Archive for July, 2015

DEBUNKING PUTIN’S ‘FASCIST KIEV’ MYTH

July 31, 2015

Wall Street Journal on July 30, 2015, in a commentary reported on how Jews from eastern Ukraine seek refuge further west in Ukraine from the Russian invasion. Among the justifications Vladimir Putin has offered for his hostility to the democratic government of Ukraine is that it is led and supported by “anti-Semitic forces.” But sit down with some of the Jews who have fled Russian-instigated violence in the east to find refuge in the capital of this supposedly neo-fascist state, and another story emerges. Excerpts below:

Consider the Kvasha family, among several thousand Jews uprooted by Mr. Putin’s invasion. You enter the family’s building on the outskirts of Kiev through a dim reception, where the walls have long turned a dark gray and a dank stench hovers. The Kvashas—dad Sergey, mom Valeria and their two boys Nikita, 17, and Arseny, 8—are crammed into a one-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor.

Inside the neatly kept apartment, a menorah sits atop a piano that has seen better days. It’s all a far cry from the Kvashas’ happy former lives in eastern Ukraine.

When I visited on Tuesday, Mr. Kvasha was at work at a printing business, where he’s a manager. Back in Luhansk, the family had its own printing firm, while Mrs. Kvasha worked as a general engineer at the local college. In addition to their apartment, the Kvashas owned a dacha, or vacation home. They were prominent and successful members of a vibrant Jewish community existing within what they describe as a tolerant Donbass society.

Then Mr. Putin launched his invasion. “When the fighting started a missile hit our building,” Mrs. Kvasha recalls. Five of their friends and neighbors were killed in attacks. Having already sent the kids to Kiev in early June 2014, Mr. and Mrs. Kvasha caught the last train out of Luhansk a few weeks later. Two bags stuffed with summer clothes were all they managed to take with them, and by August they had depleted their savings.

Building new lives in Kiev hasn’t been easy. Finding a permanent apartment was the first challenge. Landlords are reluctant to rent to refugees, seen as itinerant and unreliable.

In dire straits, the Kvashas turned to the Joint Distribution Committee, an American-Jewish organization. While the parents were still unemployed, the JDC provided the family with some $142 in monthly food assistance as well as blankets and other winter relief—crucial assistance, since their flat, once they’d secured one, cost about $165 a month. The organization continues to help the family pay rent.

The JDC also helped the Kvashas find a sense of belonging. Like many of Ukraine’s 350,000 Jews, the family’s connection to Judaism is more cultural than religious. At a Jewish community center in Kiev called Beiteinu, or Our Home, they found new friends. The JDC supports 21 such centers across Ukraine, and Mrs. Kvasha now works at Beitanu, helping other refugees find their footing.

I sat down on Tuesday with Ms. Brook, Mr. Fireman and four other elderly displaced Jews at one of the 32 social-welfare centers, or Heseds, the JDC runs across Ukraine, normally serving some 65,000 elderly and impoverished Jews, to which 5,200 have been added since the war began. Most escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs,…

Such Jewish charities operate openly here, under a government that frequently describes all Ukrainians displaced by the fighting, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, as compatriots. Ukraine, far from being the anti-Semitic nation of Putinist fantasies, has given them refuge. As one of the Hesed clients told me: “Write in your paper, we people from Donetsk and Luhansk love our country. We are patriotic. We don’t want to leave Ukraine.”

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REVIVING ‘PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH’

July 30, 2015

Washington Times on July 28, 2015, published a commentary by Peter Hannaford and Robert Zapesochny on why ‘peace through strength’ is the only effective alternative to Obama’s bad deal. Ever since the Ayatollah Khomeini and his Islamist storm troops took over Iran in 1979, the driving force of the country’s rulers has been (1) destroy Israel; (2) establish Iran as the hegemonist of the Middle East; and (3) drive out all Western influences from the region.

Their efforts to create a nuclear arsenal has been part of their strategy to accomplish these goals. Excerpts below:

Former Sen. Joseph Lieberman says the inspection and verification provisions aren’t intrusive enough. Access to some installations would require 24 days notice. There is no way to know for certain that Iran will reduce its number of centrifuges by two-thirds, as it has agreed.

U.S. intelligence may not be able to determine conclusively the moment Iran attempts a break-out and we cannot rely on the IAEA because the Iranians have deceived it for years. Yet, President Obama says the only alternative to his deal is war. This is a false choice.

The alternative is renewed peace through strength. As President Reagan proved, it is the most effective deterrent to aggression. The Iranians know that the United States has the air power to destroy these facilities as a last resort; however, they are convinced President Obama will not use it.

The Iran regime may think twice if Congress were to strengthen Israel’s capabilities. At a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, there were two members, Democrat Grace Meng of New York and Republican Randy Weber of Texas, who said we should give the GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) to Israel. That is the “Bunker Buster” bomb.

Alas, the MOP weighs 30,000 pounds and Israel’s F15s and F16s cannot carry such a heavy bomb. Congress should consider something similar to the World War II “lend-lease” program with Israel, providing MOPs and the B-52H bombers to carry them. We could lend the Israelis the B-52 bomber until the Iranian threat had subsided.

Matthew Kroenig of the Council on Foreign Relations has written in Foreign Affairs of the targets: “the uranium-conversion plant at Isfahan, the heavy-water reactor at Arak, and various centrifuge-manufacturing sites near Natanz and Tehran, all of which are located above ground and are highly vulnerable. It would also have to hit the Natanz facility, which, although it is buried under reinforced concrete and ringed by air defenses, would not survive an attack from the U.S. military’s new bunker-busting bomb capable of penetrating up to 200 feet of reinforced concrete.” The Fordow facility near Qom is built into the side of a mountain and represents a more challenging target.

Should the Iranians cheat, restoring sanctions (which took a decade to establish) will be very difficult. Russia, China, and many of the our European want to trade with Iran. Once the sanctions are lifted, Russia may sell its S-300 anti-aircraft system to Iran which could nullify the threat of the non-stealth B-52s and their Bunker Buster bombs. Time is of the essence.

Peter Hannaford was closely associated with the late President Reagan for a number years. He is a board member of the Committee on the Present Danger. Robert Zapesochny is a researcher who specializes in the geopolitics of the post-Cold War period.

A MESSAGE FROM UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO

July 29, 2015

Wall Street Journal on July 28, 2015, published an interview with President Poroshenko in Kiev. Excerpts below:

As befits a head of state managing a war, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is blunt in an interview at the presidential-administration building here. Asked about the kind of weapons his armed forces would need to deter further aggression by Russia and its separatist proxies in eastern Ukraine, Mr. Poroshenko gets specific: “We’re looking for just 1,240 Javelin missiles, and this is absolutely fair.”

The number 1,240 has special significance for Mr. Poroshenko. He says that was the number of nuclear warheads Ukraine gave up under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, jointly signed by the U.S., Britain and Russia. “Ukraine voluntarily gave up its nuclear arsenal,” Mr. Poroshenko says, “and in exchange for that the United States of America and Great Britain . . . promised to guarantee our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Compared with strategic weapons, 1,240 Javelin missiles are small beer. Yet the Obama administration has thus far refused to transfer to Kiev the antitank system—or any other form of lethal aid. Mr. Poroshenko is thankful for American political support, loan guarantees and nonlethal assistance, including Humvees, night-vision goggles, military-to-military training and artillery computers that allow Ukrainian troops to better protect themselves against shelling. Yet such assistance has so far failed to change Russian supreme leader Vladimir Putin’s calculus in the war.

Rather than helping Kiev impose real costs on the aggressor, Washington and the European powers are pushing both sides to work through the Minsk process, a series of accords negotiated in the Belarussian capital and aimed at de-escalating the conflict.

Russian forces and proxies in the east violate the letter and spirit of Minsk II on a daily basis. The latest evidence: Ukrainian forces over the weekend apprehended a Russian officer transferring a truck loaded with ammunition to a separatist position near Donetsk. “Today he gave up his full name,” Mr. Poroshenko says, for the first time confirming the officer’s rank and home base. “He is a major of regular forces who comes here to kill my people.” The officer’s home base is in Russia’s Rostov region.

Then there is the constant shelling. On Sunday there were 70 instances of shelling from separatist positions. The daily average during the past two months was 100.

Nor does Minsk II address Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. The concern in Kiev is that the West would be willing to trade away the peninsula in exchange for calm in eastern Ukraine. “If anybody proposed to the U.S. to give up the Florida Peninsula,” the Ukrainian president says, “something like that would not work. This is our land. . . . Whether it’s Donetsk, Luhansk or Crimea, at the end of the day, they will be freed.”

“We aren’t demanding that British, American or French soldiers come here and fight for us,” Mr. Poroshenko says. “We’re doing this ourselves, paying the most difficult price”—here his voice breaks momentarily—“the lives of my soldiers. We need just solidarity.”

The West would ultimately pay the price for appeasement and myopia. “If we do not stop the aggressor,” Mr. Poroshenko says, “that means global security doesn’t exist. Anytime, any plane or submarine can make a missile attack, including against the U.S.”

As Mr. Poroshenko puts it, the question the Ukrainian people are posing to the world is: “Are you together with the barbarian or together with the free world?” How is the leader of the free world doing on that front? Mr. Poroshenko’s response is marked by subtle elisions: “I think the most important, we feel the support of the people of the United States—very, very strong support—no matter if they’re Republicans or Democrats.”

He never mentions President Barack Obama by name during our interview.

PUTIN EYES RUSSIAN STRENGTH IN ATLANTIC AND ARCTIC IN NEW NAVAL DOCTRINE

July 28, 2015

The Telegraph, London, on July 27, 2015, reported that Russia will guarantee a permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean and boost its strength in the Atlantic and Arctic under a new strategy to counter “unacceptable” Nato expansion. Excerpts below:

The plans, which also include ambitious ship-building targets and expansion of infrastructure for the country’s fleet in the Black Sea, were laid out in a new naval doctrine approved by Vladimir Putin.

Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister with a portfolio for defense, emphasized the “accent put on the Atlantic and the Arctic” in a meeting with Mr Putin. Mr Rogozin, a strong critic of Nato, said that the new doctrine reflects “changes in the international political situation and the objective strengthening of Russia as a great naval power.”

“Our attention towards the Atlantic is justified by the expansion of Nato in the east,” he told Russian news agencies.

The 46-page document, published on the Kremlin website, lays out a comprehensive vision for civilian and military maritime strategy in coming years, including maintenance of sea-trade routes and management of fisheries.

But its military section openly identifies Western militaries as the primary potential adversary facing the Russian navy.

“The determining factor in relations with Nato remains the alliance’s unacceptable plans to move military infrastructure towards the Russian Federation’s borders and attempts to assume global functions,” the document says.

It goes on to call for reinforcement of Russia’s naval presence in the North Atlantic and maintenance of a naval presence “on a permanent basis” in the Mediterranean.

The doctrine also makes special mention of the Arctic and Antarctic, calling for expansion of Russia’s Northern Fleet to protect claims to natural resources on the Arctic shelf and secure the northern sea route between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Russia is planning to build a new fleet of nuclear-powered ice breakers to support Arctic development.

It comes six months after Mr Putin approved a revised military doctrine in response to the rapid deterioration of relations with the West following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The annexation of Crimea sparked the worst crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War and preceded the eruption of a war between Russian-backed separatists and government troops in eastern Ukraine.

In January, Nato announced the creation of six command centres in eastern member states as part of a response to what it called “Russian aggression” in Ukraine.

“These changes show that Russia pays particular attention to the reinforcement of its naval potential in the Arctic and the Atlantic to counter NATO,” military expert Alexander Golts said.

But “without a decisive reinforcement of the fleet’s capacities, all of these make no sense,” he added.

ÅTERUPPRÄTTA DET PSYKOLOGISKA FÖRSVARET

July 25, 2015

Svenska Dagbladet, Stockholm, publicerade den 23 juli 2015 en debattartikel av riksdagsledamotden Hans Wallmark om behovet av ett starkt svenskt psykologiskt försvar. Informationskriget finns redan här och nu och vi är alla en del av det på Face¬book, Twitter och via andra interaktiva kanaler där vanliga med¬borgare är aktiva deltagare. Utdrag nedan:

Kampen om informationen har blivit en allt viktigare del av säkerhetspolitiken. Genom att sprida desinformation kan man skapa förvirring och försvaga motståndaren. Användandet av olika informationskanaler för att få ut den egna agendan och värva sympatisörer blir också allt viktigare. Det kan därför vara klokt att utreda möjligheten av att återupprätta det psykologiska försvaret som en egen myndighet. Sverige måste bättre klara av påverkanskampanjer, desinformation och propaganda.

Vi ser hur historieförfalskningen och verklighetsförvanskningen används i Östersjöområdet. Och hur Islamiska staten, IS, i en helt annan del av världen pumpar ut ord och bild kring sitt blodiga jihadistkrigande.

Påverkan är inget nytt, men med utvecklingen av ny teknik, internet och sociala medier är spridningseffekten vidare, snabbare och det är svårare att identifiera vem som är avsändare. Den psykologiska krigföringen blir också allt viktigare.

Exempel från aktuella konflikter visar tydligt hur den psykologiska krigföringen är ett viktigt instrument för att få ett övertag i en situation. I Mellan¬östern arbetar IS medvetet i syfte att skapa förvirring, rädsla och för att värva sympatisörer. Utvecklingen i Ukraina visar också hur effektivt det kan vara att använda psykologisk krigföring tillsammans med andra militära och civila verktyg som till exempel specialförband, cyberattacker, ekono-miska påtryckningar för att uppnå sitt mål.

Under det kalla kriget ingick den psykologiska krigföringen som ett viktigt inslag i konflikten mellan öst och väst. Sovjetunionen understödde partier och rörelser som verkade i västvärlden och som hade en agenda vilken gick Moskvas intressen till mötes. Det kunde gälla allt från stöd till kommunistiska partier och terrororganisationer som Röda Arméfraktionen. Väst å sin sida använde sig av radiosändningar för att sprida information till länderna bakom järnridån. I denna envig kom lögnen att stå mot sanningen.

Vi ser en återupprepning. Den brittiske journalisten och Rysslandskännaren Peter Pomerantsev har beskrivit hur Ryssland nu medvetet arbetar för att undergräva enigheten hos Nato och länderna i väst genom informationskampanjer.

Den ryska tv-kanalen Russia Today som finns tillgänglig i hela västvärlden är ett exempel på hur man genom sändningar på bland annat engelska, tyska och arabiska arbetar med att ge den ryska synen på olika skeenden. Tv-kanalen lyfter även fram negativa nyheter om samhällsutvecklingen i de länder som Ryssland betraktar som fientligt -inställda.

Sverige måste ta ett helhetsgrepp kring det psykologiska försvaret. Samordningsansvaret ligger i dag hos Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap, men flera andra aktörer har det praktiska ansvaret. Den nya situationen kräver att vi tänker nytt och tänker i termer av defensiv och aktiv förmåga. Detta bör ske i dialog med befintlig expertis och kompetens i Sverige och internationellt. Mediernas och informationssamhällets framtida förutsättningar och utveckling bör finnas med i analysen.

Den säkerhetspolitiska arbetsgruppen inom Moderaterna vill därför utreda möjligheten av att återupprätta det psykologiska försvaret som egen myndighet för att rusta vår förmåga att stå emot psykologisk krigföring.

Informationskriget finns redan här och nu och vi är alla en del av det på Facebook, Twitter och via andra interaktiva kanaler där vanliga medborgare är aktiva deltagare. Vi måste som individer bli mer kritiska och bättre på att bedöma den information vi delar. Men, vi behöver även en stark myndighet för psykologiskt försvar för att bemöta påverkansoperationer och stärka vår försvarsförmåga. Ytterst handlar det om att värna Sverige och vårt öppna samhälle.

Hans Wallmark (M) är försvarspolitisk talesperson och ordförande i Moderaternas arbetsgrupp ”Säkerhet i en orolig tid”.

SUPER HUMANS AND KILLER ROBOTS: HOW THE US ARMY ENVISIONS WARFARE IN 2050

July 24, 2015

The Diplomat Magazine on July 24, 2015, reported on how the US Army envisions warfare in 2050. A new breed of super humans and autonomous combat robots will be two of the key features of the battlefield in 2050, according to a new report summarizing the findings of a U.S. Army-sponsored workshop. Excerpts below:

The workshop, held in March 2015 in Maryland, brought together a diverse group of experts to envision the 2050 tactical ground battlefield. Their conclusion: humans will be in the minority on the modern battleground:

A time traveler from today would be immediately taken with the “over-crowding” of the battlefield of 2050 populated by all manner of robots, robots that greatly outnumber human fighters, and robot-looking humans.

In detail, the report lists seven specific capabilities that will shape future land warfare: augmented humans; automated decision making and autonomous processes; misinformation as a weapon; micro-targeting; large-scale self-organization and collective decision making; cognitive modeling of the opponent; and the ability to understand and cope in a contested, imperfect information environment.

While the robots of the 2050 battlefield would resemble systems that exist today such as armed drones and fire-and-forget missiles, they would “possess significantly greater capabilities of machine reasoning and intelligent autonomy than those existing today,” according to the report:

Robots will commonly operate in teams or swarms in the battlespace of 2050 in the same way Soldiers act in teams today. These self-organized and/or collaborative collections of robots would operate with varying degrees of freedoms (from being actively managed to being autonomous) under dynamically established rules of engagement/priorities. Robot swarms and teams (as well as individual robots) would be assigned a variety of tasks.

Of course, relying on this force of largely autonomous killer bots as well as other new war-fighting technologies would create new attack vectors for the enemy to exploit. What for example would happen if enemy hackers managed to seize control of U.S. Army robots through spoofing (“behavior hacking”)? Could they in a Terminator-like scenario turn their weapons on their human comrades in arms?

Perhaps, since on the 2050 battlefield humans and robots will fight alongside each other, the experts believe:

The principal Army unit operating in 2050 will be mixed human-robot teams. To enable humans to partner effectively with robots, human team members will be enhanced in a variety of ways. These super humans will feature exoskeletons, possess a variety of implants, and have seamless access to sensing and cognitive enhancements.

…the workshop participants also expect genetically engineered soldiers fighting next to “unenhanced humans”:

[T]hey [genetically engineered super humans] will have enhanced physical capabilities, senses, and cognitive powers. The presence of super humans on the battlefield in the 2050 timeframe is highly likely because the various components needed to enable this development already exist and are undergoing rapid evolution.

However, before any of this becomes reality various obstacles will have to be overcome. First and foremost new command and control concepts would need to be developed to successfully manage, integrate and lead human, superhuman and robot warriors. This would mean creating a new hybrid cognitive command architecture that successfully merges artificial with human intelligence.

US MILITARY LEADERS NAME RUSSIA AS TOP THREAT TO U.S.

July 22, 2015

Washington Times on July 21, 2015, reported that US Army Gen. Mark Milley joined other top military brass in naming Russia as the top threat the U.S. faces today, as lawmakers questioned the wisdom of cutting an Army base in Alaska.

“Russia is the only country on earth that contains a nuclear capability that could destroy the United States,” Gen. Milley told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing to consider his nomination to serve as the next Army chief of staff. “It’s an existential threat to the United States, so it has capability. Intent, I don’t know; but the activity of Russia since 2008 has been very, very aggressive.” Excerpts below:

Asked about the military’s ability to operate in Europe amid the growing Russian threat, Gen. Milley said he thought the U.S. military needed to increase ground forces on a temporary rotational basis to provide better deterrence.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, Alaska Republican, criticized the Army for planning to cut thousands of troops from bases in Alaska while naming Russia, also an Arctic nation, as the top threat. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage is expected to lose more than 2,500 troops, a 59 percent decrease in active-duty Army personnel at the base.

The cuts to personnel at Army bases in Alaska are part of broader cuts expected to reduce Army end strength by 40,000 troops by the end of fiscal 2018. The reductions are driven by the tight budget environment, officials said.

Mr. Sullivan said the Army should come up with a strategy for the Arctic — something more substantive than the current 13-page plan that he called “a joke” that only mentions Russia in a footnote — before making personnel reductions.

Gen. Milley promised Mr. Sullivan he would finalize an Arctic plan before the Alaska cuts are set to take effect in fiscal 2017.

The military is in the midst of a leadership shake up. New nominees to serve as the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as new leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps are appearing before the Senate committee.

Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, has asked the three nominees who appeared before the committee so far how they would rank the threats to the U.S. All three who have had their confirmation hearings have said Russia poses the greatest threat to America.

About 300 U.S. soldiers began training members of the Ukrainian national guard in April 2015 and the U.S. has also provided humanitarian aid to the Ukrainians.

Congress authorized the administration to provide lethal aid to Ukraine last year, but President Obama — who ridiculed Republican rival Mitt Romney during a 2012 presidential debate for calling Russia the greatest threat to American security — has declined so far to use that authorization to arm Ukrainians amid Russian claims that U.S. involvement will only escalate the conflict.

Gen. Milley, in his confirmation hearing, said he would support providing defensive lethal aid to Ukraine.

Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the nominee to serve as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, also put Russia at the top of his list of threats. He placed the Islamic State and other al Qaeda-inspired groups at the bottom of the list.

“Right now [the Islamic State] does not present a clear and present threat to our homeland and to our nation,” he said at his confirmation hearing earlier this month. “It is a threat we must deal with … but it does not threaten us at home.”

Gen. Milley named other top threats as China, North Korea, the Islamic State and Iran, but did not place them in a specific order.

OBAMA’S STRATEGIC FAILURE

July 21, 2015

Wall Street Journal on July 19, 2015, published a review of historian Mark Moyar’s new book “Strategic Failure” (Threshold, 387 pages, US Dollars 28.00). Excerpts below:

The book is an account of the half-baked concepts and politicized decision-making that created the great foreign-policy unraveling of Mr. Obama’s second term. As Mr. Moyar shows, the administration’s failures abroad had many fathers (and mothers), including Mrs. Clinton and, especially, Vice President Joe Biden. The missteps, says Mr. Moyar, began in the president’s first term, the main focus of the book; it was merely the delay between cause and effect that prevented the worst of the outcomes from surfacing before voters had re-elected Mr. Obama.

The bulk of the book is devoted to the Middle East and North Africa, the main theater of the War on Terror. Starting out his public career as an antiwar progressive, Barack Obama gradually modulated his foreign-policy ideas as he entered national politics. Iraq became the “dumb war,” whereas Afghanistan was a worthy fight. The motivation for this shift to the center was political.

Mr. Obama’s commitment to the war in Afghanistan as president was as un-strategic as his opposition to the Iraq War. When it came time to implement his Afghan “surge” in 2009, he set arbitrary deadlines and troop limits that would soon undermine his stated aims. Brushed off were the warnings of his generals and the more serious administration principals, most notably Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who urged more troops and a longer timeline.

Such figures were excluded from the president’s cocoon, to which only campaign loyalists—the likes of David Axelrod, Denis McDonough, Benjamin Rhodes and Valerie Jarrett—were admitted. These were the figures, Mr. Moyar writes, behind the White House’s “subordination of policy to politics.”

The Islamic State would beg to differ: Less than four years later, Mosul and Ramadi are under its control. Meanwhile, the administration sold regional retreat as a triumph and even provided a pseudo-doctrine justifying it. Known as “counterterrorism-plus,” the concept was invented by Mr. Biden as an alternative to the heavy-footprint prescriptions of eminent counterinsurgency practitioners like Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It emphasized drone warfare and the use of special forces to target jihadists with little to no presence on the ground. Counterterrorism-plus was counterterrorism on the cheap. Missing from counterterrorism-plus was a coherent regional strategy and a willingness to use “overwhelming and permanent force” when necessary, as Mr. Moyar puts it.

Obama’s concept failed to check the rise of al Qaeda in Yemen and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Yet as recently as March 2015, the White House continued to tout the model’s success in Yemen, even as the Yemeni state was collapsing. The lesson of Mr. Obama’s catastrophic foreign policy, Mr. Moyar says, is that there is no cheap-and-easy substitute for a “proactive global strategy and the robust defense spending required to sustain it.”

Mr. Moyar, who has taught at the Marine Corps University and the Joint Special Operations University, is one of the ablest strategic thinkers [in the United States], and he has a gift for letting the facts speak for themselves—or rather, drop like hammer blows.

Few administration principals come off well in Mr. Moyar’s history. The author is most sympathetic to Mr. Gates, who appears as a sort of bureaucratic tragic hero, time and again voicing reservations about Mr. Obama’s drastic defense-budget cuts, arbitrary timelines and sidelining of the military—only to down the poisoned chalice in the end and carry out administration policy as best he could.

Mrs. Clinton at the State Department was a happy executor of such signature flops as the Russian reset. And she embraced the Obamian vision of small footprints, always acting multilaterally and encouraging second-tier states like France and Britain to supplant U.S. leadership.

That vision culminated in the 2012 terrorist attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and Mrs. Clinton found herself digging out of a hole after it was revealed that she was complicit in White House efforts to play down or even hide the failures underlying the security breach. “At this point, what difference does it make?” she asked in congressional testimony on Benghazi. But the bigger question was why we were in that situation in the first place. It all does make a difference.

“Strategic Failure” won’t make for soothing reading in Washington this election season, and perhaps that is its greatest virtue.

ROBERT KAPLAN ON CHINA AND ASIA’S FUTURE: AN INTERVIEW

July 18, 2015

The Diplomat on July 16, 2015, published an interview by Rafal Tomanski of Robert D. Kaplan. He is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a contributing editor atThe Atlantic. He is also the former chief geopolitical analyst at Stratfor and was a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. He is the author of many books, including Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and The End of a Stable Pacific and the forthcoming In Europe’s Shadow.

Following a speech on Asia at the Polish parliament on July 9, he spoke with Rafał Tomański. Excerpts below:

Do you think that the age of the Asia is coming?

I don’t believe that’s that simple. Asia can go through a big shock. If the Chinese economy was to implode – which I don’t believe, but it might happen – Asia would suddenly matter less. Such an implosion of the Chinese economy would affect Asian countries much more than it affects Europe and the United States.

Excluding the implosion of Chinese economy, what do you think could surprise Beijing most? They seem to expect everything.

And they seem to have a plan for everything. Everything is very planned out and calculated. One thing I didn’t mentioned in the lecture was that Chinese aggression is much more elegant and sophisticated than the Russian aggression.

What do the Chinese do? They’re sending an oil rig into Vietnamese waters. Than they get a lot of criticism and they pull it back. They don’t use their navy; they send their coast guard to make territorial claims. It’s all very elegant. Designed to be a page three story, not a page one story. Very insidious.

In a long run, the ability of the United States to contain China may actually be more challenging than to contain Russia…What can surprise them? We mentioned the economy. I think that the stock market [surprised] the leadership. I think real dramatic insurgency and unrest in the West with the Uighur Muslims could really surprise them.

So approaching the aggressor might be more surprising than a retreat?

Right. That’s the opportunity, the moment of surprise. Another element and not even a surprise is the moment the North Korean regime collapses. Kim Jong-un is assassinated by somebody in his inner circle or something. That would be like a wreck; like implosion and chaos. That’s not a surprise but a Chinese nightmare for years already.

…you mentioned the Indian Ocean as a place for the future, particularly since relative to the Pacific, it has few institutions and less of a major power presence. How do you see this playing out?

First of all, the Indian Ocean is unique. There are no superpowers along it. United States and Europe are not there, it’s sort of a metaphor of a world in the future. It will be a much more fragmented global world. The Indian Ocean has also parts within it that create their own sort of systems, conflicts and security. You have the Bay of Bengal,..You have the Arabian Sea which is essentially the greater Persian Gulf and the Red Sea which is a sort of a maritime Middle East.

The Indian Ocean is still somewhat fragmented, but that’s technology that makes the world smaller, these two sides are going to fuse together.

Rafał Tomański is a regular contributor to Rzeczpospolita daily, a Polish national daily. He graduated from Warsaw University he writes books on modern Japan and on Asian affairs.

JAPANESE PM ABE MAKES PROGRESS ON PLAN TO EXPAND MILITARY

July 17, 2015

Wall Street Journal on July 16, 2015, reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made a significant stride toward his goal of expanding the role of Japan’s military, as the main chamber of parliament passed a package of national security bills… Excerpts below:

The passage of the bills enables Mr. Abe to make good on a promise he made to U.S. lawmakers to approve “by this summer” legislation that allows Japan to take on more responsibility under their bilateral security agreement. Citing heightened tensions in East Asia, the U.S. and Japan upgraded the guidelines to their security treaty during Mr. Abe’s visit to Washington in April 2015.

“The security environment surrounding Japan continues to get tougher,” Mr. Abe told reporters after the vote. “These are absolutely necessary bills in order to protect the lives of Japanese people and prevent wars.”

The bills will now be sent to the upper house of parliament, where opposition lawmakers plan to continue fighting them. But even if the legislation fails to gain approval there, passage means it will automatically be sent back in 60 days to the more powerful lower house, which would have the final vote.

The most contentious aspect of the legislation would allow Japanese troops to come to the rescue of allies under attack even if Japan itself hasn’t been attacked.

Mr. Abe has criticized China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, and Tokyo and Beijing have a dispute over Japan-held islands in the East China Sea.

The security legislation would bolster Japan’s ability to aid U.S. forces in the event of a U.S.-China conflict in Asian waters — even through direct participation in the fighting, if Japan judged that its own territory was under grave threat.