Thursday, March 31, 2016

North Korea's nuclear threat: Assessment, global responses and solutions

Below is a special report in the Washington Times for this week's nuclear security summit. There are 39 articles, essays, OpEds from  a wide range of people and Korea watchers (including yours truly)

North Korea's nuclear threat: Assessment, global responses and solutions

North Korea's nuclear threat: Assessment, global responses and solutions is a Special Report prepared by The Washington Times Advocacy Department.

RECENT STORIES

Only united allies can compel North Korea to keep its promises

BY AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER HILL
The North Korean nuclear issue continues to be probably the major security challenge of the Asia Pacific region. After all, it was some 10 years ago that the North Koreans agreed they would abandon all their nuclear programs. And since that time there were efforts to get them to implement that agreement, but today they have essentially said they are no longer interested in denuclearization.

Post-sanctions provocations seen as prelude to another nuke test

North Korea recently conducted a test of its new KN-11 submarine-launched ballistic missile, further enhancing its nuclear delivery options amid heightening tensions on the Korean Peninsula and with the larger international community. The SLBM test was quickly followed by the firing of five short-range ballistics missiles into the Sea of Japan.

Nuclear summit: Finishing 'strong'?

BY LARRY MOFFITT
It was on a visit to Prague in 2009 that President Obama fired a shot across the bow of nuclear proliferation. Articulating a somewhat utopian vision of a nuclear-free world, Mr. Obama's first big foreign policy speech focused on "America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."

'Hyperproliferation' in North Korea

BY PETER VINCENT PRY
After a month of U.S. pleading, China and Russia reluctantly agreed to more United Nations sanctions, punishing North Korea for illegal nuclear and missile tests on Jan. 6 and Feb. 7 — performed despite already being under U.N. sanctions for a decade, since 2006.

More U.S. defensive measures wise response

BY REBECCAH L. HEINRICHS
Does the brutal, provocative and nuclear-armed North Korean regime actually pose a threat to the United States?

The hidden North Korea-Iran strategic relationship

BY LARRY NIKSCH
Amid the official attention and publicity given to the Iran Nuclear Agreement and North Korea's new nuclear and missile tests, an important element of these stories has been largely missing: North Korea's strategic collaboration with Iran.

North Korea's 'lens' sees 150 years of conflict

BY RODGER BAKER
This summer North Korea will mark the 150th anniversary of a seminal event in the introverted nation's history, namely, the beginning of today's ongoing struggle against U.S. aggression.

Nuke tally could double by 2020

BY JENNY TOWN
On March 9, North Korea's state media released photos of Kim Jong-un inspecting a miniaturized nuclear weapon and modern re-entry body. While experts have believed for some time that the North had miniaturization capabilities, the photos put to rest any doubts from skeptics that such capabilities existed, and signaled to the world, once again, that the North's ambitions for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are both real and a serious, growing threat.

U.S. applying 'sustained pressure' on North Korea

On March 16, President Barack Obama signed an order imposing U.N.-backed "robust new sanctions" on North Korea. The move comes amid a series of reprisals from Pyongyang, including the jailing of a 21-year-old American student.

Getting DPRK to Six Party Talks

BY JOHN KERRY
The United States and China share one of the most consequential relationships in the world.

New U.N. sanctions to severely curtail DPRK weapons programs

BY SAMANTHA POWER
With each nuclear test and launch using ballistic missile technology, the DPRK improves its capability to carry out a nuclear missile attack, not only in the region but also a continent away

Ban on DPRK nuclear test: 'I condemn it unequivocally'

BY BAN KI-MOON
The underground nuclear test announced by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on January 6 is deeply troubling.

U.N. sanctions deserve swift implementation

BY MATT SALMON
The U.N. Security Council adopted a strong new resolution against North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, recognizing the persistent threat this rogue regime presents to the world.

Congress united on North Korea sanctions

BY REP. ED ROYCE
For three years the Foreign Affairs Committee I chair has worked with great determination to build support for this North Korea sanctions legislation. I want to thank my Democratic colleagues, especially Ranking Member Engel, for their support. I also thank Senators Corker, Cardin and Gardner for their leadership in the Senate, and for their strong additions, particularly on human rights and cyberattacks by the brutal and hostile North Korean regime.

Turning attention to the 'forgotten maniac'

BY SEN. CORY GARDNER
For decades the United States and its allies like Japan and South Korea have faced a complex threat in North Korea.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, left, ushers U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, at the presidential Blue House during their meeting in Seoul Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Jung Yeon-je, Pool)

Peace in Korea would be 'starting point' for a nuclear-free world

BY PARK GEUN-HYE
The spirit of the March First Independence Movement led to the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, and we eventually realized long-yearned-for independence.

North Korea should 'top the agenda' at no-nukes talks

BY YUN BYUNG-SE
We all know the [Conference on Disarmament] can play a catalytic role in furthering disarmament and arms control, thereby improving the international security landscape. Unfortunately however, since 1998, the CD has lost steam

NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR THREAT: Japan implementing new restrictions on North Koreans

BY SHINZO ABE
Japan highly appreciates that the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2270 regarding North Korea's nuclear test in January and ballistic missile in February
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives for a dinner meeting at the Japanese ambassadors residence in Washington, Wednesday, March 30, 2016.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Japan forges ahead in a sea of complexity

BY LARRY MOFFITT
Japan will host the G-7 Summit in Ise-Shima in May as a nation facing the most complex issues in balancing regional and global powers to keep the peace, while also maintaining strong forward motion with their economy.

'When did America forget that it is America?'

BY PAUL COYER
Amid the plethora of security threats the world is facing today, North Korea, with its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6, long-range missile test on Feb. 7 and firing of short range missiles in late March, has been doing all it can in order to ensure that it gets its share of attention.

China also seeks denuclearization of Korean Peninsula

BY WANG YI
China is a permanent member of the Security Council. We have the obligation and capability to implement all the resolutions passed by the Security Council, including Resolution 2270 concerning the DPRK.

At the NSS, watch the sidelines for real action

BY STRATFOR GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE
Leaders from across the globe will gather in Washington from March 31 to April 1 for the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit.

In Putin's chess game with the West, North Korea is a pawn

Make no mistake, the Stalinist North Korean regime is no close ally of the Kremlin but simply a pawn in Russia's great geopolitical game with the United States and the West.

Can South Korean-made TV dramas prepare the North for reunification?

BY DAVID S. MAXWELL
The U.N. Security Council's resolution 2270, adopted in March with the support of China and Russia, is arguably the toughest sanctions regime enacted against Korea since the war was suspended with the 1953 armistice.

U.N. sanctions on North Korea: Time is running out

BY LARRY NIKSCH
With his nuclear and missile tests this year, Kim Jong-un has signaled the United States that he is accelerating North Korea's program to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a nuclear warhead that could strike the United States.

Is Kim Jong-un a martyr?

BY ALEXANDRE MANSOUROV
Western experts believe North Korea will not attack South Korea militarily for three main reasons: The DPRK leadership is not suicidal; the North Korean regime is rational and, therefore, can be deterred by the U.S. conventional military presence and nuclear umbrella in the Republic of Korea; and the Korean People's Army cannot mount a successful military attack without the blessing and backing of its main and sole ally, China, which no longer supports its military provocations and opportunistic behavior.

NK's system of privilege, loyalty and 'human rights denial'

BY ROBERT M. COLLINS
Especially since the release of the report by the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (UNCOI) in February 2014, Kim Jong-un's regime has come under increased scrutiny by the international community for its human rights abuses.

North Korea's motivations, capabilities and proliferation

BY BRUCE E. BECHTOL AND JR.
Recent rhetoric emanating from the North Korean regime has been quite threatening — and may signal a real "cold spell" for any outreach the isolated regime will be willing to embrace. But even more troubling are the actions that have been taken since January 2016. A successful underground nuclear test in January and a successful launch of a three-stage ballistic missile with the range to hit the mainland United States (under the cover of a "satellite launch") are only the beginning of the threatening behavior.

Kim Jong-un's leadership style

BY KEN E. GAUSE
While he has only been in power for less than four years, some information, albeit highly speculative, is beginning to emerge about Kim Jong-un's leadership style.

Crimes against humanity demand accountability

BY THE HON. MICHAEL KIRBY
North Korea challenges international peace and security. Its proved human rights abuses demand accountability of those responsible. But are these two imperatives compatible?
Kim Young-soon

Miseries of women, others at DPRK prison camps revealed

BY ANN BUWALDA AND NIA EMERSON
On March 18, four women defectors of North Korea gave a powerful reminder that as the world turns its attention to North Korea's alarming nuclear activities, women and other North Korean citizens are silently suffering in the clutches of the brutal regime.

Loyal but exploited: North Korea's overseas laborers

BY GREG SCARLATOIU
North Korea's exportation of laborers to foreign countries earns the Kim Jong-un regime part of the hard currency needed to develop its weapons and to keep its elites loyal. Recent studies indicate that at least 50,000 North Korean laborers are officially dispatched overseas, earning the Kim regime between $120 million to $230 million per year. However, recent data from China and Russia indicate that the number of North Korean workers officially dispatched to those countries may have increased dramatically in recent years, with an estimated 47,000 reportedly in Russia in 2015.

South Koreans handling 'daily stress' of North's provocations

BY REP. JOHN DOOLITTLE
I was in South Korea in mid-February with a fact-finding delegation of experienced policy leaders on Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia issues sponsored by The Washington Times. Our visit was given a heightened immediacy by the fact that it happened to coincide with a flurry of strategic provocations from the North.

Trilateral security can check North Korea nuclearization

BY MCDANIEL D. WICKER
The Korean Peninsula has posed a seemingly intractable challenge for the United States for six and a half decades, and North Korea's latest round of provocations has crystalized the danger of a nuclear-armed regime. Beijing and Washington may disagree about the future of Korea, but leaders on both sides of the Pacific agree that such weapons have no place in North Korea. Unfortunately, previous efforts to deter Pyongyang have failed. Successfully prohibiting North Korea from nuclear weaponization requires a new strategy that utilizes a strengthened trilateral alliance between the United States, Republic of Korea and Japan.
This photo provided by the Defense Department's Missile Defense Agency, taken Jan. 28, 2016, shows a long-range ground-based interceptor is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. As North Korea rattles its nuclear saber and threatens to bomb the U.S. at any moment, a nerve-jangling question hangs in the air: If North Korea did launch a nuclear-armed missile at an American city, could the Pentagons missile defenses shoot it down beyond U.S. shores? (Defense Department's Missile Defense  Agency via AP)

Allied coordination needed to counter North Korea

BY BRUCE KLINGNER
North Korea is easy to ridicule. Its portly, rhomboid-haired leader looks like an Austin Powers villain. His over-the-top, bombastic threats sound like Soviet propaganda on steroids. Nighttime satellite photography suggests it can't even power a light bulb. No wonder it's been routinely dismissed as not posing a threat for "at least several more years."

Discussions could be 'achievable,' 'desirable' to all

BY AMBASSADOR JOSEPH R. DETRANI
The North Korean nuclear and missile programs are growing threats to the global community. To date, the international community's response to these programs has been weak and ineffective.

Sanctions can work, but new incentives are needed

BY THE HON. DAVID CLARKE
On April 25, Australia will commemorate Anzac Day to pay tribute to those who have served the nation in wars and conflicts from World War I until the present-day "war on terrorism."

Parliamentarian global network to build consensus

BY THE HON. DAN BURTON AND THE HON. JOSE DE VENECIA JR.
One hundred and fifty current members of parliaments from 50 nations convened in Seoul in February to propose the establishment of an organization without precedent.
A man watches a TV screen showing a file footage of the missile launch conducted by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, March 21, 2016. North Korea fired five short-range projectiles into the sea on Monday, Seoul officials said, in a continuation of weapon launches it has carried out in an apparent response to ongoing South Korea-U.S. military drills it sees as a provocation. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Experts offer latest threat assessment, responses at TWT briefing

BY CHERYL WETZSTEIN
The threats posed by North Korea are at their greatest level in two decades -- and there isn't clarity about what geopolitical responses should be planned, experts told a recent panel discussion held at The Washington Times.



Friday, March 25, 2016

Global Trends - National Intelligence Council

The NIC is crowd sourcing the next Global Trends report.  Everyone has the opportunity to comment at this link: https://nicglobaltrends.tumblr.com/submit-a-post

Some important concepts here:

• The public will have the opportunity to comment on the NIC’s “first look” and refined language through August.
In addition to analytic crowdsourcing, other important shifts in our methodology and research design include:
• Building up from the regions to identify global trends and uncertainties, rather than starting from the global level and moving to the local;
• Assessing the future at five- and 20-yearsWe intend the five-year horizon to increase the decisionmaking relevance of Global Trends for individuals, organizations, and governments, while the 20-year horizon preserves the strategic perspective that is the hallmark of the Global Trends series.  


Here are a few of the questions I would like to see the Global Trends address:

What will the phenomena revolution, resistance, and insurgency look like in 30 years?

What will political violence look like?

What is the future of governance structures?

Will we still be supporting and defending our current Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic in 20-30years?

Will we evolve beyond the Westphalian nation state construct?  How will sovereignty be viewed?  Will their be new forms of "sovereignty" e.g., can multi-national corporations evolve to become sovereign?  

Can sovereignty exist within cyberspace?

Will statesmen be asking upon what kind of war are we about to embark?  What will that war look like?

What will the concepts of offense, defense, stability operations as well as sabotage and subversion look like?

What will be the major narratives of states and non-state actors?

What kind of population and resources control measures will be emplace to control larger populations and declining resources?

HTTPS://NICGLOBALTRENDS.TUMBLR.COM/POST/141610120692/WITH-EVERY-GLOBAL-TRENDS-THE-NATIONAL
MAR 24, 2016
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With every Global Trends, the National Intelligence Council (NIC) seeks to innovate its approach, leverage rigorous foresight methods, and expand and diversify the perspectives it consults.  We continue in that tradition for the sixth Global Trends, to be released in December, by introducing several new elements to our analytic process, including public crowdsourcing and discussion via social media platforms like Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.  We treat crowdsourced perspectives as analytic leads to investigate and that we may integrate with findings from traditional forms of unclassified research and engagement—such as meetings with interlocutors, conferences, published research, contracted studies, public presentations, and paid consultations.   When arranged in advance, we provide compensation for some of these services.  We seek to maximally diversify the range of viewpoints consulted, attempting to balance the elite perspectives we typically consult worldwide with societal perspectives across genders and age, class, cultural, and other groups in urban and rural areas.  Such public engagement is one way the NIC and its parent organization, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, demonstrate commitment to transparency and strategic insight.  
• We experimented in 2015 with analytic crowdsourcing in conjunction with our Global Trends “core conversation” at the South by Southwest Interactive festival, garnering hundreds of thoughts from SX participants and Twitter followers as well several million views of the NIC’s “future of” vignettes on on Tumblr and Twitter.  
• In mid-March 2016, we returned to SXSW and posted on Tumblr a first look at our findings, resulting in more than 10 million views of our content across social media platforms and hundreds of insights and several longer essays shared on these pages.  
• For instance, SXSW and Twitter commentators challenged the NIC to strike the term “non-state actor” from its lexicon, in an effort to get the NIC to stop “seeing like a state” and to envision how individuals and organizations might shape the future of economics, politics, security, and geopolitics.  Others have suggested the NIC explore new or alternative economic models that have the potential to shore-up middle classes worldwide, or to weigh the geopolitical and economic implications of “solving climate change.”  
• The public will have the opportunity to comment on the NIC’s “first look” and refined language through August.
In addition to analytic crowdsourcing, other important shifts in our methodology and research design include:
• Building up from the regions to identify global trends and uncertainties, rather than starting from the global level and moving to the local;
• Assessing the future at five- and 20-years. We intend the five-year horizon to increase the decisionmaking relevance of Global Trends for individuals, organizations, and governments, while the 20-year horizon preserves the strategic perspective that is the hallmark of the Global Trends series.  
• Leveraging two rounds of global engagement, the first in pure “discovery” mode where we met with more than 1800 individuals, organizations, and governments in 30 countries to learn their views of the future.  The second phase, underway now, solicits feedback on our preliminary findings.
• Using scenarios in a targeted fashion to illustrate how a handful of critical trends, uncertainties, and choices might come together to challenge enduring principles in international decisionmaking, or to spotlight pathways to more prosperous, secure futures for more people.  
• Framing uncertainties, where possible, as specific choices before individuals, organizations and governments.
Please keep an eye on these Tumblr pages or follow-us on Twitter and Facebook.  We welcome viewpoints from one and all, and will do our best to consider your ideas as we evaluate how the key trends, uncertainties, and choices before individuals, organizations, and governments will shape the future.
Warm regards,
The NIC Global Trends Team

Monday, March 14, 2016

Little Green Men And Red Armies: Why Russian ‘Hybrid War’ Is Not New

I really think this article by Charles Bartles from the Foreign Military Studies Office in the January Military review is very much worth reviewing every time we talk about Russian Hybrid Warfare and Little Green Men.  And Frank Hoffman's recent Heritage article is another one that should be reviewed especially because I think he has it right with the concept of the spectrum of conflict of Gray Zone/Ambiguous, Irregular Warfare/Terrorism. Hybrid, Limited Conventional, and Theater Conventional war with unconventional warfare cutting across the entire spectrum. 

I would also say that I wish we were as good as the Russians think we are.  They think we are masterful at orchestrating all our instruments of power to achieve our objectives short of war (for the most part) and that we are able to orchestrate events such as the Color Revolutions and the Arab Spring and change regimes (Iraq and Afghanistan) and divide up nations (Yugoslavia) to suit our interests.  

Gerasimov’s position as chief of the General Staff makes him Russia’s senior operation-strategic planner and architect for future Russian force structure and capability development. In order to execute these duties, the individual in that position must have the foresight to understand the current and future operating environments along with the circumstances that have created those environments and will alter them. Gerasimov’s article is not proposing a new Russian way of warfare or a hybrid war, as has been stated in the West. Moreover, in Gerasimov’s view of the operational environment, the United States is the primary threat to Russia.


The U.S. national security community should avoid narrow categorizations. The black-and-white distinction between war and peace, or traditional war and irregular war, makes for nice, simple boxes, but the real world is not so easily categorized. In fact, some adversaries seek to exploit U.S. paradigms and the gaping institutional seams that they create.

Rather, we need to embrace the fact that future opponents have their own ideas about how to fight, and they tend to mix and match those ideas with deliberate combinations of modes of conflict. Hard-wired and quaint notions of declared wars between states with symmetrically equipped armies and navies facing each other on defined battlegrounds are no longer helpful. The U.S. must expand its definitions and concepts beyond its history, cultural biases, and organizational preferences. Ultimately, its security is predicated upon its national security community’s being aware of the enduring continuities of war and possessing an adaptive ability to counter the many forms that warfare can take.

The United States faces adversaries capable of using strategies and techniques across the entire conflict spectrum. It must not give ground in gray zone conflicts if its interests are challenged. Europe and the Middle East today are a Petri dish of hybrid conflict,60 and the Defense Department’s current leadership team understands this evolving hybrid challenge.61The U.S. needs to prepare for that, and reinvigorating its unconventional conflict capability will help.62 We should not lose sight of the reality that the “gold standard” for high-end conventional war is based on excellence in joint combined arms warfare.

Large-scale conflict between states is not a relic of history. The potential for interstate war still exists and is arguably increasing. It is the most demanding form of war with the most costly of consequences, and the U.S. is less prepared for it than it should be—a concern raised in the bipartisan Independent QDR Report, which found that the U.S. is seriously shortchanging its national security interests.63 Appreciating the broad range of challenges and threats we face is the first step toward recognizing a growing danger.

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LITTLE GREEN MEN AND RED ARMIES: WHY RUSSIAN ‘HYBRID WAR’ IS NOT NEW

  • by Defenceresearch 
  •  March 14, 2016 
  •  7 min read 
  •  original
Ever since the annexation of Crimea in February-March 2014, and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, military analysts have debated the nature of ‘hybrid war’ – or ‘non-linear’/’ambiguous warfare’ – and whether it represents the military strategy of choice for Vladimir Putin’s Russia. ThePolishEstonian, Latvian and Lithuanian militaries in particular are using Ukrainian-style scenarios involving internal subversion and incursions by ‘little green men’ for defensive exercises, and pundits fear that ‘hybrid warfare’ may be exploited by Russia to weaken the alliance cohesion of NATO, threatening its outliers such as the Baltic States, and playing on the apparent unwillingness of European publics to honour Article Five in the event of Russian aggression against an Eastern member of the Alliance.
The concept of ‘hybrid warfare’ originally emerged nine years ago withFrank Hoffman’s paper on this topic, and was heavily influenced by Israel’s inconclusive war with Hezbollah in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. But it is now treated as being mainly about Russia, its undeclared war in Ukraine, and its apparent intentions towards other former Soviet states. Its characteristics can be described as follows:
  • Information operations – or ‘propaganda’, to use the old-fashioned term. Russia and its state media concoct a narrative that disguises Moscow’s involvement in the subversion of a neighbouring state, blaming a crisis on internal factors so as to deflect any international condemnation. The takeover of Crimea by Russian naval infantry and spetsnaz (‘special designation’ troops) in unmarked uniforms was depicted by Russia as a spontaneous revolt by local citizen militias, while the revolution that overthrew Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 in Kiev was portrayed as a ‘fascist’ putsch.
  • Political intrigue – Russian operations in Ukraine have been accompanied by a constant diplomatic and political effort to encourage discord between NATO and EU member states, to play on national differences over contentious policies (notably the economic sanctions imposed on Russia from the spring of 2014 onwards), and also to buy or suborn support by populist political parties on the far-left and far-right who will act as apologists for Russia’s actions, muddying the waters and confusing the public debate. Moscow will also try to exploit public concern in Western Europe about the risks of a potential confrontation with Russia.
  • The use of special forces – the spetsnaz of the GRU (Russian military intelligence) and the elite units of the Russian armed forces are used either in plain clothes to organise separatist militias (as per the ‘Donetsk’ and ‘Luhansk People’s Republics) or in unmarked uniforms to seize government buildings, military bases and other key locations from indigenous security forces, and to prop up a ‘pro-Russian’ administration that will automatically appeal for help from Moscow. The use of ‘little green men’ rather than an overt invasion by regular troops will confuse the international community, leading to prolonged debates about whether an act of state-on-state aggression has actually occurred, paralysing any Western military response until the Russians and their proxies have consolidated their position on the ground.
  • Sabre-rattling – at the background of these operations Russia will mobilise its military forces, massing them on the borders for ‘exercises’ just as it did with Ukraine in the summer of 2014. Threats of escalation will be used to frighten the adversary and its allies, to undermine any will to stand up to Russian incursions, and also in an effort to intimidate weaker alliance partners. Flights by Russian aircraft into foreign air-space have also been used as a tactic to bully neighbours as well as NATO states.
All of the above has happened over Ukraine, and Western governments, militaries and defence analysts would do well to examine them and define the appropriate package of responses that NATO and the EU should follow. But none of us should be fooled into thinking that any of these tactics are new. They all have parallels in the Cold War.
Firstly, information operations. Russia Today and other organs of Putin’s state media are a lot slicker and more professionally produced than the turgid output of Radio Moscow and TASS back in the Cold War. The ‘troll farms’ of geeks who will post pro-Russian propaganda on Facebook, blogs and other social media are well–resourced, and the Russian state is seeking a wide array of political partners in Europe to push its narrative – whether with extreme-right parties such as the Front Nationale in France or Jobbikin Hungary, or far-left movements such as Syriza in Greece.
Yet throughout the Cold War the USSR was using sympathetic Communist parties as well as ‘fellow travellers’ to push its propaganda. The KGB and Warsaw Pact intelligence agencies like the East German HVA sought ‘agents of influence’ in politics, the media, academia and in peace movements to persuade Western publics that East-West tensions were all the fault of their governments, rather than the ‘peace-loving’ USSR. More controversially, it is clear that some terrorist groups such as the German Red Army Faction and the Italian Red Brigades got their training from behind the Iron Curtain. Putin was not the first Russian leader to attempt to undermine Western morale by any means available, or to try to manipulate public opinion against their own governments.
Secondly, with political manoeuvring and skulduggery. Again, throughout the Cold War the USSR did its utmost to play on intra-Western differences. In its diplomatic contacts with Norway and Denmark, it tried to encourage both NATO members to follow Sweden and Finland and adopt neutrality, making pointed remarks about how geographically isolated both countries were on the Atlantic Alliance’s Northern flank. Moscow sought to exploit Greco-Turkish animosities, particularly over Cyprus, and the KGB engaged in ‘disinformation’ operations to undermine allied unity, whether by fabricating rumours that the CIA had a hand in assassination attempts against French President Charles de Gaulle in the early 1960s, by publishing a fake US Army manual that purportedly advocated setting up ‘false-flag’ terrorist groups to discredit the European left, or by devising smear stories that blamed the outbreak of HIV/AIDS on American biological warfare experiments.
Thirdly, special forces and shaping operations. When the British government expelled 105 Soviet ‘diplomats’ from the USSR’s London Embassy and Trade Mission in October 1971, the direct pretext was a defector’s revelations about the KGB’s war-time plans for sabotage attacks across the UK. These plans were embryonic, but they indicated an intent by the Soviets to cause maximum disruption behind enemy lines in the event of an East-West crisis leading to World War Three. The 1980s saw what could be called the ‘spetsnaz scare’, including sensational press reports about the extent of Soviet and Warsaw Pact SF penetration in the West – my own favourite story involves the phantom female spetsnaz infiltrating the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common.
Post-1945, spetsnaz did see action in Czechoslovakia in August 1968 – as the vanguard of Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces suppressing the Prague Spring – and in Afghanistan in December 1979, where the KGB’s Alfa Group assassinated President Hafizollah Amin. Both these operations can be compared to Ukraine in 2014 because firstly Soviet/Russian forces either had a presence on the ground before intervention took place, or were geographically proximate (Russia already had the Black Sea Fleet in place in Crimea, complete with a brigade of Naval Infantry troops that conducted the takeover of the Peninsula in late February-early March 2014). Secondly, like Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1979 Ukraine was ostensibly a Russian ally, and saw no threat from its neighbour; its armed forces were facing West, not East. Thirdly, in the same way that the USSR had sympathisers within the Czechoslovak military and security police (StB) in 1968, and the Afghan armed forces and KhAD in 1979, Russia’s securocrats had developed considerable influence over the Ukrainian security forces during Yanukovych’s Presidency – particularly with the SBU (intelligence service) and the Berkut (paramilitary police) both of which provided proxies both during the February 2014 revolution and its aftermath.
Finally, with the conventional threat. One interesting difference here is that currently NATO’s military capabilities are superior to those of Russia’s – at least as far as raw figures of troop numbers and materiel is concerned – than was the case during the Cold War; although the Russian armed forces are of course theoretically able to achieve conditions of local superiority by (say) massing units near the Baltic States and also in the Kaliningrad Enclave. The USSR was also prone to ham-fisted displays of naval and air power to intimidate neighbours – recent exercises near Swedish air-space and in territorial waters bring back memories of the ‘Whiskey on the Rocks’ affair of October 1981, when a Soviet diesel submarine was beached near the naval base at Karlskrona.
Critics of NATO expansion claim that the Alliance’s expansion Eastwards has been untenable, and that it cannot defend the Baltic States – or perhaps even Poland or Romania – from Russian attack. Much the same concerns were expressed forty to fifty years ago about the security of Norway, or indeed the vulnerability of West Berlin to the Soviets and East German allies. The Berlin Crisis of 1958-1961 led NATO to prepare its contingency plans (BERCON) for the seizure of the French, British and American sectors Norway’s vulnerability was the reason why the Royal Marines got its Arctic warfare role in the late 1960s-early 1970s, with its commandos being earmarked for a deployment to the Northern flank in the event of a Soviet offensive.
Untitled4
Image: Border guards of the former German Democratic Republic on patrol, January 1979, via Wikimedia Commons.
Some analysts have suggested the possibility that Russia may test NATO’s will for collective defence not with an outright seizure of one of its newer members, but with a limited territorial land-grab that compromises territorial integrity without (at least initially) threatening state survival; the seizure of the Estonian city of Narva, with its ethnic Russian majority, is onepotential scenario. Again, this is not a new conceptual challenge. From the 1960s NATO planners wracked their brains about how to deal with a contingency dubbed the ‘Hamburg Grab’, in which Warsaw Pact forces conducted a limited offensive to take over an enclave of West German territory, only to subsequently adopt a defensive posture and to dare the USA and its allies to respond. The fear at that time was that NATO members would not wish to escalate to nuclear war in a scenario short of an all-out Soviet bloc invasion, and that Article Five would become a dead letter. Change the names, and you can see similar concerns in Brussels and in allied capitals today.
This is not to say that the answers to all NATO’s current problems with Russia – and that the Alliance’s response to future Ukraines – can be found with a quick search through the archives in Brussels and SHAPE. But it is important to remember that the tactics described in ‘hybrid war’ are not novel, and that previous iterations of ones which the Atlantic Alliance had faced before. After all, why should we be surprised that a government headed by a former KGB officer might very well be using combinations of diplomacy, subversion and military pressure that the old USSR exploited in repeated East-West crises?
Image: An armoured column from the Polish People’s Army during the Martial Law era, winter 1981-1982, via Wikimedia Commons.

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