested in resisting challenges to liberalism need to prioritize its political dimensions, both at home and in intergovernmental settings. This means defending political liberalism in word and deed.
It also means affirming, rather than undermining, its current normative foundation. Projects, such as former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s attempt to redefine human rights, that require attacking those foundations will only backfire–making the task of authoritarian powers that much easier.”
3. In Suez Canal, Stuck Ship Is a Warning About Excessive Globalization The New York Times . by Peter S. Goodman .
March 26, 2021 I think it will be damn hard to be the globalization genie back in the bottle. Excerpts: “Three-fourths of all container ships traveling from Asia to Europe arrived late in February, according to Sea-Intelligence, a research company in Copenhagen.
Even a few days of disruption in the Suez could exacerbate that situation. If the Suez remains clogged for more than a few days, the stakes would rise drastically. Ships now stuck in the canal will find it difficult to turn around and pursue other routes given the narrowness of the channel.
Those now en route to the Suez may opt to head south and navigate around Africa, adding weeks to their journeys and burning additional fuel — a cost ultimately borne by consumers. Whenever ships again move through the canal, they are likely to arrive at busy ports all at once, forcing many to wait before they can unload — an additional delay. “This could make a really bad crisis even worse,” said Alan Murphy, the founder of Sea-Intelligence.
If the Suez blockade lasts for two weeks, as many as one-fourth of the containers that would normally be in European ports could be stalled. 4. Negotiating [Im]plausible Deniability: Strategic Guidelines for U.S. Engagement in Modern Indirect Warfare
ndupress.ndu.edu . March 19 2021 Another important contribution to the discourse on irregular warfare, political warfare, gray zone, indirect approach, etc…
Conclusion: “Concerns that the use of indirect attacks might disadvantage liberal democracies and incentivize them to adopt undemocratic and opaque policies to strengthen their position in geopolitical competition are misguided. Our analysis suggests that this mode of competition actually requires strengthening U.S. democratic principles rather than abandoning them. First, U.S. adversaries seek to exploit the deep polarization and mistrust in U.S. politics to advance their agendas, suggesting that efforts to build a more resilient, democratic society would also help undermine meddling by external actors.
Second, by giving policymakers the space to respond deliberatively rather than capriciously, indirect attacks present an opportunity for liberal democracies to reduce tensions. Policymakers must seize this space to pursue diplomatic initiatives and to invest in tools for better understanding the systemic and cumulative effect of these indirect attacks in order to hold adversaries accountable, but without leading to escalation. In doing so, indirect attacks may actually reduce the level of conflict in the international system and reinforce the importance of democracy for peace in the world.”
Isn’t this why Gerasmiov wrote about New Generation or Non-Linear Warfare that we have come to know as the Gerasimov? He believed that it was the US fomenting instability around the world (e.g., Arab Spring, Color Revolutions, etc) to justify US military intervention. See Charles Bartles’ excellent article: “Getting Gerasimov Right”
Excerpt: “A new type of warfare… is starting to appear. I call it, for the sake of argument, mental war. It’s when the aim of this warfare is the destruction of the enemy’s understanding of civilizational pillars,” Ilnitsky, who advises Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, told the Spas TV channel.
Here are some excerpts from the Latvia Defence Academy summarizing the Gerasimov doctrine/New Generation Warfare. Non-linear Warfare. Little Green Men.
As a result, it follows that the main guidelines for developing Russian military capabilities by 2020 are: i. From direct destruction to direct influence;
ii. from direct annihilation of the opponent to its inner decay; iii. from a war with weapons and technology to a culture war; iv. from a war with conventional forces to specially prepared forces and commercial irregular groupings;
v. from the traditional (3D) battleground to information/psychological warfare and war of perceptions; vi. from direct clash to contactless war; vii. from a superficial and compartmented war to a total war, including the enemy’s internal side and base;
viii. from war in the physical environment to a war in the human consciousness and in cyberspace; ix. from symmetric to asymmetric warfare by a combination of political, economic, information, technological, and ecological campaigns; x.
