Hmm–US Congress Notices Need to Modernize NORAD’s North Warning System

Further to this post last year,

So Will the Canadian Government Put Some Big Bucks into Modernizing NORAD’s North Warning System?

it is becoming increasingly apparent that steps need to taken soon to get the ball seriously rolling to re-do an increasingly obsolescent system that relies on aging radar technology–see this paper from a year ago : “Why Canada’s North Warning System Needs an Overhaul“.

It has been estimated (see post above) that the total cost would be some $11 billion, with Canada’s share at $4.5 billion. PM Trudeau’s mandate letter to Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan after the November 2019 election said the following:

…work with the United States to ensure that the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) is modernized to meet existing and future challenges…develop better surveillance (including by renewing the North Warning System), defence and rapid-response capabilities in the North and in the maritime and air approaches to Canada, to strengthen continental defence…

But the supplementary mandate letter just issued to the minister makes no specific mention of either NORAD or the North Warning System. And the Canadian Armed Forces/Department of National Defence have given no official indications of what Canada concretely intends to do to about the system and no funds have been firmly allocated for the job. The Americans must be getting a bit impatient for Canada to follow through on our stated intentions with firm programs and money.

Moreover the US armed services are furiously active outlining plans to take part in what I call “the Arctic policy party” (see the post noted at the end of this one and this article at War on the Rocks on the need to coordinate the US’ military–and civilian–Arctic efforts: “Focusing the Military Services’ Arctic Strategies“).

The latest one is the US Army; I discovered the Congressional interest in NORAD/North Warning system in the article on the army below. If that interest persists, indeed grows, the pressure on Canada to start DOING SOMETHING may really mount–especially as the Biden administration might well look favourably on pushing ahead with a necessary and defensive military renewal. Here’s what Congress has done, note the focus on cruise missiles:

Army chief teases new Arctic strategy

…Congressional appropriators provided $100 million for the U.S. North Warning System in the fiscal 2021 defense spending bill and is requiring the Pentagon to provide a report on the status of the system to include its operational integrity and what technology is used by the system compared to technology necessary to detect current and anticipated threats, particularly cruise missiles. The North Warning System is a joint U.S. and Canadian early-warning radar system for North American air defense.

The bill also requires the Defense Department to come up with a plan to modernize capability to defend the homeland against cruise missiles including the modernization of the North Warning System…

I’ve seen nothing public to indicate that attention has been paid in Canada to these actions. I see them an indication that we had really better be getting our renewal act in gear before some hard hammering starts coming from the Americans.

Relevant earlier posts:

Subs and Russian Nuclear Weapons Doctrine, Note Cruise Missiles

US Air Force Joins the Arctic Policy Party [notes what other services are planning for the region]

No, Virginia, the Arctic is not a Hotly-Contested Region like the South China Sea–and China is not a Big Deal up there at This Point

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

France still trying to come to Grips, almost 60 Years later, with its “Savage War of Peace” in Algeria

Excerpts follow from an article in the NY Times by Constant Méheut (tweets here). The photo at top of the post is of Charles de Gaulle visiting Algiers in June 1958 shortly after returning to power in France, initially as prime minister; he famously said in speaking to French Algerians, “Je vous ai compris” (“I have understood you”), later considered a betrayal when he granted Algerian independence in 1962. At the time of the war for independence Algeria was constitutionally an integral part of France, not a colony:

Report Aims at ‘Reconciling’ France and Algeria, Its Former Colony

A government-commissioned study offers proposals to address longstanding grievances. But it does not recommend an official apology and skirts the issue of systemic torture by French troops.

France will establish a “memories and truth” commission to review the country’s colonial history in Algeria, following a key recommendation in a new, much-anticipated report commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron and released on Wednesday [Jan. 20].

The report also presented a series of other proposals to address longstanding grievances. But it ruled out issuing an official apology for the past, and the proposals avoided the question of systemic torture by French forces, which Mr. Macron has already acknowledged…

The report was written by the French historian Benjamin Stora, who will now head the commission. He said the report focused on a series of concrete actions to “lift the lid” on a range of issues left behind by France’s colonial past and the Algerian War…

In commissioning the report, Mr. Macron has ventured onto sensitive territory where the last six French presidents were reluctant to go.

The French colonial past in Algeria is a trauma that continues to shape modern France, with nostalgia on the right and resentment among the European country’s large Muslim population [see this post: “Macron and Muslims, or, Marianne et les Musulmans en France, Part 2“]. The millions of residents in France who, to varying degrees, have ties to Algeria have competing memories of colonial history and the war, making an official clarification politically risky.

Reconciling with the shadows of its past has proved a long and arduous task for France…

Perhaps no French president has gone further than Mr. Macron in facing France’s colonial past in Algeria, which he called a “crime against humanity” in 2017. Mr. Macron in September 2018 officially acknowledged for the first time the widespread use of torture by French forces, but neither he nor previous presidents have apologized for France’s colonial past in the African country.

“We’re a country with a colonial past and traumas it still hasn’t resolved, with facts that underpin our collective psyche,” Mr. Macron said in a speech in October. “The Algerian War is part of this.”

Mr. Stora, the historian, suggested a series of about 30 measures, including the conversion of internment camps for Algerians in France into memorial sites and the overhaul of French school curriculums to improve teaching of the history of France in Algeria. A dozen recommendations emphasize the need to increase collaboration between both countries on historical studies.

But the report also advises against officially apologizing for the past [not the Canadian way these days], arguing that concrete actions are more efficient for promoting reconciliation. Mr. Macron’s office on Wednesday said there would be “no repentance nor apologies” for France’s occupation of Algeria…

France did not officially denote the fighting that led to Algeria’s independence as an actual war until 1999, and government initiatives to construct a memory of the traumatic period have scarcely gone beyond official discourse since then.

“The problem is that we wasted a lot of time with French-Algerian history just recognizing what happened,” Mr. Stora said…

Mr. Macron’s call for the opening of all archives dealing with people who disappeared during the war has also been contradicted by a recent tightening of the French administration’s rules on documents considered confidential, including many pertaining to Algeria.

Mr. Stora, in his report, called for the repeal of those restrictions, saying access to archives were essential for shedding light on the past.

The Algerian War nurtures bitter feelings among the at least five million residents of France with ties to Algeria, including French inhabitants of colonial Algeria who were forced into exile [pieds noirs], war veterans [the Muslim Algerians who fought with the French are called Harkis] and the families of immigrants…

Feelings have been particularly acute among many young French people of Algerian descent who have denounced what they see as a perpetuation of racial hierarchies in France dating from the colonial era and a constant questioning of their identity.

“We have inherited a history that is not settled, that happened before us and of which we are suffering the consequences,” said Faïza Guène, a French writer of Algerian origin who recently published “Discretion,” a novel about the silent transmission of colonial trauma within Algerian immigrant families.

Ms. Guène said breaking this silence was what worried many people. “It is the fear of waking up a volcano,” she said.’

Alistair Horne’s A Savage War of Peace remains an excellent history in English of the conflict, published in 1977 (review here) with a new preface in 2006. Here’s a section of the book, selected by Sir Alistair, at War on the Rocks in 2014:

Torture in a Savage War of Peace: Revisiting the Battle of Algiers

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Chicoms’ “Global Times” Mouthpiece goes after Canada, lays down the Dragon’s Law to the Beaver

Do see the Biden “UPDATE” at the latter part of the post.

This hectoring, menacing “Wolf Warrior” public diplomacy really is a bitch, getting boring and almost certainly will redound on the predatory PRC–an “opinion” piece at the media organ (image at top of post is from it; its cutesy, cuddly cartoon characters make one want furiously to vomit):

China-EU BIT a model for Beijing-Ottawa ties

By Liu Dan

China’s emergence as the world’s only major economy with a positive economic growth amid the global pandemic is a strong incentive for the EU and other countries eager to get out of the economic slump.

China and the European Union (EU) jointly announced the completion of negotiations on the China-EU bilateral investment treaty (BIT) as scheduled on December 30, 2020. Despite objections from the US, the EU went on to strike a deal with China [see this article by the excellent Eric Reguly (tweets here) of the Globe and Mail: “Europe hands China a symbolic and strategic victory as Beijing cracks down on democracy“–the EU calls it the “Comprehensive Agreement on Investment”]

Canada, a member of the Five Eyes alliance, has yet to take a public position on this agreement. In fact, the China-EU BIT will have a great impact on Canada’s policy toward the US and China. Therefore, Canada should draw lessons from the progress of the BIT to set a wise and proper course to reshape its relationship with China [emphasis added, thanks for the advice].

Currently, China has further removed major barriers to market access for EU investment in China, including obligations to prohibit forced technology transfer, rules for full transparency on subsidy claims, and commitments related to sustainable development. The agreement has become the cornerstone of economic relations between China and Europe [and if the PRC implements it honestly I’m a Dragon’s uncle]. It also provides a major model for Canada to emulate.

Another reason why Europe was eager to strike a deal with China is that the US is no longer a reliable partner… 

Though the incoming Biden administration says it will restore the relationship with its allies, it’s still unclear how that will happen [but see article below on Biden admin.]

Thus, the EU believes that even a Biden administration will not be able to fundamentally repair their relationship [how does the author flipping know what “the EU believes”?]… 

Canada now is facing many challenges. 

One challenge comes from the US’ stepped-up pressure on Canada. With Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s arrest as a sign, the US has asked Canada to follow its China policy much closer, forcing it to take sides on a range of issues, from Huawei’s 5G to the Xinjiang question. 

The second challenge is the deteriorating relationship between China and Canada. 

Since Meng’s case, there have been many trade frictions between China and Canada. Canada interfered in China’s internal affairs over issues such as Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and sent warships to the Taiwan Straits to provoke. Bilateral relations then have fallen to their lowest point since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries [China’s own doing, PM Trudeau’s government has done its suppliant best to keep getting along–see this recent post with my observations at end: “Hong Kong Canary’s Neck Snapped; What will Dragon’s Teeth do to Taiwan?‘]

As a result, stabilizing the relationship between China and Canada is an inevitable choice for Canada to safeguard its diplomatic independence and national interests, and respond to the economic and trade structural transformation with its southern neighbor. 

In the time of economic recovery, China has proven to be an attractive choice both in terms of trade and investment. Canada’s exports to China grew by more than 4 percent in the first three quarters of 2020, with iron ore up by 97 percent and pork up by 165 percent, which shows the complementarity and potential of the trade structure between China and Canada [“complentarity”? more like we’re the kowtowing hewers of wood and drawers of water]

These sound foundations [for trade extortion opportunities with the PRC’s clenched fist], if the Meng case can be properly handled, will provide a steady boost to trade, investment and cooperation between China and Canada.

The author is a researcher of the Center for Canadian Studies of Guangzhou Institute of Foreign Languages [website here]. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Now an article in the japan times:

Biden ponders the trans-Atlantic option to press China

Contrary to fears in Japan, there is no sign that the Biden administration will be soft on China. Candidate Biden’s statements and writings, as well as those of members of his foreign and security policy teams, start from the proposition that the United States and China are in a multidimensional competition. They acknowledge the need for cooperation on key issues, but they have a keen grasp of priorities. Many of those individuals had jobs in the Obama administration and had to deal with the rapidly expanding gap between China’s talk about cooperation and its revisionist practices.

The new team understands that no country, not even the United States, can check Beijing’s ambitions on its own. Only a coalition has any hope of success and the foundation of any such effort must be U.S. alliances. Biden has made clear his determination to rebuild those alliances in the wake of damage done by his predecessor. Shortly after his election win, he called Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, and “underscored his commitment to deepen and revitalize the U.S.-EU relationship.”

“Democracy” is an organizing principle for the new administration. Foreign Affairs, the U.S. foreign policy establishment’s journal of record, publishes before every presidential election each candidate’s take on foreign policy. In his article, Biden argued that “the triumph of democracy and liberalism over fascism and autocracy created the free world. But this contest does not just define our past. It will define our future, as well.” Victoria Nuland, a Russia expert who has been nominated by Biden to serve as undersecretary of State for political affairs, explained the stakes: “The moment is existential vis-a-vis the challenge from the rising autocrats.”

Biden has promised to hold a “Summit for Democracy” during his first year in office, one that would include allies from Europe and Asia. (Trump floated a vaguely similar idea when he said that he would host a revamped G7 summit in 2020, but he was planning to include Russia and talks would focus on China. That plan never materialized.) Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, has highlighted the new administration’s confidence that it “can develop a common agenda on issues where we share deep concerns on China.”..

More at the Globe and Mail:

Ruling Conservatives in U.K. echo Joe Biden’s call for coalition of democracies to confront China

A commission established by the ruling Conservative Party in Britain has written a report calling for a “coalition of democracies” to craft a global response to human-rights abuses in China, one that would bring together Canada and other members of the Group of Seven industrialized countries as well as the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance and like-minded countries in Asia.

This echoes a call by U.S. president-elect Joe Biden to knit together a united front of “democratic partners” to stand up to China on human rights but also on unfair trade.

The new report of the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission is called “The Darkness Deepens: the Crackdown on Human Rights in China 2016-2020“…

UPDATE: Excerpts from a piece by Terry Glavin (tweets here) on the Biden presidency and foreign affairs:

It’s Joe Biden’s world now. Can he fix it?

The departure of Trump means a departure from tyrant-flattery and the abuse of longstanding U.S. allies. Then the hard work begins.

…Biden’s approach to Beijing is going to force a hard reckoning in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy circles, where accommodation to the point of appeasement has defined the Liberal Party’s postures towards Beijing…

Biden’s global democracy initiative is also likely to hit some bumps on the road through Europe. Led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the European Union signed an investment deal with China last month that could seriously undermine Biden’s hopes for a united front of democracies.

While bipartisan Congressional consensus has produced stiff American restraints on trade in goods derived from forced labour in Xinjiang, the EU deal contains practically no restraint on slave labour at all, relying mainly on vague assurances that China will get around to complying with standards set by the International Labour Organization.

The EU-China deal has sparked widespread controversy throughout Europe—the EU’s member states have yet to ratify the arrangement. And while Merkel is on her way out after 16 years as Germany’s head of government, the front-runner to succeed her in the coalition she has led is the Christian Democratic Union’s newly elected leader, Armin Laschet, who is even less likely to get behind Biden’s democracy-building agenda. 

While Merkel has been criticized for being too accommodating to both Beijing and Moscow, owing to the allure of Chinese markets for German automakers and the ready supply of cheap Russian gas via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Laschet is among Russian strongman Vladimir Putin’s more ardent European admirers…

The big challenge is China, and that’s one area of policy, foreign and domestic, where there is something approaching unanimity among Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and among Americans generally.

One of the most resilient myths of the Trump interregnum is that Trump himself stood up to China’s Xi Jinping when, all around him in Washington, there was nobody but appeasers and quislings.

The Canadian version of the myth is that Trump caused us all our troubles with China, by having us arrest Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, which got Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor kidnapped in the aftermath. In fact it was under the Obama administration that the U.S. Justice Department began developing its case against Huawei, and there is still no evidence that Trump was even aware that Meng was targeted under a Justice Department extradition request.

Between January 2019 and the Trump administration’s final days, more than 360 bills aimed at China were drawn up in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Most of the bills were either Democrat-sponsored or co-sponsored by Democrats and Republicans. American resolve on China’s human rights abuses has united firebrand Democrat Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez with the arch-reactionary Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Only 12 bills ended up as law, signed by Trump, but they’re the laws that mattered: sanctions on human rights abusers in Hong Kong and Xinjiang; a pathway to refugee status for Hong Kong dissidents; the “Secure 5G and Beyond Act,” measures to bar opaque Chinese firms from trading on the American stock exchanges, and so on.

With America so deeply divided, building a democratic global coalition to deal with Xi Jinping’s belligerence might be the toughest diplomatic job the White House is taking on. But as far as domestic American politics go, it might just be the easiest.

Related posts:

The PRC vs Canada–and with a Biden Administration, a Front of the Like-Minded?

The Dragon’s Not for Turning in its Quest for Weltmacht (at least for now)

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Brexit, or, Scotland, the EU and England’s Revenge (and NATO?)

Julian Lindley-French (tweets here) has a stern appreciation aimed at those Scots bound and determined to separate from the UK:

Scottish Independence: Be Warned!

 “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft a-gley, And leave us nought but grief and pain, And for promised joy”.

 Robert Burns

Peter Kellner has just published an article for Judy Dempsey’s wonderful Strategic Europe series entitled The Gradual Disintegration of the United Kingdom.  The piece is what one would expect from Peter Kellner, a hard line anti-Brexiteer who like many of his ilk (both in the EU and the UK) almost wish for the dissolution of my country as the price of Brexit. Like so many such pieces it is also couched in terms of a warning.  Who is he warning? Me. Those of us who are both British and English and for whom the UK is central to our identity. Frankly, I am tired of being ‘warned’. So, here is my respectful English response.

First some facts, as the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) like to say.  Scotland will always be a small and beautiful country stuck on the end of much larger, richer and more powerful England and no constitutional shift will ever change that. Scotland represents 8.2% of the population, but contributes only 5% of the UK’s export revenue, whilst the Scottish economy represents only 7.4% of the UK economy. Over 90% of Scottish trade comes to or passes through England, whilst 61% of Scotland’s trade is with the rest of the UK. The massive bulk of that trade is with England, more than the rest of the world combined. Oil? That’s just about gone. In other words, the first irony for an independent Scotland would be its economic dependence on England.

There can be no doubt given the genius of the Scottish people that they would in the end make Scotland economically viable, but it would also be significantly poorer.  Last year, government spending per head in Scotland was some £11,247 compared with £9246 in England, yet Scotland’s deficit is some seven times higher than that of the UK as a whole.  One of the hardest realities most Scots would thus have to face post-independence would be the level of taxation the Scottish economy required to sustain the level of public services so many Scots now take for granted.  Indeed, the future of Scottish public services, and who would pay for them, would likely be the battleground over which any Indyref2 would be fought.  The one thing now clear is that the so-called Barnet Formula, the mechanism by which Westminster divides up UK tax income between the nations would for Scotland stop from day one of Scottish independence and quite possibly before. Would Nicola Sturgeon then still be able to offer all Scottish National Health Service employees £500 cash bonus as she did at the end of the 2020? The second irony of Scottish independence would be that England would be richer.

Scotland could, of course, appeal for fast-track EU membership. First, if the EU granted it the acquis would still take a minimum of 5 years and Scotland would also be required to adopt the Euro. Second, France and Germany would know they would risk seriously annoying a still powerful England if Berlin and Paris supported Edinburgh. Third, Brexit has seen the EU budget contract by 16% and the entry of another poor country into the EU would mean structural funds being spread even thinner. Would central, eastern and southern European member-states be happy with that? Fourth, would EU member-states with their own secessionist movements want to help Scotland make a success of secession [emphasis added]? The third irony of Scottish independence it would make Europe poorer.

The SNP would no longer be THE political party OF Scotland as it is inside the UK, but A political party IN Scotland. The Edinburgh government would be profoundly divided between the SNP and pro-Unionist parties, whilst the long postponed civil war inside the SNP would almost inevitably break out. In other words, Scotland would be a weak and divided state.  Perhaps the biggest shock to many Scots when faced with the reality of EU membership would be the prospect of a hard border between England and Scotland.  Their fishermen complain now about the problems of exporting to the EU [see this post: “Flatfishy Brexit Headline of the Day“]. What if they faced similar problems exporting to England?  The fourth irony of Scottish independence would be a Scotland less not more united.

There could also be some serious defence implications of the UK’s dismemberment.  First, if the English believed other European states had helped accelerate the destruction of the UK already taut relations would worsen.  There would be little appetite to help defend countries that had helped destroy the UK [emphasis added]. Second, whatever the UK’s successor state would be called would have its modernising nuclear shield (which would be moved south albeit at great expense) and an increasingly powerful Royal Navy.  The Scots would get nothing of Britain’s Armed Forces [NOTHING? What about the Scottish regiments? see “Theme movie” at end of the post]. Third, the loss of Scotland to NATO (at least for a time) would complicate Allied operations in the Northern Atlantic and for the Scots to be a member of the Alliance they would have to accept nuclear weapons [emphasis added–nukes as part of alliance defences but not necessarily in Scotland itself–see also this post on the North Atlantic: “US Navy’s Revived 2nd Fleet Revving-up for Another Possible Battle of the Atlantic, with the Russian Navy’s Subs“]. Fourth, the construction programme for the new Type 26 and Type 31 warships that are due for construction in Scotland would almost certainly be moved to north-east England. Would Scots want to see what is left of their industry effectively destroyed? The fifth irony of Scottish independence would be a Scotland and a Europe less secure…

Picture this! The day after some future Scottish independence a SNP dominated Edinburgh Government suddenly finds itself facing a hostile England.  The English might not be particularly anti-Scottish, but they would certainly be anti-SNP and the UK would have withdrawn much of its money and the right of Scots to use the pound. Faced with profound uncertainty over monetary stability most of Scotland’s major businesses would already have moved south. Whatever currency Edinburgh adopted (the Groat?) would also have no bank of last resort and they would be forced to appeal to the English and the City of London for support, especially so given the debt an independent Scottish state would find itself in. Unfortunately, Scotland simply would not have the borrowing power of the British state. Which brings me to perhaps the greatest irony of all about Scottish independence: the people who want it the most, the SNP, are the very people who will be unable to make it work for lack of moderation and an inability to build a friendship with Scotland’s closest neighbour [emphasis added].

…the final irony of Scottish independence is this: it will only ever work if English people like me in some way support it. If I am asked nicely and convinced of the case I would support Scottish independence as I am deeply respectful of the will of the Scottish people. Indeed, as an Englishman and a Briton who believes in democracy, and who is also part Scot, I want the best for Scotland.  However, if I am repeatedly threatened my goodwill tends to erode.

The SNP are my political enemy precisely because they keep threatening and insulting me and want to destroy something in which millions of us still believe. They also want to do it in a particularly unfriendly way for which reason I would not lift a finger to help those ‘numpties’…the political history of the British Isles would not stop because of Scottish independence and England will always be the political and economic superpower of the British Isles. We might also be pissed off. Therefore, with respect to those of you warning me, be warned…and be nice!

Related recent posts:

COVID-19, BoJo’s Brexit…and the Breakup of Britain?

Whither the British Military in the Post-Brexit World?

Other posts featuring Mr Lindley-French here.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme movie, a great one:

Jeffrey Delisle, or, the Incredible Creaking Canadian Spy-Catching System

It took the FBI to get the RCMP onto Royal Canadian Navy Sub-Lieutenant Delisle; one really does wonder how many other cases are not being properly investigated and charged. By Jim Bronskill (tweets here) of the Canadian Press:

Former FBI official says Canada’s spy catching system caused delay, angst in Delisle case

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s former head of counter-intelligence says it fell to him to tell the RCMP about a spy in the Canadian navy, even though the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was already well aware of Jeffrey Delisle’s sale of sensitive secrets to the Russians.

In a newly published book [The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau’s Code of Excellence], Frank Figliuzzi casts a critical eye on the Delisle case, pointing to the episode as a prime illustration of systemic problems with how Canadian agencies investigate espionage.

As a sub-lieutenant at the Trinity intelligence centre in Halifax, Delisle had access to a databank of classified secrets shared by the Five Eyes community — Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Read more: Russian spy case had its documents lost, destroyed: Canada’s information watchdog

The RCMP arrested Delisle, a junior navy officer, on Jan. 13, 2012, for violating the Security of Information Act. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Delisle had given secret material to Russia in exchange for upward of $110,000 over more than four years [he was working for military intelligence, the GRU–more details at 2012 Globe and Mail story: “Russian mole had access to wealth of CSIS, RCMP, Privy Council files“].

The official story detailed in court records suggested the FBI tipped Canadian authorities to Delisle’s relationship with the Russians on Dec. 2, 2011, through a letter to the RCMP.

However, as The Canadian Press reported in May 2013, the story actually began months earlier.

Senior CSIS officials were called to Washington, where U.S. security personnel told them a navy officer in Halifax was receiving cash transfers from Russian agents. The Canadian spy service soon got court approval to begin electronic surveillance of Delisle [emphasis added].

“The United States and its allies were hemorrhaging our most sensitive Russian reporting for as long as five years. As soon as we learned of Delisle, we knew we had to tell the Canadians and stop this guy. Easy, right?” Figliuzzi writes in “The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau’s Code of Excellence.”

“Not so much. Not when dealing with a system that’s so very different from ours,” the book says.

“The problem arose when it came time for someone to put Delisle in handcuffs.”

CSIS watched Delisle pass top-secret information to Russia for months without briefing the RCMP. The spy agency, acting on legal advice, opted to keep its investigation sealed for fear of exposing sources and methods of the intelligence trade in open court proceedings [emphasis added].

“Someone had to call Canada’s cops. Strangely, that task went to me,” says Figliuzzi, who led the FBI’s counter-intelligence division as an assistant director.

I wrote a simple letter on FBI stationery to the RCMP explaining that Jeffrey Delisle was a spy. I flew up to Ottawa and sat in a conference room with RCMP officials and verbally briefed the Mounties. Now the RCMP had to start their own investigation to be used in court [emphasis added],” he recalls in the book.

Again, the cycle started from scratch, all while Delisle continued to spill everyone’s secrets to the Russians. This was taking so long that we considered luring Delisle into the United States so we could arrest him on our own charges [emphasis added].”

Figliuzzi says Bob Mueller, FBI director at the time, even placed a call to his counterparts in Canada and “torqued up the pressure for someone to put an end to the madness. The end couldn’t come fast enough.”..

CSIS must hand over a case to the RCMP or work in parallel with the Mounties, then pass along the file when it comes time to take suspected spies or terrorists into custody…

Authorities don’t have the luxury of time for different agencies to independently develop the same information because their protocols and regulations require that they not share with each other, Figliuzzi said.

“The bad guys don’t respect our rules and our protocols. And in fact, they learn to exploit them quite skilfully. And this is an age that requires a swift response to breaking threats.”

To this day, the Delisle case remains the worst breach of Canadian secrets in the post-Cold War world, said Wesley Wark, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa and a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

“There has never been any public accounting of the handling by Canadian authorities of the counter-intelligence investigation.”

The RCMP mounted a crash investigation in the navy spy case over the December 2011 holidays, he noted. “But how much time was lost, and how many secrets, before the Mounties put the cuffs on Delisle?

The RCMP did not respond to a request for comment…

Federal agencies face challenges when attempting to use intelligence in a form that is admissible as evidence, said Mary-Liz Power, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

“This is a long-standing issue considering that an accused individual cannot be tried based on evidence that cannot be disclosed to them in some fashion.”

CSIS, the RCMP and the Department of Justice are constantly working together to improve their intelligence gathering and on addressing national security threats, Power said.

“By breaking down the silos that come to exist over time, the government is confident it will avoid future roadblocks and better manage litigation.”

And maybe the RCMP Musical Ride will fly (video here). As for the increasing pathetic Mounties see these posts:

Cameron Ortis, or, RCMP Blows it Big Time Trying to Play in the Intel Bigs (note SIGINT)

The Mounties’ Constable Plod, or, the Globe and Mail Maintains the Time may be Right to Bust Up the RCMP

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Lincoln, Slavery, Racial Equality and John Brown

From a review article in the London Review of Books by Columbia Professor Emeritus Eric Foner–he walks rather a tight-rope in dealing with the “Great Emancipator” (full text subscriber only):

This Guilty Land

Eric Foner

Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times 
by David S. Reynolds.
Penguin, 1066 pp., £33.69, September, 978 1 59420 604 7The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and the Struggle for

American Freedom 
by H.W. Brands.
Doubleday, 445 pp., £24, October, 978 0 385 54400 9

…Reynolds, who teaches at the City University of New York, manages to say new and important things about Lincoln in his elegantly written book. Rather than a conventional account of Lincoln’s life, Abe is a ‘cultural biography’. The familiar trajectory of Lincoln’s career is here, from his youth in Kentucky and Indiana to his emergence as a national figure forced to preside over a cataclysmic war and its ‘astounding’ (Lincoln’s word) result: the emancipation of four million slaves. But Reynolds is more interested in the way Lincoln’s character and political outlook reflected ‘the roiling cultural currents’ of the nation in which he lived.

…His idol was Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky, known as the Great Compromiser. Clay died in 1852, and Lincoln must have realised that his fifty-year effort to rid his state of slavery had accomplished nothing. But well into the Civil War, Lincoln clung to Clay’s plan for abolition: gradual emancipation, monetary compensation to the owners, and ‘colonisation’ – that is, encouraging freed slaves to leave the United States for Africa or the Caribbean.

What does all this tell us about what Reynolds calls the ‘hotly contested’ subject of Lincoln’s racial attitudes? A little over twenty years ago, Lerone Bennett Jr, an African American historian, published Forced into Glory, which drew on Lincoln’s prewar statements opposing civil and political rights for Blacks (his comment on female suffrage was limited to whites), and his advocacy of colonising freed slaves, to depict him as an inveterate racist. The book had the drawbacks of any prosecutor’s brief, but it forced historians and the general public to confront aspects of Lincoln’s career that had mostly been swept under the rug. Outraged members of what one scholar has called the ‘Lincoln-Industrial Complex’ rushed to defend the Great Emancipator.

Insisting on ‘the complete falsity of the charges of innate racism’, Reynolds joins the defence. He insists that in interactions with individual African Americans, Lincoln did not display signs of prejudice…Reynolds makes clear that no one with political ambitions could ignore the deeply ingrained racism of Illinois. The state’s notorious Black Laws denied Blacks basic rights, and racist language suffused politics. In the 1858 debates during the campaign for one of Illinois’s seats in the Senate, Lincoln’s antagonist, Senator Stephen A. Douglas, freely used the word ‘nigger’ and accused Lincoln and the ‘Black Republicans’ of wanting freed slaves to move to Illinois, take the jobs of whites, and marry white women. Warned that Douglas’s assault was weakening his party’s electoral chances, Lincoln denied that he believed in ‘Negro equality’. But unlike Douglas, Reynolds points out, he did not waver from the conviction that the inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – applied to all persons, regardless of race. These are valid points. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that unlike the abolitionists, who demanded not only an immediate end to slavery but full citizenship rights for Blacks, Lincoln found it impossible to imagine the United States as a biracial society of equals [emphasis added].

A writer who chooses his words with care, Reynolds struggles to find the right ones for Lincoln’s racial views. At one point he refers to his subject’s ‘hidebound’ outlook. He writes that Lincoln ‘associated himself’ with colonisation, a weak way of describing his service on the Board of Managers of the Illinois Colonisation Society and his numerous speeches and presidential messages promoting the policy. At a notorious 1862 meeting with a group of free African Americans, Lincoln urged his listeners to encourage emigration among their people. Reynolds sees this encounter, which outraged most Black leaders and seems to have inspired racial violence in the North, as a calculated performance to prepare conservative whites for the coming announcement of emancipation.

Once he issued the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January, 1863, Lincoln’s racial views underwent rapid evolution [emphasis added]

In it, Lincoln abandoned his long-held plan for gradual emancipation in favour of immediate freedom for more than three million slaves (about 750,000 were not covered, mostly because they lived in states that had not seceded) and dropped the idea of colonisation, urging Blacks to ‘go to work for reasonable wages’ in the United States. For the first time, he authorised the enrolment of African Americans in the Union army. Lincoln doubtless understood that military service would lead to demands for equal citizenship after the war. He never became egalitarian in a modern sense, but in the last two years of his life, spurred by the crucial role of Black soldiers in the ongoing conflict, his thinking changed dramatically. In his final speech, in 1865, he publicly advocated the right to vote for educated Blacks and those who had served in the army. By then he had moved well beyond his culture: at the time only a tiny number of Black men enjoyed the right to vote.

In​ The Zealot and the Emancipator, H.W. Brands has written a dual biography of Lincoln and the abolitionist John Brown, who in 1859 led a band of 22 men to seize the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in the hope of sparking a slave insurrection. The divergent paths chosen by Brown and Lincoln illuminate a problem as old as civilisation itself – what is a person’s moral responsibility in the face of glaring injustice?

…Where Lincoln the rationalist declared that man could not know the will of God, Brown ‘knew’ that he had been chosen for a divine mission to overthrow slavery. Lincoln condemned mob violence and insisted that respect for the rule of law must become the nation’s ‘political religion’. Brown, like many abolitionists, believed in a ‘higher law’ that legitimised resistance to unjust man-made statutes…

Lincoln and Brown both hated slavery but that conviction by itself did not tell a person how to take action against it. When the Fugitive Slave Act became law, Brown formed the League of Gileadites, a mostly Black group pledged to armed resistance. Later, he spirited a group of Missouri slaves to freedom in Canada. Lincoln, by contrast, insisted that no matter how reprehensible, the law must be obeyed. When the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 opened territories in the Trans-Mississippi West to the expansion of slavery, Brown armed himself and headed there with several of his sons to take part in the local civil war over slavery known as ‘Bleeding Kansas’. During this preview of the national conflict they murdered five pro-slavery settlers. Lincoln joined the new Republican party and committed himself to seeking legislation that barred slavery’s expansion.

…Lincoln, the lawyer and constitutionalist, saw the raid as a setback for the anti-slavery cause and strove to dissociate the Republican party from Brown’s action…

…Brands observes that one of the reasons Lincoln promoted colonisation, despite recognising the near impossibility of transporting millions of men, women and children out of the country, was that history offered no example of ‘a successful biracial republic’. Brown, however, thought the United States could become just that…

Indeed a fine tight-rope for contemporary historians. Here is an excerpt from a 2010 review by Prof. Reynolds of Prof. Foner’s book: THE FIERY TRIAL Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery:

Lincoln…exhibited a remarkable ability to alter his attitudes according to circumstance. At first dismissive of the abilities of black people, he came to sincerely admire them during the Civil War and eventually made strides toward endorsing political rights for them. Once staunchly opposed to the immediate abolition of slavery, he was the first president who took action in the cause of emancipation and in time, of course, he dedicated the war effort to the goal of freedom…

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3Ds

No There There to the “Relationship”: Why a lot of Chinese Dissidents Like Trump; Will Biden Hold to a Tough Line?

Excerpts from an article by Perry Link (tweets here) at the NY Review of Books–full text subscriber only unfortunately. What is said about US administrations, business and “experts” applies in spades to Canada :

Seeing the CCP Clearly

Perry Link

For Chinese dissidents, the end of Washington’s deference to Beijing has been a long time coming.

In a speech at the Republican National Convention last August, Chen Guangcheng [that’s a photo of him there at the top of this post], a blind, iron-willed human rights lawyer and dissident from China whom the Obama administration brought to the United States in 2012, said:

“Standing up to tyranny is not easy. I know. When I spoke out against China’s One Child Policy and other injustices, I was persecuted, beaten, sent to prison, and put under house arrest….

The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is an enemy of humanity. It is terrorizing its own people and it is threatening the well-being of the world…. The United States must use its values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law to gather a coalition of other democracies to stop CCP’s aggression. President Trump has led on this, and we need the other countries to join him in this fight—a fight for our future.”

Within hours, Teng Biao, an old friend of Chen’s who is also a Chinese human rights lawyer based in the US, tweeted, “I completely oppose what he is doing.” Teng, too, is a veteran of persecution, beating, and imprisonment at the hands of the CCP, and he would not disagree with what Chen said about the CCP. What he opposed was Chen’s bow to Donald Trump. “For Chinese human rights defenders, there is zero logical consistency to supporting Trump,” Teng tweeted.

The split between the two friends is a small example of a wider disagreement between “Trump boosters” and “Trump critics” in the Chinese dissident community. The rift is plainly visible both inside and outside China and is likely to persist in one form or another into the Biden years.

Its causes have little to do with basic value judgments. Neither side approves of putting Uighurs into concentration camps in Xinjiang, of crushing democracy in Hong Kong, of installing hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras across China, or of any other of the many symptoms of the CCP’s obsession with power. And neither side sees much to distinguish in the political instincts of Trump and Xi Jinping. Xi controls the press in his country and Trump would if he could; each labels his critics “enemies of the people”; both imagine (and Xi succeeds in) locking up opponents; each contemplates (and Xi achieves) setting aside term limits for himself; both demand loyalty from subordinates; and both surround themselves with yes-men. One online wit in China, using indirection that is common on the Chinese Internet, noted that Trump had, however barely, been voted into office in the US while Xi, in China, had not, and then offered the arch observation that the most crucial similarity between the two men is that neither is the elected representative of China.

Trump critics in China include the distinguished legal scholars He Weifang and Zhang Qianfan, who have a sophisticated grasp of why much of his behavior is intrinsically antidemocratic and how it damages both US democracy and prospects for democracy elsewhere in the world. But among dissidents generally, both inside and outside China, Trump supporters outnumber Trump critics, and it is important to understand why. It is not because they are a far-right fringe. In ideological terms, they are closer to classic liberals on a US political spectrum.

They are “pro-Trump” because they feel that for decades US administrations have been naive about the CCP, and they see Trump as the first US president to stand up to it [emphasis added]. His tariffs on Chinese goods, imposed in mid-2018 in retaliation for what he saw as unfair trade practices, appear to have sprung from a blunt “America first” impulse, not from an intention to weaken the CCP domestically, as dissidents would have preferred. Still, he imposed them, which marks a clear contrast to George H.W. Bush’s tolerance of the Tiananmen massacre of June 4, 1989, for the sake of “the relationship”; Bill Clinton’s about-face in separating trade from human rights; George W. Bush’s ushering China into the World Trade Organization; Barack Obama’s launch of his China policy with the assurance that human rights would not “interfere” with trade, climate change, or security; and other examples of US government indulgence of the CCP. Standing up to the Chinese government for any reason seemed to dissidents a long-awaited turn of events, and enough to outweigh all the drawbacks of Trump’s character and other policies.

…it would be a mistake to write off dissident Chinese Trump boosters as poorly educated or ill informed. They are not, and their views on the reluctance of Western democracies to stand up to dictatorships have roots that go much deeper than the Trump presidency.

Fifteen years ago Liu Xiaobo, the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, wrote a set of articles that he called “The Four Big Mistakes of the Free Countries in the Twentieth Century.” How, asked Liu, who died a prisoner in 2017, could Western intellectuals in the 1930s have been enamored of Stalin? Why did Britain and France compromise so easily with dictators in Germany and Italy? After World War II, why did America and Britain concede so much to the Soviet Union? In the 1960s and 1970s, how could leading European intellectuals have caught “Mao Zedong fever,” and how could that fever have lasted so long?

Especially galling to Liu was the claim of Western intellectuals to be speaking, through Mao, for ordinary people—the downtrodden, the underdogs, “the masses.” In fact they were doing the very opposite: they were siding with the oppressors. In 1989, when the Soviet empire collapsed, the West heaved a sigh that “the cold war is over.” Over? What about China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba? Why does the West not see some parts of the world?

US policy has not just overlooked dictatorship in China; it has aided the growth of CCP power. Within days of the Tiananmen massacre, despite international sanctions on Beijing, President Bush secretly sent emissaries to assure CCP leaders that he wanted to maintain good relations. While Congress was extracting its annual human rights concessions from Beijing in return for “most favored nation” trade terms in the early 1990s, President Clinton, under pressure from Wall Street, abruptly “de-linked” trade and human rights in 1994. US capital and technology (some of it purloined) began to drive a boom in Chinese manufacturing for export [emphasis added].

With US support, China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 and secured billions in World Bank loans, helping its economy to take another leap. In 2005 Robert Zoellick, a US deputy secretary of state, gave a widely reported speech in which he said that the CCP might become a “responsible stakeholder” in the world system. To Chinese dissidents, the speech revealed more about American naiveté than about what could be expected of the CCP.

Unfortunately, Zoellick was not unusual among westerners. In capitals on both sides of the Atlantic, a faith grew that “they will come to be like us.” At the spectacular Beijing Olympics in 2008, Joshua Ramo of the consulting firm Kissinger Associates, which was long a proponent of “engagement” with the CCP, predicted that China was “a nation about to put a match to the fuse of a rocket.” He made no mention of the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who had been forced from their homes to assure that the great Olympic salute to the CCP looked as perfect as possible. Barack Obama, whose image among Chinese dissidents was generally good, said publicly in 2015 that the CCP’s antipoverty program was “one of the most remarkable achievements in human history.” He did not acknowledge that the Great Leap agricultural disaster of 1959–1962, which thrust hundreds of millions of people into dire poverty (and killed at least 30 million), was a direct result of CCP policies as well as the most direct cause of the poverty that later needed to be alleviated.

For decades the work of managing the US relationship with China fell on the US side to a small group of specialists in government and academia, whose approach was remarkably consistent across both Democratic and Republican administrations. Their first principle was that “the relationship” must survive, and “the other side” in the relationship was limited to their formal interlocutors, who were duty-bound representatives of the CCP [emphasis added]. These experts gave speeches in which terms like “China” or “the Chinese view” referred exclusively to a very few people at the top of the regime. The Americans were indeed expert in the study of that elite but not well versed in Chinese language, culture, and society more broadly. Beijing knew how to use these Americans to impose its view that the US must respect the “core interests of China” (that is, interests that directly or indirectly affected the CCP’s power), failing which the relationship would be in jeopardy. Only the US, not the CCP, could endanger it.

Trump’s demotion of this China policy elite is one reason why Chinese dissidents have come to favor him. Under Trump, with China advisers like Miles Yu at the State Department and Matthew Pottinger at the White House, it seemed that people in the US government were finally beginning to understand the CCP [emphasis added]. Pottinger, who is from Boston, learned Chinese unusually well in the mid-1990s and, as a China correspondent for Reuters and The Wall Street Journal from 1998 to 2005, was a quick study in how the CCP goes about things. In 2005 he joined the marines for five years and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan; in 2017 he joined the National Security staff at the White House, where his intelligence showed not only in China policy but in his ability to get things done without getting fired (he resigned on January 7, in response to the attack on the Capitol).

Yu left China in 1985 at age twenty-three to study at Swarthmore and then got a Ph.D. in history at Berkeley. After the 1989 massacre, he began editing a newsletter called China Forum that exposed the methods of the CCP as trenchantly as any publication I have seen before or since. He is a professor of history at the Naval Academy, from which he took leave to serve in the State Department.

In an interview with Voice of America on November 16, 2020, Yu pointed out three departures in China policy that the Trump State Department had launched. One was to stop using “CCP” and “China” as synonyms. The point was not to stick fingers in Beijing’s eyes at a linguistic level; it was to wean Americans from the bad habit of thinking of China and the CCP as the same thing. Only when the distinction is clear can one begin to understand the damage that the CCP has done to China…

Puzzled Chinese democrats have wondered why US policymakers have indulged the CCP to the extent that they have over the years. For the business community, the reasons are not hard to understand. A large, inexpensive, and captive labor force was naturally attractive to American manufacturers, as was the lure of potentially huge markets. Cross the CCP and these prizes might disappear. But why, Chinese democrats ask, is it so easy to set political ideals aside? Is there something that prevents westerners from seeing that the CCP resembles their own mafias more than it does their governments? Why should Western liberals show respect for a thuggish regime? Do the pretty labels “socialist” and “People’s” fool them [emphasis added, see this post: “Dead People, Chicoms, or, Would Anyone Write Thus about A.H.?and see this obituary of a man who got the Chicoms right: Simon Leys]?

About a decade ago the word baizuo appeared on the Chinese Internet. Highly derogatory, it means literally “white people on the left” who unwittingly betray the ideals of Western civilization. Jean-Paul Sartre, who visited China in the 1950s, was an early example. Sartre excoriated Western imperialism and wrote about the beauty he perceived in Mao’s China even as Mao was tyrannizing millions. Does baizuo thinking, some have wondered, help to explain why Westerners still can’t see the CCP for what it is? Why do Americans, who are eloquent when they denounce human rights abuses in their own country, apply different standards when abuses happen in countries that call themselves “socialist”?..

Many have told me they find it hard to understand how the price their nation has paid, and continues to pay, goes largely unnoticed in the West. Why are the lessons the West has learned opposing dictators like Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin so difficult to apply to China [subconscious racism likely a factor]? Will things be different now that the CCP is shifting its power grabs outward? Will the West be ready? Or is the West already trending in an authoritarian direction? A friend inside China asked me—jokingly, but with a serious point—if the censors working for Twitter were Chinese immigrants. “They have the expertise,” she quipped, and added, “When a person in the US says something not politically correct, the response to him seems to be not only to reject it automatically but to begin examining his motive. How Maoist!”..

…American democracy’s headache with a president who lies is a fundamentally different problem from China’s living under the CCP’s propaganda apparatus, whose roots date from the 1940s and whose experts by now are very good at what they do.

Readers of the Western press, whether aware of it or not, have seen examples of that expertise. In the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the international wing of the Xinhua News Agency instituted frequent use of the phrase “lifted from poverty.” This was what “China” (meaning the CCP) had done for hundreds of millions of Chinese people. The world’s media—The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Al Jazeera, Kyodo News, the BBC, and many others—picked up the phrase, as did Western politicians on both the left and the right [emphasis added]. The World Bank used it in official reports. Those words were, in short, highly successful in achieving the intended effect: the world came to believe that the CCP was doing great good.

A more transparent account of what it had done, beginning in the 1980s and 1990s, is that it released its controls on the Chinese people so that, for the first time in decades, they could make money for themselves; hundreds of millions responded by working long hours at low wages without the protection of labor unions, workers’ compensation insurance, a free press, or independent courts; and, yes, they made great amounts of money, escaping poverty for themselves and simultaneously catapulting the CCP elite, who still rode high above them, to truly spectacular wealth.

In short, the word “lifted” begs analysis of who lifted whom. That question did not normally occur to people around the world who read the words “China lifted.” The grammar of such sentences, combined with the formula China = CCP, left no need for a question. Was this word-engineering deliberate? Anyone who doubts that it was should note that CCP media used the “China lifted” phrase in publications in English, French, German, and other foreign languages but not in Chinese-language media at home. That made good sense. What would happen if the CCP started telling the Chinese people that “we lifted you”? The people would know better. Both sides know better [emphasis added]. To make such an assertion might generate unfortunate “social effects,” such as a greater number of demonstrations, strikes, sit-ins, roadblocks, and other examples of what the Ministry of Public Security labels “masses incidents” and counts in the tens of thousands per year…

As Trump leaves the scene and Biden forms his foreign policy team, how realistic will its grasp of the CCP be? It would be not just a gesture of bipartisanship but a brilliant inoculation against backsliding into naiveté if Biden were to recall Yu or Pottinger or both to service in his administration. Yet it’s hard to see that happening. At stake is not just the question of US policy toward China but the logically prior question of whether the CCP is accurately seen for what it is [emphasis added].

—January 13, 2021

Now note this key Biden pick:

Related posts:

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster on How to Appreciate, and Deal With, the Dragon

The Dragon’s Not for Turning in its Quest for Weltmacht (at least for now)

American Misreading of the PRC’s Rise, or, the Dragon’s Compradors in Action

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3dsTwitter: @Mark3ds

“Democrats are not so different from Republicans in the slovenly attitudes they’ve lately taken on towards political violence”

Terry Glavin (disclosure, a good friend–tweets here) ends this important survey with a cri de coeur that I, and certainly a great number of Americans’ friends around the world, share (a recent post: “The Americans We Cherish“). Excerpts from an article at the National Post:

American democracy is reeling, and it’s not just because of Trump

Democrats are not so different from Republicans in their slovenly attitudes towards political violence. Democrat or Republican, one in three Americans say violence can be justified to advance their favoured parties’ interests.

Anyone who genuinely cares about the fate of the 245-year American experiment in revolutionary democracy might be forgiven for having wishfully imagined last Wednesday [January 6] that the excitement in Washington, D.C., was really just about an extraordinary lapse in security planning, and a howling mob of slack-jawed yokels that managed to rampage through the Capitol building after taking Donald Trump’s deranged rhetoric more seriously than the outgoing president had intended…

The deeper gloom involved here is that the very idea of truth in America is itself problematic nowadays — a derangement that did not begin with Trump. But a week has passed, and what we can now confidently assert as truth is that what transpired last Wednesday was an act of terrorism, purposefully organized and meticulously planned, aided and abetted, and at least arguably incited, by no less than Donald Trump himself…

Capitol precincts were shut down entirely in Texas and New Mexico. In Georgia, where armed “protesters” have made daily appearances since the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, the capitol went into full lockdown. In Arizona, state police had to surround the executive tower with double-link chain fencing. In Olympia, Wash., armed insurrectionists rushed the governor’s mansion, making it into the front door. In Salem, Ore., a man was arrested trying to get into the capitol building with a firearm, while protesters burned an effigy of the governor outside.

The mob that smashed its way into the Capitol building in Washington did give every appearance of having come straight from the Burning Man festival, or screen tests for Duck Dynasty, and the mob did appear to materialize almost spontaneously. “It is hard to think of a comparable insurrectionary moment,” historian and author Timothy D. Snyder wrote in the New York Times, “when a building of great significance was seized, that involved so much milling around.”

But in the crowd was a committed contingent of Trumpist militiamen that came prepared to do extreme damage. Their whole point was terror. Their explicit intent was to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election…

The pathology that led to last Wednesday’s outrage is not confined to the dregs of the dregs of the Republican party’s disgraced Trumpist faction. Neither is it merely a defining characteristic of the Republican party, and while America itself has been slipping into a state of political psychosis for at least a decade now, disenchantment and disaffection with democracy is a growing phenomenon worldwide.

A recent report by the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Future of Democracy, which compiled data from 154 countries and four million survey respondents, shows that satisfaction with democracy is in decline in most major democracies. In the United States, the proportion of the disenchanted now outnumbers the voters who are satisfied with democracy…

A Gallup poll in October showed that fewer than one in five Americans were “very confident” that votes in the Nov. 3 election would be accurately cast and counted, and a YouGov poll showed that when asked what would explain a Biden defeat, 57 per cent of Democrats said it would be because “Republicans stole the election.” Almost exactly the same proportion of Republicans — 56 per cent — said a Biden win would mean the election had been rigged [YIKES!]

While it would be puerile to directly equate the months of self-styled Antifa mayhem in cities like Portland and Seattle with a national coup of the kind Trumpist militants attempted last Wednesday — and similarly disingenuous to identify Biden with Antifa’s riots — Democrats are not so different from Republicans in the slovenly attitudes they’ve taken on lately towards political violence.

Last October, a consortium of researchers from the Hoover Institution, the New America think tank, the Hudson Institute and Louisiana State University found that one in three Americans, Democrat or Republican, say violence can be justified to advance their favoured parties’ interests. In September polling, 44 per cent of Republicans and 41 per cent of Democrats said there would be at least “a little” justification for violence if the other party’s candidate were to win the election…

The United States of America is a deeply wounded country. What ails America is not just Trumpist hooliganism, or the Republican party. America itself is deeply damaged at the moment. At the same time, it’s an indispensable country, and still a great country. That’s the truth of it. The truth matters, and if there’s a legitimate place for wishful thinking, it’s in the wish that with Joe Biden in the White House, the healing can at last begin.

