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24 July 2017

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turcopolier

LindaL

That is Pompaeus as a plebe. I looked better as a cadet. pl

David Habakkuk

All,

I would strongly recommend anyone who can find the time to read the full transcripts both of Brennan and Clapper’s exchanges with Wolf Blitzer, and of Pompeo’s exchanges with Bret Stephens.

(See http://aspensecurityforum.org/media/transcripts/ .)

The media coverage does not do justice to gems like this summary from the current CIA director of what his agency has discovered about the threat from Russia:

‘I hearken back to something called the Gerasimov doctrine from the early 70s, he's now the head of the – I’m a Cold War guy, forgive me if I mention Soviet Union. He’s now the head of the Russian army and his idea was that you can win wars without firing a single shot or with firing very few shots in ways that are decidedly not militaristic, and that’s what’s happened. What changes is the costs; to effectuate change through cyber and through RT and Sputnik, their news outlets, and through other soft means; has just really been lowered, right. It used to be it was expensive to run an ad on a television station now you simply go online and propagate your message. And so they have they have found an effective tool, an easy way to go reach into our systems, and into our culture to achieve the outcomes they are looking for.’

As General Gerasimov was born in 1955, it is clear that he has to be one of the great strategic geniuses of history. Perhaps in some respects he is rather behind Alexander, who conquered the Persian Empire at twenty-six. But if indeed his ‘doctrine’ dates from the ‘early 70s’, by the age of twenty he must have worked out, decades before it could be implemented, the key elements of the new strategy which it seems poses as great a threat to the West as Warsaw Pact tank armies ever did, if not greater.

And indeed, one might argue that the degree of strategic foresight imputed to him by the CIA gives Gerasimov a claim to be Alexander’s superior. Clearly the GRU had not only closely followed the early developments in packet networking and packet switching in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France in the ‘Fifties and ‘Sixties, and Gerasimov was the man who understood the possibilities these opened up, decades before anyone in the West did.

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet .)

And Pompeo has now made clear to me what was actually going on, when in December 1988 the late Georgi Arbatov told a gathering of American scientists that ‘Our major secret weapon is to deprive you of an enemy.’

(See http://articles.latimes.com/1988-12-12/local/me-14_1_uci-scientists .)

Behind the scenes, Gerasimov’s men had grasped that tank armies were of quite secondary relevance, and control of Eastern Europe worse than useless, in achieving the ‘grand design’ of destroying the United States, the idea of freedom, etc etc.

And already, it would seem likely, not only were the full potentialities of modern ‘information technology’ anticipated, but the new generation who would exploit it were being identified and prepared. In this kind of fighting, Gerasimov appears to have realised early, women could really be more than a match for men. So, behind the scenes, Maria Zakharova, then just turned 13, and Margarita Simonyan, who was eight, were already being groomed for stardom.

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Zakharova ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margarita_Simonyan .)

Really, I do not see how people like Brennan, Clapper, and Pompeo can be expected to cope with the threat posed by a strategic genius like Gerasimov. As for the notion that the likes of John Kirby or Mark Toner – or indeed Marie Harf of Heather Nauert – are a match for Zakharova, or Blitzer and Stephens for Simonyan: it is like watching the Polish Army trying to fight the Wehrmacht.

The conclusion would seem inescapable. As with Alexander, faced with Gerasimov the only prudent course is to accept the futility of resistance and make the best terms possible for a strategically inferior power.

Meanwhile, it would seem time for TTG to realise that, if you are Lithuanian, neither fight nor flight will help you. You may think you are safe in the United States, and that the likes of Brennan, Clapper and Pompeo offer protection, but the long arm of the Kremlin will get you in the end.

Or perhaps I should write, the long arms of Vernadskovo Prospekt 100.

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Academy_of_the_General_Staff_of_the_Armed_Forces_of_Russia .)

LondonBob

Gerasimov was describing NATO military strategy when he utilised the term hybrid warfare. Are people engaged in propaganda when they accuse Russia of this or are they simply ignorant and have disappeared into their own make believe world?

http://blog.berzins.eu/gerasimov-syria/

Vic

I'm biased because of my service background, but IMO CIA can not do MILCAP analysis worth a darn.

All IC agencies are not the same. Each is good at some things and does less well at others. CIA does well at Political and Economic intelligence but is poor at military intelligence (and all the associated sub-disciplines). The services (no surprise) do well at military intelligence with individual service agencies specializing in different sub-disciplines. When they try to do political analysis they really do a poor job.

The press lumps all the IC together as sources of "The Truth". Their reporting never distinguishes if an agency is capable of doing the type of analysis that the news source commented on (especially CIA).

As for having "The Truth", at the beginning of my career I was taught by the service intelligence school and latter by old experienced mentors that as an intelligence analyst that I was going to be wrong often. Trying to second guess an opponent is extremely difficult, doing it all the time is nearly impossible. Instead of knowing the "truth", I was told that I would be dealing most all the time with varying degrees of "untruth".

Bottom line; take what IC sources say with a huge grain of salt. Question everything. Ignore opinions, speculation, rumor, editorial comments; demand facts and supporting evidence. In MSM facts have been in short supply recently.

Vic

Bill H

A minor correction, their roots don't connect them. They are all one tree. The difference sounds minor, but it's not. Aspen is a fascinating plant. One tree can cover more than an acre and have hundreds of upright trunks, and it is all one single organism.

SmoothieX12

like Solzhenitsyn

Solzhenitsyn was not Russian "nationalist", nor is The Saker. Granted, the issue of Russian modern nationalism, that is good definition, hasn't been produced yet. Having said all that, the trend is there--and it is that Russian real nationalism manifests itself in acceptance of the continuity of Russian history. As growing ever massive every Victory Day Immortal Regiment marches demonstrate--they are the new face of Russian nationalism. Solzhenitsyn was anti-communist and a mediocre writer who used mostly so called "pochevenichestvo" as the vehicle for his writing. He was a more promoted and decorated version of Victor Rezun (aka Suvorov). Modern Russian nationalism is easily traced in the works of such very influential and important thinkers as Natalya Narochnitskaya or late Vadim Kozhinov. In the end, the visit to Poklonnay Hill's (Gora) Victory Park in Moscow may visually explain real modern Russian nationalism.

http://www.moscow.info/parks/victory-park.aspx

kao_hsien_chih

Well, one consequence of that is that the Cold War retreads can only be even more clueless than ever.

Old Russian exiles at least knew Russia enough, and as long as they had the shared enemy in the Bolsheviks, their knowledge helped shape Western planning.

Once "Russia" becomes the enemy, out go the old Russians. No more knowledge. Only prejudice and caricatures. I suppose we may well be there already.

turcopolier

Vic

In the 9 years I spent at DIA first as a colonel and then as an SES-4 we had excellent political and pol/mil analysts. People like Bill Porter, Linda Lau and Russ Wagenfeld come to mind. There were many more as well as the MILCAP and Technical Intelligence people. This was before the Clapper massacres began when he became Director. He, too, did not believe that political forecasting was possible. He was wrong. Were you in the air force? pl

mike

Colonel -

Not commissioned. But they let us CWOs into the Officer's clubs. Would have stayed for 40, but they only allow a few three and four stars do that. Plus I had treated my kids like a band of gypsies moving from base to base or back to Grandma's when I was on an unaccompanied tour or on float, which is OK when they are young, but not when they are in High School.

Looking at the Pompeo bio, he: was at the top of his WP class; patrolled the Berlin wall as a cavalry officer; and a prominent Tea Partier; and a rabid dog on Benghazi. No mention of who recommended him to Trump, but I would guess Pence or Ryan. Based on his Orange County CA background you have to wonder if he was one of Dana Rohrbacker's boys?

I still think the WH okayed his talk with TC.

sid_finster

I am certain that Israel is not. After their last encounter with Hezbullah, they shouldn't be.

JMH

Yes but a lone voice in the marquis 8 pm time slot reaches many ears.

turcopolier

mike I am waiting with interest to see how you answer LeaNder. Hey, CPOs/Sergeants major, CWOs and LTCs/colonels run the services while the generals/admirals politic. pl

DH

Nice misdirection, David. I think we both know Britain has it in the bag:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXqvLZurm3o

DH

Great story, Colonel. I'm reminded of when my Dad taught me 52 Pick-up. How did the rest of your table react?

kao_hsien_chih

SmoothieX12,

Thanks for the elaboration, but I'm not talking about the real Russian nationalism, but the "nationalism" (perhaps not the most accurate term) of the old anti-Bolshevik exiles from Russia and their families (of whom Colonel Lang mentioned briefly, as dominating the Russian studies department at West Point). While the Saker is definitely not a "real" Russian nationalist (and technically not even a "Russian," as I understand), he is definitely a part of this tribe.

What struck me about the Saker, and this affirms the sense I had in the very limited interactions I had in the past with these folks, was that while they are virulently anti-Bolshevik, they definitely love "Russia" (even if of the old bygone variety that no longer exists, or may never even have existed.), and would never confound Putin's government and the USSR the way many American holdovers from the Cold War would. The kind of close collaboration that existed between these tribes during the Cold War, it seems, can never reconstitute itself precisely because of this. On the other hand, the likes of Brzezinski and other anti-Russians from Central and Eastern Europe (who are not necessarily "anti-Bolshevik") might continue on happily with the tribe that can't tell between USSR and Russia--because these guys always hated the Russians for being Russians, whether they were Tsarists, Bolsheviks, or moderns. This change in balance of who is aligning with whom on Eastern European matters might be subtly shifting how "Russia" is being understood by Washington and other Western capitals. This is what I was wondering about.

kao_hsien_chih

In a sense, the same is true with any other analysis of "information," even in civilian lines of work.

The very first thing I learned in statistics was that we do statistics because we don't know the truth, and the modus operandus of statistics is to minimize "errors," i.e. we are trying to be "less wrong," not necessarily to be "right," and that some aspects of "wrongness" are less quantifiable than others. A lot of misdeeds have been done (I can obviously speak more about misdeeds in the civilian/academic side of things since I know nothing of government or military work "from the inside") because of confusion over this.

LondonBob

Rand Paul the only Republican voting against him, I trust Rand. A worrying trend Trump appointing folks that don't align with his views at all (except for Tillerson and Bannon). Now I am sure he has trouble finding people but it doesn't appear he is really looking for them. Something is going wrong there.

steve g

LeaNder
That quote is from Judith Miller testimony about
Scooter Libby. Looked it up. Sounded familiar.

Mark Logan

bluetonga,

For everyone in the position of having to herd people the temptation to create a common foe is unfortunately strong. Everybody hates herding cats. Sheep are easier. Not sure we ever adopted the shunning of this habit as an American value myself. A worthy ideal in the minds of good thinkers, yes, but as general value? Respectfully, and sadly...no. Perhaps I missed the evidence.


Ali Mirza

It may be useful to consider the current views expressed by persons such as Mr Pompeo, Clapper et al in light of the following Army War College document:
https://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=1358

Came to it via an article by Nafeez Ahmed in Alternet:
http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/pentagon-study-declares-american-empire-collapsing

Excerpt from the latter link:
Among the most dangerous drivers of this risk of civil unrest and mass destabilization, the document asserts, are different categories of fact. Apart from the obvious “fact-free,” which is defined as information that undermines “objective truth,” the other categories include actual truths that, however, are damaging to America’s global reputation.

“Fact-inconvenient” information consists of the exposure of “details that, by implication, un­dermine legitimate authority and erode the relationships between governments and the governed”—in other words, facts that reveal how government policy is corrupt, incompetent or undemocratic.

“Fact-perilous” information refers to basically to national security leaks from whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden or Bradley Manning, “exposing highly clas­sified, sensitive, or proprietary information that can be used to accelerate a real loss of tactical, operational, or strategic advantage.”

“Fact-toxic” information pertains to actual truths which, the document complains, are “exposed in the absence of context,” and therefore poison “important political discourse.” Such information is seen as being most potent in triggering outbreaks of civil unrest, because it:

“… fatally weakens foundational security at an international, regional, national, or personal level. Indeed, fact-toxic exposures are those likeliest to trigger viral or contagious insecurity across or within borders and between or among peoples.”

turcopolier

Ali Mirza

This paper is not an official Strategic Studies Institute position paper. The SSI press chose to publish this but it is the private work of the authors. pl

turcopolier

DH

What is "52 pickup?" The people at the table all thought it amusing as did the waiters. pl

ex-PFC Chuck

Per Anna @ 24 July 2017 at 07:42 PM:

"Hating the Clinton, Cheney-Bush, Obama policies does not make an American citizen into anti-American.

Fixed it for ya.

John_Frank

On a related note, the House is now voting on the sanctions bill.

As to the Russian portion, the Vivaldi Club posted the following analysis by Ivan Timofeev on how the Kremlin will feel obliged to respond:

Compromise Impossible: What The Sanctions Bill Against Russia Means?
http://valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/compromise-impossible-the-sanctions-bill/

As I observed elsewhere I think the Russia portion of the sanctions bill is rank political opportunism by Congress and a huge mistake. It is far better for the United States if Russia is a strategic partner, rather than a strategic competitor.

However, that means we need to drop the idea that Russia is an existential threat to the survival of the United States. Of course, technically that is true, given the huge number of nuclear weapons both sides posses, but practically no sane Russian leader is ever going to want to launch a nuclear war, because it will mean the destruction of both countries.

If the Kremlin concludes (presuming the bill is passed and signed into law, whether before or after a veto), that no compromise with the United States is possible, irrespective of what President Trump wants, then:

In the final analysis, sanctions leave Russia the only alternative - to accept the US as a strategic and key challenge to its security. And if earlier such a position could be disputed, now it is receiving the most serious legitimacy by the hands of the congressmen. The irony is that sanctions threaten not only Russia's security, but also the security of the US itself. The power and capabilities of Russia cannot be overestimated. But they should hardly be underestimated. And if earlier diplomats had a wide maneuver for cooperation where both sides benefited, now the space for such a maneuver is reliably concreted at the legislative level.

For the sake of justice, it should be noted that the bill provides a softening of positions in the event that corresponds to the vital interests of the United States. The big question is whether Moscow cooperates if Washington has really vital problems.

People can read Ivan Timofeev's bio at the following link: http://valdaiclub.com/about/experts/3111/

P.S. According to Chad Pergram of FOX News:

Hse ok's Russia/Iran/North Korea sanctions bill. 419-3. 3 noes. All GOPers. Amash, DuncanTN, Massie
https://twitter.com/ChadPergram/status/889957641321054210

House/Senate not in alignment on sanctions bill as North Korea was added to the House measure to sweeten the pot.
https://twitter.com/ChadPergram/status/889957822817062917

P.P.S. As to the portions dealing with Iran and North Korea, IMV it is a mistake at this juncture for Congress to push ahead with sanctions legislation. Painful as it may be, better to build a broad consensus of nation states and then act.

turcopolier

ex-PFC Chuck

How did you "fix it?" pl

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