Paul Rogers https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/1709/0 en 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 sense, 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, 1945)</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 Corbyn's Labour: now look outwards https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyns-labour-now-look-outwards <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After its electoral breakthrough, Labour needs to embrace a new internationalism. </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/558532/19621569840_e7c8a7edb2_b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/19621569840_e7c8a7edb2_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'>Corbyn in 2015. Jason/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the run-up to the British general election on 8 June, three columns in this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> explored the possibility that the end-result might not be a landslide victory for Theresa May and the Conservative Party.</p><p>The first pointed to “a niggling sense that something may be developing under the surface that could break through even in the short time left” (see "<a href="//www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message ">The Corbyn crowd, and its signal</a>", 18 May 2017). It seemed implausible, given that most opinion polls were showing a Conservative lead well into double figures. But a few days later the lead was beginning to narrow.</p><p>The second column noted that “Labour supporters began to sense a previously heretical notion that the Conservatives might not even gain an overall majority…” (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-and-election-surprise">Corbyn, and an election surprise</a>", 26 May 2017).</p><p>The third column further explored this possibility, though I have to admit that my own sense on election day was that the surge in Labour support had probably come too late. What the column did try to do, though, was link the election with the urgent need to review the handling of the war on terror in light of the Manchester and London Bridge attacks (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-and-isis-need-to-rethink ">Britain and ISIS: a need to rethink</a>", 7 June 2017).</p><p>It argued as follows:</p><p><span class="blockquote-new">“The implications for Britain are that at some stage there has to be a fundamental rethinking of its defence posture and how it responds to al-Qaida, ISIS and the like. Even if Theresa May’s Conservative Party is re-elected that process will eventually become impossible to avoid."</span></p><p><span class="blockquote-new">“But if Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party was to achieve the near-impossible and form a minority government in the coming weeks, its chances would be greatly boosted. Just one reason for anticipating a Labour success is that the much needed rethinking might happen sooner rather than later.”</span></p><p>The election <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2017/results">results </a>showed Labour making strong advances in votes and seat gains, enough to deprive the Conservatives of their previous majority and thus forcing them to seek support to remain in government. The diminished prime minister Theresa May is now trying desperately to shore up her government by making a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/10/world/europe/britain-election-dup-northern-ireland.html">deal </a>with Northern Ireland's right-wing Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). If this link is treated with suspicion by many even in her party, it is met with deep disdain <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay/so-who-are-dup">across</a> the rest of the political spectrum.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">When it came to canvassing, leaflets, hustings and all the rest, many tens of thousands of people turned out to help.</p><p>Labour’s success was down to many factors, but two of them, both linked to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/age-of-corbyn-i-most-powerful-person-in-land">Jeremy Corbyn</a>, stand out. The first was his own campaigning with its sustained message of hope, the second was the way in which his approach had already motivated huge <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/gallery/jeremy-corbyn-held-campaign-rally-10567273">numbers</a> of people, by no means all of them young (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-signal">The Corbyn crowd, and its signal</a>", 2 September 2016). When it came to the detail of the election – canvassing, leaflets, hustings and all the rest – many tens of thousands of people turned out to help, resulting in a level of activity that almost certainly exceeded even the high point of Labour’s 1997 campaign.</p><h2><strong>A wider agenda</strong></h2><p>So, what comes next? The utter dismay now evident in the Conservative Party, and the anger of the exceedingly rich <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/more-than-a-third-of-those-on-sunday-times-rich-list-are-tory-donors_uk_59102cdae4b0e7021e98e8de">benefactors</a> who put so much money into the campaigning, mean there may be a short period of reflection. Equally, determined attempts will soon be made to close the resulting political space and take back control of the political agenda.</p><p>How will this unfold? If Theresa May’s <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/world/europe/criticism-builds-as-theresa-may-prepares-to-announce-government-deal.html">attempt </a>to maintain power fails and if she, or her successor, stands down in favour of a Labour minority government, then another election is likely. On present form Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party could certainly <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/most-accurate-pollster-suggests-labour-10602762">win</a> this – indeed it is the only major party that even <em>wants</em> another election!</p><p>Whether the party wins such an election or is part of a <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/speakerscorner/2017/06/adding-up">minority</a> government, it will face strenuous and well-funded opposition. But in those circumstances, Britain’s natural Conservative establishment might not find it easy to press its claims. For even before reaching that point, it is clear that many of Labour’s domestic <a href="https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/05/22/how-popular-are-parties-manifesto-policies/">policies</a> are popular. This is shown by recent government <a href="https://uk.news.yahoo.com/weak-wobbly-theresa-mays-5-embarrassing-u-turns-150743488.html">u-turns</a> on pensions and education, and even more remarkably in its message that austerity is no longer the cornerstone of its economic approach.</p><p>The implication is that other areas of perceived Labour weakness will be assessed and exploited, the most significant of these being security. Even this will not be easy, since Corbyn’s <a href="http://press.labour.org.uk/post/161089328659/jeremy-corbyn-speech">response</a> to the Manchester and London Bridge attacks was seen to be both heartfelt and pointed. In particular, there really is a sense that the ISIS attacks do <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">relate</a> to persistent failures in the United Kingdom's foreign and defence policy.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The desire for international standing runs right across the body politic.</p><p>Nonetheless, it is a policy area that Conservatives will seek to exploit, not least because they can readily tap into any lingering <a href="https://theconversation.com/britain-still-thinks-its-a-great-power-but-it-isnt-50641">sense</a> that Britain is still a great power which can best be demonstrated through military capabilities under a government of the traditional type. That sense may be more pronounced among older people, but the desire for international standing runs right across the body politic. The British may not be as deluded as <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s</a> “make American great again” approach, but any party that can present a credible and worthwhile policy that also enhances international standing may continue to do well.</p><p>In this context, Labour should develop much wider policies that respond to the many international-security challenges the country faces. This needs to go beyond just arguing that the war on terror has <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-on-terror-interim-report">failed</a> – for that, in any case, is being more and more accepted. Many more issues could be on the agenda, all of them areas where a middle-ranking state such as the UK can actually have an impact. They include transforming United Nations peacekeeping; developing the UN <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/h-peter-langille/un-emergency-peace-service">emergency peace service</a>; fair trade; controlling global tax avoidance; countering tax havens; addressing the immensely profligate arms market; and investing heavily in green-energy transformation across the global south.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">This is about much more than winning an election – it is about promoting the idea that Labour is an internationalist party at a time when international leadership is sorely lacking.</p><p>This case may run against conventional political wisdom which believes that elections are won or lost on domestic issues, particularly the economy. But this is about much more than winning an election – it is about promoting the idea that Labour is an internationalist party at a time when international leadership is sorely lacking. That approach should be at the heart of Labour's purpose. The party's election <a href="http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017">manifesto</a> and Jeremy Corbyn’s <a href="https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/outlining-labours-defence-and-foreign-policy-priorities">speech</a> at Chatham House on foreign policy together represent a very good start on this path. Developing them further, and making the entire approach high profile, are likely to bring major and surprising benefits.&nbsp;</p><p>Labour’s internationalist agenda would in this way become as significant as its recent successful presentation of domestic policies, gaining the respect of voters of all ages. The heart of the matter is that it is the right thing to do. If the approach also makes it more difficult for Labour's opponents to label the party as unpatriotic then that is no more than a useful bonus.</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>W Stephen Gilbert, <a href="http://www.newsfromnowhere.org.uk/books/DisplayBookInfo.php?ISBN=9781908998972"><em>Jeremy Corbyn: Accidental Hero</em></a> (Eyewear, 2016)</p><p>Rosa Prince, <span class="st"><a href="https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/comrade-corbyn"><em>Comrade Corbyn A Very Unlikely Coup: How Jeremy Corbyn Stormed to the Labour Leadership</em></a> (Biteback, 2016)</span></p><p><span class="st">Richard Seymour, </span><span class="st"><a href="https://www.versobooks.com/books/2206-corbyn"><em>Corbyn</em>:<em> The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics</em></a> (Verso, 2016)<br /></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/corbyn-and-election-surprise">Corbyn, and an election surprise</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message">The Corbyn crowd, and its message</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-labour-should-do-now">What Labour should do now</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor">Britain&#039;s nuclear plans: the Corbyn factor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-future-not-past">Jeremy Corbyn, the future not the past</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-signal">The Corbyn crowd, and its signal</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/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</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> </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, 16 Jun 2017 14:18:16 +0000 Paul Rogers 111685 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain and ISIS: a need to rethink https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-and-isis-need-to-rethink <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Jeremy Corbyn's speech before the Manchester attack points a way beyond the "war on terror".&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-31331218.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-31331218.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="251" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>General Election 2017. Danny Lawson/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The previous two columns in this series have explored the idea that a Conservative Party landslide, with at least a 150-seat majority, might not after all be the outcome of the United Kingdom's general election on 8 June. The earlier one expressed "a niggling sense that something may be developing below the surface that could break through even in the short time left” (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message">The Corbyn crowd, and its message</a>", 18 May 2017). </p><p>That notion was based partly on the way in which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was repeatedly attracting large and enthusiastic crowds at open-air events arranged at short notice, apparently responding to a felt need for a less regimented and more engaged kind of politics. Within a week, this sense of a trend had begun to evolve into something rather more definite, and Labour activists were beginning to think the Conservatives might be denied an overall majority (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-and-election-surprise">Corbyn, and an election surprise</a>", 26 May 2017).</p><p>This latter column indicated a possibility of wishful thinking, but the trend of the last few days suggests that it is now distinctly possible. Part of this sudden and unprecedented shift reflects the Conservatives' campaign errors, especially over confusion on its policy over social care. But it is also clear that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is connecting with people in a remarkable way – his popularity is growing day by day and, far from being an obstacle to Labour’s electoral ambitions, he is becoming their star player.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is connecting with people in a remarkable way – his popularity is growing day by day and he is becoming their star player.</p><p>In light of these two columns, Oxford Research Group has just published a <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/manchester_general_election_and_britain%E2%80%99s_security_narrati">briefing</a> that extends the discussion to look specifically at Jeremy Corbyn’s views on international security. These views were expressed in his Chatham House speech on 12 May and further developed in a thoughtful response to the devastating Manchester Arena attack late on 22 May. </p><h2><b>A turning-point</b></h2><p>In terms of conventional electioneering wisdom, defence and security are assumed to be Labour’s weakest policies, certain to be bitterly criticised as unpatriotic by the great majority of the national print media. Such criticism certainly followed the <a href="https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/outlining-labours-defence-and-foreign-policy-priorities">Chatham House speech</a> and the subsequent Manchester intervention, but they had much less effect than intended. Indeed Corbyn’s view that the war on terror was failing and that there must be a fundamentally new approach to international security got much more support than expected, and certainly did nothing to dent the growing popularity of the party.</p><p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/16BtpSCufU0?ecver=1" frameborder="0" height="259" width="460"></iframe></p><p><i>Jeremy Corbyn addressing crowds in 2003 against going to war in Iraq.</i></p><p>The <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">ORG </a>report concluded:</p><p><i>“[After] more than fifteen years of the war on terror, failed or failing states in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, close to a million people killed and over eight million people displaced, the argument for some serious rethinking on Western approaches to security is hardly difficult to make.</i></p><p><i>This is where Jeremy Corbyn’s Chatham House speech is so significant since it breaks away from a near-universal Western state consensus and may be much more in tune with what many millions of people may be thinking. Whatever the outcome of the general election next week, space has been opened up for much wider debate. Independent organisations such as Oxford Research Group that take a critical but constructive approach to security will have a particular responsibility to aid the quality of that debate.”</i></p><p>The ORG report does, though, include one serious caveat. If in the coming weeks, ISIS loses both <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-movements-optimism">Raqqa</a> and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mosul-very-dangerous-victory">Mosul </a>and then collapses, making it look like the war on terror is at last something of a success, then any chance of rethinking security, whichever party is in power, will be much diminished. At the time of writing the ORG report, such a collapse did not look too likely but what is relevant here is that further, wide-ranging evidence from just the last few days strongly confirms that view. </p><h2><b style="font-weight: bold;">Three days, four theatres of war</b></h2><p>That evidence comes from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and the Philippines.</p><p>In Iraq, the army’s extended operation to retake Mosul was expected to be completed in barely ten weeks, but is now likely to take at least three times that. <i>Der Spiegel</i> <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/islamic-state-battles-the-iraqi-army-in-mosul-a-1149696.html?