Small Wars Journal

12 December SWJ Roundup


Nawa Proving Ground for U.S. Strategy in Afghan War - Washington Post

Violence Flares Anew in Southern Afghanistan - New York Times

Dozens of Afghan Insurgents Killed in Rare Wintertime Fighting - Washington Post

NATO Airstrikes Kill 25 in Eastern Afghanistan - Voice of America

Attacks Kill Afghan Civilians Ahead Of Obama Review - Reuters

Jailed Afghan Drug Lord Was Informer on U.S. Payroll - New York Times

Afghans Say Tarnished Election Results Outweigh Gains - Stars and Stripes

Karzai Signs Deal on Gas Pipeline Project - Los Angeles Times

Life Among U.S. Enemies: Embedded with the Taliban - CNN News

An Inescapable Conclusion on Afghanistan - Politico

An American Face on American Aid - Washington Post opinion


Gunmen Kill 2 Police Officers in NW Pakistan - Associated Press


Iraqi's Kurdish Leader Calls for Self-Determination - Voice of America

Iraqi Kurd Leader Says Kirkuk Belongs to Kurdistan - Reuters

Korean Peninsula

North Korea Sends Top Diplomat to Russia - Voice of America

N. Korea Sends Top Diplomat to Russia Amid Tensions - Associated Press

South Korea to Stage Firing Drills Off Coasts - Reuters

5 Myths about North Korea - Washington Post opinion


WikiLeaks, Round Three - Small Wars Journal (post-release - cutoff 10 Dec)

SWJ WikiLeaks Roundup - Small Wars Journal (pre-release)

Keeping Secrets WikiSafe - New York Times

WikiLeaks' Advocates are Wreaking 'Hacktivism' - Washington Post

The First Global Cyber War Has Begun, Claim Hackers - The Guardian

Assange Supporters Plan Protests Worldwide - The Guardian

Venezuela Acquires 1,800 Antiaircraft Missiles from Russia - Washington Post

Manipulating the Political Dwarves of Europe - Der Spiegel

Obama Calls Turkish and Mexican Leaders on Diplomatic Leaks - New York Times

WikiLeaks: U.S. Concern About Terrorism in Spain - Associated Press

U.S. Intel Hub to Counter Islamism In Spain - Reuters

Cables Show Ireland Irked Vatican on Sovereignty - Associated Press

Russia Trailed Litvinenko Killers 'Until Britain Warned Them Off' - The Guardian

Uribe Proposed Capturing Guerrillas in Venezuela - Associated Press

U.S. Envoy Called Honduran Prez Rebellious Teen - Associated Press

"Leaks Show Strength Of Egyptian Positions" - Reuters

The Internet's Long War - Washington Post opinion

U.S. Department of Defense

Army Wants 'Men in Black' Grenade Launchers by '14 - Wired

Army Fumbles Away Chance to End Navy's Streak - Stars and Stripes

United States

Holbrooke in Critical Condition After Surgery to Repair Heart - New York Times

Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke has Surgery for Tear in Aorta - Washington Post

U.S. Diplomat Richard Holbrooke In Critical Condition - Reuters

Declassified Papers Show U.S. Recruited Ex-Nazis - New York Times

Radical Jihadism is Not a Mental Disorder - Washington Post opinion

United Nations

U.N.Climate Talks End With Limited Agreements - Voice of America

Cancun Agreements Put 193 Nations on Track - Washington Post

Cancun Climate Summit Agrees Deal - BBC News

U.N. Climate Meeting OKs Green Fund in New Accord - Associated Press

Climate Talks End With Modest Steps, No Kyoto Deal - Reuters


OPEC Ministers Make No Change in Output - Associated Press


Ruling Party in Southern Sudan Opts for Separation - Voice of America

Sudan's Former Rebel SPLM Backs Independence for South - BBC News

UNAMID: Sudanese Army Attacks South Darfur Village - Associated Press

Embattled Ivory Coast President Seeks Talks With Rival - Voice of America

Ivorian Rival Ouattara Tells Gbagbo to Leave - BBC News

Ivory Coast: Ouattara Says Gbagbo Must Quit Before Any Talks - Reuters

Concern Mounts in France Over Ivory Coast Crisis - Voice of America

In Africa, the Laureate's Curse - New York Times opinion

Americas and Caribbean

Corruption Sweep in Mexico Unravels in the Courts - Los Angeles Times

Drug Shootout Mars Religious Festival In Mexico - Associated Press

Venezuela Opponents Wary Of Chavez Decree Powers - Reuters

Haiti Candidates Reject Election Recount - BBC News

Candidates Reject Recount in Sloppy Haiti Election - Associated Press

Asia Pacific

China's Army of Graduates Is Struggling - New York Times

Philippines Skipped Nobel Over China Death Verdict - Associated Press


Sweden: Stockholm Hit by Blasts After E-Mail Warning - New York Times

Stockholm Shopping Blasts Kill One and Injure Two - BBC News

Suspected Bomber Dies in Stockholm Blasts - Los Angeles Times

Explosions Kill 1, Injure 2 in Central Stockholm - Associated Press

Sweden Calls Stockholm Blasts "Terrorist Attack" - Reuters

Kosovo Holds Historic Election as Division Persists - BBC News

Tensions Overshadow Kosovo's First Parliamentary Poll - Voice of America

Kosovo Braced For Election, Outcome Uncertain - Reuters

A Massacre Shows Power of Gangs in Rural Russia - New York Times

Ex-Croatian PM Held in Austria Pending Extradition - Associated Press

Huge Crowd Rallies in Rome Against Berlusconi - Associated Press

Poland: A Bastion of Religion Sees Rise in Secularism - New York Times

Middle East

Israeli Troops Kill 2 Palestinians on Gaza Border - Associated Press

Israel Says Troops Killed 2 Militants - Reuters

Jordanian, Palestinian Soccer Fans Clash - Associated Press

Egypt Democracy Advocate: Opposition Will Unite - Associated Press

M.E. Peace: Reality Check - New York Times opinion

South Asia

New Backing for Gas Line Through Asia - New York Times


I thought I would respond to Dr. Victor Cha's Washington Post editorial today on the 5 myths about north Korea (since Korea has been so newsworthy lately!)

Dr. Cha makes some excellent points well worth considering. I find much with which to agree.

I do have to mention a couple of things. First, there is little hope that there can be any kind of meaningful reforms. Kim Jong Un, or whomever ends up succeeding Kim Jong Il, has to continue the Kim Il Sung model otherwise the legitimacy of the regime will be subverted and collapse. Reforms cannot be made unless the Kim Family Regime were somehow eliminated. Unfortunately that is kind of a catch-22 because it is unlikely that there could be any leadership emerging from the chaos and conflict that will occur when the regime is eliminated. I think we really need to understand this. The many calls I have heard that there will be a military junta or some kind of coalition formed from among the remaining elite. If the Kim Family Regime is eliminated that means the elite is eliminated and furthermore, the north Korean system has been devised and worked extremely efficiently over the past 60 years to prevent any kind of coups, junta, conspiracies, or opposition coalition from emerging in any form. Therefore the kind of power struggle that people envision for jockeying for leadership is unlikely to occur and what we are likely to see are those that have physical power (e.g. commanders of fielded military units) "compete" for resources to ensure their own survival. We are more likely to see the rise of warlords in the form of Army corps commanders and internal conflict among them as they try to maintain their personal security and use their military capabilities to ensure that.

I think Dr. Cha is right to recognize how little real influence China has over the north. China is between a rock and a hard place as well. I concur they want the status quo because what comes after is too complex and dangerous to fathom. However, because of that China has little ability to compel the north to "change its behavior" (and its behavior is rational as Dr. Cha describes - I would say it is a "rational" national security strategy with "Kim Family Regime characteristics." China could cut aid (food, fuel, and military) to try to compel the north to change its behavior but in so doing it would very likely cause the regime to collapse. It could cut off the flow of Department 39's illicit goods and resources from flowing through China but this would cause the loss of all hard currency and the ability to the Regime to continue to "buy off" the senior leadership and maintain their support, thus resulting also in likely regime collapse.

But where I disagree with Dr. Cha is that I think China is posturing more for reunification in the long run than any of the countries in the Region and the US. I think China has a plan that is going to result in their ultimate desired end state. They do not want north Korea as a province or rump state or vassal state - they do not want to have a buffer state. They want good relations with the South (and the reunified Korea) in order to continue the economic benefits they have from trade. They also want access to natural resources. But most importantly the Chinese end state is US forces off the Asia land mass and a reunified Korea that is a dynamic trading partner with the China with friendly relations, means that there is no security requirement for US forces on the Peninsula (or so the Chinese will make that case to Korea). As I have mentioned many times China is taking out these 100 year leases in the north for vast deposits of natural resources and they will work hard to ensure that a reunified Korea honors those leases. They will intervene when the regime collapse to prevent the likely spillover of refugees. But they will not want to deal with the internal problems of the north. They will continue their long standing rhetoric that they have no territorial expansion designs and have the utmost respect for sovereignty. They will be forced to intervene for their own security (to include preventing nuclear weapons from falling into ROK hands as well as the exposure of Chinese complicity in the north's nuclear program) but will want to withdraw as rapidly as possible and leave the headaches of managing the problems and reunification to the South. But with their move to leave will be the pressure they mount on the ROK to ensure there are no foreign forces on the Peninsula. They recognize that the north's existence as a "buffer state" cannot be sustained indefinitely and while regime collapse will be a significant and immensely complex threat to everyone in the region, it also presents China with the opportunity to achieve its desired end state: US forces off the peninsula, with access to natural resources and continued economic growth through trade with all the regional players. Again, I think China has the clearest long term vision for the Peninsula and is preparing now for the eventual reunification of the Peninsula under the ROK.

As Dr. Cha also points out, President Lee is the only one who is really talking strongly about reunification (though President Obama has as noted in the June 2009 Joint vision statement). President Lee is working to inform and educate and prepare the Korean people for reunification but of course he faces tremendous difficulties because of what I would term the schizophrenia of the Korean people: on the one hand in their hearts and emotionally the Korean people want reunification. On the other, in their heads and when thinking objectively they do not want it because of the enormous costs to the Korean people to reunify. The ROK is in a catch-22 here. But as President Lee said on the Blue House web site, reunification is closer than people might think.

Apologies for a comment nearly as long as the article.

Bob's World

Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:58am


That's interesting, and makes a lot of sense. A couple of comments jumped out at me.

For context, as the US stepped up to replace the Brits as the big dogs in the neighborhood, we found ourselves struggling with the same "big dog problems" that had been so easy to criticize before when just watching, but in the doing found ourselves as just more poorly trained, less experienced versions of the Brits. They found our struggles amusing, and satisfying after years of listening to our criticisms, I suspect.

This brings us to China as they too seek to become a "Big Dog" and begin to inherit big dog problems. The Chinese study the US closely, and like the US in our age of growth are very business minded and not too worried about morality (Like how we "stole" the AP oil market out from under the Brits by offering the Saudis 3x the profits and assuring them we had no right to question the morality of their slave ownership. The Brits had demanded an end to slavery and the same miserly profits they were giving the Iranians) to build their influence and economic network.

Today the US gets "stuck" to bad positions because it is good for business. I've long felt, for example, that we do not "fight for oil" in the Middle East, so much as we fight for sustaining the current distribution of oil profits. Changes in government lead to changes in contracts, so better to sustain a corrupt or abusive government in power if that is the easiest way to sustain those contracts.

This brings us to China's growing concern with North Korea. Like the US - Saudi relationship, they are increasingly finding themselves shaping their foreign policies to support their economic ones. A good CCIR on this would be one that looks for critical economic positions between China and North Korea that are vulnerable to significant change upon a major change of governance in North Korea. Understanding these issues well will be critical to also understanding the decisions China makes and how to best leverage their support and avoid their opposition to our own policy goals.