Peacekeepers Want Gear That Doesn’t Suck

by Kevin Knodell. He is a staff writer at War is Boring, a regular contributor at and one of the authors of War Is Boring: A True War Comics Collection. Follow him on Twitter at @KJKnodell

U.N drone in the Democratic Republic of Congo. U.N./Sylvain Liechti photo

U.N drone in the Democratic Republic of Congo. U.N./Sylvain Liechti photo

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What’s blue on top and yellow all over? A U.N. Peacekeeper.

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It’s an old joke — a reference to the their blue headgear and their supposed cowardice in the face of danger. It’s a criticism that’s not entirely fair. Missions are frequently short on air assets, have shoddy communications gear and lack spare parts for the equipment they do have. Blue berets often struggle to protect themselves, let alone keep the peace or protect civilians. Fair or not, it’s led many to be skeptical of the blue beret.

But, that doesn’t stop the international community from authorizing missions on the regular. The annual U.N. peacekeeping budget is a little more than $7 billion. The United States is the largest financial backer, paying almost 30 percent. Today, more than 123,000 soldiers and police from 128 countries operate under the blue banner in support of 16 ongoing U.N. peacekeeping operations (“Financing peacekeeping“, United Nations).

Veterans of U.N. peacekeeping missions have long noted problems in the field. Hiccups with communications and logistics are often more than just frustrating – the consequences have been fatal. Today, many members of the peacekeeping community are pushing for reform.

In 2014 an international panel of security experts and retired military officers, funded by the Danish government, trotted the globe exploring how technology could help U.N. peacekeepers deal with some of the world’s worst conflicts. They talked to everyone from soldiers on the ground in war zones to tech gurus in start-up offices. They wanted to document the sorts of problems peacekeepers face, and figure out what tools they can use to overcome them.

In February 2015, the panelists published their findings in the form of a 144-page report (PDF). They concluded that peacekeeping missions need to catch up with the information age—and fast. The panel urged the U.N. to train “digital peacekeepers” and arm them with cheap, high-tech devices. That could mean peacekeepers monitoring Twitter for news, carrying smart phones and using apps to help identify unexploded land mines as well as some more far-out ideas like wearing visors streaming real-time information pulled from the Internet. And the panelists want peacekeepers to use drones. Lots of them.

Three peacekeepers killed in El Geneina, West Darfur

The aftermath of an ambush that killed three peacekeeprs in Darfur, Sudan. U.N./Albert Gonzalez Farran photo

Harsh Realities
But that future could be a long ways off. The panelists blasted the current state of U.N. peacekeeping. “Missions frequently lack a wide range of the very capabilities now considered by most militaries, law enforcement agencies and international organizations to be minimally necessary to operate effectively,” the report stated (page 3).

It asserted that the gap between what troops are supposed to have and what they do have is “so pronounced,” that it has discouraged richer countries with the most technological, logistical and financial capabilities from contributing troops or material. Most U.N. peacekeeping missions today depend on troops from developing countries. These armies struggle with logistics. Even the most professional of them often lack airlift capabilities to bring in armored vehicles and adequate equipment by themselves. Perhaps the most serious consequence has been problems with medical evacuations owing to a lack of helicopters and qualified medical personnel. “[W]ith few exceptions, missions struggle to deliver critical urgent care within the ‘golden hour’ — the 60-minute period beginning at the moment of injury that represents an internationally recognized time period within which casualties should receive lifesaving and urgent life sustaining care,” the report warned (page 41).

Though hi-tech gadgets can help peacekeepers, they’re no substitute for helicopters, heavy equipment and fuel. Logistics and resources are at the core of any military endeavor. The report found first and foremost that the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations needs to address basic operational needs.

Ironically, the hesitance of rich countries to provide missions with necessary logistical and technological help has led to a cycle in which troops on the ground consistently lack basic equipment and struggle to enforce their mandates. That’s created a perception that peacekeeping missions are doomed to fail and that current troops – mostly from countries in Africa and Asia – lack either the competency or the resolve to do their jobs. “This narrative has […] eroded the political and financial willingness of member states to ensure the peacekeepers in the field can operate at a level at least as sophisticated as any spoiler they may encounter,” the report suggested (page 5). But that hasn’t stopped rich countries from expecting poor countries contribute troops to these missions.

Even so, Peacekeepers in the field have often proved resilient and creative. In South Sudan, a lightly equipped U.N. peacekeeping force with troops drawn mostly from developing countries has saved thousands of lives. It created safe havens for civilians when civil war enveloped the country in December 2013. Blue helmets immediately opened bases for people fleeing both government and rebel death squads. They escorted refugees around the country in re-purposed trucks and buses while keeping tabs on threatened communities. Today, as government and rebel fighters continue skirmishing and accruing arms, blue helmeted troops maintain civilian protection sites scattered around the country with modest resources. However, they could save more lives — and better protect themselves — if they had better tools. The panelists don’t seem to think that providing peacekeepers with modern equipment such a lofty expectation. “Most modern technologies are neither too expensive nor too sophisticated to be within the reach of peacekeepers,” the report asserted (page 5).

Unexploded ordinance in the South Sudanese town of Malakal. U.N. photo

Unexploded ordinance in the South Sudanese town of Malakal. U.N. photo

Dangerous Ground
Bombs litter today’s war zones. In modern warfare, terrorists and guerrilla groups who can’t fight an opposing army directly frequently resort to improvised explosives and booby-traps. That doesn’t even include the countless mines and un-exploded ordinance that conventional armies and rebel groups often leave behind over decades of conflict. It’s a common problem — and danger — for U.N. missions. Yet the panel found that missions have routinely sent peacekeepers into heavily mined and booby-trapped territory without proper equipment and training to protect themselves or neutralize explosives. The panelists said that’s unacceptable. “Where IEDs are an identified threat, all convoys should deploy with the minimum ability to self-recover, together with sapper pioneering teams equipped with heavy vehicle extraction capability and organizational level repair and remediation technologies,” the report recommended (page 48).

UNMAS-001The panel suggested that convoys operating in areas known to be heavily laden with explosives should make use of mine-protected armored vehicles, rather than the vulnerable trucks that are regularly make up these convoys. Ugandan troops with the African Union force in Somalia have used mine-protected vehicles to shield themselves from insurgents with relative success. These vehicles debuted during the Rhodesian Bush Wars, developed by South African arms industry. They’re not rare in Africa.

But armored vehicles can be large, cumbersome and difficult to fly into remote locations. And spare parts can be difficult to track down. Many contingents get around in low cost, easy-to-transport pickup trucks. Peacekeepers have to be very deliberate about how – and when – to deploy heavy equipment. To make up for that the panel also suggested some simple, tech-based ways the peacekeepers can identify and protect themselves from bombs. The report noted that soldiers and police on the ground could use mobile apps to assess threats, in particular the U.N.’s open-source Landmine and Explosive Remnants of War Safety app — available to anyone for free (iOS / Android). The app tells users where known minefields are. It also helps users identify explosives, spot telltale signs of hidden bombs and allows them to report the locations of any explosives they come across directly to the U.N. Mine Action Service.

The panel singled out peacekeepers in Lebanon for effectively using this and other apps to help them in their mission. The panelists also proposed extensive use of tactical drones to help troops spot danger and scout ahead. “[C]onvoys may be equipped with small tactical UAVs as mobile intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms to survey choke points and hazard areas along the route as needed to enhance overall security,” the report suggested (page 46).

Blue helmets have already started using drones. During one field visit, the panelists interviewed a U.N. police officer that frequently used a miniature drone to assist with investigations. The peacekeeper provided them video of an investigation of a helicopter crash site.

A technician team prepare the launch of a U.N. drone is the Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. U.N./Sylvain Liechti photo

A technician team prepare the launch of a U.N. drone is the Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. U.N./Sylvain Liechti photo

Drones and Surveillance
In January 2013, the U.N. Security Council authorized the controversial deployment of drones to support peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The drones monitored rebel groups such as the brutal March 23 Movement. It was the world body’s first foray into robotic surveillance. But before the drones even reached the Congo, leaders in the Ivory Coast suggested that the U.N. consider using drones to augment the peacekeeping force in that country.

The U.N. mission in Ivory Coast reduced its forces in 2013, with more proposed cuts coming this year. The security situation has improved enough for the blue berets to continue a phased withdrawal but drones could help the shrinking force keep watch over its fragile security gains “This would help us to cope better with the difficulty we face in the west of the country and the heavily forested border area with Liberia which is very difficult to monitor and an ideal sanctuary for armed men,” mission spokesperson Sylvie van den Wildenberg told The Guardian. Peacekeepers around the world are definitely interested in using more drones to aid them in monitoring difficult environments.

But intelligence-gathering is a touchy subject in U.N. circles. Peace missions are supposed to be impartial. If peacekeepers covertly gather information, warring parties could perceive it as meddling. In 1993, U.N. officials in New York admonished Canadian general Roméo Dallaire when U.N. troops in Rwanda planned to raid weapons caches in Kigali discovered through help from an informant. The U.N. ordered Dallaire to stand down. Hutu extremists later used those same caches to commit the Rwandan Genocide and kill several of Dallaire’s troops.

In a community that already views gathering intelligence with skepticism, introducing drones is a huge leap forward. And there’s another hurdle — drones scare people. Pop culture regularly depicts drones as the embodiment of the surveillance state and the erosion of human rights. But countries and organizations all over the world are already using drones in increasing numbers. And their use isn’t limited purely to fighting terrorists and militants. Mexico recently began using drones to help protect endangered sea animals.

“Enabling a peacekeeping mission to use technology or other advanced means to gather information does not violate the basic principles of peacekeeping impartiality and state sovereignty,” the panel concluded. “[P]eacekeepers do not lose their impartiality simply because they are better aware of what is going on in their mission space.” (page 5).

The report conceded that drones and other surveillance technology can lead to abuses and would need substantial oversight. But ultimately, the panelists seemed to conclude that drones are here to stay — and that peacekeepers need them. The panel recommended the U.N. authorize the creation of a new kind of operation — called “Special Technical Missions” — specializing in technology and intelligence-gathering. “[The STMs would] enable the Security Council to call on, organize and legitimize the use of technical audio, visual, monitoring and surveillance technologies, ground and airborne sensors and other technical means […] to keep up with events on the ground in rapidly changing circumstances, inform their decision-making, prioritize action and aid in planning,” the report concluded (page 57).

The panel wants the U.N. to operate more drones. Like, now. “[The U.N. should] make maximum use of UAVs, greater use of smaller, tactical-level assets is required […],” the panelists wrote (pages 57 and 115). “[…] [m]iniature UAVs should be incorporated into standard requirements without delay.” (pages 54,57 and 115). And the report called for tracking devices for vehicles and heavy equipment, so that commanders can monitor their troops’ whereabouts. The devices could help in recovering stolen vehicles and heavy weaponry if rebels or bandits try to make off with them—a problem that has plagued missions around the world. “Real-time safety and security information is not a luxury, but rather, a life-saving necessity,” the panelists concluded (pages 6 and 34).

A South African peacekeeper snaps a photo with a digital camera during a patrol in Darfur, Sudan. U.N./Albert Gonzalez Farran photo

A South African peacekeeper snaps a photo with a digital camera during a patrol in Darfur, Sudan. U.N./Albert Gonzalez Farran photo

Digital Future
Communication is a constant problem for peacekeepers. It’s inevitable—troops come from all over the world and speak different languages. But the panel asserted that the problem peacekeeping troops most commonly report is their dependence on different sets of incompatible radio equipment, even when the U.N. — and not the troops’ own armies — provide the radios. “[This renders] communications between contingents, and even between members of a mixed patrol, difficult,” the report added (page 34). Though the panelists recommended that hi-frequency radio should remain the backbone of operational communications, they suggested peacekeepers make greater use of mobile communications gear connected to the Internet.

They want U.N. personnel — civilian and military alike — to have greater access to these devices. Regardless of their rank. “A number of mobile applications now exist for individuals to file travel plans, automatically communicate GPS locations on a periodic basis, and alert base stations or headquarters when they are overdue at their destinations,” the report stated (page 27).

The panel also wants peacekeepers to be social media savvy. Not just for communication, but to keep tabs on local political leaders, combatants and personalities. Warring factions regularly use Twitter and Facebook to make announcements, recruit fighters and spread propaganda. Monitoring social media is a hot-button topic that comes with a lot of concerns about personal privacy, freedom of expression and human rights. But the panel insisted that ignoring social media is a massive mistake, and hardly jeopardizes the peacekeepers’ neutrality. “No partiality is shown to peacekeepers in providing missions with the same access to information that people around the globe can readily and openly access […],” the report asserted (pages 5 and 23).

The panel also explored more ambitious technological advancements, suggesting individual peacekeepers wear Internet-connected visors that transmit and receive real-time mission updates. But Western military forces that have developed advanced battlefield communications devices have been slow to adopt them. The devices frequently prove expensive, prone to power issues in remote areas and become obsolete before they’re fielded. Adding more devices can make a mission more complex, rather than simplifying it. However, much of what the report suggests isn’t terribly expensive or hard to achieve — if the U.N.’s member states are willing to put a little bit of faith in the soldiers they continually send to the world’s most dangerous war zones.

Posted in Armed Forces, English, Kevin Knodell, Peacekeeping, Security Policy, Technology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Izumo Helicopter Carrier Commissioned

DG 3

This past week, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) commissioned the lead vessel of its new class of helicopter carrier at a ceremony at the Yokusuka naval base less than 10 miles south of Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city.

The Izumo (DDH-183) is the island nation’s largest vessel superseding the Hyūga class, Japan’s first helicopter carrier post World War II. To get a clear sense of size, satellite imagery from March 2014 shows both vessels at the IHI Marine United shipyard. At the time, the 248 meter-long Izumo was still in the fitting out process while the 197 meter-long Hyūga (DDH-181) was located in a nearby drydock undergoing routine maintenance.

At 24,000 tons, the fully loaded Izumo is noticeably larger than its 19,000 ton predecessor and more capable.[1] Manned by approximately 470 sailors, the vessel can support up to 14 helicopters — broken up into seven Mitsubishi-built SH-60k ASW helicopters and seven Agusta Westland MCM-101 mine countermeasure helicopters.

According to Jane’s, the carrier is equipped with an OQQ-22 bow-mounted sonar for submarine detection, two Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile SeaRAM launchers and two Phalanx close-in weapon systems for air defense.

“This [vessel] heightens our ability to deal with Chinese submarines that have become more difficult to detect,” an JMSDF officer told the Asahi Shimbum in late March.[2] Downplaying grander ambitions, JMSDF officials have often focused media attention on the ship’s role in undertaking border surveillance and humanitarian assistance missions.

IzumoBeyond the ship’s standard load, the vessel can also support the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and some have even suggested the vertical landing Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter. Although the latter has caused much controversy, putting F-35s on the Izumo seems unlikely given Japan’s Air Force acquired the advanced fighter and not its naval arm. And that says nothing of the additional retrofit costs to the vessel.

But that hasn’t stopped Chinese assertions and general concerns throughout East Asia of Japanese intent. “The Izumo proves that Japan has the technical capabilities and demand to develop aircraft carriers. It’s also possible that Japan may explore the possibility during the Izumo’s service,” Li Jie, a Beijing-based military commentator, told the Chinese Global Times newspaper. Beyond China, South Korea has also voiced concern.

While no one’s exactly sure how Japan will use the new carrier, it’s potential for power projection is undeniable. As geopolitical tensions increase, especially with disputed island territories and areas like the South China Sea, it’s not surprising to see Japan push to bolster her navy. With the election of officials like Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, defense spending has gone up and bans on arms exports have been lifted—suggesting Japan is preparing to reinterpret her role on the world stage. What this will ultimately mean for the service is still too early to say.[3]

In the meantime, the USD 1.2 billion Izumo will join JMSDF’s Escort Flotilla 1, based at the Yokosuka naval base, also home of the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet.[4] The vessel was initially laid down on 27 January 2012 and launched on 06 August 2013. It will later be joined in 2017 by the second vessel in the series, the DDH-184, currently under construction at IHI Marine United Shipyard.

[1] Both measurements refer to the vessels at full load.
[2] In 2013, Japan said it detected Chinese submarines navigating near territorial waters of Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures.
[3] Japan has in recent years participated in amphibious warfare training utilizing the Hyuga class helicopter carrier in concert the US. For Example Dawn Blitz 2013.
[4] Japan has 4 Escort Flotillas with a mix of 7-8 warships each. Bases are located at Yokosuka, Kure, Sasebo, Maizuru, and Moinato. SSKs are organized into 2 Flotillas with bases at Kure and Yokosuka. Remaining Units assigned to 5 regional districts.

Posted in Chris B, English, Intelligence, International, Japan, Sea Powers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Schism in the South: Will South Sudan Achieve Lasting Peace? 2/3

by Cameron Reed. Cameron Reed is a graduate student of International Relations and Public Policy in the US and Germany. He has worked extensively on security and conflict analysis of the Middle East and Africa. Christopher Thompson, an expert on South Sudan and Africa relations, contributed significant sections of this report.

An overview of key conflict drivers in South Sudan illustrates politically steeped motivation, but which manifest through ethnic or resource-oriented violence. The following report sheds light on the root causes, as well as instrumental means for conflict in South Sudan. The first section covered a historical overview of the country and the current situation. The second addresses the major threats of ethnic conflict and security of oil installations. The third section evaluates economic dependence of South Sudan and human insecurity of its people. (The third section will be online in the next weeks). A clearer understanding of the threats to stability will facilitate stronger foundations for peace.

A cattle herd in Sudan.Cattle Rustling & Ethnic Conflict in Jonglei State
Jonglei State is the wild west of South Sudan. Even for a country that is enormously developmentally deficient, predominantly rural, and weakly governed overall, Jonglei, South Sudan’s largest and most trouble-filled state, is conspicuously lawless. Since 2005, Jonglei has seen a spate of cattle rustling attacks driven by tribal disputes over land, food, water, long-standing tribal enmities, and personal grievances. The violence has been made deadlier by the large number of small arms (primarily AK-47s) left over in Jonglei from previous conflicts.

During the CPA period, when South Sudan was autonomous, but not yet independent from the North, Jonglei saw a distinct rise in the abduction of women and children, cattle theft, and killings. In an example of the pattern of violence typical in Jonglei at the time, a series of attacks and revenge attacks between Murle and Dinka tribesmen during November and December 2007 resulted in the killing of eight Dinka tribesman and theft of 7,000 cattle in one attack, as well as the killing of 34 Murle tribesman in a counterattack (“UNHCR Suspends Returns to Sudan’s Jonglei State“, UNHCR, December 4, 2007). The Lou Nuer, another ethnic group in Jonglei, also has been involved in repeated clashes with Murle and Dinka. The violence has continued since independence. A string of attacks between Murle and Lou Nuer in late December 2011 to early January 2012 left an estimated 3,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands of cattle stolen, according to Pibor County Commissioner Joshua Konyi (“Murle Revenge Attack on Lou Nuer ‘Kills 23′ in Jonglei’s Akobo County“, Sudan Tribune, January 9, 2012).

President Salva Kiir launched Operation Restore Peace, an effort to disarm Murle and Lou Nuer tribal groups in Jonglei state, in March 2012. The controversial operation, considered necessary to stop the escalating tribal violence, was marred by human rights abuses and accusations of the Dinka-majority Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) disproportionately targeting Nuer for disarmament. Watchdog organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International both issued reports documenting systematic sexual violence, torture, and executions carried out by the SPLA (“South Sudan: End Abuses by Disarmament Forces in Jonglei“, Human Rights Watch, August 23, 2012). Instead of having the desired effect of reducing the amount of firepower in the restive state, Operation Restore Peace had the unintended effect of further angering Murle and Nuer tribesmen in the region. The attacks have not stopped.

Of particular concern is the astounding number of people displaced due to cattle raiding attacks. It is not uncommon to see figures reported as high as hundreds of thousands. Jonglei is a vast expanse of territory and parts of it are some of the most isolated areas in the world, so when a family is forced away from its home, there is a significant risk of starvation and dehydration. Lack of infrastructure means that there are virtually no medical facilities or shelters for the displaced. Medecins Sans Frontieres, which is the only primary health care provider in many parts of the state, has had to pull out of many locations after its facilities were overrun and staff members were killed (“South Sudan: MSF Condemns Large Scale Attacks on Civilians“, Medecins Sans Frontieres, August 23, 2011).

Most cattle raids in Jonglei follow a similar pattern. A loose band of ethnic tribesmen will attack herdsman when the cattle are poorly defended, kill those who resist, perhaps kidnap some women or children, and drive away tens of thousands of heads of cattle. The victimized ethnic group will then mount a counterattack to recover cattle and tribespeople lost, which leads to more casualties, kidnappings, and stolen cattle. The Murle, a marginalized ethnic group, have taken the brunt of the kidnapping accusations and rumors have spread about the tribe kidnapping children to compensate for its low birth rate. However, both the Dinka and Lou Nuer ethnic groups also have engaged in the kidnapping of women and children in Jonglei during cattle raids.

Soldiers from the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) escort cattle of the Dinka Bor through Juba.

Soldiers from the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) escort cattle of the Dinka Bor through Juba.

Security of Oil Installations & Pipelines
South Sudan has historically contested certain oil-rich areas on its border with Sudan. But, in 2011, with officially demarcated borders in place, fighting intensified between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the SPLA, the military arm of the Government of South Sudan, over the regions of Abyei, South Kordofan (and the Heglig oil installation), and Upper Nile state. Oil has the potential for stoking or reconciling tensions between President Bashar of Sudan and President Kiir of South Sudan. For South Sudan, oil leads to economic prosperity and conflict — a “blessing and a curse” of a new nation (Sudarsan Raghavan, “With oil at stake, South Sudan’s crisis matters to its customers“, The Washington Post, January 20, 2014).

In the case of Abyei, disagreement over the 1% of land officially under dispute between Sudan and South Sudan dates back to the 2005 CPA. A Congressional Research Service Report notes that, “[T]erritorial claims to Abyei were…considered particularly contentious because of its oil reserves, estimated in 2004 to represent almost a quarter of Sudan’s annual oil production” (Lauren Ploch Blanchard, “Sudan and South Sudan: Current Issues for Congress and U.S. Policy“, Congressional Research Service, October 5, 2012). The Ngok Dinka tribe, a South Sudanese ethnic group, which occupies the area of Abyei, has historically crossed paths with the Arab nomadic tribe that travels south three months out of the year, the Misseriya, a Sudan-backed group (James Copnall, “Sudan: Why Abyei Is Crucial to North and South“, BBC, May 23, 2011). Though ethnically Sudanese people do not occupy Abyei, Sudan will not give up Abyei because of its oil value, especially after conceding 75% of their oil reserves after the split. A part of the CPA referendum intending to bestow choice upon Abyei’s residents to determine whether they want to join Sudan or South Sudan was never reached in January 2011. In May 2011, fighting broke out between the SAF and SPLA over Abyei, displacing 20,000 local residents and ushering in UN forces to demilitarize and patrol the area. Still unresolved, the history of Abyei indicates a latent potential for future violence between Sudan and South Sudan, especially due to the presence of oil.

_59320761_sud_map_oil_2Additionally, on the 1,300-mile border between Sudan and South Sudan lie the richest oil blocks in South Kordofan, a region officially in Sudan, and Upper Nile state in South Sudan’s northeast corner. In South Kordofan, the oil installation of Heglig continues to be disputed under the guise of allegations that each side is harboring insurgent groups. Trading aerial bombardments and accusations, the SPLA took over the Heglig area in May 2011, but it withdrew under international pressure shortly thereafter (Blanchard, 2012). Abyei will remain an official symbol of disagreement between Sudan and South Sudan, but the underlying desire is oil.

Two key events in July 2013 and December 2013 transformed the international disputes over oil into an internal ethnic conflict. The first sparked ethnic tensions between the two predominant ethnic groups in South Sudan — the Nuer and the Dinka — when President Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, expelled his entire cabinet and Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer. These events precipitated the descent into civil war detailed above. Since December 2013, SPLA and rebel forces have been jockeying for control over oil-rich areas in Unity State, Upper Nile, and Bor. The value of the oil in these areas makes it an important bargaining chip in the backdrop of the ceasefire in January 2014, though deep-seated ethnic ties to each state make it difficult to distinguish motivations for killing the ethnic groups indigenous to the states being attacked, such as in Bor, the capital of the most ethnically diverse state of Jonglei. These two conflicts epitomize the fragility of South Sudan — it plummeted into deeply ethnic and violently politicized conflict in a single week (“South Sudan: the state that fell apart in a week“, The Guardian, December 23, 2013). But, this fighting disrupts the crucial link between the financial lifeblood of the state, oil, and stability.

On February 20, 2014, rebel groups aligned with Riek Machar took control of the capital of the oil-rich state of the Upper Nile, Malakal, which produces 80% of the South Sudan’s oil currently. Malakal is seen as a strategic location due not only to its oil but also its fertile grounds downstream from the White Nile and its airport. Unity State provides the other 20% of production, which Nuer forces aligned with Machar claimed to have taken in December 2013 (Lauren Ploch Blanchard, “The Crisis in South Sudan“, Congressional Research Service, Jan. 9, 2014). Again, these areas are considered strategic bargaining chips in the grand scheme of ethnic rivalry and the prospect of future negotiations over representation in government. Yet, the inter-state disputes over oil-rich blocks have taken a backseat in early 2014 to ethnic infighting and to growing international pressure to disarm contentious factions of the Dinka and Nuer.

Most recently in late January of 2015, an alleged rebel group allied with former Vice President Riek Machar destroyed an oil installation in the northern part of the Unity state.  Leading the accusations within the Government of South Sudan, the Minister of Information, Michael Makuei, unleashed a heavy-handed statement, “These installations belong to all of us.  If there is any group of people who do not care about public properties, then it is our duty to make them understand that these are public properties and the Government of South Sudan is under duty to defend and protect these properties” (“South Sudan Government Says Rebels Torched Oil Facility“, Voice of America, January 21, 2015).  Furthermore, Makuei pointed the finger at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan for failing to protect South Sudanese people and installations, which falls within its mandate. Clearly, the debate over oil installations is both drawing in responsibility of international actors and transforming the previously conventional security issue into one of humanitarian and sovereign necessity. After 14 months, steady negotiations in Addis Ababa could crumble at the whim of an oil infrastructure attack.


Oil is the apple of discord of modern day South Sudan. Historically the object of desire and volatility between Sudan and South Sudan, recent events in South Sudan have concentrated fighting and violence of reprisal inside its borders, which could lead to mass atrocities between ethnic groups — a future scenario could be civil war. Clearly, the fragility of the state is closely linked to its oil. As evidenced by the opportunistic contention for South Sudan’s capitals in oil-rich Unity (Bentiu), Jonglei (Bor), and Upper Nile (Malakal), oil is a strategic ace, as factions perceive it as a core element to the functioning of the state. Oil could also act as a spoiler to recent negotiations. Knowing oil’s geopolitical and economic importance, another scenario in the near future, peace, will require more advanced securitization of key oil installations and pipelines to preserve stability in the region — a condition fully supported by the international community and private investors. Whether contested areas along the border between Sudan or South Sudan or internal ethnic battling over oil-rich fields, oil is undeniably linked to political leverage.

Read the third section of this series (online in the next week), an evaluation of economic dependence of South Sudan and human insecurity of its people.

Posted in Cameron Reed, English, Security Policy, South Sudan, Sudan | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

United 40 Block 5 UAV at ADCOM’s Test Airfield in the United Arab Emirates

DigitalGlobe imagery from November 2014 shows ADCOM’s United 40 Block 5 UAV at the company’s test airstrip located south of Al Dhafra Airbase.

DigitalGlobe imagery from November 2014 shows ADCOM’s United 40 Block 5 UAV at the company’s test airstrip located south of Al Dhafra Airbase.

When the US denied the sale of armed Predator drones to fulfill UAE Air Force requirements in 2002, the Gulf country set out to fill the gap by developing its own medium altitude long endurance UAV. Local target drone manufacturer ADCOM Systems took up the challenge and has helped further develop the UAE’s defense industrial base with its United 40 model.

Satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe shows the UAE testing the United 40 block 5 at the company’s remote desert airstrip 30 miles outside of the heart of Abu Dhabi. Imagery from November 2014 captured the UAV along with the associated ground control station integrated in a van parked nearby.

Historical imagery suggests the 600 m long airstrip was paved a year prior — possibly in preparation for test and evaluation. Company video of the block 5’s maiden flight from March 2013 appears to match this airstrip.

One of the latest in the series, the block 5 was first displayed at Abu Dhabi’s International Defense Exhibition (IDEX) 2013 after a similar showing of a previous variant at IDEX 2011.

The block 5 preserves the unusual biplane configuration, though with some significant changes. Most notably, the block 5 swaps the aft fuselage-mounted single push propeller for twin-engine props positioned forward under-wing. The two 115 hp engines and 17.5 meter-long high aspect ratio wings allow the drone to carry payloads up to 1050kg — which includes the weight of two electro-optical cameras and optional synthetic aperture radar.

Like the previous version, the block 5 features an internal rotary launcher which contains six precision guided bombs, for a possible ten when including rear under-wing carriage. ADCOM reports the UAV has a maximum cruise speed of 220 km/h and a flight ceiling of 8,000 m. The company also claims a flight endurance of more than 100 hours. Unlike western counterparts, operators manning the associated ground control station can only pilot two of the UAVs at one time.

IDEX 2015 United 40 Naval Variant

IDEX 2015 United 40 Naval Variant

Keeping with previous trends, the company revealed a new naval variant, the block 6, at this year’s IDEX 2015 which took place last month. Developed with Italian manufacturer Finmeccanica and its subsidiary Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei, the platform now takes on the anti-submarine warfare mission fitted with sonobuoys and a single lightweight torpedo mounted center on the fuselage. In conversation with IHS Jane’s, ADCOM said the Block 6 could be used to “lay a barrier of sonobuoys”, while loitering overhead for up to 16 hours with its torpedo. With acoustic processing on-board, data is disseminated with other cooperating UAVs or maritime patrol aircraft.

While the company also suggested a few other concept of operations, it is clear the platform is still early in the testing phase. ADCOM and partners said they will continue working on advancing payload integration while planning a torpedo droptest demonstration for the UAE Navy sometime in 2015.

Despite a good showing at defense exhibitions, it’s still difficult to know how capable the United 40 platform actually is. Nevertheless, the Abu Dhabi-based firm thinks it’s good enough to continue pushing the platform abroad.

In 2013, the Russian military reported the purchase of two Block 5s with a service entry date around 2016. However, that entry date may have been delayed as Russia postponed the tests of the UAV in February last year. Imagery from November 2014 may have been related to the Russian test—though the company hasn’t confirmed. Beyond Russia, Algeria was considering the purchase of the aircraft for its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirement. (In 2014, Algeria was also evaluating the China-built Xianglong).

ADCOM has also offered several United 40 systems to the United Nations for use on humanitarian missions. Selex, a subsidiary of ADCOM partner Finmeccanica, also supports United Nations border surveillance missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the Falco system.

Possibly due to a lack of military sales for its flagship drone, teaming with Finmeccanica could have been a strategic move to follow the partner into a new market segment. In a presentation made at the Berlin Airshow 2014, ADCOM reiterated the use of drones for NGOs engaged in wildlife conservation and governments requiring critical infrastructure monitoring.

Despite the build of block 6, the civil and non-military space may become an important area for ADCOM’s future growth.

Posted in Chris B, English, Intelligence, International, Technology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Potential for Panshih: Taiwan’s Expanding Maritime Role

by Paul Pryce. Paul Pryce is a Junior Research Fellow at the Atlantic Council of Canada. With degrees in political science from universities on both sides of the pond, he has previously worked in conflict resolution as a Research Fellow with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and as an infantryman in the Canadian Forces. His current research interests include African security issues and NATO-Russia relations.

The Panshih is 196 m long and 25.2 m wide and it can carry a crew of up to 165. The ship was built by state-owned Kaohsiung-based shipbuilder CSBC Corporation at a cost of USD130 million.

The Panshih is 196 m long and 25.2 m wide and it can carry a crew of up to 165. The ship was built by state-owned Kaohsiung-based shipbuilder CSBC Corporation at a cost of USD130 million.

Taiwan has long enjoyed a robust maritime force, intended to defend the island nation from threats both real and perceived across the Taiwan Strait. An arrangement under which the United States will deliver four Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates for use by the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) will only serve to further enhance the country’s maritime power. But perhaps the most interesting development for maritime affairs in the Asia-Pacific region so far in 2015 is the delivery of the ROCS Panshih.

With a total displacement of 20,000 tons and a range of almost 15,000 kilometres, the supply ship Panshih will greatly contribute to the ROCN’s expeditionary capabilities, allowing Taiwan to contribute meaningfully to disaster relief or humanitarian operations anywhere in the region. Historically, Taiwan has lacked this capability, fielding only the ROCS Yuen Feng, a troop transport. Although the ROCN has operated another supply ship for some years, ROCS Wu Yi, the Panshih is significantly larger and possesses much more advanced medical facilities. Reportedly, the Panshih is also only the first of its class – a second ship of an identical design is expected for the ROCN in the next few years.

These ships may soon cruise the seas in a Taiwanese effort to replicate the successes of China’s maritime diplomacy. The Peace Ark, a hospital ship in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), has toured extensively since its commissioning in 2008. For example, the Peace Ark was deployed to assist the Philippines in recovering from Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, and later was an important component of the Chinese participation in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) 2014. Port visits and participation in such multilateral operations enhance China’s “soft power”, whereas observers note that Taiwan has been sidelined for the most part in regional diplomatic affairs. Pursuing a similar theme to China’s charm offensive could be just the remedy to Taiwan’s isolation.

A port of the flight deck on the Panshih.

A port of the flight deck on the Panshih.

Yet there is one catch to the Panshih’s particular design. The vessel boasts some offensive capabilities, including a Phalanx close-in weapons system, a 20mm Gatling gun, short-range Sea Chaparral surface-to-air missiles, several .50 calibre machine guns, and 30mm turrets. In contrast, the Berlin-class auxiliary ships employed by the Germany Navy, and which the Royal Canadian Navy will also soon employ as the Queenston-class, have only four MLG 27mm autocannons for defence. China’s Peace Ark is entirely unarmed. While the Panshih’s armaments grant it operational flexibility, they also undermine the vessel’s capacity to act as a soft power tool.

Perhaps the most ideal role for this vessel in the future will be to join relief operations in unstable environments. Taiwan has not contributed much in this area in previous years, with the ROCN focusing almost entirely on defending the Taiwanese coastline from threats across the strait. But there is one success story: in 2011, Taiwan initiated some participation in the European Union’s Operation Atalanta. This constituted an important contribution to international efforts against piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. But this is the lone case of active engagement by the ROCN in any initiative beyond the Taiwan Strait. The Panshih could grant Taiwan more options in this regard, since the deployment of fully fledged combat vessels to an area like the Gulf of Aden could be viewed by domestic audiences as weakening Taiwan’s coastal defences or otherwise as a misuse of Taiwanese defence resources. A supply ship could be more readily spared so far as the public is concerned.

Lending credence to the idea that the Panshih will be used to support humanitarian operations in failed or failing states, the vessel also has impressive hangar space, capable of storing up to three helicopters. The Taiwanese media has focused on the capacity for the ship to serve as a takeoff and landing platform for anti-submarine helicopters, but it is also certainly possible for the ship to serve as a base for transport helicopters ferrying supplies and specialized personnel to inland locations, while also bringing back patients requiring intensive care at the Panshih’s onboard medical facilities. The ROCN’s 19 Sikorsky S-70C(M) Thunderhawk helicopters offer some possibilities in this regard.

In any case, the ROCN now has in its possession a versatile ship. What remains to be seen are how the ROCN will put it to use in the coming years and to what extent this will reflect Taiwanese foreign policy priorities. With such a sophisticated vessel, it would be a shame for Taiwan to keep it docked as backup for a regional conflict that might never, and hopefully will never, come.

Posted in English, International, Paul Pryce, Sea Powers | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A Case for A Sustainable U.S. Grand Strategy: Retirement without Disengagement for a Superpower

by Jeong Lee, a freelance writer. This article originally appeared on “The Strategy Bridge” on February, 16th, 2015 and is re-posted by permission.

This blog commentary is based on a policy paper I wrote for the U.S. National Security Policy class at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. I am especially indebted to my professor, Dr. David Goldfischer, who encouraged me to explore this theme.


Dr. Richard D. Hooker Jr., Director for Research and Strategic Support, and Director, Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University defines grand strategy as:

[…] the use of power to secure the state […] [which] exists at a level above particular strategies intended to secure particular ends and above the use of military power alone. — R.D. Hooker, Jr, “The Grand Strategy of the United States“, INSS Strategic Monograph, National Defense University, October 2014.

However, the problem with this definition, as Dr. Hal Brands argues, seems to be that grand strategy “is one of the most slippery and widely abused terms in the foreign policy lexicon […][because the term is] often invoked but less often defined.” For this reason, Brands believes that the discussion of grand strategy has become all too often “confused or superficial”.

As if to bear this out, the discussion of U.S. grand strategy by both the neocons such as Robert Kagan and liberals such as David Rothkopf seem to be bereft of proper geostrategic contextualization due to fervent dogmatism, and is out of touch with today’s geopolitical realities. Part of the absence of nuanced contextualization can be understood in light of the fact U.S. foreign policy and its grand strategy are grounded in the ahistoric inclinations of its citizens.

Contrary to Kagan’s belief that the United States “cannot retire” from its superpower status because “America’s world order […][still] needs propping up,” U.S. grand strategy should focus on homeland security. Setting one’s house in order does not necessarily mean isolationism. Rather, it means deftly balancing both hard power and soft power at the disposal of the U.S. It also means adopting the “role of exemplar over that of crusader” to rejuvenate its national strength and to bolster its legitimacy abroad.

Since the Cold War ended, foreign policy and defense mavens have been debating what shape U.S. grand strategy should take. Some scholars such as Eugene Gholz, et al warned of “hefty premiums sap[ping] U.S. prosperity” should the U.S. continue to meddle in the affairs of other nations. Chalmers Johnson, writing a year before 9/11, warned of potential “blowback” which he saw as the “byproduct [of] reservoir of resentment against all Americans […] that can have lethal results.” Still, neoconservative commentators like Robert Kagan and even liberals like David Rothkopf envisioned a world transformed in America’s image with the aid of globalized economy and with the puissant might of the U.S. Armed Forces that would champion the cause of democracy. Even though the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have discredited the utility of force as an instrument of forced democracy, many still hold fast to the belief that the United States must continue to provide global leadership because they believe that to refrain from the role as the sole hegemon in the world is to invite chaos both abroad and at home.

Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire.

Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire.

For instance, Kagan’s 2014 essay in The New Republic entitled “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire” argues that, “[t]he broad acceptance of American power […] created a unique situation in the world.” He goes on to argue that U.S. leadership, “could not conform to a theory because it could not be replicated. It was sui generis.” Throughout the middle part of his essay, Kagan offers his interpretation of how the U.S. rose to become the unipolar hegemon in the latter half of the 20th Century and the early 2000s. Although Kagan rightly concedes that U.S. strategic internationalism meant to secure its geopolitical interests “was not selfless or altruistic”, he continues to emphasize the notion of the United States as the “indispensable nation” destined to preserve the liberal order. To underscore this point, he cites the U.S. intervention in Panama in 1989 and in Somalia in 1993 as examples of benign military interventions whose purpose it was to “defend and extend the liberal world order.”

However, citing such examples overlooks the fact that, more often than not, U.S. interventions in places like Somalia has led to failed states, or even worse, to political and military blowback for the United States whereby military debacles were construed by non-state actors such as Al-Qaidaas evidence of American weakness“. Furthermore, Kagan seems to exhibit symptoms of what the leading international relations scholar Robert Keohane has dubbed the “disease of the strong” when he quotes Dean Acheson who argued that the U.S. grew accustomed to “operat[ing] in a pattern of responsibility which is greater than our own interests”. In short, Kagan’s 2014 essay demonstrates how “[t]he mix of realpolitik and ideological ma[kes] for policy confusion [when it comes to U.S. grand strategy because] at times the threat is instability, at others it is contrary values”.

So Kagan was partly right but mostly wrong. He is right that the supposed willingness and ability to play the role of world police from the latter half of the twentieth century until now had little to do with “the special virtues of the American people”. He may also be right to note that “[t]he presence of American troops acted to remove doubt by potential aggressors that the United States would fight if its allies were attacked”. In short, the world order which we inhabit is rife with ambiguities and contradictions. But Kagan does not seem to understand, when he uses the metaphor of a gardener to describe the supposedly unique role of the United States as guarantor of the global liberal order, that the gardener may eventually burn out, or die from exhaustion. Nor does he seem to understand that a democratic government takes time to mature on its own.



The question, then, is, what should a sustainable U.S. grand strategy look like? Formulating a strategy that is grounded in pragmatism begins with the recognition of limits of national power — both hard and soft. Even Rothkopf, who urged the United States to, “export the American model” cautioned that the United States should “recognize its limitations […] [because it] cannot assure every outcome”. Although critics such as Tom Engelhardt, and retired Marine Major Peter J. Munson Chalmers Johnson, and Andrew Bacevich caution against using military force to spread U.S. values abroad, they do not mean that the United States should disengage entirely from the world. But rather the new grand strategy should adjust to the emerging strategic environment. This adjustment entails adroitly balancing soft power with hard power so that the U.S. may achieve its geostrategic objectives without relying on military might as its first resort.

To that end, the United States should first withdraw its military presence from both the Middle East and East Asia. As Toby Jones argues in his 2011 piece for The Atlantic, the U.S. military withdrawal from the Middle East may be possible because “protecting the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to global markets is far less necessary than it once was” since the world has plenty of oil. While Gholz et. al. claim that “allowing a regional hegemon to seize significant quantities of Gulf oil would constitute a threat to America’s prosperity,” Jones makes the case that prolonged deployment or permanent presence in the Persian Gulf may lead to “the militarization and destabilization” of the Middle East.

Where East Asia is concerned, a continued U.S. military presence may not be necessary because Taiwan, Japan and South Korea are fully capable of defending themselves without U.S. military aid. Although former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski argues that South Korea will continue to need U.S. troop presence due to the threats emanating from North Korea, what he and other analysts often overlook is that the existing tension between the two Koreas can be peacefully resolved through diplomatic recognition of North Korea as a sovereign state, so that the United States can foster trade and keep the North Korean ruler accountable to international norms.

This leads to my second recommendation, which is that the United States Armed Forces should reorient their focus towards homeland security rather than towards costly military presence abroad. At a time when the U.S. has withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan and at a time when the U.S. Armed Forces still face drastic budget cuts due to the ongoing sequestration, it makes no sense to maintain more than 1,000 bases around the world.


Third, and perhaps most important, the United States should rely on diplomacy to accommodate its admirers as well as its rivals. In essence, this is what I mean by deftly balancing hard power with soft power. Brzezinski, in his 2012 book, “Strategic Vision“, argues that the United States may avert “global instability” by embracing what he calls “an ambitious transcontinental geopolitical vision” which entails promoting the expansion of the West while balancing the East. Although it is questionable whether such undertaking may “enhance the appeal of the [U.S.] core principles,” there may be some truth to Brzezinski’s argument. First, continued belligerent posturing towards China through aggressive military maneuvers and presence in the Pacific may backfire in that it may provoke China. Even more important, Brzezinski’s argument warrants attention in that it speaks to the potential role of the U.S. as a diplomatic champion and an exemplar. To Brzezinski’s argument, I should add that, in addition to peacefully engaging China and other major powers such as Russia, the U.S. should seek diplomatic solutions to counter nuclear proliferations by rogue state actors such as Iran and North Korea.

Another option is for the United States to bolster its homeland security apparatuses to counter the threat of terrorism at home. While non-state actor groups such as the Taliban, Al-Qaida and the Islamic State/Daesh are opposed to Western values, they do not pose a direct existential threat to the United States because none of these groups possess conventional capabilities commensurate with Western militaries. Moreover, while some argue that it is best to contain terrorist threats abroad to prevent another 9/11, they blithely ignore the fact that terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 stemmed from the failure to anticipate terrorist attacks at home. With an expanded reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces due to force structure changes under sequestration and improved intelligence and surveillance capabilities, the U.S. can monitor and prevent terrorist attacks from within. However, should such measures prove inadequate, the U.S. can contain threats posed by non-state actors through multilateral police action with the cooperation of its allies.

To sum up, U.S.-President Barack Obama perhaps understood it best when he told the graduating U.S. Military Academy cadets last year that “what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions”. The United States should remain and will continue to remain a major power in an increasingly multipolar, and depending on one’s perspective, “chaotic” geostrategic landscape. In the future, the U.S. grand strategy should entail less emphasis on military interventions abroad and more emphasis on homeland security and diplomatic prowess.

A grand strategy that is based on restraint and national interests will lead to fewer wars in distant lands. The fewer wars the United States fights, the more money and lives it will save. Even better, the fewer wars the United States fights, the more likely the global community will appreciate its restraint and sober humility with which it approaches relations with other nations. In the long run, a grand strategy that is grounded in pragmatism and self-awareness will likely benefit both the United States and the global community of which it is a part.

Posted in Armed Forces, History, International, Jeong Lee | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The Geopolitical Crisis Continues

by Sid Lukkassen. Lukkassen holds an MA in history and philosophy, is a Ph.D candidate and city councillor in the Netherlands (VVD). In January, he published his book Avondland en Identiteit (Occident and Identity).

In my previous article I argued that in post-World War II Europe, the balance between values and virtues shifted from masculine to feminine. This shift manifests itself geopolitically and is the sum of factors outlined in my book Avondland en Identiteit (Occident and Identity). Nick Ottens continued the discussion by stating that the United States of America had “purposefully kept Europe weak” to prevent a third, European force from rising during the Cold War. Today, “only six European NATO members spend 2 percent of their economic output or more on defense“. contributed a translated piece by Hans Bachofner, originally published in 2006, in which he argued that heroic societies, held together by honour and sacrifice, are better at resolving armed conflict than post-heroic societies, which are held together by commercial and juridical structures. “Their governments assert again and again that they never want to endanger the lives of their own soldiers […] Technologically superior weapons replace the readiness to die.”

Le Serment des Horaces

Before we proceed to the point of this article, which concerns a geopolitical essay by Dr. Peter van Ham that discusses the “feminisation of Europe”, I’ll make a note about the “post-heroic society”. This notion strikes us as a postmodern concept stemming from a Europe worn out by “the monstrous sacrifice of mass heroism in World War I, and the misuse of the terms ‘honour’ and ‘sacrifice’ driven by totalitarian regimes in World War II.” (Bachofner). The truth is that this distinction can already be found in Histories by Herodotus [1]. The Medieval scholar Ibn Khaldûn expanded on it in his Muqaddimah, where he claimed civilizations go through different phases – of the pen (legalistic, bureaucratic) and of the sword (might makes right). (“De Muqaddima“, translated by Heleen Koesen and Djûke Poppinga, (Amsterdam 2010) 186-7). The notion of post-heroism thus ties in directly to the civilization cycle (also expressed in Plato’s Politeia, the Bible (Daniel 2:31-35) and the Bhagavad Gita). The recurring pattern is that young nations are centred around builders, founders and heroes – as they age, personal commitment by heroes is replaced by impersonal legalistic systems. Old nations grow wealthy, then decadent and ultimately apathetic. This perceived weakness attracts hungry young predators and the sword once again becomes a guiding principle.

This cycle mirrors the rough contours of what we see today. Van Ham, a researcher at Clingendael, a Dutch think tank concerning diplomacy and international relations, recently published an article in which he argued that the controversial politician Geert Wilders is right on a crucial point. [2] In another essay from December 2008, Van Ham argues that Europe has become a “metrosexual superpower” and he quotes Parag Khanna: “[j]ust as metrosexuals are redefining masculinity, Europe is redefining old notions of power and influence.” (Originally: Parag Khanna, “The Metrosexual Superpower“, Foreign Policy, no. 143 (July/August 2004), 68). “The term ‘metrosexuality’ (which gained currency in the mid-1990s) is based on images of narcissistic young men who adore fashion and accessories, and who are comfortable with their feminine side […] Europe’s lacking warrior spirit and denial of war can largely be blamed on the domestication (or sissification) of EU politics, and the marginalization of force and violence. Europe’s culture no longer honours traditional codes of manhood. Masculinity stands for being in control at all times, being in the driver’s seat. But today […] the feminization of politics has also touched other post-industrial societies.” (Peter van Ham, “The Power of War: Why Europe Needs it“, Clingendael Diplomacy Papers, no. 19, December 2008, 19).

In May 2011, a crowd gathered outside the White House to celebrate President Obama's announcement that U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden.

In May 2011, a crowd gathered outside the White House to celebrate President Obama’s announcement that U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden.

Van Ham argues that Europe considers itself a “postmodern, Kantian space“, where ideals such as tolerance, human rights and fighting poverty prevail over realpolitik – humanitarian intentions trump geopolitical consequences. The American crowds cheering over the death of Osama Bin Laden, for instance, would not fit within this self-image. Van Ham quotes Christopher Hill who has, among others, pointed out that the European Union neglects geopolitical considerations. (Peter van Ham, “The Power of War”, 21). For example, “barbaric” enclaves rise up in this post-nationalist world order that necessitate a geopolitical response entailing military intervention. Mafia and fundamentalism collude in failed states to chip away at the postmodern humanitarian space that marks the borders of the European Union. This is a problem, Van Ham notes, because the European project does not inspire sufficient loyalty to draw hard lines in the sand and back these up with military force when crossed or challenged. “Nobody is prepared to die for Brussels”, he writes. (Peter van Ham, “The Power of War”, 23). Threats that are too large are simply shied away from. This brings us back to the aforementioned “intellectual culture of denial” in regards to aggression stemming from jihadist motives.

Bachofner made a point of emphasizing how asymmetric the contemporary “War on Terror” is. The West bombs enemy territories from high above, targeting infrastructure, whereas terrorists often choose their victims randomly – their real objective is to cause fear in those who survive. The “post-heroic” West has to be clean – it has to avoid innocents from getting injured or else approval ratings will plummet. The aim of the fundamentalists, by contrast, is to instil self-censorship through dread. Therefore their attacks have to be as visceral as possible, as demonstrated by the murdering of Theo van Gogh (Netherlands), train and subway bombings (Spain, Britain), London public beheading, Kenya shooting spree, Brussels Jewish museum shooting and recently the attack on Charlie Hebdo (France). The list goes on.

Islamist militants ambushed the Westagte mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2013 killing more than 50 people and terrorizing the city. Kenyan forces tried to drive the militants out of the mall and save remaining hostages. Somalia's Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack in Kenya since 1998.

Islamist militants ambushed the Westagte mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2013 killing more than 50 people and terrorizing the city. Kenyan forces tried to drive the militants out of the mall and save remaining hostages. Somalia’s Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack in Kenya since 1998.

A good contemporary example is the Islamic State (IS) beheading two Japanese journalists and burning a Jordanian pilot alive, captured on video and accompanied by recitals of Quran verses. Islam defines the world in two houses: dar al-harb (house of war) and dar al-islam (house of peace). Peace is understood as political rule based on Sharia and the Quran, which expresses the immutable will of Allah and therefore provides peace. (Henk Driessen (ed.), “In het huis van de islam“, Nijmegen/Amsterdam 1997, 116-118). Manmade rules are susceptible to interpretation, are changeable, and therefore lead to conflict. Expanding the dar al-islam is a process that spans centuries, making temporary treatises (dar al-ahd or dar al-sulh) with Christian or secular nations inevitable. The IS embodies an aggressive strain of this overarching expansion. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has mentioned Rome as foreseeable target of conquest, yet Italian authorities hope that this is a symbolic reference to his larger global goal. (Christopher Livesay, “Rome Is Not Intimidated by ISIS Threats to Conquer it for the Caliphate“, Vice News, 11.07.2014). It means the IS obtains victory once Dar al-islam overlaps all political regimes on earth.

The West, by contrast, has to obtain a victory inside a defined territory within a short time span due to the high costs of mobilization. The citizen is not an active participant but “consumes” the war through media. If the war lasts too long, the weary audience at home will alter their votes in future elections. This replaces substantive victories with PR victories: the Western soldier fights a “War on Terror” without defined victory conditions.

Musa, a 25-year-old Kurdish marksman, stands atop a building as he looks at the destroyed Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on January 30, 2015 (Photo: Bulent Kilic).

Musa, a 25-year-old Kurdish marksman, stands atop a building as he looks at the destroyed Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on January 30, 2015 (Photo: Bulent Kilic).

Of course there are also the armed conflicts that are part civil war, part foreign intervention by larger geopolitical players. This we see concretely in Ukraine. These conflicts remain tied to ethnic and national identities, whereas the conflict with the IS centres around colliding religious-ideological world outlooks. A conflict with Russia is territorial and can, in theory, be settled. The conflict with the IS, however, is an existential conflict that fundamentally cannot be settled (at best there can be temporary ceasefires). The conflict cannot be resolved in earthly trades of resources, lives and territories because the conflict is metaphysical. We have, in other words, a resurgence of Carl Schmitt’s “Feind”. The West is mentally unprepared for this confrontation because it sees “the enemy” in economic terms – as a “competitor” that can be bluffed, reasoned with, and ultimately bargained down. (Carl Schmitt, “Der Begriff des politischen“, Berlin 1987, 37f).

In his 2008 article, Van Ham urged Europe into “accepting a legitimate role of war to annihilate (or convert) failed states, and terrorist ‘undecidables’, whose very existence cannot be tolerated […] The European Union will (have to) realize that (its) territory is no longer the basis of (its) power; nor is it a sufficient guarantee of (its) security. The prospect of a ‘Fortress Europe’ is unrealistic, while unsustainable.” (Peter van Ham, “The Power of War”, 28). Van Ham concluded by making a case for “reviving and renewing Realism inside the European Union, [which] basically asks to strengthen Europe’s masculine side, to the detriment of its feminist persona. Feminist scholars’ classically ‘feminist’ agenda emasculates the armed forces’ warrior ethic.” (Peter van Ham, “The Power of War”, 19-20; see also: Mona Charen, “Feminist Agenda Emasculates the Armed Forces’ Warrior Ethic”, Insight on the News, vol. 16, no. 17, 08.05.2000, 48).

The prospect of a ‘Fortress Europe’ is unrealistic.

The prospect of a ‘Fortress Europe’ is unrealistic.

That Europe strays far from this prescribed role becomes apparent by reading any Dutch mainstream newspaper (De Telegraaf, 06.02.2015, 5). An issue opens with a grand headliner, “Barbarians hit our F-16’s” and follows up with a grandiose statement by General Tom Middendorp that “we are increasingly determined to destroy the IS infrastructure” (De Telegraaf, 06.02.2015, 19). Another article on the same page expresses the general’s concern about military cuts in Belgium. If the country does not buy new JSF-fighters and new M-frigates, the Dutch military would have to “carry the weight of Belgium” – this would jeopardize cooperation between the two countries. On another page, the Minister of Defence, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, states that the Netherlands is working to spearhead a NATO intervention force to counter any Russian aggression. On the same page, in another article, she states that she does not wish to arm the Ukrainian national forces because “this could provoke Moscow” – a Moscow that already arms a fighting militia. These mixed signals imply that on the one hand the Netherlands pursues an active policy of international military involvement; on the other hand the means to actually carry out such a policy are extremely limited. This results in the aforementioned “PR-victories”. Hence, Hennis states that “most of the European ministers emphasize that the Ukrainian forces should be provided with only non-lethal equipment”.

Van Ham found that “Fortress Europe” is not a feasible option – he emphasized that hostile cells could be anywhere, and that this necessitates an assertive global military attitude. How would Europe give shape to this today? With Russia in Ukraine, the IS preparing to storm the gates of Rome, and increasingly aggressive, anti-Western rhetoric by the president of Turkey? (“Erdogan: West doesn’t like Muslims, wants them dead”, The Times of Israel, 29.11.2014). While the Asia-Pacific conflict plays in the background? Faced with all this, to “batter down the hatches” seems the most realistic strategy. This means a martial mentality, including a willingness to retaliate, without getting sucked into endless field campaigns on foreign soil that have to be framed as “build up missions” to pass Parliament. [3]

[1]”For, just as Persia had once been a hard culture which was able to dominate its soft eastern neighbours, and thus become rich and powerful, so the Greeks (particularly the Athenians) had become rich and powerful as a consequence of their victory over the Persians. Herodotus demonstrates the Persian trajectory from hard to soft culture, as a result of their control over the resources of their softer subjects, and thus explains their descent from conqueror to conquered.” Sara Forsdyke, “Herodotus, political history and political thought” in Carolyn Dewald / John Marincola (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Herodotus (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge New York 2006), 224-241.
[2] “Wilders warns us for the threat of Islamic terrorism, and while terrorists are committing murders with Quran in hand, progressive parties continue to look away. It is easier to deny and twist facts, and to frame his voters as ignorant and dangerous.” Peter Olsthoorn, “Clingendael: ‘Links-liberalen leggen denkverbod op inzake islam’“, The Post, 26.02.2015.
[3] “In a heated debate that continued into the early morning hours, a slim majority of MPs voted for the minority government’s proposal to send 545 men and women to Afghanistan until 2014 [..] Notably, it swayed the liberal greens, GroenLinks with 10 seats, by agreeing to seek a written guarantee from Kabul that police trained by the Dutch would not be used in any military action.” (“Dutch MPs endorse Afghan police training mission“, AFP, 28.01.2011).

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DOK: Ukraina – Tagebuch aus einem zerrissenen Land

Am Donnerstag, 19. Februar 2015 strahlte das Schweizer Fernsehen in ihrer Serie DOK diese interessante Dokumentation von Christof Franzen aus. Er war mit seiner Crew sowohl an den Frontabschnitten im Donbas wie auch in den idyllisch anmutenden Bauerndörfern der Westukraine und im Kiewer Machtzentrum. Die Konzentration auf einige wenige Akteure — einen nationalistischen Freiwilligen-Kämpfer, eine junge pro-russische Aktivistin und einen Familienvater, der in der Masse von Propaganda und Lügen nach der Wahrheit sucht — ermöglicht einen tiefen Einblick in den ukrainischen Alltag.

Majdan im Februar 2014

Majdan im Februar 2014

Am Sendetag des Films jährt sich der Höhepunkt der ukrainischen “Euromaidan”-Revolution, als Polizeieinheiten versuchten den Majdan Nesaleschnosti zu räumen. Bei der Eskalation der Kämpfe zwischen pro-europäischen, teils auch nationalistischen Ukrainern und den Sicherheitskräften des korrupten Präsidenten Wiktor Janukowitsch kamen damals über hundert Menschen ums Leben. Es war der vermeintliche Sieg der vom Westen unterstützen Opposition. Was im Siegestaumel unterging: im Osten des Landes, vor allem in der Donbas-Region, sahen viele Menschen in all dem nicht eine gerechte Revolution, sondern einen verfassungswidrigen Umsturz.

Wohl kaum Jemand rechnete mit der heftigen Reaktion des russischen Präsidenten Wladimir Putin. Dieser liess kurz danach die ukrainische Halbinsel Krim besetzen und heizte im Frühling 2014 den Konflikt in der Ostukraine an – mit einer Medienpropaganda, aber wohl auch mit Geld, Waffen und Kämpfern. Das Resultat ist ein bewaffneter innerukrainischer Konflikt aber auch ein unerklärter Krieg zwischen der Ukraine und Russland, mit weit über 5’000 Toten und Hunderttausenden von Vertriebenen.

Der Film “Ukraina” ist ein Film über Menschen, die sich in dieser einmaligen und schwierigen Situation im Lande zurechtfinden müssen. Es ist ein Zeugnis der tiefen Risse, die in der Ukraine entstehen, aber auch darüber, dass ein solch blutiger Konflikt nie hätte beginnen müssen. Denn die Ukraine wäre eigentlich vor einer erfolgreichen, marktwirtschaftlichen und demokratischen Entwicklung bereit gewesen. Viele Menschen im Land haben genug von der Korruption, der Herrschaft der Oligarchen und der Ungerechtigkeit.

Das Filmteam begleitet Oleksij aus der Stadt Nowowolynsk, im äussersten Westen der Ukraine, nahe der polnischen Grenze. Der Nationalist, Kleinunternehmer und Vater von zwei Töchtern stand bis zum Schluss auf dem Majdan, ein Freund von ihm starb dort im Kugelhagel. Seither kämpft Oleksij in verschiedenen Freiwilligenbataillonen in der Ostukraine. Er kehrt aber immer wieder ins zivile Leben zurück – unter anderem war er Kandidat für die Parlamentswahlen im Oktober. Oleksij stellt sich – wie Millionen ukrainischer Männer und Frauen – immer wieder die Frage: in den Krieg ziehen oder daheim bei Familie und Arbeit bleiben?

Anastasia ist eine alleinerziehende Mutter in Donezk. Nach dem Beginn des Konfliktes im Frühling hat sie – im Interesse ihres sechsjährigen Sohnes – die umkämpfte Stadt verlassen. Auf der Suche nach einem stabileren Leben war sie zuerst in Russland und danach in der ukrainisch kontrollierten Stadt Charkow – erfolglos. Inzwischen ist sie wieder in Donezk und arbeitet aktiv daran mit, der neuen “Volksrepublik Donezk” – in Kiew als Terrororganisation gebrandmarkt – zum Durchbruch zu verhelfen. Ist das die richtige Wahl für sie und ihren Sohn?

Auch Wladimir, ein junger Bauarbeiter und Familienvater, wohnt in der ostukrainischen Donbas-Region. Seine Familie schwebt in Lebensgefahr, weil sein Haus neben einer Basis der pro-russischen Separatisten liegt. Mehrmals sind Artilleriegeschosse in der Nähe seines Hauses explodiert. Wladimir bringt seine Familie in Sicherheit und sucht nach einer sicheren Zukunft für alle. Er ist ein kritischer Bürger und misstraut der Propaganda von beiden Seiten.

‘DOK': Ukraina – Tagebuch aus einem zerrissenen Land“, Schweizer Fernsehen, 19.02.2015.

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Cartoon of the month: (T)error(ism)

Terrorism - Tomas

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After the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by the terrorist organization “Islamic State” (IS), who had been seized in December and January from Libya’s eastern town of Sirte, Egypt has retaliated with airstrikes in Libya beginning of this week (see: Erin Cunningham and Heba Habib, “Egypt bombs Islamic State targets in Libya after beheading video“, The Washington Post, 16.02.2015). So far, the US-airstrikes on IS targets in Iraq and Syria produced only – if at all – minor signs of progress. Even if the airstrikes are one of the necessary instruments against IS, there have additional measures to be taken. To exclusively rely on airstrikes could turn out as an strategic error in the long run.

In this regard, Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch wrote:

Six months and 16,000 airstrikes into the campaign to defeat the Islamic State, with less than 1% of the territory it held in Iraq recovered, an honest accounting leads to only one conclusion: The U.S.-led strategy is failing. With the effort focused almost exclusively on a military defeat of the armed group, also known as ISIS, neither the Iraqi government nor its anti-ISIS allies – Iran included – have seriously addressed the reforms and accountability for abuses that could earn back the support of Iraq’s Sunni population. The fragmentation of Iraq’s fighting forces into unaccountable sectarian militias responsible for horrific abuses against Iraqi civilians is part of Iraq’s slide into a broken state that no amount of foreign aid and military intervention will be likely to put back together. — Sarah Leah Whitson, “Why the Fight Against ISIS is Failing“, Human Rights Watch, 18.02.2015.

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This cartoon was drawn by Tomas, a self-taught cartoonist from Rome. His cartoons range from computer graphics to traditional ink drawings, and have appeared in Italian newspapers, as well as in various sites around the Internet, including his blog which contains an archive of all cartoons realized from 2009.

Posted in Cartoon, Egypt, English, Iraq, Libya, Security Policy, Syria, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mehr Mut zum Risiko – Für eine resolutere Ukraine-Strategie

Von Marcus Seyfarth. Marcus ist Rechtsreferendar am Kammergericht Berlin und Mitgründer der Facebook-Gruppe “Sicherheitspolitik“.

On Tuesday, February 17, 2015, rebels seized most of the town and took several Ukrainian soldiers captive. In the days preceding their victory, photographer Max Avdeev embedded with the First Slavyansk Brigade of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in the nearby town of Logvinove. The rebels had just seized the town, cutting Debaltseve off from the last road leading to Ukrainian territory. The soldiers were mostly local volunteers, though their commanding officers were Russian — as were the men who delivered them tanks and artillery. As the deadline for a new cease-fire deal came and went overnight on Sunday, the rebels kept on shelling Debaltseve (Photo: Max Avdeev).

On Tuesday, February 17, 2015, rebels seized most of the town and took several Ukrainian soldiers captive. In the days preceding their victory, photographer Max Avdeev embedded with the First Slavyansk Brigade of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in the nearby town of Logvinove. The rebels had just seized the town, cutting Debaltseve off from the last road leading to Ukrainian territory. The soldiers were mostly local volunteers, though their commanding officers were Russian — as were the men who delivered them tanks and artillery. As the deadline for a new cease-fire deal came and went overnight on Sunday, the rebels kept on shelling Debaltseve (Photo: Max Avdeev).

In das seit Tagen umkämpfte Debalzewe sind die Separatisten trotz bestehender “Waffenruhe” nach eigenen Angaben gestern eingerückt, meldete die Tagesschau. Nach der Minsker Vereinbarung sollte ebenso am Dienstag der Rückzug der schweren Waffen von der Frontlinie beginnen. Die ukrainische Armee erklärte jedoch, sie wolle sie vorerst nicht zurückziehen. Die Regierung behauptet, es habe seitens der Separatisten binnen 24 Stunden 112 Angriffe gegeben, bei denen fünf Soldaten getötet und 25 weitere verletzt worden seien. Die Aufständischen warfen dem Militär ihrerseits Dutzende Verstöße gegen die Feuerpause vor. Separatistenführer Eduard Bassurin stellte klar, die Geschütze würden erst abgezogen, wenn die Feuerpause halte. Die in Minsk II vereinbarte Waffenruhe ist damit nach nur wenigen Tagen gescheitert. Der Umstand sollte ein Schlüsselmoment dafür sein, die gegenwärtige Ukraine-Strategie grundlegend zu überdenken.

Im Rahmen der Münchener Sicherheitskonferenz 2015 erläuterte die deutsche Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel zuletzt ihre Sicht auf den Ukraine-Konflikt. Bei der Beantwortung der Fragen aus dem Publikum hatte sie auf den Kalten Krieg Bezug genommen, den sie hinter dem Eisernen Vorhang erlebte. Damals habe niemand geglaubt, dass den Bürgern der DDR mit Waffengewalt zu einem Leben in Freiheit verholfen werden kann. Als die Mauer gebaut wurde, seien die USA nicht in den Krieg gezogen. Stattdessen hätten sie ein langes Durchhaltevermögen bewiesen. “Dass die USA die Stange hielten, hat dazu geführt, dass ich heute hier sitze”, sagte Merkel.

Im Westen haben viele den Eindruck, die Ukraine-Konflikt müsse schnell gelöst werden. Merkel hält ihre Erfahrung dagegen, dass demokratische Systeme langfristig überlegen sind. So, wie die DDR irgendwann zusammenbrach, weil neben ihr die demokratische BRD florierte, soll es auch den Volksrepubliken in der Ostukraine ergehen. Das kann Jahrzehnte dauern. Von einer schnellen Lösung des Konfliktes hält sie nichts: “Ich glaube einfach, dass militärisches Engagement zu mehr Opfern führen wird, aber nicht dazu, dass Putin besiegt wird”, sagte sie. “Das Problem ist, dass ich mir keine Situation vorstellen kann, in der eine verbesserte Ausrüstung der ukrainische Armee dazu führt, dass Präsident Putin so beeindruckt ist, dass er glaubt, militärisch zu verlieren”, erklärte sie.

Diese Sicht mag Europa vor einem militärischen Konflikt mit Russland bewahren. Ganz Europa? Nein, in der Ukraine würden weiter russische Panzer rollen. Wenn schon in historischen Analogien gesprochen wird, so entwickelt sich der Donbass eher zu einem Elsass-Lothringen — einem Zankapfel zwischen der Ukraine und Russland — als zu einer DDR. Der Westen würde seine Glaubwürdigkeit verspielen für seine Werte einzustehen, wie der Achtung des internationalen Rechts und der Ächtung imperialer Politik — aber immerhin würde kein Krieg mit Russland geführt. Man möchte meinen, dass die derzeitige Strategie des Westens lautet: “Um keinen Preis einen Krieg mit Russland riskieren!”.

Würde das auch für eine Invasion Russlands ins Baltikum gelten? Hier griffe die Einstandspflicht der NATO und ist somit anders zu bewerten, aber die Abkehr von allem Militärischen scheint es schwer glaubhaft zu machen, dass der Westen große Lust dazu hätte einen Krieg für “die paar Zwergstaaten” zu führen. Zumal es um die Einsatzbereitschaft der Armeen Europas nach einer jahrzehntelangen Abrüstung nicht zum Besten steht — im Ernstfall besäßen nur die Amerikaner die militärischen Mittel. Doch der Preis wäre ungleich höher: Der Wesenskern der NATO wäre zerstört, die Allianz zerbrochen, der NATO-Vertrag nur noch ein geduldiges Stück Papier ohne Wert.

Vor diesem drohenden Zukunftsszenario irrt Merkel mit ihrer Sicht, dass eine verbesserte Ausrüstung der ukrainischen Armee nicht dazu führen würde, Putin dazu zu bringen den Konflikt zu beenden. Denn wie die Erfahrung der Sowjets in Afghanistan gezeigt hatte, werden wohl auch von Russland horrende Verluste nicht über Jahre duldsam hingenommen werden können. Die Strategie muss es also sein, erstens den Konflikt eingedämmt zu halten, zweitens zu verhindern, dass Putin die ganze Ukraine erobert und drittens die militärischen und ökonomischen Verluste Russlands zu maximieren, um so früh wie möglich die Russen zu einer Aufgabe ihres Expansionskurses zu bringen. Hierzu ist einzig die ukrainische Armee derzeit berufen den militärischen Part zu übernehmen, ohne einen offenen militärischen Konflikt mit dem Westen zu riskieren. Es besteht also durchaus ein Interesse die ukrainischen Truppen bestmöglich auszustatten und auszubilden, um diese Ziele zu erreichen.

Die Befürchtungen des Westens vor einem militärischen Großkonflikt mit Russland dürfen nicht den Blick auf die militärische Komponente dieser Gleichung verstellen. Auch wenn der russische Präsident schwer zu deuten ist, dürfte die Prämisse als gesichert anzunehmen sein, dass auch Russland keinen Krieg mit der NATO zu führen gewillt ist. Insofern ist auch Putin gehalten den militärischen Konflikt so weit zu kontrollieren und eingedämmt zu halten, um nicht die NATO offen in den Konflikt zu ziehen.

Dies öffnet den Weg für die Lieferung von Verteidigungswaffen, wie sie der ukrainische Präsident Petro Poroschenko auf der Münchener Sicherheitskonferenz 2015 gefordert hat und wie jüngst auch in den USA immer intensiver darüber nachgedacht wird. Mitnichten würde Putin die NATO angreifen für ein paar gelieferte Radaranlagen, oder Luft- und Panzerabwehrwaffen.

Deshalb: Die russischen Muskelspiele dürfen die westlichen Regierungen nicht in Schockstarre verfallen lassen. Träten diese geschlossen mit mehr Mut und Entschlossenheit auf, ließe es Putin keinen Raum für politische Manöver den Westen auseinander zu dividieren. Die USA einerseits und das Tandem aus Frankreich und Deutschland andererseits präsentieren hier derzeit eine offene Flanke, in die Moskau nur zu gerne stößt. Den Amerikanern wird die eigenen interventionistischen Verfehlungen der Vergangenheit vorgehalten und den Europäern wird Angst vor dem Verlust des Friedens und der Wirtschafts- und Handelsbeziehungen gemacht.

Die derzeitige Strategie scheitert, weil sie den Westen entzweit und den imperialen Gelüsten Russlands kein mit glaubwürdigem Droh- und Schadpotential ausgestattetes militärisches Gegengewicht entgegensetzt und in Moskau als Politik der Schwäche ausgelegt wird. Es wird kein Risiko akzeptiert und Schritte werden unterlassen, die bereits provokant für einen Einstieg in einen militärischen Konflikt gehalten werden könnten. Der Westen entsagt sich damit einem Instrument, um auf die im Kreml noch einzig verbliebene Größe einzuwirken, die – so traurig dies ist – einen Ausschlag für einen Politikwechsel geben könnte: Den Verlusten an Soldaten und Material. Wenn dies die einzige Kenngröße ist, die Moskau zum Einlenken bringt, dürfen wir nicht länger davor zurückschrecken hierauf einzuwirken, um dafür zu sorgen, dass der Preis für ein weiteres russisches Militärengagement zu teuer wird.

Angesichts der realen Bedrohung der europäischen Friedensordnung sind die NATO-Staaten gut damit beraten die in Wales 2014 getroffene Vereinbarung einzuhalten mehr für die Verteidigung auszugeben und damit der alten Weisheit si vis pacem para bellum (“Wenn du den Frieden willst, bereite den Krieg vor”) zu folgen. Die Ukraine verdient in ihrem Kampf für die Freiheit und Selbstbestimmung nicht bloß unser Mitgefühl, sondern auch weitere handfeste Unterstützung, die auch die Lieferung von Defensivwaffen beinhaltet. Als Führungsmacht kommt hierbei den USA eine Schlüsselrolle zu, aber auch wir Europäer sind gefordert unseren Beitrag hierzu zu leisten.

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