Small Wars Journal

06/30/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 9:54am

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

1. Top US general says security in Afghanistan deteriorating

2.  Biden Needs an International Organizations Strategy

3. SOCOM To Test Anti-Aging Pill Next Year

4. The Emerging Biden Doctrine

5. Military drones are transforming war — we need a doctrine to use them right

6. Afghan Conflict Update - June 2021 | SOF News

7. Air Strikes Renew Battle Over War Authorizations

8. A Better Blueprint for International Organizations - Advancing American Interests on the Global Stage

9. Top Pentagon Cyber Official Probed Over Disclosure Concerns

10. India, China and the Quad’s defining test

11. Ending Forever Wars But Not Interventionism: Rethinking U.S. Civil Society Assistance Policy

12. Gradually and Then Suddenly: Explaining the Navy’s Strategic Bankruptcy

13. China-Russia: A Strategic Partnership Short on Strategy

14. The Case Against the Concept of Great Power Competition

15. Party-to-party diplomacy: the Chinese strategy for crafting its own narratives

16. U.S. military commander in Afghanistan warns of possible civil war

17. Taiwan Sovereignty Key to Western Pacific Security, Says Japanese Defense Official

18. 'This means war': China warns US over military ties with Taipei

19. Have Biden and Trump Altered a Core Theory of Political Science?


1. Top US general says security in Afghanistan deteriorating · by Kathy Gannon · June 29, 2021

Excerpts: “He said his time as the head of the U.S.’s military mission in Afghanistan was coming to an end, without giving a date, though the press briefing had the feeling of a farewell.

Miller wouldn’t speculate on the legacy of America’s longest war, saying it will be for history to decide.

“The future will tell the rest of the story,” he said. “What we will have to do is make an honest assessment of what went well and what didn’t go so well over the years as we work forward.”


2. Biden Needs an International Organizations Strategy

Foreign Policy · by Richard Goldberg · June 29, 2021

This is one of the battlefields where China is conducting political warfare. As I have written many times, my assessment of Chinese strategy is this: China seeks to export its authoritarian political system around the world in order to dominate regions, co-opt or coerce international organizations, create economic conditions favorable to China alone, and displace democratic institutions. I think we have to effectively compete in the international organizations arena. We cannot be passive.

Excerpts: “The Biden administration must understand that mere engagement is not the same as actively pushing for outcomes that strengthen the United States’ national security and promote its values. This tendency to engage for engagement’s sake confuses the means with the end. You can’t win if you don’t fight—assuming winning is the goal.

Whether working with allies or mounting the fight alone, Washington must wage a campaign of reform battles, agency by agency, to restore the U.S.-led international order. That means fixing where possible and nixing when necessary. The battle to advance U.S. interests and counter adversaries inside international organizations will require tenacity and commitment. And that commitment must come from Democrats and Republicans alike.

It’s only a matter of time before a multilateral agency fails to address the next regional or global crisis. The United States must learn the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic’s cover-up perpetrated by China and enabled by the WHO. Failure to do so could lead to even greater loss of life and economic devastation. Policymakers can take critical steps to protect Americans now. But that will require a readiness to hold international organizations accountable rather than writing more blank checks and hoping for the best.


3. SOCOM To Test Anti-Aging Pill Next Year · by Theresa Hitchens · June 29, 2021

"If I could turn back time."

I would volunteer for this. Where can I sign up?

Excerpt: “The pill “has the potential, if it is successful, to truly delay aging, truly prevent onset of injury — which is just amazingly game changing,” Lisa Sanders, director of science and technology for Special Operations Forces, acquisition, technology & logistics (SOF AT&L), said Friday.

“We have completed pre-clinical safety and dosing studies in anticipation of follow-on performance testing in fiscal year 2022,” Navy Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesperson, said.


4. The Emerging Biden Doctrine

Foreign Affairs · by Hal Brands · June 29, 2021

Excerpts: “Focusing on the ideological and technological struggle could also distract the administration from equally pressing military dangers. The United States could, after all, lose the contest of systems by failing to contain authoritarian aggressors and defend democratic outposts in eastern Europe and the western Pacific. A bipartisan commission on U.S. defense strategy warned in 2018 that the United States simply does not have the military power necessary to meet its commitments around the Eurasian periphery. The Pentagon is facing a gaping window of vulnerability in the Taiwan Strait. Yet the administration has shown comparatively little urgency on the military front: its first Pentagon budget request is flat (in real terms) and shortchanges near-term measures to harden the United States’ posture in the Pacific. Today’s rivalries are about more than military power—but democratic values won’t save the free world in a gunfight.

Finally, the connection between the foreign and domestic components of the strategy is not as seamless as the administration claims. In Biden’s view, improving the economic fortunes of the middle class is insurance against a Trumpist resurrection and a way of strengthening the domestic foundations of U.S. diplomacy. Yet among the practical results have been a “Buy American” edict that looks like “America first” with Democratic characteristics and an underwhelming trade policy that, so far, has left many countries—particularly in Asia—wondering if the United States is really back. If Biden’s strategy doesn’t support an expansive, ambitious notion of prosperity, it won’t do much for the cohesion and power of the free world.


5. Military drones are transforming war — we need a doctrine to use them right

The Hill · by Seth J. Frantzman · June 28, 2021

Excerpts:The quest for a drone doctrine will be answered by the first country to field a force that is fully integrated with the technology and air defenses to stop drone threats. Drones have proved themselves useful in ungoverned spaces where asymmetric warfare is typical, such as hunting militants in Somalia or in the fighting between Saudi Arabia and the militant Houthis in Yemen. Drones primarily work well in uncontested airspace against those who lack integrated, multi-layered air defense.

If we look at the history of military platforms, we find other eras with such experimentation — for example, the various tanks that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, many of them an evolutionary dead end prior to the creation of main battle tanks, or the types of warships built prior to the dreadnought. Drones, whether small or large, need to mature and become more trusted before they are widely adopted. Then they will be sorted, so that the best systems become a mainstay.


6. Afghan Conflict Update - June 2021 | SOF News · by John Friberg · June 30, 2021


7. Air Strikes Renew Battle Over War Authorizations · by Jacqueline Feldscher

Excerpts:Hathaway said she believes the administration has already reached the point where it should consult with Congress after two strikes, since they don’t fall under either existing authorization.

“If you have this ongoing threat…ordinarily authority to act under Article II is supposed to be used in situations where the president for whatever reason doesn’t have the opportunity to consult in any deep and significant way with Congress,” she said. “It’s not supposed to be a blank check.”

Other experts said that the president always has the authority to defend America.

“Can you imagine if a month from now, there are still attacks happening and Biden said, ‘I really would like to defend our forces, but we can’ anything because it’s been a recurring series,’” said Robert Chesney, the associate dean at the University of Texas School of Law. “If they keep attacking us, we have the ability to self-defense.”

And, without a clear pathway for Congress to approve a new authorization if Biden asked, it could backfire politically, Chesney said, pointing to the example of the Clinton administration asking Congress to authorize air strikes in the Balkans. Lawmakers did not approve the request, but the White House carried out the strikes anyway and “took a ton of heat.”


8.  A Better Blueprint for International Organizations - Advancing American Interests on the Global Stage · by Richard Goldberg and Nikki Haley · June 30, 2021

The 56 page monograph can be downloaded here


9. Top Pentagon Cyber Official Probed Over Disclosure Concerns

Bloomberg · by Anthony Capaccio · June 29, 2021


10. India, China and the Quad’s defining test · by Arzan Tarapore · June 29, 2021

Excerpts: “The task before Quad governments is to be sensitised to this risk and implement mitigation strategies before a possible conflict, to buttress the coalition in advance. As I outline in the ASPI paper, they could do this at three levels. First, they could offer operational support—such as intelligence or resupply of key equipment, as the US already has done in the Ladakh crisis—although Quad partners’ role here would be limited. Second, they could provide support in other theatres or domains—with a naval show of force, for example, although cyber operations would probably be more meaningful in deterring conflict or dampening its costs. Third, they could provide political and diplomatic support—signalling to Beijing that a conflict would harm its regional political standing.

For Quad members, the main goal would be to deter conflict in the first place, and, failing that, to preserve the long-term strategic partnership with India for the sake of maintaining as powerful and energetic a coalition as possible to counterbalance China in the long term.


11.  Ending Forever Wars But Not Interventionism: Rethinking U.S. Civil Society Assistance Policy · by Davin O’Regan · June 30, 2021

Excerpts: “Reducing direct on-the-ground political interventions in other countries may lessen concerns among critical partners, such as India, and mitigate claims by Russia and China about U.S. meddling in the domestic affairs of other states. Changes to U.S. civil society assistance are not going to immediately transform relations with Russia, China, and others. These countries in particular will likely continue targeting advocacy groups and activists and probably attempt campaigns of interference in foreign states. But over time it may also reduce fears that the United States is trying to advance regime change as a strategic objective, concerns that may be motivating harsh anti-nongovernmental organization laws and stoking bilateral tensions.

These are not easy recommendations to make, and much of this analysis makes me uneasy. I have had the privilege to meet with and learn from civil society leaders and activists who work in challenging environments to advance meaningful progressive reforms that I wholeheartedly support. They are always inspiring, innovative, and courageous, and so it is difficult to conclude that their support should sometimes be curtailed.

But while I usually share this vision, I am not surprised if their compatriots and governments raise an eyebrow over their work and motives. U.S. foreign assistance for civil society could be interpreted as a form of political intervention – and U.S. rhetoric on regime change fails to ease such concerns. Consistent with a growing impetus for a more careful U.S. foreign policy, it may be time for more restraint in U.S. engagement with civil society groups in other countries.


12. Gradually and Then Suddenly: Explaining the Navy’s Strategic Bankruptcy · by Christopher Dougherty · June 30, 2021

Certainly a provocative headline (thanks to Hemmingway).

Excerpts:  “The problems facing the Navy weren’t created in a single budget, and they won’t be fixed in a single budget. To get the Navy out of its force-planning doldrums, the next National Defense Strategy should clarify its assessment of the China challenge and serve as a forcing function to create a shared vision of the future Navy. The 2018 defense strategy tried to prioritize modernizing the Navy to deter future war with China over building near-term fleet capacity to supply ships to service geographic combatant command requests for forward forces. This prioritization got lost in implementation, as “Dynamic Force Employment” became shorthand for running the Navy ragged with repeated deployments, often to tertiary theaters like U.S. Central Command.

A clear assessment of the China challenge and a shared vision for the future fleet would help improve the gap between strategy and implementation that plagued the 2018 strategy. Perhaps more importantly, it would enable Navy and department leadership to work with, rather than against, Congress to undertake a long-term program to rebuild the Navy and reinvigorate the maritime industrial base on which the Navy and the nation depend.

Achieving consensus on this won’t be easy, as there are good reasons why China observers vary in their assessments of the risk of conflict and why U.S. naval and defense strategists differ on their visions of the future fleet. However, without this consensus and a concerted effort to reverse decades of drift, the Navy will continue its gradual slide toward strategic bankruptcy, and the risk of its debts coming due suddenly (and perhaps violently) will increase.


13.China-Russia: A Strategic Partnership Short on Strategy · by Nicholas Trickett · June 30, 2021

Concussion: "The Sino-Russian relationship, nothing like an “alliance,” will continue to endure and in some ways deepen. Chinese firms are still interested in Russia’s human capital and natural resources and Russian firms and investors want to find growth in China’s market. The Putin-Xi meeting, however, emphasized performance over substance, limited by domestic political considerations and the scope of the two countries’ mutual interests. There’s a sense that there is no clear consensus over what order in Central Asia and Eurasia more broadly ought to look like, nor any attempt to show that it’s not just the world’s democracies talking a mean game about coordinating climate efforts. Instead, China and Russia continue their repeated focus on presenting a united front against the dominance of American and transatlantic power – without reflecting on what that power is actually doing right now."


14.  The Case Against the Concept of Great Power Competition · by Matej Kandrík · June 30, 2021

A view from the Czech Republic.

Forceful conclusion: “What is the added value of Great Power Competition?

The failure of great power competition as a concept is almost absolute. Great Power Competition exploits intuitive or implicit understanding of what great powers are, while it gives no solid clues on what actors should policy makers consider relevant and why. States compete all the time. Competition is something states naturally do in a quest for security, prosperity, and prestige. Still, competition is hardly a defining feature of how states seek to achieve or secure their interests. States employ unique blends of cooperative, competitive, and conflict interactions vis their partner, rivals, and adversaries. Great power competition provides close to zero helpful guidance on how decision-makers should act and, most importantly, what they should seek through competition with others. Based on this assessment, great power competition seems like a hollow, unhelpful, and even an eventually dangerous bumper sticker slogan.


15. Party-to-party diplomacy: the Chinese strategy for crafting its own narratives · by Shikha Aggarwal · June 30, 2021

A view from India.

Excerpts: A prominent strategy employed by the CCP to advance its role in global politics is “party-to-party diplomacy” through which the CCP manufactures consent for Beijing-led narratives, geo-strategic constructs and China’s global ambitions among political elites and parties in other countries. The party organ dedicated to this enterprise is the International Department (IDCPC).

The IDCPC is one of the five principal bodies that operate directly under the CCP Central Committee and has so far established relations with more than 400 political parties and organisations in over 140 countries.


16. U.S. military commander in Afghanistan warns of possible civil war

The Washington Post · by Pamela ConstableJune · June 29, 2021

Excerpts: “Another obstacle to a peaceful settlement of the war, he said, is the persistent discord and political factionalism within the Afghan government and political elite. Ethnic and personal rivalries have led to constant policy changes and turnover in senior military and civilian posts, weakening confidence among civilians and morale in the defense forces.

Miller did not comment directly on the likelihood that the Ghani government could collapse as soon as six months after the U.S. troop withdrawal, but he said it was crucial for government officials and rival political leaders to “unify” as the war intensifies and hopes for peace fade. Otherwise, he said, “I see very tough times ahead.”


17. Taiwan Sovereignty Key to Western Pacific Security, Says Japanese Defense Official · by John Grady · June 28, 2021

A significant statement.


18. 'This means war': China warns US over military ties with Taipei · by Avik Roy - Hindustan Times · June 29, 2021


19. Have Biden and Trump Altered a Core Theory of Political Science?

The National Interest · by Jeffrey Stacey · June 29, 2021

Some interesting political theory analysis.




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