The Space Review: A Space Service in support of American grand strategy

Americans have dreamed of going to the stars for generations. The Apollo missions were thought to be the starting point for the United States to be a spacefaring people, but this dream drifted to the backstage as the political class allowed itself to be captured by the winds of pop-culture and perceived expediency.

In June 2018, President Trump resurrected this dream when he called on the military to create a new service branch, which he calls the Space Force. Although this gave new life into the dream, it also reignited the debates about Americans and space, and especially the purpose of a new branch of the military.

While there has been ample discussion of the political, bureaucratic, budgetary, logistical, and technical challenges this poses, few have focused on how such an organization would fit into national security strategy, especially American grand strategy.

Grand strategy, at its core, attempts to harness military, economic, and political power to advance the nation. It is created organically, over decades and centuries, and for it to be successful must be forward-looking, peering across the horizon into the centuries uncounted. Grand strategy is the most critical form of statecraft. It implies the use of force to promote these interests. Grand strategy is married to hard power and military force; unlike domestic policy, it creates the conditions for either total triumph or total destruction. Grand strategy is often ignored because it is inconvenient, hard to change, and subject to the tyranny of the status quo. Its development requires a formidable depth of knowledge. No electoral constituency holds a president accountable for not having a grand strategy even though having one is the raison d’êtreof the presidency. To ignore grand strategy is to engage in ad-hoc policy anchored by nothing, moving nowhere. Grand strategy is further burdensome since it requires constant adaptation. American grand strategy is fundamentally based on military primacy, and space dominance will determine which nation is in that position.

Space policy is dominated by camps. One consists of the scientists who have little interest in the political-strategic equation and, in a few cases, work against it. A second camp is dominated by the traditional military, suspicious of ideas such as space domination and the need for a separate service. A third features the political class who may understand the immediate value of the space program, but fail to prioritize the right programs. A fourth and final camp includes some of the astronauts who see space exploration only in the context of exploration for exploration’s sake. Rarely has anyone articulated where the USA needs to be in five, ten, fifty, or one hundred years—and beyond—to ensure it is the premiere spacefaring nation.

The real priority is to fully integrate all these aspects of space into current and future national security and grand strategic thinking. The only way to accomplish any of this from a grand strategy perspective is to create a separate military service.

Admittedly, there are other proposals that would get us to where we want to go, at least partially. One idea is that of a Space Guard, modeled on the Coast Guard who would oversee civil and commercial space activity and ultimately deal with problems ranging from search-and-rescue to planetary defense. This is a softer, somewhat subordinate role than other proposals. In the middle is the ideas of a Space Corps, modeled on the Marine Corps: the Marines are technically subordinate to the Navy, but it is an autonomous service. A Space Corps would likely be under the US Air Force. This is the current thinking by many advocates from the Trump Administration. However, although both of these plans are much better than the environment of today, they are far from integrating space strategy into national security strategy and grand strategy. This could only be achieved through a separate military branch, which should be titled the Space Service.

One of the main arguments against any of these proposals is the opinion that this will militarize space. The problem with this argument is that space is already militarized, and in some sectors, the Russians and the Chinese are ahead of us in both the military and civilian sector. This incudes China’s proposed work in Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) and testing of anti-satellite weapons, as well as Russia’s hypersonic missiles. The great powers realize that geopolitical imperative obeys no master. Interestingly, Russia and China, far from hiding this fact, are quite open about it when one examines what China says about its Strategic Support Force, or Russia, about the Russian Space Forces.

Another argument, primarily in liberal political circles, is that we could mitigate all of this with international law. They cite the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and, in a few cases, a new more restrictive treaty: PAROS, the Prevention of An Arms Race in Outer Space. This side does have a point, in that the United States is the leading nation in the world and is the touchstone of international law. Thus, America should follow the mechanism for withdrawal from the Outer Space Treaty just as President Bush withdrew from the ABM Treaty and President Trump’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty. These are treaties that our adversaries did not follow, which only resulted in a reduction of national security for the United States.

A final argument against this proposal centers on budgetary issues. Needless to say, there is going to be a cost to a new branch, although a cost dwarfed by the non-budgetary cost of America losing the strategic ground to its adversaries. However, money would also be saved by all the funds from the current uniformed and civilian services that have a small piece of overall space-related budgets. It also prevents the US Air Force from raiding the space budget for other items.

To achieve the grand strategic goals of space dominance, the United States must support President Trump’s March 2018 call for America to be “First among the Stars.” Trump wants to reinvigorate not only human space exploration, as described in Policy Space Directive 1, but also to ultimately create a separate branch of the military.

It is incumbent on advocates of such a service to recognize the need to integrate the electorate into the debate. Voters need to be educated about the current value of space technology, such as GPS, weather forecasting, communication, and military surveillance to name a few, as well as the need for space dominance for their protection and those of generations to come. Without advocacy from the electorate, this effort is a non-starter. Fortunately, the American people’s spirit is built upon going forward to the final frontier, and this can be an easy case to make.

Many analogies are made to the creation of the US Air Force by the National Security Act of 1947. This analogy, though, misses the beat. The better analogy is that the National Security Act of 1947, which was a complete shift to the professionalization of the national security system because America was at an unprecedented, existential crossroad. We are at that kind of crossroads today.

The benefits of a separate branch are myriad. It would be the tip of the spear for space-based missile defense, the only true future for protecting Americans from the threat of nuclear annihilation. By removing it from any branch already in existence, the Space Service would have a single task, not burdened by the baggage and other missions vital to the US Air Force and US Navy. It would, therefore, integrate all elements of national security into space policy and space strategy without the bureaucratic fragmentation and chaos. This would also include a Space Intelligence Service that aided the mission of this branch without adding to the data crush suffered by the uniformed military intelligence organizations and CIA already. The Space Service would possess total responsibility and total accountability for America in space without hiding behind other priorities. It would require its own training, and promotion system not burdened by preconceived notions in the other services.

