Archive for April, 2018

The North Korea Nuclear Launch Sites are Closed – But Kim Keeps the Key

April 21, 2018

Christopher Lee

21 April 2018, London

Kim Jong-un says North Korea has developed ‘weaponisation” so from this passing weekend, North Korea will stop testing.

Nuclear weapons engineers will say this is nonsense. The job of being a nuclear weapon state has only just begun.

But for the moment at least, North Korea has reached the goal of its leader, that of a state able to put even a small nuclear warhead on a long range missile, fire that missile into outer space and then guide its return into the earth’s atmosphere, release warheads and direct each one onto targets that include the United States, certainly China and certainly Japan.

That makes North Korea a member of an exclusive club that somewhere has a technology base that can return to production and ever be in scientific and technological research state to bring the missile and the guidance and launch systems to a longer range and higher readiness, the re-entry process more reliable and the delivery systems more accurate and threatening.

President Trump should not need to be told this.

The series of North South and East-West meetings begin this coming week. North and South Korea meet openly, US-Korean officials meet quietly and then, perhaps as early as June, President Trump meets President Kim.

At that point, Kim Jong-Un achieves that which has eluded himself, his ancestors and something which is not always understood in Western capitals. President Kim has yearned for respect as a ‘proper’ leader of an important country. He reads the progress in international recognition achieved by Pakistan when it became a nuclear weapons power and immediately a state able to kill millions of its decades old enemy India at the press of half a dozen buttons.

In just a decade of fast technology he’s made the US take him seriously. Rocket Man is not a joke Trump lyric.

He may tell us that North Korea’s nuclear weapons ambitions are over, but like the rest of the black mushroom growers, the genii is out of the bottle. His people know how to do it and, who knows when the disappointment of international treatment and recognition will mean a return to the test sites.

And to test the value of his new position, remember that Mr Kim will be receiving Mr Trump, not the other way round. Mr Trump has to go to him. Mr Kim will step his own higher ground.

What would they want? An official end to the Korean War. That is an easy found formality. A recognition that North Korean is an equal partner in the strategic balance of the Korean Peninsular, Eastern China and Japan for starters. That is status worth having. It will also be a process that leads to the true lessening of conflict: sign a contract with a potential enemy that boosts its economy and allows the country to grow for a fat enemy rarely goes to war.

The bringing about of this summit, if it happens, will be largely the work of President Moon of South Korea with the nitty sorted by the three heads of Intelligence of America, South Korea and North Korea.

Mr Kim will get his respect and will settle some of the uncertainties of the ruling North Korean families who are saying the Mr Kim must change his ways if the country is not to fold economically and collapse. Mr Moon will sweep aside the continued feeling that he could fall at any moment. And Mr Trump?

In America, even senior politicians have never heard of any efforts other than the tough-talk of their President. If it works, he will be the man who brought 60 years of crisis to an end and made Kim Jong-un close down his nuclear threat.

The tailpiece in Washington to this is an irony: undoubtedly, if a June meeting is the type of success we imagine, then there will a strong movement for a Nobel Peace Prize. So? So there is no way the FBI could file against a Peace Nobel Laureate Trump.

Could anything spoil what is possible? Yes.

Whatever agreement between North Korea and the US, it is extremely likely that Congress will not ratify any treaty on the grounds of it being impossible to verify North Korea keeping the test sites closed.

In other words, June’s not far but there are years to go before Mission Accomplished make sense.

 

Advertisements

Libya: The Forgotten War

April 20, 2018

Christopher Lee

London 20 April 2018

Libya: Yet another forgotten war

Was a time when every think tanker and foreign affairs journal spent a week telling us how to fix Libya. British forces still have a handle on Libya, but the place is no closer to a stable security platform that it was a year ago. It was the last place that Britain, France etc decided to help on its way to peace by giving it a mini-bombing. It’s still a mess. So what happened?

