Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Final Exam

Defense Statecraft

Spring 2007

Final Exam

Please answer one of the following three questions. Your answer is due by 2:15pm today.

1. Evaluate the Revolution in Military Affairs. Is there really a revolution, or as some commentators have argued, are we merely seeing an evolution of technologies and tactics? What are the international political implications of your answer to this question?
2. The United Kingdom is currently evaluating the purchase of a pair of new aircraft carriers (to be equipped with the F-35B Lightning II), and a new group of nuclear ballistic missile submarines. The former would constitute the primary expeditionary capability of the Royal Navy, and the latter the central nuclear deterrent of the United Kingdom. If the UK could only afford one set, which would you recommend, and why?
3. Various pundits have argued that the United States military is incapable of carrying out competent counter-insurgency operations. Is this an accurate assessment? If so, what is the problem, and can it be solved?

To answer Hans Morgenthau

I strongly agree with Hans Morgenthau about Chinese military is mainly defensive in nature. Of course, there maybe offensive diplomatic language about Taiwan because Chinese think Taiwan is a domestic issue.But I really think Taiwan issue is the only one that chinese government announce that it will not give up " military might".

I want state three points here:

First, it is a common sense that a healthy and normal individual can not only grow with increasing flesh but with no growth of bones. China's military budget grows by 14-18% everyyear with the rapid growth of economics.

Second, China was a continental power countries in history. Great Wall was built over 2000 years ago to defend its territory from Mongolian and Tujue minority nationality. The politics and diplomacy in China Empire in the history was based on continental prosperousness rather than maritime prosperousness. USSR former Navy General Admiral Sergey G. Gorshkov thinks that navy is the essential tool for any empire in history to expand politlical and diplomatic influence. But that is not true for China. The only one historical issue for chinese maritime activity is Zhenghe , a chinese mariner , who sent their marine into Africa with trading and culutual exchange. Until 1860-1870, China began to build navy, Li hongzhang and Zuo zongtang, the chief administrator of Qing Dynasty built a weak navy to defend itself against aggressive Japan.

Third, China has ten different countries in its boundary. Geographic character is the main obstacle for chinese to focus all attention on maritime development. It is impossible for chinese to practice intensive strategy like Great Britain and the United States.

Of course, security dillema happens in East Asia when China began military modernization. So for chinese, I think military transparency and military coopeation like Thousand-ship Navy may be two good ways to settle the doubts.

Security Dilemma Presented by the PLAN

I appreciated your comment 'Dawn is Coming'. The Great Wall is indeed symbolic of Chinese military posture over the past thousands of years; primarily defensive in nature. I couldn't help but feel that you meant to imply that China's navy would be used as a "Great Wall" of the sea to secure China, and China's interests. This is reasonable, a navy is an integral part of defense, particularly for a nation with thousands of miles of coastline.

The world is weary however that the Soviet Air Craft Carrier the Varyag undergoing overhaul now in China, or the second 93,000 ton aircraft carrier currently under construction are not defensive type weapons, neither are the water-born SU-33 fighters that China bought to ride along with it. This is particularly troubling for some analysts when China purchased this aircraft carrier under the pretext that it was to be a floating casino, pictured here. As soon as China started practicing fighter take-offs on its deck and painted it the colors of the PLAN, there was no-longer any question as to China’s intention with this vessel. Casino my 屁股!

President Cheney and Secretary Rice have illustrated this concern as well stating that China’s build-up was inconsistent with China’s claim to a peaceful rise, as I noted in a prior post. I think however that Chinese motivations can still be understood as defensive in nature.

An aircraft carrier, the modern-day Mahanian capital ship, is about power projection. Obviously China has sufficient airfields in mainland China without the added 4 vulnerable acres this aircraft carrier will provide. I think the way to interpret these moves as defensive is to understand that a large portion of China's oil arrives by ship from Middle East and Africa (particularly hotspots like Iran and Sudan). Per Mahan, Naval power is about controlling the flow of goods and men. These oil-tankers ferrying to and from China not only carry oil, but a growing industrial China's energy security as well. While this will always be vulnerability for the PRC, building a blue water navy is the military means to reinforce Chinese energy security.

The problem with China building its navy though is as Stephen Walt’s balance of threat theory suggests, China’s rise will encourage regional neighbors to arm themselves and form alliances to balance a perceived Chinese threat. This will result in a classic security dilemma as delineated by Robert Jervis. China may be unwittingly creating a new twenty-first century arms race in East Asia or with the United States.

How to win China's support in Thousand-ship Navy

Long time ago, China's frontier is great wall, Yumen Guan, in Gansu Province( Northwest part of China) , and Jiayu Guan (Northeast part of China). Since Opium War , the tranditional defense strategy was overturned;Guangzhou ( the city in the south of China) and Shanghai ( in the delta of Yangtze River)began to replace Yumen Guan and Jiayu Guan to become the frontier.

Although the majority of chinese are settling in the coastal area of China, China are still a continental country with deeply-rooted idea of continental power. Robert Ross holds firmly that in East Asia, China with continental power and America with maritime power are the two actors in bipolar game. But with the expansion of overseas interests, China is beginning to shift its focus from the ground to the navy and their air force.

Thousand-ship Navy proposed by US Navy Chief Admiral Michael Mullen last year is a good way to bring chinese navy into more transparent international cooperation, although chinese is still not interested in it and even have doubts over it. Then how to win china's support in this plan?

First , to state American's welcoming China's peaceful rising. Secondly, to let China know the importance of stable and smooth sealane for its energy searching. Third, to pay attention to china's quest for sovereignty and natural resource interest in South China Sea.

Anyway, I think it still takes time for China to chcange its idea of continental power into maritime power, and because of the geography, China will never become a maritime superpower. Before China's expansion of its navy, it will benefitable for the United States to bring Chinese navy into cooperation.

A "War on Terror" Paradox

Report: Global terrorism up more than 25 percent

I am sure this was not the current administration's desired headline when plans were being drawn to invade Iraq and conduct a global "war on terror." The state department recently released a report saying the that global terrorist attacks have increased to over 14,000 and been responsible for the deaths of nearly 20,000. To be fair, those number include the statistics for Iraq as well. I don't have the current numbers, but I am sure that those numbers have grown exponentially since the war on terror began and sought to eliminate terrorist activity.

The report goes on to say that the militants are finding safe havens along the Pakistan - Afghanistan border and also are beginning to establish sanctuaries in Iraq. Concerning the Pakistan - Afghan border, the report blames most of the terrorist stronghold on the deal Pakistani leaders made with with border tribal leaders and their unwillingness to live up to the agreement and deny shelter to suspected Islamic Militants. The Iraqi war has diverted us from our primary mission of destroying the Taliban and Al-Quaeda militants it housed and created a chaotic environment that the militants have preyed on.

The report also cited some successes last year including the foiled plan to blow up several trans-Atlantic airliners and the fact that no major terrorist events occurred in Europe for the entire 2006 year. While minimal, the successes are worthy ones to be noted and the fact does remain that there have been no major attacks in the U.S. since 9/11. Is the "war on terror" working? It depends on if you define "working" as a global issue or domestic one. I think I know how most Iraqi civilians would define it...

Monday, April 30, 2007

A Cold War Resuscitation???

The recent plan by the U.S. to deply a missile defense system in Europe has not been met with much optimism by our European and Russian counterparts. The system was proposed by President Bush in January to counter any possible nuclear or missile threat posed by Iran and North Korea. Officials have cited the need for such a system to protect U.S. interests in Europe as well as the European nations themselves. The system itself would be place along the borders of Poland and the Czech Republic. President Bush proposed the plan to Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who immediately sent an e-mail after the meeting which stated that the majority of Czechs opposed the plan.

