Paul Rogers https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/1709/all cached version 21/06/2018 15:52:41 en Letter from London, via Raqqa https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/letter-from-london-via-raqqa <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How might a young ISIS true believer, back from Syria to the west, see the movement's future? Here, continuing a series of letters, is an imagined answer.</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-32182086.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32182086.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Raqqa, destroyed houses on the front line in the Al Dariya neighborhood, Syria, 24 July 2017.Morukc Umnaber/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Thank you for your letter and I am really sorry that it is seven months since I last wrote to you (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/letter-from-london-not-raqqa">Letter from London, not Raqqa</a>", 4 November 2017). As you will have seen this is my second letter from London rather than from Raqqa, and the signs are that I will be working here for some months to come, perhaps even years.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Thank you also for asking after my brother. I have not received news of him recently though I think I know where he will be going next. This is because I have heard from a reliable source that our leaders have decided to improve connections with our associates in Egypt as they work to extend our influence beyond Sinai where it is already strong. As you know, two of our current areas of expansion are the Sahel and Egypt and while progress has been good in the Sahel, Egypt is actually far more important.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's dictatorship is so repressive and so determined to crack down on any kind of religious dissent that the reaction is already developing fast and much of it will benefit us. I am therefore told that my brother, with his huge depth of experience and rigorous commitment, will be deployed there and may already be there.</p><p>Re-reading my last letter to you, I have to say that just about every indication of our future potential that I mentioned then still holds good. We are active in southern Thailand, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, Egypt, Libya, and of course Afghanistan, we are regrouping in Syria and Iraq, and are more active in the western Gulf states than anyone in authority will admit.</p><p>As I have said to you before, our leaders recognised within just a few months of liberating Mosul in 2014 that a fully survivable and expanding “caliphate” was simply not going to happen. Just the first few weeks of the airstrikes made that clear, so our preaching since then has made much of the symbolism of what we had achieved.</p><p>You may argue that this is being wise after the event but do remember that the decision of our leaders to advocate and support attacks against the far enemy in his own lands came more than three years ago. This was in the full knowledge that the caliphate, even if short-lived in this manifestation, would live in the hearts of minds of our followers as proof of what could be achieved against the huge military power of the far enemy.</p><p><strong>A path to eternity</strong></p><p>I’d like to say more about this and our future plans but first let me bring you up to date on what I am doing here in London. As I said in November, our leaders have sensibly dispersed our intelligence and analysis sections, with a number of autonomous cells established across the states of the far enemy, especially in the UK and France.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>We are under strict orders to concentrate purely on research and analysis, avoiding anything that could be deemed even remotely questionable by the authorities.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>This does not mean that I am not ready for arrest at any time and I, like others working for our cause here, have already been trained in counter-interrogation techniques as well as the most effective ways of converting fellow prisoners once in jail. As you know, we have already had some significant successes in this direction and we see this as a key part of our work in the coming decades.</p><p>Because I had lived in the UK when I was a student it was quite easy for me to return here as a refugee from Iraq and I now have safe status, sharing a large flat with some postgraduate students who are from across the Middle East and in&nbsp; no way connected with any movement such as ours. I didn’t mention it when I wrote to you in November but back then I had already enrolled on an MA course in security and intelligence studies at a university here and have successfully completed the taught parts of the course.</p><p>The results are good enough to set me on the path to a distinction, so I am working in all my spare time to complete my research dissertation which I have to complete by the end of August.&nbsp; This is on the origins of ISIS in Iraq right back from the start of the far enemy’s Task Force 145 Special Forces operation in 2004, the attempt to crush the resistance, the mistaken belief that it had succeeded and the subsequent <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-message-from-raqqa">growth</a> of our revitalised movement.</p><p>I obviously rely officially on published sources but I have been hugely aided by my language abilities since my English and French are fluent in reading as well as speaking, I can obviously read all the Arabic sources and know their nuances, and my more limited knowledge of Turkish and Farsi is also helpful. In addition I benefit from much personal knowledge so I am confident of a good result.</p><p>This certainly gives me the edge over most students on the course which also has the advantage of being run by a very mainstream university department that has good connections with the major London security think-tanks. My thoughts, and those of our leaders, are that if people like me can continue our intelligence gathering while aiming for positions with these centres or with private security and intelligence companies then we will be tremendous assets to the movement.</p><p><strong>A bitter harvest</strong></p><p>This takes me on to the wider issue since it should be obvious from what I have just said that our leadership and thousands of dedicated supporters across the world are <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-letter-assessing-west">engaged</a> in a decades-long endeavour. Indeed, you asked me in your last letter why I felt to positive that our movement had a future, so perhaps I could go through some of the reasons.&nbsp; </p><p>The first relates to the palpable anger and bitterness which permeates many of our younger supporters in countries like the UK and France as it does our supporters right across north Africa, the Middle East, and into south Asia and southeast Asia. This bitterness relates partly to the huge loss of life that we have <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/from-raqqa-war-escalates">suffered</a> in the air war. The Americans claimed to have killed at least 60,000 of us directly in their airstrikes. Each person killed will have at least thirty more in their family or among their circle of friends, many of whom will be deeply angered by the loss.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>What makes it worse is that the leaders of the far enemy are quietly pleased with this harvest of life – they seem to regard it as their absolute right to come from their world to our world and kill us by the ten thousand.</p><p>Extending from this first reason is the devastation wreaked on some of our historic cities, especially western Mosul and Raqqa. Many thousands of people were killed by air and artillery attacks on those two cities alone, with thousands of corpses still buried under the rubble.</p><p>There has been little coverage of this in the media over here, but one of the great ironies has been that western charities such as MSF are bringing medical aid to the survivors and appealing for money for their work to the citizens of those very countries that did the killing and wounding in the first place. The latest MSF appeal here in Britain actually quotes a young A&amp;E specialist working for them in Raqqa which, he says, “has been mostly destroyed, with vast swathes of the city razed to the ground. Everywhere you look are burnt-out buildings and rubble”.</p><p>Talking of ironies, though, I am very pleased to tell you that I have been fitted with a prosthetic arm by the local NHS hospital here in London. I lost my arm in an attack by a Zionist drone and have had it replaced by the national health service of a country which is a veritable ally of the Zionists. Sometimes, in the midst of all the problems, you have a gloriously sweet moment – not exactly retribution, but certainly the next best thing!</p><p>There are other reasons for our long-term expectations. When the so-called “Arab spring” started in 2011 our leaders were concerned that the non-violent overthrow of autocratic rulers kept in power by wealthy and corrupt elites would damage our cause.</p><p>The argument was that the last thing they wanted was representative governance, accountable to the many millions of marginalised yet educated young people. While we knew this phenomenon would eventually fail, it would have been a thoroughly annoying diversion from the desperate need for a proper caliphate. We needn’t have worried, and Egypt became the classic example of how it was to turn out.</p><p>Sisi and his like are all part of the neoliberal autocracies that run our world, with the supporting elites determined to hold on to their power and wealth. They seem to have no <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isiss-plan-and-wests-trap">idea</a> that they are sitting on a time-bomb of bitterness and resentment in the form of millions of educated young people on the margins, all too well award of the blatant injustice of the whole system, with many of them ready to be led to a better path.</p><p><strong>A mission to eternity</strong></p><p>To all of this I must add one factor. You will recall when we first started this correspondence more than three years ago that our leaders insisted that people like me study the states and peoples of the far enemy, and my work has been mostly concerned with Britain and the United States. Having been back in the UK for several months I can see all too clearly that there are deep problems of insecurity and instability right across Europe and through to the US.&nbsp; </p><p>Rampant xenophobia and Islamophobia are becoming the order of the day, exemplified by countries like Hungary and Italy determined to “close the castle gates” to protect them from those hordes of dangerous refugees and migrants. Look at Brexit as one response and then Trump and his actions against migrant children. Everywhere we see far-enemy states beginning to come apart, with their every weakness an absolute gift to us and our true mission.</p><p>In short, the world is going our way and I have no doubt whatsoever that the caliphate will return ten times stronger. When and how, nobody knows, but that hardly matters. We are not in this for years or even decades. Our mission will go on for ever. Our enemies are doing exactly what we expected and what we want, and the remarkable element is that they have no understanding of this. Long may it last.<br /><br /></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>Patrick Cockburn, <em><a href="http://www.versobooks.com/books/1830-the-rise-of-islamic-state">The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution</a></em> (Verso, 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/letter-from-london-not-raqqa">Letter from London, not Raqqa</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/raqqa-defiant-letter">Raqqa defiant, a letter</a> </div> <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/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/letters-from-raqqa-2014-16">Letters from Raqqa, 2014-16</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/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 21 Jun 2018 14:49:18 +0000 Paul Rogers 118525 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Kim vs Don: the Singapore sting https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/kim-vs-don-singapore-sting <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In a summit welcomed by Washington and Pyongyang alike, the North Korean leader had an ace card. </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/500209/711px-Tom_Lehrer_-_Southern_Campus_1960.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/711px-Tom_Lehrer_-_Southern_Campus_1960.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="582" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tom Lehrer performing at UCLA's Royce Hall, January 1960. Wikicommons/ Associated Students, University of California, Los Angeles . Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The previous column in this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series </a>discussed the prospects for the meeting in Singapore on 12 June between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Even before the two leaders had shaken hands, some of the United States president's loyal supporters were promoting him for a Nobel peace award. With a touch more scepticism, the column took the view that the great dealmaker might prove not to be in control of the event, perhaps even taken for a ride by his much younger interlocutor (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/kim-jong-un-to-trump-bring-it-on">Kim Jong-un to Trump: bring it on</a>", 7 June 2018). </p><p>It noted the skill with which the North Koreans had already reached out to other world leaders, for example by agreeing to meet Vladimir Putin (who has<a href="https://news.sky.com/story/vladimir-putin-invites-kim-jong-un-to-russia-in-september-11404581"> invited</a> Chairman Kim to Moscow in September) and by extending a hand to his <a href="https://thediplomat.com/2018/02/north-koreas-syrian-connection/">ally</a> Bashar al-Assad. The latter action really did seem an in-your-face insult, given Washington’s problems with the Syrian leader and his Iranian backers, yet the <a href="https://www.firstpost.com/world/sentosa-islands-the-us-north-korea-summit-host-is-a-paradise-with-dark-past-4505123.html">Sentosa </a>summit went ahead regardless. </p><p>The column concluded: “Perhaps Mr Trump’s vaunted deal-making skills will spring a surprise and the North Koreans will capitulate. But don’t be too sure.”</p><p>In the event, Mr Trump hailed the outcome as a great success. North Korea was no longer a nuclear <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">threat</a> to the United States; Chairman Kim was a person with whom he could readily do business; the regular programme of joint US-<a href="https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/cia16/korea_south_sm_2016.gif">ROK</a> military exercises would be <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-usa-military/trump-surprises-with-pledge-to-end-military-exercises-in-south-korea-idUSKBN1J812W">suspended</a>; there was even a chance that <a href="http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/un-documents/dprk-north-korea/">sanctions</a> on Pyongyang would soon be lifted. Trump’s supporters hailed his outstanding diplomatic skills, and friendly tabloid newspapers in Britain echoed those Nobel calls. </p><p>Maybe that award will <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/donald-trump-nobel-peace-prize-two-norwegian-politicians-nominate/">happen</a>, but two things about the peace <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/">prize</a> are worth remembering. The first is that, in the context of most peace agreements, the usual practice has been to award the prize jointly to both parties. The DPRK's <a href="https://www.hrw.org/asia/north-korea">human-rights </a>situation means that is hardly likely. The second is that the Nobel committee has been embarrassed before, notably with the <a href="https://www.nobelpeaceprize.org/Prize-winners/Prizewinner-documentation/Henry-A.-Kissinger-Le-Duc-Tho">honouring</a> of Henry Kissinger (and North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho) in 1973 after a deal to end the war in Vietnam. The then US secretary of state's gruesome <a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250097170">record</a>&nbsp;led the satirist Tom Lehrer to see it as the moment "political satire became obsolete”. This background too would count against a choice of Trump. </p><p><strong>Knowing you, not knowing me</strong></p><p>So what of the outcome of the Singapore meeting? Here are three initial conclusions, beginning with the atmospherics. First, the easing of regional tensions following the core improvement in Washington-Pyongyang <a href="https://www.ncnk.org/resources/briefing-papers/all-briefing-papers/history-u.s.-dprk-relations">relations </a>should certainly be welcomed, though there is consternation in US defence circles, and in Japan and South Korea, over the ending of the bilateral US/ROK wargames. The perilous security situation in early 2018 might not have led to a war, but the risk of untoward escalation – well conveyed by the acronym AIM (accidents, incidents and mavericks) – really was present (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">North Korea: a catastrophe foretold</a>", 29 September 2017).</p><p>Second, the fact that both sides seem content is important, the great dealmaker having done his deal and Kim Jong-un looking happy. In turn that raises the question of whether the meeting will lead to long-term security, and this is where it is sensible to look a little deeper.</p><p>Third, the agreement itself comes across as no more than a statement of intent. North Koreans will “work towards” <a href="http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/north-korea/nuclear/">denuclearisation</a> with no detail as to timescale or process, yet Kim goes home having established himself as a world leader, meeting Trump on equal terms and, soon, Putin.</p><p>For the <a href="https://kcnawatch.co/ ">DPRK</a> and Kim Jong-un himself, what comes first is the family <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/slideshow/photo-timeline-tangled-history-kim-jong-un-family-n730046">dynasty </a>which is synonymous with the regime. There must be no deviation from loyalty to those, whose survival are ensured by a brutal security system. Two peak strategic aims follow, which Kim Jong-un has pursued since soon after he inherited power in December 2011. </p><p>One is the desire to <a href="https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/north-koreas-military-capabilities">retain</a> nuclear weapons (or at least rapidly reconstitute the ability to produce them). This has been consistent at least since the aftermath of 9/11 when George W Bush declared North Korea, then ruled by Kim's father Kim Jong-il, to be part of the “axis of evil”. The regime saw the fate of Saddam's Iraq and Gaddafi's Libya, and a nuclear force of its own became the priority. The other aim in the "parallel development" <a href="https://www.38north.org/2018/04/rcarlin042318/">strategy </a>is to boost the North Korean economy, and Kim will welcome the fact that the Singapore meeting should advance that.&nbsp; </p><p>Even with all this, it remains striking that this young man was able to meet Trump and come out <a href="http://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/391815-at-singapore-summit-north-korea-racked-up-wins">satisfied</a> almost to the point of smugness. Any surprise at this may partly reflect an ethnocentric western assumption that someone like Kim Jong-un is actually the low-capacity “little rocket man” of Trump's <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/01/us/politics/trump-tillerson-north-korea.html ">insult</a> – someone who, having rarely left his country, has little understanding of the rest of the world.</p><p>This is a dangerous illusion on several levels, two being especially significant. The first is that the regime has long maintained embassies in key capitals staffed by intelligent, knowledgeable and above all loyal diplomats, systematically channelling information to <a href="http://www.nkleadershipwatch.org/">Pyongyang</a>, not least in terms of the personalities and competences of leaderships.</p><p>The second relates to Chairman Kim <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/08/18/who-is-kim-jong-un/">himself</a>, who spent a decade being educated in Switzerland. Much of that time was spent at an international language school, but in his later years he also <a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/kim-jong-un-high-school-teacher-switzerland-2018-6?r=US&amp;IR=T">attended</a> a Swiss state school. In such an environment he might not have been a star scholar but would have spoken Swiss German, had knowledge of High German, and would also have been taught English and French. Furthermore he is reported to have had a near-addiction to basketball with a particular love for the Chicago Bulls.</p><p>Put bluntly, it is wise to assume that Kim Jong-un has a very much better understanding of the United States and its political and social culture than Trump <a href="https://www.vox.com/world/2018/6/12/17452624/trump-kim-summit-transcript-press-conference-full-text">has</a> of North Korea. Furthermore, in any one-to-one meeting held in the absence of advisors, Kim’s knowledge of English will have given him precious extra moments to assess Trump’s contributions to the exchange than the other way round. </p><p>At some stage, perhaps in the next few days but more likely in the coming weeks or months, Donald Trump will wake up to the fact that he has been <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-empire-in-decline-danger">outplayed </a>by little rocket man. With his remarkable ego and self-belief this may take time to sink in. Only when it does will it be possible to assess the outcome of the Singapore summit, and then in all likelihood it will be a matter of waiting for the fireworks.</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><span><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><a href="https://www.38north.org/">38 North</a></span></span></span></span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><a href="http://www.dailynk.com/english/">DailyNK</a><br /></span></span></span></span></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><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> </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/kim-jong-un-to-trump-bring-it-on">Kim Jong-un to Trump: bring it on</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 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-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">Trump vs Kim Jong-un: nuclear war by 2019?</a> </div> <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/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">The Trump wars era</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trumps-empire-in-decline-danger">Trump&#039;s empire: in decline, danger</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 Jun 2018 20:13:16 +0000 Paul Rogers 118394 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Kim Jong-un to Trump: bring it on https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/kim-jong-un-to-trump-bring-it-on <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Trump thinks he's the top deal-maker. Pyongyang's summit plans suggest not. </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-36795777.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36795777.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'>Former North Korean military intelligence chief, Kim Yong Chol delivers letter to Donald Trump from Kim Jong-un as Mike Pompeo looks on outside the Oval Office, June 1, 2018. Olivier Douliery / Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>An unpredictable United States president could still turn everything on its head. But with days to go before Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are due to meet in Singapore, it looks probable that a chequered summit will actually go ahead. Preparations are now in overdrive, with senior United States officials working towards commencement on the resort island of <a href="https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/trump-kim-summit-will-be-held-at-sentosas-capella-hotel-white-house">Sentosa </a>at 9am on 12 June.</p><p>Along the way, Trump’s people have carefully downgraded their initially inflated expectations, and now see the personal encounter as a mere getting-to-know-you session. But a political dividend is feasible, the White House thinks: a pledge to conclude a formal peace treaty on the Korean <a href="https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Korea#/media/File:Koreanpeninsula.png">peninsula</a>, thus upgrading the 1953 ceasefire which <a href="https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&amp;doc=85">ended</a> the Korean war. Trump could showcase this as a brilliant example of his deal-making skills, in the process justifying renewed <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/09/politics/trump-nobel-prize/index.html">talk </a>of a Nobel peace prize. South Korea's government would welcome the outcome as a step towards real progress.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Even as the opportunities from Singapore are minimised, Trump’s team retains a bullish front. His <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/us/politics/giuliani-trump.html">champion</a> Rudy Giuliani says that the president's earlier bold cancellation of the summit, after the release of a polemical <a href="https://qz.com/1287942/full-text-of-the-north-korean-statement-that-provoked-donald-trump-to-cancel-a-historic-summit/">message</a> from the DPRK's vice-foreign minister Choe Son-hui, had forced Pyongyang into a humiliating climbdown. The implication is clearly that the North Korean leader, in seeking to engage with the great deal-maker himself, is completely <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44390112 ">out</a> of his depth.</p><p>Perhaps so, but there is a different way of looking at things: namely, that North Korea might actually emerge as the real winner from Singapore, particularly if a formal peace <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-northkorea-usa-peace/trumps-north-korea-summit-may-bring-peace-declaration-but-at-a-cost-idUKKCN1J121T">declaration</a> is its key outcome. After all, in the likely event that Washington-Pyongyang relations collapsed in the months following the summit, it would be far more difficult for the United States to demand tougher economic <a href="https://www.38north.org/2018/01/khewitt011618/">sanctions</a> than already exist. </p><p>Indeed, what makes the whole process so remarkable is that the North Koreans seem to be ahead of the Americans in setting the agenda, even as they provoke the US with a series of crafty diplomatic moves. From Pyongyang’s <a href="https://kcnawatch.co/">perspective</a>, the ultimate aim is twofold: a Kim-Trump meeting in the glare of maximum media coverage which confirms the promise of a peace treaty. Crucially, however, this treaty must do little or nothing to limit North Korea's nuclear <a href="http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/north-korea/nuclear/">programme</a> – at least in the short term.</p><p><strong>And the winner is...</strong></p><p>As the Singapore meeting nears, with the mercurial Trump on one side of the table, there is a real prospect that all such intentions may fall apart. Indeed, Pyongyang may already be preparing for this eventuality too. Consider the following sequence:</p><p>* Kim Jong-un <a href="https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/kim-jong-un-said-to-be-visiting-chinas-dalian-city-reports">visits</a> China's president, Xi Jinping, in the Chinese city of Dalian on 7-8 May, ensuring that the PRC is still onside in whatever is to come</p><p>* If the DPRK-China exchange may be expected, the sequel is not: the North Koreans invite Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/north-korea-russian-foreign-minister-sergey-lavrov-meets-kim-jong-un/a-44016043">meet</a> Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, where on 31 May they schedule a Kim-Putin summit in Moscow in the near future. Washington objects but does little more</p><p>* The DPRK regime invites President Assad of Syria to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/03/world/asia/syria-north-korea-assad-kim.html">visit</a> Pyongyang and meet Kim Jong-un.</p><p>This last is a real in-your-face move, whose longer-term context is truly significant. Since the 1990s, a particularly useful element of North Korea's foreign relations is its <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/03/world/middleeast/egypt-north-korea-sanctions-arms-dealing.html">arms-export</a> programme, including a variety of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. This has both <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-un-exclusive/exclusive-north-korea-earned-200-million-from-banned-exports-sends-arms-to-syria-myanmar-u-n-report-idUSKBN1FM2NB">earned</a> much-needed foreign exchange and made the DPRK a valued source of military equipment, especially in the Middle East.</p><p>In general these exports have not included substantial nuclear weapons-related items. But there is one notable exception: North Korean specialists' construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria, starting in 2002. Although not large, the reactor was of a type especially <a href="https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/08/un-report-north-korea-syria-iran-relationship-extensive-long-standing/">suited </a>to generating plutonium for a potential nuclear-weapons programme.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Bashar al-Assad had inherited <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/carsten-wieland/syria-decade-of-lost-chances">power</a> in June 2000 from his father Hafez-al-Assad. The package included Syrian hegemony in Lebanon, but also fear of Israel’s nuclear capability. In response to the latter, Damascus had carved a deterrent in the form of a chemical-weapons <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Timeline-of-Syrian-Chemical-Weapons-Activity">force</a> and missile-delivery vehicles. These, however, hardly compared with Israel’s long-time <a href="http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/israel/">nuclear </a>arsenal, which is precisely what made the North Korean connection so valued.</p><p>The reactor was close to completion in 2007, only to be <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/print/3095">destroyed</a> by the Israeli airforce. Four years later, another son would assume power following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il. Now, in this newly dangerous geopolitical moment, <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/08/18/who-is-kim-jong-un/">Kim Jong-un's</a> invitation to Bashar al-Assad <a href="https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-06-06/kim-jong-uns-next-summits-will-apparently-be-vladimir-putin-and-bashar-al-assad">sends</a> Pyongyang's friends and enemies alike a clear message: that it can provoke the United States and get away with it.&nbsp; </p><p>Perhaps Mr Trump’s vaunted deal-making skills will spring a surprise and the North Koreans will capitulate. But don’t be too sure. </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><span><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><a href="https://www.38north.org/">38 North</a></span></span></span></span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><a href="http://www.dailynk.com/english/">DailyNK</a><br /></span></span></span></span></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><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>&nbsp;</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/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/north-korea-the-art-of-the-deal">North Korea: the art of the deal</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">The Trump wars era</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">North Korea: a catastrophe foretold</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">Trump vs Kim Jong-un: nuclear war by 2019?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trumps-empire-in-decline-danger">Trump&#039;s empire: in decline, danger</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 Jun 2018 14:15:01 +0000 Paul Rogers 118288 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump's empire: in decline, danger https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-empire-in-decline-danger <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How will an unstable war-centric leadership, beset with status anxiety, act over Iran and North Korea? </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-36633129.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36633129.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'>Mike Pompeo gives a speech on U.S. policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. on May 21, 2018. Yang Chenglin/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The world faces a substantial risk of military escalation in two regions, the Middle East and east Asia. What links the situations is the central role of an intemperate and unstable United States administration.&nbsp; </p><p>The more immediate danger lies in the intermittent conflict between Israel and Iran erupting into outright war. Binyamin Netanyahu's government, with what <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/davide-pernice/israel-s-wars-decisions-for-few">amounts</a> to a free hand, is already conducting frequent airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets, underscoring the potential for a full-scale conflict <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/risk_and_consequences_israel_iran_war.">involving</a> both Iranian forces and its local allies.&nbsp; </p><p>In the slightly longer term – which now counts as months, rather than weeks – the Korean <a href="https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/korean_peninsula.gif">peninsula</a> represents an equivalent if at present more subdued worry. If a heightening of Israel-Iran tensions might lead to direct US military involvement, a failure of proposed US-North Korea talks could lead to American bombers being unleashed there too. In both cases, Trump and his hardliners may see themselves in the position of facing straightforward threats to which war is the natural answer. Before that precipice is reached, however, some tricky political realities are making themselves felt – and causing serious frustration – in the While House (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a>", 9 September 2018).</p><p>North Korea is for the moment <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/just-how-fragile-is-trumps-north-korea-diplomacy">foremost</a> among these realities, as reflected in the high-profile visit to New York of the senior general <a href="https://www.38north.org/2018/05/mmadden052918/">Kim Yong Chol</a> in preparation for the on-off-on <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-new-iffiness-of-trumps-north-korea-diplomacy">summit</a> of heads of state. The South Korean government has embarked on intensive diplomatic activity to ease tensions, the aim being to move towards a condition of reasonable coexistence that benefits both states across the Korean divide. Seoul's overarching view is that for North Korea to give up its entire <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/dprkchron">nuclear </a>capability would require an extraordinary change, but Pyongyang's desire to <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44134397">prioritise</a> economic growth is such that a considerable scaling down of tensions really is <a href="https://thediplomat.com/2018/05/the-u-s-north-korea-summit-north-koreas-pragmatism/">possible</a>. The endgame would be far better relations, plus closer economic and social interaction – while stopping well short of a search for regime change.</p><p>The South Koreans are <a href="http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2018/05/103_249937.html">driving</a> this agenda, but the prevailing view among the Trump militarists is that Pyongyang is taking Seoul for a ride. Thus the North's version of “peaceful coexistence” actually seeks to <a href="https://warontherocks.com/2017/09/decoupling-is-back-in-asia-a-1960s-playbook-wont-solve-these-problems/">achieve</a> a US withdrawal from the South and follow this by the forceful reunification of Korea under Pyongyang’s rule. Even if the US-North Korea summit <a href="http://www.atimes.com/article/north-korea-and-us-ramp-up-talks-in-three-locations/">does </a>happen, that will make no difference to the hardliners' estimation of the North's threat – although they doubtless fear that the unpredictable Trump might just go ahead and conclude a bad deal for the glory of the moment.</p><p>Such worries among key White House personnel are compounded by the difficulty of exerting control over the Seoul government and by the attitude of China, whose broad satisfaction with Seoul's approach to Pyongyang is another indication that the US is far from in charge of events.</p><p><strong>A fracturing order</strong></p><p>If Trump’s militarists are irritated by trends in east Asia, they are also having problems with Iran. The <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/world/middleeast/pompeo-iran-government-speech.html">speech</a> of new US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in 21 May, following the unilateral US withdrawal from the nuclear <a href="https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/iran/chronology-of-key-events">deal</a> with Iran, is significant for its tone and content alike. Its demands were so extensive that no government in Tehran, now or in the foreseeable future, could possibly comply with them.</p><p>Since the <a href="https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/tehran/etc/cron.html">fall</a> of Iran's Shah in 1978-79 and the hostage crisis of 1979-81, most US administrations have regarded Iran's theocratic system as the fundamental threat to US interests, whose only solution is the regime's termination. Neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama pursued this logic, but for Ronald Reagan, George Bush senior and junior, and especially Donald Trump, Iran simply must be dealt with. Moreover, this stance also defines Israeli security policy and is welcomed by the Saudis. To cap it all for Trump, finishing with Tehran would be to demolish an Obama <a href="https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300218169/losing-enemy">diplomatic</a> success.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The problem for Trump and the hawks is that otherwise sound allies simply do not share their view. What makes it tricky is that the trouble with the <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/JCPOA-at-a-glance">Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action</a> is that annoying word “Joint” – France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China are also involved, and none want regime change in Iran.</p><p>Perhaps these wayward partners can be discounted, given Washington's “make America great again” sloganeering? It is notable in this respect that <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/after-emmanuel-macron-high-us-president-donald-trump-germany-angela-merkel-comedown-visit/">neither</a> Angela Merkel nor Emmanuel Macron could persuade Trump to stick with the treaty in spite of personal meetings. Theresa May did not even bother to make the trip to Washington, instead sending the <a href="https://www.politicos.co.uk/books/just-boris">unfortunate</a> Boris Johnson. The United Kingdom foreign secretary's latest embarrassing spectacle was being interviewed on Fox News, a stone’s <a href="https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/foreign-affairs/news/94952/watch-boris-johnson-last-ditch-fox-news-plea-donald-trump-over">throw</a> from the White House, in the hope that Trump might be watching.</p><p>The Trump cabal's own concerns also have a twofold economic foundation. If Trump places his main emphasis on the strongest <a href="https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/iran.aspx">sanctions</a> that can be imposed, then three key countries will work hard to <a href="https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=d184b3d3-6178-4e1f-bff8-802b2a232249">undermine</a> them – Russia, China and India. Russia will increase its arms sales and China and India will increase their already considerable oil and gas links. Moreover, anything that India does, Pakistan will try and exceed, for it is wary of Indian efforts to expand its regional sway. In this, Pakistan's long common border with Iran could become an asset, while the country is well able to facilitate Iranian <a href="https://thediplomat.com/2018/05/what-does-trumps-withdrawal-from-the-iran-nuclear-deal-mean-for-afghanistan/">influence</a> in Afghanistan.</p><p>In their different ways, North Korea and Iran each pose real <a href="https://www.routledge.com/North-Korea-Iran-and-the-Challenge-to-International-Order-A-Comparative/McEachern-OBrien-McEachern/p/book/9781138295124">challenges</a> to the Washington hawks, and further signal the relative decline of United States's political and economic influence across the Middle East and much of Asia. Yet if the US's ability to command events is diminishing, it remains a massively strong military power. And that creates new perils at least as grave as the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">old</a> (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">North Korea: a catastrophe foretold</a>", 29 September 2017).&nbsp; </p><p>After all, the condition of "strength in decline" is a dangerous one at any time – but perhaps even more so now, when to admit the very idea of a slow but inexorable retreat would strike at the heart of Washington's worldview. Trump and his hardliners can't let go of a deep sense of status anxiety about their frayed empire. In face of reality, using military firepower to assert the US's lost pre-eminence may be all too tempting.&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><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/about">Oxford Research Group</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745324326/a-war-too-far/">A War Too Far: Iraq, Iran, and the New American Century </a></em>(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2006) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="https://www.plutobooks.com/9781783718467/losing-control/"><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/war-promoting-hydra">A war-promoting hydra </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/target-tehran">Target Tehran</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iran-eyes-israel-fire-next-time">Iran eyes Israel: the fire next time</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-playing-with-fire">Nuclear weapons: playing with fire</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare">What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">The Trump wars era</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">Trump vs Kim Jong-un: nuclear war by 2019?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">North Korea: a catastrophe foretold</a> </div> </div> </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, 31 May 2018 15:52:53 +0000 Paul Rogers 118165 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A war-promoting hydra https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-promoting-hydra <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A vast, rich industry drives military solutions to security problems. Here's how it works.</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/General_Dwight_Eisenhower_in_Warsaw,_1945.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/General_Dwight_Eisenhower_in_Warsaw,_1945.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>General Dwight Eisenhower – picture taken on Warsaw's Old Town Square, destroyed in 1944 by German forces after supression of Warsaw Uprising, September 1945. Right, General Marian Spychalski. Wikicommons/ Central Photographic Agency Warsaw. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>General Dwight D Eisenhower was the supreme Allied commander of the armed forces in western Europe at the end of the second world war, and later served two terms of office as United States president from 1952-1960. As a former soldier and Republican he surprised many people in his final <a href="http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/eisenhower001.asp">address</a> to Congress on 17 January 1961 by highlighting the dangers of too much influence lying with the military. He was genuinely concerned about what he called the “military-industrial complex”, and his speech did much to popularise the subsequent use of that phrase and <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/the-tyranny-of-defense-inc/308342/">analysis</a> of the underlying idea.&nbsp; </p><p>That military-industrial complex is every bit as strong today as it was in <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/dwight-d-eisenhower/">Eisenhower’s</a> time, perhaps even stronger. In this context, one of the best informed campaign groups on these issues in the UK is the Campaign Against Arms Trade (<a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/">CAAT</a>). While it concentrates on the arms sales which form one part of the complex, much of its reporting is informative on wider issues. Its current bulletin, for example, includes these two items:</p><p>* “In February 2018, German prosecutors ordered Airbus to pay $99 million to settle one of two investigations into alleged corruption surrounding the 2003 sale of Eurofighter aircraft to Austria – <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-airbus-nl-court/airbus-ordered-to-pay-99-million-fine-in-eurofighter-case-idUSKBN1FT2GB">Reuters, 09/02/18</a>”</p><p>* “In January 2018, the Serious Fraud Office launched a criminal investigation into alleged money laundering, bribery and corruption at Chemring, a UK-based arms company that specialises in producing ammunition and explosive weapons – <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/18/weapons-company-chemring-facing-sfo-corruption-probe"><em>Guardian </em>18/01/18</a>”.</p><p>The first is a legal decision, a sizeable fine for one of the world’s largest arms <a href="https://www.statista.com/chart/12221/the-worlds-biggest-arms-companies/">companies</a> concerning alleged corruption, while the second is just a current investigation. But each in its own way underscores the relevance of getting to grips with the wider issue of military industries.</p><p>The point is reinforced by another item in the CAAT Bulletin, which r<a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/resources/caat-news/pdf/caatnews248.pdf">eports</a> on the cost of visits by British parliamentarians to arms-importing countries sponsored and paid for by the governments concerned: </p><p>“New research from CAAT shows that over the last five years, MPs have enjoyed almost £700,000 worth of luxury flights and hotels paid for by regimes with appalling human rights records. House of Commons figures, compiled by CAAT, show that MPs have had lavish international trips paid for by the governments of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Egypt, Kazakhstan and Oman. By far the largest spender was the Saudi dictatorship. MPs from all parties have taken part, although more than 80 per cent of those participating in the tours were from the Conservative Party.” </p><p><strong>The working of a complex</strong></p><p>In many ways Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex might better be termed a “military-industrial-academic-bureaucratic complex”. The longer version more fully describes the pervasive nature of the system: a military development and production complex that is sufficiently integrated and powerful to have considerable influence in determining international security policy. It embodies an outlook that prioritises violent responses to perceived threats, and contains elements that have evolved over centuries.</p><p>This complex was hugely boosted by the mass-production techniques that came to the fore in the second world war, and in massive individual projects such as the <a href="https://www.atomicheritage.org/history/manhattan-project">Manhattan Project </a>that produced the first atomic bomb. At the core of the complex is a largely self-sustaining system demonstrating a high degree of integration between manufacturers, the military and political leaderships, all benefiting from security policies predicated on the potential and actual use of force.</p><p>As well as manufacturers and the military, it involves universities, research institutes, security and intelligence agencies and government ministries. All of these constitute bureaucracies that gain financial resources which are frequently based on raised <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/wfd/justin-schlosberg/media-technology-military-industrial-complex">perceptions</a> of external threats that require capabilities based specifically on military force.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The complex in any one country or alliance is largely self-supporting and self-sustaining, with high levels of component interaction. Thus many academic centres will be largely staffed by former military personnel; significant income streams will come from government and arms companies; and many of the students will be from military backgrounds. </p><p>Furthermore, senior military and civil servants will commonly be recruited as consultants by arms companies when they retire, especially if they have worked in areas of weapons development and procurement. They may also link with security think-tanks that are largely funded from industry and <a href="https://medium.com/war-is-boring/the-triumph-of-the-military-industrial-congressional-complex-a27d6e5fb1a8">government</a> departments. This “revolving door” is a common feature in most countries, the invariable consequence being to place a premium on military capabilities in any assessment of responses to security challenges.</p><p><strong>The power of a system</strong></p><p>Five additional features of the complex are relevant.</p><p>First, it often depends very heavily on <a href="https://www.sipri.org/publications/2018/sipri-fact-sheets/trends-international-arms-transfers-2017">arms exports</a>, but these are dependent on potential buyers seeing threats to their own security – to the extent that arms companies are all too ready to exaggerate those threats, either in their own marketing processes or by funding appropriately orientated research in think-tanks and academic centres. States with <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43873518">thriving</a> arms industries will provide diplomatic and other support for arms sales, mount exhibitions, facilitate travel, and provide intelligence. There is also a widespread problem of bribery and <a href="https://sites.tufts.edu/corruptarmsdeals/">corruption</a> in the system, even if this is commonly masked through the use of local “agents” who open the necessary <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/the-dangerous-reality-of-corruption-in-the-arms-sector/a-18411848">doors</a> and use their “commission” to good effect.</p><p>Second, the complex must demonstrate “need”, so that if an arms company sees one of its weapon systems used in a war it will publicise that through the industry and in the defence and security journals, not infrequently under the heading “combat proven”. For example, this week the new Lockheed Martin F-35 multirole aircraft made its “<a href="https://www.defensenews.com/breaking-news/2018/05/22/the-f-35-just-made-its-combat-debut/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=breaking%20news-5-22&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Breaking%20News">combat debut</a>” with the Israeli <a href="https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-s-f-35-strikes-carried-message-to-both-enemies-and-allies-1.6114436">airforce</a> in an attack in Syria, the news being published in the online version of <a href="https://www.defensenews.com/"><em>Defense News</em></a> in an item sponsored by another defence contractor, <a href="https://www.honeywell.com/industries/aerospace-and-defense">Honeywell</a> (see Joe Pappalardo, "<a href="https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a20884291/f-35-israel-middle-east-russian-weapons/">The Showdown Between the F-35 and the Russian Weapons Built to Stop It Is Finally Here</a>", <em>Popular Mechanics</em>, 23 May 2018).</p><p>Third, one of the trends of the past two decades has been for the <a href="https://sustainablesecurity.org/2018/03/26/private-military-and-security-companies-an-interview-with-christopher-spearin/">privatisation</a> of many elements of the security system, especially the growth of private military and security companies. They may frequently be employed in areas of recent or <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iran-eyes-israel-fire-next-time">evolving</a> conflict where they are less accountable than the formal military, and they also have the advantage for the employing state that <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/myth-of-clean-war">casualties</a> attract little media attention (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/every-casualty-human-face-of-war">Every casualty: the human face of war</a>", 15 September 2011).</p><p>Fourth, arms companies will frequently be supported by relevant trade unions in maintaining their lobbying potential, especially in relation to politicians with arms companies in their constituencies. Occasionally, unions will be involved in developing programmes for arms conversion, the <a href="http://www.spokesmanbooks.com/acatalog/The_Lucas_Plan.html">Lucas Aerospace combine</a> shop-stewards' committee in the 1970s being a <a href="http://lucasplan.org.uk/story-of-the-lucas-plan/">notable</a> example&nbsp; But current thinking on the issue, in the UK at least, is relatively rare, albeit with some notable exceptions such as the work of <a href="http://stevenschofield.co.uk/?page_id=59">Steven Schofield.</a></p><p>Fifth, a further relevant development has been the progressive merging and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2016/04/12/regulators-warn-about-too-much-defense-industry-consolidation/">consolidation</a> of the world’s arms companies into a handful of very large transnational corporations. These have large and very well-funded lobbying systems, and their consolidation increasingly limits competition. There may in future be just a single corporation with the capacity to build aircraft-carriers or nuclear-missile submarines: this, combined with the revolving door, would ensure that costs persistently spiral out of control, so much so that price inflation becomes the norm (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity">Britain's military: costs of failure, symbols of vanity</a>", 26 January 2018).</p><p>If all this is put together, the sheer momentum and power of the entire system becomes clear. Whether it can ever be made accountable and democratically controlled is highly questionable, but that is far more likely to happen if it is part of a much wider process of challenging the present approach to security. There are signs that this is happening, in initiatives such as <a href="https://rethinkingsecurity.org.uk/">Rethinking Security</a> and the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/ssp">Oxford Research Group</a>. With but a tiny proportion of the resources the military system has available, forward looking groups of this kind play a vital role.</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><a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/">Campaign Against Arms Trade</a></p><p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/about">Oxford Research Group</a></p><p><a href="https://rethinkingsecurity.org.uk/">Rethinking Security</a> </p><p><a href="https://www.saferworld.org.uk/">Saferworld</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745324326/a-war-too-far/">A War Too Far: Iraq, Iran, and the New American Century </a></em>(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2006) </p><p><a href="http://ti-defence.org/">Transparency International - Defence and Security</a></p><p><a href="https://www.sipri.org/about"><span class="st">Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)</span></a></p><p><a href="https://www.forumarmstrade.org/">Forum on the Arms Trade</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="https://www.plutobooks.com/9781783718467/losing-control/"><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/arms-bazaar-needing-wars-eating-lives">Arms bazaar: needs wars, eats lives</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/weapons_of_mass_consequence">Weapons of mass consequence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/arms-craze-drones-to-lasers">An arms craze: drones to lasers </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air">Remote war and public air</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-security-time-to-rethink">Britain&#039;s security: time to rethink</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/red-poppies-and-arms-trade">Red poppies and the arms trade</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/armageddon%27s-second-life">Armageddon&#039;s second life</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, 24 May 2018 23:51:05 +0000 Paul Rogers 118045 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iran eyes Israel: the fire next time https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iran-eyes-israel-fire-next-time <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How a military exchange gives Tehran insight into a sworn enemy. </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-36269444.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36269444.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'>Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 30, 2018, claims he can "prove" Iran's secret development of nuclear weapons. JINI/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The international politics of escalating tension between Israel and Iran are in flux. In just three weeks, a change in the atmosphere can be measured in three ways.</p><p>First, the western airstrikes against Bashar al-Assad's regime on the night of 13-14 April were met with disappointment by advisors of Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. Instead of a major operation that delivered a sharp warning to Iran over its military build-up in <a href="https://syria.liveuamap.com/">Syria</a>, the attack was little more than symbolic. If the coordinated United States-France-United Kingdom action inflicted no real military damage, nor did it do anything to deter the Quds force – the external arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (<a href="http://www.dw.com/en/what-is-irans-revolutionary-guard/a-40948522">IRGC</a>) – from further building up its forces in Syria&nbsp; (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/after-syria-raid-what-next">After the Syria raid: what next?</a>", 17 April 2018).</p><p>Second, Trump's declared opposition to the nuclear <a href="https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/iran/chronology-of-key-events">agreement</a> with Iran was leading three of its other signatories –&nbsp; France, Germany and the UK – to launch a strong diplomatic effort to dissuade him from repudiating it. For Israel, the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33521655">deal's</a> survival promised to be a worrying setback.</p><p>Third, the Assad regime's <a href="http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2018/may/15/syria-regime-advances-in-is-held-pocket-of-damascus-1815037.html">advancing</a> control of Syrian territory was part of an emerging tripartite threat to Israel's regional power. A heavily armed, well entrenched and confident Hizbollah militia was based just across Israel’s northern border in Lebanon, with relatively easy supply-lines from Iran. And a permanent Quds force military <a href="missile production and assembly facilities">presence</a> in Syria was likely to include enlarged missile production and assembly facilities.</p><p>Today, the picture already looks different. Binyamin Netanyahu now leads a government that is little short of triumphalist. In the end, Trump ignored his supposed European allies and on 8 May gave official <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/world/middleeast/trump-iran-nuclear-deal.html">approval</a> to the United States's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. The White House made it clear that if Iran starts up its nuclear programme it will face a military response. Moreover, the new US embassy was <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/jerusalem-us-embassy-inauguration-divides-the-city/a-43738921">inaugurated</a> in Jerusalem on 14 May, while the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have met the Palestinian protests in Gaza with lethally effective force.</p><p>Some indication of Israel's restored confidence is its justification for that use of force, which has killed <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-usa-protests-palestinians/israeli-forces-kill-two-in-gaza-as-anger-mounts-over-u-s-embassy-idUSKCN1IF0M8">dozens</a> of people and wounded over 2,000, the majority of the latter hospitalised with gunshot wounds. Israeli government spokespersons appearing in the western media argue that the <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-israel-gaza-protesters-20180514-story.html">protesters</a> were either unthinking dupes of Hamas or themselves of malign intent. This implies that the IDF is facing thousands of murderous terrorists determined to breach the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/16/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-fence.html">border</a> and attack innocent Israeli villagers, and who thus <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/16/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-fence.html">deserve</a> to be shot.</p><p>Such rhetoric may be counterproductive, not least as several western media outlets are reporting from within Gaza and are able to offer a more balanced view. The Israeli government knows this, yet with the firm support of the US administration feels no need to refine its message. With <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-pence-jerusalem-christian-zionism-connection">Mike Pence</a>, Mike Pompeo, and especially <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/john-bomb-iran-bolton-the-new-warmonger-in-the-white-house">John Bolton</a> advising Trump, what is there to fear?&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The coming war</strong></p><p>All is not what it seems, though, a point highlighted by the fallout from Israel's severe military assault against a Quds missile-strike towards the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14724842">Golan</a> heights. The sequence began with the firing of a barrage of twenty 1970s-vintage unguided BM-27short-range rockets towards Israeli positions on the Golan. It is not clear how many landed, but there were no Israeli casualties (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/target-tehran">Target Tehran</a>", 10 May 2018)</p><p>Against this small-scale attack, on the same night the IDF launched its biggest air operation in Syria for decades, hitting dozens of <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/05/iran-israel-syria/560210/">targets</a> associated with the Quds force. Israel's defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the IDF had hit “almost all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria, and they should remember that when it rains here, there will be a downpour there. I hope we have completed this episode” (see Yaakov Lappin &amp; Jeremy Binnie, “<a href="http://www.janes.com/article/80011/israel-hits-multiple-iranian-targets-in-syria">Israel responds to rocket fire by striking Iranian targets in Syria</a>”, <em>Jane’s Defence Weekly</em>, 11 May 2018).&nbsp; </p><p>There is, however, something too easy in the view that the Quds force staged an abortive attack which was eclipsed by immediate, massive – and triumphant – IDF retaliation. Quds is, after all, <a href="https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-iran-s-long-arm-who-is-elite-force-that-attacked-israel-from-syria-1.6075400">experienced</a> and battle-hardened, not least by two years of aiding Iraq's government in the fight against ISIS in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mosul-very-dangerous-victory">Mosul </a>and elsewhere. In doing so it has been loosely allied with a much wider coalition, including the United States and its western allies with their massive use of air-power. The force has also been on the receiving end of scores of smaller Israeli airstrikes in Syria. All this gives its commanders confidence in their own abiities and insight into western capabilities. </p><p>The IRGC as a <a href="https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780844772530/Iran-Unveiled-How-the-Revolutionary-Guards-Is-Transforming-Iran-from-Theocracy-into-Military-Dictatorship">whole </a>is intensely engaged in worst-case planning for an expected war with Israel and the United States. The increased Quds force deployments in Syria over the last couple of years, and the <a href="http://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2018/apr/10/iran-syria-part-1">construction</a> of permanent bases, make a second front available when that war comes. There would be no purpose in undertaking a limited and crude rocket-attack towards well-protected Israeli forces on the Golan heights, except as a deliberate provocation designed to assess Israeli capabilities against a range of targets (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel-vs-iran-looming-war">Israel vs Iran, a looming war</a>", 26 April 2018).</p><p>Much physical damage will certainly have been done, but it's almost certain that most key equipment will have been moved and personnel evacuated in advance. The Iranians will now be doing site-by-site assessments of the Israeli attacks: working out how different weapons worked, whether "bunker-buster" and <a href="http://jmvh.org/article/munitions-thermobaric-munitions-and-their-medical-effects/">thermobaric</a> (fuel-air explosive) weapons were used, whether the IDF had any problems with Syrian air defences, and what can be learned from the rapid nature of the Israeli response. That the response came within hours of the Iranian firing indicates that it was largely pre-planned.</p><p>In short, the Iranian <a href="http://www.mei.edu/content/io/iran-s-quds-force-officers-limelight">commanders</a> will now have a far better understanding of Israeli airforce capabilities. That represents an invaluable source of intelligence, capable of being <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/05/iran-israel-syria/560210/">used</a> to assess their future deployments in Syria and indeed in Iran itself. Even more useful will be intelligence sharing with Hizbollah’s forces across southern Lebanon. To take one example, there are unconfirmed reports that the IDF did indeed use earth-penetrating (bunker-buster) bombs, having since 2010 received 500 from the United States. Since the last war with Israel in 2006, Hizbollah has progressively used underground <a href="https://thearabweekly.com/lebanons-potential-missile-plants-threaten-renewed-conflict-israel">storage</a> for many of its missiles, so any data on the IDF's actual capabilities in this regard will be priceless.</p><p>At first sight the recent exchange of fire was a clear victory for the IDF against an incompetent enemy. At second sight it was much more than that. The Iranians will now be much better prepared for what might be to come.&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>Abbas Amanat, <span class="st"><a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300112542"><em>Iran: A Modern History</em></a> (Yale University Press, 2018)</span></p><p><span class="st">Steven R Ward, <a href="http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/immortal">Immortal:</a></span><a href="http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/immortal"> A Military History of Iran and Its Armed Forces</a> (Georgetown University Press, 2010)</p><p><span class="st"></span>Matthew Levitt , <a href="https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/hezbollah/"><em>Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God</em></a> (C Hurst, 2013)</p><p>Christopher Phillips, <a href="https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300217179/battle-syria"><em>The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East</em></a> (Yale University Press, 2016)</p><p>Ahmed S Hashim, <a href="https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/iranian-ways-of-war/"><em>Iranian Ways of War From Cyrus the Great to Qasem Soleimani</em></a> (C Hurst, forthcoming, 2019)</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/target-tehran">Target Tehran</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/after-syria-raid-what-next">After the Syria raid, what next?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-vs-iran-fallout-of-war">Israel vs Iran: fallout of a war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">The Trump wars era</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-vs-iran-regional-blowback">Israel vs Iran: the regional blowback</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-vs-iran-looming-war">Israel vs Iran, a looming war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-vs-iran-rumours-of-war">Israel vs Iran: rumours of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">Syria&#039;s wars: a new dynamic</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, 18 May 2018 09:15:19 +0000 Paul Rogers 117926 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Target Tehran https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/target-tehran <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Israel's air attacks in Syria signal the wider war it seeks. Now for the White House... </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/500209/1024px-Aerial_View_of_Central_Tehran.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-Aerial_View_of_Central_Tehran.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'>Aerial view of central Tehran, 2008. Flickr/Ensie & Matthias. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the early hours of 10 May, a rocket attack into the Israel-controlled Golan heights was followed by a series of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) airstrikes into Syria. At the time of writing details are sketchy, but the latter – involving more than fifty raids that widely <a href="https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/syria/israel-launches-extensive-syria-strike-after-iranian-rocket-barrage-1.6073938">targeted</a> Iran's military infrastructure in Syria – are evidently substantial. The timing of this confrontation, just hours after President Trump announced the United States's withdrawal from the multilateral treaty over Iran's nuclear <a href="https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/iran/chronology-of-key-events">programme</a>, gives it added significance.</p><p>The first incident started when two mobile Uragan rocket-launchers were used to fire around twenty unguided BM-27 short-range rockets across the border towards Israeli forces deployed in the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14724842">Golan</a>, which was among the territory taken by Israel in the six-day war of 1967.&nbsp; </p><p>The BM-27 is a 1970s-vintage Soviet system, and some rockets were reportedly intercepted by the IDF's "iron dome" anti-missile system. There were no reports of Israeli casualties. Israel claims that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was responsible, and Israel responded with a major series of air- and missile-attacks on <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/10/world/middleeast/israel-iran-syria-military.html">dozens</a> of targets in Syria, mainly sites linked to the IRGC.</p><p>If this is confirmed as an Iranian operation, it would be only the second by the IRGC into Israel, the first coming in February when a small armed-drone was <a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/army-intercepts-iranian-drone-that-breached-israeli-borders/">fired</a> across the northern Israel border. There are three likely motives, the first two at heart political: straightforward retaliation for the hundred or so raids that Israel has conducted into Syria, and a response to Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear treaty in a way that also raised the domestic status of the <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/what-is-irans-revolutionary-guard/a-40948522">IRGC</a> at a time of political unity within Iran. The third motive is military: to test the effectiveness of Israeli defences and to assess the strength of the Israeli response. By turn, the very strong Israeli response was necessary for domestic solidarity and a reminder to Iran of Israeli capabilities. </p><p>The rockets fired by the IRGC did little damage to the Israeli positions, but the Iranians would have prepared for an intense IDF response. The physical <a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/satellite-captures-destruction-on-syrian-base-after-alleged-israeli-strike/">impact </a>apart, most of the personnel and key equipment was likely dispersed. IRGC assessors will now analyse the nature of the attack, especially if earth-penetrating bunker-busting bombs were used, and use the experience to plan their further <a href="http://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2018/apr/10/iran-syria-part-1">deployments</a> in Syria, with Hizbollah allies drawing lessons for their own bases in Lebanon.</p><p><strong>The bigger picture </strong></p><p>Behind this sudden escalation is a wider <a href="https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/israel_nbr90.jpg">context</a> which it may be helpful to outline. A recent <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a> briefing on the US-UK-France attack on Syria argued that the main beneficiaries from that attack would actually be Syria-Russia-Iran. For Bashar al-Assad's regime, the symbolic nature of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/after-syria-raid-what-next">attack</a> gave Damascus free rein to use any method short of chemical weapons to win the war. The Russians were satisfied that their influence in Syria would be maintained, and the Iranians were assured they could keep their security forces in Syria and continue to aid Hizbollah with few problems (see "<a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/syria_attack_motives_and_consequences">The Syria Attack: Motives and Consequences</a>", ORG, 24 April 2018).</p><p>Israel, by contrast, was anything but happy. It had expected a more severe attack that would have signalled to Russia and especially Iran that the United States and its allies would not allow them to expand their influence. A recent column in this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> took this point further, arguing that Israel was already engaged in an extensive indirect war against Iran – primarily through airstrikes on Syria, of which there have been around a hundred so far (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel-vs-iran-looming-war">Israel vs Iran, a looming war</a>", 18 April 2018).&nbsp; </p><p>In this environment, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement will have been hugely welcomed by Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He heads a notably hawkish government that sees Iran as by far the greatest security threat to Israel, the <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/02/on-existential-threats/385638/">term</a> “existential threat” never being far away. The Saudis may not go that far, yet they see Iran as their own greatest danger and will also be pleased with Trump’s decision.</p><p>European reaction, by contrast, has been swift. The European Union, after all, is a signatory to the nuclear <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33521655 ">treaty</a> along with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. This demonstrates a serious concern that Trump’s decision will increase geopolitical tensions even further, sharpen the risk of a major Israel-Iran war, and even open the possibility of US-led regime termination in Tehran. Many security analysts may see such warnings as doom-mongering, but a serious examination of the current situation gives them some support.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>It is becoming clear that a policy of full-scale containment of Iran is being advocated in Washington. Evidence of this relates not just to events in Syria, but also to an increasing and direct involvement of the US military in aiding the Saudis in their <a href="https://www.cfr.org/interactives/global-conflict-tracker?marker-7#!/conflict/war-in-yemen">war </a>against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.</p><p>An illuminating insight here is is given by the Pentagon's reported commercial request on 30 April to potential contractors able to provide emergency casualty evacuation for US special forces in Yemen. The US Transportation Command, it says, is conducting market research to identify "air carriers operating ballistic-protected fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft capable of providing medical and casualty evacuation services" within Yemen and “all surrounding countries, waterways, and the Horn of Africa” (see Kyle Rempfer, "<a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2018/05/08/dod-exploring-medevac-options-for-special-operations-forces-within-yemen/">DoD exploring medevac options for special operations forces within Yemen</a>", Military Times, 9 May 2018).</p><p>This follows reports that a team of US army Green Beret special-forces troops arrived in Saudi Arabia in late 2017 to help pinpoint the location of ballistic-missile launchers and their missile caches in Houthi-controlled parts of the country (see "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/03/us/politics/green-berets-saudi-yemen-border-houthi.html ">Army Special Forces Secretly Help Saudis Combat Threat From Yemen Rebels</a>", <em>New York Times</em>, 3 May 2018).&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The point about contracting out "casevac" operations to a private security company is that the Pentagon sees its operations in Yemen as long-term commitments: part of a wider containment policy towards Iran which, from the point of view of the hawks around Trump, is an essential part of turning round the consequences of the disastrous war in Iraq that gave Iran greatly increased influence in the region.</p><p><strong>The next escalation?</strong></p><p>In turn, that leaves the question of whether Trump’s team are engaged only in containment of Iran – or want something much more. For people like John Bolton, the new national-security adviser, the answer was provided by George W Bush’s state-of-the-union address in January 2002 that extended the war on terror to an “<a href="https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/tehran/axis/map.html">axis of evil</a>” (composed initially of Iraq, Iran and North Korea). These states threatened the "new American century" advocated by the neo-conservative right, and thus had to be brought to book. But the <a href="https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/revisiting-the-axis-of-evil-15-years-after-george-w-bush-coined-the-term">consequences</a> were alarming: Saddam Hussein's regime was dealt with but the effort ended up strengthening Iran, while North Korea has not just survived under Kim Jong Un but is now a nuclear power.</p><p>Trump, now looking forward to strutting the world stage alongside Kim Jong-Un, <a href="http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/387010-cnn-trump-to-meet-with-kim-jong-un-in-singapore">reportedly</a> in Singapore, may think he can close the deal with North Korea. But the bigger issue is actually Israel, whose prime minister sees Iran as an urgent matter that has to be fixed. But if the aim is regime termination in Tehran, the United States must be heavily involved. Here, the security advisers closest to Trump are key to understanding the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">risk</a> of war. </p><p>Even apart from the reliably strong support for Israel in the United States's upper echelons, Netanyahu can count on three people close to Trump on matters of national security. Mike Pence, the vice-president, is a religious conservative with very strong <a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300116984">Christian Zionist</a> tendencies. If Israel is ordained by God to prepare the way for the "end times", then for Pence the matter of getting rid of the Iranian leadership is hardly a big deal (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_2329.jsp ">Christian Zionists and neocons: a heavenly marriage</a>", 3 February 2005; and "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-pence-jerusalem-christian-zionism-connection">Trump, Pence, Jerusalem: the Christian Zionism connection</a>", 14 December 2017). </p><p>Mike Pompeo, the former CIA head now at the state department, is not far behind <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/people/mike-pence/">Pence</a> in his religious zeal for Israel. But the most important of the trio is the ultra-assertive realist John Bolton. His uncompromising views on Iran were expressed succinctly in the <em>New York Times</em> in 2016:</p><p>“The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.” (see Jacob Heilbrunn, "<a href="http://nationalinterest.org/feature/trump-starting-war-iran-25751?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=ebb%205-9&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">Is Trump Starting a War with Iran?</a>", <em>National Interest</em>, 8 May 2018).</p><p>From Netanyahu's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/christian-zionism-and-netanyahu%27s-speech">standpoint</a>, this may all seem very positive. But there is a catch. The US is heading towards the mid-term congressional elections in November and Trump’s Republicans could well take a beating, especially if North Korea fails to play ball. Trump could then be seriously weakened. In any case, there is no guarantee that Bolton or Pompeo will survive in their posts for long. The Israeli leader may have everything going his way now, but that may not last the year. </p><p>The IRGC/IDF <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israel-says-retaliation-just-thetip-of-the-iceberg-after-iran-blamed-for-overnight-strikes/2018/05/10/bd2fde18-53e8-11e8-a6d4-ca1d035642ce_story.html?noredirect=on">escalation</a> might be followed by a brief pause. But Israel could well soon decide to intensify the air operations against the Iranians in Syria still further, sufficient to provoke them into much more than firing a clutch of 1970s-vintage rockets. If Netanyahu really wants Iran brought to its knees and needs Washington to lead the way, then time may be short. This is yet one more reason for European governments to put every pressure they can on Trump to hold back. There is no guarantee that they will succeed.&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>Abbas Amanat, <span class="st"><a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300112542"><em>Iran: A Modern History</em></a> (Yale University Press, 2018)<br /></span></p><p>Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, <a href="https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-impossible-revolution/"><em>The Impossible Revolution: Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy</em></a> (C Hurst, 2017)</p><p>Christopher Phillips, <a href="https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300217179/battle-syria"><em>The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East</em></a> (Yale University Press, 2016)</p><p><span class="st"><em>Victoria</em> Clark, <a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300116984"><em>Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism</em></a> (Yale University Press, 2007)</span></p><p><a href="http://www.merip.org/">Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP)</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/israel-vs-iran-looming-war">Israel vs Iran, a looming war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/after-syria-raid-what-next">After the Syria raid, what next?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">Syria&#039;s wars: a new dynamic</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-in-eleven-shades-of-black">ISIS, in eleven shades of black </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-iraq-and-beyond-octopus-wars">Syria-Iraq and beyond: octopus wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-proxy-war">Syria, the proxy 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> North-Africa West-Asia global security Paul Rogers Thu, 10 May 2018 19:52:13 +0000 Paul Rogers 117797 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Corbyn's critics: time to come round https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyns-critics-time-to-come-round <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After six shocks in three years, can Labour sceptics face the party's new reality?</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-28732012.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-28732012.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'>Owen Smith leaves the floor following the announcement of the winner in the Labour leadership contest between him and Jeremy Corbyn at the ACC in Liverpool, September, 2016. Joe Giddens/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>In spite of the remarkable and thoroughly unexpected success of the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party in the 2017 general election, there remains bitter opposition to him and what he stands for within the parliamentary party. It comes out whenever he is under pressure, as with the Salisbury poisoning, the bombing of Syria and the anti-semitism controversy, so much so that among ordinary Labour members there is considerable anger as they see backbenchers latching on to such issues primarily for attacking Corbyn and his team.</p><p>What adds to this in their minds is that it comes on top of the relentless pressure from right-wing media outlets, one more reason in their view why he deserves support – not interminable attacks from some of his own backbenchers.</p><p>Whatever the rights and wrongs of the whole topic, there is still a question that has not been adequately answered – why is there this deep and almost visceral opposition to a leader who remains massively popular in his own party away from Westminster and which, under his leadership, has nearly tripled in size?&nbsp; </p><p>Much of the reason lies not with a deep ideological divide, though that might play a part, but with the personal circumstances of many Labour MPs who have found the political rug pulled from under them. Previous certainties have disappeared and have been replaced by a political climate that makes little sense.&nbsp; </p><p>For them, in short, this can’t be happening or at least shouldn’t be happening. They have faced not a double whammy but six shocks, all in the space of less than three years, half of them in a single devastating three-month period in the summer of 2015. Appreciating this more fully may make for a better understanding of what has happened in the parliamentary party and also provide a pointer to the future.</p><p>The origins of the current mood go back to the election of Ed Miliband after Labour’s 2010 election failure. For most centrist Labour MPs (the great majority at the time) this was too much of a shift to the left, especially as their obvious candidate, his brother David, had been blocked by trade-union voting power. The subsequent five-year coalition government was not a happy period for them, but with the start of 2015 general election campaign there seemed a prospect of happier times with polls pointing to a narrow Labour victory or at least a hung parliament with Labour the largest party.</p><p>Labour MPs come in all shapes and sizes of politics, motivation and ambition, but embedded in the great majority of them is the hope of personal advancement. This should come as no surprise since it goes with the territory and may well be combined with a strong sense of justice and a genuine commitment to wider society. Indeed these apparent opposites are readily joined in a reasonable belief that change can only come with access to the levers of power.&nbsp; </p><p>When the 2015 election was called there was not so much a hope as an actual expectation that Labour would be in power in some form. For inexperienced but ambitious MPs, the prospect would be a first step on the ladder of advancement, for more senior members it might be a cabinet seat or even one of the great offices of state, and for some the prospect of an eventual tilt at the top job. True it would be under the worryingly if mildly leftist Ed Miliband, but that tendency could always experience progressive moderation as realities expressed themselves.</p><p>The first shock was the dashing of these hopes as David Cameron’s Conservative Party exceeded expectations and won an overall majority. This was a real a punch in the gut, but there was at least one saving grace in that with Miliband resigning immediately after the election Labour might now get an acceptable social democrat to lead it out of the quasi-leftist wilderness. For many Labour MPs it might therefore turn out to be a matter of ambition postponed rather than dashed.</p><p>The second shock was the subsequent leadership election in which a rapidly <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what%E2%80%99s-behind-corbyn-surge">growing</a> party membership turned the world upside down and elected Jeremy Corbyn, of all people, as the new leader. He was a decent enough man in the view of most Labour MPs but definitely part of a way-out fringe of leftist radicals that in no way represented the party as these MPs knew it, and would surely be an electoral disaster.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Behind this lay the third shock – not just being out of office but being in a party with a membership greatly supportive of the new leader who offered centrists little chance of personal advancement. In particular, for mid-career Labour MPs it was no longer ambition postponed but ambition hopelessly dashed. So resentful and oppositional was the mood in Westminster in autumn 2015 that people close to Corbyn had reason to believe that plenty of Labour MPs would much prefer to lose a general election than win it under Corbyn.</p><p>What made it even more difficult for such MPs to take was that the very nature of the Labour Party was <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-s-first-100-days-revisited">changing</a> beneath them. Just about all of the central control of the Blair era was disappearing and it could simply not be put down to a coterie of militant infiltrators, however comforting that explanation seemed. There simply weren’t several hundred thousand hard leftists in the country coming suddenly from nowhere. Something else was happening which could not readily be understood.</p><p>Worse was to come later on with two more shocks. The fourth in the series was the failed 2016 Labour party coup attempt after the Brexit referendum, followed by Jeremy Corbyn’s even more dominant performance in the subsequent Labour leadership election. This made it absolutely clear that he had a deeply embedded popularity that would take an utter political earthquake to shake (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-future-not-past">Jeremy Corbyn: the future not the past</a>", 28 April 2016).</p><p>That provided the fifth shock – the extraordinary general-election campaign in 2017, starting with Labour up to fifteen points behind and with Theresa May expecting to win by one of the largest landslides in history. That outlook held in the early weeks of the campaign and was boosted by the Conservative successes in local-government elections a month before polling day. Then, and against all expectations, things began to change and a few commentators began to suspect something happening below the surface (see "T<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message">he Corbyn crowd, and its message</a>", 18 May 2017; and "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-and-election-surprise">Corbyn, and an election surprise</a>", 26 May 2017).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>By the final week of the polls Labour was on a roll, boosted by a popular election manifesto, a weak Conservative performance and, above all, the ability of Jeremy Corbyn to attract a level of popular support shown by crowded campaign meetings wherever he went. After all, when was the last time that a potential prime minister in Britain had people climbing trees, lampposts and on to roofs at a political meeting, obliging the police hurriedly to close roads?&nbsp; </p><p>So look at it from the position of your suspicious Labour members of parliament. For them the real significance of last year’s election was that it was the final nail in the coffin of opposition to Corbyn – against all the odds he had turned out to be electable!</p><p>Where does this leave the party now, and how does it relate to the persistent criticism that Jeremy Corbyn has experienced from his back-benchers over the past two months, moderated only in the short-term by the current Conservative disarray over the Windrush scandal and Brexit disarray?</p><p>The early signs are that many Labour MPs still cannot come to terms with the changing nature of the party but, far more important, they cannot face up to the admittedly difficult prospect that they are no longer in tune with a wider mood in the country. If this is moving anywhere it is in the direction of Corbyn’s vision rather than that of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/blair_vision_reality_4258.jsp">Blair</a>. For many Labour MPs that is the sixth and biggest shock of them all.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Will they come round and accept the new political landscape? Many will, if grudgingly, but others will not. This leaves a problem for the Corbyn team because if Labour does get into power, the opprobrium heaped on Corbyn by dominant right-wing media interests will be hugely intensified. He will need all the help he can get and this will require a much more united parliamentary party.</p><p>That is primarily the responsibility of those MPs who still won’t support him, but it may be aided if the Corbynistas seek a little more understanding of the attitudes and feelings of those MPs.</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><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/about">Oxford Research Group</a></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Mark Perryman ed., <a href="https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/book/the-corbyn-effect"><em>The Corbyn Effect</em></a> (Lawrence &amp; Wishart, 2017)</span></span></p><p>Rosa Prince, <span class="st"><a href="https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/comrade-corbyn-updated-new-edition"><em>Comrade Corbyn A Very Unlikely Coup: How Jeremy Corbyn Stormed to the Labour Leadership</em></a> (Biteback, 2nd edition, 2018)</span></p><p><span class="st">W Stephen Gilbert, <a href="http://www.newsfromnowhere.org.uk/books/DisplayBookInfo.php?ISBN=9781908998972"><em>Jeremy Corbyn: Accidental Hero</em></a> (Eyewear, 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)</span></p><p><span class="st">Alex Nunns, </span><span class="st"><span class="st"><a href="http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/candidate-alex-nunns-2nd-edition/"><em>The Candidate: Jeremy Corbyn's Improbable Path to Power</em></a> (OR Books, 2017) </span></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Mark Seddon &amp; Francis Beckett eds., <a href="https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/jeremy-corbyn-and-the-strange-rebirth-of-labour-england"><em>Jeremy Corbyn and the Strange Rebirth of Labour England</em></a> (Biteback, 2018)</span></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st"><br /></span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/corbyns-labour-now-look-outwards">Corbyn&#039;s Labour: now look outwards</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/corbyn-and-election-surprise">Corbyn, and an election surprise</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/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message">The Corbyn crowd, and its message</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/britains-security-labours-missed-opportunity">Britain&#039;s security, Labour&#039;s missed opportunity</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%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> </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, 04 May 2018 06:39:58 +0000 Paul Rogers 117683 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Israel vs Iran, a looming war https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel-vs-iran-looming-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A low-key raid in Syria, and Iran's growing influence, sharpen the risk.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35153720.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35153720.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'>Israeli construction of a wall on the Lebanese border and the growing arsenal of Iran-backed Hezbollah have contributed to the spike in tensions. Metula, Israel in February, 2018. Nir Alon/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The joint cruise-missile attack on Syria by forces of the United States, France and the United Kingdom on the night of 13-14 April was a largely symbolic gesture. It warns Bashar al-Assad's regime against further use of chemical weapons, but does little else. Such at least is the conclusion of a new Oxford Research Group <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/syria_attack_motives_and_consequences ">analysis</a> of the operation and its context. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>From the perspective of Damascus, the <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Timeline-of-Syrian-Chemical-Weapons-Activity">use </a>of chemical weapons has a narrow and localised role as a form of terror to force the evacuation of districts. More widely, the Syrian regime's overwhelming weapons of choice remain air and artillery attacks, which will no doubt be used extensively in forthcoming actions against the holdout rebel-held areas in Idlib province <a href="https://syria.liveuamap.com/">along</a> part of Syria's border with Turkey (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/after-syria-raid-what-next">After the Syria raid: what next?</a>", 17 April 2018)</p><p>The regime’s main backers, Russia and Iran, draw from the US-led raid the lesson that they have little to fear of further western interventions and have free rein to continue their support for Assad. In Iran's case, this support has less to do with Syria's leadership itself and much more to do with Israel, where by contrast there is consternation in government circles over the modest nature of the western assault. The ORG briefing <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/syria_attack_motives_and_consequences ">says</a>:</p><p>“Unless the Assad regime miscalculates in its military operations against the remaining rebel centres in Idlib Province, the most probable consequence of the Western raid on Syria will be increased Israeli involvement in the conflict. Given the rising influence of anti-Iranian hawks within the Trump administration, that escalation will not necessarily be confined to Syria.” </p><p>Before the western action, there was welcome if deliberately low-key support in Jerusalem for President Trump’s decision to reshuffle his foreign affairs and security teams. There have been three <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/06/us/pompeo-bolton-muslims.html">notable</a> appointments. The hawkish anti-Iran and anti-Russia figure of John Bolton became national-security adviser, replacing the more thoughtful HR McMaster. The religious conservative Mike Pompeo survived a nomination process to exchange his role as director of the CIA for one as secretary of state, after the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-ousts-tillerson-will-replace-him-as-secretary-of-state-with-cia-chief-pompeo/2018/03/13/30f34eea-26ba-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68_story.html?noredirect=on&amp;utm_term=.42f6d59d13f9">resignation</a> of Rex Tillerson from that job. Gina Haspel, Pompeo's own proposed replacement, has a dubious <a href="https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2018/3/17/17130148/haspel-cia-confirmation-torture-interrogation-black-sites-secrecy">record</a> on the “robust interrogation” of Islamist suspects. </p><p>The main role of a national-security advisor is to present to the head of state a considered view of security issues and appropriate responses. McMaster, as a retired general, was thought by many observers to be likely to emphasise military options, a view reflected in several of these columns (see for example, "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">The Trump wars era</a>", 30 November 2017). In practice he was more cautious than was anticipated, whereas Bolton’s long track record is consistent and forceful. It follows that the one-off joint military operation fell short of a frontal challenge to Assad, and as such represents a success for the Pentagon.</p><p><strong>The hawks' moment</strong></p><p>This in turn constitutes a great concern for Binyamin Netanyahu's government in Israel. Here, the context is that the civil war in Syria has considerably strengthened Hizbollah, allowing it to expand beyond its base in southern Lebanon through Syria itself. The war has also enhanced the<a href="http://www.dw.com/en/what-is-irans-revolutionary-guard/a-40948522"> influence</a> of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), especially the special-force component known as the Quds force.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Iran is regarded as the greatest single threat to Israel, whose right wing sees Iran as an existential threat which simply has to be confronted. In its view, that Iran now has strong influence and an increasing military <a href="https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-iran-israel-revenge-eliminate-tehran-s-presence-in-syria-1.5991846">presence</a> so near to Israel's border is simply unacceptable. A further issue is Iran’s sway over the <em>Shi’a </em>government in Baghdad, which reportedly now includes close Iranian <a href="http://www.janes.com/article/79466/iraq-to-work-with-iran-on-military-industrial-development?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=ebb%2023.04.18&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">input</a> in the redevelopment of Iraq’s own military-industrial complex. Israel sees this as further proof that Iran is spreading its military influence across the region (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">Syria's wars: a new dynamic</a>", 15 February 2018).&nbsp; </p><p>Syria, however, is the more immediate worry. In recent weeks, Israeli Defence Force (IDF) sources have been registering a steady increase in direct Iranian military engagement there. Iran may even be able to link up with militias that control territory uncomfortably close to the Israeli ceasefire lines on the Golan heights (see Nicholas Blanford &amp; Jonathan Spyer, “Bordering on Chaos”, <a href="http://www.janes.com/region/middle-east-africa/archive"><em>Jane’s Intelligence Review,</em></a> February 2018). This deepens the existing bond between Iran and Hizbollah, and further allows the transfer of weapons across Syria in transit to southern Lebanon. </p><p>The latter trend has frequently been met with IDF airstrikes. Indeed the level of Israeli military <a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/report-israel-targeted-advanced-iranian-air-defense-system-in-syria-strike/">operations</a> in Syria is almost entirely unrecognised outside the region. A recent <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/04/24/the-shadow-war-between-israel-and-iran-takes-center-stage/?utm_term=.31a6165562a3">estimate</a> is that, since the civil war began in 2011, Israel has conducted around a hundred strikes across the border.</p><p>Two new reports signal the accelerating military pace. In one, the IDF <a href="http://www.janes.com/article/79430/idf-highlights-iranian-presence-in-syria?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=ebb%2020.04.18&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">claims </a>that the Iranian military now have a substantial presence at five different air bases scattered across Syria. Moreover, Iran now possesses a <a href="https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2018/02/13/sentinels-saeqehs-simorghs-open-source-information-irans-new-drone-syria/">drone</a> known as the Simorgh, based on the US's RQ-170 “stealth” reconnaissance drone that crashed in Iran in December 2011 and has since been <a href="https://www.defensenews.com/global/mideast-africa/2018/02/12/israel-air-force-says-seized-iranian-drone-is-a-knockoff-of-us-sentinel/">re-engineered</a> and put into production by Iranian technicians (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/asymmetrical-drone-war">An asymmetrical drone war</a>", 19 August 2010).</p><p>Another report, in a US military journal, says that one of these drones, shot down in March when flying over Israel, was actually <a href="https://www.defensenews.com/unmanned/2018/04/17/iranian-drone-launched-from-syria-was-on-attack-mission-israel-says/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%204.18.18&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">armed</a> with an explosive charge rather than just functioning as a reconaissance drone. There isn’t yet any independent corroboration of this, but from an IDF perspective it would mean that Iranian government forces – rather than their Hizbollah surrogate in Syria alone – are <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/04/syria-israel/557855/">prepared</a> to attack the state of Israel in its own territory.</p><p>A single drone with a small explosive charge overflying Israel can be seen as highly provocative yet to an extent gestural – a response to Israel's own raids into Syria. But Israel's calculation goes much further. IDF sources <a href="http://www.janes.com/article/79430/idf-highlights-iranian-presence-in-syria">point to</a> the establishment of Iranian ballistic-missile bases in Syria for the <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/28/satellite-images-show-new-iranian-base-outside-damascus-house/">storage</a> of short- and medium-range missiles.</p><p>On the political front, Israel’s government is wary of the intensive European efforts to dissuade Trump from his i<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/24/world/europe/trump-macron-iran-climate.html">ntended</a> repudiation of the Iran nuclear deal by 12 May. The state visit to Washington of Emmanuel Macron, quickly to be followed by Angela Merkel's one-day working <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/04/26/angela-merkels-visit-to-washington-tests-germanys-maturity/">trip</a>, is at least partly about saving the agreement. Israel <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/24/world/europe/trump-macron-iran-climate.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news ">continues</a> to want a much tougher line against Tehran (see Khaled Hroub, "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/khaled-hroub/middle-east-nightmare-made-in-washington">Middle East nightmare, made in Washington</a>", 20 April 2018). </p><p>For Israel, the current cycle is thus proving decidedly uncomfortable on several fronts. Tensions with Hizbollah and Iran are rising, while hopes that the White House new arrivals John Bolton and Mike Pompeo would sway Trump further against Iran are in the balance. Trump is notoriously unpredictable. But at least for now, the main consequence of the US-UK-France raid on Syria really is an increased risk of wider war: less “mission accomplished” than yet more blowback.&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>Diana Darke, <a href="https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-merchant-of-syria/"><em>The Merchant of Syria: A History of Survival</em></a> (C Hurst, 2018)</p><p>Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, <a href="https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-impossible-revolution/"><em>The Impossible Revolution: Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy</em></a> (C Hurst, 2017)</p><p>Christopher Phillips, <a href="https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300217179/battle-syria"><em>The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East</em></a> (Yale University Press, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://www.merip.org/">Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP)</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/after-syria-raid-what-next">After the Syria raid, what next?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">Syria&#039;s wars: a new dynamic</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-in-eleven-shades-of-black">ISIS, in eleven shades of black </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-proxy-war">Syria, the proxy war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-iraq-and-beyond-octopus-wars">Syria-Iraq and beyond: octopus wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/attacking-assad-to-do-or-not-to-do">Attacking Assad: to do or not to do</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, 26 Apr 2018 16:20:52 +0000 Paul Rogers 117513 at https://www.opendemocracy.net After the Syria raid, what next? https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/after-syria-raid-what-next <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The US-France-UK raid on Syria is less mission accomplished than situation worsened.<br /><br /></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-35840447.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35840447.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a joint press conference with the leaders of Turkey and Iran as part of a tripartite summit on Syria, in Ankara, on April 4, 2018. Parspix/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The previous column in this series examined the kinds of attack that the United States and its partners might mount against Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria after the reported chemical-weapons <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-chemicals-factbo/factbox-what-is-known-about-suspected-chemical-weapons-attack-in-syria-idUSKBN1HM0Z0">attack</a> in Douma on 7 April. It stated:</p><p>"There is a spectrum of offensive options for US and other western militaries. But in broad terms there are three levels of action against the regime:</p><p>* Symbolic action involving strikes against one or more Syrian bases, most likely centred on the use of cruise missiles - but at a higher level of intensity than a year ago when the US fired cruise missiles after a chemical-weapons (CW) attack.</p><p>* Major action to damage the regime’s military capabilities, sufficient to deter it from further CW use and its more general targeting of non-combatants.</p><p>* Sustained military action designed to terminate the regime."</p><p>The first option was discounted as being little more than a repetition of the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/world/middleeast/us-said-to-weigh-military-responses-to-syrian-chemical-attack.html">action</a> in April 2017 that had had no effect on the regime; the third was ruled out because it would have taken months to prepare and would require a substantial force and a long conflict with an uncertain outcome (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/attacking-assad-to-do-or-not-to-do">Attacking Assad: to do or not to do</a>", 12 April 2018).</p><p>The middle option was considered most likely and was expected to be undertaken within a few <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20180414-syria-chemical-attack-retaliatory-strikes-chronology">days</a>. Instead, it happened earlier than anticipated, in the early hours of 14 April, and was much smaller than expected. It involved barely 100 missiles being used against just three chemical-weapon sites, even though these would already have been evacuated and their key equipment dispersed by the Syrians. Moreover, it was conducted a few hours before inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (<a href="https://www.opcw.org/about-opcw/">OPCW</a>) were due in Syria to examine the site of the suspected CW attack.</p><p>There has been much propaganda from all sides, but more relevantly the Syrians and their Russian and Iranian allies have simply shrugged off the operation. Syria may possibly be deterred from using CW for some weeks or even months. But since the civil war started, the regime has in any case focused the great majority of its military resources on bombs and artillery. The relatively few CW attacks have usually been <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Timeline-of-Syrian-Chemical-Weapons-Activity">instruments</a> of terror designed to panic people into fleeing from particular districts to make them easier to occupy and control. </p><p>In the aftermath of this US-led action the regime will continue its efforts to win the war and will only engage in any kind of peace negotiations on its own terms. Furthermore, any talk of the attack severely curtailing Syria’s CW <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/02/13/after-7-years-of-war-assad-has-won-in-syria-whats-next-for-washington/">capabilities</a> is nonsense. The main CW agent used has been chlorine, a gas widely used in industry and readily available on the open market. If Assad has seen his chlorine stocks depleted by the attack he can simply go to his iPad and order some more.</p><p>If this is relatively clear, the events of recent days do raise other questions: </p><p>* Why the attack happened so quickly </p><p>* Why it was so small and symbolic</p><p>* Whether there is still a risk of wider conflict.</p><p>As to the first question: it's notable that as <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-43762251">news</a> of the airstrikes came through in the early hours of last Saturday, the BBC’s north American editor Jon Sopel reported from Washington that the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">Trump</a> administration had been under some pressure from the French and British governments to commence the attack without delay. Sopel said that France was particularly keen to respond to the use of chemical weapons, whereas Britain was concerned mainly with the level of domestic opposition to the planned attack.</p><p>As to the second, this small action can usefully be put in the perspective of the region's recent conflicts. For three years until autumn 2017 the US led a coalition which staged an <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">intensive</a> air-war against <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-in-eleven-shades-of-black">ISIS</a> in Iraq and Syria. In that war, over 106,000 guided bombs and missiles were used in 29,000 airstrikes in a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/myth-of-clean-war">campaign</a> scarcely covered in the western media. That compares with 103 missiles fired in this hugely publicised operation.</p><p>Its symbolic nature seems to relate more to Washington than London or Paris. Initially, Trump appears to have reacted spontaneously to TV pictures of the Douma attack. He will also have been greatly <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/trump_and_bolton_making_greater_american_century">encouraged</a> by John Bolton, his hawkish new national-security advisor, whose antipathy to Iran and Russia is profound. At the same time, the kind of attack he will have wanted is far too dangerous as far as the Pentagon was concerned.</p><p>The defence secretary James Mattis, and the chair of the joint chiefs-of-staff General Joseph Dunford, seemed to have won <a href="https://www.vox.com/world/2018/4/16/17242296/us-bombing-syria-trump-bolton">agreement </a>to a high-profile but low-impact operation which would avoid the risk of interaction with Russian forces. In short, it was the military reining in the politicians and not the other way round.</p><p>As to the third question, the impact on the Assad regime will be <a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2018/04/15/western-airstrikes-unlikely-to-impact-assads-war-machine/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=ebb%2016.04.18&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">minimal.</a> The way in which the Pentagon minimised the risk of Russian casualties is also a sign that the risk of sudden escalation may be less than was feared.</p><p>Unfortunately there are three caveats, all outside the control of the United States and its transatlantic partners. The first recalls the acronym AIM (accidents, incidents and mavericks): that is, the unplanned and unintended events that can be so dangerous when opposing forces are in a high state of tension (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-israel-syria-iran-war-by-accident">America-Israel, Syria-Iran: war by accident</a>", 19 July 2012). This condition will persist for as long as multilevel <a href="https://syria.liveuamap.com/">competing forces</a> continue to seek advantage in a largely ungoverned country. In Syria, the actors include multiple militias, the Syrian government, the Russians and Iranians, but also the Turks, Saudis, Americans, French and British.</p><p>This leads to the second caveat, namely the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">role</a> of Israel. This maverick writ large currently has a notably hawkish leadership which will have welcomed the US-led attack but wanted and expected a much bigger operation. It has not got that. Instead it <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/09/israel-syria/539076/">faces</a> a <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syrias-assad-said-to-be-in-good-mood-scorns-us-weaponry-after-airstrikes/2018/04/15/a5e313cb-727a-4dda-98da-d582d86f0add_story.html">confident</a> regime in Damascus backed by Russia and Iran, with the latter determined to ensure that its support for Hizbollah and its influence in Syria is enhanced in the post-war environment.</p><p>The third caveat <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/02/russia-syria-putin-assad-trump-isis-ghouta/554270/">involves</a> Putin’s Russia, which emerges from the past few days as the real victor. During the cruise-missile strikes the Russian military neither needed nor made an attempt to shoot anything down. This meant that the Pentagon would have been <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/wary-of-escalation-u-s-and-allies-steer-clear-of-russia-in-syria-air-strikes-/29167710.html">unable</a> to assess the air-defence capabilities of Russia's new S-400 system.</p><p>Now, if they so choose, Putin and Assad can probe how far they can goad the US and its partners in the coming months, in the process gauging what divisions inside these countries they can exacerbate. The US-UK-French alliance may think it is, in Trump’s perilous <a href="https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/14/17237788/trump-tweet-syria-mission-accomplished-bush">words</a>, “mission accomplished”. In reality it may be far less in control of what happens next than its adversaries.</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>Diana Darke, <a href="https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-merchant-of-syria/"><em>The Merchant of Syria: A History of Survival</em></a> (C Hurst, 2018)</p><p>Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, <a href="https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-impossible-revolution/"><em>The Impossible Revolution: Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy</em></a> (C Hurst, 2017)</p><p>Christopher Phillips, <a href="https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300217179/battle-syria"><em>The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East</em></a> (Yale 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/attacking-assad-to-do-or-not-to-do">Attacking Assad: to do or not to do</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-iraq-and-beyond-octopus-wars">Syria-Iraq and beyond: octopus wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/russia-in-syria-and-flawed-strategy">Russia in Syria, and a flawed strategy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-proxy-war">Syria, the proxy war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-in-eleven-shades-of-black">ISIS, in eleven shades of black </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">Syria&#039;s wars: a new dynamic</a> </div> </div> </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 Tue, 17 Apr 2018 20:22:06 +0000 Paul Rogers 117334 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Attacking Assad: to do or not to do https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/attacking-assad-to-do-or-not-to-do <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A military escalation over Syria presents huge dangers. So how else to act? </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-35939412.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35939412.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (R) and British Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce (L) veto Russian-drafted resolution on investigation by the OPCW into alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, at UN HQ, New York, April 10, 2018. Li Muzi/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The chemical-weapons attack on Douma, an area of Damascus beyond the control of Bashar al-Assad's regime, on 7 April has led to high expectation of an imminent military response by the United States, possibly with the involvement of United Kingdom and <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-france/france-has-proof-syrian-government-conducted-chemical-weapons-attack-macron-idUSKBN1HJ1M5">French</a> forces. Trump's instant assurances of punishment of the "animal" Syrian president fuel the sense that sudden escalation is likely.&nbsp; </p><p>The American president's <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria/trump-says-syria-attack-could-be-very-soon-or-not-so-soon-idUSKBN1HJ0ZS">later</a> tweets, early on 12 April, imply a delay in any timetable. But the prospect of dangerous military confrontation remains high. So what, realistically, could happen?</p><p>There is a spectrum of offensive options for US and other western militaries. But in broad terms there are three levels of action against the regime:</p><p>* Symbolic action involving strikes against one or more Syrian bases, most likely centred on the use of cruise missiles – but at a higher level of intensity than a year ago when the US fired cruise missiles after a chemical-weapons (CW) attack.</p><p>* Major action to damage the regime’s military capabilities, sufficient to deter it from further CW <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Timeline-of-Syrian-Chemical-Weapons-Activity">use</a> and its more general <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/04/what-really-happened-in-the-syria-chemical-attack.html">targeting</a> of non-combatants.</p><p>* Sustained military action designed to terminate the regime.</p><p>This column assumes that the first, limited symbolic action, is unlikely, not least given Trump’s personality, his initial tweets, and the guidance he will be getting from his latest national-security adviser John Bolton and the CIA chief Mike Pompeo.</p><p>It also assumes that full regime termination is not currently on the US agenda. That would require many weeks' preparation, expansion of air power in the <a href="https://syria.liveuamap.com/">region</a>, movement of ground forces and then their substantial use. In turn those elements would be very risky, certainly involving major confrontation with Russian and Iranian forces and, even if successful, an entirely uncertain post-regime outcome.</p><p>This column therefore focuses on the middle, “punish and deter”, option.</p><p><strong>What has happened? </strong></p><p>Before taking military action against the Assad regime, recent experience should be noted:</p><p>* In late 2001 the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was terminated and al-Qaida dispersed in less than ten weeks, Bush’s subsequent state-of-the-union address in January 2002 was couched in terms of victory – and even extended the war to an "axis of evil". After sixteen years of war the Taliban is back, ISIS and other al-Qaida offshoots are active and the Afghan war continues.</p><p>* In early 2003 the Saddam Hussein regime was terminated in three weeks and Bush gave his “mission accomplished” speech three weeks later. The war then continued for seven years.</p><p>* In 2011 the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya was terminated in six months. A deeply unstable and violent failed state endures seven years later.</p><p>* In 2011 Obama withdrew remaining troops from Iraq in the belief that the insurgency was at an end. Instead, ISIS arose from the supposed corpse of AQI (al-Qaida in Iraq).</p><p>* In 2014 an intense air war started against ISIS and lasted over three years. At least 60,000 ISIS supporters were killed, along with at least 6,000 civilians. The caliphate has gone but ISIS is <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-in-eleven-shades-of-black">returning</a> to guerrilla tactics in Iraq and Syria; has groups active in Sinai, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Indonesia; has links with groups across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia; and is encouraging and inspiring actions in western Europe, to the extent that the head of MI5 has stated that the terror risk in Britain has never been higher.</p><p><strong>How prepared is Syria? </strong></p><p>Syria’s military, especially its air force, has long assumed that its main enemy is Israel with that state's own advanced military capabilities. The Syrian regime has therefore prioritised the hardening and dispersal of its own military capabilities. Those mean duplication of support systems, a dispersed production and repair capability, and an extensive air-defence network. A case in point is the Tiyas T4 airbase <a href="https://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2018/10-april-syria-photo-showing-aftermath-of-israeli-airstrikes">attacked</a> by Israel on 9 April. This has a vast network of thirty-six hardened aircraft shelters and at least twenty hardened munitions and supplies shelters, stretching over a large area. Even after seven years of war the regime still has many capabilities, with these aided by much recent Iranian and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/russia-in-syria-and-flawed-strategy">Russian</a> support.</p><p>For the US and its allies to take military action may be cathartic, but this will have little or no political <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/broad-attack-on-syria-would-face-risk-from-air-defenses-escalation-with-russia/2018/04/11/f14e9a96-3db2-11e8-974f-aacd97698cef_story.html">effect</a> on the behaviour of the regime – unless it is large scale. And “large scale” does not mean a few dozen cruise missiles, it means a protracted air campaign over many days and probably weeks.</p><p>This would be intended massively to degrade Syrian military capabilities: air defences, military communications, almost all reconnaissance and strike aircraft, fuel supplies, repair facilities, army firepower, munitions storage sites and armaments factories.&nbsp; All significant targets would need to be subject to attack followed by damage assessment and, most likely, further attack.</p><p>Moreover, as capabilities were restored they would need to be attacked again, bearing in mind that Iranian and Russian resupply should be expected to be readily available. Initial and subsequent attacks could not avoid Russian and Iranian personnel and facilities, nor could they avoid civilian casualties. There are strong indications that, right from the start, Russia would provide direct support. This support would escalate immediately once there were Russian casualties. Russia might also engineer crises elsewhere to enhance political uncertainty.</p><p>The Syrian regime and its allies would mount a sustained propaganda campaign emphasising civilian casualties. There would be direct <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">reference</a> to Israeli connections with the western coalition, to current Israeli operations in Gaza, and even an emphasis on the “crusader-Zionist” axis. The latter tactic has been employed systematically by extreme Islamist groups, especially in the past decade.&nbsp; </p><p>A further problem is that western politicians believe that they have the moral authority to confront the Assad regime. In reality, any such talk is likely to be met with cynicism if not hollow laughter across the Middle East and beyond because of the disastrous effects of the previous western interventions.</p><p>Finally, in the unlikely event that the regime really suffered severely through this military action and could not quickly recover, this would be welcomed by diverse extreme Islamist groups in Syria, including ISIS, vying to fill any security vacuum no matter how temporary. It would also be feared by Syrian Kurds if welcomed by Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia.</p><p><strong>What should be done?</strong></p><p>There is no easy, immediate and clear-cut alternative, and the situation is made worse by the current <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/04/06/further-down-the-spiral-russia-and-the-west-after-putins-re-election/">antagonism</a> between the west and Russia. By far the strongest argument against attacks is that war will most likely make matters much worse. Nevertheless, some other approaches can be recommended.</p><p>* Do everything, in any way possible, to support the United Nations secretary-general, quite likely the best incumbent of that post in decades albeit he faces a near-impossible task.</p><p>* Britain, in spite of current <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/moscows-armourers-and-british-tabloids">relations</a> with Russia, still has half-decent diplomatic relations (not counting Boris) with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel. Recall those ambassadors and other key regional staff for an intensive meeting in London, also with Washington and Moscow ambassadors, to share approaches and ideas in closed meetings not chaired by politicians. By this means get the considered views of experienced diplomats and then listen to them.</p><p>* On the basis of these and other inputs, seek to formulate plans for cooling tensions that might be pursued in the coming days and weeks and aiming for a renewed peace process. This will be very difficult but if the UK eschews support for a military escalation it may be in a position to do so with other like-minded states, and is one of the very few countries with the professional diplomatic competence and experience to even be in a position to try.</p><p>In the longer term, and in recognition of the appalling failures of recent years (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere), expend serious and sustained effort to enhance and expand UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding capabilities. Work to strengthen and fully resource the International Criminal Court and the process of establishing and supporting war-crimes tribunals.&nbsp; </p><p>This is all a very long way from a perfect answer, but it may provide some hope at a time of considerable risk.</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>Diana Darke, <a href="https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-merchant-of-syria/"><em>The Merchant of Syria: A History of Survival</em></a> (C Hurst, 2018)</p><p>Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, <a href="https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-impossible-revolution/"><em>The Impossible Revolution: Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy</em></a> (C Hurst, 20i7)</p><p><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-in-eleven-shades-of-black">ISIS, in eleven shades of black </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-iraq-and-beyond-octopus-wars">Syria-Iraq and beyond: octopus wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/russia-in-syria-and-flawed-strategy">Russia in Syria, and a flawed strategy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-proxy-war">Syria, the proxy war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">Syria&#039;s wars: a new dynamic</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 Apr 2018 16:38:36 +0000 Paul Rogers 117235 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ISIS, in eleven shades of black https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-in-eleven-shades-of-black <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A multilingual manual for the worldwide jihad signals ISIS's ambition.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34522931.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34522931.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" width="460" height="256" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Still image taken from a propaganda video released January 14 2018 showing Taliban fighters in a training camp in Faryab Province, Afghanistan.Handout/Press Associatation. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The ISIS media office recently circulated the PDF of an e-book written at least eight years ago by one of the movement's leading paramilitary specialists. <em>Advice for the Leaders and Soldiers of the Islamic State</em> is a guide on how to wage an insurgency. The decision to circulate it openly now, when ISIS has lost control of almost all its geographical caliphate yet survives and even thrives elsewhere, is an intriguing development. It may well prove useful not just to its intended readership, but to others wanting to know how ISIS intends to pursue its strategic aims (see “Islamic State instructs on insurgency”, <a href="http://www.janes.com/security/janes-intelligence-review"><em>Jane’s Intelligence Review</em></a>, April 2018).</p><p>First, some background. After the United States-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, the toughest element of the opposition centred on an al-Qaida offshoot known as al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI). The group was led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, until he was killed by US special forces in June 2006. His replacement, <a href="https://jamestown.org/program/a-profile-of-al-qaedas-new-leader-in-iraq-abu-ayyub-al-masri/">Abu Ayyub al-Masri </a>met the same <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/20/world/middleeast/20baghdad.html">fate</a> four years later.&nbsp; </p><p>Al-Zarqawi had been the key person in building up the determined and brutal AQI. It took a sustained and very low-profile US-led campaign in 2005-06 to begin to subdue this group. This “shadow war” involved cooperation by US and <a href="http://www.eliteukforces.info/special-air-service/task-force-black/">British</a> special forces, in a combined organisation known as Task Force 145.&nbsp;</p><p><a href="https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2006/04/zarqawi_and_task_for.php">Task Force 145</a> had by 2010 killed thousands of experienced insurgents and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-why-so-resilient">detained</a> as many as 10,000. But Abu Ayyub al-Masri himself proved elusive, and by the time of his death had amassed considerable expertise in insurgency and guerrilla tactics. <em>Advice for the Leaders... </em>was his legacy, distilling his knowledge into sixty-one articles of advice: thirty pitched at leaders and thirty-one at paramilitary fighters.</p><p>Why publish it now? <em>Jane's</em> says the measure may be "an attempt to distribute the document’s teachings to a wider readership, which is important given that the Islamic State can no longer operate overtly in Iraq and Syria.” Evidence for this is that the e-book is being published in eleven languages: Bosnian, English, French, German, Indonesian, Kurdish, Pashto, Russian, Turkish, Uyghur and Urdu. This alone points to some of the regions that the ISIS leadership sees as having growth potential. </p><p>The rationale of some translations, such as <a href="https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-pashtun-question/">Pashto</a> (widely spoken in Pakistan and Afganistan), is obvious, given current recruiting areas. But the very fact of others will cause concern. An Uyghur version hints at the possibility of further trouble for the Chinese authorities in the restive north-western region. The state's enhanced degrees of surveillance and control of the <a href="https://uhrp.org/">Uyghur</a> population, using invasive techniques beyond anything George Orwell envisaged in 1984, indicate how far it is prepared to go to resist any challenge (see James A Millward, "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/03/opinion/sunday/china-surveillance-state-uighurs.html ">What It's Like to Live in a Surveillance State</a>", 3 February 2018).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>A Russian translation most likely relates to the <a href="http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/255">Caucasus Emirate</a>, a group that has posed a long-term headache for Moscow. An added salience derives from the likely <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/chechnya-braces-itself-for-return-of-foreign-fighters/av-42267689">return </a>of some of the several thousand Russian fighters who joined ISIS and survived the air-war in Syria. A move through Turkey and round the eastern shores of the Black Sea to Georgia will bring them close to the border. </p><p>An Indonesian version is significant too, given Islamist affiliates in the country and security concerns in the Celebes and Sulu Seas between Indonesia, Malaysia and the southern Philippines. The latter country is vital in its own right: in 2017 an ISIS-affiliated group overran the southern city of Marawi and <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/world/2017/12/09/liberated-and-angry-in-marawi/">held</a> it against Filipino army forces, backed by the United States, for more than four months (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-war-unwon">ISIS: a war unwon</a>", 14 September 2017).</p><p>Yet the hijacking of large merchant ships in the maritime tri-border <a href="https://hightideforchange.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/celebes_sea_1.gif">area </a>(TBA) to the Philippines' south-west, a region of a million square kilometres, is arguably an even greater current <a href="https://www.nyarisk.com/2017/10/17/abu-sayyaf-group-remains-resilient-within-sulu-celebes-seas/ ">concern</a> to security forces. Indonesia's foreign ministry estimates that 100,000 commercial vessels with a cargo value of $40 billion transit this area each year, making tempting prey for Islamist groups as well as pirates (see Peter Chalk, “Risky Crossings”, <a href="http://www.janes.com/security/janes-intelligence-review"><em>Jane’s Intelligence Review</em>,</a> March 2018). Jakarta and other capitals are seeking to make this a focus for <a href="https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/tri-border-maritime-cooperation-foundering/">stronger</a> international cooperation.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Among these theatres, where will the ISIS <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/isis-america-hoxha/550508/">leadership</a> prioritise its efforts? In the short term it is likely to do all it can to promote attacks in the lands of the far enemy, primarily the United States and western Europe. Persistent attacks by its surviving cells make feasible a re-embedding of its insurgency in <a href="https://syria.liveuamap.com/">Syria</a> and especially Iraq (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-comeback">ISIS: the comeback</a>", 4 January 2018). The movement will also focus more intensively on Egypt, now that the Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's regime is so dominant against any opposition and has <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/abdel-fattah-el-sisi-narrowly-misses-100-percent-vote-egypt-180402112319879.html">consolidated</a> itself with a loaded election. </p><p>Above all, this multilingual manual shows that ISIS sees itself as prepared to fight over the long term, in a <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/">struggle</a> where it can now accrue the great value of generational experience. Looking back, many Arabs who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s aided the <a href="https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-taliban-reader/">Taliban’s</a> fight against Northern Alliance warlords in the 1990s. They and paramilitaries from Chechnya, Kashmir and Bosnia similarly passed on their experience to AQI and others in Iraq a decade later. This <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">pattern</a> of connected learning seems destined to continue.</p><p>This context underpins the renewed distribution of the advice of an effective, battle-hardened former leader. As ISIS moves towards becoming a decentred, transnational insurgency, <a href="https://www.lawfareblog.com/virtual-caliphate-rebooted-islamic-states-evolving-online-strategy">spreading</a> its knowledge as widely as possible makes grim sense. <em>Advice for the Leaders and Soldiers of the Islamic State</em>, new edition, is a potent reminder that ISIS sees its recent setback as but an episode in a very long war. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&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><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 Press, 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>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/isis-war-unwon">ISIS: a war unwon</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-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/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 Fri, 06 Apr 2018 00:03:14 +0000 Paul Rogers 117058 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain's security, Labour's missed opportunity https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-security-labours-missed-opportunity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Corbyn's party changed and won the argument on austerity. It could do the same on defence – but it doesn't want to try.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-HMS_Defender_at_Greenwich_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-HMS_Defender_at_Greenwich_0.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'>HMS Defender moored at Greenwich in London, 2015. Wikicommons/Hammersfan. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>A highlight for many visitors to Portsmouth on England's south coast has long been a boat trip round the harbour, taking in fine views of the port, historic ships such as Nelson’s <em>Victory</em>, and the large naval dockyard. </p><p>In recent years the dockyard has been unusually full, not least of the Royal Navy’s most advanced destroyer, the Type 45 or Daring-class. These six warships are the navy’s primary air defence escorts, costing around a billion pounds each and completed over the past nine years. They are the only destroyers now in service: the ministry of defence (MoD) <a href="https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/the-equipment/ships/destroyers/type-45-destroyer">describes</a> them as “part of the backbone of the Royal Navy, committed around the world 365 days a year hunting pirates, drug runners or submarines, defending the Fleet from air attack, and providing humanitarian aid after natural disasters.” </p><p>The trouble is that as far as the Type 45s are concerned, almost all of them are likely to be moored in the harbour rather than being part of “the backbone of the Royal Navy". Fifteen months ago, the <em>Daily Mail</em> could even <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5197575/All-six-Royal-Navy-type-45-destroyers-moored-Portsmouth.html">report</a> that all six were moored up there and none at sea&nbsp; </p><p>The Type 45 is a large <a href="https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/the-equipment/ships/destroyers/type-45-destroyer">warship</a>, its displacement of 8,000 tons is not far short of a cruiser (the US navy’s Ticonderoga-class is 9,500 tons), but its short history is an engineering and financial mess. Moreover, it is just one of a number of examples of UK military projects that have gone badly wrong in planning, development and execution: yet there is little change in attitude and virtually no improvement in experience. It is a situation that leads to a lot of frustration and even anger among the serving military, not least middle-ranking officers, but there is little sign of things changing.</p><p>In the case of the Type 45, the problem is with the main propulsion system, the Rolls-Royce WR-21 gas turbines that power the Integrated Full Electric Propulsion System (<a href="https://www.wartsila.com/encyclopedia/term/integrated-full-electric-propulsion-(ifep)">IFEP</a>). This proved to be unreliable, especially in hot weather (which is a bit of a drawback in the Middle East). Even worse, there have been multiple occasions when the ships have lost all power (see Conrad Waters ed, <em><a href="https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Seaforth-World-Naval-Review-2018-Hardback/p/14068">Seaforth World Naval Review</a>, </em>2018).&nbsp; </p><p>This fundamental problem has been known for two years. The <em>Seaforth Review</em> states:</p><p>“The first official confirmation of the problem was a letter dated 3 March 2016 from Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon to Dr Julian Lewis MP, Chair of the House of Commons Defence Committee. In subsequent remarks to the committee, the First Sea Lord acknowledged that the WR-21 was unable to operate effectively in hot temperatures and that instead of ‘graceful degradation’, the engines were degrading catastrophically’”.</p><p>After years of effort, the MoD has now signed a contract with BAE Systems which essentially involves reconfiguring the whole propulsion system. In addition to the WR-21 gas turbines at the root of the problem, the Type 45s also have two MW diesel alternators which provide power for harbour operations and the like. The plan is to remove these and replace them with three MW alternators (see Richard Scott, “<a href="http://www.janes.com/article/78794/bae-team-to-deliver-power-improvement-for-type-45-destroyers">BAE team to deliver power improvements for Royal Navy Type 45 destroyers</a>”, <em>Jane’s Defence Weekly</em>, 28 March 2018).</p><p>These will become the main means of propulsion up to cruise speed, while the original main propulsion system – the gas turbines – will just be available for boost on (hopefully) rare occasions. Precisely how three larger alternators will be shoe-horned into a space designed for two smaller ones is not clear. But it is expected to take until 2024 to retrofit all six ships, under a new <a href="http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/release/3/191767/bae-team-wins-%C2%A3160m-deal-to-fix-type-45-destroyers.html">contract </a>costed at £160 million - which, oddly, is barely half the figure naval analysts have been anticipating. Only then will the Royal Navy have this part of its “backbone” back.</p><p><strong>A systemic failure</strong></p><p>The case of the Type 45 may be a glaring example of a project going seriously wrong with UK weapons procurement, but is far from being the only one. A range of comparable problems and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity">failures</a>&nbsp;– of planning, technology, cost, integration – has bedevilled the area in recent years. Here are just three:</p><p>* The <a href="https://www.baesystems.com/en-uk/product/astute-class-submarines-enhanced">Astute-class</a> nuclear-powered attack-submarine programme is way behind schedule and grossly over cost, and even when the boats are completed there are problems of reliability. A year ago, for example, the <em>Naval Review</em> reports, there were just four of the older Trafalgar-class boats and three of the new Astute-class boats available. But a combination of a reactor fault in one of the older boats, a collision with a merchant ship by Ambush, as well as other <a href="https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/concern-growing-7th-astute-class-submarine-may-cut-says-mp/">problems</a>, meant that there were probably <em>no</em> attack-submarines available. One of the functions of such submarines is to provide “deterrence support” for the Trident nuclear-missile submarines, so if there were none available even that protection was missing (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>* There is a ten-year gap in the Royal Air Force’s having available any long-range maritime-reconnaissance aircraft</p><p>* A decade-long attempt at a comprehensive plan to procure 4,000 armoured fighting vehicles &nbsp;– under the Future Rapid Effects System (<a href="https://www.army-technology.com/projects/fres/">FRES</a>) programme – has <a href="https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/british-army-medium-weight-capability/scout-to-end-of-fres/">ended</a> in failure. </p><p>Above all the detail of individual projects, there are larger questions: what the UK’s armed forces should be about, and how defence fits into a much wider understanding of security. These are now being addressed, but mainly by think-tanks and non-government outfits, with little evidence of any such exploration at governmental level (see Celia McKeon, "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/celia-mckeon/uk-s-national-security-capabilities-review-another-missed-opportunity">The UK’s National Security Capabilities Review – another missed opportunity?</a>" (23 March 2018); and "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-security-time-to-rethink">Britain's security: time to rethink</a>", 15 March 2018).</p><p>In turn this invites two further questions: why is even current defence planning and implementation so incompetent, and why is there so little new thinking? There are several ways of responding. To start with, Britain still has a near-mythical self-image and associated culture as a world power, of which the armed forces are a key part. Any questioning of the defence posture seems to strike at the heart of this deep desire to cling on that imagined status. It reaches its extreme when any critiquing is seen as unpatriotic. What is curious is that this sense persists when, while the armed forces may be generally popular, the recent wars they have been called upon to fight (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria) most certainly are not (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">Britain's global role: fantasy vs reality", </a>5 October 2017).</p><p>Moreover, these are not only British problems: elements of the situation are shared with other countries. Five are most apparent:</p><p>* The remarkable power of the military-industrial-academic-bureaucratic complex, with its considerable cohesion and very strong lobbying power</p><p>* In turn, this is strengthened by the notorious “revolving door” of recently retired senior military and defence-sector civil servants, where they almost immediately enter lucrative consultancies and even memberships of company boards</p><p>* The way in which defence corporations have progressively consolidated into a handful of very large groups, often making effective competition almost impossible</p><p>* The role of much of the media, which is often unrecognised. Defence <a href="http://www.bbcmundo.com/academy/journalism/article/art20130702112133717">reporting</a> more frequently comes up against issues of secrecy than other areas (education, transport, agriculture, or health, for example). This alone makes it more difficult for investigative reporters, but there is the related problem of the reliability or even the availability of any sources from within the system that don’t follow the party line.</p><p><strong>A missed opportunity</strong></p><p>A final factor is more particular to present-day Britain: the matter of political opposition and scrutiny. Many of the equipment and related problems that have plagued the British defence posture cry out for effective parliamentary critiques, and these would frequently by welcomed by many in the military too (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">How Labour can make Britain secure</a>", 20 July 2017). But the current electoral situation means that for now the Labour Party simply will not touch this <a href="https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/outlining-labours-defence-and-foreign-policy-priorities">subject</a>. Its rationale is straightforward: defence is one of the very few areas where the Conservative Party feels able to beat down Labour opposition, so it is better for Labour strategists to focus on areas where they have much stronger angles of attack. </p><p>The counter-argument is that the MoD has so much to answer for, and that a Labour opposition providing valid and persistent criticisms might well have a great positive effect. Labour could change the prevailing view of the issue by cogently arguing against the Conservative government's record on defence and exposing its failures. There is a precedent here in the way that, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyns-labour-now-look-outwards">thanks</a> to a Jeremy Corbyn-inspired political-educational process, <a href="http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/72120/1/Anstead_The%20idea%20of%20austerity%20in%20British%20politics_author_2017%20LSERO.pdf">austerity </a>is no longer seen as an economic necessity but rather as a highly questionable ideology.</p><p>For now, though, there seems no chance of Labour making this case (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/making-britain-great-again-in-different-way">Making Britain Great Again - in a different wa</a>y", 16 November 2017). The unfortunate absence of forensic opposition in this crucial area is one reason why Britain continues to waste large sums of money. At the very time when calls are being made to increase the defence budget, Labour could also be showing that existing resources could be much better used. </p><p>The establishment's defence thinking is stuck, and a genuinely forward-thinking security stance for Britain is much needed. Yet a real opportunity to improve something fundamental is being missed. That makes outlining what this policy should really be, rather a frustrating and lonely and uphill task.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-HMS_Dauntless_D33_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-HMS_Dauntless_D33_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Construction of blocks of Dauntless at Portsmouth, 2007. Wikicommons/Steel city ady. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><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><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/about">Oxford Research Group</a></p><p><a href="https://www.saferworld.org.uk/">Saferworld</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/"><em>UK Defence Journal</em></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-security-time-to-rethink">Britain&#039;s security: time to rethink</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/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">Britain&#039;s global role: fantasy vs reality </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/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/making-britain-great-again-in-different-way">Making Britain Great Again – in a different way</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 Mar 2018 18:30:14 +0000 Paul Rogers 116957 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain's other nuclear weapons https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-other-nuclear-weapons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Behind the UK's nuclear-armed submarines are lesser known tactical warheads primed for battle. </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/500209/640px-HMS_Antelope_1982.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-HMS_Antelope_1982.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="284" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"Even the small Type 21 frigate, two of which were lost in the Falklands/Malvinas war in 1982, was nuclear-capable." HMS Antelope of the Royal Navy was one of those destroyed. Wikicommons/ Dmgerrard. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Several recent columns in this series have discussed the risk of nuclear war. Four trends have pushed the issue up the international agenda: North Korea's tests, Trump’s nuclear posture review, Russia’s development of new weapons, and rising tensions in Nato-Russia relations. A recurrent theme in these <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">columns</a> is the widespread myth that nuclear weapons are solely about deterring attack through the threat of an overwhelming response. </p><p>This has been termed deterrence through “mutual assured destruction” (<a href="http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/history/cold-war/strategy/strategy-mutual-assured-destruction.htm">MAD</a>, in the perhaps appropriate acronym). The notion seems very far removed from the practice of developing many kinds of nuclear weapons for small-scale use. Yet the latter, precisely, has been the international norm. And it has had an important consequence: the storage, transport and deployment of these diverse nuclear arsenals make for a greater risk of accidents.&nbsp; </p><p>A column looking at Britain’s experience of nuclear accidents has drawn particular attention (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-playing-with-fire">Nuclear weapons: playing with fire</a>", 9 March 2018). One somewhat unexpected reaction warrants further examination. This relates to its description of one of the worst accidents, in January 1987, when a nuclear-weapon transporter truck overturned onto its side of an icy road while carrying two WE177 tactical nuclear warheads from Portsmouth to the Royal Navy armaments depot at Dean Hill.</p><p>The article mentioned that the warheads had most likely come from the aircraft-carrier <em>HMS Illustrious</em>, berthed at the Portsmouth base. There appears to have been consternation in some circles that a British carrier would ever be deployed with nuclear weapons on board.</p><p>I suspect that such a view represents a much wider misunderstanding of what constituted British nuclear <a href="http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/78422/">forces</a> at that time. In that context it is worth summarising the situation in the mid-1980s. This can throw a bit more light on an often clouded issue of topical as well as historical interest. Almost thirty years after the cold war ended, Britain's nuclear <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/quick-guide-to-nuclear-weapons">arsenal </a>is much more restricted than it was. But even now the state has retained the capacity to fight a limited nuclear war – one that might <em>not </em>involve the hugely powerful strategic weapons also under its command.</p><p><strong>A nuclear array</strong></p><p>In the tense decade of the 1980s, those strategic weapons comprised the Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) deployed on four Resolution-class nuclear-powered submarines. One of these submarines was to be on patrol at any one time according to the doctrine of "continuous at-sea deterrence" (<a href="https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/operations/global/continuous-at-sea-deterrent">CASD</a>). Each had sixteen vertical-launch missile tubes with a Polaris A3 missile carrying three thermonuclear warheads, each of these in turn having a reported destructive power of 200 kilotons (about sixteen times that of the Hiroshima <a href="https://www.livescience.com/45509-hiroshima-nagasaki-atomic-bomb.html">bomb</a>, dropped by the United States over this Japanese city on 6 August 1945).</p><p>Polaris was far from alone in Britain's nuclear arsenal. The Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy, and the army each had its own nuclear forces. In the RAF, three different aircraft types could deliver <a href="https://olive-drab.com/od_nuclear_tactical.php">tactical</a> nuclear free-fall bombs, variants of the WE-177 comparable with the ones in the Dean Hill accident. Their destructive power was reputed to be similar to, or rather more powerful than, Hiroshima. These nuclear-capable aircraft were the elderly but robust UK-based Buccaneer, potentially for low-level attacks against land and marine targets; the Anglo-French Jaguar single-seat aircraft; and the new Panavia Tornado, with up to 220 of the GR1 nuclear-capable version on order. In time the Tornado would replace the Buccaneer and Jaguar, and like the Jaguar be based both in the UK and West Germany. </p><p>In addition, the RAF deployed the Nimrod long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine strike-aircraft from St Mawgan in Cornwall and Kinloss in Scotland. The Nimrod could carry the US B57 nuclear depth-bomb, which was normally under US custody but could be made available for the RAF to use under a dual-control arrangement.</p><p>All the navy’s tactical nuclear weapons were of the British-developed WE-177 type, of two variants: either free-fall bombs for delivery against land targets by Sea Harrier jets operating from aircraft-carriers (<em>HMS Illustrious</em>, <em>HMS Invincible</em>, or <em>HMS Ark Royal</em>) or nuclear depth-bombs for delivery by Sea King or Lynx helicopters.&nbsp; </p><p>The three aircraft-carriers all carried both types. But many smaller ships, both destroyers and frigates, were also nuclear-capable, and could use their on-board helicopters for delivery of the weapons. The Sea King helicopter had weapon stations for four nuclear weapons, and the smaller Lynx could deploy with two. In 1985, the Royal Navy possessed the three aircraft-carriers plus fifteen destroyers and forty-two frigates. Even the small Type 21 frigate, two of which were lost in the Falklands/Malvinas war in 1982, was nuclear-capable.</p><p>In addition, the army had perhaps the most surprising part of Britain’s nuclear forces, the Lance battlefield ballistic-missile and two self-propelled howitzers. All of these, like the RAF’s Nimrod B57s, utilised US nuclear warheads for use under a dual-control system. The army also possessed a regiment of four batteries of Lance missiles, comprising twelve launchers, part of a reported total of around sixty missiles. The Lance had a range of up to 75 miles (120 kms), and apart from conventional munitions could carry the W70 nuclear warhead. This was known colloquially as a “dial-a-yield” weapon, as it could be pre-programmed to deliver any of three explosive forces of up to 100 kilotons (twelve times more <a href="https://www.atomicheritage.org/history/science-behind-atom-bomb">powerful</a> than Hiroshima).</p><p>The army could boast too large numbers of self-propelled artillery pieces, such as the M109 and M110 howitzers, both of which are capable of firing nuclear as well as conventional shells. These so-called artillery-fired atomic projectiles (AFAP) were United States munitions, available for use under a dual-control agreement (similar to the Lance warhead). The M109, categorised as the W48 AFAP, had a destructive power of up to 2 kilotons; the M110, or W33 AFAP, rated at up to 10 kilotons.</p><p>This list gives some idea of the wide range of nuclear weapons deployed by the UK at the height of the cold war. To it could be added several different types of missile and aircraft on US bases such as Upper Heyford and Holy Loch (<a href="http://www.housmans.com/booklists/peace/pc08.php">see</a> Paul Rogers, <em>Over Here: The US Military Presence in Britain</em>, <a href="https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/4526124c-662d-336e-8eec-28b2c173aeac">Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament</a>, 1988). France also had several types of nuclear weapons, while the US and Soviet Union had far more.</p><p>Also relevant here is that in many cases these weapons were of enormous destructive capacity, widely dispersed, and often physically small – yet the armed forces regarded them as potentially usable in a conflict. The Type-21 Amazon-class frigate had a displacement of only 2,750 tons, but its Lynx helicopter could deliver the WE177 nuclear depth-bomb. I remember debating British nuclear policy at a local high school in the early 1980s with a young naval weapons officer serving on a Type-21, and he was quite open about the job.</p><p>To illustrate the nexus of size and power, the W33 shell for the <a href="http://www.3ad.com/history/cold.war/nuclear.pages/weapons.pages/m110.howitzer.htm">M110 howitzer</a> had a diameter of only 8 inches (20.37 centimetres) and a length of three feet (91.44 cm), yet it carried a nuclear warhead with a destructive power close to the Hiroshima bomb. Even so, this was large compared with the US army’s notorious nuclear-armed Davy Crockett recoilless rifle, whose range of just 1.25 miles (2 kilometres) meant it was commonly <a href="https://armyhistory.org/the-m28m29-davy-crockett-nuclear-weapon-system/">reckoned</a> to be as dangerous for its three-person launch crew as for the enemy.</p><p><strong>A low threshold</strong></p><p>All this may seem like distant history, given that the great majority of Nato tactical nuclear weapons (including all the UK tactical systems) were withdrawn after the end of the cold war. But there are two reasons to see the issue as quite topical. The first is that Trump’s new nuclear-posture <a href="https://www.defense.gov/News/SpecialReports/2018NuclearPostureReview.aspx">review</a> highlights the need to place more emphasis on fighting limited nuclear wars. Putin’s Russia <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/02/world/europe/putin-weapons-video-analysis.html">shows</a> strong indications of having a similar outlook, not least because his conventional forces are so weak compared to the glory<a href="http://omniatlas.com/maps/europe/19550921/"> years</a> of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.</p><p>The second reason comes <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity">back</a> to the UK. Since the WE177 has long departed, and the army and navy no longer have access to US tactical weapons, it might be thought that the UK's nuclear-weapons are confined to the Trident <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-submarines-out-of-time">submarine-launched</a> strategic missiles intended only for deterrence through MAD. In fact, in the mid-1990s the ministry of defence quietly introduced a tactical variant of the UK-manufactured Trident warhead, in some respects broadly similar in power to the old tactical WE177. A reliable source <a href="http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Uk/UKArsenalRecent.html ">describes</a> it thus: “The Trident warheads also offer multiple yields – probably 0.3 kt, 5-10 kt and 100 kt – by choosing to fire the unboosted primary, the boosted primary, or the entire 'physics package'". </p><p>If such details are put together with Britain’s refusal to adopt a “no first use” nuclear posture, it is clear that cold-war thinking has survived intact. If Trump now <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-42925375">puts</a> more emphasis on nuclear war-fighting, he can rest assured that the faithful ally across the Atlantic is with him.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Imperial_War_Museum_North_-_WE_177_British_nuclear_bomb_(training_example)_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Imperial_War_Museum_North_-_WE_177_British_nuclear_bomb_(training_example)_1.jpg" alt="" 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'>WE177. "A decommissioned training example of Britain's last free-fall nuclear bomb, re-painted in its 'live' green colour scheme, on display at the Imperial War Museum North, in Manchester, England, 2015." Wikicommons/Mike Peel. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> 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><a href="https://www.nuclearinfo.org/">Nuclear Information Service</a></p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><span><span><a href="http://atomicarchive.com/">Atomic Archive</a></span></span></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.icanw.org/"><span><span><span><span>International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) </span></span></span></span></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-playing-with-fire">Nuclear weapons: playing with fire</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare">What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">Trump vs Kim Jong-un: nuclear war by 2019?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-security-time-to-rethink">Britain&#039;s security: time to rethink</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">Britain&#039;s global role: fantasy vs reality </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">A nuclear world: eight-and-a half rogue states</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-disarmament-prospects">Nuclear disarmament: the prospects</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/quick-guide-to-nuclear-weapons">A quick guide to nuclear weapons</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 22 Mar 2018 16:58:35 +0000 Paul Rogers 116813 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain's security: time to rethink https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-security-time-to-rethink <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A bitter dispute between London and Moscow dominates the agenda. Now more than ever, Britain needs to focus on its true interests.<br /></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-35490576.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35490576.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Prime Minister Theresa May speaking in the House of Commons in London about the Salisbury attack, March 12, 2018. PA/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The controversy over the nerve-agent <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43315636">attack </a>in the southern English city of Salisbury on 4 March is escalating tensions between the United Kingdom and Russia. A by-product is further demands on the Conservative government in London to increase the military budget. Their early fruit is a commitment to <a href="https://uk.news.yahoo.com/uk-set-48m-chemical-weapons-000121506.html">build</a> a new chemical-warfare research facility at the key Porton Down <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defence-chemical-biological-radiological-and-nuclear-centre-dcbrnc/defence-chemical-biological-radiological-and-nuclear-centre">laboratory</a>, at a cost of £48 million.&nbsp; </p><p>By coincidence this crisis has arisen when parliament’s joint committee on the government's <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/575378/national_security_strategy_strategic_defence_security_review_annual_report_2016.pdf">national-security strategy</a> is engaged in its so-called <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/national-security-strategy-committee/national-security-capability-review-a-changing-security-environment/written/78230.html">national-security capability review</a>. An unusual and welcome aspect of this review is that it is taking evidence from several groups which contest the priority given to military funding. Instead, they say that the time is right to pose fundamental questions: what security for a state such as the UK should really mean and how it might best be achieved.</p><p>To be serious in its purpose, the <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/national-security-strategy/">committee</a> will certainly need to examine three core areas, the last being the most important:</p><p>* the dismal failure of Britain’s defence policies since 9/11</p><p>* the cost and direction of major defence projects </p><p>* the likely challenges of the coming decades.</p><p>The first area relates to the disastrous wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, successive episodes in an even wider “war on terror” that is now well into its seventeenth <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">year</a>. These experiences might appear to have taught some political lessons, mainly through the Chilcot<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/chilcot-iraq-missing-piece"> inquiry</a> into the Iraq war. But there is little evidence of this in the military sphere, where thinking has merely moved from overt to "remote warfare" <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air">involving</a> armed-drones, special forces, and privatised military companies. Meanwhile, security heads acknowledge that al-Qaida, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-comeback">ISIS</a> and the like are themselves far more likely to metamorphose into new entities than disappear into oblivion. The current phase of low-visibility, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wests-shadow-war">shadow</a> wars may well turn out to be just as problematic as tens of thousands of "boots on the ground" were in the post-9/11 decade.</p><p>The second area concerns Britain’s actual defence posture, which is increasingly skewed towards two projects reminiscent of the days of empire: a hugely <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity">expensive </a>nuclear capability, and the completion of two giant aircraft-carriers. In both cases too, the cost overruns and inefficiencies of the major contractors attract little attention.</p><p>The third area is a focus on the way that the UK's defence thinking remains stuck in a timewarp and unable to come to terms with a rapidly changing world. This predicament was expressed succinctly by the <a href="https://rethinkingsecurity.org.uk/policymakers/">Rethinking Security</a> network in its <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/national-security-strategy-committee/national-security-capability-review-a-changing-security-environment/written/78149.html">evidence</a> to the current inquiry, which identifies "conceptual shortcomings of the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 (NSS &amp;SDSR 2015)" which "undermine both the government, and parliament’s ability to test the effectiveness of current approaches to national security". </p><p>The network goes on to argue that "the current prioritisation of security threats overlooks chronic underlying drivers of insecurity", which include deaths from violent conflict (at least 157,000 in 2017, more than double the number recorded ten years previously); deteriorating human security (as the effects of our ecological crisis are felt across the world); increasing refugee flows; extreme economic inequalities; and a reversal of global progress towards democratisation and freedom. "These underlying drivers of insecurity - which perpetuate many other short-term challenges that negatively impact the UK - receive insufficient attention in the NSS &amp; SDSR 2015”. </p><p>In proposing that "some government policies are contributing to the further erosion of the rules-based international order", the network suggests that the current balance of capabilities could be adjusted by "prioritising greater investment in soft power capabilities, including conflict prevention and peacebuilding", and tackling the sources of conflict "in the interests of the most vulnerable communities.”</p><p>So far, more establishment groups and individuals, including senior military figures, have been prominent in giving oral evidence. But in addition to Rethinking Security, innovative groups such as <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/national-security-strategy-committee/national-security-capability-review-a-changing-security-environment/written/78474.html ">Saferworld</a>, <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/national-security-strategy-committee/national-security-capability-review-a-changing-security-environment/written/78180.html">Oxford Research Group</a>, and <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/national-security-strategy-committee/national-security-capability-review-a-changing-security-environment/written/78186.html">Campaign Against Arms Trade</a>, have offered their own findings. The more expansive view these projects represent may ensure that new thinking on security issues will this time be taken into account, and not ignored as so often happens. Their various ideas, circulated in parliamentary and related forums, go well beyond critique of existing deficiencies: they also identify multiple high impact/low cost ways for Britain to carve out a role that would be of sustained value well <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">beyond</a> its shores. </p><p>The challenge of turning these ideas into real impact is substantial. Britain is a country that has serious <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">difficulty</a> coming to terms with its imperial past; its governments often find electoral advantage in emphasising traditional threats; and its military-industrial-academic-bureaucratic complex has remarkable stability and lobbying power. But creative thinking about real security as the foundation for change has never been more essential. </p><p>---</p><p>Rethinking Security is organising a major one-day <a href="https://rethinkingsecurity.org.uk/portfolio/national-conference-2018/ ">conference</a> on Friday 15 June 2018 at Friends House, Euston, central London from 9.30am-4pm: details <a href="https://rethinkingsecurity.org.uk/portfolio/national-conference-2018/ ">here</a></p><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-28011892.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-28011892.jpg" alt="" 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'>Sarah O'Connor holds up a photo of her brother Sergeant Bob O'Connor who died in Iraq, as she leaves the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, after the publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War, July 2016. Yui Mok/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><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><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/about">Oxford Research Group</a></p><p><a href="https://www.saferworld.org.uk/">Saferworld</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/">Campaign Against Arms Trade</a></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/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">Britain&#039;s global role: fantasy vs reality </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/moscows-armourers-and-british-tabloids">Moscow&#039;s armourers and British tabloids</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity">Britain&#039;s military: costs of failure, symbols of vanity </a> </div> <div class="field-item 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/making-britain-great-again-in-different-way">Making Britain Great Again – in a different way</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, 15 Mar 2018 19:56:49 +0000 Paul Rogers 116660 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Nuclear weapons: playing with fire https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-playing-with-fire <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Britain's neglected history of nuclear accidents makes the case for a new safety regime.</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/HMS_Illustrious_in_Portsmouth_Harbour_-_geograph.org_.uk_-_1272190.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/HMS_Illustrious_in_Portsmouth_Harbour_-_geograph.org_.uk_-_1272190.jpg" alt="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'>HMS Illustrious in Portsmouth Harbour Aircraft Carrier, April 2009. Wikicommons/Peter Trimming. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>An earlier column in this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> looked at the unknown or neglected history of accidents involving nuclear weapons. Much of the secrecy that shrouds nuclear issues, above all their actual targeting, is the result of deliberate supprerssion by governments with the collusion of the media. Accidents, though, seem to occasion their added element of secrecy, probably because of the particular embarrassment arising when a supposedly ultra-safe and reliable system comes unstuck (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold ">North Korea: a catastrophe foretold</a>", 29 September 2017).&nbsp; </p><p>The excellent Chatham House 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> (April 2014)&nbsp; examines incidents where <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/quick-guide-to-nuclear-weapons">nuclear weapons </a>came uncomfortably close to actual use. Among many examples, one of the most remarkable is a collision between two ballistic-missile submarines during the night of 3-4 February 2009.</p><p> "[The] United Kingdom’s <em>HMS Vanguard</em> and France’s FNS <em>Le Triomphant</em>, two nuclear-powered, ballistic missile-carrying submarines (SSBNs), collided in the Atlantic Ocean”, says the study. It acknowledges that there was very little risk of an accidental nuclear detonation, but finds it difficult to say why the collision took place. A few details <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7892294.stm">emerged</a> through freedom-of-information requests, but these raised even more questions than were answered.</p><p>This incident may have been more at the level of accident than risk of detonation. But that still raises the issue of the supposed invulnerability of nuclear systems to mistakes, including potentially catastrophic ones (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/quick-guide-to-nuclear-weapons">A quick guide to nuclear weapons</a>", 8 February 2018).</p><p>The <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare">dangers</a> are explored in another report, <a href="https://www.nuclearinfo.org/publications/nis-reports"><em>Playing with Fire: Nuclear Weapons Incidents and Accidents in the United Kingdom</em> </a>(September 2017), published by Nuclear Information Service. The meticulous research of this small UK-based NGO uncovers worrying aspects of the British nuclear system. Indeed, much of the information about these and other aspects of the nuclear world only seeps into the public domain because such dedicated independent <a href="https://www.nuclearinfo.org/">observers </a>are ploughing away in the background.</p><p><em>Playing with Fire</em> reveals the alarming incidence of accidents, far more than is normally realised. It lists 110 accidents, near misses, and dangerous occurrences that have occurred over the sixty-five-year history of the UK’s nuclear-weapons programme. These consist of:</p><p>* fourteen serious accidents related to the production and manufacturing of nuclear weapons, including fires, fatal explosions, and floods</p><p>* twenty-two incidents that have taken place during the road transport of nuclear weapons, including vehicles overturning, road-traffic accidents and breakdowns</p><p>* eight incidents which occurred during the storage and handling of nuclear weapons</p><p>* twenty-one security-related incidents, including cases of unauthorised access to secure areas and unauthorised release of sensitive information</p><p>* seventeen incidents that involved United States forces and nuclear weapons, in the UK and its coastal waters.</p><p>The report also finds that forty-five accidents have happened "to nuclear capable submarines, ships and aircraft, including collisions, fires at sea and lightning strikes", of which twenty-four "involved nuclear armed submarines”. </p><p><strong>Reducing the risk</strong></p><p>To understand the background to this report, the fundamental nuclear-weapons structure in the UK is a good place to start. </p><p>These weapons are <em>developed</em> at the atomic-weapons <a href="https://www.nuclearinfo.org/nuclear-sites/awe-aldermaston ">establishment</a> at Aldermaston, west of Reading; <em>manufactured</em>&nbsp; at <a href="https://www.nuclearinfo.org/nuclear-sites/awe-burghfield">nearby</a> Burghfield; <em>deployed</em> on ballistic-missile submarines <em>based </em>at Faslane, <a href="https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/our-organisation/where-we-are/naval-base/clyde">near</a> Glasgow; the warheads <em>stored</em> at the Royal Navy armaments <a href="https://canmore.org.uk/site/295722/coulport-royal-naval-armament-depot-coulport">depot</a> at Coulport.</p><p>The weapons are transported between the sites by road. Because these use public highways and are frequently tracked by anti-nuclear activists, much of what is known about accidents relates to those occurring in transit. </p><p><em>Playing with Fire</em> finds that one of the worst accidents happened on a cold day in January 1987, when two large warhead-carrying trucks – part of a larger convoy transporting six tactical nuclear bombs from Portsmouth to the naval armaments depot at Dean Hill – were involved in a collision. In the course of the accident one of the trucks tipped over into a field when the road verge collapsed, landing on its side. </p><p>The overturned truck was carrying two WE177A warheads, each rated at about the power of the Hiroshima bomb. They had probably been unloaded from <em>HMS Illustrious</em>, an aircraft-carrier berthed at Portsmouth. A full-scale emergency was declared. Additional armed personnel and specialist troops were deployed, and logistics specialists worked through the night in sub-zero temperatures in a recovery operation that lasted eighteen hours. </p><p>There have been many other <a href="http://www.nukewatch.org.uk/?page_id=178">accidents</a> affecting the UK nuclear weapons industry, the worst being the fire at one of the plutonium production reactors at what was then known as <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7030281.stm">Windscale</a> (now Sellafield) in 1957. One of the great values of <em>Playing with Fire</em> is that it brings into the open an element in Britain’s nuclear posture which is almost entirely ignored in the establishment press and broadcast media.</p><p>At the very least this is a report that is worth a couple of hours of anyone’s time. It ends up with a series of recommendations, three of which summarise its overall perspective:</p><p>* introduce procedures for publicly reporting accidents involving nuclear weapons</p><p>* place ministry of defence nuclear programmes under external regulation</p><p>* support an international <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-disarmament-prospects">ban</a> on nuclear weapons.</p><p>Not everyone will support the last proposal, but the first two should really not be controversial. Indeed, wider dissemination of this report may well help cement that view.</p><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/Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 21.07.43.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 21.07.43.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="386" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screen shot. Title-page of 'Playing With Fire'.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="https://www.nuclearinfo.org/">Nuclear Information Service</a></p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><span><span><a href="http://atomicarchive.com/">Atomic Archive</a></span></span></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.icanw.org/"><span><span><span><span>International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) </span></span></span></span></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/quick-guide-to-nuclear-weapons">A quick guide to nuclear weapons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">Trump vs Kim Jong-un: nuclear war by 2019?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-disarmament-prospects">Nuclear disarmament: the prospects</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-risk">The nuclear-weapons risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the-nuclear-weapons-opportunity">The nuclear-weapons opportunity </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-nuclear-weapons-prospect">The nuclear-weapons prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">A nuclear world: eight-and-a half rogue states</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare">What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare?</a> </div> </div> </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 Fri, 09 Mar 2018 21:36:42 +0000 Paul Rogers 116558 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Moscow's armourers and British tabloids https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/moscows-armourers-and-british-tabloids <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Russia has sent two advanced fighter jets to Syria. But this is a tale of its vulnerability as much as its strength.</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/500209/1024px-Sukhoi_T-50_in_2011_(4).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-Sukhoi_T-50_in_2011_(4).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'>Sukhoi T-50 stealth multirole aircraft at MAKS-2011 airshow, 2011. Wikicommons/ Dmitry Zherdin. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Russia's forays towards western airspace in recent months have been persistently overhyped, as last week’s column in this series <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mystery-of-russian-planes-that-never-were">outlined</a>. In this connection, the arrival in Syria of two quite different Russian aircraft also deserves a closer look. </p><p>The planes in question are models of Russia’s ultra-modern, multi-role, stealth strike-aircraft, the Sukhoi-57. Their appearance was greeted by some notably over-the-top coverage in Britain's tabloids. With trademark capital letters, the <em>Express</em> <a href="https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/922376/Russia-su-57-war-planes-Vladimir-Putin-Syria">announced</a> "Russia's war WARNING: Putin's fearsome Su-57 stealth fighters SPOTTED being unleashed - VLADIMIR Putin has sent his fearsome new state-of-the-art Su-57 stealth fighters for combat trials in the Syrian war zone"&nbsp; The <em>Star </em><a href="https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/640373/Vladimir-Putin-Russia-stealth-fighter-jet-Su-57-Moscow-war-ww3-North-Korea-Donald-Trump">echoed</a> the style with "Putin’s SECRET WEAPON: Russia unveils new ‘Ghost’ stealth fighter jet - VLADIMIR Putin has flexed his military muscles once again – revealing the country’s first ever stealth fighter jet”.</p><p>The broadsheet <em>Daily Telegraph</em> was somewhat more circumspect, <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/7095384/Russia-to-test-stealth-fighter-as-rearmament-cranks-into-gear.html">reporting</a> “It’s Russia’s answer to the United States’ cutting-edge F-22 'Raptor' stealth fighter” while providing some sensible perspective in the story: “Now, more than 15 years after the F-22 entered service, Russia is on the brink of pitting the best its military aviation industry can offer against its rival in Syria.”</p><p>The tabloid newspapers' alarmist depiction of the new "Russian threat" is effective in grabbing the public mind. The existence of genuine east-west rivalry gives their coverage a slender connection to reality. But as an interpretation of what is really going on, their version is notably shallow and reductive. It tends to ignore complicating factors such as Putin's domestic problems, the troubles of Russian mercenaries in Syria, and Russia's serious need to open up some new export markets for its <a href="https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/mo-budget.htm">weaponry</a>. </p><p>All this makes the story worth disentangling, not least for the light it shines on the whole arms business. Shakespeare’s line in <em>Henry V</em>, “now thrive the armourers”, relates to the battle of Agincourt in 1415. Today it applies with even greater force. And those now engaged in the busy and lucrative trade are prepared to take considerable risks in order to win a slice of those export markets (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/arms-bazaar-needing-wars-eating-lives">Arms bazaar: needs war, eats lives</a>", 17 August 2017). </p><p>The US F-22 Raptor stealth-aircraft is a prominent case. It was originally developed in the mid-1990s to replace the Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk, and entered service in 2003 in time to conduct air-raids in the United States's wars in the Middle East and south Asia. It is also considered an intelligence asset: its radar-avoiding features enable it to track and assess capabilities of other aircraft and air-defence systems. This may be its main current operational role in the US presence in Syria. </p><p>Russia's Su-57 may be seen as its answer to the F-22. The plane is seen as a prestige project and a source of domestic pride. But the design has taken twenty years to get this far, and is not yet fully tested. Russia's airforce still has only twelve such planes, all of them prototypes or pre-production models. Against the background of these long delays and the modest numbers comes a budgetary burden. Russia's overall military <a href="https://tradingeconomics.com/russia/military-expenditure">budget</a> now faces acute pressures: the cost of forays into Crimea and Syria, upgrading nuclear forces, and modernising the army and navy. The airforce too needs to justify its expense.</p><p>Thus while the Su-57 is much needed, it is likely to be ordered in substantial numbers only if an export market can be developed. So far, its export prospects have encountered setbacks with South Korea and Brazil. Its salespeople now aim to convince India of the relatively low cost of an export version which could be co-produced with Delhi. After that, they hope, might come Vietnam. </p><p>These considerations almost certainly underpin the appearance of a couple of Su-57s at the Hmeimim <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/russia-to-extend-tartus-and-hmeimim-military-bases-in-syria/a-41938949">airbase</a> in Syria, even though the Russian airforce has not yet declared them operational. <em>Jane’s Defence Weekly</em>, a well informed military journal, <a href="http://www.janes.com/article/78119/russian-su-57-fifth-gen-fighter-prototypes-touch-down-in-syria">suggests</a> that sending the planes to Hmeimim allows Russia to use the Su-57's visibility as a means of boosting the plane's commercial potential. Such showcasing of new aircraft in <a href="https://syria.liveuamap.com/">warzones</a> is a remarkable twist. But from Russia's standpoint it makes sense: the airforce needs to project and sell its product to new customers. A lot of money is riding on the success of the current deployment.&nbsp; </p><p>But there are two substantial risks. The first is that other Russian aircraft have already suffered <a href="http://www.ecfr.eu/page/-/Russias_Quiet_Military_Revolution.pdf">losses</a> in Syria, mainly through mortar and other attacks from rebel groups. <em>Jane’s</em> points out that the <a href="https://theaviationist.com/2017/12/22/russias-su-57-stealth-fighter-completes-engine-upgrade-and-continues-development-amid-business-concerns/">Su-57</a> could also be vulnerable to shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles such as the American Stinger or the Russian Igla, and it is unlikely that the Su-57 prototypes have yet been equipped with the necessary protective systems. If there is one thing likely to damage export-sales potential it would be the loss of one of the planes in Syria.</p><p>The second risk is that the very <a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/russia-looks-to-have-deployed-su-57-to-syria-posing-problem-for-f-22-2018-2?r=US&amp;IR=T">deployment</a> of Su-57s in a warzone so close to US airforce activity means that the very plane it is designed to compete with, the American F-22, might easily be able to use its advanced surveillance features to get more data on the Su-57’s design features and flight capabilities.</p><p>That said, two other factors must be balanced against the export potential and the risks. One is that Russia's military prestige is a vital part of Vladimir Putin's offer to Russians. Although his <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/elena-solovyova/apathy-is-running-high">re-election</a> as president is a near certainty, he is aware of the perennial <a href="https://uk.news.yahoo.com/anti-putin-protests-election-could-violent-opposition-warns-131944267.html">need</a> to consolidate his authority as a national leader. This is especially so as the costs of Syria, Ukraine, Crimea, and the exercises in and near the Baltic are stretching defence budgets, to the extent that there are grumblings over tax levels.</p><p>The other is that Russia's ground forces in Syria have experienced serious problems in recent weeks. On 7 February a Russian-supported Syrian assault on US-backed militias in eastern Syria, conducted by as many as 500 mercenary <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-43167697">fighters</a> from the shadowy Wagner group, proved disastrous. <em>Jane’s </em>analysis, citing a Moscow source, claimed that “several dozen” of these fighters were killed. Such <a href="https://themoscowtimes.com/news/more-undocumented-russian-fighters-from-private-wagner-group-die-in-syria-57499">losses</a> may not figure in the Russian media, but as word spreads so does a perception that Putin’s wars are costing Russian lives as well as roubles.&nbsp; </p><p>So here is the contrast. Western tabloid newspapers trumpet the latest Russian threat, now coming to you from the skies above Syria, whereas the reality is a perilous venture much more concerned with domestic political realities and the need to export advanced weapons. The armourers may well be thriving, but nothing is as straightforward as it seems.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/800px-Russian_airbase_in_Syria_-_panoramio_(2)_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/800px-Russian_airbase_in_Syria_-_panoramio_(2)_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Russian Airbase in Syria, 2016. Wikicommons/ L-BBE. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Defence Weekly</em></a><br /></span></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/mystery-of-russian-planes-that-never-were">The mystery of the Russian planes that never were</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/russia-in-syria-and-flawed-strategy">Russia in Syria, and a flawed strategy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">Syria&#039;s wars: a new dynamic</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare">What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/russia-syria-and-danger-of-hype">Russia and the west: risks of hype</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Fri, 02 Mar 2018 15:18:50 +0000 Paul Rogers 116428 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The mystery of the Russian planes that never were https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mystery-of-russian-planes-that-never-were <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Is Russia a military threat to the west? A larger past and closer detail offer fresh light.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Admiral_Kuznetsov_aircraft_carrier.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Admiral_Kuznetsov_aircraft_carrier.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An overhead view of Admiral Kuznetsov, aircraft carrier, August 2012. Wikicommons, Ministry of Defence. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Most analysts blame Vladimir Putin’s aggressive political stance for the renewed hostility between Russia and the western states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato). The deteriorating relationship has been evident for a decade and more. The fallout from Moscow's interventions in Georgia / South Ossetia (2008), Ukraine / Crimea (2014), and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/russia-in-syria-and-flawed-strategy">Syria</a> (2015), as well as its reported disruption in the United States presidential election (2016), are but the main episodes. Lesser ones include displays of military strength that attract wide <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38745364">coverage</a> in the western media.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Before looking in more detail at the latter, it is worth offering a touch of historical perspective on great-power interference. In particular, at a time when Moscow's <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-troll-farm-13-suspects-indicted-for-interference-in-us-election/2018/02/16/2504de5e-1342-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html?utm_term=.2ddb925e9931">role</a> in the US election is hotly disputed, a certain degree of hollow laughter is appropriate given Washington's (and London's) own dedicated efforts to influence elections and other political processes in many countries over many decades.</p><p>One person involved in a Congressional investigation into CIA activities is <a href="http://spia.uga.edu/faculty-member/loch-k-johnson/">Loch K Johnson</a>, an experienced intelligence analyst at the University of Georgia. He characterises Russia's recent election endeavour as simply a cyber-age version of past US activities: </p><p>“We’ve been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947.&nbsp; We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners – you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of cash" (see Scott Shane, "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/sunday-review/russia-isnt-the-only-one-meddling-in-elections-we-do-it-too.html">Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too.</a>", <em>New York Times</em>, 17 February 2018).</p><p>US actions have gone much further than merely trying to undermine elections – as indeed have Britain’s in the Middle East, including the <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/coup53/coup53p1.php">overthrow</a> of Iran's prime minister in 1953. These actions were memorably described by the much-decorated marine corps major-general, <a href="https://www.kentuckypress.com/live/title_detail.php?titleid=1548">Smedley D Butler</a>, in his memoirs:</p><p>“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”</p><p><strong>The bigger picture</strong></p><p>All this puts Russia's own numerous machinations, past and present (including in its incarnation as the Soviet Union), in the larger <a href="http://eng.globalaffairs.ru/number/From-Last-to-First-19259">frame</a> of routine great-power politics. In this light too, another view is possible on Russia’s recent media-heightened projection of military force.</p><p>A case in point is the deployment of the aircraft-carrier <em>Admiral Kuznetsov</em> to the Mediterranean in January 2017, which <a href="http://www.kentonline.co.uk/folkestone/news/warships-escort-russian-skulking-ship-119506/">provoked</a> a great ruction in Britain's media. The vessel is in reality an ageing warship more than thirty years old, <a href="https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a24196/admiral-kuznetsov-lack-of-activity/">prone</a> to repeated propulsion mishaps and apt to have much of its plumbing freeze up, including toilets. Since its home port was on Russia’s Arctic coast, this alone was a bit of a drawback (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity">Britain's military: costs of failure, symbols of vanity</a>", 26 January 2018).&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>On the rare occasions when the carrier actually went to sea, it would be accompanied by an ocean-going tug in case it broke down. Indeed, when it finally got to the eastern Mediterranean in its recent deployment it lost two of its twelve strike-aircraft due to malfunctions. Most of the rest were eventually flown off to conduct their bombing raids from a Russian airbase within Syria, thus not from the <em>Kuznetsov</em> itself. In spite of all this, the ship's advance near to the UK's territory was still heralded in the British press as proof of a Russian <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/22/russia-is-biggest-threat-since-cold-war-says-head-of-british-army">threat</a> and of the consequent need to increase military spending.&nbsp; </p><p>The frequency of Russian probes towards British airspace is further cited by Britain's defence lobby as an even scarier indication of that threat. Regular reports of near incursions by those Tu-95 bombers, complete with accompanying videos, were offered as additional proof of Russia’s steady rise to global power (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/russia-syria-and-danger-of-hype">Russia and the west: risks of hype</a>", 6 October 2016).</p><p>Russia may present many dangers, it may have plenty of nuclear weapons, and may have a leader determined to take risks to make Russia great again – but such reports of its frequent air incursions are anything but true. A recent freedom-of-information request to the UK defence ministry, reported by <em>Jane’s Defence Weekly</em>, shows a rather different state of affairs. In each of the years 2013, 2014 and 2015, the RAF <a href="https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/typhoon-jets-scrambled-intercept-russian-bombers-off-coast-scotland/">scrambled</a> fighters on seventeen, twenty, and twelve days respectively: but many were not in response to Russian sorties, which stood at just eight for each of the years. </p><p>Moreover, in 2016 only five of the twelve days of "QRA" launches involved Russian aircraft, and in 2018 the incidence was only three out of six days (see Gareth Jennings, “<a href="http://www.janes.com/article/77818/uk-notes-marked-decrease-in-number-of-days-qra-intercepts-flown-against-russian-aircraft">UK notes marked decrease in number of days QRA intercepts flown against Russian aircraft</a>", <em>Jane's Defence Weekly</em>, 12 February 2018).</p><p>Such results are starkly different from public perceptions, as cultivated by the media. They remain one of the sustained planks in the narrative of a new threat from Russia. Even the data on the Russia flights only came to light through dedicated inquiry to unravel the information. Meanwhile, alarmist defence sources say next to nothing about the huge cost <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity">overruns</a> on Britain's own new <a href="https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/news/a27142/uk-russia-aircraft-carriers/">aircraft-carriers</a>, its nuclear-attack submarines and Trident replacements. The imbalance of attention is extreme. </p><p>Perhaps the best way to look at the big picture is with another of Smedley D Butler’s choice <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/115545.Smedley_D_Butler ">quotes</a>, dating from 1935:</p><p>&nbsp;“A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.”</p><p><span class="wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge"><span class="image_meta"><span class="image_title"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/720px-SmedleyButler_1.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/720px-SmedleyButler_1.jpeg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>US Marine Corps Major General Smedley Darlington Butler,(July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in US history. Wikicommons, public domain.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Hans Schmidt, <a href="https://www.kentuckypress.com/live/title_detail.php?titleid=1548"><em>Maverick Marine: General Smedley D. Butler and the Contradictions of American Military History</em></a> (University Press of Kentucky, 2014)</p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Rosa Brooks, <a href="http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/How-Everything-Became-War-and-the-Military-Became-Everything/Rosa-Brooks/9781476777863"><em>How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon</em></a> (Simon &amp; Schuster, 2016)<br /></span></span></p><p>David C Unger, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/"><em>The Emergency State</em>: </a><em><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/">America's Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs</a> </em>(Penguin, 2012)</span></p><p><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity">Britain&#039;s military: costs of failure, symbols of vanity </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/speech-too-far-trumps-delusion">A speech too far: Trump&#039;s delusion</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">Syria&#039;s wars: a new dynamic</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare">What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/making-britain-great-again-in-different-way">Making Britain Great Again – in a different way</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/russia-in-syria-and-flawed-strategy">Russia in Syria, and a flawed strategy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/russia-syria-and-danger-of-hype">Russia and the west: risks of hype</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 22 Feb 2018 18:27:27 +0000 Paul Rogers 116282 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Syria's wars: a new dynamic https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Israel-Iran antagonism risks fusing with the Russia-United States one. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34896392.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34896392.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="291" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fire and smoke rise after a mortar shell hit an electricity generator in Syria, on Feb. 10, 2018. Ammar Safarjalani/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Israel's aerial strike against Iranian and regime targets in Syria on 10 February reinforces concern that a new front is opening in the Middle East's many-sided conflicts. The risk of outright confrontation between Israel and Iran has increased, even as Turkey, Russia, Kurdish forces, and the United States are engaged in further <a href="https://syria.liveuamap.com/">action</a> to the north. That so many combatants are involved, with different agendas, means that further escalation is an ever present possibility. </p><p>The details of the Israel-Iran <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/12/opinion/the-middle-easts-coming-war.html">episode</a> show how unsteady the strategic situation now is. It began when Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces launched a drone from Tiyas <a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/after-retaking-control-palmyra-islamic-state-targets-tiyas-airbase-1596128">airbase</a>, which is about 100 kilometres east of Homs in west-central Syria. The drone was tracked across the Israeli border, then shot down by an Israel airforce (IAF) attack-helicopter. Eight Israeli strike-aircraft retaliated almost at once by destroying the command-centre deep inside Syria. A Syrian anti-aircraft missile <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-israel-iran/israeli-jet-shot-down-after-bombing-iranian-site-in-syria-idUKKBN1FU094">hit</a> one of these F-16 planes as it returned to Israel, seriously injuring one of the crew.&nbsp; </p><p>This incident, the first time that the IAF has admitted losing a plane since the large-scale <a href="http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/AboutIsrael/History/Pages/Operation%20Peace%20for%20Galilee%20-%201982.aspx">invasion</a> of Lebanon (Operation Peace for Galilee) in 1982, helps explain the decision to launch multiple raids on the Syrian air-defence system. Even so, these fell short of Israel's usual policy of massive retaliation against any attack, an approach sometimes explained with reference to Israel <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%E2%80%99s-security-beyond-zero-sum">being</a> “impregnable in its insecurity”: a regional military superpower that feels surrounded by enemies and thus has to respond with an iron fist (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%E2%80%99s-security-trap">Israel's security trap</a>", 5 August 2010).</p><p>Why, on this occasion, was Israel so (relatively) restrained? An informed source, cited in the same <em>New York Times </em>article, cites an angry intervention by Vladimir Putin. Israel's raids were uncomfortably close to Russian forces, was the president's message to his erstwhile <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/putin-netanyahu-talks-syria-iran/29004418.html">partner</a>, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu (see "<a href="https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iran/putin-s-call-with-netanyahu-called-time-on-israel-s-syrian-strikes-1.5809118">Putin's Phone Call With Netanyahu Put End to Israeli Strikes in Syria</a>", <em>Haaretz</em>, 15 February 2018). Here, Putin’s wider motive is obvious enough; Russia has benefited greatly from its support for Bashar al-Assad's regime, but a full-scale war would put all its gains at risk. </p><p>Russia clearly wants to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/russia-in-syria-and-flawed-strategy">avoid</a> a thickening imbroglio in the Middle East. Memories of the Red Army's grinding war in Afghanistan in the 1980s still loom large. Moscow has also found Crimea and eastern Ukraine an <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/11/world/europe/vladimir-putin-russia-crimea-bridge.html">expensive</a> burden, and needs to contain not expand its Syrian commitment. Moreover, Putin must manage his own imminent re-election smoothly while keeping a wary eye on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/dmitry-kolezev/ekaterinburg-presidential-election-russia">potential</a> triggers of domestic discontent. </p><p>A further worry here is that Russia's casualties in Syria seem to be rising. In a single example, the Associated Press reports the death of four Russian civilian contractors in a US airstrike which had been mounted to protect anti-Assad Syrian militias from an assault by pro-Assad groups (see Vladimir Isachenkov, "<a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2018/02/13/reports-russian-contractors-killed-by-us-strike-in-syria/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%202.14.18&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">Russian contractors killed by US strike in Syria</a>",&nbsp;<em>Military Times</em>, 14 February 2018). Some western outlets claim that the losses of military and contractor personnel run well into the hundreds. Even a more considered Reuters <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-casualtie/exclusive-russian-losses-in-syria-jump-in-2017-reuters-estimates-show-idUSKBN1AI0HG">report </a>indicates that at least forty Russians have died in recent months. </p><p>Moscow's <a href="https://syria.chathamhouse.org/research/russias-brittle-strategic-pillars-in-syria">strategic</a> calculations in the Middle East will also include intelligence about the swift if mainly hidden expansion of American <a href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/satellites-reveal-us-military-bases-emerging-in-the-desert">bases</a> in Iraq, Jordan and especially Syria. Knowledge of their location stems, remarkably, from the records of a widely available smartphone fitness app used by US military trainers in the region. <em>Jane’s Defence Weekly </em><a href="http://www.janes.com/article/77778/analysis-fitness-app-reveals-us-led-coalition-base-locations-in-middle-east ">uses</a> this data to reveal thirteen previously undisclosed bases: two in Syria, four in Iraq, and seven in Jordan (two of which are right on the <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-jordan-military/u-s-delivers-helicopters-to-bolster-jordans-border-defenses-idUSKBN1FH0XI">border</a> with Syria).</p><p>Jordan has economic troubles of its own that more than match Russia's. A decrease in financial support from Gulf states means the authorities are facing a $700 million budget deficit, and have taken the deeply unpopular <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/jordan-economic-crisis-threatens-political-stability-180214112245542.html ">route</a> of raising taxes on basic foodstuffs, including bread, by 50-100%. In Israel too, the government's domestic problems – including legal action <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-police-case-against-bibi-netanyahu">against </a>Netanyahu over corruption charges – are an unavoidable element in the regional mess. A hawkish prime minister might well view a crisis with Iran as an opportunity for diversion. Jordan's political options are fewer, but its and its people's voice cannot be discounted. </p><p>Such internal dynamics, peripheral to the wider trends as they can seem, may yet have an impact. At present, two more basic realities overshadow them. One is familiar: the deep Israel-Iran antagonism. The other is quite new: the degree of penetration of Russian and US forces into the region's least stable corners. That penetration is now <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syrias-war-mutates-into-a-regional-conflict-risking-a-wider-conflagration/2018/02/12/87c783fc-0da2-11e8-998c-96deb18cca19_story.html">spilling</a> over into fighting that near embroils these forces. An Iran-Israel conflict that erupts over Syria could quickly spin out of control and turn Moscow and Washington into direct protagonists. By comparison, the incident of 10 February would be a mere skirmish.&nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">Iraq and beyond: hidden, secret wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-another-all-american-war">Syria, another &#039;all-American&#039; war?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-proxy-war">Syria, the proxy war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-iraq-and-beyond-octopus-wars">Syria-Iraq and beyond: octopus wars</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:57:09 +0000 Paul Rogers 116144 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A quick guide to nuclear weapons https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/quick-guide-to-nuclear-weapons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The what, when, where of nuclear danger – and the good news about dispelling it.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/9164827866_73a1d290ed_b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/9164827866_73a1d290ed_b.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="356" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nagasaki, 20 minutes after the bombing in 1945. Flickr/Semilla Luz. CC-BY-2.0.</span></span></span></p><p>In the past couple of weeks, the details of the new United States nuclear posture have been published, Trump has delivered a belligerent state-of-the-union <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/speech-too-far-trumps-delusion">address</a> and, most significant of all, the authoritative <a href="https://thebulletin.org/">Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists </a>has moved the minute hand of the <a href="https://thebulletin.org/timeline">Doomsday Clock</a> to two minutes to midnight.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>This is the closest the clock has been to “doomsday” since the US and Soviet Union started testing immensely destructive H-bombs in the early 1950s. Now, after thirty years of an apparent easing of nuclear tensions since the end of the <a href="http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/index.shtml">cold war</a>, fear of nuclear war is real and pressing. </p><p>In recent months I’ve written some specific pieces on the nuclear issue for openDemocracy, mostly related to North Korea (see, for example, "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">Trump vs Kim Jong-un: nuclear war by 2019?</a>" [12 October 2017], and "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare">What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare?</a>" [11 January 2018]); and for Oxford Research Group, mostly on UK weapons, US developments and first use (see <a href="//www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/limited_nuclear_wars_%E2%80%93_myth_and_reality"><em>Limited Nuclear Wars – Myth and Reality</em></a> [29 August 2017], and <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/nuclear_posture_review_sliding_towards_nuclear_war"><em>Nuclear Posture Review: Sliding Towards Nuclear War?</em></a> [30 January 2018]). </p><p>But what of the larger, yet immediate, context? In light of these <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">publications</a>, several people have suggested that a short guide to current nuclear arsenals would be useful. So here it is, in four parts. It starts with a quick scan of nuclear history; lists today's nuclear arsenals; outlines the good news (there really is some) and the bad; and ends with where to go next for reliable information (there’s plenty around). And to underline: notwithstanding all the worries, there is still room for optimism.</p><h2><strong>A quick history</strong></h2><p>The atom bomb was developed in the United States-led <a href="http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/mp/index.shtml">Manhattan Project </a>which peaked with the first test in July 1945 followed by the dropping of bombs on Hiroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki (9 August). By later standards these were small bombs exploding with a force below 20 kilotons, but together they killed more than 200,000 people. A kiloton equals 1,000 tons of TNT – but current weapons may be a megaton or more in <a href="http://www.iflscience.com/technology/the-real-and-terrifying-scale-of-nuclear-weapons/">destructive</a> force (1,000,000 tons of TNT).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the US soon set up a nuclear production-line. American planes could have destroyed two Japanese cities each month (though many were already flattened by intense conventional bombardment). In the event, Japan surrendered on 15 August. But a production-line was established anyway as the cold war loomed. As early as 1948, the US had a nuclear arsenal of fifty weapons. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">This is the closest the clock has been to “doomsday” since the US and Soviet Union started testing immensely destructive H-bombs in the early 1950s.</p><p>The Soviet Union meanwhile developed its own atom bomb, testing its first in 1949. Both states went on to develop and test the H-bomb (aka thermonuclear or fusion bomb). There followed an extraordinary nuclear arms race involving free-fall bombs, land-based and submarine-launched ballistic-missiles, nuclear-armed torpedoes, anti-aircraft missiles, air-to-air missiles, artillery-shells, and even miniature backpack nuclear landmines.</p><p>Other countries got in on the act: the United Kingdom built its first bomb in 1952, France followed in 1960, China in 1964, and Israel later that decade. India tested what it tastefully called a “peaceful nuclear device” in 1974, Pakistan’s first test was in 1998, and North Korea’s in 2006.</p><p>The east-west nuclear arms race lasted from the early 1950s to the end of the 1980s, and was almost unbelievable in its intensity. In most areas of weaponry the US led the way, with the Soviet Union subsequently catching up. By the mid-1980s world nuclear arsenals peaked at over 60,000, the vast majority American and Soviet. Most were far more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. But the extraordinary range of tactical weapons refutes the idea that nuclear policy was all about deterrence through mutually-assured destruction (MAD) using massively powerful strategic weapons. In reality, actually fighitng a nuclear war has a history that dates from Hiroshima and continues strongly to today.</p><h2><strong>Where are we now?</strong></h2><p>There was a substantial scaling down in the 1990s, some of it by agreement but much more done unilaterally. Most of the US and Russian (ex-Soviet) nuclear stockpiles were allowed to wither during the decade, although that still left many thousands. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (<a href="https://www.sipri.org/">SIPRI</a>) says there are currently about 15,000 warheads in the worldwide nuclear <a href="https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/">arsenals</a>, with individual states as follows:</p><ul><li>* United States,&nbsp; 6,800</li><li>* Russia, 7,000</li><li>* United Kingdom, 215</li><li>* France, 300</li><li>* China, 270</li><li>* Israel, 80</li><li>* India, 130</li><li>* Pakistan, 140</li><li>* North Korea, 15</li></ul><p>Some of these weapons are in reserve and others are in storage, waiting to be dismantled. The United States, for example, has 1,393 warheads on strategic-delivery systems, made up of intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and long-range bombers; 4,018 stockpiled, many of them tactical nuclear weapons readily available for use, and 2,880 “retired” nuclear warheads pending disassembly. The proportions for Russia are broadly similar. If nuclear strategy was all about the ability to destroy the major cities of a country then twenty or thirty would be more than enough. So "overkill” remains the order of the day.</p><p>Most analysts believe the US systems are more accurate and reliable. But they also recognise that because Russia's conventional forces are relatively weak, it would be tempted to use nuclear weapons early if a conflict with Nato broke out. This was certainly the policy within in the 1970s-80s when the Soviet Union had much larger conventional <a href="https://fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/doctrine/intro.htm">forces</a> in Europe.</p><h2><strong>The good news</strong></h2><p>With around 10,000 nuclear warheads deployed or stockpiled for use, and more talk of “limited nuclear wars”, it is worth remembering that there are positives too. After all, only eight United Nations member-states have nuclear weapons, while 185 don’t. Moreover, a number of states decided against developing nuclear weapons in the past after thinking seriously about it. They include Sweden, Switzerland, Brazil and Argentina. South Africa had nuclear weapons but dismantled its small stock at the end of the apartheid era (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">A nuclear world: eight-and-a-half rogue states</a>", 13 January 2017). In the 1980s, many analysts (including me) thought that there would have been more nuclear-armed states by now.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>It is also worth remembering that many states are members of nuclear-free zones, including signatories to four international treaties covering large parts of the world:</p><ul><li>* Treaty of Tlatelolco (Latin America and the Caribbean), 1967</li><li>* Treaty of Rarotonga (south Pacific), 1985</li><li>* Treaty of Bangkok (southeast Asia), 1995</li><li>* Treaty of Pelindaba (Africa), 1996</li></ul><p>In view of this it is hardly surprising that over fifty states have signed up to the new <a href="https://www.un.org/disarmament/ptnw/">Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons</a>, a UN initiative which was adopted in July 2017 and opened for signature only in September.</p><h2><strong>The bad news</strong></h2><p>A recap: why is it even necessary to write articles like this, nearly thirty years after the <a href="https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/robert-service/the-end-of-the-cold-war">end</a> of the cold war and in light of the good news just cited? Here are three reasons.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">There is a need for much more discussion about and opposition to the belief that having the ability to kill tens of millions of people makes for a sane “defence” policy.</p><p>First, all the eight nuclear-weapons states are intent on keeping their nuclear <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat">arsenals</a> <em>and</em> are <a href="https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a14428123/russia-expand-nuclear-arsenal-underground-bunkers/">involved</a> in modernising them or their delivery systems. None has even the slightest intention of signing up to, or even vaguely supporting, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – although that <a href="http://www.icanw.org/treaty-on-the-prohibition-of-nuclear-weapons/">document </a>has widespread international support.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Second, tensions between Nato and Russia are increasing, and there is real fear of a nuclear confrontation <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">between</a> North Korea and the United States, especially under the latter’s present leadership. </p><p>Third, and perhaps most important of all, is the serious talk of small-scale use of nuclear weapons. Such a catastrophic step would break a nuclear taboo that has held, despite many crises, mistakes and false alarms, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/a_century_on_the_edge_1945_2045">since</a> 9 August 1945. </p><p>That is why the issue is so important – and why there is a need for much more discussion about and opposition to the belief that having the ability to kill tens of millions of people makes for a sane “defence” policy. But in raising the issue, it's always useful to remember the good news too. There are other ways forward, out of the nuclear danger and into a safer world, and plenty of people believe in them.</p><p>===</p><h2><strong>Further information</strong></h2><p>If you want to know more about things nuclear, then here is a brief personal selection of sources - from a much larger range:</p><p>* <a href="https://www.sipri.org/">SIPRI </a>is an excellent resource, not least its <em>Yearbook: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security</em></p><p>* Probably the best informed sources on nuclear weapons are Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris, both at the <a href="https://fas.org/">Federation of American Scientists</a> with frequent articles in the <em><a href="https://thebulletin.org/">Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists </a></em></p><p>* Patricia Lewis, research director for <a href="https://www.chathamhouse.org/research/topics/international-peace-security ">international security at Chatham House</a>, is with her team doing some interesting work on issues of nuclear safety and crisis instability </p><p>* <a href="https://www.nuclearinfo.org/ ">Nuclear Information Service</a> is a well-informed source, particularly on UK nuclear matters </p><p>* <a href="http://www.basicint.org/">British American Security Information Council</a> (Basic),&nbsp;&nbsp; is also&nbsp; useful on UK nuclear weapons, not least the US connection</p><p>* Rebecca Johnson’s <a href="http://acronym.org.uk/ ">Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy</a> has valuable information on nuclear arms control - </p><p>* There are all too few independent academic analysts in the UK, but <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/politics/staff/academicstaff/nick-ritchie ">Nick Ritchie</a> at the University of York is always worth reading</p><p>* Finally, and if you are a real glutton for punishment, see if you can dig out a copy of a book that Malcolm Dando and I wrote for CND nearly in 1984: <a href="//www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Deterrence-Consequences-Nuclear-Arms/dp/0907321356 "><em>The Death of Deterrence: Consequences of the New Nuclear Arms Race</em></a>. It cost £1.95 then and should be even cheaper now!</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><span><span><a href="http://atomicarchive.com/">Atomic Archive</a></span></span></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.icanw.org/"><span><span><span><span>International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) </span></span></span></span></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare">What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">A nuclear world: eight-and-a half rogue states</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-nuclear-weapons-opportunity">The nuclear-weapons opportunity </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-moment">The nuclear-weapons moment </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-nuclear-weapons-prospect">The nuclear-weapons prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-risk">The nuclear-weapons risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-nuclear-weapons-agenda">The nuclear-weapons agenda</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-peril-and-its-silences">A nuclear peril, and its silences</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-disarmament-prospects">Nuclear disarmament: the prospects</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 08 Feb 2018 09:01:08 +0000 Paul Rogers 116017 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A speech too far: Trump's delusion https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/speech-too-far-trumps-delusion <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>George W Bush's post-9/11 address launched sixteen years of war. Donald Trump's sequel promises many more.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34736548.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34736548.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Donald Trump speaks during the joint session of Congress to deliver his State of the Union Address in the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. CQ-Roll Call/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>George W Bush gave his first state-of-the-union address on 29 January 2002, just four months after the 9/11 attacks. Sixteen years and one day later, on 30 January 2018, Donald Trump delivered his own opening performance of the ritual. Where their rhetoric on international security is concerned, the overlap between the two presidential speeches is remarkable.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Just as Bush&nbsp;pro-claimed&nbsp;the "new American century", so Donald Trump is "making America great again". It is as if these tumultuous years have brought no change.</p><p>Just as Bush <a href="http://whitehouse.georgewbush.org/news/2002/012902-SOTU.asp">proclaimed</a> the "new American century", so Donald Trump is "making America great again". It is as if these tumultuous years have brought no change. For both leaders, the United States is destined to just go on winning. Bush's dream soon faced a hard landing in the world beyond Washington. Will Trump's slogan meet the same fate? A closer look at the two speeches might offer a clue.&nbsp; </p><p>The consequences of Bush’s address are all around. In the <a href="https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/sociopol_PNAC01.htm">agenda</a> it outlined, and the tragic outcomes it foretold, it may yet be seen as one of the most notable speeches of the 21st century. At the time his supporters were already hailing it as such. After all, it was akin to a victory celebration: in the previous weeks, the Taliban had been driven from Kabul and al-Qaida dispersed from its Afghan bastion. But the president, in between more than seventy bursts of applause from a rapturous Congress, made clear that his administration was already setting its sights on regime termination in Iraq and other rogue states: </p><p class="blockquote-new">"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred.&nbsp; They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic." </p><p>This threat demanded early action:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as perils draw closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons." </p><p>The implication of Bush's stance – the need for pre-emptive and if necessary <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_03/axismarch02">unilateral</a> action – was made more explicit in his graduation address to West Point army cadets in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/01/international/text-of-bushs-speech-at-west-point.html">June 2002</a>. The ease with which adversaries could now attack advanced civilised states was a key theme:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger the American people and our nation. The attacks of September the 11th required a few hundred thousand dollars in the hands of a few dozen evil and deluded men. All of the chaos and suffering they caused came at much less than the cost of a single tank. The dangers have not passed. This government and the American people are on watch, we are ready, because we know the terrorists have more money and more men and more plans." </p><p>So in facing the threat, defending the homeland was simply not enough:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"[The] war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act." </p><p>Furthermore, rogue states should be treated in the same way as terrorists:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"All nations that decide for aggression and terror will pay a price. We will not leave the safety of America and the peace of the planet at the mercy of a few mad terrorists and tyrants. We will lift this dark threat from our country and from the world."&nbsp; </p><p>The world now knows how that played out. What <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">followed</a> Bush's peroration was no one's victory. His prospectus crafted not a new American century leading to a more peaceful world, but a wasteland: sixteen years of war, hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, millions of refugees fleeing their homes and livelihoods, states such as Afghanistan, Iraq and especially Libya wrecked, and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">expanding</a> insurgency and insecurity across a vast swathe of territory.</p><h2><strong>A president on repeat</strong></h2><p>How far the impact of Donald Trump’s state-of-the-union <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-state-union-address/">address</a> matches that of George W Bush's, and how far it differs, will be seen in coming months and years. Its own style was, perhaps to be expected, bombastic and celebratory, with a heavy focus on the brilliance of his apparently groundbreaking domestic agenda. Its international <a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/1/31/16954756/state-of-the-union-address-2018-speech-text-highlights-foreign-policy">component</a> was less forceful than Bush's post-9/11 arousal. But Trump's view of the world as a nest of enemies carried echoes of his predecessor. This became explicit in his uncompromising <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">approach</a> to Iran and North Korea (un-toppled members of Bush's axis of evil) and in his treatment of al-Qaida, ISIS and other Islamist groups:</p><p>“Last year, I also pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth. One year later, I am proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100 percent of the territory just recently held by these killers in Iraq and in Syria and in other locations, as well. But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.” </p><p>He went on:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“I am asking Congress to ensure that in the fight against ISIS and Al Qaida we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists, wherever we chase them down, wherever we find them. And in many cases, for them it will now be Guantanamo Bay. At the same time, as of a few months ago, our warriors in Afghanistan have new rules of engagement. Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies our plans.”</p><p>How does these declarations relate to experience on the ground? Libya is one of ISIS's “other locations". Here, <em>Cipher Brief</em> <a href="https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/middle-east/isis-festers-grows-lawless-libya?utm_source=Join+the+Community+Subscribers&amp;utm_campaign=72f08de12a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_01_26&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_02cbee778d-72f08de12a-122475217&amp;mc_cid=72f08de12a&amp;mc_eid=cdd08b9f8c ">reports</a>:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“[ISIS]…maintains a strong presence in Libya and remains a potent regional threat, despite domestic and international efforts to oust the group from its stronghold. After losing their former base of operations along the Libyan coast, ISIS fighters have regrouped and established training centers and operational headquarters in the central and southern parts of the country. Unless Libya can make headway toward forming a unified government, its lawless border areas will continue to provide fertile ground for ISIS and other terrorist groups to foment instability across North Africa.”&nbsp; </p><p>In Afghanistan, the Taliban is reported to control or have substantial influence over a least a third of the country. It remains dominant among a cluster of groups that includes ISIS and the Haqqani network. A recent <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/afghan-military-academy-attacked-in-latest-string-of-high-profile-attacks/2018/01/29/8dc59ed8-04bf-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_story.html">wave</a> of attacks has killed over 130 people, mostly civilians, while an <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-comeback">ISIS </a>attack on an Afghan national army base took the lives of twelve soldiers. Trump’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-gift-talibans-gain">response</a> is to send in another 4,000 troops, which would take the total to 15,000. The United States also deploys special-forces personnel and armed-drones, while the US airforce has even brought back the A-10 Warthog ground-attack aircraft.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>A wrong-headed strategy</strong></h2><p>On the eve of his set-piece, Trump had told reporters: “We’re going to finish what we have to finish. What nobody else has been able to finish, we’re going to be able to do it.” (Helene Cooper, “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/us/politics/trump-afghanistan-war-elusive-victory.html">Attacks Reveal What U.S. Won’t: Victory Remains Elusive in Afghanistan</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 31 January 2018).</p><p>It was another bold claim. But that's the point: for it is only the latest in a long sequence of such predictions of imminent victory made by the Pentagon or White House over these sixteen years. Trump is now <a href="https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/trump-avoids-chest-thumping-but-his-foreign-policy-is-still-dangerous.html">adding</a> to that list without the remotest hint of new thinking or strategy. It's as well to remember that five years ago, US forces in Afghanistan peaked at 100,000. They were joined by 30,000 military from other countries, and thousands of private-security contractors as well. The idea that barely a tenth of that number will make any difference, when the Taliban and other movements have such a grip, is just out of this world.</p><p>More fundamentally, Trump’s policies will stir up more animosity, resentment and deep anger towards the United States abroad. His speech itself demonstrated this. Detention without trial for years or even decades will <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/us/politics/trumps-order-to-keep-guantanamo-open-faces-familiar-obstacles-to-refilling-it.html">continue</a> at Guant<span class="st">á</span><span class="st"></span>namo and probably elsewhere; military control will escalate, and quite possibly reach new heights of destruction; and in a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-pence-jerusalem-christian-zionism-connection">decision</a> that has huge symbolism in the Islamic and Arab worlds, the US embassy in Israel will <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-israel-pence/u-s-embassy-in-israel-to-move-to-jerusalem-by-end-of-2019-pence-idUSKBN1FB0TC">move</a> to Jerusalem. </p><p>This worldview has not worked since Bush’s <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/onpolitics/transcripts/sou012902.htm">address</a>, and it won’t work in the future. Indeed, Trump's speech highlights in stark form that he and his advisors really have no clue whatsoever of how the United States is perceived, not just in the Middle East and north Africa but across much of the global south. </p><p>Trump's signal in 2018 is that nothing has been learned since 2002. "Making America great again” is from the same stable as the "new American century": an epic delusion foisted on the American people and the world. Bush inaugurated sixteen years of war. Trump will <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">extend </a>that to thirty and more – unless there is a radical change of thinking. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org/"><span><span>Remote Control Project</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Rosa Brooks, <a href="http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/How-Everything-Became-War-and-the-Military-Became-Everything/Rosa-Brooks/9781476777863"><em>How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon</em></a> (Simon &amp; Schuster, 2016)<br /></span></span></p><p>David C Unger, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/"><em>The Emergency State</em>: </a><em><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/">America's Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs</a> </em>(Penguin, 2012)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">The Trump wars era</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:17:46 +0000 Paul Rogers 115911 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain's military: costs of failure, symbols of vanity https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-military-costs-of-failure-symbols-of-vanity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The real security threats to the United Kingdom come not from Russia but from climate change, inequality and marginalisation. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34595454.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34595454.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="315" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Head of the British Army General Sir Nick Carter warns that Britain's ability to pre-empt or respond to threats risks being eroded if the UK does not keep up with its enemies. Steve Parsons/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A much publicised speech on 22 January by General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the general staff of the British army, had unmistakable echoes of the cold war. Warning of Russia's direct security threat to the United Kingdom, and signalling a need to increase the military budget rather than continue to shave expenditure, Carter's alarmist&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/dynamic-security-threats-and-the-british-army-chief-of-the-general-staff-general-sir-nicholas-carter-kcb-cbe-dso-adc-gen">portrait</a>&nbsp;of a nation in peril was sanctioned directly by Gavin Williamson, new defence secretary in Theresa May's ailing government.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Russia performs a useful function: its role as as a supposed threat enables the&nbsp; harsh&nbsp;legacy of the recent past to be evaded.&nbsp;</p><p>The argument for more military&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42770208">spending</a>&nbsp;is a recurrent feature of British politics. But the well-rehearsed establishment case is ever at pains to avoid two huge and uncomfortable realities. The first is that Britain is part of a western coalition that has fought three disastrous wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya) in the past sixteen years. In great consequence, the domestic threat of attacks stemming from&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-comeback">ISIS</a>, al-Qaida and other such groups has never been higher. Andrew Parker, the director of MI5,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.mi5.gov.uk/news/director-general-andrew-parker-2017-speech">confirmed</a>&nbsp;as much in a speech on 17 October 2017. Yet the defence community refuses to view these military failures, and their outcomes, as part of a fundamental problem. In this respect, Russia performs a useful function: its role as as a supposed threat enables the&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">harsh</a>&nbsp;legacy of the recent past to be evaded.&nbsp;</p><p>Compounding the problem is the second reality, namely that the UK defence budget is increasingly being crunched by the need to maintain two vastly expensive projects. These are upgrading the nuclear force with new missile-submarines, and deploying two enormous new aircraft-carriers (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/in-defence-of-greatness-britains-carrier-saga">In defence of greatness: Britain's carrier saga</a>", 10 May 2012). What makes these fiascos even more damaging is that they have precious little relevance to the actual security&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">challenges</a>&nbsp;facing the UK: global economic polarisation, climate disruption, and revolts from the margins. Along with the Russia obsession, they represent a great diversion which blocks serious debate on what Britain’s approach to international security should really be. (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">Britain's global role: fantasy vs reality</a>", 5 October 2017).</p><h2><strong>Looking backward</strong></h2><p>The principal<a href="https://uk.news.yahoo.com/british-army-chief-warns-russia-attack-west-sooner-expected-094347045.html">&nbsp;theme</a>&nbsp;of General Carter's speech summoned images of the cold-war era of the 1970s-80s, still recalled by older people in Britain, when the Nato alliance and the Warsaw pact states faced each other across the "iron curtain"&nbsp;<a href="http://omniatlas.com/maps/europe/19460419/">dividing</a>&nbsp;Europe. Then, the Soviet Union with its 270 million people, 3.7 million troops and nuclear arsenal was projected as clear and immediate danger to the west. Today, the language and atmosphere of the debate about Russia seem designed to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/dsei/2017/09/10/on-edge-new-cold-war-tensions-high-in-eastern-europe/">generate</a>&nbsp;similar fears.&nbsp;</p><p>In truth, modern day Russia is a shadow of the former Soviet Union. In economic terms it is&nbsp;<a href="https://knoema.com/nwnfkne/world-gdp-ranking-2017-gdp-by-country-data-and-charts">ranked</a>&nbsp;twelfth in the world in terms of GDP: well behind the UK, France or Germany, let alone the United States, and far outdone by the combined weight of Nato member-states. Russians too may complain about the cost of foreign adventures, but many are grudgingly ready to bear the burden as they&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-42707957">see</a>&nbsp;Vladimir Putin “making Russia great again”. Russia's substantial nuclear arsenal, and the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21735480-great-powers-seem-have-little-appetite-full-scale-war-there-room">unpredictable</a>&nbsp;way that tensions and crises can escalate, mean there certainly are dangers. But talk of Russia as a direct, intentional military threat to western Europe is greatly misplaced.</p><p>How the so-called Russian threat can be used to justify more military spending is illustrated admirably by a single example from October 2016. This was the deployment of Russia’s&nbsp;<a href="https://thediplomat.com/2017/03/russia-to-upgrade-aircraft-carrier-in-2017/">only</a>&nbsp;aircraft-carrier, the&nbsp;<em>Admiral Kuznetsov</em>, from its Arctic base to a Syrian port in the eastern Mediterranean in order to bolster Moscow's&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/russia-syria-and-danger-of-hype">support</a>&nbsp;for Bashar al-Assad's regime.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">This entire drama was one not of military strength, but of military symbolism and the power of myth.</p><p>The&nbsp;<em>Kuznetsov's</em>&nbsp;passage&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kentonline.co.uk/folkestone/news/warships-escort-russian-skulking-ship-119506/">through</a>&nbsp;the Straits of Calais was covered widely by the western media, as was its subsequent deployment in the Syrian war and its return to Russia early in 2017. Indeed in Britain the entire operation was represented as proof of Russian maritime power, contrasting with domestic pressures on the defence budget.&nbsp;</p><p>In reality, however, the&nbsp;<em>Kuznetsov</em>&nbsp;– a veteran built in the mid-1980s – has been&nbsp;<a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russias-only-aircraft-carrier-has-big-problem-21535">plagued</a>&nbsp;with technical problems since it was commissioned, proved costly to maintain, and has rarely even put to sea. Even when it deployed for any length of time, fears over its propulsion reliability were so great that it is normally accompanied by an ocean-going tug.</p><p>Its chequered&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/world/middleeast/russia-aircraft-admiral-kuznetsov-syria.html">experience</a>&nbsp;in Syria matched this pretty disastrous record. The carrier’s air-wing was itself small, holding just eight Su-33 fighters and four MiG-29 multirole aircraft. During the operation two out of these twelve planes were lost in accidents while trying to land on the ship. Both pilots survived, but for most of the deployment the planes were flown not from the much-vaunted carrier but from a Russian airbase in Syria. In the&nbsp;<a href="https://thediplomat.com/2017/04/russias-naval-policy-and-the-war-in-syria/">event</a>, the overwhelming majority of the Russian airstrikes were launched from land bases.</p><p>This near farcical story notwithstanding, the&nbsp;<em>Admiral Kuznetsov</em>&nbsp;was widely touted in the British and western media as indicative of Russian military supremacy. Rather, this entire drama was one not of military strength, but of military symbolism and the power of myth.</p><h2><strong>Thinking forward</strong></h2><p>If Britain’s two&nbsp;<em>Queen Elizabeth</em>-class aircraft-carriers are&nbsp;<a href="https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/whats-next-hmsqueenelizabeth/">eventually</a>&nbsp;made available for deployment in the 2020s, and if sufficient crew can be got together to enable them to operate, then they may well be much more reliable than the&nbsp;<em>Admiral</em>&nbsp;<em>Kuznetsov.</em>&nbsp;But there have already been major cost overruns, and even when completed the whole operation will still be dependent on the US F-35 Lightning multi-role aircraft (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/britain_defence_4352.jsp">Britain's 21st-century defence</a>", 15 February 2007).</p><p>Indeed, in the early years the British carrier will deploy F-35s from the United States marine corps, which is currently operating the F-35 on its own ships. But the whole programme has been&nbsp;<a href="https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/f-35-project-now/">beset</a>&nbsp;with cost overruns and the constant need for fault-fixing. A leaked copy of an internal Pentagon report on the programme, detailing the marines’ experience with the plane, suggests that – even after more than three years in service with the marines – the F-35 is simply not proving reliable:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“The availability of the fighter jet for missions when needed – a key metric – remains ‘around 50 percent, a condition that has existed with no significant improvement since October 2014, despite the increasing number of aircraft,’ Robert Behler, the Defense Department’s new director of operational testing, said in an annual report, delivered Tuesday to senior Pentagon leaders and congressional committees” (see Anthony Capaccio, "<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-24/lockheed-f-35-s-reliability-progress-has-stalled-pentagon-told?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%201.24.18&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">Why the Pentagon isn't happy with the F-35</a>",&nbsp;<em>Bloomberg</em>, 24 January 2018).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Meanwhile, the UK's programme to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13442735">replace</a>&nbsp;the Trident nuclear-weapons system is marked by severe delays and cost escalations, though near desperate attempts are underway to close off information about these. But word does seep out that persistent problems affect both the building of nuclear-powered&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-submarines-out-of-time">submarines</a>&nbsp;at Barrow and the nuclear reactors for the new boats being developed by Rolls Royce at Derby.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">It must be suspected that Carter's forcefulness about the Russian threat reflects his frustration that the army he heads is losing out to what are little more than vanity&nbsp;projects.</p><p>The combined effect of these ill-considered strategic decisions – replacing Trident, building the aircraft-carriers, and buying hugely expensive F-35s – is that the UK’s whole defence posture is warped (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain%27s-defence-path-to-change">Britain's defence: the path to change</a>", 7 May 2015). In fact, it must be suspected that General Carter's forcefulness about the Russian threat also reflects his frustration that the army he heads is losing out to what are little more than vanity&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflicts/global_security/white_elephants">projects</a>&nbsp;(and many even within the UK armed forces view them as such).</p><p>A likely prospect is that Britain in the 2030s ends up with the ability to fight a nuclear war or send an aircraft-carrier around the world, but is able to do very little else. That would be a symbol not of a great power contributing to world peace and stability, but of a country that had still not come to terms with its post-imperial status and was drifting into dangerous irrelevance (see “<a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2346.2006.00560.x/abstract">Big boats and bigger skimmers: determining Britain’s role in the long war</a>”,&nbsp;<em>International Affairs</em>, 82/4 [2006], pp.651-665).</p><p>It could be so different. There is a critical need for a middle-ranking power to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/ssp/re_thinking_uk_defence">provide</a>&nbsp;leadership in climate action, economic transformation, conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and so many other areas (see “<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/making-britain-great-again-in-different-way">Making Britain Great Again – in a different way</a>”, 16 November 2017). This could happen with a change of government, which is unlikely in the near term. But that in no way diminishes the need to make the case. There is simply too much at stake.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group </a></span></span></p><p>Anthony Barnett, <a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit"><em>The Lure of Greatness: England's Brexit and America's Trump</em></a> (Unbound, 2017)</p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="https://www.ifri.org/en/publications/etudes-de-lifri/focus-strategique/future-british-defense-policy"><em>The future of British defense policy </em></a>(IFRI, July 2017)</p><p><a href="https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/"><em>UK Defence Journal</em></a></p><p>Lawrence Freedman, <a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/192090/the-future-of-war/"><em>The Future of War: A History</em></a> (Penguin, 2017)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain%27s-defence-path-to-change">Britain&#039;s defence, the path to change</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">How Labour can make Britain secure</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/in-defence-of-greatness-britains-carrier-saga">In defence of greatness: Britain&#039;s carrier saga</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-submarines-out-of-time">Britain&#039;s deep-sea defence: out of time?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Fri, 26 Jan 2018 13:11:49 +0000 Paul Rogers 115831 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ISIS and Tunisia-Iran: a deeper link https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-and-tunisia-iran-deeper-link <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The anger and ideals of excluded young people contain a story of the world's disorder.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34462346.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34462346.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"In 2018 the market basket is empty": this man attends a speech by the general secretary of the Tunisian General Labour Union during the Tunisian revolution's 7th anniversary, 2018. Chedly Ben Ibrahim/PA images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Two recent columns in this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> examined ISIS's future after the loss of its caliphate. The group, it was suggested, might in future pursue a threefold course: build on its affiliations with paramilitary groups across the Middle East, north Africa and south Asia; increase its attacks in the “far enemy” countries of the west; and transition towards a new insurgency in Iraq (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wars-next-phase-isis-plus-expertise">The next war: ISIS plus expertise</a>", 21 December 2017); and "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-comeback">ISIS: the comeback</a>", 4 January 2018).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The Iraqi part of this strategy is already well under way. A grim series of attacks in and around Baghdad has taken hundreds of lives in the past year, even during the coalition assaults on Mosul and Raqqa. The latest <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27838034">hit</a> the capital early in the morning of 15 January, when two suicide-bombers detonated their devices at Tayaran Square where day-labourers gather for work. The results were terrible: at least thirty-five people killed and ninety injured. Some of the <em>Shi’a</em> dead were carried off for burial that day in the holy city of Najaf.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Such operations confirm that ISIS paramilitaries remain active and are able to strike, including in the heart of Baghdad. In this respect the intense military campaign to dislodge the group from its former <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27838034">areas</a> of control is double-edged. The United States-led coalition's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">aerial </a>pounding inflicted huge damage on Iraqi urban centres, with hardly any sign of reconstruction so far. That risks the further marginalisation of the <em>Sunni</em> minority that contributed to ISIS's rise in the first place. In doing its utmost to encourage that process, ISIS is intent also on <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/17/world/middleeast/iraq-baghdad-isis-bombing.html">targeting</a> districts mainly populated by Iraq's majority <em>Shi’a</em> population. </p><p class="mag-quote-left">Such operations confirm that ISIS paramilitaries remain active and are able to strike, including in the heart of Baghdad.</p><p>If an ISIS <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">insurgency</a> in Iraq continues to sprout from the urban ruins, Donald Trump’s hollow claim that the movement is defeated will look even more boastful. But a more awkward issue is at stake here: namely, whether ISIS is also just a symptom of a much more fundamental problem (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">Al-Qaida, and a global revolt</a>", 22 May 2014).</p><p>What is clear is that this extraordinary movement has attracted far wider support than most western politicians would dare acknowledge. Within the few years of its existence, many tens of thousands of young people from the Middle East, north Africa, south Asia, and western countries <a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-many-foreign-isis-fighters-have-returned-home-from-the-battlefield-2017-10">went</a> to fight for and otherwise support ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Police and security sources in western Europe have records of over 40,000 people still involved.</p><p>Some may have been prone to violence before their departure, and be&nbsp; attracted by an exciting and dangerous <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/">endeavour</a>. But there is evidence that far more were actually attracted by what they believed to be an ideal – the chance to participate in a new kind of society that might help deliver them from an otherwise bleak future with few prospects. Azadeh Moaveni's perceptive analysis raises this issue, from a perspective that few non-Muslim westerners might grasp (see “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/opinion/sunday/post-isis-muslim-homeland.html">The Lingering Dream of an Islamic State</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 16 January 2018).</p><p>The idea of a "dream" is powerful. Religious-political fusions – often termed “caliphate” – have been prominent features of Islamic societies, some of them long-lasting and sophisticated in their organisation. The Abbasid caliphate <a href="http://www.gifex.com/detail-en/2010-01-01-11553/The-Abbasid-Caliphate-7501258.html">across</a> much of the Middle East for three centuries from 750 CE is a notable example.&nbsp; </p><p>It would be perverse to equate ISIS with what, in its own time, was a world centre of civilisation. That is certainly not Moaveni's point. Rather, she raises the possibility that ISIS's proclamation of a new caliphate struck a deep chord with very large numbers of today's Muslims: not just in autocratic, repressive and elitist Middle East societies, but among disaffected minority diasporas in Britain, France and elsewhere.</p><p>On the ground in Iraq and Syria, brutality and repression were justified as necessary to maintain the caliphate's purity of purpose. But from the outside, it might have been possible to maintain a seductive vision that something much better was being realised – <a href="https://www.newamerica.org/our-people/azadeh-moaveni/">Azadeh Moaveni’s</a> "lingering dream". That view is supported by many of the early returnees to Britain and France, who turned out to be bitterly disappointed at what they had actually found.</p><p>If this theme needs to be explored further, it is also directly relevant to the serious anti-authority public disturbances in <a href="https://www.vox.com/world/2018/1/3/16841310/iran-protests-2018">Iran </a>and <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/fresh-protests-in-tunisia-on-anniversary-of-arab-spring-uprising/a-42142325">Tunisia</a> during the past month. Not, it should be emphasised, because either upsurge is in any way rooted in direct support for the likes of ISIS. In both cases the protests were unorganised and decentralised. Yet underlying common factors helped to spark them.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">There is the possibility that ISIS's proclamation of a new caliphate struck a deep chord with very large numbers of today's Muslims.</p><p>Tunisia, the origin of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/libya-bahrain-and-arab-spring">short-lived</a> "Arab spring" in December 2010, has made tortuous progress towards more democratic governance in these seven years. But its pre-existing economic inequalities remain, consigning hundreds of thousands of educated young people to lives with few prospects. Iran is a similarly young country with huge numbers of young people also <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/ali-vaez/iran-s-protests-time-reform">yearning</a> for a decent life. These are but two examples of many states in the region and beyond where the basic social contours are near identical. Indeed, there are connections here with the anti-austerity sentiment evolving in different directions in wealthy western states (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/tunisia-and-world-roots-of-turmoil">Tunisia and the world: roots of turmoil</a>", 24 January 2011). </p><p>In its own context, ISIS can be seen as a singularly brutal extremist movement led by clever men seeking power in the name of religious belief. That perception makes of the movement an isolated “one-off”: a problem to be crushed and made to disappear by the use of sufficient military force. But adjust the gaze, and ISIS can appear in a different light: namely, as one symptom of a world in serious disarray (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight</a>", 6 July 2017).</p><p>Many people in the Middle East and beyond are living in an economic and social order which acts against their basic needs and reasonable interests. That makes for an uncomfortably direct link between ISIS, Tunisia and Iran. Recognising it is the first step towards a different approach to human security, one which sees past the symptom to address the deep source.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group </a></span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/tunisia-and-world-roots-of-turmoil">Tunisia and the world: roots of turmoil</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thinning-world-mali-nigeria-india">The thinning world: Mali, Nigeria, India</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 18 Jan 2018 13:50:05 +0000 Paul Rogers 115706 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What are the chances of a nuclear nightmare? https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-are-chances-of-nuclear-nightmare <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Trump's tweet-talk, loose lips, and big button amplify the risks over Korea and Iran&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/_92369555_mediaitem92369554.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/_92369555_mediaitem92369554.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Donald Trump makes his acceptance speech in New York. Paco Anselmi/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The risks of military confrontation in the Korean peninsula have been lightened in the short term make by the accord between Seoul and Pyongyang over the winter Olympics.&nbsp; A possible joint parade by the North / South teams at the South Korean host city of Pyeongchang, one of the measures under <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2018-northkorea-parade/possible-joint-koreas-parade-at-pyeongchang-under-discussion-source-idUSKBN1F01GG">discussion</a> at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), would be rich in symbolism. </p><p>In parallel, the reopened <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-korea-to-reopen-border-hotline-with-south-to-prepare-for-talks/2018/01/03/00316ae6-a849-4e1c-bc70-a601f49b06e2_story.html">hotline</a> at the Panmunjom border, and especially the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-42600550">agreement </a>to discuss border security, could help defuse tension over a longer period. In any crisis, either of these moves could help prevent the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">accidents</a>, mistakes and even maverick behaviour (the AIM formula) which might otherwise escalate with tragic consequences. </p><p>But beyond this intra-Korean dimension, the core antipathy between Washington and Pyongyang remains at the heart of the perilous <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-the-art-of-the-deal">dispute</a>. On one side, the Trump administration is adamant that Pyongyang must not become a nuclear-armed power and threaten the United States. On the other, the Kim Jong-un is certain that only possession of a nuclear force will prevent the US from carrying out its wish to that the US wants to terminate the regime. </p><p>A key factor is that, the Pyeongchang-related rapprochement aside, the timescale of potential military confrontation is shortening by the month. US intelligence agencies had been working on the assumption that North Korea was some years from presenting an acute challenge, but the sheer <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/06/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-missile-intelligence.html">pace</a> of nuclear and missile tests since Trump was elected have radically changed that. The expectation now is that North Korea is very likely to have a small but credible nuclear force before Trump goes for re-election in 2020. This increases the chances of a disastrous conflict in the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">next</a> couple of years.</p><p>China, the one country with serious leverage over the Kim Jong-un <a href="http://www.38north.org/2018/01/rfrank010318/">regime</a>, appears to share that view. Its has built camps just its side of the border with North Korea, in the expectation that a North Korean catastrophe will trigger mass refugee flows. One option <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/11/world/asia/china-north-korea-border.html ">considered</a> is to move People's Liberation Army units across the Yalu river into North Korea to handle the crisis, though a poor road network and other logistal barriers could make this unfeasible. In any case, Beijing calculates that the risk of war is real, and is taking what would otherwise be extraordinary measures. </p><p>Another conundrum for its leadership, and a central part of this many-sided crisis, is Trump and the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">forces</a> swirling around him. In this respect, three aspects of Washington's political and strategic environment are relevant.&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>Wanted: diplomacy</strong></h2> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger &amp; more powerful one than his, and my Button works!</p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/948355557022420992?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 3, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>The first and most obvious is Donald Trump’s nuclear rhetoric, with its tweet-talk of obliterating North Korea and his button being much bigger then Kim Jong-un’s. The manner and medium are very far from Washington's traditional presidential pronouncements. It's true that Ronald Reagan said "we begin bombing [Russia] in five minutes” for a <a href="https://www.biography.com/news/ronald-reagan-bombing-in-5-minutes-joke">sound-check</a> in 1984. It was way over the top but, when the non-broadcast excerpt was leaked, most people saw an element of misplaced humour in it. No one sees anything funny about Trump’s proclamations. </p><p>The second is Trump’s attitude to arms control. A new BASIC/ELN report, <a href="http://www.basicint.org/sites/default/files/Downman%2C%20NATO%20Nukes%2C%20final%20%E2%80%93%C2%A0WEB%20%281%29.pdf"><em>Changing Nuclear Weapons Policy in the Trump Era</em></a>, analyses this in detail. Its author, Maxwell Dowman, says that Trump is “presiding over a crisis of European arms control, having failed to coordinate a NATO response to Russia’s alleged violation of the INF Treaty, signed 30 years ago on December 1987, casting doubt on the future of New START and decertifying the Iran deal”. </p><p>Ineed, Trump’s attitude to Iran is relevant here. It is particularly worrying for western European states, given the long effort and careful coordination that went into achieving the nuclear agreement. The foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain, <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-iran-nuclear-eu/european-powers-urge-trump-to-preserve-iran-nuclear-deal-idUKKBN1F00X1">meeting</a> in Brussels on 11 January, called on Trump not to abandon the deal. If Washington unilaterally withdraws, it will be a further setback to arms control.</p><p>The third aspect is the US's new nuclear-posture review (<a href="https://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/NPR/">NPR</a>). A recent leak of its contents <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/09/us-to-loosen-nuclear-weapons-policy-and-develop-more-usable-warheads ">suggests</a> a return to the thinking of the most dangerous years of the cold war, where fighting a nuclear war was actively contemplated.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>It is reasonable to point out that all seven nuclear <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">states</a>, leaving aside the US itself and North Korea, do seek to modernise their nuclear forces, although scores of other states want the world to move to a total ban through a nuclear-weapons convention. The US strategy, however, carries an extra danger, in that it is likely to include <a href="http://www.theworldin.com/edition/2017/article/12631/lower-nuclear-threshold">lowering</a> the nuclear threshold – not just over first-use, but use against non-nuclear-armed states. This would mean deploying a long-range and highly accurate ballistic missile carrying a low-yield nuclear warhead, a weapon considered especially suited to limited nuclear use.&nbsp; </p><p>This broader nuclear thinking reinforces the concern raised by Trump’s threat to destroy North Korea. There is a further, internal factor at work too: the militarisation – or just the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit">deficit&nbsp;</a>– of diplomacy. Trump's administration is unusual because of the president’s behaviour, but also because he is surrounded by retired generals in three key <a href="https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/04/donald-trump-generals-mattis-mcmaster-kelly-flynn-215455">roles</a>: chief-of-staff John Kelly, national-security advisor HR McMaster, and defense secretary James Mattis. In addition, the state department still hasn’t filled key diplomatic roles, and relative to this concentrated military outlook its influence is limited.&nbsp; </p><p>At the very time when diplomacy should be taking precedence in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">dealing</a> with Pyongyang and Tehran, it is is singularly weak within the US government system. Perhaps the retired generals, with their knowledge of the consequences of wars, will inject a note of caution in the White House. But a vacuum of diplomacy, Trump's temperament, escalating US military action across Africa and Asia, and the new nuclear strategy's likely focus, make such hopes look vain. There are too many red lights for comfort. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://treasureislands.org/"><em><span class="st"></span></em></a><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.38north.org/">38 North</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://atomicarchive.com/">Atomic Archive</a><br /></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.acronym.org.uk/">Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy</a></p><p>Sung Chull Kim &amp; Michael D Cohen eds., <a href="http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/north-korea-and-nuclear-weapons"><em>North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: Entering the New Era of Deterrence </em></a>(Georgetown University Press, 2017)</p><p>Thomas M. Nichols, <a href="http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15090.html"><em><span class="style2">No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security</span></em></a> (University of Pennsylvania Press,2013)</p><div id="stcpDiv">Entering the New Era of Deterrence </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">Trump vs Kim Jong-un: nuclear war by 2019?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">North Korea: a catastrophe foretold</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit">Iran, and a diplomacy deficit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 11 Jan 2018 09:49:20 +0000 Paul Rogers 115609 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ISIS: the comeback https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-comeback <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Iraq's depleted military and urban wreckage plant the seeds of an ISIS revival. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-1925366.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-1925366.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A U.S. Marine tries to drive a disabled Humvee that was attacked in a coordinated ambush in Ramadi against American troops. ABACA PRESS/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A quick declaration of military victory was a feature of United States strategy following the rapid early campaigns against the Taliban (October-November 2001) and the Saddam Hussein regime (March-April 2003). In each case, it came during the lull before insurgency escalated with a vengeance. Trump's claim, in relation to ISIS, that "we've won in Syria, we've won in Iraq" should be seen in that light.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>ISIS has indeed lost its much-vaunted caliphate in Iraq and Syria, but even here the group remains active and capable of frequent attacks. It and its <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">associates</a> are also launching operations in Somalia, Yemen, the Sahel, Afghanistan and the Philippines, while in Libya it is reconfiguring. Several zones in Africa and Asia may acquire new opportunities for ISIS in 2018, as the co-presence of armed insurgents and US forces create further dynamics of conflict (see Shawn Snow, "<a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2017/12/31/new-in-2018-the-fight-against-isis-evolves/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=ebb-1/2&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">New in 2018: The fight against ISIS evolves</a>", <em>Military Times</em>, 31 December 2017).</p><p>But it is also worth returning to <a href="https://iraq.liveuamap.com/">Iraq</a>:&nbsp;the source of this new <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wars-next-phase-isis-plus-expertise">phase</a> of war&nbsp;began when ISIS developed out of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) in 2013. Two issues that are particularly relevant: the extent of Iraqi army losses and what it means for post-ISIS internal security, and the Iraqi government and US-led coalition's inability to begin the gigantic task of urban rebuilding after their intense <a href="https://airwars.org/ ">aerial</a> and artillery bombardments.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">ISIS has indeed lost its much-vaunted caliphate in Iraq and Syria, but even here the group remains active and capable of frequent attacks.</p><p>As to the army losses, Iraq's defence ministry announced that the war had cost the army 64,000 casualties, including 26,000 killed (as <a href="https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/26000-iraqi-soldiers-killed-4-year-war-isis/ ">reported</a> by a Beirut media source). Most external assessments put the army's size as not much more than 100,000. Even if the ministry includes some paramilitary police units and others in its counting, Baghdad will have serious problems in maintaining internal security once ISIS returns to its pre-caliphate strategy of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">guerrilla </a>warfare.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>There has also been evidence that Iraqi special forces, known as the counter-terror service (<a href="https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/David-Witty-Paper_Final_Web.pdf">CTC</a>) or “golden division”, were indeed hardest hit during the close-range infighting in Iraq's northern cities. This had been suggested by news reports in mid-2017, and is now confirmed. In Mosul alone, the CTC <a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/7/10/iraqs-elite-forces-suffered-devastating-losses-in-mosul-battle">lost</a> 40% of its overall strength.</p><p>This means the government must now rely much more on <em>Shi’a </em>militias, many of them backed by Iran. In turn, this represents a gift to ISIS as the movement seeks support from an aggrieved <em>Sunni </em>minority, especially in Mosul and other cities' previous inhabitants. ISIS will also benefit from <em>Sunni </em>Arab financial sources in the Gulf states, who continue to worry about increasing Iranian influence across the region, even as the Tehran government <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/01/04/irans-protests-are-fading-but-iranians-are-still-angry/?utm_term=.74ffe63ff5fe">confronts</a> internal unrest.</p><p>The depletion of Iraq's armed forces helps explain the levels of destruction in <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/syria-rebuilding-raqqa-in-face-of-mines-and-death-a-1181638.html">cities</a> such as Ramadi and Mosul, in that it led the coalition increasingly to resort to airstrikes and artillery-fire to dislodge ISIS paramilitaries. The civilian casualties were huge, <a href="https://www.vox.com/world/2017/12/20/16800510/mosul-death-toll-isis-trump-war ">including</a> between 9,000 and 12,000 in Mosul. Soon after Mosul was retaken, the <em>Washington Post</em> published stunning “before and after” satellite <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/war-torn-mosul-july/?utm_term=.7f9944c5458c ">images</a> of the city's destruction.</p><p>The scale of the crisis is deeply concerning: enormous damage to buildings and infrastructure, hundreds of thousands of people languishing in camps and unable to return. Moreover, Iraq's government and the coalition are evidently failing to engage with the <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/07/mosul-abadi-iraq-reconstruction-marshall-plan-isis/533115/">task</a> of physical repair and reconstruction. In a&nbsp;rare detailed investigation, Susannah George and Lori Hinnant of the Associated Press produced a compelling <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/after-islamic-states-defeat-a-massive-bill-to-rebuild-iraq/2017/12/28/79bcf71e-eb9d-11e7-956e-baea358f9725_story.html ">account</a> of west Mosul's devastation.&nbsp;</p><p><span class="mag-quote-left">The scale of the crisis is deeply concerning: enormous damage to buildings and infrastructure, hundreds of thousands of people languishing in camps and unable to return.</span></p><p><span></span>These experienced correspondents describe a city where 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt or restored, and 600,000 residents out of the original 2 million have fled. An analyst quoted by AP compares the impact of conventional weapons on west Mosul to <a href="https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/ruins-dresden-1945/">Dresden</a> in February 1945.</p><p>United Nations <a href="http://www.uniraq.com/index.php?option=com_k2&amp;view=itemlist&amp;layout=category&amp;task=category&amp;id=161&amp;Itemid=626&amp;lang=en">agencies</a>, as is usual in these situations, try to provide a degree of short-term and longer-term aid. But these face chronic underfunding, amid the prospect of further <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-aid/u-s-agency-to-help-iraq-recover-from-is-despite-trump-aid-cuts-idUSKBN1E40TS">cuts</a> resulting from the Trump administration’s attitude. In direct aid for stabilisation, $392 million has been provided, with the US (mostly Obama-era) and <a href="http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/101220173">Germany</a> giving most, Kuwait and the UAE lesser amounts – but nothing listed from Saudi Arabia. A further relevant figure is that Washington as of June 2017 had <a href="https://www.defense.gov/OIR/">spent </a>$14.3 billion on fighting ISIS since 2014, but only $265 million on reconstruction.</p><p>It might ordinarily be reasonable to argue that these are early days in the post-war period. But the Trump administration has told the Iraqi government it will not fund a reconstruction drive. In this respect, <a href="https://muckrack.com/susannah-george">Susannah George</a> and <a href="https://muckrack.com/lori-hinnant">Lori Hinnant's </a>report on the post-liberation experience of Ramadi, another badly damaged city, is worth quoting at length:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“The enormity of the task ahead in Mosul can be grasped by what has – and hasn't – happened in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's western Anbar province. Two years after it was retaken from IS, more than 70 percent of the city remains damaged or destroyed, according to the provincial council. Nearly 8,300 homes – almost a third of the houses in the city – were destroyed or suffered major damage, according to UN Habitat. All five of Ramadi's bridges over the Euphrates River were damaged; only three are currently under repair. Three-quarters of the schools remain out of commission.</p><p class="blockquote-new">"The Anbar provincial council holds its meetings in a small building down the street from the pile of rubble that was once its offices. Nearly all of Ramadi's government buildings were blown up by the militants. 'We haven't received a single dollar in reconstruction money from Baghdad,' said Ahmed Shaker, a council member. 'When we ask the government for money to rebuild, they said: 'Help yourself, go ask your friends in the Gulf' — a reference to fellow Sunnis.'"</p><p>The ultimate responsibility for all that has happened of course rests with ISIS. But the way the US-led coalition defeated its caliphate has turned whole areas to ruin. The phrase of <a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/tacitus/3891/">Tacitus</a> – “we made a desert and called it peace” – is again unavoidable, with the added ominous element that ISIS's resurrection (or the emergence of a similar group) may well follow.&nbsp;</p><p>A key provincial adviser, Abdulsattar al-Habu, told the Associated Press duo that if Mosul is not rebuilt “it will result in the rebirth of terrorism”. The Trump administration's talk of victory over ISIS is a further grim sign of near total lack of understanding of the problems ahead.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Graeme Wood, <span class="st"><a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/531346/the-way-of-the-strangers-by-graeme-wood/9780812988758/"><em>The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State</em></a> (Penguin, 2016)<br /></span></p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wars-next-phase-isis-plus-expertise">The next war: ISIS plus expertise</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 04 Jan 2018 16:20:25 +0000 Paul Rogers 115500 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The next war: ISIS plus expertise https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wars-next-phase-isis-plus-expertise <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the ashes of the caliphate lie the seeds of a new and even more dangerous ISIS.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32117583.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32117583.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>ISIS fighters surrender in west Mosul. Carol Guzy/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>President Trump has declared that ISIS has been defeated and victory is at hand. Haider al-Abadi's government in Baghdad has even held a victory parade. Such hubris may be questioned by referring to recent history. Similar claims were made when the Taliban were deposed and al-Qaida dispersed in late 2001; after the Saddam regime fell in three weeks in 2003; when Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011; and when Barack Obama withdrew most American forces from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2011-16.</p><p>Yet conflict has extended and even <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">escalated</a>. It includes a rash of attacks in western Europe and the United States; an upsurge in Islamist-inspired violence in Mali, Egypt, Somalia and the Philippines; and the reinforcement of United States troops across the Sahel, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-gift-talibans-gain">Afghanistan</a>, Iraq and Syria. So where is the "war on terror" now going? In search of an answer, two deeper influences on the paramilitaries' strategy need to be discerned.</p><p>The first is linked to the impact of western military campaigns. The Pentagon reports that three years of intense air and drone operations since August 2014 have killed over 60,000 adherents of ISIS. Many western citizens, who see these people as terrorists who deserve no better, will applaud this result. At the same time, those numbers mean that many more family members and friends are affected. The deaths are also widely reported in social media, with coverage that attributes to these martyrs a heroic role as true upholders of Islam <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-pence-jerusalem-christian-zionism-connection">against</a> its Crusader-Zionist foes.</p><p>In consequence, the paramilitary narrative now acknowledges the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">retreat</a> of a short-lived caliphate while highlighting its resilience and the certainty of its return. It cites the brave example of all those young people, and the thousands of women and children who were killed, as exemplars who must serve as a catalyst for further action. Those it sees as taking up the torch may be individuals in the “far enemy” countries, fighters in Iraq and Syria, and believers in other <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">theatres</a> of conflict worldwide.</p><p>ISIS's determined supporters believe they are operating as part of an eternal struggle, not some potential revolutionary change measured in mere years or even decades. The implication, which might be difficult for many western politicians and security analysts to comprehend, is the urgent need to take on board this wider narrative and what it should be <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">expected</a> to foment.</p><h2><strong>A networked campaign</strong></h2><p>The second influence relates to the combat and weapons experience gained progressively in the various recent conflicts. In the 1980s, the Afghan <em>mujahideen</em> became more sophisticated as they fought against the Soviet military. Among them were many Arabs, some of whom went on to form al-Qaida and link up with the Taliban in the 1990s. In that same decade the Chechen and post-Yugoslavia wars, and the simmering conflict in Kashmir, provided more experience for a rising generation of Islamist paramilitaries.</p><p>Many were killed but more survived. By the early 2000s, al-Qaida and other Islamist militias included veterans of all these conflicts, soon to be joined by thousands of young people who had seen military action from Libya, Yemen, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East and north Africa. Connections were forged between conflicts in the Sahel and those in west and east Africa. A bomb planted by Boko Haram in Nigeria's capital Abuja, in the movement's early stages, incorporated a shaped-charge explosive quite probably supplied from Iraq. Numerous <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">techniques</a> relating to explosives, timers, fusing and other characteristics were shared, both personally and via the internet.</p><p>The bitter shadow war fought between al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), the precursor of ISIS, and the best-equipped elite forces of the US/UK Task Force 145 provided further valuable tests. Then came the years of the caliphate itself. Details of this period are still coming to light, including the origins of much of the weaponry and ISIS's ability to produce its own. ISIS's seizure of Iraqi cities such as Mosul in 2014 provided it with advanced weaponry and munitions. More was gained after Nato’s disastrous intervention in Libya. Informal conduits criss-crossing the Middle East were another constant source.</p><p>An investigative <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/balkan-arms-exports-diverted-to-isis-report-12-15-2017">report</a> by a unit with European Union backing finds that up to a third of ISIS weapons from outside the region came from central and eastern Europe via Balkan supply-routes. Many of these routes are financed by US and Saudi governmental agencies in breach of international agreements, the arms having been supplied to anti-Assad rebels in Syria but ending up in ISIS's hands. Even more surprising, a detailed <a href="//www.wired.com/story/terror-industrial-complex-isis-munitions-supply-chain/">study</a> in <em>Wired</em> magazine points to ISIS engineers' ability to modify and develop both commercial and military explosives for their own purposes, including some originating in the United States.</p><p>ISIS has gained a particular advantage in controlling territory for several years. Taking over a large town or city meant access to all manner of small engineering shops and factories, and in some cases technical colleges and university laboratories. Before the air-war intensified, ISIS was able to run a sophisticated and coordinated production system, even <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/10/world/middleeast/isis-bombs.html">developing</a> its own weapons specifically for the nature of the wars it was fighting.</p><p>None of this is to diminish the west's own many military <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/myth-of-clean-war">transformations</a>, not least in armed-drone warfare. But it does indicate the sheer amount of knowledge and expertise that ISIS and related groups accrued in this latest phase of conflict. Far from disappearing, these will be put to use in perhaps unexpected ways. It is another reason why the "war on terror", even as it takes different forms, is likely to continue.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016 </span></p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">ISIS, a global franchise</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/wrongs-of-counter-violence">The wrongs of counter-violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia global security Paul Rogers Thu, 21 Dec 2017 17:09:07 +0000 Paul Rogers 115449 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump, Pence, Jerusalem: the Christian Zionism connection https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-pence-jerusalem-christian-zionism-connection <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The political use of a religious vision spells danger for Israel, America, and the world. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34032198.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34032198.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pence accompanies Donald Trump as he delivers remarks after he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Oliver Contreras/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Donald Trump announced on 6 December that the United States was recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Most notable about his speech was not what he said, or how he said it, but the presence and demeanour of vice-president Mike Pence. Though an element almost entirely missing from the reams of analysis <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/us/politics/trump-embassy-jerusalem-israel.html">following</a> Trump’s statement, Pence's beliefs do much to explain Trump’s motivation.</p><p>Washington's declaration of Jerusalem to be Israel's capital has provoked sharp <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/12/06/its-catastrophic-u-s-allies-reject-trumps-expected-jerusalem-pronouncement/">criticism</a> across the world, most strongly in the <a href="http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/israel_nbr90.jpg">Middle East </a>where 57 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called for East Jerusalem to be<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-42335751"> accepted </a>as the capital of a Palestinian state. This may count for little in Trump's White House, though there might be slightly more concern over the attitudes of the European Union in general and France in particular. Even Britain under Theresa May added its pennyworth. </p><p>The strong worldwide condemnation of a statement with little obvious benefit raises the question: why did Trump go so far at this time? Some pointed to his repeated backing for Israel during the presidential campaign in 2016 and the need to deliver to his core domestic base. In turn, this leads to a further question: why would this base be especially supportive of the Jerusalem policy? The answers almost certainly lie in one particular element of evangelical Christianity, most commonly known as <a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300116984">Christian Zionism</a>, and one of its most fervent supporters, vice-president Mike Pence.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Worldwide condemnation of the 'recognition' of Jerusalem as Israel's capital raises the question: why did Trump go so far at this time?</p><p>To talk about the power of the “Jewish lobby” in the United States is actually misleading when the more correctly described “Israel lobby” wields far more electoral power thanks to its reinforcement by Christian Zionists. They number tens of millions of voters compared with the far smaller American Jewish population who, in any case, will tend more often to vote for the Democratic Party.</p><p>Nearly a third of Americans, around 100 million people, lean towards evangelical Christianity and of these perhaps a third embrace the Christian Zionist perspective. This is passionate in its support for Israel. Two of the most powerful groups that link with the pro-Israel lobby are <a href="https://www.cufi.org/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAsK7RBRDzARIsAM2pTZ-F1llXh3xm-mJ6w4KaXfaeSfrbLf2fs9OiB7NnLJqU9s_ZN6LEXUgaAsHpEALw_wcB">Christians United for Israel </a>and the <a href="https://int.icej.org/">International Christian Embassy</a>.</p><p>An earlier column in this series, almost thirteen years ago, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_2329.jsp">summarised</a> the nature and development of this orientation of Christianity and sought to explain why it was so significant in the United States (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_2329.jsp">Christian Zionists and neocons: a heavenly marriage</a>", 3 February 2005). Also known as "dispensationalism" or "dispensation theology", it has been around for nearly two centuries but has only acquired real political significance in the last two decades. Its particular importance stems from three factors: the voting power of this substantial proportion of evangelical Christians, its deep-rooted support for the state of Israel, and its links with neo-conservatism. </p><h2><strong>The history of an idea </strong></h2><p>The essence of dispensation theology, allowing for internal variations, is that God has given a dispensation to the Jews to prepare the way for the second coming. The literal fulfilment of Old Testament promises to biblical Israel is now <a href="http://religiondispatches.org/explaining-christian-zionism-to-israelis/">approaching</a> an “end of days” that will involve a millennium of earthly rule centred on Jerusalem. Thus, the state of Israel, as a Jewish state, is a fundamental part of God’s plan, and it is essential for it to survive and thrive. </p><p>Dispensationalists would argue that this has always been a core part of the Christian message, but most historians of theology trace the doctrine to the thoughts and preaching of John Nelson Darby (1800-82), a <a href="http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/search-resources/guide-to-special-collections/atoz/john-nelson-darby-papers/">minister </a>of the Plymouth Brethren active in promoting it in the 1820s. It attracted particular attention in the United States as part of the Biblical Conference Movement in the 1870s, and flourished in the first decades of the 20th century. </p><p>The evangelist Cyrus Scofield was central to this process. His <em>Scofield Reference Bible</em> (1909) was the first book published by the new United States offices of the Oxford University Press. Its prolific theological interpretations helped make it perhaps the most renowned <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/003463730910600106?journalCode=raeb">version</a> of the bible in north American evangelism. </p><p>Michael Vlach <a href="http://www.theologicalstudies.org/dispen.html ">describes</a> how many Bible schools teaching dispensationalism were formed in the 1920s, the most significant being the Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924. The <em>Scofield Bible</em> became a standard source in these institutions, helping the phenomenon of “Christian Zionism” to lay down firm roots in the inter-war years.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Many dispensationalists saw the establishment of Israel as the&nbsp;beginning&nbsp;of a fulfilment of biblical prophecies.</p><p>In 1948, many dispensationalists saw the establishment of Israel as the <a href="https://www.routledge.com/The-Politics-of-Christian-Zionism-1891-1948/Merkley/p/book/9780714644080">beginning</a> of a fulfilment of biblical prophecies. Later moments in the country’s history – especially the six-day war in 1967 and the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 – gave a further impetus to the idea. </p><p>Bill Clinton's presidency (1993-2000) was more difficult for dispensationalists, partly because they followed the preacher scandals of the late 1980s, and because Clinton was more favourable to the more secular elements of the Israeli political system, not least with its Labour Party. But during these years, the main pro-Israel lobbies in Washington – particularly the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – sought to build close links with the Christian Zionists. In this, AIPAC and similar organisations were recognising the increasing demographic and political power of the Christian Zionists, and also securing a wider foundation of <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1969542.stm">support </a>at a time when American Jewish communities were scarred by deep internal divisions that threatened to reduce backing for Israel. </p><p>The American theologian Donald Wagner wrote a succinct <a href="http://thebridgelifeinthemix.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ChristianZionism_Wagner_2003@0-copy.pdf">account </a>of Christian Zionism in 2003. He tracked the remarkable coming together of the movement with neo-conservatism during the George W Bush era (2001-08), quoting to this effect the once leading evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell: “The Bible Belt is Israel’s safety net in the United States.” Wagner remarked: “By 2000, a shift had taken place in the Republican Party. It began embracing the doctrines of neoconservative ideologues who advocated US unilateralism and favored military solutions over diplomacy. The more aggressive approach was put into action after Sept. 11, and to no one’s surprise, Israel’s war against the Palestinians and its other enemies was soon linked to the US ‘war on terrorism’.” </p><p>More recently still, the Barack Obama period (2009-16) was characterised by his administration's suspicion of Binyamin Netanyahu's government in Israel. This was heightened by the latter’s controversial speech in Washington in 2015, which aimed to undermine Obama while showing due deference to Christian Zionism (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/christian-zionism-and-netanyahu%27s-speech">Christian Zionism and Netanyahu's speech</a>", 5 March 2015). </p><h2><strong>The vice-president's vision</strong></h2><p>If Trump's victory brings the story up to date, the real focus should be on his deputy – for <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/vice-president-pence">Mike Pence</a> is now its really significant figure. Although Pence’s family background is Irish-American Roman Catholic, he embraced a markedly evangelical perspective at college and has maintained that faith orientation ever since. It includes a particularly strong Christian Zionist <a href="https://www.ivpress.com/the-new-christian-zionism">perspective</a>.</p><p>That perspective has come to the fore in the year since the election. The scholar<em> </em><a href="https://www.danhummel.com/">Daniel G Hummel </a>notes the significance of Pence becoming the first sitting vice-president to deliver a keynote address to the annual meeting of Christians United for Israel. This, says Hummel, “marks a fundamental change in the language that the White House has historically employed to articulate the United States’ relationship with Israel". He continues: </p><p>"Christian Zionism has a long history in American politics, but it has never captured the bully pulpit of the White House. Past administrations often used general biblical language in reference to Israel, but never has the evangelical theology of Christian Zionism been so close to the policymaking apparatus of the executive branch. By identifying with Christian Zionism while in office, Pence risks the Trump administration’s ongoing search for an 'ultimate deal' to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and erodes the US's claim that it can be an 'honest broker' in the Middle East.” (see Dan Hummel, "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/07/17/what-you-need-to-know-about-mike-pences-speech-to-christians-united-for-israel/ ">What you need to know about Mike Pence’s speech to Christians United for Israel</a>", <em>Washington Post</em>, 17 July 2017). </p><p class="mag-quote-center">Christian Zionism has a long history in American politics, but it has never captured the bully pulpit of the White House – until now.</p><p>The Christian Zionist worldview is thus at the heart of the Trump administration’s approach to Israel. Its importance is bolstered by the need to encourage this valuable portion of Trump’s electoral support (which as <a href="http://news.gallup.com/poll/203198/presidential-approval-ratings-donald-trump.aspx">opinion-polls</a>, and the remarkable Senate election <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/alabama-senate-special-election-roy-moore-doug-jones">result </a>in Alabama, suggest is shrinking). </p><p>This whole issue also arrives at a time when what is becoming known as the “Israel Victory” political caucus is <a href="http://www.meforum.org/6661/congressional-israel-victory-caucus-is-launched?utm_source=Middle+East+Forum&amp;utm_campaign=38b00ef744-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_12_05&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_086cfd423c-38b00ef744-33926929 ">gathering </a>influence in Congress. This caucus, which has plenty of support in Netanyahu’s government, <a href="http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/American-Israeli-lawmakers-present-new-Israeli-Victory-peace-process-paradigm-513763">takes</a> a simple, binary view: Israel has won, the Palestinians have lost – and really had better get used to living in a Jewish state. This hubristic outlook may cause anger and dismay among many Jews in the United States and western Europe, but it is a driving force within the Trump administration, which pays little more than lip-service to a two-state solution. Perhaps most significant of all, it fits almost perfectly into the Christian Zionist <a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300116984">vision</a>.</p><p>Christian Zionism and Mike Pence’s <a href="https://forward.com/news/377223/christian-zionism-grabs-spotlight-as-mike-pence-addresses-cufi/">role</a> in it are vital to any serious explanation of the political context of Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem. It is also worth reflecting that Trump's departure before the end of his first term would mean a Pence presidency. That would be warmly welcomed by Binyamin Netanyahu and the tens of millions of Christian Zionists. In political terms the outcome could well be a leadership more astute and functional than at present. But as far as Israel and the Middle East are concerned, the dangers already sparked by the Jerusalem decision would increase yet further.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><span class="st"><em>Victoria</em> Clark, <a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300116984"><em>Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism</em></a> (Yale University Press, 2007)</span></p><p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">Paul C Merkley, </span><span class="st"><a href="https://www.routledge.com/The-Politics-of-Christian-Zionism-1891-1948/Merkley/p/book/9780714644080"><em>The Politics of Christian Zionism 1891-1948</em></a> (Routledge, 1998)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/article_2329.jsp">Christian Zionists and neocons: a heavenly marriage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/christian-zionism-and-netanyahu%27s-speech">Christian Zionism and Netanyahu&#039;s speech</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/armageddon%27s-second-life">Armageddon&#039;s second life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">The Trump wars era</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/mariano-aguirre/israel-palestine-frontline-report">Israel-Palestine: a frontline report </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/annapolis_and_the_jerusalem_paradigm">Annapolis and the “Jerusalem paradigm&quot;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 14 Dec 2017 18:05:25 +0000 Paul Rogers 115315 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump's gift, Taliban's gain https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trumps-gift-talibans-gain <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the seventeenth year of American-led war in Afghanistan, the gap between plan and outcome is as wide as ever.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-26061217.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-26061217.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Afghan policemen stand near a pile of burning opium narcotics on the outskirts of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Omid Khanzada/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, there was probably no way of stopping the United States from going to war in Afghanistan to terminate the Taliban regime and crush al-Qaida. The sheer impact of the strikes, at a time when the vision of a New American Century was at the heart of the George W Bush administration, made what followed near inevitable. Bush's response to the horror had support from many European governments, and he soon declared war on an “axis of evil” with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq the next in his sights (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_233.jsp">From Afghanistan to Iraq</a>?", 14 October 2001).</p><p>It is worth remembering, though, that a few voices in the US and in western Europe foresaw a long drawn-out war in Afghanistan. They argued that the attacks should be treated as appalling acts of transnational criminality, and dealt with through the rule of law, however long that took. Going to war, it was said, would give al-Qaida what it wanted. The very first of this series of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">columns</a> made this argument:</p><p class="mag-quote-left">A few voices argued that the attacks should be treated as appalling acts of transnational criminality, and dealt with through the rule of law, however long that took.</p><p>"If the US takes [widespread military action] it will be precisely what the group [responsible for the 9/11 attacks] wants – indeed the stronger the action the better [from] its view. Vigorous military action by the US, on its own or in coalition, will be counterproductive, whatever the intense and understandable domestic pressures (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/afghanistan_3849.jsp">Afghanistan: the problem with military action</a>", 28 September 2001).</p><p>When the Taliban regime collapsed and al-Qaida dispersed, that assessment looked wrong. But presumed military success neither went deep nor lasted long. Instead, a security vacuum developed. Within four years the Taliban were back in force, at the centre of a pervasive <a href="https://www.cfr.org/timeline/us-war-afghanistan">insurgency</a> that by 2012 had sucked in 140,000 foreign troops.</p><p>Barack Obama was then in the White House. His deployment of the final surge of 30,000-plus troops was motivated not by expectation of victory but in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06reconstruct.html">hope</a> of forcing the Taliban to negotiate an acceptable future. The plan's failure led Obama to order the withdrawal of the great majority of American troops, followed by the UK and other allies. By the end of 2015, only a tenth of their number remained.&nbsp;</p><p>At that point, the strategy was to keep sufficient numbers to train Afghan security forces and provide <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/20/world/asia/airstrikes-taliban-opium.html">air-power</a> and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">armed-drone</a> back-up. It has also failed, shown not least by the rapid increase in illicit opium production, especially in the important province of Helmand. The sheer scale of that increase, which includes greater Taliban control of the lucrative processing of the raw opium paste, is described in a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/">Brookings</a> report:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“From 2016 to 2017, the area under opium-poppy cultivation in Afghanistan increased by 63 percent, to 328,000 hectares (ha); the estimated total production of opium shot up by 87 percent to 9,000 metric tons (mt). That’s the most in Afghan history. Most of the expansion of took place in Helmand province, long the hub of Afghan opium production as well as Taliban insurgency. With 144,000 ha cultivated with poppy, that province alone surpasses production levels in all of Myanmar, the world’s second largest producer of opiates. But cultivation expanded throughout the country, including in the north, such as in Balkh and Jawzjan” (see Vanda Felbab-Brown, "<a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/11/21/afghanistans-opium-production-is-through-the-roof-why-washington-shouldnt-overreact/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief&amp;utm_source=hs_email&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_content=58772727 ">Afghanistan’s opium production is through the roof—why Washington shouldn’t overreact</a>", Brookings, 21 November 2017).</p><p>The author points out that the withdrawal of foreign military contingents has itself considerably reduced Afghanistan's GDP as a whole, leaving opium-poppy cultivation one of the few profitable alternatives.</p><p>If this is part of a much wider <a href="http://afghanistan.liveuamap.com/">problem</a> for Afghans, the outlook of Trump’s security people reinforces it. Their plan to send more troops and encourage allies to do likewise is fleshed out by an informative analysis in <a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane’s Defence Weekly</em></a>:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"US troop numbers had already risen from 8,400 to 11,000 and will be joined by another 3,000, while 27 other states, mostly NATO members, will increase their numbers as well.&nbsp; The overall strategy will be directed not at comprehensively defeating the Taliban and other armed opposition groups (AOGs) but at preventing the country being used by these and other groups as bases for mounting attacks against western interests. With the military’s usual love of acronyms, the strategy has been dubbed “4R + S” which stand for regionalise, realign, reinforce, reconcile and sustain" (see Gabriel Dominguez, “Afghan Quagmire”, JDW, 6 December 2017).</p><p><strong>In practice, this means:</strong></p><p>* <em>regionalise </em>– act while recognising that Afghanistan is at the centre of security interests for India, Pakistan, Russia, China and Iran, rather than just an area for the west to control</p><p>* <em>realign</em> –&nbsp; US troops will integrate their advise-and-support into much smaller Afghan troop formations, embedding themselves more in day-to-day operations</p><p>* <em>reinforce</em> – extra US and other troops whose presence will make this possible</p><p>* <em>reconcile</em> – apparently relates to the desired outcome of a more peaceful state, the whole thing to be sustained long term.</p><p>There is no longer talk of timescales, as Obama favoured, so the foreign troop <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/world/asia/afghanistan-war-troops.html">involvement </a>in Afghanistan is seen as being indefinite.</p><h2><strong>Between strategy and reality</strong></h2><p>This schema faces a twofold problem: the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-regional-complex">regional </a>context, and the security situation on the ground. The first area is more <a href="https://thediplomat.com/2017/04/the-new-cold-war-politics-in-afghanistan/">complicated</a> than the US military perceives. Iran, a key actor, has extensive interests and influence in western Afghanistan.&nbsp; But the Trump administration sees it as an enemy and regards it with intense suspicion, making constructive cooperation hard to envisage. Russia has no particular appetite for cooperating with the US and its allies if the end result is increasing US influence in the region. India is <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/world/asia/pakistan-trump-afghanistan-india.html">viewed</a> by Trump's Washington as a crucial player in stabilising Afghanistan. But that is anathema to Pakistan, whose strategic concept of “defence in depth” <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/the-pakistan-army-and-the-afghanistan-war">entails</a> rooted opposition to India's direct involvement there.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The prospect of Afghanistan making a transition to a more peaceful state is, frankly, nowhere to be seen.</p><p>The second area, the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/afghanistan">actual</a> security situation in Afghanistan, is dire. The current US military assessment is that 8.1 million people are in Taliban-controlled or influenced areas, a quarter of the entire population. Helmand, the key opium-growing province, has nine of its fourteen districts in this category. The Afghan defence and security <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/12/04/the-new-u-s-plan-in-afghanistan-may-add-a-local-militia-that-might-be-a-bad-idea/">forces</a> have overall lost ground in the past few months. Army numbers have decreased by 4,000 and police numbers by 5,000, with desertions and corruption adding to endemic problems of illiteracy.</p><p>Iraq in 2003-04 was essentially run by the US's Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer. In spite of repeated warnings from close allies, the CPA proceeded to dismantle most of the Iraqi army. It consigned hundreds of thousands of young men to unemployment, and sacked many of the technocrats running the country if former Ba’ath party members, despite that often having been a job requirement. The decisions proved disastrous, but the hubris <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1590.jsp">following</a> the supposed victory over Saddam Hussein meant that warnings were ignored (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1127.jsp">A thirty-year war</a>", 3 April 2003).</p><p>Afghanistan fourteen years later <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistaniraq-back-to-future">offers</a> a comparison. The Pentagon is calling the shots, and Trump gives the military as much free rein as did George W Bush. This time, the state department has been deliberately shrunk, and lost many of its experienced diplomats. The prospect of Afghanistan making a transition to a more peaceful state is, frankly, nowhere to be seen.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Antonio Giustozzi,<a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=518"><em> Wars and Warlords in Afghanistan</em></a> (C Hurst, 2012) </p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Alex Strick van Linschoten &amp; Felix Kuehn, <a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/an-enemy-we-created/"><em>An Enemy We Created The Myth of the Taliban / Al-Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010</em></a> (C Hurst, 2012)</p><p><span><span><a href="https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/">Afghanistan Analysts Network</a></span></span></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Antonio Giustozzi ed., <a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=515" target="_blank"><span><span><em>Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field</em> </span></span></a>(C Hurst, 2009)</p><p><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">Afghanistan: despair...then imagine</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era">The Trump wars era</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air">Remote war and public air</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-war-dynamic">Afghanistan, dynamic of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">Drone wars: the Afghan model</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-and-world%E2%80%99s-resource-war">Afghanistan, and the world’s resource war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-past-present-future">The thirty-year war: past, present, future</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistaniraq-back-to-future">Afghanistan-Iraq: back to the future</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 07 Dec 2017 16:18:44 +0000 Paul Rogers 115151 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Trump wars era https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-wars-era <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>From Washington to Cairo, military aggression and "keeping the lid on" are proving deadly. And they will never work.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33886343.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33886343.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nov. 25, 2017: al Rawda mosque where a terrorist attack took place in Bir al-Abed of North Sinai, Egypt. The death toll in the terrorist attack here on Friday has risen to 305, including 27 children, and 128 others were wounded, state news agency MENA reported on Saturday. Ahmed Gomaa/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A new era is opening almost by stealth. Its defining feature is military expansion, ordered by the United States president and conducted by the Pentagon. Underlying it is Trump's fusion of elements from the strategy of his two predecessors, George W Bush and Barack Obama.</p><p>A recent, low-profile Pentagon document <a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2017/11/27/26000-us-troops-total-in-iraq-afghanistan-and-syria-dod-reports/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.28.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">gives</a> a hint of the US's current projection of military power:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"The U.S. has 8,892 forces in Iraq, 15,298 troops in Afghanistan and 1,720 in Syria, for a total of 25,910 troops serving in the three war zones as of Sept. 30, according to DoD. The figures were released to the public Nov. 17 as part of DoD’s quarterly count of active duty, Reserve, Guard and civilian personnel assigned by country by the Defense Manpower Data Center" (see Tara Copp, "<a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2017/11/27/26000-us-troops-total-in-iraq-afghanistan-and-syria-dod-reports/">26,000 troops total.</a>.", <em>Military Times</em>, 27 November 2017).</p><p>The total figure alone is much higher than previous numbers. But by itself it is misleading in that the United States defense department normally excludes two further categories of troops: those rotating for short periods and, of far <a href="http://time.com/5042700/inside-new-american-way-of-war/">greater</a> significance, many of the <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/remote_control_project/golden_age_special_operations_forces">special forces</a>. These are waging much of the combat in all three theatres – Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. That means the true number is probably close to, or even over, 30,000. To this could be added troops involved in operations across the Sahel, Somalia or Yemen.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">A new era is opening almost by stealth. Its defining feature is&nbsp;military&nbsp; expansion, ordered by the United States president and conducted by the Pentagon.</p><p>Such indicators give only part of the picture. Another is a Pentagon request for $143 million to expand its operations at the Azraq base in the Jordanian desert, the largest single overseas financial <a href="https://www.stripes.com/news/pentagon-budget-calls-for-143-million-buildup-at-jordan-air-base-1.498804?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">commitment</a> now being considered. This base has been key to operations in Syria and Iraq, and been used by other states including the Netherlands and Belgium. So just as the<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syria-iraq-and-beyond-octopus-wars"> </a><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/remote_control_project/golden_age_special_operations_forces">wars</a> in Iraq and Syria are supposed to be winding down after ISIS's much-vaunted defeat, the <a>Pentagon</a> wants to go the other way and prepare for yet more conflict in the region. A growth in overseas bases, such as a huge one for surveillance drones costing $100 million in <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/us-niger-green-berets/542190/">Niger</a>, fits the trend.</p><p>All this must be seen in the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-on-terror-interim-report">perspective</a> of the sixteeen years of "war on terror". Again, troop numbers are a signal if not the whole story. In 2007-08, at the height of George W Bush’s campaigns, close to 200,000 US troops were in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even as Barack Obama started to withdraw troops from Iraq, he was "surging" them in Afghanistan: an extra 30,000 troops by 2011 took the US total in that country to around 100,000.</p><p>That short-term policy failed in its aim of forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table, and most troops had been withdrawn by the end of his second term in 2012. In parallel, Obama was moving rapidly towards "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air">remote warfare</a>". This relied much more on strike-aircraft, armed-drones, and special forces – all involving far fewer “boots on the ground”.</p><p>Now, the Trump wars era <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">brings</a> a reconfiguration: plenty of remote warfare <em>and</em> far more military personnel abroad. Bush was all about crushing al-Qaida and similar groups, as well as regime termination; Obama <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-war-dynamic">moved</a> more towards "shadow wars" at a much lower intensity, if still controversial. Trump, in combining these, is going back to the future.</p><h2><strong>The Egyptian parallel</strong></h2><p>Destroy your opponents; forget the sixteen years of failed wars; do not try to understand where these enemies are coming from, and why they retain support. If these tenets guide Trump's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">approach</a>, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's regime has followed them in Egypt's <a href="https://egypt.liveuamap.com/">arena</a>.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The Trump wars era&nbsp;brings&nbsp;a reconfiguration: plenty of remote warfare&nbsp;and&nbsp;far more military personnel abroad.</p><p>Since al-Sisi became president after ousting Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/world/middleeast/mohamed-morsi-of-muslim-brotherhood-declared-as-egypts-president.html">government</a> in 2013, his forces have pursued a tough line against any kind of religious-based dissent. The Islamist-linked rebellion in northern Sinai was a prime target. The terrible attack on the Al-Rawda mosque in nothern Sinai on 24 November, which killed 305 people, is the latest <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/world/middleeast/mosque-attack-egypt.html?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.27.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brie">incident</a> in this escalating conflict. The immediate <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-42170803">response</a> to the massacre was air-raids by strike-aircraft, which the insurgents would have expected and taken precautions against.</p><p>But the problems in Sinai go much <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/sinais-blowback-sisi-putins-shock">deeper</a> than al-Sisi’s policies, damaging as these are. This part of Egypt has long been neglected and marginalised. Its younger men are particularly angry that the oil and tourism industries <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/the-long-record-of-terror-on-the-sinai-peninsula/a-41538401?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.27.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">bring</a> local communities little or no benefit. Thus, the now dispersed ISIS leadership see al-Sisi’s Egypt in general and Sinai in particular as fertile ground. For the movement, Cairo's policy of hardline suppression could <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/egypts-long-bloody-fight-against-the-islamic-state-in-sinai-is-going-nowhere/2017/09/15/768082a0-97fb-11e7-af6a-6555caaeb8dc_story.html">hardly</a> be better. An objective view of Sinai's recent decades suggests that the chances of Sisi’s approach working are close to zero.</p><p>So the comparison works in reverse. For al-Sisi, read Trump – on a much bigger scale. This may still be an early stage of the Trump wars era. An increase in the worst excesses of the post-9/11, such as rendition and torture, can be expected as problems multiply. Clear indications of new thinking remain scarce. "Liddism” still rules. It is better to be prepared for the long haul.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org/"><span><span>Remote Control Project</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Rosa Brooks, <a href="http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/How-Everything-Became-War-and-the-Military-Became-Everything/Rosa-Brooks/9781476777863"><em>How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon</em></a> (Simon &amp; Schuster, 2016)<br /></span></span></p><p>David C Unger, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/"><em>The Emergency State</em>: </a><em><a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/307217/the-emergency-state-by-david-c-unger/9780143122975/">America's Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs</a> </em>(Penguin, 2012)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">Trump and the Pentagon</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/washingtons-wars-isis-trump-military">Washington&#039;s wars: in a fix</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-on-offensive">Trump on the offensive</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-in-context">Trump in context</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 30 Nov 2017 18:31:13 +0000 Paul Rogers 114989 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The myth of the "clean war" https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/myth-of-clean-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Trump's worldview promises low-cost military success. The blasting apart of civilian lives in Iraq says otherwise.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33749786.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33749786.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="263" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Afghan security forces inspect the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 16, 2017. At least 10 people were killed and nine others wounded after a suicide bombing ripped through a banquet hall in northern neighborhood of Afghanistan's capital of Kabul on Thursday, police and witnesses said. PA Images/Rahmat Alizadah. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Many previous columns in this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> focus on the transition in the western way of war since 9/11 from tens of thousands of “boots on the ground” to "remote warfare". This has mainly involved a much more intensive use of air-power, including armed-drones; the utilisation of long-range artillery and ground-launched ballistic-missiles; and the much wider use of special forces and privatised military corporations. </p><p>The change has been consistently analysed by a few non-government organisations, most notably the <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control</a> project and <a href="https://dronewars.net/">Drone Wars UK</a>, whose specific concern is armed drones.&nbsp; </p><p>The states pursuing this kind of offensive war see three advantages, two military and one political:</p><p>* Their own forces take minimal casualties, meaning fewer bodybags and funeral corteges</p><p>* They believe that the tactic works in practice</p><p>* There is very little media coverage of this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">type</a> of war, and in the case of some countries, most notably Britain, there has been a long-term political convention that the role of special Forces should not be subject to public debate or even scrutiny.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-right">The U.S. Air Force is on track to triple the number of bombs dropped in Afghanistan this year compared with last year.</span></p><p><span></span>Warfare by "remote control" also seems to be working, not least in the three-year war against Islamic State. It is now clear that Donald Trump’s policy of devolving more authority to the United States military in the wars it is fighting is having a much wider effect. For example, the Pentagon has quietly increasing its forces in Somalia by adding several hundred special-forces troops (as <em>Politico </em><a href="https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/19/troops-somalia-military-buildup-247668?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.20.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">reports</a>) and ratcheting up airstrikes (as <em>Military Times</em> <a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2017/11/21/us-airstrike-kills-more-than-100-al-shabaab-militants/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">reports</a>), while airstrikes against an al-Qaida offshoot in Yemen are <a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2017/11/21/us-strikes-al-qaida-in-yemen/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.22.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">continuing</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>In Afghanistan, the build-up of forces is even more substantial. More US troops have <a href="https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/11/taliban-promotes-gains-in-remote-kandahar-district.php?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.21.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">arrived</a> amid concern over the Taliban's ability to extend its territorial control. But less noted is the substantial increase in the US use of air-power and armed-drones since Trump took office. A US media outlet <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/u-s-bombs-afghan-opium-plants-new-strategy-cut-taliban-n822506?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.21.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">states</a>:</p><p>“The U.S. Air Force is on track to triple the number of bombs dropped in Afghanistan this year compared with last year, new figures reveal as the White House opens a new front in America’s longest war. The military dropped 3,554 weapons against the Taliban as of Oct. 31 – already nearly three times the 1,337 dropped in 2016 and nearly four times as the 947 fired in 2015.”&nbsp; </p><p>Operation Jagged Knife, a recent offensive by the US airforce, <a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2017/11/20/f-22s-conduct-first-airstrikes-in-afghanistan/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.21.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">included</a> B-52 strategic bombers and – for the first time in Afghanistan – the advanced F-22 stealth strike-aircraft.</p><h2><strong>Promise and reality</strong></h2><p>All this is in the context of the presumed defeat of ISIS forces in <a href="https://iraq.liveuamap.com/">Iraq</a> and <a href="http://syria.liveuamap.com/">Syria</a>, which is seen within the Trump team as proof of victory. Since 2014, the Pentagon believes it has killed over 60,000 ISIS fighters, but acknowledges fewer than 500 civilian casualties. This is the way to fight future wars, it believes. The expanded operations in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia are further examples of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">path</a> to be taken.In this Trumpian worldview, “clean wars” will be the order of the day. But a closer look shows that things are not so simple, in two distinct aspects: the outcomes of the "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-on-terror-interim-report">war on terror</a>", and its more recent reality. A brief digest of principal events since 2001 illustrates the first point:</p><p>* On 29 January 2002, George W Bush’s state-of-the-union <a href="https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html">address</a> was akin to a victory speech in the wake of the termination of the Taliban regime and the suppression and dispersal of al-Qaida after 9/11 – yet the war in <a href="https://afghanistan.liveuamap.com/">Afghanistan</a> has just entered its seventeenth year</p><p>* On 1 May 2003, the US president&nbsp; gave his “mission accomplished” <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/text-of-bush-speech-01-05-2003/">speech</a> after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq – yet that very month a nascent insurgency began to spread across the country, which would also last years</p><p>* In 2008, when Barack Obama was elected, the war in Iraq looked sufficiently under control for him to order wholesale troop withdrawals, but in 2014-17 the US has again been at war in the country</p><p>* In 2011, Nato chiefs thought that the downfall of Libya'a Muammar Gaddafi they had engineered would be followed by peace and stability, but it <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/libya-and-decade%e2%80%99s-war">provoked</a> more conflict, while the US's SEAL-team <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-and-arab-spring-after-bin-laden">killing</a> of Osama bin Laden that year didn't mark the end of al-Qaida, a scion of which the US is now bombing in Yemen.</p><h2><strong>On the ground</strong></h2><p>The results of military action in the last three years illustrate the second point, and expose the dangerous myth of the "clean war". <a href="https://airwars.org/">Airwars</a>, the monitoring group, finds the US-led wars in Iraq and Syria have involved over 28,000 airstrikes, split more or less evenly between the two countries, using over 103,000 bombs and missiles. Airwars has done its best to assess the likelihood of civilian casualties, and currently puts these at a minimum of around 6,000 – far larger than any Pentagon figures. Where Iraq is concerned,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.iraqbodycount.org/"> Iraq Body Count&nbsp;</a>says that over 179,000 civilians have died in the last fifteen years.</p><p>ISIS's loss of most of its territory has been followed by reports of a concentrated air-war ranged against its forces, whose effects include the widespread destruction of both western Mosul and Raqqa. The extent of damage is hardly surprising. In the last part of the Raqqa campaign, Airwars says: </p><p>“Between October 1st and 17th – when the last strike was reported – the US-led alliance says it fired 2,384 munitions at Raqqa, much of it the result of US artillery strikes. Between 266 and 355 more civilians were credibly reported killed in the city as a result according to local monitors – including more than 90 women and children.”</p><p>Yet it has been hard for analysts to assess the more general claim of the “clean war” with any accuracy, in that they were dependent largely on data provided by US Central Command (USCC). The best efforts of NGOs like Airwars and <a href="https://www.iraqbodycount.org/ ">Iraq Body Count</a> notwithstanding, their findings could be discounted or ignored.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">One in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition.</p><p>That is at last beginning to change, as these groups' work is supported by on-the-ground assessments from experienced journalists who have gone at great pains to travel to areas now controlled by government forces after ISIS's retreat. Their reports confirm sceptics of the "clean war" myth. The most substantive account available so far is a long report in the <em>New York Times</em> (see Azmat Khan &amp; Anand Gopal, “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/16/magazine/uncounted-civilian-casualties-iraq-airstrikes.html ">The Uncounted</a>”, NYT, 16 November 2017).&nbsp; </p><p>Over a fourteen-month period to July 2017, they visited 150 sites of attacks across northern Iraq, and interviewed hundreds of witnesses, survivors and family members. They later compared their findings with data from USCC itself. In all, they were able to coordinate data from 103 airstrikes. Their conclusions warrant a longish extract: </p><p>“We found that one in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition. It is at such a distance from official claims that, in terms of civilian deaths, this may be the least transparent war in recent American history. Our reporting, moreover, revealed a consistent failure by the coalition to investigate claims properly or to keep records that make it possible to investigate the claims at all. While some of the civilian deaths we documented were a result of proximity to a legitimate ISIS target, many others appear to be the result simply of flawed or outdated intelligence that conflated civilians with combatants. In this system, Iraqis are considered guilty until proved innocent.”</p><p>The fighting against ISIS, especially in the densely packed streets of Raqqa and western Mosul, was intense. In <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-taking-of-mosul-really-means">Mosul</a> in particular, the Iraqi army’s special forces took very heavy losses. It was not just the utter determination of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">ISIS</a> paramilitaries to fight, but their willingness to die for their cause that proved so difficult to counter. It was in those circumstances that air-power was used relentlessly. In an objective sense it may be what you would expect, even if you may question the war as a whole.</p><p>That, though, is not the point, which is that the entire air-war has been presented as a “clean” operation - which it evidently was not. If we think that <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air">remote warfare</a> is the way to go because it kills neither “our” people nor innocent civilians, then we are deluding ourselves. And that delusion in turn makes it even less likely that we will get the kind of scrutiny and political debate we need on the direction and long-term consequences of this new way of war. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"></span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Peter R Neumann, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Encyclopaedias%20%20reference%20works/Radicalized%20The%20New%20Generation%20of%20Jihadis%20and%20the%20Threat%20to%20the%20West?menuitem=%7BF027E667-C48E-489A-938D-62719293B2E7%7D"><em>Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016) </p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-beyond-hidden-secret-war">Iraq and beyond: hidden, secret wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">The Zeus complex: against air war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">Remote control, a new way of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-light-on-new-war">Remote control: light on new war </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air">Remote war and public air</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">The thirty-year war: still on track</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Fri, 24 Nov 2017 17:10:53 +0000 Paul Rogers 114853 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Making Britain Great Again – in a different way https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/making-britain-great-again-in-different-way <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>By thinking big and making connections, Labour can raise people and country. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33689957.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33689957.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="336" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn walks with Prime Minister Theresa May, as they carry wreaths during the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall, central London. Dominic Lipinski/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The minority Conservative government in Britain struggles on in disarray. It is unable to follow through on its election pledges, even borrowing some from the Labour opposition. All the while it is plagued with deep internal <a href="https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/07/21/tories-now-seen-more-divided-labour/">divisions</a> over Brexit. It is not impossible that the government could fall at any time. In this parlous condition, the Conservatives find a semblance of unity in the terrifying prospect of Jeremy Corbyn, prime minister.</p><p>On current form, Labour would enter an election campaign as favourites to be the largest party. But to get an overall majority it would still need an unprecedented turnaround in voting intentions in Scotland. Two of the eight polls in the past six weeks put Labour level with the Conservatives and the others give them a lead of two-to-six points. This is at a time of remarkable chaos on the government benches, including the forced <a href="https://news.sky.com/story/theresa-mays-cabinet-cannot-continue-like-this-11119136">resignation</a> of two cabinet ministers.</p><p>Most people, as Anthony Wells of <a href="http://www.ukpollingreport.co.uk">UK Polling Report</a> observes, scarcely follow political news. That explains in part why even recent upheavals have not had the effects that many pundits expect. But politicians can still help to chart a new direction that can inspire, and ingather fresh support. So what does Corbyn’s Labour Party need now to do?&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>A big push</strong></h2><p>Several columns in this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> have pointed to the issue of defence and security as being a problem for Labour (see, for example, "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyns-labour-now-look-outwards">Corbyn's Labour: now look outwards</a>" [16 June 2017], "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">How Labour can make Britain secure</a>" [20 July 2017], "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">Britain's global role: fantasy vs reality</a>" [5 October 2017]).&nbsp;</p><p>Despite Labour's election gains, many voters remain sceptical of Labour's position in these areas. A key task for the party, whenever the election comes, is thus to convince voters that the party is effective on security issues – both national and international. The best way of doing this might be to see people's concern as part of a wider feeling, and to tackle the latter directly. The heart of this debate is that Labour needs to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message">reach</a> many voters (Conservative, former UKIP, or swing, and especially those over 45 years old) who want Britain to be “great” again.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Just as Putin and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump</a> seek their own versions of greatness, so many (and mostly older) voters in the UK hark back to the prestige of empire. This sentiment mingles belief that the European Union has become dominant over the country with a misplaced search for security focused largely on the use of force. Such people would certainly be happier if the “Great” was truly back in “Great Britain”.</p><p>The task for Labour in this climate is simple but fundamental: to redefine “great”. Clearly, such an effort would be directly relevant to the above contingent of voters. But it is likely to be welcomed more widely across the political spectrum. Receptivity to the message could well be aided by an ongoing, twofold shift in the public mood: greater caution when it comes to overseas military <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-s-distant-war">interventions</a>, and increasing awareness that global trends – climate change, global inequality, marginalisation, instability, and the rise of extreme <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins">movements</a> – are making us collectively less secure (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight</a>", 6 July 2017).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Perhaps the underlying argument from Labour should be that Britain has a key role to play in the 2020-30 period, a role of value to the world community that will, by coincidence, also enhance Britain’s international standing. This view is, however, different to the traditional view of “<a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit">greatness</a>”. Three clear and major global trends emphasise the case:&nbsp;</p><p>* The continuing failure of the international neoliberal economy to deliver equity and emancipation is leading to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-on-margin">marginalisation</a>, resentment, anger and potential "revolts from the margins"</p><p>* The accelerating impact of climate <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/climate-disruption-new-reality">disruption</a>, which is the greatest single threat to global security</p><p>* The persistence of the "control paradigm" and "liddism" – that is, using military-style force to suppress the symptoms of distress, thus keeping the lid on rather turning down the heat&nbsp; (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/a-tale-of-two-paradigms-security-vs-development">A tale of two paradigms</a>" [28 June 2009], and "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/beyond-%e2%80%9cliddism%e2%80%9d-towards-real-global-security">Beyond 'liddism': towards real global security</a>" [1 April 2010]).</p><p>Labour will in due course conduct its own security and defence review. But an election could come soon. In the interim, Labour can make its mark by highlighting core elements of its fresh approach. Several were already in the party's election manifesto or have been covered in speeches: Jeremy Corbyn’s at <a href="https://www.chathamhouse.org/">Chatham House</a> on <a href="https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/outlining-labours-defence-and-foreign-policy-priorities">12 May</a>, Kate Osamor’s at the <a href="https://www.odi.org/">Overseas Development Institute</a> on <a href="https://www.odi.org/events/4511-kate-osamor-keynote-speech">2 November</a>, and Emily Thornberry’s on various <a href="http://press.labour.org.uk/post/165720826204/emily-thornberry-speech-to-labour-party-conference">occasions</a>.</p><p>There is room for such contributions to be even more joined up, in ways that actually supplement current policy. Seven examples follow. Some may appear “left field”, but they are actually part of a broader transition of current thinking. And none are especially costly!</p><p>These recommendations consist of three great expansions, then four major initiatives:</p><p>* First, in climate, oceanographic and polar research, including filling any emerging gaps in United States capabilities resulting from Trump’s election</p><p>* Second, in support for renewable-energy <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/climate-science-revolution-underway">research</a> and development</p><p>* Third, in making inequality a core concern of DfID - a recently announced policy, which deserves to be highlighted</p><p>* Fourth, prioritising the UK’s commitment to the United Nations and all its agencies. That means arguing for the UK to play a core role in the expansion of UN peacekeeping capabilities, including the establishment of a standing force, and to commit UK military forces to this, equipping and training them as necessary</p><p>* Fifth, committing in principle to the UN proposal for a nuclear-weapons convention as a clear indication of support for global <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">nuclear </a>disarmament</p><p>* Sixth, expanding UK military capabilities for providing emergency relief in response to natural and other disasters, if need be by scaling down elsewhere</p><p>* Seventh, pledging to reverse recent cuts to Foreign &amp; Commonewealth Office (FCO) budgets and their impact on the diplomatic service, and expand the FCO’s resources in the areas of dialogue, mediation and conflict resolution.</p><h2><strong>A fresh model</strong></h2><p>A good starting-point is that Labour is already active in relation to the three major global <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/conflicts/global_security/century_change">trends</a> cited above: economic marginalisation, environmental limits and militarism. Linking them would enhance their effectiveness as a single unified outlook – a parallel, at the global level, of Labour's domestic commitment “to the many, not the few”. This new internationalism is the antithesis of empire. It offers a distinct and potentially much more valuable approach to “greatness”.</p><p>Some of this may appear to be simplistic and even naïve. But if a national mood can ever be pinpointed, then Britain's just now is best described as uncertain. Redefining “greatness” at this time, already right in principle, would also have the much-needed practical benefit of filling a vacuum.</p><p>Even when (perhaps if) <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/after-brexit-time-for-new-thinking">Brexit</a> happens, the time to propose a very different form of internationalism has surely come. It could even have a surprising effect. A modicum of genuine vision can go a long way.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"></span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk">Oxford Research Group</a></p><p>Anthony Barnett, <a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit"><em>The Lure of Greatness: England's Brexit and America's Trump</em></a> (Unbound, 2017)</p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">How Labour can make Britain secure</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">Britain&#039;s global role: fantasy vs reality </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain%27s-defence-path-to-change">Britain&#039;s defence, the path to change</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/a-tale-of-two-paradigms-security-vs-development">A tale of two paradigms</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/global-crisis-seeing-it-whole">The global crisis: seeing it whole</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk global security Paul Rogers Thu, 16 Nov 2017 15:52:51 +0000 Paul Rogers 114704 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Remote war and public air https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-war-and-public-air <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The CIA's military role in the Afghan morass shows the need for open democracy in an age of hidden violence.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Afghan_Army_neutralizes_IED.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Afghan_Army_neutralizes_IED.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The bomb disposal team of the Afghan Army 215 Corps neutralizes an IED in Sangin, Helmand. Wikimedia Commons. CC-BY-2.0.</span></span></span>Afghanistan in 2016 saw 11,489 of its civilians killed in armed conflict, according to international observers. This was the highest number since external <a href="http://freebeacon.com/national-security/war-casualties-afghanistan-hit-time-high-country-stands-brink-collapse/ ">recording</a> started in 2009. This year is expected to be at least as bad. The fighting season from May-October was particularly intense, with substantial <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-casualties/afghan-forces-lose-2531-killed-from-jan-1-may-8-says-report-idUSKBN1AH33P ">losses</a> among Afghan security personnel.</p><p>In short, there is no end in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">sight</a> to the United States-led war in Afghanistan, even as its seventeenth year arrives. In fact, the Taliban and other armed opposition groups (AOGs) appear to be gaining ground. The Taliban has taken back control of most of Helmand province, whose great value includes being the centre of opium-poppy cultivation. At most around 65% of the country is <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/23/world/asia/afghanistan-us-taliban-isis-control.html">estimated</a> to be nominally in government hands.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">In short, there is no end in&nbsp;sight&nbsp;to the United States-led war in Afghanistan, even as its seventeenth year arrives.</p><p>The Taliban and AOGs, it is often said or assumed, rarely show themselves in large numbers because of the risk of air-attack. That is simply not the case. A filmed parade of fighters and equipment in western Afghanistan is one example of confidence, as reported by the <a href="https://www.longwarjournal.org/"><em>Long War Journal</em></a>:&nbsp;</p><p>“Hundreds of Taliban fighters in the western province of Farah paraded their vehicles and then stood in formation for a lengthy period of time, without fear of being targeted by Afghan or Coalition forces, to listen to an official give a speech recently. The Taliban continues to be able to operate openly in nearly all areas of the country” (see Bill Roggio, "<a href="https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/10/taliban-fighters-mass-in-western-afghan-province.php?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2010.31.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">Taliban fighters mass in western Afghan province</a>", <em>Long War Journal</em>, 30 October 2017).</p><p>It is far from clear how the American military strategy will be able to repel the Taliban <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-war-dynamic">advances</a>. US military forces, including almost 11,000 troops, are smaller than at any time since the build-up of 2008 onwards. That number is set to rise a little, even as deaths among soldiers are again on the <a href="https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2017/11/04/us-service-member-killed-in-afghanistan/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2011.06.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">increase</a>.</p><p>In <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/afghanis.htm">Afghanistan</a>, the covert war is just as significant as the more open one. CIA paramilitaries and associated private military contractors have long waged a secret campaign against al-Qaida there. Now that war is <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/08/22/why-are-we-losing-in-afghanistan/">expanding</a> to take in the Taliban, a policy shift has been&nbsp;initatied under the agency's new director, Mike Pompeo (see Thomas Gibbons-Neff et al, "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/22/world/asia/cia-expanding-taliban-fight-afghanistan.html?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2010.23.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">A Newly Assertive C.I.A. Expands Its Taliban Hunt in Afghanistan</a>", <em>New York Times</em>, 22 October 2017). He is reportedly set on raising the status of “the Company” after the Obama administration's low period, when it was associated with rendition, black sites and all. In doing so, Pompeo will need to accommodate Trump's desire for the conventional US military to operate more freely after Obama's era of micro-management.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Information on the actual state of Afghan security is closing up, yet another example of the steady move towards&nbsp;remote warfare.</p><p>The emerging style of Trump’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">wars</a> can be measured by another valuable indicator: a subtle change in the quality of data from Afghanistan being made public. This is owed to the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2008, which <a href="http://psm.du.edu/national_regulation/united_states/research_oversight_bodies/sigar.html">established</a> a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). This mouthful of a title disguises what has turned out to be an independent observer of the Afghan scene, delivering detailed quarterly reports for Congress and available <a href="https://www.sigar.mil/ ">online</a>. The data from SIGAR accommodates copious information about the <a href="http://www.janes.com/article/75341/afghan-security-forces-controlling-fewer-districts-says-sigar">status </a>of Afghan security – formally the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) – not least in terms of casualties, the rate of desertions and costs to the United States.</p><p>The portion of SIGAR's coming from the US military organisation that trains ANDSF has recently been classified, meaning it is no longer available to a wider audience. The <em>Long War Journal</em> <a href="https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/11/secrecy-shrouds-us-development-of-afghan-security-forces.php ">says</a>:</p><p>“Coincidentally, or perhaps not, these numbers are generally the most prominent indicators of the issues still plaguing the ANDSF. High casualty and attrition rates, low morale, and poor administrative support systems have been an unfortunate staple of ANDSF development”.</p><p>Thus, even as Trump is <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">willing</a> to give the military more freedom of action and let the CIA undertake direct if covert operations against the Taliban, information on the actual state of Afghan security is closing up. That is yet another example of the steady move towards <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war ">remote warfare</a>.</p><p>A secret war is far less likely to be unpopular, the powers that be calculate. If the people don’t know, they can't cause awkward problems. This is to get things <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-control-light-on-new-war">backward</a>. The lesson of these sixteen wars of the "war on terror", in Afghanistan as elsewhere, is that public information, debate and accountability are the only way forward.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"></span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p>Antonio Giustozzi,<a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=518"><em> Wars and Warlords in Afghanistan</em></a> (C Hurst, 2012) </p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a></span></span></p><p>Alex Strick van Linschoten &amp; Felix Kuehn, <a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/an-enemy-we-created/"><em>An Enemy We Created The Myth of the Taliban / Al-Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010</em></a> (C Hurst, 2012)</p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">Afghanistan: despair...then imagine</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 09 Nov 2017 14:39:47 +0000 Paul Rogers 114556 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Letter from London, not Raqqa https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/letter-from-london-not-raqqa <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An ISIS adherent reports from his new base, in the latest of a series imagined by Paul Rogers.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/37950553651_02377b6ef1_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/37950553651_02377b6ef1_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>London. Flickr/steve_w. CC-BY-2.0.</span></span></span>Thank you for your letter and your enquiry after my brother. I have not had any further news of him since he went to coordinate our work with our associates in Marawi, but I am very confident that he will still be active there. As you will have heard, the Filipino army has finally taken control of the city with American help, after more than six months of fighting. In the process the army has destroyed much of the city and alienated even more people.&nbsp;</p><p>Our successes there are a very unwelcome surprise to the Pentagon, as even some American newspapers are now reporting. Many of our religious brothers have been fighting the hated government in Manila and its American allies for years. It is clear that our true vision has <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-war-unwon">embedded</a> itself in the Philippines. I rather think that my brother will stay in the country for some months as we work to consolidate our presence in an enduring manner.</p><p>As you see, I am writing from London and not Raqqa. Do rest assured that this is part of the long-term plan of our leadership. I will explain why later in this letter. But for the moment, could I extend my comment about the Philippines to the important developments across the Sahel?&nbsp;</p><p>From Somalia in the east through to Chad, Niger and Mali to Mauritania in the west, the wider movement is now firmly implanted. Some of the fighting groups are not directly allied to us, but many of them are. In any case, in our different ways we are all part of the same great cause.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The Pentagon is now involved in a major counter-insurgency war across the Sahel.</p><p>You will be well aware of the remarkable resurgence of Shabaab in Somalia, with its recent huge attacks in Mogadishu, but I suspect that far less is known about the sheer pace of developments in Niger and Mali. It is true that the recent ambush and killing of four American special-forces soldiers in Niger has attracted attention in the US, but that action is only the tip of the iceberg.&nbsp;</p><p>The reality is that the Pentagon is now involved in a major counterinsurgency war across the Sahel. It is centred on Mali where the US now has at least 800 military personnel. More are due to arrive as the Americans build a large new air base, mainly for drones, at Agadez. The base is in the centre of the country, at the heart of the Sahel, and will enable them to undertake drone and other missions throughout the region, not least around Lake Chad to the east.</p><p>The Pentagon has had what it calls “training, advise and assist” forces in countries like Niger for decades, but this initiative takes its involvement to a higher level. There have been more than 25 “missions” in Niger alone in the past six months. Much of what the Americans do is in close cooperation with the French. They too have substantial forces in the region, including drones and strike aircraft.</p><p>Our leaders now see the developments in the Sahel as hugely significant. The actions of our friends in Sinai and other parts of Egypt are also pleasing. The Abdel Fattah al-Sisi regime is falling right into the trap we set – the more they crush rebellion with huge violence, the more angry and resentful Egyptians flock to our cause.</p><p>Then there is the potential in the region of our caliphate, especially Iraq. Since I wrote to you in late <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/raqqa-defiant-letter">August</a>, the only major development is that more territory has been gained by the Iraqis and Raqqa has finally been evacuated by our fighters. Yet, just as I told you then, everything else remains much the same.</p><p>In taking <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-taking-of-mosul-really-means">Mosul</a> the Iraqi special forces were wrecked. Since they were the only competent units in the Iraqi army, the Haider al-Abadi regime can only now keep order with the support of Iran and the numerous <em>Shi’a </em>militias. That alone is enough to draw more of our <em>Sunni </em>brethren to our cause. The huge increase in Iranian influence across the region is already leading to substantial funding coming to us from western Gulf states. Moreover, the destruction of Mosul and now of Raqqa are anathema to hundreds of thousands of <em>Sunnis</em>, whose hatred towards their enemies increases as even the paltry funds intended for the rebuilding of the cities fail to materialise.</p><p>Beyond our region, the Taliban in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">Afghanistan</a> is making remarkable advances. The group now controls not just the production of raw opium but are increasingly refining it into far more profitable products. Even some senior American military now recognise that the Taliban cannot be defeated, no matter how much force is applied.</p><p>Perhaps most significant of all is that the huge air-assault by the crusader forces that has been hitting us for more than three years, and has killed well over 60,000 of us, is simply inspiring more young people to support our cause. This week’s attack in New York is just one example.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">We created a caliphate that lasted four years against the world’s strongest military power and it is the symbolism of that extraordinary achievement that will prove to be our greatest success.</p><p>You asked a few months ago whether the loss of the caliphate meant the end of our movement. What I said then applies now. We created a caliphate that lasted four years against the world’s strongest military power and it is the symbolism of that extraordinary achievement that will prove to be our greatest success. What has been done once, against all the odds, will be done again on a much greater scale. It might take decades but it will happen.</p><p>Which brings me to why I am in London. You will remember that when I first started writing to you three years ago I had just left Iraq to go to Raqqa following the killing of many members of my family by the crusader forces. I had hoped to stay committed to the fight. But when I lost my arm, my superiors recognised the language and other skills gained when I studied in London. They put me into their own intelligence centre, SOBRA, to join the group analysing the actions and policies of the Americans and the British.</p><p>While I was dismayed at this prospect I had to admit that our aims cannot be achieved without solid knowledge of the enemy and, in time, I came to see that I could make a significant contribution. The leadership seemed to agree, which is why I stayed in Raqqa until very recently.</p><p>More generally, when our caliphate was formed four years ago, one of the priorities for our leaders was to create our own intelligence service. This grew to several hundred personnel, mostly in Raqqa but many of them dispersed across the region and, indeed, the wider world. Their task was rarely to seek out “secret” information but much more to inform our leadership of the capabilities, future potential and, most importantly, security cultures of our enemies. This they have done, feeding much of it into our communications and media teams.</p><p>What has happened is that our intelligence system has now been almost entirely dispersed across the world. It made obvious sense for the leadership to send me back to London. This was particularly easy because I had never attracted the attention of the security people when I studied here, and I even have the same British passport that has never been queried, even now!</p><p>Perhaps most usefully, I am not actually doing anything illegal in gathering information and analysing the public mood. I may well summarise and communicate it “below the radar”, but even that is done in an entirely undetectable manner, and I make a point of having no contact whatsoever with other supporters.</p><p>So how does it all look from London? Well, I have only been here a few weeks and even when I was in Raqqa I had access to the British media, so the situation here is not entirely new. Political life is dominated by the turmoil in the Conservative government, especially over Brexit, the weakness of the prime minister, and the unexpected resurgence of the Labour opposition.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Some things never change, though, and chief among them is the continuing&nbsp; delusion&nbsp;that Britain is one of the world’s great powers.</p><p>Some things never change, though, and chief among them is the continuing <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-global-role-fantasy-vs-reality">delusion</a> that Britain is one of the world’s great powers, with wide international influence. It is in its most extreme form among those avid Brexiteers who believe that it is the European Union, and the EU alone, that is preventing the country from playing a glorious role on the world stage. To even suggest that many people in Europe, and many more in the Middle East, see Britain as a rather sad case, a self-important and somewhat pompous has-been, will get a singularly angry response!</p><p>As far as our own mission is concerned, there is hardly any connection made between Britain’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-s-distant-war">role</a> in the air war and the attacks that it experiences. When one or more of our people stage an operation, the public here seem perplexed as to the motive. What they don’t get is that there is a constant feed of news in social media from our teams reporting the loss of life and the destruction of our towns and cities. This alone is enough to encourage action and bring new recruits – you kill us by the ten thousand and we will kill you.</p><p>It is this gap in perception that is our greatest asset and why I see their war against us continuing. Moreover, the British government remains closely tied to the American coat-tails and Trump has even less <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">understanding</a> of what he is doing.</p><p>There are some changes, not least since many people in Britain do not now see victory in sight and are resigned to a continuing war from which they see no escape. We do have one worry, though, and that is if the government collapses and Mr Corbyn gets into Downing Street. Our fear is that he has people in his team who have a much more nuanced understanding of the war, its causes and likely consequences. Indeed, Mr Corbyn’s speech on foreign policy at Chatham House just before the last election was far too <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/how-labour-can-make-britain-secure">close</a> to rational analysis than one would ever have expected from a British political leader.</p><p>This is the one concern that the leadership has communicated to me. As a consequence, much of my time in the coming months will be spent watching and analysing political developments in Westminster and Whitehall. There is much to do.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"></span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Peter R Neumann, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Encyclopaedias%20%20reference%20works/Radicalized%20The%20New%20Generation%20of%20Jihadis%20and%20the%20Threat%20to%20the%20West?menuitem=%7BF027E667-C48E-489A-938D-62719293B2E7%7D"><em>Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016) </p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/letters-from-raqqa-2014-16">Letters from Raqqa, 2014-16</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise">ISIS, a global franchise</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/raqqa-defiant-letter">Raqqa defiant, a letter</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Sat, 04 Nov 2017 11:48:29 +0000 Paul Rogers 114412 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ISIS, a global franchise https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-global-franchise <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What do a Somalia truck, a Filipino city, and a Niger start-up have in common? <br /></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33286263.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33286263.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Explosion site near Safari hotel in Mogadishu, in which more than 300 people were killed on 14th October 2017. Faisal Isse/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The war against ISIS in Raqqa is nearing its end. But in all likelihood, the group will transform itself into an insurgent force, thus reclaiming the status it had until 2013. The four-year caliphate will then be propagandised, in two ways: as an example of what can be achieved against the formidable power of the world’s strongest military coalition, and as a symbol of what will surely come again. Even if this is wishful thinking from ISIS, it is worth reflecting on current developments in three other regions which point to the evolving nature of this new era of <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/books/society social sciences/politics government/irregular war islamic state and the new threat from the margins">irregular war</a>: the Philippines, Somalia, and Niger.</p><h2><strong>Manila: elusive victory</strong></h2><p>The military forces of Rodrigo Duterte's government are reportedly close to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-41647876">retaking</a> Marawi, on the southern island of Mindanao. The city was overrun in May by paramilitary groups allied to ISIS. The expected brief operation <a href="http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/leaders-of-marawi-war-killed-in-clashes-with-philippine-forces-defence-secretary?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2010.17.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief">turned</a> into a five-month siege in which more than 1,000 people, including many civilians, may have died. Thousands more have left the city, large parts of which have been <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/malaysian-militant-believed-among-fighters-killed-in-marawi/2017/10/18/1c8342fc-b47e-11e7-9b93-b97043e57a22_story.html">destroyed</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Two aspects of the Marawi operation have long-term implications. The first is that dislodging the determined and well-organised insurgents required the extensive use of air-power and artillery. This repeats the experience of Ramadi, western <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-taking-of-mosul-really-means">Mosul</a> and most recently Raqqa. Much is made of the use of precision-guided weapons; but over three decades, Islamist paramilitary movements have gained combat experience against such tactics. As a result, to defeat these movements now means wrecking cities (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-war-unwon">ISIS: a war unwon</a>", 14 September 2017).</p><p>The second aspect is that events in the southern <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/philippi.htm">Philippines</a> reverberate across south-east Asia, where ISIS and similar groups are proselytising among sympathetic communities. The decision of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to establish a programme of joint maritime-reconnaissance patrols over the <a href="http://www.marsecreview.com/2017/09/asg-and-the-sulu-sea/">Sulu Sea</a> is one acknowledgment of a growing concern. The patrols will initially be monthly, carried out in rotation, alongside coordination of more frequent national patrols. <em>Defense News</em> <a href="https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2017/10/13/malaysia-indonesia-and-philippines-target-isis-in-trilateral-air-patrols/?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2010.16.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">reports</a>:</p><p class="blockquote-new">“The trilateral maritime and air patrols were initiated in response to fears that the Islamic State group will use the Sulu Sea to move fighters between the three countries, which all have coastlines along the Sulu Sea. ISIS-linked militants had seized the southern Philippine city of Marawi in late May, triggering a counteroffensive from the army to take back the city, which continues to this day”.</p><h2><strong>Mogadishu: high tension </strong></h2><p>The huge truck-bomb attack in central Mogadishu on 14 October, which devastated several acres of the city, was almost certainly an <a href="http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199327874.001.0001/acprof-9780199327874">al-Shabaab</a> operation. The updated death-toll of 329 is likely to rise, and many hundreds of people were injured. The vehicle appears to have been heading for a government ministry when it was halted at a roadblock. Its explosion also set off a fuel-tanker, adding further to the carnage. There is some evidence that a second truck-bomb was intercepted on route to a different target. If it had exploded, this might have been the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/15/world/africa/somalia-bombing-mogadishu.html">largest</a> single paramilitary attack since 9/11.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">There is some evidence that a second truck-bomb was intercepted on route to a different target. If it had exploded, this might have been the&nbsp;largest&nbsp;single paramilitary attack since 9/11.</p><p>The attack follows military pressure from <a href="https://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/somalia.htm">Somalia's</a> newly elected president, Mohamed Abdullah Mohamed, who is supported by United States forces. Al-Shabaab, which has <a href="https://qz.com/126991/a-concise-complete-history-of-al-shabaab-the-group-behind-the-kenyan-mall-attack/">links</a> with al-Qaida, has been fighting successive governments, a multinational African Union force and US units for a decade. It has lost territory but still represents a major threat to the government, and this incident suggests an increase in its capabilities.</p><p>Several hundred US special forces and army personnel are deployed in the country, and American drones repeatedly target al-Shabaab. A decision by Trump means the Pentagon's rules of engagement are being loosened. What happened in Mogadishu may be the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/truck-bombs-in-somalias-capital-kill-at-least-189/2017/10/15/3c7a310e-b1a1-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?utm_campaign=EBB%2010.16.2017&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_term=.eccd7541f08e ">prelude</a> to approve increased levels of force.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Niger: start-up war</strong></h2><p>If the Philippines' conflict is low-profile in the western media, and Somalia's is only covered after major events, <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/niger.htm">Niger's</a> has been almost invisible. That may change after the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/10/04/u-s-troops-take-hostile-fire-in-niger/?utm_term=.a57420ad7b52">killing</a> of four US special-forces personnel in a remote part of the country on 4 October, by a militant group reportedly new to the area. The survivors were eventually rescued by French aircraft from a base in Mali around 500 kilometres away.</p><p>The incident throws light on the United States's fluid set of military operations across much of the Sahel, which includes contributions by France and Britain as well as other contingents. In the case of the "<a href="http://taskandpurpose.com/niger-army-special-forces-war/">quiet war</a>" in Niger, a rare detailed assessment by the <em>Guardian's</em> Jason Burke <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/15/sahel-niger-us-special-forces-islamists?utm_source=Sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=EBB%2010.16.2017&amp;utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief ">says</a> the group may have been acting on its own initiative with little back-up. Such evolving autonomy has been matched by the US military's own tactical shift. <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat">Burke</a> quotes a former special-forces officer:</p><p>“Since Trump took power, US forces deployed around the world have had a lot more room to manoeuvre. Decisions about when and what to engage have been devolved right down to unit level. Any soldier knows that if you give guys on the ground more independence, then they will be that much more aggressive and will take more risks.”</p><h2><strong>Pentagon: off the leash</strong></h2><p>The notion that the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-still-on-track">latest</a>, Trumpian iteration of the sixteen-year “war on terror” is easing following ISIS’s reversals in Iraq and Syria is tempting. But in light of the above, three things counter it.</p><p>First, much more is happening in the military sphere than is commonly reported. Thus, any idea that Trump has embarked on security "isolationism" is nonsense: campaign rhetoric and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019">experience</a> in office are proving to be two very different maters. Second, the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">transition</a> from “boots on the ground” to “shadow wars” continues. Third, there is a particular contrast between Trump's and Obama's administration, as follows.</p><p>During the latter's eight-year period, Obama certainly oversaw major <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wests-shadow-war">changes</a>, especially towards the use of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/suicide-bombs-without-suicides-why-drones-are-so-cool">drones</a> (including targeted assassination). That was controversial for many people who may have approved of many of his other policies. But whatever one’s views of this element, his White House team kept tight control over what was done by the military in the administration’s name.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>That has changed under Trump. Now, the Pentagon has much more <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">freedom</a> of movement and far less need to get approval from above. It is one more reason why escalation of US military actions around the world is likely to continue. Many of those actions will be more vigorous and violent. They will also be largely unreported. All this is part of what Trump sees as his historic task of making America great again.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st"></span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><span class="st">Jason Burke, <a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/new-threat"><em>The New Threat: The Past, Present and Future of Islamic Militancy</em></a> (New Presws, 2017)<br /></span></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st">Shiraz Maher,</span><em><span class="st"><em> </em></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Salafi</a></em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">–</a><em><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafi-jihadism/">Jihadism. The History of An Idea</a> </em>(C Hurst, 2016) </span></p><p>Peter R Neumann, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Encyclopaedias%20%20reference%20works/Radicalized%20The%20New%20Generation%20of%20Jihadis%20and%20the%20Threat%20to%20the%20West?menuitem=%7BF027E667-C48E-489A-938D-62719293B2E7%7D"><em>Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016) </p><p>William McCants, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theisisapocalypse/williammccants"><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p><p>Fawaz A Gerges, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10673.html"><em>ISIS: A History</em></a> (Princeton University Press, 2016)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-worst-of-times-best-of-times">ISIS: worst of times, best of times</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isis-long-term-prospect">ISIS: the long-term prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">Trump’s wars: more to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/washingtons-wars-isis-trump-military">Washington&#039;s wars: in a fix</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:32:53 +0000 Paul Rogers 114122 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump vs Kim Jong-un: nuclear war by 2019? https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-by-2019 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The risk exists now. A potent mix of narcissism and nuclear bombs could trigger it. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32792885.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32792885.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="319" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Activists of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) protest the conflict between North Korea and the USA. Britta Pedersen/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>It is October 2019 and Trump is in serious trouble as his domestic support crumbles. He has failed conspicuously in foreign affairs, the core issue for “making America great again”. The mess in Afghanistan continues despite the United States military's free rein to run the war its way, and troops are also bogged down in Iraq and Syria where Iranian influence continues to expand. His attempt to derail the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit">Iran</a> nuclear agreement is failing thanks to opposition from other participants, even Britain and France. All this is happening as the 2020 presidential election looms.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">There is a complete and utter stalemate whose tensions are becoming unbearable.</p><p>What brings this all to a head is North Korea’s success in starting to <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2142224-north-korea-launches-icbm-with-potential-to-reach-new-york/">deploy</a> intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with thermonuclear warheads and able to target any part of the United States. Just as Kim Jong-un's <a href="http://www.nkleadershipwatch.org/">regime</a> views such a capability as the only means to ensure its survival, so Trump’s bottom line is that he will not, under any circumstances, allow the United States to be put at risk in this way (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a>", 9 September 2017).</p><p>There is a complete and utter stalemate whose tensions are becoming unbearable. Under these circumstances, war could start by accident (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold ">North Korea: a catastrophe foretold</a>", 29 September 2017). But an even greater danger lurks, reflecting two factors that have sharpened between 2017 and 2019.</p><p>The first is the mix of personality and politics. Trump is an out-and-out <a href="https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-allure-of-trumps-narcissism/#!">narcissist </a>to a degree that is unusual even among political leaders. Personal status is everything to him, measured now both in his domestic prestige and, even more, in America’s (that is, his) standing in the world. He has constantly returned to the frame of American influence being in <a href="http://www.historytoday.com/charlie-laderman/back-future-donald-trump-and-debate-over-american-decline">decline</a> for at least two decades in the face of all other states which, by definition, are “lesser” and thus far weaker.</p><p>China is becoming a direct <a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/290734/asia-s-reckoning/">rival</a>, and that is bad enough. But it is far worse that a jumped-up little state like North Korea simply will not do as it is told. After three years of tweets, bluster and pressure, Trump has virtually <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-s-wars-more-to-come">staked</a> his presidency on not allowing Pyongyang's nuclear power to materialise. By late 2019, in this scenario, it has – and Trump faces a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/north-korea-us-uks-latest-target">challenge</a> which he cannot avoid. </p><h2><strong>The escaping genie </strong></h2><p>The second factor applies here. Many people have argued in recent years that any attack on North Korea would have to focus on its nuclear forces – both warheads and missiles. But so well protected are they, there is no guarantee a US attack will work, even with the new and <a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/super-bomb-why-americas-enemies-fear-the-gbu-43-b-massive-20171">hugely</a> potent conventionally-armed earthquake-bombs, the GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p class="mag-quote-left">Major nuclear powers have long envisaged circumstances where limited nuclear wars might be fought and won.</p><p>In any war on the peninsula, it is clear that the North Korean regime will only be able to sustain its army and its firepower for two or three weeks. While it could do huge damage in that time, leading to hundreds of thousands of people killed, it would ultimately collapse – unless it had preserved some nuclear weapons. And that should be possible (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</a>", 10 August 2017).</p><p>In 2017, the United States could <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-weapons/us-nuclear-weapons-policy/earth-penetrating-weapons">destroy</a> really well protected underground targets by using very large thermonuclear weapons, whose impact would stretch across much of east Asia, including China and Japan. But it looks increasingly likely that by 2019 the latest <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1177/0096340214531546">variant</a> of the B61 tactical nuclear bomb will be available. This is the <a href="https://fas.org/blogs/security/2014/04/b61-12features/">B61-12</a>, which has proved in tests to be remarkably accurate and to have an earth-penetrating capability.</p><p>Hans M Kristensen of the <a href="https://fas.org/">Federation of American Scientists</a> produced one of the best briefings on this, in 2015. It <a href="https://fas.org/blogs/security/2016/01/b61-12_earth-penetration/">began</a>: “The capability of the new B61-12 nuclear bomb seems to continue to expand, from a simple life-extension of an existing bomb, to the first U.S. guided nuclear gravity bomb, to a nuclear earth-penetrator with increased accuracy.” </p><p><a href="https://fas.org/expert/hans-kristensen/">Kristensen</a> draws out the significance: </p><p class="blockquote-new">“The evidence that the B61-12 can penetrate below the surface has significant implications for the types of targets that can be held at risk with the bomb. A nuclear weapon that detonates after penetrating the earth more efficiently transmits its explosive energy to the ground, thus is more effective at destroying deeply buried targets for a given nuclear yield. A detonation above ground, in contrast, results in a larger fraction of the explosive energy bouncing off the surface.”</p><p>This <a href="https://www.nap.edu/catalog/11282/effects-of-nuclear-earth-penetrator-and-other-weapons">means</a> that a much smaller tactical nuclear weapon can have an impact on a deeply buried target such as a nuclear bunker. Kristensen quotes a 2005 <a href="https://www.nap.edu/read/11282/chapter/2#2">study</a> from the US National Academies: “the yield required of a nuclear weapon to destroy a hard and deeply buried target is reduced by a factor of 15 to 25 by enhanced ground-shock coupling if the weapon is detonated a few meters below the surface.”</p><p>In another article, Kristensen had written about the “usability” of the B61-12, <a href="https://fas.org/blogs/security/2015/11/b61-12_cartwright/. ">citing</a> the observation of US airforce generals that low yield but very potent nuclear weapons could prove useful because they limited wider damage </p><p>All this causes concern even in some of the more thoughtful security circles. And to most people, after seventy-two years when the nuclear <a href="http://atomicarchive.com/">genie</a> has been kept in the bottle, the very idea of using nuclear weapons in any circumstances is far too dangerous. But this attitude is also too comforting, in that – as a recent <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/limited_nuclear_wars_%E2%80%93_myth_and_reality">Oxford Research Briefing</a> illustrates – major nuclear powers have long envisaged circumstances where limited nuclear wars might be fought and won. </p><p>The really nasty combination we now face is of an unbalanced leader in Washington fixated on status facing a paranoid regime in Pyongyang, with each partner determined to take all action it deems necessary. That is already perilous, but will grow more so in the next two years. By late 2019 the development and testing of the B61-12 could be accelerated to make it available before the currently planned deployment in the early 2020s. Trump is a danger now, he will be a greater danger in the coming years, and he will continue to be so the longer he holds office.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://treasureislands.org/"><em><span class="st"></span></em></a><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.38north.org/">38 North</a></span></span></p><p><span><span><a href="http://atomicarchive.com/">Atomic Archive</a><br /></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.acronym.org.uk/">Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy</a></p><p>Sung Chull Kim &amp; Michael D Cohen eds., <a href="http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/north-korea-and-nuclear-weapons"><em>North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: Entering the New Era of Deterrence </em></a>(Georgetown University Press, 2017)</p><p>Thomas M. Nichols, <a href="http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15090.html"><em><span class="style2">No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security</span></em></a> (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013)</p><div id="stcpDiv">Entering the New Era of Deterrence </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-catastrophe-foretold">North Korea: a catastrophe foretold</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iran-and-diplomacy-deficit">Iran, and a diplomacy deficit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-peril-and-its-silences">A nuclear peril, and its silences</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-us-uks-latest-target">North Korea, the US-UK&#039;s latest target?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/theresa-may-donald-trump-and-wars-to-come">Theresa May, Donald Trump and the wars to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-in-fix-north-korea-and-iran">Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 12 Oct 2017 15:23:36 +0000 Paul Rogers 113974 at https://www.opendemocracy.net