Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

21 August 2017

An ominous how-to for a terrorist attack in America

By Marc A. Thiessen 

The terrorist attack in Barcelona follows a pattern that has left more than 100 people dead and hundreds more injured in Nice, Berlin, London, Stockholm and Ohio State University — a terrorist takes a van or truck and plows through innocent pedestrians on a crowded thoroughfare, turning the vehicle into “a mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah.”

Those words come from an article called “The Ultimate Mowing Machine” in the 2010 edition of the glossy online al-Qaeda magazine Inspire, which provided detailed instructions for how to carry out vehicular attacks, urging would-be terrorists to “pick up as much speed as you can while still retaining good control . . . to strike as many people as possible in your first run.”

A Tunisian terrorist followed these instructions when he drove a tractor trailer into a Christmas market in Berlin in December; as did the British terrorists who mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London in March and London Bridge in June; as did an Uzbek terrorist who drove a truck into pedestrians and shoppers in Stockholm in April. And now we have seen this technique used by terrorists in Barcelona, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 100. And it is not just Islamist terrorists who are inspired by these tactics. Last weekend, an allegedly neo-Nazi domestic terrorist, James Alex Fields Jr., used a car to mow down a crowd in Charlottesville.

In Latin America, Populism Is Alive And Well


Populism is frequently diagnosed as the root cause of Latin America's greatest political and economic ills. But just as the human body reacts to an infection by entering a feverish state, many consider populism to be the public's response to a society in disarray. By understanding the underlying conditions that enabled the rise of strongmen like Argentina's Juan Domingo Peron or Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, we can more easily spot the early signs of populism flaring in the region once again.

Men of the People

In the centuries following its independence, Latin American history has been marked by economic cycles of boom and bust. Periods of political volatility and upheaval accompanied these ups and downs, further adding to the stress that financial uncertainty places on regional governments. It is little surprise, then, that powerful leaders gained a reputation in Latin America as the glue holding society together in times of great strain.

The first of these strongmen - known locally as caudillos - emerged after the region's decolonization during the 19th century, establishing a trend that was to become prominent in the 20th century. From Juan Manuel de Rosas in Argentina to Simon Bolivar in Venezuela, charismatic rulers proceeded to capture the public's attention and, more often than not, their support - a style of leadership today founded on populism.

Let’s try a defensive strategy in America’s wars, and win.



Summary: So many posts here describe how we are losing. Since we’ve forgotten, I’m reposting explanations of why and how we are losing — and how we can win in the age when 4th generation warfare (4GW) is the dominant mode of war. Step one: adopt a rational grand strategy. The original version was posted in June 2008. Since we have learned nothing since then, it is as true now as then.

“We should cultivate a reluctance “to travel a long distance to kill foreigners at great expense” unless we have great need.”

Contents 
Can America do a grand strategy? 

First, lose the baggage in our minds. 

Second, some simple recommendations. 

Make more friends and fewer enemies. 

Don’t gamble. Adopt slow but sure tactics. 

Survive until we win. 

More about a defensive strategy for America. 

For more information. 
(1) Can America do a grand strategy?

“The {Athenian} masses voted …to kill every adult male citizen of Mytilene… to spare every adult male citizen of Mytilene… to put Alkibiades in charge of the Sicilian expedition… to put Nikias in charge of the Sicilian expedition. The Athenian demos voted for *everybody* at different times.”

20 August 2017

Create a Channel for a U.S.-China Dialogue on South Asia


The real danger of an explosive conflict and potential nuclear war lingers in South Asia. Relations between India and Pakistan remain distrustful, confrontational, and highly volatile as the result of decades-long hostility. War plans are being refined on both sides – a war that could be triggered by terrorist attacks launched by Pakistan-based groups. Escalation control seems to be assumed by both sides, but miscalculation of intentions and reactions could ignite a catastrophic nuclear war.

