Tag Archives: France

Mark Collins – Trump, Russia, NATO and…German Nukes?

Possible disturbing fall-out (pun intended) from The Donald’s election–guess how the Russkies would react to the prospect of Germans with their own, not dual-key American, nuclear weapons (yes Virginia, they’re still there)–at Spiegel Online:

Elephant in the Room
Europeans Debate Nuclear Self-Defense after Trump Win

For decades, American nuclear weapons have served as a guarantor of European security. But what happens if Donald Trump casts doubt on that atomic shield? A debate has already opened in Berlin and Brussels over alternatives to the U.S. deterrent. By SPIEGEL Staff

The issue is so secret that it isn’t even listed on any daily agenda at NATO headquarters. When military officials and diplomats speak about it in Brussels, they meet privately and in very small groups — sometimes only with two or three people at a time. There is a reason why signs are displayed in the headquarters reading, “no classified conversation.”

And this issue is extremely sensitive. The alliance wants to avoid a public discussion at any cost. Such a debate, one diplomat warns, could trigger an “avalanche.” The foundations of the trans-Atlantic security architecture would be endangered if this “Pandora’s box” were to be opened.

The discussion surrounds nuclear deterrent. For decades, the final line of defense for Europe against possible Russian aggression has been provided by the American nuclear arsenal. But since Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States, officials in Berlin and Brussels are no longer certain that Washington will continue to hold a protective hand over Europe.

It isn’t yet clear what foreign policy course the new administration will take — that is, if it takes one at all. It could be that Trump will run US foreign policy under the same principle with which he operates his corporate empire: a maximum level of unpredictability…

what happens if the president-elect has an even more fundamental shift in mind for American security policy? What if he questions the nuclear shield that provided security to Europe during the Cold War?

For more than 60 years, Germany entrusted its security to NATO and its leading power, the United States. Without a credible deterrent, the European NATO member states would be vulnerable to possible threats from Russia. It would be the end of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Could the French or British Step In?

In European capitals, officials have been contemplating the possibility of a European nuclear deterrent since Trump’s election. The hurdles — military, political and international law — are massive and there are no concrete intentions or plans. Still, French diplomats in Brussels have already been discussing the issue with their counterparts from other member states: Could the French and the British, who both possess nuclear arsenals, step in to provide protection for other countries like Germany?

An essay in the November issue of Foreign Affairs argues that if Trump seriously questions the American guarantees, Berlin will have to consider establishing a European nuclear deterrent on the basis of the French and British capabilities. Germany’s respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, meanwhile, even contemplated the “unthinkable” in an editorial: a German bomb.

‘The Last Thing Germany Needs Now’

Politicians in Berlin want to prevent a debate at all costs. “A public debate over what happens if Trump were to change the American nuclear doctrine is the very last thing that Germany needs right now,” says Wolfgang Ischinger, head of the Munich Security Conference. “It would be a catastrophic mistake if Berlin of all places were to start that kind of discussion. Might Germany perhaps actually want a nuclear weapon, despite all promises to the contrary? That would provide fodder for any anti-German campaign.”

The debate however, is no longer relegated the relatively safe circles of think tanks and foreign policy publications…

Could be a scary new world. By the way, for quite a few years during the Cold War Canadian forces with NATO in Europe also had dual-key nukes–see “The Great Canadian Traditional Peacekeeping Myth vs Nuclear Weapons“. How many Canadians today are aware of that?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Der Untergang des Abendlandes, Putin and "transgender bathroom rights" Section

At the end of an opinion piece at the Wall St. Journal:

The Vladimir Putin Test
The strongman’s appeal reveals a lot about today’s liberal democracies…

Under President Obama, Angela Merkel, François Hollande and the like, the liberal vision really has been reduced to fighting for transgender bathroom rights as the world burns. For Mr. Obama, liberal order really does mean endless multilateralism and diplomatic procedure for their own sake. The European equivalent, pressed by the likes of Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Hollande, is the idea of “more Europe,” more European Union “norms” and bureaucracy, as the solution to every crisis.

