03/18/2021 News & Commentary – National Security
News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs. 1. Burden Sharing: Benefits and Costs Associated with the U.S.
Military Presence in Japan and South Korea 2. Opinion | Rising to the Challenge of China 3. Why Washington Is Fed Up With Beijing
4. U.S. Seeks to Counter China’s Full-Court Press in Asia 5. Final Adoption of the U.S.
Universal Periodic Review 6. Beyond the pandemic, Asian American leaders fear U.S. conflict with China will fan racist backlash 7. US must grasp China’s different set of values
8. If you think the West’s culture wars are bad, try Afghanistan’s 9. Domestic divisions leave blanks in US Asia policy 10. How China Sees the International Order: A Lesson from the Chinese Classics
11. In trip to China’s backyard, Biden team tests its ‘values’ policy 12. To Win Over Asia, Talk Trade 13. Faith In The Military Is Falling – Not Demand For Strong Defense: Reagan Institute
14. Ambiguity Doesn’t Work. Taiwan Needs Strategic Clarity 15. FDD | There Is No Going Back: Xi’s Vision at China’s National People’s Congress
16. How Politics Has Poisoned the United Nations 17. Key Official: Defense Information Operations ‘Not Evolving Fast Enough’ 18. Unarmed Army Ranger confronts a shotgun-wielding robber during Sunday brunch
19. Spy firm wants to sell real-time locations of YOUR car to the military 20. Bum-Rushing Extremists From the Military Might Not Help 21. Intelligence Agencies Warn Most Lethal Threat to US Is Homegrown
1. Burden Sharing: Benefits and Costs Associated with the U.S. Military Presence in Japan and South Korea gao.gov
This is a very detailed and important report and one that will be of use to researchers and scholars for a long time to come. The 60 page report has a lot of data that really explains the actual costs and cost sharing. This should help inform a public affairs campaign to explain the benefits and costs of our alliances in Korea and Japan. As an aside I was one of the 9 non-government personnel interviewed for this report and my opinions on the benefits are reflected in the text.
The 60 page GAO report can be downloaded in PDF here. Note for my Korean and Japanese friends, it is available in Korean and Japanese. 2. Opinion | Rising to the Challenge of China
The New York Times . by Farah Stockman . March 18, 2021 Excerpts:
“With nearly every electronic device requiring semiconductors, these tiny computer chips are the oil of the 21st century. Americans cannot afford to be complacent about where they come from or whether there will be enough to go around. It is reassuring to know that TSMC, the Taiwanese company that is the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry, has begun constructing a new plant in Arizona and that the National Defense Authorization Act enacted in January provides incentives to the U.S. semiconductor industry.
But more must be done. That is not to say that Americans ought to try to stop China from obtaining the semiconductors that it needs to thrive, or “decouple” the U.S. economy from China’s, as Mr. Trump once dangerously suggested.
That would be exceedingly costly and would make it more likely that the two countries will end up in a confrontation. But Americans have recognized the need to be far more thoughtful and strategic about planning for their own economic future. That’s a good thing.
Maintaining a military and technological edge requires investments in research, education and infrastructure that many Americans would otherwise be unwilling to make. Of all the threats that China poses, the greatest might just be its example to the rest of the world of a successful alternative to American democracy, which has been marred by economic inequality, racial unrest and insurrection. To effectively counter China, Americans must get their own house in order and remind the world — and themselves — that democracy can still deliver for ordinary people.”
3. Why Washington Is Fed Up With Beijing Foreign Policy . by Michael Hirsh . March 17, 2021
Excerpts: “Meanwhile, Xi has used China’s economic heft to make its own rules and exercise influence as it pleases. It has deployed the massive Belt and Road Initiative to foster “debt-trap diplomacy” in Asia and Africa, while expanding its own commercial (and perhaps military) reach.
It also exploited Trump’s unilateral approach and hasty withdrawal from the U.S.-brokered Trans-Pacific Partnership to orchestrate a 15-nation regional trade bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, as an alternative to U.S. trade pressure. All the while, even as Republicans and Democrats bicker over industrial policy, infrastructure investment, and U.S. foreign-policy goals, Beijing is plowing ahead with its state-driven Made in China 2025 initiative to achieve dominance in the most important economic sectors of the future. But now, in direct contrast to all the earnest U.S. attempts at bringing China in over the decades, it is striking to see how Biden is seeking to cut China out.
With Biden’s “Buy American” plan, the administration is even considering a degree of economic decoupling, as China hawks have long advocated: “reshoring” U.S. businesses away from China. European allies remain somewhat on the fence, having concluded an investment pact with China late last year despite Sullivan’s efforts to delay it ahead of Biden’s inauguration. But several allies seem on board with Biden’s approach.
As Britain said in its newly released global strategy this week, it plans to “work very closely on the Indo-Pacific with the Biden Administration.” Yet without real strategic dialogue or diplomatic framework in the offing, many experts fear that the incremental sources of conflict will grow and some kind of cold war may become inevitable, even if the Biden administration wants to avoid it. In the end, the new president’s team may be walking a dangerous and fine line, one they haven’t quite figured out how to maneuver yet. “I think their strategic approach to China policy is still a work in progress,” Tellis said. “Much will depend on the outcome of Anchorage.”
4. U.S. Seeks to Counter China’s Full-Court Press in Asia Foreign Policy . by Jack Detsch .
March 17, 2021 While I do not think China wants war (a direct kinetic one) with us (nor do we want war with China), we need to be damn sure we did not stumble into one. China wants to be successful at political warfare. But we need to ensure we have the strongest possible military in order to deter war, especially when someone stumbles. Excerpts:
“But the stakes might not be war, experts said. Instead, China may be using their growing military might to raise the costs for Pentagon planners. “I don’t think the Chinese want a war.
I think they want to be able to put up a threat of sufficient scale that we decide don’t want to fight them, that we’re put in a situation where we decide the cost is not going to be worth it,” said Shugart. “If we lose the crew of one carrier, we’ll lose about as many people in one day as we lost in Iraq over a decade or so.” 5. Final Adoption of the U.S. Universal Periodic Review
state.gov . by Antony J. Blinken . March 17, 2021
Human rights is a national security issue. And we need to be able to compete through the international organizations space, to include the human rights council at the UN. 6. Beyond the pandemic, Asian American leaders fear U.S. conflict with China will fan racist backlash The Washington Post . by David Nakamura .
March 18, 2021 Is a perfect storm being created for racism? Excerpt:
“It sends a false message that people who look like me would be more disloyal,” Lieu told Blinken, who said he shared the concerns about inequities in the system. “As you manage the relationship with China, I want to remain vigilant that fear of a foreign country does not negatively impact the Asian American community.” 7. US must grasp China’s different set of values asia.nikkei.com . by Ian Bremmer .
March 17, 2021 Conclusion: “Which approach will Biden choose?
Knowing the consensus-building Biden, it will likely be some combination of all three as Biden tries to empower his administration officials while also making progress on as many objectives as possible over the next few years. That makes sense over the short-term, but without a comprehensive strategy, the U.S. will still be left facing a China with a fundamentally different set of values and standards, and with increasing means to export its own worldview abroad. A strategic review of U.S.-China relations is the absolute right-step for policymakers in Washington; the real concern is what Washington does with it after it is completed.”
8. If you think the West’s culture wars are bad, try Afghanistan’s thenationalnews.com . by Sulaiman Hakemy . March 16, 2021
Very interesting: “Incidentally, Mr Danish and I are technically from the same ethnic group. Like him, my father is a Hazara Afghan, though because my paternal grandmother is Tajik and my mother’s family is from the Indian subcontinent, I look completely different to any Afghan stereotype of a Hazara.
So incomprehensible and embarrassing were my non-stereotypical facial features that when I was last in Kabul, I visited a Hazara family friend and he asked me to pretend I was not Hazara if other visitors called at the house. Curiously, the NSIA’s list of 71 ethnicities also includes Uyghurs, most of whom arrived in Afghanistan from China only recently. They are not in the constitution, and yet now they are part of the nation and get ID cards like everyone else, turning upside down the notion that any one list of ethnicities defined Afghanistan to begin with.
That old history, in which Afghanistan was a struggle between Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras “and others”, will also have to die if the nation is to stay alive. And it will die on its own, as the country’s evolving demographic complexity shows, of natural causes. And the national culture, whatever it really is, will change with it.
Rather than talking about how to keep these things alive, conversations for Afghanistan’s survival should be about the best way to let go of them.” 9. Domestic divisions leave blanks in US Asia policy eastasiaforum.org . by Gorana Grgic .
March 17, 2021 Yes we have to get our domestic house in order. But then again has our domestic house ever been in order? Excerpts:
“Rather than a radical departure from the Trump era, there are still elements from the previous administration that could qualify as ‘something borrowed’. While the new administration is talking up cooperation on transnational issues such as climate change, global health and arms control, it is bound to maintain the inherited competitive disposition towards China. It has made it abundantly clear that economic statecraft will remain a vital aspect of its strategy.
Yet, there is uncertainty around the policy specifics, much of which will hinge on contingency planning and bureaucratic politics. While we can only speculate as to what Chinese foreign policy will look like over the next four years, there is less room for guesswork when it comes to the key divides in Biden’s team.” 10. How China Sees the International Order: A Lesson from the Chinese Classics
warontherocks.com . by David K. Schneider . March 18, 2021
The classics (eastern and western) offer some much insight if only we would read and study them. 11. In trip to China’s backyard, Biden team tests its ‘values’ policy The Christian Science Monitor . by Howrd LaFranchi .
March 17, 2021 Excerpts: “The question now for some regional analysts is whether the U.S. sticks to a comprehensive, values-driven diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific, or if a sense of the growing urgency to confront China prompts a shift to more hard-power initiatives like stepped-up joint military exercises and inter-military cooperation.
“The rhetoric from the Quad summit was reassuring and the emphasis on promoting the public good, with the vaccine initiative and climate change and infrastructure investment, was a very positive development,” says Sarang Shidore, a senior fellow at the Council on Strategic Risks in Washington. “But China is the deeper reason the Quad was even born,” he adds, “and what I find worrying is that despite the recent attention to the values of the group, which include peace and inclusion, the military aspect has not really been pulled back. “Pointing to Secretary Austin’s stop in New Delhi, Mr.
Shidore says he sees the risk of a regional policy based on values and mutual interests shifting increasingly to an emphasis on China’s “compellence and containment,” something he says America’s regional partners don’t want.” And he says it is the U.S., as the Indo-Pacific regional powers’ “most powerful and consequential” partner, that will determine which course the region follows. 12.
In Asia (as in the US) it is the old “its the economy, stupid.” Bloomberg . by Editorial Board . March 18, 2021
Excerpts: “In any case, Biden should be guided by what’s good for the country and its workers, not by what seems most politically convenient. Standing aside from TPP (as it then was) rivals Brexit as an unforced act of economic self-harm.
Biden’s team should be quietly conferring with key countries such as Japan to sketch out the stricter labor and environmental provisions that would be needed for the U.S. to rejoin. At the same time, the White House should accelerate measures to support the workers most affected by foreign trade. International economic cooperation is vital to sustain the global economic recovery, raise productivity and living standards, and advance America’s security interests in Asia.
Biden says the U.S. is once again ready to lead. That’s good. The president needs to lead on trade, too.”
13. Faith In The Military Is Falling – Not Demand For Strong Defense: Reagan Institute breakingdefense.com . by Roger Zakheim and Rachel Hoff . March 17, 2021
Troubling. 14. Ambiguity Doesn’t Work. Taiwan Needs Strategic Clarity
realcleardefense.com . by Michele Lowe and Alice Cho From our former intern at FDD, Alice Cho. Conclusion:
“Ambiguity signals to Beijing that there are questions over America’s commitment to the region, exasperated by four years of an America first mantra that shrunk U.S. leadership in the world. Clarity provides the opposite. It signals to Beijing that the United States is committed to its allies and its regional strategy for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” If joined by partners and allies, clarity will be an important step in rolling back strategic gains made by China.
Strategic clarity should not be a declaration of independence for Taiwan, tacit support of provocative Taiwanese actions, or an escalation. It is admitting what most already believe to be true, backed by historical evidence during previous strait crises, that the United States is prepared to commit forces should the PLA try to annex Taiwan. The CCP is gaining momentum in creating its vision of a Sino-centric order.
It has redefined the status quo by exploiting weaknesses in the liberal system: maritime militia enforcing Chinese nationalism in other states’ territory; unrelenting military shows of force in the Taiwan strait; constructing and arming artificial islands in the South China Sea. The PRC no longer hides its intentions for regional domination or its desire to annex Taiwan. If the United States does not take strong policy stances on Chinese overreaches like Taiwan, then the CCP will achieve its Sino-centric world vision.
The American people can no longer delay on firm, concise action. Policymakers should seize the next evolution of U.S. policies, one that embraces strategic clarity, builds consensus for free and open seas, and solidifies America’s commitment to defend democracy.” 15. FDD | There Is No Going Back: Xi’s Vision at China’s National People’s Congress
fdd.org . by Craig Singleton . March 17, 2021 Conclusion: “Regardless of potential U.S. military re-alignments in the Pacific, what is unlikely to change, at least in the short term, is the sharp rhetoric coming from senior U.S. officials about the nature of America’s great power rivalry with Beijing.
While an upcoming meeting in Alaska between U.S. and Chinese officials may help identify a small number of areas where the two governments can collaborate, namely on climate change and Burma, the meeting itself is unlikely to dramatically alter the current bilateral dynamic or lead to any major shifts in U.S. policy. In the meantime, all eyes will turn to Beijing’s upcoming celebration of the CCP’s anniversary and Xi’s all-but-certain elevation into the annals of Chinese history.” 16. How Politics Has Poisoned the United Nations
The National Interest . by David May . March 17, 2021 Is there an antidote for the poison?
Can we “fix” the UN human rights council? Excerpts: “To reform the UPR process, the council should first start with a clear-eyed approach to membership.
With the Biden administration’s intention to run for election to the UNHRC next year, here are two ways Biden should advocate for reforming the Council: First, the General Assembly should determine UNHRC membership by voting through open ballots, not secret ones as is currently done. Forcing countries to publicize their votes could dissuade them from supporting abusers and would introduce some accountability in the UN human rights infrastructure.
Second, there should be basic standards for council membership. Freedom House’s Annual Global Freedom Scores provides an objective, evidence-based approach to rating countries based on their access to political rights and civil liberties and should be drawn from. After instituting membership standards, the council should empower the UPR Working Groups to impose a vetting process for member state recommendations.
This includes developing firm criteria to determine whether the recommendations are valid or should be thrown out due to a country’s political interests. Reforming the council won’t be easy; previous administrations have tried and failed. But if the United States rejoins an unreformed Council, it will lend legitimacy to an institution that embraces human rights violators rather than challenging their abuses.”
17. Key Official: Defense Information Operations ‘Not Evolving Fast Enough’ defenseone.com . by Patrick Tucker Until we overcome our risk averseness to influence and fix the problem with this anecdote we will never sufficiently progress.
In the US it is easier to get permission to put a hellfire missile on the forehead of a terrorist than it is to get permission to put an idea between his ears (or anyone’s ears for that matter). 18. Unarmed Army Ranger confronts a shotgun-wielding robber during Sunday brunch armytimes.com . by Todd South .
March 17, 2021 I love our Rangers. Quite a story. This is what they do. I will bet WO1 Ruth will soon be flying for 160th SOAR and coming to the rescue of operators somewhere on a hot LZ.
19. Spy firm wants to sell real-time locations of YOUR car to the military Daily Mail . by Harriet Alexander . March 17, 2021
The new normal. A brave new world. Big brother can now watch. But note they do not have the capability to monitor north Korea and Cuba. Spy firm wants to sell real-time locations of YOUR car to the military
- A South Carolina-based surveillance firm is promoting its car monitoring ability
- The Ulysses Group says it has real-time access to 15 billion cars worldwide
- They monitor cars through GPS and sensors on equipment such as airbags
- The data may be from car makers and through manufacturers of individual parts
- The Ulysses Group has strong ties to the U.S. military and promotes its capability
- The firm told Vice News in a statement it’s not working for government
20. Bum-Rushing Extremists From the Military Might Not Help
defenseone.com . by Todd C. Helmus, Ryan Andrew Brown, and Rajeev Ramchand Excerpts:
“Finally, to help prevent military personnel and future veterans from joining extremist ranks, this former neo-Nazi recommends racial sensitivity training to develop cross-cultural understanding — especially for those who have never met people of other races or religions. “Instead of taking a ‘don’t do this’ or ‘don’t do that’ approach,” he says, let troops “hear those human stories from people who can say, ‘Racism did this to me.’ That way people can feel empathy…Once you get past the dehumanization experience it is really difficult to harm that other person.” Of course, Schoep’s views represent just one “former” perspective, albeit one with deep experience in the trenches of extremist groups.
As the U.S. moves forward with research and action, voices like his can provide an inside perspective on how right-wing extremist organizations recruit within and prey on the military and veteran communities.” 21. Intelligence Agencies Warn Most Lethal Threat to US Is Homegrown voanews.com . by Associated Press
—————— “Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.” – Maya Angelo
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” – C.S. Lewis
“Righting wrongs for which we haven’t been caught is the litmus test of who we are; it shows the core of our honor.”