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2005.30.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">reports </a>that during the fighting, ISIS has deployed over 850 truck-bombs hundreds of young men ready to kill themselves. Even now, there are still around 1,200 ISIS paramilitaries <a href="https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/islamic-state-fighters-seal-off-mosul-mosque-preparing-for-last-stand/43224078">defending</a> a small core of the old city and the Iraqi army is only able to deploy a similar number of its elite task-forces one and two of its "golden division" (i.e. special forces). </p><p>So many of these troops have been killed or seriously wounded that the division is reported to be greatly <a href="http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/24122016">depleted</a>, with little capability of providing a professional core to the army when ISIS moves fully over to insurgency mode. Already that insurgency is evolving, the latest grim <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-security-idUSKBN18Q0KF?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2005.30.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">result</a> being the bombing of a Baghdad ice-cream parlour in a <i>Shi’a</i> district of the city on 30 May, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-40089402">killing</a> thirty-five people and injuring more than a hundred.</p><p>In Afghanistan, the Trump administration is overseeing a rapid expansion of its air-war against the Taliban and ISIS offshoots, with 460 weapons <a href="https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/us-coalition-strikes-in-afghanistan-spike-hit-highest-number-in-five-years?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2005.30.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">released</a> in April 2017 compared with 203 in March, the April total being the highest since the peak of Obama’s “surge” in August 2012. The paramilitary response is wide-ranging, including one of the largest truck-bombs ever <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/31/world/asia/kabul-explosion-afghanistan.html?_r=0 ">detonated</a>, killing over eighty people and injuring more than a hundred, just outside Kabul’s “green zone”.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>In Egypt, the recent bombing of Coptic Christian churches was followed by <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/05/islamic-state-claims-attack-on-bus-carrying-coptic-christians-in-egypt.php?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2005.30.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">attacks</a> by ISIS gunmen on a small convoy of Copts going on a pilgrimage to a monastery 150 miles south of Cairo. The assault in Minya province killed at least twenty-eight people, the latest in a series that has <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/26/world/middleeast/egypt-coptic-christian-attack.html">taken</a> the lives of more than 100 Copts since December.</p><p>In the Philippines, the army has been caught out by a sudden surge in paramilitary activity from a group linked to ISIS, in violence made worse by Philippine army casualties <a href="http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2096084/crisis-marawi-fears-2000-trapped-philippine-city-after?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2005.30.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">caused</a> by “friendly-fire” incidents. The impact, and the sense of a government unable to cope, was <a href=" http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Duterte-cancels-Japan-trip-as-Mindanao-siege-continues?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2005.30.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">enough</a> to persuade President Duterte to cancel a visit to Japan. The continuing insurgency and counter-violence in the southern province of Mindanao, where martial law is now in <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/casting-himself-as-national-savior-duterte-declares-martial-law-in-the-southern-philippines/2017/05/24/268d71fa-4075-11e7-9851-b95c40075207_story.html">force</a>, is part of a growing climate of insecurity in which the state <a href="http://www.atimes.com/article/path-dictatorship-philippines/">plays</a> a major role. </p><h2><b>A time to rethink</b></h2><p>These and many other incidents – including, of course, Manchester – are reminders that ISIS and similar movements are simply not <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/washingtons-wars-isis-trump-military">going</a> away, and for Trump to promise more force will be the equivalent of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">piling</a> yet more combustible material onto the blaze. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">ISIS and similar movements are simply not&nbsp;going&nbsp;away.</p><p>The implications for Britain are that at some stage there has to be a fundamental <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">rethinking</a> of its defence posture and how it responds to al-Qaida, ISIS and the like. Even if Theresa May’s Conservative Party is re-elected, that process will eventually become impossible to avoid. </p><p>But if Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party were to achieve the near-impossible and form a minority government in the coming weeks, its chances would be greatly boosted. Just one reason for anticipating a Labour success is that the much needed rethinking might happen sooner rather than later.</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>Rosa Prince, <span class="st"><a href="https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/comrade-corbyn"><em>Comrade Corbyn A Very Unlikely Coup: How Jeremy Corbyn Stormed to the Labour Leadership</em></a> (Biteback, 2016)</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/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor">Britain&#039;s nuclear plans: the Corbyn factor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-future-not-past">Jeremy Corbyn, the future not the past</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message">The Corbyn crowd, and its message</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/corbyn-crowd-and-its-signal">The Corbyn crowd, and its signal</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <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 Wed, 07 Jun 2017 09:56:07 +0000 Paul Rogers 111358 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Corbyn, and an election surprise https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-and-election-surprise <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A fresh approach to security and austerity highlights the choice for Britain's voters. </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-30982232_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-30982232_0.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'>"Game on": Corbyn delivers a stump speech in Croydon. Dominic Lipinski/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The previous article in this<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers"> series</a>, published a week ago, examined the idea that something was happening in the United Kingdom's general-election campaign that was not being picked up by the great majority of analysts. The consensus at the time was that Theresa May was heading for a landslide victory on 8 June against a divided Labour Party led by the hopeless Jeremy Corbyn, who had been the subject of bitter and persistent rubbishing by large sections of the print media (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message">The Corbyn crowd and its message</a>", 18 May 2017).</p><p>This column suggested otherwise, arguing that on the ground Corbyn was actually proving to be a popular and effective campaigner, attracting support from thousands of young people at meetings often arranged and publicised at short notice. The conclusion was that conventional wisdom might be wrong.</p><p>Labour’s prospects were quickly boosted by a <a href="http://www.labour.org.uk/page/-/Images/manifesto-2017/Labour%20Manifesto%202017.pdf">manifesto</a> published on 16 May. It promised a number of changes that might be labelled as ultra-left by the Conservatives and the great majority of their supportive newspapers but were also <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-signal">popular</a> among many voters. They included the progressive nationalisation of the disjointed rail network, major increases in health and education spending and increased taxation for the top 5% of the population.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Labour supporters began to sense a previously heretical notion that the Conservatives might not even gain an overall majority on 8 June.&nbsp;</p><p>The Conservative <a href="https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto">manifesto</a> launched two days later was, by contrast, something between a damp squib and a bit of a disaster, made worse by an absence of financial costings that quickly threw up some significant anomalies. By the weekend the Conservatives still looked on course for a substantial election victory, but there was far less <a href="https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/05/25/manifesto-destinies/">prospect</a> of a landslide, given the sudden move of the opinion polls in Labour’s direction.</p><p>By early this week many Labour supporters began to sense a previously heretical notion that the Conservatives might not even gain an overall majority on 8 June. This was probably wishful thinking but the very idea of Corbyn becoming an unexpectedly popular figure was enough to create an ever so slight whiff of <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-election-poll-yougov-idUKKBN18L2UM">panic</a> in the upper echelons of the Conservative Party.</p><p>For the past four days, the election campaign has been utterly overshadowed by the terrible consequences of the Manchester <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-40008389">bombing</a>, but national-level campaigning by the main partners has now recommenced for the final fortnight before polling day.</p><h2><strong>An unexpected turn</strong></h2><p>This brings us to the matter of trying to follow up last week’s analysis. The core of the Conservative case before the atrocity in Manchester had been that Corbyn was unelectable, Labour was utterly incompetent in matters of economic policy and was also a threat to national security because of its wishy-washy attitude to defence.</p><p>Two of these forms of criticism have become somewhat problematic and this helps to explain the movement in the opinion polls. Because of UK election rules the main broadcast media are required to give broadly similar coverage to the major parties, unlike the print media. This means that Jeremy Corbyn is getting more relatively unbiased attention than at any time in the past two years. Moreover he has proved to be personally popular and even to enjoy campaigning, whereas Theresa May has come over as doggedly repeating the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39730467">mantra</a> of “strong and stable”, almost to the point where it has become a joke. At times, Jeremy Corbyn even seems electable.</p><p>The other problem is the difficulty of sticking with the issue of economic incompetence. For the best part of a decade the Conservatives have argued with great force that Labour wrecked the economy and that a painful period of <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/austerity-past-present-and-future/">austerity</a> was unavoidable. While that idea has become embedded in political and public discourse, if not culture, Corbyn and his closest associates simply do not accept it, pointing to the widening wealth-poverty divide and the endemic tax-avoidance activities of the super-rich and many of the largest corporations.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Jeremy Corbyn is getting more relatively unbiased attention than at any time in the past two years. </p><p>The battle on these two issues is likely to continue for the last two weeks which means that most of the attention may focus on the third broad theme of presumed Conservative advantage – Labour as a threat to the security of the state.</p><p>In most circumstances this would be a very good path for the Conservatives to tread, and one has to say that a natural response to the terrible events in Manchester would be that support for the party of government that preaches security and stability would tend to increase. Although it may have had no connection whatsoever with the decision to raise the national threat level to “critical”, the highest <a href="https://www.mi5.gov.uk/threat-levels">level</a>, such a move in the middle of an election campaign might further increase support for the ruling party.</p><p>Even here, though, it is proving difficult for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/theresa-may-donald-trump-and-wars-to-come">Theresa May</a> to make much headway, especially as it has become highly likely that the bomber was not acting alone and there may have been an active paramilitary cell that has been missed. This sense of a government not fully in control of events has been heightened by two serious leaks of information about the investigation to the US media that have been seriously embarrassing. In short, “strength and stability” looks that bit less credible than the Conservatives might have hoped.</p><p>As campaigning resumes, a new rash of opinion polls will be scrutinised closely. If they show the Conservatives returning to a substantial lead, then they might well get a stunning result on 8 June, but if there is no significant change from a week ago, and the latest polls do <a href="http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9894">confirm</a> this, then campaigning will resume with many Labour supporters buoyed by this unexpected turn of events. Assuming for now that this will be the case, how should the Conservatives be expected to react and how might Labour counter them?</p><h2><p><strong>A security focus</strong></p></h2><p>Whatever else they do, it is highly likely that much of their campaign will revolve around <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor">security</a>, not least the war on terror. Some flavour of this was seen in the banner headline in that most pro-Tory of the tabloids, the <em>Sun</em>, in the wake of the Manchester bombing - “BLOOD ON HIS HANDS”, essentially blaming the Manchester attack on Corbyn for his claimed previous support for terrorism.</p><p>Much more of this is likely, coupled with renewed emphasis on Labour’s ambivalent attitude to international military intervention and to maintaining a nuclear force. These should be easy for the Conservatives to handle, but there are reasons to suggest that even they may not have the salience that might normally be expected.</p><p>On the nuclear issue, for example, the unpredictable and thoroughly worrying attitude of Donald Trump to North Korea and Iran, and the implication that he will start a war to prevent either going nuclear could come to haunt Theresa May. It will be easy enough for Corbyn or another Labour politician to ask why the RAF has recently <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-us-uks-latest-target">trained</a> with the South Korean airforce for the first time in history. Did Theresa May approve this and, if a crisis develops, will she back Trump?</p><p>Similarly, the decision of the Pentagon to <a href="http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/massive-bombers-heading-raf-international-42971">send</a> strategic bombers to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire in June would ordinarily be seen as routine, but not with Trump in the White House and not when the head of <a href="http://www.afgsc.af.mil/">US Global Strike Command</a> states that the deployment is designed to send a message of reassurance in the face of a presumed Russian threat. Did Theresa May know about this deployment, did she approve it, and will she have a veto over any US military action from British soil if the worst happens and a crisis with Russia escalates.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Corbyn does not accept the received wisdom that the way to deal with al-Qaida and ISIS is by going to war.</p><p>Look at it this way. Corbyn and his closest associates do not believe that economic austerity is necessary – they simply don’t accept that there is no alternative, and that is now a reasonable <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what%E2%80%99s-behind-corbyn-surge">subject</a> for political debate when just a few months ago it would not even have been on the agenda.</p><p>Similarly, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-future-not-past">Jeremy Corbyn</a> does not accept the received wisdom that the way to deal with al-Qaida and ISIS is by going to war. This is a risky stance, especially in light of the terrible events in Manchester, yet it might well strike a chord much louder than we expect. The blunt truth is that people feel no more secure in the UK than they did fifteen years ago, in spite of wars that have wrecked three countries, cost hundreds of thousands of lives and seem to have no prospect of ending.</p><p>It is difficult to discuss this whole issue rationally in the midst of a general election campaign that the incumbent party called, expects to win and will throw everything into what might become a very dirty campaign. Yet the point argued last week is still relevant. Something is going on below the political surface that is not easy to understand. So far this election campaign has not gone the way that the Conservatives expected and there may well be some real surprises still to come.</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>W Stephen Gilbert, <a href="http://www.newsfromnowhere.org.uk/books/DisplayBookInfo.php?ISBN=9781908998972"><em>Jeremy Corbyn: Accidental Hero</em></a> (Eyewear, 2016)</p><p>Rosa Prince, <span class="st"><a href="https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/comrade-corbyn"><em>Comrade Corbyn A Very Unlikely Coup: How Jeremy Corbyn Stormed to the Labour Leadership</em></a> (Biteback, 2016)</span></p><p><span class="st">Richard Seymour, </span><span class="st"><a href="https://www.versobooks.com/books/2206-corbyn"><em>Corbyn</em>:<em> The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics</em></a> (Verso, 2016)<br /></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/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message">The Corbyn crowd, and its message</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn%E2%80%99s-first-100-days">Jeremy Corbyn’s first 100 days</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-s-first-100-days-revisited">Jeremy Corbyn’s first 100 days, revisited</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-labour-should-do-now">What Labour should do now</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-future-not-past">Jeremy Corbyn, the future not the past</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what%E2%80%99s-behind-corbyn-surge">What’s behind the Corbyn surge?</a> </div> <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/corbyn-crowd-and-its-signal">The Corbyn crowd, and its signal</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 May 2017 14:31:34 +0000 Paul Rogers 111171 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Corbyn crowd, and its message https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In Yorkshire, the spontaneous popular response to the Labour leader hints at an undercurrent in Britain's election. Could it yet break through? <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-31321342.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-31321342.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'>Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at Hebden Bridge Town Hall, during a General Election campaign visit. Peter Byrne/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the first act of <em>West Side Story</em>, when Tony is disillusioned with gang life and hasn’t yet met Maria, he sings his first solo, “Something’s Coming”. The Stephen Sondheim / Leonard Bernstein music give a sense of hope, encapsulated in:</p><p><em>"I got a feeling there's a miracle due,<br />Gonna come true,<br />Coming to me!<br />Could it be? Yes it could.<br />Something's coming, something good,<br />If I can wait!<br />Something's coming,<br />I don't know what it is,<br />But it is<br />Gonna be great!"</em></p><p>To put this in the context of the UK general election on 8 June may seem an odd thing to do, but there is a sense that the outcome is rather less predictable than almost every pundit says. Certainly, the consensus is that Theresa May, the Conservative leader and prime minister, is heading for a huge victory, on a par with that of Margaret Thatcher in 1987 or Tony Blair a decade later, and the odds are that they are right. Yet there is a niggling sense that something may be developing under the surface that could break through even in the short time left.</p><p>With not a single national newspaper outside the <a href="https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/"><em>Morning Star</em></a> fully supporting the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and the majority of the press utterly resolute in their condemnation of Labour in general and Corbyn in particular, is such a breakthrough simply too unlikely?</p><p>Even to suggest the possibility requires a further word of caution. At the time of the 1992 general election, the Labour Party was led by Neil Kinnock. He faced a similarly hostile and pro-Tory press as Corbyn does today. Even so, a few days before polling, Labour seemed to have closed the gap with the Conservatives, who were led by the rather lacklustre John Major. Indeed, some pundits pointed to a narrow Labour victory, or at least a hung parliament.</p><p>Then, on 1 April, just eight days before polling, Labour held a huge and very glitzy rally in the new Sheffield Arena. At least 10,000 supporters took part in an event that had been planned over eighteen months and was modelled on an American presidential election rally. My wife, Claire, and I went to the rally and witnessed a sense of euphoria and confidence that, according to some commentators, came over as triumphalism. Much of the rally was built around Kinnock’s undoubted oratorical skills but it had little positive effect. The following week Major’s government was re-elected with a working majority in one of the most surprising <a href="http://www.ukpolitical.info/1992.htm">results</a> in recent British polling history.</p><p>Now, fast forward a quarter of a century. Last September I reported in these columns on another trip by Claire and me to a Labour meeting (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-signal">The Corbyn crowd, and its signal</a>", 2 September 2016). This was in the closing stages of the leadership election and took the form of a very hastily organised <a href="http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/open-air-derby-speech-by-jeremy-corbyn-draws-hundreds/story-29624644-detail/story.html">meeting</a> on Derby’s Cathedral Green.&nbsp;</p><p>We got there more than half an hour early to find just a smattering of people with a small group hastily assembling a platform and a sound system. We weren’t sure that it had been sensible to make the trip, but in the next half hour people came from every direction and by the time Corbyn spoke there were around a thousand people <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what%E2%80%99s-behind-corbyn-surge">present</a>. Moreover, this wasn’t just during the working day but was also at the height of the holiday season when many would have been away.&nbsp;</p><p>His speech was received with enthusiasm. In that column I supplied a little anecdotal evidence of the continuing surge in Labour Party membership, concluding: "[After] watching Labour Party politics for more than fifty years I have this feeling that an awful lot of us haven’t got a true handle on what is going on under the surface. If so, then Jeremy Corbyn may be with us for quite a long time yet.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Observing it all from one of the balconies overlooking the Atrium I got a sense of genuine warmth towards Corbyn and what he&nbsp;stands&nbsp;for.</p><p>Now, come to the present, and some observations of Jeremy Corbyn’s experience in west Yorkshire over the past two days. On Monday morning he spoke at a rapidly arranged meeting at Hebden Bridge, just up the road from <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06zqjpj"><em>Happy Valley</em></a> territory. Hebden Bridge is a rather laid-back and very independently-minded town but even so the support was surprising, with queues round the block and Corbyn having to repeat his speech to the packed hall to an even <a href="http://hebdenbridge.co.uk/news/2017/097.html">larger</a> crowd outside.</p><p>Then, in Leeds in the afternoon, several thousand people turned up, again at short notice. He was given an extraordinary welcome, with streets hastily closed and people climbing trees and onto rooftops to get a view. OK, this is a university city and the student fee issue is popular, but Corbyn attracts people on a smaller scale but no less enthusiastic just about wherever he goes. On Tuesday afternoon it was in Beaumont Park near <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/toll-of-world">Huddersfield</a> for yet another crowded meeting again publicised at very short notice.</p><p>What I found personally more interesting, though, was the launch of the Labour <a href="http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017">manifesto</a> at Bradford University earlier the same day. I was there the whole time, both before and afterwards, and was able to compare how it was covered on the main TV channels with what I saw.</p><p>Again, you expect enthusiasm from a largely student audience, but Bradford does not have a notably radical student body even though it has one of the most multicultural, multi-confessional and low-income student populations of any UK university.</p><p>The media reported on a very enthusiastic reception given to Corbyn and his team but implied that they were selected Labour supporters as would be the case with the Conservative launch. What was not picked up was that no more than 150 of the thousand or so who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/jeremy-corbyn-manifesto-launch-bradford-university-rock-star-lecturer-return-of-the-jezi_uk_591b44c7e4b0809be158d829">crammed</a> into the Atrium came from the Labour Party – all the rest were students and staff who had only been notified about the event the previous afternoon.</p><p>Yes, the student fee issue was bound to get a cheer, but what surprised me was the overall level of support, right through to pledges on pensions and social care. Observing it all from one of the balconies overlooking the Atrium I got a sense of genuine warmth towards Corbyn and what he <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-future-not-past">stands</a> for. To repeat, the great majority of those present were not handpicked party members, but they demonstrated once again the support Jeremy Corbyn receives just about wherever he goes.</p><p>Neil Kinnock could certainly attract a huge crowd to that Sheffield rally but it had been tightly organised over many months whereas all the Corbyn events have been put together quickly and the great majority are open to everyone who wants to come,</p><p>Does this mean that something’s happening? I am really not sure and for now veer between optimism and pessimism. All I would say is that there is an undercurrent which is not reflected in the broadcast media coverage and most certainly not in the national press. Neither is it yet reflected in the polling, even if Labour’s share may be <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/poll-tracker-2017-general-election-10266121">starting</a> to creep up. At the very least, though, it is reasonable to conclude that things are fluid and could still change a lot.</p><p>A traditional view among political commentators is that an election campaign makes little difference, with the eventual result rarely showing much change from the start of the campaign. This may be true but not always – think Brexit, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump</a>, the 2015 election in Britain and, indeed, that of 1992 as well.</p><p>We are in uncertain times, but with Theresa May having called an election on the back of a working majority, anything less than a fifty-seat majority will look a poor result for her. As I ended last September’s column: Jeremy Corbyn may be with us for a quite a long time yet.</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>W Stephen Gilbert, <a href="http://www.newsfromnowhere.org.uk/books/DisplayBookInfo.php?ISBN=9781908998972"><em>Jeremy Corbyn: Accidental Hero</em></a> (Eyewear, 2016)</p><p>Rosa Prince, <span class="st"><a href="https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/comrade-corbyn"><em>Comrade Corbyn A Very Unlikely Coup: How Jeremy Corbyn Stormed to the Labour Leadership</em></a> (Biteback, 2016)</span></p><p><span class="st">Richard Seymour, </span><span class="st"><a href="https://www.versobooks.com/books/2206-corbyn"><em>Corbyn</em>:<em> The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics</em></a> (Verso, 2016)<br /></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/corbyn-crowd-and-its-signal">The Corbyn crowd, and its signal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn%E2%80%99s-first-100-days">Jeremy Corbyn’s first 100 days</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-labour-should-do-now">What Labour should do now</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-future-not-past">Jeremy Corbyn, the future not the past</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what%E2%80%99s-behind-corbyn-surge">What’s behind the Corbyn surge?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-s-first-100-days-revisited">Jeremy Corbyn’s first 100 days, revisited</a> </div> <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> </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 May 2017 12:59:40 +0000 Paul Rogers 111014 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Raqqa: a movement's optimism https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-movements-optimism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An adherent in the ISIS-held city remains hopeful, in the latest of a series of imagined letters. </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/558532/21816145388_a9448a6493_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/21816145388_a9448a6493_k.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'>On the road from Raqqa to Palmyra. Cristian Iohan Ştefănescu/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Raqqa, 11 May 2017</em></p><p>Thank you for your letter and for asking after my brother once more. He remains in Egypt after leaving Libya earlier this year. There, he is part of the small central group that is coordinating the rapid growth of our movement. As one of our most experienced fighters he is in much demand, especially in Sinai, and has been instrumental in some of the recent successful attacks on Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s forces.&nbsp;</p><p>These operations have been having exactly the effect our strategists intended. In short, they ensure that al-Sisi becomes even more determined to suppress dissent, especially that coming from our true believers. What is so good for us is that our actions also stimulate wider repression, not least of anyone even loosely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The result is that anger against the regime is growing by the day. Indeed our strategists now think that we should put much less effort into Libya and a lot more into Egypt.</p><p>It is less than two months since I last <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-towards-victory-letter">wrote</a> to you, which makes this reply an early one by my usual standards. It is prompted by two distinct comments in your recent reply. The first is that you are clearly surprised that I should still be so positive, especially after my more <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-through-raqqas-eyes">negative</a> letter last December. I need to explain further why that is. I know that you and I have completely different views of life, and I also know that our friendship has survived those differences even at this time of great violence and uncertainty.&nbsp;</p><p>The second relates to what you said about the reaction to my earlier <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/letters-from-raqqa-2014-16">letters</a>, which you mentioned you had passed on to friends (and that as a result, some had even been circulated on the internet). This means that the explanation I feel I owe you may also allow me to explain things to other people who may read this, not least those crusader supporters in the countries of the far enemy.</p><p>Perhaps I could start in an indirect manner by describing my own current circumstances. As you know only too well, but others may not, I joined the movement several years ago having studied and lived in London and New York. Much of my motivation stemmed from losing so many members of my family to the crusader attacks.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Much of my motivation stemmed from losing so many members of my family to the crusader attacks.&nbsp;</p><p>I soon got badly injured and lost my arm, but survived and the leaders then told me to join the SOBRA group to work as an intelligence officer analysing political developments among the far enemy especially in English-speaking countries. Much of my recent work has been on elections in the UK and America, but with all the fighting so near home I have been desperate to join the cause. Indeed you will remember that I thought that one of my recent letters to you <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-writing-from-raqqa">would</a> be my last.</p><p>Three weeks ago, though, I was called in by my superiors and told bluntly that there were no circumstances in which I would be allowed to fight. As far as they were concerned my intelligence gathering was absolutely essential, both in the short and medium term. In other words, they do not remotely think that our movement is in serious trouble, merely transforming. They are convinced that the war is now steadily going global: witness the many and varied problems for the crusaders, both in their own countries and in those they so determinedly seek to dominate.</p><p>Let me elaborate on this, starting with our position in Mosul in particular, then in Iraq and Syria as a whole, and then in the wider world.</p><p>The war in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mosul-very-dangerous-victory">Mosul</a> is now seven months old, after the Haider al-Abadi regime hoped to take control in barely a third of that time. Instead it has seen its elite special forces, especially the despised “golden division”, take such heavy casualties that by the time they eventually overrun the old city they will have little left to counter the insurgency that is already evolving. Furthermore, the regime's increased reliance on <em>Shi’a</em> militias and Iranian revolutionary guards means that more and more aid from the Saudis and other Gulf states is accumulating. This hugely improves our plan to destabilise the Iran-backed Baghdad regime.</p><p>In Syria we will eventually disperse from Raqqa, with new locations across the region already established. Also, Trump’s arming of the Syrian Kurds is a gift to us, since it pits Ankara against Washington. Meanwhile our units in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Yemen and across many parts of Africa increase in influence and effect. Perhaps most welcome is our growing ability to strike within the states of the far enemy, with the new sea route from Libya into southern Europe already coming into its own.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Most welcome is our growing ability to strike within the states of the far enemy...</p><p>It is across the states of the far enemy that our real <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isiss-far-enemy-friends">success</a> is to be found. We never expected Marine Le Pen to win and were very pleasantly surprised when she took a third of the vote. That is just a start, with the continuing unease in many European countries an added bonus. Hatred of Muslims is now out in the open and simply will not go away, ensuring us of more marginalisation and many more recruits to the cause.</p><p>You know that my two areas of concentration have been Britain and America and both of them look good. Brexit, of course, is just what we wanted, and it will be especially positive if Theresa May wins the election and forces a “hard Brexit” from a position of strength. We do have a slight worry in that Jeremy Corbyn and his crowd might unexpectedly prove more popular than any of the pundits expect, but there are only four weeks to go and that is probably too short a time.</p><p>In any case, why should we worry about little old Britain when we have Mr Trump in the White House!&nbsp;</p><p>I have to admit that almost everyone associated in any way with our war is constantly surprised at just how good Trump is turning out to be for us, and that is before the latest mess with the FBI. Trump has effectively handed over security policy to the military, which exactly suits us. Whether in Afghanistan against the Taliban and our own groups, or Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Libya and elsewhere, the military now has more freedom to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/theresa-may-donald-trump-and-wars-to-come">act</a> than for several decades.</p><p>It is at last beginning to be the generic war against Islam that we have so long desired. I have to say that I am utterly amazed that they do not understand this. They have been fighting us for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">more</a> than fifteen years, they have killed hundreds of thousands of us and they have wounded far more, they have created a refugee crisis and wrecked three countries and yet they are simply <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">adding</a> more fuel to the fire. They are, to be blunt, stupid, and that is the greatest gift they can provide for us.</p><p>I am sorry to go on like this, but even after years of trying to make sense of them, of living among them, of studying their military postures and watching them make one mistake after another I simply can’t explain why supposedly intelligent people don’t understand the impact of what they are doing.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>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><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">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/mosul-very-dangerous-victory">Mosul: a very dangerous victory</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isiss-far-enemy-friends">ISIS&#039;s &quot;far-enemy&quot; friends </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/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/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> North-Africa West-Asia global security Paul Rogers Sun, 14 May 2017 15:24:45 +0000 Paul Rogers 110811 at https://www.opendemocracy.net North Korea, the US-UK's latest target? https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-us-uks-latest-target <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Washington and London's joint military exercises with Seoul raise questions that should be asked in Britain's election campaign.</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-16263471.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-16263471.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="366" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Graffiti depicting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Smithfield area of Dublin. Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>An attack on a Nato convoy in Kabul on 3 May killed eight civilians and injured at least twenty-five people, including three Americans. It is a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/03/world/asia/kabul-attack-suicide-bomber-afghanistan.html?_r=0">sign</a> of escalating war that coincides with the annual “fighting season” in Afghanistan. The fear in Washington is of a tipping-point: that the Taliban, which now controls as much as a third of the country, may be<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-afghan-test"> close</a> to destabilising the government.</p><p>Washington's immediate reaction was to send some of its top military leaders to Kabul. There was also talk of 3,000-5,000 more United States troops being sent to try and <a href="https://theconversation.com/deadly-kabul-bombing-heralds-a-new-western-surge-in-afghanistan-77041">support</a> the Afghan national army (ANA). If the plan is implemented, as seems highly likely, then Nato as a whole will be expected to make an additional contribution. That raises the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/30/british-troops-could-way-afghanistan-nato-considers-mission/ ">prospect</a> of British combat-troops being redeployed to Helmand province, the scene of bitter fighting after 2006, when many hundreds of young soldiers were killed or critically injuted after a previous troop surge.</p><p>In turn this possibility focuses attention on Britain’s relationship with President Trump. If Theresa May's Conservative government is re-elected on 8 June, it might well wish to demonstrate the prime minister's much-vaunted “strong and stable” <a href="https://www.totalpolitics.com/articles/news/theresa-may-says-she-%E2%80%98strong%E2%80%99-more-30-times-hour">doctrine</a> alongside its closest ally. Military defence and security is a key part of the Conservative approach to the election. But the return of substantial numbers of western troops to Afghanistan into the sixteenth year of the war would suggest that the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor">desire</a> for a full review of defence policy would make much more sense.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">North Korea does at last appear to be making&nbsp;progress&nbsp;towards developing nuclear warheads and long-range delivery-systems.</p><p>Conservatives' claims on defence can be tricky to question, given the efforts the party puts into maintaining "ownership" of the issue. But one new factor may <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/trump_north_korea_and_risk_war ">complicate</a> matters: the attitude and behaviour of Trump towards North Korea.</p><p>The basic problem for the United States is that North Korea does at last appear to be making <a href="http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/north-korea/">progress</a> towards developing nuclear warheads and long-range delivery-systems. Some recent reports from US intelligence sources <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/10/science/north-korea-nuclear-weapons.html">suggest</a> that the regime could have up to forty nuclear warheads and some intercontinental-range missiles by the end of Trump’s first term.</p><p>Even if North Korea sees these weapons purely as a deterrent against attack, Washington’s <a href="https://www.rand.org/research/primers/nuclear-north-korea.html">perspective</a> is that such a situation is wholly uncceptable and must be prevented at all costs. If military action against Pyongyang becomes a real threat, then Trump's White House will look for allies in order to provide a semblance of international approval. Trump’s unpredictability and potential <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">hawkishness</a> on the issue has already caused angst in Australia, the US's closest regional ally. In recent years, increasing military cooperation <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/01/world/australia/trump-north-korea-us-china.html?_r=0">includes</a> a US marine corps base near Darwin. It is likely that Britain too will be <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/theresa-may-donald-trump-and-wars-to-come">expected</a> to give support.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><h2>The next theatre</h2><p>In normal circumstances this seems far-fetched. Is there any real chance that British military <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-s-secret-wars-iraq-mosul-trump-isis-drones">units</a> could end up fighting in North Korea, something that has not happened since the Korean <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/korea_hickey_01.shtml">war</a> ended, after a long stalemate, in 1953?</p><p>This is where another factor enters. In recent months the UK has developed a sudden and unexpectedly close relationship in the shape of joint <a href="http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/release/3/178631/uk,-us-and-rok-hold-first_ever-combined-air-exercise.html">operations</a> involving the Royal Air Force (RAF), the US air force (USAF), and the Republic of Korea Air Force (<a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/rok/airforce.htm">ROKAF</a>). The details were published at the time, but their significance did not really emerge until after Trump had taken office: by an odd twist, the main operations coincided with his election in November.</p><p>Then, as part of exercise Invincible Shield, around 200 RAF personnel were <a href="http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/opinion/2017/03/353_217957.html">sent </a>to Osan air base in South Korea for the first ever joint <a href="http://www.sldinfo.com/raf-typhoons-exercise-with-south-koreans-and-us-at-osan-air-base/">exercise</a> with ROKAF (and the first Korean-based joint air operation of its kind to involve a foreign power other than the United States). They were accompanied by four Eurofighter <a href="https://www.raf.mod.uk/news/archive/raf-typhoon-aircraft-to-visit-republic-of-korea-30092016">Typhoon</a> aircraft of RAF No. 2 Squadron, as well as a Voyager tanker aircraft and a C-17 transport aircraft. The six-day deployment was with ROKAF's F-15K and the US air force's F-16 aircraft. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">In recent months the UK has developed a sudden and unexpectedly close relationship in the shape of joint&nbsp;operations&nbsp;involving the Royal Air Force, the US air force, and the Republic of Korea Air Force.</p><p>The head of ROKAF's air-operations command, General Won In-Choul, said that the exercise would both enhance the capability “to protect peace and stability of the Korean peninsula" and "greatly contribute to the improvement of military cooperation with the Royal Air Force”.</p><p>Meanwhile in offshore western Europe, a long way from east Asia, it is certain that the Conservatives will continue to accentuate their position as "the" party of defence in the UK's general-election campaign. If so, questions might be asked of both regional and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">global</a> significance:</p><p>Will the UK respond positively to a request from President Trump for military assistance against North Korea? If not, why has the RAF been gaining the experience to work with Seoul and Washington in those exercises in South Korea?</p><p>After fifteen years of war, three wrecked countries, hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, and no end in sight, is the current approach even remotely sensible? If not, why continue with it?&nbsp;&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.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">&nbsp;</span></em></a><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></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><p><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span><span class="st">&nbsp;</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/nuclear-peril-and-its-silences">A nuclear peril, and its silences</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/britain-s-secret-wars-iraq-mosul-trump-isis-drones">Britain’s secret wars</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/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">Iraq and beyond: hidden, secret wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">Trump on the offensive</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <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, 04 May 2017 16:12:17 +0000 Paul Rogers 110612 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A nuclear peril, and its silences https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-peril-and-its-silences <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The true history of Britain's nuclear-weapons policy should be discussed frankly, not buried in evasion and smear. </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-25300963.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-25300963.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="313" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Defence Secretary Michael Fallon during a visit to Vanguard-class submarine HMS Vigilant, one of the UK's four nuclear warhead-carrying submarines. Danny Lawson/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Donald Trump has said that there is a risk of a “major, major conflict” with North Korea and using such terminology implies a potential nuclear dimension.&nbsp; Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson has said that the United Kingdom would support the United States in further military action against the Assad regime in Syria. This raises some worrying questions early in the UK's general-election campaign, especially if it is put in the context of the country's&nbsp; long-term commitment to the use of nuclear weapons.</p><p>When Britain's new prime minister Theresa May announced the next stage of the Trident replacement programme in July 2016 she was asked directly whether she would ever “press the button” and fire these, the nuclear missiles in the United Kingdom's arsenal. She said yes, unreservedly, ensuring that the UK would remain a fully functioning <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/ukprofile">member</a> of the nuclear club: that tiny group of nine states compared with the 186 states that do <em>not</em> possess nuclear weapons (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">A nuclear world: eight-and-a half rogue states</a>", 13 January 2017).</p><p>The opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was asked the same question during the current general-election <a href="https://www.defenceiq.com/air-land-and-sea-defence-services/articles/uk-general-election-how-parties-compare-on-defence">campaign</a>, and repeated his oft-expressed refusal to do so. For this he was roundly condemned by leading Conservatives and their supporters in the press. The defence secretary Michael Fallon <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/michael-fallon-to-slam-jeremy-corbyn-on-defence-plans-10848875">termed</a> Corbyn an out-and-out security threat, while confirming that Britain’s retains a nuclear "first-use" strategy. To put it bluntly, Theresa May is <a href="https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/conservative-party/theresa-may/news/85324/michael-fallon-theresa-may">prepared</a> to start a nuclear war whereas Jeremy Corbyn won’t (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor">Britain's nuclear plans: the Corbyn factor</a>", 17 September 2015).</p><p>The implications of this very bald statement are startling in two quite different ways. The first is that starting a nuclear war would most probably be the war <a href="http://www.crimesofwar.org/a-z-guide/nuclear-weapons/">crime</a> to end all war crimes; the second is that the prospect of this raised scarcely a flicker of interest in the media or the country at large, apart from the opportunity for the Conservatives to label Corbyn unpatriotic and a threat to British security.</p><p>True, any self-respecting analyst of British nuclear <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-nuclear-deterrence-factsheet/uk-nuclear-deterrence-what-you-need-to-know">policy</a> knows full well that successive political leaders may have been reluctant to talk about firing nuclear weapons. A previous column on the topic in this series remarked on the manner in which Theresa May was at least open about it (see also "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-weapons-future-no-done-deal">Britain's nuclear-weapons future: no done deal</a>", 21 July 2016). &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Such an analyst will also know that the British government has never signed up to the <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/09/nuclear-obama-north-korea-pakistan/499676/">idea</a> of “no first use”, but that this is almost never stated in public. Indeed, the willingness to "go first" is typically consigned to a few weasel words hidden in the depths of a lengthy defence statement, and then only rarely.</p><h2><strong>The big boys' club</strong></h2><p>It is not easy to understand why one of the smaller nuclear <a href="http://www.ploughshares.org/world-nuclear-stockpile-report">powers</a> is willing to undertake the ultimate and entirely self-defeating effort to “punch above its weight” in nuclear weapons (and other geostrategic) terms. But it helps to put this in a historical perspective. In the 1950s, Britain had not yet shed its imperial past; but it had become the world’s third nuclear power after the United States and the Soviet Union, and was seen by the British establishment as still in status a <a href="http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/collection/27/cold-war-origins">co-equal </a>among three superpowers.</p><p>This was a radical change from the multipolar world of the 1930s. Then, six states – Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan, Germany and France – were all in military competition. The second world war then saw Germany and Japan defeated, and France humbled, leaving the newly <a href="http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Uk/UKArsenalDev.html">nuclear-armed</a> Britain to see itself very much as part of the "big boys’ club".</p><p>In those days, before the advent of <a href="http://www.cnduk.org/">CND</a> and the era of anti-nuclear campaigning, a legacy of wartime endured: namely, the military continued to see nuclear weapons as not so dissimilar from conventional weapons except in the level of power they unleashed. After all, the argument went, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki <a href="http://www.atomicheritage.org/history/bombings-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-1945">bombs</a> had not been hugely more devastating than the conventional massed bomber raids on Hamburg and Dresden, or indeed the terrifying <a href="http://www.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/deadliest-air-raid-history-180954512/">destruction</a> of Tokyo by firebombing.</p><p>The notion that <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat">nuclear weapons</a> represented just another item in the arsenal had a particular significance for Britain, which could no longer even begin to match the conventional forces of the Soviets or Americans. A fact now lost in the depths of nuclear <a href="http://www.atomcentral.com/the-cold-war.aspx">history</a> is that when Britain’s interests in Asia seemed threatened by the rise of Chinese communism in the <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Humanities/History/Regional national history/Asian history/Middle Eastern history/Cold Wars Odd Couple?menuitem={CF3DC5B3-6EAA-4206-81E9-245510E35612}">1950s</a>, defence analysts actually theorised about the need to prevail in a war by using nuclear weapons.&nbsp;</p><p>One of the most influential such thinkers, <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=SwoAAAAAMBAJ&amp;pg=PA140&amp;lpg=PA140&amp;dq=john+slessor+nuclear+weapons&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=DXj1X4vPd1&amp;sig=mKdaZwva1fWVlFK6PdePRmadbMA&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwi9kou7iMbTAhXCWxQKHVCrAkAQ6AEIQTAI#v=onepage&amp;q=john%20slessor%20nuclear%20weapons&amp;f=false">John Slessor,</a> believed that: “in most of the possible theatres of limited war… it must be accepted that it is at least improbable that we would be able to meet a major communist offensive in one of those areas without resorting to tactical nuclear weapons” (see Milan Rai, <a href="https://www.abebooks.co.uk/products/isbn/9780951818862?cm_sp=bdp-_-9780951818862-_-isbn13"><em>Tactical Trident, the Rifkind Doctrine and the Third World</em></a>, Drava Papers, 1995).</p><p>In the late 1950s and early 1960s the UK developed the capability to drop nuclear bombs from the V-bomber force based in the Middle East and southeast Asia, and by <em>Scimitar</em> and <em>Buccaneer</em> aircraft on carriers. The ideas behind this were illustrated by the then defence minister, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1987/11/27/obituaries/lord-duncan-sandys-79-dead-smoothed-way-to-end-of-empire.html">Duncan Sandys</a>, in a 1957 debate:</p><p>“One must distinguish major global war, involving a head-on clash between the great powers, and minor conflicts which can be localised and which do not bring the great powers into direct collision. Limited and localised acts of aggression, for example by a satellite Communist state could, no doubt, be resisted with conventional arms, or, at worst, with tactical atomic weapons, the use of which could be confined to the battle area” (see <a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmdfence/ucsnd2/snd373.htm"><em>Hansard</em>, Volume 568, column 1765</a>, 16 April 1957).</p><p>The idea of <a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=21511">limited nuclear war </a>persists to this day. It was and is a central part of Nato’s strategy of flexible response. This was originally codified in document MC 14/3 of 16 January 1968, and has long been a part of Britain’s nuclear thinking, however hidden from public view (see Lewis Betts, <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/br/book/9781137585462"><em>Duncan Sandys and British Nuclear Policy-Making</em></a>, Palgrave 2016).</p><p>When Argentina <a href="http://guides.library.harvard.edu/c.php?g=310591&amp;p=2078512">overran</a> the Falkland/Malvinas Islands in 1982, prime minister Margaret Thatcher ordered the despatch of a naval taskforce, with the defence secretary John Nott telling the House of Commons that it would carry its full range of weapons. At the time this <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1984/HJA.htm">included</a> helicopter-borne nuclear depth-bombs for anti-submarine warfare and free-fall bombs for delivery by Sea Harriers. There followed a row within Whitehall over the wisdom of putting such weapons at risk in a warzone. Some, at least, were reportedly transferred to an auxiliary, <em>RFA Regent</em>, which was deployed to the south Atlantic but, unlike its sister ship <em>RFA Resource</em>, was kept clear of the warzone (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/nuclear_weapons_4217.jsp">Nuclear weapons: the oxygen of debate</a>", 29 December 2006).</p><p>In recent years there has been an assumption that Britain has given up the idea of limited nuclear war, having withdrawn all its tactical nuclear weapons in the 1990s. But this is not correct, since a low-yield variant of the otherwise very powerful <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4438392.stm">Trident</a> thermonuclear warhead is available ("low yield" in this case meaning merely the size of the Hiroshima or Nagasaki bomb).</p><h2><strong>A new danger</strong></h2><p>All this, and much more, has long been in the public domain (see Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.worldcat.org/title/sub-strategic-trident-a-slow-burning-fuse/oclc/474555561/editions?referer=di&amp;editionsView=true"><em>Sub-Strategic Trident: A Slow Burning Fuse</em></a>, London Defence Papers No 34, Brassey’s for the <a href="https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/warstudies/research/groups/cds/index.aspx">Centre for Defence Studies</a>, King’s College, London, 1996). Yet it almost never figures in the public debate about defence. Indeed, on rare occasions when people like Jeremy Corbyn raise the issue, they are labelled security risks.</p><p>In part such attitudes are still explained by the British establishment’s fundamental need to <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13523260701489925?src=recsys&amp;journalCode=fcsp20">see</a> the UK as a major world player, especially at a time of relative decline. But there is also the matter of generational change. These issues were debated In the 1980s, at least to an extent. But the cold war <a href="https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/robert-service/the-end-of-the-cold-war">ended</a> in 1990, and few people under the age of 40 have much awareness of just how dangerous that period was.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Today, with Trump, Putin, Kim Jong-un and even Theresa May around, the world has entered a new period of uncertainty and potential nuclear <a href="http://www.nti.org/newsroom/">danger</a>. Yet there are few signs of any kind of rational debate emerging in the weeks of campaigning until Britain's general election on 8 June. Instead, there is the appalling prospect of serious discussion about UK nuclear weapons being submerged by accusations of unpatriotic behaviour and threats to national security.</p><p>This could of course, change, if the Labour leadership were to persist in the following questions to Theresa May, questions which are entirely reasonable in the context of the last few days:</p><p>If a potentially violent crisis develops over North Korea and President Trump requests British support would she:</p><p>* provide political support?</p><p>* provide military assistance as a symbol of the special relationship?</p><p>* ensure that the UK nuclear force was maintained on a high state of alert in case of an untoward escalation of a crisis?</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><a href="http://www.basicint.org">British American Security Information Council (BASIC)</a></p><p><a href="http://www.britishpugwash.org">British Pugwash</a></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> </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-weapons-future-no-done-deal">Britain&#039;s nuclear-weapons future: no done deal </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="/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-risk">The nuclear-weapons risk</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/britains-nuclear-endgame">Britain&#039;s nuclear endgame</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-labour-should-do-now">What Labour should do now</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/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor">Britain&#039;s nuclear plans: the Corbyn factor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-force-transparent-future">Britain&#039;s nuclear deep: a new transparency</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 Apr 2017 14:14:03 +0000 Paul Rogers 110478 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump’s wars: more to come https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The American president's domestic failures are fuelling militarism abroad. It's a dangerous mix. </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-28804894.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-28804894.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'>A formation of US Carrier Strike Group Five and Expeditionary Strike Group Seven ships in the Philippine Sea. Sipa USA/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A series of accelerating and interlocking security crises, from the Middle East and southwest Asia to North Korea, makes the first months of 2017 an especially perilous time. Increasing the dangers is the way that domestic politics in the United States are coming to shape the Trump’s administration's global military adventurism. </p><p>To understand what is happening, look back a few months. Trump's electoral success in November was partly owed to his stance as defender of the ordinary American facing an entrenched Washington establishment. This elite, he <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/trump-inaugural-speech-analysis/513956/">proclaimed</a>, was out of touch with and ignorant of the everyday problems of post-industrial and rural middle America.</p><p>This political <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/03/donald-trump-the-perfect-populist-213697">approach</a> went beyond windy generalities. It involved clever targeting of relatively small constituencies, raising issues that struck a chord with them: an end to Obamacare, controlling Muslim immigration, walling off Mexico, scepticism on climate change, the need to expand US military power and to rapidly crush ISIS. Trump's broader concerns included suspicion of China (especially over currency manipulation), friendship with Putin, moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, closing the Export-Import Bank. and supporting the use of torture.&nbsp; </p><p>Now look at what has happened in the three months since his <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-day-one-in-crisis-mode">inauguration</a>. Many of these priorities are on hold, while others have simply been abandoned. Ending Obamacare is stuck in the legislature, keeping Muslims out is being thwarted by the judiciary, the Mexicans won’t pay to build the wall, the Chinese are turning out to be the (fairly) good guys whereas Putin is on the naughty step, the Tel Aviv embassy move has been delayed, the torture notion has been quietly dropped, and the Export-Import Bank <a href="http://thehill.com/homenews/news/328666-ge-ceo-praises-trump-for-ex-im-bank-support">survives</a> (it turns out to be supporting medium-sized American businesses). </p><p>True, climate scepticism <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/us/politics/trump-advisers-paris-climate-accord.html">still</a> rules. But in the economic field the Trump administration doesn't seem keen on doing anything for the little people – hardly surprising when five billionaires sit around the cabinet table, but a shock to millions of voters who bought into a distinction between the Trump circle and the Washington elite. Sharper political analysts in the Trump team worry that at some point his faithful crowds <a href="http://www.npr.org/2017/04/13/523709887/trump-supporters-in-the-upper-midwest-have-a-message-be-more-presidential">may</a> realise he is part of the problem, not the solution.</p><h2><strong>One way ahead</strong></h2><p>But Trump is forging ahead on one front: war. The shift is already clear, and there is every chance that it will become central to maintaining his <a href="http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/current_events/politics/prez_track_apr19">popularity</a> – a vital requirement for him and his handlers. The Pentagon has been given much greater freedom to pursue wars as it seems fit, major special-forces operations have been conducted in Yemen, fifty-nine cruise <a href="http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a25989/tomahawk-syria/">missiles</a> hit one of Assad’s biggest air-bases in Syria, air operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq are expanding, the huge MOAB <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-14/explainer-what-is-mother-of-all-bombs/8444818">bomb</a> has been used in Afghanistan, and <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/donald-trump-north-korea-and-the-case-of-the-phantom-armada">tensions</a> with North Korea have sharpened.</p><p>The problem for Trump, though, is that military matters are likely to dominate in the <a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/trumps-muddled-military-messaging-20266">wrong</a> way. Using American power effectively while retaining the support of his followers requires evidence of serious progress on two fronts – North Korea and ISIS. Yet campaigns against both are mired in problems. </p><p>Over North Korea there may be room for manoeuvre if China is prepared to exert a degree of <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/world/asia/china-north-korea-war.html">influence</a> <span class="vmod">vis-à-vis</span> Pyongyang. But even Beijing will be unable to persuade a notional ally to end its nuclear ambitions. The regime is far too fearful of foreign interference to even think of giving up what it <a href="http://www.vox.com/world/2017/4/19/15355494/north-korea-nuclear-threat-missiles-weapons">sees</a> as its deterrent. Some easing of tensions might be possible, but the North Korean conundrum is simply not <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-19/trump-mulls-military-options-for-north-korea-they-re-all-grim">amenable</a> to a military solution.</p><p>Over ISIS the dilemmas are even more pressing, and here the US's bombardment of an Assad regime facility makes no difference. The fighting in Mosul, now rarely reported in the western media, is about to enter its seventh month, with intense fighting in the city's west. The Iraqi army’s elite forces are buffeted by mounting casualties, leading to greater recourse to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">air-power</a> and artillery-bombardment – mostly supplied by the US and its western European allies. The results are inevitable, as <a href="https://airwars.org/news/ ">AirWars</a> reports: “More civilians were likely killed by the coalition in March than any other month of the war against ISIL – with a record number of bombs and missiles also released.” </p><p>Mosul will eventually be taken, but those supposedly pessimistic <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mosul-next-target">predictions</a> in autumn 2016 that mid-2017 was a feasible date for the end of the battle now look increasingly realistic. Even when ISIS is driven out, the <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-mosul-idUSKBN17K1B0">legacy</a> of bitterness among hundreds of thousands of <em>Sunni </em>Iraqis against their government will feed into more support for whatever movement replaces ISIS. In addition, the Iraqi government is hugely dependent on its relatively reliable special forces to maintain security, and they are being <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/19/mosul-battle-bogs-down-iraq-us-coalition-allies/">degraded</a> in the conflict, with thousands killed or injured.</p><p>Meanwhile, ISIS is making considerable progress in Egypt, aided by Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi’s security crackdown following the two latest <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/09/world/middleeast/explosion-egypt-coptic-christian-church.html">bombings</a> of Coptic Christians. Parts of Sinai are essentially <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21720310-other-front-war-against-islamic-state-egypt-failing-stop">under</a> ISIS control. In its southern region on 18 April, the group's <a href="http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/04/19/isis-claim-deadly-attack-on-police-checkpoint-at-sinai-monastery/">attack</a> on the famed St Catherine’s Monastery killed a police officer and wounded four.</p><p>The situation in Afghanistan is also <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-afghan-test">deteriorating</a>, so much so that Trump’s national-security advisor General H R McMaster visited Kabul at such short notice that many senior officials were not even <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/donald-trump-hr-mcmaster-afghanistan?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%204.18.2018&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">told</a> in advance. McMaster is considering whether to recommend a major increase in troop deployment in the country three years after the uneven process of <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/10/the-afghanistan-withdrawal-a-potential-disaster-in-the-making/381474/">withdrawal</a> began. In fact the decision seems to have been made, in that hundreds of US marines are already being <a href="https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/articles/marines-headed-to-southern-afghanistan?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%204.19.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">sent</a> to southern Afghanistan to help the Afghan national army resist an anticipated Taliban surge once the “fighting season” starts in earnest in May.</p><p>From this mosaic, three themes stand out: Trump’s failure to <a href="https://www.voanews.com/a/trump-faces-foreign-and-domestic-challenges-amid-low-approval-rating/3814741.html">deliver</a> on his campaign pledges, a greater emphasis on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">expanding</a> the military, even as that military faces acute and increasing problems. </p><p>What, then, happens next? The history of Trump’s approach to the presidency offers a safe bet. He will respond not with a nuanced attempt to understand why more than fifteen years of the war on terror has delivered not greater security, but its opposite. Instead, he will expand the wars, pouring yet more fuel on the flames.</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">George Packer, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theunwinding/georgepacker/9780374534608/"><em>The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America</em></a> (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014) </span></span></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>WilFawaz 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/washingtons-wars-isis-trump-military">Washington&#039;s wars: in a fix</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/trump-on-offensive">Trump on the offensive</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/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/trump-and-pentagon">Trump and the Pentagon</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/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, 21 Apr 2017 06:08:46 +0000 Paul Rogers 110262 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain’s secret wars https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-s-secret-wars-iraq-mosul-trump-isis-drones <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A new report on the use of special forces against ISIS opens a window onto Britain's changing military strategy in the Trump era.</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-29787946.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-29787946.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'>Iraqi security forces (ISF) among the ruins of 'Jonah's tomb,' bombed by IS in 2014. ISF are backed by coalition warplanes and military advisors as they seek to recapture Mosul (2017). NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President Trump and one of the most influential people in his administration, says the fight to retake Mosul from ISIS is <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-kushner-idUSKBN176206">nearing</a> its end. This view looks dubious when set against reports, for example by Voice of America's Heather Mudock, that ISIS's most experienced paramilitaries are still entrenched in the core parts of the old city. Moreover, even apart from the military realities, the dire problems being faced by civilians augur <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mosul-very-dangerous-victory">badly</a> for any quick resolution (see "<a href="http://www.voanews.com/a/dark-times-ahead-battle-mosul-islamic-state/3796007.html">Dark Times Ahead in Battle for Mosul</a>", VOA, 4 April 2017).&nbsp; </p><p>But the United States-led coalition will eventually declare victory in Mosul. To that end, Trump is more than willing to allow far more intensive airstrikes whatever the cost to civilians, and to sanction the more direct involvement of regular US combat troops in fighting on the ground. </p><p>This strategy entails giving the military a much freer <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/sustainable_security_trump_era">hand</a> than Barack Obama ever did. The same change is on display in regard to Yemen, where there has been a marked rise in US operations against al-Qaida groups: last week alone saw more than twenty airstrikes, bringing the total for the year so far to seventy-five, close to <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/04/us-military-hits-aqap-with-more-than-20-airstrikes.php?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2004.05.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">double</a> the average yearly total since Obama’s drone programme began in 2009.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Trump is more than willing to allow far more intensive airstrikes whatever the cost to civilians.</p><p>As it continues to escalate, the Trump <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">version</a> of the "war on terror" will bring substantial questions for its closest allies – most especially Britain and France. The presidential election and its aftermath in France will determine reactions there, which might be more predisposed to highlight than to conceal the state's overseas military interventions. In Britain by contrast, there is very little debate on its military place in the larger scheme of things.</p><p>A surprising aspect of the Westminster Bridge <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39365569">attack</a> on 22 March was that it proved almost impossible for people to see any connection between that atrocity and Britain’s deep involvement against extreme Islamist paramilitary groups. This is remarkable given that the UK is part of a coalition led by the United States that has <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">killed</a> over 50,000 ISIS supporters since August 2014.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>ISIS <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">wants</a> to bring this war back to the states of the “far enemy” – including France, Belgium, the UK and most recently Russia. So if we kill thousands of them, they would like to kill at least hundreds of us. That may be a very crude representation of what is happening. But it is still worth asking why there is so little discussion about the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-war-and-isis-connection">connection</a>, virtually no parliamentary scrutiny, hardly any media coverage, and notably little dissension.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p class="mag-quote-center">On 22 March... it proved almost impossible for people to see any connection between that atrocity and Britain’s deep involvement against extreme Islamist paramilitary groups.</p><p>There are some ready explanations. The main opposition parties, especially Labour, are reluctant to raise any defence-related issue, mainly for fear of being accused of being unpatriotic, with all the tabloid fervour that this will rouse. Also, there is very little reporting of the war, except in rare cases such as the assault on <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-mosul-refugees-idUKKBN1760VR">Mosul</a>, where there are some western reporters in the vicinity.&nbsp; </p><p>Another factor is almost entirely missed, however: the level of secrecy the British government manages to maintain on some of the key aspects of the war, especially the use of <a href="http://www.eliteukforces.info/">special forces</a>. Such deployments, which have wide implications for UK defence policy, are illuminated by a new report from the Remote Control Group. It carries a most appropriate title: <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefing_papers_and_reports/remote_control_project_report_all_quiet_isis_front_british_"><em>All Quiet on the ISIS Front: British Secret Warfare in the Information Age</em></a>.&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>Towards openness </strong></h2><p>The Remote Control group, hosted by <span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span> and funded by the <a href="https://thenetworkforsocialchange.org.uk/">Network for Social Change</a>, has worked for several years to bring to the fore the changing nature of the wars that Britain and other western countries fight. The change has been from an emphasis on tens of thousands of “boots on the ground”, albeit supported by copious use of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">air-power</a>, towards much greater emphasis on “remote control”: the use of armed-drones, air-delivered stand-off weapons, privatised military companies, and expanded use of special forces.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p><a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/publications-category/publications/">Remote Control</a> has published many studies which highlight different aspects of remote warfare but <em>All Quiet on the ISIS Front</em> is distinguished by its focus on Britain and its mushrooming specialist <a href="http://www.army.mod.uk/specialforces/30602.aspx">contingents</a>. Though much enhanced in <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/uk_special_forces_accountability_shadow_war">capability</a> in recent years, the latter are almost entirely unaccountable to parliamentary scrutiny because of the long-established refusal of successive governments to comment on their activities.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">A distinct lack of decision-sharing or even debate becomes even more dangerous in the context of military power and its destructive impacts.</p><p>The problem with this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">approach</a> is a distinct lack of decision-sharing or even debate, which becomes even more dangerous in the context of military power and its destructive impacts. The British government may argue that secrecy about military operations is essential. But other western governments are far less secretive, and Britain's stance is in any case undermined by the government’s practice of feeding little stories into the tabloid press, usually ones that make it look good.</p><p>The authors of the new <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/report-quiet-isis-front-british-secret-warfare-information-age/">report</a>, Emil Knowles and Abigail Watson, have sidestepped much of the secrecy by careful research supported by unusually wide-ranging references (over 400 are cited). Their analysis uses Open Source Intelligence (OSI) with considerable skill and in the process does a considerable service in facilitating serious debate on this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wests-shadow-war">neglected</a> issue. </p><p>At any time this would be desirable but right now it is essential. The unfolding Trump era already makes plain that he is content with the prospect of more war – a key way to “make America great again”. Britain, more than any other state, is at the greatest risk of being <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/theresa-may-donald-trump-and-wars-to-come">dragged</a> into his brave new world. Tony Blair took the country into a disastrous war in Iraq, while Afghanistan persists as a failing state and Libya is reduced to chaos. Now, a much expanded "war on terror" will be fought far more remotely than before. At the very least, Britain should go into it with its eyes open. <em>All Quiet on the ISIS Front</em> could do much to ensure the debate that is so much 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.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><a href="https://airwars.org/">Airwars</a></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>Lawrence Wright, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/234879/the-terror-years-by-lawrence-wright/9780385352055/"><em>The Terror Years: From Al-Qaeda to the Islamic State</em></a> (Penguin, 2016)<br /></span></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/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">Iraq and beyond: hidden, secret wars</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/washingtons-wars-isis-trump-military">Washington&#039;s wars: in a fix</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/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/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isiss-far-enemy-friends">ISIS&#039;s &quot;far-enemy&quot; friends </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, 07 Apr 2017 10:38:43 +0000 Paul Rogers 109930 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Mosul: a very dangerous victory https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mosul-very-dangerous-victory <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The intense military bombardments in Mosul are fuelling the next Iraqi civil war. </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-30716369.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-30716369.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'>Fire in Mosul, Iraq, on March 26, 2017. Iraqi forces renewed their assault in Mosul's Old City, resulting in heavy civilian casualties. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The fall of Mosul to Iraqi government forces may still be weeks away. As it draws near, huge and unforeseen consequences are becoming steadily clearer, whose consequences will have an impact for years to come. These relate to two factors: the greatly increased use of firepower by United States forces at the behest of Trump's White House, and ISIS's current decisions about its future strategy and tactics.</p><p>Some context is needed. When the coalition moved towards eastern Mosul in mid-October 2016, early progress was followed by heavy losses for the Iraqi army’s elite counter-terror service (also known as the "golden division"). Those losses were one reason why the army took three months, until late January 2017, to <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-mosul-idUSKBN157231">retake</a> that less significant part of the city. There followed a month’s pause while the forces regrouped and were reinforced for the assault on western Mosul. It <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-mosul-idUSKBN15X08P">began</a> in the third week of February. </p><p>The operation continues a trend seen towards the end of the battle for eastern Mosul: a marked increase in the tempo of artillery-support and aerial-bombing raids. These have undoubtedly inflicted losses on ISIS, but they have also <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/03/grief-questions-wreckage-mosul-air-strikes-170325121427384.html">caused </a>many more civilian casualties.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Many hundreds of civilians are being killed, the use of&nbsp;<a href="https://airwars.org/">air-power</a>&nbsp;is intensifying and the US is pouring more troops into Iraq and Syria.</p><p>Now, that sequence is being <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-37702442">repeated</a> in western Mosul, but on a far larger scale. On one side, ISIS's firepower and intensive use of suicide-bombers; on the other, a great <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/isis-iraq-standoff-western-mosul-dagata-front-line-brutal-street-fighting/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">escalation</a> of coalition airstrikes, especially by the US airforce. The latter came to a head on 17 March when air-raids on residences killed at least 160 people and possibly over 200, the great majority of them civilians. That <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/world/middleeast/us-iraq-mosul-investigation-airstrike-civilian-deaths.html">incident</a>, and the change of coalition tactics it reflects, was sufficiently serious to be picked up by the western media. The <em>New York Times</em> gave it frontpage coverage, and reports by experienced foreign correspondents such as the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen have been <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-39421435">given</a> much more prominence. </p><p>The use of greater firepower, with all its risks to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/28/world/middleeast/engulfed-in-battle-mosuls-civilians-run-for-their-lives.html">civilians</a>, is a response to Iraqi forces' inability to handle the "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">irregular war</a>" being waged by ISIS. But something else is at work: the US administration's willingness to hand the military much more leeway in fighting the war and seeking a quick victory. Trump himself said this week that US forces in Iraq are “fighting like never before” and that the war is going <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/28/politics/trump-iraq-troops-comments/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.29.17&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">well</a> for America.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Pentagon sources are claiming that there has been no change in targeting practice or in <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/commander-says-us-may-have-played-role-in-mosul-deaths?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.29.17&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">efforts</a> to avoid civilian casualties&nbsp; But this rubs against Trump's repeated emphasis – both before and after the election – on the need to expand use of US military firepower and the associated <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/air-war-vs-islamic-state-myth-and-reality">belief</a> that ISIS can be bombed into defeat. A repeated message to this effect from the commander-in-chief inevitably reaches all the way down the chain of command. The military can rest reasonably assured that if mistakes are made and many civilians killed, those responsible will not themselves face censure. </p><p>The rules of engagement may not have changed. But the interpretation of those rules is a different matter, especially when it may be impossible to defeat ISIS in Mosul by any other means. Moreover, expanding use of firepower is not restricted to Mosul – it is spreading across Iraq and Syria, causing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/panic-spreads-in-iraq-syria-as-record-numbers-of-civilians-are-reported-killed-in-us-strikes/2017/03/28/3cbce7f8-13bb-11e7-bb16-269934184168_story.html?utm_campaign=EBB%203.29.17&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_term=.7045825231f4 ">panic</a> among civilian populations.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The rules of engagement may not have changed. But the interpretation of those rules is a different matter...</p><p>An additional ingredient has been largely missed – renewed deployment of US combat-troops into Iraq. The presence of “boots on the ground”&nbsp; is now inescapable, six years after Barack Obama ended the main US combat-troop presence. Moreover, as defence secretary James Mattis told a Senate hearing last week, they are <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/mattis-troops-iraq-years-after-isis?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.23.17&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">back</a> in Iraq for the long term.&nbsp; </p><p>The recent expansion has been substantial, bringing the total of US ground forces in Iraq and Syria to <a href="http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-trump-deployment-20170330-story.html">around</a> 10,000. Units of the 82nd airborne division were the latest to <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/82nd-airborne-mosul-iraq-islamic-state?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB-3-27&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">depart</a> from their Fort Bragg base on 28 March; 300 are being assigned specifically to Mosul to <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/82nd-airborne-mosul?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB-3-28&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">reinforce</a> Iraqi army units. </p><p>That is significant enough, but the explosive power being rained down from the air is currently even more so. It will have an effect for years to come (see Robin Wright, "<a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-bodies-of-mosul ">The Bodies of Mosul</a>", <em>New Yorker,</em> 30 March 2017). As so often, the details – including the sheer intense impact of the bombs missiles being used – rarely get into the general media. But some are available in the more specialist defence outlets. An account from one of these deserves extended quotation (see Stephen Losey, "<a href="https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/mosul-airstrikes-heaviest-three-weeks-of-isis-war?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.29.17&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">With 500 bombs a week, Mosul airstrikes mark 'the most kinetic' phase of ISIS air war so far</a>", <em>Air Force Times</em>, 28 March 2017):</p><p>“<em>The last three weeks of airstrikes in Mosul have been 'the most kinetic three weeks in the campaign in Iraq' against the Islamic State, the top Air Force general in Iraq said Thursday. </em></p><p><em>Brig. Gen. Matthew Isler, deputy commanding general for Air, Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command, Operation Inherent Resolve, said in an interview that coalition aircraft above Mosul have dropped more than 500 precision-guided munitions a week so far in March — even hitting as high as 605 weapons in one week. The weapons released were all in support of Iraqi Security Forces pushing further into the western part of Mosul, Isler said. </em></p><p><em>The increased airstrikes over Mosul come as the number of weapons released against ISIS overall continues to grow. According to Air Force statistics, military aircraft from the U.S. and other coalition nations released more than 7,000 weapons against ISIS in January and February — the most of any two-month stretch since the ISIS war began more than two and a half years ago.</em>”</p><h2><strong>Whose victory?</strong></h2><p>How is ISIS reacting to this use of force? A lesson from eastern Mosul is that when ISIS finally concedes in a particular locality, it goes underground to re-emerge when the elite forces are replaced by regular troops or by the <em>Shi’a</em><span> militias on which the Iraqi government depends. Such tactics are spread across northern </span><a href="http://www.mahshar.com/world/atlas_world_map/span_htm/iraq.htm">Iraq</a><span>, and extend even to Baghdad where over twenty people were killed in an </span><a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/car-bomb-kills-23-baghdad-170320175853000.html">attack</a><span> on 20 March and fifteen more lost their lives at a police </span><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-39439587">checkpoint</a><span> in southern Baghdad on 29 March. Dozens more, inevitably, were wounded.</span></p><p>In that sense the wider post-Mosul civil war in Iraq is already underway. The real significance of the tactics being used in the city, however, goes well <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/airstrike-harvest">beyond</a> this. It relates specifically to the onset of the Trump era. Many hundreds of civilians are being killed, the use of <a href="https://airwars.org/">air-power</a> is intensifying and the US is pouring more troops into Iraq and Syria.</p><p>When Mosul falls, Trump will no doubt declare a great victory as he "makes America great again". But Islamist propagandists will <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">relish</a> being able to present themselves as the true guardians of Islam, under violent assault from the crusader forces of the far enemy. For them, even now, times are really rather good.</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><a href="https://airwars.org/">Airwars</a><br /></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">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>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>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/washingtons-wars-isis-trump-military">Washington&#039;s wars: in a fix</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/after-mosul-what">After Mosul, what?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/air-war-vs-islamic-state-myth-and-reality">Air war vs Islamic State: myth and reality</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/airstrike-harvest">The airstrike harvest </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/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</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> North-Africa West-Asia global security Paul Rogers Fri, 31 Mar 2017 06:15:10 +0000 Paul Rogers 109808 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Washington's wars: in a fix https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/washingtons-wars-isis-trump-military <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A distracted Trump administration is unable to focus even on its own anti-ISIS summit.</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/558532/32376482540_84ed31972c_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/32376482540_84ed31972c_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'>President Trump greets National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford to discuss current operations. D. Myles Cullen/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Donald Trump's election campaign made much of his predecessor Barack Obama’s failure to control and defeat ISIS, contrasting this with his own determination to destroy the movement if and when he became the United States president.</p><p>Around the time of his inauguration in January, he ordered the Pentagon to produce a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">plan</a> for immediate and radical action. Since then, not much has happened. So in this interim period, how does Washington's outlook relate to the fluid events on the ground?</p><p>The Pentagon’s response to Trump's request was, according to informed sources, simply to advocate more of the existing strategy. That means more <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">air-power</a>; a bit more arming of opposition groups, especially the Kurds; somewhat closer involvement in the fight against ISIS in Mosul; and deploying some additional American troops to the region, primarily in Syria.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">The deeper reality is one of drift: a routinely distracted administration, still lacking far too many senior expert appointments.</p><p>This cluster of suggestions, far from a substantial change, makes even more interesting the administration's stance at the <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-usa-idUSKBN16G271">summit </a>meeting in Washington on 22-23 March of the sixty-eight countries involved in the anti-ISIS coalition. Its purpose, says the state department, is "to accelerate international efforts to defeat ISIS in the remaining areas it holds in Iraq and Syria and maximize pressure on its branches, affiliates, and networks". </p><p>Some positive spin and even a few tweets are the guaranteed outcome. But the deeper reality is one of drift: a routinely distracted administration, still lacking far too many senior expert appointments and facing swingeing budget cuts, not least in the pivotal state department itself.&nbsp; </p><p>Jon Alterman, senior vice-president at the prestigious, and very much establishment, Center for Strategic and International Studies, <a href="https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2017-03-21/trump-administration-to-host-isis-summit">says</a>:</p><p>“What I find puzzling is going ahead with something which would normally require a huge amount of staff work at a time when the staff really isn't in place. Normally this sort of thing would involve armies of aides drawing up planning documents, agenda, talking points, conclusion briefs on all kinds of things. The Trump administration doesn't have armies of aides working on these issues."</p><p>Alterman <a href="https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2017-03-21/trump-administration-to-host-isis-summit?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">concludes</a> with a particularly acid comment:</p><p>“Nobody can imagine a world without the U.S. in a leading role, but governments are starting to think that they need to imagine and hedge against it.”<br /><br />This alone is a serious matter that deserves close attention. But the context of the anti-ISIS summit is a phase of rapid change in several theatres of conflict: Syria and Iraq, but also increasingly problematic Afghanistan, while Israel is getting more directly involved in the Syrian imbroglio.</p><h2><strong>A surprise assault</strong></h2><p>Mosul is a good place to start. There, a coalition of ground troops supported by copious airstrikes is trying to wrest control of the western half of the Iraqi city in <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/isis-iraq-standoff-western-mosul-dagata-front-line-brutal-street-fighting/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ISIS">face</a> of very strong resistance. ISIS will lose control of Mosul, quite possibly within the next week. The longer it takes the greater will be the cost. This is because the elite Iraqi special forces spearheading the attack are experiencing such heavy casualties that the <a href="https://theconversation.com/islamic-state-prepares-for-life-after-mosul-as-iraqi-morale-runs-low-74869 ">ability</a> of Haider al-Abadi's government in Baghdad to hold the country together in the face of a post-Mosul civil war will inevitably be severely compromised. </p><p>Across the border in Syria, a coalition of extreme Islamist militias succeeding this week in conducting a sophisticated <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-damascus-idUSKBN16S0JW?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">ambush</a> on the forces of the Bashir al-Assad regime in eastern Damascus. Both the suddenness of the attack, and the extent to which disparate opposition groups united for the offensive, are ominous for the regime. </p><p>In the event, pro-regime forces initially regained much of the territory quite quickly –&nbsp; but, in a development that was as surprising as the original rebel advance, lost it to a <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/rebels-launch-damascus-attack-days-170321091435374.html">renewed</a> thrust. Moreover, the coalescing of some opposition groups evident here is happening <a href="http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/syria/syria-rebels-make-sweeping-gains-in-hama-amid-geneva-talks-1.1999283">elsewhere</a> in Syria, most notably near Hama where nominal regime <a href="https://syria.liveuamap.com/">control</a> is threatened by another rebel coalition.</p><p>These twists in Syria's multi-pronged war are causing concern in Washington but also in Moscow, where Vladimir Putin’s forces are eager to minimise the considerable economic costs of continuing to support the regime but cannot <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-damascus-idUSKBN16S0JW?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">afford</a> to let it fail.</p><h2><strong>An absent leadership</strong></h2><p>Three further strands should focus minds at the summit, though it is far from clear that Trump’s team are following them or to what extent.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The strong suspicion, to put it no higher, that the White House has not thought things through, lacks expert advice, and is dominated by ideologues makes it hard to believe in a positive outcome.</p><p>First, the Israelis have recently stepped up their rate of <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/03/israel-carries-out-two-strikes-against-assad-regime-hezbollah-targets-in-syria.php?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">airstrikes</a> in Syria, primarily against Hizbollah but also against Syrian army units. This follows a report that the Syrians fired on an Israeli aircraft, drawing a sharp response from the Russians&nbsp; This, in turn, led to an Israeli demand that the Russians work to limit Iranian intelligence activities in Syria. That factor is probably at the root of Israeli <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-syria-iran-idUSKBN16S1IA?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">concerns</a> over Hizbollah, whose power-base in southern Lebanon is so close to Israel’s north-east border </p><p>More generally, Israel is getting steadily more involved in Syria while strengthening its ties with a wider range of overseas militaries. The annual Blue Flag air-warfare exercise this autumn will be the <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/articles/israeli-air-force-to-host-7-nations-in-its-largest-ever-air-drill?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">largest</a> ever, involving Israel's airforce and those of seven other states: the United States, Greece, Poland, France, Germany, India and Italy </p><p>Second, of much more immediate concern to the Trump team should be the status of ISIS in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-towards-victory-letter">Raqqa</a>, its powerbase. Trump is determined to oust ISIS from here, especially after the movement loses Mosul, but to do so he needs the support of the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units (YPG). Turkey is adamantly opposed to the Syrian Kurds' growing influence, with Recep Tayyip Erdogan intent on <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/21/the-race-to-raqqa-could-cost-trump-turkey/?utm_content=bufferc9e83&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_source=twitter.com&amp;utm_campaign=buffer&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">countering</a> this trend as he campaigns for more presidential power at home.</p><p>Trump’s only other viable option is to inject US ground-forces <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">directly</a> into the fight for Raqqa. This might work, but more American “boots on the ground” will <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-vs-isis-prospect">supply</a> Islamist propagandists with welcome evidence for their claim that what is happening is a "crusader" assault on Islam.</p><p>Third, Afghanistan's government has just renewed its plea for more military <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/afghanistan-wants-more-us-help-in-fight-against-taliban-isis?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%203.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">support</a> from Washington in response to the growing reach of the Taliban and other armed opposition groups, including those linked to ISIS. The plea came too late to prevent the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-39365330">capture</a> by the Taliban of the important town of Sangin, in Helmand province, on 23 March. </p><p>If all these trends are put together, it becomes clearer that the Trump administration <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-day-one-in-crisis-mode">confronts</a> multiple problems in handling the complex conflicts across the Middle East and south-west Asia. The strong suspicion, to put it no higher, that the White House has not thought things through, lacks expert advice, and is dominated by ideologues makes it hard to believe in a positive outcome.&nbsp;&nbsp;&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><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org/"><span><span>Remote Control Project</span></span></a></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>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>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/after-mosul-what">After Mosul, what?</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/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">Iraq and beyond: hidden, secret wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">Trump on the offensive</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/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air 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> </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, 23 Mar 2017 22:00:45 +0000 Paul Rogers 109639 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Raqqa towards victory: a letter https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-towards-victory-letter <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Even in a city preparing for siege, an adherent of Islamic State remains confident. The latest of a series imagined by Paul Rogers.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Isis Raqqa.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Isis Raqqa.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'>On the road from Raqqa to Palmyra. Cristian Iohan Ştefănescu/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></em>Raqqa, 17 March 2017</em></p><p><em></em>Thank you for your letter, and I am very glad that your family were not caught up in the bombings in Baghdad. Thank you also for asking after my brother. I am happy to share more news about him.</p><p>He has been working with our people in Libya. One of his roles is to help consolidate the affiliated groups there into a loosely coordinated organisation, but with enough of a cell structure to isolate individuals who might be captured and tortured by any of the apostate factions. Another is to organise the logistics for this summer’s Mediterranean crossings for our fighters. This has been planned for more than a year and is part of the leadership’s strategy for taking the war to the far enemy, not least by sending expertly trained nationals back to their own countries.&nbsp;</p><p>For my own part, I am still based in Raqqa, analysing the western media for my superiors in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/letter-from-raqqa">SOBRA</a>. What astonishes me is the lack of any media interest in Libya. This is, however, a boon to us as we work to expand our movement across the Maghreb while improving the sea route to Europe.&nbsp; <br /><br />At the same time we are developing our links in Egypt, where Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his suppression of the righteous is a gift to our future in that country. Indeed I have just heard that my brother has moved across the border to further our ends there. His experience in Libya, Bangladesh and elsewhere makes his transfer to Cairo a strong indication of how our leaders see the potential in Egypt.<br /><br />It is kind of you to ask after me, and your great concern about the coming <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-through-raqqas-eyes">assault</a> on Raqqa. But do remember that I remain utterly committed to the cause and regret greatly that you cannot share our vision. I hope that before long you may come to see the light.<br /><br />It is three months since my last <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-writing-from-raqqa">letter</a>. That was after you had expressed doubts that the movement could survive the fall of Mosul. You will remember that I was much more optimistic than you expected. I pointed at some length to the many signs of decay and dissension across the countries of the far enemy – from Trump to Farage, Le Pen to Wilders. In your reply you acknowledge those factors, but you still seem to think that the likely loss of the caliphate marks the end of our movement. So let me explain further.<br /><br />I'll begin by quoting once again from a previous <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-letter-assessing-west">letter</a>, sent just over a year ago, when the idea of a Trump victory was the stuff of dreams.<br /><br />"As far as the contenders are concerned, what we would like most would obviously be a Trump victory – even better than having Farage sharing power with Cameron in London! […]</p><p>So put it together – America goes more hardline, the wars intensify, the refugee flows grow, Europe turns its back as anti-Muslim feelings increase, and community disorder and violence become the order of the day. The end result? Many thousands more recruits to our cause."<br /><br />That still stands, and so does much of what I have had to say about Mosul and Raqqa. In December, the assault on eastern Mosul had stalled after early success for the Iraqi/Iranian forces. As you know, that operation lasted for another month before they finally regrouped and were slowly able to wrest control of that less important part of the city.&nbsp; <br /><br />But the process was hugely costly for them, with many hundreds of Iraq's elite Golden Division forces killed and well over 1,000 badly wounded. Since the entire division has just 10,000 men, that single assault was terribly costly. And remember, it is the only force the Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi will be able to depend on when the civil war begins in earnest.&nbsp;</p><p>To be clear, such a war is inevitable once Mosul is evacuated, and we are ready for it. Don’t forget that as the Iraqi army is damaged, while the <em>Shi’a</em> militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps grow in strength, Iraq's internal tensions will become explosive. <br /><br />Our immediate plan is to keep some of our fighters in western Mosul, taking the maximum toll of Iraqis and Iranians, as happened in the battle for the east. We have quietly withdrawn many others, as we did from Ramadi and Tikrit. Many have already embedded themselves across northern Iraq right down to Baghdad, linking up with the thousands of people now willing to join our cause.&nbsp; <br /><br />We are being helped by the rapidly mounting loss of life among the people of Mosul as the Iraqis, Iranians, Americans and French use their artillery and rockets even more widely. The Iraqi airstrikes, in particular, have greatly increased in intensity and the overall effect is to spread yet more anger in and beyond the region. In addition, it is becoming clearer that Trump is determined to expand the presence of United States ground troops in Iraq and Syria. This enables our information officers to show that this is a crusader assault on Islam, and that we alone <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">stand</a> in its way.</p><p><span>Yes, we will lose Mosul. But the cost to our enemies will be great and wider support for us will only grow. As I said last time, our leaders have long since seen the brave caliphate of the last three years not as a permanent entity but as an immensely important symbol of what can be done. Just a few thousand stalwart defenders of the faith have stood up to the world’s most </span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">powerful</a><span> armed forces – an astonishing and truly historic achievement. The caliphate will reform, and strongly, though probably not in my lifetime since that is now certain to be short. In any case since we deal in decades and centuries, not mere years, what is so odd about that?</span></p><p>But as I also tried to explain, it is what is happening throughout the territories of the far enemy that is truly heartening. As you can imagine, Trump is probably the greatest <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">asset </a>we could ever hope for. His deep-seated anti-Islamic outlook, commitment to much greater military spending, damage to relations with so many allies, dependence on ideological Muslim-haters among his cabinet of billionaires – all this is hugely welcome, indeed almost too good to be true!<br /><br />Europe is another source of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isiss-far-enemy-friends">confidence</a> for us. In country after country, hard-right populists are preaching pure hatred of Islam as well as of their own elites. Farage and UKIP in Britain, and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, may be facing problems but are influencing the mainstream. Marine Le Pen is a major player in France's presidential election, while chaotic Brexit is incubating the same toxins. And all this is before our summer offensives against the far enemy start to have their effect.<br /><br />We will transform our military organisation into insurgencies in Iraq and quite possibly in Syria, as well as looking to Afghanistan for opportunities to expand. Egypt is hugely rich in potential. There are bright openings in Bangladesh and many parts of Africa. Never forget that short-term reversals do nothing to limit our true prospects, for ours is a unique historical movement that is preparing 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/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/after-mosul-what">After Mosul, what?</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/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">The thirty-year war: still on track</a> </div> <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/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/letters-from-raqqa-2014-16">Letters from Raqqa, 2014-16</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, 17 Mar 2017 08:00:50 +0000 Paul Rogers 109481 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iraq and beyond: hidden, secret wars https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The west's military focus has shifted towards covert use of special forces. Both the human costs and the blowback risks are escalating.<br /><br /></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>US Central Command (CENTCOM) is the unified military command that oversees the various wars being fought by the United States and its coalition partners from northeast Africa to western Asia, including the intensive air-war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The latter has been going on since August 2014 and is being fought with an intensity that is scarcely covered in the western media. Each day <a href="http://www.centcom.mil/">CENTCOM</a> releases an online report on the previous day’s operations. </p><p>This is its report for just one day, 2 March 2017:</p><p><em>March 3, 2017</em></p><p><em>Release # 20170303-01</em></p><p><em>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE</em></p><p><em>SOUTHWEST ASIA — On Mar. 2, Coalition military forces conducted 16 strikes consisting of 78 engagements against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq.</em></p><p><em>In Syria, Coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of four engagements against ISIS targets.</em></p><p><em>* Near Ar Raqqah, one strike destroyed a weapons storage facility.</em></p><p><em>* Near Palmyra, one strike damaged a bridge.</em></p><p><em>In Iraq, Coalition military forces conducted 14 strikes consisting of 74 engagements coordinated with and in support of the government of Iraq against ISIS targets.</em></p><p><em>&nbsp;* Near Al Qaim, one strike destroyed an ISIS storage facility.</em></p><p><em>&nbsp;* Near Haditha, one strike suppressed an ISIS tactical unit.</em></p><p><em>&nbsp;* Near Mosul, two strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit; destroyed six fighting positions, four heavy machine guns, three medium machine guns, two tunnels, a rocket-propelled grenade&nbsp; system, a VBIED, and a VBIED facility; damaged seven supply routes; and suppressed 22&nbsp; mortar teams.</em></p><p><em>&nbsp;* Near Rawah, 10 strikes engaged an ISIS staging area and destroyed nine ISIS-held buildings.</em></p><p><em>The term “strike” is misleading since it reads as if a single plane (or drone) attacks some targets. But as CENTCOM helpfully explains:</em></p><p>A strike, as defined in the coalition release, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative effect in that location. For example, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against&nbsp; a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/americas-future-war-drone-to-death-ray">systems</a> in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined.</p><p>Thus, “engagement” is more revealing a term than "strike", and taking the period 2-6 March alone there were 89 strikes involving 380 engagements. </p><p>This gives some idea of the extent of the air-war. The <a href="https://airwars.org/ ">Airwars</a> project has arrived at a figure of 18,814 strikes using just short of 70,000 weapons, mostly precision-guided bombs and missiles. The Pentagon itself says that by late 2016 these attacks had already <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/airstrike-harvest">killed</a> some 50,000 ISIS supporters, a total now probably closer to 55,000. Airwars reports that over 2,500 civilians have been killed, not far short of the total loss of life in the <a href="http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report_Exec.htm">9/11</a> attacks.</p><p>The connection is all the more relevant at a time when counter-terror officials in Britain warn that the risk of domestic attacks is the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39093389">highest</a> for some decades. “To put it at its most crude – we have killed tens of thousands of them and they want to kill at least hundreds of us” (see "<a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/uk_and_terror_threat ">The UK and the Terror Threat</a>", Oxford Research Group, 1 March 2017).</p><p>This aspect of the wider campaign against ISIS is obscured or hidden for three reasons, not just a rooted culture of secrecy. First, there is less attention to the war after more than <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-on-terror-interim-report">fifteen years</a> of continuous conflict. Only where there is a major development – such as the assault on Mosul, where western media sources can get close to the fighting – does interest rise. Second, opposition parties, including in Britain, have failed consistently to argue the need for debate. Third, and perhaps most dominant, is that this is being fought as a "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">remote war</a>" – without tens of thousands of boots on the ground, and without the bodies of young soldiers coming home on a near-weekly basis as was the case in Iraq a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">decade</a> ago.</p><p><strong>A parallel war</strong></p><p>Beyond this, though, lies a parallel war that is going on in much greater secrecy – the widespread use of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/americas-turn-new-wars-special-forces">special forces</a>.&nbsp; Transparency in this respect if rather more open in the United States but almost entirely lacking in the United Kingdom where a long-upheld mantra (“we do not comment on special forces operations”) has in the past applied as much to the Labour Party as to the Conservative.</p><p>Bits of news about these operations appear readily to be fed through to government-supporting newspapers but there is no overall indication of the numbers or areas involved. Furthermore it is not even clear whether “no comment” applies just to the core special forces such as the SAS and SBS, or whether it extends to much larger numbers in the Special Forces Support Group (<a href="http://www.eliteukforces.info/sfsg/">SFSG</a>), the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (<a href="http://www.eliteukforces.info/special-reconnaissance-regiment/">SRR</a>), those Army Air Corps and RAF units that support them or even regular troops temporarily seconded to work with them.</p><p>This is the “secret” rather than the “hidden” war. It may involve the UK being active <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">militarily</a> in a number of countries where there has been no parliamentary debate before the operations commenced – and certainly no holding the government to account once they were underway. That may worry anyone concerned with democratic accountability (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wests-shadow-war">The west's shadow war</a>", 31 March 2016). </p><p>One of the very few independent groups trying to uncover where UK forces are deployed and what they are doing is the <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a>. After careful analysis of multiple sources of varying authenticity, its conclusions are due to be published in a few weeks. These may throw some welcome light on a heavily concealed issue. </p><p>Britain's current military operations need not be a concern only for a narrow coterie of specialists. For they relate to a role that the UK already has in one of the world's most unstable and violent regions, which could well <a href="https://www.mi5.gov.uk/threat-levels">deliver</a> a serious blowback in terms of a major domestic incident.</p><p>In 2005, the then Blair government denied any connection between the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/chilcot-iraq-missing-piece">Iraq</a> invasion and the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/london_2659.jsp">London </a>bombings on 7/7, a claim later shown to be false. If the worst again happens, it will become even more important to make clear the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-war-and-isis-connection">connection</a> between the wrecking of lives in Britain and the much greater wrecking of lives in the hidden and secret war that is going on day after day. </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><a href="https://airwars.org/ ">Airwars</a></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>Lawrence Wright, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/234879/the-terror-years-by-lawrence-wright/9780385352055/"><em>The Terror Years: From Al-Qaeda to the Islamic State</em></a> (Penguin, 2016)<br /></span></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/isiss-far-enemy-friends">ISIS&#039;s &quot;far-enemy&quot; friends </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/after-mosul-what">After Mosul, what?</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-against-and-in-west">ISIS against, and in, the west</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/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-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</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> North-Africa West-Asia global security Paul Rogers Fri, 10 Mar 2017 05:05:14 +0000 Paul Rogers 109356 at https://www.opendemocracy.net