NATO

According to Emmanuel Macron, the days of popular sovereignty are over

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 25/09/2017 - 12:36am in

by Thierry Meyssan, September 5, 2017, via VoltaireNet Delivering a keynote speech before the most senior of French diplomats, President Macron revealed his conception of the world and the way in which he intends to use the tools at his disposal. According to him, there will be no more popular sovereignty, neither in France, nor in Europe, and therefore no more national or supra-national democracies. Neither will there be any more collective interest, no more Republic, but an ill-defined catalogue of things and ideas which compose the common good. Describing their new programme of work to the ambassadors, he informed them that they should no longer defend the values of their country, but find opportunities to act in the name of the European Leviathan. Entering into the details of certain conflicts, he described a programme of economic colonisation of the Levant and Africa. Participating in the traditional Ambassadors’ Week, President Macron gave his first general speech on foreign policy since his arrival at the Elysée Palace [1]. In this article, all the quotations in inverted commas …

The Rohingya Psyops: Waging Covert War on Myanmar

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/09/2017 - 11:30pm in

The United Nations has accused the Government of Myanmar of committing ‘genocide’ against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the country’s troubled Rakhine State. In recent weeks the crisis in Myanmar has escalated, with human rights groups and NGOs publishing copious denunciations of the alleged human rights abuses and mass murder committed by the Myanmar Armed Forces, (Tatmadaw). The Myanmar government claims that they are fighting a war on terrorism against forces which seek to destabilise the state, Islamist forces in particular. They also claim that the so-called ethnic minority commonly referred to as ‘Rohingya’ are really illegal East Bengali immigrants.

Germany’s Minister of Defense is the first victim of “Zapad 2017”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/09/2017 - 3:00am in

Adomas Abromaitis Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen at a defense ministers’ summit in Estonia on September, 7 criticized upcoming Russian-Belarusian Zapad 2017 military exercises. She said that around 100,000 Russian soldiers will take part in the upcoming Zapad 2017 war games, despite Moscow’s claims that they will only have 12,700 participants and exercise will not exceed the 2011 Vienna Document limits. Moscow and Minsk also insist on defensive character of the exercise. Two countries that constitute the Union State of Russia and Belarus pre-declared intention to improve interoperability of staffs of different levels as well as interfacing of prospective troops and armament control systems in order to be prepared to react adequately to emerging threats. The statement of Germany’s Minister of Defense fully contradicts these official sources and was likely made in order to divert attention from internal problems in the German Army and switch it to external factors. Is Germany itself really ready to cope with rapidly changing geopolitical situation? This question should logically be addressed to the country’s Minister of Defense …

Why Trump rolled over on Russia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/08/2017 - 4:00am in

by Philip Roddis, from Steel City Scribblings Trump’s cave in on rapprochement with Putin shows the hollowness and shallow worldview of this inept narcissist. More importantly, it shows an American ruling class committed to war, cold for now, on Russia. To see why, we must set aside what we think we know about the old one. Suppose that cold war was not about ‘defending our freedom’. Suppose it was instead about one sixth of the world’s land mass – its vast resources and markets – being closed off to Profit. Why suppose any such thing? Because for reasons beyond my current remit, capitalism’s inner laws of motion demand ceaseless accumulation, even as they drive a tendency to falling profits. I haven’t the space here to prove these things, nor do I ask anyone to accept them on my say so. I ask only that for purposes of inquiry we suppose them true. Things that don’t otherwise make much sense suddenly snap into focus. Like why there’s still a cold war on Russia …. The Reagan …

The New York Times Pushes Propaganda War Against Russia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/08/2017 - 2:42pm in

by “Publius Tacitus”, via Sic Semper Tyrannis, August 1, 2017 There is no longer any doubt that the New York Times is nothing more than a willing cog in the establishment war machine and is happy to serve as a propaganda platform. While there are times that newspapers and electronic media outlets are unwitting dupes for propaganda, the article penned by Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt (published on 31 July 2017) is the work of willing puppets masquerading as journalists: Russia’s Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression This screed starts with this piece of artful dishonesty: Russia is preparing to send as many as 100,000 troops to the eastern edge of NATO territory at the end of the summer, one of the biggest steps yet in the military buildup undertaken by President Vladimir V. Putin and an exercise in intimidation that recalls the most ominous days of the Cold War. Since when is it an act of “aggression” for a country–Russia in this case–to conduct military exercises in its own territory? Gordon and Schmitt also conveniently omit the …