From war in a defined period of time to a state of permanent war as the natural condition in national life. Thus, the Russian view of modern warfare is based on the idea that the main battlespace is the mind and, as a result, new-generation wars are to be dominated by information and psychological warfare, in order to achieve superiority in troops and weapons control, morally and psychologically depressing the enemy’s armed forces personnel and civil population. The main objective is to reduce the necessity for deploying hard military power to the minimum necessary, making the opponent’s military and civil population support the attacker to the detriment of their own government and country.
It is interesting to note the notion of permanent war, since it denotes a permanent enemy. In the current geopolitical structure, the clear enemy is Western civilization, its values, culture, political system, and ideology. 6. Re-Budgeting for a Right-Sized International Counterterrorism Posture
thecipherbrief.com . by Matthew Levitt . March 18, 2021 Key point – tools cannot direct strategy.
Conclusion: “After twenty years of investing in exquisite and unique counterterrorism tools, America now risks falling behind the times by virtue of allowing tools to direct strategy. Seeking to avoid this classic disconnect between ends and means, policymakers on both sides of the political aisle are pressing for a rationalization of American’s counterterrorism posture around the world. Making this happen will demand that the White House urgently oversee and direct the necessary budgetary review to disentangle counterterrorism intelligence budgets from the kinetic military budgets on which they are currently grafted.”
7. Pentagon linguist pleads guilty to exposing U.S. intelligence sources to Hezbollah CBS News . by Caitlin Yilek Human beings are hard to figure out. I guess there are people looking for love in all the wrong places. (Johnny Lee):
But this incident would appear to cause great damage. Excerpts: “That changed after Soleimani was killed by the U.S. The man was “very emotional and upset about the U.S. airstrikes, especially the death of [Soleimani], and he started to ask Thompson to provide ‘them’ with information about the human assets that had helped the United States to target” the Iranian commander, the court documents said. “Thompson understood ‘them’ to be Lebanese [Hezbollah].”
Thompson believed that if she did not pass on the classified information that her relationship with the Lebanese national “would come to an end” and he “would not marry her.” She then began accessing national defense information that she did not have a need to access or know and showing her notes containing the secret information to the man, the documents said. She handed over true names, personal identification data, background information and photos of clandestine human sources, and also passed on details of U.S. targets, court documents said. 8. New conspiracy theory claims US Air Force shot down MH370 in a failed bid to intercept it and seize electronic equipment on its way to China
Daily Mail . by Chris Jewers . March 27, 2021 Wow.
Now this is a conspiracy theory. New conspiracy theory claims US Air Force shot down MH370 in a failed bid to intercept it and seize electronic equipment on its way to China
- Florence de Changy has been reporting and investigating MH370 since 2014
- The plane went missing on March 8, 2014, with the mystery never solved
- But the French author argues that the ‘mystery’ itself is the greatest con of all
- In the 400-page book, de Changy argues that current theories are off the mark, and that there has been a combined effort to cover the truth of what happened
- Instead, she suggests the plane could have been downed by the US Air Force in an attempt to intercept the plane and confiscate cargo en-route to Beijing
9. America Needs to Rediscover Strategic MacGyverism The National Interest . by Michael Beckley and Hal Brands .
March 27, 2021 Realism, constructivism, etc, and now “Strategic MacGyverism.” Excerpts: “Confronted with the fact that America had been missing in action in the world’s most important soft-power fight–the race to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the developing world–the administration turned to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
Although the Quad’s original purpose was to regulate maritime security, it will now combine U.S. biotechnology, Indian production, Japanese financing, and Australian logistics to provide one billion doses of vaccine to Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, there are rumblings about an initiative to repurpose the Group of 7–a democratic forum focused on macroeconomic issues–as a tech coalition to deal with the pressing challenge of Chinese hegemony in the world’s telecommunications networks. That’s the sort of dexterity the United States needs.
