Sunday, January 8, 2017

We know what Russia did. But what we really need to understand is why. by Fareed Zakaria

As Frank Hoffman has been trying to hammer home to us the first principle is to understand.  There have been a number of scholars and experts advocating that we understand where Putin and Russia are coming from and why they are acting the way they do. Perhaps pundits such as Fareed Zakaria will wake people up with his article below.  Yes, the democracy movements around the world are a threat to Russia and democracy overall is a threat to Putin and Russia.  I think this is the fundamental reason why Gerasimov created his so-called Gerasimov doctrine (see Charles Bartles) that has come to be known as non-linear warfare or new generation warfare which in my opinion is modern unconventional warfare with Russian characteristics that is a holistic approach designed to influence political action at all levels from non-violence influence operations to political mobilization, to sabotage and subversion, support to terrorist activities to the integrated activities of all the elements of national power to the select application or threat of application of violence by the full range of military forces (both special and conventional) to achieve national objectives. Unconventional warfare is the most political of all forms of warfare since the focus is on exploitation of resistance movements that seek to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow...

Russia is a revisionist power seeking to undermine the legitimacy of opposing political systems and undermine the dominant international systems and institutions and make them function in its favor and interests in order to protect himself and the Russian leadership from the loss of political power at home and abroad.  China is another revisionist power.   And of course AQ and ISIS are revolutionary who seek to destroy the international system and replace nations with their ideological systems.  The question for the US and like minded nations of the world is whether it is in our interest to protect the international system that we have created since WWII and whether we will the will to commit to the defense of that system or should we let the revisionist and revolutionary powers to have their way?

I would commend everyone to read Charles K. Bartles' Military Review article on "Getting Gerasimov Right" from January 2016. (and we should all learn from the discussion of "foresight" in his article on page 31).

For U.S. readers, Gerasimov’s linking of the Arab
Spring and “color revolutions” (and in later comments,
the Maidan Movement) with military capability development
may seem odd. In order to put his comments
in context, it is necessary to look at the Russian view of
warfare and forced regime change as it has developed
since the end of the Cold War.
In the Russian view, the pattern of U.S.
forced regime change has been as follows:
deciding to execute a military operation;
finding an appropriate NATO’s Yugoslavia intervention is one of military
action to prevent mass genocide, Russia has a much different
view. Most Russians generally view the NATO
bombing campaign as having been illegal because it was
conducted without the approval of the UN Security
Council and believe that Serbia was simply being
punished for engaging in counterterrorism operations,
albeit with some excesses. The most egregious sin, from
the Russian view, was the partitioning of Yugoslavia.
This action set a precedent for external actors to make
decisions about the internal affairs and territorial integrity
of sovereign nations alleged to have committed
some wrong. It is important to note that Russia was
dealing with its own Islamic insurgency at the same
time in the North Caucasus. This may have caused
Russian concern about a similar NATO action taking
place inside Russia. One consequence of Western
intervention resulting in the destruction of Yugoslavia 
pretext such as to prevent genocide or seize weapons
of mass destruction; and finally, launching a military
operation to cause regime change (figure 1).

We should also go back to Anthony Cordesman's CSIS report on the "Color Revolutions" written in 2014.

Here is a summary of Russia's new generation or non-linear warfare from the Latvian Defence Academy.
Russian New Generation Warfare and the Future of War (link to the full report below - and the Poles and Finns have produced some excellent analysis of Russia's UW as well): 

As a result, it follows that the main guidelines for developing Russian military capabilities by 2020 are:
i. From direct destruction to direct influence;
ii. from direct annihilation of the opponent to its inner decay;
iii. from a war with weapons and technology to a culture war;
iv. from a war with conventional forces to specially prepared forces and commercial irregular groupings;
v. from the traditional (3D) battleground to information/psychological warfare and war of perceptions;
vi. from direct clash to contactless war;
vii. from a superficial and compartmented war to a total war, including the enemy’s internal side and base;
viii. from war in the physical environment to a war in the human consciousness and in cyberspace;
ix. from symmetric to asymmetric warfare by a combination of political, economic, information, technological, and ecological campaigns;
x. From war in a defined period of time to a state of permanent war as the natural condition in national life.

Thus, the Russian view of modern warfare is based on the idea that the main battlespace is the mind and, as a result, new-generation wars are to be dominated by information and psychological warfare, in order to achieve superiority in troops and weapons control, morally and psychologically depressing the enemy’s armed forces personnel and civil population. The main objective is to reduce the necessity for deploying hard military power to the minimum necessary, making the opponent’s military and civil population support the attacker to the detriment of their own government and country. It is interesting to note the notion of permanent war, since it denotes a permanent enemy. In the current geopolitical structure, the clear enemy is Western civilization, its values, culture, political system, and ideology.

We know what Russia did. But what we really need to understand is why.

The Washington Post · by Fareed Zakaria · January 5, 2017
I’m glad that Donald Trump will finally get a briefing on the unanimous conclusion of America’s intelligence agencies that the Russian government was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. But he should also request and receive a political briefing on Russia that can shed light on the backdrop to Russia’s actions. We need to understand why Russia behaved the way it has.
It all started with the Arab Spring. The sudden mass demonstrations and demands for democracy took most of the world by surprise. In particular, they rattled Moscow at a precarious moment. The Kremlin was in the midst of managing the country’s political future and worried about opposition at home. Parliamentary elections were scheduled in less than a year, to be followed by a presidential election. Vladimir Putin was not then president, having stepped aside in keeping with the Russian constitution, allowing Dmitry Medvedev to ascend to the office.
Roland Dannreuther of the University of Westminster in London points out that the “crises in both Libya and Syria coincided with the rise of opposition to the re-election of Putin, with unprecedented large opposition rallies in Moscow and other cities in Russia during 2011-12.” He argues that the Kremlin watched these countries as street protests morphed into broader opposition, created instability, and then attracted the attention and intervention of Western powers. Moscow was determined that no such scenario would play out in Russia or in any of its close neighbors, such as Ukraine.
In fact, there was a rare disagreement between Putin and Medvedev on how to respond to Libya. Putin bitterly attacked his own president for not vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution sanctioning an intervention in Libya and lambasted the West for launching a “crusade” against a Muslim country. Medvedev, who was technically in charge of foreign policy, flatly contradicted him, calling his rhetoric “inexcusable.” Some Russia hands believe that this disagreement might have sealed Medvedev’s fate, ensuring that he served just one term and then made way for Putin’s return to the presidency. In any event, as Dannreuther writes, “for conservative Russian elites, the evidence of the Arab Spring confirms that such factional divisions in the guise of democracy promotion only lead to internal disorder, societal conflict and the loss of the sovereign integrity of the state.” (The fact that Clinton encouraged Russian democracy protesters at this sensitive moment branded her an archenemy in the eyes of the Kremlin elite.)
About a year later, in 2013, the chief of staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, wrote an article suggesting that Russia’s key challenge was responding to the underlying dynamics of the Arab Spring and North Africa’s “color revolutions.” He urged that these not be viewed as non-military events because “a perfectly thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict, become a victim of foreign intervention, and sink into a web of chaos, humanitarian catastrophe, and civil war.” He advocated that Russia better understand and develop the non-military and asymmetrical methods, including special operations, information warfare and the use of internal opposition to cripple a society.
Since then, Moscow has made information and asymmetrical warfare central to its foreign and military policy. When asserting itself in Georgia and Ukraine, Russia has used a hybrid strategy that involves the funding of local politicians and militias, fake news and cyberattacks. Leading German and Polish politicians assert that Russia has engaged in some such activities in their countries as well. And now there is the apparent involvement in America’s election.
The idea of information warfare is not new. The Soviet Union developed and practiced a strategy of “disinformation” throughout the Cold War, complete with fake news and the penetration of Western political parties and media organizations. But the revival of this approach and the aggressive and sophisticated manner in which it is now being used in a social media landscape mark a new and dangerous trend in geopolitics.
This is the political backdrop behind the technical evidence that Russia interfered in November’s election. It needs to be moved out of a partisan framework and viewed in a much broader context. Since the end of the Cold War, no major country has challenged the emerging international system. But now, a great-power strategy, designed to work insidiously, could well succeed in sowing doubt, division, discord — and ultimately destruction — within the West.

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