04/21/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

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

1. ‘Joe-Yoshi’ Spirit Buoys Japan-US Alliance in Turbulent Seas

2. Beijing’s Military-Heavy Approach to Taiwan Locks the US and China in a Security Dilemma

3. Why is China Aggressively Turning to the Sea Now? Former NSA Shivshankar Menon Explains

4. Japan troops won’t get involved if China invades Taiwan, PM Yoshihide Suga says

5. Threat of Chinese sanctions tests Japan’s resolve on Taiwan

6. The case for a US missile strike on Myanmar

7. Afghans Don’t Need U.S. Troops. They Need Islands of Stability.

8. Afghanistan: The U.S. Can Always Go Back

9. Not Just for SOF Anymore: Envisioning Irregular Warfare as a Joint Force Priority

10. US Agencies, Defense Companies Hacked Via VPNs

11. Hybrid War and What to Do About It

12. Japan says Chinese military likely behind cyberattacks

13. FDD | Biden Administration Fires Warning Shot with New Russian Sanctions

14. FDD | Re-Engineering America’s Cyber Glass House

15. U.S. chooses defeat in Afghanistan

16. China’s keyboard warriors like to fight . . . each other

17. Opinion/Owens: Accepting America’s founding principles

18. Opinion | George W. Bush: Immigration is a defining asset of the United States. Here’s how to restore confidence in our system.

19. Why Political Sectarianism Is a Growing Threat to American Democracy

20. George W Bush on Trump’s Republicans: ‘Isolationist, protectionist, nativist’

21. A cyber tool that started at DARPA moves to Cyber Command

22. Post-riot effort to tackle extremism in the military largely overlooks veterans

 

1. ‘Joe-Yoshi’ Spirit Buoys Japan-US Alliance in Turbulent Seas

thediplomat.com · by Scott W. Harold · April 20, 2021

This will be used to measure the Moon-Biden meeting next month. Koreans in particular will try to compare the two relationships.

Conclusion: In the end, the U.S. and Japanese leaders appear to have established a warm, personal rapport while communicating a clear vision of the importance of working together to end the pandemic, combat climate change, preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific, and defend democracy. Further opportunities to advance this agenda could come at the climate summit this week and at the G-7 summit hosted by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson June 11- 13, a session that may lead to a trilateral meeting with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, who himself will be coming to the United States for his own summit with Biden in late May. By grounding their relationship on the personal friendship and trust between the president and the prime minister, or “Joe” and “Yoshi,” as they referred to each other repeatedly, the Japan-U.S. alliance appears well-positioned to make progress on these and future challenges in the years ahead.

 

2. Beijing’s Military-Heavy Approach to Taiwan Locks the US and China in a Security Dilemma

thediplomat.com · by Jo Kim · April 20, 2021

Conclusion: This dilemma becomes more problematic considering China’s propensity to punish Taiwan rather than states that shore up ties with Taiwan. China has issued inconsistent and symbolic punishment of U.S. officials and foreign businesses over supporting Taiwan but has shown great resolve to coerce Taiwan over any perceived provocations. Since China considers its over 2,000 missiles aimed at Taiwan insufficient for deterring independence, and its huge market has not made unification a more favorable prospect for the Taiwanese, China and the United States are now locked in a security dilemma where China will increase military coercion against Taiwan regardless of the nature of the support the U.S. provides to Taiwan.

 

3. Why is China Aggressively Turning to the Sea Now? Former NSA Shivshankar Menon Explains

news18.com · April 21, 2021

A view from India.

 

4. Japan troops won’t get involved if China invades Taiwan, PM Yoshihide Suga says

SCMP · by Julian Ryall · April 21, 2021

I guess there will be no strategic ambiguity from Japan.

Japan troops won’t get involved if China 

invades Taiwan, PM Yoshihide Suga says

  • A recent statement by Suga and Biden calling for ‘peace and stability 
  • across the Taiwan Strait’ raised questions about possible Japanese 
  • military involvement
  • Analysts say Suga’s latest comments were Tokyo’s way of drawing 
  • a line under suggestions the government could use a different interpretation 
  • of the constitution to give it freer reign to dispatch the military

 

5. Threat of Chinese sanctions tests Japan’s resolve on Taiwan

asia.nikkei.com

Excerpts: “The power struggle within Beijing is only expected to grow as Xi seeks a rare third term as China’s leader at the Communist Party Congress next year. Retaliating against Japan could help the Xi administration ramp up pressure against the U.S. and its partners, while satisfying hawks at home amid a growing power struggle.

Japanese businesses would likely bear the brunt of the blow. They have suffered the consequences of diplomatic disputes in the past, from property damage caused by anti-Japan rallies to arrests. It remains to be seen how Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga plans to communicate with Japan’s businesses and face political risks together — one of many challenges that face Japan’s alliance with the U.S.

 

6. The case for a US missile strike on Myanmar

asiatimes.com · by Anthony Davis · April 21, 2021

I did not see that one coming.

Interesting assessment here: “Ultimately, however, US military intervention in Myanmar could owe nothing to moral outrage and everything to a hard-headed assessment of American national interest. Even with its stated emphasis on democracy and human rights in guiding foreign policy choices, the calculus for the Biden administration would be complex.”

But what would be the targets of a strike (author talks about Tomahawks) and what are the effects we would have a reasonable chance of achieving? And the author notes a military intervention could push Burma/Myanmar down the path of Syria.

Conclusion: “In that scenario, Tomahawk diplomacy might only serve to accelerate the descent into a Syria-like free-for-all in which a truncated national army operates as one of several players on an increasingly violent board.

Given the real prospect of unintended consequences, the risks for Team Biden in a theater that ultimately is not of critical strategic importance to the US are significant.

Indeed, for realists in Washington the massive and perhaps irreparable damage that the Tatmadaw has inflicted on China’s strategic objectives in Myanmar arguably already amounts to a significant win without a finger lifted.

In the wider geopolitical context, watching the metastasizing of a Southeast Asian disaster on China’s border without risking direct entanglement may have much to recommend it.

 

7. Afghans Don’t Need U.S. Troops. They Need Islands of Stability.

Foreign Policy · by Michael F. Harsch, Taylor Whitsell · April 20, 2021

Islands of stability? A lot of theory here. Ink spots and government in a box too.

Excerpts:Our findings suggest that creating security at the regional level is a feasible and sustainable approach. Unlike peaceful villages that remain highly vulnerable to outside attacks, provinces like Balkh are large enough to defend themselves against most domestic threats; at the same time, they are small enough to enable local accountability and political representation. In the presence of long-standing, bounded leaders, the local population will be ready to share information with the provincial government. As a senior member of the provincial council, whose name we decided to keep confidential given the current political uncertainty in Afghanistan, told us, “except for a fringe minority, the majority of the people … cooperate with Balkh’s government. … When they see anything suspicious, they report it to the relevant authorities immediately.” This allows the authorities to counter threats effectively. An influential local academic, whose identity we are also keeping confidential, pointed out that as a result of this steady information flow, security forces are “able to identify the location … of insurgent groups who are active in Balkh. Therefore, whenever even a small destructive activity takes place, it is clear where the source of the activity lies.”

A region-driven approach contrasts with failed attempts by foreign forces to create local “ink spots” of government control in Afghanistan, including the delivery of “government in a box” to newly captured areas. Unlike these, islands of stability already exist or can emerge under local leadership. This stabilization process will be slower yet is more likely to result in lasting change than policies imposed by foreigners on a hostile population.

 

Balkh Province isn’t Bavaria, and local leaders and conditions in Afghanistan should not be romanticized. Still, islands of stability offer a path toward cultivating reasonably effective, inclusive, and accountable governments within a fragile state. They may represent the best hope for a more effective U.S. approach to stabilizing Afghanistan and other conflict-ridden regions of the world.

 

8. Afghanistan: The U.S. Can Always Go Back

WSJ · by Gil Barndollar

Yes, bring back the punitive expedition. Oh, that is right we conducted one between September and December 2001.

Conclusion: “For reasons of both risk aversion and misplaced humanitarianism, the U.S. has foolishly abandoned the punitive expedition. America can’t afford to garrison Afghanistan, or other failing states, against disorder endlessly. It can afford to inflict short and sharp punishment in response to threats that grow large and obstinate enough to warrant it. America successfully did that to the Taliban in the months after 9/11. We can do it again.”

 

9. Not Just for SOF Anymore: Envisioning Irregular Warfare as a Joint Force Priority

mwi.usma.edu · by Michael P. Noonan · April 21, 2021

Everyone has a role in irregular warfare. The US military has been conducting irregular warfare since 1776 (and before).

Excellent discussion from Michale Noonan. I also commend his new book: Irregular Soldiers and Rebellious States: Small Scale U.S. Interventions Abroad

I think the 60-40% “metric” described here is wrong for SOF. First, there is not a clear line between the two and second the majority of SOF can be better employed as part of great power competition while in that context violent extremist organizations can still be addressed. As an example if we were to help the Philippines with its ISIS terrorist problem (VEO) and its communist insurgency both of which could destabilize the Philippine government and make it more vulnerable to Chinese malign influence and activities, would those forces be part oft he 60% or 40%?

Excerpt: “While the military will not be the sole component of such cooperation, the size and ability of forces to move, communicate, and, when necessary, shoot often make it a useful tool. However, this engagement should not be a SOF-centered endeavor. This will drive overuse and, as the commander of SOCOM General Richard Clarke recently testified, the threats posed by violent extremism remain the primary focus of these units (60 percent of deployed forces) as opposed to GPC (40 percent). Even if these forces were 100 percent committed to GPC, their size and need for dwell time, for example, would not allow them to optimize US engagement across these activities. The more limited systems and capabilities of SOF also do not make them ideally suited to be the main effort to cooperate with the conventional units of friends and allies. Smaller, more frequent deployments of ships, aircraft, and company-sized elements not only could enable engagement with regional allies and partners, but would also show US commitment to an open international system without being overly provocative, facilitate relationships necessary for the future, and, hopefully, share American ideals.

 

10. US Agencies, Defense Companies Hacked Via VPNs

breakingdefense.com · by Brad D. Williams

Now I wonder about the commercial VPNs we use to protect our own systems.

 

11. Hybrid War and What to Do About It

thestrategybridge.org · by Jeffrey Bristol · April 21, 2021

I kind of thought Frank Hoffman had the best articulation of hybrid war back in about 2007 long before Gerasimov: Conflict in the 21st Century: The Rise of Hybrid Wars  

And I am so glad that we have done away with the 6 phase construct in JP 5-0 so we can replace it with intellectual rigor in campaign planning. But even now the “Notional Phasing for Military Activities” too often serves a template “crutch.”

 

12. Japan says Chinese military likely behind cyberattacks

ABCNews.com · by ABC News

 

13. FDD | Biden Administration Fires Warning Shot with New Russian Sanctions

fdd.org · by John Hardie · April 20, 2021

Conclusion: “This ambiguity may be intended to enhance deterrence by preventing Moscow from anticipating Washington’s response to new provocations. Yet this uncertainty may only encourage the Kremlin to inch ever closer to implicit red lines. The Biden team should therefore consider issuing more specific warnings and identifying graduated response options involving sanctions and other measures, as appropriate. The administration should also discuss these options in advance with Congress and America’s allies and partners.”

 

14. FDD | Re-Engineering America’s Cyber Glass House

fdd.org · by Georgianna Shea and Samantha Ravich · April 20, 2021

Consequence-Driven, Cyber-Informed Engineering (CCE). Continuity of the Economy (COTE)

Excerpts:Just like CCE helps utilities, critical infrastructure providers, and other companies become resilient in the face of a determined attacker, COTE makes the nation as a whole more resilient. Through a structured prioritizing of essential functions, the United States will bolster its deterrence against cyber adversaries since the country will live to fight another day even after a large-scale attack.

The ability to recover after the glass breaks and ensure essential functions continue is what sets apart the vulnerable from the resilient. Whether or not it was indeed a cyberattack that brought Natanz to its knees, the United States should learn from Iran’s vulnerabilities. It is tempting to see only the upside to our adversaries’ weaknesses, but America must not forget that a determined, well-resourced actor will penetrate even the most secure systems, American critical infrastructure included. If the press stories are accurate, this time the cyber actor was a U.S. ally, but the next time, we may be the target.

 

15. U.S. chooses defeat in Afghanistan

washingtontimes.com · by Clifford D. May

Excerpts: “In 2011, President Obama’s top national security advisers recommended maintaining such a platform in Iraq. Unless a modest residual force remained, a jihadi resurgence was likely, they warned. Mr. Obama decided to declare victory and walk away. What followed was the rise of the Islamic State and the growth of Shia militias loyal to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mr. Obama had to send American forces back to Iraq in 2014 — under much worse conditions.

One final concern: Because Afghan forces supported by the U.S. have been fighting the Taliban for two decades, millions of Afghans have been able to do things the Taliban had forbidden — like sending their daughters to school.

If we abandon them, such progress will likely come to an end and Americas’ Afghan allies may be slaughtered for the crime of having been America’s allies. Does President Biden understand that?

Announcing the American offensive against the Taliban and al Qaeda in 2001, President Bush vowed: “We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.” Twenty years later, President Biden has decided that, actually, we will waver, tire, falter and fail. It’s a lesson both our friends and our enemies will take to heart.”

 

16. China’s keyboard warriors like to fight . . . each other

Financial Times · by Yuan Yang · April 20, 2021

Excerpt: “It can be too easy to conclude from incidents such as the H&M blow-up that all patriotic sentiment online is manufactured. In fact, that outburst illustrated the complexity of Chinese nationalism on the internet: that while party organs placed a target on H&M’s head, the public anger was real. To better understand this complexity, one must explore the internet communities that exist away from the spotlight.”

 

17. Opinion/Owens: Accepting America’s founding principles

providencejournal.com

It is our founding principles that will save our Republic. But one of our unspoken principles that is baked into our Constitution through checks and balances and separation of powers (and the amendment process) is that we correct our mistakes. We have corrected our mistakes throughout our history and we will continue to do so in accordance with and keeping true to our founding principles. 

Conclusion: “Certainly, the United States has not always lived up to its own principles. Slavery persisted long after the founding of the United States. Even with its abolition, racial injustice continued in the form of Jim Crow laws and other systems of oppression. But the reality is that the best hope of achieving racial justice is to embrace, not reject, those principles.”

 

18.  Opinion | George W. Bush: Immigration is a defining asset of the United States. Here’s how to restore confidence in our system.

The Washington Post · by George W. Bush · April 16, 2021

Conclusion: “As for the millions of undocumented men and women currently living in the United States, a grant of amnesty would be fundamentally unfair to those who came legally or are still waiting their turn to become citizens. But undocumented immigrants should be brought out of the shadows through a gradual process in which legal residency and citizenship must be earned, as for anyone else applying for the privilege. Requirements should include proof of work history, payment of a fine and back taxes, English proficiency and knowledge of U.S. history and civics, and a clean background check. We should never forget that the desire to live in the United States — a worldwide and as powerful an aspiration as ever — is an affirmation of our country and what we stand for. Over the years, our instincts have always tended toward fairness and generosity. The reward has been generations of grateful, hard-working, self-reliant, patriotic Americans who came here by choice.

If we trust those instincts in the current debate, then bipartisan reform is possible. And we will again see immigration for what it is: not a problem and source of discord, but a great and defining asset of the United States.

 

19. Why Political Sectarianism Is a Growing Threat to American Democracy

The New York Times · by Nate Cohn · April 19, 2021

 

20. George W Bush on Trump’s Republicans: ‘Isolationist, protectionist, nativist’

The Guardian · by Martin Pengelly · April 20, 2021

Three words that should be stricken from our political vocabulary.

 

21. A cyber tool that started at DARPA moves to Cyber Command

c4isrnet.com · by Mark Pomerleau · April 20, 2021

 

22. Post-riot effort to tackle extremism in the military largely overlooks veterans

The Washington Post · by Paul Sonne, Alex Horton and Julie Tate  · April 20, 2021

Excerpts:One solution — a frank discussion with service members about the challenges of plugging back into society — could be added to the materials and programs that service members already receive when they leave the military, Schake said.

Civil society can also embrace veterans in a more proactive way, she said, by looking to other examples as a road map. Religious groups foster connections among refugees settling in the United States, for instance, and leaders deliberately anchor them within communities, she said.

Groups such as American Legion chapters and Rotary Clubs could act as tributaries to direct veterans to positive connections.

“It’s going to take involvement of all levels of society to solve this problem,” including government, nonprofits and individuals, said Jeremy Butler, the chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a nonprofit advocacy group.

The Defense Department has unique power to bar active-duty service member involvement in extremist groups and weed out those who violate guidelines, Butler said. But VA can speak about the issue, he said, and “foster a culture . . . that disavows extremism and promotes racial justice.”

 

—————–

 

“And I have no doubt that the American people generally believe the world is safer, and that we are safer, when we are stronger”

– Jeane Kirkpatrick

 

“strategy formation walks on two feet, one deliberate, the other emergent.”

– Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History

 

“Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”

– Ronald Reagan

DanielRiggs
Wed, 04/21/2021 – 10:24am

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