Meanwhile in Ukraine…

It appears that Putin’s little green men are acting up in his other pet project.

It is going to be a long night in Charlottesville – things will get worse after dark. But it is also looking to be a long night in Ukraine.



Open Thread: At the Trump White House, It’s Always Worse Than You Expected…

Whoever invented the game of RISK has a lot to answer for…


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Interviewed By a Warmonger!

As in LTG McMaster was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt for his Saturday AM MSNBC show. I’m going to embed the videos, but you have to actually read the transcript that Hewitt provided on his website, read the words on the page, to really see just how much Hewitt wants the US to attack the DPRK. Or, failing that, Iran. And how gleefully unhinged he is by the idea of the US getting involved in a third and/or fourth war in under 20 years. The transcript follows the videos. Pay close attention to LTG McMaster’s answers if you want to see what the current national security strategy and policy thinking is.

The transcript is after the jump.

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NATO’s Video on the Forest Brothers

We and the news media are so entrapped by the doings in Washington that we miss stuff going on in the rest of the world. That’s not without reason; having an unqualified boor as president of the most powerful nation on earth provides a great deal of scary copy. But the other side is an opportunity cost. There is stuff going on besides the Trump-manufactured crises. Other nations have their own ideas as to what is important, although they are affected by the crazy too.

The Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – are members of the EU and NATO. They were absorbed into the Soviet Union after World War II, but most nations of the world continued to recognize them as independent states. They were instrumental in breaking up the Soviet Union in 1991.

After World War II, resistance fighters continued in all three states. They were called the Forest Brothers and were widely supported by the population. Their activity continued through the 1980s. The last Forest Brother in Estonia drowned himself in 1978 rather than be taken by the Soviets.

I figured when Russia seized Crimea that Baltic young people were consulting their grandparents and that stocks of guns, ammunition, and food were being hidden away. Earlier in July, NATO released a video about the Forest Brothers, with interviews from two people who were involved. Here’s a longer history of the Forest Brothers, and a bit more. And here’s the video.

 

 

And open thread!



Lessons from History: The US During WW I

While the French celebrate the final hours of Bastille Day, including historic displays of US troops in Paris on this day in 1917, I want to take a moment and focus on what was happening on the home front in the US 100 years ago. Reflecting on this history is important given the concern expressed in comments and on the front page here and other places about what is happening in the US.

It is not often remarked, if it is even remembered, that during WW I President Wilson essentially leveraged all forms of national power to achieve his objectives – in terms of both the war effort in Europe and domestically at home. As a result he converted the Federal government into something of an authoritarian regime. There were still elections. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were technically still in existence and in force, but in reality the US under President Wilson during World War I was about as far from its ideals as it has ever been. President Wilson essentially federalized Jim Crow, which was in line with both his racism and his obscure religious beliefs in Anglo-Israelism.

The power of the Presidency and the Federal government was leveraged through what we now call a psychological operation (PSYOPS) campaign to ensure broad and deep support for President Wilson’s agenda. To this end he tapped George Creel who created the propaganda campaign that would mobilize Americans behind President Wilson. Creel’s work is a textbook example of how to plan and implement a PSYOPS campaign. And it was incredibly successful. Through Creel’s work, President Wilson was able to convince Americans to not just go with meatless or wheatless days at home, but to turn in their neighbors if they suspected them of not getting on board with these initiatives to ensure that the troops in Europe had what they needed for their sustainment. Creel also set the conditions for forced charitable contributions to the war effort, including enforcement that would bring public pressure (shaming, denigration, job termination, extrajudicial violence) against those that didn’t give or give enough.

And even though Creel tried to tone down the official anti-German components of his propaganda, he largely failed. German nationals in the US and German-Americans were forced to register with the government and carry ID cards. In a grim foreshadowing of what Germans would do throughout Europe during WW II, as well as what the US would do to Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals in the US, German nationals and German Americans lost their jobs, had their property taken away, were relocated into internment camps, and were subjected to extrajudicial violence and punishment. Simply for being German or Americans of German descent.

For instance:

As the war dredged on, nativism took root. Newspapers printed one-sided war coverage. President Wilson railed against “hyphenated Americans,” a slight against German-Americans. Even the growing support for Prohibition was seen as a fight against the Germans.

Then, when the U.S. entered the war in 1917, all pretenses disappeared. German culture was attacked. Anti-German hysteria swept the nation – especially here.

German language classes, taught in Cincinnati schools since 1840, were dropped. The Enquirer offered the headline: “Bang! Hun Study Is Floored.”

The public library moved their 10,000 German books to the subbasement. “This library has been used to further a reptilian and insidious propaganda by enemies of the United States,” said board trustee James Albert Green. “German literature published during the last 40 years is tainted with the ideas and ideals which American boys now are giving their lives to combat.”

For those wondering what tyranny and authoritarianism in the US looks like, the US during World War I is the real example. The US and its ideals survived President Wilson and his efforts during World War I. It still has the resilience to survive the trials and tribulations it is facing now. All that is required is that Americans, regardless of background, remember the ideals that America is based on and act accordingly. Small acts are as important as large, grand sweeping gestures.

For an excellent four hour documentary on the US and World War I, including an in depth examination of what was occurring domestically, I highly recommend PBS’s The American Experience: The Great WarIt will be four well spent hours.



Cyber Strategy – Different From A Shooting War

Big hack of pretty much everything in Ukraine this morning: internet, power plants, government. I wrote this post before that happened, but it applies.

The Obama administration was in an extremely difficult position after learning about Russian hacking of last year’s election. Several factors came into play: the difficulty of dealing with international cyber attacks, intransigent Republican partisanship, and the decaying relationship with Russia. I’m going to break down those factors into at least two posts.

Cyber attacks present a national security problem different from any encountered before. Lumping them into a designation of “cyberwar” projects assumptions of conventional war onto them and distorts the difficulties and possibilities. I haven’t seen much analysis of these differences and how they affect strategy. Please point me to them, if they exist. Most punditry assumes that cyber attacks can be equated to war, and numerous opinion articles have referred to the Russian hacks as a form of war. In this post, I will consider only that part of last fall’s situation. A later post will consider the political ramifications. Read more



Breaking: White House Statement on Syrian Chemical Weapons

The White House has just released the following statement:

It went up at 10:04 PM EDT on Sean Spicer’s official twitter feed, but is not yet up on the Office of the Press Secretary Statements and Releases page.

Unless someone’s been reading the Mass Atrocity Prevention and Response Handbook*, which presents publicizing mass atrocities/potential mass atrocities as having a potential deterrent effect, I have no idea why this information would be released right now. It is possible that LTG McMaster thinks this may actually deter a forthcoming action. It may be something else entirely. But this is a type of public strategic communication I’m not used to seeing out of any administration – Democratic or Republican.

While we wait for more information: Open Thread!

Update at 10:45 PM EDT:

* The author of the handbook is a friend and former colleague.