04/20/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

News and Commentary by Dave Maxwell.  Edited and Published by Daniel Riggs

1. U.S. Defense Strategy After the Pandemic

2. What Makes a Happy Country?

3.  Competition and Decision in the Gray Zone: A New National Security Strategy

4. Biden selects first woman four-star admiral for the Coast Guard

5. Study of 400,000 Female Vets Links PTSD to Heart Disease

6. Biden Made the Right Decision on Afghanistan

7. The U.S. Military Needs Citizen-Soldiers, Not Warriors

8. In Special Warfare Milestone, Female Enlisted Airman to Enter Combat Controller Training

9. Why the Chip Shortage Is So Hard to Overcome

10. US-China competition not the same as a Cold War

11. Diplomacy or appeasement? New Zealand’s China policy risks undermining its commitments to human rights, democracy

12. Oath keepers official brags about having ‘active duty’ officers in far right group

13. Manila’s Images Are Revealing the Secrets of China’s Maritime Militia

14. Duterte Won’t Confront China at Sea Unless It Drills for Oil

15. Feeding Hate With Video: A Former Alt-Right YouTuber Explains His Methods

16. IntelBrief: QAnon – A U.S. National Security Threat Amplified by Foreign-Based Actors

17. FDD | The Flawed WHO Coronavirus Origins Study

18. Brett McGurk: A Hero of Our Time

19. Clausewitz and the Phantoms of War Without Victory

20. China Stresses ‘Family Values’ as More Women Put Off Marriage, Childbirth

21. Donald Trump, the ‘shadow president’

 

1. U.S. Defense Strategy After the Pandemic

warontherocks.com · by Frank Hoffman · April 20, 2021

From one of our nation’s leading strategic thinkers who has actually “done strategy.”  I hope Secretary Austin and Dr. Karlin will be enlisting him for development of the next National Defense Strategy.

Conclusion:Coping with the social and economic costs of the pandemic will draw on significant resources for public health and economic recovery. This will constrain Pentagon funding more than is currently envisioned. Some policy experts might prefer to isolate defense spending from this crisis, as if the pandemic’s fatalities, the recession, and rising deficits are irrelevant to national security. However, the pandemic has made clear that there is a price for undercutting health services, emergency stocks, critical infrastructure, and advanced research and development too. At the same time, there are trade-offs in cutting defense spending, measured in terms of risk to U.S. interests and those of its allies. The government will have to reconcile the tensions between these competing priorities for years to come.

A reshaped and rebalanced security strategy would not necessarily be a disaster for the United States, particularly if it creates a stronger and more resilient foundation for the country’s strength over the long term. Even at lowered funding scenarios, the United States would remain the best funded and most tested military on the planet. But regardless of the ultimate budget, if that funding is not carefully and prudently targeted toward tomorrow’s competitors, U.S. forces will be unprepared in the years ahead. Under any scenario, “business as usual” is not the operative paradigm going forward.

 

2. What Makes a Happy Country?

The New York Times · by Johanna Lemola and Jenny Gross · April 20, 2021

Perhaps to start the day on a lighter note. “Don’t worry. Be happy.”

 

3. Competition and Decision in the Gray Zone: A New National Security Strategy

thestrategybridge.org · by Matthew Petersen · April 20, 2021

This is the key point: “there is a difference between “great power competition” and “preparing for great power war.”

I also find it hard to believe people cannot accept there is a gray zone.  Sure it is just another buzzword or catchphrase like so many that lead to definition and terminology paralysis but conceptually it is useful for understanding.

Conclusion: Great power competition is understood in American military circles, but there is a difference between “great power competition” and “preparing for great power war.”[23] An overarching National Security Strategy must clarify that the hybrid threats are the adversary great powers and that the gray zone is the space of great power competition. The document must further examine how the U. S. will compete in it. Hunter Stires explains: If American competition never rises beyond preparation for war, then competitors will never need to resort to war, for they will accomplish their objectives in the gray zone without it.[24]

Shaped by theory, informed by history, and grounded in reality, these are pressing problems for the new National Security Strategy. The U.S. will need to formulate a unified, military-civilian approach to understand gray zone competition, make decisions, define success, and then execute in this conflict space. The hybrid threat demands no less attention than either the traditional forces or irregular actions of the preceding decades. Evolution in the competitive environment warrants evolution in American process, and these questions must guide the National Security Strategy.

 

4. Biden selects first woman four-star admiral for the Coast Guard

Defense News · by Aaron Mehta · April 19, 2021

Hooah.

 

5. Study of 400,000 Female Vets Links PTSD to Heart Disease

military.com · by Jim Absher · April 19, 2021

Wow. This seems like an incredible finding.

 

6. Biden Made the Right Decision on Afghanistan

Foreign Affairs · by P. Michael McKinley · April 19, 2021

Only time will tell.

Excerpts: “Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Afghanistan on April 15 and reaffirmed the U.S. “security partnership” with Kabul. Military withdrawal should not stop the United States and its partners from assisting Afghanistan’s security forces and supporting its development, with a special emphasis on protecting the gains that women and girls have made over the past 20 years. Moreover, it should be possible for the United States to increase the level of its developmental aid, which the previous administration actually reduced at the Afghanistan donor conference in November 2020. The United States can continue to work regionally on countering terrorism and other potential threats. Not a single regional government, including Iran, is interested in seeing Afghanistan collapse or leaving the door open to al Qaeda. Afghanistan’s neighbors and even our adversaries have a strong stake in the country’s stability.

Sacrificing more American lives, however—which is what a continued military presence would mean—seems the wrong thing to do. As a coalition of veterans’ organizations recently wrote to the president, we should not be “asking our women and men in uniform to remain entangled in a conflict with no clear military mission or path to victory.” As I attended ceremonies for fallen American and coalition troops during my years in Kabul, and the Taliban continued to make gains on the battlefield, it was difficult not to share that sentiment.

There will be debate on the time frame the president has proposed, but the clock has run out on extended military engagement. The prior Republican administration acknowledged this reality when it set a May 1 deadline for complete withdrawal. The United States must now take on the other, more pressing national and international concerns that are on a scale not seen since 1945. Yesterday’s conflicts—and yesterday’s optics on what constitutes a security threat—do not help the country move forward. America’s future, wherever it leads, is not in continuing the “forever wars.”

 

7. The U.S. Military Needs Citizen-Soldiers, Not Warriors

Foreign Policy · by Bret Devereaux · April 19, 2021

Semantics or substantive?  Warrior is probably one of the most overused and  misunderstood concepts.  Does its use make a difference or have a real impact?

 

8. In Special Warfare Milestone, Female Enlisted Airman to Enter Combat Controller Training

military.com · by Stephen Losey · April 15, 2021

Hooah.  Some of the toughest training in our military.

 

9. Why the Chip Shortage Is So Hard to Overcome

WSJ · by Eun-Young Jeong and Dan Strumpf · April 19, 2021

It seems like this will not only a long economic impact but a strategic impact as well.

 

10. US-China competition not the same as a Cold War

asiatimes.com · by Urban C. Lehner · April 20, 2021

Certainly the major and probably most important difference is the interconnectedness of both sides to each other and the global economy. 

Perhaps we have another chance to test the theory of  Norman Angell in his 1909 work, The Great Illusion.  Will economic interdependence prevent war?  It obviously has not in the past.

 

11. Diplomacy or appeasement? New Zealand’s China policy risks undermining its commitments to human rights, democracy

SCMP · by Andrew Gillespie · April 20, 2021

Excerpts: “Without progress in the next six months, or if tensions escalate before then, sticking to the middle ground will look less like wise diplomacy and more like appeasement. The values New Zealand professes to stand for – human rights, democracy and the rule of international law – have to be more than lip service.

New Zealand can either act as a genuine intermediary in negotiations with China about what a new, stable global order might look like. Or it can make a stand, with both words and actions, next to like-minded countries.

Putting its hand up for the next Quad-plus exercise is perhaps not ideal, but it’s an option that needs to be debated.”

 

12. Oath keepers official brags about having ‘active duty’ officers in far right group

thegrio.com · by Stephanie Guerilus · April 19, 2021

This is not helpful.  This will further undermine trust in our law enforcement (and military as well due to the connections of former military personnel to this organization).

 

13. Manila’s Images Are Revealing the Secrets of China’s Maritime Militia

Foreign Policy · by Ryan D. Martinson and Andrew S. Erikson · April 19, 2021

Excerpt: “In sum, we have now conclusively identified some of the most readily visible ships that have been lashed up at Whitsun Reef. Together with our previous exposure of seven PAFMM vessels visiting the disputed South China Sea feature last month, this shows that Beijing’s public messaging regarding Whitsun can be disproven with open sources alone. Yet these vessels and their activities are but a small subset of China’s maritime gray zone operations, which the United States and its allies must follow and publicize more effectively in real time to get ahead of Beijing’s unrelenting effort to achieve below-radar gains. Continued analysis of Xinhui and other localities is essential, and information disclosure by the U.S., Philippine, and other governments is badly needed. Having persuasively advocated greater U.S. government release of South China Sea information as a scholar, Pentagon advisor Ely Ratner is now particularly well placed to apply these sensible recommendations in the Biden administration.”

 

14. Duterte Won’t Confront China at Sea Unless It Drills for Oil

Bloomberg · by Andreo Calonzo · April 19, 2021

 

15. Feeding Hate With Video: A Former Alt-Right YouTuber Explains His Methods

The New York Times · by Cade Metz · April 15, 2021

How can we profess to love our country when we hate so many people in it?  I ask that to those on both extremes of the political spectrum who spew so much hate every day on social media.

 

16. IntelBrief: QAnon – A U.S. National Security Threat Amplified by Foreign-Based Actors

thesoufancenter.org · April 20, 2021

Important analysis and assessment here.

The 45 page report referenced in the article below can be downloaded here.

 

17. FDD | The Flawed WHO Coronavirus Origins Study

fdd.org · by Anthony Ruggiero · April 19, 2021

Conclusion: “Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, rejected crucial elements of the report during the press conference announcing it. He specifically called for greater access to data and rejected the report’s conclusion that a lab leak was “extremely unlikely.” Tedros flatly said that “all hypotheses remain on the table”. While the director-general deserves some credit for challenging the report, he did not go far enough. He should have put his concerns in writing or held the report until it met appropriate standards.”

 

18. Brett McGurk: A Hero of Our Time

newlinesmag.com · April 19, 2021

An interesting gentlemen.

Conclusion: “Many of those who served under the U.S. flag in Iraq are haunted by the experience. McGurk probably spent more time than any senior official did in Baghdad. He could have gone off to make money at a fancy law firm at any time, but he stayed. (Short intervals at Harvard, the Hoover Institute, and MSNBC did not keep him from public service for any length of time.) McGurk’s critics, who spoke to me for this piece, don’t believe that diplomatic experience is, like a prison sentence, measured simply in time served. If the U.S. is not to keep making the same mistakes in the Middle East, the question is: What did Brett McGurk learn in Iraq?”

 

19. Clausewitz and the Phantoms of War Without Victory

realcleardefense.com · by James A. Russell

Conclusion: “At this juncture, the lack of reflection about the means and ends of so-called “forever wars” augurs poorly for the capacity of this nation to avoid an even worse trap in the years or even months to come.

Clausewitz might wish us to return to his enunciated basics of strategy to clarify our interests and objectives and carefully think about those which are worth fighting for. Surely more unwinnable “forever wars” would not withstand the rigor of this most basic criterion.

 

20. China Stresses ‘Family Values’ as More Women Put Off Marriage, Childbirth

WSJ · by Chao Deng and Liyan Qi

In China are “family values” code for oppression of women?

 

21. Donald Trump, the ‘shadow president’

washingtontimes.com · by Jennifer Harper

Hmmm…

 

—————-

 

“The ability to persuade not only one’s people but also allies and enemies was a vital attribute of the successful strategist. In this way, strategy required a combination of words and deeds, and the ability to manipulate them both. “

– Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History

 

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” 

– Chinese Proverb

 

“Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you.”

-John McCain

DanielRiggs
Tue, 04/20/2021 – 9:22am

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