Russia has since strongly denounced the plan and called for the U.S. to halt its plans or they may pull out of the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. This threat coming a week after Secretary Gates was dispatched to Moscow to ease tensions among the Russian leaders. After leaving the meeting Secretary Gates suggested that the meetings were conducive and both sides were now better informed as to the other's position and that tensions were eased. However, you would not have assumed that premise giving the Russian Army General's recent statements. Here are a few of Yury Baluyevsky's quotes:

"But today, when we are asked to contribute those results to the creation of a global
U.S. missile defense network, we will not cooperate on a project that is clearly aimed
against us,”

“We are still hostages of mutual nuclear intimidation,” adding that both countries still
have a huge nuclear potential, which is unnecessary when the countries are really partners
on the international arena.

Yury Baluyevsky said that both countries have come close to a threshold, when relations
between Russia and the United States could become confrontational.

“We are on the brink of a new ‘Cold War’ if one looks closely at our [Russian-U.S.] present
day relations,” he said adding that if the situation did not change, negative tendencies in
relations between both countries will continue to develop.

“I do not rule out that at the 2008 presidential elections in the United States both
Republicans and Democrats may bring forward a thesis on the need for a Russia containment

I hate to say it, but I think I am sympathizing with the commies on this one. To have not approached the Russians earlier with this proposal only undermines their legitimacy as well as their ego, which we all know is rather large in spite of the events since the dissolution of the Soviet Empire. They have no choice but to take a stand here. I can help but think if the situation was reversed what our reaction would be.

I guess it is time to dust off those residential nuclear bunker blueprints.

Democratization: Miracle Makeover?

On December 14, 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that democracy in the Middle East was “non-negotiable.” Indeed, ‘nation-building’ efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have illustrated the Bush administration’s firm belief in so-called democratization projects. Unfortunately, this confidence is misplaced. In fact, empirical research shows that the democratization process is volatile and generally unsuccessful when imposed by an external, military force.

Current U.S. policy seems to overlook the research of scholars such as Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder who have shown that democratizing states are more likely to fight wars than non-democratizing states. In fact, approximately two-thirds of democratizing states are more likely to go to war than nations experiencing no regime change. In addition, given the ‘rentier’ nature of many Middle Eastern states, the democratization process is even more unlikely. Because most Arab nations are rich in oil, many Middle Eastern governments are not dependent upon their citizenry for financial support. As such, citizens have less motivation to hold their government accountable.

Ultimately, the current administration should reexamine their democratization efforts in the Middle East. Hopefully, the current nation building project in Iraq will not lead to additional military commitments in similar regions. In the end, democratization is not a cure-all for Middle Eastern hostilities, and the U.S. should realize that healthy international relations require constant care and management, and not a miracle makeover.

Technology in Battle...Can it go to far?

As we have learned in this class, technology plays a major role in how battles are fought and history provides many examples. Going back to when the English employed the use of the longbow against the Genovese crossbowman or some more recent twentieth century examples that occurred during the first World War when allied tanks were able to help break the stalemate along the western front or the ultimate technological victory the U.S. had against Japan when it was able to end WWII by dropping two Atomic bombs. The ability of a war combatant to stay ahead of the technological curve has been important to victory. However, as the U.S. military begins to shift to the use of "less human more robot" military tactics, I can help to think if we are going to far.

Some modern examples of unmanned technological advances include unmanned predator drones which can be made for surveillance or attack as we saw when one of these warplanes took out an alleged terrorist convoy last year. Although, not truly autonomous because a remote control was used you can help but think one day a computer will be making the decision on whether someone lives or dies. Further examples include, the Air Forces decision to not have a successor to the F-22 and instead design a unmanned plan to take its place. As we have discussed in class, most air force pilots realize their fate and know in the future they will probably be replaced with unmanned drones. By eliminating the use of human pilots, the Air Force doesn't have to continue to train cadets or continue engineering expensive systems designed to protect the crew, which all result in substantially lower costs. Also, Smaller unmanned tanks are being considered in the Army because they create less of a target for the enemy. Army engineers would be able to cut engineering costs because they wouldn't have to account for a human crew which largely accounts for the tank's size.

The most important principle thought to be behind the unmanned revolution is that the innovations will result in less military casualties. Further, the military branches are able to cut expenses considerably through less training of humans and less engineering being devoted to protective measures for the human controllers. While I feel we all believe that less casualties is a good thing, I also think about the moral and ethical dilemmas we may one day be facing. The major deterrent to going to war is commonly quantified by the number of casualties thought to be incurred. If this variable is removed, we could begin slipping into the slippery slope where political leaders no longer consider domestic casualties and thus war increases as a more viable option then it normally would have been before these innovations. Additionally, one day computers or machines may have full autonomy in deciding if a human combatant lives or dies. I can't help but realize the ethical and moral standards that will come along with these current evolution.

The Other Time Table...

This week the President will veto the the war budget resolution passed by Congress. The bill stipulated that the war would continue to be funded at current levels, however with the major caveat that troops must begin withdrawing from Iraq. The President has continued to say that he will veto any measure that comes across his desk that includes the term withdraw. Given the overwhelmingly party line vote, it doesn't appear that his veto would be over-ridden.

Having said that, I really do not know how to best approach the issue of achieving the American people's mandate of ending the war and bringing our troops home. In my opinion, the newly elected democratic leaders knew they have to do something to retain political clout but don't want to be hand-cuffed by opposition leaders who say that they would be putting troops in danger if they fail to properly fund them, I think the term so-often used has been defeat-o-crats. The war budget sent to the President accounted for current funding to maintain, while at the same time giving the President notice that the next budget will be radically different and by then they expect most of the troops to have returned home.

The Democrats budget calls for the troop withdraw to be in full cycle by the end of the year. That is less than one year before Americans will elect a new leader, one that you can bet your house on, will not be for continuing the effort in Iraq. The President has been put on alert by the current congress that it does plan to end the war by the end of the year, could he possibly fell that another eleven months would add anything significant to that effort. In conclusion, the President may be able to veto the current legislation, but there is no veto that will extend his term.

Ehud Olmert Issues

Ahmadinejad has to be smiling today. It is not every day that both the “Big Satan” and “Little Satan” leaders are simultaneously in hot water. Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, got a report today stating that last summer’s war with Lebanon was a ''severe failure in the lack of judgment, responsibility and caution”. Olmert’s only comment was that “the failures will be remedied”.

This report came after a war that took 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israeli lives to retrieve two Israeli hostages. The war was largely paned by the media as being not worth the risk and a waste of human life. I clearly remember watching Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s The Situation Room, asking the same question ad nauseam “will Israel lose the propaganda battle to Hezbollah”. Now that is just a reporter who is doing his job, but Wolf Blitzer has a strong Jewish background and supporter of Israel—it is not every day you see him bashing Israel.

Anyway currently both Bush and Olmert have very low approval ratings, both men’s defense secretaries have come under fire, there have been or will be protests against their respective governments, the governments have been accused of corruption, and both seem very unwilling to change their actions (i.e. they stay the course).

This demonstrates the changing nature of war and public policy. It has always been advisable to have massive public and international support for any war a nation enters into, but in this age of 24/7 news networks it is more important than ever. Unless victory is quick in an unpopular war the leader(s) of that war are going to pay in one way or another. Bush and his allies are being hammered right now for corruption, but no Democrat would dare attack him if he had won, you just do not mess with the conquering hero; but he is losing the war and that opened the door for the Dems to bare their teeth.

I really hope that what has happened to Bush and what is happening to Olmert will be a gigantic glowing stop sign to any democracy entering into a controversial war. To me it is really bad when the “good guys” are acting worse than the “bad guys”.

Tenet and the Intellegence Community

I don’t know how many of you tuned in, but last night 60Minutes interviewed ex-CIA Director George Tenet concerning his role in everything from 9/11 to the Iraq war - you can read the transcript here. One of the more interesting topics was the use of torture by the CIA interrogators. Tenet adamantly denies any use of torture by the CIA referring to it as enhanced interrogation tactics. While interesting, whether or not actual torture was used isn’t really my concern, as this is just another controversial topic in Tenets career as Director which dates back to 1997.

The question that I am concerned with is the fallout the intelligence community will suffer because of not only Tenets comments, but also in the government’s general handling of other intelligence issues. One of the most disturbing issues fleshed out in the 60 minutes interview concerned the Agent Plume leak. Tenet says that he repeated warned the White House that some statements they were making were actually false, including the idea that Hussein was seeking to import uranium from Africa. However, the President kept this statement in his State of the Union address to push the war against Iraq. This lack of trust or maybe communication between the White House and the CIA is disturbing, but the fact that this progressed to the point where Plume’s name was released is far more unnerving.

Certainly this wasn’t the only incident in which mistakes were made about Iraq. Tenet acknowledges many of these mistakes including his appearance with Colin Powel in front of the UN to discuss the amount of WMD’s held by Iraq, numbers that were wildly overestimated. But mistakes will always be made in the intelligence business. The problem isn’t the mistakes, its how the mistakes are handled that matters. Tenet’s comments, if taken for truth which I admit to be a leap of faith, show a gap between the intelligence community and the head of state. This gap cannot exist if the intelligence community it to flourish. CIA officers and analysts must have the confidence that their work will be not only accepted but also trusted and that they will not be sold out and discredited for a political agenda.

To further complicate this matter, CNN.com posted a story concerning a letter written to Tenet from six former CIA officers. This letter further attacks Tenets tenure and even goes so far as to call it a failed leadership. These officers may be correct in their feelings toward Tenet but their actions work to discredit not only Tenet, but also the institution as a whole. How many people are going to want to work for an institution where you can be sold up the river at any point? Should he be let go for his mistakes with Iraq, probably. Should he be the scapegoat for an administration making constant mistakes, most definitely not. This does nothing but further muddle the already murky water surrounding the intellegence community.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Cold War?

Ok..That is a bit of an exaggeration! However, the recent news from Russia has been hostile and perhaps antagonistic. America hopes to build a nuclear defense shield in Poland, as well as in the Czech Republic. The US claims it is for defense from Iranian nukes. The Russians were perturbed and claimed that the shield was for Russian nukes and thus they disliked the idea immensely. They further countered that the Iranians are several years away from having nuclear weapons capable of reaching Europe. The US responded by offering to allow Russia access to our technology as a way of demonstrating a lack of hostility on the part of the US. The Russians rejected this and have now been threatening to pull out of NPT agreements. This threat is severe, as Russia is the second largest possesor of nuclear weapons, after the US, in the world. Why is Russia so perturbed about this potential nuclear defense shield?

Russia is striving to re-gain super-power status, through its supply of oil and natural gas. The US interfering in their former sphere of influence would put a damper on these aspirations. These aspirations may sound absurd for a country that only 15 years ago was weak and trying to reform itself, however; the evidence would claim otherwise. Russia has managed to coerce, through economic sanctions and other threats, control of much of the oil and gas in the Former Soviet States. Russia supplies much of the energy to many of its neighbors, including Europe. Putin arrested, jailed and broke up the company of one of the few men who has tried to challenge him, Khordorkovsky. His former company, Yukos oil, was one of the largest private oil companies in Russia. Now its assets are in the hands of Gazprom (Russia's national oil and gas company)and have thus increased the power of Putin and his government cronies (26% of which are former KGB).

Putin has quelled dissent in Chechnya be any and all means necessary. He is using Russia's wealth of oil and natural gas to yield increasing amounts of power in the region and potentially to re-assert Russian prominence on the global stage. This may not turn out to be much of a threat to the US. On the other hand, it might. For the US to work through the UN, they need Russian support. Germany can not do much to pressure Russia, as they are exceedingly dependent on Russia for their energy needs. And as Russia increases its production of oil, considers some type of deal with OPEC, and world energy prices remain high, the world may have to reckon, once again, with a powerful and perhaps, belligerent Russia.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Turkish Presidential Race

The race for the Turkish presidency has turned into a must watch for those interested in the spread of Islamic fundamentalism. The pro-Islamist PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan was originally considered to be the front runner, but a new candidate Abdullah Gul, who is touted to be more secular by his supporters, has emerged and is expected to be elected May 9th in the third round of elections.

The issue that has everyone in Turkey up in arms is that both candidates started their political lives the same way—in the first pro-Islamic party in Turkish history, the Welfare Party, which was banned by the country’s courts after one year of existence. In addition both men’s wives wear headscarves, a very touchy issue in Turkey.

These two candidates have put the Turkish army on high alert. The army and the ruling elite view themselves as the guardians of the legacy of the reforms of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the army has not been afraid to actively protect that legacy. They have led coups in 1960, 1971, 1980 and forced a pro-Islamist prime minister from office in 1997. Seeing as how there was a massive rally in Ankara to support secularism it seems unlikely that if the army decides to intervene in the Turkish political process a significant portion of the population would not be overly offended.

The election of an Islamist president could have other far reaching consequences. For example Turkey has long wanted to be a member of the EU and has made several reforms, such as banning the death penalty, totally to please the EU. If the army does not intervene it will be interesting to see if either man does use the power of the presidency to push forward Islamist ideals and what the reaction of the EU will be. But if the army does intervene (and I am purely playing the devil's advocate here) would that be a red flag to Islamist terrorists causing Turkey to become a more attractive target?

If nothing more this issue could turn into a case study of whether secularism in the Middle East can survive without an army or other body to actively protect it. Typically cults of personality are really bad things creating demigods and pseudo-religions. In Turkey’s case however the “Cult of Ataturk” might be the only way for secularism to survive.

Must reading in this month's Armed Forces Journal

"A failure in generalship", LTC Paul Yingling, Armed Forces Journal, May 2007 is causing quite a stir, in both military and civilian circles. In fact, the first I heard of the article was while listening to NPR during my daily commute. LTC Yingling writes from the experience of two Iraq tours, along with a Bosnia tour, and duty in the first Gulf War, and holds a masters degree in Poly Sci. He highlights his views on responsibilities of generals, and the failures of generals in the Vietnam War and the present Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I was sympathetic to the writer due to the great risk he has taken in writing an article aimed at a whole class of officers, and superiors to boot. He understands the insight of former Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, and the General's courage and duty to speak his mind about the requirements to succeed in Iraq. But I knew I liked him when he was able to quote not only J.F.C. Fuller, but also our very own Andrew Krepinevich.

One point of contention is the section where he describes the type of generals we need. He thinks so highly of his master's degree that he wants generals to hold "advanced degrees from civilian institutions in the social sciences or humanities". Acquiring any graduate degree shows a high level of determination, perseverance, and intellect. However, most military officers will spend between 25-35% of their time in service in some type of formalized schooling. The addition of eighteen months to two years of additional studies has a cost of keeping the officer away from duties with soldiers, requires moving the family, and the author provides no insight as to why those particular degrees in social sciences or humanities will enable a general officer more fit to fight an insurgency. LTC Yingling also states that "Counterinsurgency theory holds that proficiency in foreign languages is essential to success, yet only one in four of the Army's senior generals speaks another language." I would assume he means that proficiency of the language similar to the insurgent, as I can not see my mastery of Spanish assisting in any way my abilities to work as a competent officer in Afghanistan.

I highly suggest this article, as it gives pertinent and factual insights into the history within the Army leading up to the present Iraq War.

In the very same issue of the Armed Forces Journal, author Ralph Peters offers his commentary on the need for "Wanted: occupation doctrine". He gives insight as to why other U.S. governmental departments are not at the forefront of assisting in the stabilization of Iraq. He contends they can not do so due to the lack of security. Mr. Peters also highlights the need of the military to educate those in Washington on military capabilities, and the presence of a doctrine on occupation would facilitate and communicate that education process.

He too points to the genius of former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Shinseki and his prophetic statements on the required number of military personnel necessary to secure Iraq. He sides with distinguished Dr. Farley's assessment of the reason the administration went with a small troop presence would project high costs and a lengthy stay. But he doesn't call them the administration, rather referring to the "Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Feith-Cambone cabal."

Friday, April 27, 2007

On Revolutions

A contrarian classmember made this argument this week. I didn't immediately recognize it; but the idea that there have been no military revolutions -- not the 6-foot yew longbow, not the Longbow helicopter, not the entire path from one to the other -- is of a piece with Kubrick's vision. In 2001, the entirety of human history is simply the evolution of technology, from a bone club to an interplanetary spacecraft. In all of human history -- which for Kubrick is identical to the history of war; the "dawn of man" is in a warlike act -- there have been no revolutionary changes.

The real revolution comes when we raise ourselves to universal consciousness, man.

Or something like that.

US allies: free riders

Is a high defense budget in US interests? National defense spending has reached about $500 billion per year, representing about one half of world military spending. This policy has allowed the US to build up unparalleled military strength, but the consequences on long term US interests are not questionable.

Following World War II Western strategists tried to fashion a global security strategy based on free trade and cooperation. In order to work, this strategy required US leadership to protect smaller states and enforce international standards. At the time, US policy makers perceived this to be consisted with US national interests. But what behaviors has this mega-role produced in US allies?

In terms of defense, US worldwide strategic partners have increasingly become free-riders. The US defense budget is roughly 4% of GDP. Contrast this with budgets of major US allies: defense spending in Canada is about 1% of GDP, in France 2.6%, in the UK 2.4%, in Germany 1.5%, and 1% in Japan. The comparative magnitude of US GDP widens these discrepancies.

One may argue that these budgets simply reflect a post-World War II proclivity in the US for military enlargement, while its allies perceive threats more realistically. A counter to this argument is China, a country which has pursued double-digit growth in its defense budget for the past several years on end. China spends around 4.3% of its GDP on defense—a higher percentage than the US—and in purchasing power parity dollars, Chinese GDP is close to 75% of US GDP. Even when allowance is made for the irrelevance of purchasing power parity analysis for some types of military goods, this is still a formidable development. The charge that Washington is hyper-sensitivity to security threats does not sufficiently explain the budget gaps.

International security is by nature a public good—many entities benefit from it, few are keen to produce it. The US has been the sine quo non Western security provider since World War II, as is reflected in defense budget comparisons with its allies. It is time for them to assume a larger role in international security.

Revisiting the Topic of Nuclear Terrorism

I recently had the opportunity to read a book of fiction; really, somehow I fit that in. Anyhow, this rare chance to peruse a novel sent me right back to Week 9: Nuclear Theory. As you can see in the posted picture, the book that sent me back six weeks was Wild Fire, by Nelson DeMille. Being that this is a 2006 publication, I am guessing that many may not have had the opportunity to read it yet, if they would even care to.

My intent is not to throw out a book review on our blog, but instead to extract the modern nuclear doctrine put forth by the author. DeMille does point out on the front cover that this is a book of fiction, but that his ideas were conceived from internet conspiracy theories. Of course, most conspiracy theories stink in my opinion, but this one actually perplexed me. Though this book is much longer than necessary, and full of some characters that can turn you off, it contains interesting material relevant for discussion amongst our bloggers (I do realize it is the end of the term, and therefore many won’t read this, let alone care to respond).

In Chris Quillen’s article, “Posse Comitatus and Nuclear Terrorism”, he warns that nuclear terrorism on the American population is not only possible, but also a reality that we should be prepared to handle. I remember the article well, as I focused my class memo for that week on the Posse Comitatus side of this argument. I did this because I immediately ruled out the option of second strike or retaliation for nuclear terrorism. How would we determine where the terrorist cell responsible was located? If we could, how would we prevent the deaths of many innocent civilians in the retaliatory attack? Nelson DeMille and the internet conspiracy theorists certainly do not rule out a counterstrike. (Please don’t forget that I realize this is a book of fiction!)

To break it down, the characters in this book: high level members of our government, military, and corporate structure, play a role in the development of nuclear doctrine frighteningly similar to Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). They call this plan “Wild Fire.” Essentially, if there is a nuclear attack on American soil and we are unable to determine its origins, we would immediately assume that it is the doing of Islamic radical terrorists. The response, independent of the size and destruction of the terrorist attack goes down like this. If the President himself does not turn off the retaliation within thirty minutes of the initial attack, the process for launch begins, with missiles in the air no later than one hour after the terrorist attack. There is no congressional vote and no debate on the issue. Only the President himself wields the power to turn it off, and he must have confirmation that someone outside of the Islamic world is responsible. In essence, the counterattack is a knee-jerk reaction without regard whom is the responsible nation. You might ask, what would the target be? Depending on the size and destruction of the attack on one of our cities, we would either hit list A or list B. List A contains around sixty Muslim-populated cities; list B extends this to a total of 120 cities. Certain Islamic cities would survive, for history’s sake, while the Islamic cities that are also tied to Christianity and Judaism would survive, with the idea that those Muslims left in the city would soon be expelled. In other words, the message to leaders of the Islamic world would sound like this, “ (Islamic nation X), if we are struck by a nuclear attack that we believe originated from Islamic terrorists, your centers of population will be wholly destroyed, and your existence as a religion and culture will be wiped off of the face of the earth.”

Wow, really. That is pure evil on our part, at least when viewed from the religious genocide perspective. But, if the basis of this plan was to deter Islamic nations from funding or knowingly allowing Islamic-sponsored terrorist groups to develop and use nuclear weapons, would it differ greatly from the purpose and end-state of MAD. Being that a modern 10-kiloton nuclear weapon could fit in a vehicle trunk, or possibly a suitcase, the threat of nuclear terrorism is real. The end result of a weapon that size could be 200,000 American casualties on the low end, and 450,000 on the high end in a metropolitan area. So, our retaliation would be much more devastating than the first attack, unless the terrorist attack happened in unison across the nation. Even still, if the leaders of Islamic nations were made aware of the plan, which one has to presume they would be for it to be effective; couldn’t it serve as a realistic threat to deter nuclear terrorism?

Your thoughts?

By the way, this novel is set one year after 9/11, when tensions are still soaring. The conspiracy unfolds as “wackos” looking to settle the score select two American cities and initiate the attack themselves, unleashing unspeakable hell on not only their own citizens, but the majority of the Muslim world. It may be worth your time, and then again, it may be rubbish when you consider all of the other good books that might actually benefit you.

Price for Chinese " Go-Out" Policy

The Oganden National Liberation Front, an ethnic Somali group had stormed a chinese-run oil field in eastern Ethiopia at dawn, killing 74 chinese and Ethiopian workers and destroying the facility.
With more chinese companies' " going-out" to Africa, chinese investment and involvement in Africa can not be simply defined as business-to-business cooperation as Chinese government asserts and expects.
First, Dafur is a good example. Huge oil benefit makes chinese ambivalent over the UN resolution on Sudan. This time, the Oganden National Liberation Front protested against Ethoipian government by attacking chinese company, which is ostensibly well functioned since its 10-year-operation outside China. By doing so, Oganden National Liberation Front can reach its aim " effectively", because as early as the beginning of this year, this organization declared "untolerence towards any foreign investment which is profitable for Ethiopian government." So we can clearly see the chinese capital's influence over politics in Africa in an indrect way. Besides, there is a new voice in African countries that Chinese is practicing new colonization, although Chairman Hu and new foreign minister Yang reject it confirmedly.
As a country led by Marxism, China deems " capita" is the root of all evil causing exploitation and colonization. What is intersting is Robert J. Barro affirms that China is the most capitalist country in the world. No matter whether China is communist, capitalist, or socialist, chinese " go-out" will face challege and there is a serious warning that " capital" in Africa will take " new colonization".

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bring Them Back

As the debate continues to rage over troop levels in Iraq and the wisdom of continued engagement, in Kashmir the answer seems clear: the Indian troops need to go. Unlike Iraq, insurgency violence in Kashmir has dwindled considerably in the last few years, and it is now estimated that the militants are only 1,000 strong—clearly outnumbered by the 600,000 Indian troops stationed in the region.

In response to both internal and external pressures, Manmohan Singh has commissioned a committee of experts to analyze redeployment and reevaluate the Special Powers Act, which some critics suggest provides ‘legal cover’ for the Indian army’s abuses. These abuses, which include the execution of innocent civilians, are yet another reason why the Indian troops should leave Kashmir. According to the recent report in the Economist, the withdrawal of the army would widely be seen, “not as the removal of a protective shield, but as the lifting of an oppressive curse.”

Perhaps most importantly, if India withdrawals their troops from Kashmir, it will most likely lead to improved relations with Pakistan. As Shaukat Aziz has recently stated, the settlement in Kashmir is “the cornerstone of sustainable, expanded relationship.” As such, it is encouraging that Singh has not ruled out the possibility of demilitarization, but let’s hope that a workable solution is not lost in cumbersome committee meetings.

The War Budget

Ahh Spring time! It is the time of year for new love, flowers, finals, and of course yearly budgetary insanity of all kinds in the US Congress. Normally the fight over money is so much more mundane than this year, but this year just makes for good TV.

Typically when budgets are in question the issue is the domestic direction of national spending…how much money does New Orleans get, what Congressmen’s district gets the most farm subsidies, etc. are the matters of debate. This was the case during the Clinton years when government shutdown, but this year the donnybrook is about, as are most things nowadays, the war in Iraq.

The House Democrats sponsored a bill that, among other things, would allocate 124.2 billion dollars to the war, but also stipulated that if the Iraqi government does not meet some Presidential standards by October US troop withdrawals could start that month. The bill also included a nonbinding “goal” of completing troop withdrawal by April 1, 2008 with only non-combat forces remaining. In the late hours Wednesday (4/25/07) this bill narrowly passed the House (218-208), and is expected to pass the Senate Thursday (4/26/07).

Two Republicans voted for the bill and eight Democrats voted against it. I thought that was a bit off, and got on the phone with several of my political guru friends who also thought that many Democrats crossing party lines was weird, some of who are very liberal. Within in thirty minutes one of them got back to me and here is the salient part of his email:

“It didn't dawn on me until I noticed that Lewis of Georgia was one of them. Lewis of Georgia is an African-American who doesn't like the war at all. Lynn Woolsey represents part of Marin County, California, and is also very liberal. Kucinich just introduced articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney. Barbara Lee is in this category too.

My point is that on first impression you would assume that those who voted with the Republicans were "blue dog Democrats" and some of them may have been. The fact is that a fair number were attempting to kill ANY appropriations bill and thus would have ended the war immediately. These would have still been "no" votes regardless of what the bill contained.”

Bush has stated that he will vote the bill, and as the House does not have the two-thirds majority to over-ride the veto, the bill is nothing more than a very loud statement to the President that Congress does not like the war.

I am a Republican and I hate how “my party” has been hijacked by religious extremists and corporate giants in some form of unholy political alliance. I also detest George Bush, Dick Chaney, and Karl Rove for they way they got into the White House and for getting America into this war.

With all that being said I have to admit this time Bush is making the correct call. Even if the withdrawal date is non-binding, thinking about getting out of Iraq next April is far too soon. The insurgents are not stupid people. The moment troop levels begin to drop attacks will increase and Iraq (Baghdad) will become a true war zone. That is why I begrudgingly agree with the Presidents decision to veto. Unfortunately America needs to be in Iraq for the long haul.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Lessons from Haditha?

An article today in the New York Times asks if the Marines have learned any lessons from Haditha because innocent civilians have recently been killed in Afghanistan. I believe the question is a valid one...Have the Marines learned something from Haditha?
A recent story on NPR helps to explain that question. A camp has been set up in the California desert where Marines now train for combat. Not only does the village look like a typical Iraqi village with a marketplace and houses but the Marines are now training with something they previously lacked...People in the village. About 500 Iraqis currently work in the simulation as "Iraqi villagers" and go about daily business as they would in Iraq. When the Marines were shot upon in the simulation, they had to figure out what house the shooting was coming from amid the confusion of the "Iraqi villagers". One Marine, preparing for his second tour of duty said that the simulation was immensely helpful, as the first time he had been in Iraq, no one had prepared him for fighting between/around civilians.
In addition to the people in the simulation, there is now training that stresses manners regarding Islamic sensibilities and that winning friends is job number one. As a commander training at the simulation explained, if we shoot an enemy, we learn nothing, if we capture him, we may learn something from him, but if we befriend him, we may turn him and have one less insurgent to fight. This may seem obvious, but until recently no one wanted to admit, or train for, an insurgency, asymmetric war. It appears that the Marines are now trying to instill in their men, as all the forces are, that "just fighting" is not enough. They must try to understand and be-friend the "enemy" if they wish to win.
So while I find it tragic for the families in Afghanistan and can not even begin to understand their pain, I find it trite to ask if the Marines learned a lesson from Haditha. Unfortunately, this is war, people do die, even innocents. And while it is right to question why the Marines fired upon the civilians, until we are in a Humvee, sleep-deprived, home-sick and being shot at, I think it is ridiculous to even ask such a question.

A fine line...


(Sorry for a response in a new post form, but this is a little too lengthy for the comment section. This is a continuing response to comments posted on my original post of Defense Statecraft: Walking that fine line of deterrence, for those interested)

Let me first say that I stand corrected on stating that Ahmadinejad is recognized as the head of the Iranian state. You are correct in stating that it is in fact Khamenei who represents the head of state of Iran, since 1989 I believe. What I should have said is that Ahmadinejad is the head of the government, which you correctly stated for me. So I thank you for that.

I will say that I have read the Iranian constitution from 1979 and its subsequent expansion in 1989 – which expanded the presidential powers as I am sure you know - and I agree that many more should read it so as to allow for a better understanding of the functioning of the Iranian government but also the Iranian culture. But enough of this agreeing; let us get to the more entertaining subject of how you are wrong.

First, let me point out that your opening paragraph has switched the sides of deterrence inappropriately. You state that “this means they are trying to deter an individual and his agenda rather than deterring an ideological foundation and a whole system of government, which is considerably harder.” This is incorrect. The US, while certainly acting in a deterrence fashion at some level – almost all states can be seen acting in some form of deterrence at all times, both during times of war and peace – is not the deterring state in my argument. I argued that it was in fact Iran who was acting in a deterrence fashion through their actions and political statements to show their resolve to war should they be challenged. The US as a hegemonic entity is the aggressor here, not the deterring state as you state in your opening paragraph.

Second, while I agree that Ahmadinejad is under Kham in the structure of the state, the Iranian constitution under the Executive Branch section states that the executive branch is is of the utmost importance to the "implementing of laws and ordinances of Islam for the sake of establishing the rule of just relations over society, and considering, too, its vital role in paving the way for the attainment of the ultimate goal of life, the executive power must work toward the creation of an Islamic society." This places a large burden and importance on the executive branch of which the Ahmadinejad is the topmost figure.

Later on in the constitution under Article 60 you find the support to my previous statement as it states,“The functions of the executive, except in the matters that are directly placed under the jurisdiction of the Leadership by the Constitution, are to be exercised by the President and the Ministers.” This confirms my previous statement on the functioning of the executive branch.

Lastly, you will find under Article 176 the following: “In order to safeguarding the national interests and preserving the Islamic Revolution, the territorial integrity, and the national sovereignty, a Supreme Council for National Security presided over by the President shall be constituted to fulfill the following responsibilities: 1. Determining the defense and national security policies within the framework of general policies determined by the Leader.”

All of these articles support the fact that Ahmadinejad is a creadible leader of the Iranian state and his statements and actions must be taken seriously regardless of whether or not he is the absolute head of the state, especially in acts of war/defense. It is not that I am applying a western view of the world incorrectly as you stated, but simply that Ahmadinejad is a leader of the Iranian state and his views reflect the state itself even if he isn’t the Supreme Leader. Furthermore, in a speech given on March 21st of this year Khamenei stated that, “"Iran has acted in compliance with the international regulations in accessing nuclear energy. But if they act against the law and use the Security Council as a tool for depriving the Iranian people of their undeniable right, we can also act against the law and we will do so.” This in itself suggests that the President has the support of the Supreme Leader, thus making his statements all the more credible and threatening and more importantly bolstering my original point all the more. This is a fine line Iran is walking.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Walking that fine line of deterrence

Today CNN.com posted a story concerning comments made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which he stated “Iran’s army will ‘cut off the hand’ of any attacker and is at the ready to fulfill its defensive duties”. Ahmadinejad is not shy about these comments and has made many in the past; however, why make this comment now? What is there to gain from repeating statements made in the past?

Reviewing both deterrence and hegemonic power theories should paint a clear picture of the effect of this statement on both Iran and the international system. Deterrence relies on the defending state to build a perception that by attacking it, the attacker will suffer such costs that the battle isn’t worth fighting. Iran is specifically trying to implement a type of perception – by a type, I am referring to Fearon’s (1997) classification of deterrence that involves rising or sinking costs that are suffered either ex post or ex ante by the defending state – where Ahmadinejad continues to raise audience costs within his state that will be suffered if Iran is attacked and does not retaliate. This has been shown through countless statements much like the one above, as well as aggressive actions – the seizing of the British troops.

It is clear that Ahmadinejad is trying to create the perception that no matter who chooses to go to war with Iran, he is prepared to fight with all he has. While Iran may not be moving troops to the border, Ahmadinejad is effectively “tying his hands” by creating these audience costs within his country. If he ever backed out of these threats, his country would clearly suffer these costs ex post. This perception of retaliation and a willingness to fight gives Iran a credible deterrence threat against possible advancing nations. With these continuing actions and statements, is Iran pushing past simple deterrence to a more taunting aggressive action against America’s hegemonic power.

Hegemonic powers theory rests on the idea that the hegemonic state in a unipolar system exists because it can enforce its will upon the rest of the system. More specifically, Kindleberger (1981), defines this term as when a “country, firm, or person dominated another when the other had to take account of what the first entity did, but the first could equally ignore the second”. For a hegemonic system to remain stable the hegemonic state must be able to act in a manner where they do not concern themselves with the actions of others, as long as those actions are not direct threats to the hegemonic power itself.

In this, we see Iran acting in a deterrence fashion, but at the same time taking it to a point that could theoretically threaten the United States’ position in the international system. By continually issuing threats and showing no fear to the hegemonic power, Iran is almost forcing the United States into a conflict simply to save its reputation as the primary power within the system. In the international system, perception is what truly matters, both the perception of deterrence and the perception of unmatched power by the hegemonic state.

Ahmadinejad has clearly operated in a deterrence fashion and done so successfully in the past. The best example of this is the handling of the British soldiers by the Iranians. First, they took the soldiers showing that they were not to be crossed, and they were willing to do whatever was necessary to defend their sovereignty. Second, they allowed no representatives from Britain to meet with the hostages, showing their resolve and fearlessness concerning a British response. Lastly, Ahmadinejad returned the hostages unharmed to their host country, thus completing an almost perfect showing of deterrence. Now, however, Ahmadinejad is pushing past deterrence to a clear threat to the hegemonic supremacy of the United States, and if it continues, the United States will be forced to respond or lose its own perception as a hegemonic superpower.

Mr. Bush, This Isn't Your Personal Checkbook

While preparing for this week's lecture on the Defense Budget and Procurements, I ran across an expenditure titled "emergency supplemental requests." I research it further and found that according to the Council on Foreign Relations, these line items are to be used to fund "unforeseen national emergencies, such as war, floods and famine." However, there is growing concern that the current administration is currently exploiting the use of this tactic as a means of bypassing legislative scrutiny of normal budgetary expenditures and to avoid the federally mandated spending limits meant to hold down the deficit.

The most recent emergency supplement request was for the amount off $99.7 billion, bringing total military spending up to $632 billion for FY 2007. The previous congress had already earmarked a record $462 billion baseline funding initially for the defense budget, the difference in the two amounts being the sum of "emergency funding" received as the President "sees fit." Again, these funds are not subject to any of the scrutiny or congressional floor debates of normal budgetary expenditures, instead only a unilateral, discretionary decision by the President.

An example in the current supplement request is listed as $1.2 billion for Air Force "basic research" and another $3.9 billion for the acquisition of more advanced, high performance fighters. Given that we find ourselves entrenched in a counter-insurgency effort, which mitigates the role of the Air Force, should our leaders consider the previous expenditures an "emergency" and not subject them to the scrutinies of the normal budgetary process? I can't help to think how the $1.2 billion requested by the Air Force for "basic research", might serve the people in the ninth world of New Orleans still without a home. At the very least, these questions should be brought open to debate and not unilateral decision making.

The war has far exceeded the emergency stage and the practice of funding it through these emergency supplemental requests should cease. Stephen Biddle argues, "It is disingenuous of the administration to claim we have no idea what Iraq needs will be and so we can’t budget for them.” Congress must work hard to eliminate these practices. According to experts, the democratically led congress has already made their presence felt or the most recent $99.7 billion request could have reach the $150 billion mark.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Check Point in Iraq

After the discussion in class, I found this clip online.


It was brought up that it is easier for Iraqi citizens to affiliate with insurgents with the same skin color than American soldiers. Obviously, the ideologies don't mix well, but are we really so different as this video depicts. Do our soldiers really behave this way, and if so, how do they expect to win?

I would make the assumption that this is a depiction of a small cross-section of our force that lacks respect for other cultures and harbors racism deep within. The Army pushes institutional values from the day a soldier enlists. The Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. If each soldioer understands, or is at least eductated, that Respect is due not only to one another in uniform, but also to those that they serve, and those that they fight against, then this video poorly describes, as most media outlets, the actions and behavior of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our troops must be better trained to deal with the Iraqi people than this, or our news would be even more cluttered with stories of American atrocities in Iraq.

I am certain that soldiers must be stern and suspicious when running these dangerous traffic control points in Iraq. After all, checkpoints can't all be as comfortable as this one...


Sunday, April 15, 2007

What does North Korea Want to Do?

On the Feburary 12, North Korea agreed to finish the following within 60 days, which is April 14:
1) Shut down and seal for the purposes of eventual abandonment the Yongbyon nuclear facility; 2) Invite back the IAEA to conduct all necessary monitoring and verifications;
3) Discuss with the other parties a list of all its nuclear programs, including plutonium extracted from used fuel rods, that would be abandoned pursuant to the Joint Statement.

But now after receiving its 25 million dollars and 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, it didn't fulfill its commitments. Inside the Bush administration, hawks are attacking pigeons' policy. On the negotiation table China, Japan and South Korea asked the US to be patient. However, if the other parties fail to persuade North Korea fulfill its commitment, the US role in the six-party talk and policy on the issue will have a 180-degree change. I don't mean that there will be a war, but that there will be stalemate.

As the frozen money was released, the US doesn't have much leverage. The leverages to push Kim Jong-il are now owned by China and South Korea. However, as I see it, even for the latter parties, the effectiveness is limited. North Korea now has everything it needs to survive this year. It recently received its money, energy and 400,000 tons of food from South Korea. Kim Jong-il can guarantee the society not to get worse in the near future and the safty of its regime. If he needs aid, what he needs to do is to resume the dialogue or make some "promises". Secondly, Kim Jong-il perceives that it will be safe for him to test the bottom line. Becasue of the issues in the Middle East and the North Korea nuclear test, the US has been softening its stand point on the table; China opposes regime change in North Korea due to the concern of potential refugee wave; South Korea will continue offering food aid and oppose violent change for the relations with North Korean brothers.

I think North Korea's strategy is to linger as long as possible. The advantages are: it can keep on its nuclear and missile programs and wait for more advanced weapons; it can keep regime stable and gain by making advantage of the softness of the US policy and the unwillingness of China and South Korea to exert violent internevtion; it can wait for the leader change and policy change in 2008 US presidential election (Based on the current situation, it will be unlikely that US domestic politics will agree on another war). Thus, I think there won't be material progress in the rest of 2007. The turning point may be when North Korea need more aid and when the new US president is elected.

Mea Culpa

This week’s edition of The New York Times Magazine featured, as always, an article on language penned by William Safire. The first half was a typical slice of Americana exploring the old Dutch practice of bundling in New York and New England. However, the heft of Safire’s article didn’t appear until several paragraphs later in which he reveals his choice for Headline of the Year awarded to a copy editor who, “br[oke] through with an inspiring turn of phrase.”

Safire’s choice found its genesis in the following investigation:
The F.B.I. found a Pentagon analyst who had foolishly taken home papers and — by threatening him with prosecution — induced the analyst to type a supposedly classified document about policy toward Iran and fax a “leak” of it to two staff members he knew in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. F.B.I. agents then wired him for sound and further drew the unsuspecting targets — whose jobs were to stay in touch with analysts and known journalists — into the trap.

The Pentagon analyst pleaded guilty to keeping classified documents at home, for which big shots draw a fine. He is trying to reduce his 12-year sentence by testifying in June, as Rabinowitz reported, in “the first ever attempt by government prosecutors to convict private citizens under the 1919 Espionage Act.” That F.B.I. bell tolls for thee and me.

Here is the headline in the Journal that Rob Pollock, who grasped the universal civil-libertarian point of her article, put across the top of the page: “First They Came for the Jews.”

Safire then quotes Martin Niemoller’s oft-heard refrain, “First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew…” The supposed link between an FBI investigation and the policies of the Third Reich is among the baldest manipulations I’ve heard in years: in its investigation of AIPAC, the FBI might as well start handing out gold-colored patches because the federal government is but a few steps away from its final solution. This shameful display of anti-Americanism is not just a lie—it’s a lie with a purpose.

Safire’s phrasing suggests that it’s only natural for AIPAC employees “to stay in touch with analysts;” as if facilitating espionage is as ordinary as stuffing envelopes for a political action committee. What is the proper term for an organization dedicated to supporting a nation with information gained both overtly and covertly, which also engages in media events intended to manipulate a population at the gain of the organization’s benefactor, and which attempts to isolate and marginalize any who would harm the organization’s interests? This sounds like an intelligence service, official or otherwise.

The AIPAC employee to whom the Pentagon analyst disclosed classified information called two people: a member of the Israeli delegation to America and the Washington Post. The first is an obvious choice but the second raises questions: is it in the best interest of the State of Israel that the Post report an impending Iranian attack? How does Israel or AIPAC benefit from a sensational article about a threatened Israel? Rabinovitz, the author of the article Safire addressed, said the leaker was “Hoping to raise the alarm about the imperiled Americans and Israelis” which is all the more curious since each nation has channels legally permitted to transmit information to one another. But that’s not what AIPAC wants; they want a tighter relationship than the government is offering and are willing to build that relationship unofficially through the federal bureaucracy. As such, part of what AIPAC is dedicated to is not just illegal, it is unconstitutional and astonishingly un-American.

I’ve long resisted the thesis of “The Israel Lobby.” I was wrong. The article’s claims were extraordinary and I consequently required exceptional proof; I demanded documentation of an instance when American lobbyists told the federal government that the national security interests of Israel should be placed above those of the US, that protecting Israel is more important than protecting America. This is the smoking gun.

But it does not entirely vindicate Mearsheimer and Walt who go too far. With sincerity, I don’t know to what extent the State of Israel passively or actively supports these lobbyists. But, since AIPAC has actually taken to mimicking their accuser’s terms by calling themselves “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,” it can be assumed that AIPAC believes they are untouchable politically.

AIPAC’s interests are not always in America’s best interests: ownership of Jerusalem (which should be totally irrelevant to Americans), stopping Iran’s nuclear programs, tying Israeli and American homeland security efforts, and the enormous military aid we offer year after year ($2.4 billion this year). AIPAC, as it is legally entitled, lobbies Congress and the President for the policies it advocates. But shouldn’t its supporters know that AIPAC is using backdoor methods to achieve goals that are not usually consistent with American interests?

AIPAC’s site reads “For more than half a century, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has worked to help make Israel more secure by ensuring that American support remains strong.” This is a fundamentally anti-American view; it doesn't say anything about 'so long as it does not hurt American interests' or anything like it. Taken in concert with this Pentagon analyst case, I am obliged to conclude that AIPAC is willing to sacrifice American secrets for its own ends. Enough. Striving to help Israel is a respectable mission, but an American citizen cannot place the avowed goals of another country (friend or foe) above his own, especially if they compromise his own country’s security.

I hope the public airing of AIPAC’s laundry will awaken American indignation and disintegrate AIPAC’s viability as an organization. I hope the FBI will continue ruthlessly hunting down leakers who plague the Intelligence Community. Most of all, I hope Americans realize that their safety is their own; leaking secrets and playing both sides are not only bad ideas—they’re anti-American.

Friday, April 13, 2007

QDR Strategic Crossroads

The QDR is an illuminating formulation of US military strategy, and its international scope makes it all the more intriguing. The Defense Department knows that the QDR is reviewed globally and that international audiences will interpret it as US global policy. Given this context, the priority of “Shaping the choices of countries at strategic crossroads” in the 2006 publication is somewhat interesting.

The 2006 QDR actually lists four main priorities: “Defending the homeland in depth”—always a sound policy; “Defeating terrorist networks” and “Preventing hostile states and non-state actors from acquiring or using WMD”—less clear, less compact goals, but still commendable; “Shaping the choices of countries at strategic crossroads”—now wait a minute.

The other three priorities unambiguously refer to actors that have malice-afore-thought against the US, or who hope to benefit or exert themselves through violence. But the “strategic crossroads” concept is vague and gives a considerable, perhaps concerning latitude of responsibility to the Defense Department.

First, while the other three priorities deal with weapons and warfighting, the phrase “strategic crossroads” can apply to a broad spectrum of issues, suggesting prerogatives beyond a purely defensive mandate. Instead of being that “other means” for the implementation of policy, the Department appears to be assuming a right of way in US foreign policy. If so, this is hardly a model for other countries, especially ones at critical junctures.

Leaving the definition of strategic crossroads aside, there is the question of how the Department plans to respond to them. Foreign governments are no doubt a bit curious on this point. Fortunately—or unfortunately—the QRD gives them an indication of what it has in mind: “Many countries in the Middle East find themselves at strategic crossroads.” The QDR’s offers high-profile examples of such cases, of democracy “emerging in Iraq” and freedom “taking root in Lebanon.” What is not clear, and what many leaders of strategically crossroading countries in the Middle East and elsewhere may wish to know, is what “shaping” techniques the Department will choose to apply, and where it will choose to apply them. For a country like China, the QDR is explicity accommodating and co-optive in its crossroads approach, but less formidable nations in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Latin America are left to imagine.

This post is not to suggest the Department is unscrupulously seeking to overreach its responsibilities, but merely to discuss the wisdom of the 2006 QDR’s strategic crossroads mandate. It is not a duty naturally located within the Defense Department, and other countries may well be uncomfortable with its implications.

Thomas Crowne: Liberal Mush-Head

Thomas Crowne (and I do hope you have the good taste to at least be the Steve McQueen version and not that limey sissy from Remington Steele), I’m not going touch on this nonsense about “a woman's prerogative to change her mind.” Suffice to say: dude, I’ll bet you’re a dude.

Let’s see what other things you’re doing that I find bothersome. Well, there’s “However, I am not an idiot,”—let me assure you TC, that remains to be seen. Also, while quoting Scalia is not actually pulling something out of your ass, it is probably the next best thing. Scalia also said, “I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged,” which I bet you and the rest of your free-love buddies are in to--- I know, I know: you’re just trying to ‘experience everything you can’ before getting that Master’s in Ceramics and settling down in upstate Vermont.

As for your quote from “The American President,” it’s curious that you choose a selection from Martin Sheen, and a crappy one at that. Sheen, who spends his free time getting arrested in Nevada with other ‘Peace Walkers’ (I swear that’s what they call themselves) must be a good friend of yours, eh TC? Well, while you find a way to get the patchouli stains out of your Grateful Dead poncho, the grownups are going to discuss policy.

On to the meat of your question: “Again, do you think it only right to bear arms when in a state militia?” No, but if you knew how to read anything other than Noam Chomsky books—don’t they just freak out the ‘squares’?—you’d know that the actual phrasing is “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Now, since I’m sure you skipped most of 8th grade English to commune with the trees, let me explain that everything before the comma is dicta—it offers a bit of insight on what follows while keeping the second half controlling. Hence: “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” is the important part of the sentence. It could just as easily have been phrased, “Lilith Fair being a totally sweet place to meet earthy-crunchy girls, the right of the People…” Isn’t grammar fun?

In closing, (and I’m sure by now you’re putting on swim trunks to wade through Walden Pond—g*d you sicken me) you’ve said almost nothing and it’s taken me four paragraphs to determine that. This bodes poorly for my analytical abilities but --hey—at least I’m trying, and that's more than I can say for you.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Clear, Seize, and HOLD. HOLD for God's sake. HOLD. How will we ever win, and bring them home, if we can't HOLD.

Much has been made recently of learning how to defeat an insurgency: from David Kilcullen's checklist to the newest manual written by the Army and Marine Corps brain trust specifically on this issue.

Long before FM 3-24 and Kilcullen's "Twenty-Eight Articles", counterinsurgency theorists knew that it would always be essential to clear a population base of insurgents, seize key areas in order to allow governance to gain a foothold, and hold the area in order to prevent insurgents from reoccupying, thereby destroying efforts underway to establish security and basic services.

We have already witnessed a failure to do this on several occasions in Iraq. Why is it that one month we hear of a "successful operation" in a city like Fallujah, Ramadi, or Tal Afar, but yet within six months, that same location is again in the news, for the wrong reasons?

Let me examine one of the more isolated of these: Tal Afar. This was an area publicly claimed by Zarqawi himself as so essential to the insurgency that it would be fought for until the last man. In 2004, insurgents controlled the city. The city's population dwindled from more than 200 thousand to less than 25 thousand. The most basic need of all was lost…security. Brutal masked men armed with AK-47s and RPGs had replaced any semblance of law enforcement, and the US force in place was insufficient to change the course of events. Tal Afar was a feeder for Zarqawi's insurgency, moving terrorists with ease from Syria into Mosul and Baghdad. Tal Afar was the perfect place for Zarqawi's support base. The mixed population of Shia, Sunni, Kurd, Turkmen, and Yezidi made it easy for an out-of-towner to fit in, especially when the innocent voices were being oppressed by Zarqawi's "Lions of Tal Afar".

In September and October of 2005, the US Army conducted an extremely effective operation in Tal Afar, Iraq. The insurgency was crushed in an operation that lasted less than two weeks and spared civilian losses. Less than one month after the operation successful elections were help for the Constitutional Referendum. Two months later, the city again held peaceful elections, with a voter turnout above 80%. In March 2006, President Bush said, “The example of Tal Afar gives me confidence in our strategy." Signs of success, right?

In March 2006, the lead element in that successful operation, and the subsequent security of the area, conducted a Transfer of Authority to a smaller force (3d ACR to a BCT of the 1st AD). This made sense, as the Iraqi Security Forces had proven themselves in the joint operation in September, and had been securing the city for nearly five months. Unfortunately, the situation in Tal Afar deteriorated drastically over the next year. In March of 2007, Tal Afar again headlined in the news, as bombs and reprisal killings claimed more than 120 lives in two days. Why did this success return to the side of failure. Did we place to much faith in the Iraqi Security Forces? Did we underestimate the roots of the insurgency? Did we misplace our forces in order to reach these same successes elsewhere? I personally lean towards this last point.

It seems as if we could only HOLD for so long. With Baghdad filling the news everyday, and the idea of increasing the number of troops abroad seeming ridiculous to most Americans and their democratically elected leaders, a shift of current forces in theater was the only available option to react to the flood of violence in Baghdad. We were forced to adopt a "lets cross our fingers and hope other areas don't go to hell in a hand basket" philosophy.
We cannot afford to allow digressions like Tal Afar to happen often, or really at all. We will never reach Secretary Rice's vision of Clear, Hold, and Build, if we can't HOLD. In order to successfully do this, we must increase troop strengths in Iraq for the unforeseeable future. President Bush has seen fit to do this. He has done so not because he is a maverick, but instead because he has been advised to do so by the likes of Kilcullen, General Petraeus, and Colonel H.R. McMaster (commander of the 3d ACR who was responsible for the success in Tal Afar 2005.) The recommendation comes from the right spot…it should be supported and sustained for as long as it is required.

--Found these as I was wrapping up--

"Daddy, are we liberated yet?"

Who Needs Close Air Support?

The Troops. The Marines and Soldiers in the CLOSE fight. Why? Simple, it is one of the most tremendous advantages that troops can maintain - the ability to detect, identify, and surgically destroy opposing forces without making direct contact, or to use aerial assets to reacquire the advantage in battle, or at worst to utilize airpower to break contact with an enemy force. This is obvious, and therefore, Close Air Support exists. Arguably, the Marines have more readily available CAS, as they own and control their own F/A-18s and Harriers. Meanwhile, the Army relies on a complicated and often inefficient system for acquiring the air assets typically pushed their way…the United States Air Force.

Could it be more difficult for our Army leaders to acquire the F-16s, A-10s, and other strike assets required to effectively combat enemy forces? In the Army, the Brigade Commander can control and assign rotary wing (helicopters) to the fight. For example, Apache attack helicopters are theirs, and therefore, easy for the commander to utilize at the time and place where he needs them most. But when that commander needs the power brought to bear by strike aircraft, why must he negotiate these channels.

What if he owned them all, or only had to negotiate his own chain of command to request them? I would argue that not only would his life be easier, but also, the confusion for the pilot in the cockpit and the soldier in the foxhole would be reduced. They would be brothers, sharing institutional values, goals, and mission objectives.

Would it work if the Army owned CAS? Why wouldn't it? The Army currently owns, operates, maintains, and integrates more than 1,000 attack and scout helicopters alone. To do this, they must be more than capable of sustaining a fleet, deconflicting airspace, and most importantly, integrating them on the battlefield. Army leaders are trained at the platoon level on managing and integrating air assets into their missions, and they are competent and effective at doing so. Why is it that not only must all requests for CAS survive the enduring process above, but that they must also be managed by a "blue-suiter" pushed down to the Army battalion level.

If the air over our maneuver forces looks like this now… wouldn't it look more organized if the orders and coordination were all coming from the same command.

I am not making the argument that the Air Force is irrelevant. Most certainly, we must have a branch of our military that wholeheartedly embraces technology, controls nuclear assets, secures air superiority, and performs missions such as strategic bombing and high altitude reconnaissance. Plus, they sure do a great job of training future commercial airline pilots.

In the end, it makes sense to me that we would put the control and command over Close Air Support assets in the hands of the end-user. This is not a new argument, as the Army has begged for the A-10 in years past when the Air Force was prepared to abandon the airframe. Maybe it is an argument that needs revisited.