Liberal leaders couldn’t afford to look so feeble for so long without making the liberal-democratic model look feeble—and the Putinist alternative decisive and strong [via  @FredLitwin]

Though I think the French are perhaps the least feeble, e.g. here and here. They still believe in raison d’etat, don’t you know. More unterganging.

Now consider the WEIRD perspective.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – En Flipping Fin: India Signs to buy 36 French Rafale Fighters

Further to this July post,

“Absurd”: Continuing India/France Rafale Fighter Buy Balls-Up, Part 2 (plus Gripen)

this seemingly almost endless Indian procurement saga (ring any bells in the Great White North?) has finally ended with a bit of a nuclear bang (see second link at quote):

India Signs Deal To Buy 36 Dassault Rafale Fighters

Behind Rafale deal: Their ‘strategic’ role in delivery of nuclear weapons
The long-delayed deal is being finalised because India has identified the French fighters for their ‘strategic’ role — to deliver nuclear weapons.

Ready To Manufacture [further] Rafale[s] In India: Dassault CEO

Note that for their parts Boeing has offered to build the Super Hornet in India and LockMart to build their (new-model) F-16V. Lots of room for lots more Indian procurement fun and games.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – "A Peek into French Signals Intelligence"–with a Canada/CSE Angle

Very interesting, will our media notice what’s at 2.?

France’s former top SIGINT spy confirms an advanced persistent threat and muses about a merger with German intelligence [the foreign intelligence service BND’s website is here–they also do SIGINT as does their French equivalent DGSE, see next para].

Something remarkable happened a few months ago. Bernard Barbier, the former head of signals intelligence (SIGINT) between 2006 and 2014 at France’s foreign intelligence agency (DGSE [website here]), gave a speech at one of France’s top engineering schools in which he reflected on his career and imparted some of his wisdom to students. He also said some things that he probably shouldn’t have, like confirming that France was behind the Animal Farm advanced persistent threat, commenting on the SIGINT capabilities of European allies, and reacting to the revelation that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA [website here]) had compromised the networks of the French presidency.

Last week, Barbier’s speech surfaced on YouTube but was quickly taken down. However, it was up long enough for French daily Le Monde to transcribe some of the highlights. Here they are, paraphrased and translated from the original French…

2. “And yes, it was a Frenchman”

In 2014, Le Monde published documents from the Snowden archive revealing that Canada’s SIGINT agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE [website here]), suspected that Paris was behind a cyber espionage campaign that began in 2009 targeting Iran’s nuclear program but also targeting computers in Canada. CSE was able to attribute the campaign to the French based on some reverse engineering revealing that the malware developer used references to a French children’s cartoon character, Babar the Elephant. That reference also led Kaspersky [US  website here] to baptise the malware Animal Farm. Barbier recalls that CSE “concluded that he [the malware author] was French. And yes, it was a Frenchman.”..

Canadian media do not seem to have noticed these revelations at the time. Lots more on  SIGINT here.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is  a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – US Allies: "No" to No US Nuke First Use (Obama to Announce?)

Some friends are getting nervous they might be left in the deterrent lurch and lots of leaking is going on (current NATO policy, for its part, on nuclear weapons’ use is not terribly clear):

U.S. allies unite to block Obama’s nuclear ‘legacy’

President Obama’s last-minute drive for a foreign-policy legacy is making U.S. allies nervous about their own security. Several allied governments have lobbied the administration not to change U.S. nuclear-weapons policy by promising never to be the first to use them in a conflict.

The governments of Japan, South Korea, France and Britain have all privately communicated their concerns about a potential declaration by President Obama of a “no first use” nuclear-weapons policy for the United States. U.S. allies have various reasons for objecting to what would be a landmark change in America’s nuclear posture, but they are all against it, according to U.S. officials, foreign diplomats and nuclear experts.

Japan, in particular, believes that if Obama declares a “no first use” policy, deterrence against countries such as North Korea will suffer and the risks of conflict will rise. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally conveyed that message recently to Adm. Harry Harris Jr., the head of U.S. Pacific Command, according to two government officials.