Firstly its state institutions — the vertebra of any nation’s stability — are corrupted and fearful of their values and inability to exercise any authority in case they have damned and worse beyond by the militias and competing military and political groups.
So many different groupings, all of which are uncompromisingly armed, fail to allow these institutions to cross fertilise and so they have little value. The first consequence of such naked corruption of power is the country run on violence, a mini economy of its own. War has its own economy and in Libya it becomes an industrial employer of corruption, exploitation of resources — including oil – and the continuing if mostly now internationally ignored lucrative mini economy of human trafficking.
In short, Libya has developed violence as a convertible economy in a society that should be living of oil dollars. Corruption as an economy in itself sets the values of most of Libya and therefore any conflict breeds further and wider spread violence.
The ultimate horror is that the economic values of corruption and violence are too powerful to resist and thus functional government has no attraction.
The reality is that Libya is a black-market where every concession has a price and the line to set that price changes hands many times.
There is of course a UN negotiator to resolve the problems of this oil state and to bring warring factions together. Ghassan Salame works at fruitless chores. The UN says the single incentive that may bring some ground rule for a stabilised state is an election. In spite of the rubble of democracy in that place, some 2.3 millions Libyans believe in elections even if the country is run by hoodlums and gangsters who keep in some form of power the two rival groups of authority. Thus an election would be fought with gunfire at the order of the two main characters in this black opera, Fayez as-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar. The libretto of change is through the emergence of a charismatic figure, in Libya’s case the son of Colonel Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. How long would he survive?
This then is the pitch and roll of Libya. It is rich and corrupt. If it ever worked as a state, it would need a vicious grip of figure who would never again sleep in the same bed every night. The Son of Gaddafi? It is an irony that one day the United Nations will have to accept and leading the praise for it would be the same people who ordered air attacks to bring down his father. In some deeper moment, the moral distinction is blurred and that corruption that is an economy of its will fail and another will take its place.
A hopeless concept? Look around the Middle East since the Arab spring and rest finally on Syria. How soon before President Assad will once more be the undisputed President. And that is the lesson of Libya, yet another forgotten war. It is a place of stenching moral high grounds – partly manured by the actions of friends who went to help and then left when it all became too difficult. A conveniently forgotten war.

Korea: A Nobel for Trump?

April 18, 2018

by

ChristopherLee

http://www.foreignpolicy.org.uk

 

For those who said a meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un was straight out of the La La Land handbook of the pursuit of dreams, then maybe a re-read of the script is worth a while.

 

President Trump this morning Tweeted in his own La La manner that his CIA director Mike Pompeo was back in Washington after a trip to North Korea during Easter for a meeting with Kim Jong-un. The idea is to fix a summit meeting between Trump and Kim Jung-un, probably in June.

 

Why would the director CIA be used in this role? Answer: he is Mr Trump’s choice as his next Secretary of State, his foreign minister.

 

The published hope is to get some deal whereby the North Koreans will give up their nuclear weapons programme in return for a treaty officially ending the 1950-1953 war between North Korea supported by China and South Korea supported by a UN force led by the United States. When fighting stopped, an armistice was declared not an official end to the conflict. Under a new agreement, North Korea would expect sanctions against its economy to be lifted.

 

This sounds and is all too simple a way to resolve a 65 year-old strategic conundrum that could even now lead the world into nuclear war. A few months ago Trump and Kim Jong-un were openly insulting each other in some Mediaeval pre-war pageant. Trump was threatening to rain down fire and fury. Kim was telling the world Trump needed a brain fix. Today the two men are clearing the diaries for what would be one of the most significant political summits since Reagan met Gorbachev in 1986.

 

Given this importance, there’s more to it that time clear up a bit of history with a wrong ending and, it goes much wider than Trump doing business his way and Kim Jong-un wanted the status of an international leader with an arsenal of nuclear warheads. It is the story of three, not two ambitions. For Europeans keen to live in a world without black mushroom clouds, then the political tact of Moon Jae-in, the South Korean President should be understood.

 

Mr Moon is the person who has persuaded Kim to at least publicly murmur that getting rid of nuclear weapons is in the deck of negotiations the three leaders are now shuffling. Six months ago when North Korean were doing a missile or warhead test every couple of weeks, such language was unknown never mind expressed. Moon moved on the real politik. While most watched Washington and Pyongyang for signs of coming together, it was Moon who spotted hesitations and repeats of key words in statements and knew when to nudge the discussions into apparently harmless areas of agreement that a meeting might be possible. There is no point in a meeting unless agreement is possible, otherwise it is a major failure of diplomacy.

 

Moon became the arch diplomat in praise of famous men only. He said Trump deserved huge credit for almost everything. Mr Trump was pleased. He said Mr Kim was wise. Mr Kim was pleased. So this week the two Korean leaders meet for the next move towards a summit and the CIA director reports back to the Oval Office that everything looks in good-fix mode. June could be summit month.

 

Or could it? Kim Jong-un is likely to be playing a harder game. Above everything he wants to be treated with respect. He could blow the world in half and would be willing to do so his people in the alleys of South Korea say. Trump could fires someone and pull out of a summit on instinct. Moon could loose his own people in the dangerous political gambit he is playing. But if they pull this June meeting and with it the nuclear agreement and the distinction of affording respect then the most dangerous arc on the globe could become something quite different.

 

And here is something: if the trio hold this together, what’s the betting there’s a joint Nobel Peace Prize. Who would have thought that in January 2017.

