Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners



Quotes of the Day:


"More than 5.7 million American troops were engaged, resulting in more than 33,000 combat deaths and another 92,000 injuries. It marked the first armed, global conflict between democracy and communism in what would be known as the Cold War. The war technically never ended, as North and South Korea maintain an uneasy truce along the 38th parallel on the Korean Peninsula. Yet the conflict has gone largely ignored in American pop culture. Aside from M*A*S*H and a handful of books and films, the war remains in a narrative haze, particularly compared with stories from World War II, Vietnam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Strangely, the Korean War has not functioned as the wellspring of Hollywood's approach to reconfirming" American heroism," 
- Steven Alford, film lecturer and professor of humanities at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale


"It will begin with its President taking a simple, firm resolution. The resolution will be: To forego the diversions of politics and to concentrate on the job of ending the Korean war–until that job is honorably done. That job requires a personal trip to Korea. I shall make that trip. Only in that way could I learn how best to serve the American people in the cause of peace. I shall go to Korea."
 - Dwight D. Eisenhower, "I Shall Go to Korea", October 25, 1952

"Our soldiers fought in the Korean War to push back communism. As a result of their effort and the effort of our allies, South Korea is free today."
-Pierre Poilievre





1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 26 (Putin's War)

2. Biden and Xi to tackle deadlocked agenda during call

3. Ukraine’s lessons for Taiwan grow more ominous

4. China Targeted Fed to Build Informant Network and Access Data, Probe Finds

5. Pelosi Visit to Taiwan Could Force China To Show Its Hand

6. Strange Events and the Future of the Russo-Ukrainian War

7. Worthless COIN? Why the West Should Keep Studying Counterinsurgency

8. Political violence and the future of democracy: Take a look in the mirror, America

9.  Navy lieutenant sentenced in Japan causes outcry among family, US lawmakers

10. Low-Cost Tech Shaping Modern Battlefield, Socom Commander Says

11. China sending troops and tanks to Russia

12. 'Turkey chose to join Western bloc by entering Korean War'

13. 'I Never Had To Look Up' Before: Top U.S. Special Ops General On Drone Threat

14. How Congress Can Keep Biden From Caving to Iran’s Demands

15.  Ukraine war: the crucial coming fight for Kherson

16. Ukraine Won't Save Democracy

17. Pentagon chief approves plan to treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers at US military hospital in Germany

18. US military making plans in case Pelosi travels to Taiwan

19. Putin’s New Police State

20. America’s Refugee Revolution




1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 26 (Putin's War)


Maps/graphics: https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-26



RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 26

Jul 26, 2022 - Press ISW


understandingwar.org

Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, Katherine Lawlor, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan

July 26, 7:15 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-backed proxy leadership continues to enunciate deadlines for the capture of additional Ukrainian territory, likely to support ongoing preparations for referenda on the annexation of these territories to the Russian Federation. Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Deputy Minister of Information Daniil Bezsonov stated on July 25 that the DNR expects to capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast by the end of August.[1] Various Russian and Western sources have previously reported that Russia intends to hold referenda in occupied areas by the first half of September, likely sometime around September 11, which is the unified voting day in the Russian Federation.[2] Proxy leadership and Russian-backed occupation authorities are likely pushing for deadlines for military objectives to support condition setting for expedited annexation objectives, although Russian forces remain unlikely to occupy significant additional territory in Ukraine before the early autumn annexation timeline.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian proxy and occupation leadership is enunciating expedited deadlines for the capture of Ukrainian territory to align with the Kremlin’s efforts to prepare for the annexation of occupied territories into the Russian Federation.
  • Russian forces gained marginal ground northeast of Bakhmut and are continuing to fight east and south of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces conducted a limited attack northwest of Izyum, likely to secure Russian rear areas on the Izyum-Slovyansk line.
  • Russian forces conducted limited attacks southwest of Donetsk City near the Zaporizhia Oblast border.
  • Russian forces focused on defending occupied lines and conducted a limited ground assault in northwestern Kherson Oblast.
  • Ukrainian forces continued to strike Russian logistics nodes in Kherson Oblast.
  • The Kremlin is continuing to constitute regional volunteer battalions for deployment into Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian intelligence leaks continue to reveal the Kremlin’s annexation agendas for occupied Ukraine by way of falsified referenda.


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 two 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 conducted limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk and shelled settlements to the southeast and southwest of Izyum on July 26. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops once again conducted an unsuccessful assault near Bohorodychne, about 20 km northwest of Slovyansk.[3] The Ukrainian General Staff also noted that Russian forces conducted a reconnaissance operation near Chepil, about 60 km northwest of Slovyansk between Kharkiv City and Izyum.[4] This reconnaissance attempt may suggest that Russian forces are seeking to secure the rear of operations on the Izyum-Slovyansk line. ISW will continue to monitor the Chepil area for indicators of the nature of Russian operations northwest of the Izyum-Slovyansk line. Russian forces continued to shell settlements along the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border southeast of Izyum and around Barvinkove, southwest of Izyum.[5]

The Ukrainian General Staff additionally claimed that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults in the area of the Sviati Hory National Nature Park, about 20 km northeast of Slovyansk.[6] The Sviati Hory park is bounded by the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, and it is unlikely that Russian forces have yet made it across the river and are advancing southwest toward Slovyansk. The language of the General Staff report is vague and may suggest that:

  1. Russian forces have either crossed the Siverskyi Donetsk River on the outskirts of the park (which is unlikely given previous challenges Russian troops have faced in opposed river crossings);
  2. That Ukrainian forces have crossed the Siverskyi Donetsk River onto the territory of the park and are engaging Russian troops in the area, which would be noteworthy, but for which there is no evidence;
  3. or that Russian forces simply carried out unspecified offensive actions somewhere near the park and in the general area northeast of Slovyansk.

ISW will continue to monitor developments and potential directions of Russian advances from the Sviati Hory area.

Russian forces made incremental gains northeast of Bakhmut between July 25 and 26. Geolocated footage posted by a Russian soldier walking freely along a very damaged segment of the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway in Berestove (25 km northeast of Bakhmut) shows that Russian forces took control of Berestove on July 25.[7] The footage shows that Berestove has been essentially leveled by Russian artillery and is completely abandoned, which suggests that Ukrainian troops may have conducted a controlled withdrawal from the area. Russian forces will likely leverage this position to move southwest along the T1302 towards Soledar and attempt to assault Bakhmut from the Berestove-Soledar line. Russian forces are also fighting near Soledar itself.[8]

Russian forces continued to fight south of Bakhmut on July 26. Several Russian sources posted further confirmation that Russian forces, including Wagner Group mercenaries, have taken control of the Vuhlehirska Power Plant (also sometimes referred to as the Vuhledar Power Plant) about 25 km southeast of Bakhmut.[9] The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces are fighting in Semihirya (just northwest of the Vuhlehirska Power Plant).[10] ISW assessed on July 25 that Ukrainian troops likely conducted a controlled withdrawal from the power plant to Semihirya, and Russian forces will likely continue measured attempts to push north of the territory of the plant towards Bakhmut.

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks southwest of Donetsk City on July 26. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces attempted to assault Blahodatne and Pavlivka, both about 45 km southwest of Donetsk City.[11] Blahodatne is within ISW-assessed Russian-controlled territory, and the Ukrainian General Staff’s report on an attack in its vicinity may suggest that Ukrainian troops have conducted limited counterattacks near Blahodatne as they have around Pavlivka. Russian troops additionally continued to focus offensive operations in the direction of Avdiivka and fired along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line of contact.[12]


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 did not conduct any ground assaults and continued to focus on maintaining defensive lines north of Kharkiv City to prevent Ukrainian forces from advancing toward the international border on July 26.[13] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued to conduct air and artillery strikes along the Kharkiv City Axis on July 26.[14] Russian forces conducted airstrikes on Mospanove, Zalyman, and Yavirske, all southeast of Kharkiv City, and launched tube and rocket artillery strikes on Kharkiv City and settlements to the north, northeast, and southeast.[15]


Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)

Russian forces continued their air and missile campaign against Odesa and Mykolaiv Oblasts on July 26. Ukrainian Air Force Command Spokesperson Yuriy Ignat reported that Russian bombers fired 13 air missiles at the coastal settlement of Zatoka south of the Dniester Estuary and other unspecified areas in Odesa Oblast from the Black Sea, and social media reports showed destruction of residential infrastructure.[16] Mykolaiv Oblast Administration Head Vitaly Kim reported that Russian forces fired 18 missiles at Mykolaiv Oblast, and about half of the missiles hit a defunct railway bridge, industrial areas, residential buildings, and critical infrastructure.[17] Kim specified that Russian forces launched six Kh-59 cruise missiles and 12 missiles from S-300 air defense systems.[18] The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command added that Russian forces targeted an unspecified port in Mykolaiv Oblast.[19]

Russian forces continued to focus on defending their occupied positions and attempted a limited unsuccessful assault in northwestern Kherson Oblast. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Russian forces made another unsuccessful attempt to advance from occupied Ishchenka to Bilohirka on July 25, likely in an effort to push back Ukrainian positions on the eastern Inhulets Riverbank.[20] Russian forces also carried out air and missile strikes on settlements around the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River.[21]

Ukrainian forces reportedly continued to strike Russian ammunition depots and manpower concentrations in Kherson Oblast, likely complicating Russian logistics in the region. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command stated that Ukrainian forces destroyed a command post and an ammunition depot of the 11th Separate Guards Air Assault Brigade (based in Ulan Ude, Buryatia) in northern Kherson Oblast on July 25.[22] Advisor to the Kherson Oblast Military Administration Head Serhiy Khlan also confirmed that Russian forces are attempting to establish a pontoon crossing over the Inhulets River in Darivka (approximately 24 km northeast of Kherson City) to resume transport of heavy equipment after Ukrainian strikes damaged a bridge in the area.[23]


Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)

The Kremlin continued measures to recruit additional volunteer battalions to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Regional media outlets reported that Yaroslavl Oblast is recruiting volunteers aged 20 to 50 with previous military experience for the “Marshal Fyodor Tolbukhin” volunteer battalion on July 26.[24] Regional reports noted that over 100 Yaroslavl Oblast residents have already joined the battalion with regional officials offering a one-time 120,000-ruble (approximately $2,000) payment for enlisting.[25] Recruits will also reportedly receive a starting monthly “allowance” of 36,000 rubles (approximately $600), which will increase to 150,000 rubles (approximately $2,500) once they enter combat zones.[26] The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that Russian forces are recruiting Central Asian immigrants to join the Moscow-based “Soboyanskiy Polk” volunteer regiment in return for high salaries and Russian citizenship instead of recruiting Moscow Oblast residents.[27] Kyrgyz YouTube channel MediaHub also reported that Russian forces have been recruiting Kyrgyz men by falsely offering them jobs in the security field.[28]

Russian forces are likely training volunteer battalions from different regions in select training camps due to lack of military trainers. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov reported that recruits from various Russian regions undergo accelerated training in the SPETSNAZ University in Chechnya and published footage of unspecified Chechen fighters deploying to Donbas from the Grozny Airport on July 25.[29] Kadyrov has previously reported on the deployment of unspecified volunteer elements throughout July, and Chechen units will likely deploy to Ukraine in smaller groups rather than fully assembled battalions due to limited training capacity at the SPETSNAZ University.[30]

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)

Ukrainian intelligence leaks continue to detail Kremlin plans to annex occupied Ukrainian territory into Russia via falsified referenda. The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) reported on July 26 that Russian officials plan to rely on activist members of the “Donetsk Republic” organization to advocate for an accession referendum and to mobilize voters across occupied Ukrainian territory in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson Oblasts.[31] The Donetsk Republic organization is a Russian proxy precursor to the governance structures of the Donetsk People’s Republic that has advocated for Russian annexation of Donbas since 2005. The SBU reported that the organization will likely rename itself “Greater Russia” and will advocate for the Russian annexation not just of Donbas, but of all of occupied Ukraine, demonstrating the Kremlin’s ever-expanding territorial objectives. Ukrainian intelligence leaked t-shirt designs showing a unified outline of Russia and Ukraine that also includes the US state of Alaska as part of “Greater Russia.” Ukrainian intelligence also leaked pre-drafted letters, ostensibly by members of the organization, appealing to DNR Head Denis Pushilin to hold a referendum. The letters were hand-signed and dated August 1 and 9, 2022.

These future-dated documents demonstrate that the Kremlin has planned a paced information operation to support the annexation and integration of occupied Ukrainian territory into the Russian Federation. That operation has already begun. The first phases involved Russian proxies calling for Russian intervention, Russian forces taking and occupying swathes of southern and eastern Ukraine, and Russian occupation officials replacing Ukrainian identifying documents, telecommunications, currency, and local governance with Russian alternatives. Proxy officials will now continue to request annexation, citing what they will claim is a popular, grassroots campaign calling for accession referenda.

The next phase will likely involve ostensibly grassroots groups engaging or intimidating civilians in occupied areas and occupation officials increasingly tying humanitarian aid to “correct” electoral participation in annexation referenda. The SBU reported that members of the Donetsk Republic have already engaged with 200,000 citizens in occupied areas, encouraging them to join the organization and support the occupation and annexation. After releasing their “grassroots appeals” in early August and increasing their propaganda output throughout the month, the Kremlin’s proxies will most likely claim that it is the will of the people to schedule their referenda for September 11, the same day that local and gubernatorial elections are held across Russia.

The reported objectives of the “Greater Russia” organization demonstrate that the Kremlin has already developed post-annexation plans for population control as well. The group’s listed objectives include territorial integration, humanitarian aid, “support for civil initiatives on the ground,” “removal of social tension,” and “development of the economic potential of the territories.”

Repeated Ukrainian intelligence leaks of this Russian and proxy planning may force the Kremlin to alter or forgo elements of their planned annexation campaign, just as US and allied “pre-bunking” of Russian false-flag attempts forced the Kremlin to forgo many of its planned justifications for the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Ukrainian counteroffensives could also force a change in the Kremlin’s annexation timeline.

[1] https://t.me/stranaua/54377https://tass dot ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/15308853?utm_source=google.com&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=google.com&utm_referrer=google.com

[2] https://t.me/stranaua/54183https://t.me/ivan_fedorov_melitopol/308; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/58258; https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-21/russia-moves-to-annex... https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2022/07/18/na-luganshhyni-rosijski-vchyteli-provodyat-pidgotovku-do-referendumu/; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/38406https://t.me/boris_rozhin/57241; https://tass dot ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/15214323; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/38376 ; https://gur.gov dot ua/content/rosiya-ne-dosyahla-svoyeyi-holovnoyi-mety-okupuvaty-ukrayinu-i-hotuyet-sya-do-pryyednannya-vzhe-zakhoplenykh-terytoriy.html

[17] https://suspilne dot media/264429-vtorgnenna-rosii-v-ukrainu-den-153-tekstovij-onlajn-2/; https://t.me/spravdi/14100; https://t.me/senkevichonline/1784

[18] https://suspilne dot media/264429-vtorgnenna-rosii-v-ukrainu-den-153-tekstovij-onlajn-2/; https://t.me/spravdi/14100

[24] https://yaroslavl dot bezformata.com/listnews/dobrovoltcev-dlya-uchastiya-v-spetcoperatcii/107805832/http://goldring dot ru/news/show/175063

[25] http://goldring dot ru/news/show/175063

[26] https://yaroslavl dot bezformata.com/listnews/dobrovoltcev-dlya-uchastiya-v-spetcoperatcii/107805832/

[31] https://ssu dot gov dot ua/novyny/sbu-vykryla-plany-rf-shchodo-psevdoreferendumu-z-pryiednannia-okupovanykh-rehioniv-ukrainy-video

understandingwar.org




2. Biden and Xi to tackle deadlocked agenda during call


Excerpts:

President Joe Biden is expected to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week — perhaps as early as Tuesday night — in a bid to manage rising tensions over Taiwan, trade and a deadlocked bilateral diplomatic agenda.
Biden told reporters Wednesday that he expects to speak with Xi “within the next 10 days,” without providing details on a possible agenda. Although Biden tested positive for Covid-19 the next day, a diplomatic source told POLITICO that the call is still on and it could happen within the next 24 to 48 hours.


Biden and Xi to tackle deadlocked agenda during call

Politico

By PHELIM KINE

07/26/2022 03:17 PM EDT

President Joe Biden is balancing Beijing's ire with a bid for an in-person meeting with China's Xi Jinping in November.


President Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Roosevelt Room of the White House November 15, 2021. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

07/26/2022 03:17 PM EDT

President Joe Biden is expected to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week — perhaps as early as Tuesday night — in a bid to manage rising tensions over Taiwan, trade and a deadlocked bilateral diplomatic agenda.

Biden told reporters Wednesday that he expects to speak with Xi “within the next 10 days,” without providing details on a possible agenda. Although Biden tested positive for Covid-19 the next day, a diplomatic source told POLITICO that the call is still on and it could happen within the next 24 to 48 hours.


The call follows national security adviser Jake Sullivan’s meeting in Luxembourg in June with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi this month in Bali.


Senior administration officials will pitch the call as a deliverable-free routine follow-up to a series of communications between Biden and Xi — they last spoke in March and had a virtual meeting in November — that senior administration officials say are to erect “guardrails” designed to ensure competition “doesn’t lead to conflict.”

But Biden’s main objective will be to ensure the latest eruption of Chinese rage over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s planned trip to Taiwan doesn’t derail discussions for a long-awaited in-person meeting between Biden and Xi in November.

“I don’t think there can be any major developments from a telephone call except that both sides are recognizing the danger of miscalculation … but there won’t be any major announcements before the midterms or the [Communist] Party Congress,” said Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council.

Allen said both sides are focused on a face-to-face between the leaders on the margins of the Nov. 12 G-20 in Bali or the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting Nov. 15 in Bangkok.

“They’ll have an opportunity to sit down with each other as human beings … perhaps even have a meal,” Allen said.

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment while Chinese embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu told POLITICO that he lacked “any information” regarding a possible Biden-Xi in-person meeting in November. But China experts say that such a meeting offers Biden an invaluable opportunity to break a bilateral deadlock by leveraging the two leaders’ personal relationship fostered while Biden was vice president.

“There are 1000 things that could go wrong that could derail [an in-person meeting] - there is no absolute certainty that Xi Jinping is going to go and no absolute certainty that the Putin issue isn’t going to tank the G-20 [meeting],” said Danny Russel, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and vice president for international security and diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute. “Where there is certainty is that the personal relationship Biden and Xi built in 2011 and 2012 is one of the few things that we have going for us in the relationship.”

An in-person meeting will allow Biden and Xi space for more meaningful discussions than their phone calls and video meeting over the past 19 months have provided.

“It’s certainly worth a shot in trying to really get to Xi Jinping and shape how he thinks about issues particularly as he embarks upon his third five-year term in office,” said Bonnie Glaser, Asia program director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

But Biden and Xi’s immediate challenge this week is to navigate the furious Chinese reaction to Pelosi’s planned Taiwan. Chinese authorities have laced their response to reports of a possible Pelosi visit with a vow to “take countermeasures” if the trip proceeds. Biden suggested last week that he had misgivings about the trip and its potential risks that could include the Chinese imposition of a no-fly zone around the island to block Pelosi from landing.

“Perhaps the most solemn part of the call will be on Taiwan, but I don’t think that it will derail the call, and I don’t think that it will change the overall way in which these two leaders communicate,” Glaser said.

Any hint of a Biden compromise with Xi on any issue risks GOP criticism in the run-up to the November midterms. “Under no circumstances should President Biden waive any tariffs, beg Beijing for refined petroleum, or praise Xi’s fake climate commitments,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement. “Instead, the president needs to make clear his administration will defend Taiwan’s sovereignty, strictly enforce my Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, and demand the release of all American citizens detained in China.”

The two leaders will also discuss trade tensions linked to Trump-era tariffs imposed on $370 billion in Chinese imports. Industry officials and former federal officials with knowledge of administration plans say that Biden is likely to lift tariffs this month on a segment of targeted imports valued at around $10 billion. He’ll bracket that by announcing new investigations under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act aimed at heavily subsidized sectors of the Chinese economy.

Xi is likely to push the narrative floated by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian this month that “Lifting all the additional tariffs on China is good for both China and the US and good for the world.”

China hawks want Biden to stand firm on the tariffs. “I see this as a chance [for Xi] to probe for weakness and see if the Biden team is willing to give [concessions] — it just shows desperation,” said David R. Stilwell, former assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. “They want us to get our knee off their economic chest and let them go back to what they were doing.”

Biden will likely also use his call with Xi to raise the issue of U.S. citizens in China who Washington says are victims of wrongful detention or who are stranded in China due to exit bans imposed by Chinese authorities. Sullivan told Yang in a June 13 meeting that releasing Americans wrongfully detained or subject to exit bans is a “personal priority for both himself and for the President.”

The Chinese response to that declaration hasn’t been hopeful. “We urge the US to stop such hypocritical and preposterous performance, and focus on correcting their own mistakes,” Liu, with the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said in a statement.

Liu’s statement suggests Biden faces the likely failure of a signature diplomatic policy initiative. Previous Biden administration initiatives for bilateral cooperation with Beijing have also floundered. Administration officials revealed several such initiatives after Biden’s Nov. 15 virtual meeting, including closer collaboration on counternarcotics activities and bilateral talks regarding U.S. concerns about the rapid growth in China’s nuclear arsenal.

Eight months later, progress on those issues is largely stalled due to China’s refusal to to engage. Instead, the Chinese government is conditioning bilateral cooperation on U.S. responsive to four lists of demands to resolve what Chinese Foreign Minister Wang calls unspecified “outstanding problems” in the relationship.

That attitude has hardened GOP skepticism about the utility of Biden’s upcoming call with Xi and prompted calls for a more uncompromising approach to U.S.-China relations generally.

“If the President were clear-eyed about the CCP threat and confident in American strength, his objectives for the call would be obvious,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “He should reject the lists of demands the CCP delivered to Secretary Blinken this month, he should retract his embarrassing gaffe discouraging Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and be clear that the United States will not be deterred by CCP belligerence.”


POLITICO



Politico



3. Ukraine’s lessons for Taiwan grow more ominous


Yes, some ominous analysis from Joe Bosco.


Excerpts:


An island seizure and selective missile attacks could be Phase 1 of an incremental, multi-stage effort to conquer Taiwan, none of which would be so dramatic as to necessarily precipitate a U.S. or Western response. It could be a launching point for further aggression, something like Russia’s relatively bloodless seizure of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea in 2014, which Putin evidently thought he would replicate in attacking Kyiv in February.
If Biden follows the approach he led in 2014 as President Obama’s vice president and foreign policy guru, Washington will take no direct military action against Xi Jinping’s limited moves — just as it allowed Putin to swallow Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Similarly, under that model, Biden will put shackles on any defensive weapons he provides the Taiwanese to ensure they don’t attack China, even the bases from which the aggression was launched.
Added to the U.S. shortcomings on Ukraine is Biden’s failure so far to guarantee security to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on her noble intention to visit Taiwan. Together, the shortcomings send a dispiriting message of hesitation and weakness that must surely worry the Taiwanese and other countries in the region and embolden Beijing.



Ukraine’s lessons for Taiwan grow more ominous

BY JOSEPH BOSCO, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR - 07/26/22 10:00 AM ET

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL

The Hill ·i · July 26, 2022

The longer the Biden administration continues delaying and stinting its support for Ukraine without enabling Kyiv to halt and reverse Russia’s invasion, the more precarious both Ukraine’s and Taiwan’s positions become.

This is not to disparage the substantial volume of U.S. and NATO weaponry that has flowed into Ukraine from a standing start, and for which Ukrainians have expressed gratitude. Rather, it is to note that the aid has been too little in quantity and quality and too late to avoid a catastrophic cost in human lives, destruction of cities, forced relocation to Russia of tens of thousands of Ukrainians, desperate emigration to other countries of millions more, and the crippling of Ukraine’s economy. It is a grotesque scenario out of World War II, yet the West is becoming desensitized to the horrific costs of Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion and war crimes.

To Western officials, the glass on aid to Ukraine may be half full. But to many Ukrainians, while loath to appear unappreciative, it is half empty, enabling Ukraine only to slow the Russian advance and hold most of its territory together but not to stop the carnage and decisively defeat and eject the invaders.

The long-delayed delivery of HIMARS long-range artillery has shown in the battle for Donbas how sophisticated Western weapons can offset Russia’s advantage in force numbers and firepower. Yet, after months of withholding them, the Biden administration has delivered only a dozen of the systems so far, and Ukraine can use scores more that currently languish in U.S. and allied depots.

Similarly, Washington has refused to establish a no-fly zone because of President Biden’s apparent conviction that Vladimir Putin is less worried about escalation, potentially to World War III, than he is and would defy the ban by shooting down American planes. Even less understandable is Biden’s blocking the transfer of fighter aircraft from NATO allies and denying Ukraine the ability to enforce its own no-fly zone.

On the maritime front, Washington has allowed Moscow to appropriate the Black Sea as a Russian lake from which it can bomb Ukraine’s cities, close its ports, and block the export of life-saving Ukrainian wheat from desperate African and Mideastern populations.

All this constrained assistance, even beyond the aversion to getting directly involved, conveys a sense of Western timidity against robustly helping Ukraine to defend itself. Those strategic failures of the Biden administration and NATO bode ill for a U.S. and Western response to the growing likelihood of China’s aggression against Taiwan. They make Biden’s thrice-declared intention to defend Taiwan ring hollow.

Recent statements by his foreign policy and national security team downplaying the imminence of China’s action against Taiwan could be seen by Beijing as wishful thinking and the flagging of administration will.

Last month, Joint Chiefs Chair, Gen. Mark Milley, publicly disagreed with the warning of the former U.S. Indo-Pacific Command commander, Adm. Phil Davidson, and current commander Adm. John Aquilino that China is preparing to take Taiwan within the next six years.

“It’s a capability, not an intent to attack or seize. My assessment is an operational assessment,” Milley said. “Do they have the intent to attack or seize in the near-term defined as the next year or two? My assessment of what I’ve seen right now is no, but that could always change. Intent is something that could change quickly.”

Milley’s rationale for a less urgent evaluation of the danger is that launching the kind of assault on Taiwan that Russia has inflicted on Ukraine would be a daunting task for China: “The difficulty of an invasion of Taiwan is still a major barrier for the [People’s Liberation Army]. I don’t see it happening right out of the blue. There’s no reason for it and the cost to China far exceeds the benefit. President Xi and his military would do the calculation and they know that an invasion — in order to seize an island that big, with that many people and the defensive capabilities the Taiwanese have — would be extraordinarily complicated and costly. At this point in time, next 12 to 24 months, I’m not seeing any indicator warnings yet.”

CIA Director William Burns reached a similar conclusion based on Putin’s “strategic failure” to achieve a quick victory over Ukraine, which Burns said “unsettled” Xi Jinping’s thinking about Taiwan. But, he added, it did not affect “whether the Chinese leadership might choose some years down the road to use force to control Taiwan, but how and when they would do it.”

Both assessments are based on the premise of a full-scale Chinese invasion of Taiwan. “I suspect the lesson that the Chinese leadership and military are drawing is that you’ve got to amass overwhelming force if you’re going to contemplate that in the future,” Burns said.

But China, which favors the element of surprise in war and politics, may well decide to forego an all-out invasion of Taiwan within that time frame, opting instead to seize Quemoy and/or other Taiwanese islands as an interim measure. Together with, or separate from, such a move it could conduct massive missile strikes on selective strategic targets in Taiwan, possibly avoiding the civilian population at first.

After all, Beijing gave this assurance in its Anti-Secession Law providing for the use of force against Taiwan: “The state shall exert its utmost to protect the lives, property and other legitimate rights and interests of Taiwan civilians and foreign nationals in Taiwan, and to minimize losses.”

An island seizure and selective missile attacks could be Phase 1 of an incremental, multi-stage effort to conquer Taiwan, none of which would be so dramatic as to necessarily precipitate a U.S. or Western response. It could be a launching point for further aggression, something like Russia’s relatively bloodless seizure of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea in 2014, which Putin evidently thought he would replicate in attacking Kyiv in February.

America needs a climate foil for Joe Manchin — Gavin Newsom should step Up Climate and industrial innovation: Thermal energy solutions needed

If Biden follows the approach he led in 2014 as President Obama’s vice president and foreign policy guru, Washington will take no direct military action against Xi Jinping’s limited moves — just as it allowed Putin to swallow Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Similarly, under that model, Biden will put shackles on any defensive weapons he provides the Taiwanese to ensure they don’t attack China, even the bases from which the aggression was launched.

Added to the U.S. shortcomings on Ukraine is Biden’s failure so far to guarantee security to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on her noble intention to visit Taiwan. Together, the shortcomings send a dispiriting message of hesitation and weakness that must surely worry the Taiwanese and other countries in the region and embolden Beijing.

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 · · July 26, 2022


4. China Targeted Fed to Build Informant Network and Access Data, Probe Finds


Again no surprise. It adds confirmation to my China thesis: China seeks to export its authoritarian political system around the world in order to dominate regions, co-opt or coerce international organizations, create economic conditions favorable to China alone, and displace democratic institutions.




China Targeted Fed to Build Informant Network and Access Data, Probe Finds

The investigation by Senate Republicans found that the decadelong effort included detaining a Fed economist in China


By Kate O’KeeffeFollow

 and Nick TimiraosFollow

Updated July 26, 2022 4:42 pm ET

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-targeted-fed-to-build-informant-network-access-data-a-probe-says-11658826000?st=r6d96m3e1d31x9g&reflink=share_mobilewebshare


China tried to build a network of informants inside the Federal Reserve system, at one point threatening to imprison a Fed economist during a trip to Shanghai unless he agreed to provide nonpublic economic data, a congressional investigation found.

The investigation by Republican staff members of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs found that Fed employees were offered contracts with Chinese talent-recruitment programs, which often include cash payments, and asked to provide information on the U.S. economy, interest-rate changes and policies, according to a report of the findings released Tuesday.

In the case of the economist, the report said, Chinese officials in 2019 detained and tried to coerce him to share data and information on U.S. government policies, including on tariffs while the U.S. and China were in the midst of a trade war.

The report doesn’t say whether any sensitive information was compromised in what it said has been a decadelong effort that began around 2013. Access to such information could provide valuable insights given the Fed’s extensive analysis of U.S. economic activity, its oversight of the U.S. financial system, and the setting of interest-rate policy.

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP

Capital Journal

Scoops, analysis and insights driving Washington from the WSJ's D.C. bureau.

PREVIEW

SUBSCRIBE

The Republican-led investigation said the Fed failed to mount an adequate response. The report’s findings show “a sustained effort by China, over more than a decade, to gain influence over the Federal Reserve and a failure by the Federal Reserve to combat this threat effectively.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell strongly disputed the report’s findings and called its characterizations of some employees unfair. “Because we understand that some actors aim to exploit any vulnerabilities, our processes, controls, and technology are robust and updated regularly. We respectfully reject any suggestions to the contrary,” he wrote in a letter to Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, the committee’s top Republican.

Mr. Powell detailed the central bank’s information security and background screening protocols, including reviews of foreign travel and personal contacts for staff who have access to restricted information. “We take seriously any violations of these robust information security policies,” he wrote.


Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) said China presents a threat to U.S. monetary policy.

PHOTO: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

The letter didn’t address China’s conduct. The Fed declined to comment on it.

China has mounted what U.S. counterintelligence officials say is among the broadest campaigns to obtain U.S. government information and proprietary business secrets and scientific and technology research. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, along with his British counterpart, issued a rare joint warning this month to businesses over Chinese espionage efforts. China-linked cyberhackers have previously infiltrated the Defense Department, and Chinese operatives have spread money around to cultivate current and former officials in the intelligence agencies and State Department.

China criticized the Senate Republicans’ report, with a Chinese embassy spokesman in Washington citing the “Cold War zero-sum thinking” of some members of Congress. “The cooperation between China and the U.S. in economic, financial and other fields is open and aboveboard, which has played an important role in enhancing mutual understanding and mutual trust between the two countries,” said the spokesman, Liu Pengyu.

The congressional Republican report draws heavily from a separate internal Fed investigation conducted by the central bank beginning in 2015. The Fed, the congressional report said, began its probe after an unspecified outside entity warned that foreign adversaries had tried to build relationships with Fed researchers typically by offering “compensated contractual relationships.”

The Fed investigation identified 13 people of interest, dubbed the “P-Network” by internal investigators, who were employed at eight of the 12 regional Fed banks, the report said.

A former employee of the Fed or one of its regional banks, identified as “Z,” attempted to recruit the network’s members, according to the report. That person maintained ties to Chinese government-backed talent-recruitment programs and “expressed a desire to maintain an inside information sharing relationship” with Fed employees, the report said.

The Fed investigation found that one economist in the Fed system, who was later fired for violating central-bank rules, had been close to “Z,” the report said.


Since providing its “P-Network” findings to Congress in December 2020, the Fed now disputes many results of its inquiry, the report said. The Fed raised concerns about the accuracy of its findings this month and can’t locate some of the investigative materials, the report said.

In his letter to Mr. Portman, Mr. Powell said the Fed would be concerned about “any supportable allegation of wrongdoing, whatever the source. In contrast, we are deeply troubled by what we believe to be the report’s unfair, unsubstantiated, and unverified insinuations about particular staff members.”

“I am concerned by the threat to the Fed,” Mr. Portman said in a statement. He said he hopes the investigation “wakes the Fed up to the broad threat from China to our monetary policy. The risk is clear.”

The Fed maintains channels to central banks around the world, and inside the Fed system many researchers have previous work experience at foreign central banks and universities. The international appeal of the U.S. central bank is seen by many economists as one of its strengths in fostering excellence in research.

China has frequently used talent-recruitment programs in its efforts to obtain classified or proprietary information, offering lucrative appointments at Chinese research institutes which U.S. counterintelligence officials say amount to an incentive to steal secrets.

After Congress began its investigation, the Fed began banning officials from accepting compensation from certain countries including China, the report said. The policies, however, don’t require employees to disclose membership in talent-recruitment plans, the report said. Despite known ties to talent plans or relationships with members, committee aides said that four of the five people cited in their report retain access to confidential Fed information.

The congressional report details multiple instances involving “P-Network” individuals including one who gave economic modeling code to a Chinese university with ties to the People’s Bank of China, the report said.

Another attempted to transfer large volumes of data from the Fed to an external site on at least two occasions, the report said. This person had also previously received a request from a person linked to the Chinese government for nonpublic information on three Fed bank presidents’ views on rate increases, the report said.

A committee aide said he didn’t know if Chinese government officials received any of the information.

In his letter, Mr. Powell said the central bank posts its most important economic models publicly online to better engage with other professionals about its analysis. He said that Fed systems monitor for unauthorized transfers of data and information.

The most extreme example cited in the report involved the Fed economist who traveled to Shanghai in 2019 after the U.S. and China had levied tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of goods. Chinese officials detained the economist on four occasions during the trip, the report said.

The economist later reported to the bank that Chinese officials initially approached him at his hotel room, “making the atmosphere frightening,” and told him that they had been monitoring his phone conversations, including those involving a previous divorce, the report said.

The Chinese officials told the Fed employee that he must “share sensitive, nonpublic economic data to which he has access” and that he must “advise senior [Chinese] government officials on sensitive economic issues, including trade tariffs” and confidential information, according to the report. The officials also threatened to imprison him and destroy his life if he didn’t sign a letter promising not to mention the encounters to his family, the report said.

Fed officials told committee staff that they reported the incident to the FBI and to the State Department. In July 2019, the Fed issued a general warning to all economists about travel to China, the report said. The FBI declined to comment; the State Department didn’t return a request for comment.

Write to Kate O’Keeffe at kathryn.okeeffe@wsj.com and Nick Timiraos at nick.timiraos@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 27, 2022, print edition as 'Beijing Spy Campaign Targeted The Fed, Probe Says'.



5. Pelosi Visit to Taiwan Could Force China To Show Its Hand


Excerpts:


The Pentagon isn’t commenting, but General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said while visiting Indonesia that “the Chinese military, in the air and at sea, have become significantly more and noticeably more aggressive in this particular region.” Might China actually endanger Mrs. Pelosi as she made the rounds at the Taiwanese capital, Taipei? Could her visit be a pretext for China finally to invade the island?
That’s not too likely, as there are no signs of the Chinese preparing an invasion force. Strong voices with Pentagon ties contradict the view that maybe she should hold back. Some analysts think it would be great if she called Beijing’s bluff and went there in a blaze of publicity that would surely enhance her image as a fighter.
“I do not think she has a choice,” a retired U.S. Army colonel who is now a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, David Maxwell, said. “We cannot afford to back down in the face of Chinese threats.”
Nor, Mr. Maxwell told the Sun, should the government “try to deny her support for her travel.” Such lack of nerve, he explained, would “simply embolden China to double down on its political warfare strategy.”
If Beijing did take military action, he said, “China’s intentions for initiating hostilities will be confirmed.”
Taipei isn’t taking chances. Just to prove its defiance of Beijing, Taiwan’s army, air force, and navy staged military drills. Said Taipei’s mayor, Ko Wn-je: “We need to be prepared if there is war.”


Pelosi Visit to Taiwan Could Force China To Show Its Hand

Beijing’s shrill response to the thought of the House speaker going to Taiwan raises fears that China may go beyond words in retaliating if she dares set foot on the island.

https://www.nysun.com/article/pelosi-visit-to-taiwan-could-force-china-to-show-its-hand

Speaker Pelosi at the Capitol on July 21, 2022. AP/J. Scott Applewhite, file


DONALD KIRK

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

08:01:41 am

The speaker of the House has a rare opportunity to defy Chinese threats and visit Taiwan in a showdown that could determine whether Communist China is ready to go beyond rhetoric in its claim to the island province.

Speaker Pelosi has yet to say she’s going, but the mere possibility is inspiring fierce warnings from Beijing, worries in the White House and Pentagon, and calls for her to show she has every right to visit in bold defiance of whatever the Chinese say.

At a time when China has been increasing pressure on Taiwan, with flights into the island’s air defense identification zone, Mrs. Pelosi would be the first American member of Congress to visit Taiwan since Newt Gingrich led a delegation there in 1997. Like Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Gingrich was speaker of the House, though of a different political persuasion.

Beijing’s shrill response to the thought of Mrs. Pelosi going to Taiwan raises fears that China may go beyond words in retaliating if she dares set foot on the island.

“We are fully prepared for any eventuality,” Communist China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said, but he was careful not to say what China might do. Instead, in a rhetorical flourish, he said if she “insists on making the visit, the Chinese side will take firm and strong measures to safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Such bluster has everyone wondering if the Chinese are thinking of firing a few missiles, as happened before the Taiwan Straits Crisis of 1995-96, when President Clinton ordered a flotilla of American vessels, including aircraft carriers, into waters that China claims as its own. China eventually backed off what had been an attempt to disrupt Taiwan’s 1996 presidential election, but now China is far stronger and much more likely to throw its weight around.

“Every sign of U.S. action, such as Pelosi’s visit, or inaction matters to China,” a long-time analyst who covered Taiwan for years for the old Far Eastern Economic Review, Shim Jae-hoon, told the Sun. “Even without her, the atmosphere is highly combustible already as Chinese aircraft make frequent fly-ins into Taiwan’s air space.”

Why upset the Chinese unnecessarily? That seems to be the view of President Biden, who quoted anonymous folks in the Pentagon as saying a visit by Mrs. Pelosi might not be “a good idea.”

The Pentagon isn’t commenting, but General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said while visiting Indonesia that “the Chinese military, in the air and at sea, have become significantly more and noticeably more aggressive in this particular region.” Might China actually endanger Mrs. Pelosi as she made the rounds at the Taiwanese capital, Taipei? Could her visit be a pretext for China finally to invade the island?

That’s not too likely, as there are no signs of the Chinese preparing an invasion force. Strong voices with Pentagon ties contradict the view that maybe she should hold back. Some analysts think it would be great if she called Beijing’s bluff and went there in a blaze of publicity that would surely enhance her image as a fighter.

“I do not think she has a choice,” a retired U.S. Army colonel who is now a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, David Maxwell, said. “We cannot afford to back down in the face of Chinese threats.”

Nor, Mr. Maxwell told the Sun, should the government “try to deny her support for her travel.” Such lack of nerve, he explained, would “simply embolden China to double down on its political warfare strategy.”

If Beijing did take military action, he said, “China’s intentions for initiating hostilities will be confirmed.”

Taipei isn’t taking chances. Just to prove its defiance of Beijing, Taiwan’s army, air force, and navy staged military drills. Said Taipei’s mayor, Ko Wn-je: “We need to be prepared if there is war.”

DONALD KIRK

Mr. Kirk, based in Seoul and Washington, has been covering Asia for decades for newspapers and magazines and is the author of books on Korea, the Vietnam War and the Philippines.



6. Strange Events and the Future of the Russo-Ukrainian War



Excerpts:


Of course, there’s a chance that the firings were a minor event amounting to little more than domestic political machination. But that doesn’t seem likely. More likely is that the war has created tension and risk at the highest levels of authority. The immediate challenge for Ukraine is to contain the issue before it affects the army.
Both sides, then, would seem to have an interest in a negotiated settlement. The problem is that neither side can afford one. Russia’s objective was to make Russia, and Moscow in particular, secure against NATO (read: American) actions. So far, the distance to Moscow is where it was when the war started. Russia cannot accept a peace that does not move Russian control far to the west. Ukraine, and by extension the United States, might be interested in a stand-still. Russia can’t accept that without risking confidence in the government.
And it’s not a given that Ukraine would settle for it either. There is clearly dysfunction at the top. If Kyiv were to cede major portions of territory to Russia, things would get only more dysfunctional. For the West, moving the Russian border closer to Eastern Europe would not end the war; it would only create the pretext for the next. The closer Russia is to the western Ukrainian border, the more it must be assumed that Russia would choose to move farther still. True or not, it must be assumed.
As the risks mount for both sides, a settlement seems likely. The agreement on grain was obviously signed with some notion of what it could mean. The concept of a peace agreement is sound, but the geography of such an agreement, and the imperatives on both sides, seems to make this impossible. What is needed here is fear.


Strange Events and the Future of the Russo-Ukrainian War - Geopolitical Futures

geopoliticalfutures.com · by George Friedman · July 26, 2022

July 26, 2022

2280

Open as PDF

Russia and Ukraine have signed an agreement to permit the shipping of grain through the Black Sea to world markets. A few hours after the agreement was signed in Turkey, Russia attacked the Black Sea port in Odesa. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also fired his security chief to investigate allegations of treason and dismissed his chief prosecutor and other officials – all while a U.S. congresswoman asks President Joe Biden to investigate Zelenskyy’s chief of staff for his alleged ties to Russia. The war is becoming complex.

The decision to permit shipments of wheat makes sense for the rest of the world. Ukraine is the fifth-largest exporter of wheat, accounting for a little under 10 percent of global supply, and the Russian blockade drove the price of grain up dramatically. Whatever sense the agreement makes, though, it is unheard of for two nations engaged in war to reach formal agreements on the side. Stranger still is that though Russia benefits from the agreement too, it is far more beneficial for Ukraine, which not only receives more revenue but also gains a sense of security for its Black Sea ports. The attack on Odesa was no doubt meant to remind Ukraine that such agreements can be abandoned quickly, but the fact that it was reached to begin with is odd nonetheless.

Also startling is the firing of senior officials. Zelenskyy claimed that they were guilty of treason. General corruption is one thing, especially in the former Soviet Union. The invocation of treason is quite another. In some quarters of Kyiv, support for Russia is nothing new; Ukraine has more than its fair share of pro-Russia sympathizers. But if, say, the FSB had penetrated Ukrainian security – which is likely – then the weeks of speculation about their job security makes little sense. If senior officials are found to be compromised, their removal would be instant. Instead, Zelenskyy destabilized his government and unnerved his allies. (Of course, it could have been a foreign intelligence service that detected the breach, and Zelenskyy may have been reluctant until forced to act. As in all such matters, those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know. What is clear is that this sort of matter in the course of war is not normal.)

Russians and Ukrainians sitting side by side can’t help but bring to mind the possibilities of a peace treaty. The firings in Kyiv seem to indicate a degree of instability and discord in Ukraine, creating the possibility, however remote, that new considerations are being made that could lead to some kind of larger deal.

The war has been raging for five months – six months if we count the noisy leadup. It has not gone as Russia hoped. Moscow’s initial offensive, a three-pronged attack on Kyiv, Odesa and Donetsk, failed for a variety of reasons: the limits of Russian logistics, the difficulty of coordinating an armored system at distance, and above all Ukrainian tactics and American weapons. The Ukrainians fought an infantry battle with a decentralized command structure and tactical mobility, and they did so with weapons such as Javelin missiles that were ideally suited for combatting the Russian army.

The Russians were forced to retreat to the east as they fought for the Donetsk region, a relatively small area along the Russian border in which Moscow already had a large presence. Moscow has been engaged there for five months, with mercifully short supply lines to Russia proper, and is now almost in control of the area. Even this highly vulnerable region predisposed to Russian victory took months to subdue. The experience there signals a long war in which Russia will struggle to project force over increasingly large areas of a country it does not really occupy.

Ukraine, meanwhile, may have had the luxury of resting and training its infantry to the west and north, but it cannot be sure of how it’ll fare against new Russian tactics. Kyiv has the advantage of American weaponry and intelligence, and in theory it has the capability to at least resist a Russian offensive even if it cannot launch a larger one of its own. This is why instability at the top of the Ukrainian command is a problem. It’s possible that Zelenskyy is simply cleaning house in preparation for a Russian offensive, but that doesn’t explain why he dragged his feet on the dismissals. Russia might strike sooner rather than later, but the unrest at the top is likely going to trickle down to lower levels. Officers linked to offenders may lose focus, or troops might lose confidence in the chain of command. It is one thing to fight a war based on unity of purpose. It is another thing to fight the war with the chain of command uncertain.

Though it’s unclear what exactly is happening in Kyiv, the Americans and the Russians are likely well informed. Assuming they didn’t force the firings for reasons unknown, the Americans will be pressing to contain the purge until a later date. The Russians, who certainly have assets in the Ukrainian government and military, will seek to destabilize.

Of course, there’s a chance that the firings were a minor event amounting to little more than domestic political machination. But that doesn’t seem likely. More likely is that the war has created tension and risk at the highest levels of authority. The immediate challenge for Ukraine is to contain the issue before it affects the army.

Both sides, then, would seem to have an interest in a negotiated settlement. The problem is that neither side can afford one. Russia’s objective was to make Russia, and Moscow in particular, secure against NATO (read: American) actions. So far, the distance to Moscow is where it was when the war started. Russia cannot accept a peace that does not move Russian control far to the west. Ukraine, and by extension the United States, might be interested in a stand-still. Russia can’t accept that without risking confidence in the government.

And it’s not a given that Ukraine would settle for it either. There is clearly dysfunction at the top. If Kyiv were to cede major portions of territory to Russia, things would get only more dysfunctional. For the West, moving the Russian border closer to Eastern Europe would not end the war; it would only create the pretext for the next. The closer Russia is to the western Ukrainian border, the more it must be assumed that Russia would choose to move farther still. True or not, it must be assumed.

As the risks mount for both sides, a settlement seems likely. The agreement on grain was obviously signed with some notion of what it could mean. The concept of a peace agreement is sound, but the geography of such an agreement, and the imperatives on both sides, seems to make this impossible. What is needed here is fear.

Facebook

Email

George Friedman

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/author/gfriedman/

George Friedman is an internationally recognized geopolitical forecaster and strategist on international affairs and the founder and chairman of Geopolitical Futures.

Dr. Friedman is also a New York Times bestselling author. His most recent book, THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM: America’s Discord, the Coming Crisis of the 2020s, and the Triumph Beyond, published February 25, 2020 describes how “the United States periodically reaches a point of crisis in which it appears to be at war with itself, yet after an extended period it reinvents itself, in a form both faithful to its founding and radically different from what it had been.” The decade 2020-2030 is such a period which will bring dramatic upheaval and reshaping of American government, foreign policy, economics, and culture.

His most popular book, The Next 100 Years, is kept alive by the prescience of its predictions. Other best-selling books include Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, The Next Decade, America’s Secret War, The Future of War and The Intelligence Edge. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Dr. Friedman has briefed numerous military and government organizations in the United States and overseas and appears regularly as an expert on international affairs, foreign policy and intelligence in major media. For almost 20 years before resigning in May 2015, Dr. Friedman was CEO and then chairman of Stratfor, a company he founded in 1996. Friedman received his bachelor’s degree from the City College of the City University of New York and holds a doctorate in government from Cornell University.

geopoliticalfutures.com · by George Friedman · July 26, 2022


7. Worthless COIN? Why the West Should Keep Studying Counterinsurgency

We need to maintain understanding of and expertise in counterinsurgency to be able advise and assist friends, partners, and allies in their internal defense and development programs so they can defend themselves against lawlessness, subversion, insurgency, terrorism, and civil war. We cannot conduct COIN for our friends, partners, and allies but we can be experts in advising them on COIN. The only counterinsurgency operations the US government should conduct are operations against an insurgency that is threatening the US. We cannot conduct someone else's COIN fight.



Worthless COIN? Why the West Should Keep Studying Counterinsurgency - Modern War Institute

Christian Tripodi and Matthew Wiger | 07.26.22

mwi.usma.edu · by Christian Tripodi · July 26, 2022

Share on LinkedIn

Send email

The US Army has lost interest in counterinsurgency training. Over the past year, the withdrawal from Afghanistan appears to have drawn a line under COIN’s modern incarnation, while escalation in eastern Europe has focused policymakers’ minds on the possibility of major combat operations against a near-peer adversary. As US forces forward deploy across Europe, bureaucrats are leveraging Ukraine to pitch revolutionary training centers, doctrine rewrites, and advanced technology platforms, while commanders across NATO seek to fulfill the technocratic vision of modern multidomain operations. COIN—and irregular warfare more broadly—is out of fashion.

The US military has been here before. In the wake of Vietnam, US military planners purged the Army’s intellectual and organizational COIN capabilities—with tragic ramifications for readiness and expertise as US forces went on to engage in a succession of insurgent-based conflicts in El Salvador, Colombia, Lebanon, and Somalia, to name a few, culminating in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Today, military strategists may be making a similar mistake. Understanding COIN remains of crucial relevance for military planners and practitioners. After all, Western involvement in Ukraine—which primarily involves providing external support to a resistance campaign or insurgency—is as irregular as it can be. The US Army’s multidomain operations concept, meanwhile, highlights the use of irregular warfare, including providing support to insurgents and countering an enemy’s proxies, to undermine and erode adversary capabilities from within. More broadly, as the West’s experience in Ukraine should make clear, near-peer conflict is likely to involve all the forms of military activity that some hope were left behind in the counterinsurgency era. As the anniversary of the Afghanistan withdrawal approaches, it is worth reflecting on how the continued study of that conflict, and of insurgency and counterinsurgency more broadly, remain fundamental to understanding modern warfare.

Fear and Loathing in the Study of Counterinsurgency

Is the Western tradition of COIN a discredited concept? Some would claim so. The convergence of several factors—the antediluvian character of colonial-era writings on counterinsurgency; the post-Afghanistan rejection of nation building and liberal interventionism; the prospect of interstate war with near-peer enemies; and a perceived change in the nature of insurgency itself as a form of political action—seems to support these claims. This skeptical view of COIN’s relevance increasingly manifests itself in professional military education courses from Shrivenham in the United Kingdom to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where its prominence as a form of political-military action during the era of decolonization, and in the more recent wars of liberal intervention, appears to be of markedly decreasing interest to mid-career practitioners. Defense of empire and ambitious state-building projects are unlikely objectives of future interventions, the thinking goes, and so lessons learned from such campaigns have little to offer those operating in a vastly changed strategic environment.

Insurgency’s Enduring Centrality

That argument is misguided. From 1945 to 1999, civil wars comprised 127 of 152 conflicts that killed over one thousand people. Significantly longer in duration than interstate conflicts, they produced far greater refugee flows and resulted in five times as many deaths. The predominance of insurgency-based conflict has continued in the twenty-first century. Western practitioners can focus intently on interstate war, but they remain far more likely to fight in, or provide external support to, civil wars. The very existence of an Irregular Warfare Annex to the National Defense Strategy is a tacit acknowledgment that conventional overmatch will drive strife between near-peer adversaries to irregular warfare in third states, where great powers will seek to undermine competitors’ interests and influence while protecting their own. As one analyst put it, the future “battlefield of Sino-U.S. military competition is more likely to be Venezuela or Myanmar than the South China Sea.” Indeed, the British defense secretary recently shared a similar view, observing that British challenges to China might be focused on Africa rather than the Asia-Pacific region.

The point to emphasize is that while concerns over a theoretical high-intensity war with China or Russia are entirely justified, low-intensity conflict still matters. Western military deployments in various parts of Africa and the Middle East in the form of UN commitments and security force assistance programs, and the presence of special operations forces for other missions, are de facto acknowledgements that political instability in these regions remains of strategic importance. In Africa, a range of increasingly destabilizing conditions hold significant implications for European security in particularLight-footprint counterterrorism strategies have been ineffective against jihadism in northwest and central Africa, contributing to a creep into the littoral states. Circumstances might dictate more robust involvement in the future. Military organizations ignorant of insurgency risk being intellectually unprepared for what they will face. What form would Western-backed Ukrainian efforts take in a Russian-occupied Donbas? What techniques would Russian irregulars and their local proxies adopt in a reintegrated territory? How would Russia or China seek to politically stabilize captured territory? Our partners and adversaries continue to think hard about insurgency and counterinsurgency. So should we.

Universal Lessons of COIN

So how does a study of COIN in Iraq, Algeria, or Vietnam benefit those tasked with addressing a deteriorating security situation in the Horn of Africa or the Levant, or in the aftermath of near-peer friction elsewhere? COIN’s continued relevance lies in the fact that it is at heart an activity that draws military actors into an uncomfortable operating space somewhere between political turmoil and outright war. This inherent ambiguity serves as a useful tool for observing how military organizations function in, and are limited by, complex operational environments. We point to three themes in this respect: politics, in the sense of understanding how one’s actions function within the turmoil of competitive political strife in an alien environment; agency, in the sense of the interests of local actors and the enduring effects of these upon outsiders’ designs; and uncertainty, in the sense of how militaries function when exposed to the often-indeterminate nature of irregular operational environments.

Local Politics

War, as everyone professes to know, is an extension of politics. This is a tidy paradigm, but one that tends to view politics as separate from the battlefield. In COIN, however, military actors engage with politics at ground level, in real time. They often become participants in the day-to-day politics of a given conflict, not only in pursuit of their own ends but also because their presence affects the calculations of the myriad actors and audiences that comprise the fabric of that conflict. This requires more than simple familiarity with polities in a given space. It demands understanding how politics functions in that unique environment. What does power mean in this particular society? Who holds it? How is it acquired and through what channels is it exercised? What purchase might outsiders have on the process, and through what methods? If one is seeking to out-legitimize the adversary, then what exactly does legitimacy mean? How is it gained, sustained, or lost? In a society home to various customary forms of authority, how does one incorporate the roles of disparate authorities into strategic designs? Alternatively, if designs exclude certain actors, how does that society compensate for their absence?

These queries highlight how external interventions in internal conflict place intervening military actors in arcane political environs. External actors struggle to comprehend how local society functions in a practical sense and consequently the effects of their actions within that context. Feudalism crippled US attempts at political reform in South Vietnam. Afghanistan revealed the impossibility of separating coalition actions from tribal and kin networks stretching from the village to the presidential palace. Sectarianism, and indeed factionalism within Iraqi Shiism, remained a crippling force in Iraq’s political struggle. Such complexity also matters in comparatively benign environments. For instance, the phenomenon of ethnic stacking has caused recent security force assistance programs in Cameroon to bolster that government’s ability to oppress minority opposition groups, stoking interethnic tensions and raising prospects for long-term violence. In modern warfare, ground-level politics matters.

Partner Agency

Agency, or the ability of actors to exercise free will, matters when external interveners seek to mobilize local groups or elites. This cooperation, vital to maximizing scarce resources and wielding influence indirectly, remains fundamental to irregular warfare. But if such conflicts are inherently fought for both local and interventionist objectives then the external actor’s interests will compete with those of partners fighting for hyperlocalized purposes. Time and again, attempts by outsiders to exercise influence with and through local actors have exposed an inversion of the expected power dynamic whereby the supposedly dominant power finds that its preferences come a distant second to those of local clients. In Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, local actors and elites—warlords, tribes, ethnic groups, militias, security forces, provincial politicians, or national leaders—proved adept at using Western resources for the pursuit of personal and parochial interests counter to those of their backers.

How might agency manifest itself in near-peer conflict? When parity or deterrence drives great powers away from direct conflict to proxy wars in third states, external actors will be forced to contend with the surrogates’ market of modern intrastate war. This sellers’ market is a place where local forces shop their services to a vast array of available partners, increasingly including expeditionary nonstate actors, and where the Cold War narrative of firm proxy control and manipulation seldom holds. What of interstate conflict? Bertil Dunér’s foundational study of proxy warfare concluded that it “seems as if it is impossible to demonstrate a single example of a state acting as a proxy for some other state.” Despite the tendency to sensationalize Western support to Ukraine as proxy war, Ukraine still prosecutes war at its own behest and for its own objectives. The same will be true of any near-peer conflagration in which a distant belligerent relies on regional partners. From the Baltics to the South China Sea, locals will exercise agency in war and in its resolution, often trampling the best-laid plans of external interveners.

Persistent Uncertainty

Militaries like certainty, or at least the illusion thereof. Planners want to know who the enemy forces are, where they are, what they have, and what they intend to do with it. The fog of conventional war subverts fulfillment of these preferences. In the irregular warfare setting, however, uncertainty is compounded due to the nature of the problems at hand. The operational environment becomes one where the enemy is often indistinguishable from the populace; where the defining challenges are political rather than military; and where fickle local partners, often perceiving intervening forces as a threat to their own political interests, can become hostile, spoiling elements. Doctrine compounds these ambiguities with further challenges. Can you cope with the upending of neat assumptions on the utility of force, and on the discrete, measurable relationship between your actions and their outcomes? Can you take responsibility for noncore tasks and lines of effort outside of your natural field of expertise? Can you, an expert in the application of violence, now become skilled in the application of all the nonviolent techniques that supposedly comprise successful COIN?

The study of COIN also provides an opportunity to critically examine key presumptions of dominant irregular warfare strategies. Do information operations actually shape public opinion in the ways policymakers believe? Does the injection of money into a fractured society bring desired political benefits? Does the provision of public goods engender popular support in conflict-ridden societies? Is the good governance model, which holds that violence should take a back seat while interventions prioritize protecting the population and shaping loyalties through socioeconomic improvement, supported by evidence? Or does targeted violence and territorial control remain a more reliable determinant of a population’s political loyalties?

Perhaps the true value of studying COIN is the required acceptance that there is no reliable formula for delivering influence and control in a setting of violent political rebellion. If the focus on near-peer conflict carries a subconscious Jominian bent for certainty, counterinsurgency does the opposite, forcing participants to contemplate war’s inherent tendency toward unpredictability, lack of control, and counterintuitive outcomes.

Widening Perspectives, Narrowing Expectations

By extending military activity into the social, economic, and political dimensions of a conflict, COIN doctrine chooses to meet complexity with complexity. History suggests, however, that the true utility of the military contribution to effective COIN lies in far narrower domains, including deterrence, the physical control of territory and the flow of goods and people, and the instrumental exercise of violence against selected parties. The ability of militaries to influence political loyalties through the provision of information, ideas, money, and goods is a far more fragile proposition. Instead of developing ever more ambitious doctrines whose complexity mimics that of irregular operational environments, perhaps Western militaries would benefit from greater introspection on the limits of their influence and control in insurgent-based conflicts.

The Marine Corps experience in Helmand and Kandahar is a useful case study. An organization that had contributed to and employed the nonviolent refinements of population-centric COIN nevertheless prioritized the application of violence against the adversary. This was partly a matter of organizational preference, but it also reflected an instinctive grasp of the fact that the political war against the Taliban had the best chance of succeeding if the insurgent group was denied the time and space to organize and act. The Marines’ observable success from 2009 to 2011 resulted from a fundamental simplification of the problem, one that brought their formations’ primary strengths rather than relative weaknesses to bear. That the success was temporary, or whether the case’s implied prescriptions are correct, is to some extent a distraction. More important, arguably, was the practitioners’ rapid and explicit recognition of the art of the possible.


COIN still matters. But it requires thinking beyond the obvious. The Malaya campaign is less about the hackneyed turn to hearts and minds than about the utility of robust military operations in conjunction with political bargaining directed at powerful local political elites. A study of the Algerian Revolution should focus less on the brutal excesses of the French Army than on the way in which an intellectual clique within that army willfully distorted its understanding of the problem at hand, with predictable results. A study of Iraq should be less about the pros and cons of COIN than the broader complexity of local politics and the sheer difficulty of manipulating local actors in the service of long-term strategic interests. And a study of Afghanistan might be less about hubris than the way in which the inherently reductive mantra of clear-hold-build found itself unable to cope with the dynamics of civil war. Lastly, counterinsurgency offers not only a lens into how flawed assumptions and received wisdoms take root in doctrine, but also how powerful organizational preferences subvert that doctrine to become the dominant shaper of military behaviors. These and other counterinsurgency-derived lessons on local politics, agency, and persistent uncertainty in modern war can benefit leaders on any battlefield.

Dr. Christian Tripodi is a MWI adjunct scholar, the head of graduate studies for the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London’s School of Security Studies, and an instructor at the Joint Services Command and Staff College at the UK Defence Academy, Shrivenham. He is the author of The Unknown Enemy: Counterinsurgency and the Illusion of Control.

Matthew Wiger is an Army Special Forces officer, an instructor in Defense and Strategic Studies at the United States Military Academy, and a doctoral researcher in the School of Security Studies at King’s College London.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense, or that of any organization the authors are affiliated with, including King’s College London and the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom.

Image credit: Senior Airman Grovert Fuentes-Contreras, US Air Force

Share on LinkedIn

Send email

mwi.usma.edu · by Christian Tripodi · July 26, 2022



8. Political violence and the future of democracy: Take a look in the mirror, America


An ominous warning. An ominous warning. Those who think it takes domestic violence to uphold the Constitution have adopted our adversaries construct that says politics is war by other means. You are either for a peaceful transition of power in accordance with our Constitution or you are not. Those who call for political violence are not acting in accordance with our Constitution despite their lofty patriotic pronouncements. Their actions tell the story not their rhetoric.


I would like to hear about their campaign plan to take up arms. What are their campaign objectives and the concept of operations to achieve them? They need to show us they are more than empty threats. Show us their strategic prowess. They spout rhetoric with no understanding.


Asked another way: how can taking up arms against the Constitution actually support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic? Explain how we get to a more perfect Union by taking up arms against this great American experiment.




Political violence and the future of democracy: Take a look in the mirror, America

BY DR. GAREN J. WINTEMUTE, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR - 07/25/22 12:15 PM ET

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL

The Hill · · July 25, 2022

You’re not going to like what you see.

Our research group just completed a nationwide survey measuring support for — and willingness to engage in — violence to advance political objectives. Initial results, which have not yet undergone peer review, were reported Tuesday. We were motivated by recent trends, detailed in the report, that include an unprecedented increase in fatal violence, an equally unprecedented increase in firearm purchasingwidespread acceptance of delusional beliefs about American society, and an increasing willingness to resort to violence for political purposes.

Here’s some of what we learned from more than 8,600 respondents. More than 40 percent of Americans agree (19 percent strongly or very strongly) that “having a strong leader for America is more important than having a democracy.” More than 40 percent agree (16 percent strongly or very strongly) that “in America, native-born white people are being replaced by immigrants.” Half (50 percent) agree (27 percent strongly or very strongly) that “discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against Blacks and other minorities.”

Delusion remains widespread. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Americans believe that the country is led “by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.” One-third (32 percent) agree (18 percent strongly or very strongly) that “the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.”

Perhaps the most concerning findings pertain to political violence (defined in the survey as “physical force strong enough that it could cause pain or injury to a person” in order to “advance an important political objective that you support”). One in five (22 percent) thought that political violence was at least sometimes justified “in general.” A far higher 78 percent thought violence was at least sometimes justified for one or more of 15 specific political objectives: “to return Donald Trump to the presidency this year” (12 percent), “to stop people who do not share my beliefs from voting” (7 percent), “to preserve an American way of life based on Western European traditions” (24 percent), among others.

We asked respondents who endorsed political violence with a specific objective about their personal willingness to engage in that violence. Ten percent were at least somewhat willing “to threaten or intimidate a person” and 7 percent “to kill a person.” We asked about violence against specific types of people, because of who those people are. Nine percent were willing to use violence against “an elected federal or state government official,” 6 percent against “an election worker, such as a poll worker or vote counter” or “a person who does not share your race or ethnicity.”

Finally, we asked everyone about the possibility that they might use a firearm in the future to advance a political objective. Nearly one in five (19 percent) considered it at least somewhat likely that “I will be armed with a gun” in such a situation, 10 percent that “I will carry a gun openly, so that people know I am armed, and 4 percent that “I will shoot someone.”

What does all this portend? Our respondents have a possible answer. Half (50 percent) agree, though just 14 percent strongly or very strongly, that “in the next few years, there will be civil war in the United States.”

This is a grim image of our present and future, but it leaves room for hope. The majority of respondents rejected political violence altogether, generally (79 percent) or in support of any one of those 15 specific objectives (with two exceptions: 45 percent said “never justified” to violence to reinforce the police; 42 percent said “never justified” to violence to stop police violence). Those who endorsed violence in the abstract or were willing to engage in it most frequently gave tepid “somewhat/sometimes” responses, and most were unwilling to resort to violence themselves.

The challenge now for the nation’s large “never” majorities is to recognize the threat posed by the relatively small number who go beyond “somewhat/sometimes” support — and respond adequately to that challenge.

What to do? One immediate step is to understand all this better; our group will be reporting on factors potentially associated with political violence in this survey: political and social beliefs and behaviors, a prior history of or general support for violence, social media use, firearm ownership, and others.

Experts such as Rachel Kleinfeld and Barbara Walter provide detailed recommendations for action. First is for elected officials and other thought leaders to stop espousing violence, recognizing that their rhetoric induces violence. Our deeper understanding of how close the United States came to a violent seizure of power on Jan. 6 should provide a teachable moment. Consider: What would have happened if Donald Trump had had his way in the SUV that day and had led the armed mob that coursed through the Capitol chanting, “Hang Mike Pence”?

Professor Walter notes that “violence often springs from a sense of injustice, inequality, and insecurity.” Creating a society that manifests justice, equality and security will not be easy — a strong case can be made that we are headed rapidly in the wrong direction on all three counts — but it is essential.

Both Kleinfeld and Walter argue that making elections more credible and reforming the electoral process are obvious steps. Other experts include reforming policing to build fairness and accountability and greatly improving the quality and fairness of public services. Promising evidence supports efforts to “inoculate” against recruitment to extreme ideology and redirecting those considering extremism to more productive responses to their grievances.

Is a recession inevitable? Al Qaeda and ISIS still want to attack America — what can we expect?

There is much to love about the United States, its ideals, and our honest, inclusive efforts to attain them. That country is worth fighting for. I don’t mean with guns; one fights for that United States by renouncing violence, addressing its causes, saying something if one sees something, and making common cause with people who think about things differently.

Midterm elections are less than four months away. What do you think will happen if we stay our current course, and armed voter suppression encounters armed voter support? There is no time to waste.

Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, MD, MPH, is the Baker-Teret Chair in Violence Prevention and Distinguished Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of California, Davis. He is a practicing emergency physician and director of the California Firearm Violence Research Center and the Violence Prevention Research Program, both at UC Davis.

The Hill · · July 25, 2022

9. Navy lieutenant sentenced in Japan causes outcry among family, US lawmakers


Were there issues with following the Status of Forces Agreement?


Navy lieutenant sentenced in Japan causes outcry among family, US lawmakers

news.yahoo.com · by Charles Creitz

A U.S. Navy lieutenant and Mormon missionary living in Japan has been sentenced to what his family calls a "shocking" three years in prison after at least two people were killed in a traffic accident doctors said may have been caused by a medical episode.

The family of Lt. Ridge Alkonis, through information compiled by the Pipe Hitter Foundation (PHF), alleges several violations of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the U.S. and Japan, and some members of Congress are also speaking out against his confinement – which began Tuesday at 1 p.m. Japan Standard Time.

The PHF said in a document describing Alkonis' situation other military families are now "acutely aware that this terrible situation could have been them" and are in "fear" that SOFA may be allegedly violated again in the future.

Alkonis, who lived with his family in Yokosuka, had just finished a hike on the famed Mount Fuji shortly before he was scheduled to be deployed on the USS Benfold. Outside of his military duties, he was also part of a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

TAIWAN LOSES MAJOR ADVOCATE WITH ASSASSINATION OF SHINZO ABE

While driving into the city of Fujinomiya, Alkonis lost consciousness and the family's vehicle drifted out of its lane and crashed into parked cars at a restaurant, killing a woman and her son-in-law.

The PHF said Alkonis was not immediately taken to a hospital, but instead arrested and detained in solitary confinement for nearly a month. Neurologists eventually diagnosed him with Acute Mountain Sickness, which can cause sudden fainting up to 24 hours after rapid altitudinal change.

The Alkonis family stated they also offered customary ‘gomenasai’ – or apology – and wrote condolences to the family in addition to negotiating a record $1.65 million gomensai settlement.

Gomenasai has a "high value" in the Japanese justice system, according to Alkonis' father Derek, who spoke to Fox News earlier this month. The Alkonises expected a suspended sentence, which the PHF said is considered "the norm" in such cases when remorse is shown – but Ridge was still sentenced.

Mother Suzi Alkonis told "Fox News @ Night" that prosecutors claimed Ridge fell asleep while driving, which was incorrect, she said: "He wasn't tired. He never felt sleepy. He never said so. He was mid-sentence with his daughter when he slumped to the side unconscious – that's not falling asleep."

AL GORE BLASTED AS ‘CLIMATE SHOCK JOCK’ AFTER LATEST GLOBAL WARMING COMPARISON

While the Japanese Supreme Court – which like the U.S. bench chooses its cases itself – could eventually hear Ridge's plea, Suzy Alkonis said it may be up to the Biden White House to secure a deal with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to bring her son home.

Alkonis' case has brought about rare bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, with some members of both parties calling for his release and condemning the actions of the Japanese judiciary.

One Senate lawmaker who has been prominent in advocating for Ridge Alkonis' release is Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who took to the Senate floor on Monday.

WESTERN JAPAN'S SAKURAJIMA VOLCANO ERUPTS

"I find it nothing short of inexcusable that an American who experienced a medical emergency should be treated so poorly by an Allied nation that he's protecting," Lee said.

"Clearly the Japanese judicial system is trying to make an example of Lt. Alkonis – perhaps stemming from a history of disputes over our Status of Forces Agreement," he said. "He is being targeted because he is an American – and because he was in the unfortunate position of having suffered a medical emergency that resulted in tragedy."

Lee said the case is "no way for a friendly nation to treat a friendly nation" – adding it is difficult to make such a pronouncement because of the otherwise important, positive relationship between America and Japan.

"We've been allies for a long time," Lee continued, going on to echo other Alkonis advocates and call on President Biden to make a priority out of Ridge's case.

SHINZO ABE FUNERAL: MOURNERS LINE STREETS TO BID FAREWELL

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who Biden appointed U.S. Ambassador to Japan, should take immediate steps to secure Alkonis' release, the senator added.

"It's not just about Ridge Alkonis and his family. It's about the security and confidence needed by every service family in the American armed forces deployed whether in Japan or anywhere else – they need to know that we've (the U.S.A.) got their backs."


Rep. Mike Levin, D-Calif., speaks during the news conference on the Invest to Protect Act. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

On the Democratic side, Rep. Mike Levin of California expressed what he called "deep concern over the Japanese government's handling of Lt. Ridge Alkonis [and his case]."

CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Levin said the U.S. Navy opposes Alkonis' sentence, adding his office is working with the Pentagon to support his family.

"I will not be giving up on Lt. Alkonis and the Department of Defense must not either," he said.

A statement on the Pipe Hitter Foundation-linked fundraising page for Lt. Alkonis said late Monday U.S. time that "domestic political interference is highly suspected—information has been revealed that the son-in-law of one of the victims works at the same office that prosecuted Lt. Alkonis."

"One of the victim’s daughters is an attorney who represented all of the victims and refused to accept any letters of apology by Lt. Alkonis as customary under Japanese law, which directly resulted in the dismissal of his appeal and request for a suspended sentence," it claimed.

news.yahoo.com · by Charles Creitz


10. Low-Cost Tech Shaping Modern Battlefield, Socom Commander Says


Low-Cost Tech Shaping Modern Battlefield, Socom Commander Says

defense.gov · by Claudette Roulo

In his 38 years as a soldier, across theaters ranging from the Middle East to Europe, the commander of Special Operations Command says he never had to look up. But those days are ending.

"I never had to look up because the U.S. always maintained air superiority," Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke said during a discussion Friday at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado. "We won't always have that luxury," he added.

44:17

Low-cost quadcopters and larger unmanned aerial vehicles are disrupting the status quo as militaries and insurgents increasingly rely on them, the general said.

"When Russia is running out of them for Ukraine, and they're going to Iran to go buy more, [that] should cause us all a bit of concern because you can see how valuable that they can be in the future fight," he said.


Drone Pilot

Air Force Senior Airman Ryan Hospelhorn, the small, unmanned aircraft systems program manager for the 52nd Security Forces Squadron, pilots a simulated foreign drone during a Paladin drone overview assessment at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, July 21, 2022. The Paladin drone was being assessed to become another countermeasure at Spangdahlem.

SHARE IMAGE:

Download Image

Image Details

Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Jessica Sanchez-Chen

VIRIN: 220721-F-HH678-1040A

U.S. and partner forces have largely focused on ways to defeat enemy drones after takeoff, but Clarke said there is also a need for interagency discussions on ways to disrupt supply chains to prevent them from taking off.

But first, there must be a discussion on norms and authorities for their use, he said. With a "very low" cost of entry for some of the small unmanned systems, the general said some countries may want to use drones to move patients or supplies. Medical transport vehicles are protected under the Geneva Conventions.

Chemical, Biological Weapons

Clarke said the Defense Department has charged Socom with looking at another threat that is inexpensive to produce and use — chemical and biological weapons.

ISIS used chlorine and mustard gases in Iraq and Syria, he said. Russia has used chemical weapons against its political allies — on its own soil and elsewhere, Clarke added.


Simulated Casualty

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Stephanie Nelson and Lance Cpl. Alan Ayalazapien, both chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialists with Command Element, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, take a simulated casualty towards safety during a CBRN Response Element exercise in Okinawa, Japan, July 13, 2022.

SHARE IMAGE:

Download Image

Image Details

Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Christopher Lape

VIRIN: 220713-M-MJ391-1036

"The fact that someone in the basement in Mosul [Iraq] with a few lab sets can do this," proved that it's a simple process to create these weapons, the general said. Chemical and biological weapons are a terrorist weapon system, he said, and ISIS and al-Qaida will continue to use them because they instill fear.

"As we go into the future, we have to be prepared for that eventuality ... and look for methods to continue to combat it," Clarke said.

Cyber Threats

Though U.S. officials have said government and other critical systems are receiving daily cyberattacks, the general said he's equally concerned with the way adversaries are using cyber to exploit the information space.


Cyber Fury

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Alex Oley conducts a radio communication check during Cyber Fury at Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 26, 2021. The exercise enhances the capabilities of Marines by simulating a series of cyberspace attacks to sharpen and hone cyberspace defensive countermeasures.

SHARE IMAGE:

Download Image

Image Details

Photo By: Marine Corps Cpl. Armando Elizalde

VIRIN: 210726-M-TP104-1007C

Malign actors are spreading misinformation and disinformation online, and these have had an impact on elections, he said.

Misinformation is false or misleading information — a mistaken breaking news announcement, for example. Disinformation is meant to intentionally deceive the recipient.

Clarke said cyber gives adversaries a quick route to spread false information that can damage the U.S. cause.

"The message, if you look at the internet and what is happening from the African countries, its U.S. sanctions against Russia are causing food shortages in Africa," the general said. "So we're being blamed for people in Africa not getting to eat. … We have to look at what is on the internet and get the truth out about what is happening. And I think we have to be able to do that as a government a little bit faster than what we're doing today."

defense.gov · by Claudette Roulo


11. China sending troops and tanks to Russia


Yes, a sensational headline. Spoiler alert: They are sending them to Russia for a military competition. I wonder if any of the equipment will be left behind in Russia for other use by the Russians?


China sending troops and tanks to Russia

americanmilitarynews.com · by Ryan Morgan · July 26, 2022

The Chinese military is sending a delegation of troops and military vehicles to participate in a series of military competitions in Russia next month.

On Tuesday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced its delegation of troops participating in the 2022 International Army Games (IAG) in Russia had departed by train from the Chinese Inner Mongolian city of Manzhouli, on its way to the city of Zabaikalsk in Russia’s southeast. The Chinese delegation left for China along with vehicles for the “Masters of Armored Vehicles” and “Tank Biathlon” competitions.

IAG is an international competition held annually by the Russian military since 2015. IAG 2022 will be held from August 13 to 27 and 275 teams from 37 countries and regions are currently slated to compete. The 36 competitions in the IAG 2022 games will be held in 12 different countries. China will also host three of the IAG 2022 contests, including the “Suvorov Attack” contest for infantry fighting vehicles, the “Safe Route” contest for engineering corps, and the “Sea Cup” contest for frigates.

Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Venezuela are also participating in the IAG contests, which have been dubbed the “War Olympics.” According to the Daily Mail, the African countries of Niger and Rwanda will make their debut at the IAG competition this year. Venezuela will also host a sniper competition during this year’s games.

China has participated in past iterations of the IAG competition and Russia and China have increasingly held joint military drills in recent years. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have both signaled increased cooperation between their respective nations amid growing tensions between the U.S. and its allies and partners.

China has not provided any direct military support for Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, but it has been careful to avoid making any that could be seen as critical of Russia’s actions.

In March, amid reports that Russia had asked China for some military supplies, President Joe Biden’s administration warned that China would indeed face “consequences” if it did decide to provide material support to Russia for its war on Ukraine.

China’s high-profile involvement in this year’s IAG competition also comes amid concerns China may try to replicate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with an invasion of the island of Taiwan. While Taiwan governs itself as a de facto independent nation, China considers the island a part of its territory and has increasingly hinted at “reunification” with the island by military force.

Share

Flip


americanmilitarynews.com · by Ryan Morgan · July 26, 2022


12. 'Turkey chose to join Western bloc by entering Korean War'





'Turkey chose to join Western bloc by entering Korean War'

dailysabah.com · by Daily Sabah with AA · July 26, 2022

Turkey's decision to send its troops to Korea represented a strategic diplomatic choice to join the Western bloc and this decision has greatly contributed to the strengthening of the state structure, Turkey's Ambassador to Seoul Ersin Erçin said Tuesday.

It has been 69 years since the Korean War ended on the field, though it technically continues since a peace agreement to formally end the war was never signed.

Erçin told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Turkey showed great diplomatic dexterity to avoid participating in World War II.

"Resolution 83, adopted by the U.N. Security Council on June 27, 1950, inviting member states to join the war to help South Korea, came to the fore at such a critical time for Turkey. The government of the period responded positively to the call of the Security Council and decided to send a brigade to Korea. The decision to send troops abroad for the first time in the history of the Republic paved the way for our membership in NATO in 1952," the ambassador explained.

Stating that Turkey made the choice to join the Western alliance with its decision to send troops to Korea, Erçin said that this decision made a great contribution to strengthening the state structure.

Erçin highlighted that Turkey went beyond providing just military support to the peninsula. "Unlike the other 20 countries that participated in the war under the U.N. command, Turkish military units not only showed great heroism in Korea, but also provided humanitarian aid to Korean civilians without instruction," he said, noting the medical services offered to the sick and injured as well as the food, clothing and educational support provided to orphans. "It puts our country in a different position in the eyes of the Korean people than other countries participating in the war."

Stating that the cease-fire agreement signed on July 27, 1953 was not signed by South Korea, Ambassador Erçin added: "Although it was accepted in the U.N. General Assembly on Aug. 28, 1953, the fact that South Korea, which did not sign this agreement, is technically still in a state of war with the North, further stretches the atmosphere of the Cold War that has been going on for 70 years on the Korean Peninsula. As a matter of fact, one of the most important issues discussed in the third peace attempt between North Korea, the United States and South Korea, which started with great hopes on Jan. 1, 2018, continued for two years with three summits and many technical meetings, and ended in failure, was the signing of a declaration that would legally end the war. The proposal to sign a declaration to end the state of technical warfare went off the agenda with the inauguration of the (South Korean President) Yoon Suk-yeol administration on May 10, 2022 in Korea."

He stressed that North Korea is using its nuclear and ballistic missile program as a powerful lever to sit as an equal partner in peace negotiations with the United States. He said that the Cold War atmosphere triggered by the trade wars between the United States and China in Asia-Pacific was further aggravated by North Korea's missile tests.

"Turkey stands with South Korea and the Western alliance against the nuclear and ballistic missile threat from North Korea. Unfortunately, it seems that the multi-element tensions in the region will not decrease in the foreseeable future," he added.

The Korean War, which started with North Korea's invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950 and ended on July 27, 1953, technically continued as a peace treaty could not be signed despite many peace attempts, with all attempts to reach a peace agreement so far unsuccessful.

North Korea was supported by China and the Soviet Union while the United Nations under the leadership of the United States supported South Korea throughout the war. The first Turkish brigade set out on Sept. 17, 1950.

According to the South Korean Ministry of Defense, Turkey, which participated in the war with a total of four brigades with 21,212 soldiers, ranked fourth among the 16 countries participating in the Korean War in terms of the number of soldiers.

The United States was the country that sent the most soldiers to the Korean War with 1.78 million soldiers. Britain took second place with 56,000 soldiers and Canada took third place with 26,791 soldiers.

In the war, 178,569 soldiers in South Korea, including 40,670 U.N. forces and 137,899 Korean soldiers, lost their lives in addition to 508,797 soldiers in North Korea.

Having lost 36,940 soldiers in the Korean War, the U.S. became "the country with the most casualties." While the United Kingdom followed with 1,078 casualties, Turkey took third place with more than 900 casualties from the war, including more than 700 soldiers who lost their lives at the front line and those who disappeared after being wounded.

In the war, about 5,000 people were taken prisoner by South Korea and the U.N., and about 70,000 people from North Korea and China. During the prisoner exchange in June 1953, one month before the cease-fire agreement, all 244 prisoners from the Turkish brigade returned.

At the U.N. Korea Memorial Cemetery in Busan, there are 462 Turkish soldiers who were killed in the war.

Among the troops participating in the Korean War, the Turkish military was the only unit that built schools for Korean children who were orphaned in the war.

dailysabah.com · by Daily Sabah with AA · July 26, 2022


13. 'I Never Had To Look Up' Before: Top U.S. Special Ops General On Drone Threat





'I Never Had To Look Up' Before: Top U.S. Special Ops General On Drone Threat

The drone threat is rapidly growing and targeting supply chains and crafting new international norms could be just as important as shooting them down.

BY

JOSEPH TREVITHICK

JUL 25, 2022 7:55 PM

thedrive.com · by Joseph Trevithick · July 25, 2022

The head of U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Gen. Richard Clarke, recently highlighted the threat that various tiers of unmanned aircraft pose to U.S. forces deployed overseas, as well as to military and other targets abroad and within the United States. He further underscored that these dangers are only likely to grow and diversify as time goes on. Clarke added that finding ways to "defeat" hostile drones before they're ever launched, including finding ways to restrict access to key supply chains and build international consensus about the risks of proliferation and other issues, will be just as important as developing systems to actually knock them out of the sky.

Clarke offered his perspective on the ever-growing drone threat and how to respond to it last Friday at the annual Aspen Security Forum, hosted by the Aspen Institute think tank. The general spoke alongside Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican who is currently her party's ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, and Rep. Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat who sits on the House Committee on Armed Services and the House Intelligence Committee.

Clarke, Ernst, and Crow talked about challenges and opportunities in relation to other threats, such as chemical and biological weaponscyber and information warfare, and food insecurity, as well. You can watch the full video of the panel discussion below.


“First, as we think about this problem, I’ve been in the Army for 38 years, and in my entire time in the Army on battlefields in Iraq, in Afghanistan, Syria, I never had to look up," Gen. Clarke said by way of introducing the threat posed by unmanned aircraft. "I never had to look up because the U.S. always maintained air superiority and our forces were protected because we had air cover. But now with everything from quadcopters – they’re very small – up to very large unmanned aerial vehicles [UAV], we won’t always have that luxury."

“The cost of entry into this, particular for some of the small unmanned aerial systems, is very, very low," he added. "I think that this is something that’s gotta continue to go up in terms of our priority for the protection, not just of our forces that are forward today – that’s the current problem – but what’s gonna come home to roost. Some of these technologies could be used by our adversaries on our near abroad or even into our homeland.”

Clarke's remarks echo comments from other senior U.S. military and other government officials in recent years, particularly with regard to the growing threats low-tier drones now pose to American troops even in relatively small conflicts against non-state actors. What he said here also reflects how an increasingly diverse set of actors, including militant and organized criminal groups, as well as various state and state-sponsored entities, are employing these capabilities outside of traditional battlefields for intelligence gathering purposes and direct attacks.

"We do see this as a growing problem, because if you look at the availability of inexpensive drones, you find that the violent extremist organizations that we battle around the globe have easy access to this technology," Sen. Ernst said separately. "They don’t need to develop anything. All they need to do is hop on Amazon and they can buy a $300 drone that can be used against an adversary. And so, it is a real concern."


Unmanned aerial threats, of course, aren't simply limited to modified commercial and other lower-end systems. “When Russia is running out of them for Ukraine, and they’re going to Iran to go buy more, should cause us all a bit of concern, because you can see how valuable that they can be in the future fight," Gen. Clarke used as an example. The U.S. government recently disclosed that it had intelligence indicating that the Russian government was looking to acquire hundreds of unspecified drones from Iran to support its ongoing war in Ukraine, as you can read more about here.

"As we look to the future, we know that the Chinese, the Russians, and others are putting a lot of money into what we call swarm technology," Sen. Ernst added. "So, it’s not just the one-offs that are being purchased on the internet, but now we have near-peer adversaries that are developing swarm technology where they can use 100 to 200 different drones – highly evolved drones – that can attack our service members on the battlefield, perhaps disrupt a Superbowl game, whatever it might happen to be.”


Ernst's mention of a scenario involving an adversary disrupting a Superbowl game further highlights how these potential threats, from state and non-state actors alike, could expand beyond a typical military context.

For additional context about how these threats are not only real, but evolving, just in the past few years, The War Zone has been the first to report on a number of concerning incidents. These include worrisome drone flights over sensitive U.S. military installations on Guam and the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant in Arizona, as well as how the U.S. Navy assessed that the Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship Bass Strait was likely the source of at least some of the drones that repeatedly harassed U.S. Navy warships off the coast of southern California in 2019.

Just last year, details also emerged about an incident that U.S. officials assessed to likely be the first ever instance of a drone being used in an attempted attack on domestic power grid infrastructure, as you can read more about here.

"So, we do have to focus not only on the drone technology, but then anti-drone technology," Ernst said.

However, SOCOM head Gen. Clarke said the discussion had to move beyond just talking "about the defeat of the UAS [unmanned aerial systems] or the UAVs after they’ve already launched." This was in response to a question from the moderator of the panel at Aspen, NBC News' Courtney Kube, about so-called "left-of-launch" options, that is to say options beyond an immediate physical reaction of some kind, for neutralizing or mitigating the threat posed by unmanned aircraft.

"I think there are opportunities for our government, for our intel agencies, and our Department of Defense" when it comes to "how do we stop those drones before they even launch," Clarke said. He specifically talked about how deep intelligence about these threats, including the supply chains that support them, as well as international "norms of behavior" around drone use could be ways of addressing these issues before the danger becomes imminent.

While Clarke did not provide detailed examples of how these "left-of-launch" options might be implemented, there are very relevant real-world examples, some of which have become hot topics of public discussion just recently. In terms of supply chains, and the value of industrial intelligence, one need not look any further than the general's mention of Russia potentially buying Iranian drones. Russian officials sourcing unmanned aircraft of any kind from Iran highlights, in part, the inability of its own industrial base to produce even lower-tier types in any real quantity. Crippling international sanctions have further limited Russia's own ability to produce various kinds of unmanned aircraft, among other military hardware, because of the heavy reliance of those systems on foreign-made electronics and other components, something you can read more about in detail here.

Finding ways to further limit or otherwise control the access America's adversaries may have to relevant technologies and supply chains could certainly offer additional ways to address these threats. This could potentially extend to new U.S. government rules and restrictions on the sale and/or purchase of various unmanned aerial systems, especially through online marketplaces.

However, for those kinds of restrictions to be at all effective, there would need to be at least a certain amount of international consensus. That speaks to Clarke's comments on how the U.S. government could seek to address these threats on some level through the establishment of new norms around drone use on and off the battlefield.

During the panel talk at Aspen, Rep. Crow from Colorado made separate, but related remarks about how in his opinion discussions about the threats that drones pose will increasingly have to address adjacent moral and ethical issues, especially in regards to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

"We have some really big unanswered questions, too, that we have to have some public debate about. And that’s just not the technology and investment, but we have to have a discussion around what is the role of AI going to be. Because we have discussions as a democracy, and we would take into consideration the moral and ethical implications of drones in ways that some of our adversaries do not," Crow said. "We have to think about whether or not humans will remain in the kill chain, because some of our adversaries have decided that they will not, and that the targeting will be done much quicker, and without people making those decisions."


It is important to remember that International consensus building is often fraught with pitfalls and is never a guarantee against bad actors acting badly. At the same time, broader buy-in on the part of the international community can lay useful foundations for collective responses, whether they be sanctions or something else, in a crisis.

It is clear from Clarke's comments at Aspen that meeting the very real challenges that drones pose on and off the battlefield through interventions in supply chains, new norms, and other novel avenues are all parts of a broad, multifaceted approach, and that no one single course of action will address all of the issues by itself.

There's also no doubt that systems to actually bring down hostile drones, through kinetic or non-kinetic means, will still be important parts of the equation. Sen. Ernst and Rep. Crow both highlighted the need for general reforms in how the U.S. government develops and acquires military and other technologies in order to defend against these threats.

“I don’t think we are ever doing enough, frankly, given some of the investments by China in particular in this area," Crow said. "Our adversaries are using COTS stuff – commercial-off-the-shelf – they’re using very inexpensive... systems, and they recognize that the technological evolution of any system is 18 to 24 months, as opposed to 10 to 15 years, like it used to be."

These are all issues that The War Zone has been highlighting for years in discussions about very real threats posed by all kinds of different drones and the proliferation of those capabilities, along with sounding the alarm about how the U.S. military and other branches of the government have long lagged behind the technology in developing comprehensive responses to these issues. Beyond all this, it's important to note that now, especially at the lower end of drone threats, various key technologies are now basic consumer goods or are otherwise readily available commercially. This in turn could present hurdles to the kind of left-of-launch options that Clarke advocated for at Aspen last week.

What is increasingly indisputable, as Clarke, Ernst, and Crow all made clear during the panel talk at Aspen, is that drones of various kinds present an array of very real threats to a host of vastly different targets, military and otherwise, and that outside-the-box thinking will be necessary to address them in their totality.

Contact the author: joe@thedrive.com

thedrive.com · by Joseph Trevithick · July 25, 2022



14. How Congress Can Keep Biden From Caving to Iran’s Demands


Excerpts:


Given that the risk that the Biden team could water down terrorism sanctions without technically lifting the IRGC’s formal designation as an FTO, Congress should take immediate action to protect the integrity of sanctions. It can do this by passing legislation restricting the administration’s authority to lift or otherwise weaken terrorism sanctions pending the concrete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of the IRGC’s terrorist infrastructure. Congress should also condition sanctions relief on Tehran’s provision of proper restitution for all American victims of Iranian terrorism, particularly our Gold Star families.
The administration’s proposed terms for a nuclear deal are already so flawed that they would bring Iran far closer to nuclear weapons after just a few years. Adding a terror license to a nuclear capability would be doubly reckless.



How Congress Can Keep Biden From Caving to Iran’s Demands

The administration has said it will not remove the IRGC’s terrorist designation, but it is likely looking for ways to ease the burden on Iran.

Matthew Zweig

16 hr ago

thedispatch.com · by Matthew Zweig

Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. (Photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto/Getty Images.)

After an extended pause, the Biden administration and the Iranian government resumed indirect negotiations in Qatar late last month over a joint return to the 2015 nuclear agreement formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The talks had reached an impasse due to the Biden administration’s apparent refusal to yield to Tehran’s demand that Washington lift the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ designation as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). The Guards, or IRGC, are still very much in the business of terrorism, but Tehran recognizes the administration is ready to pay almost any price for a deal. However, bipartisan resistance in Congress to giving the IRGC a pass stayed Biden’s hand.

One is tempted to give the president credit for finally saying no to the excessive demands of the clerical regime in Tehran in his interview with Israel Channel 12, and for committing publicly to keeping the IRGC on the FTO list. However, there have been disagreements within the administration over this course of action, and his team is likely looking for ways to stick to the letter of Biden's pledge while easing the burden on Iran.

In that regard, there are three principal tactics that Congress should be on the lookout for: lifting sanctions on key entities that fund and facilitate IRGC terrorism, such as the Central Bank of Iran (CBI); issuing what are known as general licenses that carve out yawning gaps in the terrorism sanctions regime; and narrowing the IRGC’s FTO designation or specially designated global terrorist (SDGT) designation so it applies only to a slice of the organization.

A sizable bipartisan majority in the Senate has already signaled its opposition to such potential gambits. Republican Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Ted Cruz of Texas introduced amendments to China-related legislation in May that communicated the upper house’s deep reservations about weakening terror sanctions.

The first measure, passed by a vote of 62-33, called for any agreement the administration makes with Tehran to address “the full range of Iran’s destabilizing activities,” and not remove the terrorism sanctions critical to targeting Iran’s malign conduct. The second measure, passed by a vote of 86-12, stated that terror sanctions on the IRGC as well as the CBI are a necessity. While these measures are non-binding, they place a bipartisan majority of the Senate on record not once but twice opposing potential efforts to weaken the application or enforcement of terrorism sanctions.

The Senate was reacting in part to the administration’s intent to provide Iran with unobstructed access to its oil revenues—past, present, and future—in return for its reentry into the JCPOA. The only way for the administration to keep that promise is to lift sanctions against the CBI as well as the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC).

The U.S. has sanctioned all three for supporting IRGC terrorism, and they will remain key financiers of the IRGC. There is simply no way to give Tehran full access to oil revenues without lifting these sanctions, even though this would give a shot in the arm to the IRGC without revoking its terror designation.

The second measure the administration may take to ease pressure on the IRGC is to issue general licenses—authorizations for doing business with sanctioned entities—in a manner that would eviscerate the effect of terrorism designations. There is a recent precedent for such moves: In December 2021, the Biden administration issued a series of exceedingly broad general licenses for Afghanistan. The licenses included authorization to do business with the Haqqani Network, a close ally of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, which is also a designated FTO.

One such general license was so broad that it authorized “all transactions involving Afghanistan or governing institutions in Afghanistan,” prohibiting only transactions with individual members of the Haqqani Networks. Yet these individuals run large swaths of the Afghan government, so the license effectively allows business to be conducted with institutions controlled by terrorists. The administration could easily follow this example in the case of Iran by granting equally broad licenses.

Finally, the Biden administration has been vague on what precisely constitutes keeping the IRGC on the FTO list. The State Department’s Special Representative for Iran Rob Malley left the door open to modifying the IRGC’s status in a recent hearing when he stated that “we’ve made clear to Iran that if they wanted any concession on something that was unrelated to the JCPOA, like the FTO designation, we needed something reciprocal from them that would address our concerns.”

The administration has reportedly been seeking assurances from Tehran that it will neither seek to assassinate former American officials nor take further actions to destabilize the region. If Iran were to provide such assurances (regardless of whether they intend to keep them) the administration might have the pretext it needs to modify the IRGC’s status. Specifically, it could delist the IRGC but maintain an FTO designation of the IRGC Quds Force (QF), its arm responsible for supporting Hamas, Hezbollah, the Yemeni Houthis, and other terrorist allies.

In advance of a potential IRGC delisting, or substitution of the Quds Force, the administration and others who favor engagement with Tehran have been working to portray FTO designations as redundant or largely symbolic. They made similar arguments when the Trump administration first added the IRGC to the FTO list in 2019.

In the same hearing where Rob Malley testified, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky stated that “even if we got rid of the Foreign Terrorist Organization label, the IRGC has been under, as someone mentioned previously, they have been under sanctions at least since 2007 for funding Hezbollah in Lebanon … (s)o there still would be sanctions.”

It is certainly true the U.S. government has applied other terror sanctions to the IRGC. For example, the Quds Force has been a specially designated global terrorist (SDGT) since 2007. Yet the IRGC does not have good parts and bad parts. It is a single integrated organization that reports to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Accordingly, the Quds Force receives its funding and support from the IRGC, which controls entire sectors of Iran’s economy, whole industries, or structurally significant companies, such as NIOC.

Iran wouldn’t care if the administration kept the Quds Force on the FTO and SDGT list given that the Quds Force doesn’t have significant economic assets. But the regime does care about foreign investment and international business, particularly in the energy sector. The SDGT designation of the full IRGC makes it perilous for many banks and companies to go near Iran because of the presence of the IRGC in so many sectors. The FTO designation of the IRGC magnifies this risk by adding its very low trigger for criminal prosecution with wide, extraterritorial reach. This makes it dangerous for international companies and banks to do business with Iran in general because so much of that country’s industries are owned or controlled by the IRGC and any payment to the wrong person could result in criminal prosecution by the U.S.

The IRGC’s FTO and SDGT designations are not symbolic; they have real-world consequences for the Iranian regime, and for any company hoping to invest in or do business with Iran.

Given that the risk that the Biden team could water down terrorism sanctions without technically lifting the IRGC’s formal designation as an FTO, Congress should take immediate action to protect the integrity of sanctions. It can do this by passing legislation restricting the administration’s authority to lift or otherwise weaken terrorism sanctions pending the concrete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of the IRGC’s terrorist infrastructure. Congress should also condition sanctions relief on Tehran’s provision of proper restitution for all American victims of Iranian terrorism, particularly our Gold Star families.

The administration’s proposed terms for a nuclear deal are already so flawed that they would bring Iran far closer to nuclear weapons after just a few years. Adding a terror license to a nuclear capability would be doubly reckless.

thedispatch.com · by Matthew Zweig



15. Ukraine war: the crucial coming fight for Kherson


Excerpts:


The “ace” in Kiev’s pocket is the sustained US pledge to send Ukraine increasingly capable weapons such as HIMARS. On the agenda now are F-16s.
The big question is whether Russia has enough muscle and enough equipment and supplies to actually roll up the Ukrainian army, either in the south as now seems likely, or elsewhere, for example in and around Seversk and Bakhmut.
Given what the Ukrainians are now saying openly, it looks like the last major battle in the war could be Kherson. Ukraine would have to be able to force the Russians out of the city and retake it. A lot will depend on how quickly Russia reinforces its forces in and around the historically important city.



Ukraine war: the crucial coming fight for Kherson

The last major battle in the war could be for control of the southern city


asiatimes.com · by Stephen Bryen · July 26, 2022

Russian troops today occupy Kherson and have carried out some limited assaults on Odesa.

The Russian army occupies most of the territory from Kherson and due east, including Mariupol. While Russia has said little about its long-term intentions, there is a growing awareness that Russia wants to consolidate the cities and towns, and even more importantly the ports along the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.

Such a consolidation would connect Russia by land to Crimea. Should Russia be able to capture Mykolaiv (Nikolaev) and keep control of the massive nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia, it could prove fatal to Ukraine’s long-term survival as an independent country.


Ukraine in the past few weeks has been stepping up its attacks on Kherson, Mykolaiv and elsewhere in the region, moving in newly supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and stepping up attacks against Russian air defenses, ammunition dumps and command centers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced his objective of retaking Kherson as soon as September.

Russia has kept a mostly limited force in and around Kherson as it concentrated its effort in the Donbas region. Many Russian troops have been brought home to be re-equipped, retrained and reinforced with new personnel and leadership.

Where these forces will locate when they are brought back into the war isn’t clear. Some analysts think they will go back to the Donbas as Russia aims to take Seversk and Bakhmut, which will help them consolidate the Donetz “republic,” just as they did in Luhansk.

But the Russian army can hold that area and rearrange its war front in the south just as easily. The Russian objective in Luhansk was not only territorial control. It was aimed at trapping Ukraine’s main force in a pincer movement. Ukraine pulled back its forces just in time to avoid that outcome.


Source: Institute for the Study of War / Screengrab / July 23, 2022

If Ukraine’s army is seeking to launch a major offensive in the Kherson area, the Russians will have to meet that threat.

Russia has three end-games. The end-game we have seen, consistent with the announced objectives of Russia’s so-called “special military operation” is consolidating control of Luhansk and Donetsk. This end game is nearing completion.

The second end game is securing the southern area, perhaps as far to the west as Odesa. This is in process but nowhere near finished.

No major attacks have yet been launched against Odesa, and the Russians may not even have to fight for that city, depending on what happens elsewhere in the area.

Part of the southern strategy is to convert these areas into pro-Russian towns, meaning deporting pro-Ukraine populations and introducing Russian administration, currency, schools and governments in the area.


Local politicians have made it clear that they intend to hold referendums, probably this fall, that would ratify the annexation of these areas to Russia, much as a plebiscite was held in Crimea with the same purpose.

The Ukrainians remain in control of Mykolaiv and have been using local forces to try and run out pro-Russia elements there. If the Ukrainians fail to take Kherson, Russia will move on Mykolaiv in force.

The third Russian objective is to topple the Ukraine government and replace it with a pro-Russia regime. This is more than just an aspiration because the Kiev government is pro-NATO, won’t agree to any negotiation with the Russians until all Russian troops are out of Ukrainian territory and definitely will continue the war in some form in future, even if they lose the Donbas territory and the southern ports.

The “ace” in Kiev’s pocket is the sustained US pledge to send Ukraine increasingly capable weapons such as HIMARS. On the agenda now are F-16s.

The big question is whether Russia has enough muscle and enough equipment and supplies to actually roll up the Ukrainian army, either in the south as now seems likely, or elsewhere, for example in and around Seversk and Bakhmut.


The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is now deployed in the Ukraine war. Image: Twitter

Given what the Ukrainians are now saying openly, it looks like the last major battle in the war could be Kherson. Ukraine would have to be able to force the Russians out of the city and retake it. A lot will depend on how quickly Russia reinforces its forces in and around the historically important city.

Jews once were more than 30% of Kherson’s population. Today there are about 300 left, most of them killed by the Nazis in World War II (along with many Polish Jews who had escaped the Nazis in Poland only to be killed in Kherson by the Nazis). At one time the Kherson region featured a large and important Jewish population.

Kherson spawned a number of important Jewish personalities. Moshe Chertok, who became Moshe Sharett, was Israel’s second prime minister after David Ben Gurion. Sidney Riley, the “Ace of Spies”, was born Salomon Rosenblum in Kherson. Lev Davidovich Bronstein, known as Leon Trotsky, was the Communist revolutionary who was liquidated by Stalin.

Kherson has special meaning for this writer. My mother’s father was born there and my great grandfather died there. That was more than 125 years ago.

Follow Stephen Bryen on Twitter at @stevebryen

asiatimes.com · by Stephen Bryen · July 26, 2022




16. Ukraine Won't Save Democracy


Quite a critique of the authoritarianism versus democracy argument. Is it really lifty US rhetoric? I think not. It is really the essence of strategic competition.



Excerpts:



This sentiment touches on a crucial point: few of the world's citizens are fooled by U.S. President Joe Biden's focus on the contest between authoritarianism and democracy. They see the U.S. agenda for what it is: lofty rhetoric about democracy undercut by geopolitical calculations. Biden's recent trip to the Middle East—during which he greeted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (whom U.S. intelligence agencies hold responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi) with a fist bump, and had a warm tête-à-tête with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (whose government has detained tens of thousands of political prisoners)—offered a pointed reminder about U.S. policy priorities.


That does not mean that it is not possible for the United States to restore legitimacy to the global democracy agenda, but the task will not come easily. One step the Biden administration can take is to signal clearer support for values-based approaches. For every meeting Biden holds with an authoritarian like the Saudi crown prince or the Egyptian president, he should convene an equally well-publicized gathering with Saudi or Egyptian activists to discuss their countries' abysmal records on human rights. The Biden administration should also match resources to rhetoric. At the Summit for Democracy slated to take place in 2023, the United States and its allies should announce the creation of an independent fund for global justice and democracy. The goal of such a fund would be simple: to provide the resources and means for local activists, civil society organizations, independent journalists, and ordinary citizens to stand up against injustice, defend human rights, and advance democratic freedoms, particularly in repressive environments like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela.


The fund should operate independently from any government. Instead, a small steering committee of democracy activists and experts would oversee its operations (although the United States could kick things off by pledging $100 million in seed financing). At a time when populists and autocrats possess such large megaphones and are gaining political momentum, the fund could help counterbalance those trends by enabling liberal voices to reclaim political terrain in their communities.


Democracy is not inevitable: it must be nurtured, sustained, and fought for. If democracies fail to make a compelling argument for why political freedoms matter, or if citizens become too disillusioned or cynical to care about how they are governed, a new generation of autocrats will be all too willing to step in and seize the reins of power. If they succeed, the world will become a significantly more violent, corrupt, and dangerous place in which to live.



Ukraine Won't Save Democracy

The Causes of Democratic Decline Are Internal

By Steven Feldstein

July 26, 2022

Foreign Affairs · by Steven Feldstein · July 26, 2022

Witnessing Ukrainian fighters' valiant efforts to resist Russian President Vladimir Putin's unprovoked invasion of their fledgling democracy, a growing cohort of analysts and policymakers have begun to argue that a Russian defeat would not simply remove a major threat to Western democracies. What it would also do, they argue, is revive liberal internationalism itself, breathing new life into an ailing and increasingly dysfunctional post–Cold War global order.


A win against the Kremlin would help upend the narrative that the West is too weak and divided to push back against authoritarianism, and it could prompt fence-sitting countries to reconsider their embrace of China or Russia. But the notion that defeating Putin could reverse 16 straight years of global democratic decline simply doesn't hold up. Although a decisive Ukrainian victory might momentarily slow the downward cascade, the pathologies underlying democratic decay are largely disconnected from Russian or Chinese actions. Instead, the greater threat to the world's democracies comes from within. A toxic combination of internal factors—including pernicious polarization, anti-elite attitudes, and the rise of unscrupulous politicians willing to exploit these sentiments—has led to a breakdown in shared values in the democratic world. Preventing further democratic decline, let alone reversing it, requires both a clear-eyed understanding of these factors and, more important, a renewed commitment to core democratic values.

DEMOCRACY IN DECLINE

One reason for democratic backsliding is that liberal democracies and electoral democracies are facing an ongoing crisis in governance. Heads of state such as former U.S. President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban have brazenly subverted democratic institutions in their pursuit of power. These trends, which researchers have described as a "third wave of autocratization," are particularly pronounced in established democracies. The most recent report from the Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem) at Sweden's University of Gothenburg found that roughly one in five European Union member states are growing more autocratic, as are long-standing democracies such as Brazil, India, and the United States. As a result, the number of liberal democracies worldwide stands at a 26-year low.


Authoritarianism is also expanding rapidly in the weak democracies or competitive autocracies known as hybrid states. During Uganda's 2021 presidential elections, for example, President Yoweri Museveni authorized forceful measures to assure that he remained in power. He imposed a complete Internet blackout leading up to the vote and used state security forces to intimidate and arrest journalists, civil society actors, and opposition figures such as presidential candidate Bobi Wine, who was detained by the police after casting his ballot. In this regard, Uganda is far from alone. Similar rights violations have occurred in countries as diverse as Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Philippines, illustrating the far-reaching nature of this trend.


Research shows that while authoritarianism is surging, democratic movements and institutions have failed to respond with sufficient force, allowing many repressive measures to go unchallenged. While pockets of resistance have emerged in countries including El Salvador, Myanmar, and Slovenia (where the electorate recently voted out the country's right-wing populist leader in favor of the liberal opposition), these examples are rare. In contrast, pro-autocracy protests have been on the rise in developing countries and in the postcommunist world. This development partly reflects the growth of "conservative civil society," in which right-leaning civic actors join forces with illiberal politicians to reject liberal democratic norms. Across the world, autocratic leaders are mobilizing citizens to help advance their antidemocratic agendas. In Brazil, thousands rallied in September 2021 to Bolsonaro's calls to remove all Supreme Court justices. In the United States, Trump encouraged an insurrection on January 6, 2021. In Thailand, royalists have assembled antidemocratic coalitions to deter opposition protesters. These popular mobilizations suggest that democracies are losing the normative argument about the desirability of liberal governance.

AUTOCRACY NOW

Indeed, autocrats have seized the initiative to erode the idea that all citizens possess inalienable rights and freedoms regardless of national origin. Illiberal leaders are arguing with increasing success that citizens' rights and liberties should face limitations, particularly when these freedoms challenge the incumbent's rule. Autocrats are using an array of justifications such as national security, public order, or cultural preservation to make a case for prioritizing sovereignty over universalism. Discarding universal principles isn't a new phenomenon. But it is gaining momentum, partly because autocrats feel decreasing pressure to follow the liberal democratic model.


The weakening of universal norms is happening in big and small ways worldwide. The "splintering" of the Internet is one such trend. Autocracies such as China, Iran, and Russia, may have led the way. Still, democracies such as Brazil, India, and Nigeria, have also devised rules governing what information their citizens can access and produce, in clear violation of freedom of expression. In India, for example, the government has decreed that social media platforms must take down content that threatens "the unity, integrity, defense, security or sovereignty of India." In turn, this has precipitated broad suppression of legitimate speech, such as the Indian government's order that Twitter ban hundreds of accounts linked to farmers' protests in 2021. These leaders are calculating that if they can undermine universal democratic principles that dilute their power, they can more easily consolidate their rule and remain in office.


The weakening of universal norms is happening in big and small ways worldwide.



Similar deterioration has been witnessed across a range of democracy indicators: V-Dem researchers find that "six critical indicators of "liberal democracy," from judicial independence to executive oversight, are declining worldwide. In scores of countries, states have instituted restrictive legal measures to constrain nongovernmental organizations, carried out "aggressive smear campaigns" to discredit independent organizations, and intentionally sowed discord among civil society actors. Leaders justify these crackdowns by claiming that civil society groups are damaging national interests or allowing shadowy foreign brokers to undermine political systems. In 2018, for example, Orban secured passage of what became known as the "Stop Soros" law, a reference to the philanthropist George Soros, a longstanding Orban target. The law made it illegal to assist undocumented migrants and provided a convenient pretext for the Orban government to crack down on its political opponents. Autocrats worldwide are increasingly using similar restrictions to justify repression in the name of national sovereignty.


In some countries, Beijing and Moscow have played significant roles in reinforcing authoritarianism, mainly by providing military assistance and economic support. In the Central African Republic, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, and Sudan, Russia's Wagner Group, a paramilitary organization with close ties to the Russian armed forces, has spearheaded disinformation campaigns to undermine regime opponents, secured payment for services through extractive industry concessions, and carried out joint military operations that have led to civilian killings. China has pursued similar policies to help Cambodia's longtime strongman, Hun Sen, stay in power. In return, Hun Sen has granted China permission to build a clandestine naval facility for its exclusive use. China's surveillance and censorship exports have helped it to pursue similarly advantageous relationships with Algeria, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Serbia, and Zambia.

COUNTERING AUTHORITARIANISM

As Western policymakers struggle to counter growing authoritarianism worldwide, they should take care not to overemphasize competition with Russia and China. Already, there is widespread suspicion about U.S. motives. A string of foreign policy blunders has damaged the United States' reputation: prisoner abuse scandals in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo, Edward Snowden's disclosures, and unaccountable civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes. U.S. efforts to box in Russia and curtail China's influence have drawn tepid responses in many countries. When I conducted field research in Ethiopia in 2020, for instance, my sources repeatedly mentioned that the U.S. rivalry with China felt irrelevant and that they believed that the United States' involvement in their country was motivated by its own security priorities rather than a genuine interest in advancing democracy or prosperity in the country. It comes as little surprise that, as the historian Peter Slezkine writes, "outside of the United States' (mostly Western) formal allies, attitudes toward anti-Russian sanctions have been largely ambivalent."


This sentiment touches on a crucial point: few of the world's citizens are fooled by U.S. President Joe Biden's focus on the contest between authoritarianism and democracy. They see the U.S. agenda for what it is: lofty rhetoric about democracy undercut by geopolitical calculations. Biden's recent trip to the Middle East—during which he greeted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (whom U.S. intelligence agencies hold responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi) with a fist bump, and had a warm tête-à-tête with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (whose government has detained tens of thousands of political prisoners)—offered a pointed reminder about U.S. policy priorities.


That does not mean that it is not possible for the United States to restore legitimacy to the global democracy agenda, but the task will not come easily. One step the Biden administration can take is to signal clearer support for values-based approaches. For every meeting Biden holds with an authoritarian like the Saudi crown prince or the Egyptian president, he should convene an equally well-publicized gathering with Saudi or Egyptian activists to discuss their countries' abysmal records on human rights. The Biden administration should also match resources to rhetoric. At the Summit for Democracy slated to take place in 2023, the United States and its allies should announce the creation of an independent fund for global justice and democracy. The goal of such a fund would be simple: to provide the resources and means for local activists, civil society organizations, independent journalists, and ordinary citizens to stand up against injustice, defend human rights, and advance democratic freedoms, particularly in repressive environments like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela.


The fund should operate independently from any government. Instead, a small steering committee of democracy activists and experts would oversee its operations (although the United States could kick things off by pledging $100 million in seed financing). At a time when populists and autocrats possess such large megaphones and are gaining political momentum, the fund could help counterbalance those trends by enabling liberal voices to reclaim political terrain in their communities.


Democracy is not inevitable: it must be nurtured, sustained, and fought for. If democracies fail to make a compelling argument for why political freedoms matter, or if citizens become too disillusioned or cynical to care about how they are governed, a new generation of autocrats will be all too willing to step in and seize the reins of power. If they succeed, the world will become a significantly more violent, corrupt, and dangerous place in which to live.

Foreign Affairs · by Steven Feldstein · July 26, 2022



17. Pentagon chief approves plan to treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers at US military hospital in Germany




Pentagon chief approves plan to treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers at US military hospital in Germany

Business Insider · by Matthew Loh


Ukrainian soldiers pose for a photo at the Zaporizhzhia Military Hospital in southeastern Ukraine.

Dmytro Smolyenko/Ukrinform/NurPhoto via Getty Images


  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved treating Ukrainian troops at a US military hospital.
  • Up to 18 soldiers may be attended to at a time at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
  • This is the first time Ukrainian troops have been offered such services at a US military facility.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive our top stories based on your reading preferences — delivered daily to your inbox.


Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has approved a plan to treat wounded Ukrainian troops at a US military hospital in Germany, according to several media reports.

Austin had, on May 26, verbally greenlighted the treatment of Ukrainian soldiers at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in western Germany, CNN reported, citing a Pentagon memo.

The defense chief then formalized the decision in a memo on June 29, per CNN. The outlet added that the approval allows up to 18 Ukrainian troops to be treated at a time.

The memo marks the first time Ukraine's wounded troops have been offered treatment at a US military hospital since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion in February.

An anonymous US official said no Ukrainian troops had been treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center yet, according to a Reuters report published on Tuesday evening.

The center is the largest American military hospital outside the US and is located near the Ramstein Air Base.

Meanwhile, several Ukrainian soldiers have already received treatment at civilian hospitals in the US. A video posted on Tuesday by Anton Geraschenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Minister for Internal Affairs, showed soldiers testing the prosthetic legs they were fitted with at a Chicago medical facility.

—Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) July 25, 2022


Business Insider · by Matthew Loh


18. US military making plans in case Pelosi travels to Taiwan


It would be news if the military was not conducting planning.


US military making plans in case Pelosi travels to Taiwan

AP · by LOLITA C. BALDOR and ELLEN KNICKMEYER · July 27, 2022

SYDNEY (AP) — U.S. officials say they have little fear that China would attack Nancy Pelosi’s plane if she flies to Taiwan. But the U.S. House speaker would be entering one of the world’s hottest spots where a mishap, misstep or misunderstanding could endanger her safety. So the Pentagon is developing plans for any contingency.

Officials told The Associated Press that if Pelosi goes to Taiwan — still an uncertainty — the military would increase its movement of forces and assets in the Indo-Pacific region. They declined to provide details, but said that fighter jets, ships, surveillance assets and other military systems would likely be used to provide overlapping rings of protection for her flight to Taiwan and any time on the ground there.

Any foreign travel by a senior U.S. leader requires additional security. But officials said this week that a visit to Taiwan by Pelosi — she would be the highest-ranking U.S. elected official to visit Taiwan since 1997 — would go beyond the usual safety precautions for trips to less risky destinations.

ADVERTISEMENT

Asked about planned military steps to protect Pelosi in the event of a visit, U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday that discussion of any specific travel is premature. But, he added, “if there’s a decision made that Speaker Pelosi or anyone else is going to travel and they asked for military support, we will do what is necessary to ensure a safe conduct of their visit. And I’ll just leave it at that.”

China considers self-ruling Taiwan its own territory and has raised the prospect of annexing it by force. The U.S. maintains informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan even as it recognizes Beijing as the government of China.

The trip is being considered at a time when China has escalated what the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific describe as risky one-on-one confrontations with other militaries to assert its sweeping territorial claims. The incidents have included dangerously close fly-bys that force other pilots to swerve to avoid collisions, or harassment or obstruction of air and ship crews, including with blinding lasers or water cannon.

Dozens of such maneuvers have occurred this year alone, Ely Ratner, U.S. assistant defense secretary, said Tuesday at a South China Sea forum by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. China denies the incidents.

The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security issues, described the need to create buffer zones around the speaker and her plane. The U.S. already has substantial forces spread across the region, so any increased security could largely be handled by assets already in place.

The military would also have to be prepared for any incident — even an accident either in the air or on the ground. They said the U.S. would need to have rescue capabilities nearby and suggested that could include helicopters on ships already in the area.

Pelosi, D-Calif., has not publicly confirmed any new plans for a trip to Taiwan. She was going to go in April, but she postponed the trip after testing positive for COVID-19.

ADVERTISEMENT

The White House on Monday declined to weigh in directly on the matter, noting she had not confirmed the trip. But President Joe Biden last week raised concerns about it, telling reporters that the military thinks her trip is “not a good idea right now.”

A Pelosi trip may well loom over a call planned for Thursday between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, their first conversation in four months. A U.S. official confirmed plans for the call to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity ahead of the formal announcement.

U.S. officials have said the administration doubts that China would take direct action against Pelosi herself or try to sabotage the visit. But they don’t rule out the possibility that China could escalate provocative overflights of military aircraft in or near Taiwanese airspace and naval patrols in the Taiwan Strait should the trip take place. And they don’t preclude Chinese actions elsewhere in the region as a show of strength.

Security analysts were divided Tuesday about the extent of any threat during a trip and the need for any additional military protection.

The biggest risk during Pelosi’s trip is of some Chinese show of force “gone awry, or some type of accident that comes out of a demonstration of provocative action,” said Mark Cozad, acting associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corp. “So it could be an air collision. It could be some sort of missile test, and, again, when you’re doing those types of things, you know, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Barry Pavel, director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, scoffed at U.S. officials’ reported consideration of aircraft carriers and warplanes to secure the speaker’s safety. “Obviously, the White House does not want the speaker to go and I think that’s why you’re getting some of these suggestions.”

“She’s not going to go with an armada,” Pavel said.

They also said that a stepped-up U.S. military presence to safeguard Pelosi risked raising tensions.

“It is very possible that ... our attempts to deter actually send a much different signal than the one we intend to send,” Cozad said. “And so you get into ... some sort of an escalatory spiral, where our attempts to deter are actually seen as increasingly provocative and vice versa. And that can be a very dangerous dynamic.”

ADVERTISEMENT

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Beijing had repeatedly expressed its “solemn position” over a potential Pelosi visit. He told reporters that China is prepared to “take firm and strong measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Milley said this week that the number of intercepts by Chinese aircraft and ships in the Pacific region with U.S. and other partner forces has increased significantly over the past five years. He said Beijing’s military has become far more aggressive and dangerous, and that the number of unsafe interactions has risen by similar proportions.

Those include reports of Chinese fighter jets flying so close to a Canadian air security patrol last month that the Canadian pilot had to swerve to avoid collision, and another close call with an Australian surveillance flight in late May in which the Chinese crew released a flurry of metal scraps that were sucked into the other plane’s engine.

U.S. officials say that the prospects of an intercept or show of force by Chinese aircraft near Pelosi’s flight raises concerns, prompting the need for American aircraft and other assets to be nearby.

The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group is currently operating in the western Pacific, and made a port call in Singapore over the weekend. The strike group involves at least two other Navy ships and Carrier Air Wing 5, which includes F/A-18 fighter jets, helicopters and surveillance aircraft.

ADVERTISEMENT

Prior to pulling into port in Singapore, the strike group was operating in the South China Sea. In addition, another Navy ship, the USS Benfold, a destroyer, has been conducting freedom of navigation operations in the region, including a passage through the Taiwan Strait last week.

___

Knickmeyer reported from Washington.

AP · by LOLITA C. BALDOR and ELLEN KNICKMEYER · July 27, 2022



19. Putin’s New Police State


Excerpts:


Stalin’s NKVD—the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs—was a true monstrosity. Stalin purposely designed the ministry to oversee vast and widely disparate parts of the Soviet state, including the national railway system, Russia’s nuclear program, and the assassination of Stalin’s enemies abroad. The NKVD oversaw police, espionage operations, political repressions, and the Gulag (the Soviet Union’s extensive system of forced labor camps), as well as the construction industry and even public utilities. To conduct internal repressions, the NKVD built up a network of directorates all over the country: to process such large numbers required an enormous security bureaucracy.
The NKVD was also heavily militarized. Not only did NKVD officers wear military uniforms and carry military ranks but the agency also had its own military units equipped with heavy weaponry such as tanks and aircraft. At the end of the 1930s, as war in Europe looked increasingly likely, Stalin put the country on a military footing, beginning with his security bureaucracy. Once the war started, NKVD troops set up camps in the occupied territories of Poland and the Baltics to identify troublemakers and recruit agents. The NKVD was also put in charge of a campaign to get Russian exiles to return to Russia at the end of the war. These were people who had fled Soviet Russia, and many of them were persuaded to return—only to end up in Stalin’s camps. In these and other ways, the NKVD was designed for a regime that was constantly at war: with its own political enemies, with former comrades in the country and abroad, and with the West. And what made the NKVD so powerful—and so feared—was that it answered only to Stalin, not to the Communist Party or the Soviet government.
Since the war in Ukraine began, Putin’s rapidly growing security state seems to be inching closer to its Stalinist predecessor. The militarization of the FSB, its new recruitment camps, its increasingly open and brutal tactics all suggest that Putin is looking more closely at the approach of the NKVD—an agency that was forged by a totalitarian state in wartime. And the long war is what the Kremlin is priming the country for.



Putin’s New Police State

In the Shadow of War, the FSB Embraces Stalin’s Methods

By Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan

July 27, 2022

Foreign Affairs · July 27, 2022

Since the spring of 2022, a terrifying new force has coursed through Russian society. Activists who have protested the “special operation” in Ukraine are being rounded up. Opponents of the regime and even ordinary citizens who have had unauthorized foreign contacts are being thrown into Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison, where in Stalinist times, political prisoners were tortured and executed. Special border agents have been interrogating and intimidating Russians who are trying to leave or return. But even those who have made it out are not safe; exiles who have spoken out are being investigated, and their relatives in Russia are being harassed by the regime. And security police are cracking down on Russian companies that buy foreign rather than Russian raw materials and hardware.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine enters its sixth month, a dramatic shift has occurred in the Kremlin’s security bureaucracy, and it has centered on the agency closest to Putin himself: the Federal Security Service, or FSB. When the war began, the Kremlin planned to use the FSB mainly in Ukraine, as a special operations force that would consolidate a rapid Russian conquest. According to the plan, the Russian tanks rolling into Ukraine would trigger regime change in Kyiv, and a new pro-Moscow leadership, sponsored by FSB spymasters, would take control of the country. At the time, it was the FSB’s foreign intelligence branch—the Fifth Service—that was to carry out this task. It was the only major FSB department, out of a dozen, that was directly involved in preparing for the war.

As those plans faltered, however, Putin crafted a different, far more comprehensive mission for the FSB: it would be at the forefront of Russia’s total war effort at home as well as its intelligence operations in Ukraine. And every branch of the service would now be involved. Running the new crackdowns in Russia are the FSB’s counterterrorism unit, its counterintelligence service, and its investigative department. Meanwhile, FSB special forces and the military counterintelligence branch are running operations targeting Ukrainian service people in occupied territories and beyond, recruiting Ukrainian agents, and processing those whom the FSB hopes to see prosecuted in show trials. FSB agents are stationed at Russia’s borders, and the Economic Security Service, which is often considered the most corrupt department of the FSB, has been vigorously enforcing Russia’s economic policies. At FSB headquarters at Lubyanka Square in Moscow, the agency’s rank and file have been told to prepare for three-month tours of duty in the occupied territories.

As the FSB spearheads a transformed, increasingly paranoid, and heavily securitized state bureaucracy, the shift has profound implications for the nature of Putin’s rule. In contrast to the largely surveillance-oriented agency of previous years, the FSB has become a far more expansive arm of an increasingly ruthless state. In its sweeping reach into domestic society, foreign affairs, and the military, the FSB has begun to look less like its late-Soviet predecessor, the KGB. It now resembles something much scarier: the NKVD, Stalin’s notorious secret police, which conducted the great purges of the 1930s and maintained an iron lock on Russian society into the early years of the Cold War.

The Long Reach of Lubyanka

It is not hard to find signs of the FSB’s evolving strategy. Consider its tactics toward journalists and members of the political opposition. In the past, when it came to the press, the FSB limited itself to spying on journalists critical of the government and encouraging them to leave the country. Even when Ivan Safronov, a former journalist who covered the military for the Russian daily newspaper Kommersant, was arrested on treason charges in the summer of 2020, it was understood as a message to the others: stop writing about sensitive issues or leave the country. In fact, the following year, many Russian journalists were placed on a government list of foreign agents but not arrested, and many went into exile. This exodus continued in the opening phase of the war in Ukraine, when hundreds of Russian journalists and activists fled abroad.


Since the spring, however, the FSB has set out to reverse the flow. Two months after the war started, for example, it let in the prominent opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza. For years, Kara-Murza has shuttled between the United States, Europe, and Russia, promoting sanctions against Putin’s cronies; since the war started, he has feared that the Kremlin would ban him from entering Russia. But in April, Kara-Murza flew to Moscow and was let in—only to be swiftly thrown in jail, where he has remained ever since, on charges of spreading fake news about the war. In July, another opposition politician, Ilya Yashin, was arrested on identical charges. After Alexei Navalny was arrested and imprisoned—following his own return to Russia in August 2021—Yashin was the most prominent opposition figure; now, like Navalny and Kara-Murza, he has been locked up and silenced.

This is no accident. Starting in May 2022, the FSB has been visiting the families of Russian exiles to convey the message that the Russian government is ready to welcome the exiles back. There are also reports that Russian IT specialists who left Russia at the start of the war but returned have been summoned to FSB headquarters and interrogated: the agency was seeking information in particular about Russian exiles who have stayed abroad. Rather than forcing Russians out, where they may be able to encourage opposition movements, the regime has decided that it would be better to keep them under close watch in Russia—an approach last used by the Kremlin during the early stages of the Cold War.


Shifting tactics, the FSB is luring opposition figures back to Russia and arresting them.

At the same time, the FSB has become bolder in its pursuit of journalists and others who have long been in exile. Here, we can cite our own experience: in March, the internal security department of the FSB initiated a criminal case against one of us, Andrei Soldatov, on charges of spreading fake news about the war, charges that carry a sentence of up to ten years in prison. Soldatov’s bank accounts in Russia have been frozen, and the Russian government has issued formal international warrants to arrest him and extradite him to Russia. The number of Russian journalists who have been threatened with similar charges has only grown. And since most already live in exile, the criminal cases are meant to put further pressure on their relatives back in Russia.

Equally dramatic has been the agency’s growing crackdown on scientists, lawyers, and other Russians who have been involved in activities the regime now regards as suspect. The FSB’s efforts to harass and intimidate Russian scientists who collaborate with foreign research institutions are not new. But since the war began, the FSB has become far more aggressive. On June 30, the agency took extreme action against Dmitry Kolker, the director of the Laboratory of Quantum Optics at Novosibirsk State University, accusing him of treason for purportedly sharing state secrets with China. (He gave a series of lectures in China as part of an exchange program.) Even though Kolker was in a hospital with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, the FSB arrested him and sent him to Lefortovo Prison, where he died three days later. Many Russians were shocked, but this was hardly an isolated incident. A day before Kolker’s arrest, the FSB jailed Dmitry Talantov, a prominent human rights lawyer, who had defended Safronov, the journalist accused of treason by the FSB. Talantov now found himself charged with spreading fake news about the war.

Even mainstream sectors of the Russian economy have come under FSB pressure. Consider Russia’s national health-care system. Since June, the Russian financial monitoring agency, together with the FSB, has investigated medical clinics across the country for prescribing Western drugs rather than Russian ones. The campaign was presented to the public as “cracking down on schemes by foreign pharmaceutical companies that sell their drugs through Russian doctors.” The Kremlin has also asked the FSB to investigate bureaucrats who “failed” to substitute Russian products, like IT technologies, for foreign ones.

The FSB purges have also begun to reach the Russian elite, including senior security officials themselves. In July, three top generals in the Interior Ministry were arrested on embezzlement charges; the operation has been regarded as a message to the interior minister to watch himself—nobody is completely safe in this new security state. This is only the latest in a series of purges that have targeted Oleg Mitvol, a well-connected former prefect of Moscow Precinct, and Vladimir Mau, a leading Russian economist, who is close to the liberal bloc of the government and head of the Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, the major training facility for Russian bureaucrats. Mitvol was thrown into jail; Mau was put under house arrest—events that have unnerved the Moscow financial elites.


But the most striking change concerns the FSB’s tactics in Ukraine. Before the war, the FSB’s role was mostly to recruit Ukrainian politicians. Now, the agency is running a massive operation to detain large numbers of Ukrainians in Russia and in the occupied territories of Ukraine. The main task of this operation is not to expose Ukrainian terrorists, as the FSB officially claims; rather, it is to process large numbers of Ukrainians in order to recruit assets and send them back to Ukraine, on FSB orders. Nor has the FSB neglected a ruthless pursuit of Ukrainian intelligence agents, as well as the units that defended the Azovstal steel works against an 82-day siege by Russian forces this spring. Along with Russians who are accused of state treason, these high-value Ukrainians have been sent to Lefortovo Prison.

Back in the USSR

The FSB’s sweeping new role raises larger questions about Putin’s regime. For years, it has been well known that Putin has modeled his security services in part on Soviet practices, including those of the KGB, where he spent almost 16 years. For much of Putin’s time in office—and especially over the past five years, as he sought to shore up his regime—the KGB model made sense. For one thing, in the later decades of the Soviet era, the KGB, although it was powerful, remained a comparatively small organization and preferred a light approach to control. It watched and spied on everyone, from factory workers to ballerinas, but the KGB didn’t seek to carry out large-scale arrests or purges. Instead, it relied on sophisticated forms of intimidation that could make people fall in line without mass repression.

In other respects, the KGB was also shaped by the politics of the post-Stalin era. Rather than controlled by a single all-powerful leader, it was a bureaucracy that answered to the Communist Party. And although the agency was omnipresent, it was largely invisible: KGB officers hated military uniforms, preferring gray suits instead. The KGB also invested hugely in public relations, sponsoring books and movies promoting the image of the agency as the most intellectual government entity in the country—the only one that could effectively fight corruption.

During his first 15 years in power, Putin relied on the FSB but tried to distance it somewhat from the KGB. He wanted the FSB to be his rapid-response team, rushing to him with solutions to his political problems, inside and outside Russia. But after the FSB repeatedly let him down—failing to warn him of color revolutions, Moscow protests, and finally, the Maidan revolution in Kyiv in 2014—Putin changed the rules. Instead of having the FSB serve as a rapid-response force, he revised its mandate to something much closer to that of the KGB. He made it an instrument for providing political stability through the intimidation of the Russian people, including elites. But the recent moves suggest that Putin is once again shifting course. Instead of the KGB of the 1970s and 1980s, the FSB increasingly resembles Stalin’s secret services, the NKVD, which aimed to a much greater degree at total control of the Russian population.

Putin’s Monster

Stalin’s NKVD—the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs—was a true monstrosity. Stalin purposely designed the ministry to oversee vast and widely disparate parts of the Soviet state, including the national railway system, Russia’s nuclear program, and the assassination of Stalin’s enemies abroad. The NKVD oversaw police, espionage operations, political repressions, and the Gulag (the Soviet Union’s extensive system of forced labor camps), as well as the construction industry and even public utilities. To conduct internal repressions, the NKVD built up a network of directorates all over the country: to process such large numbers required an enormous security bureaucracy.

The NKVD was also heavily militarized. Not only did NKVD officers wear military uniforms and carry military ranks but the agency also had its own military units equipped with heavy weaponry such as tanks and aircraft. At the end of the 1930s, as war in Europe looked increasingly likely, Stalin put the country on a military footing, beginning with his security bureaucracy. Once the war started, NKVD troops set up camps in the occupied territories of Poland and the Baltics to identify troublemakers and recruit agents. The NKVD was also put in charge of a campaign to get Russian exiles to return to Russia at the end of the war. These were people who had fled Soviet Russia, and many of them were persuaded to return—only to end up in Stalin’s camps. In these and other ways, the NKVD was designed for a regime that was constantly at war: with its own political enemies, with former comrades in the country and abroad, and with the West. And what made the NKVD so powerful—and so feared—was that it answered only to Stalin, not to the Communist Party or the Soviet government.

Since the war in Ukraine began, Putin’s rapidly growing security state seems to be inching closer to its Stalinist predecessor. The militarization of the FSB, its new recruitment camps, its increasingly open and brutal tactics all suggest that Putin is looking more closely at the approach of the NKVD—an agency that was forged by a totalitarian state in wartime. And the long war is what the Kremlin is priming the country for.

Foreign Affairs · July 27, 2022




20. America’s Refugee Revolution



Good Americans doing good things for their fellow human beings.


Excerpts:


The deep engagement of communities in resettlement will not solve every migration problem. Congress, for instance, still needs to create a pathway for Afghans and Ukrainians who were paroled into the country so that they can secure legal status. Key questions also need to be answered, including how to reach and empower all Americans who want to serve as sponsors and how federal and state policies can support communities that hope to resettle large numbers of refugees.
This quiet revolution has not been limited to the United States. In fact, more than a dozen countries have turned to sponsorship since 2016, thanks in large part to the work of the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, a multistakeholder partnership that includes the government of Canada. Its officials, working closely with the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub, the UN refugee agency, and the Open Society Foundations, among others, have collaborated with their counterparts in Argentina, Australia, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and other countries to design sponsorship pilots and programs. Canada’s willingness to devote its time and expertise to the initiative has been the linchpin of GRSI’s success.
The growth of community-led resettlement should become the third major inflection point in the U.S. refugee system, following the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 (and the Geneva Convention of 1951) and the Refugee Act of 1980. The Biden administration needs to ensure that 2022 is remembered as the year that a new approach to refugee resettlement was born. American communities are rising to the occasion that this global challenge demands; the U.S. government needs to empower and support their welcoming efforts.


America’s Refugee Revolution

How Ordinary Citizens Are Taking the Lead in Resettling Newcomers

By Gregory Maniatis

July 27, 2022

Foreign Affairs · by Gregory Maniatis · July 27, 2022

In June, for the first time in history, the number of people who have been forced to flee their homes surpassed 100 million worldwide, including over 30 million refugees who have crossed international borders. Syrians have forged overland to Turkey and Venezuelans have traversed the Darien Gap to escape their collapsing states. In just four months, over five million Ukrainians have sought refuge across Europe and beyond. This is a global problem of such staggering proportions that it risks seeming unsolvable.

As a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, the United States pledged to accept individuals who reach its borders and can demonstrate that they have left their homelands “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, or membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, furthermore, contributed to the conditions that caused millions to flee. U.S. administrations, however, have not opened the doors significantly wider to acknowledge the magnitude of need: from 1980 through 2016, the United States admitted an average of 80,000 refugees annually.

Yet the dynamics of refugee resettlement in the United States are changing. Witness how since late April, ordinary Americans have logged in to a quickly created Department of Homeland Security website and offered to sponsor nearly 90,000 Ukrainians, a number that should soon surpass 100,000. Last fall, in another improvised effort, the United States took in almost 80,000 Afghans in just a few months. By contrast, the formal U.S. Refugee Admissions Program has resettled around 90,000 refugees combined in the five years since 2018.

These recent influxes have been met not by protests, as in times past, but by cross-partisan acclaim. That is in large part because change is coming from the grassroots. The Biden administration has created emergency policies and programs that have empowered Americans to welcome Afghans and Ukrainians in need and integrate them into their communities. These pilot programs are changing American approaches to refugee resettlement as well as American perspectives on welcoming newcomers. This should inspire the United States to adopt a new refugee resettlement model rooted in community sponsorship—as Canada did over 40 years ago. The Biden administration is already moving in this direction, but it should embrace this strategy even more forcefully, ambitiously, and publicly.

A History of Resettlement

Immigration is the bedrock on which the United States is built, but a formal refugee system dates only to the post–World War II period. Even in the aftermath of the Holocaust, it took Jewish groups and other advocates three years to persuade Congress to pass the Displaced Persons Act of 1948—a grueling quest brilliantly told by David Nasaw in his book The Last Million. Even then, it was the need for labor—not just a humanitarian instinct fed by the horrors of war—that helped propel passage of the act. And it was communities—primarily faith groups—that stepped up to welcome hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans who had languished in camps for the displaced for years.


Although the United States’ self-conception is one of a nation of immigrants—look no further than the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty—the country has been relatively stingy in welcoming refugees. This reached a nadir under former U.S. President Donald Trump, who publicly stated he would like to see the intake of refugees from countries such as Syria reduced to zero. By 2020, he capped the number of refugees the United States would accept at a mere 18,000; that year, fewer than 12,000 people were in fact resettled in the country.


The way in the United States resettled refugees eroded support for welcoming foreigners.

Certainly, racism and xenophobia played a role in Trump’s refugee policy. As he allegedly said during a cabinet meeting, he wanted to reduce the number of U.S. immigrants from “shithole countries.” And those sentiments are by no means limited to the former president. Racial animus is still a powerful force in American life.

That said, the way in which refugees have been resettled in the United States for the past 42 years has also played a critical role in eroding support for welcoming and integrating foreigners. In 1980, in the aftermath of the Vietnamese “boat people” crisis, the Refugee Act professionalized resettlement and gave operational control to a small number of national resettlement agencies. The result was a rigid, bureaucratic system tightly regulated by the State Department that radically reduced both innovation and opportunities for community engagement.

The good news is that there is a growing movement to revive a community refugee resettlement model, an approach that was much more common in the United States before 1980. After the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis, community-led efforts started to emerge again on an ad hoc basis in parts of the country before being more formally embraced by the Biden administration in 2021; in fact, one of President Joe Biden’s first executive orders in February 2021 called for the establishment of a private refugee sponsorship pilot program.

Where Things Stand Now

The State Department is the main gatekeeper for the resettlement system, but other federal, state, and local agencies also play critical yet complicating roles. A resettlement agency has to sign a cooperative agreement that is more than 100 pages long and regulates such finicky details as how many forks must be in a refugee’s kitchen—although it does not pay much attention to outcomes vital to newcomers and communities, such as employment or integration. Federal financial support for refugees is guaranteed only for the first 90 days after arrival and does not even include the cost of transportation to their final destinations. Refugees endure an average of two years of security, health, and other types of vetting, languishing overseas in often distressing or dangerous settings. The system’s complexity has grown to the point that even sophisticated national service and faith organizations feel frozen out.

The United States’ nine national resettlement agencies and nearly 250 affiliates certainly do excellent and important work. They provide a stable foundation for the resettlement system, handle some of the most difficult cases, and train volunteers. Many—including local groups such as Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services in New Haven, Connecticut, and national ones such as Church World Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, and HIAS (founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)—have also been pioneers in recent years in establishing community-led resettlement programs. But collectively, they have hewed closely to their current business model and resisted innovation, failing to take advantage of the extraordinary talents of Americans in communities throughout the country. This has had the unwanted effect of weakening political support for refugees.


The consequences of the United States’ narrow, professionalized approach to resettlement can be seen by comparing it with Canada’s program. During the Vietnamese boat lift in the late 1970s, Ottawa opened up resettlement to the public through private sponsorship rather than insisting on a system run exclusively by the government. Today, Canada welcomes about 40,000 refugees a year—which in relation to the overall population would be equivalent to some 350,000 refugees in the United States—the majority through sponsorship. And private sponsorship has not displaced government resettlement programs; the Canadian government’s program remains strong. Nearly a third of Canadians say they have been a member of a sponsorship group or have supported one. As a result, public backing for refugees in Canada makes resettlement untouchable—unlike in the United States, where the Trump administration nearly destroyed the system with surprisingly little resistance. It is one thing for a legislator to be lobbied by refugee professionals. It is quite another if the advocates are the lawmaker’s neighbors who are volunteering their time to integrate newcomers—and who themselves are benefiting from the experience. Entire communities have been revived after deciding to systematically welcome refugees. For evidence in the United States, look no further than Utica, New York, and Clarkston, Georgia.


Taking collective responsibility for newcomers brings neighbors together and reanimates community life.

The essential power of private sponsorship is that it taps into the extraordinary talents that exist in every community. In my small town in rural Connecticut, almost 350 residents have come together to support an Afghan family of six that arrived this spring. The 50 or so most active members of the group have a dazzling array of skills that allow them to do everything from fundraising to securing and furnishing housing, enlisting families in social services, lining up medical appointments, helping adults find employment, and enrolling children in school. The group aspires to take in at least one more family. Some 80 sponsorship groups have formed in Connecticut in recent years, even in the absence of a national policy framework.

To those involved, it is abundantly clear that sponsorship is as meaningful to the sponsors as it is to the refugees. Loneliness is nearly epidemic in modern life. The act of taking collective responsibility for welcoming newcomers brings neighbors together across partisan and other divides in ways that reanimate community life, create a sense of common cause, and build civic consciousness. It keeps people from bowling alone. Sponsorship allows residents to engage at whatever level they prefer, from taking full responsibility for the resettlement project as a leader of a group to simply volunteering an hour a week as a driver, shopping guide, or English tutor.

Look Northward

The United States should make the Canadian sponsorship model the national resettlement standard—and improve on it. That process is already underway. This past year has upended the outdated American resettlement system as a rush of communities of care—veterans seeking to support their displaced Afghan interpreters and allies, members of the Ukrainian diaspora, service organizations, faith groups, local governments, colleges and universities, and ordinary Americans throughout the country moved by the plight of Afghans and Ukrainians—have demanded to be part of the response to the crises. The Biden administration has improvised in creative ways to address the surge of interest and need. These innovations point the way to a more powerful, community-led system of welcoming refugees in the United States.

One of the administration’s critical reforms, made last fall, was to allow community members to become directly responsible for resettlement rather than limiting them to volunteering for refugee agencies. In October, the State Department worked with the Community Sponsorship Hub—a new nongovernmental organization (NGO) designed to expand sponsorship in the United States by focusing on program development and capacity building—to launch the Sponsor Circle Program. This allows five or more Americans to come together to welcome Afghan refugees after receiving rigorous training. The successful trial of Sponsor Circles set the stage for the Uniting for Ukraine program, which launched in April and has led to an extraordinary increase in the number of sponsors.

A second vital innovation by the U.S. government has been its effort to speed up the vetting process for refugees without compromising security standards. Until now, the process was complex and not well coordinated, leading to average wait times abroad of about two years and often much longer. The Biden administration is reducing this wait time, and has created a 30-day processing system for Afghans in Doha by surging concentrated resources for vetting on location. In the case of the Ukrainians, meanwhile, and with most Afghans, the government has expedited entry into the United States by scaling a system called humanitarian parole, which allows individuals to quickly reach safety.

The State Department is also rethinking how it can bring more actors into the resettlement space. It recently announced a call for proposals that invites NGOs to help refer refugees to the resettlement system. For instance, NGOs working with journalists in conflict zones or groups working with members of the LGBTQ community who know their populations and local contexts better than UN refugee agencies or governments can help those at risk of persecution reach safety in the United States. The State Department also recently solicited proposals for participation in the resettlement program with a strong emphasis on welcoming new national partners.


Research shows that sponsored refugees are more likely to become well integrated into society.


Another innovation will come later this year, when the administration launches a formal private sponsorship program that will allow Americans to identify refugees who are overseas and sponsor them for resettlement in the United States, much like Uniting for Ukraine does—but through the formal U.S. refugee admissions program. This pilot program should expand and become permanent; it eventually could serve as a critical pillar of refugee policy in the United States. Rather than displacing the current resettlement system, it would enhance and help sustain it, as in Canada.

All this will take infrastructure backed by both public and private support. For several years, local resettlement agencies and philanthropists have been making investments in the systems needed for community-led sponsorship. Last September, a major element of the infrastructure was created with the launch of Welcome.US. In less than a year, the organization—which has the backing of a Welcome Council that includes four former presidents and scores of business, religious, and other leaders—has mobilized corporations, faith groups, service organizations, and ordinary Americans to respond to the Afghan and Ukrainian crises. Its business council is led by the CEOs of Accenture and Google; its Welcome Fund has raised and distributed over $20 million. In late June, it launched a program to connect sponsors with Ukrainians seeking support; almost 2,000 Americans completed sponsorship applications in the first 20 days alone.

Straw Men

There will be resistance to change—there always is. As in most establishments, dogma protects the interests of the main players. The most pernicious claim typically made is that only professionals know how to resettle refugees. Yet the evidence, both in the United States and elsewhere, contradicts this. In Canada, systematic research over many years shows that sponsored refugees are more likely to become well integrated into society. And those studies miss the other side of sponsorship—the benefits that accrue to communities. Many sponsors say that the experience has changed their lives. This is the ultimate win-win outcome, in quality, quantity, and durability.

In the United States and Europe, meanwhile, the generous response to Ukrainian displacement compared with the treatment of other waves of refugees from non-European countries has led to accusations of racism. It is irrefutable that host countries have not been nearly as welcoming to Africans, Central Americans, Haitians, and other people of color. At the same time, the response to the Afghan and Ukrainian crises shows that welcoming at scale is possible. Rather than falling prey to divisive discourse, government officials and activists should work to leverage this moment to develop sustainable structures that are accessible to refugees regardless of race. Building a welcoming culture takes time and deep community involvement; it cannot be done by government fiat (consider how hard it was for the United States to open its doors even in the aftermath of the Holocaust). Over time, those offering to host Ukrainians can be encouraged to extend their welcome to others. In the United Kingdom, over 200,000 individuals and groups offered to sponsor Ukrainians this spring; some are already taking in Afghans who had been housed in hotels by the government. In Poland, a country in which antimigrant politics have prevailed in recent years, a majority of residents have said that they have been involved in welcoming Ukrainians.


The deep engagement of communities in resettlement will not solve every migration problem.

With the right policies and infrastructure in place, the United States could not only sustainably welcome hundreds of thousands of refugees a year but also use the community capacity it has activated to help additional populations—the homeless, asylum seekers, and others in need of assistance. Rather than tell the government what it should do, NGOs and communities of care can stand up and do some of the work themselves, with government support. Climate activists could help organize communities to take in those displaced by the climate crisis, for instance, pioneering what might then become a larger government commitment. By opening up the resettlement system, the U.S. government would enable private citizens who are concerned about international humanitarian crises to become directly involved in the act of securing a better future for those who have been forced to flee their countries.

The deep engagement of communities in resettlement will not solve every migration problem. Congress, for instance, still needs to create a pathway for Afghans and Ukrainians who were paroled into the country so that they can secure legal status. Key questions also need to be answered, including how to reach and empower all Americans who want to serve as sponsors and how federal and state policies can support communities that hope to resettle large numbers of refugees.

This quiet revolution has not been limited to the United States. In fact, more than a dozen countries have turned to sponsorship since 2016, thanks in large part to the work of the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, a multistakeholder partnership that includes the government of Canada. Its officials, working closely with the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub, the UN refugee agency, and the Open Society Foundations, among others, have collaborated with their counterparts in Argentina, Australia, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and other countries to design sponsorship pilots and programs. Canada’s willingness to devote its time and expertise to the initiative has been the linchpin of GRSI’s success.

The growth of community-led resettlement should become the third major inflection point in the U.S. refugee system, following the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 (and the Geneva Convention of 1951) and the Refugee Act of 1980. The Biden administration needs to ensure that 2022 is remembered as the year that a new approach to refugee resettlement was born. American communities are rising to the occasion that this global challenge demands; the U.S. government needs to empower and support their welcoming efforts.

GREGORY MANIATIS is a Director at the Open Society Foundations and served as Senior Adviser to the UN Special Representative for Migration for more than a decade.

Foreign Affairs · by Gregory Maniatis · July 27, 2022









De Oppresso Liber,

David Maxwell

Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Senior Fellow, Global Peace Foundation

Senior Advisor, Center for Asia Pacific Strategy

Editor, Small Wars Journal

Twitter: @davidmaxwell161

VIDEO "WHEREBY" Link: https://whereby.com/david-maxwell

Phone: 202-573-8647

email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com


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

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

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

Company Name | Website
Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  
basicImage