Mark Collins – Sublime Erdogan the Magnificent vs the Kurds (plus ISIS/Syria)

This murderous terrorism,

Istanbul bombing: Terror attack death toll rises to 38 including 30 police as officials accuse PKK
PKK blamed for attack which is the latest in an escalating scale of violence in the country

will only make this worse–at the NY Times:

As Turkey Cracks Down, Kurdish Mayors Pack Bags for Jail

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — When Kurdish officials here in Diyarbakir, the biggest Kurdish city in the world, say they’ve been “unavoidably detained,” it is not just an excuse for lateness.

Even before I arrived, the co-mayors, Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, were jailed on terrorism charges that rights groups say are trumped up. Interviews in prison are not possible because, officially, foreign journalists are barred from the city.

Ahmet Turk, 74, a Kurd despite his name and the venerable mayor of another Kurdish city, Mardin, was out of jail at the moment. But his press officer, Enver Ete, said that it would be hard to arrange an interview: “We can’t give a time since so many people are getting arrested we can’t foresee what will happen.”

Kamuran Yuksek, a Kurdish politician, was on the phone with a reporter when he was detained briefly — just after being released from five months in prison.

I could not see Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or H.D.P., the country’s third-largest, although he lives in Diyarbakir. He, too, was jailed, along with nine other H.D.P. members of Parliament, so I arranged to see his wife, Basak, instead.

She canceled, not because she was jailed, but perhaps because she worried she would be, and she had two small children at home.

Turkey’s crackdown on Kurdish politicians, officials, news outlets, schools, municipalities, think tanks and even charities has been so thoroughgoing that it has left those who remain free expecting arrest at any moment. “My bag is packed for prison,” said Feleknas Uca, an H.D.P. member of Parliament. “Everybody has a bag in their house for prison. Now, everyone can be arrested at any moment.”

The crackdown on Kurds is part of a broader assault by the government on Turkey’s democratic freedoms after a failed coup in July, even though hard-line Islamists, followers of the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who are rabidly anti-Kurdish and hardly democratic paragons themselves, are accused of the overthrow attempt…

The crackdown on democracy has been nationwide, but on the political front it has been concentrated in the mostly Kurdish southeast, though there is no evidence, or even a government accusation, that Kurdish parties, legal or illegal, had any role in the attempted coup.

But a peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., broke down last year, and since then fighting has claimed 2,393 lives on all sides, including civilians, according to a tally by the International Crisis Group.

Mr. Erdogan’s government had been stunned in 2015 elections when the H.D.P. decimated the ruling Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., in the east especially, winning six million votes, sending 80 candidates to Parliament, and becoming overnight a nationwide political force and the third-largest party. Critics accused Mr. Erdogan of deliberately rekindling violence in Kurdish areas to stir nationalist passions and reverse his flagging fortunes.

Since the coup attempt, the government has focused on jailing officials of the H.D.P. and its local sister parties, arresting at least 45 mayors of Kurdish towns beginning in late October. New arrests are coming practically every day. This year, 2,700 local Kurdish politicians affiliated with the H.D.P. have been jailed…

Kurds have borne the brunt of the crackdown, not just in politics but also in the news media and other areas. The publications and media organizations ordered closed by the government included nearly every Kurdish outlet, except for the government’s Kurdish television channel. Some Kurdish publications have begun publishing under other names…

Meanwhile the Kurdish complication vs ISIS in Syria:

U.S. to Send 200 More Troops to Syria in ISIS Fight

The military advance is complicated by the predominant role played by Kurdish militia members, who make up a majority of the 45,000 fighters and are the most effective American partner against the Islamic State in Syria. But the Kurdish militia fighters are viewed by Turkey — a pivotal American ally — as a terrorist threat.

Turkey regards the Syrian Kurdish fighters, known collectively as the Y.P.G., as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the Kurdish rebel group that has sought autonomy from Turkey since the 1980s. Ankara has demanded that the Y.P.G. not take part in the fight to retake Raqqa.