New administrations often take months to methodically review policies and lay out long-term plans. That approach makes sense for a “superpower marathon” that won’t be settled for decades. But the pivotal phase of U.S.-China competition is arriving now.
America needs a farsighted strategy to stay ahead of China throughout this century, but first needs to avoid losing crucial battles this decade. Fortunately, the United States has the power and the historical precedent to turn things around. In the early-1980s, at the climax of the Cold War, Americans relied on a B-list actor to blunt a surge of Soviet aggression and carry the United States to victory.
Now as a second cold war heats up, the United States should look to another subpar celebrity for guidance. The MacGyver Doctrine is ugly and uninspiring, the geopolitical equivalent of duct tape. But it is fast, effective, and quintessentially American.”
10. ‘Things really are very bad’ — Biden navigates cyber attacks without a cyber czar Politico . by Natasha Bertrand Excerpts: “Recognizing the massive task at hand in coordinating a national cybersecurity strategy, kicking out hackers and protecting government agencies against future attack, the White House has begun to warm to the creation of the NCD office, people familiar with the deliberations said — particularly because the office will be able to access resources, review budgets, and build a staff of up to 75 people to implement a national strategy in a way the NSC can not.
But deconfliction is still an issue. One option now being explored is to have Neuberger serve in both roles, and be dual-hatted as deputy national security adviser and National Cyber Director, said two people familiar with the discussions. King said he would be opposed to that structure. “To say you’re going to make someone a NSC senior staff person and the NCD — I don’t think that works.
I hope they don’t do that.” Wherever the White House lands on this, a decision needs to be made soon, experts said. “The NCD is needed to work the day-to-day deconfliction and institutionalize plans for preventing and, when that fails, responding to the next crisis,” Spaudling said. “And the next crisis could be tomorrow, so time is not on our side.”
11. War is Changing. So Should the Pentagon’s Budget defenseone.com . by Scott Cooper
Excerpts: “Finally, budget planners should shift more manpower spending to fund enterprise digital platforms and applications that automate management, analysis, and auditing of the department’s administrative and financial information, thereby harnessing modern technology to drive effective, data-driven personnel and fiscal decisions. Software is as important as any hardware. The Russian SolarWinds hack of 2020 is an example of the fact that we have not yet come to terms with the very real vulnerabilities of our computer systems.
Chinese military doctrine calls for attacking U.S. command and intelligence systems, satellites, navigation systems, and even the American electrical power grid — such as was done this year in Mumbai. The universal opposition of the Defense Department to the license application of Ligado to build a 5G mobile communications network because it would “cause unacceptable operational impacts to the warfighter and adversely affect the military potential of GPS by negatively impacting GPS receivers” shows how crowded the electromagnetic spectrum is, how vulnerable it is to interference, and that investments must be constantly made to maintain the ability to use the spectrum. Leaders in the Pentagon and Congress should identify and answer our true operational weaknesses.
The United States is a global leader in software, data, and digital tools. It’s time the commander in chief and lawmakers ensure we harness them for national security.” 12. Malign or benign?
China-US strategic competition under Biden eastasiaforum.org . by Jia Qingguo . March 28, 2021
A view from an academic in China: Conclusion: “Although the Biden administration’s approach to strategic competition is quite different from the Trump administration’s, it does not necessarily follow that China-US relations will stabilize and improve. How the Biden administration actually deals with the thorny issues between the two countries is yet to be seen.
It will also depend on how China responds to US actions. Given the strong negative pubic sentiments toward each other, and their increasingly divergent domestic political practices, a truly benign strategic competition still remains difficult if not impossible to achieve.” 13. Prosecutors struggle with consistent story in cases involving Capitol riot
Stars and Stripes Excerpt: “Authorities are still combing through a sea of evidence in what they say is likely the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Justice Department.“ 14. Chronicles of an American Diplomat: John Quincy Adams
classicsofstrategy.com . by Patrick J. Garrity Excerpts: “Boston was roiled between those supporting and those opposing efforts to retaliate by imposing significant economic restrictions on Britain, which in the opinion of the Federalists would likely lead to war.
