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Tuesday, June 7, 2016
The United States needs a new grand strategy for Russia. As the Ukraine
crisis continues, there should be no doubt that the goal that had
animated policy since the end of the Cold War—the slow but steady
integration of Russia into the Euro-Atlantic community—is beyond
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DESPITE HIS initial reservations about the merits of close relations with India, President Obama appears to be ending his second term on a high note. The Obama administration invited Prime Minister Modi to address a joint session of Congress, eager to portray the occasion as an opportunity to consolidate bilateral relations. Indeed, this dramatic shift in President Obama’s foreign-policy priorities stems from the assessment of three components of American national interests and India’s role in their achievement: build strong bilateral security and defense cooperation, make India an important export market for U.S. goods and services, and situate India in the strategic pivot to Asia. But a close analysis of American foreign policy toward India shows mixed results. President Obama has succeeded in substantially strengthening existing defense ties, but has had far less success in accelerating U.S. exports to India. This seriously undercuts his goal of advancing American economic interest. President Obama has failed to fully convince India of the American commitment to the Asia pivot strategy. India’s regional concerns over territorial defense from neighbors, coupled with America’s allocation of insufficient resources, contribute to its ambivalence about the pivot.
President Obama’s dramatic shift in foreign policy toward India—from a lukewarm attitude to a strong embrace—appears to have elevated the bilateral relationship to a high priority for the United States. These shifts are important because as a self-professed realist, President Obama focuses on securing America’s core national interests. He has not hesitated to question the relevance of U.S. friends and enemies in the pursuit of those interests. In fact, Obama did not support the U.S. strategic partnership with India under the George W. Bush administration. He has, however, dramatically shifted his policy priorities to build closer relations with India. President Obama describes the U.S.-India relationship as one of the defining partnerships of the twenty-first century, guided by convergent national interests.
The United States needs a new grand strategy for Russia. As the Ukraine crisis continues, there should be no doubt that the goal that had animated policy since the end of the Cold War—the slow but steady integration of Russia into the Euro-Atlantic community—is beyond reach. Russia is no longer interested, if it ever was. Its ambition is to fortify itself as an independent great power based in central Eurasia. It is sharpening its challenge to the U.S.-led world order.
American strategy was not without its successes. It enhanced Euro-Atlantic security and prosperity, at least until the George W. Bush administration overreached in pressing to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. But the strategy was tragically flawed. Integration entailed Russia’s transformation into a free-market, democratic nation-state, which we never had the power to effect, try as we might. That depended on the choices of the Russians themselves. In retrospect, we erred fundamentally in putting the success of our grand strategy in the hands of another country with interests not congruent with ours and leaders determined to run it as they saw fit.
To formulate a new grand strategy, we need to see Russia clearly. Today, our debate is dominated by extremes, by those who see Russia as the top geopolitical threat and those who simply believe it does not matter much any longer. Each position ignores a basic truth.
To begin with, Russia does matter, as would any country with one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, a world-class scientific community to develop the military applications of advanced technologies, the world’s richest endowment of natural resources and a location abutting regions of undisputed strategic importance for the United States: Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. Moreover, even in reduced circumstances, Russia retains the habits and mindset of a global power. It has a first-class diplomatic corps, an increasingly capable military and the will to use both. It will remain a key element of the emerging world order for years to come.
At the same time, Russia faces formidable challenges that will limit the dimensions of any possible threat to the United States.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949 to oppose Soviet expansionism in Western Europe. The end of the war saw the Soviet Union solidify its gains in Eastern Europe, garrisoning countries such as Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and East Germany. NATO was a direct response to the raising of what Winston Churchill deemed the “Iron Curtain.”
At the time, American and Western European planners felt that if war were to break out between West and Stalin’s Russia, it would quite logically take place in Europe. The reality of nuclear weapons, however, meant that the two sides avoided direct confrontation and instead fought a series of proxy wars worldwide. That having been said, for the Soviet Union an invasion of Western Europe carried the biggest risk—and the biggest reward.
NATO’s strategic mission was to prevent the destruction of the alliance by military force. Essential to that were four wartime goals: gaining air superiority, keeping sea lines of communication open to North America, maintaining the territorial integrity of West Germany and avoiding the use of nuclear weapons. Were NATO to lose any of these four, the war was as good as over.
In 1988, NATO’s plan for the defense of Western Europe was the doctrine of forward defense, in which Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces were stopped as far close to the inner German border as possible. A defense in depth—which experience on the Eastern Front in World War II had proved superior—would have imperiled virtually the entire West German population and forty years of postwar rebuilding.
NATO seemingly had no unified battle plan other than to “man the line” until Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces were exhausted—whereupon counterattacks could be executed to restore prewar borders. West German Army forces, inflexible at the strategic level, were allowed a level of flexibility at the tactical level. The United States devised AirLand Battle, a doctrine that stipulated ground and air units would work together to strike the enemy simultaneously, from the forward edge of the battle area to deep behind enemy lines.
What is China’s next big move in the South China Sea? Ask the experts this question and tally their predictions. The action that will get the most votes is likely to be the imposition of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ). Indeed, a widespread view among the South China Sea watchers is that China will sooner or later declare an ADIZ in this semi-closed maritime domain, where it has reclaimed thousands of acres of land to build long airstrips, high-frequency radars, stationed combat aircraft and long-range missiles.
This view is undergirded by two assumptions. The first is that Beijing is willing to accept high costs, while an ADIZ will bring enormous benefits to China. The second assumption is that there will be a moment when circumstances raise either the costs for China’s rivals to retaliate, the benefits for China to impose an ADIZ, or both. Consequently, declaring an ADIZ is a matter of timing, as China is waiting for the opportunity that maximizes the cost-benefit ratio of this action.
From this perspective, the idea of an ADIZ is particularly attractive when the hands of China’s rivals are tied or when an ADIZ can prevent or compensate for some of China’s anticipated losses. Such an opportunity is looming large in these months as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to reject China’s nine-dash line, the central basis of Beijing’s maritime claims in the South China Sea. Not only can an ADIZ fill in an important part of the legal vacuum that will emerge if the nine-dash line is widely believed as illegal; an ADIZ can impose more restrictions than the nine-dash line. Adding to this estimation is a recent report citing sources close to the Chinese military as saying that China is preparing an ADIZ in the South China Sea.
So, is a Chinese ADIZ in the South China Sea really a matter of time? The answer appears to be affirmative, until you ask a different question: Can China’s rivals prevent an ADIZ in the South China Sea? An investigation into the latter question suggests that China’s ADIZ in the South China Sea is not a matter of timing but one of interaction. More specifically, China’s rivals hold powerful cards in this game, and some of the cards in Vietnam’s hands may be formidable enough to deter China from formally declaring an ADIZ in this region.
At 25, the unrecognized republic is left to struggle alone.
On May 18 of this year, Somaliland turned twenty-five. Yet the anniversary is cause for a bittersweet celebration at best. Peace has improbably reigned since this enclave of the Horn of Africa obtained de facto independence in 1991. During those two and a half decades, the world has forgotten this unlikely outpost of functioning government, which has run free democratic elections since 2003 embedded in the chaos of the failed State of Somalia. As a result, 3.5 million Somalilanders have been raised stateless, victims of a legal asterisk that shuts them off from the world and—by extension—prosperity.
The African Union, based in neighboring Addis Ababa, is reluctant to grant Somaliland recognition. The AU and Ethiopia fear to trigger claims to independence in Africa, but in particular in the Ogaden region, whose independence claims it has long sought to stifle. Ethnic Somalis live in the Ogaden region and an unrecognized Somaliland has the dual benefit of weakening Somalia—Ethiopia’s rival—and Somaliland, whose roads the Abyssinian uses paying minimal taxes to reach the port of Berbera in the Gulf of Aden.
Yet, if Somaliland is to prolong its precarious peace and stability, it will need some form of legal recognition and an infusion of development aid. Donors should be eager for one of two things: a rare development success story that beats the odds put forward by the United Nations and could serve as a model; or shoring up a place home to two million people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five that is currently a bastion against terrorism but could morph into a buzzing hive of it. In a region beset by turmoil, Somaliland is one of the few places that repeatedly proves its ability to survive like a stubborn weed growing in the cracked and barren political soil of one of the world’s most failed states.
Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighters coordinated close air support with Navy SEALs, trained with F-15Es and A-10s, dropped laser-guided bombs and practiced key mission sets and tactics in Idaho as part of initial preparations for what will likely be its first deployment within several years, senior service officials said.
“We are practicing taking what would be a smaller contingent of jets and moving them to another location and then having them employ out of that location,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, Director, F-35 Integration Office told Scout Warrior in an interview.
While the Marine Corps has publically said it plans to deploy its Short-Take-off-and-Landing F-35B aboard an amphibious assault ship by 2017, the Air Force has been reluctant thus far to specify a deployment date for its F-35A variant.
However, Harrigian did say the Air Force plane would likely deploy within several years and pointed to recent mini-deployments of 6 F-35As from Edwards AFB in Calif., to Mountain Home AFB in Idaho as key evidence of its ongoing preparations.
“They dropped 30-bombs – 20 laser-guided bombs and 10 JDAMS (Joint Direct Attack Munitions). All of them were effective. We are trying to understand not only how we understand the airplane in terms of ordnance but also those tactics, techniques and procedures we need to prepare,” Harrigian explained.
During the exercises at Mountain Home AFB, the F-35A also practiced coordinating communications such as target identification, radio and other command and control functions with 4th-generation aircraft such as the F-15E, he added.
The training exercises in Idaho were also the first “real” occasion to test the airplane’s ability to use its computer system called the Autonomic Logistic Information System, or ALIS. The Air Force brought servers up to Mountain Home AFB to practice maintaining data from the computer system.
(This piece first appeared in Scout Warrior here.)
A report in the Air Force Times indicated that lawmakers have expressed some concerns about the development of ALIS, which has been plagued with developmental problems such as maintenance issues and problems referred to as “false positives.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the U.S. this week for the fourth time in two years. While in Washington, he will hold summit-level meetings with President Barack Obama, address a joint session of the U.S. Congress, and meet with the heads of several think tanks.
The visit is an opportunity to showcase the notable gains made in Indo-U.S. relations since Modi took power two years ago and to maintain momentum in ties in the run-up to the U.S. presidential poll in November.
Improving relations with India is one of those rare issues that enjoy strong bipartisan support. Congressional members on both sides of the aisle view India as an important player in balancing China’s rise and helping to secure a peaceful, democratic Asia with free and open seaways.
The importance of India as part of the U.S. Asia pivot strategy has been heightened in recent years as China has become more assertive in the South China Sea. House Speaker Paul Ryan called the US-India relationship “a pillar of stability in an important region of the world.”
At the heart of improved U.S.-India relations over the last couple of years has been progress on the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) that was launched in 2012 with the goal of breaking down bureaucratic barriers and other obstacles to enhancing defense trade. The two sides have announced six “path finder” projects, including co-developing jet engine technology and aircraft carrier systems and co-producing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and specialized equipment for military transport aircraft.
There is hope that India will soon sign a logistics sharing agreement that would allow the U.S. and India to access each other’s military supplies and refueling capabilities through ports and military bases. This would mark a major milestone for the U.S.-India defense partnership. The U.S. also is backing India’s membership in the Nuclear Supplier’s Group to integrate India into the global nonproliferation framework.
This is how the Navy will replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler.
The United States Navy has officially kicked off its analysis of alternatives (AoA) for a future replacement for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter and its EA-18G Growler electronic attack derivative.
The Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) effort—which until recently used to be called the F/A-XX—will study a range of options to replace the service’s aging strike fighter fleet in an era of renewed great power contest where the threat environment promises to grow evermore challenging. But unlike previous Pentagon programs, the NGAD may not be a single new airframe—rather it might be a family of systems.
“The AOA began formally after the signing of the Materiel Development Decision Acquisition Decision Memorandum on 16 May, 2016. The AoA will run for approximately 18 months,” Lt. Kara Yingling, a spokeswoman for the Navy’s N98 Air Warfare division told The National Interest.
“Navy is considering a full spectrum of potential alternatives to balance capability, lethality, affordability, and survivability. The solution may be comprised of a family of systems across multiple domains vice focusing on a single aviation platform.”
While the NGAD program might ultimately produce a collection of different platforms, weapons and other technologies, the core concept remains to address the capability gaps that might open up when the F/A-18 family is finally retired.
“The AoA team is looking to replace the capabilities from F/A-18E/F and EA-18G when those aircraft reach the end of their service lives, Yingling said.
“The F/A-18E/F and EA-18G currently cover a wide spectrum of mission sets in support of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and Joint Operations, including fleet air defense/air superiority, and strike. The study will identify a capability replacement solution that preserves the effectiveness and viability of the CSG amidst emerging/evolving threats.”
Those emerging threats include—among many others—a host of new enemy aircraft like the Chinese Chengdu J-20 and J-31 and potent new air and missile defense systems like the Russian-built S-400 and S-500.
Tokyo turns to its past to manage souring Sino-Japanese relations.
The latest GENRON poll confirms that, Sino-Japanese relations are souring. This trend began as early as 2005 according to the below GENRON data but an argument could be made that from a historical point of view, Sino-Japanese relations have been cautious if not guarded, with Japan being consistent in a buffering approach when it comes to Sino-Japanese relations.
As far as the Japanese are concerned, contemporary explanations for these sentiments are rooted in the perception that China continues to exploit historical tragedies for political purposes. Despite obliging and conciliatory post World War II behavior, ODA and other assistance, China continues to criticize Japan for being unrepentant and unapologetic for its imperial past. It also has sincere concerns over China's military expansion and intentions in the East and South China Seas.
Stop your average American on the street and ask them, “What happened on June 6?” Surprisingly, a few might recall that on a dreary morning while the low tide lapped lazily on the rocky coast of Normandy, France, brave men in battle armor no thicker than a khaki shirt grimly headed toward Hitler’s Atlantic Wall.
There is nothing special to mark the 72nd anniversary of the D-Day invasion during World War II. Nothing special—other than the men themselves.
That 18-year-old struggling up the steep bluffs of Omaha Beach while tracer rounds flashed overhead would be 90 years old now, eyes flickering, still alive with the memories of that unforgettable day.
About 73,000 Americans landed on the beaches on June 6, 1944. Almost 2,500 of our boys were killed.
Often forgotten is that the fight for Normandy did not end there. Some of the toughest fighting in World War II happened in the six weeks after D-Day as the allies battled to gain a foothold in France and set the stage for the campaign that liberated Western Europe.
These were battles and a war worth winning. If there was ever a war for freedom’s sake, World War II was certainly it.
Dictators never dreamed larger. Germany’s Adolf Hitler planned to colonize all of Eastern Europe, after exterminating or expelling the local population. He would rule the Reich from “Germania,” the world’s largest city, and construct the greatest bridge ever built by man, making San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge look like a freeway overpass.
Hitler would cleanse his lands of the handicapped, mentally challenged, gypsies, homosexuals, and Jews. They would all be killed. He would bring German immigrants back from America to repopulate the homeland.
The appetites of others were only slightly more modest. The fascist dictator of Italy, Benito Mussolini, longed for a vast Mediterranean empire mirroring ancient Rome.
Japanese Prime Minister General Hideki Tojo envisioned an empire that stretched the width of the Pacific to Alaska and the coasts of Canada and the Northwest United States, a conception laid out in “The Land Disposal Plan in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere,” a 1941 document prepared by the Imperial Ministry of War.
If they had their way, all of humanity would have lived under an iron yoke.
In saving freedom’s future, the men and women who served in World War II justly earned the moniker the “greatest generation.”
This week's incident is embarrasing, but it distracts from the nuclear agreement's successes.
One of the most challenging jobs in Washington is to be a government or administration spokesperson. State Department spokesmen John Kirby and Mark Toner have had that lesson reinforced over the past week.
The subject that has gotten the State Department press corps in such a foul mood is a State Department admission that a senior official in the Public Affairs bureau ordered a technician to edit the video of a December 2, 2013 daily press briefing given by former spokeswoman Jen Psaki. The affair would not have gotten so much coverage if it weren’t for the fact that the unedited and undoctored version of the video directly contracted a previous statement from State officials that there were no secret, bilateral U.S.-Iran talks related to Tehran’s nuclear program. It turns out that this was a falsehood: the discussions, contrary to earlier comments from Victoria Nuland (who was the department spokesman at the time), Washington did in fact dispatch officials to meet directly with the Iranians in an exploratory phase of what would eventually culminate in the P5+1-Iran negotiations a year later.
For some reason, an individual in the Public Affairs Bureau found it necessary to cover that fact up — either out of embarrassment that the department in fact lied to the press or over a concern that posting Jen Psaki’s full appearance on December 2, 2013 on the department’s website would provide congressional Republicans with more ammunition to make the administration’s negotiations with the Iranians even harder to pull off.
During the much-anticipated 7th North Korean Workers’ Party Congress last month, the first such gathering in 36 years, more than 100 foreign journalists were invited to Pyongyang to cover the event. Not surprisingly, they were treated with contempt: relentless surveillance, absolute restrictions on movement, and tightly-controlled access to the North Korean people themselves. Some insight did permeate through, however, namely dissatisfaction with China. That North Koreans were allowed to share their animosity towards Beijing suggests official approval of such feelings.
Though counter-intuitive, experts have for some time been aware of the toxic relationship between the two countries, particularly in the years since Kim Jong Un assumed power in 2011. The very real understanding that the North would be crippled without Chinese political and economic maneuvering has grown increasingly troublesome for Pyongyang elites. The late Kim Jong Il himself supposedly divulgedsuch reservations to former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during her visit to Pyongyang in 1999.