Why Is Germany’s Military Weak? nationalinterest.org

Kyle Mizokami, writer based in San Francisco

The modern German armed forces, or Bundeswehr, were created just ten years after the end of World War II. Cold war tensions and the presence of Soviet troops in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland made a West German defense force necessary.

The Bundeswehr eventually grew to one of the largest, well-equipped armed forces in the world, boasting twelve combat divisions, hundreds of combat aircraft in the Luftwaffe (German Air Force), and a formidable force of surface ships, submarines, and maritime aircraft in the Bundesmarine (Navy).

The end of the Cold War and withdraw of the Red Army from Eastern Europe was a boon for European security. The National Volksarmee of East Germany and the Bundeswehr merged into a new national army. Inventories of ships, aircraft and armored vehicles were cut by up to seventy five percent, and the German defense budget was cut further. Germany now spends just 1.2% of GDP on defense, far below the NATO recommended 2%. Läs artikel

Reflections on Vietnam and Iraq: The lessons of two failed wars, responsiblestatecraft.org

Andrew J. Bacevich , president of the Quincy Institute

[…] The challenges awaiting Biden and Harris arguably outweigh those that confronted any of those past administrations, Roosevelt’s excepted. In a recent New York Times column, the man who lost that disputed 2000 election, Al Gore, inventoried the most pressing problems that Biden’s team will confront. In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, they include:

“40 years of economic stagnation for middle-income families; hyper-inequality of incomes and wealth, with high levels of poverty; horrific structural racism; toxic partisanship; the impending collapse of nuclear arms control agreements; an epistemological crisis undermining the authority of knowledge; recklessly unprincipled behavior by social media companies; and, most dangerous of all, the climate crisis.”

That makes for quite a daunting catalog. Yet note this one striking omission: Gore makes no mention of America’s seemingly never-ending penchant for war and military adventurism. […]

I could write pages and pages on how Vietnam and Iraq differ from each other, beginning with the fact that they are separated in time by nearly a half-century. Locale, the contours of the battlefields, the character of combat, the casualties inflicted and sustained, the sheer quantity of ordnance expended — when it comes to such measures and others, Vietnam and Iraq differ greatly. Yet while those differences are worth noting, it’s the unappreciated similarities between them that are truly instructive.

Seven such similarities stand out:

First, Vietnam and Iraq were both avoidable: For the United States, they were wars of choice. No one pushed us. We dove in headfirst.

Second, both turned out to be superfluous, undertaken in response to threats — monolithic Communism and Iraqi weapons of mass destruction — that were figments of fevered imaginations. In both cases, cynicism and moral cowardice played a role in paving the way toward war. Dissenting voices were ignored. Läs artikel

USA och krigen

Mats Björkenfeldt

USA har sedan statens grundande år 1776 varit i krig utom under 11 år. Sverige har under nästan lika lång tid sluppit krig tack vare en klok freds- och alliansfrihetspolitik. Redan mot denna bakgrund verkar USA och Sverige vara strange bedfellows. Efter att ha tagit del av utgivarnas senaste inlägg (Är Försvarsmakten att lita på? – BEVARA ALLIANSFRIHETEN) undrar man om försvarsministern och Försvarsmakten är helt historielösa. Jag anbefaller därför ansvariga personer att läsa professor David Vines senaste bok: The United States of War. A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State (University of California Press 2020).

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What Is the Purpose of American Foreign Policy? nationalinterest.org

As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office, American foreign policy is at a crossroads. Biden has promised America’s allies in Europe and Asia that Washington will be “back” after the Trump era. But can he successfully fulfill his vow at a moment when Russia and China are becoming increasingly assertive? Has the world changed fundamentally over the past four years as to render it difficult if not impossible to return to the approach of past administrations? John Mearsheimer, Graham Allison, Melinda Haring, and Dimitri K. Simes weigh-in in a discussion moderated by Jacob Heilbrunn. […]

John Mearsheimer:Thank you, Jacob, for inviting me to be here today and also to participate in the forum in the journal. For me, the principal purpose of American foreign policy is to maximize our prospects for both security and prosperity. And, in my opinion, the best way to do that is to, number one, be a regional hegemon, i.e. to dominate your area of the world, and two, to make sure that you don’t have a pure competitor. In other words, make sure there is no other regional hegemon on the planet. The problem that the United States faces today, and in particular, the incoming Biden administration, is that we have a potential pure competitor. And that potential pure competitor is China. Läs artikel

America’s History of Luck Is Running Out, foreignpolicy.com

Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University

The United States is the luckiest country in modern history. It began as a set of marginal European outposts, separated from the settlers’ home countries by a difficult sea voyage. When the colonies gained independence, they were weak, poor, and fractious. But in less than a century and a half, those 13 original colonies had expanded across North America, survived a civil war, driven other great powers from the Western Hemisphere, and created the world’s largest and most dynamic economy. That ascent didn’t stop until the end of the 20th century, when victory in the Cold War left the United States alone at the pinnacle of power. For a little while.

Americans like to attribute this remarkable story to their ancestors’ virtues, the enlightened wisdom of the Founding Fathers, and the intrinsic merits of America’s peculiar blend of liberal democratic capitalism. But in addition to the considerable cruelty displayed toward the native population and the slaves imported from Africa, good fortune played a major role as well. Läs artikel

Är Försvarsmakten att lita på?


USA:s specialstyrkor samverkade under två veckor i november med det svenska försvaret i en rad samtidiga övningar på svenskt territorium till lands, till sjöss och i luftrummet.

Försvarsmaktens  personaltidning Försvarets Forum 6:2020 beskriver övningarna under rubriken ”Sve + USA: Tillsammans på östfronten”. Det är således ingen tvekan om vem som är fiende och vem som är vän, och här öppnas för att svenskt territorium och svenska styrkor ska utnyttjas för militär aggression mot annan stat.

Övningarna genomfördes av svenska och amerikanska specialförband och var de mest omfattande gemensamma övningarna någonsin. Utöver specialförbanden inbegrep den även styrkor från alla svenska stridskrafter.

De amerikanska styrkorna har getts en unik kunskap om den svenska skärgården och lärt sig navigera och operera i den med hjälp av den svenska Försvarsmakten. Tydligen var övningen inte den första i sitt slag. Tidningen skriver att de ”amerikanska operatörerna har varit här i Gryts skärgård på den svenska östkusten förr, och lärt sig högfartsnavigering i svensk skärgård, med stöd av svenska specialoperativa enheter.”

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”Ett försämrat läge – Spänningarna har ökat i vårt närområde”, svd.se

Efter ett drygt år på jobbet är det ”back to basics” för utrikesminister Ann Linde som vill ha en hård linje mot Ryssland och ser inte något problem med att ”vi tjänar en massa pengar på att handla med Kina”.[…]

Ann Linde svarar med det som på UD-språk kallas ”tvåspårspolitik”.

– Det handlar dels om att ha en principfast och hård linje mot Ryssland, där vi tillsammans med EU har sanktioner för brott mot den euroepiska säkerhetsordningen. Samtidigt som vi på vissa områden har samarbete. Det kan gälla hälsofrågor, miljöfrågor och vissa brottsfrågor. Plus att det är viktigt att vi upprustar vårt försvar, vilket vi gör nu.

Är det inte svårt att driva två linjer samtidigt?

– Jag skulle säga att balansgången är där hela tiden. I relationen till Ryssland, i relationen till Kina, i relationen till Turkiet. För mig är det viktigt att se att det både finns utmaningar och möjligheter. Det går inte att säga att nu ska vi helt isolera Ryssland eller nu ska vi helt isolera Kina, säger hon.

Den senaste tiden har relation till stormakterna hamnat allt högre upp på EU:s dagordning. Efter förgiftningen av den ryska oppositionsledaren Aleksej Navalnyj var det flera länder som ville se tuffare tag mot Ryssland. Och kinesiska företagsjätten Huawei har stött på hårt motstånd i utbygganden av 5G-nätet i Europa, med hänvisning till nationell säkerhet. Men utvecklingen har även visat hur smärtsamt beroende Europa är: Av rysk energi. Av turkisk flyktingpolitik. Och av handeln med Kina. Läs intervjun


Russia’s General Staff notes NATO’s growing provocations near Russian borders, tass.com

The General Staff of Russia’s armed forces has noted the outspoken anti-Russian nature of NATO’s training activities and growing provocations near Russia’s borders, the chief of the General Staff of Russia’s armed forces, First Deputy Defense Minister Valery Gerasimov told a news briefing for foreign military attaches.

”The training of the alliance’s forces is developing an outspokenly anti-Russian bias, with non-NATO countries getting increasingly involved. Provocative activities near Russia’s borders are growing,” Gerasimov said.

He pointed to the considerable growth of NATO countries’ defense budgets and further buildup of their military potential.

”The unbridled buildup of the missile defense potential is continuing, which considerably affects the balance of forces and gives one side the edge in using strategic weapons. The role of non-nuclear means of attack with long range, high accuracy and great destructive potential is increasing,” Gerasimov said. Läs artikel 

Sahel: Mali is now a military dictatorship, north-africa.com

Hopes that soldiers behind Mali’s coup would swiftly restore civilian rule and tackle jihadism and ethnic violence are fading fast as the army expands its role. Many in the large Sahel country hailed the August 18 putsch as the precursor of a “new Mali” — a nation that would emerge stronger and more stable, its institutions better placed to confront the country’s many ills. Young army officers toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of protests sparked largely by his failures to roll back a jihadist insurgency and root out perceived corruption. […]

The most basic principle is that of trust, and we have already stumbled over it,” he said. The military now virtually has a stranglehold over the institutions of transition. Among the coup leaders, Colonel Assimi Goita obtained a tailor-made role as powerful vice president of the transitional government; Colonel Malick Diaw was promoted president of the CNT; and Colonel Sadio Camara and Colonel Major Ismael Wague respectively took charge of the strategic ministries of defence and of reconciliation. hirteen of Mali’s 20 regional governors are now soldiers following a spate of nominations in November. Läs artikel

Afghanistan War Cost, Timeline, and Economic Impact, thebalance.com

The war in Afghanistan began in 2001 and has cost the U.S. $978 billion through fiscal year 2020.1 The George W. Bush administration launched the war in Afghanistan and the War on Terror in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda. The United States attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan for hiding al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden.

he number grows even more when taking into account increases in the base budgets for the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition to the $978 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds specifically dedicated to the war, the base budget for the Department of Defense (DOD) increased by about $343 billion since FY2000, to $633 billion for FY2020.23The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) budget has increased by more than $175 billion in that same time frame.45 Some of these costs also are attributable to the War in Iraq. Läs artikel

FN: Malistyrkor har begått krigsbrott, gp.se

Malis militär har begått krigsbrott – och jihadistgrupper som härjar i det västafrikanska landet har gjort sig skyldiga till brott mot mänskligheten.
Det slår FN-utredare fast i en rapport.

Skrivelsen omfattar 338 sidor och har sammanställts av Internationella utredningskommissionen för Mali, som leds av den svenska diplomaten Lena Sundh.

”Kommissionen har skälig anledning att tro att de maliska försvars- och säkerhetsstyrkorna har begått krigsbrott, däribland dödligt våld mot civila och andra icke-stridande misstänkta för samröre eller samarbete med väpnade extremistgrupper”, lyder ett stycke i rapporten, som nyhetsbyrån AFP har tagit del av. […]

”Kommissionen anser att väpnade extremistgrupper har begått brott mot mänskligheten och krigsbrott”, fortsätter rapporten, och nämner bland annat mord, lemlästning, våldtäkt och andra attacker mot hjälporganisationer och FN:s fredsstyrka Minusma. Läs artikel

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov: “We Have No Trust, No Confidence Whatsoever” in America, ationalinterest.org

Jacob Heilbrunn: What is your assessment of the state of U.S.-Russia relations?

Sergei Ryabkov: The current state of our bilateral relations is probably worse than we have experienced for decades preceding this current moment. I don’t want to compare this with Cold War times because that era was different from what we have now—in some ways, more predictable; in some ways, more dangerous. From Moscow’s perspective, the Trump era is worrying because we move from one low point to another, and as the famous Polish thinker Jerzy Lec said once, “We thought we had reached the ground, and then someone knocked from beneath.” […]

One of the most troubling areas in this very dark and dull picture is of course arms control. There we see a downward spiral that is being systematically enhanced and intensified by the U.S. government. It looks like America doesn’t believe in arms control as a concept altogether. Instead, it tries to find pretexts to depart from as many arms control treaties, agreements, and arrangements that Russia is also a party to. This is very regrettable. But make no mistake: we will not pay any price higher than the one we would pay for our own security in order to save something or keep the U.S. within this system. It’s squarely and straightforwardly the choice that the American government may or, in our view, even should make—because we still think that the maintenance of these agreements ultimately serves American national interests. Läs intervjun