Archive for March, 2012

A BAD DAY IN COURT FOR THE US DEMOCRAT GOVERNMENT

March 29, 2012

Wall Street Journal on March 27, 2012, reported on the two hours of Supreme Court oral arguments on ObamaCare’s individual mandate and concluded it was rough-going for the government and its assertions of unlimited federal power. Excerpts below:

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli faced aggressive questioning from Justices Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts, the trio pegged as possible swing votes in favor of the mandate to buy insurance or pay a penalty. But they failed to elicit from Mr. Verrilli some limiting principle under the Commerce Clause that distinguishes a health plan mandate from any other purchase mandate that would be unconstitutional. The exchanges recalled the famous moment in Citizens United when the government claimed it could ban books to regulate political speech.

“Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?” inquired Justice Kennedy, in the first question from the bench. To ask another way, does the Administration think it has plenary police powers to coerce individuals into economic transactions they would otherwise avoid?

Justice Scalia bowed at this reality when he asked if having blue eyes would be a meaningful principle limiting the mandate. “That would indeed distinguish it from other situations,” he said, but it would also be irrelevant because it would still be “going beyond what the system of enumerated powers allows the government to do.”

The core features of the American system were also stressed by Justice Kennedy. “The government is saying that the federal government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act,” he said, “and that is different from what we have in previous cases, and that changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in the very fundamental way.”

The Court has always balanced federal and state power by distinguishing between pressure and coercion. ObamaCare crosses that line. The conditions of new Medicaid conscript the states into involuntary servitude to the federal government’s policy goals, in this case national health care. They would no longer be independent and autonomous units within the federalist system but agents of Washington.

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REPUBLICANS: FEAR DEMOCRATS ARE WEAK IN RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

March 28, 2012

The Washington Times on March 27, 2012, published a report on Russia and the Democrats. Excerpts below:

Republicans attacked the Democratic administration for hiding its true intentions and fearing that he might give in to Russian demands after the elections. GOP presidential candidates, foreign policy mavens and political strategists focused on what the episode may say about Mr. Obama’s candor and trustworthiness.

“This isn’t about politics. This is about the president’s real agenda,” presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said while campaigning Tuesday in Beaver Dam, Wis. “The president’s real agenda is to withdraw, to allow — whether it’s the Russians or the Chinese or whoever it is, the Iranians — let them have their run of the table because America’s no longer in the business of protecting ourselves and our allies.”

In an opinion piece at Fox News, Karl Rove, who was President Bush’s top political adviser and the architect of his 2004 re-election bid, said Mr. Obama’s words “go beyond foreign affairs” and could hurt his chances in November.

One outlier in the political wrangling Tuesday was House Speaker John Boehner. The Ohio Republican declined an invitation from reporters to comment on the president’s remarks.

“While the president is overseas,” Mr. Boehner said, “I think it´s appropriate that we not be critical of him or of our country.”

The Russian leader backed Mr. Obama by saying, “It’s not surprising that a number of issues are better solved in a specific political situation.

“There are good and bad periods for solving things,” he said. “It’s quite obvious that the situation when all political forces are stable is the best time for that.”

Mr. Medvedev also injected himself into U.S. politics in a more pointed way, chastising Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney and saying the former Massachusetts governor should “rely on reason” and not try to act like a movie star.

In the context of criticizing Mr. Obama about the previous day’s whispered exchange, Mr. Romney called Russia the “No. 1 geopolitical foe” of the U.S.

The U.S. and NATO are pursuing a missile-defense shield in Europe, a project that Russia says will compromise its security. U.S. officials want Russia to proceed with negotiations on various technical matters related to the shield while they seek common ground on the overall system.

Leaders at the summit that wrapped up on March 27 agreed to work on securing and accounting for all nuclear material by 2014, including completed weapons, bomb material and the skills to build them.