Related post:

With Putsch Update–American Political Lunacy, or, God Damn the Internet! (see Arnold Schwarzenegger “UPPESTDATE”)

I often wonder if universal suffrage representative democracy is past its best by day in this age of the Internet and social media– a post from 2016:

Donald Trump, the People and Universal Suffrage Democracy–and Bertolt Brecht

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3dsTwitter: @Mark3ds

Trump Admin’s putting the “Indo” in Indo-Pacific in February 2018

US Pacific Command was subsequently renamed US Indo-Pacific Command in May 2018 (see the URL at preceding link, more here). Now excerpts from a piece at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s “The Strategist” by Rory Medcalf (tweets here):

Declassification of secret document reveals US strategy in the Indo-Pacific

The US government has just declassified one of its most sensitive national security documents—its 2018 strategic framework for the Indo-Pacific, which was formally classified SECRET and not for release to foreign nationals.

The full text, minus a few small redactions, was made public late on 12 January (US east coast time), having originally been cleared for publication on 5 January, prior to the turmoil in Washington…

Long before historians can debate the Trump administration’s legacy in this vital region, this highly unusual step of fast-forward declassification—the text was not due for public release until 2043—brings an authoritative clarity to the public record.

The slightly reassuring news is that beneath President Donald Trump’s unpredictability, conceit and unilateralism, the policy professionals were striving to advance a more serious and coherent agenda [emphasis added, “The Interagency” well at work–see also this in another context, “the consensus views of the interagency]

The framework and its covering cabinet memorandum are dated February 2018, a time when the contours of strategic rivalry in the Indo-Pacific were rapidly taking shape.

Although the text would have involved negotiation among agencies, these are technically White House/National Security Council (NSC) documents. Lead authorship can be attributed to the then national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, and, in particular, to the then NSC director for Asia and later deputy national security advisor, Matt Pottinger [emphasis added], who was among officials to abruptly resign last week after the mob assault on the US legislature [Mr Pottinger is a real China expert–see also this post: “Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster on How to Appreciate, and Deal With, the Dragon].

In a covering note explaining his advice to declassify the framework, outgoing National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien emphasises that the strategy has been all about seeking to ensure that ‘our allies and partners … can preserve and protect their sovereignty’.

This confirms that US strategic policy in the Indo-Pacific was in substantial part informed and driven by allies and partners, especially Japan, Australia and India [emphasis added].

Indeed, one of the strategy’s plainest successes was fulfilling the objective ‘to create a quadrilateral security framework with India, Japan, Australia, and the United States as the principal hubs’ [aka “The Quad“].

The American framework bears the fingerprints not only of Washington’s December 2017 National security strategy but Tokyo’s 2016 ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ policy and Canberra’s 2017 initiatives, notably the Turnbull government’s foreign policy white paper and its early action against Chinese interference and espionage.

O’Brien properly notes this emerging convergence, and the common ground among the Indo-Pacific policies of the US, Australia, India, Japan, ASEAN, some key European partners and, increasingly, South Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan. This emerging consensus gives the lie to the Chinese claim that the Indo-Pacific is some American or Australian invention that will ‘dissipate like ocean foam’.

Without saying so, the declassified strategy appears to acknowledge that an effective American regional policy is as much about following as leading. This means steady support for allies and partners, rather than the pursuit of some shaky all-round US primacy.

It also turns out that American officials’ public line about respecting international law, regional multilateralism (such as ASEAN-centric diplomatic institutions) and the sovereign equality of states was not just rhetoric: it was what they were telling themselves as well…

Contrary to concerns that the Trump administration was veering to a one-dimensional, military-led external policy, there was a clear recognition of the need for holistic engagement to bolster allies and counter China, across the full spectrum from information operations to advanced technology research and infrastructure investment.

Whether America has the capacity, coordination and will to follow through on such a total strategy is another question. The strength of the plan is also its weakness. It was an effort to exhaustively map out analytical assumptions, preferred end-states, objectives and actions, leaving it open to the criticism that it is excessively ambitious yet leaves things out [emphasis added].

The document is light, for instance, on anticipating the challenge of Chinese influence in the South Pacific, an indication that Canberra’s activism there is an Australian initiative, not a play to please America…

In hindsight, this bold vision for US foreign policy failed to take account of the depth of domestic division and dysfunction hampering America’s ability to advance its interests abroad.

At the same time, although it did not anticipate so staggering a shock as Covid-19, the framework’s warnings of China’s affronting assertiveness and the expansive authoritarianism of the Chinese Communist Party under Xi Jinping have proven prescient. They’ve been borne out by events, from the geopolitics of the pandemic and wolf warrior ‘diplomacy’ to the crushing of Hong Kong, intimidation of Taiwan, violent clashes with India and coercion against Australia.

Of course, the decision to release this historic document now will raise speculation as to the motive for it.

At one level, it’s a refreshing and rather radical act of transparency, aimed partly at reassuring allies and partners that, whatever its travails, America plans to double down on the Indo-Pacific.

There was likely much internal debate ahead of the decision to go public, but it was probably judged that any risk to America’s interests from showing its hand, such as the frank admission of an imperative to strengthen India as a counterbalance to China, would be outweighed by the benefits and the example of openness.

Whatever else can be said, this reduces the excuse for miscalculation, and makes more glaring by contrast the gap between what Beijing says and what it does.

There are blunt statements of the intent of ‘defending the first island chain nations, including Taiwan’, ‘denying China sustained air and sea dominance’ inside the first island chain, and continuing to dominate ‘all domains outside the first island chain [emphasis added, see naval/air force posts noted at the end of this one]’.

That said, this is not a strategy for full-blown containment extending right across the economic realm, and it does not seem to anticipate the pace or extent of decoupling since pursued both by Beijing and Washington.

The language is often defensive: not to sunder the US–China economic relationship, but rather to ‘prevent China’s industrial policies and unfair trading practices from distorting global markets and harming US competitiveness [emphasis added]’. There’s still acknowledgement of the need to ‘cooperate with China when beneficial to US interests’, although this is so vague that it will make sense for President-elect Joe Biden’s administration to find some early specifics for cautious experiments in partnership .

Sceptical observers may well say that publishing the strategy now, amid a troubled transition, is an obvious play for policy continuity. This is in light of concerns that a Biden administration may not yet be committed to challenging China’s bid for dominance—or indeed to the idea of the Indo-Pacific, at least in its ‘free and open’ variant, as a rallying cry for regional solidarity against coercive Chinese power [emphasis added, president-elect Biden’s appointment of this “Indo-Pacific Coordinator on the National Security Council” may be re-assuring].

But it’s surely no bad thing to salvage the few achievements of an otherwise grim era in American foreign policy, while laying down some markers for the incoming administration.

…the document articulates the fundamentals of what in Congress has become a bipartisan position on contesting China’s geopolitical powerplays, supporting allies and partners, and protecting American interests across domains ranging from military and technology to geoeconomics and information and influence.

The declassified framework will have enduring value as the beginning of a whole-of-government blueprint for handling strategic rivalry with China. If the US is serious about that long-term contest, it will not be able to choose between getting its house in order domestically and projecting power in the Indo-Pacific. It will need to do both at once…

Rory Medcalf heads the National Security College at the Australian National University.

Related posts:

Canada and the Indo-Pacific Century: A Military/Naval Role?

Australia Reacts to Worsening Strategic Position in Western Pacific–Plans major Defence Spending Boost and big Equipment Capability Upgrades

US Air Force Planning for “Distributed Operations” in Pacific

The Challenge Facing India–Leaning even Closer to US to Balance PRC but at same time Keeping in with Russia (tous azimuts of a sort)

The Dragon’s Not for Turning in its Quest for Weltmacht (at least for now)

US Navy/Marines vs PLA Navy in Western Pacific Naval Cockpit–How much of what the Services Want to do will Biden Admin/Congress go along with?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds