Small Wars Journal

07/04/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

Sun, 07/04/2021 - 11:28am

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

1. Instructor Zero with an Independence Day Tribute

2. Austin approves new US Forces Afghanistan Forward command as drawdown nears early completion

3. China Will No Longer Be a Developing Country After 2023. Its Climate Actions Should Reflect That.

4. American ghosts of war will haunt Afghanistan

5. Imperiled for helping U.S. troops and stranded by bureaucracy, Afghan interpreters see Biden evacuation plan as last hope

6. China Has a BIG Plan for Post-U.S. Afghanistan—and It’s Worth Billions

7. Some Philippine troops jump before military plane crashes in flames, killing at least 45

8. Opinion | The Excesses of Antiracist Education

9. Perspective | Let’s celebrate Florida’s critical race theory student survey

10. Women Have a Key Role in Peace and Security. Yet Most Nations Overlook Them in Foreign Policy

11. What to know about Rise of the Moors, an armed group that says it’s not subject to U.S. law

12. Bodies, Bullets, and Blood: How Masculinity Influences Mass Killers

13. How Two Great Friends Overcame Politics


1. Instructor Zero with an Independence Day Tribute

Instructor Zero · July 4, 2021  

I would not normally send a Facebook Post but a good friend of mine flagged it and I think it is worth sharing.

My friend shared this comment: “Instructor Zero is an amazing firearms instructor, and Italian. His writing about the US and Independence Day brought tears to my eyes, at a time when i needed it. Enjoy. Happy Independence Day.”


2.  Austin approves new US Forces Afghanistan Forward command as drawdown nears early completion

Stars and Stripes · by Caitlin Doornbos · July 2, 2021


3. China Will No Longer Be a Developing Country After 2023. Its Climate Actions Should Reflect That. · by Mathias Lund Larsen · July 3, 2021

It is amazing that the country with the 2d largest economy in the world is only a "developing country."  


4. American ghosts of war will haunt Afghanistan · by Richard S Ehrlich · July 4, 2021


“I’m a skull worshipper,” Special Operations Command Sergeant-Major Raymond Cordell said in an interview at the time in Bagram Air Base, 67 kilometers north of Kabul.

“Young soldiers just tend to relate to things like that. That’s just the nature of people who join the army and do this for a living,” Cordell said.

“As a leader, you try to hone out those things that different soldiers are attracted to. For me, it has always worked to be skulls.”

But this is a helluva an anecdote and warning:

“Any Americans remaining in Afghanistan to support the vulnerable regime, however, may want to heed the experience of Russians who stayed in Kabul after Soviet forces withdrew in 1989.

Yuri Tyssovski, the Kabul bureau chief of the Russian news agency TASS, chose to change his residence when his countrymen withdrew.

Hurriedly boxing up his belongings in his suburban Kabul home in 1989, and calling for his pet German shepherd which was trained to sniff out land mines, Tyssovski said in an interview:

“I am only moving into the Soviet Embassy across the street for safety. My boss asked me if I wanted to leave Afghanistan, but I told him no, because I want to stay on and continue my work. It is my duty.

“I will stay one year more. It will be difficult for us. There are various predictions of how the situation will be.

“It may be awfully bad, moderately bad, not so bad, or even good. So, let us see. It is impossible to guess anything, so why be worried about it?”

Tyssovski had recently been wounded in a U.S.-backed mujahideen guerrilla attack during a Soviet media trip in eastern Afghanistan.

Pulling down one side of his pants, he displayed horrible scars on his thigh where shrapnel ripped into him.

“I have a whole arsenal in this house, including hand grenades which I hate. But I need them for protection.”

He raised his glass of vodka in a toast and laughing, in an almost painful way, said:

“One day the rebels are going to come for me. But I am ready. I have already cut off my balls and put them in the refrigerator, so I can hand them to the mujahideen when they arrive!”


5. Imperiled for helping U.S. troops and stranded by bureaucracy, Afghan interpreters see Biden evacuation plan as last hope

The Washington Post · by Pamela Constable and Ezzatullah Mehrdad · July 3, 2021

Excerpts: “Abdul Zubair Ebrahemi, 30, worked for the U.S. Army for three years and spent another three waiting for his visa, which was denied. As a combat translator, he said, “I was always on patrols. I served in the most dangerous southern provinces. I have medals and commendation letters. I was serving my country by helping America. I expected the U.S. government to support me.”

Instead, Ebrahimi said, his visa was denied because he had been “terminated” by the U.S. contracting firm that hired him. When he asked why, he was told the company was “not authorized to share the details.” When he heard about the planned U.S. evacuation plan, he said, “it gave me a huge hope, but because of this termination on my record, I am worried that I might be left behind.”

For Shirzad, the startling disconnect between the strong endorsements he received from his Navy SEAL superiors and the denial of his visa for “failure to provide faithful and valuable service” is both mystifying and maddening. This week, poring through photos of himself with American buddies in the field and letters from commanders citing his service “above and beyond the call of duty,” he sighed and shook his head.

“What more could I have given? Why was I punished?” he asked. “I may never know the answer.”


6. China Has a BIG Plan for Post-U.S. Afghanistan—and It’s Worth Billions

The Daily Beast · by Syed Fazl-e-Haider · July 4, 2021

Wishful thinking on someone's part? Maybe China is going to adopt a "COIN strategy:" clear, hold, build with emphasis on "build" as their silver bullet.

“China could well bring the Taliban on board with BRI. The insurgents have said they will support development projects if they serve Afghan national interests,” he added.

What China actually needs to extend its Belt and Road program to Afghanistan is, ultimately, peace. Beijing has gone so far as to offer infrastructure and energy projects worth billions of dollars to the Taliban in return for peace in Afghanistan.

“The Taliban isn’t the only challenge to overcome,” said Kugelman. “There are many sources of violence, both anti- and pro-state, in Afghanistan. So China will still face an extremely insecure environment, even if it gets Taliban buy-in for its projects.”

There’s no doubt that the strategic assets in Taxkorgan, Wakhan and Gwadar will strengthen China’s logistical infrastructure, helping it achieve its long-term economic and security objectives in the region.

Peace, though, remains the actual key to China’s master plan for a post-U.S. Afghanistan.


7. Some Philippine troops jump before military plane crashes in flames, killing at least 45

Reuters · by Karen Lema and Maria Ponnezhath

What a tragedy:

“The plane had attempted to land at Jolo airport, but overshot the runway without touching down. It failed to regain enough power and height and crashed at nearby Patikul.

"A number of soldiers were seen jumping out of the aircraft before it hit the ground, sparing them from the explosion caused by the crash," the Joint Task Force Sulu said in a statement.


The military command said the soldiers aboard had the rank of private and were being deployed to their battalions. They were flying to the provincial airport of Jolo from Laguindingan, about 460 km (290 miles) to the northeast.


The Lockheed C-130H Hercules aircraft, with registration 5125, had only recently arrived in the Philippines.

It was one of two aircraft provided by the U.S. government through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, a government website said in January. It quoted an air force spokesman as saying the aircraft would boost capability for heavy airlift missions.


8. Opinion | The Excesses of Antiracist Education

The New York Times · by Ross Douthat · July 3, 2021

Excerpts: “But precisely because they don’t follow from modest and defensible conceptions of systemic racism, smart progressives in the media often retreat to those modest conceptions when challenged by conservatives — without acknowledging that the dubious conceptions are a big part of what’s been amplifying controversy, and conjuring up dubious Republican legislation in response.

Here one could say that figures like Kendi and DiAngelo, and the complex of foundations and bureaucracies that have embraced the new antiracism, increasingly play a similar role to talk radio in the Republican coalition. They represent an ideological extremism that embarrasses clever liberals, as the spirit of Limbaugh often embarrassed right-wing intellectuals. But this embarrassment encourages a pretense that their influence is modest, their excesses forgivable, and the real problem is always the evils of the other side.

That pretense worked out badly for the right, whose intelligentsia awoke in 2016 to discover that they no longer recognized their own coalition. It would be helpful if liberals currently dismissing anxiety over Kendian or DiAngelan ideas as just a “moral panic” experienced a similar awakening now — before progressivism simply becomes its excesses, and the way back to sanity is closed.


9. Perspective | Let’s celebrate Florida’s critical race theory student survey

The Washington Post · by Jay Mathews · July 3, 2021

Somehow I do not think a survey will be able to provide such answers and insights as those from students below. And of course the students below may not be representative of the average student as they provide some pretty sophisticated insights.

That said, students like these give me a lot of hope for our future. Neither the radical left nor the radical right will be successful as we continue to develop critical thinking young people.


10.  Women Have a Key Role in Peace and Security. Yet Most Nations Overlook Them in Foreign Policy · July 3, 2021

Excerpts: “A feminist foreign policy approach could be useful in addressing issues that are key to women and enhancing the position of women in global and national platforms. This could bring greater pressure to bear on states to perform better, not just in making commitments but in delivering them as well. Such pressure is important because states would like to be seen as championing women’s cause. International normative pressure could thus play an important role in pushing states to pursue such an agenda more seriously. So, the demonstration effect of these issues being discussed at the international level is significant.

Thus, a more gender-sensitive foreign policy approach could create viable space for women in decision-making spaces, which could aid better representation and provide voice to those who have been on the margins. On the ground, this would mean creating an enabling environment that can facilitate broader, comprehensive approaches, innovative thinking, fostering diversity and balance, and embracing inclusion. This approach needs to evolve and develop certain standards at the global level that could make states more accountable to their commitments. These are not easy, and one can just look at the UNSCR 1325 compliance requirements. We still have quite some distance to travel.


11. What to know about Rise of the Moors, an armed group that says it’s not subject to U.S. law

The Washington Post · by Max Hauptman · July 4, 2021

Excerpts: “Rise of the Moors draws a link between its members and Indigenous peoples of the Americas.

“Especially with these sovereign Moorish groups, there is this idea that is rooted in ancient civilizations like the Aztecs, the Olmecs, Incas,” said Cruz. “They have this belief that the U.S. government has no right to be enforcing or creating laws in territories that don’t belong to them, so they see themselves as forming their own sovereign nation.”

Although 2020 saw an overall decrease in the number of anti-government groups, according to the SPLC, the amount of activity tracked by this group has increased.

“What we are seeing as well as the uptick in activity is the idea that these sovereign-citizen groups like Rise of the Moors, they try to prey on Black and Brown individuals,” said Cruz. “Typically with this idea that society is unfair and it preys on individuals who are maybe down on their luck, they have a place to turn where these groups promise a more fair and equitable society.”


12. Bodies, Bullets, and Blood: How Masculinity Influences Mass Killers · by Cody Kennedy · June 30, 2021

Conclusion:  “The following solutions can help U.S. policy-makers address mass shootings in a more coherent manner. First, policy-makers should establish school programs that require both female and male students to see school counselors regularly.This will help de-stigmatize mental health issues at an early age and make it less likely that they will be reluctant to ask for help later on. Second, public schools should mandate anger management courses to all male students in an effort to teach them healthy ways to cope with stress, anger, and depression. This will help men establish alternative solutions to address their problems and minimize the likelihood that they will resort to violence. If U.S. policy-makers are serious about addressing the issue of mass shootings, they need to consider how gender is impacting the motivations of these individuals. While instituting stricter gun control laws may help lower the overall number of mass shootings, it will not eliminate them entirely. The U.S. government must go beyond gun.”


13. How Two Great Friends Overcame Politics

WSJ · by Peggy Noonan

I have always been fascinated by the story of the end of their lives:

“Both men were near the end of their lives. Both held on for the great day. Wood reports Jefferson woke the night of the 3rd and asked if it was the 4th yet. His doctor said it soon would be. Early the next morning he woke again and called for his servants. Just after noon he died.

At the same time Adams, 500 miles to the north, lay dying. A memoir by Abigail’s nephew William Cranch, chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, reports that Adams awoke on the Fourth to bells ringing and cannon booming. The celebrations had begun. Asked if he knew what day it was he said yes, “It is the glorious 4th of July—God bless it—God bless you all.” According to legend, just before he died at 6 p.m., he awoke and said, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

What drove their reconciliation? A tenderness, toward history and toward themselves. They knew what their friendship had been. They had lived through and to a significant degree driven a world-historical event, the invention of America. They had shared that moment and it had been the great moment of their lives, greater than their presidencies, greater than what followed. They had been geniuses together.

As the Fourth explodes around us we should take some inspiration from the story of an old estrangement healed. We’re all trying to repair something. May you have a Benjamin Rush.




"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

- Thomas Jefferson


"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

- George Washington


"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

- Ronald Reagan

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