Category : Military / Armed Forces

(Economist leader) Momentum is building for war in Ukraine

The first world war became inevitable once mobilisation orders had been issued in Berlin, argued A.J.P. Taylor, a British historian. The complexities of early-20th-century railway timetables, upon which troop movements then depended, made any alteration virtually impossible. Modern armies do not suffer the same constraints. But as Russia sends more and more units to Ukraine’s borders, a grim momentum is building.

Last week’s diplomacy yielded nothing. Some of Vladimir Putin’s demands are impossible for nato to accept, as he well knew. (Essentially, he wants nato never to admit new members, and to remove its forces from any country Russia threatens.) On January 19th President Joe Biden said that he expects Russia to “move in” on Ukraine.

On January 14th hackers sabotaged Ukrainian government websites, getting them to display a poster of the Ukrainian flag and map crossed out, and warning Ukrainians to “be afraid and expect worse”. Over 100,000 Russian troops are massed on Ukraine’s eastern border, with field hospitals and fuel dumps. “Battalion tactical groups” have arrived in Belarus, a Kremlin client state north of Ukraine, in apparent preparation for a two-front attack that would divide Ukrainian forces and menace the capital, Kyiv. Only a trigger is lacking, and America says it has evidence that a “false flag” operation is planned to allow Russia to claim its men had been attacked by Ukraine. The odds of war seem perilously high.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Eurointelligence) Wolfgang Münchau–When Russia invades… … Europe will appease

When Russia invades, Germany and other European countries might at one point run out of gas. That would depend on how energy enters into this conflict. Germany has left itself in this position because successive governments failed to develop a coherent energy policy. Three nuclear plants went offline at the beginning of 2022, as will the last three at the end of this year. With the Greens in government, I see no chance of a policy reversal. The new coalition has ambitious plans for investment in renewables, but the maths does not add up. The energy transition requires unprecedented investment in modern gas-fired power stations as an interim solution. That means Russian gas for the most part. The Greens might kick up a fuss over Nord Stream 2, but I don’t think they will have the gumption to leave the government over a pipeline, and sacrifice their investment programme for renewable energy sources. The deal is done.

When Russia invades, it will be a matter of smoke and mirrors. Russia has no interest in occupying all of Ukraine. It will never invade a Nato country, and try to occupy it. My fear is that Putin may at one point choose to close the Suwalki gap, the stretch of land along the Polish-Lithuanian border that separates the Russian province of Kalingrad from Belarus. That would give Russia direct land access to the southern Baltic Sea, and drive a wedge through the EU. The Baltic States would at this point be geographically isolated from the EU, surrounded by Russia from all sides. This is the scenario depicted in our hypothetical map above. It might also seek to extend its military control of the Black Sea, cutting through the Ukrainian lands that separate it from Transnistria, a Russian-speaking breakaway province in eastern Moldova.

When Russia invades, Germany will appease. Germany will push for minimal sanctions, and only those that don’t damage German exports. They will veto any proposal to cut Russia off from the Swift payment system, if such a proposal were ever made. Nord Stream 2 is safe because neither the EU nor the Biden administration want to upset the Germans. A Republican majority after the mid-term election this November might change the Americans’ policy, but by then the gas will have started to flow.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Defense one) US Army Creates Single Vaccine Against All COVID & SARS Variants, Researchers Say

Within weeks, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expect to announce that they have developed a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19 and all its variants, even Omicron, as well as previous SARS-origin viruses that have killed millions of people worldwide.

The achievement is the result of almost two years of work on the virus. The Army lab received its first DNA sequencing of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020. Very early on, Walter Reed’s infectious diseases branch decided to focus on making a vaccine that would work against not just the existing strain but all of its potential variants as well.

Walter Reed’s Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccine, or SpFN, completed animal trials earlier this year with positive results. Phase 1 of human trials, wrapped up this month, again with positive results that are undergoing final review, Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of Walter Reed’s infectious diseases branch, said in an exclusive interview with Defense One on Tuesday. The new vaccine will still need to undergo phase 2 and phase 3 trials.