John Quincy reported to his father about these debates in Boston. Adams (father and son) agreed that British depredations were unacceptable, but opposed extreme retaliatory measures, such as the sequestration of British debts, which they deemed both unjust and likely to be ineffective. They believed that diplomacy was the best of bad choices and therefore supported Washington’s decision to appoint a special envoy to Britain, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, to try to settle outstanding differences.
John Quincy’s views about American foreign policy were widely circulated outside Massachusetts. They found an especially appreciative audience in the presidential residence. Through these writings and personal meetings, President Washington had clearly formed a favorable opinion of the younger Adams.
John Adams was careful not to promote his son, but it seemed likely that John Quincy would soon be rewarded with some official duty. He was — but it was an entirely unexpected position, which would determine the whole pattern of his life thereafter. President Washington appointed John Quincy as Minister Resident to the Dutch Republic, one of America’s few overseas diplomatic posts–and did so during a time of grave national security crisis.”
15. Under Biden, Diplomacy Is an Attractive Career Again The New York Times . by By Pranshu Verma. March 27, 2021
Excerpts: “In an interview, Ms. Spears said that she would not discourage diplomats of color from joining the Foreign Service, but that they should be aware that issues of race in the State Department were hard to change. A new president was not likely to solve the issue, she added.
“This isn’t an administration thing,” she said. “A lot of this is systemic, it’s behavioral, and it’s passed down from management.” Uyen Vong, whose parents immigrated from Vietnam, said that she was applying to become a diplomat, in part because she felt the “new administration brings a lot of hope to people who were marginalized in the past.” She said she believed her family’s immigrant experience would be a powerful display of the country’s values. “I can represent America,” Ms. Vong said, “and I very much represent American values.”
Ms. Vong, who took the February Foreign Service exam, said that she was encouraged by Mr. Biden’s decision to make diversity a priority for the State Department, but acknowledged that there was “still more to be done.”
She said that State Department officials must cultivate diplomats as early as in high school and that more minority candidates must be promoted into higher-profile roles. “When you see more faces that look like you,” she said, “I think it definitely will bring more people to work in public service.” Interest in becoming a diplomat has grown, and President Biden’s outreach to other nations is appealing to aspiring diplomats, many of whom felt alienated by Trump policies.
16. Stop asking the US military to fight terrorism and rebuild countries Business Insider . by Charli Carpenter Excerpts: “The distinctions between civilian and combatant, between battlefield and home front and between unlawful combatant and POW rightly become irrelevant within such an architecture.
This was the world before 9/11; before then-President George W. Bush declared “war” on a band of criminals; before Congress authorized the use of force without due process against anyone, anywhere suspected by the US to be a threat; and before the U.S. military was erroneously tasked with transnational law enforcement, nation building and operational support in the world’s various civil wars. To be sure, where useful, members of the US military might be deployed under UN auspices to support peacekeeping missions.
US special forces could become a useful adjunct for Interpol and/or any country willing to try alleged terrorists under universal jurisdiction. But the military as an institution is not equipped to orchestrate the building of nations or effectively police transnational crime, nor should it be entrusted with these tasks. The attitude underpinning Pede and Hayden’s article is itself an example of why.”
17. U.S.-China sanctions battle escalating under Biden with focus on Xinjiang abuses washingtontimes.com . by Guy Taylor 18. US-Taiwan coast guard partner to blunt potential Chinese invasion
Washington Examiner . by Joel Gehrke . March 28, 2021 —————-
“One person with a belief is a social power equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.” – John Stuart Mill “What we do stems directly from what we believe.”
– Millicent Fenwick “A belief doesn’t have to be true to be highly motivating, and it is one of the bitterest lessons of history that false or irrational beliefs are often the most powerful of all.” -Dr.