Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

“ Some things are believed because they are true. But many other things are believed simply because they have been asserted repeatedly.”
- Thomas Sowell

“The falsification of history has done more to impede human development than any one thing known to mankind.”
- Rousseau

“Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.”
- Harper Lee


1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 12 (Putin's War)
2. The Theory of SOF: Generating the Fog of War or Conducting Military Statecraft?
3. Joe Biden sets off aimlessly to the Middle East
4. China says it 'drove' away U.S. destroyer that sailed near disputed isles
5. Former senior U.S. official John Bolton admits to planning attempted foreign coups
6. China's exports bounce back, but global risks darken trade outlook
7. Ukraine Hits Military Depots in Russian-Controlled Cities
8. Opinion | The Ukraine War Is About to Enter a Dangerous New Phase
9.  Opinion Shorten the war. Send 60 HIMARS to Ukraine.
10. U.S. to open new embassies, boost aid in Pacific as China’s sway grows
11. Recording reveals life in captivity for American held by Russian group
12. Beatrice Heuser, Western Ideas of War and the Russia-Ukraine Conflict, No. 528, July 12, 2022 – Nipp
13. Will CEOs finally learn their lesson on boycotting Israel? | Opinion
14. U.S. State Department does “not support organized violent opposition to the Taliban”
15. Exclusive: Watch Uvalde school shooting video obtained by Statesman showing police response
16. Biden’s Trip, and Ukraine’s War, Could Boost the Abraham Accords
17. Western governments confront China-Russia security threats — but US business won’t
18. West’s Ukraine Strategy Will Mean a Prolonged, Bloody Stalemate
19. Russia’s War Against Ukraine Has Turned Into Terrorism
20. Strike kills nearly every deputy commander in Russian division: Ukraine
21. Defense Department Record-Keeping Practices Are Hurting Oversight of Ukraine Aid, Inspector General Warns
22. United States confident in Ukraine’s commitment to safeguard and account for arms
23. 'Stunningly incompetent or simply mad as hatters': How America's ruling class ruined everything by Andrew Bacevich, After the American Century
24. Why the Russian military should be very worried
25. 'Do you wish you were a real pilot?' — Comedian grills her F-35 pilot fiancé in hilarious interview



1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 12



RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 12
Jul 12, 2022 - Press ISW

Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, George Barros, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan
July 12, 8:10 pm ET
Click here to see ISW's interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.
Russian forces remain in a theater-wide operational pause in Ukraine. Russian forces continue to regroup, rest, refit, and reconstitute; bombard critical areas to set conditions for future ground offensives; and conduct limited probing attacks. The Russian Ministry of Defense did not claim any new territorial control on July 12.[1] ISW has previously noted that an operational pause does not mean a cessation of attacks.[2] Current Russian offensive actions are likely meant to prepare for future offensives, the timing of which remains unclear.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reported on July 11 that Iran will provide Russia with “up to several hundred UAVs” on an expedited timeline.[3] Sullivan did not specify the kinds of drones Iran will be supplying. AEI’s Critical Threats Project has provided a quick summary of the basic kinds and capabilities of Iranian drones. Sullivan noted that Iran will also provide weapons-capable UAVs and train Russian forces to use Iranian drones as early as July. Russian milbloggers and war correspondents have long criticized the Kremlin for ineffective aerial reconnaissance and artillery fire correction measures due to the lack of UAVs. Former Russian military commander and milblogger Igor Girkin stated that Ukrainian forces have successfully defended the Donetsk Oblast frontline due to the advantage of Ukrainian UAV capabilities in the area.[4] Russian milblogger Andrey Morozov (also known as Boytsevoi Kot Murz) blamed Russian state media for grossly misrepresenting the availability of Russian UAVs and their ability to support accurate artillery fire.[5] Russian frontline correspondent Alexander Sladkov also complained that Russian forces can build more drones but have not done so.[6]
Key Takeaways
  • The Kremlin is reportedly sourcing Iranian UAVs likely to improve Russian aerial reconnaissance and indirect fire accuracy in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces conducted limited and unsuccessful ground assaults north of Slovyansk and east of Siversk.
  • Russian forces continued air and artillery strikes around Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
  • Russian forces conducted multiple unsuccessful ground assaults north of Kharkiv City.
  • Russian forces likely conducted a false-flag attack on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in occupied Enerhodar, Zaporizhia Oblast.
  • Russian and Ukrainian sources reported that Ukrainian strikes killed multiple Russian officers in Kherson City on July 10.
  • Ukrainian forces continued to strike Russian ammunition depots on the Southern Axis.

We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.
  • Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of one subordinate and three supporting efforts)
  • Subordinate Main Effort—Encirclement of Ukrainian Troops in the Cauldron between Izyum and Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts
  • Supporting Effort 1—Kharkiv City
  • Supporting Effort 2—Southern Axis
  • Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts
  • Activities in Russian-occupied Areas
Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine
Subordinate Main Effort—Southern Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: Encircle Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine and capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces attempted ground assaults north of Slovyansk on July 12. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground assaults toward Dovhenke, Mazanivka, Krasnopillia, and Dolyna west of the E40 highway and Mayaky and Ivanivka east of the E40 highway.[7] ISW has not observed evidence of Russian forces crossing the Siverskyi Donets River near Mayaky and Sydorove, but Russian forces may seek to do so to push south to the E40 highway. Such a push could be an effort to encircle the Ukrainian salient between Dolyna, Bohorodychne, Pryshb, and Mayaky given that the Russian frontal assaults against Dolyna and Bohordodychne have been unsuccessful. The many water features in this area make such a maneuver difficult, however. Russian forces continued shelling areas west, northwest, and northeast of Slovyansk including Mazanivka, Dibrovne, Barvinkove, Velyka Komyshuvakha, and Chepil.[8] Russian forces will likely continue to strike areas around Slovyansk to set conditions for a renewed offensive toward Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

[This image shows the many water features present around the Ukrainian salient. Source: Esri, Maxar, Earthstar Geographics, and the GIS User Community]
Russian forces attempted a limited ground assault east of Siversk near the Luhansk Oblast border on July 12. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces suffered serious losses during a failed assault toward Spirne and Ivano-Darivka.[9] The UK Ministry of Defense confirmed that Russian forces seized Hryhorivka, northeast of Siversk.[10] Russian forces continued firing on areas along the line of contact, including Kryva Luka, Verhnokamianske, Spirne, and Serebryanka, likely to continue setting conditions for an eventual assault toward Siversk.[11]
Russian forces conducted air and artillery strikes to the northeast, east, and south of Bakhmut on July 12.[12] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces in the Bakhmut and Novopavlivka directions are trying to improve their tactical positions and are striking along the line of contact to restrain Ukrainian forces.[13]
Russian forces continued heavy fire along the line of contact to restrain Ukrainian forces north of Donetsk City on July 12.[14] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces shelled areas to the north and west of Donetsk City, including Avdiivka, Kurakhove, and Marinka.[15] Russian forces will likely continue to fire on Ukrainian positions in and around Avdiivka to fix them in place.

Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum and prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border)
Russian forces conducted multiple unsuccessful ground assaults on Dementiivka on July 12.[16] Persistent Russian attacks against Dementiivka are likely intended to disrupt ongoing Ukrainian counterattacks from Prudyanka north toward Russian positions in Tsupivka.[17] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces fired artillery and rocket fire salvo systems at Kharkiv City districts and nearby settlements to the north and northeast.[18] The Derhachi Regional Administration reported that positional battles are ongoing in the northern part of Derhachivskyi Raion.[19]

Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Russian forces continued to hold defensive positions along the Southern Axis on July 12. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian forces stopped a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group of up to 10 servicemen in an unspecified settlement in Beryslav district, Kherson Oblast.[20] The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian forces continued to shell settlements along the Kherson Oblast administrative border and carried out airstrikes on Zarichne in northwestern Kherson Oblast.[21] Russian forces launched artillery and missile strikes against Mykolaiv City and its outskirts, and the Ukrainian Southern Command noted that Russian forces used S-300 air defense systems to strike ground targets.[22] Social media footage also showed large convoys of Russian military trucks in Melitopol, reportedly moving in the direction of Kherson City to replenish Russian ammunition depots.[23]
Russian forces likely conducted false-flag attacks in Enerhodar, Zaporizhia Oblast, amidst Ukrainian official announcements for civilians to evacuate from occupied territories. Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk made another announcement on July 10 calling on civilians to evacuate occupied settlements in Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblast before the start of Ukrainian counteroffensives, even if that required civilians to flee to occupied Crimea.[24] Vereschuk made similar announcements on July 8 and June 20, noting that Russian forces seek to hold Ukrainian civilians as human shields to hinder Ukrainian counteroffensives along the Southern Axis.[25] Social media users from Enerhodar reported a series of explosions and smoke rising from the industrial zone in the city, and geolocated imagery showed that the smoke originated from the direction of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) on July 12.[26] Pro-Kremlin sources claimed that Ukrainian forces shelled Enerhodar and used three loitering munitions near the Zaporizhzhia NPP; pro-Russian Telegram channel Rybar claimed that Ukrainian forces are insinuating panic to encourage civilian evacuations.[27] Enerhodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov said that Russian forces staged the attacks on Enerhodar to cause panic and rapid evacuation at the nearby checkpoint in Vasylivka (approximately 45 km south of Zaporizhia City).[28] Russian forces reportedly closed the Vasylivka checkpoint on July 12 and are also preventing Melitopol residents from leaving that city.[29] Orlov previously warned on July 10 that Russian forces gathered media representatives in Enerhodar to stage a provocation at the Zaporizhzhia NPP.[30] Russian forces may have staged a provocation in anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive or to spin Ukrainian attacks on ammunition dumps across the Southern Axis as an effort to target civilians or civilian infrastructure.
Ukrainian forces continued to strike Russian ammunition depots in southern Ukraine on July 11 and July 12. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command confirmed that Ukrainian forces destroyed ammunition depots in Nova Khakovka and Charivne, approximately 60 km east and 65 km northeast of Kherson City.[31] Russian-appointed officials and pro-Kremlin outlets claimed that Ukrainian forces targeted civilians and killed seven residents, but Ukrainian Strategic Command denied those claims.[32] Social media users from Terpinnya, Myrne, and Semenivka (just north of Melitopol) also observed approximately 25 explosions, with unconfirmed reports of fires in the area of the local Ministry of Emergency Situations building where Russian forces assembled a military base.[33] ISW cannot independently verify these reports.
Russian and Ukrainian sources reported that Ukrainian strikes on a Russian base in Kherson City on July 10 killed 20th Guards Motorized Rifle Division Commander Colonel Aleksei Gorobets, 20th Guards Motorized Rifle Division Deputy Commander Colonel Sergey Kens, and 20th Guards Motorized Rifle Division Deputy Artillery Commander Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Gordeev.[34] Ukrainian sources reported the strikes also killed 22nd Army Corps Chief of Staff Major General Artyom Nasbulin, though Russian sources have not confirmed that loss as of this publication.[35] The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) intercepted a call in which a Russian serviceman claimed that a Ukrainian strike on the main Russian command post in Kherson Oblast killed 12 servicemen but did not specify the location of the command post.[36]

Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)
Russian forces are reportedly forming a new brigade-level combat unit in Kherson Oblast and are continuing to face personnel shortages. The GUR reported that Russian forces are recruiting Russian officers to staff a new brigade-level unit in Kherson Oblast, but officers are refusing to participate in the deployment.[37] The GUR also reported that Russian military command dismissed over 26 servicemen of the 38th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade who refused to participate in the war.[38] The Russia-based “Free Buryatia Foundation” (a small ethnic minorities’ rights organization established after the Russian invasion of Ukraine) reported that 150 Buryat servicemen refused to fight and returned home on July 7.[39] The BBC had previously confirmed that the Republic of Buryatia has lost 207 servicemen of the 4,515 servicemen killed in action whom the BBC was able to verify. The Buryatia region losses were the second-highest of any region in the partial data presented by the investigation.[40]
Russian forces have reportedly lost other higher-level officers in combat in addition to the casualties among the 20th Motorized Rifle Division command echelons noted above, although the timing of these deaths is unclear. The Ukrainian Strategic Command reported on July 11 that Ukrainian forces killed Deputy Commander of the 106th Airborne Assault Division Colonel Sergey Kuzminov and Chief of Staff of the 16th Separate Guards SPETSNAZ Brigade Major Dmitriy Semenov.[41] Russian outlet Baza also reported on July 12 that a Ukrainian sabotage group attacked the Alania volunteer battalion in Huliaipole, eastern Zaporizhia Oblast, while Head of North Ossetian Republic Sergey Menyaylo was with the battalion on an unspecified past date; the attack injured several battalion members but not Menyaylo himself.[42] Such losses indicate that higher-level Russian commanders continue to oversee tactical maneuvers on the active frontlines and are suffering as a result.
Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of occupied areas; set conditions for potential annexation into the Russian Federation or some other future political arrangement of Moscow’s choosing)
Employees of the Ukrainian electric energy company Kharkivoblenergo refused to work under Russian occupation authorities in Vovchansk, Kharkiv Oblast, on July 12.[43] The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that Russian occupation authorities subsequently threatened to send unwilling Kharkivoblenergo workers to a concentration camp at the Vovchansky Aggregate Plant (a private joint-stock engineering company that produces various intermediary goods like pumps and aircraft components) in Vovchansk.[44]
[5] https://kenigtiger dot livejournal.com/2148946.html
[24] https://www dot ukrinform.net/rubric-ato/3526216-deputy-pm-vereshchuk-again-calls-on-ukrainians-to-evacuate-from-kherson-zaporizhzhia-regions.html
[25] https://www dot pravda.com.ua/rus/news/2022/07/8/7357126/; https://www dot pravda.com.ua/rus/news/2022/06/20/7353708/
[27] https://t.me/rybar/35391; https://t.me/rybar/35381; https://www dot 1tv.ru/news/2022-07-12/433283-v_energodare_rossiyskie_sredstva_pvo_sbili_tri_ukrainskih_drona_kamikadze
[34] https://www.facebook.com/RomanTsymbaliuk/posts/pfbid0eNgzDPdKMiTgYQzVT39... ru/text/gorod/2022/07/12/71481407/; https://bloknot-kamyshin dot ru/news/na-ukraine-pogib-komandir-divizii-iz-volgograda-s—1498869; https://vk dot com/wall-152576475_9791; https://bloknot-volgograd dot ru/news/na-ukraine-pogib-komandir-divizii-iz-volgograda-po-1498842; https://crimea-news dot com/other/2022/07/12/943822.html; https://vk dot com/wall-196830686_6975?z=photo-196830686_457241736%2F40a4f4fa0d66b975eb; https://t.me/AFUStratCom/4110; https://vk dot com/wall-120027872_499280; https://vk dot com/woo.mptaifun?z=photo-124783171_457241945%2Falbum-124783171_00%2Frev; https://mptaifun dot ru/blog/gvardija_trjokh_stikhij/2019-11-23-951; https://news.liga dot net/politics/news/v-ukraine-likvidirovali-rossiyskogo-polkovnika-komandoval-brigadoy-morskoy-pehoty
[36] https://gur dot gov.ua/content/popaly-v-nashe-samoe-hlavnoe-komandovanye-po-khersonu-tam-12-200ykh.html
[37] https://gur dot gov.ua/content/rosiiski-ofitsery-ne-bazhaiut-ikhaty-na-viinu-v-ukrainu-a-heneraly-terminovo-perevodiat-rodychiv-na-bezpechnishu-sluzhbu-v-syrii.html
[38] https://gur dot gov.ua/content/rosiiski-ofitsery-ne-bazhaiut-ikhaty-na-viinu-v-ukrainu-a-heneraly-terminovo-perevodiat-rodychiv-na-bezpechnishu-sluzhbu-v-syrii.html
[43] https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2022/07/12/na-harkivshhyni-energetyky-vidmovlyayutsya-praczyuvaty-na-okupanta/
[44] https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2022/07/12/na-harkivshhyni-energetyky-vidmovlyayutsya-praczyuvaty-na-okupanta/


2. The Theory of SOF: Generating the Fog of War or Conducting Military Statecraft?

Conclusion:

  The Theory of SOF explains the why and how of SOF activities and operations. In many cases SOF are conducting Unconventional Statecraft. The skills of Statecraft are analogous to the Core SOF skills of engaging and influencing civilian populations, SOF understanding of human factors and the ability to incorporate those factors into planning to conduct partnership activities and operations through unified action partners or location populations to fulfil Strategic and Operational level goals. SOF must also engage in developing a Theory of Success or Victory. This means that the SOF planner/operator must constantly think in Ends, Ways and Means. What can SOF do to disrupt the enemy’s mental processes and cause operational paralysis. The definition of Theory is “a coherent group of propositions formulated to explain a group of facts or phenomena in the natural world and repeatedly confirmed through experiment or observation” [14] The Theory of SOF is based on the right personality traits of the SOF operator and is based on what SOF does well; SOF should be employed to conduct the operations that lead to unconventional statecraft and at the same time exaggerate the friction of war to fully generate the Fog of War for the enemy and be so disruptive that the enemy cannot regain control of the decision-making cycle causing them to make mistakes, lose their understanding of the operational environment, forcing the enemy to fight the conflict on our terms. 


 
Generating the Fog of War or Conducting Military Statecraft?
By Michael B. “Bulldog” Kelley
LTC, USA (Ret.)
 
Prior to 9-11, Special Operations Forces (SOF) were integrated into operations predominantly led by conventional forces. During the reestablishment period of formal SOF capability in the 1980s, the Service leadership required Congressional action to establish permanent and sustained SOF capabilities within their own formations. In 1987, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) established its headquarters in Tampa, Florida, a first for the SOF community since the disbanding of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) at the end of World War II. Public Law 99-661, established in 1986 directed USSOOCM in Section 167 with the requirement to “develop strategy, doctrine, and tactics.” Arguably, USSOCOM has mastered the doctrine and tactics, but military leaders, SOF practitioners, and academics are still working to define an agreeable definition of strategy and theory of SOF.
           During the 1990s, SOF along with their conventional counterparts struggled to define doctrinal and strategic applications after the Cold War ended. In 1995, Major Ken Tovo, captured this challenge when observing that Army Special Forces have a “dual mission focus” to provide unconventional warfare (UW) and foreign internal defense (FID), and this gives senior military leaders an “indirect” capability to enable shaping the environment and providing capability below the threshold of war.[1] The Gulf War in 1991 marked the pinnacle of SOF integration into conventional operations, and arguably solidified their role in the coming decade due to the extreme versatility shown to them. Outside of the direct action and counterterrorism formations, the Army Special Forces, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations played major roles in providing geographical combatant commanders with unique capabilities not reticent in the conventional formations of the 1990s. Yair Ansbacher and Rom Schieifer noted the period from 1946 to 2001 as the “second age of SOF” where “SOF represented a governmental tool that may be overt or covert, designed to foment rebellion and create proxy and guerrilla forces, or to fight guerrilla forces to further national interests, while in both instances maintaining a degree of obscurity.”[2] These applications are warranting increased focus as SOF strategists and planners are adjusting to the new strategic challenges post Afghanistan and Iraq.
           The end of the Cold War, and now after two persistent decades of counterterrorism, direct action, and counterinsurgency, both the SOF and conventional formations are searching for the new strategy to address an era of strategic competition. This is focusing military strategists and political leaders in new “habits of strategic thinking” to address the uncertainty about the “potential threat or its operational conditions” especially in light of the reciprocal nature of strategic challenges—or said another way, what is old has become new again.[3] However, SOF theorists find themselves at an intersection where as Harold R. Winton notes, they must “define the field of study” and once defined, this can lead to how to categorize the strategy and operations.[4]
           B.A. Friedman notes, “War is a human phenomenon, executed by real people. Conducting it on the basis of erroneous assumptions and concepts is just as much a threat to their lives as the actions of the enemy force they encounter.”[5] Warfare brings out the most basic negative characteristics in Human beings. …"As a total phenomenon its dominant tendencies always make war a paradoxical trinity- composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity, which are to be regarded as a blind natural force; of the play of chance and probability within which the creative spirit is free to roam; and of its element of subordination, as an instrument of policy, which makes it subject to reason alone."[6] (These can cause the military to lash out at the civilian populations, out of frustration or perceived lack of support). The Theory of SOF is to use these attributes in a positive manner, in which the result is enemy paralysis in thought and action, which provides the Friendly Commander the distinct advantage in the Battle Space. Thus, Generating the Fog of War.
The Fog of War, is a term attributed to Carl Von Clausewitz, who stated that “The great uncertainty of all data in war is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not infrequently-like the effect of a fog or moonshine-gives things exaggerated dimensions and an unnatural appearance”[7]
           The theory is that SOF conducts missions and operations that generates this Fog of War. The result is an overload of situational information, in which the enemy experiences misperceptions, mental and physical exhaustion, misinformation, dealing with rumors, supplies disrupted in time and space to cause the most frustration at the soldier level, forcing incorrect assumptions into planning, overestimating their own abilities and then hitting soft spots to degrade confidence, disrupt their ability to correctly assess indicators or trends.  SOF is uniquely Trained, Educated, and Skilled in clouding the enemy commander’s vision, and effecting the enemies’ judgment to the point of operational paralysis. 
           Special Operations Forces generate the Fog of War, by energizing the Friction of War. This term is also attributed to Clausewitz. This term describes unexpected events of War. It relates to the debilitating effects of combat on the human participants. These frictions are for the most part the inconsequential and trivial incidents that occur, produced by poor judgements by leaders, the soldier’s response to danger, and disorientating activities. SOF with unconventional operational design and unconventional planning can create mission sets, task and purpose in which the strength of each SOF tribe can be utilized that enhances the Friction of War that when applied, without allowing the enemy to rest, results in the inability of the adversary to mitigate in their planning or decision making, which then allows the advantage to the Friendly commander and force, and leads to Domination of the decision cycle for the war or campaign.
           In the 1990’s, SOF worked to integrate itself into the Service and Joint Planning Process that was emerging after the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 codified jointness as the new operational paradigm. A great deal of the process that went into planning was an understanding of the Operational Environment and a full understanding of the enemy. This distinction from being a part of the Conventional Force, is that SOF in particular are students of foreign cultures and languages, educated in the culture of the thoughts, food, pop culture, history and other aspects of reality that the enemy exists in and operates. This deep knowledge of the causes of the conflict at a social level allows SOF to better understand the complex Human make up of conflict and the thoughts and action of the enemy. 
           Currently there is a debate on how the US will define its enemies in the future. The debate centers around the hypothesis that wars of the future will be conventional, and that SOF must be reduced in numbers and capability to make way for larger conventional forces and that SOF needs to become more conventional minded, and that last concept is being promoted by mid-grade SOF leaders along with the greater military.[8]  Yet, as of 2022, the last three major multinational conflicts of Yemen, Syria, and Ukraine are telegraphing that the future may not truly be large scale conventional battle formations but small-scale unconventional operations using technology to enhance tactics and strategy, not replacing it. The enemy should be defined as armed forces of a belligerent, or hostile government, armed anti-government forces, insurgents and their passive and active supporters, and large well-armed criminal gangs that act like police or military forces. 
           The success for any military Commander and their planners is the ability to correctly identify and assess the enemy, their TTPs, their use of weapon systems, and the operational environment. This takes mental agility, with true critical thinking skills coupled with a deep understanding of the enemy and ability to adapt to surprises and changes in the Operational Environment. Far too often, American Commanders and planners underestimate the creativity, motivation, determination, and abilities of our enemies. Modern day and future enemies will be motivated by religious extremism, radical ideologies (based on conspiracy theories, and radical superstitions) ethnic and cultural fanatism, and alternative Political and Economic theory. These adversaries generally have a complete disregard for International and National laws and Norms. [9]
           Our enemies in the future will use the Influencing technologies, such as mainstream and social media platforms to gain national, regional, and international sympathy and to proclaim the reasons for their “just” conflicts. Without a true Psychological campaign to counter this propaganda and expose the lies and promote the truth of a situation, the populace, and even friendly politicians will most likely fall for the enemy’s propaganda. (Citation Needed) Making use of large Conventional Forces difficult or impossible. If forces are committed without a full understanding of the enemy and a true set of Objectives and Military End State, forces will start to question the reasons for fighting. When there are no true, clear, Objectives, Commanders and Leaders become timid. SOF planners are educated to develop clear “Objectives” and “Understanding” where they fit into the Operational picture. Through proper planning the ambiguity of the “Why” is mitigated, because most SOF activities must answer the “Why” of a mission in relation to the Human factors, or they will simply fail.
When we look at a Theory of SOF, we must understand the aspect of/ or category of War we are operating. Again, this is a turning away from Convention to study the Human things. SOF wages war in the following environments:
  • The Political Environment
  • The Intelligence Environment
  • The Military Environment
  • The Law-and-Order Environment
  • The Populace Environment
  • The Economic Environment
  • The Perception Environment [10]
If one were to cross refence these Environments one would discover that the SOF Core Missions and Tasks correspond to these very well.

   SOF can purposely conduct operations in all of the above Environments, and achieve success when Operations are properly planned and that the Operational Design is properly thought out.
 
   Victory will never be truly cheap, but the value of SOF is that it can be done with a less expensive Force and much smaller footprint. (Insert Cohen quote) Thus, to achieve victory  a realistic design, with well-equipped forces properly trained, sustained and led, with a deployment and employment focused on the operational objectives is a must.
 
   The First step in conduct SOF Operational Design is to focus on intel and information that truly articulates the Operational Environment, and the process of Joint Planning. The SOF planner must understand and get correct the Centers of Gravity. It is crucial to assess the enemy’s Center of Gravity. Clausewitz stated that the center of gravity is the “hub of all power and movement on which everything depends…the point at which all of our energies should be directed” [11] This can be especially true when conducting Conventional Operations against a Conventional Force, but SOF conducts cognitive maneuver in the Human domain[12]. Therefore, SOF planners need to view the Centers of Gravity through that lens. So, for SOF planners they should consider a Trinity of Gravity.[13]
 
   In the modern conflicts SOF finds itself engaging an enemy that uses their Tactics Techniques and Procedures, not to dominate key terrain, nor to dominate and destroy the enemy in large conventional maneuver, but to erode and collapse the pillars of the State to bring about their victory. Thus, the terrain consists of the population that are passive and active supporters and the rural or urban ground over which it moves and operates. These forces require access to information, intelligence, recruits, weapons and above all funding. This reality morphs the center of gravity into a Trinity of Gravity, consisting of the leadership, popular and moral support, financial and other support, complicating the identification and destruction of the enemy’s center of gravity. This requires a multi-dimensional approach and mainly an Indirect Approach. It also requires that Victory be achieved, or the Conflict will remain protracted and eventually the enemy will simply outlast the friendly force and achieve their victory. 
 
   In this Multi-Domain Operational Design and Approach, the Lines of Effort and Lines of Operation for SOF must be aimed at influencing, degrading, and neutralizing(defeating) the:
  • Leadership and its forces
  • The populace from which the enemy is drawing its manpower, whether coercively or voluntarily
  • The financial and economic resources that sustain the force.
 
   This SOF Multi-Domain campaign should focus on:
 
  1. Offensive Actions as soon as possible, This would be an enemy centric Line of Operation or Effort, in which Human and technical assets, resources, and sources are used to exploit where the enemy is or was, how he is organized, and what his plans and TTPs are. This is intelligence heavy along this line. Offensive action is not just conducting conventional military actions, it is using the forces available (Military, Governmental and Commercial). Offensive Actions for the SOF planner and thinker should not be boxed into the idea that only Military activities are Offensive Actions. Remember, the goal is to mess with the adversary’s decision making and produce operational paralysis.
 
  1. Support, which is a population centric Line of Effort or Operation. This is when the active and passive supporters, who provide recruits and material, are influenced through actions and activities to degrade their faith and motivation to support the enemy. This can be done through addressing the needs of the population in areas of support, safeguarding civilians, conducting economic opportunities, infrastructure building or rebuilding, and ensuring the partner forces respects their own citizens. This can be categorized as an interagency approach and unconventional statecraft. As opposed to Conventional strategies of warfighting, SOF conducts mainly indirect approaches to conflict or coercion. SOF conduct “shaping” (now called Steady State) operations, which relies less on threats, demonstrations, and use of violence and more on attraction, persuasion, and legitimacy. SOF relies more on soft power than on hard power, this approach contradicts the conventional wisdom of the purpose militaries serve. SOF professionals and operator dynamics conform more to Statecraft than Conventional Warfighting.
 
  1. Financial Disruption, funding centric. The ability of the enemy to sustain itself through the support of a diaspora, International Donations, and Nation-state funding. This approach must be properly planned and executed by the Friendly nations and the Partner Nation, this strategy must incorporate those agencies that have authorities to block, confiscate and turn off the funding to the point that the enemy cannot replace captured or destroyed equipment, and sustain military and propaganda operations. 
 
      These Lines must be executed rapidly, even while SOF is building partner capacity and conducting Train, Advise, Assist and Accompany operations.
 
      The Theory of SOF explains the why and how of SOF activities and operations. In many cases SOF are conducting Unconventional Statecraft. The skills of Statecraft are analogous to the Core SOF skills of engaging and influencing civilian populations, SOF understanding of human factors and the ability to incorporate those factors into planning to conduct partnership activities and operations through unified action partners or location populations to fulfil Strategic and Operational level goals. SOF must also engage in developing a Theory of Success or Victory. This means that the SOF planner/operator must constantly think in Ends, Ways and Means. What can SOF do to disrupt the enemy’s mental processes and cause operational paralysis. The definition of Theory is “a coherent group of propositions formulated to explain a group of facts or phenomena in the natural world and repeatedly confirmed through experiment or observation” [14] The Theory of SOF is based on the right personality traits of the SOF operator and is based on what SOF does well; SOF should be employed to conduct the operations that lead to unconventional statecraft and at the same time exaggerate the friction of war to fully generate the Fog of War for the enemy and be so disruptive that the enemy cannot regain control of the decision-making cycle causing them to make mistakes, lose their understanding of the operational environment, forcing the enemy to fight the conflict on our terms.  
“The views expressed are those of the author. They do not represent the views of the Department of Defense, USSOCOM, JSOU, the US Army, or any other organization.”
1 Tovo, Kenneth E. “Special Forces’ Mission Focus for the Future” (master’s thesis, School of Advanced Military Studies, 1995), 2.
2 Ansbacher, Yair and Schieifer, R. (2022) The three ages of modern Western special operations forces, Comparative Strategy, 41:1, 38.
3 Milevski, Lukas (2017). Respecting Strategic Agency: On the Categorization of War in Strategy, Joint Forces Quarterly, 86, 3rd Quarter, 37,
4 Friedman, B.A. (2021). On Operations: Operational Art and Military Disciplines, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 4.
[5]Friedman, 7.
[6] Clausewitz, Carl Von, 1987, On War, Hertfordshire, Wordsworth Edition, page 89.
[7] Clausewitz, Carl Von, 1997, On War, Hertfordshire, Wordsworth Edition page 90.
[8]  Horn, Bernd Colonel, “When Cultures Collide: The Conventional Military / SOF Chasm” Canadian Military Journal Autumn 2004
[9] Barlow, Eben, Composite Warfare, 30 Degree South Publishers Ltd. South Africa, Copyright 2015, page 81
[10] Ibid page 83
[11]Clausewitz ibid page 163
[12]Warburg Robert A. Cognitive Maneuver for the Contemporary and Future Strategic Operating Environment (White Paper) 21 June 2016
[13] Barlow, Ibid page 36
[14] Dictionary.com Scientific Theory https://www.dictionary.com/browse/scientific-theory

About the Author(s)

Michael B. “Bulldog” Kelley (Lieutenant Colonel Ret. US Army) retired from the U.S. Army in 2020 after serving a total of 32 years as a commission officer, with almost 25 years in Special Operations. 
Prof. Kelley was commissioned as an Infantry Officer in 1987 and served in multiple Infantry Mech and Light Tactical and Training units. In 1995, Prof. Kelley attended the FA 39 PSYOP and Civil Affairs Course at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School. Ft. Bragg, NC. He served in multiple Planning and Operations Officer positions in SOF and Conventional Units. Served with USSOCOM, USASOC, JFK Special Warfare Center and School, 5th Special Forces Group (A), 3rd Special Forces Group (A), 1st Special Forces Group (A), Task Force-N, CJTF-Counter Terrorism Horn of Africa, USSOCCENT and SOJTF-A.
While in Uniform, Prof. Kelley deployed on six Combat Tours, conducted nine Operational Tours, and was stationed in Korea for a 14-month tour. He spent years as a military advisor for foreign SOF, teaching Special Forces Officers at the Egyptian Training Authority in Cairo Egypt and was primary advisor to several Provencal Police Chiefs, Provencal Governors and National Directorate of Security Chief in RC East, and RC North, Afghanistan.
Prof. Kelley’s final assignment while serving in uniform was as the Deputy Division Chief of the Civil Affairs Operations Division, Operations Directorate, Interagency Action Group USCENTCOM, His responsibilities included conducting the day-to-day operations of the three branches of the Civil Affairs Division. Conducted planning and support operations for the Counter ISIS campaign in Syria.                    
Following his retirement Prof. Kelley was hired to serve as an Instructor in the Special Operations Planner’s Course Joint Special Operations University. 
Associations:
Active Member, American Indian Association
Active Member of the Association on American Indian Affairs
Life Member, Special Forces Association Chapter 28 “The Devil’s Brigade” Memorial
Chapter
Active Member, Academy of Political Science
American Bar Association Member
Executive Officer for The Phantom Airborne Brigade











































3. Joe Biden sets off aimlessly to the Middle East

Excerpts:

Even now, the president insists he is not going to Jeddah, the Saudis’ commercial capital, to meet Prince Muhammad. Instead he is going to attend a broader meeting with leaders of six Gulf countries, plus Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. If the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia should happen by a diplomatic summit in Saudi Arabia, perhaps he will say hello. This is comical spin; that Mr Biden feels he must offer it shows how controversial the trip is among Democrats.
It would be less controversial if it offered the promise of real achievements. It does not. Israeli officials play down talk of a breakthrough with Saudi Arabia, with good reason. The kingdom is in no rush to make a deal. It will settle for incremental steps: Mr Biden is expected to announce in Jeddah that more Israeli airliners will be allowed to fly over Saudi airspace. On oil, even if the Saudis agree to pump more, it is unclear how long they can run fields at full tilt, and whether the world has enough refining capacity to turn extra crude into fuel that can be gobbled up.
In an unusual Washington Post op-ed on July 9th, Mr Biden set out a pre-emptive defence of his trip, saying it would show off America’s “vital leadership role” in the region. It may do the opposite. His hosts will offer a friendly welcome, but they will probably send him home with little more than a few token souvenirs. 

Joe Biden sets off aimlessly to the Middle East
America’s president will have little to offer Israelis and Palestinians, and may not gain much more from the Saudis
For decades American presidents have arrived in the Holy Land like earnest pilgrims searching for the holy grail of a two-state solution. George Bush hoped to find it in 2003 with his “road map for peace”. Barack Obama came in 2013, while John Kerry, his secretary of state, was trying to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks. Even Donald Trump promised to “give it an absolute go”.
Joe Biden has lost the faith. His nearly 48-hour visit to Israel and Palestine, which begins on July 13th, will be an exercise in banality: shake a few hands, see a few sights, head back to the airport. He is unlikely to announce big plans or offer stirring words. No president in recent memory has arrived with so little to say about the region’s most intractable conflict.
It is hard to blame him. Both Israelis and Palestinians are in political turmoil. Even if Mr Biden wanted to wade into the peace-process swamp, there is no one to join him. And the conflict no longer seems as important as it once did. After decades of insisting that the status quo was not sustainable, America has decided it might be.
When the trip was planned, the hawkish Naftali Bennett was Israel’s prime minister. His government collapsed last month and an election, the fifth since 2019, is set for November. It will be Yair Lapid, the caretaker prime minister, who plays host to Mr Biden, with Mr Bennett hoping for a look-in. The president may not mind. Of all Israel’s potential prime ministers, Mr Lapid’s centrist politics are the most convenient for him. The Americans will go out of their way to offer photo ops and bolster his campaign. The president will make time—albeit just 15 minutes—for Binyamin Netanyahu, who hopes to make yet another comeback in November. That reflects both protocol (Mr Netanyahu is the opposition leader) and a recognition that he may return to power.
The Palestinians will receive far less attention. Mr Biden will make a brief stop in Bethlehem on July 15th to see Mahmoud Abbas, the octogenarian president who governs the West Bank. He will probably pledge $100m in aid for hospitals in East Jerusalem that offer specialist care to Palestinians who cannot find it in the occupied territories, reversing a senselessly cruel cut Mr Trump ordered in 2018. It is a laudable step, but a paltry one, showing how hopelessly deadlocked it all is. Mr Lapid’s party supports the two-state solution in principle, but he may not have time as prime minister for real diplomacy with the Palestinians, who themselves remain utterly divided. No doubt Mr Biden will offer the routine bromides on the peace process, but his heart will not be in it.
The focus of Mr Biden’s trip begins on July 15th, when he lands in Jeddah, the first American president to fly to Saudi Arabia from Israel. Even Israelis acknowledge that they are a warm-up act. “He’s coming here first because it’s now clear to the Americans they can’t deal with their allies in the region separately, as we’re much better co-ordinated now,” says a senior minister.
The administration would like that co-ordination, conducted in secret for a decade, to be more public. A Saudi-Israeli normalisation deal would be a foreign-policy win; Mr Biden’s advisers think it would also help them reduce America’s military presence in the region. They will urge the Saudis to draw closer to Israel, and to pump more oil, hoping to head off an American recession and a thumping in the November midterms.
The trip’s most fraught moment may be an expected encounter with Muhammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, a bête noire for many Democrats because of his chummy ties with Mr Trump and his dismal human-rights record. Mr Biden has refused to talk to him since he took office.
Even now, the president insists he is not going to Jeddah, the Saudis’ commercial capital, to meet Prince Muhammad. Instead he is going to attend a broader meeting with leaders of six Gulf countries, plus Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. If the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia should happen by a diplomatic summit in Saudi Arabia, perhaps he will say hello. This is comical spin; that Mr Biden feels he must offer it shows how controversial the trip is among Democrats.
It would be less controversial if it offered the promise of real achievements. It does not. Israeli officials play down talk of a breakthrough with Saudi Arabia, with good reason. The kingdom is in no rush to make a deal. It will settle for incremental steps: Mr Biden is expected to announce in Jeddah that more Israeli airliners will be allowed to fly over Saudi airspace. On oil, even if the Saudis agree to pump more, it is unclear how long they can run fields at full tilt, and whether the world has enough refining capacity to turn extra crude into fuel that can be gobbled up.
In an unusual Washington Post op-ed on July 9th, Mr Biden set out a pre-emptive defence of his trip, saying it would show off America’s “vital leadership role” in the region. It may do the opposite. His hosts will offer a friendly welcome, but they will probably send him home with little more than a few token souvenirs. ■


4. China says it 'drove' away U.S. destroyer that sailed near disputed isles

​PRC employing its "three warfares."​

China says it 'drove' away U.S. destroyer that sailed near disputed isles
Reuters · by Reuters
  • Summary
  • U.S. Navy: USS Benfold sailed near Paracel Islands
  • China military says monitored and "drove away" ship
  • U.S. aircraft carrier group also in South China Sea
  • China claims most the South China Sea as its own
BEIJING, July 13 (Reuters) - A U.S. destroyer sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on Wednesday, drawing an angry reaction from Beijing, which said its military had "driven away" the ship after it illegally entered territorial waters.
The United States regularly carries out what it calls Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea challenging what it says are restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China and other claimants.
Monday marked the sixth anniversary of a ruling by an international tribunal that invalidated China's sweeping claims to the South China Sea, a conduit for about $3 trillion worth of ship-borne trade each year.
China has never accepted the ruling.
The U.S. Navy said the destroyer USS Benfold "asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law".
China says it does not impede freedom of navigation or overflight, accusing the United States of deliberately provoking tensions.
The People's Liberation Army's Southern Theatre Command said the U.S. ship's actions seriously violated China's sovereignty and security by illegally entering China's territorial waters around the Paracels, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
"The PLA's Southern Theatre Command organised sea and air forces to follow, monitor, warn and drive away" the ship, it added, showing pictures of the Benfold taken from the deck of the Chinese frigate the Xianning.
"The facts once again show that the United States is nothing short of a 'security risk maker in the South China Sea' and a 'destroyer of regional peace and stability.'"
The U.S. Navy said the Chinese statement on the mission was "false" and the latest in a long string of Chinese actions to "misrepresent lawful U.S. maritime operations and assert its excessive and illegitimate maritime claims at the expense of its Southeastern Asian neighbours in the South China Sea".
The United States is defending every country's right to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, and nothing China "says otherwise will deter us", it added.
China seized control of the Paracel Islands from the then-South Vietnamese government in 1974.
In a separate statement later on Wednesday, the U.S. Navy said the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group was also operating in the South China Sea, describing such carrier operations there as "routine".
The carrier group is conducting maritime security operations, which include flight operations, maritime strike exercises, and coordinated tactical training between surface and air units, it added.
Monday marked the sixth anniversary of a ruling by an international tribunal that invalidated China's sweeping claims to the South China Sea, a conduit for about $3 trillion worth of ship-borne trade each year.
China has never accepted the ruling.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei all have competing and often overlapping claims.
China has built artificial islands on some of its South China Sea holdings, including airports, raising regional concerns about Beijing's intentions.
Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Tapei; Writing by Bernard Orr; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Kim Coghill

Reuters · by Reuters


5. Former senior U.S. official John Bolton admits to planning attempted foreign coups

I would like to know which coups he helped plan. Venezuela? Really? Did he just throw the US personnel imprisoned there under the bus? He should be lecturing at the Farm and Special Warfare Center and School on covert action and unconventional warfare to provide his experiences. And he should perhaps outbrief retiring CIA officers and Special Forces operators about what not to do in retirement.

Excerpts:
"I feel like there's other stuff you're not telling me (beyond Venezuela)," the CNN anchor said, prompting a reply from Bolton: "I'm sure there is."
Many foreign policy experts have over the years criticized Washington's history of interventions in other countries, from its role in the 1953 overthrowing of then Iranian nationalist prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and the Vietnam war, to its invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan this century.
But it is highly unusual for U.S. officials to openly acknowledge their role in stoking unrest in foreign countries.


Former senior U.S. official John Bolton admits to planning attempted foreign coups
Reuters · by Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) - John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former White House national security adviser, said on Tuesday that he had helped plan attempted coups in foreign countries.
Bolton made the remarks to CNN after the day's congressional hearing into the Jan 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The panel's lawmakers on Tuesday accused former President Donald Trump of inciting the violence in a last-ditch bid to remain in power after losing the 2020 election. read more
Speaking to CNN anchor Jake Tapper, however, Bolton suggested Trump was not competent enough to pull off a "carefully planned coup d'etat," later adding: "As somebody who has helped plan coups d'etat - not here but you know (in) other places - it takes a lot of work. And that's not what he (Trump) did."

Tapper asked Bolton which attempts he was referring to.
"I'm not going to get into the specifics," Bolton said, before mentioning Venezuela. "It turned out not to be successful. Not that we had all that much to do with it but I saw what it took for an opposition to try and overturn an illegally elected president and they failed," he said.
In 2019, Bolton as national security adviser publicly supported Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido's call for the military to back his effort to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro, arguing that Maduro's re-election was illegitimate. Ultimately Maduro remained in power.
"I feel like there's other stuff you're not telling me (beyond Venezuela)," the CNN anchor said, prompting a reply from Bolton: "I'm sure there is."
Many foreign policy experts have over the years criticized Washington's history of interventions in other countries, from its role in the 1953 overthrowing of then Iranian nationalist prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and the Vietnam war, to its invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan this century.
But it is highly unusual for U.S. officials to openly acknowledge their role in stoking unrest in foreign countries.
"John Bolton, who's served in highest positions in the U.S. government, including UN ambassador, casually boasting about he's helped plan coups in other countries," Dickens Olewe, a BBC journalist from Kenya, wrote on Twitter.
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Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; editing by Michelle Price and Rosalba O'Brien
Reuters · by Kanishka Singh


6. China's exports bounce back, but global risks darken trade outlook



China's exports bounce back, but global risks darken trade outlook
Reuters · by Ellen Zhang
  • Summary
  • China June export grows at fastest pace in 5 months
  • June import growth slows, misses f'cast
  • Trade surplus at record, but export outlook still faces uncertainty
  • Darkening global economic backdrop, Ukraine war add to strain
  • Fresh COVID flareups also a worry
BEIJING, July 13 (Reuters) - China's exports rose at the fastest pace in five months in June as factories revved up after the lifting of COVID lockowns, but a sharp slowdown in imports, fresh virus flare-ups and a darkening global outlook pointed to a bumpy road ahead for the economy.
Analysts say the rebound in exports reflected an easing of supply chain disruptions and port congestion that hammered the world's second-largest economy in spring when the government rolled out widespread lockdowns.
Outbound shipments in June rose 17.9% from a year earlier, the fastest growth since January, official customs data showed on Wednesday, compared with a 16.9% gain in May and much more than analysts' expectations for a 12.0% rise.
"This jump reflects the easing of supply chain disruptions coming out of lockdowns and, most importantly, fewer bottlenecks at ports," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.
"Although total container throughput at Chinese ports was little changed last month, the recent weakness of domestic shipping demand has freed up more port capacity for foreign trade," he said.
Daily container throughput in June at Shanghai port, which had been severely affected by a lockdown, had recovered to at least 95% of year-earlier levels, according to official data.
Exports of computers, steel products and autos contributed to the robust growth. China exported 248,000 vehicles in June, up 30.5% from a year earlier.
However, economists say the strength in exports is likely to fade as rising global interest rates to rein in inflation begin to sap demand and broader economic growth.
The threat of further pandemic restrictions at home also hangs over Chinese businesses and households, while the Ukraine war has put renewed pressure on world supply chains and raised exporters' operating costs.
China's foreign trade still faces instability and uncertainty, said Li Kuiwen, a spokesman for the General Administration of Customs, at a news conference in Beijing.
Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management, said that while foreign trade continued to be the "best performing engine of the economy," the outlook points to "a bumpy road with disruptions."
"As the demand in the developed countries shifts towards services from goods, the strong export growth may not be sustainable in the second half of the year. The current (COVID)outbreak in Shanghai and some other cities again cast uncertainty to the economic recovery in Q3," Zhang added.
UPSWING TEMPORARY?
Thanks to government stimulus measures and the lifting of lockdowns, China's economy began to regain some traction last month. It suffered a severe slump in April as the country grappled with its biggest COVID-19 outbreak since 2020.
Official and private surveys show the country's factory activity improved in June after three months of declines, while the services sector staged an impressive rebound. read more
Slowing imports, however, raised questions about the strength of the recovery.
June imports inched up just 1.0% from a year earlier, slowing from May's 4.1% gain, weighed down by the lockdown-induced slackening in commodity imports and subdued domestic consumption. Analysts had forecast a 3.9% rise.
Evans-Pritchard noted that import volumes dived to a three-year low last month, indicating continued weakness in China's construction sector, usually a significant growth driver.
Almost all of China's commodity imports were notably weaker. Daily crude oil imports in June fell 11% from a year earlier to their lowest since July 2018, while coal imports fell 33%.
Soybean imports also fell 23% from a year earlier as high global prices curbed demand for the oilseed.
But Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING, said demand for imports should have recovered mildly as the calculated Chinese demand for goods before shipments was affected by lockdowns and port congestion between April and May. She expected imports to rebound, if there are no more prolonged lockdowns in key Chinese cities.
China posted a trade surplus of $97.94 billion last month, a record high, versus analysts' forecast for a $75.70 billion surplus and a $78.76 billion surplus in May.
Total export value surprised to the upside, resulting in the record-high and stronger-than-expected trade surplus, analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a note.
Data on Friday is expected to show further signs of economic improvement, though modest, with June industrial output picking up and retail sales levelling out after months of contraction.
But growth for the second quarter as a whole likely slowed sharply, and possibly even contracted from the first quarter, suggesting policymakers will have to do much more to spur activity. read more
Even then, economists are doubtful that gross domestic product growth will meet the government's target of around 5.5% target for this year, unless it relaxes its strict zero-COVID strategy.
While pressure builds from a softening global backdrop, China's key property market remains shaky and soft consumer spending at home mean its traditional engines of growth also remain underpowered. A renewed push on infrastructure spending will take time to get into gear.
Adding to the headwinds, the highly transmissible BA.5 Omicron sub-variant has been found in several cities over the past week. read more
As of Monday, 31 cities - making up 17.5% of China's population and 25.5% of GDP - have implemented full or partial lockdowns or some control measures at district level, Nomura analysts said in a note.
Reporting by Stella Qiu, Ellen Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Bradley Perrett, Shri Navaratnam and Kim Coghill
Reuters · by Ellen Zhang

7. Ukraine Hits Military Depots in Russian-Controlled Cities


Ukraine Hits Military Depots in Russian-Controlled Cities
Long-range rockets provided by the U.S. ‘have changed the rules of the game,’ Ukrainian official says

By Vivian SalamaFollow
 and Bojan PancevskiFollow
Updated July 12, 2022 6:37 pm ET
WSJ · by Vivian Salama and Bojan Pancevski
Ukraine used multiple-launch rocket systems known as Himars and provided by the U.S. to carry out 30 strikes in recent days against high-value targets such as ammunition depots and command posts, said Oleksiy Arestovych, a Ukrainian presidential adviser.
Himars “have changed the rules of the game on the battlefield to our advantage,” Mr. Arestovych said in a video posted on social media.
Ukraine claimed a success in its efforts in the south Monday, saying that eight foreign ships accessed ports on the Danube after Ukrainian forces ousted Russia’s military from the strategic Snake Island in the Black Sea. Ukraine, a major wheat exporter, has struggled to export its grains since Russia seized its main ports, causing food shortages world-wide.
One depot strike happened late Monday in Nova Kakhovka, a city on the southern bank of the Dnipro River that Russia seized in the early days of the war, Ukraine’s military said. Mr. Arestovych said the strike was carried out with a Himars.
A video shared on social media by Ukrainian officials showed a huge explosion. Ukraine’s armed forces said the strike destroyed ammunition, artillery and armored vehicles. Russia-appointed officials said civilian infrastructure, including a market, residential housing and a fertilizer-storage site, were hit, killing seven people and injuring 80.

The aftermath of shelling near Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday.
Photo: mikhail palinchak/Shutterstock
Late on Tuesday, a large explosion rocked the city of Luhansk, the capital of one of the two Russian-created statelets in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, according to footage posted on social media by local residents. Russian military correspondents said on social media that an ammunition dump in Luhansk’s industrial area had been hit. Unlike Donetsk, the capital of another statelet in the Donbas region that is hit by Ukrainian strikes every day, Luhansk city—far from the front lines—had been largely spared the violence until now.

Debris litters a stadium damaged by a military strike in Bakhmut, a city in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
Photo: GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS
In the south, Ukrainian special forces and partisans carried out assaults on infrastructure and collaborators behind Russian lines. On Monday, Evgeny Yunakov, head of the administration in Russian-occupied Velykyi Bobryk, was killed in an explosion, said Ukrainian and Russian officials. The incident was the latest in a string of similar killings in the Russian-occupied territories.
Ukrainian forces hit targets in the Russian-controlled city of Energodar with drones, said Ukrainian and Russian officials. Ukrainian officials said the unmanned aerial vehicles hit a military compound; local pro-Russian officials said the target was a residential building.
Both sides have taken heavy losses as the conflict has become a war of attrition, defined by relentless volleys of heavy artillery and missiles. As the West ferries long-range weaponry into Ukraine, Russia’s military has stepped up missile strikes on positions far from the front lines.
Though strikes have continued across the country, the bulk of Moscow’s firepower has been trained on the Donetsk region in the days since it claimed control over all of the Luhansk region. Russia and separatist forces that Moscow controls already hold part of Donetsk. Capturing the rest of the region would give Moscow full control of the Donbas area, which the Kremlin made its priority after pulling its forces out of central Ukraine in late March.

A funeral is held on Tuesday for dozens of Russia-backed fighters in the Luhansk region of Ukraine.
Photo: ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/REUTERS

Destroyed buildings in Horenka, a village outside the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
Photo: roman pilipey/Shutterstock
In the northeastern Kharkiv region, the districts of Kharkiv, Bohodukhiv and Izyum came under heavy shelling Tuesday, said the governor, Oleh Synyehubov. Ukrainian forces said they successfully prevented Russian forces from advancing on the towns of Dementiivka and Izyum, he said.
Military officials from Russia, Ukraine and Turkey along with a United Nations delegation are set to hold talks in Istanbul on Wednesday toward a plan to export Ukrainian grain to the international market, Turkey’s defense minister said.
Turkey and the U.N. have been working to broker an arrangement to export more than 20 million metric tons of grain that has been trapped in Ukraine. At stake in the talks is how to export the grain through the Black Sea, where both Russian and Ukrainian forces have laid sea mines.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said Tuesday that negotiations with Russia and Ukraine had “developed in a positive way.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. said Tuesday that it was providing an additional $1.7 billion in aid to support essential Ukrainian government services, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. To date, the U.S. has provided $4 billion in government aid to help Kyiv pay for salaries of healthcare workers, teachers and civil servants and to keep gas and electricity flowing, the agency said.
European Union finance ministers on Tuesday agreed to provide a loan to Ukraine of 1 billion euros, equivalent to $1 billion, the first tranche of a €9 billion loan that the bloc’s leaders signed off on last month.
The funds are being made available for Ukraine to meet urgent bills for basic services in coming months, and are intended to match U.S. short-term funding for the country. The EU will also cover interest payments on the first tranche of the loan, which Ukraine will have years to pay back. It comes on top of a €1.2 billion loan for Ukraine that the EU provided after the war started.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Iran on July 19 for a trilateral summit with the presidents of Iran and Turkey and for bilateral meetings, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday. The three leaders have previously held summits to discuss the conflict in Syria. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday that the U.S. has information that Tehran is preparing to provide Russia with drones for the battlefield in Ukraine.
—Laurence Norman in Brussels and Jared Malsin in Istanbul contributed to this article.
Write to Vivian Salama at vivian.salama@wsj.com and Bojan Pancevski at bojan.pancevski@wsj.com
WSJ · by Vivian Salama and Bojan Pancevski

8. Opinion | The Ukraine War Is About to Enter a Dangerous New Phase


​Excerpts:
Alas, there is no telling what Putin might do if his forces get stalled again or lose ground. It might make him more amenable to a cease-fire. It might also force him into a national mobilization to bring more troops to the fight.
There is only one thing that I am certain of: This war in Ukraine will not end — really end — as long as Putin is in power in Moscow. That is not a call to overthrow him. That’s for Russians to decide. It’s simply an observation that this has always been Putin’s war. He personally conceived it, planned it, directed it and justified it. It is impossible for him to imagine Russia as a great power without Ukraine. So, while it may be possible to force Putin into a cease-fire, I doubt it will be more than temporary.
In short: This Ukraine war is so far from over that I can’t even see over.​
Opinion | The Ukraine War Is About to Enter a Dangerous New Phase
The New York Times · by Thomas L. Friedman · July 12, 2022
Thomas L. Friedman
The Ukraine War Is About to Enter a Dangerous New Phase
July 12, 2022

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Opinion columnist
When trying to explain the recent improvements in the Russian Army’s operations in Ukraine, some Ukrainian officials have taken to saying, “All the dumb Russians are dead.” It’s a backhanded compliment, meaning that the Russians have finally figured out a more effective way to fight this war since their incompetent early performance that got thousands of them killed.
Precisely because the Ukraine war seems to have settled into a grinding war of attrition — with Russia largely standing back and just shelling and rocketing Ukrainian cities in the east, turning them to rubble and then inching forward — you might think the worst of this conflict is over.
You would be wrong.
I believe the Ukraine war is about to enter a new phase, based on this fact: Many Russian soldiers and generals may be dead, but Ukraine’s steadfast NATO allies are tired. This war has already contributed to a huge spike in natural gas, gasoline and food prices in Europe — and if it drags into the winter, many families in the European Union may have to choose between heating and eating.
As a result, I think the war’s new phase is what I call Vladimir Putin’s “winter strategy” versus NATO’s “summer strategy.”
It is obvious that Putin is ready to keep plowing forward in Ukraine, in the hopes that the soaring inflation in energy and food prices in Europe will eventually fracture the NATO alliance. His bet seems to be: If average temperatures in Europe are colder than normal, and if average global oil and gas supplies are tighter than normal, and if average prices are higher than normal, and if electricity blackouts from energy shortages become widespread, there’s a good chance that European NATO members will start pressuring President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to cut a deal with Russia — any deal — to stop the fighting.
So Putin must surely be telling his own exhausted troops and generals: “Just get me to Christmas. Winter is our friend.”
It is not a crazy strategy. As The Times’s Jim Tankersley reported last week: “White House officials fear a new round of European penalties aimed at curbing the flow of Russian oil by year-end could send energy prices soaring anew, slamming already beleaguered consumers and plunging the United States and other economies into a severe contraction. That chain of events could exacerbate what is already a severe food crisis plaguing countries across the world.”
NATO and E.U. efforts to curb Russian oil exports to Europe, the story added, “could send oil prices soaring to $200 per barrel or more, translating to Americans paying $7 a gallon for gasoline.” Gasoline at $9 to $10 a gallon is already not uncommon in Europe, where natural gas prices have risen “some 700 percent,” Bloomberg reported, “since the start of last year, pushing the continent to the brink of recession.”
Meanwhile, NATO, U.S. and Ukrainian officials are surely saying to themselves: “Yes, winter is our enemy. But the summer and autumn can be our friend — IF we can inflict some real hurt on Putin’s tired army now, so, at a minimum, he will accept a cease-fire.”
This, too, is not a crazy strategy. Putin may be making some gains in eastern Ukraine, but at a very high price. Numerous military analyses suggest that Russia has suffered, at a minimum, 15,000 soldiers’ deaths in less than five months — a staggering figure — and probably double that number of wounded. More than 1,000 Russian tanks and artillery pieces have been turned into scrap.
U.S. officials tell me that Putin has nowhere near enough troops right now to try to break out of eastern Ukraine and seize the port of Odesa in order to leave Ukraine landlocked and strangle its economy.
As The Times’s Neil MacFarquhar reported this weekend, Putin desperately needs more forces simply to maintain the recent momentum in the east and is already undertaking a “stealth mobilization” to get more men to the front “without resorting to a politically risky national draft. To make up the manpower shortfall, the Kremlin is relying on a combination of impoverished ethnic minorities, Ukrainians from the separatist territories, mercenaries and militarized National Guard units” and promising large cash incentives for volunteers.
Putin is reluctant to draft more men because that would suggest that what he had told his people was just a “special military operation” in Ukraine is not only much bigger, but also going much worse.
NATO is clearly hoping that the Ukrainian Army can use the new M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, which the U.S. has transferred to Kyiv, to inflict significantly more death and destruction on the Russian forces in Ukraine in the summer and fall. If so, Putin’s advances may not only stall but even lose ground, and the Russian president may feel compelled to agree to a cease-fire, a big exchange of prisoners, humanitarian evacuations and better conditions for Ukrainian food exports — all of which would help to ease inflation and, hopefully, reduce pressure from Ukraine’s European allies to cut just any deal with Putin.
There is no sign that Putin is ready to make a final peace deal, but it may be possible to push him into this kind of cease-fire, which could provide relief to energy and food markets.
So for all these reasons I’d argue the war in Ukraine is about to enter its most dangerous phase since the Russians invaded in February: Putin’s winter strategy meets NATO’s summer strategy.
No wonder that a deputy Ukrainian prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, has appealed to residents of Russian-held territories in the south to evacuate quickly so Russians could not use them as human shields during the anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive. “You need to find a way to leave, because our armed forces are coming to de-occupy,” she said. “There will be a massive fight.”
Alas, there is no telling what Putin might do if his forces get stalled again or lose ground. It might make him more amenable to a cease-fire. It might also force him into a national mobilization to bring more troops to the fight.
There is only one thing that I am certain of: This war in Ukraine will not end — really end — as long as Putin is in power in Moscow. That is not a call to overthrow him. That’s for Russians to decide. It’s simply an observation that this has always been Putin’s war. He personally conceived it, planned it, directed it and justified it. It is impossible for him to imagine Russia as a great power without Ukraine. So, while it may be possible to force Putin into a cease-fire, I doubt it will be more than temporary.
In short: This Ukraine war is so far from over that I can’t even see over.
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The New York Times · by Thomas L. Friedman · July 12, 2022

9.  Opinion Shorten the war. Send 60 HIMARS to Ukraine.

Excerpts:

Why aren’t we sending more HIMARS? I put that question on Friday to a senior U.S. defense official, who responded by pointing out all the difficulties involved, from moving these systems to Ukraine to training enough Ukrainians to operate them to providing spare parts to keep them functioning. All true. But why doesn’t the administration announce right now that it is planning to send 60 HIMARS as soon as practicable and ramp up training to make sure Ukraine has enough operators to use them? That kind of commitment could shift the balance of power on the ground, enabling a Ukrainian counteroffensive to take back lost land. Simply making the announcement would buoy Ukrainian spirits and undermine Russian morale.

The U.S. military is very good at achieving tactical goals: If you tell soldiers or Marines to take a hill, they will move heaven and earth to take it. The problem is that it isn’t clear what goal the U.S. aid program is trying to achieve. President Biden recently pledged to continue supporting Ukraine “as long as it takes” to ensure it is “not defeated” by Russia. That’s not good enough. Our goal should not be averting a Ukrainian defeat. It should be enabling a Ukrainian victory. That’s the only way to shorten the war and end the suffering.



 Opinion  Shorten the war. Send 60 HIMARS to Ukraine.

Talk of a ‘long war’ in Ukraine is defeatist. Focus on shortening it.
The Washington Post · by Max Boot · July 11, 2022
It has become commonplace to observe that Ukraine is mired in a “long war” — one that could last for years, according to NATO’s secretary general. That could well be correct. The war, after all, has already lasted nearly five months and continues to grind on. But I fear that by so readily accepting that there is no end in sight, we might be giving in to fatalism and defeatism. Instead of becoming resigned to a never-ending war, the West should be focusing on how to shorten the conflict by enabling Ukraine to win.
A long war, after all, probably favors Russia. Ukraine’s economy is set to shrink by 45 percent this year amid Russian attacks on economic infrastructure and a Russian blockade of the Black Sea coast. Russia is suffering from sanctions, but it is expected to take in more oil and gas revenue this year ($285 billion) than last year. While Russian dictator Vladimir Putin squelches domestic opposition, Western support for Ukraine could waver if Europeans have to endure sky-high prices for natural gas in the winter and if the increasingly isolationist Republicans take control of at least one house of Congress.
This is certainly no time for a “mission accomplished” moment — as if simply prolonging the war represents some kind of victory. It is dismaying to read in the New York Times that anonymous Biden administration officials are claiming the United States has already either accomplished or is about to accomplish its “strategic objectives” — ensuring that an independent Ukraine will survive, that the invasion will be a “strategic failure” for Russia, that there will be no “superpower conflict” and that the international order will be strengthened “around Western values.”
It is wildly premature to suggest that any of these objectives have been durably achieved; Putin hasn’t given up his evil scheme of enslaving Ukraine. It is also highly insensitive to tout supposed U.S. success when roughly 20 percent of Ukraine remains under enemy occupation and more Ukrainians are being slaughtered every day. Would we be satisfied if an army of war criminals occupied 20 percent of the United States? By my calculation, that would include the entire states of California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas. We wouldn’t live with such an outrage — and neither should the Ukrainians.
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Fortunately, Ukraine has no shortage of volunteers willing to fight — and, if necessary, die — to defend their homeland. What Ukrainians lack are the weapons and training they need to roll back the Russian advance. They have been receiving some of both but not in the numbers needed.
The British army has undertaken a much-needed initiative to train 10,000 Ukrainians for military service. Other countries should set up their own programs so that the number of trained recruits can be increased exponentially to make up for wartime losses.
The United States and other countries have also been sending growing quantities of heavy weapons to Ukraine. The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) are proving particularly effective in allowing the Ukrainians to target Russian headquarters and ammunition depots. A Russian military blogger laments that Russian air defenses haven’t been able to stop HIMARS rockets, resulting in “BIG losses in personnel and equipment.”
Those are impressive results considering that Ukraine so far has received only nine HIMARS. The Biden administration just pledged four more in addition to nine others promised by allies. But Ukrainian officials are asking for many more HIMARS and would like to see them equipped with longer-range rockets. Michael G. Vickers, a former undersecretary of defense who helped mastermind the 1980s war against the Red Army in Afghanistan, recently suggested that Ukraine needs 60 to 100 HIMARS or other multiple-launch rocket systems to win the artillery duel.
Why aren’t we sending more HIMARS? I put that question on Friday to a senior U.S. defense official, who responded by pointing out all the difficulties involved, from moving these systems to Ukraine to training enough Ukrainians to operate them to providing spare parts to keep them functioning. All true. But why doesn’t the administration announce right now that it is planning to send 60 HIMARS as soon as practicable and ramp up training to make sure Ukraine has enough operators to use them? That kind of commitment could shift the balance of power on the ground, enabling a Ukrainian counteroffensive to take back lost land. Simply making the announcement would buoy Ukrainian spirits and undermine Russian morale.
The U.S. military is very good at achieving tactical goals: If you tell soldiers or Marines to take a hill, they will move heaven and earth to take it. The problem is that it isn’t clear what goal the U.S. aid program is trying to achieve. President Biden recently pledged to continue supporting Ukraine “as long as it takes” to ensure it is “not defeated” by Russia. That’s not good enough. Our goal should not be averting a Ukrainian defeat. It should be enabling a Ukrainian victory. That’s the only way to shorten the war and end the suffering.
The Washington Post · by Max Boot · July 11, 2022


10. U.S. to open new embassies, boost aid in Pacific as China’s sway grows

More opportunities for Ambassadors and Foreign Service Officers (as well as the interagency agency members of country teams).


U.S. to open new embassies, boost aid in Pacific as China’s sway grows
The Washington Post · by Michael E. Miller · July 12, 2022
SYDNEY — The United States said Tuesday it would expand its diplomatic presence in the Pacific, as it seeks to counter the growing influence of China in a region of intensifying great-power rivalry.
The new efforts, which will be announced by Vice President Harris during a virtual address to leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Fiji, will include two additional U.S. embassies and a tripling of some aid, among other measures.
The diplomatic push comes amid concerns that China has supplanted the United States as the friend of choice for some Pacific island nations. China struck a security agreement with the Solomon Islands in April despite American objections. And the Chinese foreign minister recently signed several other bilateral agreements during an eight-country tour of the region.
The Biden administration has sought to shift American focus from the Middle East to Asia. It has withdrawn U.S. troops from Afghanistan, ramped up the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with Japan, Australia and India, and launched the AUKUS pact with Britain and Australia, which, like the Quad, is seen as a countermeasure to China’s growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.
Yet China’s security agreement with the Solomon Islands — the site of a key American military victory at Guadalcanal during World War II — appeared to catch the United States and its close regional allies, Australia and New Zealand, by surprise.
The new diplomatic initiatives come as the United States tries to restore some of its influence in the region.
“We are significantly stepping up our game in the Pacific islands,” said a senior administration official who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity ahead of the vice president’s PIF appearance. The official said the United States was not asking Pacific island nations to choose between it and China.
“We are focusing on our own engagement and our own interests and our own support,” the official said. “Of course contrasts [with China] will be made, and we would like to think that contrast looks favorably on us, where we’ve been a responsible security actor in the region, in fact, in the entire Indo-Pacific, for many decades and have helped to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Among the measures Harris will announce to Pacific leaders will be new U.S. embassies in Kiribati and Tonga. In 2019, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands both switched their diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, underscoring the inroads Beijing has made in the region.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited both countries during his Pacific tour in late May and signed bilateral agreements with each.
Kiribati announced this week that it was withdrawing from the PIF, purportedly over a leadership dispute, although an opposition leader told the Guardian the withdrawal was due to Chinese pressure. China has denied that.
The U.S. official said that the Biden administration was “concerned” by Kiribati’s withdrawal but that discussions over the issue are ongoing.
Harris will also announce that the administration aims to triple funding for economic development and ocean resilience in the region to $60 million a year for the next decade, though Congress will have to approve the increase. Some of the funds would go toward combating the impact of climate change on the Pacific island nations, which are among the world’s most vulnerable.
The United States will also appoint its first envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum, which, despite infighting, has emerged as a key regional bloc. In a sign of the region’s growing geopolitical importance, the Biden administration will also design and release its first national strategy specifically devoted to the Pacific islands.
Harris will announce the return of the Peace Corps to Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu after volunteers were withdrawn during the pandemic. The Biden administration is also exploring expanding the program to additional Pacific island countries.
“We are expanding our footprint and making sure we have the people and apparatus in place to deepen our cooperation on a day-to-day basis and to deliver concrete results,” the senior administration official said.
But the Solomon Islands show the limitations of such outreach. In February, the Biden administration announced it would reopen its long-shuttered embassy in the nation’s capital, Honiara, only for China to announce its security agreement two months later.
That agreement stirred fears of a Chinese military base roughly 1,000 miles from Australian shores, though China and the Solomon Islands denied that would happen. China recently failed in an attempt to strike a similar but far broader security agreement with 10 Pacific island countries, but Beijing has suggested it will try again.
Australia’s recently elected center-left Labor government has also promised to boost diplomacy, aid and military ties to Pacific island nations to counter Beijing’s growing influence.
Despite a slight easing of tensions between the two countries, highlighted by the first ministerial meetings in three years, China has yet to lift punishing tariffs on Australia.
During a visit to Washington this week, Richard Marles, the Australian defense minister and deputy prime minister, said the United States and Australia will need to increase their presence in the Indo-Pacific, warning that a failure to maintain a balance of power could be “catastrophic.”
The Washington Post · by Michael E. Miller · July 12, 2022

11. Recording reveals life in captivity for American held by Russian group




Recording reveals life in captivity for American held by Russian group
Alexander Drueke, in a call with his mother, affirmed he is being held in solitary confinement and conveyed hope that the U.S. government is pursuing his release

July 12, 2022 at 5:00 a.m. EDT

The Washington Post · by Alex Horton · July 12, 2022
An American military veteran captured by Russian forces in Ukraine is being held in solitary confinement but appears hopeful the U.S. government is pursuing his release, according to a phone call with his mother recorded last week and provided to The Washington Post by his family.
Friday’s call between U.S. Army veteran Alexander Drueke and his mother, Lois Drueke, offers new insight into the Biden administration’s efforts in what’s become a high-stakes showdown with Moscow over U.S. involvement in the war. It was their fifth conversation since Drueke and another U.S. military veteran, Andy Tai Huynh, were taken into custody in June, his family said. Both men are from Alabama and traveled overseas as volunteers, joining the campaign despite public warnings from top U.S. officials that doing so was dangerous and ill-advised.
A third U.S. citizen, Grady Kurpasi, is missing in Ukraine and feared captured or killed, his family has said. At least two Americans are believed to have died in the fighting.
Drueke and Huynh are being held by members of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, a Russia-backed group based in eastern Ukraine. That has complicated negotiations, their families said, because the organization is not recognized by the U.S. government and has no diplomatic presence.
In a statement, the State Department said it is in contact with “Ukrainian and Russian authorities” concerning the captured Americans. “We are seeking to learn as much as we can and are in touch with the families,” it said. “Out of respect for the families’ privacy during this time, we have nothing further to add.”
The Russian Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. The Kremlin has signaled it would not extend protections typically afforded to prisoners of war for any Americans and international volunteers detained in Ukraine, lending to the sense of urgency surrounding these cases.
Drueke’s aunt, Dianna Shaw, said that, to date, each conversation between mother and son coincides with separate calls involving U.S. government personnel assigned to his case.
“The pattern is always the same,” Shaw said in an email. “First, he calls the State Department and then he calls her. And then she and the State Department immediately talk and compare notes.”
It has been clear to the family that Drueke is closely monitored during the calls, making the conversations feel scripted and tense, Shaw said. Friday’s seemed a little less strained, she noted. “This one was more, ‘Hi, Mom. How are you?’ ” Shaw said.
The call, which the family edited to remove personal details, lasted more than four minutes and highlighted ongoing diplomatic efforts between the United States, Britain and Ukraine. Shaw said officials are working to have Drueke and Huynh included on a list of prisoners for potential action, such as negotiated release.
During their conversation Friday, Lois Drueke made clear to her son, “It just might be awhile.” Their State Department case worker, she said, had noted that “they were meeting with ambassadors and teams from Ukraine and also from the U.K. to discuss the British prisoners and all of y’all, and you and Andy were on the agenda.”
Drueke, 39, and Huynh, 27, were captured by Russian forces outside the city of Kharkiv, near Ukraine’s northeastern border. Drueke’s family maintains that he went overseas to train Ukrainian troops on U.S. weapons, not to engage in combat. Huynh did take up arms, according to his fiancee’s family, in addition to training Ukrainian troops and bringing in medical supplies.
Drueke volunteered little information during Friday’s phone call with his mother. “I’m doing fine. No real danger currently,” he said, before offering that he had seen Huynh the day prior when they spoke with a lawyer.
When Lois Drueke asked her son if he is still being held in solitary confinement, he affirmed, “Yes, ma’am. I’m still in the same location” and acknowledged that the room’s size presents challenges for day-to-day living. It’s big enough for some exercise, he said, but it has been difficult “finding little things to think about, just, you know, [to] fill in the boredom.”
He said the State Department official assigned to his case did not convey “any concrete news” during their most recent conversation, and he asked his mother whether she had been told of “any new steps or progress.” In response, she disclosed the planned meetings between senior officials in the U.S., British and Ukrainian governments.
Drueke expressed gratitude for others’ efforts on his behalf.
Hunyh has still not spoken with any U.S. officials or his family, said his fiancee, Joy Black.
“We don’t know the reason,” said Darla Black, Joy Black’s mother, who described Hunyh as her “bonus son” who has won over the family with his humor and empathy.
Drueke’s calls have revealed some insights into his captors’ thinking, Shaw said. They appear proud to be detaining the Americans, and she said she suspects they have coached him on what to say. In one instance, when his mother asked what he was eating, he responded “food” and gave other vague answers to straightforward questions, she said.
The families of both men have insisted their captors treat them in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, which offer prisoners of war protection from torture, summary execution and prosecution for fighting in armed conflict, and they would like to see the International Committee of the Red Cross visit them and assess their condition.
The Kremlin has described Drueke and Huynh as mercenaries with no protection, suggesting they could be sentenced to death.
Their captivity has underscored the diplomatic impasse between Washington and Moscow since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the challenges President Biden and his administration face in trying to secure the men’s release.
Facing growing public pressure, Biden has expressed personal interest in the case of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was arrested in Russia on a drug charge, and that of Paul Whelan, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran sentenced by a Russian court to 16 years in prison on espionage charges that he has denied.
The Washington Post · by Alex Horton · July 12, 2022

12. Beatrice Heuser, Western Ideas of War and the Russia-Ukraine Conflict, No. 528, July 12, 2022 – Nipp

Key point. Putin and most of the revisionist and rogue powers view "politics as war by other means" rather than "war being a continuation of politics." And I would add from LTG (RET) Dubik rather than seeking an "end state," we need to focus on achieving an acceptable durable political arrangement that will protect, serve, and advance US interests because there is never a traditional "end" to politics as war by other means.

Excerpt:
Well, I would have added a few words about current Russian thinking. I think I have rightly said, in my conclusions, that the current Russian regime’s thinking about war and peace is not binary (p. 399), but I might have added: Putin sees all of international politics as war, war in kinetic and non-kinetic forms. Even when he was still ready to co-operate to some extent with the West, he uttered the following words in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2020:
We all know that competition and rivalry between countries in world history never stopped, does not stop, and will never stop. Differences and a clash of interests are also natural for such a complicated body as human civilisation.

Excerpted conclusion:

I should not, however, conclude this commentary on the Russo-Ukrainian War in the light of my Genealogy of Western Ideas and Practices of war without pointing out that this surprisingly old-fashioned war of invasion by one state of another also contains features that point to the different shape of wars to come. To mention two: the role of one outstandingly rich individual, Elon Musk, who furnishes Ukraine with intelligence from his satellites, or the international crowdsourcing of the purchase and adaptation of drones furnished to the Ukrainian armed forces. As Dr. Max McKeown pointed out to me, this is in principle similar to rich American individuals or groups funding the IRA during the “Troubles” (late 1960s to 1998), the real-time intelligence that is made available in this way is technologically on a much higher scale, as is the intensity of the armed conflict. It also illustrates the once-again growing importance of non-state actors, never completely absent (think of the role of individual companies from the British East India Company of the 18th and 19th centuries to the role of Rio Tinto in the Second World War). ...

​This can also be downloaded in PDF at this link: https://nipp.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/IS-528.pdf
Beatrice Heuser, Western Ideas of War and the Russia-Ukraine Conflict, No. 528, July 12, 2022 – Nipp
Western Ideas of War and the Russia-Ukraine Conflict
Beatrice Heuser
Beatrice Heuser is an historian and holds the Chair of International Relations at the University of Glasgow. She is currently seconded to the General Staff College of the Bundeswehr in Hamburg. Her recent book, War: A Genealogy of Western Ideas and Practices, was published by Oxford University Press in March 2022.
As noted in its Introduction, my book, War: A Genealogy of Western Ideas and Practices, “is mainly about ‘Western’ ideas about war, but also about Western practices.” It was in print when Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine. This gives me the opportunity to reflect on whether I would have changed anything in my text, had I completed it after 24 February 2022. Well, I would have added a few words about current Russian thinking. I think I have rightly said, in my conclusions, that the current Russian regime’s thinking about war and peace is not binary (p. 399), but I might have added: Putin sees all of international politics as war, war in kinetic and non-kinetic forms. Even when he was still ready to co-operate to some extent with the West, he uttered the following words in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2020:
We all know that competition and rivalry between countries in world history never stopped, does not stop, and will never stop. Differences and a clash of interests are also natural for such a complicated body as human civilisation.
These words would have come as no surprise to any “Realist” politician, confirming the “Realist” theories of International Relations. Which leads me to the old debate about whether Russia is part of Europe or of “the East” or something separate, in between, a debate mainly carried on among Russians. Looking at Russian pronouncements on war and peace and on International Relations since the 19th century, however, what strikes me is how similar the arguments made by Russian strategists have been to arguments made by strategists in the West. As in the West, there were the “Realists” proclaiming that war was unavoidable, that all life was war, who in Germany gradually slipped down the slope towards Darwinism and racism. We find these in the writing of the founding father of Russian strategic thought, Ghenrik (Henry) Leer, a contemporary of Moltke the Elder’s, among the Russian exiles of the 1950s, like Evgeny Eduardovich Messner, and among contemporary Russian military thinkers such as Major General Alexander Vladimirov. They don’t seem so different from German authors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, or from Italy’s Giulio Douhet, or from Britain’s C.E. Callwell or J.F.C.Fuller, or from France’s Raoul Castex, all military men, or Germany’s lawyer Carl Schmitt with his weaselly words that managed to get him acquitted of the worst accusations of having contributed to the preparation of the Second World War. Either way, Russian military discourse was well prepared for the Marxist teaching that forecast an inevitable struggle between capitalism/imperialism on the one hand and socialism on the other, for the eventual and inevitable triumph of socialism/communism. The ground was well prepared for the reception of the saying variously attributed to Lenin and Stalin and several Soviet military leaders that politics (i.e., international relations) is the continuation of war by other means. Si non e vero, e ben trovato. It certainly captures Putin’s views nicely.
Yet even among these Russian “Realists,” Leer defined the aim of strategy as being “to define a reasonable goal and direct all forces and means towards its achievement in the shortest time and with the least sacrifices,” which stands in contrast with the way Soviet soldiers were employed in the two world wars. And alongside these Russian military thinkers, there were the most humane international lawyers in the employ of successive Tsars, who did so much to promote agreements on the limitations of war in the successive conferences of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most widely known among them is Friedrich Martens, Russian representative at the Hague Conference of 1899 who introduced the eponymous clause into the Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land, designed to close off loopholes for the inhumane use of military force.
Think also of Tolstoy on the extreme end of the spectrum, one of the key thinkers of European pacifism. And think of the painter Vasily Vereshchagin, whose critical painting “The Apotheosis of War” I chose for a cover of my book. It shows a huge pile of skulls against the barren widths of Central Asia into which Russian imperial expansion reached in the mid-19th century. When paintings of Vereshchagin were exhibited in St Petersburg in 1884, the organisers chose to exclude this painting for reasons that in the German Third Reich would have been called Wehrkraftszersetzung, the undermining of the fighting spirit (an accusation the Germans would punish with the death penalty during the Second World War).
Even for the value debates about the importance of individual freedoms vs. the society as a whole, Russians never had to look to the East: the Nazi slogan “you are nothing, your people are everything” could just as easily have been coined by a totalitarian Communist regime. Today, its spirit may be more common in Asian societies, but its roots lie in what J.L. Talmon called “totalitarian democracy,” invented to the West, not to the East of Russia.
In short, the two main schools of thought about war that we find in the “West”—those subscribing to the view that war is an eternal part of the human condition, and those who have sought to limit or even abolish it—have also been present in Russia since the 19th century. Only, today those who are heirs to the humanitarian tradition, who believe in the good to be derived from peaceful exchange, the renunciation of war as a tool of statecraft and respect for the equal rights of other populations and their states, are either behind bars, or in exile, or lie low for the sake of their families, in the hope that the storm will pass. They may be a minority in the unthinking mass of Russian citizens who have been brainwashed for years by Russian state-controlled media. Even there, the Russian masses are not atypical of Europe: in several of the oldest and most resilient of democracies, we have recently had ample proof of uncritical thinking and vulnerability to demagoguery.
Other than that, the Russian invasion of Ukraine underscores the reality and enduring relevance of several of the themes of my book. It illustrates the continuing practice of siege warfare, and the way in which the populations of besieged cities become the main enemies if they try to hold out and refuse to surrender. Reports of mass rapes—something Russian soldiers were infamous for in the Second World War (p. 373)—have accompanied the anecdotal stories of cold-blooded shooting of small families who were trying to make their way out of the cities, or of the shelling of buses full of people seeking to escape the artillery fire on their cities who had been promised free passage. Also, we have had reports of population transfers: the abduction of the entire populations of villages, or the promise of free passage on condition that townsfolk from beleaguered cities let themselves be taken to Russia, again standing in a very old Russian and even Byzantine tradition (p. 362f.). We have had reports of the destruction of grain depots, reminiscent of scorched earth tactics of old (p. 21, 41, 363f., 386), and of course the Russian destruction or blockade of Ukrainian ports has as a result that Ukrainian grain cannot reach its normal consumers in countries as far away as India or Egypt. These reports are not yet independently verifiable or confirmed, and it cannot at this stage be ruled out that they are exaggerated by Ukrainian reporting. But if they are true, they come in a long tradition of the Russian way of war. In any case, my book underscores the effects of war on civilians in particular, and the ongoing war in Ukraine provides ample examples.
Putin’s war also serves as ample confirmation that ideas matter, and that world views vary. His amazingly constructed reasons for going to war, as presented to his own population, would have been another example for the section on “Colourful Pretexts” that concludes my chapter on “Professed Reasons for Going to War” (pp. 213-216). It is a perfect example of a binary, and at the same time reductionist world view, in which all that is evil is thrown into one pot (here: anybody who does not want to subordinate himself to Putin is defined as Fascist, Nazi) and all that is good in the other (Russia, Russian-speakers, the Orthodox Church, the heroic Russian sacrifices of the Second World War in the fight against Nazism). Thus, Russian neo-imperialism, Russian irredentism, Russian attempts to turn back the wheel of time and to re-occupy its one-time colony Ukraine is redefined in terms of a heroic rerun of the Second World War. It is a perfect example of how a past war is used as a template to justify one in the present, and of how important war manifestos—public justifications of going to war—are (pp. 199-203) in getting one’s narrative out, ideally first. Target audiences are not only one’s own population, but also the many other groups around the world who in their scepticism about the USA and the West in general, about globalisation, about liberal challenges to traditional lifestyles are willing to believe Putin.
The war furnishes evidence of the non-linearity and the non-universality of the spread of norms of international law. Putin is going back in history, abandoning the acquis which many of us had taken for granted in the West. Where even the Communist chiefs of the Kremlin had signed up to the renunciation of straight-forward aggression as a tool of statecraft in the UN Charter—its various invasions of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan were masked as responses to calls for help from the regimes in power—Putin contrived no such excuse. Already with the annexation of Crimea and the covert war in Donbas since 2014, he departed from the commitment to restraint which his Soviet predecessors had made in 1975 with the Helsinki Final Act—the promise not to change international borders by force—and the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 on the recognition of the borders of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan in particular, in exchange for their relinquishment of Soviet nuclear weapons still based on their soil. It casts aside the Russia-Ukraine Interstate Treaty of 1997 and Black Sea Fleet agreements of the same year, the 2003 Treaty of Cooperation on the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait, and the Kharkiv Agreements of 2010 signed by then-Presidents Yanukovych for Ukraine and Medvedev for Russia. Thus, while international law has over the last two centuries progressed consistently in its struggle to contain and later outlaw war, this linear development does not apply throughout the world, nor are commitments to treaties once signed upheld globally (p. 413).
The Russo-Ukrainian War illustrates how thoroughly the nuclear revolution has changed the world (see p. 53f): where in 1939, France and Britain gave a security guarantee to Poland when the danger took shape that Germany would invade it, the NATO countries dared do no such thing in the winter of 2021/2022 when signs increasingly pointed to an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine. Would the memory of the horrors of the Second World War alone have sufficed to stop NATO from engaging in 2022? Would the cost to rich and selfish Western countries alone stop us from stepping up our aid and sanctions (see my argument on the cost of upholding the rules-based international order, p.192)? Perhaps, but at any rate, the looming nuclear dimension is the dominant factor keeping Western countries from lending Ukraine more comprehensive support.
A medieval mind would have seen the cause of all this evil in the disposition of an individual “prince” or leader (see p. 135), and one cannot but agree that the Russo-Ukrainian War seems in a particularly poignant way to point to the responsibility of a single, exalted, powerful individual: Vladimir Putin. He has been keen to cast himself as a new tsar, but tyrant would be a better expression for somebody who sends out his agents to assassinate journalists and defectors, and arrest protesters, even those standing in the street holding empty billboards or with empty hands. Prophetically, Vereshchagin dedicated his aforementioned painting “to all great conquerors, past, present and to come.” Only, Putin would probably see this as an honourable epithet, as did the princes of previous centuries. Again, the non-linearity of human history is amply proven.
I should not, however, conclude this commentary on the Russo-Ukrainian War in the light of my Genealogy of Western Ideas and Practices of war without pointing out that this surprisingly old-fashioned war of invasion by one state of another also contains features that point to the different shape of wars to come. To mention two: the role of one outstandingly rich individual, Elon Musk, who furnishes Ukraine with intelligence from his satellites, or the international crowdsourcing of the purchase and adaptation of drones furnished to the Ukrainian armed forces. As Dr. Max McKeown pointed out to me, this is in principle similar to rich American individuals or groups funding the IRA during the “Troubles” (late 1960s to 1998), the real-time intelligence that is made available in this way is technologically on a much higher scale, as is the intensity of the armed conflict. It also illustrates the once-again growing importance of non-state actors, never completely absent (think of the role of individual companies from the British East India Company of the 18th and 19th centuries to the role of Rio Tinto in the Second World War). It questions our traditional conceptualisation of war as being mainly if not exclusively the matter of states, a definition that goes back to European Antiquity as states sought to outlaw other forms of war by insisting only they had the legitimate authority to prosecute it, but never quite managed to. This narrow definition blinkers us conceptually if we want to understand the many dimensions of war. Other Russian-backed armed conflicts have involved private military companies, volunteers fighting without state insignia as in Donbas since 2014, and proxies. Moreover, looking further afield, conflicts of recent decades have seen the involvement of politically and/or religiously-motivated non-state groups (think of Al Qaeda) and criminal networks and organisations (think of the opium cultivation and illegal exports from Afghanistan). My prediction is that such patterns that are not found in the Russo-Ukraine War will in the future be of growing importance. It is also, that Western democracies will struggle to uphold the Laws of Armed Conflict (International Humanitarian Law) as they will find themselves increasingly in the minority in a world where other cultures set less store by human rights and the value of the life of the individual.
“Russian President Putin’s Speech At The World Economic Forum: Complete English Translation,” January 28, 2021, available at https://www.russia-briefing.com/news/russian-president-putin-s-speech-at-the-world-economic-forum-complete-english-translation.html/, accessed on June 26, 2022.
All examples from Ofer Fridman (ed. & trs.): Strategiya: The Foundations of the Russian Art of Strategy (London: Hurst, 2021).
If it is not true, it is still well put.
Ibid., p. 7.
“Du bist nichts, dein Volk ist alles.“
J.L.Talmon: The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1952).
Gaby Hinsliff: “Russia’s mass rapes in Ukraine are a war crime,” The Guardian, April 15, 2022, available at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/apr/15/rape-weapon-ukraine-war-crime-sexual-violence.
Pavel Polityuk: “Ukrainian officials say Russian firing hampers rescue of Mariupol civilians”, Reuters/Leaderpost, May 6, 2022, available at https://leaderpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/ukrainian-officials-say-russian-firing-hampers-rescue-of-mariupol-civilians-2/wcm/e21c5340-259c-499f-a044-dac44cd57224/amp/, accessed on June 28, 2022.
Jake Epstein: “Russia Is Targeting Grain Storage to Cause Famine, Ukraine Alleges,” Business Insider, May 2, 2022, available at https://www.businessinsider.com/russian-forces-targeting-grain-storage-to-cause-famine-ukraine-alleges-2022-5, accessed on June 28, 2022.
For further examples, see Beatrice Heuser & Athena Leoussi (eds): Famous Battles and How they Shaped the Modern World (Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 2018), 2 volumes.
The body of legislation and other norms that has been agreed over time, a word that made its way into British English via the European Union’s gradual building of a body of norms but will now likely be forgotten again after Brexit…
James Sherr: “Myth No. 1: ‘Russia and the West are as “bad” as each other.’,” in Duncan Allan et al: Myths and misconceptions in the debate on Russia, Russia and Eurasia Programme Report (London: Chatham House, May 2021), p. 21.
Tretjakov Gallery, Moscow.
Christopher Miller, Mark Scott and Bryan Bender: “UkraineX: How Elon Musk’s space satellites changed the war on the ground,” Politico, June 9, 2022, available at https://www.politico.com/news/2022/06/09/elon-musk-spacex-starlink-ukraine-00038039, accessed on June 29, 2022.
James Marson and Ian Lovett: “The Crowdsourcing Effort to Get Body Armor, Drones and Helmets to Ukraine,” The Wall Street Journal (March 27, 2022), available at https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-crowdsourcing-effort-to-getbody-armor-drones-and-helmetsto-ukraine-11648385356, accessed on June 29, 2022.
The National Institute for Public Policy’s Information Series is a periodic publication focusing on contemporary strategic issues affecting U.S. foreign and defense policy. It is a forum for promoting critical thinking on the evolving international security environment and how the dynamic geostrategic landscape affects U.S. national security. Contributors are recognized experts in the field of national security. National Institute for Public Policy would like to thank the Sarah Scaife Foundation for the generous support that makes the Information Series possible.
The views in this Information Series are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as official U.S. Government policy, the official policy of the National Institute for Public Policy or any of its sponsors. For additional information about this publication or other publications by the National Institute Press, contact: Editor, National Institute Press, 9302 Lee Highway, Suite 750 |Fairfax, VA 22031 | (703) 293- 9181 |www.nipp.org. For access to previous issues of the National Institute Press Information Series, please visit http://www.nipp.org/national-institutepress/informationseries/.
© National Institute Press, 2022

13. Will CEOs finally learn their lesson on boycotting Israel? | Opinion

Conclusion:

Boycotts of Israel carry legal and reputational risks. The next time a company gets scooped up by pressure from the antisemitic BDS mob, the story of Unilever will be one to remember.


Will CEOs finally learn their lesson on boycotting Israel? | Opinion
DAVID MAY AND RICHARD GOLDBERG , FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES
ON 7/12/22 AT 6:30 AM EDT
Newsweek · July 12, 2022
Ben & Jerry's' Israel boycott melted away last month when its parent company, Unilever, settled a federal lawsuit brought by the company's Israeli licensee, Avi Zinger. Unilever sold Zinger the rights to distribute the famous ice cream in communities throughout Israel, including in the disputed West Bank. For months, Unilever CEO Alan Jope had insisted his company's hands were tied because Ben & Jerry's retained decisionmaking authority over social justice initiatives, which apparently included discriminating against Jews and Arabs based on where they lived. Jope's stunning reversal serves as a warning to other executives: boycott Israel at your own peril.
In July 2021, Unilever acquiesced to a push by Ben & Jerry's' independent board—chaired by a prominent supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel—to terminate its relationship with Zinger. This followed a decade of activist pressure because Zinger refused to stop distributing ice cream in the West Bank.
The boycott led Unilever down a rocky road, however. Seven states around the country invoked anti-BDS laws, divesting hundreds of millions of dollars in state pension funds from Unilever for its boycott of Israel. North Carolina was poised to follow.
Jewish newspaper ads urged a boycott of Ben & Jerry's. Scoop shop franchisees pleaded with the corporation to reverse course, citing a decline in sales as Jewish customers protested. A rally in Times Square forced the Ben & Jerry's flagship store to close early. Protests broke out in London, too, where Unilever is based.
State attorneys general fired off a letter to Unilever. Members of the House and Senate wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission urging an investigation into Unilever, a publicly traded company, for failing to disclose to investors a controversial decision that could trigger state divestment and harm its stock price. A shareholder then filed a class-action lawsuit alleging the same. The cherry on top came when Zinger filed a federal lawsuit against Unilever to prevent the termination of his 34-year relationship with Ben & Jerry's.
Chaos, meanwhile, ensued in the Unilever board room. Top investor Terry Smith blasted the company for losing its focus, citing the Ben & Jerry's boycott. Hedge fund manager Nelson Peltz took an activist position in Unilever and joined its board. For CEO Jope, a boycott of Israel once perceived as a top priority for the Environmental, Sustainability, Governance (ESG) movement had become an unendurable brain freeze.
To settle the lawsuit, Unilever sold its Ben & Jerry's business interests in Israel to Zinger. Despite claiming for months it could not impose its will on its subsidiary, Unilever admitted in its press release that under its acquisition agreement with Ben & Jerry's, "Unilever reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions and therefore has the right to enter this arrangement."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 12: Protesters stand outside Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream at their Manhattan store on August 12, 2021 in New York City. Jewish organizations have railed against the company's decision to stop selling its products in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, which it calls occupied territories. The company said in a statement that continued sales there "is inconsistent with our values." Protest organizers gave out free ice cream to those in attendance. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
The company went further, coming close to labeling the BDS campaign antisemitic. "Antisemitism has no place in any society," a Unilever statement read. "We have never expressed any support for the [BDS] movement and have no intention of changing that position."
The Ben & Jerry's news parallels Airbnb's ill-conceived 2018 boycott of Israel that ended with a similar reversal after the company faced state blacklisting threats and litigation.
Given the difficulties faced by Airbnb and Unilever, you'd think the CEOs and chief counsels of large corporations would have learned their lesson. Apparently not. The next potential target for state anti-BDS laws, congressional investigations, and litigation? Chicago-based financial research giant Morningstar, whose ESG research subsidiary Sustainalytics appears to use the BDS playbook to produce negative ratings of companies connected to Israel despite full knowledge such ratings may drive divestment.
Before its acquisition by Morningstar, Sustainalytics had a long track record of promoting boycotts of Israel. It produced an "Occupied Territories Involvement Report" that encouraged investors to avoid territories controlled by Israel. When numerous companies and churches boycotted Israel, Sustainalytics was there providing research support.
In January 2021, the investment group JLens placed Morningstar on its "Do Not Invest" list because of Sustainalytics' ties to anti-Israel boycotts. Though Morningstar initially brushed off the criticism, it eventually hired an outside law firm to address the allegation. The firm mysteriously concluded Morningstar had no systemic bias against Israel and was not in violation of any state anti-BDS law. The facts presented in the report, however, did not match these conclusions. Instead, they painted a picture of a firm that heavily relies on deeply flawed anti-Israel sources, and automatically finds companies involved in entire sectors of Israel's economy to be complicit in human rights abuses.
Morningstar committed to firing one outside vendor, but still refuses to come to terms with the fact that Sustainalytics is engaged in a boycott of Israel through its ongoing use of BDS assumptions and sources to promote divestment. With anti-BDS laws on the books in 34 states today and a corporation continuing to make potentially misleading statements to investors, we know how this movie will end.
Boycotts of Israel carry legal and reputational risks. The next time a company gets scooped up by pressure from the antisemitic BDS mob, the story of Unilever will be one to remember.
David May is a Senior Research Analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (@FDD), where Richard Goldberg is a senior advisor. Follow May and Goldberg on Twitter via @DavidSamuelMay and @rich_goldberg.
The views expressed in this article are the writers' own.
Newsweek · July 12, 2022


14. U.S. State Department does “not support organized violent opposition to the Taliban”


Sigh... Well I suppose this is an appropriate public statement from the State Department. But we need to be assessing the resistance potential inside and outside of Afghanistan and the Administration needs to determine an appropriate policy (and strategy) that is feasible, acceptable, and suitable.


U.S. State Department does “not support organized violent opposition to the Taliban” | FDD's Long War Journal
longwarjournal.org · by Bill Roggio · July 12, 2022
As resistance groups step up attacks on the Taliban in Afghanistan, the U.S. State Department said it does “not support organized violent opposition” to Taliban rule. Instead, the State Department called for all warring parties to negotiate. That policy both limits the effectiveness of anti-Taliban resistance – and further reduces the U.S. military and intelligence communities’ ability to monitor and strike Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other regional and global terror groups based in Afghanistan.
State noted its opposition to resistance to the brutal regime of the Taliban, which calls itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in a response to questions from The Foreign Desk.
“We are monitoring the recent uptick in violence closely and call on all sides to exercise restraint and to engage. This is the only way that Afghanistan can confront its many challenges,” a State Department spokesperson told The Foreign Desk.
“We want to see the emergence of stable and sustainable political dispensation via peaceful means. We do not support organized violent opposition to the Taliban, and we would discourage other powers from doing so as well.”
Anti-Taliban resistance groups such as the National Resistance Front, which is led by former Vice President of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh, and the Afghanistan Freedom Front have increased attacks against the Taliban in several provinces, including Panjshir, Baghlan, and Parwan over the past several months. The Taliban has responded by bolstering its forces there and waging a brutal campaign against civilians in areas where resistance has intensified.
State’s opposition to supporting the anti-Taliban resistance is a de facto recognition of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s rule, and it dooms these groups to having minimal impact on Taliban control of the country. The Taliban effectively controls all 34 provinces in Afghanistan, and has superior numbers, equipment, and the support of the Pakistani state and it regional and global terrorist allies, including Al Qaeda and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Without significant military and diplomatic support, the anti-Taliban resistance is unlikely to expand its operations beyond sheer guerilla tactics.
The U.S. government’s unwillingness to meaningfully support the anti-Taliban resistance also limits the U.S. military and CIA’s ability to monitor and strike Al Qaeda. Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of Aug. 2021 and the swift Taliban takeover of the country, the U.S. military and intelligence community has admitted that its visibility on the activities of terror groups has approached zero. In Dec. 2021, General Frank McKenzie, the previous head of U.S. Central Command, admitted as much.
“We’re probably at about 1 or 2% of the capabilities we once had to look into Afghanistan,” McKenzie told The Associated Press. This makes it “very hard, if not impossible” to target terror groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State Khorasan Province.
McKenzie’s estimate on the ability to monitor and strike terror groups is very likely the best case scenario. The U.S. military and intelligence community repeatedly overestimated the Afghan government’s ability to stave off the Taliban and underestimated the Taliban’s strength and cohesion.
Evidence of the U.S. military’s inability to see inside Afghanistan and strike targets of opportunity is seen in the U.S Department of Defense Inspector General’s recent report on now defunct Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Operation Enduring Sentinel. According to the report, the U.S. has invested $19.5 billion in an Over the Horizon Counterterrorism Center, “a joint headquarters located in Doha, Qatar, with a staff of approximately 100 personnel …”
The Over the Horizon Counterterrorism Center has conducted zero strikes in Afghanistan since inceptionp.
U.S. support for anti-Taliban resistance groups can not only aid in meaningful resistance to the brutal, pro-Al Qaeda Taliban regime, it can help increase the U.S. visibility into the activities of terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan to better keep its citizens safe at home and abroad.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.
longwarjournal.org · by Bill Roggio · July 12, 2022


​15. Exclusive: Watch Uvalde school shooting video obtained by Statesman showing police response


This video is certainly troubling, The amount of law enforcement personnel who did not act and did not take charge and did not make an immediate attempt to end the situation is really troubling. At least one law enforcement officer was able to sanitize his hands during the wait (note bitter sarcasm).




Exclusive: Watch Uvalde school shooting video obtained by Statesman showing police response
statesman.com · by Tony Plohetski
Austin American-Statesman
Editor's note: The video footage, audio, and events described in this story about the Uvalde school shooting are disturbing. Discretion is advised. This exclusive story and video are being made available free of charge as a public service. If you value strong journalism from the American-Statesman, support us by subscribing. You can read more about our decision to publish this video here.
The gunman walks into Robb Elementary School unimpeded, moments after spraying bullets from his semi-automatic rifle outside the building and after desperate calls to 911 from inside and outside the Uvalde school.
He slows down to peek around a corner in the hallway and flips back his hair before proceeding toward classrooms 111 and 112.
Seconds later, a boy with neatly combed hair and glasses exits the bathroom to head back to his class. As he begins to turn the corner, he notices the gunman standing by the classroom door and then firing his first barrage.
The boy turns and runs back into the bathroom.
The gunman enters one of the classrooms. Children scream. The gunfire continues, stops, then starts again. Stops, then starts again. And again. And again.
It is almost three minutes before three officers arrive in the same hallway and rush toward the classrooms, crouching down. Then, a burst of gunfire. One officer grabs the back of his head. They quickly retreat to the end of the hallway, just below a school surveillance camera.
A 77-minute video recording captured from this vantage point, along with body camera footage from one of the responding officers, obtained by the American-Statesman and KVUE, shows in excruciating detail dozens of sworn officers, local, state and federal — heavily armed, clad in body armor, with helmets, some with protective shields — walking back and forth in the hallway, some leaving the camera frame and then reappearing, others training their weapons toward the classroom, talking, making cellphone calls, sending texts and looking at floor plans, but not entering or attempting to enter the classrooms.
The Statesman is publishing an edited version of the video to show how the law enforcement response unfolded.

Uvalde shooting video shows gunman enter shooting, police response
The video, obtained by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE, shows the confusion inside Robb Elementary School as police stand outside classrooms.
Briana Sanchez and Nate Chute, Austin American-Statesman
Even after hearing at least four additional shots from the classrooms 45 minutes after police arrived on the scene, the officers waited.
They asked for keys to one of the classrooms. (It was unlocked, investigators said later.) They brought tear gas and gas masks. They later carried a sledgehammer. And still, they waited.
Officers finally rushed into the classroom and killed the gunman an hour and 14 minutes after police first arrived on the scene. Nineteen fourth graders and their two teachers died in the massacre on May 24, days before the end of the school year.
The video tells in real time the brutal story of how heavily armed officers failed to immediately launch a cohesive and aggressive response to stop the shooter and save more children if possible. And it reinforces the trauma of those parents, friends and bystanders who were outside the school and pleaded with police to do something, and for those survivors who quietly called 911 from inside the classroom to beg for help.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw has said that the person he identified as the incident commander, school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo, treated the situation as a barricaded subject, which calls for a slower, methodical response, not an active shooter situation, in which police are charged with doing anything possible to stop a gunman, including putting their own lives on the line. That was a mistake, McCraw has said. Officers should have confronted the gunman as soon as they arrived, carrying enough firepower to breach the classroom and stop the shooting, McCraw has said.
McCraw has singled out Arredondo for blame in restraining officers from going in earlier than they did. But the video shows multiple responding agencies on the scene, including officers from the Uvalde Police Department, Uvalde County sheriff's department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers, U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Marshals Service.
The video file obtained by the Statesman, part of the investigative file, includes security video footage from a nearby funeral home showing the gunman arrive at the school by wrecking a pickup in a ditch, and includes audio of 911 calls and officers speaking in the hallway, as well as the sound of gunfire.
More gunshots and more delays
At 12:21 p.m., 45 minutes after police first arrived on the scene, four shots are heard and at least a dozen officers move toward the classroom.
An officer can be heard saying, "They're making entry."
Yet they do not.
At 12:30, an officer wearing a helmet and ballistic vest pauses to squirt hand sanitizer from a wall-mounted dispenser and rubs his hands together. Other armed officers walk back and forth, and discuss the classroom doors and windows. The hunt for the keys continues. One officer eventually brings a sledgehammer. The audio from the surveillance camera at times is garbled, but it is loud in the crowded hallway.
At 12:41, a man wearing blue rubber gloves and a black shirt, khaki pants and a black baseball cap, with a stethoscope around his neck, arrives and speaks to officers. Other paramedics arrive with supplies. Two officers in camouflage fist-bump each other.
At 12:50, a cadre of officers crouches outside the classroom. A burst of gunfire is heard, and the video ends. Authorities have said a Border Patrol officer killed the gunman. Investigators are awaiting the results of an analysis from an Austin-based medical expert on how many victims died after police first arrived.
Officials debate video release
The video has been the subject of an intense political debate, with Gov. Greg Abbott and the Uvalde mayor urging its public release and the Uvalde County district attorney opposing releasing it, apparently citing an active investigation into the shooting.
State Rep. Dustin Burrows, a Republican from Lubbock and the chairman of the House committee investigating the shooting, said Tuesday that the committee plans to show the hallway video to members of the Uvalde community on Sunday, as well as discuss the panel's preliminary report. He then plans to release both to the public. The video that the House committee will make available will not include footage of the gunman walking into the school and the view from the hallway of the gunman initially firing his way into the classrooms. The video the Statesman obtained includes that footage. Neither version shows children, teachers or the gunman being shot.
Those seeking video's public release say it will bring clarity to the families of victims and others in Uvalde traumatized by the shooting, especially after state leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, presented shifting accounts of the police response. Abbott has said he was misled but has not said by whom.
Further obscuring the truth of what happened May 24, local, state and federal officials have denied requests to release documents that could shed light on the police response, including 911 call transcripts, body camera footage, communications among law enforcement officers and arrest records from that day. They have appealed to the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who will make final decisions on the records disputes.
Meanwhile, anger boiled over at a Sunday night march and rally in Uvalde for greater gun restrictions, with some residents saying they no longer trust the local authorities and demanding answers.
statesman.com · by Tony Plohetski

16. Biden’s Trip, and Ukraine’s War, Could Boost the Abraham Accords

At least one foreign policy initiative has transcended administrations: the Abraham Accords. It is good the Biden administration is trying to sustain one of the best foreign policy initiatives from the Trump administration.

"Biden is building on the Abraham Accords, part of Trump's legacy in the Middle East"


Biden’s Trip, and Ukraine’s War, Could Boost the Abraham Accords
Diplomacy on Openings for Peace
Biden will meet leaders from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and nine Arab states — an opportunity, he wrote on Saturday, to “deepen and expand” the “budding relations and steps toward normalization between Israel and the Arab world.” These steps emerge from the Abraham Accords and related agreements, in which the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan have normalized diplomatic relations with Israel. As this opening receives significant attention, policymakers also should consider a less noted opportunity rising from the four-month-old escalated Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s international isolation over its attack, and its poor military performance, is likely to weaken its appeal as a security partner. That could create points of vacuum in several Arab states that the United States should seek to fill, not least because of the chance that China otherwise will do so.
Following last year’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq, policy debates and news media discussions reflected a sense of U.S. pullback from full engagement in the Middle East. USIP’s Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen has noted that policymakers in Middle Eastern states have over years sensed a gradual “retrenching” of America’s role. Thus they are framing new cooperative efforts to ensure their security, with the dangers from Iran as their main focus. Those factors encouraged Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and the UAE, alongside the United States, to send foreign ministers to a March conference in Israel — a “homegrown” initiative that has created cooperative working groups on regional security, clean energy, tourism, health, education and coexistence, and food and water security. Also in March, Israel, Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia sent senior military officials to a U.S.-convened meeting on sharing information on aerial threats from Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported.
President Biden’s trip, driven partly by the administration’s effort to build a stronger global response against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will let him encourage Arab states’ cooperation with Israel, notably on joint security against Iran, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said last week.
Biden’s trip will include a visit to the West Bank to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Alongside the opportunities opened by the Abraham Accords, the long blockage of Palestinians’ demands for self-determination promise only continued violence with the waning in recent years of hopes for a Palestinian state beside Israel. Palestinian and some Israeli commentators have urged that Biden help restore what diplomats have called “a political horizon” for addressing the Palestinians’ needs.
The Ukraine Effect
Biden’s visit comes as the United States and NATO aim to deepen Russia’s economic and political isolation over its assault on Ukraine — and to contain the global economic disruptions of the war and consequent sanctions. News headlines have focused on Biden’s requests to Saudi Arabia and other states to increase oil production, replacing sanctioned Russian exports and reducing global oil prices. Yet analysts warn that Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil producing states may have limited capacity or inclination to do so. Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s largest oil exporters, have collaborated on their production levels for years as Saudi Arabia has abstained from joining United Nations condemnations of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.
One option to engage Arab countries amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis has been less noted. Senate testimony in May by Assistant Secretary of State Jessica Lewis pointed to a new U.S. opportunity to advance cooperation between Israel and Arab nations while reducing risks for negative influence by Russia or China. Russia’s assault on Ukraine, notably its struggle to defeat the vastly smaller, more lightly armed Ukrainian forces, may open a strategic opportunity to dilute Russia’s security partnerships with some nations, she noted. “It is imperative,” Lewis said, “that we provide affordable or subsidized U.S. solutions, not only to off-ramp [defense] partners from Russia, but also to ensure that any global military capability gaps that emerge are not filled by [the] People’s Republic of China” (emphasis added).
Arab countries that U.S. diplomacy might encourage to join the new regional cooperation with Israel are Saudi Arabia, Oman, Algeria and Qatar. The last two have been among Russia’s biggest arms purchasers since 2016, according to the database on arms transfers maintained by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. All four will have noted the lackluster battlefield performance of Russia and its military equipment in the face of smaller Ukrainian forces using limited stocks of U.S.-made Javelins, Stingers and drones.
Algeria and Saudi Arabia were among four Arab states (with Iraq and Morocco) to abstain or not vote in the March 2 United Nations General Assembly condemnation of Russia’s new assault on Ukraine. Yet they and other states also cannot miss seeing the international isolation of the Putin regime, including sanctions that weaken its economy and target officials responsible for an unprovoked war and human rights atrocities. While any country builds its security partnerships on a complex web of factors, many tinged by political, economic or other interests, the performances of partner militaries and their hardware are relevant. Hence so is Assistant Secretary Lewis’ pinpointing of an opportunity.
Of these four Arab states, Saudi Arabia’s normalization with Israel would carry by far the greatest regional influence. But it (like OmanQatar and Algeria) has insisted on a restored peace process that can finally offer Palestinians hope for the future that was envisioned by the decades of diplomacy that aimed toward Israeli and Palestinian states side by side. Turning the Abraham Accords into a vehicle for real Middle East peace could mean making that restoration the price for these and other key countries joining them.
Part of security partnerships is arms sales, in which the Middle East’s main alternatives to Russia are the United States, France and China. China has increased its arms exports to Saudi Arabia in recent years. Thus, to the extent that Russia weakens its position as a security partner for Middle Eastern states, U.S. and allied policymakers should stay focused on the likelihood that China will seek to fill the points of vacuum. This is no hypothetical danger, but rather is already on tragic display in Myanmar, where China swiftly dropped all pretense of seeking peace in the civil war and moved to supplant Russia’s reduced ability to support the brutal military junta.
Security Partnerships
The United States’ security partnerships and arms provision include military-to-military relations and mandatory training that aim to strengthen democracies and protect human rights. Training aims “to ensure U.S.-origin equipment is not used to perpetrate human rights violations and to minimize the risk of civilian casualties by our partners,” stated Mira Resnick, Lewis’ deputy, in a Senate hearing last year on security assistance to the Middle East. She added: “We press and hold accountable our allies and partners to reduce civilian casualties. To adhere to the laws of armed conflict. To respect human rights. To enhance their security sector governance processes, and to understand when there is no military solution to a conflict.”
U.S. policy should continue its efforts to improve ways that American security assistance can advance long-term security goals — not least following last year’s surge in military coups. Human rights groups make a case for strengthening the training elements of U.S. security assistance. Analysts even within the U.S. military have noted inadequacies in how the United States measures the effectiveness of its training. Analysts at USIP urge that U.S. security assistance focus its training more on the good governance of police, military and other security institutions.
Finally, President Biden’s current visit reinforces the U.S. record of delivering on security guarantees in the Middle East, notably by supporting the Abraham Accords negotiated under its predecessor. Former Assistant Secretary of State Clarke Cooper noted that baseline record in the months before those negotiations. Distinct from security partners such as Russia and China, he noted, the United States has built and maintained relations that include “our commitment not just to make deals, but to build capabilities,” applying transparency and predictability. “To all those who would defend their nations,” he said, “a partnership with America offers something a purchase from Russia or China never will: friendship.”



17.  Western governments confront China-Russia security threats — but US business won’t

Another example of foreign policy transcending administrations.

Excerpts:
Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Matt Pottinger, and his bosses, John Bolton and Robert O’Brien, and other officials crafted and implemented policies that rejected China’s lawless claims in the South and East China seas. They highlighted unprecedented support for Taiwan’s security and democracy, consistent with both the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act and Nixon’s 1994 book that declared Taiwan “permanently separated politically” from China. Other Western governments also began fundamental reassessments of their indulgent approach toward China
The Biden administration, to Beijing’s unpleasant surprise, has retained and even expanded the core of the Trump team’s China and Taiwan policies. The business and policy communities likewise should shed their fears about defending America’s values and interests.



Western governments confront China-Russia security threats — but US business won’t
BY JOSEPH BOSCO, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR - 07/12/22 10:00 AM ET
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL
The Hill · by Alexander Bolton · July 12, 2022
The United States and NATO are striving to halt Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggressive campaign to reintegrate former Soviet-dominated nations under Moscow’s control.
After encouraging Georgia and Ukraine to seek NATO membership, the West did nothing to stop Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. Ruling out direct intervention in Russia’s most recent aggression, the West has increased its weapons flow to Ukraine — but not with the potency, volume or speed needed to halt Russia’s continuing conquest of Ukrainian territory, let alone reverse it. The Biden administration fears the arms could generate Putin’s “escalation” beyond the war crimes and genocide his troops already are commiting. They also concede Russian control of Ukraine’s airspace and the international waters of the Black Sea.
On June 29, NATO published a new Strategic Concept that implicitly acknowledges its decades-long failure to confront an increasingly aggressive and anti-Western Russia.
But the NATO document expanded its strategic vision significantly beyond Russia by identifying dangers from outside the European continent: “The threats we face are global and interconnected. Authoritarian actors challenge our interests, values and democratic way of life. … The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values.”
While not explicitly mentioning the February China-Russia joint statement that effectively declared a new cold war against the West and support for each other’s respective ambitions against Taiwan and Ukraine, NATO observed: “The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.”
NATO noted the multi-dimensional nature of the threat posed by China, often in collaboration with “malign actors” such as Russia: “The PRC’s malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target Allies and harm Alliance security. The PRC seeks to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, and strategic materials and supply chains …[and to] … interfere with our government services. … It uses its economic leverage to create strategic dependencies and enhance its influence. It strives to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains.”
NATO also noted China’s growing capabilities and worrisome intentions in the realm of nuclear weapons, a threat that Putin has brandished in his war against Ukraine: “The PRC is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal and is developing increasingly sophisticated delivery systems, without increasing transparency or engaging in good faith in arms control or risk reduction.”
Yet, just as Western governments belatedly recognize the comprehensive security challenge from Moscow and Beijing, some senior U.S. business and policy leaders lament the deterioration in U.S.-China relations resulting from the West’s recent pushback and urge a return to failed policies of “dialogue” and engagement.
Last week, in a Wall Street Journal article, Maurice Greenberg explained the group’s concerns and proposed remedies. They amount to a recycling of all the worn shibboleths on U.S.-China relations that have proved so disastrously wrong during more than four decades of engagement.
The article notes that the business and policy men and women “have experience in China and share the view that we would be better served by having a more constructive relationship with China.” But, for almost half a century since Richard Nixon’s opening to Beijing, the “constructive relationship” built up by people experienced in China has led us precisely to the dangerous point that now worries them.
They assert, “We are confident that like-minded people in China would embrace the opportunity to work together to find solutions.” But “like-minded” Chinese come in two forms. Chinese leader Xi Jinping and members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) surely would support a return to the policies that have well-served Beijing’s interests and seriously disadvantaged America’s regional and global position.
Those Chinese who might share the Americans’ aspiration for a reciprocal, transparent and peaceful relationship — in contrast to the CCP’s anti-Western worldview — soon would find themselves in serious official disfavor, with career-ending punishment that includes incarceration or worse.
The group’s opinion piece claims, “The U.S. and China have a long history of collaboration dating to before World War II.” But that cooperation predates the creation of the People’s Republic of China. Since the communist regime came to power in 1949, it has fought the United States in the Korean and Vietnam wars; engaged in anti-Western “wars of national liberation”; proliferated weapons of mass destruction to North Korea, Pakistan and Mideast countries; supported North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and provocations; and aided anti-Western regimes around the world.
One member of the dissident group experienced firsthand Beijing’s hostility to America and the West. William Cohen, former Defense Secretary in the Clinton administration, visited Beijing in 1997. He was greeted with a headline in China’s English-language newspaper: “U.S. Greatest Threat to World Peace!”
The business group rues the loss of bilateral channels for official communications and the “exchange of ideas,” which it sees as the cause of Sino-U.S. frictions: “After these channels were eliminated during the Trump administration, our differences increased, as did the level of mistrust.”
President Trump did seek an end to China’s egregiously unfair and dishonest trade practices about which earlier administrations had complained but never seriously confronted. Faithful implementation of the Phase 1 deal his administration negotiated would have put China on the path to economic, and potentially political, reform long hoped for in the West.
Then the pandemic struck from China and the international landscape changed. Trade reform was relegated to a back seat, and the possibility of political change in China returned to a distant dream. Trump denied he had been “duped” by Xi, but no longer admired or trusted him.
Meanwhile, his national security and foreign policy team accelerated its clear-eyed approach to China’s manifold security and human rights challenges. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered speeches detailing the existential campaign Beijing has waged against the West.
Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Matt Pottinger, and his bosses, John Bolton and Robert O’Brien, and other officials crafted and implemented policies that rejected China’s lawless claims in the South and East China seas. They highlighted unprecedented support for Taiwan’s security and democracy, consistent with both the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act and Nixon’s 1994 book that declared Taiwan “permanently separated politically” from China. Other Western governments also began fundamental reassessments of their indulgent approach toward China
The Biden administration, to Beijing’s unpleasant surprise, has retained and even expanded the core of the Trump team’s China and Taiwan policies. The business and policy communities likewise should shed their fears about defending America’s values and interests.
Joseph Bosco served as China country director for the secretary of Defense from 2005 to 2006 and as Asia-Pacific director of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief from 2009 to 2010. He served in the Pentagon when Vladimir Putin invaded Georgia and was involved in Department of Defense discussions about the U.S. response. Follow him on Twitter @BoscoJosephA.
The Hill · by Alexander Bolton · July 12, 2022


18. West’s Ukraine Strategy Will Mean a Prolonged, Bloody Stalemate

Excellent:
The NATO strategy to resupply the Ukrainians for “as long as it takes” means that this phase could be longer and far bloodier than earlier phases. The rate of casualties among the military and civilians will likely increase. More infrastructure within range of artillery and missiles will come under attack as exhaustion tactics not only seek to kill and wound, but also to terrorize and demoralize. Severodonetsk, like Mariupol, resembles Amiens in 1915, Berlin in 1945 and Mosul in 2017.
Perhaps Mr. Putin will stop if he takes Donetsk and the Donbas or concede the fight when Ukraine has enough precision weapons to hammer Russian logistics centers and choke off the Russian offensive. Perhaps the West will no longer restrict itself from providing weapons that could decisively defeat Russian forces. Perhaps a willingness to negotiate will emerge as exhaustion creeps in. Perhaps the NATO countries will tire and “as long as it takes” will becomes “in together, out together.”
But as long as Messrs. Putin and Zelensky both believe they are winning, or at least not losing, and as long as they are listening to their generals and not their diplomats, it is likely that this conflict will remain a slow, bloody and long war resembling the Western Front of 1915-18. “As long as it takes” may make the Donbas into a 21st-century Flanders field.


West’s Ukraine Strategy Will Mean a Prolonged, Bloody Stalemate
WSJ · by Mark Kimmitt
NATO is committed to support for ‘as long as it takes’—not to win, only to stave off Russian victory.
By
Mark Kimmitt
July 10, 2022 11:56 am ET

Ukrainian soldiers near Odessa, Ukraine, June 28.
Photo: leszek szymanski/Shutterstock

Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization last month rallied around a new slogan for Ukraine: “As long as it takes.” When a reporter asked President Biden to explain what that means, he said: “As long as it takes so Russia cannot, in fact, defeat Ukraine and move beyond Ukraine.” Note what he didn’t say: as long as it takes for Ukraine to win.
The West’s strategy is to give the Ukrainians enough military aid to defend against Russian advances, and to counter Vladimir Putin’s belief that he can win on the ground or wait out the Alliance until it runs out of gas, wheat or patience—in other words, to wait Mr. Putin out. The likely result will be a prolonged and bloody stalemate reminiscent of the Western Front of 1915.
The excellent daily analysis published by the Institute for the Study of War and Twitter feeds of ground operations closely follow attacks and counterattacks by both Ukrainian and Russian forces. An operational-level analysis suggests that these fights, while consuming vast amounts of materiel and causing major casualties, achieve little progress for either side. The Russians’ capture of Severodonetsk wasn’t a breakthrough; it had even less strategic significance than Mariupol. The Ukrainian relief of Kharkiv may be important for residents of the city but does little to change facts on the battlefield.
Recent changes in Russian operations suggest that they are making a transition from a maneuver war to an artillery war. No longer relying on modern-day lightning strikes as were seen in the initial attacks toward Kyiv, or the World War II maneuver tactics then attempted in the Donbas, this new phase depends on taking advantage of Russia’s massive advantage in indirect artillery, rocket and missile systems.
The Ukrainians are using recently arrived NATO systems with far more range and precision to counter that Russian advantage by targeting Russian firing positions, ammunition sites and logistics centers. While the Russians are taking a tactical pause after winning a protracted fight in Severodonetsk, the Ukrainians are being resupplied with even more equipment and ammunition. Rather than win through maneuver, the goal is now to win through exhaustion. Both Mr. Putin and President Volodymyr Zelensky seek to wear the other side down, and the NATO promise of indefinite resupply to offset the Russian artillery advantage will likely result in even more static front lines.
Concentrated artillery fire, particularly targeting trenches and static front lines, was the hallmark of the Western Front. So seems the direction of the front lines today. While military doctrine euphemistically refers to artillery barrages as “harassment and interdiction fires,” their effects are significant—especially to troops in trenches and along the front lines. Large numbers of Ukrainian soldiers on the battlefield have been killed and wounded by shrapnel, and many withdraw from the front lines suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The numbers of soldiers killed may be less important than plummeting morale and an unwillingness to fight among units enduring days and nights of constant shelling. Recent reports even indicate increasing battlefield desertions. This shelling is reflected in recent calls by Mr. Zelensky for more artillery, more mobile rocket systems and more ammunition to silence Russian artillery and missiles and the logistics convoys that bring up their ammunition. These items are what Ukraine assesses it needs to achieve parity, and it is unfortunate that deliveries will fall far short of the requests. It is unlikely that the Russians will be able to push beyond the Donbas, and the Ukrainians are even less likely to push the Russians out of Luhansk. Rather, static front lines and trench warfare as seen between 2014 and 2022 may reappear.
The NATO strategy to resupply the Ukrainians for “as long as it takes” means that this phase could be longer and far bloodier than earlier phases. The rate of casualties among the military and civilians will likely increase. More infrastructure within range of artillery and missiles will come under attack as exhaustion tactics not only seek to kill and wound, but also to terrorize and demoralize. Severodonetsk, like Mariupol, resembles Amiens in 1915, Berlin in 1945 and Mosul in 2017.
Perhaps Mr. Putin will stop if he takes Donetsk and the Donbas or concede the fight when Ukraine has enough precision weapons to hammer Russian logistics centers and choke off the Russian offensive. Perhaps the West will no longer restrict itself from providing weapons that could decisively defeat Russian forces. Perhaps a willingness to negotiate will emerge as exhaustion creeps in. Perhaps the NATO countries will tire and “as long as it takes” will becomes “in together, out together.”
But as long as Messrs. Putin and Zelensky both believe they are winning, or at least not losing, and as long as they are listening to their generals and not their diplomats, it is likely that this conflict will remain a slow, bloody and long war resembling the Western Front of 1915-18. “As long as it takes” may make the Donbas into a 21st-century Flanders field.
Mr. Kimmitt, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general, served as assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, 2008-09.

19. Russia’s War Against Ukraine Has Turned Into Terrorism

Excerpts:

Can we do more? The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has called Russia a “terrorist state” and other prominent officials, including some in the U.S. Senate, have called for the United States and Europe to formally designate Russia as such. This would bring serious legal consequences, including for Russian companies and other entities that are not already under sanctions. The main argument against this idea is not trivial: Russia is too big to cut out of the world economy, or to exclude from all international conversations. But also important is calling things by their real names, getting used to difficult new ideas, and learning how to deal with them. Russia is now carrying out acts of terrorism every day; this will have consequences for the rickety structure of international laws and practices that are designed to prevent such acts.
And not only for the laws and structures: In truth, Russian forces are also targeting the values that lie behind them, the principles and even the emotions that led people to create them in the first place. Compassion, a sense of shared humanity, an instinct that children do not deserve to be victims of war, an assumption that people who are not harming you or your nation deserve to live normal lives—all of these moral assumptions have been cast aside by an army determined to create pointless, cruel, individual tragedies, one after the next. The Serhiivka bombing alone created so many of them. The middle-aged woman, six months pregnant, whose legs were burned by the bomb. The elderly woman, disoriented, waiting for her Red Cross package because she could do nothing else. The refugee from the first Donbas war in 2014, who was knocked unconscious by the bombing, taken to a hospital and never recovered. The beloved soccer coach who was visiting Serhiivka to run a summer camp, and was hit by one of the bombs while he slept.




Russia’s War Against Ukraine Has Turned Into Terrorism
The Russian military isn’t just bombing civilians. It’s also targeting the laws and values that protect human rights.
The Atlantic · by Anne Applebaum · July 13, 2022
Red Cross packages are lined up along the sidewalk in Serhiivka, a small town in the southwestern corner of Ukraine. A man is unloading plastic bags stamped World Central Kitchen from a truck whose front windshield has been completely shattered. On the other side of the plaza, people are sifting through used clothes provided by a Ukrainian charity. Someone points out a mother standing beside two young boys who, miraculously, were not at home the night that their apartment was destroyed. They are alive, but they have lost everything. She is holding up a pair of children’s jeans; perhaps they will fit one of her sons.
Three days earlier, on the night of July 1, Russian planes dropped three huge bombs on Serhiivka. One hit a nine-story apartment building. Another hit a recreational center and boarding house. By the time I arrived, much of the debris—concrete rubble, broken glass, burnt metal, swimming-pool tiles—had already been cleared. But the residents who remained alive, and not in a hospital, were still present, trying to figure out how to continue.
If you haven’t heard of Serhiivka, that’s not surprising. A very modest vacation community—resort is too grand a word—it sits in the Dniester River delta, alongside a lagoon that opens up into the Black Sea. If you haven’t heard of the bombing of Serhiivka, that’s not surprising either. Random attacks on random places, far from the front lines and with no military significance whatsoever, are now a daily occurrence in Ukraine. According to Oleksander Chechytko, a prosecutor who was collecting evidence in Serhiivka when I visited, three Kh-22 bombs hit the town on the night of July 1. The Kh-22 is an anti-ship missile produced in the 1960s. It was designed to hit warships, but there are no warships in Serhiivka. There are no military objects in Serhiivka at all, Chechytko told me. The nearest military installation, he said, is at least five kilometers away.
Even if Serhiivka had any strategic assets, the use of an imprecise Kh-22 missile on a residential area would have constituted a war crime, a deliberate attack on civilians. On that basis an investigation began as soon as the bombs hit. A group of international war-crimes experts traveled immediately to Serhiivka. Chechytko is part of another team from Odesa, a couple of hours’ drive away, that has been preparing for this new task with online courses and training sessions. He is carrying a folder full of instructions, checklists, forms that will be needed if Ukraine brings a case to the International Criminal Court. He and his team have been testing the soil for fragments of the missiles, photographing the damage, consulting with military officials who were tracking the planes on radar, and documenting the fate of the 22 dead and 39 wounded. Investigators already know which unit the pilots came from and who gave the order for the attack.
The deep, unanswerable question is whether war crime is even the correct term for what happened in Serhiivka. In truth, the war in Ukraine now has a different nature than most of the wars we have seen this century. In the eastern part of the country, soldiers on both sides fight for territory on either side of a discernible front line. But elsewhere in Ukraine, something else is happening, something that looks less like war and more like multiple acts of terrorism. According to the U.S. criminal code, terrorist acts are “violent acts” with these goals:
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policies of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.
If terrorism is defined as an intimidation campaign using violence, then the bombing of Serhiivka was terrorism. So was the June 27 bombing of Kremenchuk, in central Ukraine, when another Kh-22 anti-ship missile hit a shopping mall, killing at least 20 people. Terrorism could also describe the repeated use of cluster munitions in residential areas of Kharkiv, bombs that splinter into hundreds of fragments, causing death and injury, leaving traces across playgrounds and courtyards. Terrorism is also a good word for the July 10 attack on Chasiv Yar, where multiple rockets struck a five-story apartment building and emergency services spent many hours digging residents out of the rubble.
Russia is not pursuing traditional war aims in any of these places. No infantry assault on Serhiivka or Kremenchuk is under way. The Russian military’s planned occupation of Kharkiv failed several months ago. There is no scenario in which an apartment block in Chasiv Yar poses a threat to Russia or Russians, let alone the Russian army. Instead, the purpose of attacking these places is to create fear and anger in those towns and across the country. Perhaps the ultimate goal is to persuade Ukraine to stop fighting, although—as was the case in Britain during the Second World War—the bombardment of civilians seems to have had the opposite effect. Over time, many Ukrainians have become more accustomed to the raids, more determined to withstand them. In the Odesa City Garden, an elegant park that dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, people didn’t move, didn’t stop drinking coffee, didn’t even pause mid-sentence when air-raid sirens went off in the early evening last week.
But if the bombing campaign is not part of a “war,” as we normally understand it, that doesn’t meant that it has no purpose. On the contrary, it seeks to achieve several goals. One of them may be to persuade people to leave, to become refugees, to become a burden and perhaps a political problem for Ukraine’s neighbors. Clearly the bombs are also meant to impoverish Ukrainians, to prevent them from rebuilding, to weaken their state, to persuade their compatriots who are abroad not to come home. Who wants to return to a country that features on the evening news every few nights, as another bomb falls on another apartment building or shopping mall? Who will invest in a place of smashed rooftops and broken glass? Sowing such doubts is a classic goal of terrorism too.
We Americans and Europeans are used to thinking of terrorism as something involving fertilizer bombs or improvised weapons, and of terrorists as fringe extremists who operate conspiratorially in irregular gangs. When we speak of state-sponsored terrorism, we are usually talking about clandestine groups that are supported, covertly, by a recognized state, in the way that Iran supports Hezbollah. But Russia’s war in Ukraine blurs the distinction among all of these things—terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism, war crimes—for nothing about the bombing of Serhiivka, or Kremenchuk, or Kharkiv, is surreptitious, conspiratorial, or fringe.
Instead Russia, a legitimate, recognized world power—a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council—is directing constant, repetitive, visible terrorist violence against civilians, many of whom are nowhere near the fighting. The attacks are not errors or accidents. The planes carrying bombs can be tracked on radar screens. Occasionally, Moscow issues denials—the shopping-mall bombing was, like many others, described by Russian state media as “faked”—but no apologies. The Russian army will not punish the murderers. On the contrary, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has already awarded medals to the brigade that committed so many atrocities in the town of Bucha.
In truth, Russian bombs are targeting not only random people, shops, medical buildings, pets. They are also targeting the whole apparatus of international law governing war crimes, human rights, and terrorism. With every bomb that Russian forces knowingly drop on an apartment building, and every missile they direct at a school or hospital, they are demonstrating their scorn and contempt for the global institutions Russia was once so desperate to join. The Ukrainian and international lawyers and prosecutors who are collecting the evidence will, in the end, be able to present not just one or two cases demonstrating war crimes, but thousands. Russia’s war is unprecedented, and the demand for justice in its aftermath will be unprecedented too.
Can we do more? The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has called Russia a “terrorist state” and other prominent officials, including some in the U.S. Senate, have called for the United States and Europe to formally designate Russia as such. This would bring serious legal consequences, including for Russian companies and other entities that are not already under sanctions. The main argument against this idea is not trivial: Russia is too big to cut out of the world economy, or to exclude from all international conversations. But also important is calling things by their real names, getting used to difficult new ideas, and learning how to deal with them. Russia is now carrying out acts of terrorism every day; this will have consequences for the rickety structure of international laws and practices that are designed to prevent such acts.
And not only for the laws and structures: In truth, Russian forces are also targeting the values that lie behind them, the principles and even the emotions that led people to create them in the first place. Compassion, a sense of shared humanity, an instinct that children do not deserve to be victims of war, an assumption that people who are not harming you or your nation deserve to live normal lives—all of these moral assumptions have been cast aside by an army determined to create pointless, cruel, individual tragedies, one after the next. The Serhiivka bombing alone created so many of them. The middle-aged woman, six months pregnant, whose legs were burned by the bomb. The elderly woman, disoriented, waiting for her Red Cross package because she could do nothing else. The refugee from the first Donbas war in 2014, who was knocked unconscious by the bombing, taken to a hospital and never recovered. The beloved soccer coach who was visiting Serhiivka to run a summer camp, and was hit by one of the bombs while he slept.
Each one of these stories has wider echoes, touching people who were far away at the time. Quite by accident, I was in Odesa a few days later talking with a local official about something different, the possible demining of Odesa’s port. Serhiivka somehow came up.
His face changed. He knew the coach, a former employee, a star athlete who had tried to enter the world of business, found it dull, and returned to soccer. He also knew that the coach had two children. “I was filled with horror when I thought they might have been there with him,” he told me. “And then I realized that it didn’t matter whose children were there—his children, or someone else’s children—the horror would be the same.”
The Atlantic · by Anne Applebaum · July 13, 2022


20. Strike kills nearly every deputy commander in Russian division: Ukraine




Strike kills nearly every deputy commander in Russian division: Ukraine
Newsweek · by Zoe Strozewski · July 12, 2022
A strike by Ukrainian forces left all but one of the deputy commanders from Russia's 106th Airborne Division dead, according to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
post on the Telegram page of the Ukrainian Armed Forces' communications office said that the deputy commanders were wiped out by HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) fire attacks near Shakhtarsk, a city in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region. The one deputy commander who did not die is "in serious condition," the post said.
The Telegram post, published Tuesday, did not specify whether the HIMARS attack also took place on Tuesday. Newsweek was not able to independently verify Ukraine's report. The defense ministries of Russia and Ukraine were contacted for confirmation and comment.
The alleged deaths of the deputy commanders are among several reported losses Russia has seen since its high-profile victories in securing the city of Severodonetsk and the Luhansk region. Ukraine announced Tuesday the "liquidation" of Major General Artem Nasbulin after another HIMARS strike in Ukraine's southern Kherson region. An anti-war group said Sunday that more than 100 Russian servicemen had returned home after refusing to fight in Russian President Vladimir Putin's war, while Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs announced Monday that Ukrainian guardsmen had destroyed a Russian reconnaissance group in the Donetsk region.

A strike by Ukrainian forces left all but one of the deputy commanders from Russia’s 106th Airborne Division dead, according to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Above, Ukrainian soldiers on top of an armored fighting vehicle are pictured on a road in the countryside of Siversk, in Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine, on July 8. Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images
After Russian forces seized Luhansk last week, Putin ordered all units involved in the region's offensive to pause and rest so they could "build up strength" and prepare to reenter the war.
"The units that took part in active hostilities and achieved success, victories in the Luhansk direction, of course, should rest, increase their combat capabilities," Putin said.
But this has not fully halted Russia's military operation in Ukraine.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a U.S. think tank that provides frequent assessments of the war's progress, said in its July 10 report that the pause "has been largely characterized by Russian troops regrouping to rest, refit, and reconstitute; heavy artillery fire in critical areas to set conditions for future ground advances; and limited probing attacks to identify Ukrainian weakness and structure appropriate tactical responses."
"As ISW has previously noted, an operational pause does not mean a complete cessation of hostilities, rather that ongoing hostilities are more preparative in nature," the report added.
The ISW's July 11 assessment said that Russian forces conducted "limited and unsuccessful ground assaults" northwest of the city of Slovyansk in the Donetsk region, as well as west of the city of Donetsk.
Russia's military also carried out air and artillery strikes around the cities of Siversk and Bakhmut in the Donetsk region and conducted "localized ground assaults" northwest of the city of Kharkiv, the ISW said.
Newsweek · by Zoe Strozewski · July 12, 2022

21. Defense Department Record-Keeping Practices Are Hurting Oversight of Ukraine Aid, Inspector General Warns


Excerpts:

Ukraine has had a history of corruption, mostly under the Putin-aligned regime of Viktor Yanukovych, which fell in a 2014 uprising giving rise to Ukraine’s new more Western-aligned government. The country still has a score of 32 out of 100 on Transparency International's barometer of most corrupt countries (with a lower number signaling a higher level of corruption.) But, since 2014, Ukraine has launched five separate two-year action plans to address transparency in government and aid accountability. The 2020-2022 plan includes provisions on setting up new electronic monitoring procurement systems to better observe transparency and government transactions within the country.

The Defense Department IG official said that corruption in partner nations was always a concern and one that they were aware of and monitored closely as part of their regular inspections process.

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, told The Wall Street Journal last month that “even if it’s a noble cause, there’s going to be theft. There’s going to be misconduct,” in response to the Ukraine situation. Since its establishment in the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, his office has overseen U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

“A couple of years from now, you’re going to be reading stories about waste, fraud and abuse,” Sopko added.



Defense Department Record-Keeping Practices Are Hurting Oversight of Ukraine Aid, Inspector General Warns
govexec.com · by Courtney Bublé
The Defense Department watchdog warned on Tuesday that some of the DOD’s and individual services’ practices for tracking and recording the movement of money and aid to Ukraine are hurting the office’s ability to track aid.
The DOD Inspector General’s office released an 18-page management advisory Tuesday on the department’s use of $6.5 billion from the Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, which President Biden enacted in March as part of the 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act. This is separate from the $40 billion aid package the president signed in May, which gave the State and U.S. Agency for International Development IG offices a funding boost and included reporting requirements for DoD.
“We observed that the [Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer] made improvements to their reporting processes and controls for Emergency Supplemental Funding as a result of lessons learned and recommendations from the CARES Act Management Advisory, including the [disaster emergency fund code] reporting requirements in the funding authorization documents,” the advisory stated. “However, as the DoD is building processes and procedures to ensure the transparency of the reporting for the Ukraine supplemental funds, we identified multiple areas of concern that, if not adequately addressed, could reduce the traceability of Ukraine supplemental funds and the transparency in the DoD’s reporting.”
The Defense Department is supposed to use a system for reporting called Advancing Analytics or Advana, according to the DoD controller. But the IG’s office found that the department frequently used systems that couldn't feed into the Advana platform. Furthermore, the Defense Department didn’t even start differentiating Ukraine funds from base funds until April, according to the report, and they made frequent use of journal vouchers to log transactions, vouchers that don’t hold as many details as other types of records.
“The use of summary journal vouchers is a concern because journal vouchers have the potential to limit the transparency of the funds, particularly if the summary journal vouchers do not trace back to the supporting transactions details,” the report notes.
When asked for comment, the Defense Department referred back to the IG.
Prior to the publication of the alert, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth, Defense spokesman, told Government Executive that, “we remain committed to providing transparency to the public and to Congress about how security assistance funds are utilized. Defense articles provided are subject to standard end-use monitoring requirements, for which the Government of Ukraine has provided assurances that it will ensure physical protection and accountability.
“Ukrainian leadership has assured us that they understand the importance of accountability, and we are committed to working with them to further enhance accountability in the future," Semelroth added. "With that said, we acknowledge that Ukraine is fighting a war. This involves risk, which can only be minimized by the withdrawal from Ukraine by Russian forces.”
IGs Band Together
Before the alert on Tuesday, DoD IG Sean O’Donnell outlined in a response to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, how his office formed a joint working group with the State and U.S. Agency for International Development IG offices for Ukraine oversight.
Towels of sand bags cover the Princess Olga monument at Michailovskyi Square in front of Saint Michail Monastery in Old Town of Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 8, 2022.
DOMINIKA ZARZYCKA/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES
“This working group will ensure interagency communication and visibility of each agency’s ongoing work, and will identify opportunities for coordination between project teams. We will expand this working group, as appropriate, to include other [offices of inspectors general] whose agencies have equities in Ukraine,” wrote O’Donnell. “Working together, we can ensure comprehensive, coordinated oversight of funding provided to Ukraine.”
Also, at a recent media roundtable, O’Donnell said his office would be sending a senior auditor to Germany in July to meet with the European Command officials and the IG team that is already on the ground there.
As for the State IG office, Mark Huffman, spokesperson for the office, told Government Executive several teams are already assigned to projects and is working with its counterparts in the IG community, such as the Defense and USAID IGs, to “provide comprehensive, efficient oversight of wider U.S. government efforts associated with the situation in Ukraine.”
Nicole Angarella, acting deputy IG for USAID, wrote in a June 17 response to Grassley, “we have undertaken a collaborative approach with our oversight counterparts, both in the United States and with bilateral and multilateral donors” and noted they are in a working group with the State and Defense IGs for Ukraine oversight.
Are the Current IGs Enough?
For some lawmakers, the current IG lineup is not enough to oversee Ukraine assistance and they have crafted proposals to fix that.
In May, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., delayed passage of $40 billion in aid to Ukraine and demanded that the Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction be given the authority to oversee Ukraine assistance.
Sen. John Kennedy, D-La., then introduced a bill that would establish a special IG position for Ukraine; a companion version was introduced in the House by Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, and Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich..
Paul’s proposal drew lukewarm support from a diverse coalition of 12 organizations–including the R Street Institute, Project on Government Oversight, and Taxpayers for Common Sense—who wrote in a June 1 letter to Senate leadership that it is “a reasonable, though less desirable, alternative path forward” as they say more important is getting Senate-confirmed officials in the posts of Defense IG and State IG.
There is a pending nominee for the DoD IG position, which has been filled by acting officials for more than six years and no nominee for State IG, which has been vacant for over two years. The group also panned the Kennedy-Wittman bill, which the letter said “would fail to provide an additional layer of transparency and oversight to U.S. aid to Ukraine between enactment of the act and establishment of the office, meaning that in the interim, large-scale and continuous U.S. assistance may remain unchecked.”
Also, Grassley, a long time advocate for government oversight, wrote in letters to the StateDoD and USAID IGs in late May that although the $40 billion aid package included additional IG office funds and reporting requirements, Congress hasn’t “come to a consensus on long-term, effective oversight mechanisms for these relief funds.”
Other Forms of Oversight
Besides the IG offices, the Government Accountability Office issues regular reports on various aspects of government management, operations and workforce issues.
For Ukraine-related investigations, a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act directs GAO to review “the allocation and use of security assistance in Ukraine, including efforts to monitor and ensure accountability for defense articles provided,” said Chuck Young, GAO managing director for public affairs. “We also have done a lot of work over the years on European posture and deterrence, refugees and humanitarian assistance, cyber operations, military readiness, and training that all have some relevance to the issues going on with Ukraine.”
GAO is working on a summary report to showcase this, which he anticipates will be out later this summer. “Also we have work just getting started on humanitarian assistance in conflict zones, focused on Ukraine,” Young added.
While not directly related to the Ukraine situation, but rather oversight of the Defense Department generally, GAO issued a decision on June 28 saying O’Donnell is serving as acting DoD IG illegally. “O’Donnell works at the pleasure of the president and will continue to do so until otherwise decided,” said a senior DoD IG official.
Historical Context
Ukraine has had a history of corruption, mostly under the Putin-aligned regime of Viktor Yanukovych, which fell in a 2014 uprising giving rise to Ukraine’s new more Western-aligned government. The country still has a score of 32 out of 100 on Transparency International's barometer of most corrupt countries (with a lower number signaling a higher level of corruption.) But, since 2014, Ukraine has launched five separate two-year action plans to address transparency in government and aid accountability. The 2020-2022 plan includes provisions on setting up new electronic monitoring procurement systems to better observe transparency and government transactions within the country.
The Defense Department IG official said that corruption in partner nations was always a concern and one that they were aware of and monitored closely as part of their regular inspections process.
John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, told The Wall Street Journal last month that “even if it’s a noble cause, there’s going to be theft. There’s going to be misconduct,” in response to the Ukraine situation. Since its establishment in the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, his office has overseen U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
“A couple of years from now, you’re going to be reading stories about waste, fraud and abuse,” Sopko added.
govexec.com · by Courtney Bublé

​22. United States confident in Ukraine’s commitment to safeguard and account for arms

From the Ukraine press.


United States confident in Ukraine’s commitment to safeguard and account for arms
The relevant statement was made by Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Bonnie Denise Jenkins during an online briefing in Brussels, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
“The US very seriously takes our responsibility to protect American origin defense technologies and prevent their diversion or illicit proliferation,” Jenkins told.
In her words, the US is in continued contact with the Ukrainian side to ensure control over the aid delivered to Ukraine.
“We are confident in the Ukrainian government’s commitment to appropriately safeguard and account for US [weapons],” Jenkins stressed.
At the same time, Jenkins noted that the most effective way to reduce the risk would be for Russia to stop the war and withdraw troops from Ukraine.
A reminder that Russia makes every effort to prevent Western partners from supplying arms to Ukraine, including through information campaigns and spreading lies about the new systems seized or illegally purchased from Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry emphasizes that any movement of weapons, either into Ukraine or out of Ukraine, is closely monitored and supervised both by Ukraine and international partners.
mk




23. 'Stunningly incompetent or simply mad as hatters': How America's ruling class ruined everything by Andrew Bacevich, After the American Century

'Stunningly incompetent or simply mad as hatters': How America's ruling class ruined everything
alternet.org · July 12, 2022
Andrew Bacevich, After the American Century
In my home in the early 1950s, we lived Life to the fullest (with the Saturday Evening Post and Look thrown in for good measure). In fact, from those largely print media years — we got our first black-and-white TV in 1953 — I can still remember a Life cover photo showing the pained face of an American soldier caught up in the Korean War. (Perhaps he was awaiting a Chinese attack during the retreat from Chosin Reservoir. It must have been one of photographer David Douglas Duncan’s grim and moving wartime shots and, of all the far cheerier covers of that magazine, it’s the one that stays in my mind, however faintly, so many years later. I couldn’t even tell you why, but I think of that as my personal introduction to “the American Century.”
That phrase, as TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich reminds us today, came from a 1941 Life editorial by its owner, media mogul Henry Luce. My father, like so many Americans, had played his own small role in the launching of that century. He was operations officer for the First Air Commandos in Burma in World War II. In Terry and the Pirates, a popular comic strip of the time — cartoonists of every sort “mobilized” for that war — his unit’s co-commander, Phil Cochran, became the character “Flip Corkin.” Strip creator Milton Caniff even put my father jokingly into a May 1944 strip using his nickname, “Englewillie.”
However, my own true introduction to that all-American century, which has, sadly enough, proven anything but comic, came in the Vietnam War years. I wasn’t in the U.S. military, but a tiny part of the huge antiwar movement of that nightmarish era of American war-making. It was a response to a disastrous conflict in which millions of Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians, as well as 58,000 Americans, would die. Consider it the catastrophic follow-up to the Korean War. (Everything lost, nothing learned, you might say.) Asia, in fact, should have been the burial site for that century. (Of course, if we truly end up in a deeply cold or even hot war with a rising China in this century, it may still be that and perhaps take the rest of the planet down with us.)
Sadly enough, no lessons were drawn from those disasters or there never would have been the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. And now, here we are on a planet heating to the boiling point in a country coming apart at the seams and 81 years into that American century of ours, in our own deeply disturbing way, it looks like we might be saying goodbye to all that. But let Bacevich explain. Tom
Imperial Detritus: Henry Luce's Dream Comes Undone
“The American Century Is Over.” So claims the July 2022 cover of Harper’s Magazine, adding an all-too-pertinent question: “What’s Next?”
What, indeed? Eighty years after the United States embarked upon the Great Crusade of World War II, a generation after it laid claim to the status of sole superpower following the fall of the Berlin Wall, and two decades after the Global War on Terror was to remove any lingering doubts about who calls the shots on Planet Earth, the question could hardly be more timely.
Empire Burlesque,” Daniel Bessner’s Harper’s cover story, provides a useful, if preliminary, answer to a question most members of our political class, preoccupied with other matters, would prefer to ignore. Yet the title of the essay contains a touch of genius, capturing as it does in a single concise phrase the essence of the American Century in its waning days.
On the one hand, given Washington’s freewheeling penchant for using force to impose its claimed prerogatives abroad, the imperial nature of the American project has become self-evident. When the U.S. invades and occupies distant lands or subjects them to punishment, concepts like freedom, democracy, and human rights rarely figure as more than afterthoughts. Submission, not liberation defines the underlying, if rarely acknowledged, motivation behind Washington’s military actions, actual or threatened, direct or through proxies.
American power in recent decades suggests that those who preside over the American imperium are either stunningly incompetent or simply mad as hatters. Intent on perpetuating some form of global hegemony, they have accelerated trends toward national decline, while seemingly oblivious to the actual results of their handiwork.
Consider the January 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol. It has rightly prompted a thorough congressional investigation aimed at establishing accountability. All of us should be grateful for the conscientious efforts of the House Select Committee to expose the criminality of the Trump presidency. Meanwhile, however, the trillions of dollars wasted and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost during our post-9/11 wars have been essentially written off as the cost of doing business. Here we glimpse the essence of twenty-first-century bipartisanship, both parties colluding to ignore disasters for which they share joint responsibility, while effectively consigning the vast majority of ordinary citizens to the status of passive accomplices.
Bessner, who teaches at the University of Washington, is appropriately tough on the (mis)managers of the contemporary American empire. And he does a good job of tracing the ideological underpinnings of that empire back to their point of origin. On that score, the key date is not 1776, but 1941. That was the year when the case for American global primacy swept into the marketplace of ideas, making a mark that persists to the present day.
God on Our Side
The marketing began with the February 17, 1941, issue of Life magazine, which contained a simply and elegantly titled essay by Henry Luce, its founder and publisher. With the American public then sharply divided over the question of whether to intervene on behalf of Great Britain in its war against Nazi Germany — this was 10 months before Pearl Harbor — Luce weighed in with a definitive answer: he was all in for war. Through war, he believed, the United States would not only overcome evil but inaugurate a golden age of American global dominion.
Life was then, in the heyday of the print media, the most influential mass-circulation publication in the United States. As the impresario who presided over the rapidly expanding Time-Life publishing empire, Luce himself was perhaps the most influential press baron of his age. Less colorful than his flamboyant contemporary William Randolph Hearst, he was politically more astute. And yet nothing Luce would say or do over the course of a long career promoting causes (mostly conservative) and candidates (mostly Republican) would come close to matching the legacy left by that one perfectly timed editorial in Life’s pages.
When it hit the newsstands, “The American Century” did nothing to resolve public ambivalence about how to deal with Adolf Hitler. Events did that, above all Japan’s December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor. Yet once the United States did enter the war, the evocative title of Luce’s essay formed the basis for expectations destined to transcend World War II and become a fixture in American political discourse.
During the war years, government propaganda offered copious instruction on “Why We Fight.” So, too, did a torrent of posters, books, radio programs, hit songs, and Hollywood movies, not to speak of publications produced by Luce’s fellow press moguls. Yet when it came to crispness, durability, and poignancy, none held a candle to “The American Century.” Before the age was fully launched, Luce had named it.
Even today, in attenuated form, expectations Luce articulated in 1941 persist. Peel back the cliched phrases that senior officials in the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon routinely utter in the Biden years — “American global leadership” and “the rules-based international order” are favorites — and you encounter their unspoken purpose: to perpetuate unchallengeable American global primacy until the end of time.
To put it another way, whatever the ”rules” of global life, the United States will devise them. And if ensuring compliance with those rules should entail a resort to violence, justifications articulated in Washington will suffice to legitimize the use of force.
In other words, Luce’s essay marks the point of departure for what was, in remarkably short order, to become an era when American primacy would be a birthright. It stands in relation to the American empire as the Declaration of Independence once did to the American republic. It remains the urtext, even if some of its breathtakingly bombastic passages are now difficult to read with a straight face.
Using that 1941 issue of Life as his bully pulpit, Luce summoned his fellow citizens to “accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most powerful and vital nation in the world” to assert “the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit.” (Emphasis added.) For the United States duty, opportunity, and destiny aligned. That American purposes and the means employed to fulfill them were benign, indeed enlightened, was simply self-evident. How could they be otherwise?
Crucially — and this point Bessner overlooks — the duty and opportunity to which Luce alluded expressed God’s will. Born in China where his parents were serving as Protestant missionaries and himself a convert to Roman Catholicism, Luce saw America’s imperial calling as a Judeo-Christian religious obligation. God, he wrote, had summoned the United States to become “the Good Samaritan to the entire world.” Here was the nation’s true vocation: to fulfill the “mysterious work of lifting the life of mankind from the level of the beasts to what the Psalmist called a little lower than the angels.”
In the present day, such towering ambition, drenched in religious imagery, invites mockery. Yet it actually offers a reasonably accurate (if overripe) depiction of how American elites have conceived of the nation’s purpose in the decades since.
Today, the explicitly religious frame has largely faded from view. Even so, the insistence on American singularity persists. Indeed, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary — did someone mention China? — it may be stronger than ever.
In no way should my reference to a moral consensus imply moral superiority. Indeed, the list of sins to which Americans were susceptible, even at the outset of the American Century, was long. With the passage of time, it has only evolved, even as our awareness of our nation’s historical flaws, particularly in the realm of race, gender, and ethnicity, has grown more acute. Still, the religiosity inherent in Luce’s initial call to arms resonated then and survives today, even if in subdued form.
While anything but an original thinker, Luce possessed a notable gift for packaging and promotion. Life’s unspoken purpose was to sell a way of life based on values that he believed his fellow citizens should embrace, even if his own personal adherence to those values was, at best, spotty.
The American Century was the ultimate expression of that ambitious undertaking. So even as growing numbers of citizens in subsequent decades concluded that God might be otherwise occupied, something of a killjoy, or simply dead, the conviction that U.S. global primacy grew out of a divinely inspired covenant took deep root. Our presence at the top of the heap testified to some cosmic purpose. It was meant to be. In that regard, imbuing the American Century with a sacred veneer was a stroke of pure genius.
In God We Trust?
By the time Life ended its run as a weekly magazine in 1972, the American Century, as a phrase and as an expectation, had etched itself into the nation’s collective consciousness. Yet today, Luce’s America — the America that once cast itself as the protagonist in a Christian parable — has ceased to exist. And it’s not likely to return anytime soon.
At the outset of that American Century, Luce could confidently expound on the nation’s role in furthering God’s purposes, taking for granted a generic religious sensibility to which the vast majority of Americans subscribed. Back then, especially during the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, most of those not personally endorsing that consensus at least found it expedient to play along. After all, except among hipsters, beatniks, dropouts, and other renegades, doing so was a precondition for getting by or getting ahead.
As Eisenhower famously declared shortly after being elected president, “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is.” Today, however, Ike’s ecumenical 11th commandment no longer garners anything like universal assent, whether authentic or feigned. As defining elements of the American way of life, consumption, lifestyle, and expectations of unhindered mobility persist, much as they did when he occupied the White House. But a deeply felt religious faith melded with a similarly deep faith in an open-ended American Century has become, at best, optional. Those nursing the hope that the American Century may yet make a comeback are more likely to put their trust in AI than in God.
Occurring in tandem with this country’s global decline has been a fracturing of the contemporary moral landscape. For evidence, look no further than the furies unleashed by recent Supreme Court decisions related to guns and abortion. Or contemplate Donald Trump’s place in the American political landscape — twice impeached, yet adored by tens of millions, even while held in utter contempt by tens of millions more. That Trump or another similarly divisive figure could succeed Joe Biden in the White House looms as a real, if baffling, possibility.
More broadly still, take stock of the prevailing American conception of personal freedom, big on privileges, disdainful of obligations, awash with self-indulgence, and tinged with nihilism. If you think our collective culture is healthy, you haven’t been paying attention.
For “a nation with the soul of a church,” to cite British writer G.K. Chesterton’s famed description of the United States, Luce’s proposal of a marriage between a generic Judeo-Christianity and national purpose seemed eminently plausible. But plausible is not inevitable, nor irreversible. A union rocked by recurring quarrels and trial separations has today ended in divorce. The full implications of that divorce for American policy abroad remain to be seen, but at a minimum suggest that anyone proposing to unveil a “New American Century” is living in a dreamworld.
Bessner concludes his essay by suggesting that the American Century should give way to a “Global Century… in which U.S. power is not only restrained but reduced, and in which every nation is dedicated to solving the problems that threaten us all.” Such a proposal strikes me as broadly appealing, assuming that the world’s other 190-plus nations, especially the richer, more powerful ones, sign on. That, of course, is a very large assumption, indeed. Negotiating the terms that will define such a Global Century, including reapportioning wealth and privileges between haves and have-nots, promises to be a daunting proposition.
Meanwhile, what fate awaits the American Century itself? Some in the upper reaches of the establishment will, of course, exert themselves to avert its passing by advocating more bouts of military muscle-flexing, as if a repetition of Afghanistan and Iraq or deepening involvement in Ukraine will impart to our threadbare empire a new lease on life. That Americans in significant numbers will more willingly die for Kyiv than they did for Kabul seems improbable.
Better in my estimation to give up entirely the pretensions Henry Luce articulated back in 1941. Rather than attempting to resurrect the American Century, perhaps it’s time to focus on the more modest goal of salvaging a unified American republic. One glance at the contemporary political landscape suggests that such a goal alone is a tall order. On that score, however, reconstituting a common moral framework would surely be the place to begin.

alternet.org · July 12, 2022

​24. Why the Russian military should be very worried

From Sir Lawrence Freedman.

Do not let Ukraine get pushed onto its back foot.

Excerpts:

If the commanders can still find ways to advance and keep Ukraine on the back foot then they will carry on. But should a time come when the positions have been reversed and retreats are becoming routine, then the high command will have to ask what losses are acceptable to maintain its honour and that of Putin, and how much of its future should be mortgaged in the Donbas. Of course, whatever happens in this war Russia will still have a large military establishment, and will remain a nuclear power, but in the worst case the military will be composed largely of depleted and demoralised units with vintage equipment which they are unable to replace over the next few years.
The Russian military has shown that it is ready to withdraw from beleaguered positions – most seriously when it gave up on Kyiv and most recently when it abandoned Snake Island. Giving up on all of Ukraine would be a far more significant step, and no doubt this will be resisted for as long as possible. Russia may even hope that withdrawal can be managed with some dignity as part of a negotiated settlement.
The point of my stress on the threat posed to the institution of the Russian military is that it redefines the challenge facing Ukraine. It is not necessary to think in terms of pushing Russian forces right back to their own border, although some pushing will be required, but to concentrate on continuing to undermine the capabilities and reputation of the Russian military, and consequentially its role in the Russian state.


Why the Russian military should be very worried
NewStatesman · by Lawrence Freedman · July 12, 2022
The Luhansk region has been devastated by the Russian advance, which has now paused. Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
In my last piece I asked whether Ukraine could win its war with Russia, to which I answered that it could, although it was not yet clear whether it would. In this piece I want to expand on one of the reasons I came to this conclusion.
I suggested that the Ukrainian forces would not follow the same tactics as the Russian ones, and would instead seek to exploit the accuracy of the long-range artillery delivered by Western countries. They would concentrate “on supply lines, bases, and command centres, making opportunistic advances, using guerrilla tactics in the city against the occupying forces, leaving Russian troops uncertain about where the next attack is coming from”. All these things have been happening over the past week.
I went on to suggest that this could start to pose awkward choices for the Russian high command. It would need to consider its long-term position and how to maintain its forces to deal with future threats, other than UkraineRussia would not be able to “afford an inch-by-inch retreat to the border, taking losses all the way”. This is the point I wish to explore further.

On 7 July the Russian Ministry of Defence announced that after recent exertions in Luhansk province, in the east, its forces needed a pause to “replenish their combat capabilities” before moving on to the next stage of the war. Vladimir Putin took the opportunity to exude optimism and to insist that there were no grounds for concern. “Largely speaking,” he said on 7 July in a meeting with parliamentary leaders, “we haven’t even yet started anything in earnest.” He returned to his familiar themes that it was Western support for Ukraine that was prolonging the war, and that economic pressure on Ukraine’s backers would see Russia through this conflict. “We are hearing that they want to defeat us on the battlefield,” said Putin. “Let them try.” His courtiers talk of fulfilling the original goals of the special military operation. Putin’s old comrade, Niko­lai Pa­tru­shev, the head of Russia’s security council, still claims that the aim is to “demilitarise” all of Ukraine.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, explained that his boss was simply reminding everyone that “Russia’s potential is so great in this regard that only a small part of it is now involved in a special military operation… And therefore, all these statements by the Westerners [to the effect that the Russian armed forces are facing shortages of men and equipment] are literally absurd. They are absurd and they simply add grief to the Ukrainian people.”
This boosterism may be designed to deter Nato countries from even greater engagement and also to reassure a domestic audience, although the more discerning will find such reassurances deeply worrying. Why are the armed forces only using a small part of their capabilities when they need to get the war over as soon as possible? What are they waiting for? Why are they deploying old tanks and old soldiers? The British Ministry of Defence observed that while in February 2022 the “first echelon assault units were equipped with BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles… featuring armour up to 33mm thick and mounting a powerful 30mm autocannon and an anti-tank missile launcher”, many of the reinforcements now coming in to service “are ad hoc groupings, deploying with obsolete or inappropriate equipment”.
Claims that Russian forces have barely got going will come as news to Putin’s generals, who have witnessed the loss of a third of their combat capability and possibly more. They needed more than two months to take the final pockets of Luhansk, while half of Donetsk still needs to be conquered to fulfil Putin’s minimal objectives.
Contrary to Putin’s claims, Russia’s armed forces may instead be approaching a crisis point, not only as they face an increasingly challenging fight in Ukraine but because they risk the long-term degradation of their capabilities.
There are three aspects of the current situation that will be worrying the Russian high command:
First, manpower shortages. Putin has still not ordered a general mobilisation, probably because of concerns over its unpopularity, economic impact and a limited capacity to train those with no previous combat experience. Instead, the Russian army has been scrambling around to bring in recruits wherever they can be found. They are seeking to entice veterans, conscripts and poor youngsters into service by promises of good pay. There are images of relatively elderly men in uniform preparing for battle, and reports of prisoners with military service being released to fight. But the stories coming back from Ukraine are sufficiently grim to discourage new recruits and few of those coming out of their contracts are likely to want to sign up for more. There are regular, if difficult to confirm, reports of units refusing deployment orders to Ukraine.
Second, inadequate equipment. Open-source intelligence puts cumulative losses of equipment (destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured) at 4,658 items, including more than 850 tanks. The lack of components, including microchips, is causing difficulties with much Russian defence production. They are now thought to be facing problems in repairing damaged equipment, preparing stored equipment to be brought into use, and manufacturing new equipment. As old weapons are being brought into service there appears to be a lack of precision guided systems, which is why missile strikes are inaccurate. There are suggestions that S-300 surface to air missiles are being used in a surface to surface role, for which they lack accuracy. They are also expensive. Even with artillery shells, of which the Russians have massive stocks, and which have been essential in all their operations thus far, the rate of usage has meant those stocks being depleted faster than they can be replaced. This problem is now being aggravated by Ukrainian strikes against Russian ammunition dumps.
Third, by way of contrast, the accuracy of Ukrainian systems is starting to tell, especially in attacks on these ammunition dumps. Now that the Ukrainians have long-range systems, such as the American Himars, available, accurate attacks can be launched over distances of more than 60km. The strikes are following a deliberate strategy, making it extremely difficult for Russia to manage further advances. One report on 9 July referred to four strikes across the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Chornobaivka areas (the latter target being an airfield). They are causing serious problems for Russian logistics, which are already slow and inefficient.
The supply chains are manageable so long as Russian forces can fight close to railheads but become increasingly problematic as the hubs are moved closer to the border where the materiel has then to be loaded by hand onto trucks for what can be hazardous journeys to the front. Igor Girkin, the candid Russian nationalist critic of the Kremlin’s management of the war, has complained that the failure to disguise, protect or take “basic safety measures” with these sites represents “outstanding sloppiness” by commanders.
Another military blogger has lamented the “untrained morons” leading the Russian army, imagining their disastrous strategy: “Despite the absence of any military secrecy around supplies to Ukraine of modern long-range artillery and MLRS, continue concentrating artillery ammunitions at large and unfit for purpose industrial facilities in the range of reach by the enemy rockets and artillery. Lose one by one all the depots. As a result, lose the ability to properly advance at least the way they were advancing before. Create out of nowhere a wild ‘shell hunger’ in conditions where the enemy has received and trained on those new artillery and MLRS.”
Less dramatic, because they do not lead to large fires and explosions, have been attacks on Russian command posts. Ukraine claimed that two had been hit on 8 July in Kherson, the region which is now likely to become the main focus of attention. If air defences are also being struck, that would enable Ukrainian aircraft to fly more sorties into the occupied territory.
The impact of these attacks on core Russian capacity will be felt when Ukraine seeks to retake Kherson, a province vital to its economic well-being. This has long been identified as a promising area for a counter-offensive, although it is not the easiest terrain. Ukrainian authorities have been urging residents of the occupied areas to leave the region and those that cannot to “prepare for hostilities, seek shelter, water and food”.
Although I have concentrated on Russian deficiencies here, I would not play down the casualties taken by Ukraine or its forces’ dependence on Western countries for continuing supplies of equipment and ammunition, or ignore the concern that they still do not have enough. Their performance in the coming battles will be watched closely for evidence that they can take the initiative in the next stage of the war, requiring Russian commanders to concentrate on a defensive battle in Kherson instead of more offensives in Donetsk. If they fall short in this effort then the debate in the West will continue to be dominated by the question of how to cope with a long attritional war with little movement.
As it is, the regular predictions of stalemate reflect doubts, even among those who agree that Ukraine’s relative military position is improving, that it will be able to push the Russians back to the border any time soon. There is also a widespread assumption that Putin is too stubborn and determined ever to concede that the war is lost, and that such a powerful state as Russia always has something in reserve with which to turn any battle round. These assumptions cannot be easily dismissed. This is why the conclusion to this post may well be contested.
The simplest explanation for the Russian pause is that one would be expected after a major operation such as the Luhansk campaign to enable forces to recuperate and regenerate. This is consistent with Russian forces continuing to shell Ukrainian positions, presumably with the objective of deterring them from taking too many initiatives before Russian commanders are ready to make their next advances. But a better use would be for Russia’s military establishment to take stock.
Ukraine’s armed forces have one task, to defend their homeland, for which they are fully mobilised and highly motivated. By contrast, Russia’s armed forces have many tasks. They share borders with a number of Nato countries, now deemed irredeemably hostile and increasing in number, as Sweden and Finland join the alliance. They have units committed to the so-called “frozen” conflicts in Moldova and Georgia, are keeping the peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and are still supporting the Assad regime in Syria. The Wagner group, a private military contractor, has played an outsized role in the fighting in Ukraine, after being used as an instrument of Russian strategy in many places, notably in North Africa recently.
In recent wars, up to this one, they have served Putin well. The revitalisation and modernisation of the military has been a feature of his leadership and features heavily in the symbolism of the Russian state. These wars have provided a showcase for the Russian arms industry, whose customers may now be a tad concerned that not all systems are performing quite as advertised. This war, thus far, has been far more difficult. The military has suffered heavy losses at the hands of a supposedly inferior state. Its ability to reconstitute, at least in the short-term, is limited. Even in the best-case scenario from the military’s perspective it will have to provide the troops for an occupying army that can expect to be harassed and ambushed for the indefinite future.
If the commanders can still find ways to advance and keep Ukraine on the back foot then they will carry on. But should a time come when the positions have been reversed and retreats are becoming routine, then the high command will have to ask what losses are acceptable to maintain its honour and that of Putin, and how much of its future should be mortgaged in the Donbas. Of course, whatever happens in this war Russia will still have a large military establishment, and will remain a nuclear power, but in the worst case the military will be composed largely of depleted and demoralised units with vintage equipment which they are unable to replace over the next few years.
The Russian military has shown that it is ready to withdraw from beleaguered positions – most seriously when it gave up on Kyiv and most recently when it abandoned Snake Island. Giving up on all of Ukraine would be a far more significant step, and no doubt this will be resisted for as long as possible. Russia may even hope that withdrawal can be managed with some dignity as part of a negotiated settlement.
The point of my stress on the threat posed to the institution of the Russian military is that it redefines the challenge facing Ukraine. It is not necessary to think in terms of pushing Russian forces right back to their own border, although some pushing will be required, but to concentrate on continuing to undermine the capabilities and reputation of the Russian military, and consequentially its role in the Russian state.
Lawrence Freedman is a regular contributor to the New Statesman. This piece originally ran on his Substack “Comment is Freed”.
Topics in this article: RussiaUkraineVladimir PutinWarwar in ukraine
NewStatesman · by Lawrence Freedman · July 12, 2022

25. 'Do you wish you were a real pilot?' — Comedian grills her F-35 pilot fiancé in hilarious interview

And now for something completely different (and more light hearted than the news). The 15 minute interview can be viewed at the link:  https://taskandpurpose.com/culture/air-force-pilot-fiance-interview/

Imagine your significant other interviewing you about your profession?

But should orphans be allowed to fly the F-35? Why is it only the 5th generation?


'Do you wish you were a real pilot?' — Comedian grills her F-35 pilot fiancé in hilarious interview
A comedian named Caroline Kennedy asked her fiancé, an Air Force F-35 pilot, all the fighter pilot questions the rest of us are too afraid to think about asking.

BY DAVID ROZA | PUBLISHED JUL 11, 2022 8:41 AM
taskandpurpose.com · by David Roza · July 11, 2022
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When I grow up, I want to be as good at asking fighter pilots questions as the comedian Caroline Kennedy, who peppered an Air Force F-35 pilot with questions about military life that bounced between absurd, insulting, and awkward in an amazing 15-minute video she posted to YouTube earlier this summer.
“Do you think that you have to be a narcissist to be a fighter pilot, or is that unique to you?” Kennedy asked her fiancé, the F-35 pilot, in the satirical video.
“That’s really insulting,” said the pilot, Lt. Col. Jondavid ‘Dok’ Hertzel. “In the Air Force we actually really value humility and we try and teach that. It’s kind of an important character trait.”
“Well I’m surprised they haven’t kicked you out.”
“That’s kind of mean.”

There are plenty of similar exchanges throughout the video that poke fun at not only the myth of the swaggering fighter plot seen in movies like Top Gun, but also the types of interviews with fighter pilots that you see all over the internet, including at Task & Purpose.
“Does it hurt your feelings that Tom Cruise, who’s barely a fighter pilot … that he gets to fly more intense, cool missions than you do, and you’re a full-time guy?” Kennedy asked.
“I mean, I don’t think that’s accurate,” Hertzel said.
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Speaking of Top Gun, the recent release of its sequel, Top Gun: Maverick was part of what inspired Kennedy to make her video.
“I’m a comedian, so I’m always mining pop culture for content inspiration,” she told Task & Purpose. When the new movie came out, “I figured it’d be a good time to interview a real fighter pilot (and lucky for me, I’m engaged to the one you see in this video).”
@carolinekennnedy
justice for people named Sam.
♬ original sound – Caroline Kennedy
Satirical interviews make up Kennedy’s favorite genre of comedy, so she had famously awkward shows such as Between Two Ferns, Ziwe, Da Ali G Show, Borat, Chicken Shop Date, Caleb Pressley and more in mind as she scripted her side of the interview with Hertzel. By the way, the pilot was kept in the dark about Kennedy’s plan, so he had no idea what he was walking into.
“I think watching an interviewee be confronted with some unexpected form of intense ignorance is awkward in the most hilarious way,” Kennedy said. “I love the genre and have been developing my own version/comedic character for quite a while. This was my first official go!”
The satirical interview genre is a refreshing change of pace from the waterfall of ‘fighter pilot reacts’ videos saturating YouTube these days (or at least saturating my feed). In those videos, military pilots break down this or that flying scene from Top Gun or Stealth or Dunkirk or similar movies. Kennedy’s interview takes a similar premise and adapts it into something a little more … creative.
“Yeah, I am an officer in the Air Force,” Hertzel said.
“You have people calling you sir?” asked Kennedy in her video.
“Okay does it give you sort of a half-chub, when people call you sir?”
“I … don’t think that’s appropriate,” the pilot said, followed shortly afterward by “are you sure you’re a real reporter?”
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth, 419th Operations Support Squadron, poses for a photo to demonstrate the F-35 Generation III Helmet-Mounted Display at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on July 10, 2021. (Senior Airman Erica Webster/U.S. Air Force)
This situation is very familiar to Task & Purpose reporters, some of whom have found themselves questioning their life choices while asking government officials and employees things like whether an Army major getting drugged and bitten by Polish strippers would affect the military’s footprint in that country; what do pilots say when they pee in the cockpit, and whether the Space Force will fight aliens. There’s no shortage of strange questions that need asking, and we salute Kennedy for having the courage to go find the answers. On the other side of the coin, we also salute Hertzel for rolling with it.
“I have to thank Dok for being such a great sport about this interview,” Kennedy said. “He didn’t know what I had planned but handled himself with class, unsurprisingly.”
Even so, there was one moment that Kennedy and Hertzel had to re-record because Kennedy broke character. It was the moment when Kennedy asked Hertzel if orphans should be allowed to fly F-35s (watch the video, it makes much more nonsensical sense in context).
“I couldn’t get that line out without laughing at the stupidity of it,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy’s been doing this a while though, and her lifelong effort of playing practical jokes and her method acting training makes keeping a straight face a bit easier.
“You go so deep into character that part of you believes everything you’re saying,” she said.
An F-35 Lightning II performs a maneuver Sept. 12, 2016 over Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (Senior Airman Devante Williams/U.S. Air Force)
It is much more difficult to keep a straight face as a viewer, especially one who takes for granted many of the aspects of military life she pokes fun at. Even velcro, a universal military adhesive, was not safe.
“Babies … can’t tie their shoes, so you get a tennis shoe with velcro,” Kennedy said in the video, pointing out the amount of velcro on her fiancé’s flight suit. Keep in mind that one of the velcro patches on his flight suit is from Weapons School, so this guy is a bona fide expert F-35 pilot who’s toiled for years to be one of the best on the planet when it comes to flying a bomb-dropping multi-million dollar government asset. On top of that, Hertzel is a recipient of the prestigious and competitive Robbie Risner award for making “the greatest combat impact,” in his first year after graduating the school, according to an Air Force news release. But how did he do under fire from his fiancée?
“Does your uniform having velcro … I’m not trying to insult the military, but is that because you guys need some help putting on your uniforms in the morning?” the comedian asked.
“I wouldn’t say it’s related to … that,” the pilot answered.
Jokes aside, Kennedy was dead serious about one thing: her appreciation of Hertzel and his fellow service members across the military.
“I hope people know that this video is absolutely, 100% satire and I have the utmost respect for our service members and everything they sacrifice for our country,” she said.
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David covers the Air Force, Space Force and anything Star Wars-related. He joined Task & Purpose in 2019, after covering local news in Maine and FDA policy in Washington D.C. David loves hearing the stories of individual airmen and their families and sharing the human side of America’s most tech-heavy military branch. Contact the author here.

taskandpurpose.com · by David Roza · July 11, 2022






De Oppresso Liber,
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
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Editor, Small Wars Journal
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
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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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