Wednesday, July 31, 2013

U.S. Outlines N.S.A.’s Culling of Data for All Domestic Calls

Since it references the Guardian's release of the classified briefing on the NSA program.  Those on government computers probably should not click on the hotlink's to the Guardian and the 32 page classified briefing it published on it s web site.  But there will be no avoiding these reports.

I am sure Greenwald and the Guardian released this information to offset the USG's release. of NSA information today

But this brings up a bigger issue.  This is going to be all over the news shortly.  It is already on the front page web site of the NY Times in is posted below.  There will be no avoiding this on the internet.  We will see this reported over and over again and we will lose a lot of government productivity trying to avoid any connection to it and then we will have the government internet police looking for those on government systems who have looked at this stuff.  Woe be it for someone to actually get brought up on charges for inadvertently accessing these articles.  Snowden and Greenwald are going to have the last laugh as they add friction to the well oiled government machine!  :-)  We really do need our government to come up with new guidance to keep up with the times and how to address these classified leaks in the global information network.


July 31, 2013

U.S. Outlines N.S.A.’s Culling of Data for All Domestic Calls


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Wednesday released formerly classified documents outlining a once-secret program of the National Security Agency that is collecting records of all domestic phone calls in the United States, as a newly leaked N.S.A. document surfaced showing how the agency spies on Web browsing and other Internet activity abroad.
Together, the new round of disclosures shed even more light on the scope of the United States government’s secret surveillance programs, which have been dragged into public view and debate by leaks from the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the newly declassified documents related to the domestic phone logging program at the start of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the topic. Simultaneously, The Guardian published a still-classified 32-page presentation leaked by Mr. Snowden that describes the N.S.A.'s XKeyscore program, which mines Internet browsing information that the agency is apparently vacuuming up at 150 network sites around the world.
The documents released by the government, meanwhile, include an April ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that supported a secondary order — also leaked by Mr. Snowden — requiring a Verizon subsidiary to turn over all of its customers’ phone logs for a three-month period.
It said the government may access the logs only when an executive branch official determines that there are “facts giving rise to a reasonable, articulable suspicion” that the number searched is associated with terrorism.
The releases also included two formerly classified briefing papers to Congress from 2009 and 2011, when the provision of the Patriot Act that the court relied on to issue that order was up for reauthorization. The papers outlined the bulk collection of “metadata” logging all domestic phone calls and e-mails of Americans and are portrayed as an “early warning system” that allowed the government to quickly see who was linked to a terrorism suspect.
“Both of these programs operate on a very large scale,” the 2011 briefing paper said, followed by something that is redacted, and then: “However, as described below, only a tiny fraction of such records are ever viewed by N.S.A. intelligence analysts.”
Both programs traced back to the surveillance efforts the Bush administration secretly started after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and which initially operated outside statutory authority or court oversight. The Bush administration later obtained orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to continue them.
The Obama administration has said it shut down the program that collected e-mail “metadata” in 2011, but it is not clear whether such collection has continued under a different program.
The newly disclosed XKeyscore presentation focuses in particular on Internet activities, including chats and Web site browsing activities, as intelligence analysts search for terrorist cells by looking at “anomalous events” like who is using encryption in Iran or “searching the web for suspicious stuff.”
In contrast to the domestic-call tracking program, the example cited in the XKeyscore presentation — which said it had generated intelligence that resulted in the capture of more than 300 terrorists — appeared to be focused on overseas activity.
A map showed 150 network sites around the world at which the N.S.A. is collecting that information; it is not clear whether the governments in those places are aware of the spying.
The volume of data is so vast that most of it is stored for only three days, the presentation said, although “metadata” — information showing log-ins and server activity, but not content — is stored for a month.
Several of the pages on the presentation were redacted by The Guardian.
But the presentation shows that while much of the focus from Mr. Snowden’s revelations so far has been on communications — whether calls or e-mails — that are linked, directly or indirectly, to a known suspect, the N.S.A. is also collecting and searching through massive amounts of Web-browsing activity.
“A large amount of time spent on the Web is performing actions that are anonymous,” the presentation explains, saying that the XKeyscore system can extract and store retrospective activity from “raw unselected bulk traffic.”
One example of how analysts might use the system is to search for whenever someone has started up a “virtual private network” in a particular country of interest; VPNs are pipelines that add greater security to online communications. N.S.A. analysts are able to use the system to extract the activity retrospectively from “raw unselected bulk traffic” and then decrypt it to “discover the users.”
It also cited using the system to locate a target who speaks German but is known to be in Pakistan by looking for German-language Internet activity in that country, or to uncover where and by whom a Microsoft Word document was created that had passed through several users’ hands.
Yet another slide said: “My target uses Google Maps to scope target locations — can I use this information to determine his e-mail address? What about the Web searches — do any stand out and look suspicious?”
At the start of Wednesday’s hearing, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, expressed deep skepticism about the domestic phone records program. He criticized intelligence officials and defenders of the program for misleadingly saying it helped prevent 54 terrorist events, a number that conflates the usefulness of N.S.A. surveillance activities targeted at noncitizens abroad with the usefulness of the database of Americans’ phone calls.
A classified list of “terrorist events” that N.S.A. surveillance helped to prevent, he said, “simply does not reflect dozens or even several terrorist plots” that the domestic call log program “helped thwart or prevent, let alone 54, as some have suggested.”
Citing the “massive privacy implications” of the program, Mr. Leahy said: “If this program is not effective it has to end. So far I’m not convinced by what I’ve seen.”
But Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who is also on the judiciary panel, said that while the program could be changed with greater restrictions and safeguards, it should be preserved because it would place the nation “in jeopardy” to eliminate it.
(Continued at the link below)

Heritage Video: Giving a Voice to our Quiet Professionals: Sustaining Special Operations Forces in the 21st Century

The video can be viewed at this link:



Giving a Voice to our Quiet Professionals: Sustaining Special Operations Forces in the 21st Century

In the post-9/11 security environment, the use of U.S. Special Operations Forces has increased considerably. Special Operators’ combination of unique skills made them adept at combating terrorism and insurgency over the past ten years. However, as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan and attempts to refocus its national security objectives, the SOF community intends to return emphasis on its “indirect” missions – those that strive to prevent conflict rather than engage in it. By working “by, with, and through” America’s partner nations, performing training exercises and humanitarian missions, and continuing to build relationships, our “Quiet Professionals” can provide critical components of national security. Join us for a discussion on the Special Operations Forces community, how they can help preserve national security into the future, and how the U.S. can continue to support their actions.

More About the Speakers

Captain Steve Wisotski Commanding Officer, Center for SEAL and SWCC 
Colonel Stuart W. Bradin Chief of the Expanding Global SOF Network, Operational Planning Team, USSOCOM 
Steven P. Bucci, Ph.D. Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies,The Heritage Foundation

Hosted By

Peter BrookesPeter Brookes
Senior Fellow, National Security AffairsRead More

U.S.-ROK transfer delay inevitable

It is interesting that the ROK press is not talking at all about the proposed Combined Theater Command with a Korean general in charge that was put forth this past spring.  I think it is also interesting that no one is talking about the other potential reason that many ROK officers and senior government officials are willing to request the postponement.  I think given the US fiscal constraints and the proposal to rotate ground forces there could be a very real fear that the US commitment to the alliance may be reduced over time if the US does not remain in command of CFC.  And of course we should always, always keep in mind that a key part of north Korean strategy has been to split the alliance and we have been contributing to that since 1978 with the continuous decline in US commitment under nearly every US administration both Republican and Democrat.  Perhaps the senior ROK officials are trying to save us from ourselves.

But finally there is a press article that recognizes the Military Committee and at least somewhat explains its important role:

To see why this is not necessarily so, we need to understand that since 1978, the Combined Forces Command has been accountable to a joint military committee that gets its authority from both U.S. and South Korean national command authorities. 

The Korean units assigned to the CFC are designated by the Korean side and can be withdrawn at any time upon notification. The American CFC commander cannot refuse such notification. All he can do is point out the impact it may have on the performance of his overall mission.

This is why there is no real soverignty issue and that OPCON trasnfer is a myth.  What happens in 2015 is the dissolution of the combined warfighting command the loss of unity of command.

And of course this is a very signifcant issue.  The costs to both nations goes up if we have to maintain two independent warfighting commands.
  But the ROK has been unable to get sufficient public and government support to invest in all the necessary capabilities.

According to a credible rumor, when the wartime OpCon handover was agreed to during the Roh administration, Korean leaders learned of the high costs of the technologies they would have to master, which has since diminished their eagerness to be in charge. 

U.S.-ROK transfer delay inevitable

Surprisingly, perhaps, most Korean officers seem quite comfortable with the current arrangement.

July 30,2013
This latest request from South Korea to the United States to postpone once again the transfer of wartime operational control of combined forces to South Korea reminds me of some of the peculiar characteristics of Korean politics. For example, one may wonder if some South Korean politicians find it advantageous to allow the public to remain ignorant of the evolving complexities of the U.S.-ROK relationship. It seems advantageous for politicians to tacitly give the impression to their constituents that they have less power than they actually do. After all, being “under the thumb of Big Brother” gives politicians a plausible rationale to suggest they have no other choice but to do what might be unpopular.

Of course, this potential misleading of the public brings with it the possibility that Koreans at times will jump to the wrong conclusion, sometimes leading to populist movements - such as last decade’s farcical anti-mad cow demonstrations.

But the nonsense of all of this is revealed when America acts outside the stereotype portrayed by Korea’s make-believe leftists. When in 2006 former President Roh Moo-Hyun demanded that wartime OpCon be handed over by 2012, then U.S. Secretary of Donald Rumsfeld responded affirmatively - in fact, Rumsfeld offered the handover as early as 2009. Furthermore, Rumsfeld proposed to Roh that South Koreans should increase their share of costs for U.S. Forces Korea from 40 percent to a “more equitable 50 percent.”

While it would be disingenuous to suggest the United States is in Korea for purely altruistic reasons, there are calls in America for U.S. Forces in Korea to be scaled back given the costs to the American taxpayer and the robust growth of South Korea.

Anyway, President Roh’s demand and Rumfeld’s counteroffer led to street demonstrations by several retired Korean generals and officers, as well as conservative groups, calling on Roh to behave responsibly.

All of which, from a foreigner’s perspective, was quite peculiar. After all, what Korean conservatives and progressives have in common is a strong sense of nationalism. One would naturally think Koreans of all political persuasions would be eager to have this command transfer to take place, the sooner the better.

To see why this is not necessarily so, we need to understand that since 1978, the Combined Forces Command has been accountable to a joint military committee that gets its authority from both U.S. and South Korean national command authorities.

The Korean units assigned to the CFC are designated by the Korean side and can be withdrawn at any time upon notification. The American CFC commander cannot refuse such notification. All he can do is point out the impact it may have on the performance of his overall mission.

In light of Chun Doo Hwan’s coup d’etat and suppression of the Gwangju uprising, these points have not been well understood by most Koreans or most Americans. Neither has it been well explained. When U.S. officials tried to state their position publicly in 1980, they were stymied by South Korean martial law and censorship. Subsequently, there was little effort to set the record straight because of the priority and sensitivity accorded to political stability.

In other words, despite a military technological gap, the relationship between the two sides has been much more equal than is publicly imagined.

As of today, the U.S. maintains at CFC a four-star general and two-star general - C3 (operations and training, the primary war-fighting team) and C5 (plans, policy and strategy) - to head up the most important staff sections, with a Korean four-star deputy and one-star Korean deputy, respectively, to offset them on behalf of the Korean side.

Surprisingly, perhaps, most Korean officers seem quite comfortable with the current arrangement in regard to how U.S. forces are stationed in Korea. Korean officers realize that given their hierarchical system and relatively rigid training, they are not prepared to react within the CFC with the required swiftness and flexibly in the face of major hostilities.

Even with recent changes in orders of the day that permit South Korean forces to fire back at North Korean troops or targets without prior authorization when attacked, ROK officers remain hesitant to order a major response out of fear of overreacting and, thereby, truncating what otherwise could have been successful military careers.

We should note, however, the U.S. Army continuously maintains the lead over its Korean counterparts in cutting-edge military technology, sophisticated command and control procedures, and air power. And, thanks to Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officers arrive here “battle hardened.”

All of which makes the perception of the South Korean Army operating under the U.S. Army very much a necessity, despite legal technicalities and nationalist passions. According to a credible rumor, when the wartime OpCon handover was agreed to during the Roh administration, Korean leaders learned of the high costs of the technologies they would have to master, which has since diminished their eagerness to be in charge. 
(Continued at the link below)

Monday, July 29, 2013

S. Korea, U.S. to discuss OPCON transition in high-level meeting

I would still like to know why a top American official would release this kind of information when it is more appropriately worked out at the Security Consultative Meeting (which probably should have been the response to the question).

   The issue of wartime control resurfaced earlier this month after a top American official said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency that the South Korean government had requested another delay in the OPCON transition following the North Korean provocations this spring.

The reason might be that the top official does not understand the nature of the alliance, does not care about the alliance, seeks to undercut the legitimacy of the ROK, or perhaps wants to pre-empt the proposal for a Combined Theater Command with a ROK general in charge.  I am curious.

2013/07/29 09:45 KST
text size plustext size minusprintsend twittersend facebooksend msn
S. Korea, U.S. to discuss OPCON transition in high-level meeting
By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- Senior South Korean and U.S. military officials will meet this week for a high-level defense meeting in Seoul, the defense ministry said Monday, which is widely expected to address another delay in Washington's planned transition of wartime operational control (OPCON) to Seoul.

   The Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday in Seoul as the two countries are preparing to transfer OPCON to South Korea in December 2015 and draft a new joint military structure.

   The biannual meeting takes place at a time when calls have grown to postpone the transfer of OPCON following North Korea's third nuclear test in February, and its war-like threats against Seoul and Washington earlier this year.

   "The upcoming meeting will evaluate security threats posed by North Korea and issues related to OPCON transfer preparations," a senior ministry official said, asking anonymity.

   The defense meeting, launched in 2011, is an overarching structure that includes a series of alliance-related meetings such as the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee, the Strategic Alliance 2015 Working Group (SAWG) and the Security Policy Initiative (SPI).

   Deputy Minister of Defense Lim Kwan-bin will meet his American counterpart, Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia David Helvey, the ministry said.
(Continued at the link below)

The Struggle to Combat North Korea’s Tuberculosis Crisis

Another important consideration for Korean Unification.  One of the reasons that it is critically important that there be a stay put policy in north Korea and keep people "fixed" in their current homes (critical to doing this will be restarting some form of the north's public distribution system to get critical supplies to the people).

By the way the work that both Linton brothers do is really quite amazing and they have tremendous insights into what life is like outside of Pyongyang.

But this quote sums up the entire problem with the north Korea:

“When you care about a system, or an idea, more than the people who actually live in that system, that’s when things get really brutal,” Linton explains.

Of course that "idea" is really the survival of the Kim Family Regime and perpetuation of the system of total control over the population.

By Steven Borowiec

Politics complicates efforts to control the disease.

One of the few foreign aid groups operating in North Korea and the only privately funded NGO treating tuberculosis (TB) has identified a growing challenge in reducing TB in the North: the increasing prevalence of multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) that is more difficult and more expensive to treat than regular TB.
“Multidrug resistant TB requires more precision, the medicine costs alone are 150 times as high, there’s a lot less margin for error,” Stephen Linton tellsThe Diplomat in an interview.
Linton chairs The Eugene Bell Foundation, the Seoul-based organization that is dedicated to treating TB patients in North Korea.
The foundation began working in North Korea during the 1990s after being invited by the government to provide food aid to people impacted by the famine that ravaged the country. After two years of providing food aid, the North Korean government asked the organization to switch to TB treatment as the malnutrition the famine caused led to a spike in the number of North Koreans infected with TB. The foundation agreed.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2012 Global Tuberculosis Report, there are 345 TB infections per 100,000 people in North Korea, one of the highest in the world outside of sub-Saharan Africa.
Precise statistics on multidrug resistant TB in the North are not available.
In a March press release, the WHO and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria called for increased funding for the treatment of multidrug resistant TB, calling it the area of TB treatment that needed funding most urgently.
The North Korean state’s capacity to treat TB is lacking, particularly when it comes to treating multidrug resistant TB. The Global Fund therefore provides funding and WHO-approved medication to North Korea’s National TB Control Program.
“The National TB Control Program has only started to implement the MDR-TB program on its own since 2012, therefore their capacity is not yet at the level where they could treat every single person with MDR-TB,” said Marcela Rojo of the Global Fund.
To be cured, TB patients require a course of four different antibiotics for a minimum of six months. If treatment is interrupted or not completed, the exposure to the drugs can cause the TB strand to mutate and become drug resistant. Eugene Bell estimates that 15,000 people in North Korea fail to complete their treatment for regular TB each year.
Eugene Bell’s medical director and physician, Kwonjune Seung, argues that the primary reason multidrug resistant TB has become more prevalent in North Korea is because the Global Fund doesn’t provide enough treatment for MDR-TB. Marcela Rojo of the Global Fund, however, denied such a connection in a written statement to The Diplomat.
(Continued at the link below)

Backpack Bombers a Propaganda Tale (north Korea)

For those who missed the video I sent yesterday here is the photo with what looks like an nKPA attempt to show us they have some kind of atomic demolition munitions (ADM) or "backpack nukes."  I am sure they are saying in Korea something like "be afraid, be really afraid." And instead we are saying do you really think we could take such a photo seriously?  As someone said on one of the blogs, they probably painted the radiation symbol over some hello kitty backpacks they stole from Japan.

Backpack Bombers a Propaganda Tale

By Lee Sang Yong
[2013-07-29 17:40 ]  
Facebook  Twitter
▲ "Backpack bombers" made an appearance during the July 27th military parade. (ⓒChosun Central Television capture)

A unit of North Korean soldiers carrying what appeared to be representations of "nuclear backpacks" (a variation on the "briefcase bomb" concept) appeared during a military parade held on Saturday as part of North Korea’s commemoration of its “victory” in the Korean War.

However, it is thought unlikely that North Korea has the technical capacity to produce such a high-tech nuclear device. 

A spokesperson for the South Korean Ministry of National Defense, Kim Min Seok told a regular briefing on the morning of the 29th, “Nuclear backpacks are an extremely small type of nuclear weapon; you need very advanced skills in order to miniaturize like that," before noting, "Experts do not believe that North Korea has reached the ability to manufacture these backpacks.”
(Continued at the link below)

Friday, July 26, 2013

6 decades on, U.S. stuck in war role in Korea

So was this written in collaboration with the AP's Pyongyang bureau?  Some of the statements in this seems like rhetoric of which Pyongyang would approve, and as an example the article about war is nicely juxtaposed with the photo of the "peaceful celebration" that implies a threat to no one. (As an aside, while I really do think it is important for foreign news organizations to try to report from north Korea I worry that the establishment of the aP's Pyongyang bureau may have compromised reporting even when done outside north Korea as in the case of the subtly pro-north Korean article).

But I do tire of the mythical OPCON transfer argument.  The issue is how do we best organize the Alliance military forces to achieve our strategic objectives?  

And as far as the US trying to wean the ROK from dependence on the US let's understand the genesis of the mythical OPCON Transfer. It resulted from a combination of the Secretary of Defense's frustration with anti-American sentiment during the progressive governments of the ROK and that same Secretary's desire to get US forces off the Peninsula since they were being wasted and could not be employed in OIF and OEF.  It is really about reducing the US military commitment to the Alliance and this is what I think might now be spooking the ROK.  It is made worse by the US fiscal situation and the impact on the defense budget and the ROK may also be concerned that the proposal for rotational forces will result in a reduced commitment because DoD may not be able to sustain the costs for rotation.

The ROK/US military alliance has evolved in six decades.  The Combined Forces Command has developed to optimize the employment of the strengths of both nation's military forces while mitigating the weaknesses.  Rather than splitting the proverbial Siamese twins we should consider the proposal for the next step in the evolution which was the recent proposal not to delay OPCON transfer but to establish a new Combined Theater Command that is commanded by a ROK General.  Again, the first military consider is how to effectively organize the military forces.  I would submit that a Combined Theater Command might also satisfy some of the domestic political considerations as well.

But the primary question that policymakers, strategists, and planners should be asking is whether this or that policy, strategy, campaign plan, organization, activity, action, etc contributes to directly or indirectly to the accomplishment of the strategic end state established by our two nation's Presidents in the 2009 Joint Vision Statement and reaffirmed in the May 2013 joint declaration which is of course the (peaceful) reunification of Korea.  If the actions are not focused on and contributing to that then we should reconsider them. The dissolution of a combined warfighting command is one action the does not contribute to the end state.

6 decades on, U.S. stuck in war role in Korea

North Korean children perform at the May Day stadium during the 'Arirang' mass games song-and-dance ensemble on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea, Friday, July 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

By The Associated Press 

Published: Friday, July 26, 2013, 7:18 p.m.Updated 33 minutes ago 

WASHINGTON — Sixty years after it finished fighting in Korea, the United States is struggling with two legacies that are reminders of the costs — political, military and human — that war can impose on the generations that follow.
The first is the leading role that America is committed to playing in defending South Korea should the 1950-53 Korean War reignite.
Washington has tried for years to wean its ally, Seoul, off its dependence on the U.S. military by setting a target date for switching from American to Korean control of the forces that would defend the country in the event the North attacked the South. That target date has slipped from 2012 to 2015 and, this past week, American officials said the Koreans are informally expressing interest in pushing it back further.
Bruce Bennett, a Korea expert at the RAND Corp., a federally funded think tank, says he believes the argument for giving Seoul wartime command of its own troops loses ground as North Korea's nuclear ambitions grow bolder. The North has tested nuclear devices and may be capable of mounting one on a ballistic missile — a worry not only for South Korea, Japan and others in the region but also for the United States.
“From the South Korean perspective — and I believe there is a lot of truth to their argument — having the U.S. in (the lead) is a strong deterrent of North Korea, and it means North Korea can't split the alliance,” he said.
The second is the seemingly endless challenge of accounting for U.S. servicemen who remain listed as missing in action.
(Continued at the link below)

The Continuing Irrelevance of Clausewitz

On Small Wars Journal, NDU Professor William Olson has written an article called  "The Continuing Irrelevance of Clausewitz."

Although some will think this article is heresy, I think Clausewitz might very well approve.  After all On War was Clausewitz' personal duel or wrestling match to try to understand the nature war.   However, one thing that Professor Olson also does not mention was the possibility that Clausewitz' work was also a contribution to help us develop coup d'oeil or military genius which can only be attained through education and experience.  I think Clausewitz would approve of Professor Olson's analytic critique of On War and say that he has achieved his purpose which is to make military officers think and more importantly to think critically and I think Professor Olson has demonstrated some important critical thinking.  You can agree or disagree with Professor Olson (and Clausewitz) (and we should do both to both) but I would offer that Professor Olson's essay makes the kind of contribution to thinking about and trying to understand war that Clausewitz intended by writing On War.  So while On War is Clausewitz' personal quest to explain war to himself based on his education and experience it was also a contribution to military thought with the intention of helping future generations wrestle with the nature of war as more than a true chameleon.  And so I think that Professor Olson actually makes the case that studying On War continues to be relevant.

The Continuing Irrelevance of Clausewitz

Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.
David Hume
The study of war, or peace, remains relevant.  But does the study of On War?  Is it any more useful than reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace, a nice read, for those so inclined, but hardly useful to analytical insight.[1]  Given all the ink spilled for and against Clausewitz in the last 170 odd years, intensifying since Vietnam in this country, and more generally with the publication of the seminal translation of Vom Kriegeby Michael Howard and Peter Paret in 1976, one might be excused for concluding that there is a great deal less here than meets the eye.[2]
As generally presented--based largely on the contentions of Michael Howard and Peter Paret and a generation of scholars that they have influenced, including such acolytes as Harry Summers--On War is argued to be the most serious study, perhaps the only serious study, of war; not as a series of battles or maneuvers to battle, or a set of axioms to inform doctrine and instruction with mathematical certainty on the principles of war, but a deeply philosophical and theoretical introspection on the nature of war itself as a distinctive and distinguishable human activity.  In this sense, it is not a hypothesis but a full-blown theory. 
What shortcomings it is reputed to have as an overall theory--for an older generation like Martin van Creveld or John Keegan, to a newer crop of critics like Mary Kaldor and the 'new war' crowd--are generally dismissed as the result of the fact that Clausewitz died before he could complete an in-depth revision of his masterwork based on his evolving thinking, which a close enough reading of the existing text reveals at various points his true vision to put to rest any doubts about the seminal nature of his work.  Thus his obscurity on certain points is a defense against doubt on any point.
In some hands, this sort of argumentation on Clausewitz's behalf has the smell of incense about it and the feel of liturgical mysteries revealed by an inner light known only to true initiates who know how to derive meaning where others only find muddle.  Clausewitz as prophet.  The result is in some cases, particularly in military circles, Clausewitz taught as a catechism.  For the moment, I leave aside comment on some of his best points, many of which are fairly banal--war is politics by other means, the fog of war, friction--and commonplace, that is true but not uniquely so.  Instead I suggest the following summary of ways to interpret the text that relieve it of some of its burden as sacred mystery. 
In essence, there are several ways to understand On War and Clausewitz's contribution:
--it is a theory of war itself, war as war, and is, therefore, equally valid in describing the phenomenon of war and violence both forward and backward in time, for all time.  Universal and continuingly relevant.
--it is a theory of war based on the major evolution of war with Napoleon and the wars of organized states, that is, it is to be read forward to cover all wars since the changes resulting from the French Revolution and the emergence of strong nation-states.  It is not just a product of its time and place but is not useful for 'pre-history'--that is BN, Before Napoleon.
--it is a theory of war based on the nation-state model, thus it covers only one category of possible conflicts, its notions of friction and politics, etc., being features of human activity in general.  It is limited but useful on this narrow front.
--it is a theory so vague and flexible as to describe anything and thus describes nothing except what the beholder most wants to behold. 
The current state of literature on Clausewitz and his insights, or lack thereof, argues all of these points of view, making one wonder if there is more than one Clausewitz and if so, which one is definitive.  Or is any?  Whether for or against, it seems that the starting point to lend credibility to any argument is to invoke His Name and some orphaned quotes, or cite their absence, to ‘prove’ the argument.  Clausewitz’s relevance does not reside in whether what he has to say is true but that it is useful.[3]  Thus articles on Clausewitz and the revolution in military affairs; on peacekeeping; on counterinsurgency; or insurgency; or terrorism; or logistics; or information war; or space war; or future war.  Articles on things Clausewitz did not write about but should have or meant to, such as Just War or naval warfare or economic and other non-military warfighting.  Air Power?  Or articles demonstrating that Clausewitz has nothing to say about ‘new war’.  Or what he had to say on any war but the wars of Napoleon and the Prussian response are of no continuing use beyond historical interest. Or arguments that, if he had lived to finish his great work, he would have said this or that supporting whatever argument this or that wish to make. Or, Clausewitz was the evil genius of total war in all its brutality, he endorsing German militarism and thus implicated in war guilt for WWI and WWII.  Clausewitz seems perplexed by this scholarly fog of interpretation.  Like some modern version of What’s My Line, will the real Clausewitz please stand up. 
The military, at least the US military, on the other hand, does not seem so troubled.  He is taught in most war colleges and staff colleges as virtually holy writ, endowing his argument that war is politics by other means with a special significance.  His appearance figures prominently in the current strategic lexicon with words or phrases like the Trinity, friction, fog of war, uncertainty, center of gravity, and the culminating point of battle.[4]  Clausewitz appears most supportive of what Russell Weigley and others have called the ‘American Way of War’: the notion that war has its own logic, its own grammar, and once politics and politicians have invoked war—implying the failure of politics—these should stand aside to let the professionals fight to success and thus restore circumstances to politicians and politics.  And this fighting, based on its own rules, must be given a freehand or else it will fail or muddle up success, which must be fought on time-honored principles of war, which Clausewitz’s writ suggests are eternal and necessary.  All things that Clausewitz strongly argues the opposite of.  Again, one is tempted to conclude that there is more than one Clausewitz, or, at least, he wrote two, perhaps three of four, different books for different audiences.
In these circumstances, one might be forgiven for concluding that Clausewitz did not really exist but is a figment of necessity, conjured up to prove any and all points currently in or out of fashion.  Clausewitz as a committee-designed camel.  Or Clausewitz has something useful to feed any appetite.  On War as smorgasbord.   Or that given this contradictory array that Clausewitz is irrelevant to any discussion of war and peace since any source that can lend aid and comfort to such a range of arguments really argues nothing worthwhile at all.  Clausewitz as fashion statement.
My purpose in what follows is not to show that Clausewitz’s argument, whatever that turns out to be, or the many interpretations of it about a theory of war are right or wrong on this point or that, but to dispute the approach of theorizing as such at its source.  The project itself is mistaken and everything that starts from the premise goes awry of necessity.  Clausewitz himself invites much of this.  He wrote with two purposes in mind:  One to inform his German colleagues in a how-to-do manual the things that were needed to reform the Prussian military to face the challenge of Napoleon and the style of warfare that he and the French Revolution made.  This necessitated a change in thinking as much as in organization, maneuver, troop management, and such like.  And two, as part of the encouragement to break out of an older, now failed model for fighting, he invited his colleagues to think metaphysically, philosophically about the nature of war itself and its deeply troubling and at points contradictory nature, which any purely historical account or set of rote ‘principles’ of war simply could not encompass.  The first approach generally appeals to military men, the second to scholars.  On War is both deceptively practical and obscurely metaphorical.
In following this purpose to a conclusion, I will borrow a leaf from Clausewitz and employ a dialectic argument, thesis, antithesis, synthesis, making the strongest case to start for Clausewitz’s irrelevance and then showing, not his relevance but the failure of any argument to prove this point, the synthesis being, but that’s to get ahead of the tale.
Into the Labyrinth
(Continued at the link below)

10/24/2019 Korean News and Commentary

Access Here: 1. U.S., N. Korea could hold more working-level talks this year: think tank 2. The Cornerstone a...