Finally, the creation of the Space Service would signal to America’s adversaries the seriousness in which we take grand strategy beyond rhetoric. The Space Service would therefore be the foundation for American grand strategy of the 21st century and beyond.

This piece originally ran on The Space Review on 25 February 2019.

Newsmax: The Dark Side of China’s Yuan Diplomacy

Early 20th century United States foreign policy has often been characterized by being an era of “dollar diplomacy.” Dollar diplomacy was originally used during the Theodore Roosevelt administration, and it was the primary instrument of foreign policy under President Taft. It was designed to both promote American economic interests abroad and naturally increase America’s diplomatic and strategic initiatives in those affected nations. The left-wing of politics has always condemned “dollar diplomacy” as proof that Marx was right about the motivations of America abroad, namely that corporate capitalism led to American diplomatic and military intervention. This is fascinating since many on the left worldwide apologize for China’s much more malevolent style of “Yuan diplomacy.”

Integral to China’s One-Belt-One Road system is a colossal effort to engage in predatory lending on a global scale. From 2000 to 2014, China lent 5,466 loans totaling $354.4 billion. China is engaged in this policy with four goals in mind: debt trapping, bullying, diplomatic leverage, and military advantage.

The first part of this is for China to create a debt trap. China realizes that many third world nations will be unable to repay the loans that they are given. This will lead to a choice of economic servitude, or those nations can handover to China more tangible concessions in exchange. These concessions are in the vein of ports and land.

The second strategy is bullying. Thanks to its economic footprint in Africa, and its regional military power in Asia, China, under the direction of the Chinese Communist Party, is robust in dictating the new trading rules under the implied shadow of retaliation and force. One of the most tangible benefits to this is the PRC’s demand that these loans require the use of Chinese companies, known as “tying.” The use of Chinese companies and personnel for construction also puts Chinese civilian, military, and intelligence professionals on the ground. China, therefore, creates diplomatic leverage over the “host” government, and even leverage with western nations who wish to engage in trade. This all leads to the most concerning issue, the advantage given to the Chinese military. The port in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa is the first overseas port for the Chinese Navy. It may follow the pathway of Sri Lanka. The case of Sri Lanka is instructive. China not only used economic leverage to force Sri Lanka to hand over the port of Hambantota, but it also funneled millions of dollars into the coffers of the former Sri Lankan president, Mr. Rajapaksa, and his campaign. Rajapaksa then turned around and drove Sri Lanka into even more debt to China before losing the election in 2015. He is now trying to make a political comeback. Since the Port of Hambantota is of dubious commercial value, most would argue that the possession of this port is purely for naval projection of power. The PRC also has a part of the main port in the capital, Colombo. Here the world has witnessed visits by Chinese submarines, regardless of objections by the new Sri Lankan government.

President Trump’s administration is making sincere efforts to broadcast China’s true intentions.

President Trump also supports the new BUILD act (Better Utilization of Investment Leading to Development) passed in February 2018, designed to directly counter China’s economic influence.

Secretary of State Pompeo stated, “The Act provides opportunities for American companies to compete overseas and create jobs here at home, a critical component of the President’s national economic strategy. BUILD strengthens the U.S. government’s development finance capacity, offering a better alternative to state-directed investments and advancing our foreign policy goals.” China is also targeting specific countries with this predatory strategy such as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, and Pakistan. Many of these nations are trying to stand up to China, but they will need U.S. leadership to do so.

China’s imperialism offers the United States the perfect opportunity to reassert the order and norms that it has created since the Second World War. Dollar diplomacy may have its origins with President Theodore Roosevelt, but it should be remembered that although it served American economic interests, it was equally interested in building up the prosperity of those nations. This was especially the case in the western hemisphere and was an integral part of the Roosevelt Doctrine focused on intervention, expansion, civilizing, and stabilization. Roosevelt combined this belief by magnifying the mission of the United States to encourage and expand Western civilization and order. He was out for establishing lawfulness, so that order could lead to civilization thus enhancing the prospect of political democracy.

The American model was one where utilitarian economic realism was combined with democracy and stability so that all participants would benefit from a relationship that would increase political, civil, and economic dignity.

This should be contrasted to imperialism by China whose strategy is exactly which the Americans opposed at the start of the nation.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax on 26 February 2019.

Newsmax: A 2019 Guide to the English Language (Part II)

Last time in — from the Heartland — I wrote Part 1 of the guide to navigate the Left-wing Sea of Trouble. In that piece, I dealt with the terms Politically Correct, White Guilt, Toxic Masculinity, and Social Justice Warrior. The best is yet to come so let us dive right into the Orwellian black hole we Americans have created for ourselves.

Number Four: Microaggressions

Originally emerging in the 1970s (a decade that should primarily be forgotten) coined by psychiatrist and Harvard University professor Chester M. Pierce to describe subtle, or nuanced language that degraded non-whites, by whites. The term has volcanically exploded to include any language that any “marginalized” group views as offensive and could trigger suffering (see below). This idea continued to expand to include language that was not intentionally meant to cause pain and language that was otherwise objectively neutral, but that an individual could decide to interpret as offensive. If the millennial generation has been abused by one of these terms more than others it is this one. It has created for them a culture of victimization that has debilitated them in both social and professional situations. It has allowed those who should be accountable for bad decisions and bad policy to hide behind the shield of being microaggressed. Oddly enough, groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda seem immune to accusations of microaggression.

Number Three: Triggered (Often Related to Safe Space)

In one of the looniest misuses of the English language, the very term the Left has created, is in itself that concept they wish to avoid. The term trigger, trigger warning, triggered, erupted in the first part of the 21st century primarily in Communist Party Political Academies once known as universities. The concept codified in places like UC Santa Barbara where they forced faculty to announce a trigger was about to be pulled, indicating a controversial topic that could cause trauma was about to be mentioned. In reality, it is used when someone does not like the free speech of others and therefore will be traumatized by whatever they dislike, especially any positive mention of God or country. In another example of the Revolution eating its own children, the term “trigger,” associated with firearms, has been castigated as a trauma-inducing word.

