Small Wars Journal

06/20/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

Sun, 06/20/2021 - 12:18pm

News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs

1. US Civil-Military Relations Are Complicated, But Not Broken

2. Exclusive Dispatch: US Guardsmen Train Ukrainian Troops for War Against Russia

3.  AP Interview: Former president says US failed in Afghanistan

4. How Five Hong Kong Protesters Escaped by Speedboat, Found Freedom in the U.S.

5. Inside US Pacific plan to combat China

6. Australia embraces U.S. — and pays the price with China

7. The World Relies on One Chip Maker in Taiwan, Leaving Everyone Vulnerable

8. Extremism Has Spread Into the Mainstream

9. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan: A strategic blunder in the making

10. The Real Problem With Globalization

11. Biden struggles to sell democracy abroad when it faces challenges at home

12. The Scholar Speaking Out On China's Crackdown On Intellectuals

13. 'War on Terror': Are big military deployments over?

14. US to build a standing force on Australia's doorstep to take on China

15. Russian Ambassador Returns 'Optimistic' to Washington

16. U.S. Government Vaccine Donation Arrives in Taiwan | American Institute in Taiwan

17. The Forgotten Genius of the Scots


1. US Civil-Military Relations Are Complicated, But Not Broken · by Joseph J. Collins

Excerpts: “Crises come in many forms, but like the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cuban missile crisis, or the Iran-hostage saga, we generally know one when we see one. There is no crisis of command, though the civil-military relationship, fraught with friction, is often stressed. And through the sturm und drang, it is possible to see four core truths.

The first is the heavy influence of the policy environment in which civil-military relations take place. 


The second, related truth is that the most important aspect of civil-military relations is where presidents, cabinet officers, and the senior-most military officers come together to make the most critical decisions.


The third core truth in contemporary civil-military relations is that the relationship depends on the quality of the senior military and civilian players.


The dramatic rise in dysfunctional partisanship in our society has created a fourth core truth in contemporary civil-military relations. When society suffers from maladies such as racism, drug abuse, and hyper-partisanship, those ills will be reflected in and around the armed forces despite the need for good order and discipline. Good civil-military relations require effective congressional oversight and for the normally conservative military to stay above partisan politics.

Conclusion: "For serving and retired officers, there may be no better civil-military advice than Elihu Root gave at the dedication of the Army War College in 1908: “Do not cease to be citizens of the United States. The conditions of Army life are such as to narrow your views. Strive to broaden your sympathies by mingling with those outside of the service and learning from them the things they can teach you. As you are good soldiers, be good citizens.”


2. Exclusive Dispatch: US Guardsmen Train Ukrainian Troops for War Against Russia · by Nolan Peterson · June 18, 2021

Excerpts: “The US has provided Ukraine with roughly $2 billion in security assistance since the war began in 2014. When it comes to the war in the Donbas, US military aid has a focused, tactical utility, giving Ukraine’s armed forces the modern military technology necessary to increase their survivability. US assistance also allows the Ukrainians to fight with limited means without relying on Soviet-era warfare tactics, thereby reducing the risk of collateral damage.

Ukraine has a long way to go in modernizing its armed forces, mainly when it comes to producing high-tech tactical battlefield tools, such as counterbattery radars and night vision systems. Ukraine also lags in its ability to field certain big-ticket items, including warplanes and anti-aircraft defenses. In that broader modernization effort, US assistance plays a key role, particularly in the rebuilding of Ukraine’s littoral navy.

But assisting Ukraine’s military transformation requires more than dollars and weapons. For their part, the US soldiers at Yavoriv take pride in the reaffirming message their presence sends to Ukraine’s soldiers and civilians.

“I would say probably the bulk of the people who serve in the US military probably have some aversion to bullies and have some kind of strength to stand up,” Kelsey said. “So it’s encouraging for me to see that I’m helping somebody beat a bully.”


3. AP Interview: Former president says US failed in Afghanistan · by Kathy Gannon  

Hope he is not looking for a special immigrant visa. (note sarcasm)

Excerpts: The international community came here 20 years ago with this clear objective of fighting extremism and bringing stability ... but extremism is at the highest point today. So they have failed,” he said.

Their legacy is a war-ravaged nation in “total disgrace and disaster."

“We recognize as Afghans all our failures, but what about the bigger forces and powers who came here for exactly that purpose? Where are they leaving us now?" he asked and answered: "In total disgrace and disaster.”


4. How Five Hong Kong Protesters Escaped by Speedboat, Found Freedom in the U.S.

WSJ · by Chao Deng and Joyu Wang

Kudos to our State Department, Taiwan and Samuel Chu. 

These men may have barely known each other before they escaped but I bet they have bonded for life.

And this is what immigrants who seek freedom in the US often do. They find ways to give back.

Kenny moved to Washington, D.C., where he lives in an apartment with other Hong Kong refugees. He co-founded an organization to help protesters from Hong Kong.

Ray and Tommy stayed in New York and rented a basement apartment together. Both want to attend college and join the U.S. military.

On June 4, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, when protesters were killed as Chinese troops suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations, they joined a gathering in New York City’s Washington Square Park. They held up a black flag calling for Hong Kong’s freedom, lighted commemorative candles and snapped photos of themselves with others from Hong Kong.

Referring to the student protesters at Tiananmen, Tommy said, “We are just the same group of people suppressed by the Communist Party.”


5. Inside US Pacific plan to combat China · by Jamie Seidel · June 17, 2021

Excerpt: “Mr Ratner went on to say such a force would need “new operational concepts, modernised and high-end ready forces, and capable allies and partners proficient in their warfighting roles”.


6. Australia embraces U.S. — and pays the price with China

NBC News · by Mahalia Dobson · June 20, 2021

How this plays out may have significant influence on the Quad and the community of democracies.


7. The World Relies on One Chip Maker in Taiwan, Leaving Everyone Vulnerable

WSJ · by Yang Jie, Stephanie Yang and Asa Fitch

What are our strategic interests in Taiwan? We had better diversify our supply chain!

Excerpts: ”Analysts say it will be difficult for other manufacturers to catch up in an industry that requires hefty capital investments. And TSMC can’t make enough chips to satisfy everyone—a fact that has become even clearer amid a global shortage, adding to the chaos of supply bottlenecks, higher prices for consumers and furloughed workers, especially in the auto industry.

The situation is similar in some ways to the world’s past reliance on Middle Eastern oil, with any instability on the island threatening to echo across industries. Companies in Taiwan, including smaller makers, generated about 65% of global revenues for outsourced chip manufacturing during the first quarter of this year, according to Taiwan-based semiconductor research firm TrendForce. TSMC generated 56% of the global revenues.

Being dependent on Taiwanese chips “poses a threat to the global economy,” research firm Capital Economics recently wrote.


8. Extremism Has Spread Into the Mainstream · by Cynthia Miller-Idriss

This proposal will probably end up in the same place as the proposal for public health approach to gun safety.

Excerpts:To be fair, the American government hasn’t entirely ignored prevention. In March, the U.S. government doubled its funding to support local prevention efforts, from $10 million to $20 million. The funding, though, is orders of magnitude smaller than investments made by other, less populous countries. Those resources are also housed exclusively within the federal agency devoted to security—in contrast to the multi-agency approaches overseas. The Department of Homeland Security also recently renamed its Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships and pledged to take a community-based approach to prevention. This is a promising development, but much depends on its implementation.

In the end, the best hope for combatting extremism in the U.S. will be for the federal government to empower local communities to take the reins. By pairing local initiatives with clear, national evidence about what works, fighting extremism isn’t as unwieldy as it may seem. For example, we learned from a study of 750 parents and caregivers that they needed only seven minutes of reading to improve their understanding of how radical ideas spread online.


9. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan: A strategic blunder in the making · by Kamal Davar

A view from India.


10. The Real Problem With Globalization

The Atlantic · by Zachary D. Carter · June 19, 2021

Excerpts: “As an experiment in international co-operation,” Keynes wrote to London, “the conference has been an extraordinary success.”

Cooperation, but not self-sacrifice. The leaders of the most powerful nations at the conference unabashedly pursued national interests throughout, and weaker countries were frequently forced to beg stronger allies for favors. But the collective recognition that the age of laissez-faire in international finance had been a disaster for both commerce and democracy had produced a sense of mutual self-interest in producing a new regulatory system. Governments recognized a responsibility to ensure that trade actually did generate mutual prosperity and that finance did not destroy more than it created. State power had to be deployed, not constrained.

The achievements at Bretton Woods should not be overstated. Whatever White’s secret efforts, the Soviet government ultimately refused to ratify the accord, which failed to tame the violence of the Cold War. American excesses in Vietnam would prove integral to the destruction of the Bretton Woods system itself. President Richard Nixon chose to sever the connection between the dollar and gold in 1971 to maintain the extraordinary expense of the war. As a cure-all for authoritarian violence, Bretton Woods failed.

But for 25 years, America and its allies enjoyed unprecedented economic growth and financial stability. Democracies working together through international law had opened a new prosperous economic paradigm. It may be too much to ask for a treaty on trade and finance to repair the U.S. relationship with China, provide functional mechanisms to combat climate change, and turn back the rising tide of economic inequality around the world. 

But we will not solve any of those problems if we do not try. And we cannot solve them on our own.


11. Biden struggles to sell democracy abroad when it faces challenges at home

The Washington Post · by Ashley Parker, Anne Gearan and Sean Sullivan · June 19, 2021

Yep. Sell democracy? Do we really need to sell it? But what would you rather have than democracy? Is anyone willing to say they want to give up on democracy? On consent of the governed? On self-determination of government? On life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Does anyone think there can really be benevolent dictators or benevolent authoritarian regimes?


12. The Scholar Speaking Out On China's Crackdown On Intellectuals

Barron's · by Laurie Chen

Excerpts: "It is very important not to stop speaking out. You need to comment on politics and society; that's how you participate in it," he said.

He remains an anomaly. Since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, China's vibrant intellectual circles gradually fell silent as Party critics were arrested, fired from their institutions or forced to flee abroad.

"Ten years ago, perhaps every weekend in every corner there would be a large number of salons and meetings (in Beijing)," he said.

"But now, this wonderful scene does not exist anymore... everyone always talks about one issue when we meet: who's disappeared or been detained recently. Everyone is waiting to see who will be next."

In a sign of the sweeping changes to come, a leaked 2013 internal communique -- known as Document No. 9 -- warned against promoting "false ideological trends" such as constitutional democracy, civil society and press freedom.


13. 'War on Terror': Are big military deployments over?


I think it is doubtful.


14. US to build a standing force on Australia's doorstep to take on China

Daily Mail · by Levi Parsons · June 20, 2021

Excerpts:'A distributed and resilient forward posture must be combined with new warfighting concepts; modernised, highly capable, and ready forces; and capable allied and partner forces to deter any adversary miscalculation, or to respond if necessary,' Mr Ratner said.

The Pentagon is becoming increasingly alarmed about China annexing the disputed island nation of Taiwan, after the totalitarian power stripped nearby Hong Kong of its independence with a litany of oppressive National Security Laws targeting pro-democracy activists.


15.  Russian Ambassador Returns 'Optimistic' to Washington

The Moscow Times · by AFP · June 20, 2021


16. U.S. Government Vaccine Donation Arrives in Taiwan | American Institute in Taiwan · by AIT - Taipei Main Office · June 20, 2021


17. The Forgotten Genius of the Scots

The American Conservative · by Brad Littlejohn

Some Sunday reading. I have always considered myself somewhat of a "Lockian liberal" and "Burkian conservative." I suppose that is why this resonates with me. Or perhaps it is being a second generation American with my grandparents from Scotland.

Well worth reading for traditional conservative philosophy. If only we could return to this today rather than the pseudo-conservatism we suffer in today’s political discourse. Of course, we need to do the same on the liberal side as well:-) We have forgotten all the greatness of traditional conservatism and liberalism and what the competition for ideas can do to advance our nation. So much still to learn from history rather than talking head pundits from across the entire political spectrum of cable news. 

Excerpt: The heart of this empiricism lay in attention to history, which, wrote Hume in his 1748 Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, furnishes “us with materials from which we may form our observations and become acquainted with the regular springs of human action and behaviour.” And just because the “springs” of human behavior were “regular” did not mean that human behavior itself was everywhere the same; on the contrary, the long force of habit and custom was more than capable of generating an immense variety of cultures and laws out of the same basic material of human passions and reason. Thus, the basic lesson to be gleaned from history is not arrogance but humility; precisely because history discloses the stubborn realities of human nature. “It condemns in advance any over-optimistic attempts to achieve ideal or drastically rational political change,” writes Lawrence Bongie in a summary of Hume’s method.




"The result of the war has been the vindication of the country’s cause, as against that of section; of manhood over the system of master and slave; of the liberty which means law, right, humanity, over that which is lawless, barbarous, and insolent"

- Joshua Chamberlain, 1867


"I am sure if you get away from telling the truth, then there is no place where you stop."

-Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson, May 1947.


"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matter of principle, stand like a rock." 

- Thomas Jefferson

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