“We’re testing our vaccine against all the different variants, including Omicron,” Modjarrad said.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Science & Technology

(FA) Sue Gordon and Eric Rosenbach–America’s Cyber-Reckoning: How to Fix a Failing Strategy

A decade ago, the conventional wisdom held that the world was on the cusp of a new era of cyberconflict in which catastrophic computer-based attacks would wreak havoc on the physical world. News media warned of doomsday scenarios; officials in Washington publicly fretted about a “cyber–Pearl Harbor” that would take lives and destroy critical infrastructure. The most dire predictions, however, did not come to pass. The United States has not been struck by devastating cyberattacks with physical effects; it seems that even if U.S. adversaries wanted to carry out such assaults, traditional forms of deterrence would prevent them from acting.

Behind those mistaken warnings lay an assumption that the only alternative to cyberpeace must be cyberwar. But in the years since, it has become clear that like all realms of conflict, the domain of cyberspace is shaped not by a binary between war and peace but by a spectrum between those two poles—and most cyberattacks fall somewhere in that murky space. The obvious upside of this outcome is that the worst fears of death and destruction have not been realized. There is a downside, however: the complex nature of cyberconflict has made it more difficult for the United States to craft an effective cyberstrategy. And even if lives have not been lost and infrastructure has mostly been spared, it is hardly the case that cyberattacks have been harmless. U.S. adversaries have honed their cyber-skills to inflict damage on U.S. national security, the American economy, and, most worrisome of all, American democracy. Meanwhile, Washington has struggled to move past its initial perception of the problem, clinging to outmoded ideas that have limited its responses. The United States has also demonstrated an unwillingness to consistently confront its adversaries in the cyber-realm and has suffered from serious self-inflicted wounds that have left it in a poor position to advance its national interests in cyberspace.

To do better, the United States must focus on the most pernicious threats of all: cyberattacks aimed at weakening societal trust, the underpinnings of democracy, and the functioning of a globalized economy. The Biden administration seems to recognize the need for a new approach. But to make significant progress, it will need to reform the country’s cyberstrategy, starting with its most fundamental aspect: the way Washington understands the problem.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

(TLS) Niall Ferguson reviews ‘The Age of AI: And Our Human Future’ by by Henry A Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher

It had never occurred to me until I read The Age of AI that what differentiates AI from HI – human intelligence – is that even the most brilliant human chess player rules out ex ante certain moves that involve very high sacrifice. But AlphaZero plays chess “without reflection or volition, with strict adherence to the rules”. It is unbeatable partly because it has inferred from the rules certain tactics – and hence, cumulatively, a strategy – that HI would never consider.

The other obvious difference is that AI is much, much faster than HI. As the authors note, “An AI … scanning for targets follows its own logic, which may be inscrutable to an adversary and unsusceptible to traditional signals and feints – and which will, in most cases, proceed faster than the speed of human thought”. The idea of an AI program waging war, rather than playing chess, with the same ruthlessness and speed is deeply frightening. No doubt DeepMind is already working on AlphaHero. One imagines with a shudder the programme sacrificing entire armies or armadas as readily as its chess-playing predecessor sacrificed its queen. No doubt the reader should feel reassured that the United States has committed itself to develop only “AI-enabled weapons”, as opposed to “AI weapons … that make lethal decisions autonomously from human operators”. “Created by humans, AI should be overseen by humans”, the authors declare. But why should America’s undemocratic adversaries exercise the same restraint? Inhuman intelligence sounds like the natural ally of regimes that are openly contemptuous of human rights.

If the foe of the future is literally inhuman as well as inhumane, how shall we be able to defend ourselves? The varieties of deterrence that evolved during the first Cold War, up to and including Mutually Assured Destruction, seem unlikely to apply to AI war. Because, unlike nuclear weapons, AI will be widely used in multiple ways and at multiple scales, “the achievement of mutual strategic restraint … will be more difficult than before”. That seems an understatement. I have thought for some time that there may simply be no deterrence in the areas of cyberwar and information warfare.

We are left with only two possibilities. “For nations”, the authors note, “disconnection could become the ultimate form of defense.” This makes sense. The past five years have vividly revealed the dangers of a hyperconnected world. Without effective circuit-breakers that sever network links at the first indication of hazardous contagion, we are as vulnerable to cyberattack as we were to fake news in 2016 or a novel pathogen in 2020.

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Posted in Books, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Military / Armed Forces, Science & Technology

(Nikkei Asia) 80 years since Pearl Harbor: How the attack reshaped Asia

President Franklin Roosevelt’s somber speech to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives the day after “naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan” attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, home to the U.S. Pacific Fleet — “a date which will live in infamy,” in his estimation — has indeed never been forgotten.

“It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days, or even weeks ago,” said Roosevelt. He noted that Malaya, Guam, the Philippines, Wake Island and Midway Island were also attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, but neglected to mention that Japanese forces had begun invading Thailand hours earlier, on Dec. 8, across the international date line.

Some scholars have pondered what might have happened if Japan had only moved in Southeast Asia and not attacked Pearl Harbor. Where would the Americans have been? Would Japan have kept its Asian conquests

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Asia, History, Military / Armed Forces

Looking Back 80 years–Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Japan, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President

(FT) Ukraine warned of ‘high probability’ of Russian military escalation this winter

Western intelligence suggests a “high probability of destabilisation” of Ukraine by Russia as soon as this winter after Moscow massed more than 90,000 troops at its border, according to Kyiv’s deputy defence minister.

Hanna Maliar told the Financial Times at the weekend that while interpretations of western intelligence “need further discussion”, they underlined “the high probability of escalation of the situation”.

When asked if the risk of Russian military aggression was higher than during the past years, she said: “Information of our [military intelligence services] coincides with the information of partner countries about the high probability of destabilisation of the situation in Ukraine this winter.”

Maliar added that allies’ conclusions were “based not only on information about the number of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border”, suggesting Washington had additional intelligence about Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s intentions.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

Veterans Day Remarks–Try to Guess the Speaker and the Date

In a world tormented by tension and the possibilities of conflict, we meet in a quiet commemoration of an historic day of peace. In an age that threatens the survival of freedom, we join together to honor those who made our freedom possible. The resolution of the Congress which first proclaimed Armistice Day, described November 11, 1918, as the end of “the most destructive, sanguinary and far-reaching war in the history of human annals.” That resolution expressed the hope that the First World War would be, in truth, the war to end all wars. It suggested that those men who had died had therefore not given their lives in vain.

It is a tragic fact that these hopes have not been fulfilled, that wars still more destructive and still more sanguinary followed, that man’s capacity to devise new ways of killing his fellow men have far outstripped his capacity to live in peace with his fellow men.Some might say, therefore, that this day has lost its meaning, that the shadow of the new and deadly weapons have robbed this day of its great value, that whatever name we now give this day, whatever flags we fly or prayers we utter, it is too late to honor those who died before, and too soon to promise the living an end to organized death.

But let us not forget that November 11, 1918, signified a beginning, as well as an end. “The purpose of all war,” said Augustine, “is peace.” The First World War produced man’s first great effort in recent times to solve by international cooperation the problems of war. That experiment continues in our present day — still imperfect, still short of its responsibilities, but it does offer a hope that some day nations can live in harmony.

For our part, we shall achieve that peace only with patience and perseverance and courage — the patience and perseverance necessary to work with allies of diverse interests but common goals, the courage necessary over a long period of time to overcome…[a skilled adversary].

Do please take a guess as to who it is and when it was, then click and read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces

(Local Paper) 2 Medal of Honor recipients hail from same small South Carolina town. Here are their stories.

In 2020, a small town in South Carolina unofficially became known as the hometown of living war heroes.

Last year, on Sept. 11, Army Sgt. Maj. Thomas Patrick Payne stood at attention in his pink and green dress uniform at the White House when then-President Donald Trump draped the Medal of Honor across his shoulders for his bravery under fire in Iraq that resulted in the rescue of 70 Iraqi prisoners.

