8 September 2020

Chinese Chatter: What strategic experts from the other side think about Ladakh standoff

Antara Ghosal Singh

At a time when the latest conflict between Indian and Chinese troops on the southern bank of Pangong Tso in Ladakh has raised concerns over escalation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a perspective on how the Chinese strategic community has been analysing the situation is rather enlightening.

The development has created quite a buzz among Chinese strategic circles. While discussing the development, the key argument among Chinese strategists is that the recent border incident is India's bid to add bargaining chip at the negotiation table.

Qian Feng, director of the research department of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University in Beijing, has been quoted in the Chinese media, saying that the Indian side is unhappy about the progress in negotiations and believes that China has not accepted its conditions. Therefore, to put pressure on China at the next round of negotiation, it has made an attempt to open up new confrontation points. Not just that, the Chinese side also noted with concern the news about India sending warships to the South China Sea.

India Deploys Ethnic Tibetan Special Operators Against China: What Next?

By Abhijnan Rej

As the India-China military crisis in eastern Ladakh enters its fourth month, there are scant signs that a peaceful solution is in the offing any time soon. On Monday morning, the Indian government issued a statement which noted that the army had pre-empted a Chinese push into the southern bank of the Pangong Lake, suggesting a new area of dispute had been created. (Up until the Indian statement, it was believed that the northern bank of the lake along with a few other points in eastern Ladakh where the only flashpoints.)

Soon after this, the Chinese government in a barrage of statements accused India of attempting to change the status quo in eastern Ladakh at two points through a military push. Over the past few days, both governments have provided little clarity on what, in fact, is going on and have focused on generalities of the situation instead. Absent the opportunity for ground reporting, most journalists covering the developments have relied on anonymous government sources.

But sifting through media reports, two interrelated things have become clear, each of which has tremendous import for the future of the India-China crisis and the relationship in general. One, after months of prevarication, India’s military posture in eastern Ladakh is now extremely robust. Two, New Delhi is willing to deploy sharp tools to settle the dispute on its own terms, or at least force China to negotiate in good faith.

Is There an Indian Way of Foreign Policy? The Country’s Foreign Minister Thinks So

By Abhijnan Rej

Speaking at the launch of his new book “The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World” earlier today at a virtual event organized by a New Delhi think tank, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar noted that the recent shift in U.S. position about its global role and the rise of China are the two of the most pressing issues shaping the international system today. Celebrated in a four-decade plus career as a diplomat, the cerebral Jaishankar assumed his cabinet role last year after Narendra Modi won a second term as India’s prime minister. Jaishankar had previously been India’s foreign secretary and ambassador to China as well as the United States, along with holding other key positions in the foreign ministry.

Jaishankar – whose book seeks to present a big picture analysis of the world India now finds itself in and present strategies to deal with it – reiterated a claim that has increasingly become a trademark assertion of India’s foreign policy under Modi in his second term: That “the world of agreements are over,” and instead, a future world order will revolve around issue-based convergence between countries. As I have recently written in these pages, this formulation is what has allowed India to simultaneously engage Russia and China on one hand, and the United States, Japan, and Australia on the other without appearing to be contradictory.

Speaking of BRICS, Jaishankar noted that one of the benefits of the grouping was that it allowed India to have a transcontinental reach including into South America. He also noted India’s need to engage with the West — though not solely by focusing on the country’s relationship with the U.S. — emphasizing his government’s outreach efforts to Europe. While Jaishankar claimed that India’s traditional posture of strategic autonomy should not be confused with “strategic ambiguity,” a diverse basket of relationships still remains the mainstay of India’s foreign policy.

Tracking variables of reconstruction and security in post-9/11 Afghanistan

Sam Gollob and Michael E. O’Hanlon


The Brookings Afghanistan Index presents numerical information on a range of security, economic, and political indicators of pertinence to the future of that country as well as the U.S. role within it. The Index was originally created in the early years of the 2000s, after a U.S.-led coalition overthrew the Taliban, pursued al-Qaida in the region, and sought to help Afghans build a state that could keep such extremist groups from regaining major footholds in the future. Our goal, then and now, is to present a wide enough array of information to gauge many aspects of the effort, without swamping a reader in so much detail or arcana as to obscure attention to the big-picture policy questions facing the United States and its allies and partners there.

No compilation of statistics can ever convey whether a counterinsurgency campaign is being won or lost, and whether a country is managing to stabilize itself or not. This lesson was learned in Vietnam and must never be forgotten. But careful compilation and study of metrics, recognizing the uncertainties and complexities of the data going into them, can nonetheless provide grist for policy debates — and keep those policy debates grounded in empirical reality. As the data show, Afghanistan remains a violent, impoverished, and unsettled place — but nonetheless a country considerably better off by most measures than it was in 2001, and hosting a far smaller U.S. and NATO troop presence than was present at most times over the past two decades.

What war with China could look like

Pentagon war planners can envision a conflict with China starting in any number of ways.

For example, they fear a scenario that might involve a mass of Chinese military forces posturing along China’s coast near Taiwan and the aggressive reorientation of Chinese missile systems that would start setting off alarms in Washington, D.C.

Top military leaders in Indo-Pacific Command would brace for reports of cyber attacks, satellites shutting down, vessels crowding and swarming various ships and ports across the South China Sea.

More than a dozen experts contacted by Military Times described how this hypothetical nightmare could erupt fully, perhaps as Chinese missiles start hitting targets in Taiwan. A conflict could spin out of control quickly as sensors across the region light up with simultaneous events, stretching the United States and its allies in every imaginable domain all at once.

Biden Is Now a China Hawk—With Limits

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Joe Biden seems to have concluded that China has become America’s sworn enemy. In April he ran on ad that depicted Donald Trump as a stooge who had “rolled over for the Chinese” in the midst of a pandemic for which the Chinese themselves may well have been responsible. In his one-on-one debate with Bernie Sanders, Biden claimed that China’s communist regime had made only “marginal” improvements in national well-being over the previous 40 years, cutting short any further comment with a curt, “China is an authoritarian dictatorship.”

Biden sounds a lot like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who in a speech earlier this mocked what he called “the old paradigm of blind engagement” with China, accusing President Xi Jinping of seeking “global hegemony of Chinese communism.” I wrote earlier that a President Biden would rally the world’s democracies against a rising authoritarian threat. Does he, like Pompeo, foresee a new Cold War with China?

Actually, he doesn’t. Biden has simply learned that beating up on China has become a cost-free way to prove your toughness. That wasn’t true even when he left office; his new bellicosity demonstrates how very quickly the consensus on China has shifted both in the broad public and among policymakers.

U.S. and China Should Seek a Truce in Tech Cold War

Wang Huiyao

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It would be easy to dismiss the Trump administration’s campaign against Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat as part of an election strategy to attack China from all angles. The moves, however, as well as China’s counter-response, are contributing to a deeper problem at the heart of the global economy — one that can’t be resolved unless the world’s two biggest economies work together.

Just as oil opened new possibilities for trade in the last century, data has become the lifeblood of trade growth in the 21st century. Trade in digital services, including apps such as TikTok, is booming. Data flows increasingly underpin trade in physical goods, too, supporting complex global value chains and emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The amount of cross-border bandwidth in use increased 148 times between 2005 and 2017, according to consultants McKinsey and Co.

Meanwhile, however, global trade rules have barely changed since the 1990s. In effect, the world is trying to run a 21st-century, cloud-based economy on the equivalent of Windows 95.

In the absence of shared global norms on how data flows should be governed, domestic policymakers everywhere are developing their own “patches” to regulate data and protect national security and their citizens’ privacy. The European Union implemented its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. China has passed a sweeping cyber-security law and, like India, is working on a major data protection law.

Would a Biden administration be softer than Trump on China?

In december 2018 China hawks in the Trump administration pushed a series of punitive measures in what some referred to internally, according to a new book by Bob Davis and Lingling Wei, as “Fuck China Week”. That was as nothing compared with what happened in the month of July 2020.

In recent weeks America has imposed sanctions on senior Chinese officials, including a member of the Politburo, for their part in atrocities against Uighurs in Xinjiang; added 11 Chinese companies to the Commerce Department’s blacklist, for complicity in those atrocities; declared China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea illegal; revoked Hong Kong’s special status for diplomacy and trade; announced criminal charges against four Chinese nationals who officials say were spies for the People’s Liberation Army; and ordered the closure of China’s consulate in Houston, supposedly a hub for espionage and influence operations, the first such move since the normalisation of relations in 1979 (China retaliated by closing America’s consulate in Chengdu). The first hint of trouble in Houston came when videos surfaced online of Chinese diplomats hurriedly burning documents in their courtyard—an apt metaphor for more than 40 years of diplomatic engagement going up in smoke.

All this has happened under a president, Donald Trump, who displays a personal affinity for his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, and (according to his former national security adviser, John Bolton) told Mr Xi that building camps for Uighurs was “the right thing to do”. He has shown little appetite for fights with China except over trade and, to deflect blame for his response to covid-19, the pandemic. But with time running out in his first term—and perhaps his presidency—hawkish officials around him are trying to fix in concrete a more confrontational posture than America has adopted since before Richard Nixon went to China almost half a century ago.

COVID-19 and China’s information diplomacy in Southeast Asia

Audrye Wong

Amidst growing attention in the United States to authoritarian foreign influence operations, China has been actively developing and mounting its own information campaigns in an attempt to shape global narratives. Such narratives are not only propagated through official channels and traditional state media propaganda — including what have come to be known as “wolf warrior”-style diplomats — but also amplified through the manipulation of social media platforms. Especially in response to recent crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Hong Kong protests, Beijing appears to have partially adopted Moscow’s disinformation playbook.

At the same time, China’s choice of tactics has varied across regions and countries. In Southeast Asia, Beijing has focused on striking a cooperative tone and highlighting China’s positive image. This contrasts with its highly aggressive information operations toward the United States and Europe. Chinese state media coverage emphasized Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) solidarity and cooperation with China in fighting the virus, as well as Southeast Asian leaders’ expressions of confidence in the Chinese government’s ability to control the outbreak. Additionally, in line with Beijing’s widespread touting of its mask diplomacy, Southeast Asian countries were presented as examples of China’s largesse.

Unsurprisingly, social media platforms have become an important part of the information propagation toolkit. For example, the Chinese embassy in Manila is relatively active on Twitter. In addition to rebutting U.S. policies toward China, it has spotlighted Beijing’s continued medical assistance to the Philippines, and trumpeted President Rodrigo Duterte’s plea to Xi Jinping for the Philippines to gain priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine (and Manila’s subsequent gratitude). Similarly, the Chinese embassy in Bangkok publicized on its Facebook page additional deliveries of medical supplies and personal protective equipment to Thailand in May and June.

Biden Is Now a China Hawk—With Limits


Joe Biden seems to have concluded that China has become America’s sworn enemy. In April he ran on ad that depicted Donald Trump as a stooge who had “rolled over for the Chinese” in the midst of a pandemic for which the Chinese themselves may well have been responsible. In his one-on-one debate with Bernie Sanders, Biden claimed that China’s communist regime had made only “marginal” improvements in national well-being over the previous 40 years, cutting short any further comment with a curt, “China is an authoritarian dictatorship.”

Biden sounds a lot like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who in a speech earlier this mocked what he called “the old paradigm of blind engagement” with China, accusing President Xi Jinping of seeking “global hegemony of Chinese communism.” I wrote earlier that a President Biden would rally the world’s democracies against a rising authoritarian threat. Does he, like Pompeo, foresee a new Cold War with China?

Actually, he doesn’t. Biden has simply learned that beating up on China has become a cost-free way to prove your toughness. That wasn’t true even when he left office; his new bellicosity demonstrates how very quickly the consensus on China has shifted both in the broad public and among policymakers.

How China Strengthens the Quad

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or the Quad has regained strength in the face of an aggressive China. The foreign ministers of the four countries – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – are scheduled to meet in Delhi for a face-to-face meeting in late September. That New Delhi is playing host to the Quad ministerial meeting amid the COVOD-19 pandemic is particularly noteworthy. The countries are reacting to increased bullying by China. The grouping has gained greater traction since early 2020 because of Beijing’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic and the manner in which it has attempted to hijack multilateral institutions, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The four countries are also concerned about global supply chain problems, recognizing the vulnerability of their dependence on China. The upcoming in-person foreign ministers meeting appears, at the least, aimed at sending a strong message to China about the resoluteness of the Quad. 

That said, the Quad does face some minor headwinds, which are likely to be easily overcome, due to political changes in both Japan and the United States.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s sudden resignation was a blow to the Quad because Abe was one of the major proponents of this minilateral initiative, even if his departure does not shift Japan’s policy. Under Abe’s leadership, Japan had become a driving force for the Quad. His strategic vision and determined leadership in the face of China’s belligerent behavior will be missed by Japan’s Quad partners. Although Abe was not successful in changing Japan’s pacifist constitution, he has been instrumental in bringing important changes to Tokyo’s approach to regional and global security. 

China Doesn’t Understand Europe, and It Shows

By Andreea Brînză

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi addresses the media during a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas as part of a meeting in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.Credit: AP Photo/Michael Sohn, pool

Some years ago, both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang showed a fondness for referencing popular American television shows including “Game of Thrones” and “House of Cards.” While they seen to display a firm grasp on Western pop culture, they seem to lack a thorough understanding of European politics. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent diplomatic tour to Western Europe was a vivid case in point.

While his tour was designed to improve China’s post-pandemic image in Europe, some of Wang’s statements only made things worse for China. In Norway, while answering a question about the Nobel Peace Prize and Hong Kong, Wang said that China won’t allow the politicization of the Nobel Prize by interfering in China’s internal affairs — a response that many in the West read as a Chinese threat against awarding the Nobel Prize to Hong Kong protesters. Later, while in Germany, Wang criticized the Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil’s visit to Taiwan and warned that it would incur a “heavy price” — another threat against a European country for doing something considered normal in a democratic state.

Protection from China’s Comprehensive National Power Requires Comprehensive National Defense

Cleo Paskal
Source Link

Those trying to describe China’s strategy often invoke the two-thousand-five-hundred-year-old Art of War. But some more recent sources might be helpful as well – in particular documents looking at China’s modern, homegrown concept of Comprehensive National Power (CNP).

China’s Ministry of State Security-linked think tank, the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, describes CNP as the “total of the powers or strengths of a country in economics, military affairs, science and technology, education, resources, and influence.”

In practice, it is actually even broader than that. CNP leverages the widest possible range of factors, including economic resources, human capital, natural resources (arable land, access to freshwater, energy sources, critical minerals, etc.), capital (domestic investment, foreign direct investment, market capitalization, etc.), knowledge and technology (including government spending on research and development), government resources (including both current and capital fiscal spending by the central government), military, and a vast array of international resources.

An article by Lt Gen (Dr.) JS Bajwa (Ret.) in CLAWS Journal describes CNP as “notable for being an original Chinese political concept with no roots in contemporary Western political theory, Marxism-Leninism, or pre-20th century Chinese.”

Turkey’s Black Sea Natural Gas Find is No Economic Miracle

by Stephen Blank

With the announcement of a large natural gas find in the Black Sea, Turkey is looking to become a power player in the energy sphere. But the discovery is nowhere near large enough for the country to become energy independent, and domestic and international constraints on Ankara mean it likely will not stop its aggressive foreign policy moves in the near future.

Energy issues lie at the heart of Turkey’s aggressive quest for great power status throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant. This fact makes President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Aug. 21 announcement of the biggest natural gas find in Turkish history highly important. In his announcement, Erdogan said the find constituted 320 billion cubic meters (bcm) and is part of a much larger source. Turkey says it expects to make gas from the find available to the market in 2023.

Despite the hype, this discovery on its own does not resolve Turkey’s gas issues. Indeed, it is by no means clear that this amount of gas can be turned over to the market, let alone that abundant linked reserves are sitting in the Black Sea waiting for Turkey to discover them. Neither is it obvious that this discovery will moderate Turkey’s aggressive behavior in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The UAE-Israel Deal Spells Big Trouble For Iran

By John Hannah

Watching Israel’s national carrier, El Al, make its maiden trip to the United Arab Emirates on Monday, including an overflight of Saudi Arabia, was itself history-making. The passenger list—a group of top American and Israeli officials, led by President Trump’s senior aide and son-in-law, Jared Kushner—only added to the moment’s significance. But it’s the work that these officials do with their Emirati counterparts in the coming weeks and months that has the potential to fundamentally alter the Middle East's strategic landscape, especially for countering the Iranian threat.

Make no mistake: The normalization deal is a major blow to Iran’s already-battered regional standing. Sure, it’s not the first breakthrough that Israel’s had with an Arab country. The peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan have been on the books for decades.

But the UAE deal is the first in a generation, ending a 26-year long dry spell. It’s also the first with one of the six Gulf Arab states that sit directly on Iran’s doorstep. The Emirates, whose population (minus expatriates) might, with some creative accounting, approach one fortieth the size of Iran’s, acted in brazen defiance of the Tehran-led resistance camp on an issue—peace with the Zionist entity—absolutely central to the Islamic Republic’s ideological creed. Talk about a lack of fear or respect for Iranian power. You couldn’t do better than the videos of beaming Emirati children celebrating the Israeli delegation’s arrival by waving the Jewish state’s flag alongside balloons decked out in blue and white, its national colors. 

Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI)

Perspectives on Terrorism, August 2020, v.14, no. 4

Illicit Trade and Terrorism

Breaking Hezbollah’s ‘Golden Rule’: An Inside Look at the Modus Operandi of Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad Organization

ISIS Resurgence in Al Hawl Camp and Human Smuggling Enterprises in Syria: Crime and Terror Convergence?

The Use of Terrorist Tools by Criminal Organizations: The Case of the Brazilian Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC)

Cartel-Related Violence in Mexico as Narco-Terrorism or Criminal Insurgency: A Literature Review

Network vs. Network: Countering Crime-Terror by Combining the Strengths of Law Enforcement, Military and Academia

Bibliography: Terrorism and Organized Crime in Latin America

Counterterrorism Bookshelf: 28 Books on Terrorism & Counter-Terrorism-Related Subjects

Bibliography: Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh)

Recent Online Resources for the Analysis of Terrorism and Related Subjects

The US cooperated with the Soviets on smallpox – it should do the same with China on COVID-19 vaccine distribution

James Haynes and Cheng Li

But amid both of these downward trends, the U.S. and China have a window of opportunity to make diplomatic inroads through international cooperation while beating back COVID-19. This would benefit both countries – and it wouldn’t be the first time two rivals have stood shoulder-to-shoulder against disease.

At the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, the U.S.-based Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Soviet Union’s Institute of Virus Preparations cooperated to distribute a smallpox vaccine to developing countries. According to global health scholar Dr. Peter Hotez, the USSR provided “450 million doses of vaccine to support global smallpox eradication campaigns in developing countries, while the US provided key financial support.” The World Health Organization (WHO) had previously underfunded inoculation efforts since the effort was considered “a logistical nightmare.” So the two nominally adverse superpowers joined forces to spearhead inoculation efforts. By 1980, the world was free of smallpox.

Inspiring though this story may be, the idea of great powers cooperating to fight COVID-19 has noticeable differences. COVID-19 is a worldwide pandemic that neither the U.S. nor China have fully eradicated, and it is occurring concurrently with fundamental restructuring of U.S.-China relations.

Will Trump’s Trade Wars Reshape the Global Economy?

Once relatively staid, the global economic and trade system has been anything but since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

Though it’s been overshadowed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S.-China trade war has not been definitively resolved. In January, the two countries hit the pause on the on again, off again dispute, which began in 2018 when Trump launched a series of tit-for-tat tariff hikes over China’s perceived unfair trade practices, including forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property. After several rounds of talks stalled over the course of the following 18 months, the two sides signed a limited “phase one” agreement in January, giving them more time to try to iron out their broader differences. But the terms of the stopgap deal, particularly China’s required purchases of a range of U.S. products and goods, were already going to be difficult to achieve under normal circumstances. The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will now call them even further into question, with no guarantees for an agreement in broader “phase two” talks.

Trump’s unpredictable negotiating style and his willingness to brandish the threat of tariffs for leverage in trade talks cannot be particularly reassuring to European officials, who have yet to start their own trade negotiations with the U.S. Trump has already decried what he sees as unfair trade deficits with European Union countries, particularly Germany, and he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from some allies, without seeming to understand that the EU negotiates trade terms as a bloc. A U.S.-Europe trade war could do lasting damage to both sides.

What Donald Trump should have done with North Korea — and what the next president should do

Michael E. O’Hanlon

President Donald Trump recklessly risked war over North Korea in 2017, but then appeared to make relatively good use of that scare by starting a negotiation process with Kim Jong-un the following two years. Unfortunately, the momentum is now gone, and we are back to almost where we started three and a half years ago. At least North Korea is not testing nuclear weapons or long-range missiles right now, but it could resume those tests—and it has never stopped building more nukes. The next president, Biden or a reelected Trump, needs to break out of this logjam.

There is a way ahead. Rather than pursue complete elimination of all of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, the Trump administration would aim for a more modest trade as at least an interim step. It would require North Korea to verifiably dismantle all capabilities it possesses to make more bombs in exchange for a partial lifting of the sanctions which have driven North Korea’s economy into the tank.

The terms of such an agreement would follow logically from the February 2019 Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi, where the North offered to dismantle some of its nuclear production capability in exchange for a lifting of all sanctions, and where President Trump then walked. Washington’s new proposal would simply toughen and improve the terms of this kind of trade, requiring the dismantlement of all plutonium and enriched uranium infrastructure in exchange for a lifting of some of the sanctions.

An appropriate European Union response to tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean


The European Union is seeking to mediate in a naval confrontation on its doorstep, in the Eastern Mediterranean, which involves NATO partners Greece and Turkey, as well as EU member Cyprus. EU foreign ministers are discussing the issue and, without de-escalation, sanctions against Turkey could be implemented. But so far, the two most powerful EU nations have adopted a ‘good cop, bad cop’ approach that conveys different and confusing messages – and has not prevented escalation. Chancellor Angela Merkel, with the added authority of holding the EU’s six-month revolving presidency, has launched a German initiative to prevent escalation, reduce tensions and overcome longstanding conflicts. But French President Emmanuel Macron, while not eschewing mediation, has opted for a show of force, sending French naval vessels into disputed waters to counter the presence of Turkish warships.

Deep-rooted dispute

The dispute is ostensibly over ownership of offshore gas deposits and the delimitation of 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

Turkey has sent exploration vessels and warships into waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus and begun drilling for gas. Despite its 1,600 kilometre Mediterranean coastline, Turkey is the only Eastern Mediterranean state without internationally recognised rights to offshore resources in the area because nearby Greek islands and Cyprus have secured the right to generate EEZs under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Turkey is one of fifteen UN members that is not a party to UNCLOS, and Ankara insists that Turkey’s continental shelf gives it ownership rights that take priority over the UNCLOS-backed claims of Cyprus and Greece.

The Middle East Just Doesn’t Matter as Much Any Longer


Joe Biden has made clear that he wants America “back at the head of the table” to “rally the free world to meet the challenges facing the world today. ... No other nation has that capacity.”

While it is essential for the United States to restore U.S. leadership and credibility on issues that are vital to national security and prosperity—most notably, global health cooperation, combating global warming and pushing back on China’s predatory trade practices—there is one region that simply isn’t as important as it used to be: the Middle East.

No matter who wins the White House in November, it is important to recognize that in recent years, the turbulent Middle East—where more often than not American ideas go to die—has become decidedly less important to American foreign policy and to our interests. The change reflects not only new regional dynamics and U.S. domestic priorities but the changing nature of American interests there.

American leadership and exceptionalism cannot fix a broken Middle East or play a major role in leading it to a better future. The U.S. still has interests there to protect but America needs to be realistic, prudent and disciplined in how it secures them. If we can learn to act with restraint, we’ll avoid the overreach, arrogance and self-inflicted wounds that have caused us and many others so much unnecessary misery and trouble.

Terry Glavin: Belarus is a battle for the heart and soul of Europe

Terry Glavin
Source Link

Now that the regime of Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has been caught red-handed rigging yet another election, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that the dramatic upheavals in the impoverished republic present Europe with its greatest challenge since Britons voted four years ago to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union.

The trouble is, most European leaders prefer to pretend that the Belarusian convulsions can be contained with meetings, “dialogue” and other such diplomatic stupidities of the kind the EU applied the last time, in 2015, and in 2010, and in 2006, after Lukashenko pulled off a 2004 constitutional term-limit heist that transformed his 1994 post-Soviet election win into a sinecure as president for life.

It’s not going to work this time around. The opposition is more determined. The street demonstrations are larger, by an order of magnitude. The repression is more obscene, and with Russian President Vladimir Putin threatening a military intervention on Lukashenko’s behalf, the stakes are higher than before. The Belarusian people have had enough.

This isn’t Mali or Myanmar. This is all happening in the heart of Europe, and either democracy wins, or Europe gets bested and beaten by a Moscow-backed thug regime that’s like something straight out of some Warsaw Pact nightmare.

U.S. Strategic Culture and Ballistic Missile Defense

By Michael Rühle

For decades, ballistic missile defense and its alleged “stabilizing” or “de-stabilizing” effects have been among the most controversial issues in the international security debate. Like genetically modified food or homeopathic medicine, everyone has an opinion on it, no matter how superficial. It is also an area where the United States and Europe have sometimes struggled to find common ground. Europeans share U.S. concerns about the risks posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, and some allies are deploying their own missile defenses. However, many of them do not share the vigor demonstrated by the United States in searching for technical solutions. For many European observers, missile defense remains a U.S. obsession: a dose of strategic escapism, fueled by a boundless belief in technology and a desire to regain the invulnerability of a bygone era: “typically American.”

Is the persistent—and bi-partisan—interest of the United States in missile defense “typically American”? As a global power, the United States must pay far more attention to global military-technological developments than its European allies. Since the United States is the only country that extends security assurances to over 30 nations in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, it constantly needs to assess the implications of such a policy, including the vulnerabilities that result from it. The desire for missile defense could thus be explained solely by mainstream political and military analysis. However, a closer look reveals that the U.S. preoccupation with missile defense is indeed much more than that: missile defense is a firm part of its national “strategic culture.”

The Soft Power Army of the 2020’s: An Alternative Perspective

by Christian Tripodi

A recent piece posted in the Wavell Room titled ‘The Soft Power Army of the 2020’s’ ponders the relevance of ‘hard’ military power in our new security era. The coming decades will be characterised not simply by the familiar threats of state-on-state violence or terrorism, but biological devastation, malign influence campaigns and cyber threats. What does this mean, it asks, for the British Army going forward?

The Soft Power Army proposed three distinct but interrelated arguments to answer this question. Firstly, that the concept of traditional war, i.e. violent interstate conflict resulting in a clearly defined victor and vanquished, is outdated and irrelevant. Using the army only for controlled violence in the land/physical domains going forward is, to quote, ‘a fail’.1 Secondly that Britain will likely never have the resources, or national and political will, to contemplate a re-run of the failed interventions (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan) of the past. And thirdly that the Army should, as a consequence of these two aforementioned factors, re-orientate itself more broadly toward the exercise of soft-power, political warfare and influence operations. These capabilities in turn need to be encouraged by way of a number of targeted initiatives; strategic investment in STEM training; a deeper understanding of politics and diplomacy; the development of divergent and critical thinking skills; and efforts to increase the intellectual diversity found within Land HQ’s. It is argued that this combination, namely an acknowledgement of the changing threat environment and the related development of alternative skills and capabilities on the part of Land forces, will provide the British Army with the necessary aptitudes to remain relevant in the rapidly evolving security environment of the 2020’s.2


Iain King 

Ends, ways, and means. Over the past three decades, these three words have become longhand for “strategy”; yet, too often, the formula has let us down.

It was in May 1989 that Col. Arthur F Lykke Jr., a US Army War College professor and retired colonel, published a paper entitled “Defining Military Strategy” and offered up his three-word solution. Ends-Ways-Means has since come to dominate academies, training courses, and strategic planning at all levels, including tactical and operational. From junior officers to the most senior ranks, there is all too widespread consensus that providing an Ends-Ways-Means analysis is a sufficient response to the question, “So, what’s your strategy?”

Occasionally, it is the right response. If you need to tackle a known humanitarian crisis, for example, then an Ends-Ways-Means strategy can do it: give everyone shelter (end) by instructing the army to hand out tents (way) by equipping the army with what they need (means).

But most problems are much harder than that for two important reasons.