Number Two: Woke

A close second to our number one term is the idea of “woke” or “staying woke.” The term is very new in its current usage so don’t feel bad if you have never heard it. It will come to find you as it knows where you live. The idea is that if you are woke, you are aware of all the social injustices of the age. You, therefore, can use all the terms in our guide freely and with bravado which allows one to hide incompetence, calumny, and corruption. You can also accuse others of not being “woke,” which essentially dehumanizes them and qualifies them to be considered for re-education centers.

Number One: Virtue Signaling

Nothing on our list is as wonderfully insane as our number one entry: Virtue Signaling. It encapsulates everything about the new Left in one single idea and concept. Originally refering to religious people who wish to signal piety, it was hijacked in the recent period by the Left who wish to demonstrate their social justice warrior (see the previous guide) credentials by signaling their support or distaste for any particular idea or person. In typical Left-wing fashion, they have taken the term “virtue” (one’s obligation to God, self, family, community, and nation) and recreated the term to mean a demonstration of disgust, mostly on social media, which gives one the appearance of endeavor with no action required. It is the perfect apotheosis of Left-wing concepts as it creates a morality from a vacuum requiring nothing other than emotional indignation based on one’s own narcissism. It would almost be divine in its perfect demonstration of Left-wing thought if it were not for the Left’s denunciation of God.

There are honorable mentions such as “othering (as in a group or person not being one of us but the “other”); ” “outing” (forcing someone to come out of some shadow that another person deems as too shadowy), and “throwing shade” (casting aspersions on people you don’t like). These did not make the cut as the other eight.

It is my sincere hope that this guide saves you and your family from the various professional gulags and spiritual wastelands currently in existence in the Left-run utopias around the nation.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax on 22 January 2019.

Newsmax: A 2019 Guide to the English Language

It can be difficult for Americans to navigate the swamplands of language usage without getting into trouble with the Cheka (first Soviet secret police) and sent to a re-education center. In all totalitarian countries, millions of people have been and are sent to places where their thinking can be “adjusted” to fit the state’s needs. George Orwell’s “1984” predicted a leftist dictatorship that would enforce doublethink: hate means love, war means peace, slavery means freedom. Orwell would appreciate that the new terrain is based on creating new words and new phrases to engineer the new communist man for the 21st century.

This is all done in an effort to save my countrymen from the 0-dark thirty knocks on the house door by the forces of Antifa, who will willingly force you to be tolerant and kind by clubbing you over the head. I have compiled the top terms so that one can safely glide in and out of totalitarian conversations with ease. This will be especially helpful should you venture anywhere near an American university campus, Left-wing policy institution, Planned Parenthood, media outlet, or Hollywood.

Politically Correct, PC

The term came into fashion in the 1980s as a way for the leftists to indicate that certain language usage was acceptable and others were evil (though the concept of evil is in itself politically incorrect unless applied to conservatives). The only absolute the left is consistent about is their certainty that all values that are Judeo-Christian based are inherently wrong. The purpose of claiming something is politically correct is to ensure a chilling effect on anyone within a 50-yard radius who wishes to disagree with the speaker. This is especially useful during media interviews and faculty meetings. PC has its own party army referred to as the PC police.

White Guilt (synonymous to White Privilege and cousin to Liberal Guilt)

No totalitarian dictionary would be complete without an over-emphasis on race and the desire by those on the left to segregate races based on identity politics. Started in the 1970s distributed in handbooks and training manuals to “help” white people not be racist the term quickly became a demand. Whites by definition must possess this “guilt” for being white, lest they forego their humanity and UN passports since the left prefers global citizenship to American. Advocates of white guilt engage in the overt embracing of other people and cultures whether these people want the invasion of their personal space or not. White guilt is often partnered by the second demand of white privilege which requires all white people to acknowledge their overabundance and soft lives. All of this is enforced by liberal guilt police who are always on the verge of total despondency.

Toxic Masculinity

Just as no list would be complete without hyperbole about race, no 21st-century homage to the Devil’s Dictionary would be satisfied without gender. The attack on manliness has existed for decades. It is now taken for granted that the male in most sitcoms is rude, crude, arrogant, stupid, and shallow. The feminist school of international relations propagates the idea that men create instability, war, chaos, violence, economic recession, and generally leave the toilet seat up. Breaking out in the 1980s, it blamed men like Ronald Reagan for creating aggression because of the male drive. Today the anti-male agenda has broadened to argue that any male expression of manliness or virtu (according to Machiavelli), is a demonstrable evil (see PC definition of evil) and should be immediately stomped out by the local bully or PC police. This has even reached the pinnacle of western civilization when attempting to attack the masculinity of the Holy Trinity; then again, the Trinity is not PC, to begin with.

Social Justice Warrior

Due to the negation of manliness by the previous PC police camp guards, the world still needs defending, and those answering the pan flute’s call are social justice warriors. Originating in the late 20th century, the term originally had the rather banal connotation of someone who was devoted to social activism. However, it quickly mutated into a badge of honor for those who enforce all the previous listed terms. They are, just as Lenin’s Bolsheviks were, the new vanguard of the proletariat ready to serve as judge, jury, and executioner, especially anonymously via the internet. Often Social Justice Warrior is reduced to the acronym SJW; many now refer to such people by another three letter combination.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax on 9 January 2019.

Newsmax: A True Statesman, President Bush Helmed US as Sole Superpower

On the morning when the world discovered President Bush had passed away, I received an email from an old friend who I fought many political battles alongside. He informed me that the death of the president had stirred up dreams and remembrances. He asked if I recalled how great the 1988 campaign was, and how equally bad 1992 was. I had remembered it the same.
There have been countless articles and eulogies given for President Bush. Many of these rightly list off the numerous domestic and foreign policy accomplishments of the president who justly deserves to be considered the most qualified person for the Oval office since James Monroe.

Two items are often omitted from these acts of homage.

The first is that although many list his foreign policy achievements, they forget that at the grand strategic level Bush becomes the first president to deal with and manage the United States as the sole superpower. When the history of American grand strategy is written, it will need to start its chapter on the Pax Americana with George Herbert Walker Bush. This is greater than the singular parts of American foreign policy, even the Gulf War. In fact, you can’t have the successful transition of the USSR to Russia, the capture of Manuel Noriega, or the defeat of Saddam Hussein without Bush being first at the helm of the most powerful country to ever appear on the planet.

The second omission is the atmosphere of the 1988 campaign which made him president.

The 1988 presidential campaign was the first campaign where I, as a university student, held an executive position in Wisconsin. I was able to experience life as an “advance man” in addition to coordinating volunteers, phone banks, yard signs, and leaflet drops. This was still the golden age of retail politics before the internet age and the dubious and dark promises of social media. You either had a ground game, or you did not even bother.

My first encounter with the future president was at the Sheraton Hotel where I had to briefly act as a go-between from a Bush-adoring fan base to the Secret Service. They were naturally more nervous being in Madison, Wisconsin, which according to urban legend had an unofficial competition with San Francisco for the number of death threats against prominent politicians. President Bush was everything that many have recounted: generous, affable, awkward, and above all gentlemanly. Although Dukakis would carry the state 51 percent to 47 percent, this loss was tempered by both the popular vote and Electoral College landslide for President Bush nationally. Those of us in the heartland knew we had given it our all, and the right man won in the end.

The strangest aspect of the campaign, and one that enraged those of us on the team, more than the man himself, was the attacks by a minority of Republicans and many Democrats that Bush was “a wimp.” It was shocking, insulting, and appalling for two fundamental reasons. First, many of those accusing him of being said “wimp” had done nothing courageous or brave or sacrificial in their own lives. Second, was how far off the mark it was from the reality of the former young navy pilot, and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism. However, similar to Bob Dole and John McCain, Bush refused to exploit his wartime heroics, much to the consternation of the various campaign staffs. I remember phone banks where we would sometimes have the “wimp” or “silver spoon” factor thrown in our faces. The media de jour, the proto-fake-news media, had embellished both. As the campaign went on, it was clear that the more a voter knew about George Bush, the more that voter liked him, and better yet, respected him. Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson stated in his memoir that Bush had a common touch, and had once told him to, “Never forget where you came from, Tommy.” Bush never forgot that where he came from was from a family devoted to service above self.

Sometimes Bush was accused of being a Patrician, but this was a strength, not a curse. The patrician class was what made Rome a Republic and ensured Rome’s greatest traditions and laws. If that is what the accusers were getting at, it was a losing battle.

Perhaps his real strength, which was somewhat of a curse when faced with a biased media was that he was not a politician. He was a statesman.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax on 4 December, 2018.

Newsmax: The Troika of Tyranny Is the New Axis of Evil

When President Bush gave the State of the Union speech in 2002, it was one of those magnificent historical events in the Anglosphere. It hearkened back to President Reagan’s Westminster speech and Churchill’s Battle of Britain Speech.

This State of the Union speech was the formal declaration of war against the post-cold war threats of the 21st century emphasizing the president’s declaration that he would not wait for threats to materialize before taking action. In that speech, President Bush coined the term, “the axis of evil,” referring to the three regimes that fit this evil definition, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Thus, under the Bush Doctrine, American foreign policy was moved from simply pursuing Al Qaeda to a worldwide crusade against the combined forces of extremism and WMDs. The speech set out the premise of the Bush Doctrine: preemption, prevention, and the ‘non-negotiable’ demand for liberty fulfilled by American primacy.

President Bush clearly affirmed, “States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.”

In 2010, the “Axis of Resistance” was declared by Iran, Syria, and Hamas, the very entities that drink at the same evil wellspring that President Bush warned against.

The United States hit back forcefully this month when National Security Adviser John Bolton proclaimed his “Troika of Tyranny” speech at the Freedom Tower in Miami, calling out Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Bolton, who also referred to this grouping as the triangle of terror declared: “In Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, we see the perils of poisonous ideologies left unchecked and the dangers of domination and suppression… This Troika of Tyranny, this triangle of terror stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua, is the cause of immense human suffering, the impetus of enormous regional instability, and the genesis of a sordid cradle of communism in the Western Hemisphere.”

Regarding Cuba, Bolton emphasized the need for free elections, assembly, expression, freeing of political prisoners, and the legalization of political parties. The atrocities committed by the Cuban communist regime can’t be forgotten or ignored. Despite, and in spite of, the Obama administration’s willingness to sacrifice human rights on the altar of left-wing romantic notions concerning murderers like Che Guevara. Bolton condemned both Venezuela and Nicaragua for continued repression, violence, election fraud, and setting their countries on a path of economic ruin.

The media has focused primarily on two issues. One, they claimed, was a cynical attempt to help Republicans in Florida by pandering to Cuban-American voters. Second, was for some media outlets to highlight Bolton’s criticisms, while engaging in apologetics for the same regimes. What is lost is a historical context.

Cuba was the epicenter of Soviet operations against its own people and the United States during the Cold War. Cuban Intelligence, the DGI, was and is the main arm of terror not only inside of Cuba but also abroad. It is one of those amazing examples of an arm of the state acting like a terrorist organization. Cuba is notorious for its labor camps, torture, and murder of its own population, the destruction of churches, the imprisonment of pastors, and an overarching tyranny that has attempted to destroy the spirit of the Cuban people. Venezuela and Nicaragua are only “better” by degree. Both governments have engaged in torture, brutality, election fraud, false imprisonment, executions, the use and pay of mobs to engage in violence against political opponents, destruction of the rule of law, the confiscation of private property, and persecution. Amnesty International reports that the Venezuelan government alone has murdered over 8,000 people from 2015 to 2017.