How Russian Cyber Warriors Can Bring UK To Standstill

April 16, 2018

by

Christopherleesays.com

London 16 April 2018

Russian cyber teams could create chaos in the UK within 3 days and to a standstill in under ten days. News reports suggest that cyber attacks into essential social and government systems are a result of the US coalition attack on Syrian chemical warfare units. This is not so. The UK Intelligence assessment is based on analysis long before the attacks.

Russia has a Cyber Warrior Command within the state military structure that launches attacks and exercise against Western systems and infrastructures and for the past six months, a new cyber protection unit protecting it from attacks from among others, American, British and Chinese cyber units.

Interestingly from the Western cyber defence units when attacking Russian systems to test cyber defence is the existence of irregular and highly intelligent and motivate Russian youth groups – top end IT students kicking over rules and anti-cyber restrictions at will.

In Moscow, the nashi organization controls and directs many youth groups.  But others operate on their own picking targets at will.  A further threat is already identified by what Western Intelligence people refer to RBN, Russian Business Network – the criminal-owned cyber systems that are in many cases more advanced than the government teams.  Some of the criminal cyber individuals are being hired by there Russian military to fill gaps in expertise.

So, what would the Russian or any other enemy cyber warrior teams do in times of tension, including TTW, the crucial Transition to War hours and days?

The key is DDOS – Distributed Denial Of Services.  As the name suggests, this is the capability of disrupting or freezing infrastructures upon which we all rely: medical, energy, communications at every level and even food supplies.

The British NHS relies entirely on computer routines for drug supplies, appointment availability, operation schedules, ambulance coordination (even refilling vehicles and crew availability) and most of all, responses to major events. The NHS could be closed down by cyber warriors in 24 hours.

Fuel supplies could be cut off inside three days and no energy supplies could reach the UK within 9 days. The underwater energy system that connects to 3 million UK homes could be stopped inside two days.

The biggest threat to the UK and one which would stop compensation and alternative systems to the collapse of those above, is everyday communications – for example, the Russians could take out the 97 per cent of UK-Overseas global communications.

In short: cyber warriors could degrade UK civil systems and infrastructure so that they bring to a halt normal living, thus creating panic and divert ground based military capabilities to protect society from itself.

During TTW, the biggest threat to the UK is not bombing but the fragility of its society when basic infrastructures go down.  Cyber Warriors can make that happen.

 

OK Mr Trump Bomb Syria – Then What?

April 12, 2018

Christopher Lee Says – wwwforeignpolicy.org.uk

13 April 2018

Why would President Trump risk starting WWIII because 50 people were killed in a place in Syria most of us had never heard of? The answer is because those men, women and children were killed, apparently, with chemicals.

About every couple of weeks half as many again Syrians – say 75 – are killed when a 500b bomb is dropped on them. Also, the bomb creates more chaos and maims more Syrians. The logical behaviour pattern of war is cock-eyed. Downing Street and the White House declare that the use of chemical weapons in Douma must not go unchallenged.

Chemical weapons kill far fewer than conventional ordnance. The arithmetic of war is unsound this week.

There is too a well-known wonkiness in Trump-speak when maybe emboldened by the consequences of the North Korean affair, he tells Russia and Syrian to look out — the smart missiles are on notice to go.

The rhetoric even winds up America’s allies. The British Prime Minister for example, immediately calls Washington and assures President Trump that she is making sure Britain is right behind him. Alongside rather than behind might be a better reassurance, but never mind. The mood is fine and Mrs May is reassured that the UK and not France is America’s Number One Ally.

More importantly, Mrs May’s reason for seemingly without any strategic military understanding of the consequences proposed by President Trump feels forced into an instant declaration of loyalty to Trump Cause because her single most important ambition is to guarantee special trade status with the USA after March next year. Who would have thought the deaths of 50 in Douma had a Brexit connection?

And then his generals go into the Oval Office and ask him what he plans to do when a miscalculation means one of those American smart missiles kills another 50 Syrians and perhaps does it again and again during the first night’s salvo.

Moreover, what will he do when Russians in an armoured vehicle or a command centre are blown away and Moscow presses the revenge button. And how many letters in his Tweet does he need to explain to even the people of Lake Wobegone Minnesota that rather than pulling out of the Middle East (as he promised two weeks back) America is now in a powerful war that can probably only end in America’s humiliation.

In other words, it’s not the shock’n’awe of the missile strikes but the what-happens-next that matters. Given that the chemical warfare inspectors are going into Syria this weekend an attack is unlikely during the coming 48 hours. Perhaps Trump’s generals can use the time to really get him to answer the question: Okay Mr President we can put 1200 missiles into Syrian by next Friday. But then what would you have us do? Time to Tweet a different crisis Mr Trump?

Could be, the generals might argue with spirit and could be that the Russians are already sending private signals to this end.

Last night, the emergency lines between Russian and American commands were switched on. There are there to avoid miscalculation. They do not always work. Fingers crossed.