Confronting North Korea by changing the dynamics. By James A. Lyons, Admiral USN (ret).

 

Confronting North Korea by changing the dynamics.

Withdrawing U.S. military dependents from the South would signal seriousness

By James A. Lyons, Admiral USN (ret).

 

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

On July 4, North Korea successfully test-fired the equivalent of an intercontinental ballistic missile with the potential to hit not only our regional allies but Alaska as well. Leading up to the latest test, President Trump, regrettably, has followed the path of the five previous administrations, believing that cozying up to China’s communist government would be helpful in reining in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. By now, everyone should understand that will never happen. Let’s be clear: There would be no North Korean nuclear weapons program if it were not for China and Russia. Further, North Korea is the off-site laboratory and test site for Iran’s nuclear program.

Relying on China to rein in North Korea’s nuclear program has not only been a dismal failure, but a serious strategic mistake. Mr. Trump needs to stop listening to the Obama holdovers and other “undercover agents” for strategic advice. We should certainly understand by now that China’s strategic objectives include a nuclear-armed North Koreaas a way to lessen U.S. influence not only in South Korea but, ultimately, throughout the Western Pacific. Never forget — China is seeking total hegemony throughout the first island chain, which includes Taiwan and, eventually, the second island chain, which includes Guam, our main support base.

With those clear objectives, China is not about to hand us a victory on the Korean Peninsula without strong actions on our part. The fact that North Korea’s latest missile test was fired from a 16-wheel, road-mobile, transporter-erector-launcher supplied by China should have been particularly galling to Mr. Trump. According to Japanese reports, there are eight China-supplied launchers in North Korea. To rub salt in the wound, both China and Russia issued a joint statement on the day of the North Korean test, proposing to resolve the problem by having North Korea freeze its nuclear and ballistic missile testing (no dismantlement), provided the United States abandons large-scale joint exercises with South Korea.

 

There is simply no equivalence here. These defensive exercises have been a key component of maintaining peace and stability for the past 50 years. Why would we change? Ending these exercises has been a long-term China objective, which Beijing knows is a non-starter. Further, the fact that both China and Russia were able to issue a joint statement on the day of the test indicates that they most likely had advance notification.

On July 6, left-wing, newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, following up on his campaign rhetoric, proposed more dialogue with North Korea and said that he is prepared to meet Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. He also extended an olive branch by calling for more economic cooperation and a resumption of family reunions. Regrettably, Mr. Moon doesn’t get it: You don’t reward a totalitarian regime for bad behavior. As we have seen many times, such conciliatory gestures are viewed only as a sign of weakness.

According to a July 7 Wall Street Journal article, the Trump administration plans to give diplomacy and economic sanctions more time to resolve the crisis with North Korea. With China, Russia and Iran ignoring the economic sanctions, though, there will be no change in North Korea’s violation of U.N. sanctions. When speaking in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda, however, Mr. Trump stated that he was considering “some pretty severe things,” which certainly could imply military action. Previously, the president has stated that since China has failed to help solve the problem, we will have to do it ourselves.

As we have seen over the years, successful diplomacy must have strong, recognized military options. It was “peace through strength” that was key to winning the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Under the current circumstances, without a dramatic change in the dynamics controlling the crisis with North Korea, more diplomatic discussions and potential talks with North Korea like the previous Six Party Talks, will also fail.

To put substance into our past declarations that “all options are being considered,” a dramatic, dynamic change must be introduced into the Korean equation. Accordingly, it is proposed that we plan to withdraw all U.S. military dependents from South Korea. This will not only remove a “hostage force” from the South Korean environment, but would also upset both China and North Korea’s calculations on what further actions are we planning to take. Certainly, it would provide us the freedom to plan a range of military options.

During the time it would take to remove all U.S. military dependents from South Korea, we should begin to massively reinforce our forces in the Western Pacific. This should include two or three attack carrier strike groups as well as four Air Force bomber squadrons, and up to 24 fighter squadrons with accompanying support forces. We should also plan to reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons into South Korea as well as on our forward-deployed submarines. A crash program to provide cruise-missile arsenal ships should also be part of the buildup.

 

Coordination with our allies will need to be factored into our overall planning. In that sense, an expanded military equipment package for Taiwan should also be planned. The unambiguous message that we would be sending is that we will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. It must dismantle its nuclear program or be destroyed.

  • James A. Lyons, U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

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GEDRICH: Coping with NATO Freeloaders

GEDRICH: Coping with NATO Freeloaders

 

 

 

by Fred Gedrich 5 Jun 2017

In a recent gathering of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member country leaders at their Brussels, Belgium Headquarters, U.S. President Donald Trump formally asked those whose governments aren’t fulfilling their treaty defense funding obligations to pay up.

His request for payment is appropriate, although met with scorn and snickers by some European leaders, who seemingly would much rather invest their nations’ valuable resources on matters like climate change than their collective and national defense. The subsequent terrorist attack in London provides another grim reminder of the dangers NATO countries face.

NATO’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. The United States, Canada, and several Western European nations created the organization in 1949 to provide collective security against the Soviet Union. It subsequently expanded to 28 member nations and changed its mission after the 1991 Soviet Union collapse.

More than ten years ago all NATO members agreed to spend at least two percent of their gross domestic product (goods and services produced) on defense spending to ensure all of them are at a satisfactory defense readiness level. Currently, only 5 of 28 members are meeting their defense funding commitments. As a result, U.S. taxpayers are shouldering the burden of building up the U.S. military to compensate for other member shortfalls. If NATO is to carry out its mission effectively, each member must invest in its defense at prescribed levels to ensure each can respond to contemporary threats in Europe like Russian aggression and radical Islamic terrorism.

Those threats are very real. In recent years, Putin’s Russia seized parts of the Ukraine and Georgia and is intimidating some other European neighbors as well with its military and hefty nuclear arsenal. And who can forget the recent wanton slaughter of innocent civilians in NATO country urban areas by radical Islamic terrorists such as occurred in Belgium, France, Germany, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States?

How does the NATO funding scheme work? Its most important element is member country readiness, achieved through defense spending of at least 2 percent of each nation’s GDP. The collective GDP for the 28 NATO member nations in 2016 was $38.4 trillion. If all members invested 2 percent of their GDP on defense spending then about $768 billion ($38.4 trillion x 2 percent) would be available for the organization’s common defense.

However, despite repeated attempts by two previous U.S. presidents, Bush and Obama, only a handful of NATO members have met or exceeded their financial defense spending commitments. In fact, as of 2016, only the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Estonia, and Greece have done so.

The failure of 23 NATO members to meet their defense funding commitments means that those delinquent nations may not be able to meet the minimum manpower, equipment, and support expected of NATO members in the event of a security emergency, which could be devastating for the countries and the alliance. It also means that there is a collective defense funding shortfall of $134 billion among those nations.

Who are the freeloaders?  The 23 include nearly all of the richest Western European nations. Germany – Europe’s wealthiest NATO member with a $4 trillion GDP – is $38.2 billion short on its $80 billion spending bill by only investing 1.18 percent of its GDP on defense. Italy is $23.1 billion short; Spain is $18.8 billion short; Canada is $16.7 billion short; NATO host Belgium is $5.6 billion short; France is $5.5 billion short; and Luxembourg – which has Europe’s greatest average annual income per person at $102,000 – contributed less than .5 percent of its GDP for defense. There may be an excuse for the newest members from Eastern Europe with developing economies for not being able to meet these funding levels, but there is no excuse for the wealthy nations.

How does NATO make up the defense funding shortfall? Like it always does, delinquent member countries rely on the United States to make up the difference. Since the organization’s founding, the United States has served as its chief benefactor. In 2016, the U.S. invested $672 billion in defense spending, $300 billion more than the alliance required, and supplying about 68 percent of NATO’s total resources.

After President Trump’s payment demand, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that “we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands.”  She might instead consider taking some of the other European leaders for a trip down memory lane to fully appreciate the sacrifices in blood and treasure Americans have made for European nations during the 20th Century. Here are a few things for them to consider:

  • 521, 925 Americans died liberating Europe during World War I and II.
  • 874,848 Americans were wounded in Europe during World War I and II.
  • 104,366 Americans killed during World War I and II never returned home and are buried in European cemeteries.
  • The United States spent about $130 billion current year dollars rebuilding Europe after World War II through the Marshall Plan.

It is largely because of U.S. efforts and American goodwill that Western Europeans survived Germany tyranny during World War I and II and protected Western Europeans, including West Germany, from Soviet Union domination during the Cold War. In addition, it also allowed Chancellor Merkel’s country to eventually overcome its Nazi and communist (East Germany) past and evolve into a free, self-governing unified country that many currently consider Western Europe’s leader.

If Chancellor Merkel and other disenchanted European leaders truly want to take their fate into their own hands, they might want to first consider meeting their NATO defense spending obligations, because it would enhance their own national security as well as the alliance’s – and give Europeans a pathway for their own self-reliance rather than continued U.S. security dependence.  And it would surely please U.S. taxpayers and President Trump if they did.

Fred Gedrich is a foreign policy and national security analyst. He served in the departments of State and Defense.

 

Balochistan: A wider strategic context in the Afghanistan debate by Lawrence Sellin, Phd.