Where is the media outcry about this? Why divert attention to discussing Floridian congressional midterm elections while such human rights atrocities are occurring?

National Security Advisor Bolton made a bold and dynamic statement in line with the noblest expressions of American foreign policy. Americans should rally to this, and condemn real evil when we see it.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax on 19 November, 2018.

The Daily Caller: Pronouncing the Death of the Pax Americana

“Thank goodness, this situation of unipolarity and monopoly is already coming to an end, and it has practically disappeared.”

Though this may be a quote spoken by the American new-Left (or the old-Left for that matter), it actually was a statement made by the President of Russia on October 18, 2018, at the Pro-Putin, Russian Think Tank Valdai Discussion Club.

Hardly mentioned by the mainstream press, Putin’s grand declaration was part of an anti-American rant that should remind Americans that Russia and the United States are always on a collision course, which is always more stalled than ever derailed.

The trains are always headed at each other, but either the engineer dies of a heart attack, as in 1991 (until a new one finally takes his place), or they both engage in multiple near-misses.

The speech centered on three spokes (military technology, China and the Middle East) and Putin’s central core argument; the United States is a dying empire that has made such serious mistakes that it cannot recover.

“Empires often think they can make some little mistakes … because they’re so powerful. But when the number of these mistakes keeps growing, it reaches a level they cannot sustain.”

The few commentators that have highlighted this assertion have focused on the military disparity between the United States and the Russian Federation, which is true, but of course, it misses the point.

Disparity needs to be maintained; it just does not occur. Hence, the correct analysis is not to lull oneself into a false sense of security and inevitability, but to focus on motive and intention.

Putin’s desire to change the world order away from American hegemony is a grand strategy that is based on multi-decades into the future, typical of Russia’s dark and patient willingness to endure hardship over long periods of time.

In specific terms, Putin focused on military technology, boasting again that Russia is developing a hypersonic missile named Avangard. This missile program is designed for the purposes of defeating United States potential missile defenses. Feasible or not at this moment, the real issue again is motivation and intent.

One of the strangest parts of his comments was in regards to his high esteem for China, specifically China’s neo-Silk Road project. China’s “One Belt-One Road” project poses the greatest economic danger to the United States since the attempt by the axis powers to engage in Autarky, which had they won would have cut off the United States from its markets.

If Russia joins China in developing the northern or “Polar Silk Road” America will need to take proactive steps to thwart this geo-political merger.

Regarding the Middle East, Putin boasted of Russia’s influence in the region with Syria and Iran and even Egypt. This should serve as proof positive that relying on the inertia of American power will lead to catastrophe for us.

The Syrian civil war was not a foregone conclusion until the joint intervention of Russia and Iran. Russia’s modest military was very targeted in nature, not only gave Assad a diplomatic shield but allowed him to engage in human rights atrocities with impunity.

Before his death, Senator John McCain summed it up best: “Putin’s Russia is our adversary and moral opposite. It is committed to the destruction of the post-war, rule-based world order built on American leadership and the primacy of our political and economic values.”

Imperial Russia, Soviet and now simply Russian grand strategy has always been based on creating vast spaces in order to lure enemies and absorb losses so that they could overcome enemies with time. Putin’s speech may be 95-percent bravado, but the 5-percent that is not is the warning shot over America’s bow.

This piece originally ran on The Daily Caller on 24 October, 2018.

The Washington Times: The conservative fallacy

The past few weeks have highlighted one of the most problematic aspects of the modern conservative movement, namely that it has endorsed modernity. There is nothing modern about conservatism. Conservatism is based on a belief in the organic and unchanging nature of man. At its core are traditions, obligations, responsibilities, faith, reason and duty. These virtues are immutable, unchanging and eternal.

It is summed up in the simple phrase, “God, Family, Country.” Conservatives owe many obediences; the highest is to God and that which is closely related: Obedience to the truth. This takes a variety of forms, but one of the most important is obedience to history as it was, not revisionism.

There are five illustrations where conservatives, in a futile attempt to appear modern, have brought about strategic failure.

The first is over the Electoral College. The rising star of the Democratic Party, a self-declared socialist, recently summed up the new left’s attack on the Electoral College by arguing that it is a vestige of slavery. Conservatives were immediately indignant. Few conservatives attacked this nonsense with the actual foundation of the Electoral College. They talked about big states and small states and also political tradition; some even suggested that it was good that it has transitioned.

The Electoral College is one of the last vestiges of republicanism (as in a Republic) remaining in America. It was designed to put a stop to mob rule, a currently popular term. The House is the chamber of sentiment, the Senate is the chamber of reason, and the presidency is the guardian of the Constitution. Due to this, the president was never intended, nor should he be, elected by a popular majority.

The second is over Iraq. It appears that the left wishes to bring this up at any point where foreign affairs are discussed. The mistake made early on by conservatives was to only focus on the weapons of mass destruction which the American intelligence community assured President Bush were active. However, Iraq was more than that. It was one of the worst state sponsors of terrorism; it had engaged in chemical weapons attacks against its own people, and it was preparing for expansion once the UN sanctions were lifted.

However, it also provided the best option for democracy in the Arab world. The Bush administration knew this before the invasion but did not communicate this until later. It, therefore, appeared as an add-on, instead of the core that it was. Now, many conservatives who endorsed the war backtrack and backslide. This emboldens the left and only makes their radical agenda in foreign policy easier to attain. Conservatives need to support the actions of President Bush boldly, and assertively.

The third is over the Second Amendment. The NRA is on a roller coaster about whether to rely on the actual foundation of the Second Amendment or what they think will appeal to the masses. They and their allies have made a colossal blunder by focusing on hunting, personal defense, and target shooting instead of the foundation illustrated by John Locke and the Founding Fathers. Namely, that a government that owns a monopoly of arms is a government that can impose tyranny.

A free people armed is the last best check on an illegitimate government. Whether some think this is too far-fetched for the American people to understand or not is difficult to say. However, it frames the debate with the truth and defeats all naysayers Only a fool would argue that a future American government could never be a tyranny.

The fourth one is over the moaning over gridlock. There are many platitudes about bipartisanship and the failure to accomplish this legislative item or that. However, what the electorate needs to be reminded of is that the alternative to a system that could radically change — was tyranny. This is not to argue that gridlock is inherently good, but it is to illustrate that this is the cost to avoid the excesses and extremes of almost every other civilization. By not characterizing it in these terms grants the extremists the ammunition to engage in radicalism.

The final fallacy is over great men. The “out-of-fashion” historian Carlyle argued, “The history of the world is but the biography of great men.” He correctly argued that it is to the heroic figure that we owe so much. Conservatives should stop apologizing for the great men of civilization. The recent Winston Churchill controversy, the yearly wringing of hands over Christopher Columbus, and the continued, methodical and strategic attempt to destroy the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln should not be met by apologies, but by righteous anger.

The critics do not understand, nor are they able to match the trials and tribulations of these men. They know nothing of the perils of the Battle of Britain, Valley Forge, Gettysburg, or the crossing of the Atlantic. The left well-full knows that if they can knock these men off their pedestals, the rest of Western civilization will follow. In the end, out of fear, they are the biggest believers in the great man theory of history. If not, they would not try so desperately hard to destroy their reputations.

Conservatives have always warned of the tyranny of the one, the few, and the many. This is one of the fundamental values, and it does no good to anyone, especially the American electorate, when those that pride themselves on guarding the truth of the past do not themselves hold it as sacred.

Lamont Colucci is associate professor of politics at Ripon College and author of “The National Security Doctrines of the American Presidency: How they Shape our Present and Future” (Praeger, 2012).

This piece originally ran in the Washington Times on 23 October, 2018.

 

Praeger Security: Cyber Attacks Should Be Treated as an Act of War

Lamont Colucci
Ripon College

It is surprising that it has taken about 20 years to openly discuss cyber attacks against the United States committed by other nations. The first major attack is often cited as the “Moonlight Maze” attack of 1998, which is believed to have emanated from Russia. It is even stranger that we are debating whether or not these types of attacks are acts of war and aggression. This lackadaisical attitude is perhaps a function not so much of policy attitudes but culture and generational trends. Generation X and Millennials grew up with the Internet primarily as a positive force in their lives. Further, the Internet is seen as amorphous, surreal and lacking in a concrete manifestation. Negative news about the Internet focuses on such issues as identity theft, cyber stalking, and poor social judgment, as countless people engage in negative behavior that may haunt them in later life. This is unfortunate since the Internet dominates most areas of national security and American corporate activity. These foreign nation cyber attacks have become more sensationalized with the North Korean attack against Sony and allegations of Russian intervention in the 2016 election cycle.

The United States must have a clear policy that cyber attacks will be treated as an act of aggression and war viewed no differently than a kinetic attack, or an attack that results in tangible physical damage and or human casualties. In 2011, the Pentagon opened the official door by declaring that “any computer attack that threatens widespread civilian casualties”[1] could be considered an act of war garnering a military response. In an increasing tense atmosphere over the issue, Sen. Mike Rounds in 2016 introduced a bill called the Cyber Act of War Act, which would: “(1) develop a policy for determining when an action carried out in cyberspace constitutes an act of war against the United States, and (2) revise the Department of Defense Law of War Manual accordingly.” In developing this policy, the President shall consider: “(1) the ways in which a cyber attack’s effects may be equivalent to a conventional attack’s effects, including physical destruction or casualties; and (2) intangible effects of significant scope or duration.”[2] However, as critics have noted, this is less of a guideline for the use of force than a demand that any administration makes clear what American policy is toward such an attack.

It is not the purview of this article to discuss non-state actors, but even with state actors, there is a question of attribution: how sure is the United States that a particular state engaged in a cyber attack?[3] For any response policy to exist, the president must force the intelligence community (IC) to possess and maintain the tools to credibly give him positive attribution. The IC will likely resist such pressure but should be reminded that this is the reason the IC exists in the first place. It is highly likely that the IC will claim that they cannot be definite in all cases who the aggressor is; further, they may try to stall by arguing that more time is needed to assess the situation. Like many areas that demand firm answers from the American intelligence services, the IC should be forced to give an assessment and not be allowed to be ambiguous. Its entire reason for existence is to make such judgment calls and analysis. As much as it is important to be sure and prudent, it is equally important to act decisively to prevent major harm to the United States and the American people. This fully recognizes the possibility that a bad actor could attempt to a covert operation designed to make the United States think a national actor engaged in an attack when they did not. This could even be an action by a national actor itself. Perhaps Iran will attempt an attack that appears like the Chinese or the Russians. This is another reason that a declared policy that cyber attacks by national actors will be considered an act of war will inject a needed seriousness on all sides of the equation. It sends a powerful message not only to our own intelligence community but toward potential adversaries that this issue has left the ethereal feelings surrounding the internet and has entered the domain of hard power national security.

Another area directly related to cyber attacks by national actors is the area of cyber espionage. Again, culture has clouded the issue as espionage is still thought of along the old lines of human intelligence and signals intelligence. However, what could once not be achieved by an army of covert operators can now be achieved by an individual or small group of cyber operators. Cyber espionage is one of the most common threats the United States faces at the hands of state actors. This has often been an overlooked area of espionage by the media, and even politicians, as it often focuses on economic and industrial espionage. It is not considered by many of these same politicians or media actors as serious as attacks against the Pentagon’s communication systems, or even for some, as media manipulation. However, this is more of an ongoing threat than any other, and it harms the United States on a daily basis. In light of this, on April 1, 2015, President Barack Obama signed an executive order, “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.”[4] This policy would allow the United States government, through the secretary of the treasury (in consultation with the attorney general and secretary of state) to apply sanctions to individuals or groups that engage in economic espionage. The administration’s test was if the attack created “a significant threat to U.S. national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States.” Although this was a long overdue step in the right direction, it may again reflect the Obama administration’s instinct to take the minimalist path of least resistance. Economic espionage encompasses everything from stealing to altering to destroying intellectual property or other trade secrets. This can be anything from machine blueprints to software applications to private employee information to chemical formulas. And while defense contractors and military technology top the looting list, everything is fair game: civilian aviation, gaming software, agricultural seeds, pharmaceuticals or car brakes. Naturally, Silicon Valley and corporations such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, HP, and Oracle are top targets. And while the good, old-fashioned spy work of using human intelligence assets and dealing with physical documents is still a reality, foreign agents can now also work remotely, through cyber attacks, malware, viruses and other forms of hacking.

The cost to the American economy and American jobs is staggering. One 2009 estimate pegged losses at $50 billion but BlackOps Partners Corporation, a firm that handles cyber counterintelligence for Fortune 500 companies, estimated in 2013 that the cost was $500 billion from U.S. companies annually.[5][6] Many of the code names of these attacks seem to come out of a Tom Clancy novel: Red October, Flame, Operation Aurora and the Elderwood Project. The aggressors have similarly colorful names: Unit 61398, for example, and Energetic Bear.

These last two were not independent hackers. Unit 61398 is part of China’s People’s Liberation Army while Energetic Bear was widely believed to be supported by Russia. Notice that these are not Russian and Chinese corporations but the governments themselves (indeed, they are the two biggest cyber adversaries of the United States). A 2013 report by the cyber security firm Mandiant estimated that Unit 61398 had hacked into 141 companies.[7] Similarly, a 2014 report by the firm CrowdStrike said that the Russian government had penetrated hundreds of American, European and Asian companies, stealing valuable intellectual property.[8]

One needs to be reminded that these are state actors of the two greatest power threats to United States interests using their intelligence arms to attack U.S. corporations. This is not about sanctions, this is warfare, and it should be treated as such. The Russian cyber attacks against the Estonian Parliament in 2007, the attacks against Georgia in 2008 (which were a prelude to the Russian invasion), and Ukraine continuously, should have served as a clear warning that the future for the United States looks dark if no decisive policy is enacted. Russia and China are the most common sources of national actor attacks against the United States. If these two nations perceive weakness on the America’s part, they will amplify and exploit their attacks progressively.

Although economic cyber espionage is the most common form of state-actor attacks, the question remains as to how the United States should respond to a cyber-attack that seeks to seriously harm our national security infrastructure or population. In May 2017, National Security Agency director Mike Rogers stated, “Advanced states continue to demonstrate the ability to combine cyber effects, intelligence, and asymmetric warfare to maintain the initiative just short of war, challenging our ability to react and respond.”[9] The scenarios of nation-state cyber attacks against the United States are endless: cut down the power grid, hack the major financial institutions, bring down military communications, confuse major transportation and supply chain networks. Many of these attacks may lead to the deaths of tens of thousands, especially those targeting health care and the water and food supply, and can cause mass casualties to the American military. Many national security experts have focused on the catastrophic result should a terrorist group or a rogue nation like Iran or North Korea deliver an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) strike against the United States. An EMP attack by even a single nuclear detonation at high altitude above the surface could destroy electrical power to over 70% of the United States, resulting in casualties on a scale never been seen in warfare.[10] Hypothetical accounts of the days without electric power are terrifying. Lloyds of London and the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Risk Studies analyzed a scenario where an attack on the power grid resulted in a 15-state blackout plunging 93 million people into darkness: “Experts predict it would result in a rise in mortality rates as health and safety systems fail; a decline in trade as ports shut down; disruption to water supplies as electric pumps fail and chaos to transport networks as infrastructure collapses. The total impact to the US economy is estimated at $243 billion, rising to more than $1 trillion in the most extreme version of the scenario.”[11]

However, the same could be achieved via a cyber attack. There needs to be an unambiguous policy whose declaration would include the following: Any major cyber attack against United States’ interests or people will be treated as an attack by any other weapon of mass destruction in the same category as nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological. It is clear that short of the use of a hydrogen bomb, a major cyber attack will be more severe than any other weapon of mass destruction. The scale of such a cyber attack could be vast and comprehensive.[12] Second, any cyber attack by a state actor will not be governed by the same type response. The United States will use kinetic force to counter or retaliate against a serious cyber attack. In plain language, a state actor that engages in a serious cyber attack against the American power grid will find its own power grid destroyed by cruise missiles. Third, the United States will not be forced into a proportional response if the severity of the attack causes major damage or loss of life.

A serious cyber attack against the United States should be treated in the same way as we treated the potential for a nuclear attack in the 20th century. The United States must respond with the full force of American power and ensure that no nation contemplates this type of aggression.


Notes:

[1] David Sanger and Elisabeth Bumiller, “Pentagon to Consider Cyberattacks Acts of War,” The New York Times, May 31, 2011.

[2] U.S. Senate Bill 2905, 114th Congress, May 9, 2016.

[3] Dan Gallington, “U.S. Response to Cyber Attacks,” C-Span interview, June 11, 2011.

[4] President Barack Obama, “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities,” The White House, Executive Order, April 1, 2015.

[5] Joshua Philipp, “The Staggering Cost of Economic Espionage Against the US,” The Epoch Times, October 22, 2013.

[6] James Scott and Drew Spaniel, “China’s Espionage Dynasty: Economic Death by a Thousand Cuts,” Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, July 17, 2016, https://icitech.org/icit-brief-chinas-espionage-dynasty-economic-death-by-a-thousand-cuts/.

[7] FireEye, Inc., “What About the Plant Floor? Six Subversive Security Concerns for Industrial Environments,” 2017.

[8] Jim Finkle, “Russia hacked hundreds of Western, Asian companies,” Reuters, January 21, 2014.

[9] Dan Boylan, “Mike Rogers, NSA chief, to Senate: Cyberattack on infrastructure ‘worst-case scenario,” The Washington Times, May 9, 2017.

[10] Henry F. Cooper and Peter Vincent Pry, “The Threat to Melt the Electric Grid,” The Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2015, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-threat-to-melt-the-electric-grid-1430436815.

[11] Lloyds of London and the University of Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies, “Business Blackout,” July 8, 2015.

[12] Quan Hai T. Lu, “Cyber Attacks The New WMD Challenge to the Interagency,” InterAgency Journal 6, 2 (Special Edition, Spring 2015).

Lamont Colucci

Copyright 2018 ABC-CLIO, LLC

This post originally appeared on ABC-CLIO’s Praeger Security International website

This content may be used for non-commercial, course and research purposes only.

MLA Citation:
Colucci, Lamont. “Cyber Attacks Should be Treated As an Act of War.” Praeger Security International, ABC-CLIO, 2018, psi.praeger.com/Search/Display/2174723. Accessed 4 Oct. 2018.

https://psi.praeger.com/Search/Display/2174723

Entry ID: 2174723

AMI NewsWire: The Cost of Appeasement

Eighty years ago today the camera’s flashed as the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain stepped out of 10 Downing Street and uttered these infamous words, “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time…Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.” It was on September 30, 1938, and those words would hang in the air, forever; they would linger like an unwanted ghost in the halls of statecraft, decade after decade. (Within eight months Chamberlain would resign and be replaced by the great man who served God, Winston Churchill.)

History depends on the actions of great men. There is no sentence in the English language more out of favor among historians than this one. Actually, there is only one worse – history depends on the actions of great men who serve God. This idea is also amplified in reverse: history’s tragedies are amplified by small men, and such a man was Neville Chamberlain.

“It is a price which enables a dictator who would willingly destroy the last vestige of democracy in Europe to claim with justice that he scored over the democracies of Europe the greatest diplomatic triumph of modern times,” The New York Times wrote disapprovingly of the policy known as appeasement. Some in the British press and public approved appeasing Hitler. Many thought the horrors of the First World War would be avoided and the only sacrifice had been the liberty and freedom of the people of Czechoslovakia. Others protested the agreement in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Many who write about the Chamberlain policy of appeasement focus on the statement and discuss its folly in light of the Second World War. In March 1939, Hitler had annexed all of Czechoslovakia, and the war the West so desperately did not want was given to them under Hitler’s terms on September 1. Chamberlain, (and to a lesser degree the then French President Daladier), became the poster-boy for foreign policy appeasement: the policy that is willing to grant concessions in order to forestall conflict. The term appeasement became a slander used by realist and conservative statesmen, academics, and journalists who understood that dictators are fed by such victories.

By 1938 Hitler had scored a pile of bloodless victories starting with the withdrawal from the League of Nations in 1933 (akin to withdrawal or ignoring of U.N. or other international agreements today), the unilateral rejection of the disarmament in 1935 (similar to the research, development or sale of WMD today), the remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936 (likened to spending on military modernization when other aspects of your country are in poverty), and the annexation of Austria in 1938.

We have seen this in the contemporary era with variations on appeasement with the USSR during parts of the Cold War, Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda in the 1990s, and North Korea and Iran during the last administration.

“Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” then President George W Bush said in a speech in Jerusalem in 2008, “We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

Bush was alluding to Senator William E. Borah, an Idaho Republican in the 1930s who was many proponents of appeasement.

Even in Germany there were opponents of Hitler. In 1938, a small group of anti-Nazi activists had begged the West to pursue a different policy. This German anti-Nazi opposition made numerous attempts to inform the British and French governments of their plans, asking only that they stand-up to Hitler over Czechoslovakia.

By May 1938 a group of Germans within the Army, Foreign Office, and intelligence services had come to the decision that Hitler and the Nazi regime must be overthrown. This part of the German resistance was not the dissenters, protestors, student activists, or religious figures that often had great qualms against violence. This group was primarily made up of conservative Christian nationalists who differentiated between treason against the government, which they knew they were committing, versus treason against Germany and the German people. In other words, the loyalty they had to Germany justified treason against the Nazis. In an amazing memorandum, Chief of the General Staff, General Ludwig Beck, wrote in 1938, “Your military duty to obey [orders] ends where your knowledge, your conscience, and your responsibility forbids the execution of an order.” We might remember that the American revolutionaries made parallel arguments in the Declaration of Independence. There is a higher duty to God and righteousness than any manmade construct. These men, motivated by honor, duty, and obligation, created a plan to dismantle the Nazi regime by using the German army to take over the country and neutralize the SS.

We know of course the coup plot was a failure but, proud Germans continued to resist Hitler (two others by German military officers in 1943) with the more famous July 1944 Valkyrie plot.

Hitler, like modern-day tyrants, played both the belligerent and the peacemaker when it served his interests. Similar to the 1930s, today’s leaders in the West question their own systems, values, and civilization. The prospect of war was a greater horror than the prospect of evil or the protection of innocent lives. The arguments about saving lives in the short run ended up costing the lives of millions in the long run – the most colossal failures in all of human history.

The Western acceptance of the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia ensured the abject failure of the one attempt that had the greatest amount of success to rid the world of Hitler and Nazism. Had the allies stood up to Hitler, the resistance would have removed him from power. The result of this is beyond calculation, but it is not without credibility to suggest that there would have been no Second World War, no Holocaust and no Soviet enslavement of Eastern Europe.

The eightieth anniversary of appeasement writ large should cause us to reflect. There can never be accommodation with evil for it always ends in more innocent lives destroyed.

Lamont Colucci is a former diplomat with the U.S. State Department and a professor of international relations.

This piece originally ran on AMI Newswire on 30 September, 2018.