Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quote of the Day:

"Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man."
- Benjamin Franklin

"In the sustained determination to accomplish there is an invincible power which swallows up all inferior considerations and marches direct to victory."
- James Allen 

“I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are splashed with crime, yet for every criminal there’re 10,000 honest decent kindly men. If it were not so, no child would live to grow up. , business could not go on from day to day. Decency is not news; it is buried in the obituaries–but it us a force stronger than crime. I believe in the patient gallantry of nurses…in the tedium sacrifices of teachers. I believe in the unseen and unending fight against desperate odds that goes on quietly in almost every home in the land.”
- Robert A. Heinlein, Excerpt from This I Believe.




1. Richard Marcinko, Founding Commander of SEAL Team 6, Dies at 81
2. How SEAL Team 6 founder Richard Marcinko shaped America’s modern-day special operations forces
3. Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch dies at 74
4. What Putin, Xi and Khamenei Want
5. FDD | Chile’s new president is a win for Iran
6. Breaking Up Tech Is a Gift to China
7. Opinion | Americans must rally against the real threat to our democracy: China
8. Congressional Report Reveals China’s Strategy to Dominate East Asia
9. Academic says Bitcoin is worse than a Ponzi scheme
10. Xi Jinping’s mission to dominate the Chinese Communist Party
11. Biden signs NDAA into law, but when will the money really come?
12. A Bigger Defense Budget Is Nothing to Celebrate
13. Biden Should Not Embrace New Nuclear Policies
14. It’s an Alliance and US-Japan Success Begins on Base
15. Is McKinsey China's weapon against America? | Opinion
16. Defense Against Corruption Is Nice. Offense Against Corruption Is Better.
17. The US military's extremism problem isn't going away
18. Gray Zones or Limited War?
19. MSNBC columnist calls for ending NORAD Santa tracker to keep Santa 'safe' from US military
20. Mark Milley should be executed on live TV, says GOP congressional candidate Noah Malgeri







1. Richard Marcinko, Founding Commander of SEAL Team 6, Dies at 81

The New York Times interpretation of Ricard Marcinko.

Richard Marcinko, Founding Commander of SEAL Team 6, Dies at 81
The New York Times · by Azi Paybarah · December 27, 2021
The Navy asked Commander Marcinko, a larger-than-life soldier who often flouted rules, to build a SEAL unit that could respond quickly to terrorist crises.
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Richard Marcinko in an undated photo at a book signing at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va.Credit...Bill Tiernan/Virginian-Pilot, via AP
By Vimal Patel and
Dec. 27, 2021
Richard Marcinko, the hard-charging founding commander of Navy SEAL Team 6, the storied and feared unit within an elite commando force that later carried out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, died Saturday at his home in Fauquier County, Va. He was 81.
The cause was believed to be a heart attack, a son, Matthew Marcinko, said.
Commander Marcinko climbed the ranks to command Team 6 and wrote a tell-all best seller that cemented the SEALs in pop culture as heroes and bad boys. Though the highly decorated Vietnam veteran led Team 6 for only three years, from 1980 to 1983, he had an outsize influence on the group’s place in military lore.
After a failed 1980 mission to rescue 53 American hostages seized in the takeover of the United States Embassy in Tehran, the Navy asked Commander Marcinko to build a SEAL unit that could respond quickly to terrorist crises. The name itself was an attempt at Cold War disinformation: Only two SEAL teams existed at the time, but Commander Marcinko called the new unit SEAL Team 6, hoping that Soviet analysts would overestimate the size of the force.
He flouted rules and fostered a maverick image for the unit. (Years after leaving the command, he was convicted of military contract fraud.) In his autobiography, “Rogue Warrior,” Commander Marcinko describes drinking together as important to SEAL Team 6’s solidarity; his recruiting interviews often amounted to boozy chats in bars.
For years, SEAL Team 6 embraced its rogue persona and was assigned some of the military’s toughest operations. Only Team 6 trains to chase after nuclear weapons that fall into enemy hands. And the team’s role in the 2011 raid that killed bin Laden — the Qaeda leader who 10 years earlier had overseen the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 — spawned a wave of books and movies, elevating the unit to even higher heights of fame.
Young officers were sometimes run out of Team 6 for trying to clean up what they saw as a culture of recklessness. Adm. William H. McRaven, who rose to lead the Special Operations Command and oversaw the bin Laden raid, left Team 6 during the Marcinko era after disagreements about leadership.
After retiring from the Navy in 1989, Commander Marcinko embarked on a career as a best-selling author, motivational speaker and military consultant, relying heavily on his authenticity as a military veteran. He also appeared on the cover of several of his books, presenting an imposing image of muscular forearms, bearded jaw and piercing eyes staring out at readers.
Some SEALs over the years have said that Commander Marcinko invented his own legend. Of his 1992 book, “Rogue Warrior,” written with John Weisman, David Murray wrote in The New York Times that “his story is fascinating” but the method of telling it “is not.” In the book, Commander Marcinko “comes across as less the genuine warrior than a comic-book superhero who makes Arnold Schwarzenegger look like Little Lord Fauntleroy.”
The book sold millions of copies. Readers apparently wanted more, and Commander Marcinko obliged. His 1995 novel, “Rogue Warrior: Green Team,” also with Mr. Weisman, has “so much action that the reader scarcely has time to breathe,” Newgate Callendar, another Times reviewer, wrote.
Richard Marcinko was born on Nov. 21, 1940, to George Marcinko and Emilie Teresa Pavlik Marcinko in his grandmother’s house in Lansford, Pa., a tiny mining town. In his autobiography, he described his mother as “short and Slavic looking” and his father as dark and brooding, with a “nasty temper.”
All the men in the family, Commander Marcinko wrote, were miners. “They were born, they worked the mines, they died,” he wrote. “Life was simple and life was hard, and I guess some of them might have wanted to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, but most were too poor to buy boots.”
He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Navy in 1958. He was deployed to Vietnam with SEAL Team 2 in 1967, according to the National Navy SEAL Museum, which announced the death on its Facebook page.
He received many honors for his service, including four Bronze Stars, a Silver Star and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, according to the museum. After completing two tours in Vietnam, he was promoted to lieutenant commander and then took the reins of SEAL Team 2 from 1974 to 1976, according to the museum.
Commander Marcinko is survived by his wife, Nancy; four daughters, Brandy Alexander, Tiffany Alexander, Hailey Marcinko and Kathy-Ann Marcinko; two sons, Matthew and Ritchie Marcinko; and several grandchildren. An earlier marriage to Kathy Black ended in divorce.
On Sunday night, Admiral McRaven called Commander Marcinko “one of the more colorful characters” in Naval special warfare history.
“While we had some disagreements when I was a young officer, I always respected his boldness, his ingenuity and his unrelenting drive for success,” Admiral McRaven wrote in an email. “I hope he will be remembered for his numerous contributions to the SEAL community.”
Dave Philipps contributed reporting.
The New York Times · by Azi Paybarah · December 27, 2021




2. How SEAL Team 6 founder Richard Marcinko shaped America’s modern-day special operations forces

With no district to Marcinko but I think he may have borrowed this "idea" from Aaron Bank who described his reasoning for naming 10th Special Forces Group. 

Excerpt:

The now iconic name – SEAL Team 6 – started as a bit of Cold War-era deception. At the time, there were only two active SEAL Teams. Marcinko designated his new unit “six,” hoping that the Soviet Union and other nations would greatly overestimate the size of the Navy’s special operations community.

​(Aaron Bank. Even its name, 10th SFG, was part of a Cold War disinformation effort. Though the first unit of its kind, the decision was made to name it the 10th, implying to the Soviets that there were nine other SF units.​)​
How SEAL Team 6 founder Richard Marcinko shaped America’s modern-day special operations forces
taskandpurpose.com · by Max Hauptman · December 27, 2021

Richard Marcinko, the rough and tumble first commander of the Navy’s storied SEAL Team 6, passed away Saturday at his home in Virginia, the National Navy SEAL Museum announced on social media. He was 81 years old.
Already a highly decorated officer with more than a decade of service in the SEALs, in 1979 Marcinko was one of two Navy representatives on a Joint Chiefs of Staff task force assembled to help develop a rescue plan during the Iranian hostage crisis. The subsequent mission, Operation Eagle Claw, was disastrous, leaving 12 casualties and seven aircraft and helicopters destroyed or abandoned in Iran. It’s aftermath, however, would see Marcinko at the forefront of an emerging mission for America’s special operations personnel.
In 1980, Marcinko was selected by the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Thomas B. Hayward, to build a new SEAL unit dedicated to rapid response, hostage rescue, and counter-terrorism operations.
While special operations have grown immensely in the decades since, at the time it was an underutilized and undermanned aspect of the military.
The now iconic name – SEAL Team 6 – started as a bit of Cold War-era deception. At the time, there were only two active SEAL Teams. Marcinko designated his new unit “six,” hoping that the Soviet Union and other nations would greatly overestimate the size of the Navy’s special operations community.
Marcinko led the unit from 1980-1983, hand picking new members from across the Navy’s existing SEAL Teams and Underwater Demolition Teams. As commander, Marcinko helped establish the aggressive, hard-charging culture of his new unit, and made little effort to conceal its maverick nature, openly flaunting rules and regulations. In his autobiography, “Rogue Warrior,” Marcinko wrote of the importance of drinking together and often as a fixture in building Team 6’s solidarity.
Marcinko’s personality and the nature of the unit weren’t for everyone. Adm. William McRaven, who would later go on to lead Special Operations Command and oversee SEAL Team 6 during its famous raid against Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was drummed out of the unit after disagreeing with Marcinko over what he perceived as a culture of recklessness.
Over the ensuing decades, SEAL Team 6, nowadays known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU, would continue to live up to Marcinko’s rogue reputation, taking on some of the nation’s most dangerous and secretive missions. From Operation Anaconda, to the MV Maersk Alabama hijacking, to the aforementioned bin Laden raid, the unit’s exploits have been recounted again and again, and made the focus of dozens of movies and books.
Marcinko retired from the Navy as a commander in 1989, going on to become a best-selling author and motivational speaker and military consultant. His 1992 autobiography “Rogue Warrior,” as well as its subsequent sequel “Rogue Warrior: Green Team” sold millions of copies and are filled with countless exploits from a lifetime spent at the forefront of the special operations fight. Marcinko later used the Rogue Warrior brand for a series of eight bestselling novels, co-written with Jonathan Weisman, according to Marcinko’s Amazon author profile.
Author and former U.S. Navy SEAL Richard Marcinko arrives at Sapphire Pool & Day Club on August 1, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)
Marcinko’s career was also not without its troubles. In 1990, he was convicted of defrauding the government over acquisition prices for hand grenades and sentenced to 21 months in prison, eventually serving 15.
Marcinko was born on Nov. 21, 1940, in the small, eastern Pennsylvania town of Lansford. Enlisting in the Navy in 1958, he would rise through the ranks and eventually make his way to a SEAL team in 1966.
In 1967, Marcinko deployed to Vietnam with SEAL Team 2, participating in a raid at Ilo Ilo Island which the Navy described as one of its most successful operations in the Mekong Delta. During a second deployment, which came during the Tet Offensive in 1968, Marcinko led his SEAL platoon in house-to-house fighting, later rescuing several American nurses and schoolteachers trapped in a nearby hospital. Marcinko would go on to be awarded four Bronze Stars, a Silver Star and a Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry, according to the National Navy SEAL Museum.
Last night, Christmas evening, we lost a hero, who’s also known as The Rogue Warrior, the retired Navy SEAL commander AND the creator of SEAL Team Six, my father, Richard Marcinko. His legacy will live forever. The man has died a true legend. Rest In Peace Dad. I love you forever pic.twitter.com/QG0cG2qjoo
— Matt Marcinko (@yungspecter) December 26, 2021
On Sunday, Marcinko’s son wrote on Twitter that, “his legacy will live forever. The man has died a true legend.”


is the Breaking News reporter at Task & Purpose. New Yorker and Army veteran. Previously at The Washington Post with layovers in Oklahoma, Washington State and Maine. Contact the author here.

taskandpurpose.com · by Max Hauptman · December 27, 2021



3. Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch dies at 74

With the recent news of deaths of other veterans we should not overlook the passing of this quiet professional whose name is probably not well known outside the Special Forces community.

Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch dies at 74
militarytimes.com · by Sarah Sicard · December 27, 2021
Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Gary Beikirch, who ran multiple times into the line of fire to administer first aid to wounded troops, died Sunday in Rochester, New York.
He was 74.
Beikirch was a medical aidman with the U.S. Army, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for valorous action while serving with Detachment B-24, Company B, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, on April 1, 1970. The group was stationed at Camp Dak Seang in Vietnam’s Kontum Province when the enemy attacked along the Laotion border.
“During the intense firefight that ensued, Beikirch repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire and mortars to treat the injured and dying and carry them back to shelter, ignoring his own wounds,” a press release stated.
According to his citation, Beikirch ran multiple times into the line of fire to retrieve the bodies of fallen comrades. Despite being wounded by mortar shell fragments, he searched and cared for other casualties until he became incapacitated.
“Pairs of Montagnard troops helped him reach the wounded when it became too difficult to move under his own command,” the release noted. “He continued aiding others until he collapsed and was immediately medevacked from the area.”
After being discharged in 1971, Beikirch went on to pursue higher education, becoming a veterans’ counselor and a middle school guidance counselor, the release said.
President Richard M. Nixon awarded Beikirch with the Medal of Honor on Oct. 15, 1973.
About Sarah Sicard
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.


4. What Putin, Xi and Khamenei Want

Kim will be upset that he was not included.

Excerpt:
Russia, China and Iran each present their own complex, albeit related, problems, and the objectives and ideologies of their leaders are different. But they all are encouraged in their recklessness by fantasies that have long plagued modern democracies. The Biden administration and democratic leaders world-wide need to accept that these men don’t want what we want, and that the arc of history doesn’t always bend toward justice. The bad guys can win.



What Putin, Xi and Khamenei Want
The West’s elites are naive about autocrats, who put ambition ahead of approval.
By Aaron MacLean
Dec. 27, 2021 5:41 pm ET








Despite years of warning, the U.S. and its allies aren’t ready for the challenges created by a coterie of Eurasian autocrats. The habits of mind prevalent among democratic peoples and their leaders have left us vulnerable more than once, and thus bear some examination. The principal error is thinking that men like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Ali Khamenei want what most Westerners want. They don’t.
The most immediate threat is that Mr. Putin will invade Ukraine or engage in related forms of reckless mischief. As during Mr. Putin’s seizure of Crimea in 2014, there is a sense of incredulity at his audacity, as well as confusion about his intentions. An unnamed senior administration official told reporters on Dec. 17: “The Russian people don’t need a war with Ukraine. They don’t need their sons coming home in body bags. They don’t need another foreign adventure. What they need is better healthcare, build back better, roads, schools, economic opportunity.”

The gratuitous reference to President Biden’s domestic agenda is laughable, but it reveals an inability to understand that Mr. Putin rates the material needs of the Russian people far below his own ambitions. He isn’t against salving Russia’s national pride through classic irredentist conquest, which may elevate his political standing more than economic growth.
Even those who recognize Mr. Putin’s hostile intentions are left speaking with a kind of Episcopalian disapproval. In 2014 then-Secretary of State John Kerry was mocked when he said of Mr. Putin: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.”

This discounting of threats is nothing new. In his 1919 classic, “Democratic Ideals and Reality,” the British strategist Halford Mackinder noted that modern democracy is essentially idealistic, aiming toward the goal that “every human being shall live a full and self-respecting life.” Such idealism left democracies prey to men like the German kaiser. “Democracy refuses to think strategically unless and until compelled to do so for purposes of defense,” Mackinder observed with the bitter consequences of the Great War in mind.
Ten years earlier Mackinder’s countryman Norman Angell had published the influential “The Great Illusion,” arguing that war between great powers was essentially obsolete. Meanwhile, the prewar literary scene in the German Empire had a different flavor: General Friedrich von Bernhardi’s “Germany and the Next War” and its sequel—subsequently published in English under the title “Britain as Germany’s Vassal”—appeared in 1912 and 1913, respectively.
Mackinder cautioned about the limitations of idealistic initiatives such as the League of Nations, warnings that could as easily apply to the international order created after World War II. These institutions, and the norms they seek to impose, can help manage international disputes, and have no doubt contributed to the long peace among great powers since 1945.
But they aren’t decisive. The hard power of the West—the U.S. especially—and the terrifying reality of nuclear weapons have been more significant, and still matter most today.
With contempt for the resolve and seriousness of their Western counterparts, the latest generation of Eurasian autocrats have been testing new methods to achieve traditional goals of statecraft like territorial expansion, even in the face of nuclear-armed coalitions. The annexation of Crimea is the biggest achievement of these innovations.
These rulers take risks their Western counterparts could never stomach because they think differently. They are educated in the much harder school of autocratic politics, and they are aware of a range of human ambitions that modern liberal states, from their earliest foundations, have sought to suppress in the name of peace and comfort.
Russia, China and Iran each present their own complex, albeit related, problems, and the objectives and ideologies of their leaders are different. But they all are encouraged in their recklessness by fantasies that have long plagued modern democracies. The Biden administration and democratic leaders world-wide need to accept that these men don’t want what we want, and that the arc of history doesn’t always bend toward justice. The bad guys can win.
Mr. MacLean is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former foreign-policy adviser and legislative director for Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.).

Appeared in the December 28, 2021, print edition.


5. FDD | Chile’s new president is a win for Iran

Excerpts:
Iranian proxies have lost no time celebrating Boric’s victory by reminding their followers of his Twitter trolling of the local Jewish community. Iran’s Islamic Center in Santiago has already congratulated Boric, calling on the new president to open his door to Iran’s emissaries.
Boric might just offer lip service to Palestinian and Iranian causes – after all, Chile’s trade with Iran is negligible and the Middle East is far away. But he can embrace their rhetoric with significant political consequences – given that he will now speak as president. Owning and championing Palestinians’ most radical demands is at the core of Iran’s revolutionary agenda and the Trojan horse it has often used to gain supporters across Latin America. Chile has always offered a propitious terrain, given its large Palestinian diaspora. And now, the rise to power of a millennial politician wedded to these same radical anti-Israel views offers Iran a great opportunity.
FDD | Chile’s new president is a win for Iran
Last Sunday, Chileans elected Gabriel Boric, a young, former social justice student activist, as president.
fdd.org · by Emanuele Ottolenghi Senior Fellow · December 27, 2021
The Iranian cultural center in Santiago de Chile is hard to spot. Located inside a private home in a residential neighborhood, it bears no obvious sign to mark its presence. There is neither minaret nor dome. Much like Iranian influence operations in other parts of Latin America, it has a low profile. But that is about to change.
Last Sunday, Chileans elected Gabriel Boric, a young, former social justice student activist, as president. He is the most left-wing politician to run the country since Salvador Allende from 1970-73. As markets crashed and Chilean currency devalued, foreign observers worried about his economic vision. In fact, it is foreign policy they should watch. President Boric’s progressive domestic agenda will have to contend with his lack of a parliamentary majority. There will be no similar constraints on foreign policy, where his leftist instincts, backed by a strong anti-Israel domestic constituency, will likely put him in sync with Iranian influence operations in Latin America.
For Iran, Boric’s election represents an opportunity to raise its profile and protect its assets in this remote corner of Latin America, at a time when a rising tide of left-wing populism is again sweeping into power across the region.
Iran has two cultural centers in Chile. The one in the capital Santiago is run by a Hezbollah cleric from the Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, with family ties to sanctioned Hezbollah financiers and strong personal connections to Hezbollah’s West Africa fundraising and recruitment operations. Yet for years, he and his colleagues have been able to weave themselves into Chile’s public discourse, donning the mantle of religious scholars devoted to inter-religious dialogue and portraying Iran’s Shi’a (Shi’ite) brand of Islam as a moderate bulwark against Salafi extremism and a model of religious coexistence. The center has also organized annual al-Quds International Day marches in Santiago, exploiting the opportunity to forge alliances with local Palestinian activists. While preaching tolerance, its proxies have spread pro-Iranian and anti-Israel virulent propaganda.
Hezbollah’s illicit finance networks also operate in Chile, facilitating drug trafficking and money laundering operations. Despite a well-documented presence there for nearly two decades – including US Treasury sanctions against Chile-based, Hezbollah-run companies – the South American country has until now refrained from designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. There was hope this could change, after Argentina, Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia did so, between July 2019 and January 2020. With Boric in power, this is now unlikely to happen.
Perhaps just as critical for Iran, is that Chile is the third country this year to elect a leftist president – after Peru and Honduras. Colombia and Brazil could soon be next. This rising red tide offers Iran a chance to bolster its influence operations by gaining the ear of those in power.
Iran already has a foothold in each country in the region, thanks to cultural centers it has helped establish. It has cultivated local firebrand politicians and extreme Left or nativist movements. It has recruited activists, journalists and academics, by proselytizing, in targeted fashion, among public influencers. It has also given voice to indigenous claims – its center in Chile, for example, has published selected passages of the Koran in Mapuche, the local indigenous language – and to leftist causes through its media platforms, including Hispan TV, the Spanish language channel Iran launched in 2012 to spread its propaganda in the Western Hemisphere.
For Iran, Chile is no different, in this regard, from other countries in the region, except for one critical element. It is home to the largest Palestinian diaspora in the world. This largely Christian community, whose origins date to immigration during Ottoman times, holds strident, radical positions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – and Boric has embraced them. During his electoral campaign, he pledged to support boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) legislation against Israeli businesses in the West Bank – a pledge which the Chilean-Palestinian community leadership has already requested he honor.
He has also publicly and gratuitously scolded the local Jewish community, waving the trope of dual loyalty against them. When local Jewish community leaders sent him honey as a gift for the Jewish New Year in 2019, he derided their commitment to a tolerant, inclusive society by publicly calling on them to disavow Israel and its policies to prove their bona fides.
Iranian proxies have lost no time celebrating Boric’s victory by reminding their followers of his Twitter trolling of the local Jewish community. Iran’s Islamic Center in Santiago has already congratulated Boric, calling on the new president to open his door to Iran’s emissaries.
Boric might just offer lip service to Palestinian and Iranian causes – after all, Chile’s trade with Iran is negligible and the Middle East is far away. But he can embrace their rhetoric with significant political consequences – given that he will now speak as president. Owning and championing Palestinians’ most radical demands is at the core of Iran’s revolutionary agenda and the Trojan horse it has often used to gain supporters across Latin America. Chile has always offered a propitious terrain, given its large Palestinian diaspora. And now, the rise to power of a millennial politician wedded to these same radical anti-Israel views offers Iran a great opportunity.
Emanuele Ottolenghi is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonpartisan research institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. Follow Emanuele on Twitter @eottolenghi.
fdd.org · by Emanuele Ottolenghi Senior Fellow · December 27, 2021

