Small Wars Journal

11/17/2020 News & Commentary - National Security

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 2:01pm

News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Duncan Moore.

1. Message to the Department - Acting Secretary Miller's Goals

2. Asia’s massive new trade deal is no big victory for Beijing

3. Kissinger warns Biden of U.S.-China catastrophe on scale of WWI

4. Malabar exercise that upsets China is a tectonic shift in power balance

5. Russian warships harassed American fishermen near Alaska, costing them $1 million in lost fishing catches

6. Five foreign policy “don’ts” for President Biden

7. Top Biden transition team member wrote widely criticized op-ed advocating First Amendment crackdown

8. What happened to the deepfake threat to the election?

9. US military anticipates Trump will issue order to plan for further troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq

10. COVID-19 is out of control. What can we do?

11. How the U.S. military buys location data from ordinary apps

12. The Chinese air force sure is buying a lot of bombers

13. WHO head ‘extremely concerned’ by increase in coronavirus cases

14. How Obama-era budget controls have hurt US military readiness against growing China, Russia, Iran threats

15. U.S. drawing up plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, Afghanistan

16. Now is not the time to shortchange national defense budget

17. U.S. Chamber statement on the Regional Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (RCEP)

18. Groupthink has left the left blind

19. Cutting U.S. defense attachés from embassies abroad is a bad idea

20. Rare-earth elements: a national security crisis

21. Analysis: Al Qaeda's deputy emir killed in Iran

22. Trump sought options for attacking Iran to stop its growing nuclear program

23. Strengthening the Indian-U.S. defense partnership

24. Solomon Islands government preparing to ban Facebook

25. Trump’s Afghan adios

 

1. Message to the Department - Acting Secretary Miller's Goals

US Department of Defense · November 16, 2020

 

2. Asia’s massive new trade deal is no big victory for Beijing

Wall Street Journal · Mike Bird · November 16, 2020

It sure seems like one. Perhaps TPP is better but we are not part of that agreement either.

 

3. Kissinger warns Biden of U.S.-China catastrophe on scale of WWI

Bloomberg · Peter Martin · November 16, 2020

An ominous warning from the elder statesman with an interesting proposal. I will be interested in hearing what the China experts say about this.

 

4. Malabar exercise that upsets China is a tectonic shift in power balance

Hindustan Times · Shishir Gupta · November 16, 2020

 

5. Russian warships harassed American fishermen near Alaska, costing them $1 million in lost fishing catches

Popular Mechanics · Kyle Mizokami · November 16, 2020

I have not seen any other reporting on this. Odd to see this in Popular Mechanics.

 

6. Five foreign policy “don’ts” for President Biden

Bulwark · Shay Khatiri · November 16, 2020

Korea does not make the "don't list."

 

7. Top Biden transition team member wrote widely criticized op-ed advocating First Amendment crackdown

Daily Wire · Ryan Saavedra · November 16, 2020

This gentleman could be as controversial as Michael Pack at USAGM.

 

8. What happened to the deepfake threat to the election?

Wired · Tom Simonite · November 16, 2020

The best (not so) "deep fake" of the election period was of Kim (and Putin) lecturing us on democracy.

But this is quite the analysis and one I did not expect to read. But after reading it, I think it has merit:

 

9. US military anticipates Trump will issue order to plan for further troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq

CNN · Barbara Starr · November 16, 2020

It should be an order rather than a tweet.

 

10. COVID-19 is out of control. What can we do?

Defense One · Thomas R. Frieden · November 16, 2020

The numbers of cases and deaths are staggering, but it is the number of hospitalizations that is overwhelming the medical facilities in many states. When as a nation are we going to commit to taking this seriously. I fear the news about the 2 vaccines is going to lull us into a greater sense of complacency, thinking we can wait it out until we can get vaccinated. But the vaccine is not a silver bullet and we are going to lose a lot of people (and a lot of people who survive could very well have long term and, in many cases, debilitating and perhaps permanent effects).

 

11. How the U.S. military buys location data from ordinary apps

Vice · Joseph Cox · November 16, 2020

It is amazing the information we can glean from open sources (and public records such as contracting information).  (I do wish USSOCOM was a branch of the military, but I digress).

 

12. The Chinese air force sure is buying a lot of bombers

Forbes · David Axe · November 16, 2020

Quantity has a quality...?

 

13. WHO head ‘extremely concerned’ by increase in coronavirus cases

VOA · VOA News · November 16, 2020

Not that I necessarily trust the head of the WHO, but I fear he is right.

 

14. How Obama-era budget controls have hurt US military readiness against growing China, Russia, Iran threats

Fox News · Hollie McKay · November 16, 2020

I am generally a supporter of divided government and political compromise. But this was one compromise that has done long term damage to the military and will continue to do so as long as it is in place. The damage is equally the responsibility of Republicans and Democrats. This is something the President must work with Congress to overturn, but I fear the progressive wing of the Democratic party will oppose anything that leads to a status quo or increased defense budget. If there are any deficit hawks left anywhere in Congress, they would likely try to prevent this from being overturned.

 

15. U.S. drawing up plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, Afghanistan

Wall Street Journal · Gordon Lubold & Nancy A. Youssef · November 16, 2020

There may be no turning back from this.

 

16. Now is not the time to shortchange national defense budget

Daily Signal · James Di Pane & Janae Diaz · November 16, 2020

Bring on the counterarguments to this article’s critically important conclusion. But this is the essence of leadership: to properly prioritize among scarce resources and make the hard decisions.

 

17. U.S. Chamber statement on the Regional Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (RCEP)

US Chamber of Commerce · November 16, 2020

The Chamber fears the US is being left behind. We made a strategic mistake by abandoning the TPP.

 

18. Groupthink gas left the left blind

New York Times · Bret Stephens · November 16, 2020

An interesting connection described in the first two paragraphs. His essay describes why I could never be a Democrat. Of course, I will never be a Republican either, though for different ideological reasons.  Maybe someday us g.. da... independents will take power. After all, we are near the majority in the US.

 

19. Cutting U.S. defense attachés from embassies abroad is a bad idea

Defense One · Larry Hanauer · November 16, 2020

I just cannot comprehend the military rationale for doing this. FAOs and the attaché program is such a miniscule investment that pay huge dividends over time. FAOs/attaches punch well above their weight and make important contributions to national security. This is so shortsighted.

The Who's "Tommy" may have faired well as a deaf, dumb, and blind pinball wizard, but our commanders will not.

 

20. Rare-earth elements: a national security crisis

Real Clear Defense · William A. Saxton · November 17, 2020

Here is some background information on REE that I was looking at recently to understand the REE challenge:

“Countering China’s Grip on Rare Earth Commodities” - Norbert Chang, November 7, 2019

“China’s Monopoly on Rare Earth Elements—and Why We Should Care” - June Teufel Dreyer, October 7, 2020

“Critical Minerals and U.S. Public Policy” - Congressional Research Service June 28, 2019  

The basic problem? China controls roughly 80% of REE and the US only reacts to this problem when there is a crisis to the supply chain.

 

21. Analysis: Al Qaeda's deputy emir killed in Iran

FDD's Long War Journal · Thomas Joscelyn · November 15, 2020

 

22. Trump sought options for attacking Iran to stop its growing nuclear program

New York Times · Eric Schmitt et al. · November 16, 2020

Before we get our hair on fire, this is what the national security team and Presidents do. Address a national security problem, ask for and evaluate options, take recommendations, and make a decision.  Yes, we can speculate about the timing, but the fact is we have one president. The current president is in office until January 20th. He and his national security team must continue to deal with national security issues. Whether we like the political perceptions or not, the fact is national security operations must continue regardless of the outcome of the election.

 

23. Strengthening the Indian-U.S. defense partnership

SLDinfo.com · Robbin Laird · November 17, 2020

 

24. Solomon Islands government preparing to ban Facebook

Guardian · Ben Doherty · November 17, 2020

 

25. Trump’s Afghan adios

Wall Street Journal · Editorial Board · November 16, 2020

The WSJ editorial board is not on board.

 

General Victor Hugo worked for the legendary Col. Edward Lansdale, the head of the Saigon Military Mission. Hugo noticed that everyone working for Lansdale was a lieutenant. He asked him why he only had lieutenants on his staff. Lansdale said “because when I ask them to do something, they don’t know they can’t do it.”

"Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all."

- Sir Winston Churchill

"Arrogant and domineering people can't stand the least, lightest, faintest breath of criticism. It just kills them."

-Booth Tarkington

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