Category Archives: Foreign Policy

Interesting list of strategic assumptions

Here’s a War On The Rocks article worth reading:

THE U.S. MILITARY’S DANGEROUS EMBEDDED ASSUMPTIONS

by David Barno and Nora Bensahel

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Another Obama national security fail

This is an important story: Report claims Dutch intel alerted U.S. to Russian DNC hacking

John Schindler wrote a piece on this story that’s worth reading: Dutch Report Reveals Obama Administration Knew About Russian Hacking in Real Time

It is amazing that the Obama administration did nothing to thwart the Russians cyber warfare and only after the 2016 election, finally imposed sanctions.  This makes the Dem Russia hysteria so hypocritical.

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A couple links

Andrew McCarthy at National Review wrote an interesting piece on the Russian/NRA connection: Collusion 3-0: Russia and the NRA

McCarthy details the Trump/Russian collusion narrative and how so far that narrative keeps imploding, despite Democrats and the mainstream media maintaining over a yearlong stream of hysterical spin.  McCarthy also points out the larger point that keeps getting lost in the rabid partisan battle – we really do need to investigate and figure out the extent of Russian infiltration of American institutions.  By so politicizing Russian information warfare efforts in 2016 and turning it into a domestic partisan issue, it’s going to be very hard to even understand the full scope of the Russian efforts and even harder to defeat them.  The Russians will easily continue to manipulate and egg on the rabid American partisans.

On Twitter this morning, I came across this Weekly Standard piece on immigration that’s worth a read too: Why America Needs People from ‘Shithole’ Countries

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The Russians again

Here are two news stories about Russian espionage worth reading:

The making of a Russian disinformation campaign: What it takes By Michael Weiss

Russia Has Turned Kaspersky Software Into Tool for Spying by Shane Harris and Gordon Lubold

The disinformation story explains a 1950s Soviet disinformation operation, which is still the same way the Russians operate, even online today.

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No Good Options

An army of asses led by a lion is vastly superior to an army of lions led by an ass

– Fake quote attributed to George Washington

Somehow in this era where President Trump and the media each point fingers at each other, screaming, “Fake News!”, this misattributed quote, according to http://www.mountvernon.org,  speaks the truth.

The Mount Vernon website states:

The rough quote “an army of sheep led by a lion is vastly superior to an army of lions led by a wolf” is apocryphally attributed to Alexander the Great.  The Washington quote seems to have developed at some point among the faculty or Corps of Cadets at the United States Military Academy at some point.

http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/spurious-quotations/

President Trump is an extremely toxic leader.  He will never be a great president and he will never be an effective leader.  That is what I believe.

He will continue to foment endless chaos.

However, he was duly elected and, unless and until, there is evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, to convince Congress to impeach him, he remains our president.  This should go without saying, but in the wake of more Trump-being-Trump threats against North Korea and now Venezuela too, some on the Left are back to their pre-inauguration hysteria, wanting the generals to stop Trump.

Once again, Trump killed his own good PR.  Last weekend was a big diplomatic win at the UN for President Trump and he has completely buried it with his incendiary threats.

There are serious foreign policy people out there still selling President Trump and urging Americans to get behind the president on North Korea, but President Trump’s North Korea policy is like all his other policies.  Whatever sound policies his administration comes up with are subject to be thrown out the window or completely undermined by President Trump and his reckless tweeting or boasting.  He makes any policy effort harder for his administration to pursue.

He is the problem, not his enemies, not fake news, not those who speak out against him.

John Bolton and others keep harping on the bad options President Trump is left with, because of the failures of the Bushes, Clinton and Obama.  Bolton keeps repeating that they all kicked the can down the road rather than dealing with North Korea.  Okay, but when you want to be a leader, LEAD!   Quit blaming other people and dig in.

President Trump is lazy about doing the job of president.  He loves the attention, but he does not concern himself with the substance or the dirty-work of studying policy.   Frankly, President Trump’s complete laziness and refusal to study policy or stay on message destroyed any hope of a unified approach to pressure North Korea.  He made it harder to deal with North Korea and he, once again, alienated people from supporting him, because of HIM.  He sounds crazier than Kim Jong Un – that is the truth.

This PR disaster  is just another repeat of Trump’s war crimes as serious policy , where his ISIS plan was to order the U.S. military to murder ISIS family members, to scare ISIS terrorists into submission.  He doubled down on that in a primary debate.  Just like with his building the wall, or deporting 11 million illegal immigrants, his ISIS plan existed only in sound bites.  There never was a comprehensive policy.

There have been a string of these Trump self-immolation PR disasters, where he sets his own policy on fire by his careless comments.  We can expect, that for as long as his presidency lasts, there will be endless chaos.

Big Trump supporters keep ranting about the dastardly Left and their efforts to undermine President Trump.  Some of their efforts are dastardly too.  However, here’s the truth – President Trump really is a loose cannon, who likes to shoot off his mouth and he is a one-man show, who makes any undertaking harder.  He undercuts his own staff and would be a terrible leader in any military endeavor (see his transgender policy change for an example – military leaders were not apprised before his statement and there was no policy in writing  from the White House- just Trump shooting off his mouth).

President Trump does not pay attention to or study policy details.  Military success requires paying close attention to details.

By his own actions this week, President Trump made, even our allies, uneasy and the truth is there are no one-off military actions in dealing with North Korea.  Even, the option of taking out their missile sites could provoke military responses and those would likely directly impact the security of the other players in the region.  They have a larger stake in the outcome, with North Korea being in their neighborhood.   We need ramped up diplomatic efforts, so there are no misunderstandings or confusion about our position and any actions we undertake.

Clarity of purpose is crucial.

In regards to North Korea, there were never any good options.  Taking out the regime or even taking out their missile sites are both acts of war.  There are other big powers right next-door to North Korea and they have complicated, competing motives and interests.  The North Korean path of isolation, leading to their current state, has been centuries in the making.

Watching President Trump snatch defeat from the jaws of diplomatic victory at the UN last weekend convinced me that no matter what action he takes in regards to North Korea, he will be the biggest threat to its success.

He is unfit to be commander-in-chief, but he is what we have.

Talk about no good options…

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Tough talk is not strategy

President Trump used more of his “tough talk” on Tuesday and this time instead of the target being TV pundits or fellow Republicans, North Korea was his target.  Rather than argue the merits of Trump’s rhetoric, here’s what I’ve been thinking about in regards to U.S. strategy to deal with North Korea.

One of the most extreme options gleefully tossed about by saber-rattlers, many of whom are blathering bimbos and know nothing about military strategy, history or much else, besides cheering on “Trump being Trump”, is advocating a preemptive strike on North Korea’s missile sites.

Let’s be clear, despite semantical tap dancing, a preemptive strike is an act of war.

Unemotionally evaluating options is how I approach strategic-thinking, so in coming up with options, we need to understand the terms and what they mean in terms of military force.  While some pundit experts advocate using the preemptive strike option to curtail North Korea’s nuclear capability and couch it in terms of being almost a risk-free effort that will prevent war in general, nuclear holocaust in specific, and be a version of “deterrence”, let me repeat:

A preemptive strike is an act of war.

It’s an option, but so often with U.S. military strategy dealing with cultures that are very different than American and western culture, our strategists end up completely taken by surprise when their well-intentioned, competently executed strategies end up mired in many unforeseen and complicated consequences. For a primer in this outcome just sit back and take apart the evolving U.S. “war on terror”, or however you want to describe our military actions since 9/11.

Our leaders still regale us with the #1, #2, even #3 top Islamist leaders killed, but as John McCreary and other strategic experts have pointed out – decapitation strategy does not defeat Islamist terrorist groups.  They quickly find a new leader, often rebrand under a new name and the trend is the new version is more violent and difficult to deal with than the previous.  You would think that all military strategists worth their salt would have put this in their “lessons learned” file, but nope, many still tout this as a selling point for their “kill them all” strategic offerings.

Just as with Islamist terrorists groups, with North Korea, the United States doesn’t have good strategic options.  The countries that can impact North Korean behavior, China and Russia, are adversarial to the United States and would prefer that our strategies fall flat.  Beyond the big picture geopolitics, there are plenty of other factors that impact how China and Russia view the North Korean situation.  Even something like China looking at a potential North Korean refugee crisis on their doorstep, if the North Korean regime collapses, influences how China deals with North Korea.

After listening to punditry experts from the Trump tough talkers to the Clinton apologists, to the Obama leading-from-behind crowd, since Tuesday, I was thinking of Waco of all things.  How the Clinton administration handled Waco still bothers me and not because I have any sympathy for David Koresh or dislike of the ATF, but because there were children caught in the middle of an armed confrontation.

The airwaves were filled with experts selling everything, from blow up the compound to using tanks, to playing loud music as psychological warfare, and nothing got Koresh to surrender.

I don’t remember the academic’s name, but I saw him on a TV news show talking about apocalyptic cults and movements in history and he described the psychology of apocalyptic leaders.  I told my mother in a phone conversation that all they’re doing is feeding his apocalyptic delusions and he will die rather than surrender.

So, after almost two decades of dealing with a larger apocalyptic movement, with leaders who revere those who die for the cause, why are many of our strategic thinkers perplexed by the regeneration of these groups, no matter how many times we kill their top leaders?

For Christians and Jews, this concept that persecution feeds the faith should be easy to recognize.  The early Christian church fortified its faithful with heroic tales of those individuals, who stood strong against overwhelming force.  With apocalyptic movements, dying for the cause feeds the cause and in the case of  Islamists, they have the Islamic religious teachings that ground their actions.  They have a much larger pool of potential followers than a lone kook like David Koresh.

I’m not a psychologist and I sure am not an expert on North Korea, but after listening to so much tough talk in the past couple days, I think that we need a careful study of the possible outcomes from any U.S. policy courses we could follow, from appeasement up to taking out the regime.  We need to study the various U.S. and other countries actions in regards to North Korea, in recent decades, and carefully study what the North Korean reactions were.  We need to consult experts on paranoid delusion, because North Korea is not only a totalitarian, Stalinist regime, it has so oppressed its people, that there are millions of North Koreans steeped in a life controlled by ruthless propaganda, fear and intimidation.  They are thoroughly indoctrinated.  These people aren’t going to rise up and embrace liberators.  Just like when the U.S defeated the Taliban or when Saddam was removed, the initial euphoria quickly evaporated and what we faced were people who distrusted us and who were used to being controlled.  Many found more affinity with Islamist resistance groups than with U.S. troops occupying their countries.

And the other thing I was thinking is that we need to talk with the people who will be most impacted by any actions we take in regards to North Korea – South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia.  This is not a time for reckless rhetoric; it’s a time for careful, serious strategic planning.  It’s also a time for robust diplomacy.

A miscalculation on how we think North Korea will react could be way more catastrophic than the Clinton administration miscalculation on how David Koresh would react.  We have tens of thousands of U.S. troops in the line of fire and Seoul is less than 200 miles from North Korea.  Things could escalate quickly and President Trump doesn’t concern himself with “details”.  Any missteps or hiccups in decision-making could cost a lot of lives, very quickly.

The thing that President Clinton did that infuriated me the most was before he made decisions, he put his finger to the wind, to test how it would reflect on his popularity in the polls.  This morning on Twitter I saw Todd Starnes had a poll:  “Should the United States launch a first strike against North Korea?”  It infuriated me, because the question of a first strike isn’t about looking “tough” – it’s WAR.  Assuredly, it is NOT a decision to be made based on opinion polls!

I was 19 years old, assigned to a Pershing missile unit in Germany in 1980.  I knew nothing about the Army, U.S nuclear strategy or war.  A very good 1st sergeant taught me the single most important lesson on all three.

He told me, “Kid, war is serious business!”

I realized that I knew nothing about war, so I started signing books out at the post library and reading.  I’ve spent a lot of time reading about military strategy since then. I realized long ago, there’s always more to learn and new perspectives to think about.

Perhaps, at the very least our president could take time out from golfing and watching “the shows” on TV to do some serious studying U.S. strategy, because he is the commander-in-chief.   President Trump is responsible for making these decisions, not the generals surrounding him.

The decisions he makes could cost thousands of American lives and the lives of hundreds of thousands children.

Time to quit with the petty posturing, buckle down, study policy, read some history and LEAD, Mr. President.

 

 

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The real Trump

“But it is the unscripted Mr Trump that is real.”

The above line from Australian ABC political editor, Chris Uhlmann, should be the response every time Trump apologists once again mention that Trump can “act presidential”, as they cling to scripted speeches he delivers and speeches which he has no real input into their creation.  Other presidents relied on speechwriters too, but those presidents had political ideological core beliefs and principles.  Even for people like me, who vehemently disagreed with President Obama on almost every issue, I do not doubt for a minute his sincerity and conviction on issues.   This editorial is a must see report.  It is the grim truth:

“He is a character drawn from America’s wild west, a travelling medicine showman selling moonshine remedies that will kill the patient.

And this week he underlined he has neither the desire nor the capacity to lead the world.”

And:

“There is a tendency among some hopeful souls to confuse the speeches written for Mr Trump with the thoughts of the man himself.

He did make some interesting, scripted, observations in Poland about defending the values of the West.

And Mr Trump is in a unique position — he is the one man who has the power to do something about it.

But it is the unscripted Mr Trump that is real. A man who barks out bile in 140 characters, who wastes his precious days as President at war with the West’s institutions — like the judiciary, independent government agencies and the free press.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-09/did-trumps-g20-performance-indicate-us-decline-as-world-power/8691538?sf96473247=1

Here’s what I wrote August 29, 2015 about what we should demand of a president and I think I was right:

“America needs to hold all of its presidential candidates’ feet to the fire.  Expecting intelligent, well-reasoned arguments and explanations for their policies and ideas, should be the standard we demand. We need leaders who read extensively, who will study issues carefully and at the heart, being President is the highest political office in the land, so demanding a president who has mastered government policy issues is a must.  Expecting that all of our elected officials, both in Congress and the President possess an in-depth understanding of The Constitution, a breadth of knowledge on US history and a strong foundation on foreign policy issues should be our minimum expectation.”

https://libertybellediaries.com/2015/08/29/he-never-means-anything-serious-till-he-talks-about-justice-and-right/

Trump’s competent cabinet members aren’t advancing Trump’s policies, they are doing damage control, assuring America’s counterparts around the world that America led by President Trump can still be relied upon and I suspect some like McMaster, Kelly,  and Mattis are there, not out of loyalty to Trump, but out of a sense of duty to try their best to keep America safe, .  However, the constant discordant messages between what these cabinet members say vs. whatever capricious nonsense Trump spouts are being noted around the world by not only our friends, but especially among America’s adversaries.

 

 

 

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