Editor’s Note: From our great friend Dr. Lawrence Sellin, Phd. Dr. Sellin is also a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

 

 

Balochistan: A wider strategic context in the Afghanistan debate

 

by Lawrence Sellin, Phd. June 9, 2017

Yes, the primary mission is still to protect the homeland by preventing Afghanistan from being used again as a safe haven for terrorists to attack the U.S. or our allies.

And, yes, troop levels and the operational tempo have always been predicated on a single proposition, to buy enough time so that Afghan security forces can successfully take the lead against the Taliban or any other terrorist entity who plan to use Afghanistan as a training or operational base.

But there is a bigger picture.

Pakistan created and supported the Taliban as an instrument of its foreign policy and has always viewed Afghanistan as a client state, a security buffer against what they consider potential Indian encirclement and as a springboard to extend its own influence into the resource-rich areas of Central Asia.

In line with those objectives, Pakistan has an economic incentive to force the U.S. and NATO out of Afghanistan in order to pursue the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones, a project that includes exploitation of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and, more broadly, the Belt and Road Initiative are China’s attempt to extend its strategic reach to the Indian Ocean, East Africa and the Middle East. That approach is similar to what China is doing in Southeast Asia, building artificial islands in the South China Sea as military and logistical bases. It all reminds one of Imperial Japan’s “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” of the 1930s and 1940s, to create a self-sufficient “bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese [Chinese] and free of Western powers”.

What should be an even greater concern to the U.S. is China’s growing military ambitions in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

China has established a military base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, construction of which started in February 2016 and is expected to be completed in 2018.

To complement that effort, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor allows China to develop the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, a region forcibly incorporated into Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947.

Look at the map.

Gwadar would provide China with a military and logistics base at the entrance of the Gulf of Oman, the shipping route to the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, a potential chokepoint for Middle East oil exports. Gwadar will also be supplied by a transportation network directly linking China to the port.

The Chinese military base in Djibouti is at the entrance of the Red Sea, transit point to the Suez Canal.

Upon completion of those facilities, China will have a strategically critical region bracketed by its military.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Chinese military ambitions depend on the stability of Balochistan, and, thus, presents a possible lever to influence the regional strategic environment including the situation in Afghanistan.

It is an incontrovertible fact that the U.S. and NATO cannot succeed in Afghanistan without a significant change in the strategic conditions because the operational tempo of the war and the supply of our troops are regulated by Pakistani whims.

Balochistan, a region rich in minerals and other natural resources, has been the home of a festering ethnic insurgency. Despite its mineral wealth, the Baloch people have been intentionally kept underdeveloped by the Pakistani government, along with oppression and alleged extrajudicial killings by the Pakistani military.

An autonomous or independent Balochistan could counter Chinese military expansionism, provide a potential bulwark against the terrorism-exporting nations in the region and offer a more reliable sea-land link to Afghanistan.

Frankly, unless the U.S. starts learning to play strategic chess, it could be checkmate.

 

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Should Pakistan be partitioned like Yugoslavia? by Lawrence Sellin, Phd.

 

Should Pakistan be partitioned like Yugoslavia?

By

by Lawrence Sellin, Phd.

 

After World War II, Yugoslavia was organized as a federation of six republics, with borders drawn along ethnic and historical lines: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia with the two autonomous Serbian provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo.

The Yugoslav federation worked successfully largely due to the strong leadership of president-for-life Josip Broz Tito, but after his death in 1980, a weakened central government could not cope with the growing ethnic and nationalist tensions.

Likewise, Pakistan is not so much a country, but an artificial political entity created by the British during the partition of India. It is founded on the ideology of Islam and is primarily composed of five ethnic groups that never coexisted – the Bengalis, Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Baloch.

It is ironic that the father of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, reportedly an atheist, who argued for a secular and inclusive Pakistan in his famous speech in the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 days before Pakistani independence, could, just a year earlier, display no qualms about asking Muslims to implement “Direct Action” which led to widespread rioting and bloodshed in the name of religion. Political psychologist Ashis Nandy wrote “Jinnah kept the ulema [scholars of Muslim religious law] at a distance throughout his life, but was perfectly willing to use them to advance the cause of a separate homeland for South Asian Muslims.”

Since its inception, Pakistan has operated according to several fundamental principles: Punjabi ethnic supremacy, fear of India, political control by the army and, lacking ethnic cohesiveness, using Islam as a domestic and foreign policy instrument.

Pakistan’s inability to establish a national identity beyond Islam began in the 1950s when the imposition of Urdu as a national language generated resentment amongst the majority Bengalis in East Pakistan, which, after a bloody conflict in 1971, separated from Pakistan to become the independent country of Bangladesh.

Karachi and adjacent areas have been plagued by political turmoil between the native Sindhis and the Urdu-speaking “Mohajir,” who migrated there during and after partition.

Balochistan, now its largest province, never agreed to join with Pakistan, but did so only after being invaded by the Pakistani military. For a succinct history of the forced annexation, see the article “How Balochistan became a part of Pakistan – a historical perspective” published in “The Nation,” an English-language daily newspaper based in Lahore, Pakistan.

Balochistan is in southwest Pakistan bordering Afghanistan and Iran with its southern coast on the Arabian Sea. It is rich in natural resources, including oil, gas, copper and gold, yet remains one of the poorest regions of Pakistan, where the vast majority of its population lives in deplorable conditions without access to electricity or clean drinking water.

Balochistan’s natural resources have been plundered by Pakistan, nuclear tests were conducted there without the permission of the Baloch people and the region has been subjected to military oppression for decades to extinguish ethnic aspirations and to maintain it as a de facto colony of Pakistan.

Pakistan’s attempts at quelling ethnicity-based grievances have only resulted in exacerbating them, encouraging provincial discontent and intensifying separatism. That occurs because

Pakistan has not diverted from its political playbook outlined above, namely, Punjabi dominance, irrational fear of India, military control of the political system, and the ever increasing use of ever more radical interpretations of Islam to mitigate internal dissent and exert influence regionally.

United States policy in Afghanistan is directly and intentionally thwarted by Pakistan and we would benefit from a change in the strategic landscape.

And so would South Asia.

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Pakistan sees no role for the U.S. in the future of Afghanistan by Lawrence Sellin, Phd.

Editor’s Note: From our great friend Dr. Lawrence Sellin, Phd. Dr. Sellin is also a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

 

 

 

Pakistan sees no role for the U.S. in the future of Afghanistan

by Lawrence Sellin, Phd. May 27, 2017

If you want to understand the foreign policy of Pakistan, look to the Pakistani military. If you want to understand the views of the Pakistani military, look to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its new chief, Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar.

Mukhtar commanded a mechanized army division and has vast experience in intelligence having led the ISI counterintelligence division and he is believed to have led secret missions against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).

A graduate of Pakistan’s Command and Staff College in Quetta and the National Defense University in Islamabad, Mukhtar also attended the U.S. Army War College, where he wrote a thesis entitled “Afghanistan — Alternative futures and their implications.”

In it, Mukhtar outlines four different scenarios for the future of Afghanistan, all involve U.S. and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan and the installation of some form of Taliban government controlled by Pakistan. He does not see the U.S. or its allies ever reentering Afghanistan.

According to Mukhtar, Afghanistan’s stakeholders are its “six immediate neighbors (China, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan) and its regional partners (Russia, India, and Saudi Arabia).” The future U.S. role in Afghanistan is relegated to diplomacy, where “America would have to make aggressive diplomatic efforts to dissuade provocative action or intervention by regional players,” meaning preventing Indian influence in Afghanistan.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Mukhtar is proposing the status quo ante, a form of the pre-9/11, Taliban-governed, Pakistan-controlled Afghanistan.

It is ironic that Mukhtar writes “A major characteristic of all the scenarios is the prevention of the return of al Qaeda to Afghanistan, while ensuring terrorism can no longer be exported outside of its borders,” when even today Pakistan is unable to control terrorist groups inside its borders and facilitates or turns a blind eye to international terrorist operations launched from Pakistan.

For a long time, Pakistan has used religious militancy as a foreign policy tool and, domestically, either supporting or attacking religious militant groups to exert political control or suppress autonomy or nationalism among its disaffected minorities.

Pakistan has openly admitted supporting and training groups like the Taliban in Afghanistan and Lashkar-e-Taibaa Salafist organization with links to the ISI, which conducted terrorist operations in Kashmir and reportedly was responsible for the horrific attack in Mumbai, India in November 2008. In conjunction with army operations, the Pakistan government has been accused of motivating terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba to suppress the Balochistan independence movement.

The U.S. cannot win in Afghanistan unless there is a significant change in the strategic environment because Pakistan, through its support of the Taliban, regulates the operational tempo of the conflict and the supplies essential to sustain our troops in Afghanistan transit Pakistani territory.

So, what are U.S. options in Afghanistan?

We could repeat, more or less, the same strategy and tactics that we have employed over the last sixteen years and expect different results.

We could decide that Afghanistan is no longer worth the blood and treasure, withdraw and cede regional influence and problem ownership to Pakistan, China and Iran, letting the chips fall where they may.

Or we could begin to take steps to alter the strategic dynamics of the region creating incentives for Pakistani cooperation including cutting off foreign aid, declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, tilting towards India and supporting Balochistan independence.

The success of the emerging China-Pakistan Economic Corridor depends on the stability of Balochistan because it provides a major section of the transportation route from China to the deep water port in Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.

Pakistan has directly contributed to the instability in Afghanistan and unnecessarily prolonged the war. Islamabad would do well to remember that insurgency is not a one-way street.

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