A look at the missiles North Korea displayed at parade
By Associated Press April 15 at 4:17 AM
PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un didn’t speak to the thousands of soldiers and civilians gathered at a massive parade honoring his late grandfather on Saturday, but his expanding array of ballistic missiles made an emphatic statement.
The military hardware displayed at Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square, named after Kim’s grandfather and North Korea’s late founder, included intercontinental ballistic missiles that could one day be capable of reaching targets as far away as the continental United States, and solid-fuel missiles that could be fired from land and submarines.
The festivities took place amid concerns that North Korea may be preparing for its sixth nuclear test or a major rocket launch, such as its first flight test of an ICBM.
A look at the weapons the North displayed and other notable elements from the parade:
INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILES
North Korea has a history of marking significant dates with shows of military capability, and it was its ICBMs that were most notable on the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung.
Several KN-08 missiles were rolled out on trucks at the parade. Military analysts say the missiles could one day be capable of hitting targets as far away as the continental United States, although the North has yet to flight test them.
North Korean soldiers also paraded large rockets covered by canisters that were rolled out in two different types of transporter erector launcher trucks, or TELs. An official from South Korea’s Defense Ministry couldn’t immediately confirm whether any of the rockets represented a new type of ICBM.
Kim Dong-yub, a military official-turned-analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said the canisters and trucks suggest that the North is developing technology to “cold launch” ICBMs, ejecting them from the canisters before they ignite. This would allow North Korea to prevent its limited number of ICBM-capable TELs from being damaged during launch and also make the missiles harder to detect after they’re fired, he said.
The parade also featured North Korea’s new solid-fuel missiles, which can be fired from land or under the sea. These missiles concern South Korea because they’re harder to detect before launch than liquid-fuel missiles, which need to be filled with fuel before launch and also require fuel trucks and other vehicles that could be spotted by satellites.
Soldiers carried out on trucks North Korea’s “Pukguksong” missile, which can be fired from a submarine. In a test launch in August last year, the missile flew 500 kilometers (310 miles) after being launched from a submarine and crashed into waters near Japan, prompting Kim Jong Un to declare that North Korea had gained “perfect nuclear-attack capability.”
The parade also featured the “Pukguksong-2,” a land-based variant of the submarine-launched missile. It’s called the KN-15 by outside analysts.
In a February test launch, the missile flew 500 kilometers (310 miles) before dropping into international waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. North Korean then fired the missile at a lofted angle for testing purposes. Some analysts say that if the missile were fired at a normal angle, its maximum range could be up to 3,000 kilometers (1,870 miles).
RESCUED FROM PURGE?
A surprise at the parade was the appearance of Kim Won Hong, who was among the senior government officials joining Kim Jong Un at the podium. The South Korean government had said earlier this year that Kim Won Hong was fired from his job as state security minister, presumably over corruption.
An official from South Korea’s Unification Ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office rules, confirmed that the man was Kim Won Hong and said his appearance shows he has been reinstated from a “purge state.” The official said it wasn’t immediately clear what Kim Won Hong’s current role was with North Korea’s government.
South Korea has a spotty record of tracking developments in North Korea, as information about the secretive, authoritarian state is often impossible to confirm.
Choe Ryong Hae, a close aide to Kim Jong Un, made a speech at the parade, saying the country is ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States. He was believed to have been briefly banished to a rural collective farm for re-education in 2015, but apparently regained his political footing during a rare ruling party congress last year.
Since taking power in late 2011, Kim Jong Un has executed or purged a slew of high-level government officials in what the South Korean government has described as a “reign of terror.”
Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.
North Korea surprises with display of new missiles
By Brad Lendon, CNN
Updated 4:29 AM ET, Sat April 15, 2017
Intercontinental ballistic missile-sized canisters among bevy of new missiles
Display comes as tensions on the Korean Peninsula have spiked to alarming levels
(CNN)North Korea put its adversaries on notice Saturday, when it showed off a bevy of new missiles and launchers at its annual military parade.
Pyongyang showed off two new intercontinental ballistic missile-sized canisters as well as displaying its submarine-launched ballistic missile and a land-based version of the same for the first time, according to analysts.
If North Korea has ICBMs, it could give it the ability to strike targets in the mainland US and Europe. The shorter range ballistic missiles displayed Saturday, meanwhile, are a threat to countries in the Asian region.
North Korea's display comes as tensions on the Korean Peninsula have spiked to alarming levels.
The US Navy dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson strike group to the region last weekend, and US President Donald Trump has been tweeting this week that if China can't rein in North Korea's nuclear program the US will.
"The Vinson was sent out to make a statement. North Korea responded by showing off the most new missile hardware we've ever seen in a parade before," said Melissa Hanham, senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California.
One of the biggest surprises of Saturday's military parade in Pyongyang was two mobile canisters that could contain ICBMs larger than anything North Korea has ever produced.
"They both probably design concepts. We've never seen them in the wild," Hanham said.
"We don't know what -- if anything -- was inside the canisters since North Korea hasn't publicly shown off or tested any missile of that size before," analyst Ankit Panda wrote on The Diplomat.
"We can infer given the size of the canister and the fact that it was paraded on Saturday that Pyongyang wants the world to know that it is actively working toward at least two types of solid-fuel, canisterized ICBMs," Panda wrote.
The fact that any new ICBM would be in a canister is important because it means those missiles would likely be solid-fueled, analysts said.
Solid-fueled missiles can be deployed faster and hidden better from satellite detection than their liquid-fueled counterparts.
And the large size also means the missiles could have a longer range.
'A message to the United States'
"It certainly appears to be a message to the United States that they're capable of threatening the US homeland. That's certainly their objective," Adam Mount, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told CNN.
Hanham said other land and submarine-launched ballistic missiles were shown in public for the first time Saturday. The land-based version is known as the KN-15, while Pyongyang's submarine-launched weapon is known as the KN-11 missile.
She took special note of the launcher the KN-15 was on.
"It uses caterpillar treads which means it can go off road more easily, which mean they can hide them more easily," Hanham said.
North Korea has under 500 miles of paved roads, Panda wrote, and previous wheeled-launchers could risk damage to the missile operating off those.
Hanham said the tracked launch vehicles were made in North Korea, which means Pyongyang did not have to break sanctions imposed by China to obtain them.
Despite all the displays on Saturday, analysts cautioned against overreaction, noting that North Korea's missile tests have had a checkered record of success, and adding that a missile in a parade does not necessarily mean it's operational.
Proposed amendments have been strongly criticised internationally
about 10 hours ago
If these are the days, as prevailing narratives have it, of the populist strongman president – Trump, Orban, Duterte, Putin – then the undoubtedly popular President Tayyip Erdogan should have little to worry about. His referendum tomorrow to transform Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system should be plain sailing. Made easier when you have silenced or jailed the opposition and the media.
But it is not all going his way. A survey this week by pollster Gezici put support for the constitutional change at 51.3 per cent with “No” votes on 48.7 per cent. Two other polls show similarly close margins, a reality which makes all the more important the 2.88 million voters registered abroad. In the general election in November 2015, some 56 per cent of them backed Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). In Germany Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports that some 696,863 Turks have cast ballots.
An increasingly autocratic Erdogan says the proposed changes will make Turkey “stronger” in the wake of last July’s attempted coup and when the country faces security threats from Islamist and Kurdish militants. But Erdogan’s ambition to strengthen the presidency and his own position long predates the coup attempt.
The , notably by the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional issues. It warns of a “a dangerous step backwards in the constitutional democratic tradition of Turkey” and “degeneration of the proposed system toward an authoritarian and personal regime”. It would lead to an unjustifiable concentration of power in the hands of the president with very weak checks and balances. In addition to holding all executive authority, Erdogan would exercise power over the legislative branch and shape the judicial branch.
There is likely to be fallout in the relationship between Turkey and both individual EU member states and the union, to which Turkey still aspires to accede. The decision of the Netherlands not to allow Turkish officials to campaign among the diaspora on Dutch soil and clashes with the German government on the issue are symptomatic of how fragile relations with its European allies have become.
Some EU states are set to propose formal suspension of Turkey’s accession negotiations, while the Council of Europe’s parliament has called for formal monitoring to be resumed. Chancellor Merkel is reported to have urged delay – “We should await the vote on the referendum”.
The reality is that even if he achieves a small majority for change, and can rely for now on a majority in parliament with right wing nationalist allies, Erdogan will not unite a polarised society ruled by repression. Turkey will not be strengthened and, ultimately, he and it will be undermined.
News Venezuela detains youth leaders over 'terror'
Authorities in Venezuela have arrested two opposition politicians as deadly clashes continue between security forces and anti-government protesters. Officials suspect the two brothers of "organizing terrorist acts."
The youth leaders, Jose and Alejandro Sanchez, were detained after a large anti-government rally in Caracas on Thursday. They "confessed to taking part in this week's violence," Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said on Twitter.
Venezuela faces the largest wave of protests in years, with at least five people killed since the clashes started last week. Many stores were looted as the oil-rich country struggles with the lack of food, medicine, and basic goods.
According to the interior minister, the two brothers party were arrested "for organizing terrorist acts and assaults against the peace of the country."
The politicians were members of the Justice First party, which accused the military intelligence service of "abducting" the pair. The move would not keep protesters of the streets, Venezuelan deputy Tomas Guanipa said on Twitter, posting a picture of the Sanchez brothers.
The Justice First also slammed the interior minister saying that the "real terrorism is the one you are leading by repressing the people."
Maduro still on top
Anti-Maduro protesters clash with Venezuelan police
Opposition leaders called for protests after the government banned Henrique Capriles, the key challenger to the socialist president Nicolas Maduro, from holding public office for 15 years. Over 100 dissidents are currently behind bars in Venezuela.
The regime of Nicolas Maduro has managed to keep its hold on power in the South American country, despite the economic crisis, the violent riots, and an opposition-dominated Congress. Maduro managed to thwart an opposition bid to oust him with a referendum, as the country's electoral commission claimed petition signatures were partially faked.
The 54-year-old president blames the country's economic woes on a conspiracy led by the US.
Government critics scheduled more protests for Wednesday next week.
Venezuela protest deaths mount as Maduro taunted
Protests have flared up as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was apparently hit with objects after a pro-government rally. The ongoing economic crisis in the country has seen the president's popularity spiral downward. (12.04.2017)
Demonstrations in Venezuela cities after opposition leader banned
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators in Venezuela's capital and other cities a day after Henrique Capriles had been given a 15-year-ban from running for office. State-controlled media stayed mute. (09.04.2017) *
Audios and videos on the topic
Anti-Maduro protesters clash with Venezuelan police *
Author Darko Janjevic (dpa, AFP)
Related Subjects Venezuela
Keywords Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, Jose Sanchez, Alejandro Sanchez, riots
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Venezuela police block opposition lawmakers in protest march to National Assembly 04.04.2017
In some of Venezuela's most violent protests in months, anti-government demonstrators tried to accompany lawmakers in a march to the National Assembly for a vote on the Supreme Court. Police blocked their way.
Venezuelan opposition leader sidelined? 08.04.2017
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has been banned from holding office for 15 years by the nation's comptroller. If enforced, it would bar him from challenging President Nicolas Maduro at the polls next year.
Venezuela's congress decries 'coup' after top court seizes power 31.03.2017
Venezuela has spiraled into further crisis after the country's top court seized power from congress. A top regional official has called the move a "coup."
Explosives used in Dortmund attack may have come from German military: newspaper
By Michelle Martin | BERLIN
The explosives used in the attack on the bus of soccer team Borussia Dortmund may have come from supplies belonging to the German armed forces, a newspaper cited a source involved in the investigation as saying on Saturday.
It is still unclear who carried out Tuesday's attack. German prosecutors have doubts about the authenticity of letters that suggested Islamist militants were behind it and Bild newspaper cited an investigator as saying right-wing extremists were probably responsible.
"The explosives in the pipe bombs, which were filled with metal pins, might have come from the stocks of the German armed forces but that's still being checked," newspaper Welt am Sonntag cited a source involved in the investigation as saying.
The source also said that specialist knowledge was required to use the military detonators, which are not easy to get.
A spokeswoman for the federal public prosecutor's office declined to comment on the report.
The players' bus was heading to their stadium for a Champions League match against AS Monaco on Tuesday when three explosions occurred, injuring Spanish defender Marc Bartra and delaying the match by a day. Dortmund said on Twitter on Saturday Bartra had been released from hospital.
Welt am Sonntag said police thought further attacks were possible, citing a document sent to regional police headquarters as saying that soccer games, rock concerts and cultural events were particularly at risk.
It said regional police wanted to have a greater presence if necessary and use dogs trained to sniff out explosives.
Joachim Herrmann, interior minister of the state of Bavaria, told the same newspaper Bavaria planned to use more video surveillance, especially in crime hotspots and in public places - a controversial issue in Germany, where memories of the Nazi Gestapo and the Stasi security police still linger.
Dortmund blasts the 'hardest 15 minutes' of Bartra's life
Joachim Thomas, chairman of the association of German stadium operators, told Welt am Sonntag he believed full-body scanners would be used at entrances to stadiums in future.
Arnold Plickert, GdP police union's deputy chairman, said police were overstretched already and did not have enough staff to keep watch over a team's hotel night after night so clubs would have to provide extra security staff if they wanted that.
Security was tight for Saturday's matches, including a Bundesliga game between Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Dortmund police posted a picture on Twitter showing an armed officer outside the stadium, saying they had provided more security inside and out. Police in the western city of Mainz said they had safely accompanied buses carrying both the Mainz and Hertha BSC soccer teams to their match on Saturday.
(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Alison Williams and Gareth Jones)
Between August 8th 2014, and December 15th 2016, the United States and its allies conducted 16,806 strikes on Islamic State (ISIL) targets throughout Iraq and Syria in the conduct of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). The coalition flew 127,764 sorties over the 857-day air campaign, and 4,500 coalition sorties were flown per month on average. Per the Combined Forces Air Component Commander (CFACC), approximately fifty percent were tactical sorties, and half of those employed ordnance. This means that on average, 1,125 strikes were conducted per month, or nearly forty per day, for over two years in an effort to meet the ends of the nine lines of effort outlined by President Obama in November 2014. According to quarterly reports released by the Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations, airstrikes generally account for only three or four of the nine lines of effort. These are namely “Denying ISIL Safe Haven” through direct action and attrition, “Disrupting ISIL’s Finances” via strikes on banks oil infrastructure, indirectly “Supporting Effective Governance in Iraq” by supporting Iraqi Security Forces’ operations, and “Interrupting the Flow of Foreign Fighters” through coordinated interdiction operations with Turkish forces (and similar operations). These operations cover less than half of the lines of effort yet are by far the costliest, accounting for at least 63% of the operation’s $12.3 million daily cost – a figure which is an increase over the approximate $10 million per day cost reported a year prior. The air war over Iraq and Syria is costing the US an average of at least $7.8 million per day and this cost is rising.
This gargantuan effort has not been void of results. Since kinetic air operations began over Iraq and Syria, over 32,000 targets have reportedly been destroyed. The preponderance of these targets has been buildings and fighting positions, closely followed by staging areas and oil infrastructure. Another five hundred other targets engaged have been tactical vehicles, artillery pieces, and tanks that were stolen from Syrian or Iraqi forces. Perhaps more astounding is that some estimates claim as many as 50,000 ISIL fighters have been killed. In 2015, Pentagon officials claimed some 1,000 fighters per month killed by airstrikes, eliminating “the majority of (ISIL) fighting capability.” Such losses seem to correlate with the apparent net territorial loss of nearly 50,000 square kilometers in Iraq and Syria since the operation began in 2014.
That said, in 2014, the US intelligence community reported that the approximate number of Islamic State fighters was between 20,000 to 30,000. In October of 2015, a little over a year later and after the execution of 7300 strikes over 57,800 combat sorties and an overall cost of $5.1 billion, the number of ISIL troops was still estimated at approximately 20,000 to 30,000. Looking forward another year to September 2016, despite increased rates of strikes and a new campaign cost of $9.3 billion, the reported ISIL strength was 19,000 to 25,000. This means that the coalition has already liquidated ISIL’s fighting strength approximately twice over. The Islamic State’s ability to recruit and import new fighters has been able to effectively keep up with their rate of attrition on the battlefield. Of further concern is that although there are reports of significant territorial losses, ISIL has gained new territory in both Iraq and Syria, and spread its influence to seven more nations throughout the Middle East. This means continuing gains despite other losses and new populations to influence and recruit – which has enabled ISIL to maintain its fighting weight despite the ongoing coalition efforts.
Figure 1. Reported Locations of Strikes Flown During Commando Hut (Graphic created by the author by data from Lt Col Robertson, J. A., Burr R., and Barth, B.)
In 1972, the US was engaged in a high tempo aerial interdiction campaign in a different corner of the Asian continent. Operation Commando Hunt was a four-year interdiction campaign aimed at denying the flow of troops and supplies from North Vietnam to the Viet Cong insurgency in South Vietnam via the “Ho Chi Minh Trail.” The trail ran in the Western valley of the Annamite mountain range from North Vietnam, through Central and Southern Laos and North Eastern Cambodia, to South Vietnam. Through the four years of Commando Hunt, some three million tons of ordnance were delivered by over 400,000 sorties, at an average of over 280 sorties and $2.6 million per day. Commando Hunt (within $2 million of the daily cost of Inherent Resolve when accounting for inflation) was an extensive campaign that sought to use airpower to create inefficiencies in the enemy’s operations such that cost of doing business would break the enemy’s will to continue. Like OIR, Commando Hunt racked up a significant number of targets destroyed during its execution. Over the four-year campaign, over 23,000 trucks were reported destroyed along the Ho Chi Minh trail. These statistics, while impressive, raise questions. During Commando Hunt VII (Nov 1971 – Mar 1972), intelligence assessments indicated the North Vietnamese had no more than approximately 3,500 trucks in the Laos and Cambodia, yet 4,700 were reported destroyed. It is possible that the damaged or destroyed trucks were replaced by trucks from storage. But, if it is assumed that at any given time, there were 3,500 trucks in Laos and Cambodia throughout the four-year campaign, Commando Hunt missions destroyed the North Vietnamese truck inventory on the Ho Chi Minh trail nearly seven times over. Furthermore, despite the levels of reported attrition of over the four-year long campaign, an estimated average cumulative throughput 7,000 tons of supplies per month made it down the trail. The People’s Army of North Vietnam (PAVN) and Viet Cong forces were therefore able to execute the successful Easter Offensive of 1972, pushing across the borders from Cambodia and Laos with eleven divisions. The Easter Offensive of 1972 would eventually be considered the final thrust that expelled American forces from South Vietnam, and its preparation occurred in the face of the heaviest aerial interdiction campaign in history.
Airpower to the Rescue
In World War Two, the American High-Altitude Daylight Precision Bombing campaign in 1942 was supposed to bring the Germany army to a halt in six months. Yet throughout the massive aerial onslaught, German weapons production increased, and the war continued for another three years. Since the dawn of airpower, strategists have sought time and time again to demonstrate that successful military operations can be undertaken using airpower alone. Theorists like Douhet believed war could be won through the application and fear of aerial bombardment as a political tool of influence. For political leaders who wish to avoid the commitment and leadership challenge of sending troops into close personal combat on the ground, selective airstrikes are often a more palpable solution. For a given operation, there is less buy-in required of the American populace when ground troops are not committed, as well as far less potential media scrutiny. It makes sense then, that such politicians tend to have an open ear to the military theorist who hypothesizes that properly applied airpower can turn the tide of a negotiation, an insurgency, or a small war. Operation Inherent Resolve is an example of such an operation.
There are examples in history where airpower has been seen as successful in serving a political objective without the commitment of the use of ground combat forces. An early example is the Royal Air Force’s employment throughout the Middle East in the twenty years between the World Wars. The British, hesitant to spend the amount of money necessary to field sufficient ground forces throughout the empire, were convinced by RAF leaders that an airborne constabulary could effectively maintain peace and order through the use of deterrence and occasional combat actions. Known as “air control,” these operations focused on maintaining law and order through punishment campaigns aimed at denying those who violated the peace or criminally wronged the crown. In one such case, a band of Quteibi tribesmen raided a Yemeni caravan in the Aden Protectorate in 1934. The use of human intelligence quickly advised of the tribe from which the robbers had come, and a meeting with the Sheikh was quickly arranged. The Royal government issued an ultimatum for the payment of a fine of $500 and surrender of the perpetrators for prosecution or else Quteibi “villages and fields may be bombed or fired on at any time by day or night…” After two months of being removed from their villages and farms due to the perpetual air attacks, the Quteibi leaders capitulated under the pressure of their fellow tribesmen. The fine and the guilty raiders were handed over, and peace was restored.
But the role and capability of RAF air control operations was, and still is, a bit overstated. Throughout the rest of the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, events were not so comparable to those as were exemplified in the Aden Protectorate. In Iraq, “… the British needed significant ground forces to keep order. Any banditry or rebellion on a larger scale (than occurred in Aden) required a force of ground troops to engage the enemy.” In counter-guerilla operations against Sheikh Mahmud, a Kurdish nationalist who rebelled against the British rule, it was noted that the effect of airpower had been overstated. In the end, it took a three-year air and land campaign to effectively defeat the Kurdish rebellion. Interestingly, bombing of villages was forbidden in the campaign against Mahmud out of concern it would generate further support. After the requirement for over three battalions of forces to quell yet another Kurdish insurgency in 1931, it became apparent that the use of ground forces was inexorably required for the successful defeat of organized insurgencies. Such engagement and use of combined air and ground campaigns was something required of the British on a regular basis until Iraq’s independence was declared in 1932.
Sixty-five years into the future, the theory of the limited use of airpower would again be applied, albeit in a very different set of circumstances. Operation Allied Force was a 78-day aerial campaign waged by a NATO coalition, led primarily by the United States, against Serbia from 24 March to 10 June 1999. In support of the fight for an independent nation of Kosovo, NATO member nations begrudgingly signed up for participation in a dedicated air campaign, though there was little tacit agreement on the scope of the airstrikes, or the nature of targets that would be engaged. Coalition adhesion was somewhat improved after the mass genocide of some 200,000 Kosovars at the hand of Serb troops after the commencement of airstrikes but was still largely lacking. At the close of the two and a half month operation, 28,000 munitions had been expended and over 30,000 combat sorties flown, at a cost of over $3 billion. Precision weapons were heavily employed, including the new GPS-aided joint direct attack munition (JDAM), and the term “surgical” became indelibly linked with “airstrike.” Great concern over collateral damage resulted in fewer than five-hundred civilian casualties, though it often lent to excessive restrictions in rules of engagement. Though the campaign was ultimately successful due to the quizzical surrender of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, Allied Force was expected to be unsuccessful, at least in the near-term, by military members up and down the ranks – including the commander of NATO forces, Admiral Leighton Smith. Poor diplomatic unity of effort throughout the coalition, significant top-down management of targeting, restrictive rules of engagement, and even bad weather hampered the effectiveness of the campaign to a point where success was deemed unlikely. Yet, inexplicably, Slobodan Milosevic surrendered, resulting in an operation of truly mixed success going down in history lauded as one of the great successes of airpower.
Classical and Not-So Classical Thought on Airpower
One dedicated air campaign that very clearly met its limited aims was Operations Linebacker I and II. For the sake of thoroughness, it’s worth discussing why Rolling Thunder was successful, and the lessons that can be gleaned from it. During the Easter Offensive of 1972, PAVN conventional forces launched a massive offensive on South Vietnam from multiple axes. Conventional military operations were uncommon in the war, and this offensive had been chosen to coincide with the election year, in hopes to bring a final surrender of US forces. As a response to the offensive, in October of 1972, President Nixon authorized the two-week Operation Linebacker I, the unrestricted bombing of military and industrial targets in North Vietnam. Incidentally, this was the first time American aircraft had attacked North Vietnam since 1968. After Linebacker I failed to bring the North Vietnamese to the peace table, Linebacker II commenced on December 18th. After twenty days, the North Vietnamese ultimately relented. Rolling Thunder was a uniquely successful coercion campaign because it met very specific criteria that are not typical in counterinsurgency operations. In terms of Pape’s coercion theory, the North Vietnamese were so coerced because of their high military vulnerability based on their reliance on logistics and resupply. In classical terms, the operation was a success because it fit the classic aerial interdiction mold. The campaign exploited the PANV reliance on supplies and infrastructure to deny the enemy the center of gravities of mass and tempo, which are, by their very nature, heavily dependent upon logistics. This model can be applied to Allied Force. It has been hypothesized that though the campaign was poorly constructed in its build-up approach (similar to the failed Rolling Thunder campaign from 1965 to 1968), as time wore on, the concern of having over-extended forces in Kosovo that he could not support, along with a failing national infrastructure were key in influencing President Milosevic to concede. According to a Rand study, toward the final days of the Allied Force campaign “…General Ryan predicted that once the air effort began seeking strategic rather than merely battlefield effects, Milosevic would wake up to the realization that NATO was taking his country apart on the installment plan and that his ultimate defeat was inevitable.” It therefore stands as evidenced that airpower can be used to exploit critical vulnerabilities and deny the enemy the use of a center of gravity.
A War of the People
As the revolutionary Che Guevara prosed, “It is important to emphasize that guerrilla warfare is a war of the masses, a war of the people. The guerrilla band is an armed nucleus, the fighting vanguard of the people. It draws its great force from the mass of the people themselves.” The Quteibi bandits were ultimately defeated because they were denied their center of gravity of tribal unity when their critical vulnerability of dissention was exploited. Using a brief aerial punishment campaign, this was achievable on the small scale of a few bandits whose actions were outliers. In the case of Kurdish rebellion and insurgency in Iraq, however, this was not the case, as the unity and ideology of the rebellion was established and largely unabashed in the face of air attack. Ultimately, ground forces were required to engage and defeat the enemy through attrition in combat where the better trained and equipped British, Indian, and Iraqi forces were able to outfight the Kurdish insurgencies. This was further enabled by relatively permissive rules of engagement.
In the case of Operation Inherent resolve, the Islamic State has been able to maintain a sufficiently equivalent force size despite the continued air operations against them. Thus, a clear center of gravity – a “source from which the enemy gleans his strength” – is the ability to maintain a sizeable force: recruiting. The US-led coalition has directly attempted to deny ISIL the center of gravity of recruiting power through the attack of banks and other revenue-generating facilities, and through information operations. While ISIL recruiting has reportedly decreased significantly, if there were no further ISIL recruits ever, it would take nearly two years to eliminate the enemy assuming the current rate of attrition. This assumption over-simplifies the situation - as enemy fighters become sparser, they will therefore be harder to find and eliminate.
While Linebacker and Allied Force showed that airpower does have the potential to be successful in coercing state actors under unique circumstances, strategists must avoid the pitfall of comparing apples to oranges when engaging non-state actors in “small wars.” The lessons of Commando Hunt and British Imperial operations in Iraq go hand-in-hand when considering the courses of action for the campaign against ISIL. While the staggering numbers of reported enemy losses at the hand of “precision airstrikes” may sound convincing of progress, experience indicates that the opposite may be true, and a new ISIL offensive analogous to the Easter Offensive of 1972 may well be not far off. Yet for fear of committing appropriate forces to engage and defeat the enemy, which has been shown as a requirement when dealing with an insurgency, coalition forces already show signs of getting stuck in an iterative cycle of increasing sortie rate, increasing ordnance expenditures, and increasing cost to the American taxpayer without any real indication of success. Timeliness is key in stemming the ever-enduring ISIL conflict, and the amount of time it will take to train, organize, and equip host-nation forces is indeterminate. If coalition leadership desires victory, it must weigh the risks of committing troops to a possibly grim and unpopular war, versus the risk of continuing to maintain the politically palpable position of “containment” which has historically failed.
“For all the ‘4th Generation of War’ intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc., I must respectfully say, ‘Not really’: Alexander the Great would not be in the least bit perplexed by the enemy that we face right now in Iraq, and our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying — studying, vice just reading — the men who have gone before us. We have been fighting on this planet for 5,000 years and we should take advantage of their experience. ‘Winging it’ and filling body bags as we sort out what works reminds us of the moral dictates and the cost of competence in our profession.”
Michael T. Lippert
Major Michael Thomas Lippert is an Experimental Test Pilot, Weapons and Tactics Instructor, Forward Air Controller, and V/STOL Landing Signals Officer. He is a graduate of the Expeditionary Warfare School and Air Command and Staff College non-resident programs.
During his first operational tour with VMA-311, Major Lippert served as the squadron communications officer (S-6) and the embarkation, supply, and logistics officer (S-4). He deployed in May of 2010 aboard the USS Peleliu with HMM-165 (REIN) as part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), where he took part in contingency operations, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief in Pakistan, and OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. Upon his return, Major Lippert was reassigned as the Airframes Division Officer-in-Charge.
In September of 2011, Major Lippert reported to 3d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, where he served as the Battalion Air Officer and a Joint Terminal Attack Controller. Major Lippert deployed in April of 2012 with 3d LAR to Kahn Neshin, Afghanistan, where he planned, coordinated, and controlled helicopterborne assaults, fixed wing and rotary-wing close air support, and narcotics interdiction operations. Major Lippert additionally served as the Battalion’s Information Operations Officer.
Upon his return from Afghanistan in October 2012, Major Lippert received orders for refresh training in the AV-8B Harrier, and follow-on orders to Marine Attack Squadron 211 in Yuma. While with VMA-211, Major Lippert served as the Director of Safety and Standardization, unit NATOPS Instructor, and Pilot Training Officer. Major Lippert deployed in July of 2014 with VMM-163 (REIN) aboard the USS Makin Island where he served as the AV-8B Detachment Weapons and Tactics Instructor, and took part in combat operations in support of OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE and OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM.
Dragon on the Border: Mexican and Chinese Transnational Criminal Networks and Implications for the United States
by Peter Kouretsos
Journal Article | April 15, 2017 - 5:15am
As China shifted to a hybrid capitalist system and globalized in the late 20th century, so did its criminal economy. Indeed, an overlooked but important trend has been the rise in Chinese organized crime in Latin America. While their presence is not entirely new to the region, Chinese organized crime is also a natural by-product of the increased legitimate human and commercial interactions between the two regions. Narcotics and commodities smuggling, human trafficking, racketeering and extortion, and other illicit activities are all facilitated by this increased trade. Since China plans to continue deepening commercial ties with Latin America, it is possible that the increased flow of goods and people could present more opportunities for Chinese triads to expand their operations. It is abundantly clear that one country where they have such a past, present, and future in this enterprise is Mexico, and the implications are worrisome for both Mexico and her northern neighbor.
Mexico’s history with China goes back much farther than most would expect. The northern city of Mexicali in Baja California was largely developed by a community of Chinese immigrants, who arrived to the area between the mid–1800s and the 1940s. Some arrived as servants to Spanish merchants, but most began arriving from Canton in the late 19th century to flee poverty. And when the US ratified the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, hopeful Chinese migrants tried to enter the US through Mexico illegally. In the end, most stayed, and helped build not just Baja, but also the northern states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sinaloa, and Sonora.
The connection between the words “narcotics” and “Mexico” may have permanently coalesced when President Felipe Calderon declared the War on Drugs, but the historical destinations of Chinese immigrants are now major opium producing states. The history of Mexican heroin began with the Chinese railroad workers in Sinaloa in the late 19th century. Business boomed in the 1940s, reputedly thanks to the demands for morphine by the US Army during World War II. Today there is a new boom, driven by dependence on expensive opioid medications compared to easier-to-obtain heroin.
Sin Embargoes: The Dark Side of Globalization
The post-World War II international order fostered a freer, more competitive market system which has underwritten free trade, allowed countries to address economic inequality, and has connected individuals and their ideas on an unimaginable scale. Indeed, while globalization has borne fruits, it has also inadvertently enabled the growth of transnational criminal networks (TCN) and their illicit enterprises. The licit networks of global supply chains, dynamic trade patterns, and integrated markets allow illicit networks to more easily blend in, making them harder for states to detect and thwart their operations. This problem is compounded in states with resource limitations, where they lack the funds and time (and often the political will) to devote to reforming their systems and taking these networks head on.
To thrive, these TCN require the coordination, manufacturing capacity, logistics, and cashflow that rival legitimate multinational corporations. Informal relationships and understandings, and mergers and acquisitions are all necessary to outmaneuver law enforcement and gain advantages relative to competitors. As the global center of gravity for economic activity shifts to the Indo-Asian Pacific, ties between Mexican and Chinese TCN have increased.
Chinese and Mexican law enforcement are familiar with the growing relationship between their respective countries’ TCN. The triads have been the leading supplier of precursor chemicals to Mexican TCN for the production of methamphetamine. With one of the largest and most unregulated pharmaceutical industries in the world, Chinese authorities have essentially enabled this relationship to continue.
Methamphetamine and Fentanyl
Demand for methamphetamine has soared since the late 1990s, and the synthetic drug has become one of the most popular — and profitable — narcotics in the world (Appendix A). The quantities of meth confiscated by authorities over the past decade reflect its rise. Global meth seizures skyrocketed from 24 tons to 114 tons between 2008 and 2012. During the same period, meth seizures in Mexico rose from 341 kilograms to 44 tons, 1.5 tons to nearly 5 tons in the United States, and 6 tons to 16 tons in China (APPENDIX B).
Drugs like heroin, cocaine, and marijuana are much more labor and land intensive to cultivate and process than methamphetamine. For methamphetamine, all it takes is access to precursor chemicals and amateur chemists. With most of the small meth-labs in the United States diminishing due to increased regulations on medicines like Sudafed which contain meth precursors, Mexican super-labs have filled the void, and produce 90 percent of the meth consumed in the United States. They are aided by China, which provides Mexican TCN with 80 percent of their precursor chemicals.
In one case, a Chinese-Mexican businessman named Zhenli Ye Gon was arrested in 2007 after police found $205 million in cash hidden in his Mexico City home; he later admitted to selling tons of meth precursors to the Sinaloa Cartel, and the accounts investigated later revealed money laundering schemes with TCN involving HSBC and a Las Vegas casino. Another TCN, the Knights Templar, sent illegally mined iron ore to China from ports in Michoacán in exchange for meth precursors.
In the case fentanyl, the drug that killed Prince, is often counterfeited and marketed as oxycodone, Percocet, or other variants, and is 40-50 times stronger than most strains of heroin. All illicit fentanyl coming into the United States comes from China; what’s more, most of that comes through the Mexican cartels. The raw fentanyl and precursors originate in China, where they’re sent to Mexico and made into pills for distribution to the US and Canada (Appendix C). Mexican TCN are drawn to fentanyl because of low acquisition costs and the immense markup when it hits the streets. It can also be ordered in small quantities (some even in a small envelope) over the internet from Chinese manufacturers selling “research chemicals.”
Money Laundering Through Trade
Cash flow is imperative in the TCN enterprise, and profits from drug sales in the United States must eventually make their way across the border, back to TCN headquarters. And since newer regulations raise alarms when large transactions, especially deposits, in Mexico are done in US dollars, the dirty money must be “washed” and converted into pesos. With Chinese businesses continuing to grow as global players, their services, willingly or unwillingly, become a viable partner to TCN.
One way TCN has accomplish its money-laundering goals has been to use loopholes in NAFTA. Mexico imposes large tariffs on many goods, but under NAFTA most are tariff-free if they come from the United States. In other words, goods from China might be cheaper, but the tariff would be prohibitively high.
However, if Mexican businesses have contacts with TCN, who have influence over Mexican customs officials, Chinese goods arriving in Los Angeles can be driven into Mexico and be labeled as a US good. The business gets cheap materials without tariffs, the TCN and corrupt officials get a cut of the profits, and the Mexican government loses valuable tax revenue. In this example, Mexican TCN can use drug proceeds in the US to purchase goods and merchandise from China, which are then resold in Mexico for pesos. (Appendix D)
Chinese manufacturers can also reap hefty profits by selling counterfeit goods such as videos, clothing, and pharmaceuticals, and TCN have aggressively moved into this market. In parts of Mexico, TCN have gone as far as placing their own logos on the merchandise they peddle, forbidding the sale by retailers of goods not bearing their logo.
These practices and more reinforce an informal economy which is advantageous to TCN. Profits from the counterfeit goods acquired from their Chinese partners do not have to be integrated into the legitimate economy. Additionally, if their counterfeit, branded merchandise is less expensive than the legitimate alternatives, local consumers may be more hostile to the government when they take measures to penalize the counterfeits.
In communities where governance is weak, TCN can seize opportunities to diversify their economic activity. Hundreds of millions of dollars in goods transit the US from China and go to Mexico through fraud to facilitate trade-based money laundering, undermine Mexico’s tax base, and supply TCN with income. Further, China is in effect facilitating a multibillion-dollar income stream to the Mexican TCN and absorbing billions in illicit funds from US customers of Mexican drugs, the precursors for which are supplied by China.
China is not likely to assist Mexican investigators to control TCN-Chinese related profits. Still a large export-oriented economy, the sale of goods is in China’s interest. China is under strain from the downturn in US and EU markets for Chinese exports, and its products face greater competition due to inflation and rising costs of labor, utilities, and raw materials. China produces over 2/3 of the world’s counterfeit goods, and although Beijing has officially expressed its intention to cooperate, local authorities seldom enforces the national and international statutes Beijing has signed on to.
Specialization in one sector can be risky. Aside from drugs, Mexican and Chinese TCN have also diversified into mining. Indeed the Knights Templar’s iron ore scheme was not a one-off.
For example, the amber mines in Chiapas, have attracted the attention of Chinese dealers. Mining is a labor-intensive operation, but there is no problem when adults and children are abundant and willing to work for enormous sums of money. Mines there are usually rented out by their Mexican owners for months at a time to Chinese dealers, where workers can get paid $150 a day, albeit at great personal risk.
Again, in the example of the Templar’s iron ore schemes in Michoacán, the Chinese were doing business with them as if they were any other company. The Mexican government has also yet to release any information about illicit mining activities tied to China. For example, the Chinese company involved in the vessel seizure filled with illegal iron ore in 2014 was not named, which stonewalled any independent investigations. Further, in the case of Michoacán, no Chinese companies registered with the Mexican Mining Chamber mention having business there.
Migration and Human Trafficking
The most politically visible issue between the US and Mexico is their shared 3,145-kilometer border, and the debate about migration across it rarely includes the subject of China. China has become the leading source of immigrants worldwide, and the United States is an increasingly popular destination. Of the roughly 11 million unauthorized persons in the United States, approximately 268,000 of those are Chinese, making China the fifth largest ethnic group of undocumented migrants in the US. Most fly from mainland China and overstay their visas, but there has been an uptick in the number of Chinese smuggled across the southern border. For example, in 2016 in San Diego 663 migrants from China were stopped trying to cross the border, a 1,281 percent increase from 2015.
Human smuggling and trafficking from China to the United States is certainly not new, and it has waxed and waned over several decades. As early as the 1990s there began a recognition of the connection between Chinese and Latin American TCN. Just as with narcotics and other contraband, the human smuggling across the border has continued.
Though small in overall numbers, enormous profits can be made by TCN in smuggling Chinese across the US – Mexico border. Smuggling a Central or South American can certainly be expensive, with the added distance from China and added risk, smugglers can command steeper prices. The going rate for a Chinese smuggling operation across the border can be anywhere from $50,000 - $70,000 per person, and with each TCN from China to Mexico taking a cut, there is plenty of money to be made for everyone.
Chinese triads have deepened their ties with Latin American TCN, and in this case Mexico, over many years. This partnership, be it an alliance or an understanding, includes not just smuggling, but also other illicit activities such as the sale of drug precursors from Asia and counterfeit goods and merchandise. In Mexico, contact between triads and Mexican TCN occurs in various regions. The various smuggling routes controlled by rival Mexican TCN has required Chinese triads to form relationships with several different groups, such as Sinaloa, Los Zetas, and Knights Templar. It is unclear whether the Chinese will heavily back one group over another, but the triads are not a monolith either, as they have independent interests too.
The diversification of Chinese and Mexican TCN businesses has required law enforcement in China, Mexico, and the US to think about more than just their individual borders and jurisdictions. Ultimately, addressing the challenge of Chinese and Mexican TCN requires the United States, China, and Mexico, to work together. The United States and China already formed relationships in the 1990s to address drugs and illegal immigration, but more commitments to expand and strengthen law enforcement cooperation would be a welcome next step. In the case of Mexico, economic and political ties with China have expanded over the past decade, and a natural follow-on to this ought to be increased security cooperation. However, with the United States wary of too much extra-hemispheric influence by other countries in Latin America, an institution for trilateral law enforcement cooperation could smoothen any pushback from Washington. Indeed, since the threat posed by TCN affects all countries involved, it requires collaboration and cooperation by all countries involved.
 Robert Chao Romero, The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940. Tucson, University of Arizona Press, 2010.
 Prescription opioids used to treat severe pain in the United States cost upwards of $100, though the average is between $400-$500. Additionally, it is difficult to get the prescription itself, since they are highly addictive. Meanwhile, no prescription is needed for heroin, where the street price for a gram is between $100-$200. Prices for Popular Opioids. GoodRX. https://www.goodrx.com/opioids.
 Storti, C. & De Grauwe, P. (2009). Globalization and the price decline of illicit drugs. International Journal of Drug Policy, 20(1), 48-61. United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 2015. World Drug Report 2015. New York, New York: United Nations.
 Serrano, M. “Transnational organized crime and international security: Business as usual?” Chapter in Transnational Organized Crime and International Security: Business as Usual? Berdal and Serrano, eds. 13-35. Boulder: Lynne Reinner Publishers, 2002.
 R. Evan Ellis, “Chinese Organized Crime in Latin. America,” Prism, Vol. 4, No. 1, December 1, 2012, pp. 67-77.
 Sebastian Rotella and Lee Romney, “Smugglers Use Mexico as Gateway for Chinese Immigration: The increasing influx of illegal immigrants is largely because of an alliance between Latin American and Asian crime syndicates, INS authorities say.” The Los Angeles Times. June 21, 1993. http://articles.latimes.com/1993-06-...gal-immigrants.
Iraqi police accuse IS of chemical weapons attack in Mosul
By Ahmed Rasheed | BAGHDAD
Iraqi police on Sunday accused Islamic State of using chemical weapons against their forces in Mosul, but said that had not stopped them making new ground towards the militants' last stronghold in the city.
Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city, was captured by the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim fighters in 2014, but government forces have retaken much of it during an operation that has lasted six months.
Officers in Iraq's Federal Police told Reuters that Islamic State shelled government forces with chemical weapons agents in the Urouba and Bab Jadid districts on Saturday.
The attack caused only minor wounds, the force said in a statement, without giving more details.
The U.N. said last month that 12 people, including women and children, had been treated for possible exposure to chemical weapons agents in Mosul. But Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, said days later there was no evidence for that.
Iraq's Federal Police, one of several forces attacking the militants, said it had made a new push against the group holed up in the Old City, where tanks and heavy vehicles are not able to operate because of its narrow streets.
The front has hardly moved for over a month.
Federal Police forces moved 200 metres (yards) deeper into the Old City, getting closer to al-Nuri mosque, a statement said.
The mosque is highly symbolic because it was there that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself head of a self-proclaimed caliphate.
Troops have had the centuries-old mosque with its leaning minaret in their sights since last month.
A captain in the Federal Police said Sunday's advance had started in the early morning with troops fighting the militants house-to-house.
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"Daesh (Islamic State) suicide motorcycles now are their favourite weapon inside the Old City," he said.
"We have to watch every single house to avoid attackers on motorcycles packed with explosives."
Iraqi government forces, backed by U.S. advisers, artillery and air support, have cleared the east of Mosul and half of the west and are now focused on the Old City.
Some 400,000 people are trapped in the area and more than 300,000 have fled fighting since the operation started in October, officials say.
(additional reporting Isabel Coles; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
Pence stresses 'era of strategic patience' over as he visits Korean DMZ
By Roberta Rampton | DEMILITARISED ZONE, South Korea
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stared across the demilitarized border between North and South Korea on Monday, a day after North Korea's failed missile launch, reiterating that the U.S. "era of strategic patience" with Pyongyang was over.
Pence is on the first stop of a four-nation Asia tour intended to show America's allies, and remind its adversaries, that the Trump administration is not turning its back on the increasingly volatile region.
The demilitarized zone (DMZ) is a heavily mined, four-km-wide (2.5-mile-wide) strip of land lined with barbed wire running across the Korean peninsula, with soldiers on both sides in a continual eyeball-to-eyeball standoff.
Pence, whose father served in the 1950-53 Korean War, said the United States would stand by its "iron-clad alliance" with South Korea and was seeking peace through strength.
"All options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the stability of the people of this country," he told reporters as tinny propaganda music floated across from the North Korean side.
He said U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear he won't talk about specific military tactics.
"There was a period of strategic patience but the era of strategic patience is over," Pence said.
The United States, its allies and China are working together on a range of responses to North Korea's latest failed ballistic missile test, Trump's national security adviser said on Sunday, citing what he called an international consensus to act.
H.R. McMaster indicated that Trump was not considering military action for now, even as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier strike group was heading for the region.
"It's time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully," he said on ABC's "This Week" program. "We are working together with our allies and partners and with the Chinese leadership to develop a range of options.
"There is an international consensus now, including the Chinese leadership, that this is a situation that just cannot continue," McMaster said.
The Trump administration is focusing its North Korea strategy on tougher economic sanctions, possibly including an oil embargo, a global ban on its airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang, Reuters reported last week, citing U.S. officials.
While Trump has employed tough rhetoric in response to North Korea's recent missile tests, the new U.S. president's options appear limited in dealing with a challenge that has vexed his Oval Office predecessors.
Most options fall into four categories: economic sanctions, covert action, diplomatic negotiations and military force.
Pence landed in South Korea hours after the North's failed missile launch. His visit came a day after North Korea held a military parade in its capital, Pyongyang, marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of founding father Kim Il Sung.
What appeared to be new long-range ballistic missiles were on display in the parade.
"WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS"
Tensions have risen as Trump takes a hard rhetorical line with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has rebuffed admonitions from China and proceeded with nuclear and missile programs seen by Washington as a direct threat.
Trump acknowledged on Sunday that the softer line he had taken on China's management of its currency was linked to Beijing's help on the North Korea issue.
"Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!" Trump said on Twitter. Trump has backed away from a campaign promise to label China in that way.
Pence said Trump was hopeful China "will take actions needed to bring about change in policy" in North Korea.
"But as the president has made very clear, either China will deal with this problem or the United States and our allies will," he said.
Trump's decision to order a cruise missile strike on a Syrian airfield this month, in response to what he said was Syria's use of chemical weapons, raised questions about his plans for reclusive North Korea.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged North Korea to refrain from taking further provocative actions, comply with U.N. resolutions and abandon its nuclear missile development.
"Japan will closely cooperate with the U.S. and South Korea over North Korea and will call for China to take a bigger role," Abe told parliament.
Japan PM urges North Korea to refrain from more provocative actions
However, a U.S. foreign policy adviser traveling with Pence sought to defuse some of the tension, saying Sunday's test of what was believed to be a medium-range missile had come as no surprise.
"We had good intelligence before the launch and good intelligence after the launch," the adviser told reporters on condition of anonymity.
China has spoken out against the North's weapons tests and has supported U.N. sanctions. It has repeatedly called for talks while appearing increasingly frustrated with the North.
Beijing banned imports of North Korean coal on Feb. 26, cutting off Pyongyang's most important export. China's customs department issued an order on April 7 telling traders to return North Korean coal cargoes, trading sources said.
Pyongyang has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions, and regularly threatens to destroy South Korea and the United States. North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-1953 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.
The North has said it has developed and would launch a missile that can strike the U.S. mainland, but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering the necessary technology, including miniaturizing a nuclear warhead.
Sunday's missile launch was a calculated move, the China Daily newspaper said in an editorial.
"And making it without prompting a furious response from Washington surely qualifies as a win to some degree from Kim's perspective," it said, referring to Kim Jong Un.
"Trump, too, can claim a win. That the nuclear test did not happen will surely be seen as the pressure working."
For a graphic on Carl Vinson strike group, click here
For a graphic on North Korean nuclear program, click here
(Additional reporting by Ju-min Park in SEOUL, Daniel Trotta in NEW YORK, Lucia Mutikani and Caren Bohan in WASHINGTON, Kaori Kaneko in TOKYO and John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Paul Tait)
Nine countries possess about 15,000 nuclear weapons, reports the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. These weapons have become almost an afterthought as leaders of Russia and United States talk about modernizing nuclear arsenals - until crises emerge, such as the recent series of provocative tests from North Korea. The strategic analysis that goes into determining need for such weapons and national priorities may be missing a moral dimension, suggests Paul Bracken, professor of management and political science at Yale. He describes a decline of such a worldview in politics, especially in the United States and Europe, and he notes that Christianity lacks the authority it once had during the years of the Cold War: “This decline of authority means that calculations of self-interest in international politics bear almost all of the weight for restraint and shaping world order.” Bracken reviews the history of theologians who debated nuclear policy during the Cold War, informing and inspiring activists, as well as results of a 1983 war game that heightened recognition of the dangers of nuclear weapons. There should be no loose talk about an arms race, and moral debate should include all nuclear and would-be nuclear powers. – YaleGlobal
Nuclear Weapons in a Post-Christian*World
Debate about a nuclear arms race may be missing a moral dimension, and these debates should include all nuclear powers
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
NEW HAVEN: The second nuclear age takes place in a post-Christian world. New atomic missiles come from North Korea, Pakistan, India, China – with diverse religious and nonreligious traditions. The United States, set to start its own nuclear modernization, now too is a post-Christian nation.
“Post-Christian” here means the decline in primacy of a Christian worldview in politics, especially in the United States and Europe. During the first nuclear age and Cold War, both were Christian societies by this definition. And while Christianity still has many adherents, it lacks the authority it had during the years of the Cold War. This decline of authority means that calculations of self-interest in international politics bear almost all of the weight for restraint and shaping world order. Questions that drove debate about the Cold War arms race are no longer asked with the same passion. Yet these questions haven’t vanished. Who, for example, determines the national interest? Who does the calculations on which self-interest is founded and that determine nuclear armaments buildup?
Any framework that overlooks these moral issues misses a critical dimension of strategic analysis.
That our world is post-Christian, despite nearly a third of the population being Christian, should give us pause, especially about nuclear weapons. As a practical matter the national interest is now decided by politicians and strategy specialists. If the Cold War had been conducted this way it would have been a more dangerous experience, perhaps intolerably so. But it wasn’t. A larger Christian context surrounded the debate over the arms race. It didn’t prevent this arms race, but capped it in important ways. Many people don’t realize that most nuclear weapons proposed during the Cold War were never built. Neutron and cobalt bombs, tsunami makers with bombs on the ocean floor and nuclear weapons in space – all proposed and never built.
One reason was the backlash in the United States over how such matters were decided. Debate started by Christians thinkers and activists raised the moral level of discussion on nuclear war and peace. The United States wasn’t only playing a chess game of grand strategy, but taking a stand against a “vast evil,” in the words of prominent theologian John Courtney Murray. For this Jesuit and adviser to President John Kennedy, terrible things – like nuclear deterrence – had to be faced to stop Communism. This led to his reluctant support for deterrence since he saw no alternative. His arguments were subtle and sophisticated, the hallmark of Jesuit thinking then and now.
Thomas Merton – Trappist monk, pacifist and bestselling author – came to a different view. His first book, The Seven Story Mountain appeared in 1948 just as the Cold War and nuclear conflict were entering public consciousness. By the late 1950s Merton argued the arms race was becoming a greater danger than the Soviets, because it couldn’t be controlled in the long run. Strategists, Merton said, offered arguments about the national interest with detached, icy rationality based on narrow self-interest. This surface rationality masked the reality that they couldn’t control the arms race and were only fooling themselves behind abstractions of deterrence and containment.
Merton is especially relevant for a second nuclear age, with nuclear weapons today spread among nine countries. He wrote a book in the early 1960s that called for Christian resistance to the arms race and foresaw that the United States was itself becoming a post-Christian nation. Church authorities bottled up his Peace in the Post-Christian Era at the time. Merton died in 1968, and the book appeared in print in 2004, posthumously.
Merton held that some actions are just wrong, immoral, and we should say so – a view overlapping with some strategic thinking of the era, including Herman Kahn’s doomsday machine. A weapon that destroys all life on earth is after all the ultimate deterrent and the logical, absurd conclusion of the deterrence strategy supported by most politicians and technocrats. But by carrying strategic thinking to a ludicrous conclusion, Kahn insisted such a weapon shouldn’t be built. And as he predicted, no one did.
The moral debate of Murray and Merton widened pubic discussions on nuclear war and peace, reaching campuses, think tanks, and inspired many activists including Dorothy Day and Father Daniel and Philip Berrigan. And this is the point. They disagreed with each other, but their disagreement broke the narrow straitjacket of thinking about the arms race.
This disagreement eventually reached the Pentagon. In the early 1980s, the arms race was heating up under President Ronald Reagan. Back then, it looked theoretically possible to combine expansion in the number of nuclear warheads with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, increased missile accuracy, and missile defense into a first-strike capability against the Soviet Union. On paper, there was no doubt that such a system gave a first-strike advantage to the United States. By 1983 a huge nuclear buildup by the superpowers was underway.
Against this background, the US Catholic Bishop’s Conference in May 1983 issued their Pastoral Letter on War and Peace – in essence, maintaining that nuclear deterrence, not warfighting, was provisionally morally acceptable. But there were grave reservations. Deterrence was only provisionally morally acceptable as a temporary alternative and not a reliable system of world order for the long term. The letter reflected the influence of Merton 15 years after his death and Murray, who died in 1967. Unlike many proclamations put out by anti-war and anti-nuclear groups, the pastoral letter did not say “nuclear weapons are evil, the United States should disarm at once.” Instead, the letter acknowledged real dangers that couldn’t be ignored or simplified.
The letter came out just as the United States was starting a nuclear buildup. Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger was deciding on size of nuclear force and a strategy, and Moscow was becoming paranoid.
The year 1983 was more dangerous than anyone at the time realized. The Soviets, it turns out, were loosening the nuclear trigger with multiple nuclear false alarms. Soviet warning satellites mistakenly detected American missile launches, and Moscow regarded a NATO exercise called Able Archer as preparation for a first strike. In the context of the extreme mistrust of the time, it made for an explosive cocktail. Years later, the CIA published details of Soviet fears.
*In June 1983 the Pentagon ran the most realistic nuclear war game of the Cold War. Called Proud Prophet, the actual secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff played their roles and relied on actual top-secret war plans of the Strategic Air Command and the Navy. The roles of secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs were concealed from other players. A cutout used to play the president had no authority. Instead Weinberger and Chairman John Vessey Jr were briefed daily and consulted over a top-secret telephone line. They made decisions and passed them to the cutout.
The mechanics of Proud Prophet are described elsewhere, including my book The Second Nuclear Age. Suffice it to say, the game escalated, with hundreds of millions killed and the end of life on earth as we know it. One cannot prove it, but the game and larger context of the era, including the Pastoral Letter on War and Peace, deeply affected US leaders. Afterward, there was less loose talk about a US nuclear attack on the Soviets, a shift that came at a critical time.
Much has changed since the Cold War. But need for an enlarged framework that goes beyond calculated self-interest has not changed. The arms race has been left to politicians and specialists. Yet there’s a legacy of Christianity and the arms race that is noble, moral and useful.
Debate is needed to energize broad segments of society – beyond the groups that engaged during the Cold War because we now live in a multipolar nuclear world. The moral debate about the arms race must include Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, India and China. That won’t be easy, but is a necessity, even while overlooked in many intellectual and academic circles.
One doesn’t have to be a Christian to see the dangers of the arms race. This recognition must be used to reframe the debate about nuclear war and peace.
Paul Bracken is professor of management and political science at Yale University
China's Xi restructures military, consolidates control
Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced a military restructure of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to transform it into a leaner fighting force with improved joint operations capability, state media said.
Centered around a new, condensed structure of 84 military units, the reshuffle builds on Xi's years-long efforts to modernize the PLA with greater emphasis on new capabilities including cyberspace, electronic and information warfare.
As chair of the Central Military Commission, Xi is also commander-in-chief of China's armed forces.
"This has profound and significant meaning in building a world-class military," Xi told commanders of the new units at the PLA headquarters in Beijing, according to the official Xinhua news agency report late on Tuesday.
All 84 new units are at the combined-corps level, which means commanders will hold the rank of major-general or rear-admiral, the official China Daily reported Wednesday, adding that unit members would likely be regrouped from existing forces given the Chinese military was still engaged in cutting its troops by 300,000, one of the wide-ranging military reforms introduced by Xi in late 2015.
Those reforms include establishing a joint operational command structure by 2020 and rejigging existing military regions, as well as streamlining troop numbers particularly in non-combat facing roles.
The previous seven military area commands were regrouped into five, and the four military departments - staff, politics, logistics and armaments - were reorganized into 15 agencies last year. The 84 units will come under the 15 agencies.
Retired PLA Major-General Xu Guangyu, a senior researcher at the Beijing-based China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said the restructure represented the second major phase of Xi's reforms.
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"Since military reforms started it has been one step at a time," Xu told Reuters. "The high-level framework is now in place, now this is the second phase targeting the entire mid-ranking levels of the military."
Beijing has been moving rapidly to upgrade its military hardware as it grows increasingly assertive about its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea and as it seeks to expand its military prowess overseas.
Chinese media reports have speculated that the country's second aircraft carrier - and its first built at home - will be launched on Sunday, the navy's founding anniversary.
Xi has also made rooting out deeply entrenched corruption in the military a top priority. Dozens of senior officers have been investigated and jailed.
(Reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Michael Perry)
North Korea and Mar-a-Lago: Did It Make Any Difference?
By Alan D. Romberg
18 April 2017
Whether measured in terms of a week, a day, a few hours or even ten minutes, while the outcome of the Mar-a-Lago summit between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping cannot yet be characterized as a breakthrough, it certainly was not the acrimonious breakdown that many predicted. From where this observer sits, it was, at the very least, a modest success and perhaps more than that.
Trade had been advertised as the focus of President Trump’s agenda, with threats of high tariffs as well as punishment of China as a currency manipulator headlining the pre-meeting coverage. The American leader also seemed to threaten punitive trade measures if his Chinese counterpart did not agree to take significantly greater steps to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, exercising the unique leverage that Trump asserted China had over North Korea.
Although the two leaders apparently spent a considerable amount of time wrestling with this intractable and increasingly dangerous problem, much of it one-on-one, according to the President’s own account it took only ten minutes for Xi to convince him of how complicated the North Korean issue is for China. “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy. … I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power” over North Korea, Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “But it’s not what you would think.”
While Trump and his senior team continued to assert that the US would take whatever steps were necessary to bring North Korea to heel even if China would not—or could not—cooperate, the tone changed dramatically. Having previously cited trade as a lever to wield with China to pressure Beijing into upping the ante with Pyongyang, Trump now spoke the language of inducements, indicating he could sweeten the pot of what the US could offer the PRC in a trade deal. Instead of repeating accusations of “unfair trade” and the “raping” of the US economy, he defended a softening of his position on economic relations, including alleged PRC currency manipulation, on the basis of China’s willingness to turn the screws on North Korea.
Rather than Washington’s previous somewhat petulant (if not inaccurate) accusation that Beijing was protecting Pyongyang, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson now referred to a “real commitment” by both leaders to “work together to see if this cannot be resolved in a peaceful way.” The Secretary went so far as to say that, while Trump had told Xi he would welcome China’s ideas and would be happy to work together, “we understand it creates unique problems for them and challenges and that we would, and are, prepared to chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to coordinate with us.”
The bottom line approach to the DPRK was still that the United States was prepared to work “alone” (which Trump amplified to mean working with countries other than China) to do whatever was necessary to neutralize the North Korean threat. But the post-summit mood music indicated that there was considerable hope Beijing would do more.
The announced PRC suspension of coal imports from the North was obviously taken as a concrete indication that, even if it might not do everything the US wanted, China would do substantially more than in the past to seriously implement UN Security Council sanctions to add pressure on Pyongyang in the hopes of slowing its program and perhaps affecting its calculation of the costs and benefits of continuing its nuclear efforts. (On the other hand, just days after the Mar-a-Lago meeting, China released trade data for the first quarter of 2017, showing an increase over the preceding year.)
From a Chinese perspective, one can identify at least three reasons for Xi to commit to do more in concert with the US and others to lean on Pyongyang. One was that North Korea’s continuing program, including its testing of both nuclear devices and missiles, threatened to bring on precisely the kind of chaos and instability that China feared most. This includes the potential to lead to war, which would threaten not only short-term Chinese interests (e.g., a flood of refugees and the problem of “loose nukes”), but also through eventual unification its long-term strategic interests as well (e.g., allegedly transforming the entire Korean Peninsula into an American bastion from which to confront China). Beijing has also been concerned about the implications of failure to stop Pyongyang’s program for decisions in Seoul, Tokyo and possibly even Taipei about acquiring nuclear weapons as well as becoming part of a regional US-centric ballistic missile defense system.
Another was the growing belief that President Trump would be willing to attack the North preemptively, even without an outright provocation, leading to a similarly dangerous and disadvantageous outcome. It wasn’t that Washington would ignore the high risks of such action, but China saw a growing concern in the United States, both in the Trump administration and more widely, that if North Korea developed an ICBM capable of striking the United States, and succeeded in mating it with a nuclear warhead, this would not only threaten the US directly but potentially lead Pyongyang to think it could effectively deter the US and act in its own neighborhood with impunity, thus challenging fundamental American interests. In this circumstance, arguments that the North would never launch such an attack since it would understand this would be suicidal could be of no avail in stopping US preemption. This evolving perception added a considerable sense of urgency to Chinese statements and actions.
A third reason to cooperate with the US is simply that China wants—and needs—a constructive relationship with the United States. Whether in terms of economics or security or regional and global issues, without at least constructive and possibly cooperative relations, China’s ability to deal effectively with a whole host of issues of enormous significance will be severely limited.
The announced deployment of the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson strike group toward the Peninsula was accompanied by increasingly shrill speculation that the United States was prepared to launch a preemptive attack against the North if Pyongyang set off its sixth nuclear test or possibly conducted a missile test. (Some people judge that the American strike in Syria and use of the MOAB “super-bomb” in Afghanistan were partially intended to reinforce such concerns. I’m skeptical and, when given the opportunity, President Trump did not try to draw any such linkage.)
Although a number of senior American officials had discouraged such speculation about the use of force at this time, and there was no evidence of war preparations on either side (not to mention that Vice President Pence is in the area), continuing statements about consideration of a wide range of US options as well as fire-breathing North Korean threats of retaliation—even preemption—fueled concern. This was especially true in South Korea, as the North’s observance of the 105th*anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth approached.
As tension grew, in a phone call several days after the summit, President Xi reportedly urged Trump not to resort to force and to adhere to peaceful means to resolve the issue. And after a failed North Korean missile launch on April 15, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi called Secretary Tillerson, presumably to convey the same message (although they also reportedly discussed other steps to advance the overall bilateral relationship as agreed to at the Xi-Trump summit).
While in the near term the US will have to aim for a realistic goal such as a freeze on all nuclear weapons and missile related activities under international inspection, it will continue to insist on ultimate denuclearization and will likely not resume formal negotiations with Pyongyang unless the North agrees to these terms. While China also will not recognize North Korea as a “nuclear weapons state” under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and will also insist upon ultimate denuclearization, it is unclear whether China shares the view that the North must accept those terms prior to sitting down at the negotiating table again.
So, even assuming the North would contemplate such terms, issues would abound regarding sequencing of steps and the pace of implementation. Moreover, fundamental questions would need to be answered about the purpose of negotiations.
In any case, before even confronting those issues, a key question remains whether China will adopt measures likely to lead to North Korea accepting those ground rules. A major issue for China, of course, is a concern that North Korea should remain stable and that it neither lashes out against the US and others nor be attacked.
Moreover, whatever the United States and others believe that China could do without precipitating either collapse of the North or lashing out, Beijing may well have a different appraisal. For example, it undoubtedly is the case that a total cutoff of Pyongyang’s access to international financial sources would be seen by Beijing as crossing the line of safety. Many in the US and elsewhere, on the other hand, believe that even if Beijing took such action, Pyongyang would refrain from what would possibly be suicidal reactions by launching attacks on its near neighbors or US facilities and assets. Cutting back on Chinese food and fuel supplies to the North raise similar questions.
An interesting area of speculation is to what degree China’s commitment to North Korea’s survival carries over to the survival of the Kim Jong Un regime and of Kim, himself, as the leader. It is doubtful that the PRC would seek to bring about regime change, probably for many of the same reasons the US does not have such a policy—it is unpredictable where things would go and, even if successful, whether what followed would be any better. That said, if a policy of serious pressure is adopted, even though Kim seems secure for now, one cannot be sure what other dynamics might be at work that could turn things abruptly in a different direction.
Although the Chinese are less reluctant than before to discuss alternative North Korean futures in Track 2 channels, and even some that go a bit beyond Track 2, so far China remains very wary of doing so in acknowledged Track 1 conversations for fear of their becoming public and triggering a dangerous North Korean reaction. But both for the sake of persuading Beijing that its long-term strategic interests will not be harmed by carrying through on effective sanctions implementation and other coercive measures, and to be prepared in case of a sudden turn of events, it is imperative that both sides are clear about the intentions of the other. This is especially true with regard to any possible military activities within the North Korean space (for example, the retrieval of assets related to WMD) and both countries’ roles and disposition of their forces once stability is restored. Such discussions would obviously also have to involve South Korea at a minimum, complicating the geometry of the process even more.
These are all big and consequential questions, but, as discussed, for now the focus is on getting the North to suspend its program in a credible fashion and the roles that China, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia will play in making that happen.
In sum, it is simply too early to say whether the Mar-a-Lago summit made a fundamental difference in the future resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. It certainly changed the tenor of Sino-American interaction and generated at least a superficial commitment to transform the entire relationship through managing the North Korean challenge and other key issues between the two countries in a constructive and sincere way.
Many people will say they have seen this movie before and, notwithstanding the great Xi-Trump personal chemistry that the President has touted, we are not likely to see sufficient actual Chinese accommodation to produce a different result in the long term.
One thing that is different this time is that the new American President really is, as conventional wisdom goes, quite “transactional.” True, pledges of cooperation on North Korea gave President Trump the excuse he needed to back off of his unsustainable threat of labeling China a currency manipulator when there was no recent evidence to justify it. But he has gone beyond that and identified “trade,” a major issue of concern to him, as an area where he is willing to bestow greater benefits on China if it really does help on North Korea. Whether that is in the US national interest is a matter of judgment, but it seems to be where the President is at the moment.
It is unknown, of course, how China will put all of these factors about overall security, economics and national standing together with its focused concerns about North Korea. But it is an interesting moment, to say the least. And while skepticism is fully warranted, it would be premature to close one’s mind to the possibility that China may, at least to some degree, alter its calculation of how to best promote its national interests.
Criticism of Beijing’s North Korea Policy Comes From Unlikely Place: China
By CHRIS BUCKLEY
APRIL 18, 2017
BEIJING — When China’s best-known historian of the Korean War, Shen Zhihua, recently laid out his views on North Korea, astonishment rippled through the audience. China, he said with a bluntness that is rare here, had fundamentally botched its policy on the divided Korean Peninsula.
China’s bond with North Korea’s Communist leaders formed even before Mao Zedong’s decision in 1950 to send People’s Liberation Army soldiers to fight alongside them in the Korean War. Mao famously said the two sides were “as close as lips and teeth.”
But China should abandon the stale myths of fraternity that have propped up its support for North Korea and turn to South Korea, Mr. Shen said at a university lecture last month in Dalian, a northeastern Chinese port city.
“Judging by the current situation, North Korea is China’s latent enemy and South Korea could be China’s friend,” Mr. Shen said, according to a transcript he published online. “We must see clearly that China and North Korea are no longer brothers in arms, and in the short term there’s no possibility of an improvement in Chinese-North Korean relations.”
The speech was a strikingly bold public challenge to Chinese policy, which remains unwilling to risk a break with North Korea even as its nuclear program raises tensions in northeast Asia and beyond. The controversy over Mr. Shen’s views in China has distilled a renewed debate about whether the government should abandon its longstanding patronage of North Korea.
China’s “traditionalist view that views the U.S. as a much greater threat than North Korea is deeply entrenched,” Bonnie S. Glaser, an expert on Chinese foreign policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said in an email. “But the proponents of change are vocal, too. They argue that North Korea is a growing liability.”
For decades, China has tried to preserve ties with North Korea as a partner and strategic shield in northeast Asia, even when the North’s leaders became testy and unpredictable. In recent years, though, China has also tried to soothe the United States, build political and business ties with South Korea and help rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
But as North Korea has improved its missiles and nuclear warheads, opening the possibility that it could one day strike the continental United States, China’s go-between approach has become increasingly fraught.
North Korea did not hold a nuclear test over the weekend that some had expected, and its missile test on Sunday fizzled. But more tests and launches appear to be only a matter of time, and the Trump administration has pressed China’s president, Xi Jinping, to use much tougher pressure on its neighbor.
“The era of strategic patience is over,” Vice President Mike Pence said in South Korea on Monday.
“The president and I have a great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea,” he told reporters, but “if China is unable to deal with North Korea, the United States and our allies will.”
China suspended coal imports from North Korea in February, cutting off a major source of revenue for the North. But China has resisted choking off trade with North Korea, and debate over how to balance Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington has sharpened and become more fractious. Trying to stay friends with all sides is proving perilous.
The Chinese government has fiercely objected to an American antimissile defense system, called the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad, being installed in South Korea, fearing it could be used to spy on China. But some Chinese experts have criticized the surge of anti-South Korean anger unleashed by Beijing as counterproductive.
Global Times, a state-run newspaper that often defends Chinese government policy, cautioned last week that North Korea would face harsher sanctions if it went ahead with another nuclear test. On Monday, the paper redoubled that warning, calling for China to choke off most oil supplies to North Korea if there was another test.
Mr. Shen has gone much further than other scholars in calling for a reset.
“The fundamental interests of China and North Korea are at odds,” he said in his lecture. “China’s fundamental interest lies in achieving a stability on its borders and developing outward. But since North Korea acquired nuclear weapons, that periphery has never been stable, so inevitably Chinese and North Korean interests are at odds.”
He derided China’s opposition to the Thaad antimissile system as shrill and self-defeating, needlessly alienating South Korean opinion. “What we’ve done is exactly what the Americans and North Koreans would like to see,” he said.
Mr. Shen’s views have incensed Chinese ultranationalists, who have accused him of selling out the country’s ally in Pyongyang. His views and the debate about them have not been reported in Chinese state news media.
But Mr. Shen’s speech remains on the website of the Cold War history research center at East China Normal University in Shanghai, where he works. He has also restated his views at lectures in Shanghai and, last week, in Xi’an in northwest China, he said.
In the past, articles in China critical of North Korea have been quickly censored. In 2004, an influential Chinese policy magazine was closed down after it published an essay critical of North Korea. In 2013, an editor at a Communist Party journal in Beijing was shunted from his job for publicly proposing that China withdraw support for North Korea.
Mr. Shen said the tolerance — so far — for his views suggested that the government might be willing to tolerate greater criticism of North Korea and debate about the relationship.
“Many people have asked me, ‘Teacher Shen, why hasn’t your speech been taken down?’” Mr. Shen said in a telephone interview from Shanghai.
“At least it shows that there can be different views about the North Korea issue. It’s up to the center to set policy, but at least you can air different views in public, whereas before you couldn’t,” he said. The “center” refers to China’s central leadership.
Still, Ms. Glaser said, President Xi appears unlikely to turn entirely on North Korea.
After a meeting with Mr. Xi, President Trump said his Chinese counterpart seemed willing to press Pyongyang. But China has balanced its criticisms of North Korea by pressing the United States to agree to prompt negotiations with the North and suspend major military exercises with the South.
In South Korea on Monday, Vice President Pence held out the possibility of opening talks with the North Koreans, noting that Washington was seeking security “through peaceable means, through negotiations.”
His office added that any talks would include Japan, South Korea, other allies in the region and China.
Mr. Shen, 66, is well known in China and is often cited for his groundbreaking studies on the outbreak of the Korean War that used archival records to expose the tensions and miscalculations behind Mao’s decision to send troops.
He is the son of Communist Party officials and previously used his earnings from business to pay for dredging archives in Russia, after serving a two-year prison term on a charge of leaking state secrets that he insisted was groundless.
He said he hoped that his research, including a new history of Chinese-North Korean relations that he hopes will appear in English this year, would dismantle deceptive myths that have grown up in China around that past.
“It’s very hard for China to adjust relations,” he said. “If everyone understands the truth and this myth is burst, then there’ll be a basis among the public and officials for adjusting policy.”
But Mr. Shen acknowledged that shifting direction on North Korea would carry risks. If political cooperation between Beijing and Washington fails to constrain North Korea, he said, the two governments should cooperate in a military response.
“If North Korea really does master nuclear weapons and their delivery, then the whole world will have to prostrate itself at the feet of North Korea,” he said in the interview. “The longer this drags out, the better it is for North Korea.”
Choe Sang-Hun contributed reporting from Seoul, South Korea.
Again my apologizes for not posting here more, the "meat world" has been in full "Lions, Tigers and Bears (with a pack of Utah Raptors tossed in for good measure) Oh My!" mode and it doesn't look like it is going to subside much in the near future so please bear with me....Thanks HC
Commentary: The next super weapon could be biological
By Peter Apps
With the threat of chemical weapons in Syria and nuclear arms in North Korea, the risk of biological weapons has largely dropped off the international agenda. But evolving technologies and genetic engineering may open the door to new dangers.
Other than the “anthrax in the mail” attacks that followed 9/11, killing five people, there have been few serious attempts at biological attacks in recent years. Most global powers scaled back their biological weapons research in the 1970s, partly because of the difficulties of getting fragile bacteria and viruses to survive being dropped in bombs or missiles, or even sprayed.
Militant groups like al Qaeda and Islamic State have largely embraced the other end of the technological spectrum, turning to basic but brutal tactics such as using a car or truck to attack pedestrians in Nice, Berlin and elsewhere.
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Most scientific and security experts agree the risk remains relatively low. That may change with the proliferation of basic genetic engineering technologies, some small and cheap enough to be used at home. (This gene-editing kit, built by a former NASA bioengineer, was marketed last year.) The unscrupulous can now tamper with the DNA of bacteria or viruses to make them that much more lethal and potentially hard to treat.
Regulations on biological and genetic research vary widely between countries – but making weapons with such techniques is largely illegal under the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention. Some experts worry, however, that recent advances may make it easier to design more effective and lethal new pathogens. In February, Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned that a conflict involving such weapons could kill more people than nuclear war.
When scientists first sequenced a single human genome in 2003 – allowing them to understand what each small piece of biological coding meant – it was a vast and expensive undertaking. Now, computing power means the cost of that kind of technology – analyzing the difference between the DNA of individual humans, animals, plants and pathogens– is nose-diving by the year. Some scientists have raised the still-controversial idea that as the availability of basic genetic engineering techniques also rises, it could become easier to create new, more sophisticated weapons, perhaps targeted to the DNA of an individual or even an entire ethnic group.
Last month Senator Joseph Lieberman – who has been warning of biological attack since before 9/11 and has said the United States has been "damn lucky" to avoid it – called on President Donald Trump and Congress to make biodefense a national priority.
In a 2010 paper, former CIA officer Rolf Mowatt-Larssen described how al Qaeda wanted to acquire biological weapons with roughly the same level of priority that it sought a stolen nuclear weapon. It never came close to getting either, focusing instead on more conventional attacks.
A report last year from the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point concluded Islamic State, too, was keen to acquire biological weapons. That group has already used basic chemical weapons, including in the battle for Mosul, although it has been unable to inflict significant casualties with them.
Even without a deliberate attack, the threat of a mass pandemic is real, and organizations such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization are always on the lookout for signs of outbreak. Scientists have been warning for decades that mankind is at risk for a serious pandemic on the scale of Spanish influenza, which killed an estimated 50 million to 100 million people a century ago.
The modern world has a host of techniques to fight such infections. But it also has vulnerabilities. Air travel – and some argue, mass migration – make it easier for infections to spread faster.
An Islamic State laptop obtained in 2014 contained documents that examined ways of harvesting and using bubonic plague from animals, the West Point report said. But it concluded that, like other groups, IS remained “extremely unlikely” to acquire the capability to mount a mass casualty attack using biological weapons.
During the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Western officials worried Islamic State or another group might try to take advantage. In particular, according to the West Point report, there were worries that it might attempt to get individuals infected and then use them to spread the disease elsewhere.
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The reality is that such a technique would have had a limited effect. Any infected individual would have become sick and been identified relatively quickly. And, as with the rest of the outbreak, infection control measures would have bought it under control.
Still, simple attacks can work. In 1984, 751 people fell ill and 45 were hospitalized, mainly in Oregon, after a religious group run by Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh sprayed salmonella into food distribution areas in 10 salad bars. No one died, but it remains the largest biological attack in recent U.S. history – and could well have been fatal if those behind it had used typhoid, as they had at one point considered.
Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo cult – responsible for the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin nerve gas attack that killed 12 and hospitalized many more – is generally believed to have had the most sophisticated biological weapons program of any non-state group. It could not successfully execute an attack with anthrax or other pathogens, however – one of the main reasons it switched its focus to chemicals.
The greatest danger may come if any of the handful of people who have relevant expertise decide to mount solo attacks. After anthrax-filled envelopes began to appear in government and other offices in late 2001, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents concluded that a microbiologist and U.S. Army researcher, Bruce Ivins, was likely responsible and was believed to have acted alone. Ivins committed suicide in 2007, shortly before his planned arrest; a panel of scientists later cast doubt on the FBI’s evidence against him.
There are other dangers. If the regime in North Korea were to collapse, some worry Pyongyang could unleash its biological arsenal, which may include smallpox.
World War One saw the emergence of chemical warfare, World War Two the atomic bomb. The next era-defining super weapon, some experts have long warned us, could be biological.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Apps is Reuters global affairs columnist. He is founder and executive director of the Project for Study of the 21st Century; PS21, a non-national, non-partisan, non-ideological think tank in London, New York and Washington. Before that, he spent 12 years as a reporter for Reuters covering defense, political risk and emerging markets. Since 2016, he has been a member of the British Army Reserve, the UK Labour Party and a Future of War fellow at New America.
The views expressed in this article are not those of Reuters News.
North Korea says don't 'mess with us' as U.S. plans next move
By Ju-min Park | SEOUL
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to pressure North Korea over its nuclear program as North Korean state media warned the Americans of a "super-mighty preemptive strike" and said don't "mess with us".
U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a hard line with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has rebuffed admonitions from sole major ally China and proceeded with nuclear and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions.
Reclusive North Korea regularly threatens to destroy Japan, South Korea and the United States and has shown no let-up in its belligerence after a failed missile test on Sunday, a day after putting on a huge display of missiles at a parade in Pyongyang.
"We're reviewing all the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as the other ways in which we can bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to re-engage with us, but re-engage with us on a different footing than past talks have been held," Tillerson told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, on a tour of Asian allies, has said repeatedly the "era of strategic patience" with North Korea is over.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said during a visit to London the military option must be part of the pressure brought to bear.
"Allowing this dictator to have that kind of power is not something that civilized nations can allow to happen," he said in reference to Kim.
Ryan said he was encouraged by the results of efforts to work with China to reduce tensions, but that it was unacceptable North Korea might be able to strike allies with nuclear weapons.
North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
South Korea's acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, at a meeting with top officials on Thursday, repeatedly called for the military and security ministries to maintain vigilance.
The defense ministry said U.S. and South Korean air forces were conducting an annual training exercise, codenamed Max Thunder, until April 28. North Korea routinely labels such exercises preparations for invasion.
"We are conducting a practical and more intensive exercise than ever," South Korean pilot Lieutenant Colonel Lee Bum-chul told reporters. "Through this exercise, I am sure we can deter war and remove our enemy's intention to provoke us."
South Korean presidential candidates clashed on Wednesday night in a TV debate over the planned U.S.-supplied Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, which has angered China. Frontrunner Moon Jae-in was criticized for leaving his options open before the May 9 election.
On Monday, Hwang and Pence reaffirmed their plans to go ahead with the THAAD, but the decision will be up to the next Korean president. For its part, China says the system's powerful radar is a threat to its security.
The North has warned of a nuclear strike against the United States if provoked. It has said it has developed a missile that can strike the mainland United States, but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering the necessary technology, including miniaturizing a nuclear warhead.
RUSSIA, U.S. AT ODDS
The United States and Russia clashed at the United Nations on Wednesday over a U.S.-drafted Security Council statement to condemn North Korea's latest failed ballistic missile test. Diplomats said China had agreed to the statement.
Such statements by the 15-member council have to be agreed by consensus.
Previous statements denouncing earlier missile launches "welcomed efforts by council members, as well as other states, to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue". The latest draft statement dropped "through dialogue" and Russia requested it be included again.
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"When we requested to restore the agreed language that was of political importance and expressed commitment to continue to work on the draft ... the U.S. delegation without providing any explanations canceled the work on the draft," the Russian U.N. mission said in a statement.
There has been some confusion over the whereabouts of a U.S. aircraft carrier group after Trump said last week he had sent an "armada" as a warning to North Korea, even as the ships were still far from Korean waters.
The U.S. military's Pacific Command explained that the USS Carl Vinson strike group first had to complete a shorter-than-planned period of training with Australia. It was now heading for the Western Pacific as ordered, it said.
China's influential Global Times newspaper, which is published by the People's Daily, the Communist Party's official paper, wondered whether the misdirection was deliberate.
"The truth seems to be that the U.S. military and president jointly created fake news and it is without doubt a rare scandal in U.S. history, which will be bound to cripple Trump's and U.S. dignity," it said.
North Korea did not refer to the mix-up but said the United States and its allies "should not mess with us".
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, did not mince its words.
"In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists' invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes," it said.
For a graphic on nuclear North Korea, click here
(Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in WASHINGTON, William James in LONDON, Michelle Nichols at the UNITED NATIONS, Idrees Ali in RIYADH, Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and Kim Do-gyun in GUNSAN, South Korea; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Paul Tait)
Last edited by Housecarl; 04-20-2017 at 03:46 AM.
Reason: added thread link
Alan Dershowitz: What North Korea should teach us about Iran
By Alan Dershowitz Published April 19, 2017 FoxNews.com
Editor's note: This article was originally published by Gatestone Institute and is reprinted with permission.
We failed to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. As a result, our options to stop them from developing a delivery system capable of reaching our shores are severely limited.
The hard lesson from our failure to stop North Korea before they became a nuclear power is that we MUST stop Iran from ever developing or acquiring a nuclear arsenal. A nuclear Iran would be far more dangerous to American interest than a nuclear North Korea.
Iran already has rockets capable of reaching numerous American allies. They are in the process of upgrading them and making them capable of delivering a nuclear payload to our shores. Its fundamentalist religious leaders would be willing to sacrifice millions of Iranians to destroy the big Satin (United States) or the little Satin (Israel).
The late "moderate" leader Hashemi Rafsanjani once told an American journalist that if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons, they “would kill as many as five million Jews,” and that if Israel retaliated, they would kill fifteen million Iranians, which would be “a small sacrifice from among the billion Muslims in the world.” He concluded that “it is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.” Recall that the Iranian Mullahs were willing to sacrifice thousands of “child-soldiers” in their futile war with Iraq. There is nothing more dangerous than a “suicide regime” armed with nuclear weapons.
The deal signed by Iran in 2015 postpones Iran’s quest for a nuclear arsenal, but it doesn’t prevent it, despite Iran’s unequivocal statement in the preamble to the agreement that “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons.” (Emphasis added).
Recall that North Korea provided similar assurances to the Clinton Administration back in 1994, only to break them several years later – with no real consequences.
The Iranian Mullahs apparently regard their reaffirmation as merely hortatory and not legally binding. The body of the agreement itself – the portion Iran believes is legally binding -- does not preclude Iran from developing nuclear weapons after a certain time, variously estimated as between 10 to 15 years from the signing of the agreement. Nor does it prevent Iran from perfecting its delivery systems, including nuclear tipped inter-continental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.
If we are not to make the same mistake with Iran that we made with North Korea, we must do something now – before Iran secures a weapon – to deter the Mullahs from becoming a nuclear power, over which we would have little or no leverage.
Congress should now enact legislation declaring that Iran’s reaffirmation that it will never “develop or acquire nuclear weapons” is an integral part of the agreement and represents the policy of the United States. It is too late to change the words of the deal, but it is not too late for Congress to insist that Iran comply fully with all of its provisions, even those in the preamble.
In order to ensure that the entirety of the agreement is carried out, including that reaffirmation, Congress should adopt the proposal made by Thomas L. Friedman on July 22, 2015 and by myself on 5 September 2013.
To quote Friedman: “Congress should pass a resolution authorizing this and future presidents to use force to prevent Iran from ever becoming a nuclear weapons state … Iran must know now that the U.S. president is authorized to destroy –without warning or negotiation – any attempt by Tehran to build a bomb.” I put it similarly: Congress should authorize the President “to take military action against Iran’s nuclear weapon’s program if it were to cross the red lines….”
The benefits of enacting such legislation are clear: the law would underline the centrality to the deal of Iran’s reaffirmation never to acquire nuclear weapons, and would provide both a deterrent against Iran violating its reaffirmation and an enforcement authorization in the event it does.
A law based on these two elements –adopting Iran’s reaffirmation as the official American policy and authorizing a preventive military strike if Iran tried to obtain nuclear weapons – may be an alternative we can live with. But without such an alternative, the deal is currently interpreted by Iran will not prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In all probability, it would merely postpone that catastrophe for about a decade while legitimating its occurrence. This is not an outcome we can live with as evidenced by the crisis we are now confronting with North Korea.
So let us learn from our mistake and not repeat it with Iran.
Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus and author of Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law and Electile Dysfunction.
Is tripartite alliance emerging between US, Egypt and Jordan?
Summary: The consecutive meetings between Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Jordan's King Abdullah and US President Donald Trump prompted some to speculate that a three-way alliance was forming between the United States, Egypt and Jordan.
Author: Khalid Hassan
Posted April 19, 2017
Translator: Paul Raymond
CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Jordan’s King Abdullah in Washington on April 4 during Sisi’s visit to discuss the future of US-Egyptian relations with President Donald Trump and senior US officials.
The meeting between the two Arab leaders came a day after Sisi met Trump at the White House to discuss regional concerns and US-Egyptian cooperation in various areas.
Sisi’s meeting with Abdullah raised multiple questions, especially as it came just a week after the two leaders met at the 28th Arab League Summit that Abdullah hosted in the Dead Sea area near the Jordanian capital on March 29 — along with the fact that Sisi had met Trump in the meantime.
Hani Khallaf, former Egyptian deputy foreign minister, told Al-Monitor that the new US administration is making a fundamental break with the country’s foreign policies under former President Barack Obama.
He said, “It appears that the new policy will focus on Egypt and Jordan, seeing them as partners in starting to build a new American policy in the Middle East and depending on them as key players in achieving security and stability in the Arab world and the Middle East as a whole."
Khallaf added, “The clearest evidence that the United States depends on Egypt and Jordan is the fact that King Abdullah was the first Arab leader to visit Washington after Trump’s inauguration as president, and that Sisi was invited to visit the United States for the first time in years — the last visit of an Egyptian president to the United States was in 2004.”
Abdullah made an official visit to Washington on Jan. 30, becoming the first Arab leader to visit the US capital after Trump’s election last November.
“Egypt and Jordan are central states in the region. Both President Sisi and King Abdullah are experienced in preserving stability and balance in the Middle East, which is why the new US administration is interested in cooperating with them and relying on them, to the benefit of US interests,” Khallaf said. “It is also clear that both Egypt and Jordan welcome the new US approach in the region and cooperation with the United States."
He noted, “The three states share similar visions and goals on the new map of the Middle East and the challenges facing them. That became clear with Jordan’s response to the US bombing of a Syrian air base. Jordan strongly welcomed the strike and saw it as necessary and appropriate.”
On the night of April 6-7, the United States fired a barrage of 59 missiles at a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack by the regime on April 4 in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, in Idlib province, which killed and wounded hundreds of Syrians.
On April 7, Jordan’s Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad al-Momani responded, saying, “The US strike was a necessary and appropriate response to the ongoing targeting of civilians with weapons of mass destruction and crimes against humanity.”
Khallaf said Trump was “a safety belt to President Sisi. They have similar views on political Islamist groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood and the need to counter it with maximum force.”
He noted, “Sisi has welcomed that and sees Trump as his biggest supporter in facing down the Brotherhood, especially as Trump’s predecessor, Obama, had a different view of the group and was hostile toward the Egyptian regime following the events of June 30, 2013, which toppled the Brotherhood rule in Egypt. I expect a three-way alliance will be established between the United States, Egypt and Jordan in the coming days.”
Rukha Hassan, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, told Al-Monitor, “The meeting between President Trump and the Jordanian king for the second time since he [Trump] took office is no surprise. The new US administration is fully aware of the importance of that step, and it is very clear that the meeting between Sisi and the Jordanian king was aimed at coordinating visions and agreeing on clear policies to be followed in the next phase.”
On April 5, Abdullah met Trump for the second time, for talks focusing on enhancing cooperation and the strategic partnership between Jordan and the United States.
“There is a major American effort to take advantage of the central roles of Egypt and Jordan in the region and rely on them to achieve stability and security in the Middle East in light of the growing Iranian threat and Tehran’s growing influence,” Hassan said. “Anyone can see that Trump is working to limit Iranian influence by every possible means.”
He added, “America has interests in the Middle East and is suffering crises and challenges that it wants to overcome, so I expect that the fundamental goals of this cooperation or trilateral alliance will be fighting terrorism and finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is a very clear tendency of the new US administration.”
Hassan noted, “President Trump has a very clear vision on fighting terrorism. He knows very well that it has negative aspects and that he will not eliminate it on his own, but he needs to seek help from key states in the Middle East, which is why America is making efforts to set up an alliance there.”
It seems clear that the new US administration is seeking to change its foreign policy, specifically regarding the Middle East and the Arab world. The United States is relying on Egypt and Jordan, which are central states in the region and may help promote the US presence here.
Contributor, Egypt Pulse
Khalid Hassan is a freelance journalist who has worked for several Egyptian newspapers since graduating from Ain Shams University in 2010. Specializing in politics and investigative journalism, he has written several reports for Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism.
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Last edited by Housecarl; 04-21-2017 at 05:31 AM.
Reason: added thread links
A closer look at a drone-fueled courtship between China and Saudi Arabia.
By Ian Armstrong
April 20, 2017
When China recently revealed it had secured the “biggest overseas purchase order” in the history of Chinese foreign drone sales, it did so in mysterious fashion — by withholding both the value of the sale and the recipient of the arms.
The peculiarly offhand, one-sentence announcement belied the gravity of the deal, now reported as either a notable 30 or an unparalleled 300 Wing-Loong II attack drones to be sold to Saudi Arabia. Quickly following this revelation, it was more widely circulated that an agreement to establish a Saudi Arabian production line for China’s comparatively powerful CH-4 reconnaissance drone had also been secured.
This drone-fueled courtship emerged with a speed and subtlety that has obscured its full scale. Yet, make no mistake — the sudden, momentous drone diplomacy established between Beijing and Riyadh since February raises the stakes of present and future conflict in the Middle East.
A China-Made Drone Power
Consecutive drone deals between China and Saudi Arabia found their origins in part within the strict export policies of the previous U.S. administration on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which limited sales based on human rights records and made trade with Riyadh unlikely. Of equal influence was price, with Chinese drones estimated to be far cheaper than U.S. models.
To place the sale into context, the latest official statistics indicate that the U.S. Air Force operates 93 MQ-9 Reaper drones — the armed model most comparable to those reported in the Sino-Saudi deal, and the most integral component of the Pentagon’s unmanned strike capability.
Of course, the United States operates various other armed UAVs in impressive quantities. However, those forces must be viewed in light of Washington’s global scale of operations. For Saudi Arabia, purchasing at minimum the equivalent of a third of the U.S. Reaper fleet — and potentially even surpassing it altogether — entails a substantial leap in military power. Compounding this further, Saudi Arabia has already secured several strike-capable CH-4 and first-generation Wing Loong drones from Beijing — and will only expand its Chinese-made drone fleet through the incoming CH-4 factory, which can also provide after-sales servicing.
Altered Middle East Dynamics
Where, how, and to what extent Saudi Arabia’s soon expanding, China-made drone fleet will be deployed is thus now a variable in Middle East geopolitics that cannot be ignored. Yet, eclipsing this development is an even greater concern — that Sino-Saudi drone diplomacy accelerates the proliferation of strike-capable drones to other Middle Eastern countries.
Undoubtedly, the strategic interests behind China’s drone-focused deals surpass mere bilateral growth with Riyadh, targeting other Middle Eastern states seeking entry into the exclusive club of armed drone powers. States in the Middle East will now be more inclined to obtain weaponized UAVs as a measure of balancing military capabilities with Saudi Arabia. Moreover, Chinese drones will be an attractive buy given the newfound accessibility to UAV repairs, parts, and related armaments that a regional manufacturing hub will provide.
From a purely tactical angle, this may benefit China — at least initially. Middle East drone proliferation will likely better empower states to combat the violent non-state actors in the region and offer protection to citizens as well as infrastructure. This includes protection of the increasing economic assets China has dotted across the Middle East, without forcing Beijing to forgo its historically beneficial policy of non-intervention.
Strategically, however, the already tumultuous region will be at greater risk of escalated conflict, both due to the higher odds of unintended casualties and the greater military power afforded to previously weaker states. As broader studies of drone use have already indicated, regional power dynamics will shift — and shifts create destabilization.
This is particularly true when considering the suddenness of drone proliferation in the Middle East that may follow China’s provision of local, affordable UAVs. Countries that seek to capitalize on the new convenience of Chinese drones may be emboldened to participate more actively in current and future conflicts. An immediate example of this may manifest as increased Saudi activity in the Syrian conflict — where Riyadh has modestly supported U.S.-led airstrikes with piloted aircraft, but may now conduct bombings more frequently given the removal of personnel risks seen with unmanned vehicles.
While such strikes are unsurprising granted the atrocities committed by both the Islamic State and the Assad regime, lowering the threshold for military conflict is a concerning turn for the already war-torn Middle East. The same lowered threshold will apply to the strategic calculus of any Middle Eastern state that decides to purchase the soon readily available Chinese UAVs.
Such a development may lead to scenarios that more easily segue into wars which, though started by drones, end with often devastating human consequences. Extra-regional actors, such as the United States and Russia, will also take on greater risk of conflict as their already precarious efforts in the Middle East continue onward into battlefields flush with China-made drones.
And yet, Chinese efforts to lock down the Middle Eastern drone market have only opened the door to armed UAV exports. Late last month, the United States eased restrictions on arms exports that had previously limited sales to many Middle Eastern states. As a growing power in the region, China will therefore increasingly operate in a Middle East strategic environment of its own creation — with swelling numbers of armed drones and dropping thresholds for war.
Ian Armstrong is the Geostrategy & Diplomacy Fellow at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP). He is also a compliance contractor at the Department of Defense, as well as a Senior Analyst and Commissioning Editor at Global Risk Insights. Ian earned his BA in Political Science from Temple University in 2015.
TagsChina and Saudi ArabiaChina and the Middle-EastChina dronesChina militaryChina-Saudi Arabia relationshipDrone proliferationdrone salesDrone technologyDronesMiddle East arms raceUAV's
Here Come...China's Drones
March 02, 2013
Here Come...China's Drones
China is developing its own drone technology — for its own military and for sale around the world.
The Consequences of Global Armed Drone Proliferation
India Mulls Purchase of US Maritime Patrol Drones for Indian Ocean
Drone Wars: China and US Compete on the Global UAV Market
The Indian Army Wants 600 Mini Drones
US Authorizes Sale of Armed Drones
In Somalia it’s a race against time for AFRICOM-backed troops
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES
Published: April 20, 2017
STUTTGART, Germany — Time is running out to prepare Somalia’s fledgling army to lead the fight against the militant group al-Shabab, which could eventually overwhelm local forces if their capabilities aren’t quickly improved, the commander of the African Union’s military mission in Somalia said Thursday.
“I am afraid they (the Somali army) are not ready to take over the security right now,” said Lt. Gen. Osman Nour Soubagleh from Djibouiti, who leads a multinational African force known as AMISOM. “In two years we have to prepare them. The time is very short.”
U.S. Africa Command wrapped up two days of talks in Stuttgart Thursday with about 40 African chiefs of defense, where leaders discussed a range of threats facing the continent. A key focus was Somalia and the looming withdrawal of African Union forces who are set to begin their drawdown in 2018.
The concern: Somalia’s security forces are not competent enough to hold the gains achieved by the African Union force, which has waged a bloody decadelong campaign to push the Islamist militia out of former strongholds. Leading up to its withdrawal, AMISOM said it wants to intensify operations against militants in Somalia, where AFRICOM has recently been granted more command authority by the White House to conduct airstrikes against militants.
During the next two years, the pace of training Somalia’s security forces must quicken, AMISOM officials said.
“We have very little time, so we need to accelerate this,” said Francisco Madeira, the African Union’s special representative on Somalia. “We have to see where we can get resources and training so these people can take over as quickly as possible.”
Medical supplies, clinics, military advisers are all needed along with more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, Madeira said.
For more than 10 years, African Union forces have fought the militants, who were on the brink of taking over the entire country. The troops, drawn from the armies of surrounding countries, delivered a series of defeats to al-Shabab, pushing the insurgents out of numerous stronghold and delivering a degree of security to Somali’s capital of Mogadishu.
As a fragile Somali government tries to take root, there is concern that an African Union pullout could lead to an al-Shabab resurgence, reversing gains and strengthening the standing of a terrorist group that has pledged to carry out attacks on the West. More recently, there have been signs that the Islamic State group, under pressure in other areas, also could try to establish a foothold in the country.
The U.S. military has picked up the pace of its operations during the past two years, sending in special operations forces on a training and advisory mission to improve the capabilities of Somalia’s nascent security forces. About 40 logistics troops from the 101st Airborne Division also recently deployed to the country to train government troops on how to better resupply their forces.
AFRICOM has carried out numerous airstrikes in Somali. The U.S. has largely walked away from the country in the years since the notorious 1993 “Black Hawk Down” incident in Mogadishu that left 18 servicemembers dead.
AFRICOM’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said his command would continue to strike al-Shabab fighters when targets emerge while moving forward with its training mission. He said he expects the Somali force to be ready when the African Union mission ends.
“What that means for us is we really have to focus on the training and that everything is done as effectively and as efficiently as possible,” Waldhauser said.
Since the early 1990s, Somalia has been in total disarray, with clans, warlords and insurgent groups holding sway in the country. Al-Shabab, in particular, took advantage of the chaos. Despite its setbacks in recent years, it has proved resilient in the face of international efforts to eliminate it.
ISIS Touts Chemical Weapons Attacks, But Iraqis, US Play it Down
Fox News | 20 Apr 2017 | by Hollie McKay
The Islamic State may be on the brink of defeat in Mosul, but the radical Muslim terror group isn't giving in without a bloody -- and blistering -- pushback.
More than two dozen Iraqis stationed with U.S. and Australian military advisers in the Mosul vicinity required treatment after being hit Sunday by a chlorine gas attack. A day earlier, seven Iraqi soldiers were documented to have been injured in a similar attack in the Abar neighborhood of western Mosul.
However, one Iraqi soldier positioned around the Mosul attack site dismissed the latest incidents as "not a big deal" and insisted that there has been no significant fallout. Iraqi Major Gen. Abdul Ghany Alasady, too, denied accounts of a chemical assault.
"There was no use of chemicals in recent days," he told reporters, adding that the Daesh, as ISIS is commonly referred to in the Middle East, is just publicizing the use of toxic materials to rally its own troops after an onslaught of deaths and defeats.
Furthermore, a U.S. military spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, the official name of the ISIS abolition mission in Iraq, told Fox News the "coalition is aware of reports of low-grade chemical attacks on our partnered forces." He said the "attacks were largely ineffective and further displays the desperation of ISIS as they seek to hold an untenable position in Mosul."
Accounts of chemical attacks early last month were also extinguished by the top brass. Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, said there was "no evidence" of chemical warfare. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi flatly denied the chemical allegations as "wrong," stating that "what happened actually (was) just a mixture of smoke and gas," which has "a limited impact."
Others, however, remain skeptical. One Kurdish official, not authorized to speak to the media, expressed concern that facts and figures are being obscured. The official said "multiple gas attacks did take place over the past week and that the military casualties were not known," but that coverage on the issue was being squashed.
And Tony Schiena, founder and CEO of Multi Operational Security Agency Intelligence Company (MOSAIC), which has long operated in the region, affirmed that chemicals were deployed this past week and that the jihadist faction "continues to use chemical weapons, and since the recent use of sarin in Syria, it has spurred ISIS to increase their use of it."
"Chlorine is easily obtainable, created and stored. They have mustard gas stockpiled as well as radioactive material that can cause cell phones to go haywire when brought close to it," Schiena told Fox News. "It would glow on the ground as well as on the bodies of the affected soldiers."
So is there anything to the discrepancies?
A source connected to Iraqi intelligence told Fox News that what is of paramount importance right now is simply "maintaining the psychological state of the soldiers," thus implying that by illuminating such attacks in the press, it could be perceived as making ISIS appear more powerful than it is and playing into the group's propaganda.
Nonetheless, there is no denying that chemical weapons have become something of a staple in ISIS' devastating arsenal. According to IHS Conflict Monitor, a London-based intelligence and analysis service, ISIS used chemical weapons -- sulfur and chlorine -- at least 52 times in Syria and Iraq since the ISIS battle began. A number of U.S.-led airstrikes have also targeted supposed chemical weapons depots and manufacturing facilities.
One female ISIS operative -- captured and imprisoned by Kurdish authorities for treating wounded ISIS fighters at a hospital in her home city of Qayarra -- told Fox News that a brick factory and smaller dwellings scattered near that hospital had become known hubs for chemical weapons manufacturing.
Luqman Ibrahim, battalion leader of the Yazidi forces in the Sinjar Mountain region, also explained that several types of chloride bombs had been used. He said those bombs wounded more than 50 of his men over the course of the long battle. The bombs were of various types: ISIS had used sophisticated Russian-made bombs, ones developed by former Iraqi Ba'ath Party Army officials and then two types of homemade chloride bombs. One type is a rocket that disseminates the synthetic agent; another is a chloride-filled rocket with a propane gas can attached.
For Karwan Saeed, a 37-year-old Kurdish Peshmerga soldier who was one of the very first victims of an ISIS chemical attack, those agents will forever haunt. Stationed just outside Mosul in July 2015, Saeed detailed the moments that had dismantled his life.
"I went to inspect a Katyusha rocket that had fallen a little way in front of us," he told Fox News. "But I did not know of the chemical element attached."
Now, Saeed's eyes perpetually swell and his skin constantly erupts in rashes that no bar of oatmeal soap -- the only treatment he has been able to obtain -- can appease.
"I can't sleep. I am allergic to everything," he added, contorting with agitation as if he was a prisoner inside his own gnawing flesh. "And there is nothing to make this go away."
Islamic State fighters attacked and killed at least one Egyptian policeman and wounded several others at a security checkpoint near Saint Catherine’s Monastery in the southern Sinai late yesterday. Amaq News Agency, one of the group’s main propaganda arms, quickly claimed responsibility for the shooting in a message released online. The Arabic statement can be seen above.
The Egyptian interior ministry confirmed that a police officer was killed, adding that the jihadists were forced to flee after their ambush. The Islamic State’s men reportedly left behind a machine gun.
Saint Catherine’s has been designated a world heritage site by UNESCO.
“The Orthodox Monastery of St Catherine stands at the foot of Mount Horeb where, the Old Testament records, Moses received the Tablets of the Law,” UNESCO’s web page for the historical area reads. “The mountain is known and revered by Muslims as Jebel Musa” and “is sacred to three world religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.” The Monastery dates to the 6th century, houses various antiquities, and “is the oldest Christian monastery still in use for its initial function.”
The Islamic State’s hit-and-run raid near the monastery comes just over one week after the organization’s Egyptian arm bombed two Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday. More than 40 people were killed and dozens more wounded in the twin bombings. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Islamic State claims church bombings in Egypt.] The group also bombed a Coptic church in Cairo last December.
The so-called caliphate’s propaganda machine has been heavily promoting its operations in Egypt since the church bombings earlier this month. Two infographics produced by Amaq during the month of April can be seen below. Both were posted online in Arabic and English. Only the English-language versions are included in this article. The first infographic promotes the three attacks on Coptic churches in the heart of Egypt mentioned above.
The second purports to summarize the jihadists’ insurgency in the Sinai. Amaq claims that the Islamic State’s men have killed dozens of Egyptian soldiers with sniper fire, explosive devices, and other armed attacks during the 100-day period between Jan. 1 and Apr. 11 of this year. In addition, 41 Egyptian military vehicles, including 21 armored personnel carriers and four tanks, were allegedly destroyed. The overwhelming majority of these claimed operations have been carried out in the northern Sinai, especially in Arish, Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah.
Amaq’s statistics cannot be independently verified, but the scope of the fighting is generally consistent with what is known from independent sources.
The Islamic State’s Sinai “province” (Wilayah Sinai) launched a complex assault on Egyptian security forces in the northern part of the peninsula in June 2015. Suicide bombers and dozens of fighters struck government loyalists in Arish and Sheikh Zuweid. It was the jihadists’ largest sustained offensive on the Egyptian government in some time.
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s fighters have carried out scores of raids, bombings and other operations in the Sinai in months since. Some of these have explicitly targeted Christians. On June 30, 2016, for instance, Amaq reported that Islamic State “fighters” had “assassinate[d] the priest of the Saint George church in the city of Arish due to him waging war against Islam.” The Coptic Orthodox Church confirmed that the priest was shot dead as he was making his way home after performing mass.
In recent weeks, the Sinai “province” has advertised its nascent governance efforts. One video (“The Light of Sharia”), which was promoted in March, contained various scenes of the jihadists enforcing their medieval legal code. The video also threatened Egyptian Copts and blasted the Muslim Brotherhood for supposedly abandoning true Islamic principles during its brief time in power. Another production released online days later documented the group’s “security work,” including the gruesome beheadings of accused spies and other foes.
Still another video promoted by the caliphate’s Sinai branch in recent days (“Bolts into the Hearts”) offered viewers various scenes of snipers targeting security personnel. As with Islamic State media produced in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, the video dramatizes the snipers’ abilities by including images that appear to have been recorded through rifle scopes.
The ambush near Saint Catherine’s is potentially significant because it occurred in the southern part of the Sinai, an area where the jihadists have carried out only sporadic attacks. The major exception to this pattern was the Oct. 31, 2015 bombing of a Russian airliner, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board. The bomb was most likely placed on board the aircraft at the Sharm El Sheikh International Airport, which is located on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.
The Islamic State’s Wilayah Sinai was established in Nov. 2014, after much of Ansar Bayt al Maqdis (ABM), an al Qaeda-affiliated group, defected to Baghdadi’s cause. ABM’s decision to join the Islamic State was one of the self-declared caliphate’s most significant gains in its rivalry with al Qaeda. The Sinai “province” has been a prolific source of terrorism and other violence ever since. It has been waging a low-grade insurgency against the Egyptian state for more than two years.
Infographics produced by Amaq News Agency during the month of April: .......
Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.
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