Turkish forces in recent months have swept across the border into Syria to attack Islamic State strongholds, an offensive the Pentagon has applauded [e.g. recently: “Turkish Troops, Syrian Rebels Attack Key Town Held by Islamic State”]. But the Turkish advance has also served to blunt the Kurdish fighters’ efforts to carve out a contiguous swath of territory inside Syria stretching to the Iraqi border.

As Turkish and Kurdish forces repeatedly clashed, American officials and commanders intervened to curtail the fighting. Washington desperately needs the two sides to focus on fighting the Islamic State in Raqqa, not each other.

To that end, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has met twice in the last month with his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, to consult on battle plans for Raqqa. American Special Operations troops were assigned to accompany Turkish troops in Syria, giving the Pentagon on-the-ground liaisons.

In another unusual move, Brig. Gen. Jon K. Mott of the Air Force, a senior operations officer from the Pentagon’s Central Command, was recently dispatched to the Turkish Army’s operations center in Ankara to help coordinate the war effort and defuse any conflicts with the Kurds.

Pentagon officials are also toning down their vocal support for Kurdish fighters to avoid further inflaming Turkish domestic political sensitivities about any collaboration between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters…

Where it will all end knows only…Earlier (Operation Euphrates Shield— this from August):

Sublime Erdogan the Magnficent Pushing his Syria/Iraq Turkish Delight

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Canadian Government’s Crisis Ops Centre Sucks

No other way to put it, note main software UNCLASS only. The previous Conservative money wouldn’t put needed money into a core federal responsibility; will the current Liberal one?

Government crisis response centre outdated, inefficient and understaffed, audit warns
Facilities housing federal nerve centre deemed to be ‘inadequate’ and unable to handle multiple events at once

The federal government’s crisis response centre is outdated, understaffed and “inadequate” for co-ordinating emergency situations such as national security threats or natural disasters, a new audit warns.

In 2015, the Government Operations Centre (GOC [webpage here]) was called on to triage more then 5,000 incidents. Of those, more than 500 were deemed to be of national interest, requiring a risk assessment, planning and co-ordinated response, making it a vital nerve centre.

But a Public Safety Canada audit found persistent problems — even after a 2010 review revealed “widespread confusion and uncertainty” about the operation centre’s mandate and its ability to fulfil its role.

The latest audit assessed the policies, processes, controls and protocols the GOC uses to respond to and manage emergency events ranging from flooding and industrial accidents to acts of terrorism and cyber events. It was completed in October 2016 and recently published online.

Nerve centre relied on dubious reports
Government ops centre lacked staff, tech help
Crisis centre communications on day of Ottawa shooting

People interviewed for the audit identified challenges with communications, outdated technology and the ability to staff up quickly, the so-called “surge capacity” required to respond to emergencies.

But the interviewees cited the current physical infrastructure — the building, its fixtures, equipment and utilities systems — as posing the greatest risk.

‘Inadequate’ facilities, operational risks

Despite a long-identified need and business case for a new location, the review found the Government Operations Centre remains in facilities “that have been deemed to be inadequate.”

“From an operational perspective, the principal risk to the operation centre’s ability to fulfil its mandate is that current infrastructure would likely be unable to support the concurrent management of two or more events,” the report warns.

The audit found outdated technology is hampering work, including the main software system. While it’s intended to help share incident data and information among federal, provincial and territorial operations centres, it is certified only to manage unclassified information [emphasis added]…

Floods, earthquakes, industrial disasters

Under the Emergency Management Act, the minister of public safety takes the lead for emergency management — developing contingency plans for floods, earthquakes and industrial disasters, as well as co-ordinating various departments and providing personnel, goods and transportation for regions affected by an emergency [text from Act here].

Documents obtained by the CBC’s Dean Beeby earlier this year through Access to Information reveal a full cost estimate for constructing a new facility was completed in 2005 by Public Works and Government Services Canada, and updated again in 2009.

Information about which options the department evaluated were redacted.
The documents said the GOC serves as the “all-hazards national warning point” for the Government of Canada and led the response to the 2015 Pan Am and ParaPan Am Games, the 2015 fires in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, the 2014 Ottawa shooting and the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak.

One undated document, stamped “Secret, Advice to the Minister,” issues a warning about the current facility’s ability to do the job.

‘Major corporate risk’

“Over the past four years, the Government Operations Centre’s facility has been identified as a “major corporate risk for Public Safety and poses a risk to the centre’s ability to deliver on its mandate,” it reads.

Management agreed with the latest audit’s findings, and laid out an action plan to improve operational performance, setting target dates for completion in 2017 and 2018. It is not clear if there is a specific plan to relocate.

Public Safety Canada spokesman Kevin Miller said the government is working to improve operations, but did not provide details…

Working how hard? How fast? What funding?

Then there is the troubled Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre, also in Public Safety Canada.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Seaspan at Work: RCN JSSs Still Sliding Right (CCG icebreaker not for now)

The story:

Federal shipbuilding program suffers delays
Reports reveal construction of supply ships, polar icebreak is behind schedule.

The federal shipbuilding program has hit another setback, as government documents show more delays in the construction of the navy’s new supply ships and the Canadian Coast Guard’s highly anticipated polar icebreaker.

The delays, revealed in departmental reports recently tabled in the House of Commons, are expected to cost taxpayers as the navy and coast guard are forced to rely even more heavily on stop-gap measures to address their needs.

The two supply ships, which together will cost $2.6 billion, and the $1.3-billion polar icebreaker, dubbed the John G. Diefenbaker, are to be constructed one after the other in Vancouver by shipbuilding company Seaspan…

National Defence and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reported last year that the first new supply ship would enter the water in 2020, while the Diefenbaker would arrive in 2021 or 2022.

But the departments’ most recent timetable says construction of the first supply ship won’t be finished until at least 2021 [see end of post], with completion of the Diefenbaker similarly delayed until 2022 or 2023 [not news, see end of post]…

National Defence spokesman Evan Koronewski blamed “challenges associated with completing the detailed design and organizing the entire supply chain” for the delay in the supply ship schedule.

Those challenges were also responsible for pushing back construction of the Diefenbaker, as work on the icebreaker can’t start until the supply ships are finished.

The federal government has already committed millions of dollars in recent years to extend the lives of the current icebreaker fleet [Davie Québec much involved].

But the new delays help explain why the coast guard started looking last month at whether it can lease between one and five icebreakers from the private sector for the foreseeable future [seeDavie Québec Actually Going to Supply Some Icebreakers for Coast Guard?–the company’s proposed polar icebreaker is here].

They also mean that the navy will be forced to rely more on allies as well as a converted civilian cargo ship to provide fuel, food and other supplies to Canadian naval ships at sea [again from Davie, “Project Resolve“].

There have been questions over the years about Seaspan’s ability to construct complex military vessels, given that its previous shipbuilding experience has largely revolved around ferries [not this one] and tugboats…

Good questions. In fact the slippage of the Seaspan icebreaker’s delivery from 2021-22 to 2022-23 was already public this March, scroll down here. Also in March it was made public that the RCN JSS’ IOC had slipped from 2019 to 2020; now it has indeed slipped further to 2021. Gosharootie. Bets on the icebreaker’s schedule being kept? That Davie proposal seems well worth consideration.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Trump, Russia, NATO and…German Nukes?

Possible disturbing fall-out (pun intended) from The Donald’s election–guess how the Russkies would react to the prospect of Germans with their own, not dual-key American, nuclear weapons (yes Virginia, they’re still there)–at Spiegel Online:

Elephant in the Room
Europeans Debate Nuclear Self-Defense after Trump Win

For decades, American nuclear weapons have served as a guarantor of European security. But what happens if Donald Trump casts doubt on that atomic shield? A debate has already opened in Berlin and Brussels over alternatives to the U.S. deterrent. By SPIEGEL Staff

The issue is so secret that it isn’t even listed on any daily agenda at NATO headquarters. When military officials and diplomats speak about it in Brussels, they meet privately and in very small groups — sometimes only with two or three people at a time. There is a reason why signs are displayed in the headquarters reading, “no classified conversation.”

And this issue is extremely sensitive. The alliance wants to avoid a public discussion at any cost. Such a debate, one diplomat warns, could trigger an “avalanche.” The foundations of the trans-Atlantic security architecture would be endangered if this “Pandora’s box” were to be opened.

The discussion surrounds nuclear deterrent. For decades, the final line of defense for Europe against possible Russian aggression has been provided by the American nuclear arsenal. But since Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States, officials in Berlin and Brussels are no longer certain that Washington will continue to hold a protective hand over Europe.

It isn’t yet clear what foreign policy course the new administration will take — that is, if it takes one at all. It could be that Trump will run US foreign policy under the same principle with which he operates his corporate empire: a maximum level of unpredictability…

what happens if the president-elect has an even more fundamental shift in mind for American security policy? What if he questions the nuclear shield that provided security to Europe during the Cold War?

For more than 60 years, Germany entrusted its security to NATO and its leading power, the United States. Without a credible deterrent, the European NATO member states would be vulnerable to possible threats from Russia. It would be the end of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Could the French or British Step In?

In European capitals, officials have been contemplating the possibility of a European nuclear deterrent since Trump’s election. The hurdles — military, political and international law — are massive and there are no concrete intentions or plans. Still, French diplomats in Brussels have already been discussing the issue with their counterparts from other member states: Could the French and the British, who both possess nuclear arsenals, step in to provide protection for other countries like Germany?

An essay in the November issue of Foreign Affairs argues that if Trump seriously questions the American guarantees, Berlin will have to consider establishing a European nuclear deterrent on the basis of the French and British capabilities. Germany’s respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, meanwhile, even contemplated the “unthinkable” in an editorial: a German bomb.

‘The Last Thing Germany Needs Now’

Politicians in Berlin want to prevent a debate at all costs. “A public debate over what happens if Trump were to change the American nuclear doctrine is the very last thing that Germany needs right now,” says Wolfgang Ischinger, head of the Munich Security Conference. “It would be a catastrophic mistake if Berlin of all places were to start that kind of discussion. Might Germany perhaps actually want a nuclear weapon, despite all promises to the contrary? That would provide fodder for any anti-German campaign.”

The debate however, is no longer relegated the relatively safe circles of think tanks and foreign policy publications…

Could be a scary new world. By the way, for quite a few years during the Cold War Canadian forces with NATO in Europe also had dual-key nukes–see “The Great Canadian Traditional Peacekeeping Myth vs Nuclear Weapons“. How many Canadians today are aware of that?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – South China Sea Update: Vietnam Building; Philippines Smacking US

Two stories:

1) Exclusive: Risking Beijing’s ire, Vietnam begins dredging on South China Sea reef


2) Manila says will not help US on patrols in South China Sea

So the US and Vietnam are closer and close to being  de facto allies vs China whilst President Duterte’s Philippines smoozes the Dragon, effectively saying “Up yours, Uncle Sam!” What will PEOTUS Trump do in office? Looks a job for the good old CIA to me.

Meanwhile India and Vietnam are also getting together with Beijing much in mind. Lots of great games going on.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – We Have a Winner! RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR: 16 Airbus C295W for $2.4B

Initial cost, after a twelve-year process! Further to this post,

New RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR Plane Choice Real Soon?

a deal at long-last done (note at end of post additional refueling, transport roles which the government does not mention for some reason):

Airbus chosen to build Canada’s new search planes, ending 12-year procurement odyssey
16 Airbus C-295 aircraft announced by ministers, head of air force at CFB Trenton

The Canadian military will receive new fixed-wing search and rescue planes in a two-step procurement that will cost taxpayers $4.7 billion over the next two decades.

The selection of European defence giant Airbus end a 12-year, frustrating odyssey that spans three governments.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Public Works Minister Judy Foote and the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lt.-Gen. Michael Hood, announced the deal at the country’s largest military air base in Trenton, Ont., which is also one of the principal search and rescue stations.

Conservatives made ‘political’ decision to cut military flying time in 2014, Laurie Hawn says

The first phase — with a pricetag of $2.4 billion — involves the purchase of 16 C-295W aircraft modified for search and rescue missions.

A training simulator, to be located in Comox, B.C., and 11 years of in-service support and maintenance [with a Canadian company, see below] will be included.

An additional in-service support program will have to be negotiated with Airbus. That cost is estimated at $2.3 billion.

Taken together, the combined price tag is considerably more than the $3.8 billion approved by the former Conservative government in 2011, and higher still from the original $3.1 billion price tag affixed to the plan when Paul Martin’s government first announced it in 2004.

The turbo-prop C-295 is in use in 15 countries, mostly for military transport but also for maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare…

It was Paul Martin’s Liberal government that started the competition in 2004 [as a “major priority”! see top right here]…

…the first planes are expected to arrive in 2019 and the final delivery will take place in 2022 — 18 years after they were originally ordered [emphasis added, but after procurement intention announced–no order in 2004].

It cannot have hurt Airbus that the C295W has Pratt & Whitney Canada engines whereas the main competitor, the Leonardo-Finmeccanica (company’s new name) C-27J, does not.

Image:

c295w.jpg
Canada Selects Airbus C295W for Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue
Photo Credit: Hand-out / Airbus Defence and Space

From the government’s new release–jobs! jobs! jobs!


Following a rigorous, open and transparent competition, the Government of Canada today announced the awarding of a contract for $2.4 billion to Airbus Defence and Space to replace Canada’s fleets of CC115 Buffalo and legacy CC130 Hercules aircraft. The company has partnered with Newfoundland-based PAL Aerospace for maintenance and support services [emphasis added, PAL website here].The contract will provide a complete, modern and technologically advanced search and rescue solution, including maintenance and support services up to 2043.

As part of this contract, Airbus will provide 16 C295W aircraft, equipped with advanced technology systems, to support Canada’s search and rescue operations, construct a new simulator-equipped training centre in Comox, British Columbia, and provide ongoing maintenance and support services. The contract also includes options to extend the maintenance and support services for an additional 15 years. Should Canada choose to exercise these additional options, the contract value would increase to $4.7 billion.

The new technology being acquired includes state-of-the-art communications systems that will allow search and rescue personnel to share real-time information with partners on the ground. Using integrated sensors, crews will be able to locate persons or objects, such as downed aircraft, from more than 40 kilometres away, even in low-light conditions.

As part of its proposal Airbus Defence and Space has committed to make investments in the Canadian economy equal to the value of the contract, creating and maintaining good middle class jobs. Through Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy [website here], the company will incorporate many of Canada’s leading aerospace firms into its global supply chain and establish strategic partnerships with Canadian companies to ensure the aircraft are supported in Canada by Canadians. This work will help grow Canada’s innovative and strong aerospace sector, while providing well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it [emphasis added, last phrase is now really hurl-worthy]…

Related Products

Backgrounder: A modern and effective search and rescue solution for the Canadian Armed Forces 
Backgrounder: Fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft procurement process
Infographic: Procuring Canada’s future fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft 
Infographic: Capability

Associated Links

Public Services and Procurement Canada: Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft Replacement 
National Defence: Investing in Equipment 
Royal Canadian Air Force:  Search and Rescue Search and Rescue in Canada: A shared responsibility
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada: Industrial and Technological Benefits

And from the Airbus news release–note additional roles near end:


The C295W features substantial Canadian content. Every C295 is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines, pilots and technicians will be trained at a new facility developed by CAE in Comox, BC, and the electro-optical systems for FWSAR will be provided by L3 Wescam of Burlington, ON. In-service support for the life of the program will be provided by AirPro, a joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space and PAL Aerospace of St John’s, Newfoundland. In-service support will be conducted by Canadians in Canada.

[Simon] Jacques [Head of Airbus Defence and Space in Canada] added: “About 20 percent of the aircraft is already Canadian, meaning that it already serves as a global ambassador for the skills, innovation and expertise of Canadians. Now it will get to serve them directly.”

Canada’s C295Ws will be delivered starting three years after contract award. In service, they will join five Airbus CC-150 aircraft used in the air-to-air refueling, transport [emphasis added–why doesn’t the government mention those subsidiary roles?], and VIP travel roles.

When the contract is finalized, 185 C295s will have been ordered by 25 countries…

Something else to keep in mind–the RCAF’s 32 older-model Hercules are being followed-on by just 17 new C-130Js, so the RCAF has always wanted the new SAR aircraft to be able to double when necessary as a tactical transport in order to keep that capability up (see e.g. 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron):


Air force Col. Dave Burt, director of aerospace requirements, said at the time [2004] that search and rescue was the priority, adding that the service wanted “something that is smaller and (more) cost efficient than a Hercules but still has some of the transport-type qualities that a Hercules has.”

Although the aircraft would be used for search and rescue, there may be room to have them perform a secondary role of airlift if that is deemed feasible, Burt added…

Something that has not been mentioned for years for no good reason that I can understand.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – The Russian Way of–Hybrid–Warfare

A very interesting analysis of how the Bear works–both at home and abroad–at War on the Rocks:

Russia’s Hybrid War as a Byproduct of a Hybrid State

Whether or not “hybrid war” is the right term — a battle probably lost for the moment —Russia is indeed waging an essentially political struggle against the West through political subversion, economic penetration, espionage, and disinformation. To a degree, this reflects the parsimonious opportunism of a weak but ruthless Russia trying to play a great power game without a great power’s resources. It also owes much to Moscow’s inheritance from Bolshevik and even tsarist practices. But a third key factor behind it is the very nature of the modern Russian state, as I discuss in my new report, Hybrid War or Gibridnaya Voina: Getting Russia’s Non-Linear Military Challenge Right.

One distinctive aspect of recent Russian campaigns, from political operations against the West to military operations in Ukraine, has been a blurring of the borders between state, paramilitary, mercenary, and dupe. The Putin regime evidently believes that it is at war with the West — a geopolitical, even civilizational struggle — and is thus mobilizing every weaponizable asset at its disposal. This extends to mining society as a whole for semi-autonomous assets, from eager internet trolls and “patriotic hackers” to transnational banks and businesses to Cossack volunteers and mercenary gangsters…

The “hybridity” of Russian operations…reflects a… hybridity of the Russian state. Through the 1990s and into Putinism, Russia either failed to institutionalize or actively deinstitutionalized — however you choose to define it.

Today, Russia is a patrimonial, hyper-presidential regime, one characterized by the permeability of boundaries between public and private, domestic and external. As oligarch-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky put it:

[W]hat distinguishes the current Russian government from the erstwhile Soviet leaders familiar to the West is its rejection of ideological constraints and the complete elimination of institutions.

Lacking meaningful rule of law or checks and balances, without drawing too heavy-handed a comparison with fascism, Putin’s Russia seems to embody, in its own chaotic and informal way, Mussolini’s dictum “tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato” — “everything inside the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.”..

In Russia, state institutions are often regarded as personal fiefdoms and piggy banks, officials and even officers freely engage in commercial activity, and the Russian Orthodox Church is practically an arm of the Kremlin. Given all that, the infusion of non-military instruments into military affairs was almost inevitable. Beyond that, though, Putin’s Russia has been characterized — in the past, at least — by multiple, overlapping agencies, a “bureaucratic pluralism” intended as much to permit the Kremlin to divide and rule as for any practical advantages. This is clearly visible within the intelligence and security realm, from the intrusion of the Federal Security Service (FSB) — originally intended as a purely domestic agency — into foreign operations, as well as in the competition over responsibility for information operations…

Moscow must also be considered the master of “hybrid business,” of developing illegal and legal commercial enterprises that ideally make money, but at the same time can be used for the state’s purposes, whether technically private concerns or not. Russian commercial institutions not only provide covers for intelligence agents and spread disinformation, but acting notionally on their own initiative, they are also used to provide financial support to political and social movements Moscow deems convenient. For instance, Marine Le Pen’s anti-European Union Front Nationale in France received a €9 million loan from a bank run by a close Putin ally. Similarly, the election of the Czech Republic’s Russophile President Miloš Zeman was partially bankrolled by the local head of the Russian oil company Lukoil — allegedly as a personal donation…

So, it is not simply that Moscow chooses to ignore those boundaries we are used to in the West between state and private, military and civilian, legal and illegal. It is that those boundaries are much less meaningful in Russian terms, and they are additionally straddled by a range of duplicative and even competitive agencies…

Dr. Mark Galeotti is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of International Affairs Prague, and Principal Director of the consultancy Mayak Intelligence. He has been Professor of Global Affairs at New York University, a special advisor to the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office and head of History at Keele University in the United Kingdom, as well as a visiting professor at Rutgers—Newark, Charles University (Prague), and MGIMO (Moscow). Read his new report, Hybrid War or Gibridnaya Voina: getting Russia’s non-linear military challenge right.

Working towards Bad Vlad? Related:

Julian Lindley-French – Closing NATO’s Deterrence Gaps

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – International Arms Trade: Look Ma! No Canada

A tweet:

Brits rather punching above their weight.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – PM Trudeau’s Envoi to Fidelissimo…and Twitter Reactions

Former British ambassador Charles Crawford writes a nice piece:

So, Farewell Then Fidel Castro

While basking on the sunny South Carolina beaches I took time out to write a piece for National Interest on the death of Fidel Castro and how different world leaders drafted their respective statements:

The Castro case is unusually tricky. There’s no denying that he was a person of international significance, whose opinions and policies offered inspiration to global “progressive” tendencies. Likewise there’s no denying that he was among the most incompetent, brutish leaders in world history: his success in impoverishing and oppressing Cubans for all those long decades is quite astonishing. So how to come up with a few words that do justice to this, ahem, rather ambiguous record? What’s the right tone?

It turns out that it is impossible to issue a statement about Castro that does justice to both the successes and failures of his life without sounding ridiculous. How to be gracious about a plucky monster, a defiant disaster, an inspirational murderer? And what about the countless victims of Castro and Castroism? Do they get mentioned?

With examples:

… Top EU official Jean-Claude Juncker (European Commission) is worse:

The world (sic) has lost a man who was a hero for many. He changed the course of his country and his influence reached far beyond … His legacy will be judged by history.

Note the prominence of “a hero for many.” Not even a teensy hint that most of what Castro did was utterly at odds with EU values?

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau of course won the coveted Most Stupid Statement By Someone Who (Maybe) Should Have Known Better Award:

Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people (sic) for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation … A controversial figure … My father was very proud to call him a friend … the loss of this remarkable leader

This bafflingly awful statement has prompted a Twitterstorm of #trudeaueulogies derision:

– We mourn the death of Vlad the Impaler, who spearheaded initiatives which touched the hearts of millions
– A quiet loner with a quick wit, Osama Bin Laden inspired tremendous advances in air transportation security methodologies
– Mr Stalin’s greatest achievement was his eradication of obesity in Ukraine through innovative agricultural reforms

Conclusion?

Fidel Castro ended up like the mouldering corpse of Lenin in Red Square: a bizarre shrine to dishonesty, cruelty and subjugation. Fidel Castro became an obscure trinket in a bad video game that dim sly leftists click on to get new life in their endless struggle against … what exactly?..

One might well arsk.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds