COVID-19 Stripping Away Emperor Xi's Clothes

Two stories. First the New York Times:

Coronavirus Weakens China’s Powerful Propaganda Machine

Beijing is pushing tales of perseverance, but many young people are openly questioning the Communist Party’s message

Then the Guardian:

Xi Jinping has buried the truth about coronavirus

The reaction to the outbreak has revealed the unreconstructed despotism of the Chinese state

‘Nuff said.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

"Dr. Strangelove" Not Stranger than Fact, Plus "Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner"

1) Further to this post,

US Air Force plans to nuke Leningrad from Goose Bay, Labrador, and Stephenville, Newfoundland, in summer 1950

excerpts from an article in the New Yorker:

Almost Everything in “Dr. Strangelove” Was True

By Eric Schlosser

A film still of a man riding a bomb as one would a mechanical bull
In retrospect, Stanley Kubrick’s film “Dr. Strangelove” seems all the more brilliant, bleak, and terrifyingly on the mark about the dangers of nuclear weaponry.

This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy about nuclear weapons, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” Released on January 29, 1964, the film caused a good deal of controversy. Its plot suggested that a mentally deranged American general could order a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, without consulting the President. One reviewer described the film as “dangerous … an evil thing about an evil thing.” Another compared it to Soviet propaganda. Although “Strangelove” was clearly a farce, with the comedian Peter Sellers playing three roles, it was criticized for being implausible. An expert at the Institute for Strategic Studies called the events in the film “impossible on a dozen counts.” A former Deputy Secretary of Defense dismissed the idea that someone could authorize the use of a nuclear weapon without the President’s approval: “Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth.” (See a compendium of clips from the film.) When “Fail-Safe”—a Hollywood thriller with a similar plot, directed by Sidney Lumet—opened, later that year, it was criticized in much the same way. “The incidents in ‘Fail-Safe’ are deliberate lies!” General Curtis LeMay, the Air Force chief of staff, said. “Nothing like that could happen.” The first casualty of every war is the truth—and the Cold War was no exception to that dictum. Half a century after Kubrick’s mad general, Jack D. Ripper, launched a nuclear strike on the Soviets to defend the purity of “our precious bodily fluids” from Communist subversion, we now know that American officers did indeed have the ability to start a Third World War on their own. And despite the introduction of rigorous safeguards in the years since then, the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear detonation hasn’t been completely eliminated…

With great reluctance, Eisenhower agreed to let American officers use their nuclear weapons, in an emergency, if there were no time or no means to contact the President. Air Force pilots were allowed to fire their nuclear anti-aircraft rockets to shoot down Soviet bombers heading toward the United States. And about half a dozen high-level American commanders were allowed to use far more powerful nuclear weapons, without contacting the White House first, when their forces were under attack and “the urgency of time and circumstances clearly does not permit a specific decision by the President, or other person empowered to act in his stead.” Eisenhower worried that providing that sort of authorization in advance could make it possible for someone to do “something foolish down the chain of command” and start an all-out nuclear war. But the alternative—allowing an attack on the United States to go unanswered or NATO forces to be overrun—seemed a lot worse. Aware that his decision might create public unease about who really controlled America’s nuclear arsenal, Eisenhower insisted that his delegation of Presidential authority be kept secret. At a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he confessed to being “very fearful of having written papers on this matter.”

President John F. Kennedy was surprised to learn, just a few weeks after taking office, about this secret delegation of power. “A subordinate commander faced with a substantial military action,” Kennedy was told in a top-secret memo, “could start the thermonuclear holocaust on his own initiative if he could not reach you.” Kennedy and his national-security advisers were shocked not only by the wide latitude given to American officers but also by the loose custody of the roughly three thousand American nuclear weapons stored in Europe. Few of the weapons had locks on them. Anyone who got hold of them could detonate them. And there was little to prevent NATO officers from Turkey, Holland, Italy, Great Britain, and Germany from using them without the approval of the United States.

In December, 1960, fifteen members of Congress serving on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy had toured NATO bases to investigate how American nuclear weapons were being deployed. They found that the weapons—some of them about a hundred times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima—were routinely guarded, transported, and handled by foreign military personnel. American control of the weapons was practically nonexistent. Harold Agnew, a Los Alamos physicist who accompanied the group, was especially concerned to see German pilots sitting in German planes that were decorated with Iron Crosses—and carrying American atomic bombs. Agnew, in his own words, “nearly wet his pants” when he realized that a lone American sentry with a rifle was all that prevented someone from taking off in one of those planes and bombing the Soviet Union [emphasis added].

The Kennedy Administration soon decided to put locking devices inside NATO’s nuclear weapons. The coded electromechanical switches, known as “permissive action links” (PALs), would be placed on the arming lines. The weapons would be inoperable without the proper code—and that code would be shared with NATO allies only when the White House was prepared to fight the Soviets. The American military didn’t like the idea of these coded switches, fearing that mechanical devices installed to improve weapon safety would diminish weapon reliability. A top-secret State Department memo summarized the view of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1961: “all is well with the atomic stockpile program and there is no need for any changes.”

After a crash program to develop the new control technology, during the mid-nineteen-sixties, permissive action links were finally placed inside most of the nuclear weapons deployed by NATO forces. But Kennedy’s directive applied only to the NATO arsenal. For years, the Air Force and the Navy blocked attempts to add coded switches to the weapons solely in their custody…

Despite public assurances that everything was fully under control, in the winter of 1964, while “Dr. Strangelove” was playing in theatres and being condemned as Soviet propaganda, there was nothing to prevent an American bomber crew or missile launch crew from using their weapons against the Soviets…

You can read Eric Schlosser’s guide to the long-secret documents that help explain the risks America took with its nuclear arsenal, and watch and read his deconstruction of clips from “Dr. Strangelove” and from a little-seen film about permissive action links.

Eric Schlosser is the author of “Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety,” from 2013, and a producer of the documentary “Command and Control,” from 2016.

2) Then see this earlier post of mine at Milnet.ca on The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg (yes, that Daniel Ellsberg of The Pentagon Papers):

3) As for Germans and nukes, anyone remember the great Tom Lehrer? Courtesy galeahortus:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3Ds

The Dragon vs the Kangaroo and the Beaver

1) The head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation pulls few punches short of actually naming the People’s Republic of China. ‘Twould be nice if his Canadian counterpart, the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) would speak so frankly but our current Liberal government would never permit that (see also the end of this section of the post):

Australia spy chief warns of “unprecedented” foreign espionage threat [actually counter-spy chief]

Australia is under an “unprecedented” threat of foreign espionage and interference, one of the country’s most senior spy chiefs said in a rare speech, citing the case of a “sleeper agent” who spent years building business links

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) Director-General Mike Burgess said several nations were working hard to influence lawmakers, government officials, media figures, business leaders and academics.

“The level of threat we face from foreign espionage and interference activities is currently unprecedented,” Burgess said at ASIO headquarters in Canberra on Monday [Feb. 24] evening as he unveiled the agency’s annual threat assessment.

“It is higher now, than it was at the height of the Cold War.”

Burgess did not identify the countries infiltrating Australia, a staunch ally of the United States, though analysts said it was a thinly veiled outing of China [emphasis added].

“It’s very reasonable to assume that China was the country in question,” said Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College, Australian National University.

ASIO is Australia’s domestic intelligence agency.

Reuters reported in September that Australia’s intelligence agencies concluded China was responsible for a cyber-attack on the Australian parliament and three largest political parties just months before a general election in May 2019.

China, which is Australia’s largest trading partner, has denied responsibility for the attack. Australia decided not to reveal the identity of the attackers in order to protect its trading relationship with China, sources familiar with the decision told Reuters in September.

“I don’t care what country it is we’re talking about, whether it’s China or Russia or Iran – if people pose a threat to our country, they will be dealt with according to the level of that threat,” Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday when asked about China.

SLEEPER AGENT

Burgess said Australia was being targeted in part because of its strategic position and alliances and its leadership in science and technology.

He said the sleeper agent from an unnamed country [guess which] laid dormant for several years, building business and community links before he started to supply information about expatriate dissidents. That information, Burgess said, was used to harass the dissidents in Australia and their relatives overseas.

Visiting academics and scientists had been infiltrating universities to collect intelligence [note this post: “See What China is up to at US Universities“], while foreign spies had entered Australia with the intention of setting up sophisticated hacking infrastructure, he added.

“The intent is to engineer fundamental shifts in Australia’s position in the world, not just to collect intelligence or use us as a potential ‘back-door’ into our allies and partners,” he said.

Australia’s leading universities last year agreed to more transparency in financial dealings with other countries and to share cyber intelligence with security agencies in a bid to curb foreign interference…

See what happened in 2010 to then-director of CSIS, Dick Fadden, when he dared mention China’s foreign influence activities in Canada; he only kept his job because the government of the day was Conservative:

Some politicians under foreign sway: CSIS

CSIS comments anger Chinese community

2) Certainly Canadian Prof. Charles Burton (see end of the quote) pulled no punches here:

Continuing to do nothing will not deter China: Charles Burton’s Remarks to the House of Commons Special Committee on Canada-China Relations

By Charles Burton, February 25, 2020

The following remarks were prepared by MLI Senior Fellow Charles Burton as evidence to present before the House of Commons Special Committee on Canada-China Relations meeting which convened on February 24, 2020. The full video of those proceedings, including Burton’s remarks, is available here. 

Good morning. It is such an honour for me to be invited to give evidence to the House of Commons Special Committee on Canada-China Relations.

I have read all the evidence from the Committee’s meetings numbers 3, 4 and 5 that were sent to me by your Clerk of the Committee. All of this evidence was given by senior Canadian Government civil servants explaining to the Committee how they implement Canadian government policy.

This morning I would like to highlight important factors in the Canada-China relationship that I was disappointed to see omitted in the earlier evidence, assertions made that I interpret differently, and, finally, some recommendations that I have for the Government of Canada on how to much more effectively further Canada’s interests in our relations with China.

Let me say, first of all, that as is the case for many Canadian families, Chinese, not English or French, is the language of my home. In my youth, I read a lot of classical Chinese texts in their original Chinese. More than 40 years ago, I had the extraordinary privilege of being admitted into the History of Ancient Chinese Thought Program in the Department of Philosophy at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Because of this, I was taken aback by something I read in the evidence that the Committee was given by a senior Canadian Government official who said, and I quote, the Chinese “place an importance on the values of collectivism and harmony, owing to a Confucian heritage. Understanding the extent to which China values unity and the needs of society at large, rather than freedom of individual choice…we just have to understand that. That’s where they’re coming from” and elaborated later as “some elements of collectivism and harmony are at odds with individual rights. They’re different.”

Let me point out, this assertion by our Ambassador is consistent with the official propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party under General-Secretary Xi Jinping. The CCP upholds its political legitimacy by claiming that China’s traditional culture demands non-democratic single Party autocratic rule in this modern age.

I could not disagree more with this interpretation, and certainly it is utterly refuted by the vibrant democracies based on respect for human rights and rule of law existing today in Taiwan and South Korea.

But the troubling question for me is this: does Canada’s acceptance that “China values unity and the needs of society at large, rather than freedom of individual choice,” mean that Canada will stand idly by in the face of the horrendous and massive program of cultural genocide against the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in China who are confined to so-called “re-education camps” where they are not permitted to practice their religion at any time over their years of incarceration?”

The fact is that Canada has put the names of officials from Sudan, Russia, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia on our Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (or, Magnitsky Sanction) list. But in sharp contrast, no Chinese officials complicit in the persecution of Tibetans, Uyghurs, Falun Gong and Chinese Christians have been designated. This sends out a strong signal to the PRC regime. That signal is that hostage diplomacy and arbitrary imposition of trade sanctions against Canada is a policy that works. Our lack of any substantive response to this emboldens them to do more of it in future.

The evidence given by our civil servants in the previous meetings of this Committee repeats over and over the formula that Canada’s priority in China relations is “the immediate release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, as well as clemency for Robert Schellenberg.” But in response to questioning, one of the officials indicated “there are two Canadians—Mr. Schellenberg and Mr. Fan Wei—whose charges on the death penalty are public and available.”

So why is the focus on Kovrig, Spavor and Schellenberg, three Canadians of non-Chinese origin, to the exclusion of our Canadians Huseyin Celil and Fan Wei? I judge that is certainly deeply troubling to all Canadians formerly resident in the PRC prior to becoming Canadian citizens and joining our national family.

Do we also thereby tacitly accept the Chinese Government’s claim that persons of Chinese origin in Canada have an obligation of residual loyalty to the Chinese state regardless of their Canadian citizenship? Is that why the serious problem of Chinese state harassment of persons of mainland-Chinese origin in Canada, in gross violation of the protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is essentially unaddressed by our Government [emphasis added]?

Let me conclude my remarks by way of providing recommendations that I have for the Government of Canada on how to much more effectively further Canada’s interests in our relations with China

The PRC regime’s flouting of the standards of international diplomacy is, without question, becoming more and more blatant as the years go on. Just last week the Czech Government President’s office acknowledged the leak of a communication received by that office from the PRC Embassy in Prague. In it, the Government of the PRC threatens that if the Speaker of the Czech Parliament travels to Taiwan as planned, then three Czech companies with extensive business in China would be punished, including the famous Petrov piano factory.

So unlike the PRC sanctions against our canola, which is falsely accused of having severe impurities in its dockage, there is no longer any pretense in this Czech case that there is any legitimate basis for the PRC’s threat of trade retaliation if a nation does not comply with the PRC’s political agenda. The companies menaced were chosen simply because they have ties to politically influential people in Prague.

Taiwan has a national Government utterly in control of its territory fully legitimated by a liberal democratic election process. Why shouldn’t the Czech speaker go there?

The fact is, Canada has lost the respect of the Chinese regime by our non-action in response to their outrages against us. It is high time for us to kick back by retaliating especially on China’s persistent illegal imports into Canada of the noxious drug, fentanyl.

Canada’s external trade with China is about 4.7% of our exports at present and is mostly primary commodities which can be sold easily elsewhere in the global market. In the unlikely event China decided to block us from access to their market further in response, the consequences would be highly disruptive to certain sectors. Those sectors would need compensation, but not as severe as some people who speak in support of China would make out.

But Canada’s continuing to do nothing in response to China’s violations of the accepted norms of international diplomacy and trade will not sustain the status quo in our deteriorating relations with China and will certainly not allow us to see movement in achieving the release of Celil, Spavor and Kovrig.

Finally let me conclude by mentioning that a report [full text here] by my friend Anne-Marie Brady to New Zealand’s Parliamentary Inquiry on Foreign Interference details the Chinese Communist Party’s massive scheme of enticing foreign politicians, academics and business people to promote China’s agenda through political lobbying, the media and academia. Besides offering business opportunities or free trips to China, using bribery or honey traps and so on, there are also “consultancies” in which prominent advisers pocket up to $150,000 per annum just for being affiliated with PRC entities [“compradors” as I call them]. So long as the foreign adviser promotes relations with China on PRC terms, the money keeps coming.

Australia’s 2018 Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act should be examined carefully by this Committee. Canada needs to come to terms with Chinese money benefiting Canadian political campaigns and rewarding Canadian politicians and public servants who are seen as “friends of China.”

Mr. Chair, I welcome vigorous and challenging questioning from members of the Committee about what I have said above and anything else I can speak to on Canada-China relations.

There are many very important topics that I have been unable to address in this short statement. I do regret that.

Thank you.

Charles Burton is associate professor of political science at Brock University, senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad, and former counsellor at the Canadian embassy in Beijing.

