5 NatSec Things - Issue #17

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Today's things: Mattis worried less about terrorism; Korea for Koreans; nukes for cybering; Somalia s
 
January 22 · Issue #17 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: Mattis worried less about terrorism; Korea for Koreans; nukes for cybering; Somalia strike; dude marries dude; Trump’s big gun. 

Mattis: US gonna worry about terrorism less, China more
You know who’s gonna disagree with the current direction of national security strategy? Voters. Because when you ask those of us not yet disenfranchised by a variety of perfectly legal ways to keep people out of the booth, we rank terrorism higher than worrying about places like China and North Korea. 
Assuming, of course, we can find North Korea on a map. 
So whatever it says on the memo may not matter when it comes to elections and the people that want to win them. Because stumping on a China threat that doesn’t revolve around jobs is going to play about as well as Louis C.K. with a Time’s Up pin. 
Cue crickets. 
This has been coming for a while, though: realizing that our focus on all things terror has left American forces ill prepared for other threats from countries like Russia (there, I said the “R” word) when they want to flex their various shirtless muscles in places like the Ukraine. Unless of course we just keep on with them there proxy wars. 
Which is where the US is heading, what with the formation of the Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs), the first of which is deploying to Afghanistan this year. The goal is to make the other guys fight for us, and that’s still in line with a defense strategy that’s focused on the bigger guys. ‘cuz if I have enough smaller guys on my side? I can beat the bigger guy. Even if it is by proxy.
"By Our Nation Itself" is Korean for "No more Americans"
It’s a longer quote than one should put in a 5 point newsletter, but it’s an interesting phrase, this “By Our Nation Itself,” and one that’s been in play for a while. And it’s notable in the current climate being fostered by people like the Cheeto-In-Chief and his National Security Adviser, H. R. “No, Really, I Still Have My Own Thoughts” McMaster. Because their line is that North Korea only gets solved through a forceful military solution.
But what if North and South Korea fixed all the things on their own? 
They’re already planning a unified Korean team at this year’s Winter Olympics, and a subcontinent that could find a way to unite itself could be seen as a “win” for those of us who don’t want to see Honolulu glow in the dark thanks to aerial gifts from the DPRK. 
Except the larger question looms: How much US disengagement will Kim Jong “Nuclear Button” Un demand? Full withdrawal? I can’t see him being cool with leaving any part of the US spear in Korea. 
Not even the tip. 
Given the amount money pouring into the South Korean economy thanks to the US military presence in the country, that’s going to be a tough demand for Seoul. 
Because this isn’t just about a foreign military presence on Korean soil. A united Korea, if it’s modeled after the South, could be a good thing for everyone. Except the Americans, who stand to lose a whole lot of influence in a region where they really can’t afford to let that happen. 
Cute virus, bro...here's your warhead
I’ll see your malware and raise you a few ICBMs. Which seems fair, if one equates things like an attack across US infrastructure as commensurate with a wholesale nuclear response. Either way, when that happens it’s probably just time to turn up the R.E.M. and break out your favorite Cormac McCarthy and read until the lights go out for good. 
Let’s be clear on one thing: the US wants everyone else to take nuclear arms off the table. The Americans have little-to-no interest in doing the same. Because they want to be able to hold that card in the event that someone gets a little froggy and decides that shutting down all safety systems on US nuclear reactors might be kinda fun. 
Whether that kind of attack warrants a nuclear response, the Pentagon and the White House want it to be clear to the rest of the world that it is one of the options. Which means that it’s in everyone’s interests to keep cracking down on hackers in all forms. It’s simple math, really: Don’t want nukes parked in the Kremlin? Great…then keep your cyberpunks in check. 
Where this gets trickier are those “non-state actors” who might keep cyber attacks on the menu. Because then you’ve got to make the case to all concerned that you’re dropped that warhead on that city because, well, you should have kept ‘em in line, Country That’s About To Be A Cinder. 
US only killing terrorists in Somalia for reals
Places like Afghanistan get the headlines, along with lesser-known “shithole countries” (Hey, Trump’s words, not mine) like Niger when Americans die there. But places like Somalia, where Americans have died before and will again, are less bleed-y and therefore are less lead-y. And we need to pay closer attention to whatever the US is doing in Africa. 
Because outside of the direct actions like drone strikes, Special Forces units (and soon the previously mentioned SFABs) are partnering with local forces to help them improve their own internal security. For all kinds of good reasons, mainly the part where Mattis said that terrorism isn’t the central focus no more. 
Also notable is the AFRICOM assertion that “no civilians were killed in this strike.” What the actual fuck else are they going to say? Because until some intrepid journalist who figures they’re prayed up and is cool with ending up on CNN for the beheading can figure out who actually died in that strike? The US is going to continue to insist that only bad Somalis are dead Somalis. 
The fog of war keeps getting thicker, mainly because no one’s around after the strike to hold the US accountable for whatever wedding it interrupted with that drone. No, I don’t know that it was a wedding. I don’t know what it was at all. Neither does anyone else. And that should worry us. 
Dude marries dude at West Point
I, too, served under DADT. Didn’t affect me none since I’m not a gay. Was a little problematic with a colleague who came out to me a few months after we started working together. When he told me, my first response was, “No shit,” since it wasn’t a surprise. 
He’s still serving, and I haven’t had the chance to ask him what it’s like to be out and not have to worry about it so much. 
I’m putting this here for the fuckwits: hear me - love is love. These two guys are Apache pilots, and they love each other, and now they’re married. And I think that is awesome. Because it gives me hope that maybe we can get past all the bullshit around this and move on. 
Now let’s do the same for transgender persons and call it a day. I’d be pretty damned OK with that happening. And sooner rather than later. 
Jesse James asks Baby Gap for a little help with Trump pistol Jesse James asks Baby Gap for a little help with Trump pistol
No, Baby Gap isn’t making guns. But see, the president, well, his hands. They’re…small. So if Jesse James, who used to make motorcycles, is now making bespoke pistols for the Commander In Chief, one has to assume some customization had to be done to account for the hands. 
And no, I don’t have a lot of thoughts on this. Just that this was about the most ‘murcan thing I’ve seen all last week, and had to put this in here. Because it’s a story about tacky pistol made for a tacky president and that story ran in a tacky men’s magazine. 
You can smell the Jergen’s from here. 
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