Tag Archives: Russia

Mark Collins – “The fall of Aleppo shows us exactly what we have become”

Terrible Terry Glavin roars his rage; amongst other things he excoriates feckless and irrelevant Canadian word-mongering at the UN General Assembly–an excerpt:

The truth of it is we’d just rather not take the trouble [see end of post]. We aren’t prepared to suffer the sacrifices demanded of the commitments to universal rights we profess, so we absolve ourselves by talking about “the Muslim world” as though it were a distant planet. We talk about Arabs as though they were a different species. It’s easier on the conscience that way.

Between the drooling bigotries of the isolationist Right and the clever platitudes of the “anti-imperialist” Left, the only place left to address the solemn obligations we owe one another as human beings is in negotiations over the codicils of international trade agreements, or in the rituals of deliberately unenforceable resolutions entertained by the United Nations General Assembly.

Just last Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and his diplomats conducted just such a ceremony in sponsoring a non-binding General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities in Syria, humanitarian aid access throughout the country, and an end to the siege of Aleppo. It passed, 122 to 13. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic coup [and heralded by our government–wowsers: “UN General Assembly calls for action on Syria in Canada-led resolution”].

Canadian Ambassador to the UN Marc-André Blanchard was pleased to claim that the resolution was already having an effect even before it was voted on, because the day before, Russia announced it was temporarily halting its bombing of Aleppo and had even offered to open corridors to allow civilians to flee. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic triumph.

The UN human rights office later announced that it had received credible reports that hundreds of men who crossed into Aleppo’s regime-controlled districts had gone missing…

Whilst Aleppo was falling our government issued this clarion call; one is sure it had Assad and Putin furiously reconsidering their course. Why do we bother with this worthless verbiage?

Canada demands that Assad regime and backers stop violence now and respect human rights in Syria

And if they don’t? Bah and humbug.

The start of a post from April:

The West and the Middle East: No Guts

I wrote earlier:

What to Do About the Bloody Middle East?

Poor bloody locals. If the West is truly willing to sort things out right now, are we then willing to rule–one way or another–for some decades or so to try to ensure things work out wellish? Triple double HAH! Given no willingness for, or today in the West intellectual acceptance of, such a prospect, then let us just face things honestly…

We don’t. Thank goodness we have Mr Glavin.

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 – 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 – Canada and Missile Defence plus Russian Cruise Missile Threat

The conclusion of a November 14 presentation by CGAI Senior Analyst Dave Perry to the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence (the sort of serious discussion of broad defence issues we rarely see reflected in our media with their focus on procurement and scandal, real or potential):


With respect the Canada’s ability to counter possible air or space based threats to Canada, I think we do face some operational capability gaps.

Ballistic Missiles

Canada has no defence whatsoever against ballistic missiles. North Korea has been developing this technology for several years and is now working to launch these missiles from their submarines. While the United States has developed, a Ground Based, Mid-Course Defence against these missiles, and previously asked Canada to participate in that system, Canada declined to do so, and has subsequently never formally revisited that decision. This decision should be revisited. We should discuss the possibility of Canada joining Ballistic Missile Defence with the Americans, and if the terms are favourable, formally join.

Russian Air and Sea-Launched Cruise Missiles

The Russian military has significantly upgraded its air and naval forces in recent years and continues to do so. Over the last two years, the Russians have demonstrated this new equipment’s effectiveness as well as their willingness to use it to advance their own interests.

Russian forces successfully employed in Syria a new class of sophisticated conventional air and sea launched cruise missiles that have greatly enhanced range, are difficult to observe and are capable of precision targeting. Three aspects of this development are problematic. First, these weapons come in both nuclear and conventional variants. Second, they can be carried by Russian Long Range Patrol Aircraft and their newest and most capable submarines. Third, because of the increased distances at which these new missiles can successfully hit targets and their low observability characteristics, the current arrangements for defending North America, based on NORAD and the North Warning System, must be upgraded to counter them effectively [see “The Bear’s Bears: New NORAD Radars for Canadian North…“].

Because of this increased Russian activity around North America, we also need to enhance our ability to know what it happening in all three of our coastal approaches, and especially in the Canadian arctic. Since 2007 the Russians have conducted long range aviation patrols towards Canada’s Arctic airspace, and done so in ways that indicate an inclination on their part to link this activity to strategic confrontations with Canada elsewhere in the world. Similarly Russian submarine patrols in the Atlantic have recently reached levels not seen since the Cold War. We therefore need an expanded mix of air and space based Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms [see “RADARSAT Constellation: New Canadian Satellites and Maritime, Arctic Surveillance, Part 2“].

As well, we need to maintain our ability to respond to aerial threats to North America. As Russia continues to modernize its air forces, this will require Canada to keep pace with improvements in Russian technology. As such, we need to move quickly to purchase a fleet of fighter aircraft capable of detecting the most modern Russian aircraft and sharing that information with the rest of the North American defence system [emphasis added, i.e. the F-35 which would be most compatible with the USAF]…

Very relevant:

NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”?

US Worrying Seriously About Russian Cruise Missiles

NORAD Note: Russian Bomber (with cruise missiles) Strikes in Syria

USN “Admiral Warns: Russian Subs Waging Cold War-Style ‘Battle of the Atlantic’”–and RCN?

NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”? Part 2

Canada Should Just Say “Yes” to Missile Defence, Cont’d (plus Russian cruise missile threat)

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

Mark Collins – Spookery Today, Especially SIGINT and Cyber Stuff

The Economist focuses almost solely on the US and UK amongst Western countries (several graphics):

Special report: Espionage

Espionage

Shaken and stirred

Technology

Tinker, tailor, hacker, spy

Governance

Standard operating procedure

Edward Snowden

You’re US government property

China and Russia
[a few other countries mentioned]

Happenstance and enemy action

How to do better

The solace of the law

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

Julian Lindley-French – Closing NATO’s Deterrence Gaps

This post was originally published on November 4, 2016, on Lindley French’s Blog Blast: Speaking Truth Unto Power:

“Russia is using the whole range of of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy in increasingly aggressive ways”.
– MI5 Director-General Andrew Parker. 1 November, 2016

Alphen, Netherlands. 3 November.

Russia is exploiting NATO’s many deterrence gaps because the Alliance no longer understands deterrence. Back in 1959 Bernard Brodie defined deterrence as a strategy designed to dissuade an adversary of an action not yet taken. Then deterrence was seen as what Herman Kahn infamously called the Homicide Pact Machine. However, contemporary deterrence requires far more than mutually assured nuclear destruction. Deterrence today is a complex mix of political will, conventional armed forces, nuclear forces, societal resiliency, new technology, and even psychological robustness. Moscow understands that and has embarked on a counter-deterrence influence strategy so that relatively weaker Russia can systematically undermine inherently far stronger NATO.

Moscow’s strategy operates at several levels. Russia is seeking to weaken NATO conventional military deterrence by establishing local, temporary military superiority and implying the threat of a long war that would force the Alliance to trade space for time. Moscow’s aim is to establish a virtual buffer zone of influence, not to trigger a war with the Alliance as a whole. Russia would either lose such a war, or trigger a nuclear conflict which Moscow understands would be a disaster for all. However, that does not preclude Moscow from embarking on a ‘limited’ Baltic land grab if it deemed the circumstances to be sufficiently propitious. Around the Baltic States Russia now enjoys local military superiority. And, whilst NATO conventional forces look strong on paper, many of them are either not equipped, ill-equipped, or simply unable to move quickly in support a major crisis in NATO’s east.

However, it is Alliance nuclear deterrence where Russian strategists are employing their considerable intellectual, strategic, and indeed psychological skills. By introducing illegal short and medium-range nuclear weapons back into Europe, and by suggesting they might have a warfighting role, Moscow is trying to break the continuity link between NATO’s conventional and nuclear deterrents. Moscow is also only too happy to leave an implied threat of nuclear war hanging toxically in the minds of its fellow Europeans.

The strategy is working. Apart from a limited French mid-range airborne nuclear capability, and some ancient American assets based in Germany, there is no credible political link between NATO’s conventional and nuclear forces. If ‘enhanced forward presence’, i.e. the conventional deterrent failed the US, Britain and France would be faced with the prospect of resorting to the use of their strategic nuclear forces. Such forces could in theory play a ‘sub-strategic’ role given that most of them can carry a range of warheads with different levels of destructive kilo-tonnage and mega-tonnage. However, these systems are submarine-based and in a sense self-deter as Moscow have to assume that if such a missile appeared on its radars it would herald a country-busting strategic exchange. Given that reality the idea that such weapons could deter a ‘limited’ war in Eastern Europe let alone be used is not only politically ‘incredible’ (in the real meaning of the word), it is unthinkable.

Deterrence is not simply about weapons – far from it. Russia is employing a range of irregular methods to undermine Alliance deterrence. This includes hybrid warfare, a range of soft power tactics, through the use of social media to sow disinformation, and direct efforts to exploit the political divisions in already divided European societies. Strategic miscommunication and disinformation is spread via a ‘hybrid truth’ strategy using television networks such as RT and Sputnik that are little more than instruments of Russian propaganda. Moscow has also bought some misguided academics and commentators in Europe to help ‘multiply the message’.

Russia’s use of cyber-warfare is proving particularly adept. Andrew Parker’s statement coincided with this week’s announcement by the British Government that it will spend some £2bn/$2.4bn on a new cyber-warfare capability that would, in the words of Chancellor Philip Hammond, enable Britain to “strike back” against attackers. Russia already has a major offensive cyber capability focussed on its mammoth Ministry of State Security, and is about to invest another $250m.

Why is Russia for the moment succeeding? The strongest/weakest pillar of deterrence is politics. Political deterrence worked during the Cold War because Moscow believed credible the NATO Article 5 premise that an attack on one Alliance member would be regarded as an attack on all. Today, the automaticity of NATO collective defence is not so clear. Last week I was in Italy. Many senior Italians simply dismiss the Russian ‘threat’ as the hysterical ramblings of a few, small Baltic States. It is a point of view held elsewhere in Europe, most notably in France. Critically, NATO’s eastern, southern, and western members are profoundly divided over where to make the Main Effort. Worse, the two traditional bastions of the Alliance are either distracted, as in the case of the US, or politically-broken, as in the case of the UK. Brexit is proving to be precisely the strategic disaster I predicted, and which forced me to abandon any support for it.

So, what to do? At the July NATO Warsaw Summit the Alliance agreed that, “NATO’s capacity to deter and defend is supported by an appropriate mix of capabilities. Nuclear conventional and missile defence capabilities complement each other. NATO also maintains the freedom of action and flexibility to respond to the full spectrum of challenges with an appropriate and tailored approach, at the minimum level of force”.

In such political circumstances NATO’s room for deterrent manoeuvre is limited. However, if the Alliance is to plug its deterrence gaps there are some things the alliance, or at least its more powerful members could do, if one assumes that a weak Russia does not actually seek all-out war. First, contest the cyber-battlespace. Do not leave the field to the Russians to exploit cyberspace at will. Second, contest the hybrid information-space. Deconstruct Russian propaganda and actively promote a message of strength and friendship to the Russian people. Third, mean what we say. Alliance members must actually fulfil the commitments they make at NATO summits. Fourth, forge a new Resiliency Pact between NATO and the EU to render European society more robust in preventing Moscow’s efforts to divide and distract. Above all, NATO members must prevent the strength/weakness balance of power to reach a point anywhere in the Alliance where Russia’s own internal self-contradictions might lead a Kremlin in crisis to chance a nationalist-adventurist gamble.

If NATO is to fulfil its mission the Alliance must not only fill the deterrence gaps, it must think anew about just what deterrence actually means and demands in the twenty-first century. Then, just then, we might convince President Putin to avoid actions not yet taken, and which may lead who knows where…

Julian Lindley-French is an internationally-recognised strategic analyst, advisor and author, Vice-President of the Atlantic Treaty Association, CGAI Fellow, Senior Fellow of the Institute of Statecraft, Director of Europa Analytica & Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow, National Defense University, Washington DC

Mark Collins – MI5 Chief Highlights Big Bear Spooky and Cyber Threats, Jihadis

Further to this post,

The Lions’s Cyber Roar: UK Getting Really Serious, Unlike Canada

the head of Britain’s domestic intelligence service gives an unprecedented interview:

MI5 head: ‘increasingly aggressive’ Russia a growing threat to UK
Exclusive: In first newspaper interview given by a serving spy chief, Andrew Parker talks of terror, espionage and balance between secrecy and privacy

Russia poses an increasing threat to the stability of the UK and is using all the sophisticated tools at its disposal to achieve its aims, the director general of MI5 has told the Guardian.

In the first newspaper interview given by an incumbent MI5 chief in the service’s 107-year history, Andrew Parker said that at a time when much of the focus was on Islamic extremism, covert action from other countries was a growing danger. Most prominent was Russia.

“It is using its whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad in increasingly aggressive ways – involving propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber-attacks. Russia is at work across Europe and in the UK today. It is MI5’s job to get in the way of that.”

Parker said Russia still had plenty of intelligence officers on the ground in the UK, but what was different now from the days of the cold war was the advent of cyberwarfare. Russian targets include military secrets, industrial projects, economic information and government and foreign policy.

The spy chief also:

– Said that 12 jihadi terror plots had been foiled by the security services in the past three years.
– Identified the size of the homegrown problem: there are about 3,000 “violent Islamic extremists in the UK, mostly British”.
– Said that budget increases would see MI5 expand from 4,000 to 5,000 officers [emphasis added–so total personnel considerably greater?] over the next five years [by comparison the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has a total strength of some 3,300)].
– Rejected criticism that the investigatory powers bill, due before parliament this week, was going too far in enabling intrusive surveillance, arguing that it correctly balances privacy and security…

Parker said the Islamic extremist threat was also enduring and generational. He broke it down into three segments: a large homegrown problem of potentially violent extremists in the UK – most of them British – about 3,000 in number; members of Daesh (Islamic State) in the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq trying to incite terror plots against the UK; and Daesh trying to spread its “toxic ideology” and promote terrorism online.

Critics of the controversial investigatory powers bill, which went before the House of Lords on Monday, say it will offer the security services access to personal data, bringing a reality to bulk surveillance. Parker said the data was necessary in the fight against terror and he thought the government had reached the right balance between privacy and security [see “UK Security Services’ Successful Bulk Data Collection; Need More Powers (Canada?)” plus “Under PM’s Thumb: Proposed Canadian Parliamentary Security/Intel Review Committee“]…

Whilst on the foreign intelligence front:

MI6: UK HUMINT Spooks Going Cyber, Including Social Media

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

Mark Collins – Der Untergang des Abendlandes, Trump v. Clinton Section

The Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente puts matters most succinctly:

…the world’s most powerful nation has become a laughingstock – overcome by groping scandals, e-mail leaks, and the antics of a guy named like a slang word who takes selfies of his crotch. America’s allies are appalled, and its enemies can scarcely believe their luck. Demagogues and authoritarians around the globe are crowing about the obvious deficiencies of democracy. Vladimir Putin is squirming with delight. The Chinese must be concluding that we’ve reached the twilight of the Western age. America has been brought to its knees – not by its enemies, but by itself…

Sigh. Plus a cartoon at the paper:

email.jpg
(Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)

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

Mark Collins – NATO: “Albania, Italy, Poland and Slovenia will contribute to the Canadian-led battalion in Latvia”

Further to this September post,

455 Canadian Troops to Latvia with NATO Spring 2017–Italians Too?

the Italians are indeed in along with others–company-sized contingents from Canada and the rest plus a Canadian HQ? NATO’s Secretary General makes the announcement:


I am proud to announce that many other Allies confirmed contributions to these forces today [Oct. 26].

Albania, Italy, Poland and Slovenia will contribute to the Canadian-led battalion in Latvia [coherence, effectiveness?].

Belgium, Croatia, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Norway will join the German-led battalion in Lithuania [coherence, effectiveness?].

Denmark and France will contribute to the UK-led battalion in Estonia [looks militarily sound–large British contingent with tanks].

And Romania and the United Kingdom will join the US-led battalion in Poland [pretty decent].

Our forces will be truly multinational. Sending an unmistakable message: NATO stands as one. An attack on any Ally will be considered an attack on us all.

In Warsaw, we said that we expected to deploy the four battalions in early 2017.

I am pleased to confirm that we are on track…

But how militarily effective might such motley crews be? Interesting that most northern and southern look best. And a tweet:

Good luck, tripwires.

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