Despite these risks, the United States and China do not regard crisis management in South Asia as a top priority in their bilateral foreign policy agendas. Cooperation on crisis management in the past has been ad hoc. The level of attention, dialogue, and preparation devoted to the proper management of a potential crisis between India and Pakistan is highly disproportionate to the risks and stakes at hand. Therefore, the United States and China might well consider the establishment of a routine dialogue at the sub-cabinet level that could become a crisis management mechanism to enhance preparedness for and effectiveness of crisis management to prevent a nuclear disaster in South Asia.

The Problem

The nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan has accelerated in recent years. Both countries possess well over 100 warheads and credible missile delivery systems.[i] Pakistan’s rising nuclear stockpile is widely believed to be the fasting growing in the world.[ii] Pakistan has continued to develop tactical nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield that it threatens to deploy in the event India implements its “Cold Start” doctrine.[iii] India has completed its nuclear triad by inducting a strategic nuclear submarine into service.[iv] India’s aim is to reduce the gap between its nuclear capabilities and China’s.[v] The nuclear arms race in the region reflects the geopolitical competition between China and India and between India and Pakistan.

18 August 2017

State Department quietly establishes new cybersecurity office

BY MORGAN CHALFANT 

The State Department quietly established a new office earlier this year within its Diplomatic Security Service to safeguard against and respond to cybersecurity threats.

The State Department officially launched the new office, called the Cyber and Technology Security (CTS) directorate, on May 28, a department official confirmed. The establishment of the directorate was first reportedby Federal News Radio last week. 

The directorate “facilitates the conduct of global diplomacy by protecting life, property, and information with advanced cybersecurity programs and risk-managed technology innovation,” the State official told The Hill. 

“CTS provides advanced cyber threat analysis, incident detection and response, cyber investigative support, and emerging technology solutions,” the official said. 

The new directorate does not appear to have a place on the department’s website and was not accompanied by an official press release at the time of its establishment. 

A government official told Federal News Radio that the new directorate essentially gives the State Department’s chief information officer one point of contact to make sure that embassies, consulates and foreign affairs officers are adequately protecting against cyber threats. 

Is Trump Militarizing U.S.-Africa Policy?


‘The US is waging a massive shadow war in Africa … The war you’ve never heard of,’ the online journal VICE News recently announced. ‘Today, according to U.S. military documents obtained by VICE News, special operators are carrying out nearly 100 missions at any given time – in Africa alone.’

It was the latest sign of the military’s ‘quiet but ever-expanding presence on the continent’, one that represented the ‘most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops to any region of the globe’, it said. Donald Bolduc, the US Army general who runs Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA), says Africa’s challenges ‘could create a threat that surpasses the threat that the United States currently faces from conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria’, according to VICE News.

‘He went on to cite a laundry list of challenges with which he and his personnel must contend: ever-expanding illicit networks, terrorist safe havens, attempts to subvert government authority, a steady stream of new recruits and resources,’ says VICE News. ‘At the same time, Bolduc says the U.S. is not at war in Africa. But this assertion is challenged by the ongoing operations aimed at the militant group al-Shabaab in Somalia.’

17 August 2017

Will The U.S. Strike North Korea?

By Minghao Zhao

BEIJING – Donald Trump is running out of patience with North Korea. Using heated language unusual for a US president, Trump recently warned that if Pyongyang threatens to attack the United States again, the US will respond with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Whatever action Trump decides to take, he must recognize that the stakes – not just for the Korean Peninsula, but also for America’s relationship with China – could not be higher.

North Korea’s two latest intercontinental ballistic missile tests, carried out last month, suggest that the country now has the capability to hit the continental US. The US Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that North Korea may well have already developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be delivered on such a missile. Experts from Johns Hopkins University anticipate a sixth nuclear test at any moment.

The United Nations Security Council has now unanimously passed the harshest sanctions yet against North Korea, in the hope of pressuring the small country to renounce its nuclear-weapons program. The resolutionbans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, and seafood products, which together account for one third of the country’s already meager annual export revenue of $3 billion. It also prohibits countries from issuing new permits to North Korean workers abroad, whose wages, it is suspected, help fund nuclear and missile programs.

A Roadmap for U.S.-Russia Relations


At a time when tension between the US and Russia is higher than it has been in decades, we cannot forget that the relationship between these two countries is among the most important for global security. On any number of issues, from arms control to the Middle East, failure of the U.S. and Russia to communicate will make things much, much worse, with repercussions that will last for generations and affect the entire world. For this reason, CSIS and RIAC convened some of Russia’s and America’s top experts to think through the future of the bilateral relationship. The result is a series of papers that identify both the spheres where coordination is crucial and those where it may be possible, responding to mutual interests and potentially helping to stabilize the relationship and buffer against conflict in the future. For both, they offer concrete recommendations and a clear-eyed take on what can, and what cannot be done.

The analyses that follow examine prospects for Russia-U.S. cooperation in several crucial regions and fields: economics, energy, the Arctic, Euro-Atlantic security, the Middle East, strategic stability, cybersecurity, and countering terrorism and extremism. They offer actionable recommendations in each area, some of which can, and should be undertaken today, and some of which should be considered by policymakers in Moscow and Washington as they chart a course through dangerous and uncertain times.

10 August 2017

The Americans Are Back: F-16 for the IAF and F/A-18 for the Indian Navy

ASHLEY J. TELLIS

Summary: Because combat aviation is steadily moving towards the dominance of stealthy platforms, India should be seeking to leverage these purchases towards the development or the acquisition of fifth-generation fighters.

During the last year, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy (IN) confirmed what must have been the worst kept secret in New Delhi: that the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, for all its achievements, was unsuitable as a strike-fighter for their near-term modernisation requirements.

Where the IAF was concerned, the request for information (RFI) for a new single-engine fighter issued in the United States, Russia, and Sweden in October 2016 marked a further twist in its long-running saga to complete the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) acquisition that first began in 2001. After the aborted competition led to an off-the-shelf purchase of just 36 Rafales in 2015 — instead of the 126 aircraft originally intended — the question of how the IAF would overcome the deficit of the 90 remaining fighters was still unanswered. There were some in India who argued that the IAF should jettison the MMRCA requirement altogether and fill out the remainder of the force with more Su-30s at the high-end and additional Tejas fighters at the low-end.

Network Take: U.S. Must Commit to the “Long Haul” in Afghanistan


As President Donald Trump struggles to find a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, The Cipher Brief’s Mackenzie Weinger spoke to two experts — retired Lieutenant General Guy Swan, and retired Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — to get their respective insights on the debates surrounding the long-delayed plan and what the president should be worrying about as he looks to approve a blueprint for the conflict the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has called a “stalemate.”

The Cipher Brief: How would you assess the current debate within the administration over what the Afghanistan strategy should be?

Admiral Sandy Winnefeld: Welcome to the NFL. Many similar debates were held within the Obama administration, so it is no surprise that there are strongly opposed factions in this administration. From what I understand, the president is starting by asking very important questions regarding the relevance of Afghanistan to U.S. national security interests. It is his job to do so, and it goes without saying that the greater the intersection of Afghanistan with those interests, the more we would be willing to commit — treasure, blood, opportunity cost — to protect them. 

On the one hand, I believe the president senses that the military is committed to Afghanistan because it hates unfinished business and doesn't want to walk away — and that the national security advisor and others are passionate counter-insurgency practitioners who are immersed in the problem.

How Russia Is Using LinkedIn As A Tool Of War Against Its U.S. Enemies

By Bryan MacDonald

One night in mid-March, Alan Malcher, a British military veteran, dropped into the Queen’s Arms, a working-class pub in north London. He took a seat at the bar and ordered his customary pint of Foster’s. Within a few minutes, a stranger sidled up, ordered a drink and started a conversation. He soon brought up Russian President Vladimir Putin and began saying positive things about the Moscow-backed separatist civil war in Ukraine.

“He was going on about Putin being a strong leader,” Malcher recalls. “Somebody to admire.” The stranger’s comments, delivered with a thick Slavic accent, made Malcher’s security antennae vibrate: He had recently joined a Washington, D.C.–based think tank involved in combatting Russia’s stealthy infiltration of American social media. So when the stranger made passing reference to Malcher’s army service, he felt a twinge of apprehension. “There’s no way he could have known that except via LinkedIn,” Malcher says, referencing the professional online networking site where he and other critics of Moscow had been active in international affairs discussion groups. An expert in information warfare, Malcher reasoned that the Kremlin had dispatched the stranger to the Queen’s Arms with a message: We know everything about you. Watch your step.

9 August 2017

Finding a Realistic Middle Way for the U.S. in Afghanistan

Steven Metz

While not as dangerous as Iran and North Korea, Afghanistan remains one of America’s thorniest and most frustrating security challenges. Since the George W. Bush administration intervened in that country after the attacks of 9/11, the United States has tried to create an Afghan government and train security forces that could stabilize the country and eradicate extremist organizations like al-Qaida that had been given sanctuary there under Taliban rule. The idea was that after some period of international help, the government and security forces of Afghanistan would be able to stand on their own. 

Unfortunately this has not worked. While many Afghans have fought extremism with extraordinary bravery and some of the country’s leaders have pursued visionary policies, the political class—riven by factionalism, corruption and ineffectiveness—has failed to create a politically and economically viable nation or defeat the Pakistan-based Taliban.

The American public began losing patience with Afghanistan several years ago. Despite this, when former President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he opted for a temporary surge in U.S. military forces—to a peak of roughly 100,000—and continued support for the Afghan government in the hopes this would convince the Taliban to negotiate an end to the conflict. This was probably worth a try, but given the Afghan government’s corruption and ineffectiveness, the Taliban’s deep roots and persistence, and Pakistan’s continued support for the extremists, the policy failed. Obama subsequently drew down U.S. forces in Afghanistan to their current levels of roughly 8,400, but success is no closer today than it was when he first set out to shape the conflict’s outcome.

America's Endless Search for a Strategy

Harvey M. Sapolsky

Mad Dog Mattis is at it again. The truth-teller to Marines, now secretary of defense, was asked: where is the long-promised revised strategy for Afghanistan? In response, he said it was slow in appearing because “strategy is hard.” Congress, too, is searching for strategic clarity as it just empaneled yet another bipartisan group to propose a framework for a new grand strategy. And nearly every pundit vying for your time agrees. We need a clear strategy and good measures for its achievement, so that we know what weapons to buy and where to pick fights, they often say.

Despite the promises, the panels and the pronouncements, a grand strategy for the United States, on par with the Cold War’s containment and Germany’s unconditional surrender during World War II, remains elusive. It is elusive because such a strategy requires a clear enemy—a nation or an alliance that threatens our survival. And there is no agreement on who is our enemy or if we really have one. Is radical Islam an existential threat to the United States? Do we really need to worry that much about a resurgent Russia? Is a China that grows richer a danger? Do we care that much about North Korea?

Absent a rival on the scale and power of the now dead Soviet Union, the United States is a very secure country. We are the richest country in the world, protected by two big oceans and a military that is second to none. Our population is big (we are the third most populous nation) and resourceful, claiming the leadership in nearly every line of science and technology. And we spend a fortune on our defense, and have done so for decades.

5 August 2017

How the United States and China Could Avoid a Trade War


The markets are undervaluing the growing risk of trade protectionism under the Trump administration. Since he considered running for U.S. president in 1988, Donald Trump has changed political parties at least five times and has switched positions on hot button issues including abortion and gun control. But he has been remarkably consistent in declaring that trade deficits matter and voicing support for managed trade.

For his supporters, there is no more keenly felt political touchstone. National polling shows that “bargaining with global companies to keep jobs in America” has received 75 percent approval in Trump counties—higher than “dealing” with North Korea (68 percent) or getting a conservative justice on the Supreme Court (38 percent).

Trump’s electoral interests reinforce his policy beliefs. Although he lost the popular vote by a margin of 2.1 percentage points, he gained the presidency by winning most of the toss-up states. He won 75 electoral votes in states where the winning margin was 1.2 percent or less. These included key steel-producing states—Michigan (which Trump won by 0.3 percent), Wisconsin (0.7 percent), and Pennsylvania (0.7 percent).

After the inaugural U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue closed on July 19 with no meaningful progress, Trump said: “They’re dumping steel and destroying our steel industry, they’ve been doing it for decades and I’m stopping it. There are two ways—quotas and tariffs. Maybe I’ll do both.”

Russia, the United States, and the Middle East


We don’t know much about what was said when U.S. President Donald Trump sat across from Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit on July 7, but we do know they talked a lot about the Middle East. By his own account, Trump told Putin,"There's so much killing in Syria. We got to solve Syria."

Russia has been playing a more active role in the Middle East in the last five years, and before committing to strategic cooperation with Russia, it is helpful to judge Russia’s objectives and strategies in the region.

It is easier to grasp Russian strategy by contrasting it with Chinese strategy. China has a large stake in the region’s trajectory, relying on the Middle East for more than 60 percent of its imported energy. China has an expanding economic footprint, as trade and investment increase and Chinese contractors grab a multi-billion dollar share of infrastructure projects. Despite its rising interests, China’s quite evident ambition is to expand its economic footprint without taking the expensive step of expanding its security footprint. China seeks to complement the U.S. security presence with its own economic presence, not diminish it. Widespread interest in Chinese goods and Chinese know-how mean China is often welcomed warmly by host governments.

2 August 2017

Baahubali to masala tea: India 101 for U.S. diplomats

Varghese K. George

The Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. State Department trains the largest contingent of diplomats in the world. Varghese K. George spends a day with U.S. diplomats preparing to take up positions in India, and their trainers

Over the last three months, Phuong Nguyen has learned a lot of Tamil, a thing or two about Dravidian politics and has figured out why Kattappa killed Baahubali. She has watched the multi-language blockbuster Baahubali 2 thrice. This afternoon, she and three other U.S. Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) learning Tamil at the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI) before deployment to Chennai are discussing the weather there, aided by a video clip of a weather report from a Tamil news channel. “Enakku veppam pidikkum (I like the heat),” says Greg Bauer, an Iowan who had earlier worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cambodia. “In Chennai it is 105º (Fahrenheit) today,” the instructor told him, in a promising tone, last week.

The contingent is relishing their Tamil films and can’t wait to be in Chennai to test their language skills and smell the filter coffee. “He has even started teaching us lessons from the Thirukkural,” Nguyen says of Pandiyaraju Arumugan, the Tamil instructor. “I have really enjoyed learning about Dravidian language, culture, and history,” adds the fresh FSO recruit who came to the U.S. from Vietnam as a five-year-old. It helps that Arumugan, from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, has shrunken his Dravidian identity to ‘Raju’, in a concession to the American tongue. “Raju is wonderful and very open in sharing his wisdom and culture,” says Nguyen.

1 August 2017

Will America Challenge China's Sweeping Sovereignty Claims?

Joseph A. Bosco

Experts are second-guessing the dangers associated with freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

Over the last decade, China has used its Nine-Dash Line to claim sovereigntyover virtually the entire South China Sea. The country has backed up its sweeping sovereignty claims with a series of increasingly aggressive seizures of national features and by constructing artificial islands.

The Obama administration responded by authorizing three putative Freedom of Navigation Operations, known as FONOPs, which actually made matters worse. That is because during the three operations U.S. ships simply transited through the waters that China has claimed as its territorial seas as if quickly making “innocent passages” in and out of the area. There was no lingering, no maneuvering, no exercises and the fire-control radars on the ships were off—just as if they were steaming through the waters off Shanghai. That effectively conceded a slice of the South China Sea to Chinese sovereignty.

By contrast, in May, the USS Dewey entered within twelve nautical miles of the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Archipelago. The Arleigh Burke–class guided missile destroyer sailed through the area in a zigzag pattern, and conducted a “man overboard” rescue drill. In other words, it conducted an exercise in a routine high-seas operational mode.

29 July 2017

Is America Losing Civilian Control of the Military?

Daniel Gerstein

A number of factors have led to a blurring of boundaries between the Congress, the president and the military.

The U.S. civil-military relationship allows for a candid dialogue on national security matters, yet readily defers to the tenet of civilian control of the military. This relationship is built on a delicate balance whereby strategic decision making is the purview of the civilian political leadership, while the execution of that portion of the strategy dealing with the use of force remains a uniformed mission.

The framers of the Constitution were keen to ensure that civilian control of the military was a core tenet of the use of military force, dividing up the powers into three components. Congress had the power "to raise and support Armies" and "provide and maintain a Navy." The president was to serve as the "the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States when called into the actual Service of the United States." Implicitly, the uniformed military was charged with the application of military force and following the orders of the civilian leadership.

A number of contributing operational, cultural and technical factors have led to a blurring of boundaries between the Congress, the president and the military in questions surrounding use of military force. These trends cannot be blamed on any single administration, yet over time there has been a gradual loss of balance within the nation's national security institutions.

22 July 2017

The US Needs China To Act On North Korea. Now, That Is Harder Than Usual – Analysis

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein*
 
(FPRI) — Over the past couple of weeks since North Korea successfully tested an inter-continental ballistic missile capable of reaching Alaska (potentially with nuclear weapons), the United States and much of the world have lived under a heightened sense of urgency about North Korea’s missile capabilities. Policymakers from the Left to the Right are calling for action, but America is in a worse global position than usual to meet North Korea’s threats. Undoubtedly, policymakers want to do something, as policymakers always do. But it is less and less clear what that something can be, as long as China continues to be the key to pressuring North Korea.

China was always unlikely to work with the international community in pressuring North Korea, and has only reluctantly gone along with sanctions without putting much of an effort into enforcing them. This time, however, Chinese action and compliance in pressuring North Korea are even less likely due to other geopolitical tensions with the U.S. in the region.
A Game Changer, but No Revolution

The North Korean missile test may be a game changer, but the reality of the North Korean threat is far from new. In Seoul, the South Korean capitol, such fears have long been part of daily existence. North Korea’s threats of annihilating Seoul by turning it into a “sea of fire” (and other colorful expressions) are so frequent that most people meet them with a shrug of the shoulders. People here know full well that North Korea can destroy much of the country, and that it would not even need nuclear weapons to do so.

17 July 2017

Why we need India in order to remain a global superpower


A US-India alliance could be key for the US to remain a global superpower

The Republic of India is the world’s second most populous country and largest democracy. It will also prove to be the key to the U.S.’s survival as the world’s sole global hegemon and the preservation of the current global power structure. 

The U.S. projects more power across the globe, both conventional and nuclear, than any other nation. It spends more on its military than its next eight rivals combined. Its economy is the largest in terms of nominal GDP by more than $7 trillion and has been the largest for more than a century. It exercises so much control in international affairs and trade it is often characterized as the "world’s policeman." Its currency is exchanged globally and is the basis for numerous currencies abroad, and it is home to earth’s premiere financial market. These factors solidify the U.S.’s status as a true superpower and appear promising for the maintenance of the global status quo. But one rising power threatens this world order.