Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

"I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back."
- Leo Tolstoy

"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced."
-Soren Kierkegaard

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."
- Marie Curie



1. Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: November
2. U.S. Military Has Acted Against Ransomware Groups, General Acknowledges
3. FDD | The Intelligence Community Must Work to Gain the Public’s Trust
4. WSJ News Exclusive | China Seeks First Military Base on Africa’s Atlantic Coast, U.S. Intelligence Finds
5. The Counter-Intuitive Sensibility of Taiwan’s New Defense Strategy
6. Diplomacy—and Strategic Ambiguity—Can Avert a Crisis in Ukraine
7. The rollback of free market policies in China
8. "I am not a traitor": Reality Winner explains why she leaked a classified document
9. The 2021 Just Security Holiday Reading List
10. Senators: Military hurt by politicians using them as ‘props’
11. Marine-style barbecue? Marines add foraging class to The Basic School
12. US Air Force’s new goal? Get rid of planes that don’t scare China
13. Japan to shoulder more cost of hosting U.S. military forces
14. Beijing’s Strategic Blueprint Is Changing as Tensions Grow
15. Who’s to Blame for Asia’s Arms Race?
16. U.S. and other nations condemn Taliban over ‘summary killings’
17. Biden administration expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics this week
18. Review Finds No Answers to Mystery of Havana Syndrome
19. US military minds still stuck in Pearl Harbor mentality
20. It’s Time to Democratise Doctrine



1. Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: November


December 3, 2021 | FDD Tracker: November 3, 2021-December 3, 2021

Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: November

Trend Overview
Edited by David Adesnik
Welcome back to the Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker. Once a month, we ask FDD’s experts and scholars to assess the administration’s foreign policy. They provide trendlines of very positive, positive, neutral, negative, or very negative for the areas they watch. November, like October, proved to be a month in which the dividends of the administration’s “relentless diplomacy” remained elusive. Persuasion moved few adversaries to temper their demands, mitigate their threats, or moderate their oppression at home. In Vienna, nuclear negotiations with Iran resumed after a five-month break, with Iran demanding immediate sanctions relief while enriching uranium at a fortified underground facility. Determined to reach a deal, the Biden administration muted its criticism despite Tehran’s persistent stonewalling of UN inspections. In Qatar, U.S. diplomats negotiated with Taliban officials, who likewise called for the lifting of sanctions. Meanwhile, the Pentagon reported that China accelerated the buildup of its nuclear arsenal, although Chinese leader Xi Jinping sought to reduce tensions in a virtual meeting with President Joe Biden. The administration remained silent when the United Nations fired a whistleblower who revealed the Human Rights Council’s practice of sharing information about dissidents with Beijing. Russia gathered military forces near Ukraine, threatening a new offensive. Syria continued its emergence from diplomatic isolation, which began after the White House quietly signaled to Arab governments they could re-engage with Damascus. The Venezuelan and Nicaraguan regimes held rigged elections with little concern for U.S. or regional backlash. As the end of its first year approaches, the administration may want to reconsider the importance of leverage as a prerequisite of effective diplomacy.
Trending Positive
Trending Neutral
Trending Negative
Trending Very Negative


2. U.S. Military Has Acted Against Ransomware Groups, General Acknowledges
Excerpts:
“I think that we should anticipate that in cyberspace, where the barriers to entry are so low, our adversaries are always going to be attempting to be involved,” he said.
The recipe for success in defending the election, he said, is to provide insight to the public about what adversaries are trying to do, share information about vulnerabilities and adversarial operations, and finally take action against groups trying to interfere with voting.
While that might take the form of cyberoperations against hackers, the response can be broader. Last month, the Justice Department announced the indictment of two Iranian hackers the government had identified as being behind an attempt to influence the 2020 election.
“This really has to be a whole-of-government effort,” General Nakasone said. “This is why the diplomatic effort is important. This is why being able to look at a number of different levers within our government to be able to impact these type of adversaries is critical for our success.”

U.S. Military Has Acted Against Ransomware Groups, General Acknowledges
The New York Times · by Julian E. Barnes · December 5, 2021
Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, the head of Cyber Command, said a new cross-functional effort has been gathering intelligence to combat criminal groups targeting U.S. infrastructure.
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Gen. Paul M. Nakasone said that cybercriminals continue to modify their operations and that “vigilance is really important.”Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

By
Dec. 5, 2021
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — The U.S. military has taken actions against ransomware groups as part of its surge against organizations launching attacks against American companies, the nation’s top cyberwarrior said on Saturday, the first public acknowledgment of offensive measures against such organizations.
Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, the head of U.S. Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency, said that nine months ago, the government saw ransomware attacks as the responsibility of law enforcement.
But the attacks on Colonial Pipeline and JBS beef plants demonstrated that the criminal organizations behind them have been “impacting our critical infrastructure,” General Nakasone said.
In response, the government is taking a more aggressive, better coordinated approach against this threat, abandoning its previous hands-off stance. Cyber Command, the N.S.A. and other agencies have poured resources into gathering intelligence on the ransomware groups and sharing that better understanding across the government and with international partners.
“The first thing we have to do is to understand the adversary and their insights better than we’ve ever understood them before,” General Nakasone said in an interview on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum, a gathering of national security officials.
General Nakasone would not describe the actions taken by his commands, nor what ransomware groups were targeted. But he said one of the goals was to “impose costs,” which is the term military officials use to describe punitive cyberoperations.
“Before, during and since, with a number of elements of our government, we have taken actions and we have imposed costs,” General Nakasone said. “That’s an important piece that we should always be mindful of.”
In September, Cyber Command diverted traffic around servers being used by the Russia-based REvil ransomware group, officials briefed on the operation have said. The operation came after government hackers from an allied country penetrated the servers, making it more difficult for the group to collect ransoms. After REvil detected the U.S. action, it shut down at least temporarily. That Cyber Command operation was reported last month by The Washington Post.
Cyber Command and the N.S.A. also assisted the F.B.I. and the Justice Department in their efforts to seize and recover much of the cryptocurrency ransom paid by Colonial Pipeline. The Bitcoin payment was originally demanded by the Russian ransomware group known as DarkSide.
The first known operation against a ransomware group by Cyber Command came before the 2020 election, when officials feared a network of computers known as TrickBot could be used to disrupt voting.
Government officials have disagreed about how effective the stepped-up actions against ransomware groups have been. National Security Council officials have said activities by Russian groups have declined. The F.B.I. has been skeptical. Some outside groups saw a lull but predicted the ransomware groups would rebrand and come back in force.
Asked if the United States had gotten better at defending itself from ransomware groups, General Nakasone said the country was “on an upward trajectory.” But adversaries modify their operations and continue to try to attack, he said.
“We know much more about what our adversaries can and might do to us. This is an area where vigilance is really important,” he said, adding that “we can’t take our eye off it.”
Since taking over in May 2018, General Nakasone has worked to increase the pace of cyberoperations, focusing first on more robust defenses against foreign influence operations in the 2018 and 2020 elections. He has said that his commands have been able to draw broad lessons from those operations, which were seen as successful, and others.
“Take a look at the broad perspective of adversaries that we’ve gone after over a period of five-plus years: It’s been nation-states, it’s been proxies, it’s been criminals, it’s been a whole wide variety of folks that each require a different strategy,” he said. “The fundamental piece that makes us successful against any adversary are speed, agility and unity of effort. You have to have those three.”
Last year’s discovery of the SolarWinds hacking, in which Russian intelligence agents implanted software in the supply chain, giving them potential access to scores of government networks and thousands of business networks, was made by a private company and exposed flaws in America’s domestic cyberdefenses. The N.S.A.’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Center was set up to improve information sharing between the government and industry and to better detect future intrusions, General Nakasone said, although industry officials say more needs to be done to improve the flow of intelligence.
General Nakasone said those kinds of attacks are likely to continue, by ransomware groups and others.
“What we have seen over the past year and what private industry has indicated is that we have seen a tremendous rise in terms of implants and in terms of zero-day vulnerabilities and ransomware,” he said, referring to an unknown coding flaw for which a patch does not exist. “I think that’s the world in which we live today.”
Speaking on a panel at the Reagan Forum, General Nakasone said the domain of cyberspace had changed radically over the past 11 months with the rise of ransomware attacks and operations like SolarWinds. He said it was likely in any future military conflict that American critical infrastructure would be targeted.
“Borders mean less as we look at our adversaries, and whatever adversary that is, we should begin with the idea that our critical infrastructure will be targeted,” he told the panel.
Cyber Command has already begun building up its efforts to defend the next election. Despite the work to expose Russian, Chinese and Iranian efforts to meddle in American politics, General Nakasone said in the interview that foreign malign campaigns were likely to continue.
“I think that we should anticipate that in cyberspace, where the barriers to entry are so low, our adversaries are always going to be attempting to be involved,” he said.
The recipe for success in defending the election, he said, is to provide insight to the public about what adversaries are trying to do, share information about vulnerabilities and adversarial operations, and finally take action against groups trying to interfere with voting.
While that might take the form of cyberoperations against hackers, the response can be broader. Last month, the Justice Department announced the indictment of two Iranian hackers the government had identified as being behind an attempt to influence the 2020 election.
“This really has to be a whole-of-government effort,” General Nakasone said. “This is why the diplomatic effort is important. This is why being able to look at a number of different levers within our government to be able to impact these type of adversaries is critical for our success.”
The New York Times · by Julian E. Barnes · December 5, 2021

3. FDD | The Intelligence Community Must Work to Gain the Public’s Trust

Excerpts:
To be clear: There is ample room for rational criticism and debate. But legitimate concerns and arguments are increasingly drowned out by conspiratorial nonsense. Think of the QAnon cult, which, in its earliest iterations, believed that former President Donald Trump is a messianic figure standing up to a satanic network of elite pedophiles. The “Q” phenomenon is just one example of a growing conspiratorial phenomenon – one in which reason quickly gives way to lunacy. It is one thing to think that senior U.S. officials shouldn’t have granted Steele’s rubbish any currency and that they should be criticized for having done so. It is quite another to believe that an omnipresent “deep state” is complicit in child sex-trafficking in the non-existent underground basement of a pizza parlor.
All of which is to say: Richard Moore and his American counterparts need to earn the public’s confidence. That’s no small task.
FDD | The Intelligence Community Must Work to Gain the Public’s Trust
As threats mount across the globe, the public’s faith in government institutions has been shaken.
fdd.org · by Thomas Joscelyn Senior Fellow and Senior Editor of FDD's Long War Journal · December 3, 2021
Late last month, Richard Moore, the chief of the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, also known as MI6) delivered an especially newsworthy speech. It was remarkable chiefly because it was so rare. Moore assumed his current role in October 2020, but hadn’t given a public address until now.
In popular fiction, British spy masters lurk in the shadows, hiding their true identities from the public. Most famously, James Bond’s boss is known only as “M.” In the past, this was also a reality, as the heads of MI6 preferred anonymity. Indeed, the chief British spy was long referred to simply as “C.” This tradition dates back to the first head of the SIS in the early 20th century, Sir Mansfield George Smith-Cumming, who signed his correspondence with that lone initial.
But there has always been a tension within Western democracies between the dueling needs for transparency and secrecy. Some clandestine capabilities are necessary. But which ones? And how should elected representatives ensure that proper oversight is conducted on behalf of the people?
Moore is clearly sensitive to these questions. He began his speech by noting how odd it was for a British spy chief to be addressing the public. He explained that “it is an important part of the way we hold ourselves to account, within a democracy, of how we retain public support for what we do, and – I hope – how we inspire people to want to come and join us.”
Moore’s framework for understanding the current threat environment will appear familiar to anyone who read the National Security Strategy released by the Trump administration in December 2017. The authors of that document divided security challenges into three categories: the “revisionist powers” of China and Russia, “rogue states” such as Iran and North Korea, and “transnational threat organizations” (mainly jihadist terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS).
Similarly, Moore spoke of the “‘big 4’ set of threats: China, Russia, Iran and international terrorism, as well as the overarching technological challenge.” For some unknown reason, he did not mention North Korea. Otherwise, the British spy master’s list of priorities is in line with the American understanding.
On China, Moore echoed the sentiment often heard from U.S. officials about the need to find common ground on some issues, including climate change. But he also stressed “that China is an authoritarian state, with different values from ours.” This gap is “reflected in the threats we see emanating from the Chinese state, that coexist with these opportunities for cooperation.” Moore’s wording seems to be a subtle rebuke of anyone who thinks that the U.S. can ignore these “different values,” focusing solely on pure power politics.
Like his American counterparts, Moore warned that the Chinese intelligence services “continue to conduct large scale espionage operations,” targeting virtually every significant layer of British society. “Adapting to a world affected by the rise of China is the single greatest priority for MI6,” Moore explained. “We are deepening our understanding of China across the UK intelligence community, and widening the options available to the government in managing the systemic challenges that it poses.”
On Russia, Moore called for similar clarity regarding the nature of Vladimir Putin and the threat posed by the Kremlin. He again subtly rebuked those who think we can just get along by downplaying or ignoring Putin’s hostile moves. “No country, in Europe or beyond, should be seduced into thinking that unbalanced concessions to Russia bring better behavior,” Moore warned. He argued that if the Kremlin ceased its “destabilizing activity” around the globe, it “would enable us to focus on common threats, and address Russian legitimate interests through dialogue.” I don’t think the British spy chief is holding his breath.
On Iran, Moore highlighted the role played by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has exported the Iranian revolution to Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. “Iran has also built up a substantial cyber capability which it has used against its regional rivals as well as countries in Europe and North America, and maintains an assassination program which it uses against regime opponents,” Moore said. He likened Iran to Russia, claiming “it is no coincidence that the two countries have made common cause in Syria,” where they have saved Bashar al-Assad’s regime from Sunni jihadists and others.
Moore was adamant that the terrorist threat hasn’t gone away, even as other foes have risen. He was particularly concerned about the fall of the government in Kabul earlier this year. There “is no doubt about the morale boost the Taliban victory in Afghanistan has given to the extremist movement globally, as well as its potential emboldening effect on countries such as Russia, China, and Iran.” Those nations sense America’s weakness.
At one point, Moore explained he “won’t soft soap it, the threat we face will likely grow now we have left Afghanistan.” Both “al-Qaeda and Daesh [ISIS] will seek to increase their foothold, and to rebuild their ability to strike Western targets.”
It’s easy to see why Moore decided to engage the public now, even if it was a break with precedent. The public’s faith in government institutions has been shaken. As I read through the transcript of his speech, I couldn’t help but weigh the American experience in this regard.
The last 20 years of U.S. history have been filled with intelligence-related controversies. Think about all the ways in which stories involving the U.S. intelligence community, or related parts of the American government, have dominated headlines: the intelligence failures prior to the 9/11 hijackings and in the lead up to the Iraq War, the CIA’s controversial interrogation program and other detainee operations, the aggregation of cellphone and other wireless data, the drone wars, the collapse of human intelligence networks in countries such as China and Iran, as well as the massive computer hacks of sensitive information and classified intelligence by foreign adversaries and others.
Some of these controversies involve legitimate disagreements over the scope of the U.S. government’s power. Others have centered on the government’s failures to accurately assess and counter foreign threats.
Much of the American discourse has been driven by the political left, which rejected the measures taken by the Bush administration following 9/11. But criticism from the right has been growing, too, especially as the concept of an all-powerful “deep state” has taken hold. That idea has been amplified by the intelligence community’s missteps, including its embrace of the so-called Steele dossier, which was compiled by a veteran of Moore’s own agency. It should’ve been easy for senior U.S. officials to see that Christopher Steele’s memos were a work of fiction. Instead, the document gained far more traction than it deserved.
To be clear: There is ample room for rational criticism and debate. But legitimate concerns and arguments are increasingly drowned out by conspiratorial nonsense. Think of the QAnon cult, which, in its earliest iterations, believed that former President Donald Trump is a messianic figure standing up to a satanic network of elite pedophiles. The “Q” phenomenon is just one example of a growing conspiratorial phenomenon – one in which reason quickly gives way to lunacy. It is one thing to think that senior U.S. officials shouldn’t have granted Steele’s rubbish any currency and that they should be criticized for having done so. It is quite another to believe that an omnipresent “deep state” is complicit in child sex-trafficking in the non-existent underground basement of a pizza parlor.
All of which is to say: Richard Moore and his American counterparts need to earn the public’s confidence. That’s no small task.
Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal. Follow Tom on Twitter @thomasjoscelyn. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, non-partisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.
fdd.org · by Thomas Joscelyn Senior Fellow and Senior Editor of FDD's Long War Journal · December 3, 2021

4. WSJ News Exclusive | China Seeks First Military Base on Africa’s Atlantic Coast, U.S. Intelligence Finds

Excerpts:
The great-power skirmishing over a country that rarely draws outside attention reflects the rising tensions between Washington and Beijing. The two countries are sparring over the status of Taiwan, China’s testing of a hypersonic missile, the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues.
World-wide, the U.S. finds itself maneuvering to try to block China from projecting its military power from new overseas bases, from Cambodia to the United Arab Emirates.
In Equatorial Guinea, the Chinese likely have an eye on Bata, according to a U.S. official. Bata already has a Chinese-built deep-water commercial port on the Gulf of Guinea, and excellent highways link the city to Gabon and the interior of Central Africa.
WSJ News Exclusive | China Seeks First Military Base on Africa’s Atlantic Coast, U.S. Intelligence Finds
Alarmed officials at the White House and Pentagon urge Equatorial Guinea to rebuff Beijing’s overtures
WSJ · by Michael M. Phillips
Principal deputy U.S. national security adviser Jon Finer visited Equatorial Guinea in October on a mission to persuade President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his son and heir apparent, Vice President Teodoro “Teodorin” Nguema Obiang Mangue, to reject China’s overtures.
“As part of our diplomacy to address maritime-security issues, we have made clear to Equatorial Guinea that certain potential steps involving [Chinese] activity there would raise national-security concerns,” said a senior Biden administration official.
The great-power skirmishing over a country that rarely draws outside attention reflects the rising tensions between Washington and Beijing. The two countries are sparring over the status of Taiwan, China’s testing of a hypersonic missile, the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues.
World-wide, the U.S. finds itself maneuvering to try to block China from projecting its military power from new overseas bases, from Cambodia to the United Arab Emirates.
In Equatorial Guinea, the Chinese likely have an eye on Bata, according to a U.S. official. Bata already has a Chinese-built deep-water commercial port on the Gulf of Guinea, and excellent highways link the city to Gabon and the interior of Central Africa.

A satellite image taken earlier this year shows the Chinese-built deep-water port at Bata, Equatorial Guinea’s largest mainland city.
Photo: Maxar Technologies
The “most significant threat” from China would be “a militarily useful naval facility on the Atlantic coast of Africa,” Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of U.S. Africa Command, testified in the Senate in April. “By militarily useful I mean something more than a place that they can make port calls and get gas and groceries. I’m talking about a port where they can rearm with munitions and repair naval vessels.”
Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony with a population of 1.4 million, secured independence in 1968. The capital, Malabo, is on the island of Bioko, while Bata is the largest city on the mainland section of the country, which is wedged between Gabon and Cameroon.
Mr. Obiang has ruled the country since 1979. The discovery of huge offshore gas and oil reserves in 1996 allegedly allowed members of his family to spend lavishly on exotic cars, mansions and other luxuries, according to U.S. Senate and Justice Department investigations.

The cathedral in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, reflects the Spanish influence in the former colony.
Photo: Michael M. Phillips/The Wall Street Journal
Contacted by The Wall Street Journal, Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Equatorial Guinea’s oil minister and one of the president’s sons, requested that questions about his country’s relationship with China and allegations of corruption in his family be submitted in writing. He didn’t respond to those questions. Equatorial Guinea’s ambassador in Washington didn’t respond to multiple interview requests.
U.S. intelligence agencies began picking up indications of China’s military intentions in Equatorial Guinea in 2019. During the closing days of the Trump administration, a senior Pentagon official visited the country, but the approach apparently left the Obiangs uncertain about how seriously the U.S. took China’s military aspirations.
The Biden White House has sought to deliver a sharper message: It would be shortsighted of Equatorial Guinea to insert itself between the front lines of U.S.-China global competition.
At the same time, the U.S. has taken steps to warm relations. In March, the U.S. offered aid after an apparently accidental ammunition explosion leveled an army base near Bata, killing at least 100 people.
The same month, Equatorial Guinean troops participated in U.S.-led naval exercises in the Gulf of Guinea. In August, an American Navy ship anchored off the Bata port, and the captain invited local officials and naval personnel aboard to observe firefighter training.
The White House doesn’t know whether its diplomatic outreach will have the desired effect and believes it will require a persistent, long-term effort to fend off a Chinese naval presence.

Equatorial Guinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has ruled the country since 1979.
Photo: steeve jordan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
At the same time, the U.S. wants to convey a nuanced message: Washington isn’t asking Equatorial Guinea to abandon its extensive ties with China, but just to keep relations within bounds the U.S. considers unthreatening.
The U.S. concern “is that the Chinese would develop a naval base in Equatorial Guinea, which would then give them naval presence on the Atlantic,” Maj. Gen. Andrew Rohling, commander of the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force—Africa, said in a June interview.
Following the visit by Mr. Finer, Mr. Obiang Mangue, the president’s son and de facto head of Equatorial Guinea’s security forces, announced that the White House had named him “the No. 1 interlocutor in relations between our two countries.”
He tweeted a thank-you video showing the protocol gift he received from Mr. Finer’s delegation, a silver platter engraved with the U.S. presidential seal. A few days later, Mr. Obiang Mangue and the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Malabo discussed proposals raised during Mr. Finer’s visit.
Shortly afterward, however, Mr. Obiang, the president, spoke by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping, after which Beijing put out a statement highlighting that “Equatorial Guinea has always regarded China as its most important strategic partner.”
China helps train and arm the Equatorial Guinean police.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t respond to a written request for comment on any basing plans in Equatorial Guinea or elsewhere on Africa’s Atlantic coast.

A Chinese hospital project in Equatorial Guinea, which has extensive ties with Beijing.
Photo: Michael M. Phillips/The Wall Street Journal
Beijing set up its first overseas military base in 2017 in Djibouti, on the opposite side of the continent. The former French colony looks onto the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, a strategic chokepoint for shipping traffic transiting the Suez Canal. The Chinese facility has a pier capable of docking an aircraft carrier and nuclear submarines, according to U.S. Africa Command.
The base is 6 miles from the largest American base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier, home to 4,500 U.S. troops.
“China doesn’t just build a military base like the U.S.,” said Paul Nantulya, research associate at the Pentagon-funded Africa Center for Strategic Studies. “The Chinese model is very, very different. It combines civilian as well as security elements.”
Chinese state-owned companies have built 100 commercial ports around Africa in the past two decades, according to Chinese government data.
This spring, U.S. intelligence officials uncovered what they said was construction on a secret military base at a Chinese-run commercial port in the United Arab Emirates. The Biden administration persuaded Emirati authorities to halt construction, at least temporarily.
American diplomats in Mauritania, along Africa’s northwest coast, have advised local authorities to rebuff any effort by Beijing to use a Chinese-built port for military purposes, according to a U.S. official.
In a report to Congress this year, the Pentagon said China “has likely considered” African bases in Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania and Angola.
There are no visible signs of major construction at the Bata port, which was upgraded by China Road & Bridge Co., a state-owned enterprise, between 2009 and 2014.

The remains of fishing boats beached near the port of Bata. Equatorial Guinea faces a growing threat from pirates and illegal fishing in its waters on the Gulf of Guinea.
Photo: Michael M. Phillips/The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. knows it faces challenges in its bid for Equatorial Guinea’s favor, seeking help from a country it has pointedly criticized.
The State Department has accused the Obiang regime of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture and other abuses.
A U.S. Senate committee issued a report in 2004 criticizing Washington-based Riggs Bank for turning “a blind eye to evidence suggesting the bank was handling the proceeds of foreign corruption” in accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in deposits controlled by Mr. Obiang, his wife and other relatives.
The bank said it regretted that it “did not more swiftly and more thoroughly complete the work necessary to fully meet the expectations of our regulators.” PNC Financial Services Group Inc. acquired Riggs the following year.
Separately, the U.S. Justice Department pursued the allegedly ill-gotten gains of the president’s son Mr. Obiang Mangue.

Equatorial Guinean Vice President Teodoro ‘Teodorin’ Nguema Obiang Mangue is the president’s son and heir apparent.
Photo: Jerome Delay/Associated Press
In 2011, Mr. Obiang Mangue called the U.S. ambassador in Malabo asking for help clearing his name against what he said were unfair allegations surfacing in the press. “I have never stolen money from our country’s treasury,” he told the ambassador, according to a State Department cable entered into court records. He told the ambassador he had earned his riches by winning legitimate government contracts during the country’s oil-fueled infrastructure boom.
In a series of civil cases, however, U.S. government lawyers accused Mr. Obiang Mangue of amassing a fortune of more than $300 million “through corruption and money laundering” while earning less than $100,000 a year as minister of agriculture and forestry. In a 2014 settlement, Mr. Obiang Mangue surrendered to the federal government proceeds from a Malibu mansion, a Ferrari and other assets.
This fall, the Justice Department announced that it would steer $26.6 million of the surrendered assets back to Equatorial Guinea in the form of Covid-19 vaccines and other medical aid, bypassing the government.
The Equatorial Guinean Foreign Ministry responded with a statement condemning the U.S. announcement as a “misrepresentation” of the facts. In a series of tweets, Mr. Obiang Mangue said it had been his desire to use the funds for medicine and that the U.S. government hadn’t forced him to do so.
Though often at odds with the Obiang regime, the U.S. isn’t without leverage.
Equatorial Guinea relies on American oil companies to extract offshore resources that have made the country the richest on the sub-Saharan mainland, as measured by per capita annual gross domestic product.
And the State Department recently raised Equatorial Guinea’s ranking in the annual assessment of how diligently countries combat human trafficking. The upgrade could allow the Biden administration to offer maritime-security assistance to help win Equatorial Guinea’s cooperation.
The country faces a growing threat from pirates and illegal fishing in its waters on the Gulf of Guinea.
“We think there is a fair amount we could do together on the maritime-security side that would be in our interest and of interest to them,” said the senior administration official.
Write to Michael M. Phillips at michael.phillips@wsj.com
WSJ · by Michael M. Phillips

5. The Counter-Intuitive Sensibility of Taiwan’s New Defense Strategy
Excerpts:
To be clear, arms sales can be a strong indicator of patron support, particularly from the United States. However, in this particular case, it is unclear if they actually increase the chance of American intervention. But Taiwanese political and military leaders believe that they do. Consequently, this problem is not a military nor an economic one. It’s fundamentally political. The U.S. Department of Defense should clarify how its operational posture will complement Taiwan’s adoption of asymmetric defense, as Hunzeker recommends. Congress can pass the Arm Taiwan Act to facilitate further arms purchases. But neither of these address the foundational question driving Taiwanese reluctance to adopt asymmetric defense: Will the United States show up?
My own research suggests that alliances are unique in their ability to demonstrate political commitment. Richard Haass and David Sacks argue that strategic clarity — a clear U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s defense — would lower the risk of Chinese miscalculation and war. Clarity would also alleviate Taiwanese concerns about asymmetric defense and thereby enable more effective preparation against Chinese coercion. Indeed, a 2019 survey found that Taiwanese willingness to fight increases the more the United States commits to the island’s defense. The survey’s authors conclude, “In this regard, strategic clarity would appear to be better for deterring China so long as there is no prior declaration of independence.” Washington would also gain a greater ability to shape Taiwan’s arms acquisitions, force posture, and operational planning through formal alliance institutions.
Several analysts urge the United States to instead maintain strategic ambiguity. A vague commitment mollifies Beijing and prompts greater effort from Taiwan. But this policy in fact drives Taiwan’s inefficient defense posture in a bid to increase American intervention. If that intervention is essential to Taiwan’s survival, then removing the question of American commitment allows Taipei and Washington to focus not on if they will fight together, but how they can best do so.

The Counter-Intuitive Sensibility of Taiwan’s New Defense Strategy - War on the Rocks
warontherocks.com · by Raymond Kuo · December 6, 2021
Across multiple wargames conducted last year, the U.S. military repeatedly failed to defend Taiwan against Chinese invasion. The one success they had relied on critical military and intelligence contributions from Taiwan. But this was a fictional simulation assuming an optimal Taiwanese strategy employing technology that does not yet exist. As the United States prepares to deter China from attacking Taiwan and defend it from an attack, are the Taiwanese themselves doing everything they can to defend their territory?
Michael Hunzeker recently argued that Taiwan has shelved its asymmetric defense strategy in favor of high-tech capabilities that will at best fail to defend the island against China and at worst serve to strengthen China’s resolve to retake what it views as a renegade province. Washington is counting on Taiwan to hold out long enough for the United States to muster its forces and intervene before Beijing imposes a fait accompli. Jettisoning asymmetric defense, the thinking goes, means that Taipei is not serious about its own security and instead just wants to free-ride on American troops’ lives. Some analysts have called for the United States to abandon Taiwan unless the latter meets American demands.
But before the United States starts coercing its security partners, perhaps policymakers should ask why Taiwan has chosen a different defense strategy than what the United States wants. A major reason is America itself: Washington’s policy of “strategic ambiguity” does not provide Taipei with a clear security commitment, even as American intervention is essential to any effective defense. Taiwan’s new strategy is therefore designed to maximize the likelihood of U.S. intervention, even as it reduces the longevity of its forces against Chinese attack. Washington can convince Taipei to adopt asymmetric defense by ameliorating its fears of abandonment, switching from ambiguity to clarity.
The U.S. government currently believes that Taiwan’s best chance for survival against Chinese invasion is in a “porcupine strategy” of asymmetric defense. It would bristle with anti-ship missiles, anti-tank munitions, and air-defense weapons enabling a prolonged campaign of survival and attrition. These capabilities would seriously degrade, if not entirely defeat, a Chinese invasion, buying Washington time to intervene before Beijing completes and consolidates its conquest.
Instead, Taipei has taken the opposite approach. Its operational planning and acquisitions focus on a relatively small number of high-tech, high-value capabilities — platforms that will quickly be destroyed in the opening salvo of a China-Taiwan war. As Hunzeker notes, Taiwan took its first, halting steps towards asymmetric defense in 2017 with the Overall Defense Concept. But the 2021 Quadrennial Defense Review and the National Defense Review have firmly shelved those plans.
U.S. analysts accuse Taiwan of free-riding and fecklessness. Charles Glaser argues that “There is a strong case for cutting back on these commitments [to Taiwan and the South China Sea].” Doug Bandow contends, “Countries whose people are unwilling to take serious steps to defend themselves have no claim to the lives and wealth of Americans.” Citing reports that many Taiwanese do not want to fight (although that has decisively shifted), Daniel Davis declares that “it would frankly be immoral to force American men and women to die in their place for Taiwan’s defense.” Elbridge Colby even argued [emphasis his]: “Washington *must* use *every* tool at its disposal to induce and yes even coerce Taiwan to do so [defend itself].” If Taipei fails to do this, Washington should “abandon Taiwan if it becomes destructive to our overall position to defend it. We can avoid that by we and they amping up our defenses and focusing them correctly.”
So, why is Taiwan reluctant to adopt asymmetric defense? Hunzeker points to inertia at the Ministry of National Defense, the Kuomintang-leaning military bureaucracy, and the Democratic Progressive Party’s lack of military experts. Tanner Greer likewise points to domestic politics, with both major parties eager to use symbolic incidents to score political points against one another. Richard Bush highlights broader structural tensions between Taiwan’s security needs and its domestic political, economic, and social problems.
These voices all miss the root of the problem: the lack of U.S. political commitment to Taiwan’s security and survival. Until that issue is resolved, Taipei will always concentrate on the question of whether the United States will show up to a fight, rather than how they can best fight together.
Taiwan faces a difficult operational and political tradeoff in adopting asymmetric defense. Hunzeker and Alexander Lanoszka convincingly argue that Taipei should adopt an elastic denial-in-defense strategy, investing in popular resistance to Chinese invasion. In doing so, however, Taiwan deliberately reduces its ability to confront Chinese gray zone strategies and operations, as well as to defeat China’s air force and navy. Instead, it would acquire numerous small and cheap capabilities to deny territory, attrit Chinese forces, and prolong the conflict.
But Taiwan cannot hold out forever against superior Chinese forces. Asymmetric defense is ultimately predicated on the U.S. military showing up. If Washington instead chooses not to intervene, Taipei would have taken a large gamble on its defense policy for no gain.
So, consider what the United States is asking Taiwan to do: Reduce its ability to contest the strait, accept a higher probability of an amphibious landing, and prepare its citizens for a guerilla-style war of attrition — all for the possibility that the United States might show up. Asymmetric defense reduces Taiwan’s ability to contest certain Chinese provocations, like October’s record number of air defense identification zone incursions. Scrapping its fighter aircraft and submarines forces means that Taipei must accept a higher risk of a successful Chinese amphibious landing. It must also expend significant political capital and effort to convince its population to fight a prolonged war of attrition. And Taipei must do all this without any guarantee that the U.S. military will actually show up. Indeed, Washington has repeatedly clarified that it remains committed to strategic ambiguity, not Taiwan’s defense. As Hunzeker notes, “Asking the Taiwanese people to prepare for a long and bloody war of attrition — one that might become a fool’s errand if the United States ultimately decides to stay on the sidelines — is a tall order.”
U.S. participation is the linchpin of Taiwan’s survival, and so Taipei maximizes the odds of that participation by buying and fielding advanced platforms to engage U.S. prestige and highlight Taiwan’s political and strategic importance. Prestige capabilities — even if or perhaps especially if they are destroyed — bolster public morale and demonstrate the military’s ability and willingness to defend their homes. As a senior Taiwanese official stated, “You can’t create a hero pilot of a [unmanned aerial vehicle].” Even more important, states evaluate their security ties in light of their partner’s commitments to third parties. States search for signals confirming that their partnership is more valued by their partner than that partner’s other relationships. In some cases, they even fight for this status.
Arms sales are just such an indicator. Taiwan places particular importance on them, as they “strengthen military morale and show to the world the U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s defense” in the absence of formal alliance institutions or even “normal” diplomatic channels. As another Taiwanese official noted, “when you sell us the latest fighters, it lets China know America would intervene on our behalf in a conflict.” The United States — the thinking goes — sells its most advanced and expensive weapons to its closest allies. In the same vein, during a commissioning ceremony for Taiwan’s first F-16V squadron — what its maker Lockheed Martin calls “the most technologically advanced 4th generation fighter in the world” — President Tsai Ing-wen declared that “Taiwan-U.S. defense industrial cooperation not only advances Taiwan-U.S. friendship, but also represents a firm commitment to the Taiwan-U.S. partnership.” Asymmetric defense would have Taiwan demote what limited commitment it receives from the United States, getting cheaper, lower-profile weapons in return.
To be clear, arms sales can be a strong indicator of patron support, particularly from the United States. However, in this particular case, it is unclear if they actually increase the chance of American intervention. But Taiwanese political and military leaders believe that they do. Consequently, this problem is not a military nor an economic one. It’s fundamentally political. The U.S. Department of Defense should clarify how its operational posture will complement Taiwan’s adoption of asymmetric defense, as Hunzeker recommends. Congress can pass the Arm Taiwan Act to facilitate further arms purchases. But neither of these address the foundational question driving Taiwanese reluctance to adopt asymmetric defense: Will the United States show up?
My own research suggests that alliances are unique in their ability to demonstrate political commitment. Richard Haass and David Sacks argue that strategic clarity — a clear U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s defense — would lower the risk of Chinese miscalculation and war. Clarity would also alleviate Taiwanese concerns about asymmetric defense and thereby enable more effective preparation against Chinese coercion. Indeed, a 2019 survey found that Taiwanese willingness to fight increases the more the United States commits to the island’s defense. The survey’s authors conclude, “In this regard, strategic clarity would appear to be better for deterring China so long as there is no prior declaration of independence.” Washington would also gain a greater ability to shape Taiwan’s arms acquisitions, force posture, and operational planning through formal alliance institutions.
Several analysts urge the United States to instead maintain strategic ambiguity. A vague commitment mollifies Beijing and prompts greater effort from Taiwan. But this policy in fact drives Taiwan’s inefficient defense posture in a bid to increase American intervention. If that intervention is essential to Taiwan’s survival, then removing the question of American commitment allows Taipei and Washington to focus not on if they will fight together, but how they can best do so.
Raymond Kuo, Ph.D., is a political scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.
warontherocks.com · by Raymond Kuo · December 6, 2021

6. Diplomacy—and Strategic Ambiguity—Can Avert a Crisis in Ukraine

Excerpts:
U.S.-Russian relations have always been a mix of cooperation and confrontation. Washington can continue to push back against Moscow’s aggressive moves directed against Ukraine while also being prepared to restart negotiations on a way forward. That dynamic of push and pull was how the United States and the Soviet Union dealt with each other during the Cold War, and it remains a possible model for steadying the tense contemporary U.S.-Russian relationship.
Of course, if the Kremlin does invade Ukraine, this model will no longer be relevant. The Euro-Atlantic region will instead be thrust into a new, dangerous period of confrontation.


Diplomacy—and Strategic Ambiguity—Can Avert a Crisis in Ukraine
Talk With Putin, but Keep Him Guessing
Foreign Affairs · by Angela Stent · December 6, 2021
In 2008, at a contentious NATO summit in Bucharest in which member states chose not to invite Ukraine to join the alliance, Russian President Vladimir Putin shared a candid moment with his U.S. counterpart, President George W. Bush. “George,” Putin said, “you have to understand that Ukraine is not even a country. Part of its territory is in Eastern Europe and the greater part was given to us.” In July of this year, Putin elaborated extensively on this theme in a long treatise entitled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” in which he insisted on the cultural and religious unity of Russians and Ukrainians and blamed the West for trying to pry Ukraine away from Russia. His central point: “We are one people.”
That conviction motivated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014, and it has surfaced again in Russia’s large military buildup on the border with its western neighbor. The buildup is leading to alarm that an invasion may be imminent. It has also led to an urgent debate about Russia’s intentions. What does Russia really expect to achieve by amassing troops? Does it think it can push Ukraine to install a pro-Russian government after seven years of military hostilities? Or is it pursuing other aims?
The inscrutability of the Kremlin’s intentions may in fact be their purpose. Russian policymakers have long tried to veil their motivations, keeping their adversaries and rivals guessing in a bid for strategic ambiguity. By contrast, the United States has been more predictable in its approach to the crisis in Ukraine. The Biden administration would do well to take a page out of the Russian playbook and make Moscow wonder—and fret—about Washington’s capabilities and plans. Only then can a reinvigorated diplomatic process—one that puts the United States at the table—work to prevent Russia from pressing its advantage in Ukraine.
GATHER IN THE LANDS
The buildup of an estimated 90,000 troops along the Russian-Ukrainian border has led to fears of a coming Russian military assault on Ukraine, which could be imminent or take place within the next few months. Indeed, the Biden administration has sounded the alarm and is actively working with its European allies to both deter Russia and plan a response to a possible invasion, since there appears to be no other rational reason for the Russian buildup.
To be sure, this is an opportune time for Russia to raise the stakes in Ukraine. The United States is preoccupied domestically with the COVID-19 pandemic and a polarized and dysfunctional political environment. Washington’s major foreign policy focus has also shifted squarely to China. Europe is grappling with the resurgent pandemic. The new German government will come into office this week. France is engrossed in its upcoming elections, and the United Kingdom is still coping with the aftereffects of its departure from the European Union. The migration crisis along the border between Belarus and Poland has also taken the EU’s gaze away from Ukraine.


This is an opportune time for Russia to raise the stakes in Ukraine.
Russia’s focus, however, has never veered from its western neighbor. Beyond Putin, much of the Russian public has had difficulty accepting Ukraine as an independent state since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Putin sees himself in the tradition of Russian and Soviet leaders who believed it was their mission to “gather in the lands”: to recoup Russian territory that, at various historical junctures, had been lost through war or state collapse. Putin continues to relitigate the end of the Cold War. For him, the unraveling of the Soviet Union is an ongoing process that is not over—and can still be rewound.
When he came to power 21 years ago, Putin pledged to restore Russia to its rightful role as a great power. He has subsequently argued that the most desirable international order in a multipolar world is a twenty-first-century version of the post–World War II Yalta system, in which the great powers divided the world into spheres of influence, and smaller states had limited sovereignty. The Kremlin sees its defense perimeter not at the borders of the Russian Federation but rather at the borders of the post-Soviet space; it is therefore crucial to Russia that its smaller neighbors abandon any ideas of joining NATO and the EU. Over the past two decades, Putin has tried to get Western countries to recognize the Kremlin’s view that Russia’s neighbors fall within a Russian sphere of influence. This includes Ukraine, a country that in Putin’s view plays a key role in bolstering—or potentially endangering—the security of the Russian state.
Russia’s current and military massing near the Ukrainian border has raised the possibility of another invasion of Ukraine, which could bring about what Putin has long sought: a new, pro-Russian government in Kyiv and the abandonment of Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO and the EU. The Kremlin may have initially hoped that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who came into office pledging to work out a modus vivendi, would be willing to compromise. But Moscow now sees him as an increasingly hostile adversary. Zelensky has shut down pro-Russian media and gone after Viktor Medvedchuk, a prominent Ukrainian oligarch who is perceived to be Putin’s man in Ukraine. He recently warned of a planned Russian-backed coup against him. The amassing of armor and military personnel is a loud reminder that the two countries remain perched on the precipice of outright conflict even as a Russian-instigated and -backed insurgency in the eastern Donbas continues.
THE INSCRUTABILITY IS THE POINT
But Russia might not really be signaling that an assault on Ukraine is coming. The Kremlin might be using this unprecedented buildup to compel the United States to the negotiating table to discuss a broader range of issues, as it did in March when a similar military buildup spurred President Joe Biden to invite Putin to a summit in Geneva. That meeting reaffirmed Russia’s role as a great power: the Kremlin gained a high-level summit (before China did), an agreement to pursue strategic stability talks, and bilateral engagement on a number of different issues. Biden even declared that Russia was a “worthy adversary.” There is now talk of another in-person Biden-Putin summit, possibly early next year. And thanks to the current tensions over Ukraine, Biden and Putin will meet virtually this week.
Besides getting Washington’s attention, the buildup also serves other purposes. It increases pressure on Kyiv at a time when Zelensky’s popularity is falling. It unsettles Ukraine’s European neighbors and keeps the United States guessing about what Russia’s real goals are. That ambiguity increases the risk that the United States and Europe will misread Russia’s intentions and miscalculate in their response.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to see what Russia would tangibly gain from a renewed military assault. The conflict in the Donbas has alienated the Ukrainian population in most of the country (the primarily Russian-speaking Donbas itself excepted) and helped consolidate a more unified Ukrainian identity. The Ukrainian military is in better shape than it was in 2014, thanks to Western training and arms. Moreover, the Russian population has little appetite for a war in which there would be significant casualties. The relatively bloodless seizure of Crimea was enthusiastically supported, but the ongoing conflict in the Donbas—in which 14,000 people from both sides have already been killed—is not popular in Russia. It is not clear that a new military assault would bolster Putin’s power at home any further.


Previous U.S. administrations have telegraphed their Ukraine policy.
The Kremlin is keeping the world guessing about its intentions and pursuing a policy of strategic ambiguity. This makes it difficult for the United States and Europe to know how to respond, inhibiting Western action. The Biden administration could follow suit, preparing a range of options with its European allies—including ramping up trade and financial sanctions and enhancing military cooperation with Ukraine—but doing so out of the public eye, ensuring that the Kremlin is uncertain about what Washington’s response might be in the event of a military escalation. Previous U.S. administrations have telegraphed their Ukraine policy. Back in 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama explained to The Atlantic why the United States had not responded more assertively to the Russian annexation of Crimea two years earlier. He said that Ukraine was more important to Russia than it was to the United States, that Washington had no treaty obligation toward Kyiv, and that Ukraine was Russia’s neighbor but was far from the United States. These realities invariably limited the options available to Washington. The Kremlin assumes that this remains the U.S. view and that the use of Russian military force would not be met with concomitant Western force.
Washington has primarily relied on just one mechanism to pressure the Kremlin: sanctions. These are of limited value. Sanctions have imposed significant economic costs on Russia and on some of Putin’s inner circle but have done little to change Russian policy toward Ukraine. Congress has proposed new, sharper sanctions targeting leading Russian officials, state-owned financial institutions, foreigners engaged in transactions involving Russian sovereign debt, and foreigners engaged in transactions in Russia’s extractive sectors—but these sanctions could also affect people and companies not associated with Russia or its ruling elites, including U.S. allies in Europe with whom the Biden administration seeks to improve ties. What is more, the Kremlin expects that more sanctions are coming and may have already braced for them.
MINSK III
Amid the increase in tensions, discussions about possible compromise solutions are circulating. The current basis for a resolution to the Ukrainian-Russian conflict is the February 2015 Minsk II agreement, which was essentially a victor’s settlement imposed on a weak Ukraine. Since then, France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine—in the so-called Normandy Format—have been tasked with moving the process forward. Russia and Ukraine disagree on the sequencing of the agreement, which involves Russia withdrawing its troops from the Donbas in return for Ukraine enacting constitutional reforms that would give more autonomy to the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk republics, which are currently under the control of Russian forces and proxies.
So far, however, the Minsk process has achieved very little beyond the exchange of some prisoners. Ukraine is unwilling to devolve more power to the occupied regions without Russia first withdrawing troops from the Donbas; Kyiv balks at granting special status to these entities, because that could give Russia veto power over Ukraine’s foreign policy decisions. It is also not clear that the Kremlin has any intention of fulfilling the Minsk agreement as currently configured. Many analysts believe that Minsk has run its course.
A possible way out of this impasse would be to rethink Minsk and replace it with a process that includes the United States as a full participant. Russia’s recent behavior, including the current crisis, indicates that the Kremlin would actually like a China-focused Biden administration to direct more of its attention to Russia, as it did during the Geneva summit. The Kremlin, for instance, has suggested opening discussions on a new Euro-Atlantic security system, and U.S. participation in an updated Minsk agreement might go some way toward fulfilling that proposal. This new format could invite the participation of international peacekeepers and institute a clearer agreement on the sequencing of Russian and Ukrainian de-escalation. It would also ensure more sustained U.S. engagement in the region.

U.S.-Russian relations have always been a mix of cooperation and confrontation.
No doubt it will be time-consuming to restart the very challenging process of negotiating a resolution to this crisis. But neither the United States nor its European partners are prepared to consign Ukraine permanently to a Russian sphere of influence. Both want to dissuade Russia from a new military confrontation. The prospect of sitting down with the United States as well as the other three countries in the Minsk process could change the Kremlin’s calculus. It might also change Ukraine’s calculus. If the next arrangement is guaranteed by the United States and its allies, Kyiv may feel less threatened by Russia, pull back on some of its military activities, and reengage with the Kremlin.
U.S.-Russian relations have always been a mix of cooperation and confrontation. Washington can continue to push back against Moscow’s aggressive moves directed against Ukraine while also being prepared to restart negotiations on a way forward. That dynamic of push and pull was how the United States and the Soviet Union dealt with each other during the Cold War, and it remains a possible model for steadying the tense contemporary U.S.-Russian relationship.

Of course, if the Kremlin does invade Ukraine, this model will no longer be relevant. The Euro-Atlantic region will instead be thrust into a new, dangerous period of confrontation.

Foreign Affairs · by Angela Stent · December 6, 2021


7. The rollback of free market policies in China
This was a fascinating 60 Minutes interview of Matt Pottinger versus Keyu Jin. Keyu Jin offered some of the "best" propaganda about Xi (he is working on income inequality and taking care of the middle class of the people versus the elites).

Excerpts:

Keyu Jin: President Xi envisions what he calls a "modern, socialist economy" for China, a much more restricted capitalism. President Xi is with the people. He is with the peasants, the middle class, and unlike his predecessors, he doesn't really care so much about what happens to elites.
...
Keyu Jin: That is a complete misinterpretation of what is going on. China's tackling the most intractable problems of Western capitalism ahead of the West. The concept of reducing income inequality has to be done all over the world, except that China's just much faster at implementing some of these policies.
Lesley Stahl: But isn't it communist?
Keyu Jin: No. Because it is really just to give more opportunities to the middle class, and not have the top 1% take away all the opportunities. These companies have a big control over, over the people.
...
Lesley Stahl: If Xi is engaged in a campaign to show the rest of the world that their system gets things done, and all you get in the West is chaos. Is he winning his campaign?

Matt Pottinger: His campaign is based primarily on propaganda. Right? People know that democracy has outperformed autocracy for the last three centuries. So, we've got to not, you know, lose faith in ourselves.


I suppose I am biased but I buy Pottinger's analysis over Keyu Jin's.



The rollback of free market policies in China
CBS News · by Lesley Stahl
There's a lot to worry about with China these days: its military build up, human rights abuses, intellectual espionage, squelching of Hong Kong, and threats to Taiwan. But tonight, we focus on China's undoing of key free market policies of the last 40 years that created the only global economy to rival our own. In a series of crackdowns against capitalism, strict controls have been put on booming sectors, huge private companies, and wealthy individuals. Policies all springing from the mind of one man.
President Xi Jinping is positioning himself as big or bigger than Mao, and western analysts view his squeeze of the private sector as a powergrab.
Lesley Stahl: Are you surprised by the speed and the ferocity of these crackdowns?

Matt Pottinger: Yeah. It's only the beginning is the, is the amazing thing.
Matt Pottinger was President Trump's national security adviser on China and now writes about China at the Hoover Institution. To him, the recent crackdowns smack of Maoist repression.
Lesley Stahl: Xi's defenders say that he's not killing capitalism, he's just modifying, getting rid of the excesses.
Matt Pottinger: I've always believed that the best interpreter of Xi Jinping is Xi Jinping himself.
Lesley Stahl: And what's he saying in terms of capitalism?
Matt Pottinger: What he said in one of his most important speeches, he said: "We will see to it in this long struggle that capitalism dies out in the world" and that his vision of socialism prevails.
Matt Pottinger
Keyu Jin: China grew really lawlessly, chaotically, in the last 40 years. And that's all about to change.
Economist Keyu Jin splits her time between the U.K., where she teaches at the London School of Economics, and Beijing, where her father is president of one of China's largest state-owned banks.
Lesley Stahl: Is Xi Jinping killing off capitalism in China?
Keyu Jin: President Xi envisions what he calls a "modern, socialist economy" for China, a much more restricted capitalism. President Xi is with the people. He is with the peasants, the middle class, and unlike his predecessors, he doesn't really care so much about what happens to elites.
His attitude towards elites became clear about a year ago when he humbled Jack Ma, China's most famous billionaire. Founder of Alibaba, the country's biggest e-commerce company, Jack Ma had long tested Beijing's patience with his global hobnobbing.
The boiling point came in October 2020, when Ma gave a speech criticizing the government's rules and rule-makers as outdated and stifling innovation.
Keyu Jin: I was sitting in the third row.
Lesley Stahl: Did he take your breath away?
Keyu Jin: No, I wasn't that surprised because he tends to be very vocal.
Lesley Stahl: He tended to be very vocal--
Keyu Jin: He tended to-- thank you for the correction. He tended to be very vocal.
After the speech, Alibaba had to pay a hefty fine of nearly $3 billion for monopolistic behavior.
Worst yet: Ma was forced by the government to call off the $37 billion IPO of Ant, another one of his companies. And then, he seemed to vanish…
He resurfaced three months later in a video, quiet and subdued. But the message was loud and clear: China had had enough with its independent tech sector. Arguing it deepened the country's wealth gap, authorities fined major social media and e-commerce companies for squashing competitors; delivery apps were chastised for underpaying couriers. One by one, their CEOs started stepping down and-or donating billions to government social projects.
Keyu Jin: They are just doing more philanthropy "voluntarily."
Lesley Stahl: I like that you did that.
Keyu Jin: Yes, no, no, no, it's true. "Voluntarily" doing more philanthropy. Treating their workers better.
Lesley Stahl: To the West, it looks like Xi is killing off the golden goose. Sabotaging what has made China the economic power that it is.
Keyu Jin: That is a complete misinterpretation of what is going on. China's tackling the most intractable problems of Western capitalism ahead of the West. The concept of reducing income inequality has to be done all over the world, except that China's just much faster at implementing some of these policies.
Lesley Stahl: But isn't it communist?
Keyu Jin: No. Because it is really just to give more opportunities to the middle class, and not have the top 1% take away all the opportunities. These companies have a big control over, over the people.
Lesley Stahl: And now the government will have that.
Keyu Jin: The government wants to take that back. Absolutely.
Keyu Jin
Matt Pottinger: The purpose is to instill fear and to instill loyalty among those who are lucky enough not to get purged under, under the current campaign.
Matt Pottinger says the purge is not about creating a fairer society, but over who'll know more about China's citizens: the companies or the Communist Party. He points to a law that took effect last month giving officials deeper control over private personal information.
Matt Pottinger: The party has taken a machete and sort of whacked its way toward the headquarters and C-suites of all of these big tech firms and said, "Your data is now our data."
Lesley Stahl: Do you think that the purpose, the purpose in a lot of these crackdowns is for the government to get their hands on the data?
Matt Pottinger: The Chinese government has said that data is like the new oil of this century and that-- that where the data flows, power will flow.
Lesley Stahl: The new privacy law, it's a big deal. What are the major concerns, especially for us in the West?
Matt Pottinger: If you are an American company operating in China, you are required to hand over your encryption keys to the Chinese government. What these new rules say is that they by law now also have control of your data.
One reason for this, the government says, is to keep China's data from reaching foreign hands through the private sector. One company they targeted was DiDi,
China's version of Uber. Its app and fleet collected data on its passengers and on China's infrastructure.
DiDi's problem started in June, when it had gone public with an IPO on the new york stock exchange, but--
Matt Pottinger: Only several days after that IPO occurred, Beijing suspended the app, basically made it impossible for people to download the app. And they sent the Ministry of State Security, which is China's KGB, into the offices of DiDi to start assessing and taking control of DiDi's data.
President Xi Jinping Fred Dufour / AFP/Getty Images
It's not just data. The government is also clamping down on daily life and culture. This summer, authorities went after video gaming companies and enacted surprising restrictions.
Lesley Stahl: There's a new law where kids can only play video games three hours a week.
Keyu Jin: Yes.
Lesley Stahl: And that was just by edict, period. And only on the weekends?
Keyu Jin: That's correct. And I have heard many of my friends internationally saying they wish that they could have that too.
Lesley Stahl: Oh yeah! But it would never work in the United States. Parents don't want the government to tell us what to do.
Keyu Jin: It is anathema to many, the kind of paternalism that is exerted on society. But really if you ask the Chinese people. The majority, they are very happy with how quickly it's been done.
Nowhere was this more obvious than when they demolished the giant private after-school tutoring industry prepping kids for exams. Professor Jin says it was an example of free market capitalism run amok - draining the resources of parents. So one weekend in July - just like that - the government essentially outlawed this entire $120 billion for-profit sector.
Keyu Jin: If they're determined to do one thing, they just do it. They don't care about the capital markets, implication of the financial sector. They don't care about the employment implications.
In other cases, the government is taming capitalistic excesses more slowly, like the bloated real estate sector. We visited China's ghost cities 8 years ago, with their miles of empty skyscrapers with no residents, malls with no shoppers. Today, the government is gradually dismantling Evergrande - China's second largest real estate company which overbuilt and took on more debt than any property developer on earth.
But all these actions against private industry are contributing to a slowdown in the Chinese economy and caused global investors to lose more than a trillion dollars this past summer.
Weijian Shan
Weijian Shan: China has developed itself by embracing a market economy. In essence – capitalism. If they revert back to the centrally planned system, 40 years ago, it was already proven to be failed system.
Weijian Shan should know. He's the CEO of PAG, a $45 billion private equity firm based in Hong Kong, where China has recently stifled democratic protest. Shan grew up during the decade of Mao's cultural revolution that decimated the economy, killing and uprooting millions.
Weijian Shan: I was sent to the countryside. Mao wanted us to learn from the poor, from the peasants. So, I and many of my peers were sent to the Gobi Desert. We worked extremely hard. One time we worked nonstop for 31 hours.
But by his 20s, China under Deng Xiaoping had adopted the free market, and Shan went to study in the U.S. He even taught at Wharton, and today he's investing for American pension funds and university endowments.
Lesley Stahl: I was about to ask why any American would invest right now in China, it's so unpredictable.
Weijian Shan: Well, investment is a risky business. China, as a market, is not for faint-hearted.
Lesley Stahl: You don't know what the leadership's going to do tomorrow. We're being told by economists that this is a move back to Mao Zedong's state-controlled economy.
Weijian Shan: I think that'll be too far to suggest but I must say that the way that they have done it very often is very clumsy.
Lesley Stahl: There's no question that the tension between China and the United States is rising. We're certainly competitors now in a heightened way. Shouldn't that give people pause about pouring money in?
Weijian Shan: Well, think about it. China is the holder of Treasury bills to a tune of 1 trillion U.S. dollars. There's more Chinese money in the United States than American money in China. So, if you're worried about the competition between the two countries, who should be more worried?
He argues that China's economy is still a good bet because their market is so big with 1.4 billion consumers. And there's some merit, he says, in Xi's state intervention, if compared to the United States.
Weijian Shan: I'm a free market believer. But now, China has better roads, better highways, better airports, better ports, better bridges than the United States, a country which dazzled me when I first arrived in 1980s with its infrastructure. But now, China has a better infrastructure. So, there is a role for the government to play.
Lesley Stahl: If Xi is engaged in a campaign to show the rest of the world that their system gets things done, and all you get in the West is chaos. Is he winning his campaign?
Matt Pottinger: His campaign is based primarily on propaganda. Right? People know that democracy has outperformed autocracy for the last three centuries. So, we've got to not, you know, lose faith in ourselves.
Produced by Shachar Bar-On. Associate producer, Sheena Samu. Broadcast associate, Wren Woodson. Edited by Peter M. Berman.

One of America's most recognized and experienced broadcast journalists, Lesley Stahl has been a 60 Minutes correspondent since 1991.
CBS News · by Lesley Stahl

8. "I am not a traitor": Reality Winner explains why she leaked a classified document

Excerpts:
Reality Winner: I try so hard not to frame things as being worth it or not worth it. What I know is that I'm home with my parents. And we take our lives every day moving forward as being richer in knowing what to be grateful for.
Grateful, for the moment of her prison release. We said this story is complicated. On the one hand individuals can't be deciding what to declassify. On the other, somethings are classified to conceal wrongdoing—torture in the war on terror for example. In a home in Texas, one mother has simplified the story her way: with a portrait of a veteran and a display of a commendation for meritorious service to her country.
Billie Winner-Davis: What Reality did was not espionage. What Reality did was patriotism. She actually stood up and worked for the American people to give us the truth about an attack on our vote, an attack on our democracy, an attack on our country. And I'm very proud of her for that.

"I am not a traitor": Reality Winner explains why she leaked a classified document
CBS News · by Scott Pelley
A story about someone named Reality Winner has to start with the name. Her father, playing on the family name, explained he wanted "a real winner." And so, Reality. Maybe that still doesn't make sense, but it is the least baffling fact in this story. Reality Winner became an infamous name in 2017 when she was accused of espionage. She was hit with the longest sentence ever imposed on a civilian for leaking classified information to the media. Now released, she spoke with us. Did Reality Winner do "exceptionally grave damage" as the prosecutors said? Or did she reveal a truth that defended America? It's complicated —like the young woman with the unforgettable name.
Reality Winner: I am not a traitor. I am not a spy. I am somebody who only acted out of love for what this country stands for.
We met 30-year-old Reality Winner, at home in Texas, after four years behind bars. 'Espionage' seemed surprising for a woman who joined the Air Force at 19 and won the Air Force Commendation Medal, in 2016, for "600 enemies killed in action." She did that as a linguist in a combat unit fighting secret missions.

Scott Pelley: How many languages do you speak?
Reality Winner: Farsi, Dari, and Pashto.
Scott Pelley: These are the languages of Afghanistan and Iran.
Reality Winner: Yes.
But her duty station was 7,000 miles away from those countries, at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Scott Pelley: Why are you at Fort Meade?
Reality Winner: I'm not… Am I allowed to say that?
Lawyer (off camera): Nope.
Reality Winner: Nope
That's the voice of her lawyer, who helped her steer clear of secrets in our interview. Winner wouldn't say it, but at Fort Meade, linguists eavesdropped on communications in Afghanistan to identify targets for armed drones.
Reality Winner
Reality Winner: It is not something I am allowed to discuss.
She didn't discuss her mission with her mother, Billie Winner-Davis.
Billie Winner-Davis: Only one conversation that I had with her did she ever let on how heavy her work was. I'll never forget, because she said, "You know, when you're watching somebody on your screen and that person goes 'poof,' you've gotta make sure that you've got everything right."
Reality Winner: I was starting to see in the news that our mission had a very high civilian casualty rating.
She began to feel guilt, while battling illness—depression and the eating disorder, bulimia. She left the Air Force for a top secret civilian job at the National Security Agency at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia. But, here, in 2017, she says, what she was hearing in English worried her far more than intercepts in Farsi and Pashto.
President Trump: If you don't catch a hacker, okay, in the act, it's very hard to say who did the hacking.
The president was raising doubt that Russia attacked the 2016 election. His interview with John Dickerson was typical of the time.
President Trump: I'll go along with Russia, could have been China, could've been a lot of different groups.
But it was Russia and the NSA knew it. Reality Winner had seen proof in a top secret report on an in-house newsfeed.
Reality Winner: I just kept thinking, "My God, somebody needs to step forward and put this right. Somebody."
The secret report said, in 2016, the Russian military "executed cyber espionage" against "122… local government organizations" "targeting officials involved in the management of voter registration systems." It was top secret, in part, because it revealed what the U.S. knew about Russian tactics. Winner told us she was exposing a White House cover up. She printed the report, dropped it in this mailbox, addressed anonymously to an online news source that specialized in government wrongdoing. The NSA report was published a month later.
Scott Pelley: You knew it was stamped "Top Secret." You knew what that meant.
Reality Winner: I knew that. I knew it was secret. But I also knew that I had pledged service to the American people. And at that point in time, it felt like they were being led astray.
Winner was caught as soon as the top secret report surfaced. The NSA could see on its network that she printed it. She drove home to a new reality.
Reality Winner: A plain black sedan came up behind my car and two men in polo shirts came out and introduced themselves as FBI agents.
A transcript shows the FBI agents told her the interrogation was "voluntary." And they didn't mention her right to an attorney. Winner lied about mailing the report, then confessed and was arrested. The government hit her with the most serious possible charge, espionage. Bail was denied after prosecutors told a judge that Winner wrote in her diary that she was mad enough to "burn the White House." They suggested she might defect to the Taliban. To the public, they said this.
U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine: Winner's willful, purposeful disclosure caused exceptionally grave damage to U.S. national security.
But what prosecutors called grave damage was a bombshell of truth to the Federal Election Assistance Commission, which helps secure the vote. In hours, the commission issued an alert on the "NSA document leak." It spelled out the top secret email addresses "utilized by the attackers." And urged officials to "check email logs." Blindsided by Winner's revelation, the commission called for "full disclosure of election security intelligence." Two former officials told us, Reality Winner helped secure the 2018 midterm election.
Scott Pelley: One of the things that you learned about the espionage charge is that in court you're not allowed to talk about what you leaked or why you leaked it. What would you have told the judge?
Reality Winner: That I thought this was the truth. But also, did not betray our sources and methods. Did not cause damage. Did not put lives on the line. It only filled in a question mark that was tearing our country in half in May 2017. And that I meant no harm.
But there was harm, for her. As her case dragged on 16 months. She says depression was consuming her. Her mother moved from Texas to Augusta to be with her daughter.
Reality Winner: There would just be times when it almost wasn't worth it to see the end of this. And so--
Scott Pelley: You had thoughts of taking your own life?
Reality Winner: Yes. I started to plan my suicide. And I would do practice runs. The only thing that was stopping me was my mom. 'Cause she was still in Augusta. My dad had gone back to Texas to go to work And I just refused to let her hear that news by herself. So, I would get on the phone and just try to talk around it and, "hey there's no need to stick around. Visitation's not worth it. Go back to Texas, just go. Just go."
Billie Winner-Davis
Her mother, Billie, heard that—while sitting in on our interview with her daughter.
Scott Pelley: Reality told us that she was planning to kill herself.
Billie Winner-Davis: I heard that. Yeah.
Scott Pelley: Did you know she was in that much trouble?
Billie Winner-Davis: I mean, there were some very dark days. But then they would be followed by a better day. I just knew, when I was there in Georgia, I couldn't leave. I couldn't leave her.
In 2018, at the age of 26, Winner pleaded guilty. The judge said he would make an example of her—she served four years behind bars, plus three, now, answering to a probation officer. She still can't talk about the case.
Reality Winner: I've had four years of just trying to say I'm not a terrorist. I can't even begin to talk about my actual espionage indictment. Or have a sense of accomplishment in having survived prison. Because I'm still stained by them accusing me of being the same groups that I enlisted in the Air Force to fight against. So I don't let myself feel anything regarding the actual act or the charge. Until I can let it be known that I'm not what they said I was.
She served her sentence during prison lockdowns for COVID and the unrest after the police murder of George Floyd. In a cell with two companions -- depression and bulimia -- she became self destructive.
Reality Winner: You know, every time that I had to give in to my illness, I put it on my body. I cut myself. Everywhere. I couldn't leave my cell. I couldn't work out. And all I could do was ask why and ask why. And a chaplain walked by. And I asked him why they were doing this to us and that same chaplain that I had seen for two years looked me in my face and said, "Nobody gives a f**k about y'all in here." I started getting high that day. Everyone knows there's drugs in prison. I was reduced to bingeing and purging. Getting high every day. And cutting myself.
Scott Pelley: Have you been able to get clean?
Reality Winner: I have. I just am ashamed to say how hard it is.
It's worth noting how inconsistent the government is in these cases.
In 2008, Gregg Bergersen, a Pentagon employee, was convicted of selling secrets to the Chinese. He was seen in FBI surveillance getting his pocket stuffed with cash. His sentence was six months shorter than Reality Winner's. In 2012, former Army general and CIA Director David Petraeus gave notebooks of top secret information to an author who was his mistress. He was charged with misdemeanor mishandling of classified information and never spent a minute in jail.
Scott Pelley: Was it worth it?
Reality Winner: I try so hard not to frame things as being worth it or not worth it. What I know is that I'm home with my parents. And we take our lives every day moving forward as being richer in knowing what to be grateful for.
Grateful, for the moment of her prison release. We said this story is complicated. On the one hand individuals can't be deciding what to declassify. On the other, somethings are classified to conceal wrongdoing—torture in the war on terror for example. In a home in Texas, one mother has simplified the story her way: with a portrait of a veteran and a display of a commendation for meritorious service to her country.
Billie Winner-Davis: What Reality did was not espionage. What Reality did was patriotism. She actually stood up and worked for the American people to give us the truth about an attack on our vote, an attack on our democracy, an attack on our country. And I'm very proud of her for that.
Produced by Henry Schuster and Sarah Turcotte. Broadcast associate, Michelle Karim. Edited by Sean Kelly.

Correspondent, "60 Minutes"
CBS News · by Scott Pelley

9. The 2021 Just Security Holiday Reading List

Seom competition with War on the Rocks' holiday reading recommendations.

The 2021 Just Security Holiday Reading List
justsecurity.org · by Just Security · December 3, 2021
December 3, 2021
Continuing the Just Security tradition of holiday reading lists, we asked our wonderful team of editors for end-of-year reading recommendations. We hope this list may enrich your personal reading or inspire your gift purchasing for others — or both! This year, we asked for books that helped our editors understand the moment we are living in in 2021 and received wide-ranging responses diving into issues of racial justice, climate change, rule of law, philosophy, and more. We also asked for books that illuminated something beautiful, joyful, or hopeful in the world — whether past, present, or future.
As we near the end of 2021 and prepare to continue conversations around national security, rights, and global engagement, we are especially grateful to our Just Security readers for the opportunity to meaningfully delve into and analyze the issues that shape our world. If you appreciate our work, please consider making a tax-deductible donation this season to our non-profit (link).
In the meantime, we’d like to wish all our readers a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year. We hope that you enjoy these reading recommendations from the Just Security team.
Recommended Reads
Haley Anderson
Leviathan on a Leash by Sean Fleming. This book not only challenges dominant modes of thought about state responsibility, but also invites readers to consider what makes a state in the first place. Whether or not you’re convinced by his reading of Thomas Hobbes, it’s an excellent opportunity to question some of the fundamentals of the international system.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (translated by Diana Burgin & Katherine Tiernan O’Connor). With its dark and comical magical realism, revisiting this old favorite novel was a balm in 2021. It also underscores the importance of artistic and political expression, as well as perseverance in the face of the absurd.
David Cole
Tangled Up in Blue by Rosa Brooks. A nuanced inside look at the culture of policing, from the vantage point of a human rights lawyer who became a DC volunteer police officer. Insightful, funny, and sad by turns, Brooks manages to do what is so difficult in this day and age – to empathize with police officers even as she offers a clear-eyed critique of policing.
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. This is an odd choice for something beautiful, in that it chronicles the life of a poverty-stricken alcoholic mother and her son as life in Glasgow delivers one blow after another. But it was the most moving and beautiful book I read all year, and the love between the mother and her son is, in the end, deeply redeeming. Really an astonishing book.
Megan Corrarino
Intimacies by Katie Kitamura. One of my great reading joys is discovering something true about the world refracted through the prism of fiction — that “aha!” moment when a story concretizes a thought that had previously been only half-formed or nebulous. Intimacies is full of passages like that, exploring themes of identity, alienation, trust and doubt, and how we know each another (or don’t). A particular draw for international law-minded readers: the protagonist is a translator at an international tribunal in The Hague, and Kitamura expertly balances the high-stakes backdrop with interpersonal moments that feel honest, lived-in, and — well, intimate.
A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders. Fittingly, this book on Russian short stories unfolds like a nesting doll: a study about narrative architecture becomes an analysis of what makes our brains love a good story becomes a meditation on empathy, art, and being human. Saunders is a sharply perceptive social critic who avoids cynicism thanks to a deeply humane and humorous world view, which suffuses this rich and layered book.
Viola Gienger
Exit West by Mohsin Hami. Confession: I actually read this last year but didn’t include it in my recommendations then, in part because it is so stylized and puzzling. But I can’t get it out of my mind, and that seems to me the sign of a good book. I think of it almost every time I read about another of the world’s refugee and displacement convulsions. This story of a young couple, Nadia and Saeed, fleeing their home in some unnamed country, leaving his father behind, moving desperately through mysterious “doors” to find safety, living their spartan, fearful, but always intensely human existence, clearly burrowed itself in my mind. Published in 2017, it’s an exploration of the psychology of physical, economic, political, and social insecurity that resonates too profoundly today.
The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede. First published in 2002, this is the story of the 38 passenger planes with more than 6,000 people on board who were bound for the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, when the U.S. closed its airspace as a security measure in the aftermath of the al-Qaeda attacks. Defede, a journalist for the Miami Herald when he went there afterwards to research the book, paints vivid portraits of the dramatic scenes on the tarmac and in the town and of the way the residents so warmly embraced the befuddled stranded passengers, going to amazing lengths to make sure they had what they needed, from opening their homes for hot showers and a good night’s sleep, to looking after the pets in the cargo holds. The book inspired the Broadway hit musical Come From Away. The Ford’s Theater staged a performance of the music in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington the night before the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 this year. The heartwarming, moving, funny depiction of humanity at its best was the perfect antidote for a difficult year in Washington.
Rebecca Hamilton
Bewilderment by Richard Powers. This had me from the first paragraph, where the narrator observes, “Darkness this good is hard to come by.” The narrator and his neurodiverse, 9-year old son have set themselves up at a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains for a night of stargazing. I started this book two days after our family returned to Washington D.C. following an extended period with whānau in a remote coastal region of Aotearoa New Zealand. There, darkness reliably followed sunset, and the moon cast a shadow. The spectacle laid out by the stars on a cloudless night topped any 4th of July fireworks display. Newly back to a city where electric light filled the night, I was craving darkness. Beyond the personal right book/right moment though, I recommend Bewilderment as a remarkably concise critique of the moment we are in as the human inhabitants of this planet. In an interview, Powers explains that the questions he picks up in Bewilderment are those left hanging after his Pulitzer Prize winning opus, Overstory. “Namely, how did we lose our sense of living here on Earth? How did we become so alienated and estranged from everything else alive? How did we get convinced that we’re the only interesting game in town, and the only species worthy of extending a sense of the sacred to?”
Traveling While Black: Essays Inspired by a Life on the Move by Nanjala Nyabola. Nyabola’s Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics: How the Internet Era is Transforming Politics in Kenya tops my list of go-to resources for thinking through the impact of social media, without the baggage of an American-centric bias. I was curious, then, to read something more personal from a writer and thinker I already adore. Traveling While Black is explicitly not a travel memoir but rather, as Nyabola describes it, essays about “the ideas that come from dislocation.” I have a lifelong love of the discovery process that comes from moving to unfamiliar places, so I was already onboard with the “traveling” premise of the project. But where the book really delivers is the “while Black” contribution. I cannot do it justice in the space here, but if you crave an accessible invitation to cogitate on the structural dimensions of racism on a global scale, Traveling While Black is for you.
Adil Ahmad Haque
This year, I’m listing two books that I hope to read over the holidays.
The first is Free: A Child and a Country at the End of History by Lea Ypi, a critically-acclaimed memoir of the author’s childhood in Stalinist Albania. I know Ypi as a leading young political philosopher, and I’m eager to learn the lessons she draws from her own experiences.
The second is The Ethics of Exile: A Political Theory of Diaspora by Ashwini Vasanthakumar, which examines the political role of exiles in correcting defective political institutions back home and countering asymmetries of voice and power abroad. I expect it will pair well with one of my picks from last yearNo Refuge: Ethics and the Global Refugee Crisis by Serena Parekh.
Barbara McQuade
Zero Fail by Carol Leonnig. This book paints a candid portrait of the Secret Service and its flaws from an author who deeply respects the institution. Despite the excellence of this agency, it is surprisingly fragile. Unless we adequately fund this organization and ensure that it is not used for political purposes, it will either fail in its mission to protect the president or be weaponized to attack a president’s political opponents.
All In by Billie Jean King. This book shows how much society can change in one person’s lifetime if some of us have the courage to challenge assumptions and conventions. While we still have a long way to go before the playing field is level for everyone, this book gives hope that change is possible.
Fionnuala Ní Aoláin
The Law of the List: UN Counterterrorism Sanctions and the Politics of Global Security Law 2020 by Gavin Sullivan. In a year where we should all be paying attention to the unrestrained rise of global counter-terrorism and the illustration of its seismic failures with the Taliban wresting control of Afghanistan, this book traces the emergence of global security law over two decades. Paying meticulous attention to the technocratic application of UN sanctions regimes, Sullivan reveals through theoretical and ethnographic analysis the broader unaccountability of global counter-terrorism regimes, the corelation of such regimes to unaccountable governance practices, and the unrestrained negative impact on the rule of law. A must read for security and counter-terrorism practitioners.
A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa. This is a genre-bending book that combines poetry, sleuthing, literary prose, autobiography and the reclaims Irish feminist prose and poetry in one extraordinary and illuminating text. It brings the most epic Irish lamenting poem, the grief-stricken story of Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, to life while reclaiming the power of life and storytelling for generations of women. It transcends its Irish roots to speak to loss, beauty and the capacity to retell forgotten stories everywhere.
The Frayed Atlantic Edge: A Historian’s Journey from Shetland to the Channel by David Gange. A book combining history, nature writing, and key observations of land and sea from the perspective of the writer adventuring in a sea kayak for a year. Gange follows the western fringe of Britain and Ireland to tell the story of the Atlantic coastline from near range. This is a book of tremendous beauty and adventure. Gange inverts the perspective of Island history and geography by telling stories of coastlines and those who inhabit them, bringing us back to the times when the sea was the main artery of trade and communications and reimagining both British and Irish history in the process.
Brianna Rosen
Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War by Samuel Moyn. This book elicited strong reactions in legal and humanitarian circles, sparking a debate which spilled over onto the pages of Just Security. The book encapsulates the revolutionary idea that efforts to make war more humane have normalized the use of force and entrenched existing patterns of domination within the international system. Humane explains the origins and evolution of the forever wars, serving as a call to action for those seeking a better path toward peace.
La Chute by Albert Camus. No one writes more beautifully or poignantly about the meaning of life than Camus. The book explores themes of justice, power, truth, innocence, freedom, non-existence, and mortality. In these difficult times during the pandemic, Camus remains a source of inspiration for exploring our shared humanity and resilience in the face of the unknown. In his words, “in certain cases, carrying on, merely continuing, is superhuman.”
Laura Rozen
There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century by Fiona Hill. Cannot more highly recommend this important memoir/political history by Hill, the former Trump NSC expert who memorably testified about the “political errands” she witnessed Trump allies being involved in regarding Ukraine at his first impeachment trial in 2019. The working class daughter of an unemployed coal miner in northeast England, who went on to study Russia as the Soviet Union collapsed, and later to earn a PhD at Harvard, Hill lived and witnessed post-industrial economic transformations in England, Russia and America that have left behind whole populations — conditions that have proved fertile ground for the political rise of Vladimir Putin in Russia and Donald Trump in the United States, and in which democracy has come under threat. “I have seen firsthand just how vulnerable America is to the political afflictions that have befallen Russia,” Hill writes. “By November 2019, . . . I knew that America had embarked on an authoritarian swing of its own. When the global coronavirus pandemic hit, the U.S. teetered on the verge of a system failure. We needed to address our opportunity crisis and pull ourselves back from the brink.”
Julian Sanchez
Nonfiction
Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump by Spencer Ackerman. Ackerman (full disclosure, an old friend) makes a compelling case that the current disturbing era of resurgent authoritarian nationalism has deep roots in the United States’ approach to the War on Terror. A sobering reminder to security wonks that the harms of the post-9/11 era aren’t limited tot the direct civil liberties risks posed by counterterrorism authorities, or even the appalling body count of discretionary wars, but the toxic long-term effect it’s had on our larger political culture.
The Poverty of Privacy Rights by Khiara M. Bridges. A sort of spiritual successor to Oscar Gandy’s The Panoptic Sort and John Gilliom’s Overseers of the Poor. Bridges documents the extraordinary invasions of privacy imposed on people—and especially women—who rely on public assistance for food and healthcare… intrusions rarely demanded of those who receive other forms of government subsidy available to the affluent.
Atlas of AI by Kate Crawford. Big think in a slim volume; a penetrating work of political economy examining the social consequences of Artificial Intelligence, and far more engagingly written than a book fitting that description has any right to be. Crawford maps the ways AI threatens to entrench and reproduce existing power structures and social inequities.
Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare by Thomas Rid. This history of weaponized misinformation and psyops in the 20th & early 21st centuries makes for a surprisingly fun read, until you remember how depressingly relevant it remains. Many of the ops recounted here are being publicly disclosed for the first time—reader’s choice whether to find this amusing, appalling, or thoroughly paranoia-inducing.
Fiction
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. A coming-of-age story for a protagonist who doesn’t age, from one of the living legends of British letters. Narrator Klara is the pollyannaish solar-powered android companion to a young girl made sickly by the side effects of the genetic “lifting” that, in the novel’s near-future, has become a virtual requirement for parents who dream of sending their kids off to good colleges and prestigious careers. In anyone else’s hands, the story would be cloying, but Ishiguro’s deft touch makes it powerfully affecting.
XX by Rian Hughes. When a radio telescope picks up a mysterious extraterrestrial signal, AI experts at a British tech startup seek to decode the message… and end up discovering a group of “memetic entities” that personify the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Even the most dedicated e-book reader will want to pick this one up in hardback: This massively ambitious (and jut plain massive) gonzo novel conveys its narrative through graphic design and typography as much as prose. (Think of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, only a bit more easily digestible.) There are handwritten letters, journal articles, a Golden Age sci-fi short story, news and journal articles, even a QR code pointing to an album of accompanying music. It’s a postmodern love-letter to modernism, an immersive and thoroughly bonkers dadaist multimedia experience disguised as a mere novel.
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. When travel between parallel universes is discovered, it turns out that nature abhors a duplicate: Try to enter a world where your counterpart is still alive, and the alternate earth will spit you out—folded, spindled, and thoroughly mutilated. This makes those society had previously regarded as most disposable suddenly valuable as world-walkers: The more versions of you have died, the more inter dimensional safaris you’re able to go on. Cara is one such world-walker, but the titular “space between worlds” isn’t just the eerie void between realities, but the gulf between the social world that shaped her and the posh domed city she now calls home.
The Anomaly (L’anomalie) by Hervé le Tellier. Winner of the 2020 Goncourt Prize, The Anomaly introduces a memorable array of characters, each of whom seems to have parachuted in from a different literary genre, including contract killer Blake, closeted Nigerian pop star Slimboy, film editor Lucie (and André, the older boyfriend she’s grown bored of), middle-aged novelist Victor, terminally ill pilot David, and pharma lawyer Joanna. They’ve got two things in common: Each is, in some sense or other, living a double life, and each took a storm-buffeted flight from Paris to New York in the spring of 2021. Then, four months later, the flight arrives a second time—complete with a duplicate set of passengers.
Image: Johner Bildbyra AB via Getty Images
Filed under:
justsecurity.org · by Just Security · December 3, 2021

10. Senators: Military hurt by politicians using them as ‘props’


Excerpts:
“When you have ... Chairman of the Joint Chiefs [of Staff Gen. Mark Milley] follow a presidential photo op after having cleared demonstrators, that’s damaging,” Duckworth said. “He apologized for that, but that photo was damaging across the country. I think when you have people wearing very recognizable military gear and insignia ransack the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, that’s damaging.”
Their comments came amid a significant drop in the percentage of the public that reported feeling confident in the military, from 70% in 2018 to 45% in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s annual national defense survey. The survey was released earlier this week after polling more than 2,500 U.S. adults.
Senators: Military hurt by politicians using them as ‘props’
Defense News · by Joe Gould · December 4, 2021
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. ― The U.S. military’s credibility with the American public has been harmed by the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and by politicians’ tendency to use them as “props,” two leading senators said Saturday morning at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum here.
To help restore the public’s perception of the military, said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, the nation’s leadership should better insulate the troops from politics.
“We have to get to a point, as leaders, where we’re separating our men and women in uniform away from our policy decisions,” Ernst said during a panel at the forum, held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. “They cannot be props. They are there for our national defense. ... We have to have apolitical players to do that.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, agreed, and cited controversial instances of troops’ involvement in suppressing protests against racial injustice last year, such as military helicopters being flown low over protestors and the use of troops to clear Lafayette Square in Washington. She also pointed to the presence of some veterans and service members, some in military kit, at the insurrection at the Capitol in January.
“When you have ... Chairman of the Joint Chiefs [of Staff Gen. Mark Milley] follow a presidential photo op after having cleared demonstrators, that’s damaging,” Duckworth said. “He apologized for that, but that photo was damaging across the country. I think when you have people wearing very recognizable military gear and insignia ransack the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, that’s damaging.”
Their comments came amid a significant drop in the percentage of the public that reported feeling confident in the military, from 70% in 2018 to 45% in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s annual national defense survey. The survey was released earlier this week after polling more than 2,500 U.S. adults.
RELATED

The world leaders stressed that like-minded nations need to band together to set standards for emerging technologies including artificial intelligence.
The decline in public confidence in the military comes as potential challenges are mounting around the world.
The survey found 71% of Americans are worried about a war with the People’s Republic of China in the next five years, and 73% are worried about falling behind China technologically. The tech concerns were shared by 79% of Republicans, 70% of Democrats and 67% of Independents.
Meanwhile, concerns continue to mount about Russia’s massing of some 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and the potential for an invasion.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said at the panel that while he’s not sure what Russia will do, he is “very, very concerned” about its posture and said it could hurt stability and security in the region.
The world is looking to the U.S. to counter those potential threats from China and Russia, Ernst said — but America’s status as the “partner of choice ... has been jeopardized in the last year with a hasty and haphazard withdrawal [from] Afghanistan.”

U.S. National Guard troops patrol the vicinity of the US Capitol hours before the inauguration of US President-Elect Joe Biden in Washington, DC, on Jan. 20, 2021. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)
Ernst said that at the recent Halifax International Security Forum, allies and partners questioned what happened in Afghanistan and why the U.S. was caught off guard.
“They are not turning to us and seeing leadership at this moment in time,” Ernst said. “And we can’t just continue to promise to be the partner of choice. We have to have action in this area and show the rest of the world that we are the partner of choice.”
Duckworth agreed the Afghanistan withdrawal was damaging. She reiterated her push for a bipartisan review of how the war was conducted over its entire two-decade history as well as failures of leadership there — both political and military.
“As a member of Congress, we are to blame because we never debated ... what the new mission is” after combat operations in Afghanistan ended in 2014 and the military shifted to a role emphasizing training, advising and airstrikes, Duckworth said.
But Duckworth said the U.S. is demonstrating its leadership around the world through COVID-19 vaccine donations and diplomacy.
Building relationships with nations in the Indo-Pacific region is also a crucial way for the United States to counter China, Duckworth said.
“A way to approach [opposing China] is to engage with the rest of the Indo-Pacific region, to have more and greater relationships with all of these nations,” Duckworth said. “To give places like Indonesia ... and Vietnam, who are on the frontlines of standing up to the [People’s Republic of China] somewhere to turn.”
Ernst said the Biden administration needs to do more to push back on China on matters including transparency on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and fulfilling its trade obligations.
According to the Reagan survey, most Americans polled view China as their country’s top threat, in contrast with 2018, when only 21% thought so and 30% said it was Russia. Now, China leads in both parties, with 64% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats ― a jump from 20% of Democrats in 2018.
Along those lines, the majority of survey respondents said the U.S. should focus its military presence in East Asia, where previously respondents had leaned more toward the Middle East.
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U.S. President Joe Biden’s first budget request for the Department of Defense slashes procurement by $8 billion, whacking scores of legacy weapons and systems as a way to deliver a $5.5 billion boost for the development and testing of cutting-edge technologies that could deter China.
While confidence in the U.S. military fell, the public considered its conventional capabilities the globe’s best by 45% (42% said “one of the best”), and its high tech weapons were considered best by 39% and among the best by 45%.
On China, economic competition was the lead concern on a bipartisan basis (20%), just edging out concerns about its military buildup (19%). That dovetails with fears of a possible war, shared by 66% of Democrats and 79% of Republicans.
The survey shows the American people are starting to view national security issues through the lens of technology, Rachel Hoff, the Reagan Institute’s policy director, told reporters Wednesday.
Still, no one area of China’s technological progress was a top concern. Supply-chain vulnerabilities and artificial intelligence tied at 23%. According to the survey, 16% chose satellite technology, followed by telecommunications technology and manufacturing capacity, both at 12%.
The defense forum, in its eighth year, brings together lawmakers and defense leaders for a day of discussions on national security strategy, priorities and challenges. The survey accompanying the event is available here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
About Joe Gould and Stephen Losey
Joe Gould is the Congress and industry reporter at Defense News, covering defense budget and policy matters on Capitol Hill as well as industry news.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter at Defense News. He previously reported for Military.com, covering the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare. Before that, he covered U.S. Air Force leadership, personnel and operations for Air Force Times.


11. Marine-style barbecue? Marines add foraging class to The Basic School
"Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy... use the conquered foe to augment one's own strength"
-Sun Tzu
Marine-style barbecue? Marines add foraging class to The Basic School
marinecorpstimes.com · by Philip Athey · December 3, 2021
It has been a long time since the U.S. military truly has had to worry about logistics.
During the nearly 20 years of war in the Middle East, Marines could be fairly certain they would be stocked on food. Whether that meant Burger King or the vegetable omelet meal, ready-to-eat, going hungry was not a main concern for the average grunt, even in Afghanistan.
But the Marine Corps is now preparing for a different fight, one that would see small teams of Marines spread out across the South Pacific, facing a so-called near peer enemy capable of annihilating the Marine Corps’ logistics train.
To help prepare Marines for that new fight, the Corps has added a foraging class to The Basic School’s curriculum, where young Marine officers will learn how to catch and prepare their own food.
“It’s not something new, it’s something that we’ve always done historically to win and fight wars, but it’s one thing we stopped doing when we went to packaged operational rations,” Chief Warrant Officer Lisa Figueroa, the deputy food service officer at Marine Detachment Fort Lee, Virginia, said in a video about the foraging class.
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Future Marines might deploy with small water purifiers, which can be carried by a single Marine, and wearable power generators.
Even with an intact supply chain, small units of Marines would rely on stealth to survive ― and a food resupply point could be a dead giveaway to positioning.
Then-Lt. Gen Eric Smith said in August at the 2021 Sea-Air-Space conference, “The first thing about being able to handle a logistics enterprise support you in a distributed environment is need less.”
“Why would I move water to the South China Sea?” asked the former commander of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and the deputy commandant for combat development. “That’s insane, why would I move food? It’s called expeditionary foraging.”
Smith has since been promoted to general and made the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.
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So far 800 Marine have taken the course at The Basic School and the fourth iteration is set to take place on Dec. 13, 1st Lt. Phillip Parker, a Training and Education Command spokesman, told Marine Corps Times.
The Corps is still developing the class curriculum, Parker said, but currently it takes place in a single day.
Marines are given a one-hour lecture then spend another four hours in “practical application,” Parker said in a Tuesday email.
At the in-the-field portion, Marines take turns butchering fish and pigs, a video on the new class said.
“Fish and pigs are just a method by which we teach the students to have a flexible mindset in regards to logistics,” Maj. Patrick Fitzgibbons, with Warfighter Instructor Battalion, said in the video. “They need to consider augmenting their resupply with local resources in order to sustain their force.”
So far only entry level officers have been exposed to the class, but something similar may be coming to the enlisted entry level training pipeline, Parker said.
“As The Basic Officer Course continues to develop this nascent training and shares lessons learned, Training Command will implement best practices where appropriate throughout the entry-level enlisted training process,” Parker said.
While this is the first formal training class the Marine Corps has given on the course, in recent years foraging has taken a larger role in various training exercises.
In December 2019 Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit headed to the island of Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands, to hide from a simulated enemy and conduct self sufficient logistic operations.
With the focus on the Pacific, it may not be too long before hunting and gathering becomes a key part of Marine Corps entry level training.
“As the curriculum continues to evolve, this training will be an enduring part of the Basic Officer Course as TBS introduces new officers to the concepts for how to fight and win in a distributed logistical environment,” Parker said.

12. US Air Force’s new goal? Get rid of planes that don’t scare China
Perhaps the Air Force should propose relooking the Key West agreement. Although this could be budget busting for the Army perhaps the Air Force would like to divest itself of the close air support requirement for ground troops. I think the opposition to divesting "old iron" is because there is a fear that there will not be effective platforms to replace the capabilities of that old iron.

 Excerpts:
He lamented that the service has long sought to retire “old iron,” such as the A-10, only to encounter resistance from lawmakers who don’t want programs in their states to lose jobs.
Kendall’s views were echoed by the Air Force’s top officer. In an interview with Defense News Saturday, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown underscored the importance of letting some older air frames go as a way to allow the service to bring on more F-35s and other newer aircraft.
“It’s really a tough decision of the things we’re going to let go, and how we transition from the current capabilities we have, to get to the capabilities of the future,” Brown said when asked about the choices that will have to be made in the Pentagon’s 2023 budget proposal.
But he added that the Air Force will need to balance risk. This means ensuring combatant commanders can still carry out their missions while still preserving enough resources to modernize for the next generation of platforms.

US Air Force’s new goal? Get rid of planes that don’t scare China
Defense News · by Stephen Losey · December 5, 2021
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the service urgently needs to retire outdated air frames so it can focus on developing modern aircraft to counter a rapidly modernizing Chinese military.
During a panel here Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Kendall mentioned MQ-9 Reapers, some C-130s, older tankers and the A-10 Warthog as examples of aging aircraft that — while useful during counterinsurgency missions in the Middle East over the last two decades — will struggle in a conflict with China.
“If it doesn’t threaten China, why are we doing it?” Kendall said in describing his mindset.
China has focused its own modernization efforts on ways to defeat high-value American assets, Kendall said — “of which the numbers are fairly low.”
Now, the U.S. has to respond to that, Kendall said. But the advancing age of the Air Force’s fleet, which averages about 30 years, is an “anchor holding back the Air Force.”
He lamented that the service has long sought to retire “old iron,” such as the A-10, only to encounter resistance from lawmakers who don’t want programs in their states to lose jobs.
Kendall’s views were echoed by the Air Force’s top officer. In an interview with Defense News Saturday, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown underscored the importance of letting some older air frames go as a way to allow the service to bring on more F-35s and other newer aircraft.
“It’s really a tough decision of the things we’re going to let go, and how we transition from the current capabilities we have, to get to the capabilities of the future,” Brown said when asked about the choices that will have to be made in the Pentagon’s 2023 budget proposal.
But he added that the Air Force will need to balance risk. This means ensuring combatant commanders can still carry out their missions while still preserving enough resources to modernize for the next generation of platforms.
“There’s got to be a little give-and-take that goes back and forth between the Air Force and the combatant commands in the department,” Brown said. “One of the things I’ve found is the United States Air Force is very popular, and as I talk to combatant commanders, they tend to ask for more Air Force.”
Brown said he’s had to tell those commanders not to fight the Air Force over the retirements and instead support the service as it tries to modernize, even if such a change means hard trade-offs in the short term.
For 20 years, the Air Force has primarily operated in the permissive environment of the Middle East, without worrying about adversaries with advanced anti-aircraft systems.
That would change in a conflict with a peer or near-peer adversary such as China, that has significant weapons to deny U.S. access to its airspace.
Brown said aircraft — including certain fighters, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, and command and control aircraft — that may not be well suited to a more contested environment, or those that are older or with higher sustainment costs, could be among those considered for retirement.
Brown declined to name specific aircraft, but the Air Force’s fiscal 2022 budget proposal released earlier this year asked to retire dozens of A-10s, F-15Cs and Ds and F-16s, KC-135s and KC-10s, C-130s, and RQ-4 Global Hawks.
The Air Force is waiting for the final approval of the National Defense Authorization Act to see what Congress will ultimately allow the service to retire, Brown said.
He said that the Air Force’s future of ISR aircraft must be “survivable, connected, and persistent.” He cited the 2019 Iranian downing of a Global Hawk variant as an example of how ISR aircraft will need to be able to survive in a contested environment.
If Congress doesn’t allow for such retirements, Brown said, it will increase risk the service faces in a high-end conflict.
“We will not have the capabilities for any future crisis and contingencies,” he said. “That concerns me. If we don’t [change], we’re going to lose aspects of our national security because we’re holding on to the past.”
Shortly after becoming chief of staff, Brown released a document titled “Accelerate Change or Lose” that outlined his views on how the Air Force needs to adjust to a world in which U.S. military dominance is not assured, and China and Russia are emboldened.
When asked if Congress is allowing the Air Force to accelerate change, Brown replied, “in some cases.”
Brown said that while the annual defense policy bill has yet to pass Congress, he has indications it will allow the Air Force to take some of the steps it’s been trying to accomplish.
Retired Sen. Jim Talent, R-Missouri, said on the panel that the military’s funding hasn’t been sufficient to field the forces needed to deter potential adversaries — and it doesn’t have the rest of the decade to wait until it can.
As a result, Talent said, the military is having to choose what threats it guards against, because it hasn’t been able to build the necessary capacity.
“It’s one thing to make hard choices,” Talent said. “It’s another thing to make what are effectively Sophie’s choices.”
About Stephen Losey
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter at Defense News. He previously reported for Military.com, covering the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare. Before that, he covered U.S. Air Force leadership, personnel and operations for Air Force Times.


13. Japan to shoulder more cost of hosting U.S. military forces


Japan to shoulder more cost of hosting U.S. military forces
english.kyodonews.net · by KYODO NEWS
Japan has decided to accept a request by the United States to pay more for hosting its military forces from fiscal 2022 after the two countries held working-level negotiations in Washington from late November through early this month, diplomatic sources said Sunday.
Japan is expected to reach an agreement on the increase with the United States before Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Cabinet decides on a draft budget for the fiscal year starting in April later this month, the sources said.
File photo shows the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in a crowded residential area in Ginowan, Okinawa. (Kyodo)
The Japanese government is believed to have determined that a certain amount of increase in so-called host nation support is inevitable in light of the need to boost their long-standing security alliance, while the U.S. forces are mobilizing their most advanced hardware in the region to address China's rapid military expansion.
The next focus will be on the extent of the hike, given that the cost for basing American troops in Japan is also rising.
For the current fiscal year through March, the support to cover expenses, such as utilities and wages for Japanese staff at U.S. military bases, was budgeted at 201.7 billion yen ($1.79 billion).
Japan had sought to minimize any increase in the assistance due to its strained finances, while Washington, according to the sources, had called on Tokyo to foot more of the cost noting the need for the U.S. forces to deal with China.
Japan had asked the United States in their talks to reduce the amount of financial contribution for utility costs as any increase in this area would not directly contribute to beefing up U.S. deterrence in the region, making it difficult to win public support, the sources said.
Japan suggested that the United States allocate the increase in Tokyo's contribution to funding expenses such as the maintenance of facilities used together by the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military and their joint exercises, the sources said.
Cost-sharing agreements between Japan and the United States are usually signed to cover a five-year term.
But for fiscal 2021, the two countries settled for a one-year extension of a five-year pact that expired in March 2021, as their talks were affected by the transition of power in Washington to President Joe Biden from his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Following the new agreement in December, Japan and the United States are likely to sign a special accord on host nation support next month when they hold a meeting involving their defense and foreign ministers, according to the sources.
During the four years under Trump with his "America First" foreign policy, Japan and other countries such as South Korea faced intense pressure from Washington to significantly increase their financial contributions for the U.S. military.
Trump had criticized the alliance with Japan as one-sided, saying, for example, in June 2019 in a television interview that "if Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III...but if we're attacked, Japan doesn't have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television."
A Japanese diplomatic source said last month that the increase now under consideration will not likely be as much as what was being asked for by the Trump administration.

english.kyodonews.net · by KYODO NEWS




14. Beijing’s Strategic Blueprint Is Changing as Tensions Grow

Excerpts:

In a new framework we’re calling “E.P.I.C.,” we attempt to lay out the four key resources at the heart of U.S.-China competition today. These resources—equipment, personnel, information, and capital—represent the foundational tools that China uses in its push to amass comprehensive national power.
...
China’s economic and military strategy is fueled by technology. Although the Chinese economy has made impressive gains by promoting innovation at home, the resources that drive its technological progress are still largely sourced from abroad—a trend that will likely continue well into the 2020s.
These four elements—equipment, personnel, information, and capital—are the four pillars of China’s playbook to become a technology superpower. Each of these pillars presents a challenge to the United States—but also offers leverage points and opportunities for America to defend and sharpen its technological edge.
Beijing’s Strategic Blueprint Is Changing as Tensions Grow
China is trying to free itself from dependence on imported technology.
Foreign Policy · by Ryan Fedasiuk, Emily Weinstein · December 3, 2021
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has constructed a strategy that is predicated on both passively absorbing and actively acquiring technology from abroad. Although the tech outflow from the United States to China has undercut U.S. national security, stymying it is easier said than done—and Beijing’s playbook is evolving in response to heightening tensions between the two countries.
In a new framework we’re calling “E.P.I.C.,” we attempt to lay out the four key resources at the heart of U.S.-China competition today. These resources—equipment, personnel, information, and capital—represent the foundational tools that China uses in its push to amass comprehensive national power.
The first resource is equipment—most notably, advanced computer chips and the billion-dollar machines that make them. Beijing’s reliance on imported technologies extends well beyond foreign-designed semiconductors, including lidar systems for self-driving cars, engine housings for commercial aircraft, and reagents for gene editing kits, among others. However, despite its multibillion-dollar efforts to boost domestic production in many of these key fields, China still has a long way to go to produce them domestically.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has constructed a strategy that is predicated on both passively absorbing and actively acquiring technology from abroad. Although the tech outflow from the United States to China has undercut U.S. national security, stymying it is easier said than done—and Beijing’s playbook is evolving in response to heightening tensions between the two countries.
In a new framework we’re calling “E.P.I.C.,” we attempt to lay out the four key resources at the heart of U.S.-China competition today. These resources—equipment, personnel, information, and capital—represent the foundational tools that China uses in its push to amass comprehensive national power.
The first resource is equipment—most notably, advanced computer chips and the billion-dollar machines that make them. Beijing’s reliance on imported technologies extends well beyond foreign-designed semiconductors, including lidar systems for self-driving cars, engine housings for commercial aircraft, and reagents for gene editing kits, among others. However, despite its multibillion-dollar efforts to boost domestic production in many of these key fields, China still has a long way to go to produce them domestically.
In the 1990s, Beijing’s strategy to absorb foreign equipment revolved around requiring foreign businesses to set up joint ventures in China, then compelling them to share intellectual property with Chinese counterparts. For 30 years, the promise of Chinese market access has persuaded foreign investors to part with their IP and trade secrets—at times with disastrous consequences.
But bilateral technology investment has plummeted some 96 percent since 2016. To compensate for declining investment, Beijing has increasingly turned to shell companies and intermediary agents to source foreign components, reagents, and associated manufacturing equipment. In a recent study for Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), for example, one of us found that fewer than 10 percent of companies that supply the Chinese military with equipment are named in key U.S. export control and sanctions lists—and some make a business out of repackaging and reselling U.S.-origin equipment to sanctioned Chinese military units.
Although the CCP is taking drastic steps to secure China’s position as a science and technology powerhouse, it has struggled to build domestic supply chains for linchpin commodities like semiconductors and gas turbines. The bottom line is that China will likely remain reliant on foreign equipment well into the 2020s. What’s more, China’s path to foreign technology runs through such U.S. allies as Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. This presents a strategic opportunity for the United States, which can coordinate with like-minded partners to restrict equipment exports or screen risky investments in particularly sensitive industries.
The second resource is people—talented personnel educated at universities worldwide, in all fields, but especially in the hard sciences.
During a high-level talent conference this September, Chinese President Xi Jinping placed significant emphasis on the role of the CCP in cultivating high-end talent, urging Chinese businesses to “foster a team of engineers who follow the party.” In fact, a CSET study from August demonstrated that China is rapidly outpacing the United States in terms of STEM Ph.D. growth, suggesting that some of Beijing’s efforts in science, technology, engineering, and math are bearing fruit. Still, as noted by the Chinese talent expert David Zweig, China’s quantitative advantages do not necessarily translate into a higher quality of education.
Since the Cultural Revolution gutted China’s education system in the late 1970s, Chinese leaders have been desperately working to reverse the country’s chronic brain drain. By one estimate, between 1978 and 2007, fewer than a quarter of the 1.2 million Chinese who left the country to study or conduct research abroad ever returned. What’s more, among the 390,000 Chinese students who came to study in the United States in 2021, 80 percent of STEM students will stay and likely join the U.S. workforce.
China’s efforts to attract talent have historically focused on recruiting both members of the Chinese diaspora and experts with no ties to the country. Through conditional scholarships and lucrative talent recruitment programs, Beijing has succeeded in luring several thousand of its talented scholars back to the mainland—but not without first shelling out billions of dollars in signing bonuses and offering up prestigious, tenure-track positions at elite Chinese universities. The Thousand Talents Program, perhaps Beijing’s best-known recruitment effort, offered participants hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages, living expenses, and financial assistance for research facilities.
Where it has struggled to recruit talent directly, the CCP has enlisted the help of United Front groups—an umbrella term for government-directed but nominally private organizations located overseas that are designed to forge inroads to industry and civil society. One of their many tasks is to scout out talented foreign scientists and persuade them to take up research positions in China.
In the near to medium term, Beijing is likely to shift its focus—away from attracting foreign talent, and more toward preventing its most elite scientists from leaving the country altogether. Over the past decade, China has invested tens of billions of dollars into its education system. Chinese universities have climbed in global university rankings, and, by 2025, China’s education system is projected to produce twice as many STEM Ph.D.s as the United States each year.
The third resource is information—patentable inventions, trade secrets, data, and other information central to the advancement of science.
At the same time it has adopted coercive measures to absorb IP from investors looking to enter the Chinese market, the CCP has encouraged Chinese firms to “go out” and seek investment opportunities abroad—with little regard for business’ bottom line. In some cases, Chinese investors are aided by the state itself. Another CSET study profiled Beijing’s corps of 150 “science and technology diplomats,” who are tasked with monitoring foreign research breakthroughs and identifying investment opportunities abroad on behalf of Chinese businesses. Between 2015 and 2020, they identified and published 642 “cooperation opportunities” in 37 countries—and generally succeeded in advancing Chinese equity in strategic industries such as artificial intelligence and electric vehicles.
Where state-backed technology brokers struggle to reach deals, Chinese security services have turned to outright espionage. Since 2006, state-backed hacking groups have targeted a myriad of industries ranging from aerospace to healthcare. But following the CCP’s new cybersecurity regulations, which require bug bounty hunters to divulge early knowledge of computer exploits to the state, foreigners should only expect China’s cyber espionage campaigns to grow more sophisticated and damaging.
The fourth resource is capital—funds that accelerate the development and acquisition of the other three resources at the heart of China’s technological progress. It is also a resource that China has unequivocally excelled at amassing.
Broadly, the CCP has encouraged foreign investment in what it terms “strategic emerging industries” and high-tech sectors. Throughout the 2010s, U.S. firms including Goldman Sachs and Sequoia Capital invested in Chinese technology startups such as Alibaba and Didi that would later go on to rival the United States’ own technology champions. And, as our research has shown, some recipients of U.S. investment today supply the Chinese military with battle management and cybersecurity software. Even as U.S. investment wanes, global investment into China has expanded, in part because finance is one of the very few areas where China has loosened regulation in recent years. In 2020, despite a global downtrend brought about by COVID-19, foreign direct investment into China expanded to $212 billion—a more than 10 percent increase over the previous year.
Even the subsidiaries of China’s state-owned defense enterprises raise funds on foreign stock markets to pay for their advancements in military technology. In her recent congressional testimony, for example, Claire Chu of RWR Advisory Group pointed out that, by the end of 2016, China’s 12 major military-industrial groups had listed 111 publicly traded companies on overseas stock exchanges. Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also argued that many major stock and bond indices in the United States include sanctioned Chinese defense companies.
What’s more, Beijing seems to be entering a period of even more intense reliance on foreign capital markets and direct investment. Beginning in 2016, Chinese regulators have taken a sledgehammer to the high-tech and private property sectors, as part of a broader effort to fundamentally remake China’s economic growth model and avoid the so-called middle-income trap. But the moves come at a time when Chinese corporations will need large amounts of capital to sustain their continued advancements in science and technology.
Economists and security practitioners alike have long warned of the risks associated with broad U.S.-China economic decoupling. But to ensure that U.S. financiers do not indirectly aid in China’s technological leapfrogging and military modernization, the U.S. government is now considering ways to monitor and screen investments made by U.S. investors abroad, a move that will likely be met with significant pushback from U.S. business leaders with close ties to Chinese officials. At the height of the U.S.-China trade conflict, CEOs from UPS, Pfizer, Goldman Sachs, and others met with Xi in Beijing, where he encouraged them to stand up against “protectionism, isolationism, and populism,” and promised to further open China’s market to foreign investors. Just this week, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng repeated the call for U.S. business executives to “speak out for what is right and encourage the U.S. administration to follow a sensible and pragmatic China policy.”
China’s economic and military strategy is fueled by technology. Although the Chinese economy has made impressive gains by promoting innovation at home, the resources that drive its technological progress are still largely sourced from abroad—a trend that will likely continue well into the 2020s.
These four elements—equipment, personnel, information, and capital—are the four pillars of China’s playbook to become a technology superpower. Each of these pillars presents a challenge to the United States—but also offers leverage points and opportunities for America to defend and sharpen its technological edge.
Foreign Policy · by Ryan Fedasiuk, Emily Weinstein · December 3, 2021



15. Who’s to Blame for Asia’s Arms Race?

For your entertainment pleasures. Point-Counterpoint from Thomas Shugart and Van Jackson in response to Van Jackson' recent article.


Who’s to Blame for Asia’s Arms Race?
Debating the Source of Growing U.S.-Chinese Tensions
Foreign Affairs · by Thomas Shugart; Van Jackson · December 2, 2021
Beijing’s Belligerence Has Set the Stage for Conflict
Thomas Shugart
China’s military buildup is undeniable. It has built hundreds of long-range and precise ballistic missiles, launching them for years at mockups of U.S. ships and bases in Asia. It has constructed the world’s largest navy in terms of the number of ships, vastly exceeding the U.S. Navy’s rate of warship production in recent years. As Beijing has grown stronger, it has also become increasingly belligerent: it bullies neighbors that have had the temerity to use their own natural resources, and its state-controlled media routinely threaten Taiwan with invasion.
But in “America Is Turning Asia Into a Powder Keg” (October 22), Van Jackson argues that an “overly militarized” U.S. approach is to blame for increasing the risk of war and worsening negative regional trends. Although Jackson concedes that Washington is not “the cause of these troubling trends,” and “should not be blamed for the actions of China and North Korea,” his article leaves the opposite impression. Furthermore, he makes his case by presenting facts that are at times misleading, mischaracterized, or inaccurate. He portrays as recklessness what is in fact a rational U.S. and allied response to a dramatic expansion of China’s offensive military capabilities.
Jackson starts by blaming Washington for “surging troops and military hardware into the region.” Although there have been a number of initiatives to “pivot to the Pacific” and rebalance the U.S. military toward Asia, the change in American troop presence has not been as dramatic as this rhetoric suggests. According to the Pentagon’s personnel records, roughly 89,000 U.S. active-duty troops were stationed in the Indo-Pacific theater as of this summer. A decade ago, the number was about 84,000. An increase of 5,000 troops, constituting less than half a percent of the U.S. armed forces’ personnel, does not constitute a “surge” that is aggravating tensions in the region, even if one takes into account the few thousand additional soldiers that are likely present at any time on rotational missions.
Jackson also blames the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden for embarking on defense initiatives that he claims escalate an arms race with China. He cites its encouragement of Japan to develop hypersonic weapons (a program that was unveiled in March 2020, ten months before Biden’s inauguration) and extend the range of its antiship missiles (also begun in 2020). He further states that the administration has announced plans for an expanded presence in Guam—reference to the ongoing move of 5,000 U.S. Marines to Guam from Okinawa, Japan (farther away from China), which has been planned since 2006. Finally, he mentions a new base in Papua New Guinea—actually an upgrade of an existing base, which was announced in 2018—and new radars in Palau, which lie more than 1,500 miles from China and whose arrival was first announced in 2017. These policies to counter China’s growing military threat should not be attributed solely to Biden’s team; instead, they represent a cross-administration and bipartisan effort to cope with the clear reality of a rapidly deteriorating military balance.

In the realm of nuclear forces, Jackson also mischaracterizes the timeline of events and gets some of the details wrong. He states, for example, that the “the Trump administration drew up plans for a three-decade nuclear modernization effort that would cost between $1.2 and $1.7 trillion” and points to China’s expansion of its nuclear arsenal as one reason for this initiative. In fact, President Donald Trump inherited those plans from his predecessor, Barack Obama. And although China’s activities constitute one factor in Washington’s need to maintain a nuclear deterrent force, far and away the greatest reason for the modernization program is the aging of decades-old U.S. nuclear platforms, which are vital to U.S. national security for a host of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with China.

As Beijing has grown stronger, it has also become increasingly belligerent.
Jackson also mischaracterizes U.S. nuclear modernization plans as an “expansion.” In reality, the plans will reduce the number of nuclear-only strategic launchers—that is, intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles—that Washington maintains. The U.S. Air Force will reuse launch facilities, and the ballistic missile submarine force will drop from 14 to 12 submarines and from 20 to 16 missile tubes on each one. The air force’s planned purchase of B-21 bombers will increase the number of aircraft, but the new bombers are intended for both nuclear and conventional roles. And although Jackson describes the B-21 as replacing the current B-2 bomber force with “more than six times as many planes,” the B-21s will in fact replace both the B-2 and the larger B-1 fleet—and possibly even the venerable force of 1960s-built B-52s.
Finally, Jackson asserts that China’s recent and breathtaking nuclear expansion is “clearly a response to the gratuitous, unrestrained nuclear policies of the Trump administration.” This is far from clear, however. Several other factors may account for China’s moves: Beijing may want to be able to overwhelm U.S. missile defenses, may be trying to escape U.S. nuclear coercion, or may be seeking to maintain leverage in the event of a conventional conflict. And China’s leaders stated in 2017—well before the release of the Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review and National Defense Strategy—their desire to have a “world-class military by the middle of the century.” Developing world-class nuclear forces may be part of that larger effort, which would take place regardless of the actions of the Trump or Biden administration.
Jackson is correct that the United States should be working harder to find ways to cooperate and compete with China in nonmilitary arenas. But he presents Washington as busied “with new arms sales and expanding its force posture” as China has become an economic giant—as if China weren’t also selling arms and dramatically altering the military balance in the region while it did so. China, like the United States, has the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time.
Washington is finally coming to recognize the looming danger that an aggressive and increasingly powerful techno-authoritarian Chinese regime poses to the region and the world and is taking action accordingly. Failing to recognize this danger and to pursue appropriate responses would increase the chance of conflict by making it more likely that the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party will someday decide that the military balance of power has tipped in their favor—and that they should take advantage of the shift by resorting to force.
THOMAS SHUGART is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He served for over 25 years as a submarine warfare officer in the U.S. Navy, where he last worked in the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment.
Jackson replies
Thomas Shugart dismisses the idea that Washington’s adversaries might react to its overmilitarized foreign policy in undesirable ways. His critique compiles minor complaints that misrepresent what I wrote and also fail to refute my argument. The larger point that Shugart misses is that U.S. policy in Asia remains on the wrong side of trends that adversely impact both regional security and U.S. interests. He appears to be primarily concerned with ensuring that Washington receives no “blame” for Asia being awash in militarism, and he shows little interest in having the United States improve an increasingly precarious situation in Asia.

Shugart mostly quibbles with my choice of words rather than challenge the claims I advance. For instance, I describe the broad trend of Washington “surging troops and military hardware into the region” and then detail precisely what I mean over the course of several paragraphs. Shugart ignores my description in favor of telling the reader how many troops the United States positions in Asia. This does not refute my argument, as the surge of militarism I describe has taken place over the course of several years and is as much about hardware and bases as it is about personnel. Disputing the rate of change and whether rotational forces or weapons systems count as “surging” litigates a gerund rather than addressing the actual posture and force structure changes I describe in my essay. Moreover, Shugart’s figure of 89,000 U.S. troops stationed in the Indo-Pacific—which is a lot in its own right—excludes forces that surge into the region for the many large-scale exercises the United States conducts each year.
Shugart also incorrectly states that I blame President Joe Biden’s administration for Japan’s pursuit of hypersonic missiles. I do not, and my essay makes clear that Biden is the steward of a bad trend that predates him. I do not state that the administration initiated the development, as Shugart suggests.
In response to my cataloging of Washington’s many new military initiatives over the past several years, Shugart rationalizes these programs by writing that they aim to “counter China’s growing military threat.” Of course they do. He states this as a rebuttal, yet I say explicitly that the United States justifies its litany of changes to the U.S. force posture in response to China’s military modernization. My problem with it is that it reflects poor judgment.

As Asia’s military hegemon, the United States has a hand in shaping the trends that endanger the region.
On the issue of U.S. nuclear forces, Shugart argues that former President Donald Trump’s gratuitous nuclear plans were actually former President Barack Obama’s policies. This is not entirely correct and is in any case irrelevant. During the Obama administration, the Pentagon did draw up nuclear modernization plans that Trump inherited. (I worked there at the time.) But Trump’s nuclear-related budget submissions expanded the Obama-era nuclear agenda. Even so, Biden’s nuclear policies are no more vindicated by assertions that they date to the Obama era than that they date to the Trump era. I care about the consequences of U.S. actions, not their genealogy.
Here again, Shugart shadowboxes with my diction rather than my analysis. I characterized U.S. nuclear modernization many times in my essay and toggled between describing it as “modernization” and “expansion” for the sake of variety, but both terms are accurate. Shugart seizes on the word “expansion” to point out that the number of long-range nuclear-capable missile launchers that the United States possesses is not increasing. But I never said it was. What’s expanding is the lethality and cost (and opportunity costs) of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
But even if all of these misleading complaints were valid, they do not amount to a defense of current U.S. policies or their military-first character. As Asia’s military hegemon, the United States has a hand in shaping the trends that endanger the region. For politicians, American exceptionalism means never having to acknowledge Washington’s complicity in bad outcomes. Analysts, however, can’t afford to be so myopic.
Shugart aligns himself with what I see as America’s militarist drift without specifying how U.S. efforts to “counter” China’s military modernization with more missiles, ships, and nuclear weapons help anything. And he neglects to address the concern that takes up the final third of my essay: the idea that an obsession with military strategy distracts from what actually threatens Asia. Gross economic inequalities, environmental degradation, and the devastation wrought by the pandemic are what Asians most worry about and what threaten to sow the seeds of future military conflict. Shugart’s failure to acknowledge, much less address, these problems reflects the very obsession with military affairs that my essay sought to highlight. In this sense, he inadvertently makes my point. The Pentagon has warped analysts’ ability to contemplate statecraft beyond defense policy.

The totality of Shugart’s criticisms fails to refute my case that the U.S. approach to Asia is overmilitarized. Shugart declines to propose any particular way of seeing or understanding China. And if his assumptions about the intrinsic goodness of American power become a basis for U.S. policy, the region will face a grim future.
VAN JACKSON is a Distinguished Fellow with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, and Defence & Strategy Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies.

Foreign Affairs · by Thomas Shugart; Van Jackson · December 2, 2021


16. U.S. and other nations condemn Taliban over ‘summary killings’

Excerpts:

But the Human Rights Watch report said ex-soldiers and police officials who surrendered and registered to get letters guaranteeing their safety had been screened to see whether they had ties to particular military, police or special forces units or former provincial authorities. They were also required to surrender weapons, it said.
“The Taliban have used these screenings to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear individuals within days of their registration, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find,” the report said.
It added that in some provinces, local Taliban commanders had drawn up lists of people to be targeted.
“The pattern of killings has sown terror throughout Afghanistan, as no one associated with the former government can feel secure they have escaped the threat of reprisal,” the report said.
U.S. and other nations condemn Taliban over ‘summary killings’
“Those responsible must be held accountable,” 22 governments said in a joint statement.
NBC News · by Yuliya Talmazan
The U.S. and a host of other countries “are deeply concerned by reports of summary killings and enforced disappearances” of former members of Afghanistan’s security forces, they said in a joint statement.
“We underline that the alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban’s announced amnesty,” said the statement, which was issued Saturday.
“We call on the Taliban to effectively enforce the amnesty for former members of the Afghan security forces and former government officials to ensure that it is upheld across the country and throughout their ranks,” it said.
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The statement, which was released by 22 governments, including those of the U.S., the European Union, Britain, Australia, Japan, Germany and Ukraine, also called for quick and transparent investigations into reports of abductions.
“Those responsible must be held accountable,” it said.
When the Taliban seized control of the country in August, the group announced a “general amnesty” and promised safety to all Afghans — including former soldiers and police officials.
But a report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch documented the summary executions or abductions of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces.
Military personnel, police officials, intelligence service members and paramilitary militia members who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces from Aug. 15 to Oct. 31 were among those taken or killed, the report said.
Human Rights Watch said its report was based on 67 interviews, including 40 in-person interviews in Afghanistan's Ghazni, Helmand, Kunduz and Kandahar provinces.
Investigators spoke with witnesses and the families of victims, as well as former government and Taliban officials, before drawing conclusions, it said added.
NBC News couldn’t independently verify the report's findings.
Taliban fighters patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August.Rahmat Gul / AP file
The Taliban declined to comment on the joint statement or the report from Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch said the Taliban told it that they had removed from their ranks 755 members found to have committed such acts and had established a military tribunal for those accused of murder, torture and illegal detention.
After it formed an interim government in September, the Taliban, a hard-line Islamic movement, has been faced with a crumbling economy. It has sought international recognition to restore the flow of foreign aid, which has kept the country afloat for decades.
Their leaders have tried to portray a more moderate and tolerant image, repeatedly announcing that former government workers, including members of the armed forces, had nothing to fear from them.
But the Human Rights Watch report said ex-soldiers and police officials who surrendered and registered to get letters guaranteeing their safety had been screened to see whether they had ties to particular military, police or special forces units or former provincial authorities. They were also required to surrender weapons, it said.
“The Taliban have used these screenings to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear individuals within days of their registration, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find,” the report said.
It added that in some provinces, local Taliban commanders had drawn up lists of people to be targeted.
“The pattern of killings has sown terror throughout Afghanistan, as no one associated with the former government can feel secure they have escaped the threat of reprisal,” the report said.
NBC News · by Yuliya Talmazan

17. Biden administration expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics this week




Biden administration expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics this week
CNN · by Kaitlan Collins, CNN
(CNN)The Biden administration is expected to announce this week that no US government officials will attend the 2022 Beijing Olympics, implementing a diplomatic boycott of the games, according to several sources.
The move would allow the US to send a message on the world stage to China without preventing US athletes from competing. The National Security Council, which has been privately discussing the boycott, declined to comment.
President Joe Biden told reporters last month that he was weighing a diplomatic boycott as Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, advocated for one in protest of China's human rights abuses.
A full boycott is not expected, meaning US athletes will still be allowed to compete. The last time the US fully boycotted the Olympics was in 1980 when former President Jimmy Carter was in office.
In response to the news, Beijing warned it would take "resolute countermeasures" against the Biden administration if the diplomatic boycott went ahead.
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"The US should stop politicizing sports and hyping up the so-called 'diplomatic boycott' so as not to affect China-US dialogue and cooperation in important areas," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a news conference Monday.
Zhao called the potential boycott "a stain on the spirit of the Olympic charter" and a "sensationalist and politically manipulative" move by US politicians.
Last month's virtual summit between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping -- seen as some of the most critical diplomatic talks of Biden's presidency -- yielded no significant breakthroughs. However, it served as an auspicious restart to relations following steep deterioration during the final year of the Trump administration and continued hostility into the Biden administration, including when US and Chinese diplomats traded barbs during a March summit in Alaska.
Throughout the November summit, Biden and Xi engaged engaged in a "healthy debate," according to a senior Biden administration official present for the discussions. Biden raised concerns about human rights, Chinese aggression toward Taiwan and trade issues.
Nearly every major issue Biden is focused on -- including addressing supply chain issues, climate change, North Korea and Iran -- has a nexus to China. And the two countries, which have the world's two largest economies, remain in disputes over trade, military aggression, global infrastructure, public health and human rights.
Biden has long argued that democracies can deliver more effectively than autocracies like China, and he's used the bipartisan infrastructure law to show domestically how political parties in democracies can work together.
Xi, meanwhile, cemented his consolidation of power after the Chinese Communist Party adopted a landmark resolution elevating him in stature to that of his two most powerful predecessors -- Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. He is attempting to seek an unprecedented third term in power at the 20th Party Congress next fall.
This story has been updated with additional information Sunday.
CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Nectar Gan contributed to this report.


18.  Review Finds No Answers to Mystery of Havana Syndrome


Review Finds No Answers to Mystery of Havana Syndrome
The New York Times · by Adam Goldman · December 2, 2021
Some officials remain convinced Russia is involved, but so far there is no evidence pointing to a particular adversary and no one has detected microwaves or other possible weapons.
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William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, raised the issue of the health incidents during his trip to Moscow.Credit...Al Drago for The New York Times

By Julian E. Barnes and
Dec. 2, 2021
WASHINGTON — For months, the C.I.A. and government scientists have been working to find a cause of the chronic ailments reported by intelligence officers and diplomats — but the health incidents, known as the Havana syndrome, remain as mysterious now as they were a year ago.
Intelligence officials have not found any hard evidence that points to a cause. There are no intelligence intercepts implicating an adversarial spy service. No one has detected microwaves, other readings of energy pulses or any other weapons that could be to blame.
Some officials say they remain convinced Russia is involved. And the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, delivered a warning during his trip to Moscow this month: If Russia was found to be responsible, there would be consequences.
The trouble developing evidence shows the difficulty of the problem, and suggests that absent a big breakthrough — evidence of someone using a device or an informant telling the C.I.A. about what is afoot — getting answers will be a slow, frustrating and potentially contentious process, especially for those who have been afflicted.
Some outside experts have raised the possibility that the symptoms — chronic headache, vertigo, nausea and others — are a kind of psychosomatic reaction to stress, a so-called “functional illness” — a suggestion rejected by victims and many government officials.
Some scientists believe sensory discomfort, like the strange sounds, heat or pressure associated with Havana syndrome cases, coupled with anxiety, can trigger real symptoms and sickness.
There have now been 750 official reports of possible anomalous health incidents, according to people briefed on the cases, but about three-quarters are no longer being investigated as likely cases of Havana syndrome. Some reports lacked the required sensory experience, such as heat, pressure or sound, before the symptoms’ onset, and others were found to have separate environmental or medical explanations. Of those cases, it is possible some may turn out to be psychosomatic, according to people briefed on the intelligence.
But of the approximately 200 cases of mysterious incidents still under active examination, the Biden administration does not think they were caused by functional illness or other psychosomatic reactions. In those cases, a U.S. official said, multiple explanations remain possible, including directed energy, sonic devices or other medical explanations.
Directed energy, such as microwaves, remains one of the theories, perhaps the leading theory, according to American officials. But, so far, the C.I.A. has been unable to collect hard evidence to show that any of the people suffering from symptoms of Havana syndrome have been hit with some sort of energy pulse.
The U.S. Embassy in Havana. The mysterious symptoms were first reported by U.S. diplomat there in 2016, and since then reports of symptoms afflicting military officers, C.I.A. personnel and diplomats have come in from around the world.Credit...Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
Across the government, agencies are searching for clues they may have missed that could help unravel the mystery, according to officials familiar with the efforts. The examination, including the F.B.I., N.S.A. and C.I.A., involves reviewing forensic evidence, including surveillance tapes from American embassies. The government is also putting measures in place to detect any directed energy aimed at American diplomats and spies abroad.
One official said the work showed that the various agencies were determined to get to the bottom of what is happening. But, the official cautioned, the work could take time. The government needed to find “the right answer,” not “the easy answer,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because much of the government’s work to determine a cause of the incidents is classified.
American officials have repeatedly said the symptoms people are suffering from are real and the C.I.A., the Biden administration and Congress have taken steps to improve access to medical care and improve compensation for victims who can no longer work.
“What I know, having talked to dozens and dozens of my colleagues who have been victimized, is that real harm is being done to real people,” Mr. Burns told a congressional hearing last month.
In a report last year, the National Academy of Sciences concluded a microwave weapon, a form of pulsed directed energy, was the most likely cause. Recent studies have indicated that directed energy or microwaves could cause brain injuries and symptoms like those of Havana syndrome.
Others briefed on the intelligence said the lack of evidence is baffling, since the kinds of directed energy known to cause injury ought to be detectable. The absence of proof could mean an adversarial power is using a technology that is unknown, and undetectable, to the United States.
It could also mean that the theory that directed energy is being used is wrong.
Some officials inside the government are convinced Russia is responsible for at least some of the incidents, and has deliberately targeted American military personnel and C.I.A. operatives. In a trip this month to Moscow, Mr. Burns told Russian officials that any sort of operation that caused severe brain injuries for U.S. personnel was out of bounds for Russia’s spy services, and that there would be consequences if Russia is shown to be responsible, according to people briefed on the conversations. The Washington Post earlier reported Mr. Burns’s warning to Russian officials.
It was the second time senior American officials have raised the issue with their Russian counterparts, who have consistently denied involvement. President Biden raised the issue with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in their Geneva summit earlier this year.
President Biden raised the issue with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in their Geneva summit earlier this year.Credit...Pool photo by Mikhail Metzel
American intelligence agencies have also not been able to intercept any communications about rival foreign services using a device on U.S. diplomats or spies. Getting an informant that could shed light on what foreign intelligence agencies or intercepting communications of rival spies is a top priority for intelligence agencies, according to people briefed on the inquiry.
What is more, medical personnel working with the intelligence agencies have also not been able to develop a concrete diagnosis or any kind of test that can determine who has been a victim and who has other kinds of medical ailments.
The Havana Syndrome Mystery
Card 1 of 4
What is the Havana Syndrome? The mysterious illness, which has affected military officers, C.I.A. personnel and diplomats around the world, manifests itself in a host of ailments such as chronic headache, vertigo and nausea.
When was it first detected? Some former government officials say the episodes stretch back decades, but the first victims in this spate of incidents ​were a group of Americans working at the U.S. Embassy in Havana in 2016. Since then, U.S. officials in several countries have experienced symptoms.
What is the source of the illness? Some officials are convinced that the symptoms are caused by Russian microwave attacks, but there is so far no evidence to support the theory. Outside experts have also suggested that the condition could be a psychosomatic reaction to stress.
How is the U.S. addressing the issue? The Biden administrationCongress and other agencies have taken steps to investigate the episodes and provide support to victims. President Biden raised the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a summit earlier this year.
Individual victims have said their doctors have found blood markers consistent with concussions and brain scans showing injury or nerve damage. But investigators looking at the broad group of victims who have reported symptoms have not been able to find a pattern, like a diagnostic test result the victims have in common.
Mark Lenzi, a State Department official who was injured Guangzhou, China, said cognitive tests in many people with Havana syndrome show similar deficits, particularly in exercises involving three-dimensional shape rotations. Such tests are given to fighter pilots, and both the Air Force and Navy tested Mr. Lenzi earlier in his career, results that can be compared to more recent evaluations.
The government, Mr. Lenzi also said, has readings that show the presence of dangerous levels of microwave energy in China. In an unclassified workers’ compensation report he filed with the Labor Department, Mr. Lenzi recounted how his neighbor in China used a commercial detector to record high levels of microwave energy in the apartment next to his.
But follow-up tests by the government used a classified device widely known not to be as reliable at detecting directed energy, said Mr. Lenzi, whose work involves countering foreign eavesdropping including by using directed energy. When the government says directed energy is a theory but there is no evidence, “That is simply not true,” Mr. Lenzi said
“They have readings, especially in Guangzhou,” he said.
To lead the effort to find a cause of the incidents, and improve the medical care for those hurt by them, the C.I.A. has formed the Global Health Incident Cell, a group that has been reviewing all of the reports.
A senior U.S. official said the intelligence agencies “want a breakthrough because we want to know the thing or things that is producing harm.” Finding an answer, whatever it is, could not only help the government stop what is causing them but also help doctors treat the ailments.
Some former government officials say the episodes stretch back decades. Listening devices used by the Russian government in the 1990s and aimed at C.I.A. officers working in the U.S. embassy are believed by some to have caused nausea and other symptoms.
But the most recent spate of incidents began in late 2016 in Cuba, where 40 C.I.A. officers and diplomats said they heard strange noises, then reported headaches and nausea in episodes through May 2018. Those exposed the longest have reported chronic disabilities.
Since then American diplomats have been injured in Guangzhou and other cities in China. More than two dozen American officials have reported symptoms in Vienna. There have been other reports around the world involving military officers, C.I.A. personnel and diplomats.
The New York Times · by Adam Goldman · December 2, 2021

19.  US military minds still stuck in Pearl Harbor mentality


Excerpts:
Everyone in the US defense establishment knows this, just as everyone in the US Navy knew that Japanese carriers could destroy ships docked at Pearl Harbor when Admirals Yarnell and King proved it in 1932 and 1938.
To admit that the battleship was destined for the scrapheap in 1938, though, would be to concede that the US had built the wrong sort of navy for the wrong sort of war. To admit that the United States can’t win a war with China close to China’s coast, however, would be to concede that for the past 20 years the US has squandered its resources on the wrong sort of military.
Old friends who otherwise seem perfectly lucid appear to fall into a trance when these facts are presented. They know all of this is true but they aren’t allowed to say so. Like most entrenched institutions, the US military and its adjuncts, the think tanks and university research institutions, form a fraternity that protects its own credibility.
That also explains why the US Navy had nine battleships in December 1941 and just three aircraft carriers, and also why the Navy today wants more aircraft carriers, that is, sitting ducks.

The 20th annual report on China by DoD noted the “staggering” improvements in China’s ability to build, coordinate and project power since the first report was issued. Credit: FAS Handout.
There is another and more ominous difference between Japan in 1941 and China in 2021. China has 300 nuclear weapons, mostly city-busters, and the ICBMs and possibly hypersonic vehicles to deliver them. Japan couldn’t threaten the American homeland; China could annihilate it.
A naval exchange near China’s coast could lead to a nuclear exchange, as former Pacific Fleet commander James Stavridis explains in his 2021 thriller 2034.
Instead, the United States should go back to the drawing board and the frontier of physics, and concentrate on missile defense, alternatives to satellite location and communications, and applications of artificial intelligence—the technologies that will decide the victor in any future war.
US military minds still stuck in Pearl Harbor mentality
Eighty years after Japan’s surprise strike on Pearl Harbor, US is at risk of making the same mistakes vis-a-vis China
asiatimes.com · by David P. Goldman · December 6, 2021
“What would Winston Churchill say?,” protested China hawk Michael Pillsbury when Michael Anton, a former national security official in the Trump administration, asked him what he would do if China sank a US aircraft carrier. I reported the exchange in a November 3 analysis, “Sleepwalkers in the South China Sea.”
More relevant is what Churchill actually said just before the war. Like most of the Allied leadership, Churchill refused to believe that Germany could bypass France’s Maginot Line, or that the Japanese could roll up British forces in Asia in a matter of weeks. Hitler and Hirohito both threw the British into the sea, respectively at Dunkirk and Singapore.
With 350 intermediate-range missile launchers and DF-21 and DF-26 ship-killer missiles, China can sink American carriers as surely as Japanese torpedo bombers sank Allied battleships in World War II.

Allied leaders refused to believe that battleships were sitting ducks. Churchill and his cabinet were mental giants compared to the counterinsurgency soldiers who now lead the American military, but they got it terribly wrong. The Americans now may do worse.
America’s Navy, predictably, wants more aircraft carriers. “When we think about how we might fight, it’s a large water space, and four aircraft carriers is a good number, but six, seven or eight would be better,” Seventh Fleet commander Admiral Karl Thomas said on November 30 after exercises in the Pacific.
Not a replacement for the aging Aegis anti-missile system that can’t protect American ships from Chinese missiles dropping from the stratosphere at Mach 10; not a space-based anti-ballistic missile system that could intercept such projectiles at launch; not a defense against Chinese and Russian hypersonic glide vehicles that can evade all existing anti-missile systems; not an alternative to American GPS and communications satellites, which Chinese or Russian lasers and missiles could disable in a matter of hours. Admiral Thomas wants more of the same century-old weapons platform that the Chinese have spent billions learning how to sink.
The idea is Churchillian, to be sure, but that is not necessarily a recommendation.
Just before Japanese aircraft sank the Prince of Wales and the Repulse in December 1941, Churchill averred that the Japanese “would fold up like the Italians,” because they were “the wops of Asia.” He believed in the battleship until Japanese aircraft sank the Prince of Wales and Repulse in December 1941.

Churchill championed two-seater fighters with heavy gun turrets rather than the agile Spitfire, in the mistaken (but then prevalent) belief that German fighters lacked the range to attack England. Churchill in 1939 also doubted that tanks would play an important role in the next war, and dismissed airpower as “an additional complication rather than a decisive weapon,” as his biographer Andrew Roberts recounts.
He was outfoxed in almost every detail, but like Archilochus’ hedgehog, Churchill knew one big thing: America would rise to Britain’s defense. As Roberts argues persuasively, it would not have done so had Hitler not blundered by declaring war on the United States after Pearl Harbor.
Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in 1943 in Morocco during World War II. Photo: AFP
It is unfair to blame Churchill, to be sure. He repeated the misconceptions of the military leaders of his time. Not just Churchill but the whole of the Allied leadership misjudged the course of the coming war.
The American Navy built battleships and stinted on aircraft carriers, despite Admiral Harry Yarnell’s demonstration in 1932 war games that carrier-based aircraft could devastate Pearl Harbor.
Vice-Admiral Ernest King repeated the exercise in 1938. The Navy didn’t believe him, either. Later President Roosevelt would make King chief of naval operations. As Thomas Fleming wrote in American Heritage:

At nightfall on February 6, 1932, Yarnell’s Blue task force was plowing through heavy seas 60 miles northeast of Oahu. The ships were running with no lights, under absolute radio silence. In the predawn murk on February 7, with the seas still mountainous, Yarnell launched 152 planes from the Saratoga and the Lexington. It was a daring gamble, sending the biplanes of the day aloft from the bucking, rolling carriers. But not a plane was lost.
An hour later, Yarnell’s fliers came out of the clouds shrouding the Koolau Range, and there lay Pearl Harbor below them in the sunshine, getting ready for a peaceful Sunday. Yarnell’s fighters “strafed” lines of planes parked on runways, while his dive-bombers dumped 20 tons of theoretical explosives on air fields, ships in the anchorage, and Army headquarters at Fort Shatter. Not a single fighter rose to oppose them.
The British Admiralty wore the same blinders. Without air cover, British Admiral Sir Tom Phillips led the Prince of Wales and the Repulse into a Japanese trap in December 1941, ignorant of the capabilities of Japan’s torpedo bombers.
He went down with his ship, and Britain’s hundred-year hegemony in Asian seas ended in a single engagement. Ironically, the appeaser Joseph Chamberlain backed the Spitfire, which contributed mightily to Britain’s survival during the air war of 1940.
As the historian and strategist Edward Luttwak observed, military leaders usually are the wrong people to conduct the war in which they find themselves. The branch of military service that produced the largest number of commanding generals in World War I, Luttwak notes, was the aristocratic cavalry, the least relevant to the battle conditions of 1914.

For the past 20 years, the United States military devoted the bulk of its efforts and $6 trillion dollars to counterinsurgency and nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, with disastrous results. The whole of the American senior officer corps, that is, was promoted for doing the wrong things.
America was wrong-footed in 1941, and the Navy’s faith in the battleship burnt to a crisp at Pearl Harbor. But America was big enough to take the blow and come back.
Its gross domestic product (GDP) in 1942 was US$1.24 trillion, fully six times Japan’s GDP of $197 billion (in 1990 US dollars). By 1944, it rose to $1.5 trillion as America mobilized resources idled by the Great Depression and invested massively in new industrial plants. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the US had 3 aircraft carriers. By 1945 it had 105 aircraft carriers, including 41 large fleet carriers.
Today, China has a GDP of $26.7 trillion in terms of purchasing power parity (which is what counts in military depth), versus a US GDP of $22.7 trillion. But GDP is a misleading measure of relative strength in wartime.
Multiple aircraft fly in formation over the USS Ronald Reagan, a US Navy aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. Photo: Kaila V Peters / US Navy
China’s manufacturing output is much larger than that of the United States, at 29% of world capacity versus 17% for America. The US was big enough to bail Britain out after the blunders of the first two years of World War II. There is no-one to bail out the United States if it loses a fleet carrier in a military engagement with China.
The efficacy of China’s surface-to-ship missiles is well known, and so is China’s anti-satellite capability. The range of China’s missiles far exceeds the range of US carrier-based aircraft, which means that in a conflict US carriers could not get close enough to China’s coast to launch aircraft attacks on the mainland.
How the US and China measure up in terms of high-tech warfighting, for example cyberwar, is impossible to know. But what is known is that the US military depends on GPS and communications satellites that are vulnerable to Chinese missiles and ground-based lasers, and there is no reason to believe that any American satellites would survive the first hours of a war.
Without satellites, US forces in the Pacific would be blind, deaf and dumb. China can maintain surveillance and communications on its own coast with high-altitude balloons connected to the ground by coaxial cable.
Everyone in the US defense establishment knows this, just as everyone in the US Navy knew that Japanese carriers could destroy ships docked at Pearl Harbor when Admirals Yarnell and King proved it in 1932 and 1938.
To admit that the battleship was destined for the scrapheap in 1938, though, would be to concede that the US had built the wrong sort of navy for the wrong sort of war. To admit that the United States can’t win a war with China close to China’s coast, however, would be to concede that for the past 20 years the US has squandered its resources on the wrong sort of military.
Old friends who otherwise seem perfectly lucid appear to fall into a trance when these facts are presented. They know all of this is true but they aren’t allowed to say so. Like most entrenched institutions, the US military and its adjuncts, the think tanks and university research institutions, form a fraternity that protects its own credibility.
That also explains why the US Navy had nine battleships in December 1941 and just three aircraft carriers, and also why the Navy today wants more aircraft carriers, that is, sitting ducks.
The 20th annual report on China by DoD noted the “staggering” improvements in China’s ability to build, coordinate and project power since the first report was issued. Credit: FAS Handout.
There is another and more ominous difference between Japan in 1941 and China in 2021. China has 300 nuclear weapons, mostly city-busters, and the ICBMs and possibly hypersonic vehicles to deliver them. Japan couldn’t threaten the American homeland; China could annihilate it.
A naval exchange near China’s coast could lead to a nuclear exchange, as former Pacific Fleet commander James Stavridis explains in his 2021 thriller 2034.
Instead, the United States should go back to the drawing board and the frontier of physics, and concentrate on missile defense, alternatives to satellite location and communications, and applications of artificial intelligence—the technologies that will decide the victor in any future war.
asiatimes.com · by David P. Goldman · December 6, 2021

20. It’s Time to Democratise Doctrine



“Doctrine is basically a truth, a fact, or a theory that can be defended by reason.” 
 
“Doctrine cannot replace clear thinking…under the circumstances prevailing.”  
LTG John Cushman, “Thoughts for Joint Commanders,” (1993 Copyright John H. Cushman)  


Conclusion:
Doctrine is both a written record and a living set of ideas. Defence can do more to exploit it if it can democratise the processes surrounding it.
Centralised writing cells, however well informed, will never be able to capture the wealth of thinking taking place in the Defence community. As a result, it is likely that battle-winning ideas will meet staff-created barriers (sometimes called ‘complexity”) or worse, be lost. Democratisation of doctrine would allow Defence to make this process transparent. Companies such as GitLab have proved that democratised processes can be effective. Defence needs to think differently about generating corporate knowledge; but does the organisation have the courage to do so?
It’s Time to Democratise Doctrine » Wavell Room
wavellroom.com · by Steve Maguire · December 3, 2021
Experimental Feature: Audio Read Version
General Erwin Rommel famously said ‘the British write some of the best doctrine in the world; it is fortunate that their officers do not read it’. This quote is now routinely (mis)used to demonstrate how British military attitudes to doctrine have changed.
Despite its common use, Rommel’s quote is more interesting because of what it does not say. It excludes the majority of the Defence workforce; Civil Servants and ‘other ranks’. Defence needs to think beyond the broadest consumption of doctrine. It’s time to move from reading doctrine to considering who is writing it.
This article makes the case for greater democratisation of doctrine. If Defence dares to think differently about exploiting ideas then it can utilise a wider talent pool and create faster feedback loops. Many modern organisations are more complex than the military and do this already. The article firstly shows why doctrine needs to be democratised. It then looks at two organisations that do it already to discuss the positives and negatives of each approach.
What is doctrine, how is it created, and why is it important?
Doctrine is the written record of how a force wishes to operate. The British Army Doctrine Primer describes it as ‘the fundamental principles that guide how military forces conduct their actions, and provides military professionals with their body of professional knowledge’.
Doctrine is the product of analysis conducted in centralised doctrine centres such as the Defence Concepts and Doctrine Centre. It is separated into four levels: philosophy, principles, practices, and procedures. Each layer has a distinct purpose which deals with everything from nuclear deterrence to foot drill. In both peace and war, doctrine is at the very heart of the conceptual component of fighting power.
In both peace and war, doctrine is the heart of the conceptual component of fighting power.
The staff who write doctrine are a mix of specialist officers, generalist staff officers, and Civil Servants. Defence is increasingly assigning higher quality officers to these jobs, however the positions remain rotational. This means that individual interests, biases, and other undesirable behaviours, drive the character and development of doctrine. The core problem, however, is less about those who are charged with writing it and more fundamentally about how corporate knowledge is used.
The problem with centralisation
The reliance of centralised teams acting as the primary source of doctrine disregards the vast pool of divergent thought and experience available to Defence. This centralisation privileges a small cohort of writers who become critical decision-makers. One analysis of such centres in 2006 concluded that they ‘increasingly appear to lack foundations of professional principles and theory that would help them discriminate the practical from the impractical’. A senior doctrine writer made similar, albeit less critical, arguments in 2021 by arguing the doctrine had become too complicated to understand. By implication this means that the practical and the impractical aspects of corporate knowledge are separated. The net result is the production of thousands of pages of words that few will ever read in full. Fewer still will fully grasp the interlocking nature, or notice key changes.
Doctrine is organic
Professor Richard Holmes adds ‘doctrine is not just what is taught, or what is published, but what is believed’. To Holmes, doctrine is alive and evolutionary. It is more than the written word and includes what practitioners think doctrine says. This is best described as ‘espoused [or written and recorded] doctrine’ and ‘theory in use [how forces operate in reality]’. The gap between the written record and how a force operates is often the evolutionary step needed for future success. To exploit this, feedback loops need to be standardised, accessible to all, and fast enough to maintain the pace of thinking.
To produce effective doctrine it needs to be managed as an organic process. Darwin observed that ‘it is not the strongest of the species that survives, it is the one that is the most adaptable to change’. Much like evolution causes organisms to react to survive, the profession of arms needs to be more adaptive to its environment if it is going to keep pace with adversaries.
…the profession of arms needs to be more adaptive to its environment if it is going to keep pace with adversaries.
As an example of the need for faster evolution, David Kilcullen offers an assessment based on dragons (state actors) and snakes (insurgent groups). His model shows some forces evolving to achieve success whilst others, often with significantly more resources, stagnate and cannot win on the battlefield. The snakes have been able to find effective ways to fight; their doctrine has moved with more speed and determination. This friction is well understood with some arguing that ‘success tomorrow relies on disruption today’ but feeling unable to act because of the limitations imposed by centralised structures. The current system loses ideas because of its restrictive nature.
In 2009 Patrick Little, went further and argued that there was hubris in the British Army which was not changing fast enough. Similar trends have been identified in the Royal Navy with one writer arguing in 2019 that the organisation lived in a ‘post Cold-War fantasy’. High level space doctrine was released in 2017 but hasn’t been renewed; this is too long given the speed at which the domain is changing and how thinking has developed. British doctrine doesn’t appear to be meeting the operational challenges deployed forces face. Can our doctrine really be considered the best in the world?
Indeed, against a backdrop of new thinking, even the ‘successful’ rewrite of counterinsurgency doctrine during operations in Afghanistan has been questioned as achieving little in reality. Why, for example, has doctrine not evolved faster to consider ‘hybrid’ warfare, uncrewed vehicles, or to review the baseline assumptions about the manoeuvrist approach? People are asking these questions; doctrine is not.
Practical problems
Defenders of the orthodoxy point to existing processes with lessons learnt reports (et al) measured in months or years. Doctrine writers argue that change is complex and takes longer to codify than many accept. It also takes time to disseminate and apply changes. Given the life and death implications of this decision-making, it is right that there is scrutiny. On the other hand, the sheer range of open-source professional military education writing shows the appetite for involvement and interest in making it faster. If Defence dares to think differently about creating corporate knowledge it can exploit this thinking.
In democratising doctrine, there will need to be a clear point of arbitration and established processes to quickly prove or disprove ideas. This must merge both the art and science of war, be rank agnostic, and be open to a new audience; a stovepiped centralised structure is best placed to do this. And that means a system that can manage a variety of inputs while still having central controls to stop questionable ideas from being endorsed. Modern businesses offer models to follow and point to ways in which doctrine could be democratised.
Wikipedia: The extreme of democratised information
Wikipedia is a free to use online encyclopaedia which anyone can edit. Its strength is the enormous range of contributors and extensive citations. Its weakness is that anyone can edit information. Articles are often changed to alter public perceptions known as hot edits or vandalism. Whilst there are control measures in place for contentious articles, the information held can be as questionable as the intentions of those who write it.
For Defence, uploading doctrine into a similar online system would allow a community of interest easy access and the ability to suggest changes. Hyperlinking texts would increase understanding when interweaving the multitude of written material together. This would expand the community of interest while harnessing relevant knowledge.
Having said that, Wikipedia is at the extreme end of democratised information and a fully open source model is unlikely to work for Defence.
The ‘Remote Manifesto’: A model to follow?
GitLab is a successful multinational software company that has no offices. It works from a document called the Remote Manifesto. A military reader would understand it as ‘doctrine’. GitLab codifies their processes and anyone, anywhere, can access it. All staff are expected to use the latest ‘doctrine’ when conducting their work and to use the latest procedures. They are also expected to write it and consider suggestions from outside the company. All of this is done remotely utilising digital teams.
There are dangers in this approach. From a security perspective not all doctrine can be open to the public. Yet, a cross-government community of interest could be defined in order to allow input and a broad range of selected contributors. This could be flexibly opened to experts when required and closed once input was complete. Technology allows Defence to control who and when access is granted.
If Wikipedia is the extreme of democratised information, GitLab is the pinnacle of how to evolve complex and interlocking ideas with a high level of assurance. Their ‘doctrine’ evolves daily. They exploit the future today. Because of its ability to evolve quickly their staff are culturally inclined to use it. They both read and write it. They are empowered and have ownership. Their employees are involved and engaged in a way which seems incomprehensible to Defence.
Conclusion
Doctrine is both a written record and a living set of ideas. Defence can do more to exploit it if it can democratise the processes surrounding it.
Centralised writing cells, however well informed, will never be able to capture the wealth of thinking taking place in the Defence community. As a result, it is likely that battle-winning ideas will meet staff-created barriers (sometimes called ‘complexity”) or worse, be lost. Democratisation of doctrine would allow Defence to make this process transparent. Companies such as GitLab have proved that democratised processes can be effective. Defence needs to think differently about generating corporate knowledge; but does the organisation have the courage to do so?
About the author Related Posts


Steve Maguire
Steve Maguire is a British Army Officer serving with The Royal Irish Regiment. He has served at regimental duty, with an armoured infantry brigade, and with the Army Headquarters. He is also the Wavell Room Senior Land Editor.
The views expressed in his writing are his and do not represent the views of the Ministry of Defence.









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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