Is history a new NATO weapon against Russia?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/07/2017 - 11:00pm in

by Adomas Abromaitis On Wednesday (July 11th) NATO and Russia have got a new reason to argue and make claims to each other. NATO posted an 8-minute online documentary feature video, glorifying activity of the Baltic partisan movement “Forests Brothers” (see above). The matter is for the Baltic States WWII did not end in 1945, as well as for the Soviet army soldiers who faced unexpected violent resistance from national partisans. The Forest Brothers actively fought the Soviet army from 1948 until the late 1950s or early 60s. It should be noted that the Forests Brothers’ activity is little known and controversial piece of history of the Baltic States. There are two radically opposite points of view. From one point of view the Forest Brothers were partisans who continued armed resistance to the Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania after the end of the Second World War. From the second point of view such treatment of their activity is very contradictory, because there are facts that many of the Forest Brothers were former Nazi …

«War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper (II)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 19/07/2017 - 9:00pm in

by Stephen Karganovic, July 9, 2017, Strategic Culture In his memoir, «War in the Balkans», (1) retired Portuguese general Carlos Martins Branco, who was during the conflict in the Former Yugoslavia in the strategically important post of Deputy Head of Mission of UN Military Observers in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (1994-1996), recounts his knowledge of events that took place around Srebrenica in July of 1995. In contrast to the fanciful tales of a bevy of dubious «experts», false witnesses, and outright propagandists, General Martins Branco reports facts as they were observed or collected by intelligence and other sources in the field.  That information made its way through official channels to his desk in Zagreb, where the headquarters of the UN Observer Mission was located.  Martins Branco’s facts and conclusions are hardly susceptible to off-hand dismissal. Excerpts cited below are on pages 201 – 206 of his memoir. We will begin with the general’s conclusion challenging the received wisdom that Srebrenica was genocide and then work our way back from there: «Had they entertained the …

«War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper (I)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/07/2017 - 9:00pm in

by Stephen Karganovic, July 7, 2914, via Strategic Culture General Carlos Martins Branco is one of the most fascinating (and until quite recently also inaccessible) actors in the Srebrenica controversy.  From his Zagreb vantage point as deputy head of the U.N. Protection Force (UNPROFOR) between 1994 and 1996, during the latter phase of the 1990s Yugoslav conflict as it unfolded in Croatia and Bosnian and Herzegovina, this Portuguese officer had privileged access to significant information.  Confidential reports about the goings on in the field were crossing his desk.  With first-hand information and further enlightened by discrete conversations with colleagues from various intelligence structures, Martins Branco was positioned ideally to learn facts which many officials would have preferred to cover up, and the media frequently ignored. With a typically Latin emotional flair, refusing to remain silent as the «Srebrenica genocide narrative» was taking shape in the second half of the 1990s, Martins Branco published in 1998 an article provocatively entitled «Was Srebrenica a Hoax? Eyewitness Account of a Former UN Military Observer in Bosnia».  In that early plunge …

The Demolition of US Global Power

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/07/2017 - 4:25am in

This post originally appeared at TomDispatch.

The superhighway to disaster is already being paved.

From Donald Trump’s first days in office, news of the damage to America’s international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported US global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn. By degrading NATO, alienating Asian allies, cancelling trade treaties and slashing critical scientific research, the Trump White House is already in the process of demolishing the delicately balanced architecture that has sustained Washington’s world leadership since the end of World War II. However unwittingly, Trump is ensuring the accelerated collapse of American global hegemony.

Having more or less exhausted their lexicon of condemnatory rhetoric, the usual crew of commentators is now struggling to understand how an American president could be quite so willfully self-destructive.

Stunned by his succession of foreign policy blunders, commentators — left and right, domestic and foreign — have raised their voices in a veritable chorus of criticism. A Los Angeles Times editorial typically called him “so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality” that he threatened to “weaken this country’s moral standing in the world” and “imperil the planet” through his “appalling” policy choices. “He’s a sucker who’s shrinking US influence in [Asia] and helping make China great again,” wrote New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman after surveying the damage to the country’s Asian alliances from the president’s “decision to tear up the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal in his first week in office.”

The international press has been no less harsh. Reeling from Trump’s denunciation of South Korea’s free-trade agreement as “horrible” and his bizarre claim that the country had once been “a part of China,” Seoul’s leading newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, expressed the “shock, betrayal, and anger many South Koreans have felt.” Assessing his first 100 days in office, Britain’s venerable Observer commented: “Trump’s crudely intimidatory, violent, know-nothing approach to sensitive international issues has encircled the globe from Moscow to the Middle East to Beijing, plunging foes and allies alike into a dark vortex of expanding strategic instability.”

For an American president to virtually walk out of his grand inaugural celebrations into such a hailstorm of criticism is beyond extraordinary. Having more or less exhausted their lexicon of condemnatory rhetoric, the usual crew of commentators is now struggling to understand how an American president could be quite so willfully self-destructive.

 
Britain’s Suez Crisis

Blitzed by an incessant stream of bizarre tweets and White House conspiracy theories, observers worldwide seem to have concluded that Donald Trump is a president like no other, that the situation he’s creating is without parallel, and that his foreign policy is already a disaster without precedent. After rummaging around in history’s capacious closet for some old suit that might fit him, analysts have failed to find any antecedent or analogue to adequately explain him.

Yet just 60 years ago, a crisis in the ever-volatile Middle East overseen by a bumbling, mistake-prone British leader helped create a great power debacle that offers insight into the Trumpian moment, a glimpse into possible futures and a sense of the kind of decline that could lie in the imperial future of the United States.

Blitzed by an incessant stream of bizarre tweets and White House conspiracy theories, observers worldwide seem to have concluded that Donald Trump is a president like no other, that the situation he’s creating is without parallel, and that his foreign policy is already a disaster without precedent.

In the early 1950s, Britain’s international position had many parallels with America’s today. After a difficult postwar recovery from the devastation of World War II, that country was enjoying robust employment, lucrative international investments and the prestige of the pound sterling’s stature as the world’s reserve currency. Thanks to a careful withdrawal from its far-flung, global empire and its close alliance with Washington, London still enjoyed a sense of international influence exceptional for a small island nation of just 50 million people. On balance, Britain seemed poised for many more years of world leadership with all the accompanying economic rewards and perks.

Then came the Suez crisis. After a decade of giving up one colony after another, the accumulated stress of imperial retreat pushed British conservatives into a disastrous military intervention to reclaim Egypt’s Suez Canal. This, in turn, caused a “deep moral crisis in London” and what one British diplomat would term the “dying convulsion of British imperialism.” In a clear instance of what historians call “micro-militarism” — that is, a bold military strike designed to recover fading imperial influence — Britain joined France and Israel in a misbegotten military invasion of Egypt that transformed slow imperial retreat into a precipitous collapse.

Just as the Panama Canal had once been a shining example for Americans of their nation’s global prowess, so British conservatives treasured the Suez Canal as a vital lifeline that tied their small island to its sprawling empire in Asia and Africa. A few years after the canal’s grand opening in 1869, London did the deal of the century, scooping up Egypt’s shares in it for a bargain-basement price of £4 million. Then, in 1882, Britain consolidated its control over the canal through a military occupation of Egypt, reducing that ancient land to little more than an informal colony.

As late as 1950, in fact, Britain still maintained 80,000 soldiers and a string of military bases astride the canal. The bulk of its oil and gasoline, produced at the enormous Abadan refinery in the Persian Gulf, transited through Suez, fueling its navy, its domestic transportation system, and much of its industry.

After British troops completed a negotiated withdrawal from Suez in 1955, the charismatic nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser asserted Egypt’s neutrality in the Cold War by purchasing Soviet bloc arms, raising eyebrows in Washington. In July 1956, after the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower had in response reneged on its promise to finance construction of the Aswan High Dam on the Upper Nile, Nasser sought alternative financing for this critical infrastructure by nationalizing the Suez Canal. In doing so, he electrified the Arab world and elevated himself to the top rank of world leaders.

Although British ships still passed freely through the canal and Washington insisted on a diplomatic resolution of the conflict, Britain’s conservative leadership reacted with irrational outrage. Behind a smokescreen of sham diplomacy designed to deceive Washington, their closest ally, the British foreign secretary met secretly with the prime ministers of France and Israel near Paris to work out an elaborately deceptive two-stage invasion of Egypt by 250,000 allied troops, backed by 500 aircraft and 130 warships. Its aim, of course, was to secure the canal.