Related posts:

With Serious Chicom Links: “Influential Chinese-Canadians paying to attend private fundraisers with Trudeau” [2016]

FBI Director Slams Chi-Spies; Attorney General Slams Huawei

Huawei’s 5G vs Canadian National Security, or, Do Our Cringing Capitalist Compradors Win?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3Ds

Metternich, the Habsburg Empire, Napoleon…and Hitler

Excerpts from a very wide-ranging review by Ferdinand Mount of METTERNICH: Strategist and visionary, by Wolfram Siemann, at the Times Literary Supplement:

Prime Minister of the world

Clemens von Metternich: the master diplomat of the nineteenth century

Cartoon of Metternich during the Revolution of 1848Cartoon of Metternich during the Revolution of 1848|© Erich Lessing/akg-images

Few men [not French] can have spent more time than Metternich in private talk with Napoleon, notably as foreign minister in Dresden when he was shuttling to and fro between the emperors. There in the Chinese room at the Palais Marcolini on June 26, 1813, they talked for eight or nine hours on the trot. By then, he had long foreseen that Napoleon’s desire for European domination would prove insatiable. Yet he always found that the Emperor’s conversation “had a charm that was difficult to define”. He had a way of stripping a subject down to its essentials, listening carefully and bringing the topic to a point, while fobbing off any attempt to pin him down to any specific commitment. As the Comte de Las Cases was to find on St Helena, you could say anything to him. Both men asked Napoleon why he told such lies in his military bulletins. To Metternich, Napoleon replied with a smile: “They are not written for you, the Parisians believe everything”. Then towards the end, he would launch into the most furious and intimidating tirade. At Dresden, Metternich pointed out to him how the nature of war had changed to become total war: “today, it is a whole people that you have called to arms”; mere children were being pressed onto the battlefield. Enraged, Napoleon retorted: “You are no soldier and you do not know what goes on in the soul of a soldier. I was brought up in military camps, and a man like me doesn’t give a fuck about the lives of a million men”…

Metternich’s accounts of his talks with Napoleon recall Sir Eric Phipps’s accounts of his conversations with Hitler as Ambassador in Berlin between 1933 and 1937 (Our Man in Berlin, edited by Gaynor Johnson, 2008 [see here]). There are the same apparent candour and approachability, even charm, the same refusal to be tied down to any international commitment, and then after the fobbing off comes the great rant, a mixture of aggression, self-pity and national resentments which forms a staged finale to the encounter.

Out of that quarter century of bloodshed and destruction, Metternich’s world view emerges, never to change for the remaining forty years of his life. It is permeated not only by his great longing for Ruhe [quietness] but also by an ingrained suspicion of national passions. Democracy is to be distrusted because it legitimizes and inflames those passions, exciting racial paranoia and the urge for racial separation.

Even Metternich’s modern admirers find this attitude hard to swallow. Kissinger concludes that Metternich’s virtuoso performance was ultimately futile: “Unable to adapt its domestic structure, unable to survive with it in a century of nationalism, even Austria’s most successful policies amounted to no more than a reprieve, to a desperate grasping to commit allies, not to a work of construction, but to deflect part of the inevitable holocaust”. Schroeder, too, ticks off those who swallow claims of their hero’s claims to modernity: “Metternich was basically a rigid absolutist whose political outlook was tied to a system of government and society which may once have had its grandeur and fitness, but which even by Metternich’s time was becoming outworn, and by our own is completely anachronistic”.

Sked, though, in his dazzling Metternich and Austria [see here], denounces Kissinger’s views as “fantasy” and asserts that Schroeder “gets almost everything wrong”. The empire was not brought down by the aborted revolution of 1848 and was unhorsed only by the First World War. The Emperor continued to reign for another sixty years, as popular as ever. Railways were built, glass and chemical factories constructed. The censorship was annoying but understaffed and rather indulgent; ditto the police state. Nor was there much popular unrest; the only mass slaughter, in Galicia in 1846, was carried out by local Polish peasants in support of their emperor. Sentences of death were usually commuted, and the waltzing and winemaking continued unabated [see the recent and excellent The Habsburg Empire: A New History, by Pieter M. Judson]. At the very least, Sked declares, “Metternich by 1848 had had an exceptionally good run for his money”…

For three decades after the Napoleonic wars, there were other leaders in Europe who mostly shared Metternich’s concerting instincts: Castlereagh, Aberdeen and Peel in Britain, Guizot and Molé and indeed King Louis Philippe in France, latterly Tsar Alexander and Nesselrode in Russia (who deserves to be remembered by more than a pudding in Proust). Then came Palmerston and the age of national assertion began all over again. If Metternich really had been born in 1900, I don’t think he would have enjoyed what he was destined to witness.

Earlier posts based on reviews by Mr Mount:

Bagehot, or, Why One Should Not Trust “The Economist”

Edmund Burke, the French Revolution and…Chairman Mao

Wide-ranging fellow indeed, our Mr Mount. Plus an earlier post on Kissinger (who looks not too sharp on China):

Henry the K, or, It May Help to Know a Lot of History

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Macron and Muslims, or, Marianne et les Musulmans en France, Part 2

Further to this post,

Marianne et les Musulmans en France–et la Norvège

a news story by France 24 and then a column by Konrad Yakabuski of the Globe and Mail:

1) Macron unveils curbs on foreign imams in France to combat ‘separatism’

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday announced measures to end a programme that allowed foreign countries to send imams and teachers to France in a bid to crack down on what he called the risk of “separatism”.

During a visit to the eastern French city of Mulhouse, Macron said the government sought to combat “foreign interference” in how Islam is practiced and the way its religious institutions are organised.

“A problem arises when, in the name of religion, some want to separate themselves from the Republic and therefore not respect its laws,” he said.

Macron plans to end a programme created in 1977 that allowed nine countries to send imams and teachers to France to provide foreign-language and culture classes that are not subject to any supervision from French authorities.

Four majority-Muslim countries – Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Turkey – were involved in the programme, which reaches about 80,000 students every year. Around 300 imams were sent to France every year by these countries and those who arrived in 2020 will be the last to arrive in such numbers, said Macron. 

The government has asked the French Muslim Council (CFCM), the body representing Islam in France, to find solutions to train imams on French soil instead and ensure they can speak French and do not spread Islamist views. 

The measures were part of a much-anticipated intervention less than a month before municipal elections in France. Macron’s speech came at the end of a visit to Mulhouse, home to a large Muslim community that has been the focus of the French government’s campaign against Islamism.

The new rules were intended to counter Islamic extremism in France by giving the government more authority over the schooling of children, the financing of mosques and the training of imams, said Macron.

“This end to the consular Islam system is extremely important to curb foreign influence and make sure everybody respects the laws of the republic,” he told a news conference in Mulhouse…

2) Macron wages a war on ‘Islamist separatism

French President Emmanuel Macron in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 20, 2020.

Last month, France was plunged into yet another bitter debate about the incompatibility between the republican values espoused by its secular leaders and those of the country’s rapidly growing Muslim population. The trigger this time was a video posted online by a teenage girl who did not mince words in depicting Islam as a religion unworthy of respect.

L’affaire Mila sparked an online war between the girl’s critics and defenders. Politicians all the way up to President Emmanuel Macron were soon forced to weigh in after the 16-year-old whose video started it all became the target of violent threats and was pulled out of school.

Few countries hold blasphemy in as high regard as France. The right to condemn and criticize any religion, no matter how crudely, has been protected since the French Revolution of 1789. But the risks associated with the practice have never seemed as high since a terrorist attack, five years ago, on the offices of the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo left 12 dead.

While the attack led to a global “Je suis Charlie” movement in support of freedom of speech, it also changed the way religion, especially Islam, is discussed in France – much to the chagrin of the French right, which has criticized Mr. Macron for being too politically correct.

So when Mr. Macron’s Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet suggested that Mila could be charged for “insulting Islam,” her boss, anticipating a backlash on the right, quickly moved to correct her. “The law is clear: We have a right to be blasphemous, to criticize, to caricaturize religions,” Mr. Macron insisted. “What is prohibited is hate speech or an attack on [someone’s] dignity [emphasis added].”

With two years left in his five-year mandate, and less a month before French voters go to the polls in municipal elections that Mr. Macron’s République en Marche will contest for the first time, the President moved further this week to neutralize criticism from the right. In a speech denouncing “Islamist separatism” within France, Mr. Macron criticized the isolationism of some Muslim communities that seek to live apart from broader French society.

“The problem we have is when, in the name of belonging to a religion, one wants to separate oneself from the Republic, and therefore no longer respect its laws,” Mr. Macron said in a speech in Mulhouse, a city near the German border that has seen an influx of Turkish and North African immigrants in recent years. “In the Republic, we must never accept that the laws of religion can become superior to the laws of the Republic. It’s as simple as that.”

As part of a strategy to combat Islamist separation, Mr. Macron announced that imams sent by foreign countries such as Turkey, Algeria and Morocco would no longer be allowed to preach in French mosques. A shortage of French-raised imams has led the country’s five million Muslims to increasingly recruit spiritual leaders from abroad, leading to charges of proselytism by religious leaders with no allegiance to the Republic. Henceforth, Mr. Macron said, imams will need to be trained in France by the state-sanctioned French Council of the Muslim Faith.

The President also announced the end of a long-standing program to teach children of immigrants their parents’ language by teachers from their home country. “I’m not comfortable with the idea of having, in our public schools, men and woman who can teach without any control by [France’s Department of] National Education,” Mr. Macron said.

…the president of the Île-de-France region that includes Paris’s multi-ethnic suburbs, Valérie Pécresse, went even further in warning that Islamism “does not just have separatism as its objective, as [Mr. Macron] says; it has an objective of taking power.”

Ms. Pécresse, who quit Les Républicains last year to form her own party, is also considering a presidential run in 2022. The theme of that election may just have been decided this week.

Keep in mind that la laïcité de la République is rather an inspiration for many Québécois, see e.g. the famous (or infamous) Bill 21 on religious symbols.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

China, or, Why the US Needs to Continue in the New START Nuclear Weapons Treaty With Russia

Further to this post,

More on US Hypersonics, Ballistic Missiles, Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control, er, Challenges

excerpts from an article by Will Saetren:

Why Donald Trump should extend nuclear arms treaty with Russia now and worry about China later

*With Trump reluctant to accept Russia’s extension offer as he focuses on including China in a new deal, the only nuclear arms control treaty left between the US and Russia is in danger of expiring, making the world a much more dangerous place

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at the Osaka G20 summit last June. Russia has offered to extend the nuclear arms control treaty with no new conditions. Photo: White House

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at the Osaka G20 summit last June. Russia has offered to extend the nuclear arms control treaty with no new conditions. Photo: White House

…The Trump administration is quietly letting the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) die [see here for more details]. If it does, the US will have no one to blame but itself for making the world a more dangerous place…

New Start is the main safeguard that prevents that scenario from playing out. Signed in 2010, the treaty limits Russia and the US to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads each [they have other ones, not deployed–the inspections etc. ensure the deployed limits are kept]. These limits are enforced through on-site inspections, data exchanges and stringent declaration requirements.

When either party deploys, decommissions or repositions its proverbial doomsday machines, the other party knows in advance…

If New Start is allowed to expire on February 5, 2021, that all goes away. For the first time since 1972, there will be no constraints left on US or Russian strategic arsenals.

For years, Russia has been offering to extend New Start with no preconditions, but the US has so far refused to sign on. President Donald Trump has slammed the deal as one-sided, claiming that Russia “outsmarted” the US during negotiations and that the treaty allows Russia to continue producing nuclear warheads while the US cannot (it does not)…

Multiple voices within the US administration believe that any follow-on treaty to New Start must involve China. Earlier this month, Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, told reporters: “We think that China is going to need to become involved in any serious arms control negotiation, so we’re going to work on those talks in the coming months and year.”

On the surface, this argument makes sense. Russia is no longer the superpower it once was. China is on the rise and, by most metrics, is a far more potent adversary than Russia. Except for its nuclear arsenal.

Most experts assess that China has less than 300 nuclear weapons, about one-fifth of what the US and Russia can deploy under New Start…

The sheer size of the US and Russian arsenals makes transparency a net positive. Both countries have a vested interest in knowing what the other is doing, to avoid sending the wrong signal and accidentally triggering a nuclear war. In China’s case, the opposite is true.By keeping its cards close to its chest [i.e. no formal declarations of weapons systems, no inspections etc.], Beijing can have confidence that its arsenal would survive a surprise nuclear attack and guarantee a devastating counter-attack. Investing precious resources in nuclear weapons for the purpose of competing in a numbers game would be nothing more than a costly overkill.

For China to seriously consider joining New Start, it would have to level the playing field with the US and Russia. Unless these countries are willing to surrender thousands of nuclear weapons (which is unlikely), that would entail China arming up, not down [emphasis added]. That scenario benefits no one…

The US needs to give up on the notion that it should contain China at every turn. The bottom line is that the world is a safer place with New Start than without it. Trump should accept Russia’s offer and extend the treaty immediately. It would require no more effort than the stroke of a pen.

Although the notion of restricting China’s nuclear arsenal might seem lucrative to the American president, it makes little sense. Trump is running the very real risk of losing a phenomenal deal in the pursuit of a pipe dream.

Related recent posts:

What the US Needs to Do to Be Ready to Fight China

Hyping-Up the US Navy’s Virginia-Class Attack Subs

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Hyping-Up the US Navy's Virginia-Class Attack Subs

Further to this post,

More on US Hypersonics, Ballistic Missiles, Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control, er, Challenges

let’s look more closely at what the USN is planning–at USNI News:

Navy Confirms Global Strike Hypersonic Weapon Will First Deploy on Virginia Attack Subs

The Navy intends to deploy its conventional prompt strike hypersonic weapon on Virginia-class attack submarines, after previous discussions of putting the weapon on the larger Ohio-class guided-missile submarine (SSGN), according to budget request documents.

In its Fiscal Year 2021 budget overview, the Navy outlines a research and development portfolio with 5 percent more funding than this current year – for a total of $21.5 billion – that is aimed at “providing innovative capabilities in shipbuilding (Columbia class), aviation (F-35), weapons (Maritime Strike Tomahawk), hypersonics (Conventional Prompt Strike), unmanned, family of lasers, digital warfare, applied [artificial intelligence], and [U.S. Marine Corps] expeditionary equipment. These technologies are crucial to maintaining DON’s competitive advantage.”

On the Conventional Prompt Strike, the Navy wants to invest $1 billion for research and development.

“The CPS program develops warfighting capability to enable precise and timely strike capability in contested environments across surface and sub-surface platforms,” reads the budget documents. “The Navy’s CPS program will design a missile comprised of a Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) and a 34.5 inch two-stage booster. The program is pursuing an [initial operational capability] of FY 2028 in which the missile will be fielded on a Virginia class submarine with Virginia Payload Module.”

In the fall of 2017, the Navy and Defense Department tested “the first conventional prompt strike missile for the United States Navy in the form factor that would eventually, could eventually be utilized if leadership chooses to do so, in an Ohio-class tube,” now-retired Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, who then directed the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs (SSP), said, calling it “a monumental achievement.”

The conventional prompt global strike capability would allow the U.S. to hit any target on the planet with precision-guided weapons in less than an hour [and how would the target country know the missile was not armed with a nuclear weapon?]. Similar to nuclear weapons, part of that prompt strike capability would rely on multiple ways to launch the missiles from ships, submarines or ground launchers around the globe.

Following Benedict’s comments, which focused on the SSGNs as a future host for the weapon, the SSP office told USNI News that the four Ohio-class SSBNs that were previously converted to guided-missile submarines (SSGNs) or future Virginia-class attack submarines with the Virginia Payload Module would likely be the platforms contributing to conventional prompt global strike mission.

The Virginia Payload Module is a segment added into the middle of the Virginia SSN design that holds 28 additional missile tubes, for a total of 40 missiles per boat [those tubes have been used for conventionally-armed Tomahawk cruise missiles–SLCMs]. Its insertion into the design for Block V Virginias and beyond is meant to help add more missile tube capacity as the four Ohio-class SSGNs that carry 154 missiles apiece retire from service…

Hypersonics will cause a whole lot of upset for nuclear weapons arms control efforts.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds