Tag Archives: France

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 – Der Untergang des Abendlandes, Putin and “transgender bathroom rights” Section

At the end of an opinion piece at the Wall St. Journal:

The Vladimir Putin Test
The strongman’s appeal reveals a lot about today’s liberal democracies…

Under President Obama, Angela Merkel, François Hollande and the like, the liberal vision really has been reduced to fighting for transgender bathroom rights as the world burns. For Mr. Obama, liberal order really does mean endless multilateralism and diplomatic procedure for their own sake. The European equivalent, pressed by the likes of Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Hollande, is the idea of “more Europe,” more European Union “norms” and bureaucracy, as the solution to every crisis.

Liberal leaders couldn’t afford to look so feeble for so long without making the liberal-democratic model look feeble—and the Putinist alternative decisive and strong [via  @FredLitwin]

Though I think the French are perhaps the least feeble, e.g. here and here. They still believe in raison d’etat, don’t you know. More unterganging.

Now consider the WEIRD perspective.

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

Mark Collins – En Flipping Fin: India Signs to buy 36 French Rafale Fighters

Further to this July post,

“Absurd”: Continuing India/France Rafale Fighter Buy Balls-Up, Part 2 (plus Gripen)

this seemingly almost endless Indian procurement saga (ring any bells in the Great White North?) has finally ended with a bit of a nuclear bang (see second link at quote):

India Signs Deal To Buy 36 Dassault Rafale Fighters

Behind Rafale deal: Their ‘strategic’ role in delivery of nuclear weapons
The long-delayed deal is being finalised because India has identified the French fighters for their ‘strategic’ role — to deliver nuclear weapons.

Ready To Manufacture [further] Rafale[s] In India: Dassault CEO

Note that for their parts Boeing has offered to build the Super Hornet in India and LockMart to build their (new-model) F-16V. Lots of room for lots more Indian procurement fun and games.

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

Mark Collins – “A Peek into French Signals Intelligence”–with a Canada/CSE Angle

Very interesting, will our media notice what’s at 2.?

France’s former top SIGINT spy confirms an advanced persistent threat and muses about a merger with German intelligence [the foreign intelligence service BND’s website is here–they also do SIGINT as does their French equivalent DGSE, see next para].

Something remarkable happened a few months ago. Bernard Barbier, the former head of signals intelligence (SIGINT) between 2006 and 2014 at France’s foreign intelligence agency (DGSE [website here]), gave a speech at one of France’s top engineering schools in which he reflected on his career and imparted some of his wisdom to students. He also said some things that he probably shouldn’t have, like confirming that France was behind the Animal Farm advanced persistent threat, commenting on the SIGINT capabilities of European allies, and reacting to the revelation that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA [website here]) had compromised the networks of the French presidency.

Last week, Barbier’s speech surfaced on YouTube but was quickly taken down. However, it was up long enough for French daily Le Monde to transcribe some of the highlights. Here they are, paraphrased and translated from the original French…

2. “And yes, it was a Frenchman”

In 2014, Le Monde published documents from the Snowden archive revealing that Canada’s SIGINT agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE [website here]), suspected that Paris was behind a cyber espionage campaign that began in 2009 targeting Iran’s nuclear program but also targeting computers in Canada. CSE was able to attribute the campaign to the French based on some reverse engineering revealing that the malware developer used references to a French children’s cartoon character, Babar the Elephant. That reference also led Kaspersky [US  website here] to baptise the malware Animal Farm. Barbier recalls that CSE “concluded that he [the malware author] was French. And yes, it was a Frenchman.”..

Canadian media do not seem to have noticed these revelations at the time. Lots more on  SIGINT here.

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

Mark Collins – US Allies: “No” to No US Nuke First Use (Obama to Announce?)

Some friends are getting nervous they might be left in the deterrent lurch and lots of leaking is going on (current NATO policy, for its part, on nuclear weapons’ use is not terribly clear):

U.S. allies unite to block Obama’s nuclear ‘legacy’

President Obama’s last-minute drive for a foreign-policy legacy is making U.S. allies nervous about their own security. Several allied governments have lobbied the administration not to change U.S. nuclear-weapons policy by promising never to be the first to use them in a conflict.

The governments of Japan, South Korea, France and Britain have all privately communicated their concerns about a potential declaration by President Obama of a “no first use” nuclear-weapons policy for the United States. U.S. allies have various reasons for objecting to what would be a landmark change in America’s nuclear posture, but they are all against it, according to U.S. officials, foreign diplomats and nuclear experts.

Japan, in particular, believes that if Obama declares a “no first use” policy, deterrence against countries such as North Korea will suffer and the risks of conflict will rise. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally conveyed that message recently to Adm. Harry Harris Jr., the head of U.S. Pacific Command, according to two government officials.

U.S. allies in Europe have a separate, additional concern. They don’t want any daylight between their nuclear policies and those of the United States, especially since Britain, France and the United States all are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. In the case of an emergency, those differences could cause real coordination problems.

“It’s my understanding that the defense ministries of many of our allied nations have lobbied the White House against changing this doctrine, and there’s been particularly strong opposition from the U.K., France, Japan and South Korea,” said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, , an anti-proliferation advocacy group that supports the policy change. “We have an interest in creating an international norm that no one should use nuclear weapons first. The allies lobbying against it are nervous nellies.”

The White House is considering declaring a “no first use” nuclear-weapons policy as one of several ways Obama can advance his non-proliferation agenda in his final months in office. Several options are under debate, and no final decisions have been made on “no first use.”

The president wants to roll out announcements on nuclear policy in September to coincide with his final appearance at the U.N. General Assembly, officials said. One administration official told me that, in part because of allied concerns, the internal push on “no first use” was not gaining traction…

One assumes that “no first use” is an issue the Canadian government would simply prefer to duck. Then there are these American plans:

New USAF ICBMs/New USAF Nuke ALCM (cruise missile)

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

Mark Collins – Mosques: French Crackdown on Foreign Funding (Canada/Saudis?)

France can be tough:

To curb radicalism, France targets foreign funding for mosques

After three major terrorist attacks in the last year and a half, public outrage has forced the French government to respond. But one particular proposal has generated significant controversy: the shutdown of certain mosques and the foreign funding behind them.

Late last month — weeks after the Nice attack — Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for an outright ban on the foreign funding of mosques in France “for a period to be determined.” Days later, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that, in fact, more concrete measures had already been taken: Since December 2015, he said, 20 Salafist mosques were shut down altogether.

“There is no place in France for those who call for and incite hatred in prayer halls or in mosques,” Cazeneuve said, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Muslim leaders. For many French Muslims, however, the issue is the implicit association in his words — namely, that mosques are where terrorists radicalize.

“It gives the idea that mosques have something to do with terrorism,” Marwan Muhammad, the director of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, said in an interview. “It’s a way of problematizing Muslims once again.”

There are about 2,500 Muslim “houses of prayer” in France, not all of which are officially classified as mosques. According to France 24, only about 120 of these are associated with radical Salafism, a strict variation of Sunni Islam.

[Terrorist attack on French church ignites fears of religious culture wars]

One wonders how much our government knows about what goes on in mosques and other Muslim institutions here–those jolly jihadi Saudis provide quite a lot of money (see here and the latter part of this piece).

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

Mark Collins – France vs Islamist Terrorism: “Merciless”

Further to this post,

Fighting Islamist Terrorism: A Darker Future for Freedom?

also sprach Sarko:

Islamists attack French church, slit priest’s throat


…former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is expected to enter a conservative primary for next year’s presidential election, accused the Socialist government of being soft.

“We must be merciless,” Sarkozy said in a statement to reporters.

“The legal quibbling, precautions and pretexts for insufficient action are not acceptable. I demand that the government implement without delay the proposals we presented months ago. There is no more time to be wasted.”

The center-right opposition wants all Islamist suspects to be either held in detention or electronically tagged to avert potential attacks.

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who is also expected to run for the presidency, said both Sarkozy’s and Hollande’s parties had failed on security.
“All those who have governed us for 30 years bear an immense responsibility. It’s revolting to watch them bickering!” she tweeted…

At the Guardian:

A nun who witnessed the murder described how the men forced Father Jacques Hamel to his knees before killing him and filmed themselves preaching in Arabic by the altar. They also tried to cut the throat of a parishioner, leaving him for dead…

The French in the past certainly could be merciless when the state was truly threatened (fictional below but with the ring of truth):

Torture Helps

In “The Day of the Jackal” the crucial information that eventually leads to the assassin hired by the OAS to kill President de Gaulle derives from torture (to death, more here); oddly enough that did not seem to cause a stir at the time…

And consider Algeria

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

Mark Collins – ISIS Having Hard Time in Libya/Three French SOF Killed

The latest at Defense One’sD-Brief“–note French, British, US special forces on the ground, NATO not planning combat involvement but…

ISIS’ grip in Libya is fading fast, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday, AP reported as the militant group faces “the ‘distinct possibility’ of defeat in their last stronghold and are likely to scatter elsewhere in the North African country and the region.” He also “said in a new report to the U.N. Security Council that member states’ estimates of the number of IS fighters range between 2,000 and 7,000 from Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Mali, Morocco and Mauritania. Ban said one member state recently reported between 3,000 and 4,000 IS fighters in Sirte, the extremist group’s last bastion along Libya’s northern coast which he called ‘the most active war front’ in the country.”

And that’s a point France knows all too well, we learn this morning after France’s defense ministry acknowledged for the first time that French special forces are in Libya—and three of them died recently when their helicopter was shot down, The Wall Street Journal reports. A little bit more from AFP, here


…French special forces in conjunction with Britain and the United States have been advising forces loyal to eastern Libyan commander [Gen.] Khalifa Haftar [more here], which have been battling Islamists and other opponents in Benghazi for more than two years. French aircraft have been conducting reconnaissance flights since December…

And at Foreign Policy’sSituation Report“:

…NATO’s [Secretary General] Stoltenberg told FP that the alliance is “not looking into combat operations” in Libya. “This is more about institution building and support.” He also revealed that in early fall, he expects a Libyan “team of experts” to visit NATO headquarters to begin working through some of these issues…

Then the oil:

Libyan Dinar Slides More Amid Continued Political Deadlock

Libya’s dinar has plunged to a new low on the black market amid continued political deadlock in this oil-rich country.

Traders were selling the dinar Wednesday from between 5.0 and 5.30 to the dollar, a sharp decline from nearly 4 Libyan dinars to the dollar in March. The official rate is 1.58.

The downward spiral is rooted in the depletion of foreign currency in Libya after a sharp drop in oil production from 1.6 million barrels a day in 2011 to less than 400,000 barrels a day.

Oil is the country’s main source of revenues. Militias control oil fields, pipelines, and oil terminals. After the 2011 ouster and killing of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya slid into chaos, and subsequent political turmoil left the country split between two competing governments.

Even if ISIS is effectively defeated what chance for a seriously united country with a decent government?

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

Mark Collins – Canadian Government’s Peacekeeping Heart: With France in Africa it Seems

Further to this post and “Comments”,

Latvia with NATO vs UN Peacekeeping: Where Government’s Heart Truly is

the well-informed Matthew Fisher of Postmedia writes that

Truck attack in France ups the ante for Canada’s peacekeeping mission in Mali

Canada’s impending peacemaking mission to Africa took on a more urgent tone Thursday night when a Tunisian man drove a truck through crowds enjoying Bastille Day fireworks on Nice’s palm-lined waterfront.

French President Francois Hollande immediately announced that France’s already overstretched armed forces would mobilize 10,000 troops and every member of the army reserves to guard French streets, border crossings and airports.

France needs Canada’s help — and Canada will answer the call. The army and air force will be heavily involved in Africa and no unit more so than the French-speaking brigade built around the Royal 22nd Regiment, known as the Van Doos [unofficial website here].

As Postmedia first reported on July 6, the Trudeau government intends to send troops to French West Africa [story here]. Mali is their most likely destination, but the Central African Republic and a couple of other nearby countries are in the mix, too.

Ottawa and Paris have been talking for some time about where Canadian soldiers would fit into one of France’s multiple troop deployments there. No date has been set for the mission. The Dutch and the Germans have already been helping France with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA [website here]). That is because even before the murderous attack in Nice, the Hollande government was having difficulty sustaining the tempo of its African missions as well as operations against the Islamic State in the Middle East and against terrorists on French soil. It is why the RCAF has already spent a lot of time in Africa, using its C-17 Globemasters to provide essential logistical support for French forces.

Canada’s Defence Minister, Harjit Sajjan, had intended to travel to French West Africa next month to help hammer out the details of Canada’s mission there. After France’s latest terror attack, and the call-up of forces to defend France, that trip may have to be moved up…

Read on, note the risks involved; this is not the “traditional” peacekeeping of which so many Canadians are mindlessly (and a-historically) enamoured.

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

Mark Collins – “Absurd”: Continuing India/France Rafale Fighter Buy Balls-Up, Part 2 (plus Gripen)

Further to this post, two stories at Defense News “Early Bird Brief”:

France Imposes New Conditions on Rafale Deal With India
(Defense News) France has quietly insisted that an $8.9 billion government-to-government (G2G) deal with India be signed before a 50 percent offset deal for Rafale fighters is finalized, according to a French Embassy source in India…

Saab Seeks Inroads In Indian Fighter Deals
(Aviation Week & Space Technology) The debris of India’s much-vaunted fighter contest, the now dead multibillion dollar Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), has cleaned the slate for an intriguing contracting battlefield…

Indian defence procurement at times sure seems Canadianesque.

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