Showing posts with label national security. Show all posts
Showing posts with label national security. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Are there any Patriots in the Republican Party?

Gobsmacked. There's no other word to describe my reaction to Trump's latest assertion of the power to disclose intelligence information from other countries to the Russians. And to do it from the hip.

This is just one more example of Trump's apparent belief that he was elected emperor or dictator. No wonder he likes the Russians so much. Before the 1917 revolution, Russian Tsars ruled by issuing decrees (Ukase) on any subject they wanted to. Putin follows similar procedures, even to the point of having his opponents assassinated.

So when Donald J. Trump tweets that he has the "absolute right" to declassify anything he wants to, that sounds an awful lot like the assertion of an absolute monarch. He apparently is under the impression that there are no limits to his power.

That isn't in keeping with our patriotic traditions.

There is a reason that officers of the United States swear to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States," rather than an oath of loyalty to the president.

We also had an early dispute over how to address the president. An early candidate phrase was "Your Highness." That didn't fly. Quite rightly.

Every day in every way we learn yet again that when other candidates declared Donald J. Trump unfit to serve as president, they were absolutely correct.

Monday, May 2, 2016

America First?

When I first heard Donald Trump use the slogan "America First," I wondered if anyone working on his campaign was aware of the history of the "America First Committee" and what a discredited slogan that became after Pearl Harbor.

Last week, Rachel Maddow on MSNBC explained the sordid history of "America First" so that anyone should be able to understand not to use it:

Apparently Donald Trump doesn't get it.

For those unfamiliar with the history, here is Wikipedia's brief account: "The AFC was established on September 4, 1940, by Yale Law School student R. Douglas Stuart, Jr. (son of R. Douglas Stuart, co-founder of Quaker Oats), along with other students, including future President Gerald Ford, future Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver, and future U.S. Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart. Future President John F. Kennedy contributed $100, along with a note saying "What you all are doing is vital." At its peak, America First claimed 800,000 dues-paying members in 450 chapters, located mostly in a 300-mile radius of Chicago." The
 Not content with using a discredited slogan, last week Trump gave what was presented as a major foreign policy address. Slate's Fred Kaplan commented that the speech, read from a teleprompter, "—was even more incoherent than his impromptu ramblings of the past several months. In fact, it may stand as the most senseless, self-contradicting foreign policy speech by any major party’s presidential nominee in modern history."

I take exception to Kaplan/s remark, but only because Trump is not yet a "major party's  presidential nominee. It may seem like splitting hairs, but Trump is not the nominee until the Republican convention declares him the nominee.

That being said, if Trump is nominated, he will easily qualify as the most ignorant presidential candidate since I started noticing such things around 1940. 

How do I know? National security policy and international relations have been my profession for more than sixty years. And I was paying attention long before that.

Believe me!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Another "Chiffon de Papier" A Century Later?

On August 4, 1914, Germany attacked neutral Belgium. Great Britain protested that the invasion violated Germany's treaty obligation to respect Belgian neutrality. Germany's Chancellor replied that the treaty was only "a chiffon de papier" - (a scrap of paper). That same day, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany.

On Friday, speaking to a group of Russian youth at a camp, Vladimir Putin said, "We must always be ready to repel any aggression against Russia and (potential enemies) should be aware ... it is better not to come against Russia as regards a possible armed conflict." In the same appearance, he claimed that Russia is improving its nuclear arsenal.

December 5, 1994, when Ukraine, which then held a substantial arsenal of nuclear weapons, agreed to join the non-proliferation treaty, the Presidents of Ukraine, Russian Federation and United States of America, and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom signed three memorandums (UN Document A/49/765) on December 5, 1994, with the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Through this agreement, these countries (later to include China and France in individual statements) gave national security assurances to Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The Joint Declaration by the Russian Federation and the United States of America of December 4, 2009 confirmed their commitment.

Highlights of the 1994 Declaration:

"Welcoming the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon State,

Taking into account the commitment of Ukraine to eliminate all nuclear weapons from its territory within a specified period of time,

Noting the changes in the world-wide security situation, including the end of the cold war, which have brought about conditions for deep reductions in nuclear forces,
Confirm the following:

1. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine;

2. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

3. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind;

4. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear
weapons are used;

5. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm, in the case of Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclearweapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State;

6. Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.

This Memorandum will become applicable upon signature.
Signed in four copies having equal validity in the Ukrainian, English and Russian languages.

For Ukraine:
(Signed) Leonid D. KUCHMA

For the Russian Federation:
(Signed) Boris N. YELTSIN

For the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland:
(Signed) John MAJOR

For the United States of America:
(Signed) William J. CLINTON

 OK. Russia has clearly violated provisions 1, 2 and 3 of the memorandum, and therefore provision 6 should be invoked.

Last week's meeting in Minsk accomplished little, but it was apparently not called forthrightly in connection with alleged violations of the 1994 memorandums.

It may be time.

We don't need another "chiffon de papier" like the one in 1914.

This is serious stuff.

Here is what I said last March about the problem.

And here's what I said in April.

Now Ukraine is apparently going to formally request admission to NATO.

I hope there is some serious conversation going on behind the scenes.

Where have all the flowers gone?

When will they ever learn?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ukraine, Nuclear Weapons And Japan

A little over a month ago, I posted a reflection on the danger of failing to live up to the international security guarantee the nuclear powers gave to Ukraine in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear arsenal.

Today's New York Times article reporting Japanese concerns over the U.S. reaction to Russian takeover of the Crimea should, therefore, come as no surprise. The article makes it clear that failure to carry out the security guarantee to Ukraine not only complicates efforts at nuclear non-proliferation, it also complicates conventional diplomacy.

It is a bit reminiscent of the inter war diplomacy of France. After World War I, France signed a guarantee to defend the independence and territorial integrity of Czechoslovakia. But France lacked a common border with Czechoslovakia and besides that, had built a vast fixed fortress (the Maginot Line) and a military designed to operate behind that line. How were they to come to the aid of Czechoslovakia if necessary?

It created a mismatch between miltary planning and diplomatic efforts. In the end, it didn't work.

I would hope we have learned something useful in the intervening eighty years.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Freedom Is Just A Word

“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.”
― William Faulkner, Essays, Speeches & Public Letters

I think what Faulkner is saying here is that we don't become free by insisting on our own rights, but by granting rights to others.

The history of man is not replete with examples of such generosity of spirit.

It is easy for us to see that, though Russia holds elections, Russians are not free. Only a minority of Russians understand this.

How much more free are we?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Russia's Paranoid Schizophrenia and The Clueless West

The West's contribution to the totally unprecedented challenge of conversion of the Soviet Union to a democratic and market-based society was, in my view, spotty at best. I say this as one who was involved in projects in Russia, Ukraine and Poland and very aware of projects in Estonia, Rumania and Moldova.

I also deplored at the time the unrestrained triumphalism that proclaimed: "we're number one - nyah, nyah nyah, we won the cold war." That wasn't helpful. Especially in places like Ukraine where people, especially elderly pensioners, were suddenly plunged into poverty by policies we pushed. So-called "shock therapy," for example, was pushed by policy makers who had no idea what the previous seventy years had put into place. The idea of "privatizing" a complex industrial establishment by issuing coupons to the citizens so they could buy shares in crumbling enterprises was a disaster in the making.

One of the most disappointing viewpoints at the time was that of USAID, whose bureaucracy was certain we knew what to do because, after all, we had privatized railroads and coal mines in the UK under Thatcher, tin mines in Bolivia and such like. They were, in short, clueless.

The folks the big six accounting firms sent out to do this gargantuan task were, for the most part, recent MBA's who didn't speak any local language and who were ignorant of the context. Bright, energetic, but ignorant.

We could have done better. Germany did do better. The Germans managed the conversion of East Germany not perfectly, but well enough. One reason Estonia is doing pretty well these days is that the Germans managed that conversion. Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary had the advantage of pre-war experience in a market-based system.

Not only did the people we sent not have a background in Soviet economics, they had no background in Western Europe. They thought the American Way was the Only Way.

Let's do better next time.

I've been reading the news from Ukraine with dismay.

Didn't we win the cold war? Didn't we do away with Communism? Didn't George W. Bush look into Putin's soul and see someone we can do business with?

The truth is, our cold war conflict with the Soviet Union had little to do with Communism except in the minds of our own paranoid capitalists. In fact, in the opinion of the last Prime Minister of Russia before the October (Bolshevik) revolution, the Soviet Union didn't have a socialist or communist system at all - it was a case of State capitalism.

Anyhow, I wish the Ukrainians well. I have probably read more articles on the developing crisis than most Americans. I have collected links to a number of articles, mostly from the NY Times, but also from other sources. Please take your time and read them.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ukraine's Memorandum of 1994 Agreeing to Give Up Nuclear Weapons In Return For Security Guarantee

Here is the agreement of 1994 whereby Ukraine gave up her nuclear weapons in return for a security guarantee.

Russian occupation of Crimea clearly violates that agreement.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Что Делать? What To Do?

Что Делать? Is the title of one of Lenin's books. "What is to be done?" is one way to translate the phrase. I like the simpler and more direct "what to do?"

I offer the following list of things to do:

I: Military

1. What Russia has done in Ukraine is an act of war. Recognize Russia's belligerent status. Ask Turkey to close the Turkish Straits to transit by Russian warships under the Montreux Convention. [By the way, we have to ask politely, since we never adhered to the convention and therefore do not have the rights of a signatory. Why not initiate discussion with Turkey to seek status as a signatory?]

2. While Ukraine is not a member of NATO, she has been granted membership in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Let's send an allied mission to Ukraine to assess their defense needs.

3. Reactivate discussions with Ukraine concerning transfer of warships from our reserve fleet to Ukraine. Include mine warfare vessels in the discussion.

4. Investigate modernizing Ukraine's Air Force and Air Defense.

5. Schedule friendly warship visits to NATO allies in the Black Sea: Bulgaria and Romania, and possibly Ukraine.

II. Economics

1. Don't threaten to withdraw from the G-8 conference in Sochi - withdraw! Now! Withdrawing from a conference may sound like a weak sanction. Not nearly as weak as threatening someday to think about doing it. Just do it!

2. Freeze Russian assets! Now! We can always unfreeze them later;

Getting Ukraine's economic house in order is probably the most urgent task. But it must be done in a way that improves the lives of ordinary citizens and builds Ukraine's productive capacity for the future. Here are some ideas set forth by economists Gorodnichenko and Roland:

"Although it is only a few days after the successful February revolution and the country is still in a state of flux, a new government is needed to deal with emergency economic measures.
  • The country is days away from facing a $2bln payment to international bondholders.
  • The provisional Ukrainian government does not have the necessary legitimacy to make all the changes demanded by the Maidan protesters.
The new government is inheriting a political system and a government administration that are in need of fundamental change. Because of this weakness, the new government needs to focus on a set of emergency measures that are both urgent and immediately feasible. In the long run, establishing a well-functioning democracy necessitates a new constitution and a popular referendum on a constitution, but that takes time. What must be done now? What needs to be changed in the long run?
  • First, the Ukrainian currency Hryvnya should be switched to a float and it should depreciate significantly.
The current-account deficit (about 10% of GDP) is clearly unsustainable. This should stimulate the economy and preserve precious foreign currency reserves. Barriers to export should be removed.
  • Second, the banking system badly needs liquidity and capital.
Raising these in the international financial market has become nearly impossible. The government should inject capital (for example, use a program similar to the TARP in the US). The Central bank should provide liquidity. Some form of temporary capital controls and temporary limits on withdraws of deposits appear unavoidable given the current ongoing bank run (deposits fell by a third in the last few weeks and are falling further on a daily basis). Banks should “reopen” after the infusions of capital and liquidity.
Third, the government must immediately present a plan to address fiscal imbalances over a period of several years.

Given the deeply depressed state of the economy, now is not the time to implement deep budget cuts. But fiscal authorities can still lay out a budget plan for a gradual decline in deficits to restore confidence in the long-run solvency of the Ukrainian government. Stricter monitoring of spending to minimize corruption and waste of public functions must be implemented immediately to make the eventual fiscal consolidation less painful and restore confidence.
  • Fourth, external payments are a heavy burden on the collapsing Ukrainian economy.
One step is to bring in the IMF as well as other donors (EU, USA, etc.) to bridge the short-term gap in foreign currency reserves.
These funds are essential to avoid a drastic immediate fiscal contraction in the immediate future. They are necessary to enable authorities to inject capital into Ukrainian banks. The amount of required support is likely to be in tens of billions of dollars. Moreover, a restructuring of some of Ukrainian debt is necessary to avoid outright default.
  • Most of Ukraine’s external debt was accumulated under the previous corrupt regime.
  • The new leaders have little moral obligation to commit to reimburse that debt, and creditors have little moral standing to demand repayment: they knew who they lent to.
On the other hand, the amount of Ukraine’s external debt is not that high, and costs of defaulting – exclusion of Ukraine from the bond market for five years or so – are not-zero.
Ukraine badly needs immediate breathing space to introduce reforms and relieve the burden imposed by the Yanukovych government. The main risk here is that the absence of primary fiscal surplus makes an immediate fiscal consolidation or monetization of spending unavoidable in case of outright default. But Ukraine had a nearly zero inflation rate for two year. Some inflation could be a stimulating force if it can be kept under control later on. The new provisional government of Ukraine must weigh the costs and benefits of these scenarios. But right now, it should not exclude the option of default if external support is not coming. An external default would then not alienate Ukraine from the international community, despite the short run disorder it might create.
  • Fifth, a possible trade war with Russia and increased energy prices are looming.
Ukraine should prepare to obtain energy from alternative sources (including reversing the gas flow to get energy from the West).
  • Sixth, some people and businesses will be hit very hard.
The government should prepare short-term relief for all those likely to fall into temporary poverty: guaranteed minimum food, heating, electricity and water, all supplied on a lump-sum basis.
  • Last and not least, the EU and Ukraine should sign the association agreement.
This will anchor economic and political forces toward reforms and growth as well as provide credibility to the new government.

These emergency economic  measures will not address the need for fundamental long-term change. Once there is a legitimate government, elected on the basis of a Constitution approved by referendum, fundamental long term reforms can be implemented. These include a fundamental overhaul of government administration to root out corruption, fiscal decentralization to give more power to the regions, regulatory reform to break up monopolies, opening up entry to foreign firms and small private business, and securing a stable supply of energy by exploiting Ukraine’s large reserve of shale gas.
The need to act fast now does not mean one should not also begin in the necessary process of constitutional change. The people of Ukraine demand it. Ukraine had two revolutions in the last ten years. Both expressed people’s discontent with the status quo and aspirations for democracy. It needs to build a consolidated and participatory democracy. There will likely not be a third chance."

III Political

- Hold elections soon, with credible international observers.

- Convene a constituent assembly and  draft and ratify a new constitution as soon as possible.

Lots to do and not much time to do it.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ukraine Tragedy

Make no mistake about it. The violence in Kiev we saw on TV was orchestrated in Moscow. Or perhaps in Sochi.

The map below depicts the main ethnic divisions in Ukraine. Kiev is the pink circle along the Dnieper River, surrounded by red. The pink shows the area of ethnic Ukrainians who predominantly speak Ukrainian and the red mostly speak Ukrainian. In this case, "mostly" is more than "predominantly." Russian speaking Ukrainians are shown in yellow and white. Russians dominate the Crimea (brown) and the heavy industrial  and coal mining area of the Donets Basin (brown and yellow hatched area).

File:Ethnolingusitic map of ukraine.png

 It is plain that Russia sees the Donbas as important, and does not want to cede control to the West.

This may seem like a return of Soviet cold war thinking.

Not exactly.

It is a return of Russian Imperial thinking. Did you notice the design of the Russian hockey uniforms at the Olympics? It is the coat of arms of the Russian Federation.

It is also the two-headed eagle, which served as the coat of arms of the Tsarist Russian Empire from the time of Peter the Great until the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Is Vladimir Putin the new Tsar?

Imperial Russia

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Seventy Years Ago: FDR Aboard USS Iowa Enroute Teheran

We last left the president sailing aboard USS Iowa on November 14th, 1943, on his way to Teheran. To bring readers up to date, here are the daily logs of the president's activities:

November 20th, 1943;
November 21st;
November 22nd;
November 23rd;
November 24th;
November 25th;
November 26th;
November 27th;
November 28th;
November 29th;
November 30th;
December 1st;
December 2d;
December 3rd;
December 4th;
December 5th;
December 6th;
December 7th;
December 8th;
December 9th;
December 10th;
December 11th;
December 12th;
December 13th;
December 14th;
December 15th;
December 16th;
December 17th.

My comments:
FDR's travel to Teheran and participation in tense conferences in Cairo and Teheran was far from a pleasure cruise. This was hard work, and would have challenged even much younger men in better physical condition. A little more than a year after completing the Teheran conference, once again FDR would make another transatlantic voyage through the war zone, this time to Malta and to the war-ravaged Crimea for another conference with Churchill and Stalin. FDR left Washington January 23rd, 1945 and returned February 28th. The following day, March 1st, the president addressed a joint session of Congress, reporting on the Yalta conference. He died six weeks later during a visit to Warm Springs, GA.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Seventy Years Ago: November 12, 1943 - USS Iowa (BB-61)

November 12, 1943, President Roosevelt and his senior advisers traveled on the President's yacht Potomac to the Norfolk area to board USS Iowa (BB-61). Destination: Teheran. Purpose: strategic meeting of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.

Security measures were elaborate. See the description here.

Iowa was fitted out with a bathtub in the Captain's quarters for the president's comfort. It remains aboard to this day.

This was not a peacetime cruise - German submarines and aircraft still menaced the seas.

USS Iowa - our newest, best armored and most powerful battleship, was the safest platform available for the president.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Seventy Years Ago: Mussolini Falls

July 28, 1943: Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivers a fireside chat on the fall of Mussolini. And what a chat it was!

No American who heard FDR speak on that day could fail to note that we were all in this together, and we were winning!

Not many leaders have ever had the skill of FDR at putting events into perspective.

Read the whole, inspiring fireside chat here.

And celebrate with a cup of unrationed coffee.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Military Benefits

Yesterday's Washington Post headline, "plan to shut military supermarkets shows difficulty of cutting defence spending" brought to mind a poem by Rudyard Kipling. To be sure, in this day and age Americans serving in the military and those who have served are treated better than the "Tommy" of Kipling's poem. But I sense a certain dismissal of the concerns of servicemen that probably comes from many sources. But there are some national undertakings that should not be parsimoniously funded.

Here is Kipling's picture of the contempt with which some civilians treat soldiers:


I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Small Wars In US History

Current media attention is focused on the war the United States started with Iraq a decade ago.

I'm reading an interesting book I picked up a couple of weeks ago at the Marine Corps Exchange at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station: Just and Unjust Wars by Michel Walzer. The book's subtitle is "A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations."

Just war theory focuses on two aspects of warfare: 1) was there a just cause (as in, was it justified or moral to initiate military action or respond with military action) and: 2) was the war conducted in a just manner.

I would say there is another aspect of war that does not strictly fall under just war theory, but it relates: was the war wise?

In the United States we have a fourth recurring question: was the war constitutional? Specifically, critics of particular wars often claim that the war is not legitimate, because Congress did not declare war as specified in the Constitution.

On this latter point, I recommend reading a really interesting military manual: Small Wars Manual United States Marine Corps 1940. The manual is available here. It is a clearly written guide to planning and conducting small wars in all of their variety.

Just read the introduction and it will be clear that what I have written elsewhere is true. Up to the time of World War II, most of our military interventions were conducted by the Department of the Navy. That included some very substantial military undertakings, including our Quasi-War with France during John Adams' administration. In no case was there ever a declaration of war when the conflict involved only the Navy Department.

Only when the War Department was involved in the conflict did the United States ever declare war. That has happened only five times in our history.

The fine line between conflicts involving only the Navy Department and categorized as "small wars" and the more substantial conflicts involving the War Department disappeared with passage in 1947 of the Armed Forces Unification Act.

That act created a constitutional muddle that we have never resolved.

We would be better off to return to a time when the Navy/Marine Corps team did small wars. They knew how to do it. A number of our military interventions would have been more competently planned and conducted if they had followed the 1940 Small Wars Manual of the Marine Corps.

It would save a lot of money, too.   

Monday, March 18, 2013

1968: Perfidy In DC

Lyndon Johnson had the goods on Richard Nixon. But he couldn't use it.

The Democratic Party convention in Chicago was a disaster. Johnson even considered appearing at the last minute and putting his name forward for nomination.

Bad idea.

Peace talks were going on in Paris, and North Vietnam had made a promising offer.

Richard Nixon feared that prospects for peace would scuttle his campaign. He sent Anna Chennault as his intermediary with the South Vietnamese ambassador, pleading with them to put off negotiations and wait for a better deal after the election.

The FBI bugged Chennault and the National Security Agency monitored the Ambassador's communications with Saigon.

Johnson knew what was going on. In private he called it treason. But he couldn't make it public without revealing the monitoring. It's generally considered bad form to bug embassies and read ambassadorial communications - and to reveal it in public.

Of course, it's even worse form not to monitor and to get caught flat footed.

So Johnson kept his mouth shut in public.

Nixon won by less than 1%. Had Nixon's perfidy become public, he may well have lost by a landslide.

Here is the story. All captured on Lyndon Johnson's White House tapes.

It wouldn't be the last time a presidential candidate meddled in international negotiations to the detriment of national interests. It may well have been the last time such actions were so clearly documented.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Should We Worry About Wind Farms And The Marines?

Today's County Compass reports a brouhaha resulting from a request by representatives of Cherry Point MCAS to appear before a joint session of the Pamlico County Board of Commissioners to discuss wind farms. Commissioner Delamar, who has supported wind farms in Pamlico County, voted against the meeting. His was the only vote against it.

I plan to attend the meeting. I hope to hear from the Cherry Point representatives an informative discussion examining potential problems, including a technical explanation, along with proposed solutions. I want to see some empirical data backed by research. I would hope that an expert from NRL might appear. If the proposed solution is not to have wind farms in Pamlico County, I will be very disappointed.

One commissioner is quoted as saying "the Marine Corps deserve our respect just based on who they are." I share that commissioner's high regard for the marines. At the same time, I would hope that our marines are bending every effort to insure that we can share the land, sea and air space of Eastern North Carolina without precluding other future economic development in the region.

By the way, we should all recognize that effective alternate energy sources to replace the burning of fossil fuels is an urgent national security priority. In fact, the Department of the Navy (including the marines) has taken the lead in DOD in fostering alternate energy development.

I gather that the marines share a concern of a number of government agencies that wind farms present a particular challenge to radars, including air search and air control radars, including doppler radars for meteorology. The fundamental concern is radar clutter.

Clutter has been a major challenge for radar designers from the earliest days. Dealing with clutter has generated an alphabet soup of anti-clutter measures: STC, AGC, FTC, IAGC, MTI, frequency agility, circular polarization, Moving Target Detector, Pulse-Doppler Systems, and on and on. Clutter presents some of the same challenges as are presented by electronic and mechanical jamming.

Solving particular problems of clutter from wind farms may not be trivial, but is certainly surmountable.

The following is an executive summary of a 2008 report by The MITRE Corporation, one of our premier defense contractors with experience in this area.

Wind Farms And Radar

January 2008

The MITRE Corporation


"Wind farms interfere with radar. This interference has led the FAA,
the DHS, and the DOD to contest many proposed wind turbines in the line
of sight of radar, stalling development of several thousands of MW of wind
energy. A large number of such denials is a serious impediment to the nation’s
mandated growth of sustainable energy

"There is no fundamental physical constraint that prohibits the accu-
rate detection of aircraft and weather patterns around wind farms
. On the
other hand, the nation’s aging long range radar infrastructure significantly
increases the challenge of distinguishing wind farm signatures from airplanes
or weather

"Progress forward requires the development of mitigation measures, and
quantitative evaluation tools and metrics to determine when a wind farm
poses a sufficient threat to a radar installation for corrective action to be
taken. Mitigation measures may include modifications to wind farms (such
as methods to reduce radar cross section; and telemetry from wind farms to
radar), as well as modifications to radar
(such as improvements in processing;
radar design modifications; radar replacement; and the use of gap fillers in
radar coverage).

"There is great potential for the mitigation procedures, though there
is currently no source of funding to test how proposed mitigations work in
practice. In general, the government and industry should cooperate to find
methods for funding studies of technical mitigations. NOAA has an excellent
research plan, but no adequate funding to carry it out

"Once the potential for different mitigations are understood, we see no
scientific hurdle for constructing regulations that are technically based and
simple to understand and implement
, with a single government entity tak-
ing responsibility for overseeing the process. In individual cases, the best
solution might be to replace the aging radar station with modern and flexi-
ble equipment that is more able to separate wind farm clutter from aircraft.
This is a win-win situation for national security, both improving our radar
infrastructure and promoting the growth of sustainable energy

"Regulatory changes for air traffic could make considerable impact on
the problem. For example, the government could consider mandating that
the air space up to some reasonable altitude above an air-security radar
with potential turbine interference be a controlled space, with transponders
required for all aircraft flying in that space. This would both solve the
problem of radar interference over critical wind farms and would provide a
direct way to identify bad actors, flying without transponders.

"Current circumstances provide an interesting opportunity for improving
the aging radar infrastructure of the United States, by replacing radar that
inhibits the growth of wind farms with new, more flexible and more capable
systems, especially digital radar hardware and modern computing power.
Such improvements could significantly increase the security of U.S. airspace."

For what it's worth, in my opinion the Marine Corps needs to take the lead in getting this project budgeted. FAA, DHS, Air Force, Navy, DOD and perhaps some other agencies should chip in.

This is not an optional program. We urgently need more renewable energy sources. The cost of failure to control global warming and allowing the sea level to rise is incalculable. It is already threatening Norfolk, VA. Projected sea level rise of one meter later in this century will make my home unlivable - and those of many other Pamlico County residents as well. One meter this century may well be an underestimate.

There is no single silver bullet. We need to explore every avenue.

Not just for the residents of Eastern North Carolina, but for the marines as well.

Monday, October 22, 2012

President Eisenhower's Wisdom

April 16, 1953. President Dwight David Eisenhower:

"The way chosen by the United States [after World War II] was plainly marked by a few clear precepts, which govern its conduct in world affairs.

"First: No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.

"Second: No nation's security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.

"Third: Every nation's right to a form of government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.

"Fourth: Any nation's attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.

"And fifth: A nation's hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.

"In the light of these principles the citizens of the United States defined the way they proposed to follow, through the aftermath of war, toward true peace.

"This way was faithful to the spirit that inspired the United Nations: to prohibit strife, to relieve tensions, to banish fears. This way was to control and to reduce armaments. This way was to allow all nations to devote their energies and resources to the great and good tasks of healing the war's wounds, of clothing and feeding and housing the needy, of perfecting a just political life, of enjoying the fruits of their own toil....

"The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated.

"The worst is atomic war.

"The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

"This world in arms is not spending money alone.

"It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

"The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

"It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

"It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

"It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

"We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

"We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

"This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

"This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953.

"This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace.

"It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honesty.

"It calls upon them to answer the question that stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no other way the world may live?