6. Breaking Up Tech Is a Gift to China
Hmmmmm... populism is a problem according to the former NSA.

Breaking Up Tech Is a Gift to China
Populist proposals would punish the companies competing with Beijing on AI and quantum.
By Robert C. O’Brien
Dec. 26, 2021 10:30 am ET
WSJ · by Robert C. O’Brien
As of 2018, nine of the top 20 global technology firms by valuation were based in China. President Xi Jinping has stated his intention to spend $1.4 trillion by 2025 to surpass the U.S. in key technology areas, and the Chinese government aggressively subsidizes national champion firms. Beginning with the “Made in China 2025” initiative, Beijing has made clear that it won’t stop until it dominates technologies such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and more. Last month the National Counterintelligence and Security Center warned that these are technologies “where the stakes are potentially greatest for U.S. economic and national security.”
Concerns about China’s expanding technological capabilities aren’t merely speculative, and extend into the military domain. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China claimed to have built the world’s fastest programmable quantum computer, a machine that is some 10 million times faster than its closest competitor. Should the Chinese Communist Party assume the lead in quantum computing, the future of a free and open internet will be at significant risk. The U.S. military and intelligence community could lose its ability to communicate securely, as quantum computing can break even the most sophisticated codes in short order.
Similar worries are justified in autonomous systems and artificial intelligence. For example, China’s current domination of much of the world’s civilian drone market poses real intelligence dangers for law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the U.S. and abroad. China’s pursuit of parity or even dominance of the advanced semiconductor industry would give the CCP reach far beyond the drone market.
As Beijing invests in AI and the hardware to exploit such technology, it may someday be able to use “swarms” of lethal robots to target U.S. warships and aircraft en masse. Such scenarios have typically been the province of popular media. As the National Commission on Artificial Intelligence noted, should China gain a competitive advantage over the U.S. in the AI field, “it will also create the digital foundation for a geopolitical challenge to the United States and its allies.”
As has always been the case in America, private companies are the lead innovators and researchers keeping us one step ahead of Beijing. Yet instead of acting decisively to bolster our technology and industrial bases to address the Communist Chinese challenge, Congress is debating legislation that could essentially disarm private tech companies.
The House Judiciary Committee recently approved five bills that would place the U.S. technology industry at a structural disadvantage compared with China’s national champion firms. The bills would limit the ability of the U.S. tech industry to engage in mergers and acquisitions; actively promote the disaggregation of platforms; and require data interoperability that ultimately gives an advantage to foreign tech competitors over U.S. firms.
Despite significant criticism of this approach from national security leaders, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have introduced bills that are nearly identical to the House legislation. These bills hit only American companies while leaving Chinese tech rivals—including those with significant U.S. operations like Tencent and TikTok—untouched. Writing laws that directly benefit Chinese and other foreign tech competitors is not how to compete with China.
Cloaked in antiquated interpretations of U.S. antitrust law, these bills hand increased authority to bureaucrats at the Federal Trade Commission and lay the groundwork for dismantling America’s most successful technology companies—the ones at the forefront of the race to retain U.S. dominance in fields such as quantum and AI. Chinese firms like Tencent, Bytedance, Alibaba, Huawei and Baidu are seeking to supplant U.S. companies and would have an open field world-wide and in America if these bills pass.
Moreover, none of the current bills will achieve what tech critics on the right and left are seeking. Concerns about censorship, free speech and online misinformation won’t matter much if the world-wide tech industry is controlled by the apparatchiks of the Chinese Communist Party.
Congress should instead undertake a serious, reasoned examination of the challenges and opportunities facing American tech. For example, narrowly tailored legislation to deal with abuses, especially by content companies, is needed to avoid situations where the ayatollahs in Iran and the Taliban have a platform, but the former president of the United States does not. Another step: Legislation encouraging research and development here at home.
Finally, if Congress is truly concerned about the Communist Chinese threat, cutting off the flow of Wall Street dollars that is funding Chinese tech growth should be its highest legislative priority.
Mr. O’Brien served as White House national security adviser, 2019-21. His firm, American Global Strategies, provides consulting services to technology companies.
WSJ · by Robert C. O’Brien


7. Opinion | Americans must rally against the real threat to our democracy: China

But the extreme right and extreme left are attacking election integrity which is undermining our democracy (and the irony is they are being supported by Chinese and Russian propaganda activities).

Until we put our concern for our nation ahead of the hatred of our political opponents, our external adversaries are going to have a field day undermining our democracy through support of those hatreds and the extremes across the political spectrum.

We should keep this in mind.

"A democracy is only as resilient as its people. An informed and engaged citizenry is the fundamental requirement for a free and resilient nation. For generations, our society has protected free press, free speech, and free thought. Today, actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. Adversaries target media, political processes, financial networks, and personal data. The American public and private sectors must recognize this and work together to defend our way of life. No external threat can be allowed to shake our shared commitment to our values, undermine our system of government, or divide our Nation."


Opinion | Americans must rally against the real threat to our democracy: China
The Washington Post · by Hugh Hewitt Contributing columnist Today at 2:36 p.m. EST · December 27, 2021
“I don’t like you,” Samuel L. Jackson yells at Bruce Willis in 1995’s “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “because you are going to get me killed.” That sort of frustration likely sits near the root of what divides Americans as the year ends: a suspicion that the other side is going to ruin everything. Whatever the root cause, our current venom-based politics will cripple our country if only by diverting our eyes from the one genuinely existential threat: the Chinese Communist Party.
Make an early New Year’s resolution for your country’s sake: Even if you won’t put down your dueling sabers with the other side in our endless cultural and political wars, you will at least try to see that the real danger is China.
Elections in 1968, 1980 and 2004 were driven by unique national security concerns — the Vietnam War, the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and a generalized feeling of incompetence in matters foreign, and of course 9/11. The elections of 2022 and 2024 might fall into this category if the country’s political and chattering classes reject both the tyranny of their extremes and the obsessions of social media and cable news. The country cannot afford another 15 years of self-absorption. We can’t afford five.
President Biden’s national security posture is anchored in a suspicion of American exceptionalism and is overseen by folks who are still replaying the Vietnam-era dramas in their minds, now merged with climate millennialism. Another big swath of America — the vast financial and technological fortresses of Manhattan and Silicon Valley — is quite certain their rise was the work of genius and not the lucky intersection of smartphones and Internet connectivity. Meanwhile, the Democrats’ intellectual wing, having conquered realms at home that are subject to the rule of law, is mostly oblivious to the regimes that do not care a whit about law, namely China, Russia and Iran.
By far the most dangerous of these is China, as it is led by the most able of the absolutists, President Xi Jinping, and backed by a Communist Party as ruthless as any of its predecessors. The technological, military and economic might of China is greater as 2021 comes to a close than the U.S.S.R. was at the height of its power, even given that collapsed empire’s much larger nuclear arsenal.
The United States and its allies were constantly alert to the threat the Soviets posed. The allies waged a 40-year Cold War against the Soviets across nearly every continent. It took time, sacrifice, and lengthy and deadly standoffs.
In the past 25 years, we largely ignored the rising challenge of China and only now are approaching an appropriate level of alarm. Beijing’s calling cards are there for all to see: a willingness to crush Hong Kong’s quasi-independence, to erase any person for any reason in Orwellian fashion, to conduct genocide against its minority populations, to threaten Taiwan, and to allow a killer virus to escape its country without alarm, evident regret or sincere apology.
To paraphrase John Mitchell, attorney general under President Richard M. Nixon, watch what a country does, not what it says.
Two decades of battles with Islamist extremism might seem to have left the United States too exhausted for a long struggle with China, much less with a China potentially aligned with Russia and Iran. But there isn’t much of a choice here: Rally, or face eclipse. Eclipse will not be pleasant. Not for the near term; and most certainly not for our grandchildren.
Rallying is possible, but it requires indifference to the radical 1 percent at each end of our politics, who are addicted to trashing the other extreme, yet refuse to compromise with their own compatriots. The best of the Trump era’s national security policy was its broad re-funding of the military, the Abraham Accords and its vocal alarms about the Chinese. The best of Year One for Team Biden was the new submarine accord between Australia, Britain and the United States, aimed at keeping Beijing in check.
But it will take much, much more. Rallying requires national security realism and a resolute bipartisan approach to the extraordinary challenge China poses. Our policy of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan needs clarifying. Our defense budgets must shift to sea, air and space more quickly, and we need to hear from a new generation of writers and public intellectuals equal to those who waged the first Cold War.
Serious men and women need to lead the two great parties. We should hope our political battling never ends — it’s a central mark of our freedom. But it needs perspective. Now.
The Washington Post · by Hugh HewittContributing columnist Today at 2:36 p.m. EST · December 27, 2021

8. Congressional Report Reveals China’s Strategy to Dominate East Asia

The 132 page report can be accessed here: https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R42784/136

Excerpt:

The CRS report cites observers who have argued that Washington’s means in the SCS-ECS region have not always been in alignment with its ends, particularly when it comes to funding security assistance for regional allies and partners.


Congressional Report Reveals China’s Strategy to Dominate East Asia
The report maintains that Chinese dominance over the SCS would be a major boon for the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) growing umbrella of anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities.
The National Interest · by Mark Episkopos · December 27, 2021
A recently updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) report shines a new light on the scope of China-U.S. competition in the East Asia region.
The 128-page report, authored by Naval Affairs Specialist Ronald O’Rourke, opens with an overview of U.S. interests in the South China Sea (SCS), East China Sea (ECS), and Yellow Sea. These waters, explains the author, border current and emerging U.S. partners, including Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
The document lays out a series of core American policy goals guiding the U.S.-China competition in the SCS and ECS. These include, but are not limited to
…fulfilling U.S. security commitments in the Western Pacific, including treaty commitments to Japan and the Philippines; maintaining and enhancing the U.S.-led security architecture in the Western Pacific, including U.S. security relationships with treaty allies and partner states; maintaining a regional balance of power favorable to the United States and its allies and partners; defending the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes and resisting the emergence of an alternative “might-makes-right” approach to international affairs; defending the principle of freedom of the seas, also sometimes called freedom of navigation; preventing China from becoming a regional hegemon in East Asia…

China’s “apparent goals,” meanwhile, include deterring U.S. forces in the region, intimidating or otherwise coercing neighbors into compliance, and garnering domestic support for the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign policy direction. The report canvasses the main elements of Chinese strategic behavior—these encompass “salami tactics” and grey zone operations aimed at wearing down neighbors over time, aggressive “island-building“ and “base-construction” practices in the SCS, and propaganda efforts intended to portray the United States as an “outsider or interloper whose actions are meddling or seeking to ‘stir up trouble’ in an otherwise peaceful regional situation.” The CRS report offers a comprehensive treatment of the many maritime territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) disputes between China and its neighbors, noting that these incidents have the potential to act as a conduit for maritime incidents between the U.S. and China.
The report maintains that Chinese dominance over the SCS would be a major boon for the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) growing umbrella of anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities. Chinese ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) would have a relatively safe space in which to operate, bolstering the Chinese navy’s comprehensive bastion defenses in the region. Though Chinese bases in the SCS would be vulnerable to U.S. strikes, they would also divert and delay American forces present in the area. The report argues that Chinese control over these waters would 1) hobble the ability of U.S. assets in the Asia-Pacific to intervene effectively during a prospective Taiwan invasion scenario; 2) enhance China’s ability to “coerce, intimidate, or put political pressure” on neighboring countries; 3) give Beijing a military and political foothold to project power into the Western Pacific; 4) jeopardize the long-term security postures of Washington’s Japanese, South Korean, and Philippine allies; and 5) facilitate China’s rise as a “regional hegemon in its part of Eurasia.”
The CRS report cites observers who have argued that Washington’s means in the SCS-ECS region have not always been in alignment with its ends, particularly when it comes to funding security assistance for regional allies and partners.
Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest.
Image: Reuters.
The National Interest · by Mark Episkopos · December 27, 2021
9. Academic says Bitcoin is worse than a Ponzi scheme

Academic says Bitcoin is worse than a Ponzi scheme



Dec. 27, 2021 3:39 PM ETBitcoin USD (BTC-USD)By: Brian Stewart, SA News Editor106 Comments


peshkov/iStock via Getty Images
  • https://seekingalpha.com/news/3783493-academic-says-bitcoin-is-worse-than-a-ponzi-scheme-cryptocurrency?utm_source=from.flipboard.com&utm_medium=referral
  • Robert McCauley, a scholar from Boston College and Oxford, argued Monday that Bitcoin (BTC-USD) is worse than a Ponzi scheme because the eventual use case for the cryptocurrency remains unclear, while its high energy use makes it a "negative-sum game."
  • Expanding on a piece he published last week in the Financial Times, McCauley told CNBC that the approximately $20B spent on mining to date "is gone."
  • McCauley's case comes in two parts. First, he contends that the basic outline of Bitcoin trading resembles the structure of a Ponzi scheme, in that early investors are paid out by late-comers, with no economic value created in between.
  • Second, the Boston University non-resident senior fellow at Global Development Policy Center asserted that the expense related to maintaining the Bitcoin (BTC-USD) system, especially in electricity use, meant that it will cost society over the long run.
  • "Every day, there's money being paid to miners by investors. And every day, that money is mostly going up the flue. It's mostly going up in smoke," he said. "And that's all social cost. That's all loss."
  • McCauley, who also works as an Oxford University faculty member, noted that the collapse of some Ponzi schemes still allowed victims to recoup a portion of their funds. To make this point, he highlighted the Bernie Madoff scam, which has returned about 70 cents on the dollar at this point.
  • In contrast, he contended that a total collapse of Bitcoin would leave no assets left to be divvied up among the remaining investors.
  • Asked if Bitcoin (BTC-USD) could still prove its economic value and change his opinion of the cryptocurrency, McCauley suggested that he's still waiting for it to prove its usefulness.
  • "It's been a while, we've been waiting for the use case," he said. "New ideas are coming down the pike for what it will get us eventually. But we're still sort of waiting."
  • For a contrary opinion on the future of Bitcoin (BTC-USD), read the latest commentary from cryptocurrency investor Anthony Pompliano, who says he thinks in terms of Bitcoin each time he makes a purchase.
  • Now Read: Want to cure Bitcoin volatility? Stop thinking in terms of dollars - Anthony Pompliano


10. Xi Jinping’s mission to dominate the Chinese Communist Party

If Xi cannot dominate the CCP he cannot dominate anything else.

Excerpt:
Any attack on Wang would be regarded as yet another on the powerful faction within China’s elite politics and might generate a great deal of disconcertion among them. The road to the 20th Party Congress is a saga of fallen power-centres, factional betrayals, and overturned loyalties — all dedicated to a man’s relentless pursuit of his “China Dream”.
Xi Jinping’s mission to dominate the Chinese Communist Party
indianexpress.com · December 27, 2021
Written by Shikha Aggarwal |
Updated: December 27, 2021 9:00:46 am
Chinese President Xi Jinping (AP/File)
Xi Jinping continues to remain the most addictive enigma in international political discourse. He has delivered on his next act with the downfall of China’s former Justice Minster, Fu Zhenghua due to corruption charges. Since Fu played a pivotal role in bringing down Xi’s first “tiger”, Zhou Yongkang, his fall signals the beginning of Xi’s plans to cover up his tracks ahead of the 20th Party Congress. Therefore, this event heralds the second phase in Xi’s mission to dominate the political-security (zhengfa) apparatus of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The first part of this meticulously crafted orchestra began with the fall of China’s former security tsar, Zhou Yongkang, and served as a prelude to Xi’s long-drawn venture to cut off his umbilical cord with his political cradle, the Shanghai clique. Xi’s choice of the anti-corruption campaign as his primary weapon is itself laden with significant strategic nuances. As the CCP had for long recognised corruption as an existential threat, adopting an unbridled anti-corruption programme at the core of his governance model allowed Xi to garner support from the party elders for his initial actions. In fact, by 2013 Xi wasn’t yet powerful enough to have taken on Zhou without the blessings of the party elders.
Similarly, the political-legal apparatus has been singled out as the most prominent and sustained battlefield as this arm of the party has direct bearing on the “political security” of the CCP regime. Moreover, the Zhengfa system is the one where the influence of Zhou Yongkang was the most pronounced.
From 2007-2012, Zhou represented the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission (CPLAC) — the apex body of the Zhengfa system on the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC). Before that, he was a politburo member between 2002-2007 and simultaneously served as the Minister of Public Security. As such, Zhou sat at the triumvirate of three powerful positions within the party, the party’s security apparatus, and the state security machinery. In fact, barring Hua Guofeng and Wang Fang, no other Minister of Public Security had by far held concurrent positions within the Party’s organisational set-up. This allowed Zhou to entrench his proteges within the Zhengfa system. Since the beginning of the anti-corruption campaign, at least three of his proteges serving as the vice ministers of public security have come under the corruption net. These include Sun Lijun, Meng Hongwei, and Li Dongsheng.
Zhou’s penetration within China’s political-legal apparatus could well have been one of the primary reasons behind Jiang Zemin’s approval of Xi Jinping’s actions against Zhou. As an astute politician, Jiang well understood the importance of retaining control over the Zhengfa system in a country undergoing rapid social and economic transformation. He even exercised this control in the Hu Jintao administration by first getting Luo Gan, the then Secretary of the CPLAC, elevated to the PBSC. This was achieved by expanding the PBSC membership from seven to nine members. Zhou represented a continuum in this Jiang Zemin scheme of things.
In order to exert supreme authority over the Zhengfa system and prevent any machinations designed for outside interference, Xi Jinping once again reduced the strength of the PBSC to seven members and demoted the CPLAC head to the politburo. Both of Zhou’s successors in CPLAC, Meng Jiangzhu and Guo Shengkun have been members of the politburo, and not the standing committee.
At the 20th Party Congress, Wang Xiaohong and Chen Yixin are tipped to be promoted as heads of the Ministry of Public Security and the CPLAC respectively. As both these men belong to the Xi Jinping faction, their promotion indicates that Xi’s control over the Zhengfa system is now complete and absolute. It is exactly for this reason that the likes of Fu Zhenghua who perhaps were all too aware of the murky secrets of this long battle need to be eliminated. The next target in this line appears to be Huang Ming, who was removed from the Ministry of Public Security along with Fu in 2018. This puts the fate of Wang Qishan, China’s Vice President and the man who by all means knows the most about Xi Jinping once again open to speculation.
Any attack on Wang would be regarded as yet another on the powerful faction within China’s elite politics and might generate a great deal of disconcertion among them. The road to the 20th Party Congress is a saga of fallen power-centres, factional betrayals, and overturned loyalties — all dedicated to a man’s relentless pursuit of his “China Dream”.
This column first appeared in the print edition on December 27, 2021 under the title ‘Saga of fallen power centres’. The writer, a Senior Fellow at India Foundation, is currently in Taipei on the Taiwan Fellowship awarded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan
 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App.


indianexpress.com · December 27, 2021

11.  Biden signs NDAA into law, but when will the money really come?

Biden signs NDAA into law, but when will the money really come? - Breaking Defense
NDAA is a budget boon for the Pentagon, but a looming Continuing Resolution deadline complicates matters.
breakingdefense.com · by Aaron Mehta · December 27, 2021
President Joe Biden (left) talks with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (center) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley (right). (DoD/Lisa Ferdinando)
WASHINGTON: The Pentagon has a policy bill. Now it just needs the money to go with it.
President Joe Biden today signed into law the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, the bill that sets policy guidance for the Defense Department. The $740 billion NDAA, which was passed by the House on a 363-70 margin Dec. 7 and the Senate by a 88-11 margin on Dec. 15, calls for $25 billion more in defense spending than Biden’s budget request.
While getting the NDAA done is a major boon for the DoD, the big question remains whether Congressional appropriators can come together and reach a funding agreement before mid-February, when the ongoing Continuing Resolution, or CR, expires.
Under a CR, the department cannot start any new funding programs and is operating under FY21 budget levels for its programs. As DoD officials are always quick to point out, that puts a major hurdle in the way of R&D efforts that are needed to ensure the US maintains a military edge over China and Russia, and can lead to extra program costs due to inefficiencies.
By the time the middle of February rolls around, the government will already be five months into FY22 — and any extension of that CR, let alone the dreaded concept of a full-year continuing resolution, will only continue to hamper the department’s efforts.


12. A Bigger Defense Budget Is Nothing to Celebrate

All the UFRs funded? I guess they are no longer unfunded.

Excerpt:

While a spendthrift approach to defense spending is nothing new, an unwillingness to consider even modest limits makes little sense. The latest bill even indulges the full list of “unfunded requirements” submitted by individual service branches and combatant commands — an annual wish list of additional weapons programs left out of the budget submitted by the department’s civilian leaders.

A Bigger Defense Budget Is Nothing to Celebrate
Congress’s failure to impose discipline on Pentagon spending will only make the U.S. weaker in the long run.
By Editorial Board +Get Alerts
December 27, 2021, 8:00 AM EST

In some ways, the passage of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act counts as a significant achievement. Leaders in the House and Senate overcame grandstanding and obstruction by lawmakers on both sides to pass a bill with broad bipartisan support. In doing so, they addressed a range of critical issues, from reforming how sexual-assault cases are handled to combating hunger among military families.
So much for the good news. As a budgeting exercise, the NDAA underscores Congress’s inability to set clear priorities. Rather than free up resources to modernize the military’s capabilities, the legislation extends the lifespans of weapons systems that the Pentagon says it no longer needs. By failing to impose greater fiscal discipline, Congress risks weakening the U.S.’s ability to respond to future threats.      
The law authorizes $740 billion in Pentagon spending next year, which is $25 billion more than President Joe Biden’s first budget request. On its face, the higher price tag (a 5% increase over last year) isn’t objectionable at a time when the U.S. faces challenges from adversaries such as China and Russia. Yet rather than offset the new spending with savings from other programs — such as the $30 billion the U.S. had planned to spend in 2022 on the war in Afghanistan — Congress simply added to the Pentagon’s top line.
While a spendthrift approach to defense spending is nothing new, an unwillingness to consider even modest limits makes little sense. The latest bill even indulges the full list of “unfunded requirements” submitted by individual service branches and combatant commands — an annual wish list of additional weapons programs left out of the budget submitted by the department’s civilian leaders.
These include about $5 billion to build three DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, two more than the Biden administration requested. It also authorizes some $1.8 billion to buy 17 Boeing F-15EX fighter jets, five more than what the Pentagon asked for — this despite warnings that the aircraft would be ineffective in a conflict with an adversary like China.
Congress isn’t just delaying the military’s modernization efforts; in some cases, it’s actively blocking them. In authorizing the purchase of 347 new aircraft, the NDAA prohibits the Air Force from cutting its fleet of fighter aircraft below 1,970 at any point over the next five years, regardless of whether the service needs that many to achieve its strategic aims. It specifically nixed a plan to retire dozens of A-10 Warthogs and other older aircraft. Both requirements threaten to consume resources that Air Force leaders would prefer to invest in newer technologies, including advanced munitions, armed drones, and agile-combat capabilities.
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Congress has an opportunity to correct some of these flaws. During the budget appropriations process, which determines funding for Pentagon programs, lawmakers should focus on cutting excessive spending on legacy weapons systems that benefit large defense contractors but lack a sound strategic purpose. As the Biden administration prepares its next budget request, it should also work with Congress and the Pentagon to address the military’s mounting personnel costs, which now consume a quarter of the base budget.
Maintaining American military primacy is surely a worthy goal. But heedless spending on capabilities the military neither wants nor needs is the wrong way to go about it. Congress needs to do a better job of balancing means and ends.  
To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg Opinion’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net .


13. Biden Should Not Embrace New Nuclear Policies

Excerpts:
As for unilaterally giving up U.S. land-based ICBMs, China and Russia are both building a combined five new land-based ICBMs, including China’s more than 350 new ICBM silos. Apparently, new Chinese ICBMs are fine, but U.S. ICBMs destabilizing. Opponents of U.S. ICBMs have even declared that China has a strategy to ensure the survivability of its silo-based ICBM systems—Beijing would launch first! Gen. John Hyten, the just-retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that in his view the silo-based ICBMs in China are indeed first-strike weapons.
In that case, the ICBMs the United States maintains would be fully available for retaliation in a measured and considered action. The entire basis for the United States having a nuclear triad is that the United States has sufficient retaliatory capability to continue to deter Russia even if it rides out an attack and loses some of its ICBM forces.
The letter’s writers also advocate against having U.S. ICBMs on alert. In 1979 and 1980 there were false warnings of a Soviet sea and land missile attack. This was due to a computer chip malfunction when the United States was in the midst of using a training tape. The glitch was soon corrected and has not occurred since. The president was not notified of the false warning and a launch conference was not convened. In fact, the strategic environment has been so stable that for the entire seventy years of the nuclear age no launch conference has ever been convened to determine whether a missile launch somewhere on earth is headed toward the United States. That is certainly proof positive that the nuclear triad, with its land-based missiles, is indeed the most valuable U.S. deterrent capability we have.

Biden Should Not Embrace New Nuclear Policies
Nearly 700 scientists and engineers, some of them Nobel laureates, have written a letter to President Joe Biden urging the United States to adopt four new nuclear policies. There are four serious flaws in the proposal.
The National Interest · by Peter Huessy · December 27, 2021
Nearly 700 scientists and engineers, some of them Nobel laureates, have written a letter to President Joe Biden urging the United States to adopt four new nuclear policies. The letter asks that the United States and the president pledge not to use nuclear weapons first; receive approval from another senior U.S. government official before using nuclear weapons; unilaterally reduce its deployed nuclear weapons by one-third, from 1550 to 1,000; and stop funding a new land-based missile to replace the current Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force that was deployed in 1970. These steps, the authors say, “will slow the spiraling nuclear arms race with Russia and China” and advance “steps towards disarmament” by making arms control negotiations more credible.
There are four serious flaws in the proposal. Such a policy would allow Russian and Chinese nuclear forces to remain in a sanctuary free from attack. It would also allow China and Russia to attack the United States or its allies with a High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), cyber, or chemical/biological attack—all capable of killing tens of millions of Americans—without fear of nuclear retaliation. Even worse, it would give the United States’ nuclear-armed adversaries an incentive to get in the first nuclear punch, especially if the United States and its allies came to rely upon our adversaries’ similar pledge not to use nuclear weapons first.
The second idea is equally worrisome but also unnecessary. Every nuclear crisis faced by a U.S. president, whether President John Kennedy over Belin or Cuba, President Richard Nixon in the Middle East war between Egypt and Israel, or President Ronald Reagan over Soviet fears that a military exercise was a prelude to an attack, has involved the U.S. president asking his closest advisers and national security officials for their best advice.
Each president relied upon different high-ranking officials. The idea that the president needs an affirmative vote from a senior U.S. official makes no sense. What if the vote is contrary to what the president wants to do? Given the constraints already inherent in a crisis, why would we encumber the president with more obstacles to necessary action, whatever that action may be? And furthermore, is the president’s authority to be changed by law? And who enforces this new law? Would it prevent necessary action from being taken? The idea is without merit and dangerous.

But it is the third idea that really is reckless. Unilaterally reducing U.S. strategic nuclear weapons to less than 1,000 and eliminating ICBMs also eliminates the ability of the United States to maintain a hedge if it might suddenly be required to build up beyond the 1,550 nuclear weapons allowed by the New START Treaty. Every president that has endorsed an arms control agreement has also endorsed a central capability of having a hedge or responsive capability to build up in the case of a strategic environment deteriorating.
With only 192 sea-launched ballistic missiles and zero land-based ICBMs, the maximum number of missile warheads the United States could deploy is 1,536—192 missiles each with eight warheads. Adding in the allowed sixty bombers, this number is just marginally above the current level allowed by the New START Treaty. This compares to Russian and Chinese strategic nuclear forces that could easily exceed 5,000 warheads over the next decade under a breakout scenario—or upwards of at least over 3,000 even if in compliance with current arms deals. What is the point of a strategic “balance” that is weighted three or five to one against the United States?
As for the idea of temporarily keeping the Minuteman III around, these ICBMs cannot be given an affordable or effective service life extension program as official U.S. Air Force analysis has proven. The Minuteman III has already gone through a number of life extensions and cannot last longer than 2035 without a $75 billion upgrade, assuming such an upgrade is technically doable. Each year brings more Minuteman technology that needs replacement, and which is no longer even manufactured. After all, the design is fifty-two years old.
Further, a Minuteman III missile service life extension does not enable an ability to overcome adversary missile defenses, cannot be reliably sustained, and will, in fact, cost $38 billion more than the Ground-Based Strategic Deployment (GBSD) that is slated to replace it.
It is true that Minuteman III is already planned to be sustained through 2035, another fifteen years. Those plans are already part of the program of record to allow the finely tuned replacement starting in roughly 2029, with the GBSD land-based missile. The Minuteman III technically will not meet the deterrent requirements as certified by the United States Strategic Command.
It is also completely unfounded that senior U.S. military officials concurred that the United States could unilaterally reduce its nuclear forces to less than 1,000 warheads and still maintain deterrence against Russia even if Russia maintained the higher New START level of forces.
I have spoken with each of the commanders of U.S. nuclear forces since 2010 when the treaty was signed, and they all have declared they do not and have not supported such a cut of U.S. warhead force levels. For the record, as the National Institute of Public Policy has illustrated in a recent assessment, no unilateral reductions of nuclear forces by the United States have ever resulted in reciprocal Russian behavior. Former senior Office of Secretary of Defense and National Nuclear Security Administration official John Harvey says no such cuts would be endorsed by U.S. military officials unless verified, equal reductions by Russia were also mandated by treaty.
As for an arms race, the United States has no modernized nuclear forces now deployed—the first deployment does not start until 2029. Today, some new U.S. platforms have been built and are being tested, but are years away from deployment. By comparison, Russia recently announced its nuclear forces are 86-91 percent modernized with twenty-three new types of strategic nuclear forces developed or deployed since 2010. The claim that the United States is leading an arms race is thus nothing short of ludicrous.
As for unilaterally giving up U.S. land-based ICBMs, China and Russia are both building a combined five new land-based ICBMs, including China’s more than 350 new ICBM silos. Apparently, new Chinese ICBMs are fine, but U.S. ICBMs destabilizing. Opponents of U.S. ICBMs have even declared that China has a strategy to ensure the survivability of its silo-based ICBM systems—Beijing would launch first! Gen. John Hyten, the just-retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that in his view the silo-based ICBMs in China are indeed first-strike weapons.
In that case, the ICBMs the United States maintains would be fully available for retaliation in a measured and considered action. The entire basis for the United States having a nuclear triad is that the United States has sufficient retaliatory capability to continue to deter Russia even if it rides out an attack and loses some of its ICBM forces.
The letter’s writers also advocate against having U.S. ICBMs on alert. In 1979 and 1980 there were false warnings of a Soviet sea and land missile attack. This was due to a computer chip malfunction when the United States was in the midst of using a training tape. The glitch was soon corrected and has not occurred since. The president was not notified of the false warning and a launch conference was not convened. In fact, the strategic environment has been so stable that for the entire seventy years of the nuclear age no launch conference has ever been convened to determine whether a missile launch somewhere on earth is headed toward the United States. That is certainly proof positive that the nuclear triad, with its land-based missiles, is indeed the most valuable U.S. deterrent capability we have.
Peter Huessy is President of Geostrategic Analysis of Potomac, Maryland.
Image: Wikipedia.
The National Interest · by Peter Huessy · December 27, 2021


14. It’s an Alliance and US-Japan Success Begins on Base

Terrible allegations here from a credible source.

It’s an Alliance and US-Japan Success Begins on Base
japan-forward.com · by Robert D. Eldridge, PhD · December 27, 2021
~~

~
The significance of the United States-Japan alliance is rightly being acknowledged more and more in recent years, due in part to the increased challenges to Japanese sovereignty and threats to regional security by China.
But in one important area, American officials in charge of the day-to-day management of the alliance at the local level are doing irreparable harm. This has to do with the treatment of Japanese base workers, who make a sizable part of the workforce.
Every year, there are dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of complaints and accusations against supervisors and co-workers for power harassment, sexual harassment, and other workplace offenses. Many of these cases, however, go unreported.
Last month at Camp Zama, for example, a senior American civilian official (and former colonel) was quietly shipped back to the United States after complaints of sexual harassment against a Japanese female in the headquarters building.
Other reports are outright ignored or not dealt with in a sincere or timely manner, eventually driving the Japanese worker to quit, give up pursuing the case, sink into depression, or in some sad cases, commit suicide.

Camp Zama
Irresponsible Harm, Human Tragedy
There have been a handful of suicides in as many years of Japanese workers at Zama. Most recently, in June, a male base employee took his own life.
While each case is different, there are more things in common than not. Often the cries for help — such as relief from being overworked — go without a response.
It is not only at Camp Zama, but also Naval Air Facility Atsugi where problems are being reported. In fact, the above types of occurrences are found at many other US facilities around the country.
The situation has gotten so bad that the All Japan Garrison Forces Labor Union has had to get increasingly involved, staging protests, including one “online” due to COVID restrictions in place at the time.
Last month, the Asahi Shimbun and other national news outlets reported on a longstanding case at Atsugi of power harassment that led a Japanese worker to quit in 2016, three years after the initial incident. The Tokyo District Court awarded her approximately $5,000 USD (¥550,000 JPY) in damages, a fraction of the ¥38 million JPY ($332,000 USD) she sought.
Ironically, it is the Japanese taxpayer who will have to pay for the transgressions of the US Navy, as the court order was directed at the Japanese government, in accordance with the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement.

Failure of American Military Leadership
Earlier this month, the Kanagawa Shimbun reported on the case of two women who experienced repeated power harassment, neglect (and at least one, sexual harassment) at Camp Zama.
Readers who have been in Japan a while may remember that Camp Zama faced severe criticism in 2013 for the coverup of a sexual harassment case at the highest level. It appears that the Zama leadership has learned nothing in the interim.
Indeed, it seems to have gotten worse. Sexual affairs (by senior officers with Japanese staff), drinking problems, inappropriate comments about other officers’ wives (leading to the transfer of personnel), and coverups seem to be regular and repeated occurrences. (My request for comment by the commanding general went unanswered.)

Atsugi Air Base
Ineffective Quick Rotations
This is not surprising. Leadership comes and goes at the US bases on a quickly rotating basis, sometimes with changes in command happening on a yearly basis. During the six years I worked in Okinawa, for example, I had five colonels heading my office, with only one barely able to find Japan on a map. None spoke Japanese, although one tried.
Of the three commanding generals I served under on the base, only one genuinely was interested in the bilateral relationship. Of the other two, one was focused on retirement and feeding her golf and drinking habits, and the other on his promotion.
The latter general even said in front of my half-Japanese co-worker, “I don’t even know why I am here. I was supposed to be in D.C.” That comment caused her morale to plummet and was likely one of the reasons she left less than two years later.
Some base commanders tend to run their installations, which are provided by the Government of Japan under the Status of Forces Agreement, like mini fiefdoms, cut off from proper oversight, true transparency, and scrutiny.
Self-censorship becomes the norm, including the recent squashing of a story by the Stars and Stripes newspaper on the situation at Zama. People on base — both American and Japanese alike — tend to wait it out until the problematic leader or supervisor moves on.

Appreciation for Japanese Employees On Base
I have addressed basing issues and criticized the lack of transparency in articles and books before, but it is especially unforgivable to not give proper redress to the Japanese employees who have worked faithfully long and hard over the years for the US government.
Many of these workers tend to be very patriotic (to Japan) and proud to serve (as civilians) on behalf of the bilateral alliance. Most love and respect the United States, which makes it very painful for them to have to complain about their work environment.
Many have won awards for the service, such as the Achievement Medal for Civilians, on multiple occasions.
There are approximately 26,000 Japanese workers on US bases in Japan. The bases literally could not function as they do today without our Japanese co-workers.
I loved working with my Japanese colleagues on base. We were better because of them — better neighbors, better guests, and better friends and allies.
On Camp Zama alone, there are 1,600 Japanese workers. Many of them joined the workforce with a strong sense of pride and respect for the US military.
Unfortunately, almost all of them say that the quality of those in uniform and the civilian dependents has deteriorated “significantly” and is “below what is acceptable.” One employee, almost crying, told me, “we no longer have respect for them. They don’t even know their jobs. There is nothing to learn from them.”
Worse, this person told me, the supervisors show “no interest in or awareness of the problems of the Local National Employees. Nor do they demonstrate the ability to address those issues.”
Those involved in practicing the abuse of power and coverups may think they are getting away with it. But our counterparts know, as do our valued Japanese employees.

Self-defeating Disrespect
Their arrogance in trying to get away with it is only superseded by their ignorance of local customs and values, and the lack of respect for their hosts.
This could be the death-knell for a command. Cover-ups don’t protect the command—they hollow it out, just like rot does to any structure if not repaired.
This day-to-day rot not only affects morale, but also readiness. Furthermore, it leaves a negative impression on our Japanese hosts and military counterparts in the Japan Self-Defense Forces, especially the Ground SDF.
“The US-Japan alliance begins on base,” one Japanese employee at a US military facility told me this summer. “It is not only demeaning to be treated like this by general officers and senior military and civilian staff, but it puts the US Army in Japan in particular, and US military as a whole in a bad light among their Japanese co-workers and supporters.”
This is clearly no way to run an alliance. Let’s hope the US military leadership begins to listen to their Japanese employees and quickly make amends before any other problems emerge.

Author: Dr. Robert D. EldridgeEldridge is the former political advisor to the Marine Corps in Japan and the author of numerous works about bilateral relations including The Origins of US Policy in the East China Sea Islands Dispute (Routledge, 2014) and Okinawa’s Media and the Media’s Okinawa (Reed, 2019).
japan-forward.com · by Robert D. Eldridge, PhD · December 27, 2021


15. Is McKinsey China's weapon against America? | Opinion

As usual, Gordon pulls no punches.
Is McKinsey China's weapon against America? | Opinion
Newsweek · by Gordon G. Chang · December 27, 2021
A spat between McKinsey & Company, the world's largest consulting firm, and Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, highlights a critical American national security vulnerability to China.
The consultancy has been caught covering up its work for the "Chinese government." McKinsey denies deception, but the episode suggests it knows its dual representation of the American and Chinese governments does not serve U.S. interests.
"It has come to my attention that McKinsey & Company appears to have lied to me and my staff on multiple occasions regarding McKinsey's relationship with the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government," Rubio wrote in a December 16 letter to Bob Sternfels, McKinsey's global management partner, in San Francisco.
Rubio contends that in July 2020, the firm told him that neither the Chinese government nor the Chinese Communist Party was ever a McKinsey client. The senator also reported that McKinsey repeated its assertion to his advisors in a March 2021 Zoom conference call. Yet in a September 2020 court filing relating to Valaris, an offshore drilling company, McKinsey disclosed its work for the "Chinese government."
McKinsey says its disclosure in the Valaris case "reflects an accurate description of client service that includes local and provincial government, and is entirely consistent with the type of work we communicated openly about with the senator's office."
The firm also stated this, again in reference to its Valaris disclosure: "In no way does it refer to work for the Central Government, Communist Party of China or the Central Military Commission of China, none of which are clients of McKinsey, and to our knowledge, have never been clients of McKinsey."
McKinsey is attempting to minimize the significance of its work in China by making highly technical arguments about the nature of Chinese governance. The consultancy is correct, as a technical matter, that the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party are not, as Rubio argues, one and the same.
In the Maoist era, there was no meaningful distinction between the Party and the government. In the succeeding "reform era," there were substantial efforts to separate the two, but during the rule of Xi Jinping, now in power, the Party has blurred the line again. The distinction is not as distinct as it once was.
McKinsey is also trying to draw a distinction between the Chinese central government and lower-tier governments. China, however, has a unitary government. There is no concept of divided sovereignty, such as that which exists in the United States and other countries with federal systems. There is one "Chinese government," and it is under the firm control of the Chinese Communist Party.
In any event, the precise characterization of McKinsey's clients is of no relevance for the critical issue at hand: Does the firm's work for both Chinese and American clients pose a risk for U.S. national security?

Xi Jinping's "The Governance of China III" books, translated in English, are seen on sale in a bookstore on December 15, 2021 in Beijing, China. The book is part of a three-volume collection containing speeches and writings by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images
Rubio has a clear answer. "These previously undisclosed relationships between McKinsey & Company and the CCP, the Chinese government and CCP-related entities pose serious institutional conflicts of interest," he wrote in his December 16 letter to the firm. "It is increasingly clear that McKinsey & Company cannot be trusted to continue working on behalf of the United States government, including our intelligence community."
The Florida senator is correct on the nature and extent of the risk. China is now in a position to use lucrative consulting arrangements with McKinsey to obtain information about American businesses and the U.S. intelligence community.
The consultancy has worked for the CIAFBINSA and DOD. At the same time, the firm represents, or has represented, 22 of the 100 largest Chinese state-owned enterprises and nine of the top 20 Belt & Road Initiative contractors.
That revenue stream obviously gives Beijing influence over McKinsey.
"McKinsey represents a treasure trove of valuable intelligence for the Chinese security services," Roger Robinson, former chairman of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, told the Daily Caller last year. "Such services—and the state-controlled enterprises that do their bidding—live to access forensic assessments of the internal operations of key American companies, and even government agencies."
As Robinson pointed out, "After a big dinner with wine, someone from the Chinese side will say, 'We know you can't say much, but could you give us some insights?'"
Moreover, McKinsey partners and staff may be under a legal compulsion to spy. In the Chinese Communist Party's top-down system, obedience to its directives is mandatory. Furthermore, Articles 7 and 14 of China's 2017 National Intelligence Law affirmatively require every Chinese national to commit espionage if a demand is made.
We do not know whether Beijing has in fact tried to use McKinsey for this purpose, but the potential for great harm exists nonetheless. Because China has such leverage over McKinsey, Washington should make the consultancy choose: work for America or work for China, but not both.
The recent Rubio-McKinsey dust-up shows that the consulting firm is engaging in "apparent doublespeak, conflicts of interest and back-pedaling on its China contracts, including those with the Chinese regime," Anders Corr, the publisher of The Journal of Political Risk, tells Newsweek. That deception suggests McKinsey knows that Rubio is correct on the implications of its dual representation.
Corr, also the author of the just-released The Concentration of Power: Institutionalization, Hierarchy & Hegemony, believes the U.S. must now take action. "Unscrupulous companies that do business with corporations and government entities in China should feel the full weight of the law, including new tougher legislation and prosecution of any past criminality," he told this publication.
Yes, America needs tougher laws. In the meantime, President Biden can invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 to force McKinsey to make a choice.
Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China. Follow him on Twitter: @GordonGChang.
The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.
Newsweek · by Gordon G. Chang · December 27, 2021


16. Defense Against Corruption Is Nice. Offense Against Corruption Is Better.


Excerpt:

Herein, history could repeat itself. Dissatisfaction with corruption has brought down more tyrannies than a commitment to liberal ideas.

Defense Against Corruption Is Nice. Offense Against Corruption Is Better. - The Bulwark
For decades, authoritarian regimes have been using corruption to destabilize the free world. It's time democracies fought back.
thebulwark.com · by Shay Khatiri · December 27, 2021
Autocracies are increasingly coordinating their efforts to undermine the liberal world order. One such effort is strategic corruption, whereby they promote corruption abroad to undermine liberal political systems and weaken their financial stability. The State Department’s announcement earlier this month of a new anti-corruption coordinator position is therefore a welcome development. But to be successful, this effort mustn’t limit itself to defensive anti-corruption measures but should turn foreign corruption into a tool for democracy promotion.
The Biden administration is right to identify corruption as a national security threat. To his credit, Joe Biden was an early convert to combating strategic corruption when he was vice president. Foreign governments are exploiting criminal networks, illicit finance systems, and vulnerable sectors of the economy to erode the rule of law in the free world. Under Vladimir Putin, this strategy is a major part of the Russian regime’s ongoing political warfare, but Russia is by no means alone. In June 2020, Eric Edelman, Philip Zelikow, Kristofer Harrison, and Celeste Ward Gventer warned that
In recent years, a number of countries—China and Russia, in particular—have found ways to take the kind of corruption that was previously a mere feature of their own political systems and transform it into a weapon on the global stage. Countries have done this before, but never on the scale seen today.
The result has been a subtle but significant shift in international politics. Rivalries between states have generally been fought over ideologies, spheres of influence, and national interests; side payments of one kind or another were just one tactic among many. Those side payments, however, have become core instruments of national strategy, leveraged to gain specific policy outcomes and to condition the wider political environment in targeted countries. This weaponized corruption relies on a specific form of asymmetry. Although any government can hire covert agents or bribe officials elsewhere, the relative openness and freedom of democratic countries make them particularly vulnerable to this kind of malign influence—and their nondemocratic enemies have figured out how to exploit that weakness.

Podcast · December 27 2021
Hollywood shared its magic with China. Now some of 2021's biggest box office draws were Chinese films. With fewer Americ...
Under the leadership of the new “coordinator on anti-corruption,” who has yet to be named, the office of the under secretary of state for public diplomacy should begin a campaign to actively illustrate—not simply expose with numbers, but also with stories, photos, and videos—the corruption of America’s autocratic foes to their subjects. This requires coordination with the intelligence community and the Treasury Department—exactly the kind of cooperation the new coordinator will be in the perfect position to facilitate. The Department of Justice, working with Interpol, should also crack down on autocratic corruption and freeze their foreign assets—an effort Secretary Janet Yellen and Attorney General Merrick Garland have already initiated—which might have the additional benefit of turning some autocratic elites against the regimes on which they rely for their ill-gotten wealth.
There is enormous value in exposing the billions of dollars of wealth that Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei, Xi Jinping, Raul Castro, and Nicolas Maduro, as well as their cronies, have accumulated as the expenses of their peoples. But that is not enough. Very often, pictures speak louder than words. The U.S. government should work with dissidents, intelligence assets, and civil society groups to investigate and publicize the autocrats’ lavish lifestyles—the palaces, villas, and dachas; the luxury cars and vacations; the children who study at elite, expensive American and British universities.
The damage that exposing corruption can do to the world’s worst regimes is indicated by how far those regimes will go to keep their stolen fortunes secret. Aleksei Navalny became one of the most important political figures in Russia despite holding no office, not by championing the philosophical underpinnings of liberal democracy, but by exposing the corruption of the Putin regime. Silencing him—by intimidation, prosecution, persecution, attempted assassination, and incarceration—has been a years-long effort for the Kremlin. That’s a lot of time, resources, and attention to pay to a guy who makes YouTube videos, but Putin and co., judge the expense worth it, so potentially damaging were his exposés of private palaces and personal duck ponds.
This story in Iran is largely the same. The lavish lifestyles of the elites draw a gut-wrenching contrast with the deteriorating living standards for the average Iranian. The children of the wealthy, politically connected elite, mockingly referred to as aghazadeha—literally, born to gentlemen—cruise posh neighborhoods in half-a-million-dollar cars, study in American and British universities, and go on vacation in the most expensive corners of the world or their multi-million-dollar villas in Iran, while the average Iranian can hardly afford chicken and probably hasn’t tasted red meat in years.
Herein, history could repeat itself. Dissatisfaction with corruption has brought down more tyrannies than a commitment to liberal ideas. It was corruption with the Soviet elite that led Yuri Andropov to launch an anti-corruption campaign, which acknowledged and further exposed the problem without resolving it, thereby exacerbating it. Similarly, anger at the selfishness and self-dealing of the Shah’s court brought together nationalists, communists, and Islamists in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Before being deposed, the Shah had, like Andropov, instituted a cosmetic anti-corruption campaign that succeeded only in eating up more of his people’s patience. One of Xi’s first endeavors after consolidating power was a crackdown on the “princelings,” the spoiled children of the wealthy elite. But that campaign seemed to focus more on marginalizing Xi’s political rivals than on restoring good government.
Cuba, Venezuela, or any other autocracy with a tanking economy faces the same challenge. It’s even more urgent in Turkey, as the country is facing hyperinflation, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cronies have taken Turkish corruption to new heights. As China’s economic growth, the key source of the Communist Party’s legitimacy for four decades, slows down and shows severe signs of sickness, it is inevitable that these contrasts will become a major problem for that regime, too.
Apart from the inherent moral advantage to fighting corruption, it’s also shrewd politics to use America’s adversaries’ thievery and dishonesty to wrong-foot them. Even if exposing pilfered fortunes doesn’t result in immediate democratic transitions, instability and disquiet at home would distract autocrats from—and caution them against—adventurism abroad, including meddling in the American political system, if not also in those of their neighbors.
Increasingly, autocrats are spreading disinformation in the free world, exploiting the openness that comes with liberalism to weaken free societies. It is time to give them a taste of their own medicine.
thebulwark.com · by Shay Khatiri · December 27, 2021


17.  The US military's extremism problem isn't going away


The US military's extremism problem isn't going away
The Hill · by Jim Jones, Opinion Contributor · December 27, 2021
Early in his tenure, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered a military-wide “stand-down” to determine the extent of extremism in the ranks and what to do about it. The order was motivated, in part, by the involvement of a concerning number of former and current military members in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. But signs of dangerous radicalization had preceded that event. Just months before, an Army private admitted to linking up with a neo-Nazi group to “cause the deaths of as many of his fellow service members as possible.”
A 2020 survey disclosed that more than one-third of all active-duty troops had witnessed first-hand examples of white nationalism in the ranks. One expert attributed the rise in extremism to “a higher percentage of extremists attempting to join the military.” Social media access to extremist content also played a significant role.
As the Defense Department worked throughout the year to carry out Austin’s order, additional troubling events added urgency to the mission. A group of 124 former high-ranking military officers, calling themselves “Flag Officers 4 America,” penned a letter on May 10 buying into the "Big Lie" of a stolen 2020 election and claiming that President Biden was running a “Marxist form of tyrannical government.” It brought to mind the movie “Seven Days in May,” where a bunch of John-Birch-type military officers plan a coup because a fictitious president negotiated a nuclear arms treaty with the Soviet Union.
Earlier this month, three retired generals wrote a Washington Post opinion piece citing the retired officers’ letter as a reason why the active military needed to take steps to safeguard against another insurrection in 2024. If 124 gullible flag officers could be hoodwinked into believing the 2020 election was stolen, it is clearly grounds for alarm.
The unquestionable honesty of one of the three generals, retired Major General Antonio Taguba, provides immense credibility to their op-ed. Taguba, a 1972 graduate of Idaho State University and only the second Filipino-American to attain general officer rank in the Army, fearlessly and truthfully investigated and reported upon the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq.
Taguba was aware that speaking truth to power would end his Army career, which it did, but he nevertheless honored his oath of service to his country. The lives of many American service personnel could have been saved in the Iraq War had the Rumsfeld Defense Department (DOD) publicly accepted his report and taken appropriate corrective action. The DOD’s denial and cover-up provided the insurgents a remarkably effective recruitment tool to increase their ranks and kill more Americans. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the notorious founder of the Islamic State, did time at the infamous Abu Ghraib Prison.
The three generals also pointed to the facts that 10 percent of those charged with attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were veterans or active-duty military and that the Oklahoma National Guard refused an order from the secretary of Defense to vaccinate its members. They say this demonstrates the potential for a “breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level.”
Nothing is more essential to discipline in the military than the requirement to follow lawful orders. Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice makes it a punishable offense to fail or refuse to follow orders. I defended a number of courts martial in Vietnam in which soldiers had failed to obey standing orders. They were much less than ideal soldiers. Without Article 92, soldiers could do as they wished, endangering the attainment of military objectives.
There is no question that requiring troops to get vaccinations against a wide range of illnesses is the lawful subject of military orders. I got about a dozen shots to protect against a wide range of exotic diseases when I joined the Army. Refusing – and possibly getting sick, infecting others and endangering the mission – was not an option.
The military is now discharging many of those who have refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Learning the identity of those military personnel who are inclined to disobey orders may prove to be a blessing for the future stability of our country. If the lawbreakers will disobey one lawful order, why might they not disobey another important order — their solemn oath to defend the U.S. Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic”? All of those who think they are above following orders should be discharged before they are put to the test of whether or not to support our democracy.
Getting back to Sec. Austin’s order, on Dec. 20 he released his department’s extremism report. It correctly recognizes that “the overwhelming majority of the men and women of the Department of Defense serve this country with honor and integrity” and then outlines several recommendations to counter extremism in the ranks. It may work if commanders are pressed to follow through in an expeditious manner. If not, we are in for real trouble and turmoil in the coming years.
Jim Jones is a Vietnam combat veteran who served eight years as Idaho attorney general (1983-1991) and 12 years as justice of the Idaho Supreme Court (2005-2017). He is a regular contributor to The Hill.
The Hill · by Jim Jones, Opinion Contributor · December 27, 2021


18. Gray Zones or Limited War?
Excerpts:
The problem today is that we are only at the earliest parts of this learning curve for our age. We’re in a long term competition with authoritarian powers, but it’s like it was 1949 in terms of our know how for managing this rivalry to our advantage. The problem isn’t simply to defend Ukraine and Taiwan; it’s to do it in such a way that doesn’t lead to crazy escalations or that doesn’t scare the daylights at of our allies.
Taiwan and Ukraine are not sideshows to global conflict; they are the early test cases of competition in a second nuclear age.
Recently, I discussed the question of how best to describe the terminology to describe peer conflict with my colleague Dr. Paul Bracken the author of The Second Nuclear Age.
According to Bracken, it is preferable to use the term “limited war” to describe the nature of conflict between the authoritarian powers and the liberal democracies. “A term was invented in the Cold War which is also quite useful to analyze the contemporary situation, namely, limited war. This term referred to conflict at lower levels and sub-crisis maneuvering. And that is what is going or today in cyber and outer space, to use two examples. But it also applied to higher levels of conflict like limited nuclear war.”
“The notion of limited war focuses escalation as a strategy. What is the difference between limited and controlled war?
Gray Zones or Limited War? | Defense.info
12/27/2021
By Robbin Laird
defense.info · December 27, 2021
Western analysts have coined phrases like hybrid war and gray zones as a way to describe peer conflict below the level of general armed conflict.
But such language creates a cottage industry of think tank analysts, rather than accurately portraying the international security environment.
Peer conflict notably between the liberal democracies and the 21st century authoritarian powers is conflict over global dominance and management. It is not about managing the global commons; it is about whose rules dominate and apply.
Rather than being hybrid or gray, these conflicts, like most grand strategy since Napoleon, are much more about “non war” than they are about war. They shape the rules of the game to give one side usable advantage. They exploit the risk of moving to a higher intensity of confrontation.
Russia is doing this right now in Ukraine. China, likewise, is doing it in the South China Sea and in the Sea of Japan. It’s critical to understand this point, and terms like gray zone operations and hybrid war don’t capture the challenge of escalation control.
There are two games being played. One game is over the immediate contentions of the major powers. Ukraine and Taiwan must be protected from attack.
But the second game is just as important, it asks what limits should be crossed to manipulate the risk of going to a higher intensity of competition?
In the Cold War these limits defined the “system dynamics” of the competition. Shaping them was important, because they were the foundation for winning a war that might erupt, or toward stabilizing a competition in a way that gave advantage to one side or the other.
Seen this way Korea, Vietnam, Berlin, etc. were about winning those local wars. But they were more importantly about shaping the global competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Quite elaborate rules were worked out for this. It took substantial time during the evolution of the Cold War (to make sure that it was indeed was a cold war from a global conflagration point of view) for this learning curve to develop. Limited wars, like Korea, produced know how about escalation control and dominance.
The problem today is that we are only at the earliest parts of this learning curve for our age. We’re in a long term competition with authoritarian powers, but it’s like it was 1949 in terms of our know how for managing this rivalry to our advantage. The problem isn’t simply to defend Ukraine and Taiwan; it’s to do it in such a way that doesn’t lead to crazy escalations or that doesn’t scare the daylights at of our allies.
Taiwan and Ukraine are not sideshows to global conflict; they are the early test cases of competition in a second nuclear age.
Recently, I discussed the question of how best to describe the terminology to describe peer conflict with my colleague Dr. Paul Bracken the author of The Second Nuclear Age.
According to Bracken, it is preferable to use the term “limited war” to describe the nature of conflict between the authoritarian powers and the liberal democracies. “A term was invented in the Cold War which is also quite useful to analyze the contemporary situation, namely, limited war. This term referred to conflict at lower levels and sub-crisis maneuvering. And that is what is going or today in cyber and outer space, to use two examples. But it also applied to higher levels of conflict like limited nuclear war.”
“The notion of limited war focuses escalation as a strategy. What is the difference between limited and controlled war?
“That’s a really important question with enormous implications for command and control. Today, for example, limits are determined in a decision making process whereby the Pentagon goes to the White House and says we’d like to do this operation. The White says yes or no.
“Left out of this is any discussion of building a command and control system for controlled war. This means keeping war controlled even if things go wrong — as they always do. Without an emphasis on controlled war, and not just limited war, I would estimate that the United States will be highly risk averse, that is, the fear of an escalation spiral will drive the United States toward inaction.
“Look at the Ukraine. The first U.S. reaction to the Russian buildup was to immediately take military options off the table. The White House refocused its strategy on financial sanctions instead. It looked as if the United States was desperately searching for ways not to use force. Soft power, gray zone operations, the weaponization of finance — these are clearly important and I think we should use them.
“But they look like a frantic attempt to any use of force, like British foreign policy in the 1930s.
“Our language shapes our strategy. An image of war that blows up, that’s unlimited, or that you’ve declined to fight because of your fear that it would become so is where we are. In academic studies and think tanks the focus is overwhelmingly on “1914” spirals, accidental war, entanglement, and inadvertent escalation.
“If it’s going to be controlled or limited, how are you defining that it is limited? Is it limited by geography? Is it limited by the intensity of operations? Is it limited by the additional political issues that you will bring into the dispute?
“These are never specified in discussions that I see of hybrid or gray zone warfare. To use a very sensitive example. In a Taiwan scenario, will the United States Navy and Air Force be allowed to strike targets in China? I see a real danger that this isn’t being thought through. If we think it through only in a crisis we’re likely to find a lot of surprises in how the White House and Joint Chiefs of Staff see things differently.
These expressions – hybrid war and gray zone conflict – are treated as if they self evident in term of their meaning. Yet they are part of a larger chain of activities and events.
We use the term peer competitor but that is a bit confusing as well as these authoritarian regimes do not have the same ethical constraints or objectives as do liberal democratic regimes. This core cultural, political and ideological conflict who might well escalate a conflict beyond the terms of what we might wish to fight actually.
And that really is the point – escalate and the liberal democracies withdraw and redefine to their disadvantage what the authoritarian powers wish to do.
Bracken noted: “That’s a good distinction too, because it brings in the fact that for 20 years we’ve been fighting an enemy in the Middle East who really can’t strike back at the United States or Europe other than with low-level terrorist actions. That will not be the case with Russia, China, and others.
“The challenge is to define limited war, and I would add, controlled war. Is it geographic or Is it the intensity of the operations? How big of a war is it before people start unlocking the nuclear weapons?
“Every war game I’ve played has seen China declare that its “no first use” policy is terminated. The China player does this to deter the United States from making precision strikes and cyber attacks on China. This seriously needs consideration before we get into a real crisis.
“Russia and China’ are trying to come in with a level of intensity in escalation which is low enough so that it doesn’t trigger a big Pearl Harbor response. And that could go on for a long time and is a very interesting future to explore.”
Limited war requires learning about escalation control i.e. about controlled war, which when one uses that term, rather than hybrid war or gray zone conflict, connects limited war to the wider set of questions relating political objectives of the authoritarian powers.
Bracken concluded: “I believe using those terms adds to the intellectual chaos in Washington. It prevents us from having a clear policy discussion of what the alternatives for escalation control and management are in any particular crisis. This is a lot more dangerous than mishandling the Afghan exit, or the COVID pandemic.”
Graphic Credit: Photo 236569224 / Hybrid War © Dzmitry Skazau | Dreamstime.com
defense.info · December 27, 2021


19.MSNBC columnist calls for ending NORAD Santa tracker to keep Santa 'safe' from US military

This article and the following one (Mark Milley Should Be Executed on Live TV, Says GOP Congressional Candidate Noah Malgeri) are illustrative of the crazy divide within our country. These are extremist views. This article is not an attempt at humor or satire. While we can call them clickbait material designed just to be provocative to drive people to their websites, the ideas they are projecting are simply BS.
MSNBC columnist calls for ending NORAD Santa tracker to keep Santa 'safe' from US military
americanmilitarynews.com · by Liz George · December 27, 2021
On Christmas Eve, a MSNBC columnist Hayes Brown called for the end to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) “tracking” Santa Claus — a decades-long tradition beloved by families nationwide — in order to keep Santa “safe” from the U.S. military.
For over 60 years, NORAD has followed Santa’s trail as he delivers presents on Christmas Eve. The tradition began in December 1955 when a little girl accidentally called the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center’s secret hotline.
According to NBC News, Colonel Harry Shoup, who was on duty at the time, answered the infamous red phone that always involved a call directly from the Pentagon – but this time a little girl was on the other end of the call.
“Are you really Santa Claus?” she asked.
After playing along, it was later determined that a local department store had created a newspaper ad encouraging children to call Santa Claus. The number that was printed had a typo, and rather than calling the store, dozens of children called the Command Operations Center.
The tradition of connecting service members with the American families they protect was too much for MSNBC’s Hayes Brown.
“No, I’d prefer we end the tradition because it’s about time that we decoupled St. Nick from the world’s most powerful military. American culture is saturated with a desire to associate the military with the saccharine,” Brown wrote. “We get videos of soldiers returning home to their pets or children but never questions about why they were deployed for so long or what threat they were fighting; military jets flying over NFL games give us an injection of jingoist testosterone before more regionally focused battles of testosterone are played on the field; and we get the Netflix movie ‘Operation Christmas Drop,’ a seasonally themed rom-com that cheerfully seeks to boost approval for America’s military base in Guam.”
Brown argued that because war is devastating and tragic, the connection between the military and the joy of Christmas is made in bad taste.
“The messier business of war that goes on in the background doesn’t jibe with the Christmas spirit. Last week, The New York Times published a two-part investigation into the civilian casualties of American airstrikes,” Brown wrote. “America’s increased reliance on aerial campaigns helps military officials avoid the political headaches that come from massive ground deployments, but that strategy contributes to the profound disconnect between the American public and the wars fought in its name.”
Brown then took his condemnation of NORAD’s Santa Tracker a step further, considering what would happen if the United States military targeted Santa, and asked if it would “just be another case investigated and tucked away in the Pentagon’s files?”
“The fact that we can’t say with any certainty what the Pentagon would do isn’t exactly comforting, and no matter how absurd the hypothetical, the military wrongly killing someone is more frequent an occurrence than its interest in the delivery of toys,” he continued. “So out of concern for Santa’s safety, out of exasperation at the Pentagon’s propaganda and because at Christmas you tell the truth, let’s have NORAD release Santa from its annual pantomimed surveillance.”

americanmilitarynews.com · by Liz George · December 27, 2021





20. Mark Milley should be executed on live TV, says GOP congressional candidate Noah Malgeri

This article and the previous one ("MSNBC columnist calls for ending NORAD Santa tracker to keep Santa 'safe' from US military") are illustrative of the extremes in both the media and partisan politics in our society today. These are unbelievable extremes that unfortunately resonate with those who are in their respective echo chambers.

Mark Milley should be executed on live TV, says GOP congressional candidate Noah Malgeri
Newsweek · by Andrew Stanton · December 27, 2021
Republican congressional candidate Noah Malgeri called for General Mark Milley to be executed on live television for treason during an interview earlier in December.
Republicans previously accused Milley—who serves as the chair of the Joints Chiefs of Staff—of treason after The Washington Post reported on a phone call he allegedly made to General Li Zuocheng of China in October 2020 and January 2021 to reassure Li that the United States would not attack China.
Malgeri echoed those criticisms during a December 7 interview with the group Veterans in Politics, adding that he believes execution could be a potential punishment for Milley's alleged crimes.
He dismissed calls for a congressional commission to investigate the alleged crimes because "all the evidence is out there."
"Just convene a general court-martial, and forget a congressional hearing. Convene a general court-martial, try him for the crimes," Malgeri said.
He went on to discuss what would happen if Milley were found guilty.
"We need to get back to our patriotic, liberty-loving roots. What did they used to do to traitors if they were convicted by a court? They would execute them. That's still the law in the United States of America. I think, you know, if he's guilty of it by a court-martial, they should hang him on CNN. I mean, they're not going to do it on CNN. But on C-SPAN or something," he said.
Newsweek reached out to Malgeri's campaign for comment.
Malgeri is running in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, a swing district consisting of parts of Las Vegas and its suburbs. The district is currently represented by Democrat Susie Lee. President Joe Biden also carried the district in 2020.
Ahead of the 2022 midterms, the Cook Political Report ranks the district as "lean Democrat," meaning, it is considered competitive but one party has an advantage. Malgeri also faces competition in the GOP primary, as several other Republicans have entered the race.

A GOP congressional candidate called for General Mark Milley to be executed on live television for alleged treason. Milley is seen above speaking during a hearing on Capitol Hill on June 17, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images
He has been endorsed by Arizona Representative Paul Gosar, who praised him as "the only true 'America First' candidate" running in the district.
Milley allegedly made the call to Li over concerns about former President Donald Trump's mental state. The conversation was allegedly prompted by a call with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who told him: "You know [Trump's] crazy."
Trump also issued a statement criticizing Milley in September. He wrote that if the story were true, "I assume he would be tried for TREASON in that he would have been dealing with his Chinese counterpart behind the President's back and telling China that he would be giving them notification 'of an attack.' Can't do that!"
Florida Senator Marco Rubio accused Milley of working "to actively undermine the sitting Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces and contemplated a treasonous leak of classified information to the Chinese Communist Party in advance of a potential armed conflict with the People's Republic of China."
Newsweek · by Andrew Stanton · December 27, 2021







V/R
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com
Web Site: www.fdd.org
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
Subscribe to FDD’s new podcastForeign Podicy
FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

V/R
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com
Web Site: www.fdd.org
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
Subscribe to FDD’s new podcastForeign Podicy
FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

If you do not read anything else in the 2017 National Security Strategy read this on page 14:

"A democracy is only as resilient as its people. An informed and engaged citizenry is the fundamental requirement for a free and resilient nation. For generations, our society has protected free press, free speech, and free thought. Today, actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. Adversaries target media, political processes, financial networks, and personal data. The American public and private sectors must recognize this and work together to defend our way of life. No external threat can be allowed to shake our shared commitment to our values, undermine our system of government, or divide our Nation."
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