Paul Rogers https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/1709/all cached version 22/02/2018 18:39:52 en The mystery of the Russian planes that never were https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mystery-of-russian-planes-that-never-were <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Is Russia a military threat to the west? A larger past and closer detail offer fresh light.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Admiral_Kuznetsov_aircraft_carrier.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Admiral_Kuznetsov_aircraft_carrier.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An overhead view of Admiral Kuznetsov, aircraft carrier, August 2012. Wikicommons, Ministry of Defence. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Most analysts blame Vladimir Putin’s aggressive political stance for the renewed hostility between Russia and the western states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato). The deteriorating relationship has been evident for a decade and more. The fallout from Moscow's interventions in Georgia / South Ossetia (2008), Ukraine / Crimea (2014), and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/russia-in-syria-and-flawed-strategy">Syria</a> (2015), as well as its reported disruption in the United States presidential election (2016), are but the main episodes. Lesser ones include displays of military strength that attract wide <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38745364">coverage</a> in the western media.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Before looking in more detail at the latter, it is worth offering a touch of historical perspective on great-power interference. In particular, at a time when Moscow's <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-troll-farm-13-suspects-indicted-for-interference-in-us-election/2018/02/16/2504de5e-1342-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html?utm_term=.2ddb925e9931">role</a> in the US election is hotly disputed, a certain degree of hollow laughter is appropriate given Washington's (and London's) own dedicated efforts to influence elections and other political processes in many countries over many decades.</p><p>One person involved in a Congressional investigation into CIA activities is <a href="http://spia.uga.edu/faculty-member/loch-k-johnson/">Loch K Johnson</a>, an experienced intelligence analyst at the University of Georgia. He characterises Russia's recent election endeavour as simply a cyber-age version of past US activities: </p><p>“We’ve been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947.&nbsp; We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners – you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of cash" (see Scott Shane, "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/sunday-review/russia-isnt-the-only-one-meddling-in-elections-we-do-it-too.html">Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too.</a>", <em>New York Times</em>, 17 February 2018).</p><p>US actions have gone much further than merely trying to undermine elections – as indeed have Britain’s in the Middle East, including the <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/coup53/coup53p1.php">overthrow</a> of Iran's prime minister in 1953. These actions were memorably described by the much-decorated marine corps major-general, <a href="https://www.kentuckypress.com/live/title_detail.php?titleid=1548">Smedley D Butler</a>, in his memoirs:</p><p>“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”</p><p><strong>The bigger picture</strong></p><p>All this puts Russia's own numerous machinations, past and present (including in its incarnation as the Soviet Union), in the larger <a href="http://eng.globalaffairs.ru/number/From-Last-to-First-19259">frame</a> of routine great-power politics. In this light too, another view is possible on Russia’s recent media-heightened projection of military force.</p><p>A case in point is the deployment of the aircraft-carrier <em>Admiral Kuznetsov</em> to the Mediterranean in January 2017, which <a href="http://www.kentonline.co.uk/folkestone/news/warships-escort-russian-skulking-ship-119506/">provoked</a> a great ruction in Britain's media. The vessel is in reality an ageing warship more than thirty years old, <a href="https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a24196/admiral-kuznetsov-lack-of-activity/">prone</a> to repeated propulsion mishaps and apt to have much of its plumbing freeze up, including toilets. Since its home port was on Russia’s Arctic coast, this alone was a bit of a drawback (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity">Britain's military: costs of failure, symbols of vanity</a>", 26 January 2018).&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>On the rare occasions when the carrier actually went to sea, it would be accompanied by an ocean-going tug in case it broke down. Indeed, when it finally got to the eastern Mediterranean in its recent deployment it lost two of its twelve strike-aircraft due to malfunctions. Most of the rest were eventually flown off to conduct their bombing raids from a Russian airbase within Syria, thus not from the <em>Kuznetsov</em> itself. In spite of all this, the ship's advance near to the UK's territory was still heralded in the British press as proof of a Russian <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/22/russia-is-biggest-threat-since-cold-war-says-head-of-british-army">threat</a> and of the consequent need to increase military spending.&nbsp; </p><p>The frequency of Russian probes towards British airspace is further cited by Britain's defence lobby as an even scarier indication of that threat. Regular reports of near incursions by those Tu-95 bombers, complete with accompanying videos, were offered as additional proof of Russia’s steady rise to global power (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/russia-syria-and-danger-of-hype">Russia and the west: risks of hype</a>", 6 October 2016).</p><p>Russia may present many dangers, it may have plenty of nuclear weapons, and may have a leader determined to take risks to make Russia great again – but such reports of its frequent air incursions are anything but true. A recent freedom-of-information request to the UK defence ministry, reported by <em>Jane’s Defence Weekly</em>, shows a rather different state of affairs. In each of the years 2013, 2014 and 2015, the RAF <a href="https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/typhoon-jets-scrambled-intercept-russian-bombers-off-coast-scotland/">scrambled</a> fighters on seventeen, twenty, and twelve days respectively: but many were not in response to Russian sorties, which stood at just eight for each of the years. </p><p>Moreover, in 2016 only five of the twelve days of "QRA" launches involved Russian aircraft, and in 2018 the incidence was only three out of six days (see Gareth Jennings, “<a href="http://www.janes.com/article/77818/uk-notes-marked-decrease-in-number-of-days-qra-intercepts-flown-against-russian-aircraft">UK notes marked decrease in number of days QRA intercepts flown against Russian aircraft</a>", <em>Jane's Defence Weekly</em>, 12 February 2018).</p><p>Such results are starkly different from public perceptions, as cultivated by the media. They remain one of the sustained planks in the narrative of a new threat from Russia. Even the data on the Russia flights only came to light through dedicated inquiry to unravel the information. Meanwhile, alarmist defence sources say next to nothing about the huge cost <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity">overruns</a> on Britain's own new <a href="https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/news/a27142/uk-russia-aircraft-carriers/">aircraft-carriers</a>, its nuclear-attack submarines and Trident replacements. The imbalance of attention is extreme. </p><p>Perhaps the best way to look at the big picture is with another of Smedley D Butler’s choice <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/115545.Smedley_D_Butler ">quotes</a>, dating from 1935:</p><p>&nbsp;“A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.”</p><p><span class="wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge"><span class="image_meta"><span class="image_title"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/720px-SmedleyButler_1.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/720px-SmedleyButler_1.jpeg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>US Marine Corps Major General Smedley Darlington Butler,(July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in US history. Wikicommons, public domain.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Hans Schmidt, <a href="https://www.kentuckypress.com/live/title_detail.php?titleid=1548"><em>Maverick Marine: General Smedley D. Butler and the Contradictions of American Military History</em></a> (University Press of Kentucky, 2014)</p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Rosa Brooks, <a href="http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/How-Everything-Became-War-and-the-Military-Became-Everything/Rosa-Brooks/9781476777863"><em>How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon</em></a> (Simon &amp; Schuster, 2016)<br /></span></span></p><p>David C Unger, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/"><em>The Emergency State</em>: </a><em><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/">America's Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs</a> </em>(Penguin, 2012)</span></p><p><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity">Britain&#039;s military: costs of failure, symbols of vanity </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/speech-too-far-trumps-delusion">A speech too far: Trump&#039;s delusion</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">Syria&#039;s wars: a new dynamic</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare">What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/making-britain-great-again-in-different-way">Making Britain Great Again – in a different way</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/russia-in-syria-and-flawed-strategy">Russia in Syria, and a flawed strategy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/russia-syria-and-danger-of-hype">Russia and the west: risks of hype</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 22 Feb 2018 18:27:27 +0000 Paul Rogers 116282 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Syria's wars: a new dynamic https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Israel-Iran antagonism risks fusing with the Russia-United States one. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34896392.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34896392.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="291" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fire and smoke rise after a mortar shell hit an electricity generator in Syria, on Feb. 10, 2018. Ammar Safarjalani/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Israel's aerial strike against Iranian and regime targets in Syria on 10 February reinforces concern that a new front is opening in the Middle East's many-sided conflicts. The risk of outright confrontation between Israel and Iran has increased, even as Turkey, Russia, Kurdish forces, and the United States are engaged in further <a href="https://syria.liveuamap.com/">action</a> to the north. That so many combatants are involved, with different agendas, means that further escalation is an ever present possibility. </p><p>The details of the Israel-Iran <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/12/opinion/the-middle-easts-coming-war.html">episode</a> show how unsteady the strategic situation now is. It began when Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces launched a drone from Tiyas <a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/after-retaking-control-palmyra-islamic-state-targets-tiyas-airbase-1596128">airbase</a>, which is about 100 kilometres east of Homs in west-central Syria. The drone was tracked across the Israeli border, then shot down by an Israel airforce (IAF) attack-helicopter. Eight Israeli strike-aircraft retaliated almost at once by destroying the command-centre deep inside Syria. A Syrian anti-aircraft missile <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-israel-iran/israeli-jet-shot-down-after-bombing-iranian-site-in-syria-idUKKBN1FU094">hit</a> one of these F-16 planes as it returned to Israel, seriously injuring one of the crew.&nbsp; </p><p>This incident, the first time that the IAF has admitted losing a plane since the large-scale <a href="http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/AboutIsrael/History/Pages/Operation%20Peace%20for%20Galilee%20-%201982.aspx">invasion</a> of Lebanon (Operation Peace for Galilee) in 1982, helps explain the decision to launch multiple raids on the Syrian air-defence system. Even so, these fell short of Israel's usual policy of massive retaliation against any attack, an approach sometimes explained with reference to Israel <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%E2%80%99s-security-beyond-zero-sum">being</a> “impregnable in its insecurity”: a regional military superpower that feels surrounded by enemies and thus has to respond with an iron fist (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%E2%80%99s-security-trap">Israel's security trap</a>", 5 August 2010).</p><p>Why, on this occasion, was Israel so (relatively) restrained? An informed source, cited in the same <em>New York Times </em>article, cites an angry intervention by Vladimir Putin. Israel's raids were uncomfortably close to Russian forces, was the president's message to his erstwhile <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/putin-netanyahu-talks-syria-iran/29004418.html">partner</a>, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu (see "<a href="https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iran/putin-s-call-with-netanyahu-called-time-on-israel-s-syrian-strikes-1.5809118">Putin's Phone Call With Netanyahu Put End to Israeli Strikes in Syria</a>", <em>Haaretz</em>, 15 February 2018). Here, Putin’s wider motive is obvious enough; Russia has benefited greatly from its support for Bashar al-Assad's regime, but a full-scale war would put all its gains at risk. </p><p>Russia clearly wants to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/russia-in-syria-and-flawed-strategy">avoid</a> a thickening imbroglio in the Middle East. Memories of the Red Army's grinding war in Afghanistan in the 1980s still loom large. Moscow has also found Crimea and eastern Ukraine an <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/11/world/europe/vladimir-putin-russia-crimea-bridge.html">expensive</a> burden, and needs to contain not expand its Syrian commitment. Moreover, Putin must manage his own imminent re-election smoothly while keeping a wary eye on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/dmitry-kolezev/ekaterinburg-presidential-election-russia">potential</a> triggers of domestic discontent. </p><p>A further worry here is that Russia's casualties in Syria seem to be rising. In a single example, the Associated Press reports the death of four Russian civilian contractors in a US airstrike which had been mounted to protect anti-Assad Syrian militias from an assault by pro-Assad groups (see Vladimir Isachenkov, "<a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2018/02/13/reports-russian-contractors-killed-by-us-strike-in-syria/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%202.14.18&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">Russian contractors killed by US strike in Syria</a>",&nbsp;<em>Military Times</em>, 14 February 2018). Some western outlets claim that the losses of military and contractor personnel run well into the hundreds. Even a more considered Reuters <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-casualtie/exclusive-russian-losses-in-syria-jump-in-2017-reuters-estimates-show-idUSKBN1AI0HG">report </a>indicates that at least forty Russians have died in recent months. </p><p>Moscow's <a href="https://syria.chathamhouse.org/research/russias-brittle-strategic-pillars-in-syria">strategic</a> calculations in the Middle East will also include intelligence about the swift if mainly hidden expansion of American <a href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/satellites-reveal-us-military-bases-emerging-in-the-desert">bases</a> in Iraq, Jordan and especially Syria. Knowledge of their location stems, remarkably, from the records of a widely available smartphone fitness app used by US military trainers in the region. <em>Jane’s Defence Weekly </em><a href="http://www.janes.com/article/77778/analysis-fitness-app-reveals-us-led-coalition-base-locations-in-middle-east ">uses</a> this data to reveal thirteen previously undisclosed bases: two in Syria, four in Iraq, and seven in Jordan (two of which are right on the <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-jordan-military/u-s-delivers-helicopters-to-bolster-jordans-border-defenses-idUSKBN1FH0XI">border</a> with Syria).</p><p>Jordan has economic troubles of its own that more than match Russia's. A decrease in financial support from Gulf states means the authorities are facing a $700 million budget deficit, and have taken the deeply unpopular <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/jordan-economic-crisis-threatens-political-stability-180214112245542.html ">route</a> of raising taxes on basic foodstuffs, including bread, by 50-100%. In Israel too, the government's domestic problems – including legal action <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-police-case-against-bibi-netanyahu">against </a>Netanyahu over corruption charges – are an unavoidable element in the regional mess. A hawkish prime minister might well view a crisis with Iran as an opportunity for diversion. Jordan's political options are fewer, but its and its people's voice cannot be discounted. </p><p>Such internal dynamics, peripheral to the wider trends as they can seem, may yet have an impact. At present, two more basic realities overshadow them. One is familiar: the deep Israel-Iran antagonism. The other is quite new: the degree of penetration of Russian and US forces into the region's least stable corners. That penetration is now <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syrias-war-mutates-into-a-regional-conflict-risking-a-wider-conflagration/2018/02/12/87c783fc-0da2-11e8-998c-96deb18cca19_story.html">spilling</a> over into fighting that near embroils these forces. An Iran-Israel conflict that erupts over Syria could quickly spin out of control and turn Moscow and Washington into direct protagonists. By comparison, the incident of 10 February would be a mere skirmish.&nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">Iraq and beyond: hidden, secret wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-another-all-american-war">Syria, another &#039;all-American&#039; war?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-proxy-war">Syria, the proxy war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-iraq-and-beyond-octopus-wars">Syria-Iraq and beyond: octopus wars</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:57:09 +0000 Paul Rogers 116144 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A quick guide to nuclear weapons https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/quick-guide-to-nuclear-weapons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The what, when, where of nuclear danger – and the good news about dispelling it.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/9164827866_73a1d290ed_b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/9164827866_73a1d290ed_b.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="356" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nagasaki, 20 minutes after the bombing in 1945. Flickr/Semilla Luz. CC-BY-2.0.</span></span></span></p><p>In the past couple of weeks, the details of the new United States nuclear posture have been published, Trump has delivered a belligerent state-of-the-union <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/speech-too-far-trumps-delusion">address</a> and, most significant of all, the authoritative <a href="https://thebulletin.org/">Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists </a>has moved the minute hand of the <a href="https://thebulletin.org/timeline">Doomsday Clock</a> to two minutes to midnight.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>This is the closest the clock has been to “doomsday” since the US and Soviet Union started testing immensely destructive H-bombs in the early 1950s. Now, after thirty years of an apparent easing of nuclear tensions since the end of the <a href="http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/index.shtml">cold war</a>, fear of nuclear war is real and pressing. </p><p>In recent months I’ve written some specific pieces on the nuclear issue for openDemocracy, mostly related to North Korea (see, for example, "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">Trump vs Kim Jong-un: nuclear war by 2019?</a>" [12 October 2017], and "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare">What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare?</a>" [11 January 2018]); and for Oxford Research Group, mostly on UK weapons, US developments and first use (see <a href="//www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/limited_nuclear_wars_%E2%80%93_myth_and_reality"><em>Limited Nuclear Wars – Myth and Reality</em></a> [29 August 2017], and <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/nuclear_posture_review_sliding_towards_nuclear_war"><em>Nuclear Posture Review: Sliding Towards Nuclear War?</em></a> [30 January 2018]). </p><p>But what of the larger, yet immediate, context? In light of these <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">publications</a>, several people have suggested that a short guide to current nuclear arsenals would be useful. So here it is, in four parts. It starts with a quick scan of nuclear history; lists today's nuclear arsenals; outlines the good news (there really is some) and the bad; and ends with where to go next for reliable information (there’s plenty around). And to underline: notwithstanding all the worries, there is still room for optimism.</p><h2><strong>A quick history</strong></h2><p>The atom bomb was developed in the United States-led <a href="http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/mp/index.shtml">Manhattan Project </a>which peaked with the first test in July 1945 followed by the dropping of bombs on Hiroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki (9 August). By later standards these were small bombs exploding with a force below 20 kilotons, but together they killed more than 200,000 people. A kiloton equals 1,000 tons of TNT – but current weapons may be a megaton or more in <a href="http://www.iflscience.com/technology/the-real-and-terrifying-scale-of-nuclear-weapons/">destructive</a> force (1,000,000 tons of TNT).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the US soon set up a nuclear production-line. American planes could have destroyed two Japanese cities each month (though many were already flattened by intense conventional bombardment). In the event, Japan surrendered on 15 August. But a production-line was established anyway as the cold war loomed. As early as 1948, the US had a nuclear arsenal of fifty weapons. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">This is the closest the clock has been to “doomsday” since the US and Soviet Union started testing immensely destructive H-bombs in the early 1950s.</p><p>The Soviet Union meanwhile developed its own atom bomb, testing its first in 1949. Both states went on to develop and test the H-bomb (aka thermonuclear or fusion bomb). There followed an extraordinary nuclear arms race involving free-fall bombs, land-based and submarine-launched ballistic-missiles, nuclear-armed torpedoes, anti-aircraft missiles, air-to-air missiles, artillery-shells, and even miniature backpack nuclear landmines.</p><p>Other countries got in on the act: the United Kingdom built its first bomb in 1952, France followed in 1960, China in 1964, and Israel later that decade. India tested what it tastefully called a “peaceful nuclear device” in 1974, Pakistan’s first test was in 1998, and North Korea’s in 2006.</p><p>The east-west nuclear arms race lasted from the early 1950s to the end of the 1980s, and was almost unbelievable in its intensity. In most areas of weaponry the US led the way, with the Soviet Union subsequently catching up. By the mid-1980s world nuclear arsenals peaked at over 60,000, the vast majority American and Soviet. Most were far more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. But the extraordinary range of tactical weapons refutes the idea that nuclear policy was all about deterrence through mutually-assured destruction (MAD) using massively powerful strategic weapons. In reality, actually fighitng a nuclear war has a history that dates from Hiroshima and continues strongly to today.</p><h2><strong>Where are we now?</strong></h2><p>There was a substantial scaling down in the 1990s, some of it by agreement but much more done unilaterally. Most of the US and Russian (ex-Soviet) nuclear stockpiles were allowed to wither during the decade, although that still left many thousands. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (<a href="https://www.sipri.org/">SIPRI</a>) says there are currently about 15,000 warheads in the worldwide nuclear <a href="https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/">arsenals</a>, with individual states as follows:</p><ul><li>* United States,&nbsp; 6,800</li><li>* Russia, 7,000</li><li>* United Kingdom, 215</li><li>* France, 300</li><li>* China, 270</li><li>* Israel, 80</li><li>* India, 130</li><li>* Pakistan, 140</li><li>* North Korea, 15</li></ul><p>Some of these weapons are in reserve and others are in storage, waiting to be dismantled. The United States, for example, has 1,393 warheads on strategic-delivery systems, made up of intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and long-range bombers; 4,018 stockpiled, many of them tactical nuclear weapons readily available for use, and 2,880 “retired” nuclear warheads pending disassembly. The proportions for Russia are broadly similar. If nuclear strategy was all about the ability to destroy the major cities of a country then twenty or thirty would be more than enough. So "overkill” remains the order of the day.</p><p>Most analysts believe the US systems are more accurate and reliable. But they also recognise that because Russia's conventional forces are relatively weak, it would be tempted to use nuclear weapons early if a conflict with Nato broke out. This was certainly the policy within in the 1970s-80s when the Soviet Union had much larger conventional <a href="https://fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/doctrine/intro.htm">forces</a> in Europe.</p><h2><strong>The good news</strong></h2><p>With around 10,000 nuclear warheads deployed or stockpiled for use, and more talk of “limited nuclear wars”, it is worth remembering that there are positives too. After all, only eight United Nations member-states have nuclear weapons, while 185 don’t. Moreover, a number of states decided against developing nuclear weapons in the past after thinking seriously about it. They include Sweden, Switzerland, Brazil and Argentina. South Africa had nuclear weapons but dismantled its small stock at the end of the apartheid era (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">A nuclear world: eight-and-a-half rogue states</a>", 13 January 2017). In the 1980s, many analysts (including me) thought that there would have been more nuclear-armed states by now.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>It is also worth remembering that many states are members of nuclear-free zones, including signatories to four international treaties covering large parts of the world:</p><ul><li>* Treaty of Tlatelolco (Latin America and the Caribbean), 1967</li><li>* Treaty of Rarotonga (south Pacific), 1985</li><li>* Treaty of Bangkok (southeast Asia), 1995</li><li>* Treaty of Pelindaba (Africa), 1996</li></ul><p>In view of this it is hardly surprising that over fifty states have signed up to the new <a href="https://www.un.org/disarmament/ptnw/">Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons</a>, a UN initiative which was adopted in July 2017 and opened for signature only in September.</p><h2><strong>The bad news</strong></h2><p>A recap: why is it even necessary to write articles like this, nearly thirty years after the <a href="https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/robert-service/the-end-of-the-cold-war">end</a> of the cold war and in light of the good news just cited? Here are three reasons.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">There is a need for much more discussion about and opposition to the belief that having the ability to kill tens of millions of people makes for a sane “defence” policy.</p><p>First, all the eight nuclear-weapons states are intent on keeping their nuclear <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat">arsenals</a> <em>and</em> are <a href="https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a14428123/russia-expand-nuclear-arsenal-underground-bunkers/">involved</a> in modernising them or their delivery systems. None has even the slightest intention of signing up to, or even vaguely supporting, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – although that <a href="http://www.icanw.org/treaty-on-the-prohibition-of-nuclear-weapons/">document </a>has widespread international support.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Second, tensions between Nato and Russia are increasing, and there is real fear of a nuclear confrontation <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">between</a> North Korea and the United States, especially under the latter’s present leadership. </p><p>Third, and perhaps most important of all, is the serious talk of small-scale use of nuclear weapons. Such a catastrophic step would break a nuclear taboo that has held, despite many crises, mistakes and false alarms, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/a_century_on_the_edge_1945_2045">since</a> 9 August 1945. </p><p>That is why the issue is so important – and why there is a need for much more discussion about and opposition to the belief that having the ability to kill tens of millions of people makes for a sane “defence” policy. But in raising the issue, it's always useful to remember the good news too. There are other ways forward, out of the nuclear danger and into a safer world, and plenty of people believe in them.</p><p>===</p><h2><strong>Further information</strong></h2><p>If you want to know more about things nuclear, then here is a brief personal selection of sources - from a much larger range:</p><p>* <a href="https://www.sipri.org/">SIPRI </a>is an excellent resource, not least its <em>Yearbook: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security</em></p><p>* Probably the best informed sources on nuclear weapons are Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris, both at the <a href="https://fas.org/">Federation of American Scientists</a> with frequent articles in the <em><a href="https://thebulletin.org/">Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists </a></em></p><p>* Patricia Lewis, research director for <a href="https://www.chathamhouse.org/research/topics/international-peace-security ">international security at Chatham House</a>, is with her team doing some interesting work on issues of nuclear safety and crisis instability </p><p>* <a href="https://www.nuclearinfo.org/ ">Nuclear Information Service</a> is a well-informed source, particularly on UK nuclear matters </p><p>* <a href="http://www.basicint.org/">British American Security Information Council</a> (Basic),&nbsp;&nbsp; is also&nbsp; useful on UK nuclear weapons, not least the US connection</p><p>* Rebecca Johnson’s <a href="http://acronym.org.uk/ ">Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy</a> has valuable information on nuclear arms control - </p><p>* There are all too few independent academic analysts in the UK, but <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/politics/staff/academicstaff/nick-ritchie ">Nick Ritchie</a> at the University of York is always worth reading</p><p>* Finally, and if you are a real glutton for punishment, see if you can dig out a copy of a book that Malcolm Dando and I wrote for CND nearly in 1984: <a href="//www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Deterrence-Consequences-Nuclear-Arms/dp/0907321356 "><em>The Death of Deterrence: Consequences of the New Nuclear Arms Race</em></a>. It cost £1.95 then and should be even cheaper now!</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><span><span><a href="http://atomicarchive.com/">Atomic Archive</a></span></span></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.icanw.org/"><span><span><span><span>International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) </span></span></span></span></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare">What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">A nuclear world: eight-and-a half rogue states</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-nuclear-weapons-opportunity">The nuclear-weapons opportunity </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-moment">The nuclear-weapons moment </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-nuclear-weapons-prospect">The nuclear-weapons prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-risk">The nuclear-weapons risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-nuclear-weapons-agenda">The nuclear-weapons agenda</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-peril-and-its-silences">A nuclear peril, and its silences</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-disarmament-prospects">Nuclear disarmament: the prospects</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 08 Feb 2018 09:01:08 +0000 Paul Rogers 116017 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A speech too far: Trump's delusion https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/speech-too-far-trumps-delusion <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>George W Bush's post-9/11 address launched sixteen years of war. Donald Trump's sequel promises many more.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34736548.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34736548.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Donald Trump speaks during the joint session of Congress to deliver his State of the Union Address in the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. CQ-Roll Call/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>George W Bush gave his first state-of-the-union address on 29 January 2002, just four months after the 9/11 attacks. Sixteen years and one day later, on 30 January 2018, Donald Trump delivered his own opening performance of the ritual. Where their rhetoric on international security is concerned, the overlap between the two presidential speeches is remarkable.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Just as Bush&nbsp;pro-claimed&nbsp;the "new American century", so Donald Trump is "making America great again". It is as if these tumultuous years have brought no change.</p><p>Just as Bush <a href="http://whitehouse.georgewbush.org/news/2002/012902-SOTU.asp">proclaimed</a> the "new American century", so Donald Trump is "making America great again". It is as if these tumultuous years have brought no change. For both leaders, the United States is destined to just go on winning. Bush's dream soon faced a hard landing in the world beyond Washington. Will Trump's slogan meet the same fate? A closer look at the two speeches might offer a clue.&nbsp; </p><p>The consequences of Bush’s address are all around. In the <a href="https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/sociopol_PNAC01.htm">agenda</a> it outlined, and the tragic outcomes it foretold, it may yet be seen as one of the most notable speeches of the 21st century. At the time his supporters were already hailing it as such. After all, it was akin to a victory celebration: in the previous weeks, the Taliban had been driven from Kabul and al-Qaida dispersed from its Afghan bastion. But the president, in between more than seventy bursts of applause from a rapturous Congress, made clear that his administration was already setting its sights on regime termination in Iraq and other rogue states: </p><p class="blockquote-new">"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred.&nbsp; They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic." </p><p>This threat demanded early action:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as perils draw closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons." </p><p>The implication of Bush's stance – the need for pre-emptive and if necessary <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_03/axismarch02">unilateral</a> action – was made more explicit in his graduation address to West Point army cadets in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/01/international/text-of-bushs-speech-at-west-point.html">June 2002</a>. The ease with which adversaries could now attack advanced civilised states was a key theme:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger the American people and our nation. The attacks of September the 11th required a few hundred thousand dollars in the hands of a few dozen evil and deluded men. All of the chaos and suffering they caused came at much less than the cost of a single tank. The dangers have not passed. This government and the American people are on watch, we are ready, because we know the terrorists have more money and more men and more plans." </p><p>So in facing the threat, defending the homeland was simply not enough:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"[The] war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act." </p><p>Furthermore, rogue states should be treated in the same way as terrorists:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"All nations that decide for aggression and terror will pay a price. We will not leave the safety of America and the peace of the planet at the mercy of a few mad terrorists and tyrants. We will lift this dark threat from our country and from the world."&nbsp; </p><p>The world now knows how that played out. What <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">followed</a> Bush's peroration was no one's victory. His prospectus crafted not a new American century leading to a more peaceful world, but a wasteland: sixteen years of war, hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, millions of refugees fleeing their homes and livelihoods, states such as Afghanistan, Iraq and especially Libya wrecked, and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">expanding</a> insurgency and insecurity across a vast swathe of territory.</p><h2><strong>A president on repeat</strong></h2><p>How far the impact of Donald Trump’s state-of-the-union <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-state-union-address/">address</a> matches that of George W Bush's, and how far it differs, will be seen in coming months and years. Its own style was, perhaps to be expected, bombastic and celebratory, with a heavy focus on the brilliance of his apparently groundbreaking domestic agenda. Its international <a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/1/31/16954756/state-of-the-union-address-2018-speech-text-highlights-foreign-policy">component</a> was less forceful than Bush's post-9/11 arousal. But Trump's view of the world as a nest of enemies carried echoes of his predecessor. This became explicit in his uncompromising <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">approach</a> to Iran and North Korea (un-toppled members of Bush's axis of evil) and in his treatment of al-Qaida, ISIS and other Islamist groups:</p><p>“Last year, I also pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth. One year later, I am proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100 percent of the territory just recently held by these killers in Iraq and in Syria and in other locations, as well. But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.” </p><p>He went on:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“I am asking Congress to ensure that in the fight against ISIS and Al Qaida we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists, wherever we chase them down, wherever we find them. And in many cases, for them it will now be Guantanamo Bay. At the same time, as of a few months ago, our warriors in Afghanistan have new rules of engagement. Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies our plans.”</p><p>How does these declarations relate to experience on the ground? Libya is one of ISIS's “other locations". Here, <em>Cipher Brief</em> <a href="https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/middle-east/isis-festers-grows-lawless-libya?utm_source=Join+the+Community+Subscribers&amp;utm_campaign=72f08de12a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_01_26&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_02cbee778d-72f08de12a-122475217&amp;mc_cid=72f08de12a&amp;mc_eid=cdd08b9f8c ">reports</a>:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“[ISIS]…maintains a strong presence in Libya and remains a potent regional threat, despite domestic and international efforts to oust the group from its stronghold. After losing their former base of operations along the Libyan coast, ISIS fighters have regrouped and established training centers and operational headquarters in the central and southern parts of the country. Unless Libya can make headway toward forming a unified government, its lawless border areas will continue to provide fertile ground for ISIS and other terrorist groups to foment instability across North Africa.”&nbsp; </p><p>In Afghanistan, the Taliban is reported to control or have substantial influence over a least a third of the country. It remains dominant among a cluster of groups that includes ISIS and the Haqqani network. A recent <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/afghan-military-academy-attacked-in-latest-string-of-high-profile-attacks/2018/01/29/8dc59ed8-04bf-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_story.html">wave</a> of attacks has killed over 130 people, mostly civilians, while an <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-comeback">ISIS </a>attack on an Afghan national army base took the lives of twelve soldiers. Trump’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-gift-talibans-gain">response</a> is to send in another 4,000 troops, which would take the total to 15,000. The United States also deploys special-forces personnel and armed-drones, while the US airforce has even brought back the A-10 Warthog ground-attack aircraft.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>A wrong-headed strategy</strong></h2><p>On the eve of his set-piece, Trump had told reporters: “We’re going to finish what we have to finish. What nobody else has been able to finish, we’re going to be able to do it.” (Helene Cooper, “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/us/politics/trump-afghanistan-war-elusive-victory.html">Attacks Reveal What U.S. Won’t: Victory Remains Elusive in Afghanistan</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 31 January 2018).</p><p>It was another bold claim. But that's the point: for it is only the latest in a long sequence of such predictions of imminent victory made by the Pentagon or White House over these sixteen years. Trump is now <a href="https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/trump-avoids-chest-thumping-but-his-foreign-policy-is-still-dangerous.html">adding</a> to that list without the remotest hint of new thinking or strategy. It's as well to remember that five years ago, US forces in Afghanistan peaked at 100,000. They were joined by 30,000 military from other countries, and thousands of private-security contractors as well. The idea that barely a tenth of that number will make any difference, when the Taliban and other movements have such a grip, is just out of this world.</p><p>More fundamentally, Trump’s policies will stir up more animosity, resentment and deep anger towards the United States abroad. His speech itself demonstrated this. Detention without trial for years or even decades will <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/us/politics/trumps-order-to-keep-guantanamo-open-faces-familiar-obstacles-to-refilling-it.html">continue</a> at Guant<span class="st">á</span><span class="st"></span>namo and probably elsewhere; military control will escalate, and quite possibly reach new heights of destruction; and in a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-pence-jerusalem-christian-zionism-connection">decision</a> that has huge symbolism in the Islamic and Arab worlds, the US embassy in Israel will <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-israel-pence/u-s-embassy-in-israel-to-move-to-jerusalem-by-end-of-2019-pence-idUSKBN1FB0TC">move</a> to Jerusalem. </p><p>This worldview has not worked since Bush’s <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/onpolitics/transcripts/sou012902.htm">address</a>, and it won’t work in the future. Indeed, Trump's speech highlights in stark form that he and his advisors really have no clue whatsoever of how the United States is perceived, not just in the Middle East and north Africa but across much of the global south. </p><p>Trump's signal in 2018 is that nothing has been learned since 2002. "Making America great again” is from the same stable as the "new American century": an epic delusion foisted on the American people and the world. Bush inaugurated sixteen years of war. Trump will <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">extend </a>that to thirty and more – unless there is a radical change of thinking. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org/"><span><span>Remote Control Project</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Rosa Brooks, <a href="http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/How-Everything-Became-War-and-the-Military-Became-Everything/Rosa-Brooks/9781476777863"><em>How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon</em></a> (Simon &amp; Schuster, 2016)<br /></span></span></p><p>David C Unger, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/"><em>The Emergency State</em>: </a><em><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/">America's Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs</a> </em>(Penguin, 2012)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">The Trump wars era</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:17:46 +0000 Paul Rogers 115911 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain's military: costs of failure, symbols of vanity https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The real security threats to the United Kingdom come not from Russia but from climate change, inequality and marginalisation. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34595454.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34595454.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="315" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Head of the British Army General Sir Nick Carter warns that Britain's ability to pre-empt or respond to threats risks being eroded if the UK does not keep up with its enemies. Steve Parsons/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A much publicised speech on 22 January by General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the general staff of the British army, had unmistakable echoes of the cold war. Warning of Russia's direct security threat to the United Kingdom, and signalling a need to increase the military budget rather than continue to shave expenditure, Carter's alarmist&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/dynamic-security-threats-and-the-british-army-chief-of-the-general-staff-general-sir-nicholas-carter-kcb-cbe-dso-adc-gen">portrait</a>&nbsp;of a nation in peril was sanctioned directly by Gavin Williamson, new defence secretary in Theresa May's ailing government.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Russia performs a useful function: its role as as a supposed threat enables the&nbsp; harsh&nbsp;legacy of the recent past to be evaded.&nbsp;</p><p>The argument for more military&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42770208">spending</a>&nbsp;is a recurrent feature of British politics. But the well-rehearsed establishment case is ever at pains to avoid two huge and uncomfortable realities. The first is that Britain is part of a western coalition that has fought three disastrous wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya) in the past sixteen years. In great consequence, the domestic threat of attacks stemming from&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-comeback">ISIS</a>, al-Qaida and other such groups has never been higher. Andrew Parker, the director of MI5,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.mi5.gov.uk/news/director-general-andrew-parker-2017-speech">confirmed</a>&nbsp;as much in a speech on 17 October 2017. Yet the defence community refuses to view these military failures, and their outcomes, as part of a fundamental problem. In this respect, Russia performs a useful function: its role as as a supposed threat enables the&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">harsh</a>&nbsp;legacy of the recent past to be evaded.&nbsp;</p><p>Compounding the problem is the second reality, namely that the UK defence budget is increasingly being crunched by the need to maintain two vastly expensive projects. These are upgrading the nuclear force with new missile-submarines, and deploying two enormous new aircraft-carriers (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/in-defence-of-greatness-britains-carrier-saga">In defence of greatness: Britain's carrier saga</a>", 10 May 2012). What makes these fiascos even more damaging is that they have precious little relevance to the actual security&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">challenges</a>&nbsp;facing the UK: global economic polarisation, climate disruption, and revolts from the margins. Along with the Russia obsession, they represent a great diversion which blocks serious debate on what Britain’s approach to international security should really be. (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">Britain's global role: fantasy vs reality</a>", 5 October 2017).</p><h2><strong>Looking backward</strong></h2><p>The principal<a href="https://uk.news.yahoo.com/british-army-chief-warns-russia-attack-west-sooner-expected-094347045.html">&nbsp;theme</a>&nbsp;of General Carter's speech summoned images of the cold-war era of the 1970s-80s, still recalled by older people in Britain, when the Nato alliance and the Warsaw pact states faced each other across the "iron curtain"&nbsp;<a href="http://omniatlas.com/maps/europe/19460419/">dividing</a>&nbsp;Europe. Then, the Soviet Union with its 270 million people, 3.7 million troops and nuclear arsenal was projected as clear and immediate danger to the west. Today, the language and atmosphere of the debate about Russia seem designed to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/dsei/2017/09/10/on-edge-new-cold-war-tensions-high-in-eastern-europe/">generate</a>&nbsp;similar fears.&nbsp;</p><p>In truth, modern day Russia is a shadow of the former Soviet Union. In economic terms it is&nbsp;<a href="https://knoema.com/nwnfkne/world-gdp-ranking-2017-gdp-by-country-data-and-charts">ranked</a>&nbsp;twelfth in the world in terms of GDP: well behind the UK, France or Germany, let alone the United States, and far outdone by the combined weight of Nato member-states. Russians too may complain about the cost of foreign adventures, but many are grudgingly ready to bear the burden as they&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-42707957">see</a>&nbsp;Vladimir Putin “making Russia great again”. Russia's substantial nuclear arsenal, and the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21735480-great-powers-seem-have-little-appetite-full-scale-war-there-room">unpredictable</a>&nbsp;way that tensions and crises can escalate, mean there certainly are dangers. But talk of Russia as a direct, intentional military threat to western Europe is greatly misplaced.</p><p>How the so-called Russian threat can be used to justify more military spending is illustrated admirably by a single example from October 2016. This was the deployment of Russia’s&nbsp;<a href="https://thediplomat.com/2017/03/russia-to-upgrade-aircraft-carrier-in-2017/">only</a>&nbsp;aircraft-carrier, the&nbsp;<em>Admiral Kuznetsov</em>, from its Arctic base to a Syrian port in the eastern Mediterranean in order to bolster Moscow's&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/russia-syria-and-danger-of-hype">support</a>&nbsp;for Bashar al-Assad's regime.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">This entire drama was one not of military strength, but of military symbolism and the power of myth.</p><p>The&nbsp;<em>Kuznetsov's</em>&nbsp;passage&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kentonline.co.uk/folkestone/news/warships-escort-russian-skulking-ship-119506/">through</a>&nbsp;the Straits of Calais was covered widely by the western media, as was its subsequent deployment in the Syrian war and its return to Russia early in 2017. Indeed in Britain the entire operation was represented as proof of Russian maritime power, contrasting with domestic pressures on the defence budget.&nbsp;</p><p>In reality, however, the&nbsp;<em>Kuznetsov</em>&nbsp;– a veteran built in the mid-1980s – has been&nbsp;<a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russias-only-aircraft-carrier-has-big-problem-21535">plagued</a>&nbsp;with technical problems since it was commissioned, proved costly to maintain, and has rarely even put to sea. Even when it deployed for any length of time, fears over its propulsion reliability were so great that it is normally accompanied by an ocean-going tug.</p><p>Its chequered&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/world/middleeast/russia-aircraft-admiral-kuznetsov-syria.html">experience</a>&nbsp;in Syria matched this pretty disastrous record. The carrier’s air-wing was itself small, holding just eight Su-33 fighters and four MiG-29 multirole aircraft. During the operation two out of these twelve planes were lost in accidents while trying to land on the ship. Both pilots survived, but for most of the deployment the planes were flown not from the much-vaunted carrier but from a Russian airbase in Syria. In the&nbsp;<a href="https://thediplomat.com/2017/04/russias-naval-policy-and-the-war-in-syria/">event</a>, the overwhelming majority of the Russian airstrikes were launched from land bases.</p><p>This near farcical story notwithstanding, the&nbsp;<em>Admiral Kuznetsov</em>&nbsp;was widely touted in the British and western media as indicative of Russian military supremacy. Rather, this entire drama was one not of military strength, but of military symbolism and the power of myth.</p><h2><strong>Thinking forward</strong></h2><p>If Britain’s two&nbsp;<em>Queen Elizabeth</em>-class aircraft-carriers are&nbsp;<a href="https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/whats-next-hmsqueenelizabeth/">eventually</a>&nbsp;made available for deployment in the 2020s, and if sufficient crew can be got together to enable them to operate, then they may well be much more reliable than the&nbsp;<em>Admiral</em>&nbsp;<em>Kuznetsov.</em>&nbsp;But there have already been major cost overruns, and even when completed the whole operation will still be dependent on the US F-35 Lightning multi-role aircraft (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/britain_defence_4352.jsp">Britain's 21st-century defence</a>", 15 February 2007).</p><p>Indeed, in the early years the British carrier will deploy F-35s from the United States marine corps, which is currently operating the F-35 on its own ships. But the whole programme has been&nbsp;<a href="https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/f-35-project-now/">beset</a>&nbsp;with cost overruns and the constant need for fault-fixing. A leaked copy of an internal Pentagon report on the programme, detailing the marines’ experience with the plane, suggests that – even after more than three years in service with the marines – the F-35 is simply not proving reliable:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“The availability of the fighter jet for missions when needed – a key metric – remains ‘around 50 percent, a condition that has existed with no significant improvement since October 2014, despite the increasing number of aircraft,’ Robert Behler, the Defense Department’s new director of operational testing, said in an annual report, delivered Tuesday to senior Pentagon leaders and congressional committees” (see Anthony Capaccio, "<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-24/lockheed-f-35-s-reliability-progress-has-stalled-pentagon-told?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%201.24.18&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">Why the Pentagon isn't happy with the F-35</a>",&nbsp;<em>Bloomberg</em>, 24 January 2018).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Meanwhile, the UK's programme to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13442735">replace</a>&nbsp;the Trident nuclear-weapons system is marked by severe delays and cost escalations, though near desperate attempts are underway to close off information about these. But word does seep out that persistent problems affect both the building of nuclear-powered&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-submarines-out-of-time">submarines</a>&nbsp;at Barrow and the nuclear reactors for the new boats being developed by Rolls Royce at Derby.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">It must be suspected that Carter's forcefulness about the Russian threat reflects his frustration that the army he heads is losing out to what are little more than vanity&nbsp;projects.</p><p>The combined effect of these ill-considered strategic decisions – replacing Trident, building the aircraft-carriers, and buying hugely expensive F-35s – is that the UK’s whole defence posture is warped (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain%27s-defence-path-to-change">Britain's defence: the path to change</a>", 7 May 2015). In fact, it must be suspected that General Carter's forcefulness about the Russian threat also reflects his frustration that the army he heads is losing out to what are little more than vanity&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflicts/global_security/white_elephants">projects</a>&nbsp;(and many even within the UK armed forces view them as such).</p><p>A likely prospect is that Britain in the 2030s ends up with the ability to fight a nuclear war or send an aircraft-carrier around the world, but is able to do very little else. That would be a symbol not of a great power contributing to world peace and stability, but of a country that had still not come to terms with its post-imperial status and was drifting into dangerous irrelevance (see “<a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2346.2006.00560.x/abstract">Big boats and bigger skimmers: determining Britain’s role in the long war</a>”,&nbsp;<em>International Affairs</em>, 82/4 [2006], pp.651-665).</p><p>It could be so different. There is a critical need for a middle-ranking power to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/ssp/re_thinking_uk_defence">provide</a>&nbsp;leadership in climate action, economic transformation, conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and so many other areas (see “<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/making-britain-great-again-in-different-way">Making Britain Great Again – in a different way</a>”, 16 November 2017). This could happen with a change of government, which is unlikely in the near term. But that in no way diminishes the need to make the case. There is simply too much at stake.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group </a></span></span></p><p>Anthony Barnett, <a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit"><em>The Lure of Greatness: England's Brexit and America's Trump</em></a> (Unbound, 2017)</p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="https://www.ifri.org/en/publications/etudes-de-lifri/focus-strategique/future-british-defense-policy"><em>The future of British defense policy </em></a>(IFRI, July 2017)</p><p><a href="https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/"><em>UK Defence Journal</em></a></p><p>Lawrence Freedman, <a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/192090/the-future-of-war/"><em>The Future of War: A History</em></a> (Penguin, 2017)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain%27s-defence-path-to-change">Britain&#039;s defence, the path to change</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">How Labour can make Britain secure</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/in-defence-of-greatness-britains-carrier-saga">In defence of greatness: Britain&#039;s carrier saga</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-submarines-out-of-time">Britain&#039;s deep-sea defence: out of time?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Fri, 26 Jan 2018 13:11:49 +0000 Paul Rogers 115831 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ISIS and Tunisia-Iran: a deeper link https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-and-tunisia-iran-deeper-link <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The anger and ideals of excluded young people contain a story of the world's disorder.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34462346.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34462346.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"In 2018 the market basket is empty": this man attends a speech by the general secretary of the Tunisian General Labour Union during the Tunisian revolution's 7th anniversary, 2018. Chedly Ben Ibrahim/PA images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Two recent columns in this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> examined ISIS's future after the loss of its caliphate. The group, it was suggested, might in future pursue a threefold course: build on its affiliations with paramilitary groups across the Middle East, north Africa and south Asia; increase its attacks in the “far enemy” countries of the west; and transition towards a new insurgency in Iraq (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wars-next-phase-isis-plus-expertise">The next war: ISIS plus expertise</a>", 21 December 2017); and "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-comeback">ISIS: the comeback</a>", 4 January 2018).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The Iraqi part of this strategy is already well under way. A grim series of attacks in and around Baghdad has taken hundreds of lives in the past year, even during the coalition assaults on Mosul and Raqqa. The latest <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27838034">hit</a> the capital early in the morning of 15 January, when two suicide-bombers detonated their devices at Tayaran Square where day-labourers gather for work. The results were terrible: at least thirty-five people killed and ninety injured. Some of the <em>Shi’a</em> dead were carried off for burial that day in the holy city of Najaf.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Such operations confirm that ISIS paramilitaries remain active and are able to strike, including in the heart of Baghdad. In this respect the intense military campaign to dislodge the group from its former <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27838034">areas</a> of control is double-edged. The United States-led coalition's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">aerial </a>pounding inflicted huge damage on Iraqi urban centres, with hardly any sign of reconstruction so far. That risks the further marginalisation of the <em>Sunni</em> minority that contributed to ISIS's rise in the first place. In doing its utmost to encourage that process, ISIS is intent also on <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/17/world/middleeast/iraq-baghdad-isis-bombing.html">targeting</a> districts mainly populated by Iraq's majority <em>Shi’a</em> population. </p><p class="mag-quote-left">Such operations confirm that ISIS paramilitaries remain active and are able to strike, including in the heart of Baghdad.</p><p>If an ISIS <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">insurgency</a> in Iraq continues to sprout from the urban ruins, Donald Trump’s hollow claim that the movement is defeated will look even more boastful. But a more awkward issue is at stake here: namely, whether ISIS is also just a symptom of a much more fundamental problem (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">Al-Qaida, and a global revolt</a>", 22 May 2014).</p><p>What is clear is that this extraordinary movement has attracted far wider support than most western politicians would dare acknowledge. Within the few years of its existence, many tens of thousands of young people from the Middle East, north Africa, south Asia, and western countries <a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-many-foreign-isis-fighters-have-returned-home-from-the-battlefield-2017-10">went</a> to fight for and otherwise support ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Police and security sources in western Europe have records of over 40,000 people still involved.</p><p>Some may have been prone to violence before their departure, and be&nbsp; attracted by an exciting and dangerous <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/">endeavour</a>. But there is evidence that far more were actually attracted by what they believed to be an ideal – the chance to participate in a new kind of society that might help deliver them from an otherwise bleak future with few prospects. Azadeh Moaveni's perceptive analysis raises this issue, from a perspective that few non-Muslim westerners might grasp (see “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/opinion/sunday/post-isis-muslim-homeland.html">The Lingering Dream of an Islamic State</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 16 January 2018).</p><p>The idea of a "dream" is powerful. Religious-political fusions – often termed “caliphate” – have been prominent features of Islamic societies, some of them long-lasting and sophisticated in their organisation. The Abbasid caliphate <a href="http://www.gifex.com/detail-en/2010-01-01-11553/The-Abbasid-Caliphate-7501258.html">across</a> much of the Middle East for three centuries from 750 CE is a notable example.&nbsp; </p><p>It would be perverse to equate ISIS with what, in its own time, was a world centre of civilisation. That is certainly not Moaveni's point. Rather, she raises the possibility that ISIS's proclamation of a new caliphate struck a deep chord with very large numbers of today's Muslims: not just in autocratic, repressive and elitist Middle East societies, but among disaffected minority diasporas in Britain, France and elsewhere.</p><p>On the ground in Iraq and Syria, brutality and repression were justified as necessary to maintain the caliphate's purity of purpose. But from the outside, it might have been possible to maintain a seductive vision that something much better was being realised – <a href="https://www.newamerica.org/our-people/azadeh-moaveni/">Azadeh Moaveni’s</a> "lingering dream". That view is supported by many of the early returnees to Britain and France, who turned out to be bitterly disappointed at what they had actually found.</p><p>If this theme needs to be explored further, it is also directly relevant to the serious anti-authority public disturbances in <a href="https://www.vox.com/world/2018/1/3/16841310/iran-protests-2018">Iran </a>and <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/fresh-protests-in-tunisia-on-anniversary-of-arab-spring-uprising/a-42142325">Tunisia</a> during the past month. Not, it should be emphasised, because either upsurge is in any way rooted in direct support for the likes of ISIS. In both cases the protests were unorganised and decentralised. Yet underlying common factors helped to spark them.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">There is the possibility that ISIS's proclamation of a new caliphate struck a deep chord with very large numbers of today's Muslims.</p><p>Tunisia, the origin of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/libya-bahrain-and-arab-spring">short-lived</a> "Arab spring" in December 2010, has made tortuous progress towards more democratic governance in these seven years. But its pre-existing economic inequalities remain, consigning hundreds of thousands of educated young people to lives with few prospects. Iran is a similarly young country with huge numbers of young people also <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/ali-vaez/iran-s-protests-time-reform">yearning</a> for a decent life. These are but two examples of many states in the region and beyond where the basic social contours are near identical. Indeed, there are connections here with the anti-austerity sentiment evolving in different directions in wealthy western states (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/tunisia-and-world-roots-of-turmoil">Tunisia and the world: roots of turmoil</a>", 24 January 2011). </p><p>In its own context, ISIS can be seen as a singularly brutal extremist movement led by clever men seeking power in the name of religious belief. That perception makes of the movement an isolated “one-off”: a problem to be crushed and made to disappear by the use of sufficient military force. But adjust the gaze, and ISIS can appear in a different light: namely, as one symptom of a world in serious disarray (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight</a>", 6 July 2017).</p><p>Many people in the Middle East and beyond are living in an economic and social order which acts against their basic needs and reasonable interests. That makes for an uncomfortably direct link between ISIS, Tunisia and Iran. Recognising it is the first step towards a different approach to human security, one which sees past the symptom to address the deep source.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group </a></span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/tunisia-and-world-roots-of-turmoil">Tunisia and the world: roots of turmoil</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thinning-world-mali-nigeria-india">The thinning world: Mali, Nigeria, India</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 18 Jan 2018 13:50:05 +0000 Paul Rogers 115706 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare? https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Trump's tweet-talk, loose lips, and big button amplify the risks over Korea and Iran&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/_92369555_mediaitem92369554.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/_92369555_mediaitem92369554.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Donald Trump makes his acceptance speech in New York. Paco Anselmi/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The risks of military confrontation in the Korean peninsula have been lightened in the short term make by the accord between Seoul and Pyongyang over the winter Olympics.&nbsp; A possible joint parade by the North / South teams at the South Korean host city of Pyeongchang, one of the measures under <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2018-northkorea-parade/possible-joint-koreas-parade-at-pyeongchang-under-discussion-source-idUSKBN1F01GG">discussion</a> at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), would be rich in symbolism. </p><p>In parallel, the reopened <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-korea-to-reopen-border-hotline-with-south-to-prepare-for-talks/2018/01/03/00316ae6-a849-4e1c-bc70-a601f49b06e2_story.html">hotline</a> at the Panmunjom border, and especially the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-42600550">agreement </a>to discuss border security, could help defuse tension over a longer period. In any crisis, either of these moves could help prevent the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">accidents</a>, mistakes and even maverick behaviour (the AIM formula) which might otherwise escalate with tragic consequences. </p><p>But beyond this intra-Korean dimension, the core antipathy between Washington and Pyongyang remains at the heart of the perilous <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-the-art-of-the-deal">dispute</a>. On one side, the Trump administration is adamant that Pyongyang must not become a nuclear-armed power and threaten the United States. On the other, the Kim Jong-un is certain that only possession of a nuclear force will prevent the US from carrying out its wish to that the US wants to terminate the regime. </p><p>A key factor is that, the Pyeongchang-related rapprochement aside, the timescale of potential military confrontation is shortening by the month. US intelligence agencies had been working on the assumption that North Korea was some years from presenting an acute challenge, but the sheer <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/06/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-missile-intelligence.html">pace</a> of nuclear and missile tests since Trump was elected have radically changed that. The expectation now is that North Korea is very likely to have a small but credible nuclear force before Trump goes for re-election in 2020. This increases the chances of a disastrous conflict in the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">next</a> couple of years.</p><p>China, the one country with serious leverage over the Kim Jong-un <a href="http://www.38north.org/2018/01/rfrank010318/">regime</a>, appears to share that view. Its has built camps just its side of the border with North Korea, in the expectation that a North Korean catastrophe will trigger mass refugee flows. One option <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/11/world/asia/china-north-korea-border.html ">considered</a> is to move People's Liberation Army units across the Yalu river into North Korea to handle the crisis, though a poor road network and other logistal barriers could make this unfeasible. In any case, Beijing calculates that the risk of war is real, and is taking what would otherwise be extraordinary measures. </p><p>Another conundrum for its leadership, and a central part of this many-sided crisis, is Trump and the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">forces</a> swirling around him. In this respect, three aspects of Washington's political and strategic environment are relevant.&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>Wanted: diplomacy</strong></h2> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger &amp; more powerful one than his, and my Button works!</p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/948355557022420992?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 3, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>The first and most obvious is Donald Trump’s nuclear rhetoric, with its tweet-talk of obliterating North Korea and his button being much bigger then Kim Jong-un’s. The manner and medium are very far from Washington's traditional presidential pronouncements. It's true that Ronald Reagan said "we begin bombing [Russia] in five minutes” for a <a href="https://www.biography.com/news/ronald-reagan-bombing-in-5-minutes-joke">sound-check</a> in 1984. It was way over the top but, when the non-broadcast excerpt was leaked, most people saw an element of misplaced humour in it. No one sees anything funny about Trump’s proclamations. </p><p>The second is Trump’s attitude to arms control. A new BASIC/ELN report, <a href="http://www.basicint.org/sites/default/files/Downman%2C%20NATO%20Nukes%2C%20final%20%E2%80%93%C2%A0WEB%20%281%29.pdf"><em>Changing Nuclear Weapons Policy in the Trump Era</em></a>, analyses this in detail. Its author, Maxwell Dowman, says that Trump is “presiding over a crisis of European arms control, having failed to coordinate a NATO response to Russia’s alleged violation of the INF Treaty, signed 30 years ago on December 1987, casting doubt on the future of New START and decertifying the Iran deal”. </p><p>Ineed, Trump’s attitude to Iran is relevant here. It is particularly worrying for western European states, given the long effort and careful coordination that went into achieving the nuclear agreement. The foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain, <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-iran-nuclear-eu/european-powers-urge-trump-to-preserve-iran-nuclear-deal-idUKKBN1F00X1">meeting</a> in Brussels on 11 January, called on Trump not to abandon the deal. If Washington unilaterally withdraws, it will be a further setback to arms control.</p><p>The third aspect is the US's new nuclear-posture review (<a href="https://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/NPR/">NPR</a>). A recent leak of its contents <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/09/us-to-loosen-nuclear-weapons-policy-and-develop-more-usable-warheads ">suggests</a> a return to the thinking of the most dangerous years of the cold war, where fighting a nuclear war was actively contemplated.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>It is reasonable to point out that all seven nuclear <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">states</a>, leaving aside the US itself and North Korea, do seek to modernise their nuclear forces, although scores of other states want the world to move to a total ban through a nuclear-weapons convention. The US strategy, however, carries an extra danger, in that it is likely to include <a href="http://www.theworldin.com/edition/2017/article/12631/lower-nuclear-threshold">lowering</a> the nuclear threshold – not just over first-use, but use against non-nuclear-armed states. This would mean deploying a long-range and highly accurate ballistic missile carrying a low-yield nuclear warhead, a weapon considered especially suited to limited nuclear use.&nbsp; </p><p>This broader nuclear thinking reinforces the concern raised by Trump’s threat to destroy North Korea. There is a further, internal factor at work too: the militarisation – or just the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit">deficit&nbsp;</a>– of diplomacy. Trump's administration is unusual because of the president’s behaviour, but also because he is surrounded by retired generals in three key <a href="https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/04/donald-trump-generals-mattis-mcmaster-kelly-flynn-215455">roles</a>: chief-of-staff John Kelly, national-security advisor HR McMaster, and defense secretary James Mattis. In addition, the state department still hasn’t filled key diplomatic roles, and relative to this concentrated military outlook its influence is limited.&nbsp; </p><p>At the very time when diplomacy should be taking precedence in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">dealing</a> with Pyongyang and Tehran, it is is singularly weak within the US government system. Perhaps the retired generals, with their knowledge of the consequences of wars, will inject a note of caution in the White House. But a vacuum of diplomacy, Trump's temperament, escalating US military action across Africa and Asia, and the new nuclear strategy's likely focus, make such hopes look vain. There are too many red lights for comfort. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://treasureislands.org/"><em><span class="st"></span></em></a><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.38north.org/">38 North</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://atomicarchive.com/">Atomic Archive</a><br /></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.acronym.org.uk/">Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy</a></p><p>Sung Chull Kim &amp; Michael D Cohen eds., <a href="http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/north-korea-and-nuclear-weapons"><em>North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: Entering the New Era of Deterrence </em></a>(Georgetown University Press, 2017)</p><p>Thomas M. Nichols, <a href="http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15090.html"><em><span class="style2">No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security</span></em></a> (University of Pennsylvania Press,2013)</p><div id="stcpDiv">Entering the New Era of Deterrence </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">Trump vs Kim Jong-un: nuclear war by 2019?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">North Korea: a catastrophe foretold</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit">Iran, and a diplomacy deficit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 11 Jan 2018 09:49:20 +0000 Paul Rogers 115609 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ISIS: the comeback https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-comeback <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Iraq's depleted military and urban wreckage plant the seeds of an ISIS revival. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-1925366.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-1925366.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A U.S. Marine tries to drive a disabled Humvee that was attacked in a coordinated ambush in Ramadi against American troops. ABACA PRESS/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A quick declaration of military victory was a feature of United States strategy following the rapid early campaigns against the Taliban (October-November 2001) and the Saddam Hussein regime (March-April 2003). In each case, it came during the lull before insurgency escalated with a vengeance. Trump's claim, in relation to ISIS, that "we've won in Syria, we've won in Iraq" should be seen in that light.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>ISIS has indeed lost its much-vaunted caliphate in Iraq and Syria, but even here the group remains active and capable of frequent attacks. It and its <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">associates</a> are also launching operations in Somalia, Yemen, the Sahel, Afghanistan and the Philippines, while in Libya it is reconfiguring. Several zones in Africa and Asia may acquire new opportunities for ISIS in 2018, as the co-presence of armed insurgents and US forces create further dynamics of conflict (see Shawn Snow, "<a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2017/12/31/new-in-2018-the-fight-against-isis-evolves/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=ebb-1/2&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">New in 2018: The fight against ISIS evolves</a>", <em>Military Times</em>, 31 December 2017).</p><p>But it is also worth returning to <a href="https://iraq.liveuamap.com/">Iraq</a>:&nbsp;the source of this new <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wars-next-phase-isis-plus-expertise">phase</a> of war&nbsp;began when ISIS developed out of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) in 2013. Two issues that are particularly relevant: the extent of Iraqi army losses and what it means for post-ISIS internal security, and the Iraqi government and US-led coalition's inability to begin the gigantic task of urban rebuilding after their intense <a href="https://airwars.org/ ">aerial</a> and artillery bombardments.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">ISIS has indeed lost its much-vaunted caliphate in Iraq and Syria, but even here the group remains active and capable of frequent attacks.</p><p>As to the army losses, Iraq's defence ministry announced that the war had cost the army 64,000 casualties, including 26,000 killed (as <a href="https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/26000-iraqi-soldiers-killed-4-year-war-isis/ ">reported</a> by a Beirut media source). Most external assessments put the army's size as not much more than 100,000. Even if the ministry includes some paramilitary police units and others in its counting, Baghdad will have serious problems in maintaining internal security once ISIS returns to its pre-caliphate strategy of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">guerrilla </a>warfare.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>There has also been evidence that Iraqi special forces, known as the counter-terror service (<a href="https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/David-Witty-Paper_Final_Web.pdf">CTC</a>) or “golden division”, were indeed hardest hit during the close-range infighting in Iraq's northern cities. This had been suggested by news reports in mid-2017, and is now confirmed. In Mosul alone, the CTC <a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/7/10/iraqs-elite-forces-suffered-devastating-losses-in-mosul-battle">lost</a> 40% of its overall strength.</p><p>This means the government must now rely much more on <em>Shi’a </em>militias, many of them backed by Iran. In turn, this represents a gift to ISIS as the movement seeks support from an aggrieved <em>Sunni </em>minority, especially in Mosul and other cities' previous inhabitants. ISIS will also benefit from <em>Sunni </em>Arab financial sources in the Gulf states, who continue to worry about increasing Iranian influence across the region, even as the Tehran government <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/01/04/irans-protests-are-fading-but-iranians-are-still-angry/?utm_term=.74ffe63ff5fe">confronts</a> internal unrest.</p><p>The depletion of Iraq's armed forces helps explain the levels of destruction in <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/syria-rebuilding-raqqa-in-face-of-mines-and-death-a-1181638.html">cities</a> such as Ramadi and Mosul, in that it led the coalition increasingly to resort to airstrikes and artillery-fire to dislodge ISIS paramilitaries. The civilian casualties were huge, <a href="https://www.vox.com/world/2017/12/20/16800510/mosul-death-toll-isis-trump-war ">including</a> between 9,000 and 12,000 in Mosul. Soon after Mosul was retaken, the <em>Washington Post</em> published stunning “before and after” satellite <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/war-torn-mosul-july/?utm_term=.7f9944c5458c ">images</a> of the city's destruction.</p><p>The scale of the crisis is deeply concerning: enormous damage to buildings and infrastructure, hundreds of thousands of people languishing in camps and unable to return. Moreover, Iraq's government and the coalition are evidently failing to engage with the <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/07/mosul-abadi-iraq-reconstruction-marshall-plan-isis/533115/">task</a> of physical repair and reconstruction. In a&nbsp;rare detailed investigation, Susannah George and Lori Hinnant of the Associated Press produced a compelling <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/after-islamic-states-defeat-a-massive-bill-to-rebuild-iraq/2017/12/28/79bcf71e-eb9d-11e7-956e-baea358f9725_story.html ">account</a> of west Mosul's devastation.&nbsp;</p><p><span class="mag-quote-left">The scale of the crisis is deeply concerning: enormous damage to buildings and infrastructure, hundreds of thousands of people languishing in camps and unable to return.</span></p><p><span></span>These experienced correspondents describe a city where 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt or restored, and 600,000 residents out of the original 2 million have fled. An analyst quoted by AP compares the impact of conventional weapons on west Mosul to <a href="https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/ruins-dresden-1945/">Dresden</a> in February 1945.</p><p>United Nations <a href="http://www.uniraq.com/index.php?option=com_k2&amp;view=itemlist&amp;layout=category&amp;task=category&amp;id=161&amp;Itemid=626&amp;lang=en">agencies</a>, as is usual in these situations, try to provide a degree of short-term and longer-term aid. But these face chronic underfunding, amid the prospect of further <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-aid/u-s-agency-to-help-iraq-recover-from-is-despite-trump-aid-cuts-idUSKBN1E40TS">cuts</a> resulting from the Trump administration’s attitude. In direct aid for stabilisation, $392 million has been provided, with the US (mostly Obama-era) and <a href="http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/101220173">Germany</a> giving most, Kuwait and the UAE lesser amounts – but nothing listed from Saudi Arabia. A further relevant figure is that Washington as of June 2017 had <a href="https://www.defense.gov/OIR/">spent </a>$14.3 billion on fighting ISIS since 2014, but only $265 million on reconstruction.</p><p>It might ordinarily be reasonable to argue that these are early days in the post-war period. But the Trump administration has told the Iraqi government it will not fund a reconstruction drive. In this respect, <a href="https://muckrack.com/susannah-george">Susannah George</a> and <a href="https://muckrack.com/lori-hinnant">Lori Hinnant's </a>report on the post-liberation experience of Ramadi, another badly damaged city, is worth quoting at length:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“The enormity of the task ahead in Mosul can be grasped by what has – and hasn't – happened in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's western Anbar province. Two years after it was retaken from IS, more than 70 percent of the city remains damaged or destroyed, according to the provincial council. Nearly 8,300 homes – almost a third of the houses in the city – were destroyed or suffered major damage, according to UN Habitat. All five of Ramadi's bridges over the Euphrates River were damaged; only three are currently under repair. Three-quarters of the schools remain out of commission.</p><p class="blockquote-new">"The Anbar provincial council holds its meetings in a small building down the street from the pile of rubble that was once its offices. Nearly all of Ramadi's government buildings were blown up by the militants. 'We haven't received a single dollar in reconstruction money from Baghdad,' said Ahmed Shaker, a council member. 'When we ask the government for money to rebuild, they said: 'Help yourself, go ask your friends in the Gulf' — a reference to fellow Sunnis.'"</p><p>The ultimate responsibility for all that has happened of course rests with ISIS. But the way the US-led coalition defeated its caliphate has turned whole areas to ruin. The phrase of <a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/tacitus/3891/">Tacitus</a> – “we made a desert and called it peace” – is again unavoidable, with the added ominous element that ISIS's resurrection (or the emergence of a similar group) may well follow.&nbsp;</p><p>A key provincial adviser, Abdulsattar al-Habu, told the Associated Press duo that if Mosul is not rebuilt “it will result in the rebirth of terrorism”. The Trump administration's talk of victory over ISIS is a further grim sign of near total lack of understanding of the problems ahead.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Graeme Wood, <span class="st"><a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/531346/the-way-of-the-strangers-by-graeme-wood/9780812988758/"><em>The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State</em></a> (Penguin, 2016)<br /></span></p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wars-next-phase-isis-plus-expertise">The next war: ISIS plus expertise</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 04 Jan 2018 16:20:25 +0000 Paul Rogers 115500 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The next war: ISIS plus expertise https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wars-next-phase-isis-plus-expertise <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the ashes of the caliphate lie the seeds of a new and even more dangerous ISIS.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32117583.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32117583.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>ISIS fighters surrender in west Mosul. Carol Guzy/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>President Trump has declared that ISIS has been defeated and victory is at hand. Haider al-Abadi's government in Baghdad has even held a victory parade. Such hubris may be questioned by referring to recent history. Similar claims were made when the Taliban were deposed and al-Qaida dispersed in late 2001; after the Saddam regime fell in three weeks in 2003; when Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011; and when Barack Obama withdrew most American forces from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2011-16.</p><p>Yet conflict has extended and even <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">escalated</a>. It includes a rash of attacks in western Europe and the United States; an upsurge in Islamist-inspired violence in Mali, Egypt, Somalia and the Philippines; and the reinforcement of United States troops across the Sahel, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-gift-talibans-gain">Afghanistan</a>, Iraq and Syria. So where is the "war on terror" now going? In search of an answer, two deeper influences on the paramilitaries' strategy need to be discerned.</p><p>The first is linked to the impact of western military campaigns. The Pentagon reports that three years of intense air and drone operations since August 2014 have killed over 60,000 adherents of ISIS. Many western citizens, who see these people as terrorists who deserve no better, will applaud this result. At the same time, those numbers mean that many more family members and friends are affected. The deaths are also widely reported in social media, with coverage that attributes to these martyrs a heroic role as true upholders of Islam <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-pence-jerusalem-christian-zionism-connection">against</a> its Crusader-Zionist foes.</p><p>In consequence, the paramilitary narrative now acknowledges the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">retreat</a> of a short-lived caliphate while highlighting its resilience and the certainty of its return. It cites the brave example of all those young people, and the thousands of women and children who were killed, as exemplars who must serve as a catalyst for further action. Those it sees as taking up the torch may be individuals in the “far enemy” countries, fighters in Iraq and Syria, and believers in other <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">theatres</a> of conflict worldwide.</p><p>ISIS's determined supporters believe they are operating as part of an eternal struggle, not some potential revolutionary change measured in mere years or even decades. The implication, which might be difficult for many western politicians and security analysts to comprehend, is the urgent need to take on board this wider narrative and what it should be <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">expected</a> to foment.</p><h2><strong>A networked campaign</strong></h2><p>The second influence relates to the combat and weapons experience gained progressively in the various recent conflicts. In the 1980s, the Afghan <em>mujahideen</em> became more sophisticated as they fought against the Soviet military. Among them were many Arabs, some of whom went on to form al-Qaida and link up with the Taliban in the 1990s. In that same decade the Chechen and post-Yugoslavia wars, and the simmering conflict in Kashmir, provided more experience for a rising generation of Islamist paramilitaries.</p><p>Many were killed but more survived. By the early 2000s, al-Qaida and other Islamist militias included veterans of all these conflicts, soon to be joined by thousands of young people who had seen military action from Libya, Yemen, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East and north Africa. Connections were forged between conflicts in the Sahel and those in west and east Africa. A bomb planted by Boko Haram in Nigeria's capital Abuja, in the movement's early stages, incorporated a shaped-charge explosive quite probably supplied from Iraq. Numerous <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">techniques</a> relating to explosives, timers, fusing and other characteristics were shared, both personally and via the internet.</p><p>The bitter shadow war fought between al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), the precursor of ISIS, and the best-equipped elite forces of the US/UK Task Force 145 provided further valuable tests. Then came the years of the caliphate itself. Details of this period are still coming to light, including the origins of much of the weaponry and ISIS's ability to produce its own. ISIS's seizure of Iraqi cities such as Mosul in 2014 provided it with advanced weaponry and munitions. More was gained after Nato’s disastrous intervention in Libya. Informal conduits criss-crossing the Middle East were another constant source.</p><p>An investigative <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/balkan-arms-exports-diverted-to-isis-report-12-15-2017">report</a> by a unit with European Union backing finds that up to a third of ISIS weapons from outside the region came from central and eastern Europe via Balkan supply-routes. Many of these routes are financed by US and Saudi governmental agencies in breach of international agreements, the arms having been supplied to anti-Assad rebels in Syria but ending up in ISIS's hands. Even more surprising, a detailed <a href="//www.wired.com/story/terror-industrial-complex-isis-munitions-supply-chain/">study</a> in <em>Wired</em> magazine points to ISIS engineers' ability to modify and develop both commercial and military explosives for their own purposes, including some originating in the United States.</p><p>ISIS has gained a particular advantage in controlling territory for several years. Taking over a large town or city meant access to all manner of small engineering shops and factories, and in some cases technical colleges and university laboratories. Before the air-war intensified, ISIS was able to run a sophisticated and coordinated production system, even <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/10/world/middleeast/isis-bombs.html">developing</a> its own weapons specifically for the nature of the wars it was fighting.</p><p>None of this is to diminish the west's own many military <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/myth-of-clean-war">transformations</a>, not least in armed-drone warfare. But it does indicate the sheer amount of knowledge and expertise that ISIS and related groups accrued in this latest phase of conflict. Far from disappearing, these will be put to use in perhaps unexpected ways. It is another reason why the "war on terror", even as it takes different forms, is likely to continue.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016 </span></p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">ISIS, a global franchise</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia global security Paul Rogers Thu, 21 Dec 2017 17:09:07 +0000 Paul Rogers 115449 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump, Pence, Jerusalem: the Christian Zionism connection https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-pence-jerusalem-christian-zionism-connection <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The political use of a religious vision spells danger for Israel, America, and the world. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34032198.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34032198.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pence accompanies Donald Trump as he delivers remarks after he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Oliver Contreras/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Donald Trump announced on 6 December that the United States was recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Most notable about his speech was not what he said, or how he said it, but the presence and demeanour of vice-president Mike Pence. Though an element almost entirely missing from the reams of analysis <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/us/politics/trump-embassy-jerusalem-israel.html">following</a> Trump’s statement, Pence's beliefs do much to explain Trump’s motivation.</p><p>Washington's declaration of Jerusalem to be Israel's capital has provoked sharp <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/12/06/its-catastrophic-u-s-allies-reject-trumps-expected-jerusalem-pronouncement/">criticism</a> across the world, most strongly in the <a href="http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/israel_nbr90.jpg">Middle East </a>where 57 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called for East Jerusalem to be<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-42335751"> accepted </a>as the capital of a Palestinian state. This may count for little in Trump's White House, though there might be slightly more concern over the attitudes of the European Union in general and France in particular. Even Britain under Theresa May added its pennyworth. </p><p>The strong worldwide condemnation of a statement with little obvious benefit raises the question: why did Trump go so far at this time? Some pointed to his repeated backing for Israel during the presidential campaign in 2016 and the need to deliver to his core domestic base. In turn, this leads to a further question: why would this base be especially supportive of the Jerusalem policy? The answers almost certainly lie in one particular element of evangelical Christianity, most commonly known as <a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300116984">Christian Zionism</a>, and one of its most fervent supporters, vice-president Mike Pence.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Worldwide condemnation of the 'recognition' of Jerusalem as Israel's capital raises the question: why did Trump go so far at this time?</p><p>To talk about the power of the “Jewish lobby” in the United States is actually misleading when the more correctly described “Israel lobby” wields far more electoral power thanks to its reinforcement by Christian Zionists. They number tens of millions of voters compared with the far smaller American Jewish population who, in any case, will tend more often to vote for the Democratic Party.</p><p>Nearly a third of Americans, around 100 million people, lean towards evangelical Christianity and of these perhaps a third embrace the Christian Zionist perspective. This is passionate in its support for Israel. Two of the most powerful groups that link with the pro-Israel lobby are <a href="https://www.cufi.org/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAsK7RBRDzARIsAM2pTZ-F1llXh3xm-mJ6w4KaXfaeSfrbLf2fs9OiB7NnLJqU9s_ZN6LEXUgaAsHpEALw_wcB">Christians United for Israel </a>and the <a href="https://int.icej.org/">International Christian Embassy</a>.</p><p>An earlier column in this series, almost thirteen years ago, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_2329.jsp">summarised</a> the nature and development of this orientation of Christianity and sought to explain why it was so significant in the United States (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_2329.jsp">Christian Zionists and neocons: a heavenly marriage</a>", 3 February 2005). Also known as "dispensationalism" or "dispensation theology", it has been around for nearly two centuries but has only acquired real political significance in the last two decades. Its particular importance stems from three factors: the voting power of this substantial proportion of evangelical Christians, its deep-rooted support for the state of Israel, and its links with neo-conservatism. </p><h2><strong>The history of an idea </strong></h2><p>The essence of dispensation theology, allowing for internal variations, is that God has given a dispensation to the Jews to prepare the way for the second coming. The literal fulfilment of Old Testament promises to biblical Israel is now <a href="http://religiondispatches.org/explaining-christian-zionism-to-israelis/">approaching</a> an “end of days” that will involve a millennium of earthly rule centred on Jerusalem. Thus, the state of Israel, as a Jewish state, is a fundamental part of God’s plan, and it is essential for it to survive and thrive. </p><p>Dispensationalists would argue that this has always been a core part of the Christian message, but most historians of theology trace the doctrine to the thoughts and preaching of John Nelson Darby (1800-82), a <a href="http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/search-resources/guide-to-special-collections/atoz/john-nelson-darby-papers/">minister </a>of the Plymouth Brethren active in promoting it in the 1820s. It attracted particular attention in the United States as part of the Biblical Conference Movement in the 1870s, and flourished in the first decades of the 20th century. </p><p>The evangelist Cyrus Scofield was central to this process. His <em>Scofield Reference Bible</em> (1909) was the first book published by the new United States offices of the Oxford University Press. Its prolific theological interpretations helped make it perhaps the most renowned <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/003463730910600106?journalCode=raeb">version</a> of the bible in north American evangelism. </p><p>Michael Vlach <a href="http://www.theologicalstudies.org/dispen.html ">describes</a> how many Bible schools teaching dispensationalism were formed in the 1920s, the most significant being the Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924. The <em>Scofield Bible</em> became a standard source in these institutions, helping the phenomenon of “Christian Zionism” to lay down firm roots in the inter-war years.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Many dispensationalists saw the establishment of Israel as the&nbsp;beginning&nbsp;of a fulfilment of biblical prophecies.</p><p>In 1948, many dispensationalists saw the establishment of Israel as the <a href="https://www.routledge.com/The-Politics-of-Christian-Zionism-1891-1948/Merkley/p/book/9780714644080">beginning</a> of a fulfilment of biblical prophecies. Later moments in the country’s history – especially the six-day war in 1967 and the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 – gave a further impetus to the idea. </p><p>Bill Clinton's presidency (1993-2000) was more difficult for dispensationalists, partly because they followed the preacher scandals of the late 1980s, and because Clinton was more favourable to the more secular elements of the Israeli political system, not least with its Labour Party. But during these years, the main pro-Israel lobbies in Washington – particularly the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – sought to build close links with the Christian Zionists. In this, AIPAC and similar organisations were recognising the increasing demographic and political power of the Christian Zionists, and also securing a wider foundation of <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1969542.stm">support </a>at a time when American Jewish communities were scarred by deep internal divisions that threatened to reduce backing for Israel. </p><p>The American theologian Donald Wagner wrote a succinct <a href="http://thebridgelifeinthemix.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ChristianZionism_Wagner_2003@0-copy.pdf">account </a>of Christian Zionism in 2003. He tracked the remarkable coming together of the movement with neo-conservatism during the George W Bush era (2001-08), quoting to this effect the once leading evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell: “The Bible Belt is Israel’s safety net in the United States.” Wagner remarked: “By 2000, a shift had taken place in the Republican Party. It began embracing the doctrines of neoconservative ideologues who advocated US unilateralism and favored military solutions over diplomacy. The more aggressive approach was put into action after Sept. 11, and to no one’s surprise, Israel’s war against the Palestinians and its other enemies was soon linked to the US ‘war on terrorism’.” </p><p>More recently still, the Barack Obama period (2009-16) was characterised by his administration's suspicion of Binyamin Netanyahu's government in Israel. This was heightened by the latter’s controversial speech in Washington in 2015, which aimed to undermine Obama while showing due deference to Christian Zionism (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/christian-zionism-and-netanyahu%27s-speech">Christian Zionism and Netanyahu's speech</a>", 5 March 2015). </p><h2><strong>The vice-president's vision</strong></h2><p>If Trump's victory brings the story up to date, the real focus should be on his deputy – for <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/vice-president-pence">Mike Pence</a> is now its really significant figure. Although Pence’s family background is Irish-American Roman Catholic, he embraced a markedly evangelical perspective at college and has maintained that faith orientation ever since. It includes a particularly strong Christian Zionist <a href="https://www.ivpress.com/the-new-christian-zionism">perspective</a>.</p><p>That perspective has come to the fore in the year since the election. The scholar<em> </em><a href="https://www.danhummel.com/">Daniel G Hummel </a>notes the significance of Pence becoming the first sitting vice-president to deliver a keynote address to the annual meeting of Christians United for Israel. This, says Hummel, “marks a fundamental change in the language that the White House has historically employed to articulate the United States’ relationship with Israel". He continues: </p><p>"Christian Zionism has a long history in American politics, but it has never captured the bully pulpit of the White House. Past administrations often used general biblical language in reference to Israel, but never has the evangelical theology of Christian Zionism been so close to the policymaking apparatus of the executive branch. By identifying with Christian Zionism while in office, Pence risks the Trump administration’s ongoing search for an 'ultimate deal' to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and erodes the US's claim that it can be an 'honest broker' in the Middle East.” (see Dan Hummel, "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/07/17/what-you-need-to-know-about-mike-pences-speech-to-christians-united-for-israel/ ">What you need to know about Mike Pence’s speech to Christians United for Israel</a>", <em>Washington Post</em>, 17 July 2017). </p><p class="mag-quote-center">Christian Zionism has a long history in American politics, but it has never captured the bully pulpit of the White House – until now.</p><p>The Christian Zionist worldview is thus at the heart of the Trump administration’s approach to Israel. Its importance is bolstered by the need to encourage this valuable portion of Trump’s electoral support (which as <a href="http://news.gallup.com/poll/203198/presidential-approval-ratings-donald-trump.aspx">opinion-polls</a>, and the remarkable Senate election <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/alabama-senate-special-election-roy-moore-doug-jones">result </a>in Alabama, suggest is shrinking). </p><p>This whole issue also arrives at a time when what is becoming known as the “Israel Victory” political caucus is <a href="http://www.meforum.org/6661/congressional-israel-victory-caucus-is-launched?utm_source=Middle+East+Forum&amp;utm_campaign=38b00ef744-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_12_05&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_086cfd423c-38b00ef744-33926929 ">gathering </a>influence in Congress. This caucus, which has plenty of support in Netanyahu’s government, <a href="http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/American-Israeli-lawmakers-present-new-Israeli-Victory-peace-process-paradigm-513763">takes</a> a simple, binary view: Israel has won, the Palestinians have lost – and really had better get used to living in a Jewish state. This hubristic outlook may cause anger and dismay among many Jews in the United States and western Europe, but it is a driving force within the Trump administration, which pays little more than lip-service to a two-state solution. Perhaps most significant of all, it fits almost perfectly into the Christian Zionist <a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300116984">vision</a>.</p><p>Christian Zionism and Mike Pence’s <a href="https://forward.com/news/377223/christian-zionism-grabs-spotlight-as-mike-pence-addresses-cufi/">role</a> in it are vital to any serious explanation of the political context of Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem. It is also worth reflecting that Trump's departure before the end of his first term would mean a Pence presidency. That would be warmly welcomed by Binyamin Netanyahu and the tens of millions of Christian Zionists. In political terms the outcome could well be a leadership more astute and functional than at present. But as far as Israel and the Middle East are concerned, the dangers already sparked by the Jerusalem decision would increase yet further.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><span class="st"><em>Victoria</em> Clark, <a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300116984"><em>Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism</em></a> (Yale University Press, 2007)</span></p><p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">Paul C Merkley, </span><span class="st"><a href="https://www.routledge.com/The-Politics-of-Christian-Zionism-1891-1948/Merkley/p/book/9780714644080"><em>The Politics of Christian Zionism 1891-1948</em></a> (Routledge, 1998)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/article_2329.jsp">Christian Zionists and neocons: a heavenly marriage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/christian-zionism-and-netanyahu%27s-speech">Christian Zionism and Netanyahu&#039;s speech</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/armageddon%27s-second-life">Armageddon&#039;s second life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">The Trump wars era</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/mariano-aguirre/israel-palestine-frontline-report">Israel-Palestine: a frontline report </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/annapolis_and_the_jerusalem_paradigm">Annapolis and the “Jerusalem paradigm&quot;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 14 Dec 2017 18:05:25 +0000 Paul Rogers 115315 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump's gift, Taliban's gain https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-gift-talibans-gain <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the seventeenth year of American-led war in Afghanistan, the gap between plan and outcome is as wide as ever.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-26061217.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-26061217.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Afghan policemen stand near a pile of burning opium narcotics on the outskirts of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Omid Khanzada/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, there was probably no way of stopping the United States from going to war in Afghanistan to terminate the Taliban regime and crush al-Qaida. The sheer impact of the strikes, at a time when the vision of a New American Century was at the heart of the George W Bush administration, made what followed near inevitable. Bush's response to the horror had support from many European governments, and he soon declared war on an “axis of evil” with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq the next in his sights (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_233.jsp">From Afghanistan to Iraq</a>?", 14 October 2001).</p><p>It is worth remembering, though, that a few voices in the US and in western Europe foresaw a long drawn-out war in Afghanistan. They argued that the attacks should be treated as appalling acts of transnational criminality, and dealt with through the rule of law, however long that took. Going to war, it was said, would give al-Qaida what it wanted. The very first of this series of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">columns</a> made this argument:</p><p class="mag-quote-left">A few voices argued that the attacks should be treated as appalling acts of transnational criminality, and dealt with through the rule of law, however long that took.</p><p>"If the US takes [widespread military action] it will be precisely what the group [responsible for the 9/11 attacks] wants – indeed the stronger the action the better [from] its view. Vigorous military action by the US, on its own or in coalition, will be counterproductive, whatever the intense and understandable domestic pressures (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/afghanistan_3849.jsp">Afghanistan: the problem with military action</a>", 28 September 2001).</p><p>When the Taliban regime collapsed and al-Qaida dispersed, that assessment looked wrong. But presumed military success neither went deep nor lasted long. Instead, a security vacuum developed. Within four years the Taliban were back in force, at the centre of a pervasive <a href="https://www.cfr.org/timeline/us-war-afghanistan">insurgency</a> that by 2012 had sucked in 140,000 foreign troops.</p><p>Barack Obama was then in the White House. His deployment of the final surge of 30,000-plus troops was motivated not by expectation of victory but in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06reconstruct.html">hope</a> of forcing the Taliban to negotiate an acceptable future. The plan's failure led Obama to order the withdrawal of the great majority of American troops, followed by the UK and other allies. By the end of 2015, only a tenth of their number remained.&nbsp;</p><p>At that point, the strategy was to keep sufficient numbers to train Afghan security forces and provide <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/20/world/asia/airstrikes-taliban-opium.html">air-power</a> and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">armed-drone</a> back-up. It has also failed, shown not least by the rapid increase in illicit opium production, especially in the important province of Helmand. The sheer scale of that increase, which includes greater Taliban control of the lucrative processing of the raw opium paste, is described in a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/">Brookings</a> report:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“From 2016 to 2017, the area under opium-poppy cultivation in Afghanistan increased by 63 percent, to 328,000 hectares (ha); the estimated total production of opium shot up by 87 percent to 9,000 metric tons (mt). That’s the most in Afghan history. Most of the expansion of took place in Helmand province, long the hub of Afghan opium production as well as Taliban insurgency. With 144,000 ha cultivated with poppy, that province alone surpasses production levels in all of Myanmar, the world’s second largest producer of opiates. But cultivation expanded throughout the country, including in the north, such as in Balkh and Jawzjan” (see Vanda Felbab-Brown, "<a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/11/21/afghanistans-opium-production-is-through-the-roof-why-washington-shouldnt-overreact/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief&amp;utm_source=hs_email&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_content=58772727 ">Afghanistan’s opium production is through the roof—why Washington shouldn’t overreact</a>", Brookings, 21 November 2017).</p><p>The author points out that the withdrawal of foreign military contingents has itself considerably reduced Afghanistan's GDP as a whole, leaving opium-poppy cultivation one of the few profitable alternatives.</p><p>If this is part of a much wider <a href="http://afghanistan.liveuamap.com/">problem</a> for Afghans, the outlook of Trump’s security people reinforces it. Their plan to send more troops and encourage allies to do likewise is fleshed out by an informative analysis in <a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane’s Defence Weekly</em></a>:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"US troop numbers had already risen from 8,400 to 11,000 and will be joined by another 3,000, while 27 other states, mostly NATO members, will increase their numbers as well.&nbsp; The overall strategy will be directed not at comprehensively defeating the Taliban and other armed opposition groups (AOGs) but at preventing the country being used by these and other groups as bases for mounting attacks against western interests. With the military’s usual love of acronyms, the strategy has been dubbed “4R + S” which stand for regionalise, realign, reinforce, reconcile and sustain" (see Gabriel Dominguez, “Afghan Quagmire”, JDW, 6 December 2017).</p><p><strong>In practice, this means:</strong></p><p>* <em>regionalise </em>– act while recognising that Afghanistan is at the centre of security interests for India, Pakistan, Russia, China and Iran, rather than just an area for the west to control</p><p>* <em>realign</em> –&nbsp; US troops will integrate their advise-and-support into much smaller Afghan troop formations, embedding themselves more in day-to-day operations</p><p>* <em>reinforce</em> – extra US and other troops whose presence will make this possible</p><p>* <em>reconcile</em> – apparently relates to the desired outcome of a more peaceful state, the whole thing to be sustained long term.</p><p>There is no longer talk of timescales, as Obama favoured, so the foreign troop <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/world/asia/afghanistan-war-troops.html">involvement </a>in Afghanistan is seen as being indefinite.</p><h2><strong>Between strategy and reality</strong></h2><p>This schema faces a twofold problem: the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-regional-complex">regional </a>context, and the security situation on the ground. The first area is more <a href="https://thediplomat.com/2017/04/the-new-cold-war-politics-in-afghanistan/">complicated</a> than the US military perceives. Iran, a key actor, has extensive interests and influence in western Afghanistan.&nbsp; But the Trump administration sees it as an enemy and regards it with intense suspicion, making constructive cooperation hard to envisage. Russia has no particular appetite for cooperating with the US and its allies if the end result is increasing US influence in the region. India is <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/world/asia/pakistan-trump-afghanistan-india.html">viewed</a> by Trump's Washington as a crucial player in stabilising Afghanistan. But that is anathema to Pakistan, whose strategic concept of “defence in depth” <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/the-pakistan-army-and-the-afghanistan-war">entails</a> rooted opposition to India's direct involvement there.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The prospect of Afghanistan making a transition to a more peaceful state is, frankly, nowhere to be seen.</p><p>The second area, the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/afghanistan">actual</a> security situation in Afghanistan, is dire. The current US military assessment is that 8.1 million people are in Taliban-controlled or influenced areas, a quarter of the entire population. Helmand, the key opium-growing province, has nine of its fourteen districts in this category. The Afghan defence and security <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/12/04/the-new-u-s-plan-in-afghanistan-may-add-a-local-militia-that-might-be-a-bad-idea/">forces</a> have overall lost ground in the past few months. Army numbers have decreased by 4,000 and police numbers by 5,000, with desertions and corruption adding to endemic problems of illiteracy.</p><p>Iraq in 2003-04 was essentially run by the US's Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer. In spite of repeated warnings from close allies, the CPA proceeded to dismantle most of the Iraqi army. It consigned hundreds of thousands of young men to unemployment, and sacked many of the technocrats running the country if former Ba’ath party members, despite that often having been a job requirement. The decisions proved disastrous, but the hubris <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1590.jsp">following</a> the supposed victory over Saddam Hussein meant that warnings were ignored (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1127.jsp">A thirty-year war</a>", 3 April 2003).</p><p>Afghanistan fourteen years later <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistaniraq-back-to-future">offers</a> a comparison. The Pentagon is calling the shots, and Trump gives the military as much free rein as did George W Bush. This time, the state department has been deliberately shrunk, and lost many of its experienced diplomats. The prospect of Afghanistan making a transition to a more peaceful state is, frankly, nowhere to be seen.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Antonio Giustozzi,<a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=518"><em> Wars and Warlords in Afghanistan</em></a> (C Hurst, 2012) </p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Alex Strick van Linschoten &amp; Felix Kuehn, <a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/an-enemy-we-created/"><em>An Enemy We Created The Myth of the Taliban / Al-Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010</em></a> (C Hurst, 2012)</p><p><span><span><a href="https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/">Afghanistan Analysts Network</a></span></span></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Antonio Giustozzi ed., <a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=515" target="_blank"><span><span><em>Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field</em> </span></span></a>(C Hurst, 2009)</p><p><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">Afghanistan: despair...then imagine</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">The Trump wars era</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air">Remote war and public air</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-war-dynamic">Afghanistan, dynamic of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">Drone wars: the Afghan model</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-and-world%E2%80%99s-resource-war">Afghanistan, and the world’s resource war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-past-present-future">The thirty-year war: past, present, future</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistaniraq-back-to-future">Afghanistan-Iraq: back to the future</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 07 Dec 2017 16:18:44 +0000 Paul Rogers 115151 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Trump wars era https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>From Washington to Cairo, military aggression and "keeping the lid on" are proving deadly. And they will never work.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33886343.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33886343.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nov. 25, 2017: al Rawda mosque where a terrorist attack took place in Bir al-Abed of North Sinai, Egypt. The death toll in the terrorist attack here on Friday has risen to 305, including 27 children, and 128 others were wounded, state news agency MENA reported on Saturday. Ahmed Gomaa/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A new era is opening almost by stealth. Its defining feature is military expansion, ordered by the United States president and conducted by the Pentagon. Underlying it is Trump's fusion of elements from the strategy of his two predecessors, George W Bush and Barack Obama.</p><p>A recent, low-profile Pentagon document <a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2017/11/27/26000-us-troops-total-in-iraq-afghanistan-and-syria-dod-reports/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.28.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">gives</a> a hint of the US's current projection of military power:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"The U.S. has 8,892 forces in Iraq, 15,298 troops in Afghanistan and 1,720 in Syria, for a total of 25,910 troops serving in the three war zones as of Sept. 30, according to DoD. The figures were released to the public Nov. 17 as part of DoD’s quarterly count of active duty, Reserve, Guard and civilian personnel assigned by country by the Defense Manpower Data Center" (see Tara Copp, "<a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2017/11/27/26000-us-troops-total-in-iraq-afghanistan-and-syria-dod-reports/">26,000 troops total.</a>.", <em>Military Times</em>, 27 November 2017).</p><p>The total figure alone is much higher than previous numbers. But by itself it is misleading in that the United States defense department normally excludes two further categories of troops: those rotating for short periods and, of far <a href="http://time.com/5042700/inside-new-american-way-of-war/">greater</a> significance, many of the <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/remote_control_project/golden_age_special_operations_forces">special forces</a>. These are waging much of the combat in all three theatres – Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. That means the true number is probably close to, or even over, 30,000. To this could be added troops involved in operations across the Sahel, Somalia or Yemen.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">A new era is opening almost by stealth. Its defining feature is&nbsp;military&nbsp; expansion, ordered by the United States president and conducted by the Pentagon.</p><p>Such indicators give only part of the picture. Another is a Pentagon request for $143 million to expand its operations at the Azraq base in the Jordanian desert, the largest single overseas financial <a href="https://www.stripes.com/news/pentagon-budget-calls-for-143-million-buildup-at-jordan-air-base-1.498804?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">commitment</a> now being considered. This base has been key to operations in Syria and Iraq, and been used by other states including the Netherlands and Belgium. So just as the<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syria-iraq-and-beyond-octopus-wars"> </a><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/remote_control_project/golden_age_special_operations_forces">wars</a> in Iraq and Syria are supposed to be winding down after ISIS's much-vaunted defeat, the <a>Pentagon</a> wants to go the other way and prepare for yet more conflict in the region. A growth in overseas bases, such as a huge one for surveillance drones costing $100 million in <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/us-niger-green-berets/542190/">Niger</a>, fits the trend.</p><p>All this must be seen in the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-on-terror-interim-report">perspective</a> of the sixteeen years of "war on terror". Again, troop numbers are a signal if not the whole story. In 2007-08, at the height of George W Bush’s campaigns, close to 200,000 US troops were in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even as Barack Obama started to withdraw troops from Iraq, he was "surging" them in Afghanistan: an extra 30,000 troops by 2011 took the US total in that country to around 100,000.</p><p>That short-term policy failed in its aim of forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table, and most troops had been withdrawn by the end of his second term in 2012. In parallel, Obama was moving rapidly towards "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air">remote warfare</a>". This relied much more on strike-aircraft, armed-drones, and special forces – all involving far fewer “boots on the ground”.</p><p>Now, the Trump wars era <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">brings</a> a reconfiguration: plenty of remote warfare <em>and</em> far more military personnel abroad. Bush was all about crushing al-Qaida and similar groups, as well as regime termination; Obama <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-war-dynamic">moved</a> more towards "shadow wars" at a much lower intensity, if still controversial. Trump, in combining these, is going back to the future.</p><h2><strong>The Egyptian parallel</strong></h2><p>Destroy your opponents; forget the sixteen years of failed wars; do not try to understand where these enemies are coming from, and why they retain support. If these tenets guide Trump's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">approach</a>, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's regime has followed them in Egypt's <a href="https://egypt.liveuamap.com/">arena</a>.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The Trump wars era&nbsp;brings&nbsp;a reconfiguration: plenty of remote warfare&nbsp;and&nbsp;far more military personnel abroad.</p><p>Since al-Sisi became president after ousting Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/world/middleeast/mohamed-morsi-of-muslim-brotherhood-declared-as-egypts-president.html">government</a> in 2013, his forces have pursued a tough line against any kind of religious-based dissent. The Islamist-linked rebellion in northern Sinai was a prime target. The terrible attack on the Al-Rawda mosque in nothern Sinai on 24 November, which killed 305 people, is the latest <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/world/middleeast/mosque-attack-egypt.html?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.27.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brie">incident</a> in this escalating conflict. The immediate <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-42170803">response</a> to the massacre was air-raids by strike-aircraft, which the insurgents would have expected and taken precautions against.</p><p>But the problems in Sinai go much <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/sinais-blowback-sisi-putins-shock">deeper</a> than al-Sisi’s policies, damaging as these are. This part of Egypt has long been neglected and marginalised. Its younger men are particularly angry that the oil and tourism industries <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/the-long-record-of-terror-on-the-sinai-peninsula/a-41538401?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.27.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">bring</a> local communities little or no benefit. Thus, the now dispersed ISIS leadership see al-Sisi’s Egypt in general and Sinai in particular as fertile ground. For the movement, Cairo's policy of hardline suppression could <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/egypts-long-bloody-fight-against-the-islamic-state-in-sinai-is-going-nowhere/2017/09/15/768082a0-97fb-11e7-af6a-6555caaeb8dc_story.html">hardly</a> be better. An objective view of Sinai's recent decades suggests that the chances of Sisi’s approach working are close to zero.</p><p>So the comparison works in reverse. For al-Sisi, read Trump – on a much bigger scale. This may still be an early stage of the Trump wars era. An increase in the worst excesses of the post-9/11, such as rendition and torture, can be expected as problems multiply. Clear indications of new thinking remain scarce. "Liddism” still rules. It is better to be prepared for the long haul.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org/"><span><span>Remote Control Project</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Rosa Brooks, <a href="http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/How-Everything-Became-War-and-the-Military-Became-Everything/Rosa-Brooks/9781476777863"><em>How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon</em></a> (Simon &amp; Schuster, 2016)<br /></span></span></p><p>David C Unger, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/"><em>The Emergency State</em>: </a><em><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/">America's Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs</a> </em>(Penguin, 2012)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">Trump and the Pentagon</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/washingtons-wars-isis-trump-military">Washington&#039;s wars: in a fix</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">Trump on the offensive</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-in-context">Trump in context</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 30 Nov 2017 18:31:13 +0000 Paul Rogers 114989 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The myth of the "clean war" https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/myth-of-clean-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Trump's worldview promises low-cost military success. The blasting apart of civilian lives in Iraq says otherwise.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33749786.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33749786.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="263" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Afghan security forces inspect the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 16, 2017. At least 10 people were killed and nine others wounded after a suicide bombing ripped through a banquet hall in northern neighborhood of Afghanistan's capital of Kabul on Thursday, police and witnesses said. PA Images/Rahmat Alizadah. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Many previous columns in this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> focus on the transition in the western way of war since 9/11 from tens of thousands of “boots on the ground” to "remote warfare". This has mainly involved a much more intensive use of air-power, including armed-drones; the utilisation of long-range artillery and ground-launched ballistic-missiles; and the much wider use of special forces and privatised military corporations. </p><p>The change has been consistently analysed by a few non-government organisations, most notably the <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control</a> project and <a href="https://dronewars.net/">Drone Wars UK</a>, whose specific concern is armed drones.&nbsp; </p><p>The states pursuing this kind of offensive war see three advantages, two military and one political:</p><p>* Their own forces take minimal casualties, meaning fewer bodybags and funeral corteges</p><p>* They believe that the tactic works in practice</p><p>* There is very little media coverage of this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">type</a> of war, and in the case of some countries, most notably Britain, there has been a long-term political convention that the role of special Forces should not be subject to public debate or even scrutiny.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-right">The U.S. Air Force is on track to triple the number of bombs dropped in Afghanistan this year compared with last year.</span></p><p><span></span>Warfare by "remote control" also seems to be working, not least in the three-year war against Islamic State. It is now clear that Donald Trump’s policy of devolving more authority to the United States military in the wars it is fighting is having a much wider effect. For example, the Pentagon has quietly increasing its forces in Somalia by adding several hundred special-forces troops (as <em>Politico </em><a href="https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/19/troops-somalia-military-buildup-247668?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.20.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">reports</a>) and ratcheting up airstrikes (as <em>Military Times</em> <a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2017/11/21/us-airstrike-kills-more-than-100-al-shabaab-militants/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">reports</a>), while airstrikes against an al-Qaida offshoot in Yemen are <a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2017/11/21/us-strikes-al-qaida-in-yemen/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">continuing</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>In Afghanistan, the build-up of forces is even more substantial. More US troops have <a href="https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/11/taliban-promotes-gains-in-remote-kandahar-district.php?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.21.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">arrived</a> amid concern over the Taliban's ability to extend its territorial control. But less noted is the substantial increase in the US use of air-power and armed-drones since Trump took office. A US media outlet <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/u-s-bombs-afghan-opium-plants-new-strategy-cut-taliban-n822506?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.21.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">states</a>:</p><p>“The U.S. Air Force is on track to triple the number of bombs dropped in Afghanistan this year compared with last year, new figures reveal as the White House opens a new front in America’s longest war. The military dropped 3,554 weapons against the Taliban as of Oct. 31 – already nearly three times the 1,337 dropped in 2016 and nearly four times as the 947 fired in 2015.”&nbsp; </p><p>Operation Jagged Knife, a recent offensive by the US airforce, <a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2017/11/20/f-22s-conduct-first-airstrikes-in-afghanistan/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.21.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">included</a> B-52 strategic bombers and – for the first time in Afghanistan – the advanced F-22 stealth strike-aircraft.</p><h2><strong>Promise and reality</strong></h2><p>All this is in the context of the presumed defeat of ISIS forces in <a href="https://iraq.liveuamap.com/">Iraq</a> and <a href="http://syria.liveuamap.com/">Syria</a>, which is seen within the Trump team as proof of victory. Since 2014, the Pentagon believes it has killed over 60,000 ISIS fighters, but acknowledges fewer than 500 civilian casualties. This is the way to fight future wars, it believes. The expanded operations in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia are further examples of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">path</a> to be taken.In this Trumpian worldview, “clean wars” will be the order of the day. But a closer look shows that things are not so simple, in two distinct aspects: the outcomes of the "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-on-terror-interim-report">war on terror</a>", and its more recent reality. A brief digest of principal events since 2001 illustrates the first point:</p><p>* On 29 January 2002, George W Bush’s state-of-the-union <a href="https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html">address</a> was akin to a victory speech in the wake of the termination of the Taliban regime and the suppression and dispersal of al-Qaida after 9/11 – yet the war in <a href="https://afghanistan.liveuamap.com/">Afghanistan</a> has just entered its seventeenth year</p><p>* On 1 May 2003, the US president&nbsp; gave his “mission accomplished” <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/text-of-bush-speech-01-05-2003/">speech</a> after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq – yet that very month a nascent insurgency began to spread across the country, which would also last years</p><p>* In 2008, when Barack Obama was elected, the war in Iraq looked sufficiently under control for him to order wholesale troop withdrawals, but in 2014-17 the US has again been at war in the country</p><p>* In 2011, Nato chiefs thought that the downfall of Libya'a Muammar Gaddafi they had engineered would be followed by peace and stability, but it <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/libya-and-decade%e2%80%99s-war">provoked</a> more conflict, while the US's SEAL-team <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-and-arab-spring-after-bin-laden">killing</a> of Osama bin Laden that year didn't mark the end of al-Qaida, a scion of which the US is now bombing in Yemen.</p><h2><strong>On the ground</strong></h2><p>The results of military action in the last three years illustrate the second point, and expose the dangerous myth of the "clean war". <a href="https://airwars.org/">Airwars</a>, the monitoring group, finds the US-led wars in Iraq and Syria have involved over 28,000 airstrikes, split more or less evenly between the two countries, using over 103,000 bombs and missiles. Airwars has done its best to assess the likelihood of civilian casualties, and currently puts these at a minimum of around 6,000 – far larger than any Pentagon figures. Where Iraq is concerned,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.iraqbodycount.org/"> Iraq Body Count&nbsp;</a>says that over 179,000 civilians have died in the last fifteen years.</p><p>ISIS's loss of most of its territory has been followed by reports of a concentrated air-war ranged against its forces, whose effects include the widespread destruction of both western Mosul and Raqqa. The extent of damage is hardly surprising. In the last part of the Raqqa campaign, Airwars says: </p><p>“Between October 1st and 17th – when the last strike was reported – the US-led alliance says it fired 2,384 munitions at Raqqa, much of it the result of US artillery strikes. Between 266 and 355 more civilians were credibly reported killed in the city as a result according to local monitors – including more than 90 women and children.”</p><p>Yet it has been hard for analysts to assess the more general claim of the “clean war” with any accuracy, in that they were dependent largely on data provided by US Central Command (USCC). The best efforts of NGOs like Airwars and <a href="https://www.iraqbodycount.org/ ">Iraq Body Count</a> notwithstanding, their findings could be discounted or ignored.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">One in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition.</p><p>That is at last beginning to change, as these groups' work is supported by on-the-ground assessments from experienced journalists who have gone at great pains to travel to areas now controlled by government forces after ISIS's retreat. Their reports confirm sceptics of the "clean war" myth. The most substantive account available so far is a long report in the <em>New York Times</em> (see Azmat Khan &amp; Anand Gopal, “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/16/magazine/uncounted-civilian-casualties-iraq-airstrikes.html ">The Uncounted</a>”, NYT, 16 November 2017).&nbsp; </p><p>Over a fourteen-month period to July 2017, they visited 150 sites of attacks across northern Iraq, and interviewed hundreds of witnesses, survivors and family members. They later compared their findings with data from USCC itself. In all, they were able to coordinate data from 103 airstrikes. Their conclusions warrant a longish extract: </p><p>“We found that one in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition. It is at such a distance from official claims that, in terms of civilian deaths, this may be the least transparent war in recent American history. Our reporting, moreover, revealed a consistent failure by the coalition to investigate claims properly or to keep records that make it possible to investigate the claims at all. While some of the civilian deaths we documented were a result of proximity to a legitimate ISIS target, many others appear to be the result simply of flawed or outdated intelligence that conflated civilians with combatants. In this system, Iraqis are considered guilty until proved innocent.”</p><p>The fighting against ISIS, especially in the densely packed streets of Raqqa and western Mosul, was intense. In <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-taking-of-mosul-really-means">Mosul</a> in particular, the Iraqi army’s special forces took very heavy losses. It was not just the utter determination of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">ISIS</a> paramilitaries to fight, but their willingness to die for their cause that proved so difficult to counter. It was in those circumstances that air-power was used relentlessly. In an objective sense it may be what you would expect, even if you may question the war as a whole.</p><p>That, though, is not the point, which is that the entire air-war has been presented as a “clean” operation - which it evidently was not. If we think that <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air">remote warfare</a> is the way to go because it kills neither “our” people nor innocent civilians, then we are deluding ourselves. And that delusion in turn makes it even less likely that we will get the kind of scrutiny and political debate we need on the direction and long-term consequences of this new way of war. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"></span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Peter R Neumann, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Encyclopaedias%20%20reference%20works/Radicalized%20The%20New%20Generation%20of%20Jihadis%20and%20the%20Threat%20to%20the%20West?menuitem=%7BF027E667-C48E-489A-938D-62719293B2E7%7D"><em>Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016) </p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">Iraq and beyond: hidden, secret wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">Remote control, a new way of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-light-on-new-war">Remote control: light on new war </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air">Remote war and public air</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">The thirty-year war: still on track</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Fri, 24 Nov 2017 17:10:53 +0000 Paul Rogers 114853 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Making Britain Great Again – in a different way https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/making-britain-great-again-in-different-way <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>By thinking big and making connections, Labour can raise people and country. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33689957.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33689957.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="336" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn walks with Prime Minister Theresa May, as they carry wreaths during the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall, central London. Dominic Lipinski/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The minority Conservative government in Britain struggles on in disarray. It is unable to follow through on its election pledges, even borrowing some from the Labour opposition. All the while it is plagued with deep internal <a href="https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/07/21/tories-now-seen-more-divided-labour/">divisions</a> over Brexit. It is not impossible that the government could fall at any time. In this parlous condition, the Conservatives find a semblance of unity in the terrifying prospect of Jeremy Corbyn, prime minister.</p><p>On current form, Labour would enter an election campaign as favourites to be the largest party. But to get an overall majority it would still need an unprecedented turnaround in voting intentions in Scotland. Two of the eight polls in the past six weeks put Labour level with the Conservatives and the others give them a lead of two-to-six points. This is at a time of remarkable chaos on the government benches, including the forced <a href="https://news.sky.com/story/theresa-mays-cabinet-cannot-continue-like-this-11119136">resignation</a> of two cabinet ministers.</p><p>Most people, as Anthony Wells of <a href="http://www.ukpollingreport.co.uk">UK Polling Report</a> observes, scarcely follow political news. That explains in part why even recent upheavals have not had the effects that many pundits expect. But politicians can still help to chart a new direction that can inspire, and ingather fresh support. So what does Corbyn’s Labour Party need now to do?&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>A big push</strong></h2><p>Several columns in this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> have pointed to the issue of defence and security as being a problem for Labour (see, for example, "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyns-labour-now-look-outwards">Corbyn's Labour: now look outwards</a>" [16 June 2017], "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">How Labour can make Britain secure</a>" [20 July 2017], "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">Britain's global role: fantasy vs reality</a>" [5 October 2017]).&nbsp;</p><p>Despite Labour's election gains, many voters remain sceptical of Labour's position in these areas. A key task for the party, whenever the election comes, is thus to convince voters that the party is effective on security issues – both national and international. The best way of doing this might be to see people's concern as part of a wider feeling, and to tackle the latter directly. The heart of this debate is that Labour needs to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message">reach</a> many voters (Conservative, former UKIP, or swing, and especially those over 45 years old) who want Britain to be “great” again.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Just as Putin and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump</a> seek their own versions of greatness, so many (and mostly older) voters in the UK hark back to the prestige of empire. This sentiment mingles belief that the European Union has become dominant over the country with a misplaced search for security focused largely on the use of force. Such people would certainly be happier if the “Great” was truly back in “Great Britain”.</p><p>The task for Labour in this climate is simple but fundamental: to redefine “great”. Clearly, such an effort would be directly relevant to the above contingent of voters. But it is likely to be welcomed more widely across the political spectrum. Receptivity to the message could well be aided by an ongoing, twofold shift in the public mood: greater caution when it comes to overseas military <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-s-distant-war">interventions</a>, and increasing awareness that global trends – climate change, global inequality, marginalisation, instability, and the rise of extreme <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins">movements</a> – are making us collectively less secure (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight</a>", 6 July 2017).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Perhaps the underlying argument from Labour should be that Britain has a key role to play in the 2020-30 period, a role of value to the world community that will, by coincidence, also enhance Britain’s international standing. This view is, however, different to the traditional view of “<a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit">greatness</a>”. Three clear and major global trends emphasise the case:&nbsp;</p><p>* The continuing failure of the international neoliberal economy to deliver equity and emancipation is leading to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-on-margin">marginalisation</a>, resentment, anger and potential "revolts from the margins"</p><p>* The accelerating impact of climate <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/climate-disruption-new-reality">disruption</a>, which is the greatest single threat to global security</p><p>* The persistence of the "control paradigm" and "liddism" – that is, using military-style force to suppress the symptoms of distress, thus keeping the lid on rather turning down the heat&nbsp; (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/a-tale-of-two-paradigms-security-vs-development">A tale of two paradigms</a>" [28 June 2009], and "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/beyond-%e2%80%9cliddism%e2%80%9d-towards-real-global-security">Beyond 'liddism': towards real global security</a>" [1 April 2010]).</p><p>Labour will in due course conduct its own security and defence review. But an election could come soon. In the interim, Labour can make its mark by highlighting core elements of its fresh approach. Several were already in the party's election manifesto or have been covered in speeches: Jeremy Corbyn’s at <a href="https://www.chathamhouse.org/">Chatham House</a> on <a href="https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/outlining-labours-defence-and-foreign-policy-priorities">12 May</a>, Kate Osamor’s at the <a href="https://www.odi.org/">Overseas Development Institute</a> on <a href="https://www.odi.org/events/4511-kate-osamor-keynote-speech">2 November</a>, and Emily Thornberry’s on various <a href="http://press.labour.org.uk/post/165720826204/emily-thornberry-speech-to-labour-party-conference">occasions</a>.</p><p>There is room for such contributions to be even more joined up, in ways that actually supplement current policy. Seven examples follow. Some may appear “left field”, but they are actually part of a broader transition of current thinking. And none are especially costly!</p><p>These recommendations consist of three great expansions, then four major initiatives:</p><p>* First, in climate, oceanographic and polar research, including filling any emerging gaps in United States capabilities resulting from Trump’s election</p><p>* Second, in support for renewable-energy <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/climate-science-revolution-underway">research</a> and development</p><p>* Third, in making inequality a core concern of DfID - a recently announced policy, which deserves to be highlighted</p><p>* Fourth, prioritising the UK’s commitment to the United Nations and all its agencies. That means arguing for the UK to play a core role in the expansion of UN peacekeeping capabilities, including the establishment of a standing force, and to commit UK military forces to this, equipping and training them as necessary</p><p>* Fifth, committing in principle to the UN proposal for a nuclear-weapons convention as a clear indication of support for global <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">nuclear </a>disarmament</p><p>* Sixth, expanding UK military capabilities for providing emergency relief in response to natural and other disasters, if need be by scaling down elsewhere</p><p>* Seventh, pledging to reverse recent cuts to Foreign &amp; Commonewealth Office (FCO) budgets and their impact on the diplomatic service, and expand the FCO’s resources in the areas of dialogue, mediation and conflict resolution.</p><h2><strong>A fresh model</strong></h2><p>A good starting-point is that Labour is already active in relation to the three major global <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/conflicts/global_security/century_change">trends</a> cited above: economic marginalisation, environmental limits and militarism. Linking them would enhance their effectiveness as a single unified outlook – a parallel, at the global level, of Labour's domestic commitment “to the many, not the few”. This new internationalism is the antithesis of empire. It offers a distinct and potentially much more valuable approach to “greatness”.</p><p>Some of this may appear to be simplistic and even naïve. But if a national mood can ever be pinpointed, then Britain's just now is best described as uncertain. Redefining “greatness” at this time, already right in principle, would also have the much-needed practical benefit of filling a vacuum.</p><p>Even when (perhaps if) <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/after-brexit-time-for-new-thinking">Brexit</a> happens, the time to propose a very different form of internationalism has surely come. It could even have a surprising effect. A modicum of genuine vision can go a long way.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"></span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk">Oxford Research Group</a></p><p>Anthony Barnett, <a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit"><em>The Lure of Greatness: England's Brexit and America's Trump</em></a> (Unbound, 2017)</p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">How Labour can make Britain secure</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">Britain&#039;s global role: fantasy vs reality </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain%27s-defence-path-to-change">Britain&#039;s defence, the path to change</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/a-tale-of-two-paradigms-security-vs-development">A tale of two paradigms</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/global-crisis-seeing-it-whole">The global crisis: seeing it whole</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk global security Paul Rogers Thu, 16 Nov 2017 15:52:51 +0000 Paul Rogers 114704 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Remote war and public air https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The CIA's military role in the Afghan morass shows the need for open democracy in an age of hidden violence.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Afghan_Army_neutralizes_IED.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Afghan_Army_neutralizes_IED.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The bomb disposal team of the Afghan Army 215 Corps neutralizes an IED in Sangin, Helmand. Wikimedia Commons. CC-BY-2.0.</span></span></span>Afghanistan in 2016 saw 11,489 of its civilians killed in armed conflict, according to international observers. This was the highest number since external <a href="http://freebeacon.com/national-security/war-casualties-afghanistan-hit-time-high-country-stands-brink-collapse/ ">recording</a> started in 2009. This year is expected to be at least as bad. The fighting season from May-October was particularly intense, with substantial <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-casualties/afghan-forces-lose-2531-killed-from-jan-1-may-8-says-report-idUSKBN1AH33P ">losses</a> among Afghan security personnel.</p><p>In short, there is no end in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">sight</a> to the United States-led war in Afghanistan, even as its seventeenth year arrives. In fact, the Taliban and other armed opposition groups (AOGs) appear to be gaining ground. The Taliban has taken back control of most of Helmand province, whose great value includes being the centre of opium-poppy cultivation. At most around 65% of the country is <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/23/world/asia/afghanistan-us-taliban-isis-control.html">estimated</a> to be nominally in government hands.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">In short, there is no end in&nbsp;sight&nbsp;to the United States-led war in Afghanistan, even as its seventeenth year arrives.</p><p>The Taliban and AOGs, it is often said or assumed, rarely show themselves in large numbers because of the risk of air-attack. That is simply not the case. A filmed parade of fighters and equipment in western Afghanistan is one example of confidence, as reported by the <a href="https://www.longwarjournal.org/"><em>Long War Journal</em></a>:&nbsp;</p><p>“Hundreds of Taliban fighters in the western province of Farah paraded their vehicles and then stood in formation for a lengthy period of time, without fear of being targeted by Afghan or Coalition forces, to listen to an official give a speech recently. The Taliban continues to be able to operate openly in nearly all areas of the country” (see Bill Roggio, "<a href="https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/10/taliban-fighters-mass-in-western-afghan-province.php?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2010.31.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">Taliban fighters mass in western Afghan province</a>", <em>Long War Journal</em>, 30 October 2017).</p><p>It is far from clear how the American military strategy will be able to repel the Taliban <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-war-dynamic">advances</a>. US military forces, including almost 11,000 troops, are smaller than at any time since the build-up of 2008 onwards. That number is set to rise a little, even as deaths among soldiers are again on the <a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2017/11/04/us-service-member-killed-in-afghanistan/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.06.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">increase</a>.</p><p>In <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/afghanis.htm">Afghanistan</a>, the covert war is just as significant as the more open one. CIA paramilitaries and associated private military contractors have long waged a secret campaign against al-Qaida there. Now that war is <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/08/22/why-are-we-losing-in-afghanistan/">expanding</a> to take in the Taliban, a policy shift has been&nbsp;initatied under the agency's new director, Mike Pompeo (see Thomas Gibbons-Neff et al, "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/22/world/asia/cia-expanding-taliban-fight-afghanistan.html?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2010.23.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">A Newly Assertive C.I.A. Expands Its Taliban Hunt in Afghanistan</a>", <em>New York Times</em>, 22 October 2017). He is reportedly set on raising the status of “the Company” after the Obama administration's low period, when it was associated with rendition, black sites and all. In doing so, Pompeo will need to accommodate Trump's desire for the conventional US military to operate more freely after Obama's era of micro-management.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Information on the actual state of Afghan security is closing up, yet another example of the steady move towards&nbsp;remote warfare.</p><p>The emerging style of Trump’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">wars</a> can be measured by another valuable indicator: a subtle change in the quality of data from Afghanistan being made public. This is owed to the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2008, which <a href="http://psm.du.edu/national_regulation/united_states/research_oversight_bodies/sigar.html">established</a> a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). This mouthful of a title disguises what has turned out to be an independent observer of the Afghan scene, delivering detailed quarterly reports for Congress and available <a href="https://www.sigar.mil/ ">online</a>. The data from SIGAR accommodates copious information about the <a href="http://www.janes.com/article/75341/afghan-security-forces-controlling-fewer-districts-says-sigar">status </a>of Afghan security – formally the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) – not least in terms of casualties, the rate of desertions and costs to the United States.</p><p>The portion of SIGAR's coming from the US military organisation that trains ANDSF has recently been classified, meaning it is no longer available to a wider audience. The <em>Long War Journal</em> <a href="https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/11/secrecy-shrouds-us-development-of-afghan-security-forces.php ">says</a>:</p><p>“Coincidentally, or perhaps not, these numbers are generally the most prominent indicators of the issues still plaguing the ANDSF. High casualty and attrition rates, low morale, and poor administrative support systems have been an unfortunate staple of ANDSF development”.</p><p>Thus, even as Trump is <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">willing</a> to give the military more freedom of action and let the CIA undertake direct if covert operations against the Taliban, information on the actual state of Afghan security is closing up. That is yet another example of the steady move towards <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war ">remote warfare</a>.</p><p>A secret war is far less likely to be unpopular, the powers that be calculate. If the people don’t know, they can't cause awkward problems. This is to get things <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-control-light-on-new-war">backward</a>. The lesson of these sixteen wars of the "war on terror", in Afghanistan as elsewhere, is that public information, debate and accountability are the only way forward.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"></span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p>Antonio Giustozzi,<a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=518"><em> Wars and Warlords in Afghanistan</em></a> (C Hurst, 2012) </p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a></span></span></p><p>Alex Strick van Linschoten &amp; Felix Kuehn, <a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/an-enemy-we-created/"><em>An Enemy We Created The Myth of the Taliban / Al-Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010</em></a> (C Hurst, 2012)</p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">Afghanistan: despair...then imagine</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 09 Nov 2017 14:39:47 +0000 Paul Rogers 114556 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Letter from London, not Raqqa https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/letter-from-london-not-raqqa <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An ISIS adherent reports from his new base, in the latest of a series imagined by Paul Rogers.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/37950553651_02377b6ef1_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/37950553651_02377b6ef1_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>London. Flickr/steve_w. CC-BY-2.0.</span></span></span>Thank you for your letter and your enquiry after my brother. I have not had any further news of him since he went to coordinate our work with our associates in Marawi, but I am very confident that he will still be active there. As you will have heard, the Filipino army has finally taken control of the city with American help, after more than six months of fighting. In the process the army has destroyed much of the city and alienated even more people.&nbsp;</p><p>Our successes there are a very unwelcome surprise to the Pentagon, as even some American newspapers are now reporting. Many of our religious brothers have been fighting the hated government in Manila and its American allies for years. It is clear that our true vision has <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-war-unwon">embedded</a> itself in the Philippines. I rather think that my brother will stay in the country for some months as we work to consolidate our presence in an enduring manner.</p><p>As you see, I am writing from London and not Raqqa. Do rest assured that this is part of the long-term plan of our leadership. I will explain why later in this letter. But for the moment, could I extend my comment about the Philippines to the important developments across the Sahel?&nbsp;</p><p>From Somalia in the east through to Chad, Niger and Mali to Mauritania in the west, the wider movement is now firmly implanted. Some of the fighting groups are not directly allied to us, but many of them are. In any case, in our different ways we are all part of the same great cause.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The Pentagon is now involved in a major counter-insurgency war across the Sahel.</p><p>You will be well aware of the remarkable resurgence of Shabaab in Somalia, with its recent huge attacks in Mogadishu, but I suspect that far less is known about the sheer pace of developments in Niger and Mali. It is true that the recent ambush and killing of four American special-forces soldiers in Niger has attracted attention in the US, but that action is only the tip of the iceberg.&nbsp;</p><p>The reality is that the Pentagon is now involved in a major counterinsurgency war across the Sahel. It is centred on Mali where the US now has at least 800 military personnel. More are due to arrive as the Americans build a large new air base, mainly for drones, at Agadez. The base is in the centre of the country, at the heart of the Sahel, and will enable them to undertake drone and other missions throughout the region, not least around Lake Chad to the east.</p><p>The Pentagon has had what it calls “training, advise and assist” forces in countries like Niger for decades, but this initiative takes its involvement to a higher level. There have been more than 25 “missions” in Niger alone in the past six months. Much of what the Americans do is in close cooperation with the French. They too have substantial forces in the region, including drones and strike aircraft.</p><p>Our leaders now see the developments in the Sahel as hugely significant. The actions of our friends in Sinai and other parts of Egypt are also pleasing. The Abdel Fattah al-Sisi regime is falling right into the trap we set – the more they crush rebellion with huge violence, the more angry and resentful Egyptians flock to our cause.</p><p>Then there is the potential in the region of our caliphate, especially Iraq. Since I wrote to you in late <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-defiant-letter">August</a>, the only major development is that more territory has been gained by the Iraqis and Raqqa has finally been evacuated by our fighters. Yet, just as I told you then, everything else remains much the same.</p><p>In taking <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-taking-of-mosul-really-means">Mosul</a> the Iraqi special forces were wrecked. Since they were the only competent units in the Iraqi army, the Haider al-Abadi regime can only now keep order with the support of Iran and the numerous <em>Shi’a </em>militias. That alone is enough to draw more of our <em>Sunni </em>brethren to our cause. The huge increase in Iranian influence across the region is already leading to substantial funding coming to us from western Gulf states. Moreover, the destruction of Mosul and now of Raqqa are anathema to hundreds of thousands of <em>Sunnis</em>, whose hatred towards their enemies increases as even the paltry funds intended for the rebuilding of the cities fail to materialise.</p><p>Beyond our region, the Taliban in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">Afghanistan</a> is making remarkable advances. The group now controls not just the production of raw opium but are increasingly refining it into far more profitable products. Even some senior American military now recognise that the Taliban cannot be defeated, no matter how much force is applied.</p><p>Perhaps most significant of all is that the huge air-assault by the crusader forces that has been hitting us for more than three years, and has killed well over 60,000 of us, is simply inspiring more young people to support our cause. This week’s attack in New York is just one example.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">We created a caliphate that lasted four years against the world’s strongest military power and it is the symbolism of that extraordinary achievement that will prove to be our greatest success.</p><p>You asked a few months ago whether the loss of the caliphate meant the end of our movement. What I said then applies now. We created a caliphate that lasted four years against the world’s strongest military power and it is the symbolism of that extraordinary achievement that will prove to be our greatest success. What has been done once, against all the odds, will be done again on a much greater scale. It might take decades but it will happen.</p><p>Which brings me to why I am in London. You will remember that when I first started writing to you three years ago I had just left Iraq to go to Raqqa following the killing of many members of my family by the crusader forces. I had hoped to stay committed to the fight. But when I lost my arm, my superiors recognised the language and other skills gained when I studied in London. They put me into their own intelligence centre, SOBRA, to join the group analysing the actions and policies of the Americans and the British.</p><p>While I was dismayed at this prospect I had to admit that our aims cannot be achieved without solid knowledge of the enemy and, in time, I came to see that I could make a significant contribution. The leadership seemed to agree, which is why I stayed in Raqqa until very recently.</p><p>More generally, when our caliphate was formed four years ago, one of the priorities for our leaders was to create our own intelligence service. This grew to several hundred personnel, mostly in Raqqa but many of them dispersed across the region and, indeed, the wider world. Their task was rarely to seek out “secret” information but much more to inform our leadership of the capabilities, future potential and, most importantly, security cultures of our enemies. This they have done, feeding much of it into our communications and media teams.</p><p>What has happened is that our intelligence system has now been almost entirely dispersed across the world. It made obvious sense for the leadership to send me back to London. This was particularly easy because I had never attracted the attention of the security people when I studied here, and I even have the same British passport that has never been queried, even now!</p><p>Perhaps most usefully, I am not actually doing anything illegal in gathering information and analysing the public mood. I may well summarise and communicate it “below the radar”, but even that is done in an entirely undetectable manner, and I make a point of having no contact whatsoever with other supporters.</p><p>So how does it all look from London? Well, I have only been here a few weeks and even when I was in Raqqa I had access to the British media, so the situation here is not entirely new. Political life is dominated by the turmoil in the Conservative government, especially over Brexit, the weakness of the prime minister, and the unexpected resurgence of the Labour opposition.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Some things never change, though, and chief among them is the continuing&nbsp; delusion&nbsp;that Britain is one of the world’s great powers.</p><p>Some things never change, though, and chief among them is the continuing <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">delusion</a> that Britain is one of the world’s great powers, with wide international influence. It is in its most extreme form among those avid Brexiteers who believe that it is the European Union, and the EU alone, that is preventing the country from playing a glorious role on the world stage. To even suggest that many people in Europe, and many more in the Middle East, see Britain as a rather sad case, a self-important and somewhat pompous has-been, will get a singularly angry response!</p><p>As far as our own mission is concerned, there is hardly any connection made between Britain’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-s-distant-war">role</a> in the air war and the attacks that it experiences. When one or more of our people stage an operation, the public here seem perplexed as to the motive. What they don’t get is that there is a constant feed of news in social media from our teams reporting the loss of life and the destruction of our towns and cities. This alone is enough to encourage action and bring new recruits – you kill us by the ten thousand and we will kill you.</p><p>It is this gap in perception that is our greatest asset and why I see their war against us continuing. Moreover, the British government remains closely tied to the American coat-tails and Trump has even less <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">understanding</a> of what he is doing.</p><p>There are some changes, not least since many people in Britain do not now see victory in sight and are resigned to a continuing war from which they see no escape. We do have one worry, though, and that is if the government collapses and Mr Corbyn gets into Downing Street. Our fear is that he has people in his team who have a much more nuanced understanding of the war, its causes and likely consequences. Indeed, Mr Corbyn’s speech on foreign policy at Chatham House just before the last election was far too <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">close</a> to rational analysis than one would ever have expected from a British political leader.</p><p>This is the one concern that the leadership has communicated to me. As a consequence, much of my time in the coming months will be spent watching and analysing political developments in Westminster and Whitehall. There is much to do.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"></span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Peter R Neumann, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Encyclopaedias%20%20reference%20works/Radicalized%20The%20New%20Generation%20of%20Jihadis%20and%20the%20Threat%20to%20the%20West?menuitem=%7BF027E667-C48E-489A-938D-62719293B2E7%7D"><em>Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016) </p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/letters-from-raqqa-2014-16">Letters from Raqqa, 2014-16</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">ISIS, a global franchise</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/raqqa-defiant-letter">Raqqa defiant, a letter</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Sat, 04 Nov 2017 11:48:29 +0000 Paul Rogers 114412 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ISIS, a global franchise https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What do a Somalia truck, a Filipino city, and a Niger start-up have in common? <br /></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33286263.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33286263.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Explosion site near Safari hotel in Mogadishu, in which more than 300 people were killed on 14th October 2017. Faisal Isse/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The war against ISIS in Raqqa is nearing its end. But in all likelihood, the group will transform itself into an insurgent force, thus reclaiming the status it had until 2013. The four-year caliphate will then be propagandised, in two ways: as an example of what can be achieved against the formidable power of the world’s strongest military coalition, and as a symbol of what will surely come again. Even if this is wishful thinking from ISIS, it is worth reflecting on current developments in three other regions which point to the evolving nature of this new era of <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/books/society social sciences/politics government/irregular war islamic state and the new threat from the margins">irregular war</a>: the Philippines, Somalia, and Niger.</p><h2><strong>Manila: elusive victory</strong></h2><p>The military forces of Rodrigo Duterte's government are reportedly close to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-41647876">retaking</a> Marawi, on the southern island of Mindanao. The city was overrun in May by paramilitary groups allied to ISIS. The expected brief operation <a href="http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/leaders-of-marawi-war-killed-in-clashes-with-philippine-forces-defence-secretary?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2010.17.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">turned</a> into a five-month siege in which more than 1,000 people, including many civilians, may have died. Thousands more have left the city, large parts of which have been <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/malaysian-militant-believed-among-fighters-killed-in-marawi/2017/10/18/1c8342fc-b47e-11e7-9b93-b97043e57a22_story.html">destroyed</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Two aspects of the Marawi operation have long-term implications. The first is that dislodging the determined and well-organised insurgents required the extensive use of air-power and artillery. This repeats the experience of Ramadi, western <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-taking-of-mosul-really-means">Mosul</a> and most recently Raqqa. Much is made of the use of precision-guided weapons; but over three decades, Islamist paramilitary movements have gained combat experience against such tactics. As a result, to defeat these movements now means wrecking cities (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-war-unwon">ISIS: a war unwon</a>", 14 September 2017).</p><p>The second aspect is that events in the southern <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/philippi.htm">Philippines</a> reverberate across south-east Asia, where ISIS and similar groups are proselytising among sympathetic communities. The decision of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to establish a programme of joint maritime-reconnaissance patrols over the <a href="http://www.marsecreview.com/2017/09/asg-and-the-sulu-sea/">Sulu Sea</a> is one acknowledgment of a growing concern. The patrols will initially be monthly, carried out in rotation, alongside coordination of more frequent national patrols. <em>Defense News</em> <a href="https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2017/10/13/malaysia-indonesia-and-philippines-target-isis-in-trilateral-air-patrols/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2010.16.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">reports</a>:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“The trilateral maritime and air patrols were initiated in response to fears that the Islamic State group will use the Sulu Sea to move fighters between the three countries, which all have coastlines along the Sulu Sea. ISIS-linked militants had seized the southern Philippine city of Marawi in late May, triggering a counteroffensive from the army to take back the city, which continues to this day”.</p><h2><strong>Mogadishu: high tension </strong></h2><p>The huge truck-bomb attack in central Mogadishu on 14 October, which devastated several acres of the city, was almost certainly an <a href="http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199327874.001.0001/acprof-9780199327874">al-Shabaab</a> operation. The updated death-toll of 329 is likely to rise, and many hundreds of people were injured. The vehicle appears to have been heading for a government ministry when it was halted at a roadblock. Its explosion also set off a fuel-tanker, adding further to the carnage. There is some evidence that a second truck-bomb was intercepted on route to a different target. If it had exploded, this might have been the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/15/world/africa/somalia-bombing-mogadishu.html">largest</a> single paramilitary attack since 9/11.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">There is some evidence that a second truck-bomb was intercepted on route to a different target. If it had exploded, this might have been the&nbsp;largest&nbsp;single paramilitary attack since 9/11.</p><p>The attack follows military pressure from <a href="https://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/somalia.htm">Somalia's</a> newly elected president, Mohamed Abdullah Mohamed, who is supported by United States forces. Al-Shabaab, which has <a href="https://qz.com/126991/a-concise-complete-history-of-al-shabaab-the-group-behind-the-kenyan-mall-attack/">links</a> with al-Qaida, has been fighting successive governments, a multinational African Union force and US units for a decade. It has lost territory but still represents a major threat to the government, and this incident suggests an increase in its capabilities.</p><p>Several hundred US special forces and army personnel are deployed in the country, and American drones repeatedly target al-Shabaab. A decision by Trump means the Pentagon's rules of engagement are being loosened. What happened in Mogadishu may be the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/truck-bombs-in-somalias-capital-kill-at-least-189/2017/10/15/3c7a310e-b1a1-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?utm_campaign=EBB%2010.16.2017&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_term=.eccd7541f08e ">prelude</a> to approve increased levels of force.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Niger: start-up war</strong></h2><p>If the Philippines' conflict is low-profile in the western media, and Somalia's is only covered after major events, <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/niger.htm">Niger's</a> has been almost invisible. That may change after the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/10/04/u-s-troops-take-hostile-fire-in-niger/?utm_term=.a57420ad7b52">killing</a> of four US special-forces personnel in a remote part of the country on 4 October, by a militant group reportedly new to the area. The survivors were eventually rescued by French aircraft from a base in Mali around 500 kilometres away.</p><p>The incident throws light on the United States's fluid set of military operations across much of the Sahel, which includes contributions by France and Britain as well as other contingents. In the case of the "<a href="http://taskandpurpose.com/niger-army-special-forces-war/">quiet war</a>" in Niger, a rare detailed assessment by the <em>Guardian's</em> Jason Burke <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/15/sahel-niger-us-special-forces-islamists?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2010.16.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">says</a> the group may have been acting on its own initiative with little back-up. Such evolving autonomy has been matched by the US military's own tactical shift. <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat">Burke</a> quotes a former special-forces officer:</p><p>“Since Trump took power, US forces deployed around the world have had a lot more room to manoeuvre. Decisions about when and what to engage have been devolved right down to unit level. Any soldier knows that if you give guys on the ground more independence, then they will be that much more aggressive and will take more risks.”</p><h2><strong>Pentagon: off the leash</strong></h2><p>The notion that the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">latest</a>, Trumpian iteration of the sixteen-year “war on terror” is easing following ISIS’s reversals in Iraq and Syria is tempting. But in light of the above, three things counter it.</p><p>First, much more is happening in the military sphere than is commonly reported. Thus, any idea that Trump has embarked on security "isolationism" is nonsense: campaign rhetoric and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">experience</a> in office are proving to be two very different maters. Second, the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">transition</a> from “boots on the ground” to “shadow wars” continues. Third, there is a particular contrast between Trump's and Obama's administration, as follows.</p><p>During the latter's eight-year period, Obama certainly oversaw major <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wests-shadow-war">changes</a>, especially towards the use of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/suicide-bombs-without-suicides-why-drones-are-so-cool">drones</a> (including targeted assassination). That was controversial for many people who may have approved of many of his other policies. But whatever one’s views of this element, his White House team kept tight control over what was done by the military in the administration’s name.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>That has changed under Trump. Now, the Pentagon has much more <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">freedom</a> of movement and far less need to get approval from above. It is one more reason why escalation of US military actions around the world is likely to continue. Many of those actions will be more vigorous and violent. They will also be largely unreported. All this is part of what Trump sees as his historic task of making America great again.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"></span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Peter R Neumann, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Encyclopaedias%20%20reference%20works/Radicalized%20The%20New%20Generation%20of%20Jihadis%20and%20the%20Threat%20to%20the%20West?menuitem=%7BF027E667-C48E-489A-938D-62719293B2E7%7D"><em>Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016) </p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/washingtons-wars-isis-trump-military">Washington&#039;s wars: in a fix</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:32:53 +0000 Paul Rogers 114122 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump vs Kim Jong-un: nuclear war by 2019? https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The risk exists now. A potent mix of narcissism and nuclear bombs could trigger it. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32792885.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32792885.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="319" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Activists of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) protest the conflict between North Korea and the USA. Britta Pedersen/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>It is October 2019 and Trump is in serious trouble as his domestic support crumbles. He has failed conspicuously in foreign affairs, the core issue for “making America great again”. The mess in Afghanistan continues despite the United States military's free rein to run the war its way, and troops are also bogged down in Iraq and Syria where Iranian influence continues to expand. His attempt to derail the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit">Iran</a> nuclear agreement is failing thanks to opposition from other participants, even Britain and France. All this is happening as the 2020 presidential election looms.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">There is a complete and utter stalemate whose tensions are becoming unbearable.</p><p>What brings this all to a head is North Korea’s success in starting to <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2142224-north-korea-launches-icbm-with-potential-to-reach-new-york/">deploy</a> intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with thermonuclear warheads and able to target any part of the United States. Just as Kim Jong-un's <a href="http://www.nkleadershipwatch.org/">regime</a> views such a capability as the only means to ensure its survival, so Trump’s bottom line is that he will not, under any circumstances, allow the United States to be put at risk in this way (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a>", 9 September 2017).</p><p>There is a complete and utter stalemate whose tensions are becoming unbearable. Under these circumstances, war could start by accident (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold ">North Korea: a catastrophe foretold</a>", 29 September 2017). But an even greater danger lurks, reflecting two factors that have sharpened between 2017 and 2019.</p><p>The first is the mix of personality and politics. Trump is an out-and-out <a href="https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-allure-of-trumps-narcissism/#!">narcissist </a>to a degree that is unusual even among political leaders. Personal status is everything to him, measured now both in his domestic prestige and, even more, in America’s (that is, his) standing in the world. He has constantly returned to the frame of American influence being in <a href="http://www.historytoday.com/charlie-laderman/back-future-donald-trump-and-debate-over-american-decline">decline</a> for at least two decades in the face of all other states which, by definition, are “lesser” and thus far weaker.</p><p>China is becoming a direct <a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/290734/asia-s-reckoning/">rival</a>, and that is bad enough. But it is far worse that a jumped-up little state like North Korea simply will not do as it is told. After three years of tweets, bluster and pressure, Trump has virtually <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">staked</a> his presidency on not allowing Pyongyang's nuclear power to materialise. By late 2019, in this scenario, it has – and Trump faces a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-us-uks-latest-target">challenge</a> which he cannot avoid. </p><h2><strong>The escaping genie </strong></h2><p>The second factor applies here. Many people have argued in recent years that any attack on North Korea would have to focus on its nuclear forces – both warheads and missiles. But so well protected are they, there is no guarantee a US attack will work, even with the new and <a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/super-bomb-why-americas-enemies-fear-the-gbu-43-b-massive-20171">hugely</a> potent conventionally-armed earthquake-bombs, the GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p class="mag-quote-left">Major nuclear powers have long envisaged circumstances where limited nuclear wars might be fought and won.</p><p>In any war on the peninsula, it is clear that the North Korean regime will only be able to sustain its army and its firepower for two or three weeks. While it could do huge damage in that time, leading to hundreds of thousands of people killed, it would ultimately collapse – unless it had preserved some nuclear weapons. And that should be possible (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a>", 10 August 2017).</p><p>In 2017, the United States could <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-weapons/us-nuclear-weapons-policy/earth-penetrating-weapons">destroy</a> really well protected underground targets by using very large thermonuclear weapons, whose impact would stretch across much of east Asia, including China and Japan. But it looks increasingly likely that by 2019 the latest <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1177/0096340214531546">variant</a> of the B61 tactical nuclear bomb will be available. This is the <a href="https://fas.org/blogs/security/2014/04/b61-12features/">B61-12</a>, which has proved in tests to be remarkably accurate and to have an earth-penetrating capability.</p><p>Hans M Kristensen of the <a href="https://fas.org/">Federation of American Scientists</a> produced one of the best briefings on this, in 2015. It <a href="https://fas.org/blogs/security/2016/01/b61-12_earth-penetration/">began</a>: “The capability of the new B61-12 nuclear bomb seems to continue to expand, from a simple life-extension of an existing bomb, to the first U.S. guided nuclear gravity bomb, to a nuclear earth-penetrator with increased accuracy.” </p><p><a href="https://fas.org/expert/hans-kristensen/">Kristensen</a> draws out the significance: </p><p class="blockquote-new">“The evidence that the B61-12 can penetrate below the surface has significant implications for the types of targets that can be held at risk with the bomb. A nuclear weapon that detonates after penetrating the earth more efficiently transmits its explosive energy to the ground, thus is more effective at destroying deeply buried targets for a given nuclear yield. A detonation above ground, in contrast, results in a larger fraction of the explosive energy bouncing off the surface.”</p><p>This <a href="https://www.nap.edu/catalog/11282/effects-of-nuclear-earth-penetrator-and-other-weapons">means</a> that a much smaller tactical nuclear weapon can have an impact on a deeply buried target such as a nuclear bunker. Kristensen quotes a 2005 <a href="https://www.nap.edu/read/11282/chapter/2#2">study</a> from the US National Academies: “the yield required of a nuclear weapon to destroy a hard and deeply buried target is reduced by a factor of 15 to 25 by enhanced ground-shock coupling if the weapon is detonated a few meters below the surface.”</p><p>In another article, Kristensen had written about the “usability” of the B61-12, <a href="https://fas.org/blogs/security/2015/11/b61-12_cartwright/. ">citing</a> the observation of US airforce generals that low yield but very potent nuclear weapons could prove useful because they limited wider damage </p><p>All this causes concern even in some of the more thoughtful security circles. And to most people, after seventy-two years when the nuclear <a href="http://atomicarchive.com/">genie</a> has been kept in the bottle, the very idea of using nuclear weapons in any circumstances is far too dangerous. But this attitude is also too comforting, in that – as a recent <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/limited_nuclear_wars_%E2%80%93_myth_and_reality">Oxford Research Briefing</a> illustrates – major nuclear powers have long envisaged circumstances where limited nuclear wars might be fought and won. </p><p>The really nasty combination we now face is of an unbalanced leader in Washington fixated on status facing a paranoid regime in Pyongyang, with each partner determined to take all action it deems necessary. That is already perilous, but will grow more so in the next two years. By late 2019 the development and testing of the B61-12 could be accelerated to make it available before the currently planned deployment in the early 2020s. Trump is a danger now, he will be a greater danger in the coming years, and he will continue to be so the longer he holds office.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://treasureislands.org/"><em><span class="st"></span></em></a><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.38north.org/">38 North</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://atomicarchive.com/">Atomic Archive</a><br /></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.acronym.org.uk/">Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy</a></p><p>Sung Chull Kim &amp; Michael D Cohen eds., <a href="http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/north-korea-and-nuclear-weapons"><em>North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: Entering the New Era of Deterrence </em></a>(Georgetown University Press, 2017)</p><p>Thomas M. Nichols, <a href="http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15090.html"><em><span class="style2">No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security</span></em></a> (University of Pennsylvania Press,2013)</p><div id="stcpDiv">Entering the New Era of Deterrence </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">North Korea: a catastrophe foretold</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit">Iran, and a diplomacy deficit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-peril-and-its-silences">A nuclear peril, and its silences</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-us-uks-latest-target">North Korea, the US-UK&#039;s latest target?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/theresa-may-donald-trump-and-wars-to-come">Theresa May, Donald Trump and the wars to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 12 Oct 2017 15:23:36 +0000 Paul Rogers 113974 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain's global role: fantasy vs reality https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The UK's government and military are trapped in a futile search for greatness, thus missing the country's true security challenges. <br /></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33134920.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33134920.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson delivering his speech at the Conservative party conference at the Manchester Central Convention Complex in Manchester. Peter Byrne/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Several recent events at the heart of Britain's state and government suggest that the country's failure to come to terms with its post-imperial position in the world is turning critical. </p><p>A prime exhibit is foreign secretary Boris Johnson, whose position and high profile make him a leading symbol of the United Kingdom's current status. His fixation with empire was reflected in a crass suggestion, during a visit in January 2017 to the Shwedagon temple in Yangon, Myanmar, that he might <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-myanmar-johnson/not-appropriate-envoy-tells-britains-boris-over-kipling-poem-in-myanmar-idUSKCN1C50PM">recite</a> lines from Rudyard Kipling’s colonial-era poem "The Road to Mandalay". This was thankfully parried by the British ambassador. But nothing stopped him from addressing the Conservative Party conference this week in Manchester on the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41489674">theme</a> of "let the British lion roar". </p><p>The embarrassingly dysfunctional Conservative <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-politics-may/after-pm-mays-speech-fiasco-her-party-puzzles-who-next-idUKKBN1CA19S">gathering </a>seemed in other ways to embody the desperate search for national purpose in the wake of Brexit, even as its language and attitudes aspired only to repackaging the past. </p><p>There is much wider evidence of a move into an era of “The (British) Empire Strikes Back”. A significant example is the launch of two huge new aircraft-carriers. The lead ship of the pair, <em>HMS Queen Elizabeth</em>, has already been handed over to the Royal Navy for sea trials, and is now followed by the 65,000-ton supercarrier, <em>HMS Prince of Wales</em>. These are by far the largest warships to be <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/british_seapower_3733.jsp">deployed</a> in Britain's history. With so much of the navy's power focused around such ships, it is ever easier to press the idea that Britain's way forward is the return to a global role.</p><p>A speech delivered on 11 September by the navy’s senior admiral, Sir Philip Jones, reinforces the point. He <a href="//www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/dsei/2017/09/11/royal-navy-chief-looks-east-to-forge-new-trade-partnerships/">argues</a> precisely that carriers such as these now enable the UK to resume its old role in Asia and the Pacific, one largely abandoned in the 1970s after the military's withdrawal from "east of Suez". This is already happening: a small naval base has been constructed in Bahrain, the port of Duqm in Oman is being adapted to support the aircraft-carriers, and a defence office has been established in Singapore where the Royal Navy has berthing rights. Moreover, the UK is also preparing to help defend South Korea at a time of rising tensions in the region. Interestingly, the admiral linked this reorientation directly to Brexit and the UK’s need to develop new trading partners outside Europe.&nbsp; </p><p class="mag-quote-center">There is wide evidence of a move into an era of “The (British) Empire Strikes Back”.</p><p>There is a catch, though. Warships of the size and complexity of the <em>Queen Elizabeth</em> or <em>Prince of Wales</em> will never operate on their own. The norm for these carriers will be, at the very least, a fleet comprising an air-defence destroyer, one or two anti-submarine frigates, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary supply-ship, a tanker, and a nuclear-powered attack-submarine. In recent months the navy has been able only to deploy frigates and destroyers in very small numbers – six or seven out of the nineteen theoretically available. This is unlikely to change any time soon because of long-term shortages of crew and a host of engineering problems. Certainly the navy will not have the resources to have more than one carrier at a time operational.</p><p>The challenges here are steep enough. In addition, though, the Royal Navy is responsible for Britain’s submarine-based nuclear force. Since that requires “deterrence support” in the form of surface warships and attack-submarines, there is a real sense of Britain being reduced to a two-ship navy – able to <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2346.2006.00560.x/full">deploy</a> one carrier strike-group and one strategic nuclear-missile submarine, but not much else (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-submarines-out-of-time">Britain's deep-sea defence: out of time?</a>", 3 March 2016). </p><p>Thus, the navy-led shift towards a revived global posture – analysed in depth in <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/articles_multimedia/global_britain_pacific_presence"><em>Global Britain: A Pacific Presence?</em></a>, a new briefing by Richard Reeve for the Oxford Research Group – is accompanied by a great overstretch of resources and commitments. In this sense the fate of the Royal Navy is emblematic of the UK's deep-rooted desire for the status of a great power, or at least a pretty big power.&nbsp; </p><p>This is a delusion. By the mid-2020s, the UK will be able to kill many millions of people in a nuclear war and to deploy a single supercarrier – largely as an appendage of the United States navy when it next goes to war. That will be about it as far as the Royal Navy is concerned, suggesting that the reality behind the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/in-defence-of-greatness-britains-carrier-saga">pretence</a> of a major power is merely a “bigger than average little power”.</p><p>As well as a delusion, Britain's military direction is a lost opportunity – for it is already made irrelevant by the evolving global-security <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">challenges</a> that will dominate the 2020s and 2030s. On present trends, the world will by then have moved more fully towards extreme economic division and marginalisation, where millions experience accelerating climate <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/climate-disruption-new-reality">disruption</a> and an increased risk of<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it"> irregular war</a>. In face of all this, supercarriers and thermonuclear weapons really aren’t much use.</p><p>It would be possible to design a foreign policy that was far more focused on conflict prevention, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and economic and environmental reform – all of which could begin to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">offer</a> leadership in meeting these challenges. That option is a far cry from the current outlook, but it is there for the asking. If it were taken, Britain might at last replace fantasy with reality, get rid of its imperial <a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit">shackles</a>, and discover a truer form of “greatness”.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p>Anthony Barnett, <a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit"><em>The Lure of Greatness: England's Brexit and America's Trump</em></a> (Unbound, 2017)</p><p>Richard Reeve, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/articles_multimedia/global_britain_pacific_presence"><em>Global Britain: A Pacific Presence? </em></a>(<span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group, </a></span></span>27 September 2017)</p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain-s-distant-war">Britain’s distant war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">How Labour can make Britain secure</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain%27s-defence-path-to-change">Britain&#039;s defence, the path to change</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">The thirty-year war: still on track</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/world-on-margin">A world on the margin</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/global-crisis-seeing-it-whole">The global crisis: seeing it whole</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 05 Oct 2017 16:27:26 +0000 Paul Rogers 113830 at https://www.opendemocracy.net North Korea: a catastrophe foretold https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Amid Trump and Kim Jong-un's perilous standoff, the history of nuclear near-accidents is a call to wisdom and caution. <br /></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/-Nuclear_Mishap-_marker_in_Eureka,_NC.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/-Nuclear_Mishap-_marker_in_Eureka,_NC.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nuclear Mishap. Image: RJHaas. CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons</span></span></span>Military tensions between Washington and Pyongyang continue, and are being sharpened by fiercely provocative statements on both sides. The latter include Trump's implication that the North Korean leadership would not last long, a boast likely to be seen as a direct threat of assassination, and the <a href="http://www.korea-dpr.com/">DPRK's</a> threat to explode a nuclear weapon in the Pacific as a demonstration of its power.</p><p>A cluster of recent columns in this series explores some of the issues (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-the-art-of-the-deal">North Korea: the art of the deal</a>" [3 August 2017], "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a>" [10 August 2017], "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a>" [15 September 2017]. Two central points emerge. The first is the risk that at a time of high tensions, quite untoward events can tip things over into a crisis or even open conflict. The acronym AIM (accidents, incidents and mavericks) summarises the kind of problem that can occur. It must always be kept in mind that military thinking invariably incorporates worst-case planning and even the willingness to “get your retaliation in first”.</p><p>The second is that there is now a fundamental conflict of interests between the North Koreans and Trump. For the Pyongyang <a href="http://www.nkleadershipwatch.org/">regime</a>, developing a small nuclear force that can threaten the United States is absolutely essential. Otherwise the leadership believes it has no future. This dates back to George W Bush's declaration in 2002 that North Korea is part of the “axis of evil”. The stance was consolidated by the US-led regime terminations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the US's involvement in getting rid of Gaddafi in Libya.</p><p>The current state of <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/09/18/the-risk-of-nuclear-war-with-north-korea">tension</a> worries many people in Europe, but that worry is mixed with feeling that no one would be stupid enough to start a conflict that could so easily lead to nuclear war. This notion stems from a surprisingly persistent impression that nuclear deterrence throughout the cold-war confrontation was robust and stable. On such slnder grounds rest the comforting <a href="http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/history/cold-war/strategy/strategy-deterrence.htm">belief </a>that nuclear weapons kept the peace for more than four decades.</p><h2><strong>On the edge</strong></h2><p>A briefing from <a href="http://oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a> serves as a reminder that key parties to the cold war could actually see a value in a nuclear strategy that included first use of nuclear weapons, and that small nuclear wars could be fought and even won (see <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/limited_nuclear_wars_%E2%80%93_myth_and_reality"><em>Limited Nuclear Wars: Myth and Reality</em></a>, ORG, 29 August 2017). This attitude persists to the present day. But there is another critique of nuclear stability which deserves revisiting – the largely forgotten experience of crises that so nearly went "hot".</p><p>A fearful example of such crises took place on 26 September 1983, and involved a Soviet military officer whose brave action <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/world/europe/stanislav-petrov-nuclear-war-dead.html">prevented</a> what could have been an accidental nuclear war. Lieutenant-Colonel Stanislav Petrov was the 44-year old duty officer at the command centre near Moscow when satellite elements of the Soviet ballistic-missile early-warning system showed that five United States Minuteman intercontinental ballistic-missiles had been launched from a base in the US midwest and were heading for the Soviet Union.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Petrov had only seconds to decide whether to report this to his superiors, who could have ordered immediate nuclear retaliation. He did not do so, but instead – acting on instinct – reported a system malfunction. He later said that his gut feeling was influenced by his mistrust of some elements of the early-warning system, and by recollection of a training estimate that any US surprise attack would most likely involve far more than just five missiles.</p><p>Petrov was right: ground-based radar confirmed the absence of a US launch. But he was still reprimanded for not delivering a full report. His role was publicised only years later, and by the time he died in May 2017 he had received <a href="https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-09-21/soviet-officer-who-averted-nuclear-war">acclaim</a> and several international awards.</p><p>More than a decade later, in January 1995, Russia's early-warning system mistakenly identified a US nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic-missile; in reality, the object was a Black Brant XII research-rocket being launched off Norway's northern coast to probe the <em>aurora borealis</em>. This time, the control staff did report to higher authority, and the initial stages of preparing for retaliatory action were begun. Fortunately the mistake was <a href="http://www.eucom.mil/media-library/article/23042/this-week-in-eucom-history-january-23-29-1995">detected</a> before catastrophic damage.</p><p>On the American side, one of the most extraordinary episodes came during the Cuba <a href="https://history.state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/cuban-missile-crisis">missile crisis</a> in October 1962. The US was then just starting to deploy its new silo-based Minuteman ICBMs, with one site just becoming operational the Malmstrom airforce base in Montana. The launch system was meant to be absolutely secure, so that Malmstrom's launch instructions could only come from the president. But officers at the base calculated that a surprise Soviet nuclear attack on Washington would mean that they couldn't rely on receiving such orders – so they jerry-rigged some of the new missiles to be able to fire them without authority if need be (see Scott D Sagan “More will be worse”, in Sagan &amp; Kenneth N Waltz, <a href="http://books.wwnorton.com/books/webad.aspx?id=4294971047"><em>The Spread of Nuclear Weapons</em></a>, 1995).&nbsp;</p><p>There are several other examples, as well as far more cases of <a href="http://www.atomicarchive.com/Almanac/Brokenarrows_static.shtml">accidents</a> involving nuclear weapons. Here are just a few:</p><p>* March 1956: a B-47 bomber was <a href="http://fly.historicwings.com/2013/03/broken-arrow/">lost</a> on an overseas flight, the plane crew and two nuclear weapons were never found</p><p>* May 1968: a <em>USS Scorpion</em> attack-submarine reportedly equipped with Subroc nuclear-armed anti-submarine missiles was <a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/1968-us-nuclear-submarine-went-russia-super-secret-spy-18379">lost</a> 700 kms southwest of the Azores&nbsp;</p><p>* January 1966: a mid-air <a href="https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19660117-0">collision</a> between a B-52 bomber and a refuelling tanker near Palomares in Spain. Two of the four nuclear weapons were recovered intact, but two broke up and contaminated over 1,400 tonnes of soil and vegetation, which were then removed to a safe-storage site in Texas</p><p>* January 1966 (four days later): another B-52 <a href="https://theaviationist.com/2014/01/21/thule-broken-arrow/">crashed</a> in Greenland, with four H-bombs destroyed, contaminating 1.5 million gallons of ice and snow</p><p>* April 1970: a Soviet November-class nuclear-powered attack-submarine – a class of boat known to carry nuclear-tipped torpedoes – sank 300 kms southwest of the coast of Cornwall</p><p>* October 1986: a Soviet Yankee-class submarine carrying sixteen nuclear-armed missiles was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1986/10/07/world/soviet-atomic-sub-sinks-in-atlantic-3-days-after-fire.html">lost</a> in the Atlantic.</p><p>Again, these are selected examples. There are over forty accidents recorded as having affected United States and Soviet nuclear weapons. Many of them are detailed in the&nbsp; study <a href="https://www.chathamhouse.org/publications/papers/view/199200 "><em>Too Close for Comfort: Cases of Near Nuclear Use and Options for Policy</em></a> (Chatham House, 2014).&nbsp;</p><p>At the time of such <a href="http://www.atomicheritage.org/history/broken-arrow-accidents">incidents</a>, a common response of the authorities was to downplay the dangers. In this respect, perhaps the most revealing detail is an almost farcical incident in 1987 when a Minuteman ICBM at Warren airforce base in Wyoming was shown by a computer system to be preparing to launch itself. The authorities later insisted that there was never&nbsp; risk of an accidental launch, but admitted that officers at the base took the precaution of parking an armoured car on the lid of the silo just in case! (see “<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1987/10/29/vehicle-parked-on-silo-after-launch-signal/14c77303-74e2-47bb-8d90-30307e2983bd/">Vehicle Parked on Silo After Launch Signal</a>”, <em>Washington Post</em>, 29 October 1987).</p><p>The point of <a href="https://www.cjr.org/watchdog/cuba-north-korea-cold-war.php">retracing</a> this disturbing history today is to reinforce the need to pacify not amplify the Washington-Pyongyang tensions. In addition to all the other risks, that of an AIM-like untoward happening must be recognised. Everything possible must be done to demand that leaders act with wisdom. Especially when that quality seems in short supply at the very time it is most needed</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://treasureislands.org/"><em><span class="st"></span></em></a><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.38north.org/">38 North</a><br /></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.acronym.org.uk/">Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy</a></p><p>Sung Chull Kim &amp; Michael D Cohen eds., <a href="http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/north-korea-and-nuclear-weapons"><em>North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: Entering the New Era of Deterrence </em></a>(Georgetown University Press, 2017)</p><p>Thomas M. Nichols, <a href="http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15090.html"><em><span class="style2">No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security</span></em></a> (University of Pennsylvania Press,2013)</p><div id="stcpDiv">Entering the New Era of Deterrence </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-the-art-of-the-deal">North Korea: the art of the deal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit">Iran, and a diplomacy deficit</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/arms-bazaar-needing-wars-eating-lives">Arms bazaar: needs wars, eats lives</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Fri, 29 Sep 2017 07:00:00 +0000 Paul Rogers 113678 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain’s distant war https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-s-distant-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The latest attack in London is deeply connected to a hidden war Britain itself is waging.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32034987.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32034987.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Children in a street south of the Old City, western Mosul, Nineveh, Iraq, July 2017. Andrea Dicenzo/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Britain is engaged in a major war, and has been for three years, yet very few people recognise this and there is little debate about the rationale or potential consequences.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It is mainly an air war fought with strike-aircraft and armed-drones and is at an intensity not seen since the Gulf war in early 1991. As then, this war is run by a United States-led coalition and has killed tens of thousands of people. What is difficult to explain, though, is that few make the connection between this new war and the many attacks of the past three years, including Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, Nice, Berlin, Istanbul, Manchester and three attacks in London – Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and now <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/world/europe/uk-london-subway-attack.html">Parsons Green</a>.</p><p>That there is a direct connection should hardly be a surprise, since ISIS propagandists were calling for attacks on the “far enemy” as soon as the coalition’s air war started in August 2014. Nor should it be forgotten that this blowback has happened before. After the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/uk/05/london_blasts/what_happened/html/">7/7</a> bombings in London in 2005, prime minister Tony Blair insisted strongly that there was no connection between the Iraq war and those attacks; but this stance was quickly undermined with the release of suicide-videos by the bombers and by the deputy head of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri.</p><p>The latter said: "this blessed battle has transferred – like its glorious predecessors in New York, Washington, and Madrid – the battle to the enemies' land", and that the attacks were a “slap” to the policies of Tony Blair.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>For one of the bombers, Mohammad Siddique Khan, the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4206708.stm ">matter</a> was clear-cut:</p><p>“Until we feel security, you will be our targets. Until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight. We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation."</p><h2><strong>A major commitment</strong></h2><p>An odd element about the current war with ISIS is that its extent and intensity are actually in the public domain, but are scarcely covered in the media outside of the specialist security and military publications. As a result, there is virtually no political debate, even after four <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">attacks</a> in Britain this year alone, and many more elsewhere, not least <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/barcelona-attack">Barcelona</a>.</p><p>A few indicators are illuminating. The independent monitoring group <a href="http://www.airwars.org ">Airwars</a> finds that in the 1,134 days of the campaign so far, there have been 26,739 coalition strikes in Iraq and Syria with 98,532 bombs and missiles dropped. The great majority of these have been precision-guided munitions; the Pentagon currently estimates that over 60,000 ISIS personnel have been killed.</p><p>The Pentagon does acknowledge that many hundreds of civilian have died, but Airwars has examined the evidence very closely and estimates the number of civilians killed at a minimum of 5,343. The great majority of all the attacks have been by the US airforce and navy: the USAF flying mainly from bases in Turkey, Kuwait and Qatar, and the navy from aircraft-carriers.</p><p>The Parsons Green attack on 15 September did not kill anyone, but left several people badly burned and scores more traumatised. On 15-16 September, Airwars reported sixty-six airstrikes in Iraq and Syria which, if the death-toll was average for the coalition, would have killed at least fifty-five people on each day.</p><p>Why should Britain, in particular, be a target and why is there so little discussion? The first relates to Britain’s substantial role. In the wider coalition involved in this war, Britain is the second-most <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-s-secret-wars-iraq-mosul-trump-isis-drones">significant</a> country after the US, followed by France and a number of others (including Belgium, Denmark and Australia); still more, such as Spain, deploy troops to Iraq to train forces being used against ISIS.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">“Until we feel security, you will be our targets. Until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight. We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation."</p><p>Britain operates mainly out the RAF base at Akrotiri in Cyprus, but also deploys drones from elsewhere in the region, possibly including a base in Kuwait, with these operated remotely at RAF Waddington just south of Lincoln. Furthermore, many other RAF stations in Britain are indirectly if substantially involved.</p><p>The extent of what is officially known as <a href="http://www.warfare.today/2017/04/04/operation-shader-britains-war-in-iraq-and-syria/">Operation Shader</a> is remarkable and was covered in a useful <a href="http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06995">briefing</a> from the House of Commons library in March 2017 and a much more recent summary in the ever-reliable <a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane’s Defence Weekly</em></a> (see <a href="http://timripley.co.uk/">Tim Ripley,</a> “Heading for Brexit”, <em>JDW</em> 54, 36, 6 September 2017)</p><p>At the forefront of the UK contribution are Tornado and Typhoon strike-aircraft and Reaper armed-drones. The strike-aircraft number fourteen at any one time, which is likely to require at least thirty available overall, but the back-up from other aircraft adds greatly to this. They include Airseeker surveillance aircraft, Voyager tanker aircraft, C130 and C17 transport-aircraft, E3-D, Rivet Joint and Sentinel surveillance aircraft and, reportedly, the newest transport aircraft in RAF service, the Airbus A400.</p><p>The Commons report in March listed 3,000 missions flown including 1,200 airstrikes, with the RAF “conducting operations not seen since the first Gulf War” in 1991. Interestingly, <em>Jane's</em> reports satellite data showing that RAF Akrotiri has also been host to heavy-lift Chinook twin-rotor helicopters, indicating, in its view, that they are there to support UK special forces.</p><p>The use of special forces, which governments consistently refuse to discuss in parliament, has figured in some newspapers with close links to the ministry of defence such as the <em>Mail</em> and <em>Telegraph</em>. In this case, the way the forces are organised will mean a fairly broad-based <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/uk_special_forces_accountability_shadow_war">commitment</a>. </p><p>While centred on personnel from an SAS squadron, there will also be units from the Special Forces Support Group which normally includes elements of 1 Para, the Royal Marines and the RAF regiment, as well as specialists from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Signals Regiment, with the Chinooks and other aircraft operated by the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing.</p><h2><strong>A time to rethink</strong></h2><p>A clear conclusion follows from all this. Britain is at war; <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-war-unwon">ISIS</a> wants to bring that war home to its “far enemy”; the movement succeeds in Nice, Barcelona, Manchester, London Bridge and elsewhere. The second question above, of why there is so little discussion of how the two <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">connect</a>, remains to be answered.</p><p>There are several reasons. One is that it is a "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">remote war</a>", with very few boots on the ground, virtually no <a href="http://aljazeera-news.net/news/europe/68170-parsons-green-explosion.html">risk</a> to military personnel and therefore no body-bags coming home and no funeral corteges through Royal Wootton Basset.&nbsp;</p><p>The <a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control Project </a>at <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org">Oxford Research Group</a> chronicles how this kind of conflict is part of a much wider trend towards remote war, and is accentuated by the almost complete absence of western media reporters at the war's receiving end. There is copious coverage of grim attacks like Parsons Green but no coverage whatsoever of the daily attacks in Iraq and Syria.&nbsp;</p><p>The political significance is considerable: for this situation is likely to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">continue</a> unless ISIS gets lucky and succeeds in a major attack. At least until now, it has not been able to use chemical or radiological weapons in its targeting on the far enemy. Hopefully it never will, but if it does then that may be the circumstance when people wake up to the fact that we have been involved in a very dirty war for more than three years with no end in sight.</p><p>Furthermore, this is likely to be the model of conflict that states like Britain will repeatedly fight in the coming years – unless they <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-and-isis-need-to-rethink">consider</a> radically different approaches to security. A week after the country entered the seventeenth year of the "war on terror", there is so far little sign of that much needed rethink.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Peter R Neumann, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Encyclopaedias%20%20reference%20works/Radicalized%20The%20New%20Generation%20of%20Jihadis%20and%20the%20Threat%20to%20the%20West?menuitem=%7BF027E667-C48E-489A-938D-62719293B2E7%7D"><em>Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016) </p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-war-unwon">ISIS: a war unwon</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain-s-secret-wars-iraq-mosul-trump-isis-drones">Britain’s secret wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain-and-isis-need-to-rethink">Britain and ISIS: a need to rethink</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">The thirty-year war: still on track</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Mon, 18 Sep 2017 15:52:13 +0000 Paul Rogers 113446 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ISIS: a war unwon https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-war-unwon <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Philippines, as much as Iraq and Syria, is a measure of the "war of terror" in 2017.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32564781.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32564781.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Female members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police wait to board a plane at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City Aug. 29, 2017. The female troops will be sent to Marawi City in south Philippines. Rouelle Umali/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the past month, ISIS has suffered serious reversals in Iraq and Syria. The Baghdad government, with essential help from the United States-led air-power coalition and Iran, has consolidated its control of most of the former ISIS-held territory. But the prolonged onslaught on Mosul saw its special forces <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-taking-of-mosul-really-means">taking</a> severe casualties, which improves ISIS's chances of being able to move into a guerrilla war. In turn that will oblige even greater reliance on Iranian support. That is but one of the ironies in Iraq's long conflict, which Washington launched in 2003 against Saddam Hussein's regime partly to curb Iranian <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit">power</a> in the region. </p><p>The related war in Syria has its own twists. ISIS there is under pressure from two alliances: of Kurdish-plus-western forces and Syrian army-plus-<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/the-latest-russia-fires-missiles-at-is-targets-in-syria/2017/09/14/88503d84-9947-11e7-af6a-6555caaeb8dc_story.html">Russian</a>. There is now little talk in western capitals of the Bashar al-Assad regime being soon ousted, in spite of all its brutality and use of chemical weapons. Turkey is concerned about the increasing power of the Syrian Kurds as well as Assad's survival, while the Saudis and their western Gulf allies fear the “<em>Shi’a</em> crescent” stretching from the Mediterranean to the Arabian Sea through Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.</p><p>Against this, though, western capitals are tempted into cautious optimism that the war against ISIS might at last be coming to an end. Whatever the problems and complexities now emerging, at least that particular one is receding. Or is it? For at each stage in the "war on terror", the same positive outlook has emerged, only to be <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">dashed</a> by events.&nbsp; </p><p>The pattern was set soon after 9/11, when the Taliban regime in Kabul was terminated, al-Qaida dispersed, and Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar went underground. These advances led President George W Bush, when he delivered his state-of-the-union <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/01/29/bush.speech.txt/">address</a> in January 2002, to proclaim a global fight against an "axis of evil" which the United States would prosecute with determined force. Sixteen months later, the termination of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq allowed him to reprise the cheerleading in his “mission accomplished” <a href="https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/press-past/2013/05/01/the-other-symbol-of-george-w-bushs-legacy">speech</a>. A decade on, under Bush's successor Barack Obama, the killing of bin Laden and the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya brought another cycle of optimism. </p><p>These precedents advise a considerable degree of caution. This week, as the US and the world enter the seventeenth year of the "war on terror", a third US president – Donald J Trump – faces its grim product. Miltary reinforcements for Afghanistan are being <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">weighed</a> as Taliban influence grows, Libya is chaotically insecure, Iraq is divided and violent, Iran is ascendant in the region, and ISIS-inspired <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/barcelona-attack">attacks</a> in western states continue. Meanwhile, the third member of that "axis of evil" – North Korea – is more <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">defiant</a> than ever. </p><h2><strong>A tale of two presidents</strong></h2><p>Amid these urgent challenges is a host of lesser but still serious ones which may also have long-term implications. A neglected example, in western media at least, is the violence in the southern <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/philippi.htm">Philippines</a>, especially the city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao.</p><p>Islamist paramilitaries seeking autonomy for the south, a wider political goal, had been active for more than a decade and even came quite close to a peace agreement with the Manila government. Some, though, took a harder line. When ISIS made its spectacular gains across Iraq and Syria in 2014 the leader of the Abu Sayyaf group, <a href="http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/25/1703474/who-philippines-most-wanted-militant-isnilon-hapilon">Isnilon Hapilon</a>, pledged allegiance to the emerging movement. After two years' organising, he succeeded in 2016 in uniting several paramilitary groups. </p><p>Duterte’s government failed to recognise the developing power of this enlarged cohort. Its early efforts at suppression failed, and in May 2017 a cell of Islamist paramilitaries claiming links with ISIS took control of key parts of Marawi. This might have been more of a gesture intended to last just a few weeks. In the event, the paramilitaries found it easier than expected to hold on to much of the city, as the Filipino army – more used to rural counterinsurgency – proved incapable in urban warfare against determined rebels prepared to die for their cause. </p><p>The United States poured in special forces, navy surveillance <a href="https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/09/philippines-us-extends-aid-marawi-recovery-deploys-another-plane-mindanao/">planes</a>, and other units. There were near-weekly predictions that liberating the city was at hand. But the early confidence that the Islamists would soon flee or be killed <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/04/opinion/isis-philippines-rodrigo-duterte.html">proved</a> unfounded&nbsp; By mid-June there was growing evidence that Duterte’s troops were relying heavily on air-power and artillery, which limited the rebels’ hold but severely <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/world/asia/marawi-philippines-islamic-state.html ">damaged </a>the city and killed many civilians in the process. Analysts further <a href="http://thediplomat.com/2017/08/battle-for-marawi-exposes-philippines-military-intelligence-crisis/ ">highlighted</a> the Filipino forces' poor intelligence capabilities. </p><p>Only now, four months after the conflict started, are there signs that those rebels who have not been killed may be leaving Marawi. The costs are <a href="http://www.benarnews.org/english/news/philippine/philippines-militants-09122017115118.html">immense</a>. In "a city of 200,000 residents that has been transformed into a moonscape by almost daily bombardments by government forces”, scores of civilians have been <a href="http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/09/04/1735663/marawi-crisis-stalemate">killed</a>, many more wounded, and 400,000 people displaced.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>This outcome provokes acute fear in both Manila and Washington that the Islamists' unexpected success in prolonging the conflict will encourage them to diversify their strategy. Behind Duterte's well-known bluster, the weaknesses of his army have been revealed. There are now real concerns that the rebels will <a href="https://thediplomat.com/2017/09/is-marawi-a-harbinger-of-chaos-to-come/">focus</a> on other urban areas, and perhaps even move to metropolitan Manila itself. Moreover, there are indications that other Islamist groups in the Philippines are linking up to aid allied groups in Malaysia.</p><p>In that case, the other boastful president involved in the Philippines crisis will face a real dilemma. The Pentagon used to provide support for Manila's armed forces through the US's Joint Special Operations Task Force – known as Philippines (<a href="https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/dod/jsotf-p.htm">JSOTF-P</a>) – but this was stood down two years ago. Trump may well come under pressure to allow it to be operational again, not least because of indications that Islamist groups elsewhere in the Philippines are linking up to aid allied groups in Malaysia. </p><p>In short, just as ISIS is retreating in what remains of its caliphate in the Middle East, it now sees the Philippines as a potential hub for expanding operations in southeast Asia ­– including Malaysia and Indonesia. The end of a movement with no single centre and many affiliates may not, after all, be so near. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Peter R Neumann, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Encyclopaedias%20%20reference%20works/Radicalized%20The%20New%20Generation%20of%20Jihadis%20and%20the%20Threat%20to%20the%20West?menuitem=%7BF027E667-C48E-489A-938D-62719293B2E7%7D"><em>Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016) </p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p><p><em><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">Trump and the Pentagon</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">The thirty-year war: still on track</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:55:43 +0000 Paul Rogers 113359 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Washington's post-9/11 rhetoric still traps the United States and endangers the world.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Propaganda_Poster._North_Korea._(2604154887).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Propaganda_Poster._North_Korea._(2604154887).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Propaganda poster in a primary school at the Chongsan-ri Farm, North Korea. Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.</span></span></span>A pivotal moment in the "war on terror" was George W Bush’s state-of-the-union address to Congress in January 2002. Almost five months after 9/11, and two after the the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was terminated, the United States president here <a href="https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/stateoftheunion/2002/">declared</a> the global expansion of this war against an “axis of evil”. The three rogue states to be targeted were Iraq, Iran and North Korea. His graduation address at the West Point military academy in June 2002 made it abundantly <a href="https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020601-3.html">clear</a> that the US had every right to pre-empt threats from such regimes (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit ">Iran, and a diplomacy deficit</a>", 1 September 2017).</p><p>Those speeches were infused with the outlook of the <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674060708">neoconservative</a> right, especially the Project for a New American Century. The powerful backing from these quarters which fuelled Bush's victory in 2000 was animated by an outlook almost identical to Trump’s “make America great again”.</p><p>Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was overthrown in March 2003. That sent a clear message to Pyongyang, which its current <a href="http://www.educationcareerjournal.com/10-north-korean-school-propaganda-posters/">propaganda</a> greatly emphasises: namely, that its own termination is an <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/12090658/North-Korea-cites-Muammar-Gaddafis-destruction-in-nuclear-test-defence.html">actual</a>, existential threat. Under Trump, and despite all the American military failures of the past sixteen years, such a prospect is again very much on the agenda.</p><p>This background is acutely relevant to the current crisis over North Korea. The crisis, at root, combines the Pyongyang <a href="http://www.nkleadershipwatch.org/">regime's </a>determination to achieve security through possession of a nuclear force, and Washington's utter will to prevent this. The dangers are worsened by the rhetoric coming from both capitals, not least the US ambassador Nikki Haley’s provocative <a href="https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2017/09/04/Haley-Kim-Jong-Un-begging-for-war-with-use-of-missiles/9631504536995/">claim</a> at the United Nations Security Council that North Korea is “begging for war”.</p><h2><strong>Trump's choice</strong></h2><p>North Korea is thus now paired with Iran as an urgent priority for the US administration. Trump's long-standing argument that Iran is the real problem in the Middle East echoes the neoconservative view of 2002-03 that “the road to Tehran runs through Baghdad”. In the same way that North Korea must not be <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/09/06/despite-h-bomb-test-negotiate-with-north-korea-but-from-a-position-of-strength/">allowed</a> to deter the United States from doing what a superpower’s got to do, so Iran must be stopped from acquiring its own nuclear deterrent.</p><p>What makes this situation even more difficult for Trump's administration is the international agreement over Iran's nuclear development, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (<a href="https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/iran/jcpoa/">JCPOA</a>). In Trump' s eyes, “Obama the appeaser” made the foolish mistake of persuading Tehran to cease its nuclear-weapon ambitions in return for a substantial easing of sanctions, and moreover doing so in concert with six other power groups – China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. That locks the United States into an agreement it cannot overturn, not least as it is highly improbable that any western European power, let alone China or Russia, would support such a move.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>A further complicating matter for Trump is that the JCPOA is monitored by the <a href="https://www.iaea.org/about">International Atomic Energy Agency</a>. Worse, the IAEA is content with how Iran is <a href="https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/iran">sticking</a> to the JCPOA – a point confirmed even by Trump’s own state department.</p><p>Iran also bothers Trump for the way it is consolidating its new-found <a href="https://www.vox.com/a/maps-explain-crisis-iraq">regional</a> power: through the wars against ISIS and other extreme <em>Sunni</em> Islamist factions In Syria and Iraq, and via the so-called “<em>Shi’a</em> crescent” of Iranian influence from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. These factors are of acute concern to two key US allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The presence around Trump of retired generals steeped in warfare rather than diplomacy adds another uncertain ingredient.</p><p>The speech by Nikki Haley on 4 September indicates the policy momentum of these developments. Addressing the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a think-tank with impeccable links with the Republican right, the Trump administration's UN ambassador reiterated her view that the treaty is too dangerous for the United States. Her own advice is that it has inherent faults, giving Trump the right to decertify it if he so decides.</p><p>Haley can say this because Obama never tried to get the original agreement accepted by Congress, given its then control by Republicans. Instead, certification to Congress every ninety days was left to whoever is in the White House. The <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/us/politics/trump-iran-nuclear-deal-recertify.html">next</a> occasion arrives in mid-October. If Trump decertifies it, then Congress has sixty days to decide <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/blog/2017-07-27/p51-iran-alert-july-27-2017">whether </a>to impose sanctions, a move likely to be condemned by members of the JCPOA as it risks wrecking the whole agreement.</p><p>Haley’s view is clear. She <a href="https://www.yahoo.com/news/haley-nuke-deal-allows-iran-become-north-korea-185034436.html">told</a> the AEI audience:</p><p>"I'm not making the case for decertifying. What I am saying is that, should he decide to decertify, he has grounds to stand on. What I am doing is just trying to lay out the options of what's out there, what we need to be looking at and knowing that the end result has to be the national security of the United States. We should at no time be beholden to any agreement and sacrifice the security of the United States to say that we'll do it.”</p><p>The grounds for the Trump administration breaking the JCPOA are flimsy, for the agreement does not ban Iran from <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/iran-gulf-jcpoa-and-american-strategy">developing</a> missiles. In Trump's view, however, Iran's retention of an active missile-development programme breaks the spirit of the agreement. Indeed, this line of thinking is stretched so far as to say that when the JCPOA expires in the 2020s, Iran could have missiles with ranges long enough to reach the United States – and they could then develop warheads within a couple of years. This very scenario is regarded as unacceptable.</p><h2><strong>America's challenge </strong></h2><p>In December 1996, a few years after the end of the cold war, I contributed a discussion paper to the annual <a href="https://www.bisa.ac.uk/index.php">meeting</a> of the British International Studies Association, taking place at Durham University. The<a href="http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/L/bo21633245.html"> title</a> was <em>Losing Control – a great future for deterrence but not what you might expect</em>. The introduction argued:</p><p>“The future for deterrence is likely to be substantially different from the Cold War experience in three respects – it will involve a mix of conventional deterrence through weapons of mass destruction, it will be far less rigid and even more unstable than the bipolar Cold War experience, and, most significantly, it will be an equalizer in a multipolar set of power relationships in which the presumed basis of western power – military superiority – will be progressively eroded.”</p><p>In its substance, the paper looked at ways in which weaker states and movements could use irregular warfare in all its forms. Much of this has been borne out in the post-9/11 world, though the analysis should really have paid more attention to weapons of mass destruction (WMD), especially nuclear weapons.</p><p>Where perhaps it was on the ball was in foreseeing that “the presumed basis of western power – military superiority” will be "progressively eroded." This is at the core of the United States's problem with both North Korea and Iran. In its dominant mindset, lesser states simply cannot be allowed to deter Washington from any actions that it believes necessary to maintain its security – and thus to apply what the US military still likes to <a href="http://archive.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=45289">think </a>of as “full-spectrum dominance.”</p><p>The current state of tension is dangerous mainly because of the risk of unplanned escalation. But any hope of returning to a much <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-the-art-of-the-deal">calmer</a> environment through to the end of Trump’s current term of office is, frankly, unlikely. The administration is dominated by Trump’s immediate family and three retired generals who, as Tom Englehardt <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/tom-engelhardt/victory-at-last">points</a> out, may have been central in America’s recent failed <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Society social sciences/Politics government/Irregular War Islamic State and the New Threat from the Margins">wars</a> and have therefore much to prove in the biggest test of all (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a>", 21 August 2017).</p><p>In the perspective of the post-9/11 years, and on the eve of the event's sixteenth anniversary, the current interlocking crises raise an even greater challenge for the United States. Can it come to terms with the risk of strategic impotence, or – with North Korea and then Iran in mind – is that too much to expect?</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit">Iran, and a diplomacy deficit</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-the-art-of-the-deal">North Korea: the art of the deal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-us-uks-latest-target">North Korea, the US-UK&#039;s latest target?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Sat, 09 Sep 2017 13:01:41 +0000 Paul Rogers 113241 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iran, and a diplomacy deficit https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Washington's enmity with Tehran, as much as that with Pyongyang, could spark into crisis. But who will avert it?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32457222.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32457222.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (speaks at a parliament meeting in Tehran, Iran, on Aug. 20, 2017. Rouhani said Sunday that Iran's top foreign policy priority is to protect the nuclear deal from being torn up by the United States. Ahmad Halabisaz/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The multipronged tensions in the Middle East have disturbing echoes of the immediate post 9/11 period. After the attacks that day in New York and Washington, the George W Bush administration moved rapidly to terminate the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and destroy the al-Qaida movement. The use of special forces and CIA personnel, heavy air bombardments, and the deployment of Northern Alliance warlords as ground troops combined to secure apparent victory within three months.</p><p>That allowed Bush, in his state-of-the-union <a href="https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/stateoftheunion/2002/">address</a> in January 2002, to celebrate a military achievement over terrorist foes. But to the surprise of many, especially outside the United States, the president went much further. He extended the ominously titled "war on terror" against al-Qaida and the Taliban to a wider panoply of enemies, bonded in an “axis of evil”. This was a group of states that sponsored terrorism and sought to develop weapons of mass destruction. Its key members were Iraq, Iran and North Korea, with second-division evil states being Libya, Syria and Cuba.&nbsp;</p><p>In June of that year, Bush's <a href="https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020601-3.html">speech</a> at the West Point military academy made it explicit that the United States had the right to pre-empt these threats. Saddam Hussein's power-base in Baghdad was terminated in March 2003, and – under Bush's successor – Muammar Gaddafi's in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/libya-and-decade%e2%80%99s-war">Libya</a> in 2011. North Korea is now in the spotlight, and rightly causing considerable concern given Trump’s rhetoric and the near paranoia of the <a href="http://www.nkleadershipwatch.org/">Pyongyang</a> regime. Amid the recurring dramas, however, Iran tends to be neglected. This is even more ironic when its power and influence have so greatly expanded during this period, and continue to do so.&nbsp;</p><p>A key point to grasp is that the US-Iran relationship has been problematic for many decades. Its strains long predate 9/11 to the <a href="http://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB126/">coup</a> against Mohammad Mosaddegh's elected leadership in 1953, decades of support for the subsequent Shah's regime, and the multiple upheavals of the late 1970s which culminated in the Iranian revolution of 1979. The sudden collapse of the Shah’s order, seen by Washington as a vital and irreplaceable ally in the intense cold-war rivalry with the Soviet Union, was a heavy geopolitical blow. A seminal event in the aftermath made it even more traumatic: the detention by young revolutionaries of fifty-two American diplomats and their family members in Tehran, a hostage <a href="https://www.archives.gov/research/foreign-policy/iran-hostage-crisis">incident</a> which lasted 444 days.</p><p>The US's frustrated impotence in a key security dispute left a bitter residue, which makes the nuclear deal <a href="https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/iran/iaea-and-iran-iaea-reports">negotiated</a> during Barack Obama’s second term of office all the more remarkable. That helped avert a dangerous confrontation over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Nothing is settled, however. For the moment, Trump’s Washington is focusing most security attention on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">North Korea</a>. But Iran remains a potent background concern, and recent developments could well spark a sudden crisis.</p><h2><strong>A time to lead</strong></h2><p>There are both immediate and longer-term factors involved here, the latter including the legacy of the Saddam Hussein regime's destruction in 2003. At the time, the United States leadership confidently expected that operation would eclipse Iran’s regional ambitions. After all, it reasoned, dominant US influence in Iraq, Afghanistan and all the western Gulf states, reinforced by the presence of the US navy’s fifth fleet around the Gulf and the Arabian Sea, would tightly constrain the Tehran regime.</p><p>The calculation proved as <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">ill-founded</a> as the others guiding the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Where Iran was concerned, the near opposite happened. Tehran's power across the region grew. In Iraq, its political influence is considerable, and the Baghdad government relies substantially on Iran-linked <em>Shi’a</em> militias to maintain security. Bashar al-Assad's presently more secure regime in Syria also depends on Iranian support, both indirectly for Hizbollah and more directly for its own military. Israel claims that Iran is now <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/smr/space-missile-defense/2017/08/28/iran-is-building-missile-sites-in-syria-says-israels-netanyahu/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2008.29.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">building</a> missile-manufacturing sites in both Syria and Lebanon.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Elsewhere in the region, Voice of America <a href="https://www.voanews.com/a/new-hamas-leader-financial-military-aid-iran-against-israel/4004055.html?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2008.29.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">reports</a> that Hamas is once again getting aid from Iran. To the east, Iran’s influence in western and northwestern&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">Afghanistan</a> has been growing steadily for the best part of a decade. Yet Iran under Hassan Rouhani has pursued a cautious path in its relations with the United States, especially in terms of the nuclear deal. <a href="http://www.iiss.org/en/persons/mark-s-fitzpatrick">Mark Fitzpatrick</a>, in a detailed <a href="https://www.iiss.org/en/politics%20and%20strategy/blogsections/2017-6dda/august-b877/iran-nuclear-deal-is-working-9972 ">analysis</a> from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), puts it well:</p><p>“It was entirely proper for United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to visit the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 23 August to encourage robust verification of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. IAEA officials will have told her they are not restricted from visiting whatever they need to see in Iran. Never mind that this is nothing the US did not already know from its diplomats in Vienna, who meet daily with IAEA officials. Those diplomats do not currently include an ambassador to the IAEA, and high-level meetings are useful to drive home important messages.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It is almost as though the Trump administration would dearly like Iran to break the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-the-art-of-the-deal">deal</a>. But, as Fitzpatrick reports, Tehran will just not play along.</p><p>Meanwhile, the proxy war in Yemen between Iran and Saudi Arabia continues to inflict terrible human costs. For their part, the Saudi princelings in Riyadh worry over the growth of the so-called “<em>Shi’a</em> crescent” of Iranian influence from the Mediterranean to the India Ocean via Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran. They also see Iran consolidating its multiple roles in the wars against ISIS and other extreme <em>Sunni </em>Islamist factions In Syria and Iraq.</p><p>The <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">unpredictable</a> regime in Washington adds to the peril of this deteriorating situation. Trump has long taken the view that Iran is the real problem in the Middle East, an outlook very much endorsed by Binyamin Netanyahu's Israel. And Trump’s immediate security advisors are now retired <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">generals</a> who have far more experience of fighting than diplomacy.</p><p>European allies of the United States, not least Germany and the UK, could in principle play a valuable and restraining role. But in practice, German politics is dominated by the election on 24 September, while Britain is absorbed by Brexit and its foreign secretary Boris Johnson simply cannot be taken seriously.</p><p>What hope there is in avoiding a sudden crisis most likely resides in Tehran, with Hassan Rouhani’s cautious and skilled leadership. He may not be in full control of his country’s foreign policy, which still resides with clerical figures. But neither is he a <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Iran-under-Ahmadinejad-The-Politics-of-Confrontation/Ansari/p/book/9780415454865">Mahmoud Ahmadinejad</a>, arguably an even greater risk to the region than Donald Trump. A Rouhani-led Iran is an opportunity that wise diplomacy should not waste.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/tale-of-three-wars-afghanistan-iraqiran">A tale of three wars: Afghanistan, Iraq...Iran</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/tale-of-three-cities-washington-baghdad-tehran">A tale of three cities: Washington, Baghdad, Tehran </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iran-hopes-and-fears">Iran, hopes and fears</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-israel-iran-war-in-focus">America, Israel, Iran: war in focus </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Fri, 01 Sep 2017 14:26:02 +0000 Paul Rogers 113138 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Raqqa defiant, a letter https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-defiant-letter <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An ISIS operative explains to a friend why he still feels optimistic, in the latest of a series imagined by Paul Rogers.<br /></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32408306.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32408306.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Raqqa, Syria: A soldier of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) looking through a hole in a wall while battles against the Islamic State (IS) terror militia continue, 11 August 2017. Morukc Umnaber/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Raqqa, 25 August 2017</em></p><p>Thank you for your letter. It has only just arrived as the internet connection has been sporadic, and I hope this reply reaches you soon. Thank you also for asking after my brother. Again, connections are difficult but when our associates in the Philippines asked for advice on their unexpected gains in Marawi he was immediately sent to help out.</p><p>That was always expected to be a brief operation and I understand that the leadership there was really surprised that the Filipino army offered such little resistance. Given my brother’s huge experience in Iraq, Syria, Bangladesh, and especially Libya, I would not be at all surprised if he was of great value in extending the operation. However I understand that he is now moving on to Afghanistan where there are so many opportunities and so much work to do.</p><p>Although the leadership in the Philippines only has loose connections with us here, we have watched closely what happened and I hear that our strategy people are very happy with the result. When the operation started in late May the aim was simply an “in and out” incursion to demonstrate that the movement could take over a city if it so chose.</p><p>That it has lasted so long in spite of considerable American military assistance has been a joy to watch. Even better has been the way that government forces have been reduced to using air attacks and artillery bombardment in their chaotic attempts to retake control of Marawi. The result is scores of civilians killed, swathes of the city wrecked, and a legacy of bitterness against the government. The operation is now coming to an end but our associates are very pleased. Just when the organs of the far enemy are declaring us defeated, this is what we do!</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Just when the organs of the far enemy are declaring us defeated, this is what we do!</p><p>I do sense from your letter, though, that you want me to try and explain why I <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-movements-optimism">still</a> feel so optimistic about the future of our mission. Let me start by reminding you of some of the things I said in my two previous letters, on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-towards-victory-letter">17 March</a> and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-movements-optimism">14 May </a>this year. In March, it was already clear that what was happening in Mosul would be greatly to our advantage in two respects: our progressive crippling of the Iraqi special forces (even before then their so-called “golden division” was looking decidedly rusty) and the loss of civilian life as the crusaders increased their <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">aerial </a>bombardment.</p><p>In May, I updated you on these aspects and outlined why I still felt <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">positive</a>. You'll remember how I ended it: "That, in short, dear friend is why I write so optimistically. Yes, I may be killed in a drone strike tomorrow and go with joy to what follows. It will perhaps be a relief and a culmination of my life, but the curious thing is that one part of me wants to carry on living just to witness the extent of their failures in the years to come. Do try to understand that, because I say it too you in all sincerity.”</p><p>So let me define where we now stand, with three key points. First, Mosul has now largely fallen to the Iraqis, but even they are admitting the losses in their special forces (at least 40% killed or seriously injured, and training replacements will taking a year or more). Since these are the only forces that the Baghdad cabal can rely on, that alone will add to the endemic insecurity throughout the country.</p><p>Second, the sheer destruction meted out in Mosul is compared even by western journalists to Stalingrad. You remind me once again of the repeated anger of your friends in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-and-isis-need-to-rethink">Britain</a> about the extent of our brutality, both in Iraq and in our attacks across Europe.</p><p>Perhaps you could explain to them that the air assault by the Americans and their allies has now been going on for three years with air raids and drone attacks day and night. Even the Pentagon now admits that the war has killed 60,000 of us. What they will not admit is that this includes many thousands of women and children. Every one of us has lost close family members and friends, so is it any <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">surprise</a> how we act when we get the opportunity?</p><p>Third, the Iraqis are having increasingly to rely on <em>Shi’a</em> militias that are consistently alienating themselves from our <em>Sunni</em> people. Furthermore, many of them are officered and funded by the Iranians, with the result that support for our cause from Saudi and other sources is starting to increase.</p><p>Look at it this way. When Bush and his allies terminated the Saddam Hussein regime back in 2003, they <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/globalsecurity/the_iraq_project">expected</a> a subservient post-war Iraq that would be thoroughly pro-western and would help constrain Iran, especially as the Americans then expected a similar outcome in Afghanistan. Iran would thus be facing the Americans and their allies to their west and east, with the reinforced United States navy’s fifth fleet controlling the Gulf and the Arabian Sea. From Washington’s perspective, there would be no further problem with Iran. "The road to Tehran runs through Baghdad”, the beltway saying of 2002 had it. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">"The road to Tehran runs through Baghdad”, the beltway saying of 2002 had it.</p><p>Instead, Iran has massively increased its <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-and-iraq-iran-new-balance">influence</a> in Iraq and has made impressive inroads into north-west Afghanistan. In the Gulf itself, the Saudis and other illegitimate regimes are scared rigid by the unfolding of the “<em>Shi'a</em> crescent” from the Mediterranean to the Arabian Sea. They will now do all they can to aid any movement that can help counter that. We expect to gain hugely as we <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">transit </a>to a guerrilla war in Iraq and Syria.</p><p>Then, look at <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">Afghanistan</a> and Trump’s newly announced policy which amounts to more of the same. The Americans have about 9,000 troops there and plan to expand this to perhaps 14,000. Here it's useful to recall that when Obama finally decided what to do about Afghanistan in 2010, he added 30,000 more troops to the then force of 70,000. The aim was not to defeat the Taliban but force them to the negotiating table from a position of weakness. That failed abysmally, yet Trump and his generals<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-afghan-test"> believe</a> they can do it now with minimal forces.</p><p>I won’t bother to remind you of all the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/widening-war-isis-to-aqim">developments</a> in Mali and other parts of the Sahel, or of the shock to Spain's security people last week when they discovered that a substantial active service unit was operating in Catalonia, under their noses. It was one of many now operating across Europe. They are further aided by determined fighters returning from Iraq and Syria to their own countries.</p><p>Even so, you might still ask: “what about the caliphate, has not the centrepiece of the mission gone?” But you have to understand that as soon as the intense crusader air assault started three years ago, our leaders quickly saw that the caliphate would <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/letters-from-raqqa-2014-16">evolve</a> from being a physical actuality to a powerful symbol of what can be achieved, and against the combined forces of the most powerful military states on earth. They can fly their drones and drop their guns and missiles with impunity – yet we survive!</p><p>Remember that three years ago the Pentagon estimated that we had 25,000-30,000 fighters supporting us but now claim to have killed at least twice that number in their air assault. They simply have no understanding that you cannot <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">defeat</a> an idea by bombing it.</p><p>What you have to grasp is that we have already moved on beyond the caliphate and that it is now the symbol that counts. It will surely come again because of one more element that the crusaders and Zionists cannot understand. Namely, we are not engaged in this mission for ten, twenty, fifty, or even a hundred years, we are in it for eternity.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org/"><span><span>Remote Control Project</span></span></a></p><p>Graeme Wood, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/531346/the-way-of-the-strangers-by-graeme-wood/9780812988758/"><em>The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State </em></a>(Penguin, 2017)</span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Peter R Neumann, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Encyclopaedias%20%20reference%20works/Radicalized%20The%20New%20Generation%20of%20Jihadis%20and%20the%20Threat%20to%20the%20West?menuitem=%7BF027E667-C48E-489A-938D-62719293B2E7%7D"><em>Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016) </p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/raqqa-towards-victory-letter">Raqqa towards victory: a letter </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/letters-from-raqqa-2014-16">Letters from Raqqa, 2014-16</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/letter-from-raqqa">A letter from Raqqa</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/from-raqqa-war-escalates">From Raqqa: the war escalates</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">Iraq and beyond: hidden, secret wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">The thirty-year war: still on track</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Fri, 25 Aug 2017 08:49:59 +0000 Paul Rogers 113017 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Barcelona attack https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/barcelona-attack <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After 16 years of the so-called war on terror, people feel no more secure than in the aftermath of 9/11. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32434257.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32434257.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Police officers stand guard in a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd on the Rambla in Barcelona, Spain, on August 17, 2017. Utrecht Robin/ABACAPRESS.COM/ABACA/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The Barcelona attack followed a pattern that has developed over nearly three years and stems from the start of the intense US-led air war against ISIS which began <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">back in August 2014</a>. That was instigated by the United States following the taking of Mosul by ISIS and its wider control of much of Northern Iraq, and the air war then evolved into a very considerable operation involving a broadly based coalition of states.&nbsp; While it did include a few regional states such as Jordan, the overwhelming majority of the attacks have been undertaken by the US Air Force and Navy, but aided by many other states especially France and the UK, together with Australia, Canada, Germany, Belgium and several others. </p> <p>The air war has used tens of thousands of missiles and guided bombs and after three years the Pentagon reports that the coalition assault has killed at least 60,000 ISIS fighters. This is in itself quite an achievement since the DoD view three years ago was that ISIS had a total force of no more than 30,000. Either the original estimate was wrong or ISIS has had a steady flow of new recruits from the region and beyond, the evidence pointing to the latter.&nbsp; </p> <p>The air war, though, has been effective and has aided the defeat of ISIS in Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul and elsewhere, although the costs to civilians have been huge – western <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-taking-of-mosul-really-means">Mosul</a> has been likened to the ruins of Stalingrad. Tacitus comes to mind – “we made a desert and called it peace”.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">We are moving into an era of conflict where traditional methods of military control simply do not work.</span></p> <p>Yet the Barcelona attack follows a pattern that has very clear origins. Five years ago the original ISIS aim was to create a geographical caliphate focused on a Raqqa/Mosul axis but once it became clear to the ISIS leadership that this could not last in the face of a massive and sustained air assault, that aim changed.&nbsp; Work began in order to spread the message abroad, prepare for a sustained guerrilla war in Iraq and Syria and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-against-and-in-west">organise the means</a> to attack the “far enemy”.</p> <p>Many of those attacks are inspired or encouraged by ISIS propaganda and its sustained policy of presenting itself as the true defender of Islam under attack by the crusader forces of the far enemy, but some are directly supported or even organised by the movement. The methods are often crude, but they can be when the attackers are prepared to die for their cause.</p> <p>Across the world, and in addition to Barcelona, they have included attacks in Brussels, Paris, Berlin, London, Manchester, Nice, Istanbul, several in the United States and in many other countries, not least Afghanistan. <span class="mag-quote-center">The attacks in the west have three main aims – to demonstrate continuing power, as revenge, and most importantly, to stir up as much anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamophobia as possible.&nbsp; </span></p> <p>The attacks in the west have three main aims – to demonstrate the continuing power of the movement, as revenge for its own losses and, most importantly, to stir up as much anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamophobia as possible.&nbsp; It goes without saying that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are aghast at what is being done in the name of one of the three great Religions of the Book, but a tiny minority do get sucked in.</p> <p>The really difficult thing for western politicians and military leaders to accept is that we are moving into an era of conflict where traditional methods of military control simply do not work.&nbsp; After 16 years of the so-called war on terror, people feel no more secure than in the aftermath of 9/11.&nbsp; Right now, Trump has to decide whether to withdraw from Afghanistan or reinforce the US presence, the war in Iraq and Syria continues, ISIS <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">has links across the world</a> including in the Philippines, and Islamist paramilitaries are active not just across the Middle East and North Africa, but right across the African Sahel.</p> <p>At some stage there will have to a complete rethinking of western security policy but there is little sign of that for now.&nbsp; The consequence is that the terrible attack in Barcelona will come to be seen as one more indication of the new normal.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></p><p><a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/">Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)</a></p><p><a href="https://www.defensenews.com/"><em>Defense News</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org"><em>Long War Journal </em></a></p><p>Paul Holden, <em><a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/I/bo26259357.html">Indefensible: Seven Myths that Sustain the Global Arms Trade</a> </em>(<a href="https://www.zedbooks.net/shop/book/indefensible/">Zed</a> / University of Chicago Pres, 2017) </p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> EU United States Spain global security Paul Rogers Fri, 18 Aug 2017 09:46:04 +0000 Paul Rogers 112923 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Arms bazaar: needs wars, eats lives https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/arms-bazaar-needing-wars-eating-lives <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A world of conflict and fear means boom time for big military companies.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-24671619_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-24671619_0.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="290" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ceramic poppies from the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red artwork installed at St George's Hall, Liverpool, for Remembrance Services in 2015. Peter Byrne/PA Archive/Press Association. </span></span></span>It seems to be business as usual in the worldwide "war on terror". The United States military is currently embroiled in many hotspots where violence, fear, and the ever present reality or threat of high explosive are the order of the day. Those conditions mean, for people at the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/every-casualty-human-face-of-war">sharp</a> end, multiple distress. But for suppliers of weapons and military equipment, the good times – which never really went away – are back. </p><p>Consider, for a moment, just a few of the international conflicts stretching from Africa to east Asia where the US is a major player. It is increasing the use of armed drones in Syria as the war against ISIS <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-raqqah-drones-20170808-story.html?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2008/16/2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">accelerates</a>. It remains active in Iraq's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-taking-of-mosul-really-means">evolving</a> combat. Its military chiefs are working out how to persuade Trump to expand operations in Afghanistan, even as a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">resurgent</a> Taliban tell him in an open letter to withdraw all American forces from the country.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It is also about to <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/08/15/in-a-dangerous-time-the-pentagon-prepares-for-a-war-game-on-the-korean-peninsula/?utm_campaign=EBB%2008/16/2017&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_term=.2adf666e43fd">conduct</a> a major “wargame” in South Korea, where <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump</a> and his ally, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe, seek to counter North Korea's missile ambitions. It is providing heavy military assistance to the Philippines government as a much less comfortable ally, Rodrigo Duterte, takes on a local ISIS-affiliated <a href="http://thediplomat.com/2017/08/battle-for-marawi-exposes-philippines-military-intelligence-crisis/">movement </a>in the southern city of Marawi. It is called on to deploy more resources in eastern Europe in face of Russia's power, and to address the <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/08/jihadists-launch-attacks-across-west-africa.php?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2008/16/2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">rise</a> in paramilitary violence in the Sahel. </p><p>Such wars and rumours of wars require constant supplies, and this is where that perennial of human activity, the arms bazaar, comes in. The informative journal <a href="https://www.defensenews.com/"><em>Defense News</em></a> sums it up neatly with a report on military industries under the <a href="https://www.defensenews.com/2017/07/20/finally-defense-revenues-grow-for-first-time-in-five-years/ ">headline</a> “A return to prosperity? Defense revenues climb for the first time in 5 years”.</p><p>The report <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/top-100/">lists</a> the top hundred military companies, and in a helpful way. While highlighting businesses that may have many other interests, <em>Defense News </em>in this case focuses solely on their military-related activities. The results are most revealing. Take, for example, the top seven corporations with their country of origin and their defence revenues in 2016:</p><p>1. Lockheed Martin, United States: $43,468 billion<br />2. Boeing, United States: $29,500bn<br />3. BAE Systems, United Kingdom: $23,621bn<br />4. Raytheon, United States: $22,394bn<br />5. Northrop Grumman, United States: $20,200bn<br />6. General Dynamics, United States: $19,696bn<br />7. Airbus, Netherlands/France: $12,321bn</p><p>Even from such bare details, several important truths can be extracted or inferred. The first is the American <a href="https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-12-27/americas-arms-exports-dominate-despite-global-competition">dominance</a> of the <a href="https://www.sipri.org/databases/armsindustry">field</a>, which is even more pronounced in that much of BAE Systems’s revenue comes from the company's US-based activities. This leads to a second point, that all seven are <a href="https://www.tni.org/en/publication/tax-evasion-and-weapon-production">transnational</a> to varying extents. Airbus, for example, is active across western Europe, which allows it to use its clout with more governments. A third element is that these are very large outfits. Lockheed and Boeing each has annual military revenues larger than the entire GDP of Uganda, whose population is 39 million.</p><p>A fourth point is that this sheer wealth enables huge operations. These are often aided by the “<a href="https://www.globalgovernmentforum.com/uk-mps-call-for-stronger-regulation-of-revolving-door-between-government-and-business/">revolving door</a>” whereby senior civil servants and military chiefs who are concerned in any way with <a href="http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/weapons-and-markets/producers.html">weapons</a> development and procurement can secure very good post-retirement consultancies or even board memberships.</p><p>A fifth factor is that these companies, where their activity in relation to international arms <a href="https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2016/11/08/us-weapons-exports-end-2016-at-33-6-billion/">sales</a> is concerned, can rely on a favourable attitude from the states where their production is based. This positive outlook may extend to direct government encouragement and aid. A clear indication is a ruling which found against the Campaign Against Arms Trade (<a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/">CAAT</a>). The group had <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40553741">challenged</a> the legality of the UK government's arms sales to Saudi Arabia, where weaponry <a href="http://www.theweek.co.uk/checked-out/86700/the-truth-about-uk-arms-sales-to-saudi-arabia">exported</a> to Riyadh were being used in repeated bombing of targets in Yemen that had caused substantial <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/12/arms-trade-margaret-thatcher-kuwait-saddam-hussein?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2008/14/2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">loss </a>of life among civilians.</p><p>**</p><p>A sixth and yet larger truth emerges, as obvious as the others yet all too frequently ignored. Major military companies actually <em>need</em> wars – or at least, they <em>need </em>very high states of tension and fear, of the kind which will guarantee increased sales potential.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The ideal in such situations, whatever the company's apparent national status, is to sell to both sides. Just before Nato’s air-war <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/libyas-war-historys-shadow">against</a> the Gaddafi regime in 2011, for example, French and Italian arms companies were working for the Libyan government to upgrade its aircraft and armoured vehicles. Within days these were being destroyed by Nato forces, bringing a potential double benefit: supplying Nato states with more bombs and missiles to replace those used, and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/kaye-stearman/uk-arms-sales-to-libya-stop-start-stop-and-start-again">replenishing</a> the Libyan hardware after the war.</p><p>In this case, only the first part worked out well, for Libya came apart at the seams and its arms <a href="https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/Trends-in-international-arms-transfers-2016.pdf">market</a> has not so far been open to the big <a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/resources/companies">company</a> deals of the good old days. But there are compensations: the condition of Libya, with its radical Islamist groups, migration pressures and other insecurities all make for an atmosphere of tension and fear. This is felt sharply across the Mediterranean, which improves the chances of higher military budgets in European states looking to protect themselves from the fruits of their own policies (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/libya-victory-tragedy-legacy">Libya: victory, tragedy, legacy</a>", 3 November 2011).</p><p>Shakespeare’s line in <em>Henry V</em>,<em> </em>“now thrive the armourers”, relates to the battle of Agincourt in 1415. But it is ever topical, and in more ways than one: for armourers also thrive by flinging accusations of lack of patriotism against people who question their operations, connections, and practical consequences. The biggest difference today is scale. These huge conglomerates are <a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/I/bo26259357.html">protected</a> by their colossal turnovers, formidable power, and absolute belief in the legitimacy of what they do.</p><p>It will take a great deal to change this culture. A single example makes the point. Two of the three largest military corporations, Lockheed and BAE Systems, sponsor Britain’s annual Red Poppy Appeal run by the British Legion (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/red-poppies-and-arms-trade">Red poppies and the arms trade</a>", 12 November 2014). Thus an organisation dedicated to helping the casualties of war and their families actually gets financial support from companies making money out of producing and selling weapons. Such stark contradictions need to be aired, as a step on the road to being able to say "now thrive the peacemakers".&nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"></span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/">Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)</a></p><p><a href="https://www.defensenews.com/"><em>Defense News</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org"><em>Long War Journal </em></a></p><p>Paul Holden, <em><a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/I/bo26259357.html">Indefensible: Seven Myths that Sustain the Global Arms Trade</a> </em>(<a href="https://www.zedbooks.net/shop/book/indefensible/">Zed</a> / University of Chicago Pres, 2017) </p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/red-poppies-and-arms-trade">Red poppies and the arms trade</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/through-fog-of-peace">Through the fog of peace</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/toll-of-world">The toll of the world</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/every-casualty-human-face-of-war">Every casualty: the human face of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/alternatives_3405.jsp">There are alternatives</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/non-violence-past-present-future">Non-violence: past, present, future </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia global security Paul Rogers Thu, 17 Aug 2017 14:33:04 +0000 Paul Rogers 112903 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Trump's bombast amplifies a perilous nuclear crisis. North Korea remembers the Truman plan. The risk of war is real.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-31353784.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-31353784.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="329" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A U.S. Navy SEAL commando jumps out of a USN MH-60 Seahawk helicopter during a helocasting training mission May 8, 2017 off the coast of Guam. Mcs1 Torrey W. Lee/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Donald Trump’s bombastic statement on North Korea on 9 August was not as impromptu as it might have seemed. It included at least one prepared section: his “fire and fury” <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-northkorea-missiles-usa-idUKKBN1AP268?il=0">threat</a>, which echoed Harry S Truman’s own in August 1945 after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. A "rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth”, was the then president's <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/smr/space-missile-defense/2017/08/08/us-reportedly-assesses-north-korea-can-fit-nuke-inside-a-missile/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2008.09.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">pledge</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Donald Trump’s bombastic statement on North Korea on 9 August was not as impromptu as it might have seemed.</p><p>The immediate effect of such a warning on a paranoid North Korean leadership is bound to be severe. But there are specific reasons why Truman's words would have had an even greater impact. That leadership has a very clear sense of its own history, not least the Japanese <a href="http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/main_pop/kpct/kp_koreaimperialism.htm">occupation</a> of the peninsula from 1910-45. That knowledge extends to the shattering defeat of Japan in August 1945, and the United States's readiness to continue destroying Japanese cities with atomic bombs at the rate of two a month unless Japan surrendered after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.</p><p>The Pyongyang leadership will also be aware, much more than the public and even most western analysts, that in mid-1945 the US government was already preparing a back-up plan if the <a href="http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/history/pre-cold-war/manhattan-project/">Manhattan Project</a> failed to produce atomic weapons. That plan, revealed many years afterwards, involved the drenching of Japanese cities with chemical weapons at an extraordinary intensity. As many as 5 million civilians might have been killed (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/chemicalweapons_2727.jsp">By any means necessary: the United States and Japan</a>", 4 August 2005).</p><p>The Manhattan Project did succeed – witness Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively pulverised on 6 and 9 August 1945 – so the plan was never put into action. But Pyongyang's very knowledge of how far the United States would have gone then is significant. The North Korean <a href="http://www.nkleadershipwatch.org/">leadership</a> will connect it to Trump's threat of “fire and fury”, and its fear will be heightened. The old quip, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you”, could certainly apply to North Korea just now.</p><p>The previous column in this <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers ">series</a> focused on the wider context of North Korea as one of a number of post-1945 “fortress states”. It also pointed to the dangers of even contemplating a military solution, whatever the view in Washington. Like Gabrielle Rifkind’s more recent <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/gabrielle-rifkind/what-does-north-korea-want It">analysis</a>, it argued for a greater emphasis on diplomacy (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-the-art-of-the-deal">North Korea: the art of the deal</a>", 3 August 2017).</p><h2><strong>A spiral of risks</strong></h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Atomic_cloud_over_Hiroshima_(from_Matsuyama).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Atomic_cloud_over_Hiroshima_(from_Matsuyama).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="321" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Atomic cloud over Hiroshima, taken from "Enola Gay" flying over Matsuyama, Shikoku. Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.</span></span></span>This, however, is likely to fall short of many people's hopes, and for two reasons that lie much more in Washington than Pyongyang. The first and more obvious is that Trump has boxed himself into a corner by stating that North Korea will not be allowed directly to threaten the United States. The problem here is that, even allowing for exaggeration, North Korea’s <a href="http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/north-korea/">nuclear</a> warhead-and-missile progress mean that the Pyongyang regime will certainly be able to do just that before the end of Trump’s current term of office.</p><p>Trump may have many other failures – Obamacare proving difficult to wreck, the Mexicans not paying for a wall, just to begin with. But failure over North Korea will go much further than either issue, and certainly threaten his chances of re-election in 2020. From his perspective, making North Korea a core element of his presidency means he has to win this one (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/conflicts/global_security/century_change">A century on the edge: 1945-2045</a>", 29 December 2007).</p><p class="mag-quote-left">The ideological battle&nbsp;for a pure “America first” worldview is now threatening to put North Korea, rather than ISIS, at its centre.</p><p>The second and less obvious reason is to do with the nature of the administration now assembled in Washington. Its internal civil-military balance is the key factor. The state department is presently much weakened, with many key diplomatic and executive appointments still unfilled after nine months. This contrasts with the remarkable <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/military-officers-seed-the-ranks-across-trumps-national-security-council/2017/05/28/5f10c8ca-421d-11e7-8c25-44d09ff5a4a8_story.html">penetration</a> of the administration by senior military personnel.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The position of the chair of the US joint chiefs of staff is invariably held by a general or admiral, but three other key posts are not. The current, highly unusual <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-apps-generals-commentary-idUKKBN1AN073">situation</a> is a departure: the secretary of defense, the national-security advisor, and even the chief of staff at the White House are all retired generals.</p><p>A yet further element is being missed. It concerns one of these positions and its occupant – the role of national-security advisor, held by General Herbert “HR” McMaster. Although above all a military man, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39033934">McMaster</a> has something of a cerebral reputation. This may on occasions where perceived threats must be dealth with, lead him to advise caution.</p><p>There have been several such occasions in recent weeks, including his decision to <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/a-national-security-council-staffer-is-forced-out-over-a-controversial-memo/535725/">dispense</a> with the services of three <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-depetris-nsc-commentary-idUSKBN1AP1T2">NSC </a>officials: Derek Harvey, Rich Higgins, and <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/ezra-cohen-watnick/534615/">Ezra Cohen-Watnick</a>. The far-right interpret this and others as an indication that McMaster is variously anti-Israel, too soft on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS</a>, and not supportive enough of Trump’s “America first” <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/america-first-foreign-policy">policy</a>. As a result, a vigorous far-right campaign – fuelled both in social media and many conventional far-right media outlets – is now being <a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/hr-mcmaster-fire-twitter-trump-alex-jones-2017-8?r=US&amp;IR=T ">conducted</a> to have McMaster sacked.</p><p>The implication is clear. Behind Trump’s <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/08/trump-north-korea-fire-and-fury/536367/">bluster</a> is a powerful and single-minded movement that is watching for the smallest sign of, in its terms, betrayal by the administration. This is reminiscent of the anti-Soviet movements of the late 1970s, and (after <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democracy-ronald_reagan/article_1951.jsp">Ronald Reagan </a>came to power) the early 1980s: <a href="http://highfrontier.org/about/">High Frontier</a>, the <a href="http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/committee_on_the_present_danger/">Committee on the Present Danger</a> and the rest. In raising acute tensions, they helped make this one of <a href="http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/index.shtml">cold war's</a> most fearful periods. It is also evocative of the <a href="http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/project_for_the_new_american_century/">Project for the New American Century</a> two decades later. The latter group did much to ensure the hardline response to the 9/11 atrocities, and the disastrous "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-on-terror-interim-report">war on terror</a>" that continues to this day.</p><p>The ideological <a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/hr-mcmaster-fire-twitter-trump-alex-jones-2017-8?r=US&amp;IR=T">battle</a> for a pure “America first” worldview is now threatening to put North Korea, rather than ISIS, at its centre. This time, the contest involves two nuclear-armed adversaries, and is intrinsically more perilous. The region and world may survive this crisis. But diplomatic sense must be applied soon. If not, the risks, and all they entail, are likely to persist at least until 2020. The stakes could not be higher.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.38north.org/">38 North</a><br /></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.acronym.org.uk/">Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy</a></p><p>Sung Chull Kim &amp; Michael D Cohen eds., <a href="http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/north-korea-and-nuclear-weapons"><em>North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: Entering the New Era of Deterrence </em></a>(Georgetown University Press, 2017)</p><p>Thomas M. Nichols, <a href="http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15090.html"><em><span class="style2">No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security</span></em></a> (University of Pennsylvania Press,2013)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-us-uks-latest-target">North Korea, the US-UK&#039;s latest target?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 10 Aug 2017 10:09:56 +0000 Paul Rogers 112784 at https://www.opendemocracy.net North Korea: the art of the deal https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-the-art-of-the-deal <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Pyongyang is close to its nuclear-weapons goal. Diplomacy – and a sense of history – are now needed. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/1026570349_d7f8de6134_b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/1026570349_d7f8de6134_b.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pyongyang. (stephan)/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are causing widespread concern in the international arena. The strong focus on this one state, however, is also a timely moment to note that a number of relatively small states in broadly similar circumstances of insecurity have also had nuclear ambitions. These states are commonly described by analysts of international security as “fortress” or “garrison” states. How their nuclear stories worked out is worth recalling in today's dangerous atmosphere, particularly with Trump in the White House.&nbsp; </p><p>The main contenders in this group are Taiwan, South Korea, South Africa, Israel and North Korea itself. It's true that several other states have had nuclear intentions, and took at least initial steps. Argentina and Brazil, and (perhaps surprisingly) Switzerland and Sweden were among them, but all <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-moment">terminated</a> their programmes at quite an early stage. Of the five fortress states, two have not gone the whole way, one did so and then gave them up, one has a large and powerful nuclear arsenal and one – North Korea – is almost there.&nbsp; </p><p>What of the other four?&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>First, since 1988 successive political leaders in Taiwan have declared that the state will not “go nuclear”, but it certainly took the initial <a href="https://fas.org/nuke/guide/taiwan/nuke/index.html">steps </a>to do so after the People's Republic of China conducted its own first nuclear test in 1964. It had already built a research reactor in the later 1950s and conducted initial nuclear-weapons-related <a href="//fas.org/nuke/guide/taiwan/nuke/">work</a> at the Institute of Nuclear Energy Research, established thirty miles (43kms) southwest of Taipei in 1964. There are no signs at present that Taiwan is likely to change its policy, but the state would have the potential to do so within a very few years if that policy were to change.</p><p>Second, South Korea also had nuclear-weapons <a href="http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/south-korea/">ambitions</a> in the 1970s, but the military government at the time came under heavy pressure from the United States not to develop them. The considerable US military support available to Seoul was also a factor. Even so, a few reports suggested that some work was undertaken in secrecy, and in 2004 the government partially acknowledged this in <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/07/31/why-doesnt-south-korea-have-nuclear-weapons-for-a-time-it-pursued-them/?utm_term=.eae48341be90">contacts</a> with the International Atomic Energy Agency (<a href="https://www.iaea.org/">IAEA</a>). If South Korea had taken a decision to go further, it is probable that an initial nuclear-weapon test would have been feasible in less than two years.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">What is common to all five “fortress states” is that they perceive (or perceived) themselves to be threatened in circumstances where they could not guarantee protection from much more&nbsp;powerful&nbsp;states.&nbsp;</p><p>Third, the white South African government in the the apartheid era considered a nuclear-weapons programme to be essential for its security against countries to its north. By the late 1980s it had got as far as <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/25/world/south-africa-says-it-built-6-atom-bombs.html?pagewanted=all">having</a> a small arsenal with six operational nuclear weapons, and one in development. In a decision that caused some surprise, the government announced in 1989 that it was <a href="http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/south-africa/nuclear/">dismantling</a> its arsenal and acceding to the non-proliferation treaty (<a href="https://www.iaea.org/publications/documents/treaties/npt">NPT</a>). This was represented as an ethical choice, though others attributed to the concerns of a white political elite <a href="http://siliconafrica.com/the-dark-truth-about-why-south-africa-destroyed-its-nuclear-weapons-in-1990/ ">facing</a> the prospect of majority rule. Whatever the motives at the time, it is certainly the case that post-apartheid South Africa has been very prominent in calls for global nuclear disarmament.</p><p>Fourth, Israel is alone among the five in having persisted to <a href="https://fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/">developing</a> a very powerful nuclear arsenal, though along the way it has had an extraordinarily close relationship with a superpower. The programme <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/15/truth-israels-secret-nuclear-arsenal">started</a> in the 1950s&nbsp; It had plenty of external help, initially from the French, and by the end of the 1960s had produced some devices. Now it has an arsenal of at least 100 weapons, capable of being launched by strike-aircraft, Jericho ballistic-missiles or submarine-launched cruise-missiles.</p><p>What is common to all five “fortress states” is that they perceive (or perceived) themselves to be threatened in circumstances where they could not guarantee protection from much more <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">powerful</a> states. Taiwan and South Korea do now see their security as being stronger because of US power, though in 2016 senior officials in South Korea’s conservative government broached the idea of reopening a programme, and one poll indicated majority public support. Israel, meanwhile, regards its nuclear force as absolutely essential, in spite of its relationship with Washington.</p><h2><strong>Pyongyang, it's good to talk</strong></h2><p>Where does this leave North Korea and why is there such current concern? The country has conducted several nuclear tests and probably has a handful of low-yield bombs. But that is not the same thing as being able to deliver them to, for example, the continental United States. This is where the recent testing of its most powerful <a href="http://www.38north.org/2017/08/jschilling080117/">missile</a>, the Hwasong-14, is significant. Although not tested over a full intercontinental range (5,500-plus km), the trajectory used and the altitude reached means that North Korea is on the way to developing a weapon that can target American territory.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>That will take more time, with further tests and intensive work on re-entry vehicles and warheads. But the pace of <a href="http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/north-korea/">development</a> has exceeded the expectations of independent analysts. The key political point is that North Korea will most likely have that capability before the end of Trump’s first term in 2020, if he survives that long.</p><p>It is highly unlikely that North Korea will be deterred from this path. It has long feared US intervention, a fear hugely boosted by George W Bush’s state-of-the-union <a href="https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html">address</a> in January 2002 when Pyongyang was labelled one of three “axis of evil” states. Another of these, Iraq, had its regime terminated the following year. Bush was unequivocal: “States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes present a grave and growing danger.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">North Korea will most likely have the capability to target American territory before the end of Trump’s first term in 2020, if he survives that long.</p><p>Trump now talks in similar terms, if more briefly and via tweets. The state department under Rex Tillerson is much more <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/01/politics/tillerson-north-korea-us/index.html">cautious</a>, while others in Congress point to the huge dangers of any kind of military action. Among most diplomats in Europe there is a consensus that diplomacy has to be allowed to work, and that this must involve a determined effort to see the world as viewed from Pyongyang. This case is also argued powerfully by Gabrielle Rifkind (see "<a href="//www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/31/fear-north-korea-us-diplomatic-ballistic-tests">Let’s try and understand North Korea’s actions..</a>." The&nbsp;<em>Guardian</em>, 31 July 2017).&nbsp; This should be the way forward. </p><p>It's also essential that other states use whatever influence they might have and recommend great caution. This might have included the UK, not least since it is only a few months since the RAF was for the first time in decades exercising with South Korean and US airforce units (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-us-uks-latest-target ">North Korea: the US-UK's latest target</a>", 4 May 2017).&nbsp; </p><p>That, however, seems unlikely given the chaotic internal politics of Brexit. The position is made worse by having in Boris Johnson a foreign secretary who seems more concerned to threaten to sail Britain’s brand new <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">aircraft-carrier</a> into the South China Sea. This act is almost certain to damage relations with China, the one country that has serious influence with Pyongyang.</p><p>But what of the United States, and the prospect that it will take military <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">action</a>? Here, three factors could well become relevant:</p><p>&nbsp;– Trump himself, especially if he becomes immersed in yet more domestic controversies and then seeks an overseas <a href="https://www.vox.com/world/2017/8/1/16075198/trump-lindsey-graham-north-korea-war">diversion</a> as a way out</p><p>&nbsp;– Washington's defence and security apparatus is now largely in <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/trump-generals-pentagon-mcmaster-dunford-isis/518298/">military</a> hands. That the chair of the US joint chiefs of staff is a serving general is usual; what is most unusual is to have three retired generals as head of the department of defence, as national-security advisor, and as chief of staff at the White House</p><p>&nbsp;– The ever-present risk of untoward escalation at a time of crisis, represented by the acronym AIM (accidents, incidents and mavericks). These are the variables that can <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-israel-syria-iran-war-by-accident">potentially</a> turn tensions into out-and-out violence. </p><p>This is a time for diplomacy that ensures tension with the "fortress state" is turned from military threat to a peaceful outcome. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.38north.org/">38 North</a><br /></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.acronym.org.uk/">Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy</a></p><p>Sung Chull Kim &amp; Michael D Cohen eds., <a href="http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/north-korea-and-nuclear-weapons"><em>North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: Entering the New Era of Deterrence </em></a>(Georgetown University Press, 2017)</p><p>Thomas M. Nichols, <a href="http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15090.html"><em><span class="style2">No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security</span></em></a> (University of Pennsylvania Press,2013)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-us-uks-latest-target">North Korea, the US-UK&#039;s latest target?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 03 Aug 2017 12:15:16 +0000 Paul Rogers 112668 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Afghanistan: despair...then imagine https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A big policy shift could still halt Kabul's downward spiral. Welcome to a parallel universe.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-21090388.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-21090388.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>David Cameron was the first world leader to meet Afghanistan's new President Ashraf Ghani and his recently defeated opponent in the presidential race Abdullah Abdullah, October 2014. Dan Kitwood/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The long war in Afghanistan was a major issue for Barack Obama's administration, and one that the new United States president inherited in January 2017. In his second term from 2009, Obama had tried to force the Taliban and other armed opposition groups (AOGs) to the negotiating table, through deploying 30,000 additional American troops. But even this "surge", which had taken the number of western troops in the country to 140,000, proved insufficient (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-afghan-test">Trump's Afghan test</a>", 16 February 2017).</p><p>In these circumstances, Obama decided on a policy of military withdrawal. Washington placed its new hope in training and equipping the Afghan National Army (ANA) to the<a href="http://www.stabilityjournal.org/articles/10.5334/sta.ei/"> point</a> where a reasonable degree of security could be maintained. All but a handful of troops were to leave, including most of the 30,000 provided by coalition partners, with the UK foremost among this group. But even that did not work out, as spreading insecurity delayed the pullout schedule. By the end of 2016 there were still around 14,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, as well as many thousands of private military contractors.</p><p>Donald Trump’s administration is now <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-06-21/how-trump-s-afghan-policy-is-different-from-obama-s">facing</a> a further deterioration in the security environment. A wave of attacks in the past week alone demonstrates the scale of the challenge. </p><p>* On 22 July, in an incident unfolding over several hours, Taliban paramilitaries mounted simultaneous offensives in parts of three provinces: <a href="http://www.tolonews.com/node/54706?utm_campaign=EBB%2007.24.2017&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">Ghore</a>, <a href="https://www.stripes.com/taliban-capture-two-more-districts-as-summertime-fighting-continues-1.479462?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2007.24.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief#.WXd-u9ipWUn">Faryab</a>, and Paktia. This confirmed the movement's <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/07/taliban-seizes-3-districts-from-afghan-government.php?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2007.26.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">ability</a> not just to conduct one-off attacks but to overrun and hold entire districts </p><p>* On 24 July, a suicide-bomber <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-24/car-bomb-in-kabul-kills-at-least-35-officials-say/8738464">targeted</a> government personnel in western Kabul, killing at least thirty-five and injuring more than forty. Some of the casualties were key senior <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-blast-idUSKBN1A9067?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2007.24.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">officials</a> from the ministry of mines, a sector of the weakened Afghan economy that needs every expert it can get </p><p>* On 25-26 July, in another well-planned operation, Taliban elements made coordinated <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/26/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-kandahar-slaughter.html">assaults</a> on an ANA outpost in Kandahar province that killed somewhere between twenty-six and up to fifty-one soldiers, according to variable <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/07/afghan-forces-sustain-heavy-casualties-in-taliban-assault-on-southern-base.php">estimates</a> by the government and a senior security official.</p><p>Two further incidents of a different kind can be added:</p><p>* On 20 July, the son of Taliban emir Mullah Haibatullah <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/07/son-of-talibans-emir-kills-himself-in-suicide-attack-on-afghan-forces.php?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2007.24.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">killed</a> himself in a suicide-attack&nbsp; on ANA forces in Helmand province. This was the region of the heaviest fighting against the Taliban in 2006-10, when British and American forces lost hundreds of their soldiers. When the British withdrew, then prime minister David Cameron rashly called it “mission accomplished”. Today, much of the <a href="http://www.afghana.com/GetLocal/Afghanistan/Provinces.htm">province</a> is once again under <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/antonio-giustozzi/taliban-and-afghanistan%e2%80%99s-war">Taliban</a> influence. That the provincial capital Lashkar Gar is still in government hands is partly because of the deployment of a force of several hundred United States marines.</p><p>* On 21 July, also in Helmand, an <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan-strike-idUSKBN1A6269">operation</a> by US strike-aircraft went badly wrong and killed fifteen Afghan police, including two commanders. In a period when so much was already going wrong for the Afghan government, it was another bitter blow.</p><p>In this perilous <a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/afghanistan">situation</a>, a further concern for the American military is mounting evidence of armaments and munitions it has supplied to the ANA and other Afghan security forces reaching Taliban hands. Corruption is <a href="https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_in_afghanistan_what_needs_to_change">part</a> of the reason, but so is the Taliban's ability to seize such material on the battlefield. The wide-ranging supplies include Humvee vehicles (some of which were later used in suicide-bomb attacks) and M-4 carbines, the lighter version of the older M-16 assault rifle. This has been in production since the mid-1990s and is now the <a href="https://medium.com/war-is-boring/the-m-4-carbine-is-here-to-stay-fe9012f293f4">standard</a> weapon for much of the United States army and marine corps. Yet another <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/07/taliban-seizes-3-districts-from-afghan-government.php?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2007.26.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">concern</a> is the Taliban’s acquisition of night-vision equipment, some of it later being used in propaganda videos.</p><h2><strong>A different approach?</strong></h2><p>These incidents suggest that the prospects for security in Afghanistan are grim, a view reflected in several interviews from March 2017 with Nato and Afghan personnel inside the country. In one, a soldier remarks: "We face a stalemate today, but we also faced one five, eight, ten, fifteen years ago, we just didn’t know it”. The same conclusion is also drawn by Emily Knowles’s report for the <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project.</a> </p><p>The main conclusion of <em><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefing_papers_and_reports/afghanistan_more_not_answer">In Afghanistan: more is not the answer</a> </em>(5 July 2017) is that the stalemate may hold, providing Nato states continue to maintain support. But there is little evidence that inserting several thousand more troops, as Trump may do, will have any substantive <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">effec</a>t. A potentially much more effective strategy would be an effort by multiple parties, including Nato states, Russia, Iran, China, Pakistan, India, and of course Afghanistan itself. The required focus would be an integrated commitment to working together, with the aim of <a href="https://www.usip.org/blog/2017/07/afghanistan-strategy-put-peace-talks-fore">negotiating</a> towards de-escalation. </p><p>In turn that process will have to involve the Taliban. It will also require the Afghan leadership itself to heal the current dispute between President Ashraf Ghani and chief executive officer Abdullah Abdullah, a point the International Crisis Group argued in its own report (<em><a href="https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-asia/afghanistan/285-afghanistan-future-national-unity-government ">Afghanistan: the future of the national unity government</a></em>, 10 April 2017). &nbsp; </p><p>But if change is going to come, Washington has a crucial role - although regional powers such as Pakistan, India and Iran are <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-regional-complex">important </a>too. This explains the air of pessimism around people who truly wish Afghanistan well. Trump shows no signs of recognising the problem. He is strongly tempted to give the US military more <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">power</a> to take decisions. Above all, the state department is much depleted, many of its experienced Afghan diplomats having moved to think-tanks and the private sector. This is yet one more area where Trump's White House is <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/ryan-lizza/anthony-scaramucci-called-me-to-unload-about-white-house-leakers-reince-priebus-and-steve-bannon">proving</a> disastrous, a reality no amount of early morning tweets can disguise.</p><p>Is there any other way? Perhaps it is worth speculating just for a moment. Imagine a parallel universe in which there was a country that had been involved in the <a href="http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780007287277/">war</a> in Afghanistan since 2001, but had a government that now sought a way forward to bring the conflict to an end. Imagine that it had an experienced, professional and well-funded diplomatic service and that it maintained good relations with most of the aforementioned countries, and at least tolerable relations with the others, even allowing for recent and past history. In that parallel universe that country might be the UK, under a government that genuinely sought an internationalist direction of travel and had a strong commitment to the United Nations.</p><p>Much of that description in no way <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/theresa-may-donald-trump-and-wars-to-come">applies</a> to the current Theresa May government and a certain Boris Johnson at the Foreign &amp; Commonwealth Office. But a Jeremy Corbyn government with an Emily Thornberry-led FCO could be very <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">different</a>. Yes, it is a parallel universe, for now. But it does no harm to speculate once in a while. In the right conditions, another Afghanistan is possible. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p>Antonio Giustozzi,<a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=518"><em> Wars and Warlords in Afghanistan</em></a> (C Hurst, 2012) </p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Alex Strick van Linschoten &amp; Felix Kuehn, <a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/an-enemy-we-created/"><em>An Enemy We Created The Myth of the Taliban / Al-Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010</em></a> (C Hurst, 2012)</p><p><a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a></p><p><span><span><a href="https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/">Afghanistan Analysts Network</a></span></span></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Antonio Giustozzi ed., <a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=515" target="_blank"><span><span><em>Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field</em> </span></span></a>(C Hurst, 2009)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-war-dynamic">Afghanistan, dynamic of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/theresa-may-donald-trump-and-wars-to-come">Theresa May, Donald Trump and the wars to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trumps-afghan-test">Trump&#039;s Afghan test</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">Trump and the Pentagon</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">How Labour can make Britain secure</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-and-world%E2%80%99s-resource-war">Afghanistan, and the world’s resource war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Fri, 28 Jul 2017 01:56:17 +0000 Paul Rogers 112572 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How Labour can make Britain secure https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The UK's defence and security policy is outdated. It's time for a positive and internationalist approach.<br /></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-28842342.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-28842342.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="285" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Defence Secretary Michael Fallon watches as the first piece of steel for the next generation of nuclear submarines is cut in the plate production manufacturing facility at BAE Systems. Phil Noble/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>If a week is a long time in politics, then the six weeks since the general election in the United Kingdom on 8 June seem an eternity. The Westminster parliament's summer recess begins with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party having transformed its electoral prospects and the Conservatives reduced to a chaotic state. Few could have imagined this outcome when the election was called on 18 April. </p><p>Such is the febrile state of British politics that it is impossible to predict how long the Conservative government will last and whether, if it does fall, Corbyn gets the chance to form a minority administration or whether another general election will be called.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Corbyn’s Labour Party has a serious chance of getting into power.</p><p>What is more certain is that Corbyn’s Labour Party has a serious chance of getting into power. If and when it does, it will have to deal with Brexit and all the complications that go with that. But Labour will also have to handle two key decisions already taken in another big policy area, that of defence and security. How the party prepares for this inheritance could be crucial to its chances of winning the next election, and to being successful in government (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyns-labour-now-look-outwards">Corbyn's Labour: now look outwards</a>", 16 June 2017).</p><p>The impact of the first decision became clearer in the launch of the Royal Navy’s huge new aircraft-carrier <a href="http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/queenelizabeth"><em>HMS Queen Elizabeth</em></a>. It was commissioned in 2007, alongside its partner vessel the <em>HMS Prince of Wales</em>. The combined cost of these ships amounts to well over £6bn. At 65,000 tonnes, each is designed to have three times the displacement of the carriers they succeed. The second decision, confirmed in 2016, is the replacement of the UK's aging <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4438392.stm">Trident-missile</a> submarines with new boats, at a core cost of over £30bn. </p><p>The public might assume that for all the expense in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-weapons-future-no-done-deal">replacing</a> the Trident submarines and building two huge new aircraft-carriers, this still represents a small part of the overall defence budget. But this would ignore the huge resources needed to deliver these programmes. An aircraft-carrier does not operate on its own. It has to be at the centre of a whole flotilla of escorts (destroyers and frigates) as well as a nuclear-powered attack-submarine, auxiliary ships and maritime air-cover.</p><p>The same applies to a Trident submarine. Here the assumption is that such a submarine leaves its base and disappears into the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-submarines-out-of-time">depths</a> only to emerge at the end of a patrol some months later. Again this is not the case, because of a little matter called “deterrence support”. This is likely to include a nuclear-powered attack-submarine, maritime air-support, and an escort or two readily available on call.</p><p>To all this, add in the fact that keeping a warship at sea and fully operational commonly requires three ships – to allow for passage, training, re-equipping, maintenance and regular refits.</p><p>Put bluntly, maintaining an aircraft-carrier of the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-40402153">size</a> and complexity of <em>HMS Queen Elizabeth</em> and a Trident submarine will require a very large chunk of the whole Royal Navy. It will leave Britain with the <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2346.2006.00560.x/abstract">capability</a> to engage in expeditionary warfare and fight a nuclear war, but – at least in terms of global policy – not too much else (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/british_seapower_3733.jsp">British sea power: a 21st-century question</a>", 13 July 2006). </p><h2><strong>New generations, new policy&nbsp; </strong></h2><p>The problem for Labour is that all this is already decided, whereas any sensible line of thinking would mean Britain giving up its <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/uk-nuclear-deterrent">pretence</a> of being a global military power. It would cancel the Trident replacement and either go for a reserve capability or a much reduced force, and committing in more than rhetoric to the worldwide move towards a nuclear-weapons convention (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor">Britain's nuclear plans: the Corbyn factor</a>", 17 September 2015). Where the carriers are concerned, the clever thing to do would be to sell the first one to China, a move that would more or less guarantee that India would buy the second.</p><p>This approach would help create space to undertake a serious defence and security review that would go back to basics in determining what a country such as the UK could really do in terms of contributing to international peace and stability (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain%27s-defence-path-to-change">Britain's defence, the path to change</a>", 7 May 2015). At present Labour will not take such a path because it has a near-pathological fear of being <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-peril-and-its-silences">labelled</a> unpatriotic, thus leaving the party with little room for manoeuvre in a vital department.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">A genuinely internationalist agenda should be central to a revised vision of security.</p><p>But the fear is mistaken, and the general election shows why. What became clear during the campaign is that Labour is steadily increasing its <a href="http://www.nme.com/news/nme-exit-poll-young-voters-2017-general-election-2086012">appeal</a> to people under forty, including many in their teens and twenties. These represent different generations to the mostly older people who hang on to the idea of “Great” Britain as a world military power (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/in-defence-of-greatness-britains-carrier-saga">In defence of greatness: Britain's carrier saga</a>", 11 May 2012).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The implication is that accusations of lack of patriotism, such as might still follow a genuinely radical defence review, are gaining progressively less traction within the national body-politic. If Labour recognises this, the concern about losing votes on the issue should recede. This is even more the case if three other priorities were emphasised.</p><p>First, a crucial security issue for our time is climate disruption. Second, the “war on terror” has not <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-and-isis-need-to-rethink">made</a> people feel safer. Third, a commitment to a genuinely internationalist agenda, starting with United Nations reform and a substantial peacekeeping role, should be central to a revised vision of security. Far from being unpopular, a confident and positive approach on these themes would be attractive to the new generations of voters (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers?page=15">Beyond 'liddism': towards real global security</a>", 1 April 2010). .</p><p>One of Labour’s most remarkable <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-and-election-surprise">achievements</a> under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is that austerity is no longer seen as inevitable but rather as a failed policy. Compare the “there is no alternative” view that was dominant only a few months ago.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>A coherent effort backed by strong ideas overturned the prevailing wisdom on austerity. The irrelevance of so much of the UK's defence posture is long overdue for similar treatment. It worked once. Why not again? </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php">Department of peace studies, Bradford University</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> <p><a href="http://www.acronym.org.uk/">Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy</a></p><p><a href="http://sustainablesecurity.org/">Sustainable Security</a></p><p><a href="http://www.basicint.org/">British American Security Information Council</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor">Britain&#039;s nuclear plans: the Corbyn factor</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/british_seapower_3733.jsp">British sea power: a 21st-century question</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-weapons-future-no-done-deal">Britain&#039;s nuclear-weapons future: no done deal </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/britain_nuclear_3693.jsp">Britain&#039;s nuclear-weapons fix</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain-and-isis-need-to-rethink">Britain and ISIS: a need to rethink</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/gordon_browns_white_elephants">Gordon Brown&#039;s white elephants</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/in-defence-of-greatness-britains-carrier-saga">In defence of greatness: Britain&#039;s carrier saga</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-submarines-out-of-time">Britain&#039;s deep-sea defence: out of time?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/corbyns-labour-now-look-outwards">Corbyn&#039;s Labour: now look outwards</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 20 Jul 2017 10:44:20 +0000 Paul Rogers 112392 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What the taking of Mosul means https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-taking-of-mosul-really-means <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Victory is declared in Iraq's second city. But ISIS is undefeated, and the long war continues. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32005258.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32005258.jpg" alt="lead lead lead " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An Iraqi soldier talks with civilians who are waiting to be evacuated in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, on July 10, 2017. Khalil Dawood/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi travelled to Mosul on 10 July to announce the city's final seizure from ISIS. The campaign had begun in October, and was expected to be over by the end of the year. Instead, a gruelling military operation lasted nine months. It <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/battle-for-mosul/?hpid=hp_no-name_graphic-story-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory">involved</a> intense bombardment of the city and great loss of life, on a scale <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-civilians-idUSKBN19W0CR">highlighted</a> by some international NGOs and United Nations agencies. </p><p>Moreover, even as victory was being <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-mosul-idUSKBN19V105">declared</a> its limits were being revealed. Sporadic fighting continued in parts of Mosul, and ISIS was able to reinforce its <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-mosul-idUSKBN19W0NN">control</a> of most of Imam Gharbi, a village seventy kilometres to the south on the western bank of the Tigris. The Iraqi army may deploy units to retake the village, but the incident is a reminder that ISIS still controls many settlements across north-west Iraq.</p><p>More generally, and as recent columns in this series have discussed, ISIS is moving on from its early and distinctive emphasis on the geographical control of a distinct caliphate (see, for example, "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/after-mosul-what">After Mosul, what?</a>", 21 February 2017). </p><p>Over the three years since its rapid spread in mid-2014, the movement has developed three further strategies. The first is to take the war to the “<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-vs-its-far-enemy">far enemy</a>” with attacks in the United States, Belgium, France, the UK, Germany, Russia, Turkey and elsewhere. These operations demonstrate its continuing capabilities, provide a sense of revenge at the killing of tens of thousands of its supporters by the coalition’s air assaults and, above all, try to damage the internal social cohesion of the far-enemy states.</p><p>The second strategy is to encourage and aid the expansion of like-minded extreme Islamist groups elsewhere, for example in <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-security-idUSKBN19S13G">Egypt</a>, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and the southern Philippines. The third is ISIS's transition to anti-state guerrilla warfare in Iraq and Syria (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a>", 29 June 2017).</p><p>In this context the loss of Mosul, while undoubtedly a major blow, is leavened by the way that key ISIS personnel in both Mosul and Raqqa have long since dispersed across both countries. From Raqqa, significant new <a href="https://www.voanews.com/a/islamic-state-tighten-grip-on-village-near-mosul/3937194.html?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2007.11.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">locations</a> are Mayadeen and Deir al-Zour, both to the south-east of Raqqa and <a href="https://isis.liveuamap.com/">closer</a> to the border with Iraq.</p><p>In Iraq itself, there are swathes of territory dotted with towns and villages, as well as districts of cities such as Baghdad, where ISIS paramilitaries can go to ground and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/07/12/what-the-islamic-state-is-saying-about-the-fall-of-mosul/?utm_term=.b3bcbd20099f">prepare</a> for the coming guerrilla war. In this process, the movement is aided by two consequences of Mosul's recapture. The first relates to the condition of the Iraqi army’s key <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/counter-terrorism.htm">special forces</a> (including the Counter Terrorism Service and the unit known as the “golden division”). At the start of the Mosul operation, the CTS had around 10,000 troops and was regarded as the army's only completely reliable force from the Baghdad government's viewpoint.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/David-Witty-Paper_Final_Web.pdf">CTS</a>, which was largely trained and equipped by personnel from United States special-operations command, has borne the brunt of the intense urban warfare against combat-proven ISIS paramilitaries, many of whom have been ready and willing to die for their cause. Both sides did indeed suffer as well as inflict heavy losses in the struggle for Mosul. For its part the Iraqi army is very reluctant to release casualty <a href="http://icasualties.org/Iraq/index.aspx">figures</a>, but its special forces may have been degraded by as much as 40%.</p><p>That creates a big problem for Haider el-Abadi's government. A severely depleted CTS removes the pillar of security against ISIS in a post-Mosul Iraq. The regular army is not sufficiently well trained or equipped to do this, while the numerous unofficial <em>Shi’a</em> militias have acquired a reputation for violent <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/video-shows-us-allies-in-syria-torturing-prisoners?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2007.11.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">reprisals</a> and torture against supporters of ISIS and the many ordinary <em>Sunni</em> Iraqis that may be suspected of opposing the government.</p><p>The second consequence of Mosul's capture is to confirm how acutely difficult it is to subdue experienced and determined extremist paramilitaries, especially in urban environments. This is far from a new realisation: American troops had the same experience in Iraq in 2003-08, and responded with the use of multiple special-force units (including a British SAS squadron). This so-called “shadow war” focused on a group known as Task Force 145 which went mostly unreported at the time (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-war-and-isis-connection">Iraq war and ISIS: the connection</a>", 29 October 2015).</p><p>The US and its allies are again adapting. There has been a step-change in their reliance on air-power in the form of helicopter-gunships, strike-aircraft and especially armed-drones. Hitherto, the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/07/11/world/middleeast/what-i-saw-in-mosul-iraq-isis.html?mcubz=0">intensity</a> of their overall air war against ISIS – now approaching its fourth year and responsible for the killing of 60,000 ISIS supporters across Iraq and Syria – has hitherto been largely ignored by the western media, but is now receiving more attention (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mosul-very-dangerous-victory">Mosul: a very dangerous victory</a>", 31 March 2017). </p><p>This too is nothing new in relation to Iraq, Afghanistan and other states in conflict since 9/11, but Mosul is the clearest indicator of what is to come elsewhere (see "<a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/after_mosul_islamic_state%E2%80%99s_asian_and_african_future">After Mosul: Islamic State’s Asian and African Future</a>", Oxford Research Group, 28 June 2017). Here too the escalation of aerial and artillery bombardment is partly a response to the losses inflicted on the CTS. And the great bulk of the heavy ordnance dropped on Mosul has <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/drone-video-show-ruins-of-mosul/28610777.html?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2007.11.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">come</a> from the coalition&nbsp; Even the French, very much the junior coalition partners, report having undertaken over 900 airstrikes on the city. But US forces operate at a far greater concentration.</p><p>The well informed <a href="https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/as-mosul-battle-neared-end-anti-isis-airstrikes-reached-new-peak?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2007.11.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief"><em>Air Force Times</em></a> says:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>“As the battle for Mosul, Iraq, entered its final stage and the fight for Raqqa in Syria heated up, the number of weapons released by coalition aircraft against the Islamic State last month reached new records. </p><p>The coalition dropped at least 4,848 bombs as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in June, an 11 percent increase over the previous month's record of 4,374 weapons released, according to statistics posted online Monday by U.S. Air Forces Central Command. </p><p>"In the first half of 2017, the coalition released at least 23,413 weapons, putting it on track to easily eclipse the 30,743 bombs dropped in all of 2016, and the 28,696 released throughout 2015” (see Stephen Losey, "<a href="https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/as-mosul-battle-neared-end-anti-isis-airstrikes-reached-new-peak?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2007.11.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">As Mosul battle neared end, anti-ISIS airstrikes reached new peak"</a>, <em>Air Force Times</em>, 10 July 2017).&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p><strong>Costs of war </strong></p><p>In one sense all this is absolutely understandable and no-one should be surprised. If a military commander sees disabling casualties being inflicted on troops but has the firepower to counter the enemy – even if it means coming close to destroying a city in order to save it – then that is what a commander is likely to do. Furthermore, it is much easier to do this if so much of the onslaught comes from the air, especially armed-drones, and carries little risk for the attackers (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a>", 2 December 2016).</p><p>As if on cue, another example was reported this week, also involving an ISIS-linked group but one thousands of miles from Iraq. For two months, the Filipino armed forces have been trying to <a href="http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/07/12/17/2-soldiers-dead-11-injured-as-air-strike-misses-target-in-marawi">wrest </a>control of the southern city of Marawi from extreme Islamist paramilitaries. They too have been suffering casualties and resorting to airstrikes, this time to target snipers in high-rise buildings. The <em>Straits Times</em> <a href="http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/philippine-air-strikes-target-high-rise-isis-snipers ">reports</a> that the government is pursuing this tactic despite the massive <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/world/asia/marawi-philippines-islamic-state.html">damage</a> it may cause in the city. One military officer says simply, "If we do not use air strikes, we will incur more casualties [among] our troops”.&nbsp; </p><p>The comment aptly summaries the emerging era of <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Society social sciences/Politics government/Irregular War Islamic State and the New Threat from the Margins?menuitem={239D0C28-CDB7-40CA-84BD-C678EB5FC801}">irregular war</a>, and the direction of movement in the western military-control paradigm. “We made a desert and called it peace”, wrote Tacitus. That “<a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/drone-video-show-ruins-of-mosul/28610777.html?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2007.11.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">desert</a>” will continue to nourish extreme movements such as ISIS, and they too will survive and evolve. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://treasureislands.org/"><em><span class="st"></span></em></a><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group </a></span></span></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-against-and-in-west">ISIS against, and in, the west</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">Iraq and beyond: hidden, secret wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/after-mosul-what">After Mosul, what?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mosul-very-dangerous-victory">Mosul: a very dangerous victory</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">The thirty-year war: still on track</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 13 Jul 2017 07:37:24 +0000 Paul Rogers 112244 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The disruptions of climate and conflict are sparking perilous global insecurity.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-30620710.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-30620710.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Drought and looming famine affecting people in Doolow, a border town Doolow with Ethiopia, Somalia, March 20, 2017. Xinhua/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Six years ago there were fears of a transnational famine developing across much of eastern Africa. At least 11 million people were at risk in what might have been the worst disaster of its kind since the early 1970s (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-hunger-east-africa-and-beyond">A world in hunger: east Africa and beyond</a>", 21 July 2011).&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">This impending crisis was not unforeseen.</p><p>This impending crisis was not unforeseen. An analysis of several interlocking factors, already evident several years earlier, had anticipated such an outcome (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the_world_s_food_problem">The world's food insecurity</a>", 24 April 2008). These factors included higher oil prices, the early impact of climate change, increased demand for feed grains to boost meat production for the richer countries, and the diversion of land to grow biofuels.</p><p>These recent moments of urgent concern from ten and <a href="https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/latest-food-crisis-brewing-months-0">six </a>years ago mirror the near-disaster of the world food <a href="http://la.utexas.edu/users/hcleaver/357L/357lsect4biblio.html">crisis</a> of 1973-74, when multiple elements put at least 22 million people at risk. The danger then was narrowly avoided by emergency financial aid to enable the most crisis-ridden states to purchase grain from the international markets. </p><p>But that very success pointed to an underlying <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9780230553552#reviews">feature</a> of all such crises, which needs to be better understood: namely, there has never been too little food to go round, for (at least since 1945) world grain resources have not been anywhere near complete depletion. The <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/100893540">problem</a>, instead, has been much more one of poverty. In short, people are unable for many reasons to grow their own food and far too poor to buy food when harvests fail.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">There has never been too little food to go round.</p><p>Now there is a new international food crisis, as<a href="http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/902483/icode/"> reported</a> by the director-general of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation at the organisation's biennial <a href="http://www.fao.org/europe/news/detail-news/en/c/896725/">conference</a>. Jose Graziano da Silva <a href="http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/progress-world-hunger-reversed/ ">said</a> that the FAO "has identified nineteen countries facing severe food crises due to a combination of conflict and climate change, including South Sudan, northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, where nearly 20 million are at risk.”</p><p>In broad terms, da Silva and the <a href="http://www.fao.org/about/en/">FAO </a>specialists see the current predicament as a reversal of the previous trend in which there has been a slow improvement in food availability <a href="https://www.fews.net/">across</a> the world – the two recent periods cited above being the exception. Now there is a real problem, with the FAO calculating that some 60% people across the world who face hunger live in countries <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/climate-peril-race-against-time">experiencing</a> conflict or climate change, or both at once.</p><p>The effect of conflict on food <a href="https://www.fews.net/">availability</a>, as in the many irregular wars of recent years, is clear enough. Here, some countries are able eventually to see a degree of peace restored, while others continue to be consumed by violence and as a result suffer deep food insecurity (see <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> [IB Tauris, 2016]).</p><p>But what seems to be most significant today, and increasingly accepted within the FAO and other agencies, is that climate change is becoming a permanent reality affecting food supplies in many parts of the world. It is not something for the future, but is happening now (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/climate-disruption-new-reality">Climate disruption, the new reality</a>", 19 May 2016).</p><h2><strong>Time to act</strong></h2><p>Since the early 1990s It has been recognised that climate change is an asymmetric process, which is likely to lead to a progressive drying out of the tropical and sub-tropical regions. <a href="https://www.giss.nasa.gov/staff/drind.html">David Rind’s</a> seminal article was a vital early contribution for the non-specialist, in emphasising less that global rainfall was decreasing and more that this rainfall was tending to fall over the oceans and polar regions (see "<a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14619764-500-drying-out-the-tropics/">Drying out the Tropics</a>", <em>New Scientist</em>, 6 May 1995). Since the tropics and sub-tropics provide much of the food for the whole world, the implications of a fall in the carrying-capacity of the croplands would be progressive and, ultimately, catastrophic (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_864.jsp">Climate change and global security</a>", 2 January 2003).</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Climate change is an asymmetric process, which is likely to lead to a progressive drying out of the tropical and sub-tropical regions.</p><p>As with so many aspects of climate change, little was done at a global level in light of this knowledge. The world is now witnessing the results. The degree of vulnerability is shown by the relative availability of renewable water resources in different parts of the world. An FAO <a href="http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/mideast-water-use-innovations-crucial-face-climate-change/">analysis</a> puts it bluntly: </p><p>“In the Near East and North Africa region, the per capita renewable water availability is around 600 cubic metres per person per year – only 10 per cent of the world average –and drops to just 100 cubic metres in some countries…”&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>With financial support and political commitment, there are many ways for food-producing communities to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/climate-disruption-south-gets-real">adapt </a>in some degree to a decline in rainfall. The tactics might include really substantial improvements in water conservation, changes in the crops being grown and greater use of drought-tolerant <a href="http://www.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/farming/news/drought-tolerant-maize-improves-yields-in-13-countries.html">varieties</a>. These are necessary and buy time, but only up to a point. They will only realise their potential in the long term if the root cause of climate change – carbon emissions – is addressed. There is no <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/conflicts/global_security/century_change">escape</a> from the need for a rapid reduction in such emissions.&nbsp; </p><p>The increasing migratory flows across the Mediterranean towards southern Europe, and through other routes, are already featuring on the news agenda. These will become a familiar daily story in the coming months. Yet there is currently little evidence that western governments recognise their long-term significance and growing <a href="https://qz.com/605609/the-climate-change-refugee-crisis-is-only-just-beginning/">connection</a> to climate change (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mediterranean-dreams-climate-realities">Mediterranean dreams, climate realities</a>", 23 April 2015).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>What is happening now is a marker for much greater pressures as climate change translates into climate disruption. If that is grasped in a strategic way, the urgent need to curb carbon emissions will become unavoidable. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p>David Rind, "<a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14619764-500-drying-out-the-tropics/">Drying out the Tropics</a>", <em>New Scientist</em> (6 May 1995)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group </a></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.thp.org/">The Hunger Project</a></p><p>D John Shaw, <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9780230553552#aboutBook"><em>World Food Security: A History since 1945</em></a> (Palgrave, 2007)</p><p><a href="http://www.fao.org/UNFAO/about/index_en.html">Food and Agricultural Organisation</a> (FAO)</p> <p>Amartya Sen, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/27466009_Amartya_Sen%27s_Development_as_Freedom"><em>Development as Freedom</em> </a>(Oxford University Press, 1999)</p><p><a href="http://www.fews.net/Pages/default.aspx">Famine Early Warning Systems Network</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/world-on-margin">A world on the margin</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/world-in-hunger-east-africa-and-beyond">A world in hunger: east Africa and beyond </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-opportunity-of-crisis">A world in flux: crisis to agency</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/a-world-in-need-the-case-for-sustainable-security">A world in need: the case for sustainable security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/a-world-in-revolt">A world in revolt</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/world-in-protest-1">A world in protest </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/world-in-breakdown">A world in breakdown</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/world-in-crisis-echo-need-hope">A world in crisis: echo, need, hope</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 06 Jul 2017 13:26:34 +0000 Paul Rogers 112123 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ISIS: the long-term prospect https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The caliphate is besieged. But ISIS can take heart from global trends working in its favour.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-31608940.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-31608940.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Over 80 suspected Islamic State militants are packed into a makeshift cell close to Mosul, Iraq, 07 June 2017. Suspects were told by Iraqi forces to face away from the camera to protect their identities. Andrea DiCenzo/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Mosul's impending fall and Raqqa's ongoing siege highlight ISIS's slow loss of control of the much-vaunted caliphate it declared exactly three years ago, on 29 July 2014. The costs to the movement have been huge: over 50,000 of its supporters have been killed during the coalition’s three years of intensive <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">airstrikes</a>, and many thousands of civilians across Iraq and Syria have died as a direct result of the war.</p><p>But ISIS can claim to have seriously damaged the Iraqi army’s special forces, making it much more difficult for Haider al-Abadi's government in Baghdad to stabilise Iraq. This will in turn help ISIS to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">transform</a> itself into a guerrilla force and, it would hope, a long-term insurgency.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">ISIS's self-image is enhanced by the level of force used against it by the “crusader states” of the “far enemy”.</p><p>ISIS's capacity to deploy at least 1,000 suicide-bombers in the battle for Mosul means it can present itself as a powerful symbol of continuing struggle. It is significant here that the movement's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">timescale </a>for success is measured in many decades, with a short-lived caliphate only one portion. Furthermore, its self-image is enhanced by the level of force used against it by the “crusader states” of the “<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-vs-its-far-enemy">far enemy</a>”.&nbsp; ISIS believes it will outlast the present generation of western leaders and keep<a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/06/isil-caliphate-crumbles-ideology-remains-170628093014443.html"> alive</a> its historic mission of creating the true caliphate to come.</p><p>ISIS's current strategy has two more elements. The first is to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-against-and-in-west">export</a> the war to aggressor states – the European and north American components of the far enemy. Recent examples include the attacks in Manchester and London, the potentially devastating failed <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/21/world/europe/brussels-belgium-station-attack.html">attack</a> on 27 June at Brussels' central station. These operations aim to stir up as much anti-Muslim bigotry as possible, thereby weakening social cohesion in western states and perhaps even their determination to continue fighting ISIS.</p><p>The second element is to disseminate the idea <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/new-counterterrorism-heat-map-shows-isis-branches-spreading-worldwide-n621866">around</a> the world. In a sense this is already well underway: ISIS has largely taken over from al-Qaida as the figurehead that Islamist movements in a host of countries seek to emulate: northern Nigeria, Mali and across the Sahel, Yemen, Somalia, Bangladesh, southern Thailand. Afghanistan and Egypt – where the regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/6/23/egypts-sisi-declares-three-month-extension-of-state-of-emergency">seeks</a> to suppress Islamist dissent but inevitably provokes it – are proving fertile territories. The southern Philippines is a surprising <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/04/opinion/isis-philippines-rodrigo-duterte.html">addition</a> to the list: there, a coalition of Islamist paramilitary movements is trying to maintain its weeks-long control of Marawi, on the island of Mindanao, against the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/world/asia/marawi-philippines-islamic-state.html">firepower</a> of the Filipino army and United States special forces.</p><h2><strong>A view across decades</strong></h2><p class="mag-quote-left">These operations aim to stir up as much anti-Muslim bigotry as possible.</p><p>These factors raise the much broader question of whether ISIS, its offshoots and like-minded extreme movements – whether these are rooted in religious, political, nationalist or ethnic identities – may develop further, and even coalesce into broad “revolts from the margins”. This is still an open question, but it can be <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/after_mosul_islamic_state%E2%80%99s_asian_and_african_future ">approached</a> in the context of global trends that really could have such a result (see "<a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/after_mosul_islamic_state%E2%80%99s_asian_and_african_future">After Mosul: Islamic State’s Asian and African Future</a>", Oxford Research Group, 28 June 2017).</p><p>A recent report finds that twenty-two Arab countries are home to 100 million people aged 15-24, while those in Asia and the Pacific have 400 million. This total of 500 million makes up 60% of the world’s youth population. The Arab states in particular <a href="http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/06/what-future-for-700-million-arab-and-asian-youth/ ">suffer</a> from very high rates of youth unemployment, averaging 30% for the region but peaking in war-torn states such as Yemen at 55%.</p><p>At the same time, one of the successes of the last four decades or so has been real improvements in education, literacy and communications. This means that any perception of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-on-margin">marginalisation</a> and meagre life-prospects is more likely to be rooted in direct knowledge of how elites live. The combination of high rates of graduate unemployment and insecurity offers clear dangers. A prominent example is Tunisia: it is making a slow transition to more representative governance, yet proportionally more of its young people embrace extreme Islamist views than in most Arab countries (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/tunisia-and-world-roots-of-turmoil">Tunisia and the world: roots of turmoil</a>", 24 January 2011).</p><p class="mag-quote-right">ISIS today seems to be near collapse, but the longer-term&nbsp;prospects &nbsp;<span>for it and like-minded movements are far more promising than many in the&nbsp;</span>west<span>&nbsp;are ready to acknowledge.</span></p><p>In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, tens of millions of young people also have poor life-chances, notwithstanding a quite rapid pace of development and the provision of much wider educational opportunities. This situation gains even further seriousness if the growing impact of climate change on the agriculture sector is added. A powerful statement from the <a href="http://www.agromisa.org/symposium-sustainability-stability-security-africa/">leaders </a>of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger <a href="http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/06/africa-drought-jobless-hopeless-youth-fertile-grounds-extremism/ ">says</a> that “drought, food insecurity, water scarcity, unemployment, hopelessness about the future and poverty are fertile grounds for extremism, and a sign of insecurity, instability and unsustainability”.&nbsp;</p><p>The United Nations convention to combat desertification (<a href="http://www2.unccd.int/convention/about-convention">UNCCD</a>) is also <a href="http://africasciencenews.org/africa-acts-on-distressed-migration-of-youth">focusing</a> on this nexus. Its executive secretary Monique Barbut points to the 375 million young people who will enter African job markets by 2032, over half (200 million) of whom will be living in rural areas. She <a href="http://www2.unccd.int/news-events/global-observance-world-day-combat-desertification-burkina-faso">says</a>: “Millions of rural young people face an uncertain future due to the lack of decent rural jobs and continuous loss of livelihoods due to land degradation and falling yields…Frustrations will boil over with more migration and more conflict over a shrivelling resource base”.</p><p>In short, there are many tens of millions of young, educated and knowledgeable people across the Middle East, Africa and Asia who have grounds to see the world from an entirely different perspective to leaderships and elites in the global north. For them, the current world economic system is not delivering reasonable ambitions – and that is even before inexorable climate <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/climate-disruption-new-reality">disruption</a> has a fuller impact (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">Al-Qaida, and a global revolt</a>", 22 May 2014).</p><p>ISIS today seems to be near collapse, at least in a territorial sense. But in light of these larger circumstances, the longer-term <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">prospects</a> for it and like-minded movements are far more promising than many in the west are ready to acknowledge.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://treasureislands.org/"><em><span class="st"></span></em></a><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group </a></span></span></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/world-on-margin">A world on the margin</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/a-world-on-the-edge">A world on the edge</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">Al-Qaida, and a global revolt</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">The thirty-year war: still on track</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mosul-very-dangerous-victory">Mosul: a very dangerous victory</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 29 Jun 2017 11:03:00 +0000 Paul Rogers 111994 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain's choice: the Provisional IRA then, ISIS now https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-security-choice-pira-then-isis-now <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The west's security elite should learn from the end of Northern Ireland's conflict. <br /></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-31776290.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-31776290.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hundreds of people gather outside Finsbury Park Mosque to show solidarity for the victims of the attack on June 20, 2017. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A quarter of a century separates Britain's general elections of 1992 and 2007. Comparing the two results is the stuff of much political commentary. But there is a less remembered connection with much greater relevance, for it goes to the heart of Britain's currrent security <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-and-isis-need-to-rethink">dilemmas</a>.</p><p>The 1992 vote took place on Thursday 9 April 1992. On the next day, two huge bombs exploded in London, both planted by the Provisional IRA. They were intended to target the city’s economy, just at the time when it was vying with Frankfurt to be the financial capital of Europe. The PIRA aim was to discourage any major European bank or finance group from locating in London (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/the_asymmetry_of_economic_war">The asymmetry of economic war</a>", 14 February 2008).</p><p>The first bomb disrupted one of London’s busiest road junctions, where the M1 motorway joined the North Circular Road. The second detonated outside the Baltic Exchange, in the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/14/world/dazed-but-alive-londoners-return.html">heart </a>of the city’s central business district. PIRA did not want to kill people although there were three <a href="https://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/baltic-exchange-bomb">deaths</a> in the city bombing. The damage to many of the gleaming high-rise offices was <a href="http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/irish_news/arts2005/jul7_attacks_by_IRA_dear.php">assessed</a> at a billion pounds.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The PIRA aim was to discourage any major European bank or finance group from locating in London.</p><p>PIRA’s campaign was to last for five years, interrupted by a short <a href="http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/peace/docs/ira31894.htm">ceasefire</a>. Over the whole period, another large bomb <a href="http://home.bt.com/news/on-this-day/april-24-1993-iras-bishopsgate-bomb-devastates-the-heart-of-the-city-of-london-11363977172852">exploded</a> in Bishopsgate, also in the City of London; three bombs were intercepted before they could be used; another damaged buildings at London’s secondary business district of Canary Wharf; and yet another did huge damage to the retail heart of <a href="http://huddled.co.uk/2014/06/18-years-ira-manchester-bomb/">Manchester.</a> In addition there were scores of smaller attacks, commonly on transport targets such as railway terminals, motorways and bridges.</p><p>In some ways PIRA’s campaign did have the intended effect, in that it prompted an increase in the UK government’s informal talks with Sinn Fein representatives. It certainly made Tony Blair’s Labour Party prioritise the Northern Ireland conflict when it took office in 1997, a policy shift which led on to a long-term peace process which survives to this day (see Paul Arthur, "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/IRA_2711.jsp">The end of the IRA's long war</a>", 28 July 2005).</p><p>There were many other factors involved in the transition in Northern Ireland, not least the slow social and economic emancipation on the nationalist minority. But a particular feature of those London <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4734400">bombings</a> is notable and has a particular resonance now, namely the pressures of increased security in the context of threats to community cohesion.</p><p>Throughout PIRA’s <a href="http://www.20thcenturylondon.org.uk/irish-republican-armed-campaigns">campaign</a> the British government denied very strongly that it was having any effect – the City of London was still very much open for business, there was no cause for concern and any foreign bank other financial institution would find a safe home.&nbsp; All is OK, was the message.</p><p>In fact, the reality was very different. A huge <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-38418877">increase</a> in security was implemented, with a rapid expansion of the use of coordinated CCTV imaging years before it became <a href="https://www.counterterrorexpo.com/">common</a> elsewhere. A “ring of steel” was put in place around the central business district, closing off most of the streets in and out, with the few remaining open to vehicles were subject to 24/7 police control. Most significant of all was the way the city authorities ran frequent meetings for the most senior foreign financial heads, including confidential breakfast sessions at the Mansion House.</p><h2><strong>History doesn't rhyme</strong></h2><p>Now look at the current situation. In London and other parts of Britain there are attacks from ISIS-supported individuals and groups, while anti-Muslim <a href="http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/muslims-targeted-by-violence-in-wake-of-isis-claimed-attacks/articleshow/59233295.cms">bigotry</a> is intensifying, most recently shown by a terror <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/2a02510a-548b-11e7-80b6-9bfa4c1f83d2?mhq5j=e1">attack </a>on a group of Muslims leaving the Finsbury Park mosque in north London. The beleaguered ISIS leaders in Syria and elsewhere may hardly be able to believe their success in being able to damage community cohesion in this and other lands of the <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/history/middle-east-history/far-enemy-why-jihad-went-global-2nd-edition?format=HB&amp;isbn=9780521519359">far enemy</a>.</p><p>The significance of all this, and the link with PIRA’s campaign in the early 1990s, is that this time the police openly say that they have <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40350748 ">difficulty</a> in coping. The pressures are reportedly so high that officers are having to be diverted from many other duties, with more <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/how-terror-is-becoming-the-new-normal-10920277">resources</a> urgently needed.</p><p>There are other factors involved. The previous Conservative administration <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34899060">cut</a> police spending substantially, Theresa May’s new government is hanging by a thread and therefore particularly susceptible to demands for more resources, the tactics being <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-against-and-in-west">developed</a> by ISIS are not always obvious, potential attackers can be very difficult to pinpoint and all too frequently willing to give their own lives.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">For ISIS, though, it is different. There still seems to be a quaint assumption that military suppression in Iraq and Syria will reduce the movement to a mere rump.</p><p>There is one further contrast. In the 1990s the underlying drivers of the Northern Ireland <a href="http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/index.html">conflict</a> were well understood. PIRA may have been labelled terrorists with whom it was quite impossible to engage – but their motives were known, their intentions were plain, and steps were already underway to address the underlying drivers of the conflict. The London bombing campaign may have focused political minds in Whitehall and Westminster, but it also speeded up an <a href="https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/northern-ireland-peace-process">existing</a> process.</p><p>For ISIS, though, it is different. There still seems to be a quaint assumption that military suppression in Iraq and Syria will reduce the movement to a mere rump, that there is little <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">connection</a> between the US-led air war with 50,000-plus ISIS supporters killed and the attacks in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, the US and Turkey. Even more so, there is scarcely any understanding of why ISIS has survived the air onslaught, why it is <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/04/world/middleeast/isis-german-recruit-interview.html">expanding</a> in Egypt, Afghanistan, the Philippines and elsewhere and, crucially, why it <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">continues</a> to get support.</p><p>In the mid-1990s, the leading protagonists brought the Northern Ireland conflict to an end. In the late 2010s, the west is nowhere near changing its approach to the “war on terror”. That is why this conflict, unlike the one that ended two decades ago, has many years still to run.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://treasureislands.org/"><em><span class="st"></span></em></a><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group </a></span></span></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Peter R Neumann, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Encyclopaedias%20%20reference%20works/Radicalized%20The%20New%20Generation%20of%20Jihadis%20and%20the%20Threat%20to%20the%20West?menuitem=%7BF027E667-C48E-489A-938D-62719293B2E7%7D"><em>Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016) </p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/corbyns-labour-now-look-outwards">Corbyn&#039;s Labour: now look outwards</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain-and-isis-need-to-rethink">Britain and ISIS: a need to rethink</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the_asymmetry_of_economic_war">The asymmetry of economic war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">The thirty-year war: still on track</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-against-and-in-west">ISIS against, and in, the west</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 9/11 : the 'war on terror' Paul Rogers Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:40:12 +0000 Paul Rogers 111835 at https://www.opendemocracy.net