Small Wars Journal

07/01/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

Thu, 07/01/2021 - 11:43am

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

1. Lavrov To The West: Your Hegemony Is Over, Your Rules Don't Apply

2.  China, Russia and the Strategy of Indirection

3. Xi vows to crush meddling forces and Taiwan independence attempts

4. “No Option is Excluded” — Using Wargaming to Envision a Chinese Assault on Taiwan

5. How great powers should compete

6. Russia-China tag team could end US space supremacy

7. Hugging the Old Bear: Updating The American Playbook for the Long Game

8. When Does a ‘Cyber Attack’ Demand Retaliation? NATO Broadens Its View

9. 'The Future Is About Information Dominance:' Gen. Nakasone

10. ‘Heads bashed bloody’: China’s Xi marks Communist Party centenary with strong words for adversaries

11. Great Power Competition Requires Theater Deterrence

12. Rules-based order: What’s in a name?

13. Analysis: Kim's reshuffles serve to keep North Korea elite in line as crises mount

14. WHO "not aware' of North Korea COVID-19 "great crisis," China offers help

15. House lawmakers seek to slash military personnel funding by $488 million from Biden’s defense budget proposal

16. A privately funded National Guard deployment is legal, but is it ethical?

17.  America’s misplayed debt diplomacy in Cambodia

18. Large Majorities Say China Does Not Respect the Personal Freedoms of Its People

19. Meet The MC-145B Wily Coyote Armed Special Ops Transport Plane

20. House Panel Proposes $1M to Start Renaming Bases That Honor Confederates

21. Naval Special Warfare in a 'Race for Relevancy' as Mission Shifts to High-end Conflict


1. Lavrov To The West: Your Hegemony Is Over, Your Rules Don't Apply · by Anna Akage

Something upbeat to start the day (not!)

Conclusion: “’I will stress once again what President Vladimir Putin has said many times: there were no unilateral concessions at the end of the 1990s, and there never will be any. If you want to cooperate and regain your lost profits and your business reputation, you should negotiate with each other in order to find fair solutions and compromises.

This world view is firmly rooted in the minds of the Russian people.

It is fundamentally important for the West to understand that this world view is firmly rooted in the minds of the Russian people and reflects the views of the overwhelming majority of Russian citizens. Those irreconcilable opponents of the Russian authorities, on whom the West relies and who see all of Russia's problems in anti-Westernism, demanding unilateral concessions in order to lift sanctions and obtain some hypothetical material benefits, represent an absolutely marginal segment of our society. At the June 16 press conference in Geneva, Vladimir Putin clearly explained what the West's support of such marginal circles is aimed at.

They are going against the historical continuity of a people that has always, especially in difficult times, been known for its maturity, sense of self-respect, dignity and national pride, ability to think independently while being open to the rest of the world on equal terms for mutual benefit. It is these qualities of the Russians after the confusion and vacillation of the 1990s that have become the foundational concept of Russia's foreign policy in the 21st century. They are able to assess the actions of their leadership themselves, without prompting from abroad.


2. China, Russia and the Strategy of Indirection · George Friedman · June 29, 2021

Given this conclusion below it seems like we need to be able conduct our own form of irregular warfare and political warfare in the gray zone of great power competition.

In the 2017 NDAA Congress actually provided the concept of operations for strategy and campaign development: 

Irregular Warfare is conducted “in support of predetermined United States policy and military objectives conducted by, with, and through regular forces, irregular forces, groups, and individuals participating in competition between state and non-state actors short of traditional armed conflict.” 

We would do well to heed Congressional guidance. Interestingly there is supposedly not a single dollar (from what I have been told) in the Pacific Deterrence Initiative to execute such a strategy with supporting campaign plans. You would think the Pacfic Deterrence Initiative and the emerging concept of integrated deterrence would include a line of effort for unconventional deterrence - developing resistance potential among indigenous populations to resist the efforts of Russia and China. SOCEUR and EUCOM are doing this with US friends, partners, and allies in Europe with the implementation of the Resistance Operating Concept. Similar concepts, adapted appropriately for specific conditions, could be employed in designated areas where China is executing its One Belt One Road initiative.

The bottom line is the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and the emerging concept of integrated deterrence needs a line of effort for unconventional deterrence (credit to Bob Jones for this concept: Deterring “Competition Short of War”: Are Gray Zones the Ardennes of our Modern Maginot Line of Traditional Deterrence?

My thoughts here: Resistance and Resilience in Asia – Political Warfare of Revisionist and Rogue Powers. 

Conclusion:What the Chinese and Russians need to do is to create politico-military insurgencies and governments spread around the world in the hopes that the U.S., maintaining an alliance against China and Russia, might be forced into responding. The closer to the United States, the greater the need to respond. Hence why Latin America was fertile ground for the Soviets. If the U.S. preempts, it starts accruing military and political costs. If it does not, the danger is massive political costs.

A strategy of indirection is a strategy of opportunism. Intelligence teams are inserted into places that are already hostile to the U.S. The key is to create so many perceived threats and unknowns that U.S. intelligence is forced to counter, but countering all of them is nearly impossible even if it were politically palatable.

The Chinese and Russians face the same problem in principle. Conventional military options against the United States might work, but there is a real possibility they won’t, and neither can afford the internal consequences of failure. They cannot find satisfactory settlements with the Americans and are therefore left with a strategic position that the U.S. might take advantage of. This scenario must be avoided, so an indirect strategy is obvious. The Chinese economic strategy is fine in the short term, but it is highly vulnerable to changes in government. The creation of anti-American states is critical. A strategy of indirection is more prudent, and Russia and China are prudent nations. They have to be.

China, Russia and the Strategy of Indirection | Geopolitical Futures

By George Friedman -

June 29, 2021


3. Xi vows to crush meddling forces and Taiwan independence attempts · July 1, 2021

Threat and response: “He also reiterated Beijing's ambition of achieving reunification with Taiwan, and promised to crush any push for independence on the island that China considers to be a renegade province.

"No one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong ability of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity," said Xi.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law are the core values that Taiwan holds on to, which is very different from the authoritarian regime on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.

"The nature of cross-strait relations should be based on mutual respect and understanding. The 23 million Taiwanese people already rejected the CCP's unilateral 'One China' policy and the so-called 1992 consensus," the council said in a press release in response to Xi's speech.

The Taiwanese government will firmly defend its national sovereignty and Taiwan's democracy and freedom, the council said.


4. “No Option is Excluded” — Using Wargaming to Envision a Chinese Assault on Taiwan · by Ian Sullivan · July 1, 2021

Excerpt: “In an effort to guard against the failure of imagination, I will add a narrative to help explain what happened in the game. Rudyard Kipling once said that if “history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Narrative writing is a powerful, and by spinning it around the bones of a game, I hope to help imagine what a fight could be. Tom Clancy and Larry Bond used this method in their novel where they crafted a narrative around the results of a series of scenarios they played of the wargame Harpoon. My effort here, however, is intended to be more in the spirit of Sir John Hackett’s originally published in 1978, and intended to help NATO leaders imagine what a fight with the Warsaw Pact could look like.


5. How great powers should compete · by Michael Spence · June 30, 2021

From a Nobel laureate.

In a perfect world perhaps - 

Excerpts: The more often leaders repeat these narratives, the more likely ordinary citizens are to become convinced that they are true. Rising fear and resentment on both sides increases the risk that the narratives will become self-fulfilling prophecies.

In the meantime, the focus on bilateral competition obscures the needs and interests of people in emerging markets and developing economies. Yes, China and the West espouse some version of multilateralism. But unfettered strategic competition precludes effective multilateralism, not least by disrupting trade and technology transfer — a crucial driver of development.

China and the West urgently need a new framework for understanding the state of the world and their place in it. Such a framework must recognize, first and foremost, that properly regulated economic competition is not a zero-sum game.

In static terms, normal economic competition bolsters price efficiency and helps to align supply and demand. In dynamic terms, it leads to what Joseph Schumpeter dubbed “creative destruction” — a powerful mechanism for translating knowledge, ideas and experiments into new products, services and cost-reducing processes. In other words, it leads to advances in human well-being.


Such an approach would avoid greater fragmentation of the global economic system, which is particularly damaging to third parties. And it would deter offensive use of military or technological capabilities — vital in an environment where neither side trusts the other.

But a system that minimizes the need for trust does not justify mutual villainization. There is nothing wrong with preferring the governance system in one’s own country, including its particular balance of individual rights and collective interests. Such preferences are based on factors like personal experience, education and values, not objective fact.


6. Russia-China tag team could end US space supremacy · by Dave Makichuk · June 30, 2021

"Space: the final frontier."


7. Hugging the Old Bear: Updating The American Playbook for the Long Game · by Alexander Grinberg· July 1, 2021

Conclusion: “If the United States stabilizes relations with Russia and works towards a mutually beneficial relationship, it is possible to pave a way forward where American and European Union levels of transparency may bleed into Russia. According to Transparency International, Russia’s level of corruption decreased by ten points since 2018, and that trend will continue through Russian interconnectivity and access to the EU.[21] To do business within the EU, European markets force Russian businesses to play by Western European rules. At a grassroots level, the Russian people prefer a more transparent and less-corrupt Russia.[22] The United States should not concern itself with how Putin will politically maneuver himself to win local support in response to stabilizing relations. Instead, the United States, along with the European Union should focus on helping to provide a market and opportunities that Russia needs, thus playing the long game and winning influence in Russia.

Granted, Russia commits acts of disinformation, disruption, and routinely conducts operations to destabilize Western Democracies, but that is today’s Russia and the United States needs a lasting strategy for tomorrow’s Russia. The best way forward is to build domestic resiliency to counter disinformation, a topic thoroughly discussed, while focusing on engagement with Russia. In his speech to Congress on April 29, 2021 President Biden even acknowledged the possibility of developing positive relations with Russia.[23] To achieve a more Western-friendly Russia in the long term, the United States needs to realize that hard-lining and brinkmanship is a Cold War era strategy that needs to be set aside and replaced with a coherent modern strategy that applies proper pressure to shift Russian behavior.


8. When Does a ‘Cyber Attack’ Demand Retaliation? NATO Broadens Its View · by Stefan Soesanto

Conclusion: "Time will tell how the alliance members will posture themselves in practice. Some members might be seizing the opportunity to drive the discussion deeper by bringing up preemptive or preventative self-defense in and through cyberspace. Others might entirely ignore the word “cumulative” due to their very different interpretations of international law applicable to cyberspace. And finally, it is inherently unclear whether adversaries understand this change in the alliance’s posture, whether they care enough, and whether they should take it seriously. NATO leaders should recognize the need for clearer statements on the matter."


9. 'The Future Is About Information Dominance:' Gen. Nakasone · by Brad D. Williams · June 29, 2021

Excerpts: “But it’s not just CYBERCOM that will play a role in America’s cyber future. Nakasone touted NSA’s role, with its dual missions of signals intelligence and cybersecurity. Nakasone pointed to the importance of cryptology, an NSA specialty, in cyber defenses. “The true backstop is encryption,” he said, “to protect weapons systems and data.” The stronger the US’s crypto capabilities, “the better off we’ll be.”

“I close with optimism,” Nakasone said, “balanced with the realization we have work to do.”


10. ‘Heads bashed bloody’: China’s Xi marks Communist Party centenary with strong words for adversaries

The Washington Post · by David Crawshaw and Alicia Chen · July 1, 2021

Great rhetoric (note sarcasm).

But it seems the Chinese people like the phrase: ““The Chinese people have never bullied, oppressed, or enslaved the people of other countries,” he said. “At the same time, the Chinese people will never allow any foreign forces to bully, oppress, or enslave us. Anyone who dares try to do that will have their heads bashed bloody against a Great Wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people.”


11. Great Power Competition Requires Theater Deterrence · by James Stavridis · July 1, 2021

And part of that theater deterrence should include a population or human domain focused unconventional deterrence as a line of effort. A mindset change is also required for unconventional deterrence.

Conclusion:All of this requires a change in mind-set, culture, training, and patterns of deployment. Over the past two decades, the Sea Services have—appropriately—been focused on combating global terror and supporting operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan. They have stood an uneasy watch elsewhere around the globe, from the western Pacific to the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean. With the reemergence of great power competition, they need a new overarching concept that inculcates part of Cold War thinking but also includes the kind of “fight tonight” mentality developed in the “forever wars.”

Theater deterrence can unsettle the minds and disrupt the plans of the Chinese and Russian great power adversaries. There are echoes of strategic deterrence and Cold War operations embedded in it, but ultimately theater deterrence practiced against other great powers is the new central concept the United States must embrace.


12. Rules-based order: What’s in a name? · by Ben Scott

This is of course what China and Russia do not like. But I am going to have to add RDO to my acronym list (rules based order). I have not yet adopted that one. (and LIO as well - liberal international order)

Conclusion: “The extent to which what it now called the Indo-Pacific was ever part of the LIO and, its successor, the RBO is open for debate. Post-Cold War globalisation – including of rules – has clearly played a major role in the region’s prosperity. But assertions that the rules-based global order has delivered 70 years of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific are ahistorical and unhelpful. The bloody conflicts in Korea and Vietnam may have been peripheral to the Cold War and the LIO, but they were central to this region.

The development of a more rules-based order for the Indo-Pacific remains a daunting challenge. But without a clear-eyed understanding of the RBO’s history, it will be even harder.


13. Analysis: Kim's reshuffles serve to keep North Korea elite in line as crises mount

Reuters · by Josh Smith and Hyonhee Shin · July 01, 2021

Something to observe for: “Irregular political gatherings and personnel attrition in an authoritarian regime such as North Korea can foreshadow things like fundamental failure of the state apparatus or unsteady political transitions, he said.”


​I think we should expect some violent purges: “Since last year, Kim has been waging a war against corruption and a lack of discipline in the party, including by shuffling top officials in a way that is reminiscent of his early years in office when he consolidated power by constantly replacing, demoting, or reinstating senior military leaders, said Rachel Minyoung Lee, another specialist with 38 North.

"He is publicly demonstrating that those who fail to follow the instructions and rules, and those who fail to lead properly and achieve desired results will be sacked or demoted, no matter how high up in the ranks they are or how long they have been in their current position," she said.


Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said that Ri and Pak could have been involved in failures to release military rice reserves, while Choe appeared to have been fired for failing to coordinate policy and communications regarding the pandemic.


"By revealing it at the politburo meeting, which is a key executive gathering, Kim seems to be sending a warning to all party officials and a message that he will bring them to account if they do wrong," Yang said.

14. WHO "not aware' of North Korea COVID-19 "great crisis," China offers help

Newsweek · by Tom O'Connor · June 30, 2021

We are all speculating that the great crisis is COVID related, but.....

Excerpts: “"China and the DPRK are friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers," Wang said. "We respect the anti-epidemic measures the DPRK has put in place based on its national realities and wish it smooth progress in all its endeavors."

And he emphasized China's ongoing commitment to support North Korea.

"China and the DPRK have a long tradition of mutual assistance in times of need," Wang said. "China stands ready to positively consider providing help to the DPRK should there be such a need."

He declined to answer whether or not China has provided COVID-19 vaccines to North Korea.

As information coming from North Korea remains scarce as ever, a representative of the travel company Koryo Tours confirmed to Newsweek that the country's borders continue to be closed to foreigners, as they have since January 2020, when news of the novel coronavirus first emerged from China.


15. House lawmakers seek to slash military personnel funding by $488 million from Biden’s defense budget proposal

Stars and Stripes · by Sarah Cammarata · June 30, 2021

Personnel. The most expensive line in the budget?

"In times of war and not before,

God and the soldier we adore.

But in times of peace and all things righted,

God is forgotten and the soldier slighted."


-Rudyard Kipling”


16.  A privately funded National Guard deployment is legal, but is it ethical? · by Meghann Myers and Leo Shane III · July 1, 2021

I saw a social media comment that said this action seems to be in line with the Articles of Confederation (which of course was the failed predecessor to our Constitution)


17. America’s misplayed debt diplomacy in Cambodia · by David Hutt · July 1, 2021

Excerpts:Instead, the US could be more creative with the $500 million to $700 million it is owed, a rounding error for American finances. A large proportion of it (say Hun Sen’s proposed 70%) could be forgiven and turned into new infrastructure investment for Cambodia, a way of rivaling China’s infrastructure investment in the country.

Or Washington could make a gesture to the Cambodian people, not Hun Sen’s government, by commuting 70% of the debt into new development assistance only for Cambodia’s civil society. Better still, it could wipe off this debt if American inspectors deem the 2023 general election in Cambodia to be legitimate and fair.

Look at it whichever way you wish, the debt gives Washington leverage in a country where its opinion is no longer heeded. If Washington were to get tough and seriously call in the debt, Cambodia’s reputation among international lenders, including the International Monetary Fund, could be jeopardized.

If Phnom Penh wants it wiped out, it must give something in return. If not, the US is happy to let the debt continue to tot up from interest.


18. Large Majorities Say China Does Not Respect the Personal Freedoms of Its People

Pew Research · by Laura Silver, Kat Devlin, and Christian Huang · June 30, 2021

Please go to this link to view all the graphs and data. Below is only an excerpt of the text as well.


19.  Meet The MC-145B Wily Coyote Armed Special Ops Transport Plane · by Joseph Trevithick · June 30, 2021

This is a new one to me but of course I retired 10 years ago :-) 


20. House Panel Proposes $1M to Start Renaming Bases That Honor Confederates · by Gidget Fuentes · June 30, 2021

A lot of signage and letterheads will have to be changed.


21. Naval Special Warfare in a 'Race for Relevancy' as Mission Shifts to High-end Conflict · by Gidget Fuentes · June 30, 2021

There is still an awful lot left for SOF to do below the level of high end conflict. And even in high end conflict there will still be a great need for operations within the human domain that may be less than high end conflict but will certainly support attaining national security objectives. I fear NAVSPECWARCOM and SOF in general may now be chasing the shiny thing rather than focusing on its comparative advantage across the spectrum of conflict. SOF can and must contribute to high end conflict but it must also recognize (and advocate to leaders, policy makers, and strategists) that its focus on the human domain is applicable across the spectrum of conflict.




"I attribute my success to this - I never gave or took any excuse." 

- Florence Nightingale


 "Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality." 

- Jonas Salk


"History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again."

- Maya Angelou

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