U.S. allies in Europe have a separate, additional concern. They don’t want any daylight between their nuclear policies and those of the United States, especially since Britain, France and the United States all are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. In the case of an emergency, those differences could cause real coordination problems.

“It’s my understanding that the defense ministries of many of our allied nations have lobbied the White House against changing this doctrine, and there’s been particularly strong opposition from the U.K., France, Japan and South Korea,” said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, , an anti-proliferation advocacy group that supports the policy change. “We have an interest in creating an international norm that no one should use nuclear weapons first. The allies lobbying against it are nervous nellies.”

The White House is considering declaring a “no first use” nuclear-weapons policy as one of several ways Obama can advance his non-proliferation agenda in his final months in office. Several options are under debate, and no final decisions have been made on “no first use.”

The president wants to roll out announcements on nuclear policy in September to coincide with his final appearance at the U.N. General Assembly, officials said. One administration official told me that, in part because of allied concerns, the internal push on “no first use” was not gaining traction…

One assumes that “no first use” is an issue the Canadian government would simply prefer to duck. Then there are these American plans:

New USAF ICBMs/New USAF Nuke ALCM (cruise missile)

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Mosques: French Crackdown on Foreign Funding (Canada/Saudis?)

France can be tough:

To curb radicalism, France targets foreign funding for mosques

After three major terrorist attacks in the last year and a half, public outrage has forced the French government to respond. But one particular proposal has generated significant controversy: the shutdown of certain mosques and the foreign funding behind them.

Late last month — weeks after the Nice attack — Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for an outright ban on the foreign funding of mosques in France “for a period to be determined.” Days later, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that, in fact, more concrete measures had already been taken: Since December 2015, he said, 20 Salafist mosques were shut down altogether.

“There is no place in France for those who call for and incite hatred in prayer halls or in mosques,” Cazeneuve said, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Muslim leaders. For many French Muslims, however, the issue is the implicit association in his words — namely, that mosques are where terrorists radicalize.

“It gives the idea that mosques have something to do with terrorism,” Marwan Muhammad, the director of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, said in an interview. “It’s a way of problematizing Muslims once again.”

There are about 2,500 Muslim “houses of prayer” in France, not all of which are officially classified as mosques. According to France 24, only about 120 of these are associated with radical Salafism, a strict variation of Sunni Islam.

[Terrorist attack on French church ignites fears of religious culture wars]

One wonders how much our government knows about what goes on in mosques and other Muslim institutions here–those jolly jihadi Saudis provide quite a lot of money (see here and the latter part of this piece).

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – France vs Islamist Terrorism: “Merciless”

Further to this post,

Fighting Islamist Terrorism: A Darker Future for Freedom?

also sprach Sarko:

Islamists attack French church, slit priest’s throat

MERCILESS

…former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is expected to enter a conservative primary for next year’s presidential election, accused the Socialist government of being soft.

“We must be merciless,” Sarkozy said in a statement to reporters.

“The legal quibbling, precautions and pretexts for insufficient action are not acceptable. I demand that the government implement without delay the proposals we presented months ago. There is no more time to be wasted.”

The center-right opposition wants all Islamist suspects to be either held in detention or electronically tagged to avert potential attacks.

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who is also expected to run for the presidency, said both Sarkozy’s and Hollande’s parties had failed on security.
“All those who have governed us for 30 years bear an immense responsibility. It’s revolting to watch them bickering!” she tweeted…

At the Guardian:


A nun who witnessed the murder described how the men forced Father Jacques Hamel to his knees before killing him and filmed themselves preaching in Arabic by the altar. They also tried to cut the throat of a parishioner, leaving him for dead…

The French in the past certainly could be merciless when the state was truly threatened (fictional below but with the ring of truth):

Torture Helps

In “The Day of the Jackal” the crucial information that eventually leads to the assassin hired by the OAS to kill President de Gaulle derives from torture (to death, more here); oddly enough that did not seem to cause a stir at the time…

And consider Algeria

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds