Mike Pompeo Is Good for Diplomacy

dwell for a moment on the awfulness of Tillerson.

He came to office with no discernible worldview other than the jaded transactionalism he acquired as ExxonMobil’s C.E.O. He leaves office with no discernible accomplishment except a broken department and a traumatized staff.

Six of the 10 top positions at State are vacant; even now the United States does not have an ambassador to South Korea, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Africa or the European Union, among other posts.

.. he did seem to figure out that Vladimir Putin is a bad guy. But that’s progress only because he was previously the Russian despot’s premier apologist.

.. he opposed the president’s two best foreign policy decisions: moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and decertifying the Iran deal.

.. Some secretaries of state — Colin Powell, for instance — alienate their bosses by siding with the bureaucracy. Others, like Henry Kissinger, do the opposite. Tillerson is the rare bird who managed to do both.

.. unlike Tillerson, he will have credibility with foreign governments. Just as importantly, he’s been willing to contradict the president, meaning he’ll be able to act as a check on him, too.

Trump isn’t going to be disciplined by someone whose views are dovish or establishmentarian. But he might listen to, and be tempered by, a responsible hawk.

.. The notion that Kim Jong-un is going to abandon his nuclear arsenal is risible. What, other than reunification of Korea on Pyongyang’s terms, would Kim exchange his arsenal for?

Equally risible is the idea that his regime will ever abide by the terms of a deal. North Korea violates every agreement it signs.

.. might strike it at South Korea’s and perhaps Japan’s expense. This president has never been particularly fond of our two closest Asian allies, much less of the cost to the United States of aiding in their defense.

.. The promise of Pompeo is that he can provide ballast against some of Trump’s other gusts, particularly when it comes to the Kremlin.

  • On Syria, he dismisses the possibility of a collaborative relationship with Russia.
  • On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he insists, “America has an obligation to push back.”
  • On WikiLeaks, he calls it a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”
  • On Russian interference in the U.S. election, he acknowledges it as incontrovertible fact and warns of the “Gerasimov doctrine” — the Russian conviction that it can use disinformation to win a bloodless war with the West.

.. If the thought that Putin has strings to pull with this president alarms you, Pompeo’s presence should be reassuring. However much you might otherwise disagree with him, the guy who graduated first in his class from West Point is not a Russian stooge.

.. he’d be smart to model his behavior on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the administration’s one undisputed star, who thrives in his job because he’s plainly not afraid of losing it, much less of speaking his mind.

Trump-Putin Will Talk Against Backdrop of Broader Russian Mischief

Debate over Russia’s role in 2016 election blurs larger picture

 Less obvious, but more important, is how any Russian meddling in the American presidential-election season—whatever form it may have taken—fits into a much larger tale. This is the tale of a systematic Russian effort to disrupt democratic and capitalist systems internationally, using an updated version of tactics Mr. Putin learned in the bad old days of the Soviet KGB.
.. The Playbook is an in-depth study of Russian efforts to use overt and covert tactics over a period of a decade to expand its economic and political influence in five Central and East European nations. A group of regional leaders from such nations warned President Barack Obama in a 2009 letter—which also looks prescient now—that Russia was conducting “overt and covert means of economic warfare, ranging from energy blockades and politically motivated investments to bribery and media manipulation in order to advance its interests….”..The Russian strategy, the study finds, isn’t ad hoc. Rather, it is the implementation of a doctrine developed by Russian Gen. Valery Gerasimov called “new generation warfare.” One European analyst called that “primarily a strategy of influence, not of brute force” aimed at “breaking the internal coherence of the enemy system.”

.. 1) The first track is economic. Russia seeks to find business partners and investments that allow it to establish an economic foothold, which in turn produces economically influential patrons and partners who have a vested interest in policies friendly to the Kremlin. That is a particularly fruitful endeavor in Europe, where many nations depend on Russian energy supplies.The goal on this track is to cultivate “a network of local affiliates and power-brokers who are capable of advocating on Russia’s behalf.”

2) The second track, perhaps more relevant to the U.S., is designed to disrupt prevailing democratic political patterns. The goal, the Playbook says, is “to corrode democracy from within by deepening political divides and cultivating relationships with aspiring autocrats, political parties (notably nationalists, populists and Euroskeptic groups), and Russian sympathizers.”

..  “an acceleration” of Russian influence-seeking, ranging from a plot against the prime minister of Montenegro to interference in the French election to cyberattacks in Ukraine.

Vladislav Surkov: Without Sky

This was the first non-linear war. In the primitive wars of the nineteenth, twentieth, and other middle centuries, the fight was usually between two sides: two nations or two temporary alliances. But now, four coalitions collided, and it wasn’t two against two, or three against one. It was all against all.

And what coalitions they were! Not like the earlier ones. It was a rare state that entered the coalition intact. What happened was some provinces took one side, some took the other, and some individual city, or generation, or sex, or professional society of the same state – took a third side. And then they could switch places, cross into any camp you like, sometimes during battle.

.. The simple-hearted commanders of the past strove for victory. Now they did not act so stupidly. That is, some, of course, still clung to the old habits and tried to exhume from the archives old slogans of the type: victory will be ours. It worked in some places, but basically, war was now understood as a process, more exactly, part of a process, its acute phase, but maybe not the most important.

.. Some peoples joined the war specifically to be defeated. They were inspired by the flowering of Germany and France after being routed in the second World War. It turned out that to achieve such a defeat was no simpler than achieving victory.

.. Hundreds of thousands of airplanes, helicopters, and rockets destroyed each other throughout a day in the silence of the tomb. Even falling, they were silent. Sometimes dying pilots screamed out, but rarely, because almost all of the machines were pilotless.

.. At that time, automatic machinery was being hurriedly brought into general use, and not only in the field of transportation. They introduced hotels without staff, stores without sales people, homes without masters, financial and industrial firms without directors. Even a couple of “pilotless” governments were organized as a result of democratic revolutions, so airplanes were nothing to speak of.

.. The fighter aircraft of the Northern Coalition were super-light, made of almost weightless materials. Even if an entire one of these fighters fell on us, the whole airplane, it would not have caused us serious harm. And Papa had dug us in pretty deep.

.. If it was only that we didn’t see the sky above our village, that would be nothing, but our very thoughts lost the concept of height. We became two-dimensional. We understood only “yes” and “no,” only “black” and “white.” There was no ambiguity, no half-tones, no saving graces. We did not know how to lie.

We understood everything literally, and that meant we were absolutely unsuited for life, helpless. We required constant care, but they abandoned us. They wouldn’t let us work. They wouldn’t pay us a disability pension. Many of us deteriorated, fell and perished. The rest of us organized ourselves to stay afloat, to save ourselves together or perish together.

.. We founded the Society and prepared a revolt of the simple, two-dimensionals against the complex and sly, against those who do not answer “yes” or “no,” who do not say “white” or “black,” who know some third word, many, many third words, empty, deceptive, confusing the way, obscuring the truth. In these shadows and spider webs, in these false complexities, hide and multiply all the villainies of the world. They are the House of Satan. That’s where they make bombs and money, saying: “Here’s money for the good of the honest; here are bombs for the defense of love.”

We will come tomorrow. We will conquer or perish. There is no third way.

Forget Comey. The Real Story Is Russia’s War on America

Why are we focusing on who leaked what to whom, when our democracy is under siege?

The starkest aspect of Comey’s prepared statement was the president’s lack of curiosity about the long-running, deep-reaching, well-executed and terrifyingly effective Russian attack on American democracy. This was raised more than once in the hearing — that after Trump was briefed in January on the intelligence community’s report, which emphasized ongoing activity directed by the Kremlin against the United States, he has not subsequently evinced any interest in what can be done to protect us from another Russian assault. The president is interested in his own innocence, or the potential guilt of others around him — but not at all in the culpability of a foreign adversary, or what it meant. This is utterly astonishing.

.. Even if the president and his team were correct, and the Comey testimony definitively cleared the president of potential obstruction of justice or collusion charges — even if that were true, that does not also exonerate Russia. Nonetheless, this is a line the president seems to want drawn.

1. No matter what is true or not, we have moved toward the fractured, inward-looking, weakened America that President Putin wants to see.

.. The Russian narrative is increasingly being echoed by far right media, and finding its way into mainstream conservative media. Episodes of violent unrest, and the potential for wider chaos, don’t seem far off.

.. Meanwhile, no one seems to be watching what Russia is still doing to us. No one is systematically speaking about the tactics of Russian hybrid warfare, and that these go beyond “fake news” and “hacking” into far-reaching intelligence operations and initiatives to destabilize Western countries, economies and societies. No one is talking about how Russia provides training for militants and terrorists in Europe, even as U.S. generals say it is supporting the Taliban as it attacks American forces in Afghanistan. No one is leading a unified effort to roll back Russian influence in Europe or Asia or the Middle East. No one is commenting on Russia’s new efforts to entrench its presence near eastern Ukraine, escalate the fighting there and destabilize the government in Kyiv.

.. Even behind closed doors, Trump reportedly did not once mention Russia to the NATO heads of state — not to discuss Russian attacks against our allies, and not to discuss Russia’s menacing of NATO skies, seas and borders. Instead, he browbeat our allies. Maybe it’s news to the White House — but it was Russia’s aggression, not Trump’s hectoring, that inspired the alliance to boost national military spending.

.. the president’s tirades against countries hosting our men and military assets — Qatar, South Korea, Germany, etc. — complicate our ability to execute on-task.

.. Even Putin admits that “patriotic” Russian hackers were behind the attack on America — a fact the president will still not mention without caveat.

.. A constantly misunderstood narrative was revisited during the Comey hearing — questions about whether Russian actions “changed” the vote. The focus on whether this means Russia physically changed votes is the greatest diversion tactic of all. Ironically, D.C.’s political class — whose existence is based upon the ability to deploy narratives that get some people to vote, and others not to — refuses to admit that outside interests could change a small percentage of votes in the Rust Belt.

.. If the Trump campaign itself has openly discussed its use of data-backed information operations to conduct targeted voter-suppression campaigns, possibly at the individual level — why would we believe the Russians wouldn’t be experimenting with the same tools and tactics?

.. In fact, you can track the radical changes in the belief of certain narratives during the time period Comey identified as when the most intensive Kremlin-led activities were underway (beginning in summer 2015 through present day). During this time frame, Republican views on free trade agreements dropped 30 points, from roughly the same as Democrats to radically divergent (Democratic views remained relatively steady). Putin’s favorability rating increased

.. An isolationist America that is softer on Russia and more in favor of authoritarian traits in leaders fits right into the narratives that the Kremlin nurtures and spends billions to promote. And if views changed so dramatically on these aspects of Russian narratives — why is it we believe their efforts didn’t change any votes?

.. This tactic works because it prays on doubts and grievances that are already present — as the best information warfare does. Truth doesn’t matter. Once we know how we feel about something, who cares what the truth is? And information is just one act of Russia’s shadow war.

.. And yet the most concise encapsulation of the Russian concept of hybrid warfare — the chart depicting the “Gerasimov doctrine,” developed by the Russian chief of the general staff — shows that information warfare is the constant through all phases, and that the ideal ratio of nonmilitary to military activities is 4:1. The more important war is, by far, the shadow war.

Behind Russia’s Cyber Strategy

A 2013 article by Russian Gen. Valery Gerasimov emphasized importance of cyberwarfare

 .. Russia’s military laid out what is now seen as a blueprint for cyberwarfare with a 2013 article in a professional journal by Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of Russia’s General Staff.Cyberspace, wrote Gen. Gerasimov, “opens wide asymmetrical possibilities for reducing the fighting potential of the enemy.”

.. In the 2013 article, Gen. Gerasimov elaborated on the Russian military’s desire to hone its hacking skills as an extension of conventional warfare and political conflict.

.. In Washington’s defense and national security circles, Russia’s use of masked invasions on the ground and difficult-to-attribute attacks in cyberspace have become examples of what is now known as the “Gerasimov doctrine,” in reference to the 2013 article.

.. “He talks about what he calls fighting a war without fighting a war—use of information, social media, disinformation, deception,” Gen. Neller said.

.. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said security services had detected 6,500 attempted cyberattacks on government agencies and state information resources in the past two months.

.. “Ukraine is the perfect sandpit for this as it is complex enough to test it out but it’s not NATO and can’t really fight back,”

.. Russia denied official connection to the well-armed and well-trained military professionals who took over key government installations on the Black Sea peninsula before acknowledging the “little green men” were actually Russian special-operations troops.

Top U.S. Military Commander to Meet Russian Counterpart

U.S.-Russia meeting in Azerbaijan will mark first such face-to-face since in 2014

The meeting between Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Russian Gen. Valery Gerasimov

.. senior military officials at the Pentagon are pushing to elevate communication and coordination between the two militaries. Under a Pentagon proposal, three-star generals at the Pentagon would routinely discuss operations over Syria with Russian counterparts.

.. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has expressed a harder line on Russia than other members of the Trump administration. During his confirmation hearing last month, Mr. Mattis said the U.S. must recognize that Russian President Vladimir Putin “is trying to break the North Atlantic alliance.” He classified Russia among the principal threats to the U.S.

.. During a congressional hearing last September, he classified Russia as potentially the most significant threat to U.S. national interests and said the American military had no intention of sharing intelligence with Russian counterparts.
.. “I believe that we should maintain military-to-military communications and relationships in the worst of times,” Gen. Dunford said early last year. “We did it throughout the Cold War, and we should do it now.”
.. Gen. Gerasimov is a figure who looms large in Washington. His 2013 article in a professional Russian military journal is widely viewed in Washington as the blueprint for Russian hybrid and information warfare initiatives—sometimes referred to as the Gerasimov doctrine.
.. The meeting also comes amid accusations that Russia is violating a Cold War-era pact, known as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF Treaty, which bans Washington and Moscow from producing, maintaining or testing medium-range missiles.