03/30/2021 News & Commentary – National Security Summary

News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs. 1. The Passing of A Diplomatic Legend and a Master of Grand Strategy (Charles Hill)

2. Why Special Operations Oversight Should Matter to Every American 3. New head of diversity and inclusion at US Special Operations Command reassigned as military investigates social media posts 4. The infinite game: How the US Army plans to operate in great power competition

5. The WHO covid report is fatally flawed, and a real investigation has yet to take place 6. FDD | Biden Revives the Truman Doctrine 7. While the world tore its hair out over the Suez, Russia saw an opportunity

8. Taiwan Tripwire: A New Role For The U.S. Army In Deterring Chinese Aggression 9. The China-Iran Axis

10. Haines stresses rebuilding intelligence alliances post-Trump 11. The Future of Sino-U.S.

Proxy War 12. The Shape of Things to Come: Why the Pentagon Must Embrace Soft Power to Compete with China 13. SolarWinds Hack: ‘The Truth Is Much More Complicated’

14. Storm Clouds Ahead: Musings About the 2022 Defense Budget 15. The agency that controls U.S. nukes had its Twitter account accessed by a child 16. Identity Politics and Critical Race Theory Have No Place in US Military

17. Race to the Top Brass 18. How a CIA operation in Indonesia turned the Vietnam War 1. The Passing of A Diplomatic Legend and a Master of Grand Strategy (Charles Hill)

thedispatch.com . by Eric Edelman In addition to his excellent book on literature and grand strategy, the biography of him by one his grand strategy students at Yale is excellent and well worth the read not only because it is a great read about a great man’s life but also because it provides some great historical insights to many of the key events of diplomacy and national security that occurred during his service to our nation. I never had the opportunity to meet him but he has been a great influence through his books and his example of service. 

2.  Why Special Operations Oversight Should Matter to Every American Small Wars Journal . by Clay Fuller This should stir some discussion, I hope.

Excerpt: “Second, we need to admit that if SOF walks, talks, and looks like a separate service–then we should treat it as such. This can be done without making it a separate service but providing the correct service authorities. 3.New head of diversity and inclusion at US Special Operations Command reassigned as military investigates social media posts CNN . by Oren Liebermann and Ellie Kaufman

Uh oh… is this a lesson in cancel culture? 4. The infinite game: How the US Army plans to operate in great power competition Defense News . by Jen Judson .

March 29, 2021 Excerpts: “Multinational exercises provide value to allies and partners through mechanisms like officer exchanges in operational-level headquarters, intelligence sharing and logistical support and can tip the scale toward the U.S. if a partner is balancing competing interests between the U.S. and China, for example, the paper outlines. Exercises of this size also show U.S. strength and capability to the general public and civilian policymakers in the region.

But additionally, the reputation earned from these exercises is more wide-reaching. “For instance, demonstrations of the Joint Force’s ability to integrate all domains at strategic distances shapes perceptions of U.S. strength in Iran, even if the actual exercise is far distant.” The Army has to strike a balance between being ready for armed conflict and suppressing adversaries in the competition phase. And the service acknowledges that its contribution to great power competition is to provide the best fighting force in the world, but, “general excellence only goes so far.”

The U.S. “might have an enormous advantage in the battle of narratives yet still be unable to effectively compete with China in the western Pacific or with Russia in the Baltic region, and thus fail to achieve strategic objectives,” the document warns. 5. The WHO covid report is fatally flawed, and a real investigation has yet to take place The Washington Post . by Josh Rogin .

March 30, 2021 Excerpts: “The Chinese government and the friends of the Wuhan lab want to dismiss any efforts to call for more investigation into the lab-accident theory as conspiracy theories. But that conspiracy now would have to include the Trump administration, the Biden administration, Redfield and the growing list of scientists who insist that this possibility be explored.

Critics often conflate the fact there is “no proof” of the theory with the false assertion there is “no evidence” to suggest it. “When people talk about ‘no evidence’ [of a lab accident], you could argue there’s ‘no evidence’ on either side,” said Flinders University Professor of Medicine Nikolai Petrovsky, one of more than two dozen scientists who signed an open letter calling for a full and independent investigation into the origins of covid-19. “There’s as much evidence for the potential lab leak hypothesis as there currently is for a natural animal crossover event. I think we have to be fair and say it’s a completely open question.”

The WHO team wants to move on to searching for the virus in packages of frozen food in other countries. Let them do it. Meanwhile, somebody else will have to investigate the lab-accident theory, because the WHO and Beijing have no intention of treating it with the seriousness it deserves.

The Biden administration can help by releasing all the information it has on the lab now. That would help us to get closer to the truth — and help to prevent future pandemics. 6. FDD | Biden Revives the Truman Doctrine

fdd.org . by David Adesnik . March 29, 2021 Excerpts: “The end of the Cold War rescued Truman’s reputation, although he was long dead.

He is now seen as the resolute architect of a successful strategy and historic victory. In 2017, a survey of more than 90 leading historians ranked Truman as the sixth greatest U.S. president, one spot ahead of Thomas Jefferson. What risks is Biden prepared to take in pursuit of his vision?

If he imposes tougher sanctions on North Korea and stations more U.S. troops in the south, leader Kim Jong-un may resume nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches. If Biden redoubles support to Ukraine, Russia may heat up the war in the Donbas and escalate cyberattacks against the West. If Biden confronts Beijing in the South China Sea and continues to sanction it for atrocities in Xinjiang, the intimidation of Taiwan is likely to intensify while the odds of an agreement to limit Chinese carbon emissions will sharply diminish.

With regard to Iran, Biden has already made clear that he wants to reverse Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign” and return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Yet on multiple fronts, Biden has shown a readiness to clash with authoritarian rivals. Anger pervaded the administration’s first high-level meetings with Chinese officials in Anchorage, Alaska. Days later, the United States, Britain, Canada, and the European Union imposed coordinated sanctions on Chinese officials over atrocities in Xinjiang.

After Biden called Putin a “killer,” Blinken said the administration would not waver in its push for new sanctions on firms involved in the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. It would be premature to conclude, however, that Biden’s resolution is as firm as Truman’s was in 1947–even if the parallels between their approaches are aptly clear. So far, the costs of confrontation have been minimal, yet they are unlikely to stay that way.

Eventually, when it stops being easy, Biden will have to decide whether he is prepared to lead a global struggle for democracy like Truman.” 7. While the world tore its hair out over the Suez, Russia saw an opportunity The Washington Post . by Robyn Dixon .

March 29, 2021 Excerpts: “Russia last year released a sweeping plan to open up the Arctic shipping route, which includes building a fleet of dozens of nuclear icebreakers and other ships, mapping natural resources in the region and developing airports, ports and railways in northern Russia. As Suez traffic choked to a halt last week, Russian officials were busy promoting the NSR.

Nikolai Korchunov, Russia’s envoy for international cooperation in the Arctic, said Friday that the Suez Canal blockage should press the world to look at the NSR as an alternative. “The incident in the Suez Canal should make everyone think about diversifying strategic sea routes amid the increasing scope of sea shipping,” he said. Korchunov added that there was “no alternative” to the NSR.

8. Taiwan Tripwire: A New Role For The U.S. Army In Deterring Chinese Aggression Forbes . by Loren Thompson .

March 26, 2021 Yes this would be quite provocative. But I wonder how an armored brigade would sustain readiness. Based on my trips to Taiwan it would seem that training areas would be quite limited.   Excerpt: “A U.S. armored brigade, the heaviest ground formation America’s Army operates, would be a potent fighting force in its own right, but it would be even more potent as a signal to Beijing that Washington has no intention of abandoning Taiwan.

The Army currently has 15 armored brigades (ten active, five reserve), and having one such brigade on the island continuously would greatly assist in preparing for combat with local forces. Of course, Beijing would protest bitterly at any such “violation” of the status quo, but given the many ways in which Beijing has failed to meet its commitments to Washington across a range of issues, it could hardly claim the moral high ground. So using the U.S.

Army as a tripwire to deter Chinese aggression against Taiwan could be an effective way of averting what otherwise might become a major war during the Biden years. 9. The China-Iran Axis WSJ . by The Editorial Board .

March 29, 2021 10. Haines stresses rebuilding intelligence alliances post-Trump The Hill . by Rebecca Beitsch .

March 29, 2021 Excerpt: The need to rely and contribute to alliances was echoed by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who has been a vocal critic of Trump. “My advice to the Biden administration on tone is basically keep doing what you’re doing.

I think they have brought down the rhetoric on foreign policy a lot. I think the restoration of alliances is going to be important to show people in the United States the importance of an alliance. We’re very important for NATO; NATO’s also really important for us,” he said.

11. The Future of Sino-U.S. Proxy War

Proxy Warfare. by  Dominic Tierney . March 30, 2021 A long read. The full article can be accessed here

12. The Shape of Things to Come: Why the Pentagon Must Embrace Soft Power to Compete with China mwi.usma.edu . by Kyle J. Wolfley .

March 30, 2021 Conclusion: “If policymakers harbor any doubts about the importance of military soft power, they should study the decades leading up to World War I–a period with some parallels to today. During this period, shaping played a central role in the formation of what George Kennan labelled the “Fateful Alliance“: the 1894 defense pact between France and Russia that transformed the European balance of power.

The Franco-Russian alliance would not have been possible, Kennan argued, without the personal friendship of French General Raoul le Mouton de Boisdeffre and Russian General Nikolai Obruchev–a friendship forged during military exercises between the two countries. The new alliance posed its biggest threat to Germany, which had long considered a Franco-Russian alliance a serious obstacle to its safety. But the Germans failed to stop the alliance from forming, a failure that would help spell Germany’s ultimate defeat in World War I.

American policymakers would be wise to heed the lessons of the past. In 2018, Russia invited three thousand Chinese soldiers to participate in one of its largest military exercises, one indicator of a warming relationship between the two major powers. If American policymakers hope to succeed in an era of great power competition, hard power will not be sufficient.

The US military should not forget to wield soft power too.” 13. SolarWinds Hack: ‘The Truth Is Much More Complicated’ breakingdefense.com . by Brad D.

Williams . March 29, 2021 Excerpts: “Lewis said that, for Russia, it’s all about managing risk.

Lewis said he “do[esn’t] worry” about cyberattacks on US critical infrastructure because, “We’ve created a sort of digital Maginot Line” that the Russians would be “very hard pressed” to cross. He also distinguished between cyberespionage and “coercive” cyberattacks. “Recon[naissance] is not regarded as a coercive attack,” Lewis observed. “So, then, the question would be: When would it be in Russia’s interest to launch some kind of major, old-style attack, and I think the answer is never. Why would they do that?

They’re winning now. Why risk having us wake up?” He added, “The Chinese probably feel the same way.”

“Is [SolarWinds] a brilliant intel operation? Yes,” Lewis observed, but it was no “cyber Pearl Harbor.” “Is it the precursor to some massive attack? No.”

14. Storm Clouds Ahead: Musings About the 2022 Defense Budget warontherocks.com . by Robert Work . March 30, 2021

Excerpt: “The coming update to the defense program promises to be more important than usual. It’s been over three years since the National Defense Strategy established a long-term strategic competition with “revisionist powers” — particularly China — as the primary defense challenge facing the joint force. During this time, the services have all been developing new operational concepts and the platforms and capabilities to support them.

It’s time to start seeing concrete changes in the defense program that should follow.” 15. The agency that controls U.S. nukes had its Twitter account accessed by a child Daily Dot .

March 29, 2021 Go figure. Perhaps the buried lede is : STRATCOM has a twitter account?

16. Identity Politics and Critical Race Theory Have No Place in US Military dailysignal.com . by Dakota Wood . March 29, 2021

17. Race to the Top Brass Just Security . by Liam Brennan and Edgar Chen . March 27, 2021

If a picture is worth a thousand words go to the link and view the title photo. No critical race theory here. Just facts and data. 18. How a CIA operation in Indonesia turned the Vietnam War

asiatimes.com . by John McBeth . March 27, 2021 Another interesting story from long ago.

———— “Instead of claiming that anyone can predict what is going to happen, we argue that everyone, from analysts to decision makers, can see the forces as they are taking shape and not be blindsided when those changes inevitably reshape the global environment. Anticipating strategic surprise gives decision makers the ability to look in the right place for game-changing events and to track them systematically. As these scenarios become more plausible, and ever more imminent, decision makers can then pay attention to the right things when they matter most. This kind of insight leads to better questions rather than better answers, but better questions are very, very important.”    – Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall

“We find comfort among those who agree with us–growth among those who don’t.” – Frank A. Clark

“The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but hold hands.”

– Alexandra Penney

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