He became the first living U.S. Army Special Operations soldier from South Carolina to receive the military’s highest accolade.

But Payne was the second Medal of Honor recipient who claimed roots in the small South Carolina town of Batesburg-Leesville.

In 2014, Cpl. Kyle Carpenter’s scarred and wounded face was broadcast around the world when he was awarded the Medal of Honor by then-President Barack Obama for his split-second decision to throw his body toward a grenade in Afghanistan to save his fellow Marines.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Military / Armed Forces

For Veterans Day 2020–The Poem For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer for Veterans Day

Governor of Nations, our Strength and Shield:
we give you thanks for the devotion and courage
of all those who have offered military service for this country:

For those who have fought for freedom; for those who laid down their lives for others;
for those who have borne suffering of mind or of body;
for those who have brought their best gifts to times of need.

On our behalf they have entered into danger,
endured separation from those they love,
labored long hours, and borne hardship in war and in peacetime.
Lift up by your mighty Presence those who are now at war;
encourage and heal those in hospitals
or mending their wounds at home;
guard those in any need or trouble;
hold safely in your hands all military families;
and bring the returning troops to joyful reunion
and tranquil life at home;

Give to us, your people, grateful hearts
and a united will to honor these men and women
and hold them always in our love and our prayers;
until your world is perfected in peace
through Jesus Christ our Savior.

–The Rev. Jennifer Phillips

Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Spirituality/Prayer

(NBC) Mental Health ‘Bootcamp’ Helping Veterans Struggling With PTSD

‘Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital program, is helping veterans access therapy and critical mental health care. NBC News’ Cynthia McFadden speaks with a psychologist who helps run the program, and two veterans who took part in a two-week intensive program funded by the Wounded Warrior project.’

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Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Stress, Suicide, Violence

(NYT) ISIS Poses a Growing Threat to New Taliban Government in Afghanistan

Aref Mohammad’s war against the Islamic State ended earlier this fall when his unit of Taliban fighters was ambushed by the terrorist group in eastern Afghanistan. A bullet shattered his femur, leaving him disabled and barely able to walk, never mind fight.

But for the Taliban movement he served under, now the government of Afghanistan, the war against the Islamic State was just beginning.

“If we knew where they were from, we would pursue them and destroy them,” Mr. Mohammed, 19, said from his hospital bed in Jalalabad, the capital of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar Province where the Islamic State has maintained a presence since 2015.

In the two months since the Taliban took control of the country, the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan — known as Islamic State Khorasan or ISIS-K — has stepped up attacks across the country, straining the new and untested government and raising alarm bells in the West about the potential resurgence of a group that could eventually pose an international threat.

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Posted in Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

(AP) Pentagon rattled by Chinese military push on multiple fronts

China’s growing military muscle and its drive to end American predominance in the Asia-Pacific is rattling the U.S. defense establishment. American officials see trouble quickly accumulating on multiple fronts — Beijing’s expanding nuclear arsenal, its advances in space, cyber and missile technologies, and threats to Taiwan.

“The pace at which China is moving is stunning,” says Gen. John Hyten, the No. 2-ranking U.S. military officer, who previously commanded U.S. nuclear forces and oversaw Air Force space operations.

At stake is a potential shift in the global balance of power that has favored the United States for decades. A realignment more favorable to China does not pose a direct threat to the United States but could complicate U.S. alliances in Asia. New signs of how the Pentagon intends to deal with the China challenge may emerge in coming weeks from Biden administration policy reviews on nuclear weapons, global troop basing and overall defense strategy.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(WSJ) Elbridge Colby–The Fight for Taiwan Could Come Soon

The U.S. and China are engaged in a “strategic competition,” as the Biden administration has put it, with Taiwan emerging as the focal point. But an ascendant view inside the administration seems to be that while China represents a serious economic, political and technological challenge to American interests, it doesn’t pose a direct military threat. This is a very imprudent assumption that could lead to war and, ultimately, American defeat. To avoid that disastrous outcome, the U.S. must recognize that China is a military threat—and conflict could come soon.

What makes China an urgent military threat? First, Beijing has made clear it is willing to use force to take Taiwan. Subordinating the island isn’t only about incorporating a putative lost province—it would be a vital step toward establishing Chinese hegemony in Asia. And this isn’t mere talk. The Chinese military has rehearsed amphibious attacks, and commercial satellite imagery shows that China practices large-scale attacks on U.S. forces in the region.

Second, China doesn’t merely have the will to invade Taiwan, it increasingly may have the ability to pull it off. China has spent 25 years building a modern military in large part to bring Taiwan to heel. China now has the largest navy in the world and an enormous and advanced air force, missile arsenal and network of satellites. This isn’t to say China could manage a successful invasion of Taiwan tomorrow—but Beijing could be very close. It will be “fully able” to invade by 2025, Taiwan’s defense minister said recently. China’s military power is improving every month.

Third, China may think its window of opportunity is closing. Many wars have started because one side thought it had a time-limited opening to exploit. Certainly this was a principal factor in the outbreaks of the two world wars. Beijing may reasonably judge this to be the case today.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Taiwan

(CC) Philip Jenkins–The war for Africa’s holy land

Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa. It is also a vibrant and expansive center of Christianity: the present Christian population of 80 million is on track to double by 2060, placing Ethiopia far ahead of any European nation. The Orthodox make up 44 percent of Ethiopia, and 22 percent are evangelicals or “Pentays”—Pentecostals. Some 31 percent are Muslims.

But religion is by no means the only factor dividing the country, which is a patchwork of ethnic, tribal, and linguistic groupings. From 1975 through 1991, those diverse populations allied to resist and ultimately overthrow a savage communist dictatorship. After liberation, one of the most powerful ethnic groups seceded to form the new nation of Eritrea. The remaining groups cooperated, somewhat tensely, to rule the restored Ethiopia. That coalition was dominated by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which effectively held power until 2018. The TPLF was then displaced by the new regime headed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has won golden opinions as a peacemaker. In 2019, he received the Nobel Prize for promoting peace with Eritrea. As a faithful Pentay, Abiy Ahmed represents that sizable and fast-growing share of the population.

But despite initial hopes, the country has descended rapidly into turmoil. As the TPLF became ever more disaffected, violence erupted with Ethiopian armed forces, and in 2020, a full-scale Tigray War was in progress. Ethiopian forces seeking to impose their rule on Tigray were assisted by allied Eritrean regulars, and also by some lethal ethnic militias. Massacres and atrocities mounted.

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Posted in Africa, Church History, Ethiopia, History, Military / Armed Forces, Violence

(WSJ) Does Taiwan’s Military Stand a Chance Against China? Few Think So

The concern that China might try to seize Taiwan is preoccupying American military planners and administration officials. Few of them think Taiwan’s military could hold the line.

Soldiers, strategists and government officials in Taiwan and the U.S. say the island’s military is riven with internal problems, many of which have built up over years of calm and economic prosperity and now are eating away at Taiwan’s ability to deter China.

Among the most pressing concerns are poor preparation and low morale among the roughly 80,000 Taiwanese who are conscripted each year and the nearly 2.2 million reservists.

Xiao Cheng-zhi, a 26-year-old from central Taiwan, said his four months of basic training that ended last year mainly involved sweeping leaves, moving spare tires and pulling weeds. Aside from some marksmanship training, he said, his classes were meaningless.

Mr. Xiao dismissed his cohorts as strawberry soldiers, a term used in Taiwan to describe young people raised by overprotective parents who bruise easily. While he said he is willing to serve, he doubted the island would stand much chance against China’s People’s Liberation Army.

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Posted in China, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Taiwan

(Foreign Affairs) John J. Mearsheimer: The Inevitable Rivalry–America, China, and the Tragedy of Great-Power Politics

Although their numbers have dwindled, advocates of engagement remain, and they still think the United States can find common ground with China. As late as July 2019, 100 China watchers signed an open letter to Trump and members of Congress rejecting the idea that Beijing was a threat. “Many Chinese officials and other elites know that a moderate, pragmatic and genuinely cooperative approach with the West serves China’s interests,” they wrote, before calling on Washington to “work with our allies and partners to create a more open and prosperous world in which China is offered the opportunity to participate.”

But great powers are simply unwilling to let other great powers grow stronger at their expense. The driving force behind this great-power rivalry is structural, which means that the problem cannot be eliminated with clever policymaking. The only thing that could change the underlying dynamic would be a major crisis that halted China’s rise—an eventuality that seems unlikely considering the country’s long record of stability, competence, and economic growth. And so a dangerous security competition is all but unavoidable.

At best, this rivalry can be managed in the hope of avoiding a war. That would require Washington to maintain formidable conventional forces in East Asia to persuade Beijing that a clash of arms would at best yield a Pyrrhic victory. Convincing adversaries that they cannot achieve quick and decisive wins deters wars. Furthermore, U.S. policymakers must constantly remind themselves—and Chinese leaders—about the ever-present possibility of nuclear escalation in wartime. Nuclear weapons, after all, are the ultimate deterrent. Washington can also work to establish clear rules of the road for waging this security competition—for example, agreements to avoid incidents at sea or other accidental military clashes. If each side understands what crossing the other side’s redlines would mean, war becomes less likely.

These measures can only do so much to minimize the dangers inherent in the growing U.S.-Chinese rivalry. But that is the price the United States must pay for ignoring realist logic and turning China into a powerful state that is determined to challenge it on every front.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Foreign Relations, History, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General

(AP) China vows no concessions on Taiwan after Joe Biden comments that he would defend it if attacked

China on Friday said there is “no room” for compromise or concessions over the issue of Taiwan, following a comment by U.S. President Joe Biden that the U.S. is committed to defending the island if it is attacked.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin reasserted China’s longstanding claim that the island is its territory at a daily briefing after Biden made his comment a day before at a forum hosted by CNN.

China has recently upped its threat to bring Taiwan under its control by force if necessary by flying warplanes near the island and rehearsing beach landings.

“When it comes to issues related to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and other core interests, there is no room for China to compromise or make concessions, and no one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang said.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Taiwan

(WSJ) As Afghanistan Sinks Into Destitution, Some Sell Children to Survive

Desperate to feed her family, Saleha, a housecleaner here in western Afghanistan, has incurred such an insurmountable debt that the only way she sees out is to hand over her 3-year-old daughter, Najiba, to the man who lent her the money.

The debt is $550.

Saleha, a 40-year-old mother of six who goes by one name, earns 70 cents a day cleaning homes in a wealthier neighborhood of Herat. Her much older husband doesn’t have any work.

Such is the starkness of deepening poverty in Afghanistan, a humanitarian crisis that is worsening fast after the Taliban seized power on Aug. 15, prompting the U.S. to freeze $9 billion in Afghan central-bank assets and causing a halt in most foreign aid.

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Posted in Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Poverty, War in Afghanistan

(FT on yesterday’s front page) Rwanda flexes muscles in fight against terror in Mozambique

The moment Yussuf Abdallah met the Rwandan soldiers he knew the game was up.

The 18-year-old Islamist insurgent in northern Mozambique was part of a group known to local people as Shabaab. It has loose ties with Isis and has over the past four years terrorised the northern province of Cabo Delgado, displacing more than 800,000 and killing more than 3,000.

But then troops from a country barely a fraction of Mozambique’s size showed up and cleaned up most of the area in a matter of weeks.

“We were overwhelmed by their number, they were also extremely fierce,” said Abdallah, now a prisoner of the Mozambican state in the coastal city of Mocímboa de Praia, until August an insurgents’ stronghold. “We couldn’t contain the confrontation, they have better weaponry, we couldn’t do anything.”

Rwanda’s 1,000-strong brigade of soldiers and police achieved in weeks what Mozambican and other forces had been unable to do in years. The turn of events in Cabo Delgado illustrates Kigali’s willingness under president Paul Kagame to reach beyond its borders and act as police officer in regional disputes.

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Posted in Africa, Military / Armed Forces, Mozambique, Rwanda, Terrorism

(WSJ) Havana Syndrome Attacks Widen With CIA Officer’s Evacuation From Serbia

The incident in the Balkans, which hasn’t been previously reported, is the latest in what the officials describe as a steady expansion of attacks on American spies and diplomats posted overseas by unknown assailants using what government officials and scientists suspect is some sort of directed-energy source.

Still more suspected attacks have occurred overseas and in the U.S., the current and former officials said, along with recently reported ones in India and Vietnam.

“In the past 60 to 90 days, there have been a number of other reported cases” on U.S. soil and globally, said Dr. James Giordano, a Georgetown University professor of neurology who is advising the U.S. government on the issue. “They are seen as valid reports with verified health indicators.”

The continuing attacks, which may cause dizziness, memory loss and other health issues, have sparked frustration within the U.S. government and sapped morale at the State Department and Central Intelligence Agency, the current and former officials said. Some professional diplomats and spies have become reluctant to take overseas postings for themselves and their families, the officials said.

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Posted in Anthropology, Cuba, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Serbia, Theology

(SCMP) Chinese scientists eye hypersonic weapon able to ‘fry’ telecoms systems in 10 seconds

Defeat an army without a fight and without casualties? Quite possible, if a new type of hypersonic weapon proposed by a team of rocket scientists in China becomes reality.

Designed to generate intense electromagnetic pulse capable of wiping out communication and power supply lines, the weapon would have a range of 3,000km – about the distance from China’s east coast to Guam. Cruising at six times the speed of sound, it would cover this distance in 25 minutes.

Unlike ballistic missiles, it would stay within the earth’s atmosphere to dodge space-based early warning systems, while using active stealth technology to avoid detection by radars on the ground, according to the team of researchers at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing.

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Posted in China, Military / Armed Forces, Science & Technology

The Economist reviews Richard Power’s new Book ‘Bewilderment’

An ecological epic about deforestation, “The Overstory” brought Richard Powers a wider readership when it won a Pulitzer in 2019. His new novel, shortlisted for this year’s Booker prize, may make him even better known. It is a shorter, more intimate tale that still wrestles with the scientific themes that are his hallmark..

The story is set in Wisconsin and narrated by Theo, a widowed astrobiologist. He is struggling to bring up his son, Robin, whose diagnosis of autism he resists, and whom the novel follows from the age of eight to ten. Robin’s mother, Alyssa, recently died in a car crash; he is disruptive at school. Distressed about global warming and the ruin of the natural world, he is consoled by playing a game in which he and his father imagine life on other planets….

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Posted in Books, Ecology, Eschatology, Military / Armed Forces

(ITV) Cathedral service marks centenary of Royal British Legion in Suffolk

A special ceremony has been held in Bury St Edmunds to mark the 100th anniversary of the Royal British Legion in Suffolk.

Military representatives from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, including veterans from the Legion, were among the guests who came together at St Edmundsbury cathedral on Sunday.

The service paid tribute to the work the Legion has done since it was established and its life-changing and often life-saving support to the Armed Forces community.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(NPR: Storycorps) A Family Remembers The 1st U.S. Soldier Killed In The War In Afghanistan

The last conversation Keith Chapman had with his younger brother Nathan Chapman was on Christmas Day 2001. Nathan had called up his family from Afghanistan.

Although the 31-year-old, a sergeant first class with the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Group, couldn’t disclose his location, his family put it together based on what time Nathan said it was where he was calling from.

“I don’t remember that we said very much,” Keith said during a StoryCorps interview in Frederick, Md., last week with their mother, Lynn Chapman.

That wasn’t so unusual. The brothers, just 2 1/2 years apart in age, had always had a complicated dynamic that was born from their two very different personalities.

A couple weeks after that phone call, Keith heard on his car radio that an American soldier had been killed in Afghanistan. He thought, “Well, yes, Nathan is there, but he’s one of who knows how many? So, I put it out of my mind.”

That is, until he got home that evening.

“My wife greets me at the door and says, ‘I have bad news,’ ” he said.

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Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, War in Afghanistan

([London] Times) Joe Biden to declare end of combat operations in Iraq

The United States will today declare an end to combat operations in Iraq, asserting that the fight against Islamic State can be led by local forces.

The announcement will be part of a deal signed with Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who is in Washington and will meet President Biden.

It will state formally that US combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraq and the forces that remain will perform only training and advisory roles. Its aim is to help Kadhimi to argue that he is no longer beholden to western military interests, and that attacks by pro-Iran militias on US targets, often bases shared with Iraqi troops, are illegitimate.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Terrorism

(BBC) South Africa looting: Government to deploy 25,000 troops after unrest

The South African government plans to deploy 25,000 troops after days of widespread looting and violence.

The military deployment – to counter riots sparked by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma – would be the biggest since the end of apartheid.

At least 117 people have died and more than 2,000 have been arrested in South Africa’s worst unrest in years.

Hundreds of shops and businesses have been looted and the government says it is acting to prevent food shortages.

Citizens are arming themselves and forming vigilante groups to protect their property from the rampage.

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Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, South Africa, Violence

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: It was the Flag of the Union

“Today we stand on an awful arena, where character which was the growth of centuries was tested and determined by the issues of a single day. We are compassed about by a cloud of witnesses; not alone the shadowy ranks of those who wrestled here, but the greater parties of the action–they for whom these things were done. Forms of thought rise before us, as in an amphitheatre, circle beyond circle, rank above rank; The State, The Union, The People. And these are One. Let us–from the arena, contemplate them–the spiritual spectators.

“There is an aspect in which the question at issue might seem to be of forms, and not of substance. It was, on its face, a question of government. There was a boastful pretence that each State held in its hands the death-warrant of the Nation; that any State had a right, without show of justification outside of its own caprice, to violate the covenants of the constitution, to break away from the Union, and set up its own little sovereignty as sufficient for all human purposes and ends; thus leaving it to the mere will or whim of any member of our political system to destroy the body and dissolve the soul of the Great People. This was the political question submitted to the arbitrament of arms. But the victory was of great politics over small. It was the right reason, the moral consciousness and solemn resolve of the people rectifying its wavering exterior lines according to the life-lines of its organic being.

“There is a phrase abroad which obscures the legal and moral questions involved in the issue,–indeed, which falsifies history: “The War between the States”. There are here no States outside of the Union. Resolving themselves out of it does not release them. Even were they successful in intrenching themselves in this attitude, they would only relapse into territories of the United States. Indeed several of the States so resolving were never in their own right either States or Colonies; but their territories were purchased by the common treasury of the Union. Underneath this phrase and title,–“The War between the States”–lies the false assumption that our Union is but a compact of States. Were it so, neither party to it could renounce it at his own mere will or caprice. Even on this theory the States remaining true to the terms of their treaty, and loyal to its intent, would have the right to resist force by force, to take up the gage of battle thrown down by the rebellious States, and compel them to return to their duty and their allegiance. The Law of Nations would have accorded the loyal States this right and remedy.

“But this was not our theory, nor our justification. The flag we bore into the field was not that of particular States, no matter how many nor how loyal, arrayed against other States. It was the flag of the Union, the flag of the people, vindicating the right and charged with the duty of preventing any factions, no matter how many nor under what pretence, from breaking up this common Country.

“It was the country of the South as well as of the North. The men who sought to dismember it, belonged to it. Its was a larger life, aloof from the dominance of self-surroundings; but in it their truest interests were interwoven. They suffered themselves to be drawn down from the spiritual ideal by influences of the physical world. There is in man that peril of the double nature. “But I see another law”, says St. Paul. “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.”

–Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914). The remarks here are from Chamberlain’s address at the general dedicatory exercises in the evening in the court house in Gettsyburg on the occasion of the dedication of the Maine monuments. It took place on October 3, 1889. For those who are history buffs you can see an actual program of the events there (on page 545)–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces