27 July 2019

Why New Delhi Will Be Left Unfazed By China’s New Defense White Paper

By Abhijnan Rej

Earlier today, China released the latest iteration of its Defense White Paper. At a time when strategic competition between that country and the United States in the Indo-Pacific runs the risk of transforming into an outright adversarial relationship, the document has already been analyzed extensively by American experts on social media. From New Delhi’s perspective, the document is unlikely to raise alarm, with the 16 or so references to India in it being largely benign.

That said, one curious India-specific reference in the White Paper is that the PLA will “take effective measures to create favorable conditions for the peaceful resolution of the Donglang (Doklam) standoff.” The tense structure and phrasing of the sentence suggests that the tussle over Doklam is far from over, despite a simultaneous disengagement by both sides on technical terms in that area in August 2017.

Can Modi Steer India Back to Relevance?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s overwhelming victory in India’s recent elections solidified his grip on power and ensured that he will set the country’s agenda for the foreseeable future. Modi’s administration faces foreign policy challenges, including its relationship with Pakistan, competition for influence with China and, more recently, the possibility of a trade war with the United States. What will Modi's second term bring?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s overwhelming victory in India’s recent elections solidified his grip on power and ensured that he will set the country’s agenda for the foreseeable future. While the vote was technically a victory for his right-wing, nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, Modi turned it into a referendum on himself, becoming the face of nearly every BJP candidate’s local campaign. The landslide victory has critics paying close attention to whether Modi doubles down on the Hindu nationalism and illiberalism that characterized his first term in office, or reins it in.

Trump Does an About-Face on Pakistan—and Blunders Into the Kashmir Dispute


President Donald Trump’s trademark mix of ignorance and bluster was again on display Monday in a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, where the U.S. president courted Pakistani help in Afghanistan, waded into a decades-old dispute over Kashmir, and angered India, the linchpin of Washington’s newfound Indo-Pacific strategy.

Trump coddled Khan in a bid to enlist Pakistani support for ongoing peace talks with the Taliban and floated a vague offer to restart billions of dollars in security aid in exchange for Islamabad’s help with the diplomatic initiative. Trump then went on to offer to mediate the conflict between Pakistan and India over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir—insisting that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate the conflict.

The Indian government immediately shot down the claim, which is at odds with decades of Indian foreign policy.

Kabul seeks clarification on Trump talk of wiping out Afghanistan

Hamid Shalizi

U.S. President Trump talks with reporters while meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Khan in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Trump’s remarks followed a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House on Monday at which Trump voiced optimism that Pakistan could help broker a political settlement to end the nearly 18-year-old war in Afghanistan.

The remarks drew a stiff response from Afghanistan’s presidential palace, which has been excluded from talks between the United States and the Taliban and which accuses Pakistan of supporting the insurgency.

“The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate,” the presidential palace said.

“While the Afghan government supports the U.S. efforts for ensuring peace in Afghanistan, the government underscores that foreign heads of state cannot determine Afghanistan’s fate in absence of the Afghan leadership,” it said in a statement.

The Significance of the First Ever China-Russia Strategic Bomber Patrol

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Yesterday for the first time, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and the Russian Air Force jointly conducted a long-range aerial patrol involving two Chinese Xian H-6K and two Tupolev Tu-95MS long-range, nuclear-capable bombers in the Indo-Pacific region. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), the aim of the mission was to “strengthen global stability” and points to one of three reasons why the joint strategic bomber patrol flights are geopolitically important.

First, the flights, at one level, were intended to send a signal to the United States and its allies that the two powers are moving toward a political convergence, albeit no direct military cooperation, on certain nuclear issues in the face of a more assertive U.S. nuclear weapons policy and the slow unraveling of arms limitations agreements. A month earlier, in a joint statement, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, emphasized “that any attempts to destroy the existing system of agreements on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation are unacceptable.”

Innovation in the New Era of Chinese Military Power

By Elsa B. Kania

China’s State Council Information Office has just released a new national defense white paper, which is the first since the launch of major military reforms in 2015. This document includes an assessment of the international security situation and provides an official explanation of China’s defense policy, missions, military reforms, and defense expenditure. While unsparing in its critique of power politics and American “hegemonism,” the defense white paper also calls for China’s armed forces to “adapt to the new landscape of strategic competition.” In Xi Jinping’s “new era,” the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is urged to strengthen its preparedness and enhance combat capabilities commensurate with China’s global standing and interests. As the PLA pursues the objective of transforming into “world-class forces” by mid-century, the U.S. military may confront the unprecedented challenge of a potential adversary with formidable and rapidly advancing capabilities.

Why Cambodia yields to China’s strategic commands


On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cambodia and China recently signed a secret agreement granting the latter exclusive rights to part of a naval installation on the Gulf of Thailand.

The report, quoting unnamed American and allied officials, said the agreement would allow China to use the Ream Naval Base for 30 years, with automatic renewals every 10 years thereafter.

The news follows months of speculation that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government is preparing to host the Chinese navy in southern Cambodia, and months of denials from Cambodian officials that any such plan is in the works. On Monday, the premier declared that the WSJ’s report constituted “the worst ever made-up news against Cambodia.”

Given its potential to alter the balance of power in Southeast Asia, the possibility of a Chinese naval outpost being established in Cambodia has prompted justified alarm in Washington.

China's Debt Debacle

by Gordon G. Chang 

On Friday, China Minsheng Investment Group announced that its subsidiary, Boom Up Investments, will not make principal or interest payments on August 2 on $500 million of three-year, dollar-denominated bonds.

The default will be the first for the firm’s dollar-bond creditors. CMIG, as the former high-flyer investment conglomerate is known, failed to make payments on renminbi-denominated obligations in January.

CMIG’s Friday announcement, although not a surprise, is nonetheless significant. As Bloomberg News reported, the firm was once thought to become “China’s answer” to American giant JPMorgan Chase.

The US Needs to Talk About China


In a democracy, a government cannot pursue a long-term struggle with a powerful geopolitical adversary without sustained political support from an informed public. That is why the US urgently needs to launch a credible public debate on US President Donald Trump's confrontational China policy.

WASHINGTON, DC – Of all the changes in US foreign policy President Donald Trump’s administration has made, the most consequential is the adoption of a confrontational stance toward China. Replacing a decades-old policy of engagement, Trump’s approach has not only resulted in an economic cold war between the world’s two largest economies; it has also raised the specter of armed conflict in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.

In the early 1980s, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, was able to choke off runaway inflation because he was afforded the autonomy necessary to implement steep interest-rate hikes. Today, the Fed is clearly under unprecedented political pressure, and it is starting to show.

On Point: Fracking Ayatollah Iran's Oil Weapon

by Austin Bay

Iran's corrupt religious dictators continue to talk, taunt and act as if their periodic attacks on oil tankers and cyclic threats to close the Strait of Hormuz to commercial and naval vessels still have the power to spike global oil prices, depress stock markets and economically throttle the industrialized nations the ayatollahs despise.

But geo-strategically, 2019 isn't 1973, 1990 or even 2014, when oil exporter Russia invaded Ukraine and threatened to restrict natural gas sales to the Kremlin's European critics.

In October 1973, Arab exporters imposed an oil embargo on nations that supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Oil shot from $3 a barrel to $12. With this "oil weapon" strategy, a militarily weak cartel might beggar the wealthiest economies.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel suddenly had global power. Merely discussing quotas to limit the oil production firmed prices, but it also gave exporters unprecedented political influence.

Iran May be the Threat but Iraq is the Prize

By Anthony H. Cordesman

It is all too tempting to focus narrowly on the maritime crisis in the Gulf, and the potential threat to the flow of petroleum and the world’s economy. This is where the daily headlines focus, and some form of threat is all too real. In practice, however, the U.S. already faces other threats in the region and from Iran, and at least one is potentially far more serious in grand strategic terms.

These “other threats” include Yemen, Syria, and the failures of the Arab Gulf states to unite in creating an effective defense against Iran. Most importantly, they include the U.S. and Arab struggle with Iran for influence in the Gulf.
The Potential Risk to World Petroleum Supplies

If one examines the worst case in terms of Gulf oil exports, the potential threat to global petroleum supplies is all too serious, and almost all current news media and commentary badly understate its potential impact on the United States. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that “the Strait of Hormuz is the world's most important oil chokepoint because of the large volumes of oil that flow through the strait. In 2018, its daily oil flow averaged 21 million barrels per day (b/d), or the equivalent of about 21% of global petroleum liquids consumption.”

Russia's Failure to Reform


To commemorate its founding 25 years ago, PS will be republishing over the coming months a selection of commentaries written since 1994. In the following commentary from 1999, Jeffrey Sachs argues that only new, honest, and democratic leadership in #Russia, combined with a real Western commitment to help, could hope to correct the country’s perilous political and economic situation.

CAMBRIDGE – Russia continues to stupefy and amaze. Ten years after the Berlin Wall fell, and nearly eight years since the end of the Soviet Union, Russia has failed to find its way in the world. The economy has collapsed, with little sign of recovery. Corruption is everywhere. The political system lurches from crisis to crisis without any apparent connection between the political leaders and Russian society. President Yeltsin is ill and erratic. There are no trusted Russian voices on the world stage.

Are Russia and America Headed Toward Nuclear War?

by Dimitri Alexander Simes

Last week, U.S. and Russian delegations met in Geneva to discuss arms control. Dimitri A. Simes, a contributor to the National Interest, spoke to Viktor Murakhovsky, a retired Russian colonel, defense analyst, and editor-in-chief of the Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine, to better get the Russian perspective on the future of arms control. Murakhovsky is widely regarded in Russia as a leading military expert and is frequently cited by Russian media. The following transcript of their conversation has been lightly edited for length.

Dimitri A. Simes: Last fall, President Donald Trump announced that the United States will exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. More recently, National Security Advisor John Bolton stated that Washington is not sure whether it will extend the New START treaty. How did Moscow react to these developments?

What If Iran Brings Energy War Here with Hezbollah Attack on U.S. Oil and Gas?

Charles S. (Sam) Faddis

Tensions with Iran are escalating by the day. Already the Iranians have staged a number of sabotage attacks on oil tankers and seized a British vessel on Friday. Their Houthi allies have conducted drone attacks on at least 10 targets including a major Saudi oil pipeline. Speculation is rife as to where Tehran or one of its surrogates will strike next.

We would do well to remember it may be here.

Iran, via the Qods Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah, retains the capacity to stage terrorist attacks worldwide. That includes inside the United States. Planning for such attacks is ongoing and detailed as illustrated by the cases of Ali Kourani and Samer el-Debek, two Hezbollah operatives tasked with collecting information on U.S. targets in preparation for terrorist attacks and arrested by U.S. authorities in 2017.

AI across Africa and the Middle East: The Microsoft view

Lewis Page

According to a new study of AI in business across Africa and the Middle East, commissioned by Microsoft and carried out by EY, AI is an important topic of discussion in 80 per cent of C-suites across the region: but the majority of companies in the study hadn't yet gone further than piloting its use. Twenty-four of the companies surveyed were based in South Africa, and of the respondents 39 per cent worked at C-suite level and a further 52 per cent in senior management.

The relatively low uptake of AI by business across the region may be due to the fact that organisations, excusably given media coverage of the subject, tend to focus on the headlining application of AI: Machine Learning. This was defined for the purposes of the study as "A computer's ability to ‘learn' from data, either supervised or non-supervised". Some 61 per cent of companies in the study stated that they were using or planning to use Machine Learning, a much higher proportion than was the case with any other sort of AI deployment. The study authors added:

U.S. Elections Are Still Not Safe From Attack

By Lawrence Norden And Daniel I. Weiner 

Russia’s attack on American elections in 2016, described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent report as “sweeping and systematic,” came as a shock to many. It shouldn’t have. Experts had been warning of the danger of foreign meddling in U.S. elections for years. Already by 2016, the wholesale adoption of computerized voting had weakened safeguards against interference and left the United States vulnerable to an attack. So, too, the shift to digital media and communications had opened new gaps in security and the law that could be used for manipulation and blackmail. 

Russia—and perhaps other powers like China and Iran—will likely try to exploit these vulnerabilities once again in 2020. The United States was caught flatfooted the last time. Now, nearly three years after the Russian efforts first came to light, the United States has made relatively little progress toward hardening its electoral system against interference. Each day it waits to do so raises the likelihood of another election tainted by significant foreign meddling. 

Russia’s Military Leaders Exploit Lessons From Experiments in Syria

By Roger McDermott

The leadership of the Russian Armed Forces at the defense ministry and General Staff levels is exploiting lessons learned from the country’s recent involvement in foreign conflicts as part of a process to enhance military capability. This forms part of a much wider “lessons learned” approach to military force development and planning for future warfare that includes assessing the annual operational-strategic military exercises, studying the results of the snap inspections of military units, gleaning insights from foreign militaries, and refining planning based on Russian combat experience. This complex practical and scientific process is also influencing how Russian defense planners think about future warfare (see EDM, June 5, 2019), though most of the direct operational lessons appear focused on Syria (see EDM, December 12, 2017).

In a recent article for Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, military expert Anatoly Tsyganokanalyzed many of the features and lessons of foreign conflicts and those involving Russia; the latter concentrated on Georgia, Ukraine and, especially, the operational lessons drawn from Syria. Of course, many of these lessons at the highest levels of the defense leadership remain classified; yet, some of the public discussion sheds light on the context and the nature of the importance of these operations in Russian military development. The operations that began in Syria in the fall of 2015 largely involved the Aerospace Forces (Vozdushno-Kosmicheskiye Sily—VKS) as the key element, but have also included other branches and arms of service as Moscow used the intervention as a massive combat training opportunity for its military (NezavisimoyeVoyennoye Obozreniye, July 19).

Using Commercial Satellites To Control Nuclear Weapons Is A Bad Idea -- But It's Being Discussed

Loren Thompson

Next month marks the 70th anniversary of the day in 1949 when U.S. intelligence discovered the Soviet Union had conducted its first successful test of a nuclear weapon. From that day forward, most Americans have understood that nuclear war would likely be the worst fate that could ever befall our republic.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the appearance of new threats, though, the sense of urgency about nuclear security has waned. The infrastructure supporting nuclear deterrence has decayed to a point where all three legs of the strategic “triad”—land-based missiles, sea-based missiles and long-range bombers—need to be replaced. Meanwhile, the architecture used to command and control nuclear forces has changed little since the Reagan era.

Against this backdrop, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force said something curious at a meeting of the Mitchell Institute on June 26. The institute recently produced a report focused on the need to modernize technology for nuclear command and control. General David Goldfein opined that ongoing efforts to network the Air Force were as relevant to control of nuclear forces as conventional forces.

Economic Warfare as a Second-Best Tack

By Fabio Rafael Fiallo

Any introductory course to international economics will educate students on the so-called theory of the second best. The theory can be formulated as follows: If several distortions to perfect competition are at work, the elimination of some (but not all) of those distortions does not necessarily lead to improving conditions. Thus, if a set of tariffs, export restrictions, or import quotas is in place, removing some, but not all, of those hurdles may actually have an adverse impact on trade, and for that matter on the economy as a whole. It follows that under certain circumstances it may be more efficient to create further distortions -- that is, to introduce new restrictions -- rather than removing only a portion of the prevailing ones. 

Conclusion: in the absence of perfect (fair) competition -- which the theory in question labels the “first best” situation -- the “second-best” option may be to impose additional distortions or constraints.

The second-best narrative provides the rationale for a wide range of economic measures intended to react to market imperfections. It has been used to justify not only the imposition of tariffs and other barriers to trade, but also the formation of customs unions and the introduction of welfare benefits.

Yes, the U.S. Exports Oil, but We’re Not Energy Independent


Is the United States really energy independent? Is Iran? As the two nations inch toward confrontation, the complexity of those questions is worth considering.

Iran, like many petro-powers, had long maintained a one-horse economy based on extraction. Oil and petroleum-related products account for almost all of its exports — take those away, and you’re down to fruits and nuts.

Iran has an awesome abundance of oil but for many years did relatively little to develop its refining capacity, without which crude oil is not very useful. That is partly the result of Iran’s having a feckless and corrupt government and partly the result of sanctions that made building new refineries very difficult. When the expansion of the Persian Gulf Star Refinery at Bandar Abbas came on line in 2018, that doubled Iran’s domestic refining capacity and greatly reduced the country’s gasoline imports. The Iranian regime has declared the country liberated from the need to import gasoline, but it currently disallows most exports, and the CEO of the state refining company only a week ago decried the “prohibitive consumption” of gasoline — which is now at a record level — suggesting that the domestic supply is not quite as abundant as the ayatollahs would like.

Max Weber Diagnosed His Time and Ours

By Robert Zaretsky 

In early 1919, Germany risked becoming a failed state. Total war had morphed into a civil war that pitted revolutionaries against reactionaries, internationalists against nationalists, and civilians against soldiers. Munich was the bloodiest arena: over a few short months, the city was ruled by a Bavarian king, a socialist prime minister, and a Soviet republic. The first was overthrown, the second murdered, and supporters of the third slaughtered. “Everything is wretched, and everything is bloody,” Victor Klemperer, a professor at the University of Munich, wrote in his diary, “and you always want to laugh and cry at once.”

These events framed the much-anticipated lecture “Politics as a Vocation” that Klemperer’s colleague Max Weber gave that same year. One hundred years later, there are few better texts to serve as a guide for the increasingly wretched and violent events now unfolding in our own time and place. In particular, Weber’s discussion of the charismatic politician, as well as his distinction between the ethics of conviction and the ethics of responsibility, has perhaps even greater relevance in our own era than in his. 


With the Prospects Fading for a U.S.-China Trade Deal, Trump Turns to Japan

Kimberly Ann Elliott

Weeks after Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a truce in the U.S.-China trade war on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, negotiations remain on pause, and speculation is growing that neither side is particularly eager for a deal. Last week, reports emerged that American and Japanese negotiators are intensifying efforts to strike a smaller trade deal that Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could sign during the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. The news hardly looks like a coincidence.

Europe's Weeklong Satellite Outage Is Over—But Still Serves as a Warning

Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system largely regained service Thursday, a full week after a mass outage began on July 11. The European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency, known as GSA, said that commercial users would start to see coverage returning, but that there might be "fluctuations" in the system. What remains unclear is what exactly caused the downtime—and why it persisted for so long.

The incident took down all of the GPS-like system's timing and navigation features other than "Search and Rescue," which helps locate people in remote areas. As the days dragged on, what might have simply been an inconvenient blip ballooned into a major incident. And while European systems and services can still fall back to other timing and navigation options, like GPS, the prolonged outage serves as a chilling reminder of the modern world's intrinsic reliance on fallible global positioning systems.

Iran Is Acting Like the International Villain of Trump’s Prophecy


It was an explosion at an Iran-aligned Shiite militia base in an obscure corner of Iraq—at worst, it could have had global implications, by plunging the United States and Iran into a dangerous new round of escalation.

The speculation on social media about the incident last week was rife: Perhaps it was a U.S. or Israeli air strike against Iranian weapons or proxies. On the heels of the U.S. downing of an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, either seemed possible, especially since Iraq’s militia already had the potential to become the next flashpoint in the U.S.-Iran crisis. The fevered conjecture even led the U.S. to issue a statement, saying Washington was not involved in the incident.

The reports that emerged in the following hours and days suggested more mundane scenarios. The Iraqi military said the base had been hit by a grenade dropped from a drone—a relatively unsophisticated style of attack that ISIS often deploys and that anyone with a consumer drone and some mechanical skill could carry out. Then, on Monday, an Iraqi media report said the militia had launched its own investigation into the explosion and determined it was caused by a fire.

The study of history is in decline in Britain

Whatever you think about recent events in Britain, you cannot deny that they qualify as historic. The country is trying to make a fundamental change in its relationship with the continent. The Conservative Party is in danger of splitting asunder and handing power to a far-left Labour Party. All this is taking place against the backdrop of a fracturing of the Western alliance and a resurgence of authoritarian populism.

Yet even as history’s chariot thunders at a furious pace, the study of history in British universities is in trouble. The subject used to hold a central position in national life. A scholarship to read history at one of the ancient universities was both a rite of passage for established members of the elite and a ticket into the elite for clever provincial boys, as Alan Bennett documented so touchingly in his play “The History Boys”. Prominent historians such as A.J.P. Taylor and Hugh Trevor-Roper were public figures who spoke to the nation about both historical and contemporary events. The Sunday Times had Trevor-Roper on retainer to write special reports on big news stories and Taylor’s televised lectures attracted millions of viewers.

How AI Will Help Radar Detect Tiny Drones 3 Kilometers Away


Long before the U.S. Navy fried an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz, the Pentagon was highlighting the difficulties of fending off small unmanned aircraft. The farther away you can spot them, the better. But as drones get smaller, detecting at distance isn’t easy.

A team of researchers from South Korea and California has figured out how to detect incredibly small disturbances in radar returns that could indicate the presence of small drones, perhaps as far as three kilometers away — enough to give airports, police, and militaries a big hand in stopping them. 

The researchers, from the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology and California State University at Fresno, paired an active electronically scanned array, or AESA, radar, with a neural networking tool called a Generative Adversarial Network, or GAN.

The Army wants better cyber defense in 4 areas

By: Mark Pomerleau 

The Army’s research and development community is looking for contractor information in developing state-of-the-art cyber defenses that can improve decision-making across the battlefield.

In a notice posted online, the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Cyber, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center’s Space & Terrestrial Communications Directorate; Cybersecurity Defense Operations and Research (CDOR) Branch is looking for capabilities to support cyber operations and security in four areas:

Battlespace awareness. Providing friendly forces with better information to improve decision making to gain an advantage over the adversary. This can include combining intelligence related to threats, adversaries, technology and environment information.

The radical politics of futurists and fascists—and us, here, today

by K.N.C.

MUCH OF what exists originated as an inkling in the human mind. That enslaving other people is acceptable; that it is utterly heinous. That a royal despot is the norm; that freedom, rights and self-governance is better. Conservative or left-leaning, capitalist or Marxists, sushi-lover or vegan—they’re all products of thinking.

A history of these synaptic outputs is the subject of Felipe Fernández-Armesto’s latest book, “Out of Our Minds: A History of What We Think and How We Think It” (Oneworld, 2019). It covers the range of human ideas, from prehistoric man’s preoccupations to artificial intelligence. But the focus is on topics like the emergence of scientific truth and democracy—themes that seem under threat today, with talk of “fake news” and authoritarians on the march.


William Hodge

Gen. Mark Milley became the Army chief of staff in 2015. In the four years he has held that position, his highest priority has not changed: prepare the US Army to fight and win a peer or near-peer conflict fundamentally different from the ones that it has experienced in the twenty-first century. Success will require not only the embrace of new technology, but also a revival of skills that have withered during recent counterinsurgency operations. One of these skills is, as described by Gen. Milley, the ability to “deliver massed timely and accurate” artillery fire in support of ground forces. In a counterinsurgency, where enemy combatants mingle with civilian populations and aircraft with precision munitions face little threat from enemy air defenses, field artillery is unsurprisingly the last choice for a ground force commander. Unfortunately, the resulting reliance on airpower has produced an Army of battalion and company commanders who lack the experience to fully employ surface fires in support of their operations.

The World Used to Fear German Militarism. Then It Disappeared.

By Jochen Bittner

HAMBURG, Germany — The rebuff from Berlin may have been rough, but at least it marked a new age of clarity. Not only did the German government decline a recent American request to send ground troops to Syria to fight the remnants of ISIS, but it didn’t even consider the idea: There was no debate in the Bundestag, and not even a real one in the press.

This year, Germany’s postwar federal republic turns 70. Born from the moral and physical rubble of World War II, and reunited only 30 years ago, some of its national character traits are still being formed. Others have fully matured — including a deep and abiding anti-militarism. 

Germany didn’t start out on this path alone. After 1945, having crushed the Nazi regime, the Western allies granted West Germany its own army, but only as a deterrent against the Soviet Union. It was fully integrated into NATO, with no general staff of its own. Instead, Bonn paid upkeep for the American troops stationed in West Germany. From the start, responsibility for national security was outsourced to others.