CLAUSEWITZ AND SMALL WARS: THE STRATEGIST CHANGED HIS MIND

March 24, 2012

Clausewitz.com has published an article by Professor Christopher Daase. Excerpt below:

In the “Bekenntnisdenkschrift”, however, Clausewitz changes his view. Facing the overwhelming military power of the Napoleonic forces in Prussia, he sees small wars in a much more revolutionary way. No longer is the state, represented by a hesitant king and a reactionary bureaucracy, the driving force of war, but the nation. Drawing on various narratives of popular uprisings in the Vendée, Tyrol, and most prominently in Spain, Clausewitz comes to regard the spontaneous mobilization of the masses as a crucial element in war. So, his second definition of small war would be the application of organized and unorganized violence by non-state actors against military forces to harass and exhaust the enemy’s army in order to change his policy. Small war has now gained a rather distinct form in Clausewitz’ thinking as ‘people’s war’ or Landsturm

A paper presented by Christopher Daase at the conference “Clauswitz in the 21st Century,” Oxford University, 21-23 March 2005. An edited version can be found in Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Hew Strachan and Andreas Herberg-Rothe (Oxford University Press, September 2007). Prof. Dr. Christopher Daase was at the time of publishing Chair of International Organisation Cluster of Excellence “Normative Orders,” Goethe‐University Frankfurt.

FRENCH TERROR SUSPECT KILLED DURING ELITE POLICE RAID IN TOULOUSE

March 23, 2012

Fox News with AP reported on March 22, 2012, that the suspect in a terrorist Islam-linked killing spree in southern France was killed after police raided his apartment to end a 32-hour standoff, the French interior minister said.

…police wanted to capture Merah alive. Authorities say Merah has boasted about carrying out the shootings of three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi, and three French paratroopers in three separate incidents over the last two weeks. They are believed to be the first incidents of killings inspired by Islamic radical motives in France in more than a decade.

Elite police squads set off sporadic blasts throughout the night and into the morning — some blew off the apartment’s shutters — in what officials described as a tactic aimed to pressure 24-year-old Merah to give up.

Police were using their advantages — numbers, firepower and psychological pressure — in hopes of wearing down Merah, who had no water, electricity, gas or most likely sleep since the early hours of Wednesday.

Holed up alone in an otherwise evacuated apartment building, Merah clung to his few remaining assets, like a small arsenal and authorities’ hopes of taking him alive. He appeared to toy with police negotiators — first saying he would surrender Wednesday afternoon, then under the cover of darkness, then reneging on those pledges altogether, officials said.

Authorities said Merah, a French citizen of Algerian descent, espoused a radical terrorist form of Islam and had been to Afghanistan and the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan, where he claimed to have received training from Al Qaeda.

French authorities — like others across Europe — have long been concerned about “lone-wolf” attacks by young, Internet-savvy militants who find radical beliefs online, since they are harder to find and track.

Christian Etelin, Merah’s lawyer, said Merah had tried to join the military but was rejected. He said Merah was also disillusioned after a string of convictions for petty crimes and after efforts to reduce his sentences through work programs failed.

In a news conference Wednesday, prosecutor Francois Molins said Merah “has no regrets, except not having more time to kill more people, and he boasts that he has brought France to its knees.”

He said Merah had plans to kill another soldier — prompting the police raid at around 3 a.m. Wednesday. After it erupted into a firefight, wounding two police, a standoff ensued, with on-and-off negotiations with the suspect that lasted through the night.

The SITE Intelligence Group said a lesser-known jihadist group is claiming responsibility for the shootings in France.

SITE, which monitors jihadist messages on the Internet, said the group issued a statement in jihadist forums saying “Yusuf of France” led an attack Monday, the day of shootings that killed a rabbi and three Jewish children in Toulouse.

SOUTH KOREA’S PRESIDENT LEE MYUNG BAK ON NORTH KOREA’S REGIME’S OLD WAYS

March 22, 2012

Washington Times on March 21, 2012, reported that South Korea’s president said that North Korea’s new leadership, including young dictator Kim Jong-un, may be trapped in the secretive regime’s old ways, noting the North’s announcement of plans to launch a satellite after having promised not to conduct missile tests in exchange for U.S. food aid. Excerpts below:

“Perhaps they feel the need to change and open up, but because of the nature of power within North Korea, they may not be able to do so,” President Lee Myung-bak told a select group of foreign correspondents at the presidential residence, the Blue House.

“I am sure there is a lot of debate and argument going back and forth within the North Korean leadership,” Mr. Lee said, adding that his government lacks hard intelligence about the inner workings of the North’s totalitarian regime.

In a wide-ranging interview, the conservative president discussed North-South relations, the influence of China and Vietnam and an upcoming global summit on nuclear security that his country will host.

Mr. Lee, whose administration has taken a hard line on the North’s regime, expressed hope that other regional players – namely China, which is North Korea’s No. 1 trading partner and political ally, and Vietnam – will prod reform in Pyongyang. Both countries have implemented capitalistic reforms that have invigorated their economies.

South Korea’s intelligence service was criticized locally for lacking prior information about the elder Mr. Kim’s health, but no spy agency is thought to have penetrated the highly secretive corridors of North Korean power.

“There is a lot of analysis of what is going on in North Korea,” said Mr. Lee, a former chief executive officer for the automaker Hyundai and a former mayor of Seoul. “But we need time to have a fuller picture.”

Turning to the issue of security, Mr. Lee noted that the United States is “sympathetic” to South Korea’s hopes of acquiring a surface-to-surface missile with a range exceeding 186 miles.

More than 50 world leaders… will discuss how to make nuclear materials and facilities safe from accidents and terrorism.

Although proliferation is not on the summit agenda, North Korea is likely to dominate sideline discussions.

SUBVERSION NEGLECTED – HOW STALIN AND MAO ALMOST DEFEATED THE UNITED STATES

March 21, 2012

This blog is presenting the outline of a forthcoming book by Mr. Bertil Haggman, LLM, author, member, National Press Club, Sweden. When the United States is faced in 2012 with growing security threats from China, Iran and other countries it is important to evaluate again how Stalin and Mao almost won the Cold War.

Contents

Foreword

Chapter 1

Background. W. Chambers Testimony Ignored in the 1930s
The Red Decade

Chapter 2

Anticommunists Were Essentially Correct

Chapter 3

The Venona Cables

Chapter 4

Annie Lee Moss – The Security Risk

Chapter 5

The Ignored FBI Warnings

Chapter 6

Soviet Spy Harry White and the Treasury

Chapter 7

The Breakdown of the Security of the State Department

Chapter 8

Moscow Agent Joseph Bernstein

Chapter 9

Institute of Pacific Relations – Changing the Perception of Stalin and Mao

Chapter 10

Key Propagandist for Maoism – Owen Lattimore

Chapter 11

Conclusion – Anti-Communists Vindicated

WIDENING CONFLICT IN SYRIA?

March 20, 2012

Fox News on March 19, 2012, reported of possible Russian anti-terror troops on the ground in Syria raising concerns about whether Russia’s policies are indirectly, or even directly, enabling the brutal crackdown on Syrian protesters. Excerpts below:

Russia’s Defense Ministry acknowledged that the navy’s Iman oil tanker arrived at the Syrian port of Tartus 10 days ago on a mission to assist Russian navy ships on anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and “for demonstrating the Russian presence in the turbulent region and possible evacuation of Russian citizens,” the Black Sea Fleet told Interfax news agency.

A ministry spokesman would not say how many troops are on board, but Russian news reports suggest a more active military presence in Syria.

Russia is a strong ally to Syrian President Bashar Assad and has angered fellow members of the United Nations Security Council by blocking repeated attempts to put an end to violence in Syria.

Interfax reported the tanker arrived in Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea with an anti-terror squad from the Russian Marines.

The port of Tartus is now the only naval base Russia has outside the former Soviet Union. A Russian navy squadron made a call there in January in what was seen by many as a show of Moscow’s support for Assad.

LEAKAGE OF EMBARGOED SPACE TECH TO CHINA

March 18, 2012

The Washington Times on March 14, 2012, published a report on a senior Pentagon official telling Congress recently that the U.S. government is concerned about the leakage of embargoed U.S. space technology to China. Excerpts below:

Gregory L. Schulte, deputy assistant defense secretary for space policy, was asked during a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing whether illicit exports of U.S. satellite technology by the French company Thales would boost China’s ambitious space weapons program.

Mr. Schulte said the State Department is investigating the Thales satellite export case.

“The leakage of sensitive technology to countries like China has, of course, been foremost in our mind as we’ve thought about export control reform,” he said.

China’s long-range missiles were improved during the 1990s after two U.S. companies illicitly shared U.S. space technology with Beijing.

Mr. Schulte said the Obama administration is planning to loosen technology export controls by moving some items on the U.S. Munitions List to the more-easily licensed Commerce Control List, but “only space items that are already widely available.”

The administration is also proposing that, for China, all items moved off the Munitions List would still be subject to restrictive licensing and controls.
“So we are very conscious of China, and we have developed our export-control proposals with China very much in mind,” Mr. Schulte said.

“In fact, we believe that, to the extent that we focus on those technologies that are most sensitive, we can increase the focus of our export-control and enforcement efforts to avoid situations like this in the future.”

Thales came under investigation by the State Department several years ago for offering what it advertised as an “ITAR-free” satellite for sale, meaning it did not require U.S. licensing.

Several of the satellites were sold to China, and U.S. investigators found that they contained U.S. satellite technology that was restricted for export to China.

To date, the State Department has not sanctioned Thales for the exports.

GEOPOLITICAL CARTOGRAPHY

March 17, 2012

Keegan, John and Wheatcroft, Andrew, Zones of Conflict – An Atlas of Future Wars, London: Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1986

Freedman, Lawrence, Atlas of Global Strategy – War and Peace in the Nuclear Age, London: Equinox (Oxford) Ltd, 1985, reprint 1987

Cook, Chris and Stevenson, John, The Atlas of Modern Warfare, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1978

Hartman, Tom with Mitchell, John, The World Atlas of Military History 1945-1984, London: Leo Cooper in association with Secker & Warburg Ltd, 1984

Holmes, Richard ed., The World Atlas of Warfare – Military Innovations that Changed the Course of History, London: Mitchell Beazley International Ltd, 1988

Brown, Ashley and Elder Sam with Sir Robert Thompson, eds, War in Peace – An Analysis of Warfare since 1945, London: Orbis Publishing, 1981

Newman, P.R., Atlas of the English Civil War, London: Croom Helm Ltd, 1985

Wheatcroft, Andrew, The World Atlas of Revolutions, London: Hamish Hamilton Ltd, 1983

Chandler, David G., Atlas of Military Strategy – The Art, Theory and Practice of War, 1618 – 1878, London: Cassell Group, 1980, 1996, paperback 1998

United States Military Academy, Esposito, Vincent J., ed, The West Point Atlas of American Wars: 1689 – 1900, New York: Henry Holt & Company, Inc., reprint 1995

United States Military Academy, Esposito, Vincent J. and Coffman, Edward M., eds, The West Point Atlas of American Wars: 1689 – 1900, New York: Henry Holt & Company, Inc., reprint 1997

Pimlott, John and Holmes, Richard, eds, The Hutchinson Atlas of Battle Plans: Before and After, London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1999

Summers, Harry G. And Karnow, Stanley, eds, Historical Atlas of the Vietnam War, New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1996

Atlas mondial de l’ Islam activiste, Paris, La Table Ronde, 1991

Skorve, Johnny, The Kola satellite image atlas – Perspectives on arms control and environmental protection, Oslo: The Norwegian Atlantic Committee, 1991

Chaliand, Gerard and Rageau, Jean-Pierre, Strategic Atlas – A Comparative Geopolitics of the World’s Powers, New York: Harper & Row, 1990

Anderson, Ewan, An Atlas of World Geopolitical Flashpoints – A Sourcebook of Geopolitical Crisis, London: Pinter Reference, 1993

Esposito, Vincent J. and Coffman, Edward M., The West Point Atlas of American Wars: 1900 – 1918, New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1997

Military and geopolitical atlases fall in various categories.

For the historical military atlas on American wars there are the important works of Esposito and Coffman. These two volumes, one covering the years 1689 to 1900 and the second 1900 to 1918, have been unavailable for a long time but these classics are now back in print. Having been used as an instructional basic teaching aid. Around 90 percent of the maps are devoted to the American internal war 1861-1865. The second volume deals with World War I.

Newman takes the reader through the English Civil War chronologically. Most of the maps cover different regions of England, the development of campaign, sites of battles, sieges and skirmishes. As far as can be understood this is the first atlas of its kind.

The World Atlas of Warfare (1988) covers the world history of military warfare from Greece and Rome to modern times. Holmes is a good and comprehensive work for both the specialist and the general reader.

For the modern period there are several works of note. War in Peace (1981) is through Sir Robert Thompson a guarantee for high quality. It deals with military warfare after 1945 focusing on irregular warfare.

The World Atlas of Military Warfare 1945 – 1984 (1984) covers much the same period but lacks the focus and detail of the work above. Cook and Stevenson is one of the first atlases dealing comprehensively with global military history since World War II. The map work is excellent but it does not rise to the level of some of the other works.

In Atlas of Global Strategy (1987) Freedman, a leading military historian in England, a specialist on nuclear strategy, examines the role of war in general in the modern war. Its strength is in its coverage of nuclear and conventional strategy. Published before the end of the Cold War it is of course mostly of historical value as most of the atlases treated above.

Keegan and Wheatcroft aim to deal with future wars in Zones of Conflict – An Atlas of Future Wars (1986). The method is to offer a constellation of factors – physical, climatic, logistic, economic, military and political – and draw conclusions. The great fault of the atlas is of course that it did not offer a prognosis on the fall of the Soviet empire. In a conclusion the authors write of Libya as seeking the role of the Empire of the Sahara and that militant Islam could redraw the political geography of the region. Libya never became an empire, remaining a poor and backward state. But militant Islam tried to make the political map with the Iraqi attack on Kuwait. But the United States resolutely stopped that aggression and forced Saddam Hussein to retreat.

In The World Atlas of Revolutions (1983) Wheatcroft presents revolutions from the American Revolution in 1776 to the political violence of the 1980s. From the perspective of the new millenium all revolutions, except the American, seem futile. This atlas offers good cartography in great detail.

Chandler is designed to offer a history of the most important development in the art of land warfare between the Thirty Years War and the ending of the Russo-Turkish struggle in 1878. Not a very impressive work but offers excellent and clear cartography.

The Kola satellite image atlas (1991) is pointing to the future, although scientific development has already overtaken this type of printed atlases. With the coming of GIS it might be that we in the future will see electronic atlases available on the Internet. The publication of the atlas of course reflects the importance to show, in the year of the collapse of the Soviet Union, what vast nuclear forces Russia had concentrated on the Kola Peninsula during the 1960s and onward.

It seems relevant here to present geopolitical atlases. Geopolitics can be defined in a number of ways but it is mainly about the impact of geography on global security policy (locations among countries, distances between areas, terrain, climate, and resources. It is also the relationship between power politics and geography.

Since the early 1980s, we have seen numerous geopolitical atlases and a rising interest in geopolitics generally. They illustrate the relation between power and cartography. During the Cold War it was important to describe the bipolar world. These atlases depicted the conflict between United States and the Soviet Union.

The atlases follow the development of classical geopolitics and depict international structural changes. Geopolitical atlases have important geopolitical and informative roles and influence thinking of geography, geopolitics, history and political science.

Anderson in An Atlas of World Political Flashpoints (1993) does a fine job of identifying global troublespots. Professor Anderson of Durham University (ret.), England, is well prepared for the job and this is an excellent product. One can only recommend it and wish there were more of the kind. Geographically it spans from Chile in the West to Mururoa Atoll in the East, from Franz Joseph Land in the North to Antarctica in the South.

Strategic Atlas (1990) was a pioneering work, an innovation, in 1983, when it was published in France. Until that year no strategic atlas had been published after World War II in any leading Western language, that was based on a geopolitical world view. This is a fine work but what is needed is an edition that looks toward the 21st century.

Finally The Atlas Mondial de L’Islam Activiste (1991) is a good example of what can be done with a geopolitical atlas. In this instance it is an overview of Islamic revolutionary organizations. The atlas would have been more useful with an integration of the maps in the text.

DOCUMENTS REVEAL: BIN LADEN WANTED TO KILL U.S. LEADERS

March 17, 2012

Fox News reported on March 16, 2012, that U.S. officials are reviewing documents that suggest Usama bin Laden before his death urged his Al Qaeda network to attack the aircraft of President Obama and Gen. David Petraeus, Fox News has confirmed. Excerpts below:

The directive was first disclosed in a report last summer, after a CIA-led Navy SEALs team took down bin Laden at his Pakistan compound. The Washington Post, though, reported new details of that alleged plan Friday after viewing the documents.

According to the report, bin Laden wanted Obama killed so that an “unprepared” Vice President Biden would take over.

The directive was cited as a sign that bin Laden remained determined to strike America long after the Sept. 11, 2011, attacks — but officials also downplayed the actual threat posed by the order.

A senior U.S. official told Fox News that bin Laden “clearly had bold ambitions to kill as many innocent people as possible” but Al Qaeda’s capabilities did not match the leader’s intent.

“Leading up to and since (bin Laden’s) death we know that (Al Qaeda’s) capacity to pull off those types of complex attacks has been greatly diminished, and that Bin Laden himself spent much of his time brooding and providing guidance that often fell on deaf ears,” the official said.

The official said that government analysts have spent “countless hours” reviewing documents taken from the compound last May, and that the government is working to declassify “as much of that information as possible.” The documents still are not expected to be made public for months.