On Oct. 29, 1956, the Israeli army led by the dashing Gen. Moshe Dayan swept across the Sinai Peninsula, destroying Egyptian tanks and bringing his troops to within 10 miles of the canal. Using this fighting as a pretext for an intervention to restore peace, Anglo-French amphibious and airborne forces quickly joined the attack, backed by a devastating bombardment from six aircraft carriers that destroyed the Egyptian air force, including over a hundred of its new MiG jet fighters. As Egypt’s military collapsed with some 3,000 of its troops killed and 30,000 captured, Nasser deployed a defense brilliant in its simplicity by scuttling dozens of rusting cargo ships filled with rocks and concrete at the entrance to the Suez Canal. In this way, he closed Europe’s oil lifeline to the Persian Gulf.

Simultaneously, UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, backed by Washington, imposed a cease-fire after just nine days of war, stopping the Anglo-French attack far short of capturing the entire canal. President Eisenhower’s blunt refusal to back his allies with either oil or money and the threat of condemnation before the UN soon forced Britain into a humiliating withdrawal. With its finances collapsing from the invasion’s soaring costs, the British government could not maintain the pound’s official exchange rate, degrading its stature as a global reserve currency.

The author of this extraordinary debacle was Sir Anthony Eden, a problematic prime minister whose career offers some striking parallels with Donald Trump’s. Born into privilege as the son of a landholder, Eden enjoyed a good education at a private school and an elite university. After inheriting a substantial fortune from his father, he entered politics as a conservative, using his political connections to dabble in finance. Chafing under Winston Churchill’s postwar leadership of the Conservative Party, Eden, who styled himself a rebel against hidebound institutions, used incessant infighting and his handsome head of hair to push the great man aside and become prime minister in 1955.

When Nasser nationalized the canal, Eden erupted with egotism, bluster and outrage. “What’s all this nonsense about isolating Nasser,” Eden berated his foreign affairs minister. “I want him destroyed, can’t you understand? I want him murdered, and if you and the Foreign Office don’t agree, then you’d better come to the Cabinet and explain why.” Convinced that Britain was still the globe’s great power, Eden rejected sound advice that he consult fully with Washington, the country’s closest ally. As his bold intervention plunged toward diplomatic disaster, the prime minister became focused on manipulating the British media, in the process confusing favorable domestic coverage with international support.

When Washington demanded a ceasefire as the price of a billion-dollar bailout for a British economy unable to sustain such a costly war, Eden’s bluster quickly crumbled and he denied his troops a certain victory, arousing a storm of protest in Parliament. Humiliated by the forced withdrawal, Eden compensated psychologically by ordering MI-6, Britain’s equivalent of the CIA, to launch its second ill-fated assassination attempt on Nasser. Since its chief local agent was actually a double-agent loyal to Nasser, Egyptian security had, however, already rounded up the British operatives and the weapons delivered for the contract killers proved duds.

Confronted with a barrage of angry questions in Parliament about his collusion with the Israelis, Eden lied repeatedly, swearing that there was no “foreknowledge that Israel would attack Egypt.” Protesters denounced him as “too stupid to be a prime minister,” opposition members of parliament laughed openly when he appeared before Parliament, and his own foreign affairs minister damned him as “an enraged elephant charging senselessly at… imaginary enemies.”

Just weeks after the last British soldier left Egypt, Eden, discredited and disgraced, was forced to resign after only 21 months in office. Led into this unimaginably misbegotten operation by his delusions of omnipotence, he left the once-mighty British lion a toothless circus animal that would henceforth roll over whenever Washington cracked the whip.

 
Trump’s Demolition Job

Despite the obvious differences in their economic circumstances, there remain some telling resonances between Britain’s postwar politics and America’s troubles today. Both of these fading global hegemons suffered a slow erosion of economic power in a fast-changing world, producing severe social tensions and stunted political leaders. Britain’s Conservative Party leadership had declined from the skilled diplomacy of Disraeli, Salisbury and Churchill to Eden’s bluster and blunder. Similarly, the Republican Party has descended from the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush to a field of 17 primary candidates in 2016 who promised to resolve an infinitely complex crisis in the Middle East through a set of incendiary policies that included making desert sands glow from carpet-bombing and forcing terrorists to capitulate through torture. Confronted with daunting international challenges, the voters of both countries supported appealing but unstable leaders whose delusions of omnipotence inclined them to military misadventures.

Like British citizens of the 1950s, most Americans today do not fully grasp the fragility of their status as “the leader of the free world.” Indeed, Washington has been standing astride the globe as a superpower for so long that most of its leaders have almost no understanding of the delicate design of their country’s global power built so carefully by two post-World War II presidents.

Like British citizens of the 1950s, most Americans today do not fully grasp the fragility of their status as “the leader of the free world.” Indeed, Washington has been standing astride the globe as a superpower for so long that most of its leaders have almost no understanding of the delicate design of their country’s global power built so carefully by two post-World War II presidents.

Under Democratic President Harry Truman, Congress created the key instruments for Washington’s emerging national security state and its future global dominion by passing the National Security Act of 1947 that established the Air Force, the CIA and two new executive agencies, the Defense Department and the National Security Council. To rebuild a devastated, war-torn Europe, Washington launched the Marshall Plan and then turned such thinking into a worldwide aid program through the US Agency for International Development meant to embed American power globally and support pro-American elites across the planet. Under Truman as well, US diplomats forged the NATO alliance (which Washington would dominate until the Trump moment), advanced European unity, and signed a parallel string of mutual-defense treaties with key Asian allies along the Pacific littoral, making Washington the first power in two millennia to control both “axial ends” of the strategic Eurasian continent.

During the 1950s, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower deployed this national security apparatus to secure Washington’s global dominion with a nuclear triad (bombers, ballistic missiles, and submarines), a chain of military bases that ringed Eurasia and a staggering number of highly militarized covert operations to assure the ascent of loyal allies worldwide. Above all, he oversaw the integration of the latest in scientific and technological research into the Pentagon’s weapons procurement system through the forging of the famed “military-industrial complex” (against which he would end up warning Americans as he left office in 1961). All this, in turn, fostered an aura of American power so formidable that Washington could re-order significant parts of the world almost at will, enforcing peace, setting the international agenda and toppling governments on four continents.

While it’s reasonable to argue that Washington had by then become history’s greatest global power, its hegemony, like that of all the world empires that preceded it, remained surprisingly fragile. Skilled leadership was required to maintain the system’s balance of diplomacy, military power, economic strength and technological innovation.

By the time President Trump took his oath of office, negative, long-term trends had already started to limit the influence of any American leader on the world stage. These included a declining share of the global economy, an erosion of US technological primacy, an inability to apply its overwhelming military power in a way that achieved expected policy goals on an ever more recalcitrant planet and a generation of increasingly independent national leaders, whether in Europe, Asia or Latin America.

Apart from such adverse trends, Washington’s global power rested on such strategic fundamentals that its leaders might still have managed carefully enough to maintain a reasonable semblance of American hegemony: notably, the NATO alliance and Asian mutual-security treaties at the strategic antipodes of Eurasia, trade treaties that reinforced such alliances, scientific research to sustain its military’s technological edge and leadership on international issues like climate change.

In just five short months, however, the Trump White House has done a remarkable job of demolishing these very pillars of US global power. During his first overseas trip in May 2017, President Trump chastised stone-faced NATO leaders for failure to pay their “fair share” into the military part of the alliance and refused to affirm its core principle of collective defense. Ignoring the pleas of these close allies, he then forfeited America’s historic diplomatic leadership by announcing Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord with all the drama of a reality television show. After watching his striking repudiation of Washington’s role as world leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told voters in her country that “we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans.”

Along the strategic Pacific littoral, Trump cancelled the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact on taking office and gratuitously alienated allies by cutting short a courtesy phone call to Australia’s prime minister and insulting South Korea to the point where its new president won office, in part, on a platform of “say no” to America. When President Moon Jae-in visited Washington in June, determined to heal the breach between the two countries, he was, as The New York Times reported, blindsided by “the harshness of Mr. Trump’s critique of South Korea on trade.”

Just days after Trump dismissed Moon’s suggestion that the two countries engage in actual diplomatic negotiations with Pyongyang, North Korea successfully test-fired a ballistic missile potentially capable of reaching Alaska or possibly Hawaii with a nuclear warhead (though experts believe Pyongyang may still be years away from effectively fitting such a warhead to the missile). It was an act that made those same negotiations Washington’s only viable option — apart from a second Korean War, which would potentially devastate both the region and the US position as the preeminent international leader.

In other words, after 70 years of global dominion, America’s geopolitical command of the axial ends of Eurasia — the central pillars of its world power — seems to be crumbling in a matter of months.

Instead of the diplomacy of presidents past, Trump and his advisers, especially his military men, have reacted to his first modest foreign crises as well as the everyday power questions of empire with outbursts akin to Anthony Eden’s. Since January, the White House has erupted in sudden displays of raw military power that included a drone blitz of unprecedented intensity in Yemen to destroy what the president called a “network of lawless savages,” the bombardment of a Syrian air base with 59 Tomahawk missiles, and the detonation of the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb on a terrorist refuge in eastern Afghanistan.

While reveling in the use of such weaponry, Trump, by slashing federal funding for critical scientific research, is already demolishing the foundations for the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower’s successors, Republican and Democratic alike, so sedulously maintained for the last half-century. While China is ramping up its scientific research across the board, Trump has proposed what the American Association for Advancement of Science called “deep cuts to numerous research agencies” that will mean the eventual loss of the country’s technological edge. In the emerging field of artificial intelligence that will soon drive space warfare and cyber-warfare, the White House wants to reduce the 2018 budget for this critical research at the National Science Foundation to a paltry $175 million, even as Beijing is launching “a new multi-billion-dollar initiative” linked to building “military robots.”

 
A Future Debacle in the Greater Middle East

With a president who shares Sir Anthony Eden’s penchant for bravura, self-delusion and impulsiveness, the US seems primed for a 21st-century Suez of its own, a debacle in the Greater Middle East (or possibly elsewhere). From the disastrous expedition that ancient Athens sent to Sicily in 413 BCE to Britain’s invasion of Suez in 1956, embattled empires throughout the ages have often suffered an arrogance that drives them to plunge ever deeper into military misadventures until defeat becomes debacle, a misuse of armed force known technically among historians as micro-militarism. With the hubris that has marked empires over the millennia, the Trump administration is, for instance, now committed to extending indefinitely Washington’s failing war of pacification in Afghanistan with a new mini-surge of US troops (and air power) in that classic “graveyard of empires.”

So irrational, so unpredictable is such micromilitarism that even the most fanciful of scenarios can be outpaced by actual events, as was true at Suez. With the US military stretched thin from North Africa to South Korea, with no lasting successes in its post-9/11 wars, and with tensions rising from the Persian Gulf and Syria to the South China Sea and the Koreas, the possibilities for a disastrous military crisis abroad seem almost unending. So let me pick just one possible scenario for a future Trumpian military misadventure in the Greater Middle East. (I’m sure you’ll think of other candidates immediately.)

It’s the late spring of 2020, the start of the traditional Afghan fighting season, and a US garrison in the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is unexpectedly overrun by an ad hoc alliance of Taliban and Islamic State guerrillas. While US aircraft are grounded in a blinding sand storm, the militants summarily execute their American captives, filming the gruesome event for immediate upload on the internet. Speaking to an international television audience, President Trump thunders against “disgusting Muslim murderers” and swears he will “make the desert sands run red with their blood.” In fulfillment of that promise, an angry American theater commander sends B-1 bombers and F-35 fighters to demolish whole neighborhoods of Kandahar believed to be under Taliban control. In an aerial coup de grâce, AC-130-U “Spooky” gunships then rake the rubble with devastating cannon fire. The civilian casualties are beyond counting.

Soon, mullahs are preaching jihad from mosques across Afghanistan and far beyond. Afghan Army units, long trained by American forces to turn the tide of the war, begin to desert en masse. In isolated posts across the country, clusters of Afghan soldiers open fire on their American advisers in what are termed “insider” or “green-on-blue” attacks. Meanwhile, Taliban fighters launch a series of assaults on scattered US garrisons elsewhere in the country, suddenly sending American casualties soaring. In scenes reminiscent of Saigon in 1975, US helicopters rescue American soldiers and civilians from rooftops not just in Kandahar, but in several other provincial capitals and even Kabul.

Meanwhile, angry over the massive civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the anti-Muslim diatribes tweeted almost daily from the Oval Office, and years of depressed energy prices, OPEC’s leaders impose a harsh new oil embargo aimed at the United States and its allies. With refineries running dry in Europe and Asia, the world economy trembling at the brink of recession, and gas prices soaring, Washington flails about for a solution. The first call is to NATO, but the alliance is near collapse after four years of President Trump’s erratic behavior. Even the British, alienated by his inattention to their concerns, rebuff his appeals for support.

Facing an uncertain reelection in November 2020, the Trump White House makes its move, sending Marines and Special Operations forces to seize oil ports in the Persian Gulf. Flying from the Fifth Fleet’s base in Bahrain, Navy Seals and Army Rangers occupy the Ras Tanura refinery in Saudi Arabia, the ninth largest in the world; Kuwait’s main oil port at Shuaiba; and Iraq’s at Um Qasr.

Simultaneously, the light carrier USS Iwo Jima steams south at the head of a task force that launches helicopters carrying 6,000 Special Operations forces tasked with seizing the al-Ruwais refinery in Abu Dhabi, the world’s fourth largest and the megaport at Jebel Ali in Dubai, a 20-square-mile complex so massive that the Americans can only occupy its oil facilities. When Teheran vehemently protests the US escalation in the Persian Gulf and hints at retaliation, Defense Secretary James Mattis, reviving a plan from his days as CENTCOM commander, orders preemptive Tomahawk missile strikes on Iran’s flagship oil refinery at Abadan.

From its first hours, the operation goes badly wrong. The troops seem lost inside the unmapped mazes of pipes that honeycomb the oil ports. Meanwhile, refinery staff prove stubbornly uncooperative, sensing that the occupation will be short-lived and disastrous. On day three, Iranian Revolutionary Guard commandos, who have been training for this moment since the breakdown of the 2015 nuclear accord with the US, storm ashore at the Kuwaiti and Emirate refineries with remote-controlled charges. Unable to use their superior firepower in such a volatile environment, American troops are reduced to firing futile bursts at the departing speed boats as oil storage tanks and gas pipes explode spectacularly.

Three days later, as the USS Gerald Ford approaches an Iranian island, more than 100 speedboats suddenly appear, swarming the carrier in a practiced pattern of high-speed crisscrosses. Every time lethal bursts from the carrier’s MK-38 chain guns rip through the lead boats, others emerge from the flames coming closer and closer. Concealed by clouds of smoke, one finally reaches an undefended spot beneath the conning tower near enough for a Revolutionary guardsman to attach a magnetic charge to the hull with a fateful click. There is a deafening roar and a gaping hole erupts at the waterline of the first aircraft carrier to be crippled in battle since World War II. As things go from bad to worse, the Pentagon is finally forced to accept that a debacle is underway and withdraws its capital ships from the Persian Gulf.

As black clouds billow skyward from the Gulf’s oil ports and diplomats rise at the UN to bitterly denounce American actions, commentators worldwide reach back to the 1956 debacle that marked the end of imperial Britain to brand this “America’s Suez.” The empire has been trumped.

The post The Demolition of US Global Power appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Book Review: International Organizations and Military Affairs by Hylke Dijkstra

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/07/2017 - 8:31pm in

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NATO

In International Organizations and Military Affairs, Hylke Dijkstra captures the breadth and depth of the interconnections between member states and international secretariats. The book is not only an important scholarly contribution, but also fills a crucial gap for anyone who seeks to gain a better understanding of the politics within international organisations and international military collaborations, writes Kai Chen.

International Organizations and Military Affairs. Hylke Dijkstra. Routledge. 2016.

Find this book: amazon-logo

Based on official documents, secondary literature and background papers, as well as 45 in-depth interviews conducted with relevant policymakers in the United Nations, European Union and NATO, International Organizations and Military Affairs, authored by Hylke Dijkstra, explores why and how member states seek to control the expansion of secretariats within these three major international organisations engaging in multinational military operations. It’s noteworthy that Dijkstra adopts the principal–agent theory as the analytic framework of the book.

International Organizations and Military Affairs is divided into four parts. The first section (Introduction and Chapter One) explains why some member states would like to control the secretariats and constrain their expansion. In the following part (Chapters Two to Four), Dijkstra offers an overview of the institutional dynamics of the UN, the EU and NATO, which have swayed precariously between ‘delegating’ and ‘controlling’ their secretariats: namely, the UN Secretariat (e.g. the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support), the EU’s European External Action Service and the NATO International Staff.

In the early twenty-first century, international organisations have played essential roles in planning and conducting multinational military operations. In order to reduce the costs of these (e.g. burden sharing and legitimacy), member states of international organisations have delegated some military functions to secretariats. As a result, secretariats have their own budgetary and personnel resources, and even informational advantages over member states. While interests vary across the member states, there has been a clear division between attitudes toward international secretariats. While some member states do not see clear benefits in the expansion of the secretariats, ‘like-minded member states want secretariats to succeed in exerting influence’ (208).

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From a cost–benefit perspective, Part Three of the book (Chapters Five to Seven) analyses why and how member states have used three mechanisms to control the expansion of the secretariats within these major international organisations, which ‘each employ 450-650 policy-grade civil servants working on security and military affairs’ (45). For the member states against the secretariats’ expansion, they consider that ‘if states anticipate too high agency costs, they should not delegate at all’ (214). Not surprisingly, these member states have therefore been using three control mechanisms: non-delegation (or incomplete delegation), generic rules and shadow bureaucracies. In the words of Dijkstra, these mechanisms are ‘directly linked to the unilateral interests of member states or groups of member states’ (129). Although the three mechanisms have proved effective, they have considerable administrative and policy costs; Dijkstra therefore identifies the pros and cons of the three mechanisms.

First, some member states have preferred the non-delegation of critical functions. Non-delegation addresses agency costs but has ‘resulted in considerable policy costs’, such as delays in multinational military operations (64). However, there is a notable exception: Operation Atalanta, one of the EU anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, in which the non-delegation of UK command functions did not lead to high policy costs. This was because the national headquarters of the British armed forces are in Northwood, the same location as the EU and NATO’s operations headquarters. This co-location therefore ‘has allowed for contacts and inter-institutional coordination’ (194).

Second, some member states have adopted generic rules (e.g. operating procedures and doctrines), which ‘restricts the flexibility of secretariats’ (43). In the case of the NATO International Staff, Dijkstra identifies several generic rules including, but not limited to, zero budgetary growth and ‘the division of high-level positions among the key member states’ (204). Regarding the UN Secretariat, UN member states also follow a generic rule that ‘the large majority of personnel is appointed on yearly contracts’ (82). In the long run, these would probably lead to negative outcomes: for instance, private military/security contractors being employed by the UN under yearly contracts is still controversial from the point of view of international law.

Third, in order to address informational asymmetries, some member states have used shadow bureaucracies to gather, process and verify information at the cost of significant in-house administrative capability. In fact, some shadow bureaucracies are barely satisfying. In the case of UNMISS (the United Nations Mission in South Sudan), sometimes its function was reportedly limited to ‘protect[ing] the civilians who made their way to the UN bases’ (152).

The final part, Chapter Eight, outlines the issues that need further research in the coming future. Dijkstra shows less concern about the secretariats’ countermeasures to the control mechanisms. For instance, as he confesses, the NATO International Staff used to ‘team up with the United States and other like-minded allies’ (173). At the very least, there is an urgent need to answer the following two questions: how have the international secretariats colluded with like-minded member states? And how have the international secretariats responded to the control mechanisms adopted by some member states? The answers to the aforementioned questions would be helpful for considering the future payoffs of delegation. In addition, this reviewer is highly interested in the extent to which Dijkstra’s findings would be applicable to non-European regional organisations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

International Organizations and Military Affairs captures the breadth and depth of the interconnections between member states and international secretariats. Moreover, it offers not only an important scholarly contribution, but also fills a crucial gap for anyone who seeks to gain a better understanding of the politics within international organisations and international military collaborations. This reviewer highly recommends this book to any individuals interested in international security as well as future scholars and analysts.

Kai Chen, PhD, is an assistant professor at the School of International Relations, Xiamen University, China. His principal research focuses on the nexus between international security and human insecurity, such as child labour, and maritime piracy. He has held visiting appointments at the National University of Singapore, Kyoto University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Thammasat University in Thailand, and Chengchi University in Taiwan. He is the author of On Geo-cultural Relations between China and Indo-China Peninsula Countries (Xiamen University Press, 2016), and Comparative Study of Child Soldiering on Myanmar-China Border: Evolutions, Challenges and Countermeasures (Springer, 2014).

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


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