Category Archives: New Initiatives

The Men Who Shaped A World: Author and Journalist Stephen Kinzer on John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles

brothers

Back in March, I had the opportunity to listen to a panel at Brown University on civilian-military relations, titled, “In and Out of Uniform: Civilian Military Relations Reconsidered.”  The panel was born from the provocative piece by James Fallows in The Atlantic magazine, titled, “The Tragedy of the American Military.”  It was an interesting discussion.  One of the highlights that day, at least for me, was walking away with a book.  I happened to sit next to journalist and author Stephen Kinzer during a lunch that preceded the panel.  We got to talking, and eventually he brought up his book The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and their Secret World War.  Later that day he gave me a copy.  A few weeks later I read it.  It was a fascinating book on two men that, unknown to me, had a big impact on American foreign policy during the Cold War.  Recently I had the chance to chat with Stephen about the Dulles brothers and their legacy in U.S. foreign affairs.

Stephen Kinzer, welcome. I enjoyed the opening anecdote of your book about the naming of the Dulles airport and how you “found” the bust of John Foster Dulles.  How did that come about?

This is a fascinating story and there is actually a footnote that you probably don’t know. So as you say, I do start out my book with this anecdote about Dulles airport. So of course, John Foster Dulles was the secretary of state during the 1950s when his brother Allen was head of the CIA.  The new airport being built outside of Washington D.C. was being named after John Foster Dulles.  In 1962 there was a big ceremony at the airport.  I watched a video on YouTube which showed when the airport was inaugurated.  President Kennedy was there, former President Eisenhower was there, Allen Dulles was there.  And a curtain was pulled back to reveal a bust of John Foster Dulles.  The bust was placed in the center of the airport.

While I was writing this book I decided I want to go to the airport and find the bust.  I wanted to commune with it in a sense; I wanted to see what it looked like.  But I couldn’t find it.  I asked around and nobody knew where the bust was.  It’s a long story, but ultimately I found it in a closed conference room.  And I used this story as a kind of a nice metaphor for how much we have forgotten John Foster Dulles. I repeated that story during my book tour.  I probably gave 100 talks about this book over the last year or two and that was often the way it would start out.  This story about how this guy was so famous and now how you can’t even find his bust.  So that’s the story, but here’s the footnote.

President John F. Kennedy and former President Dwight Eisenhower at the opening of the Dulles Airport.

Not long ago I got a phone call from one of my friends who said, “You are not going to believe this.  I’m calling you from Dulles airport.  The bust is back.”  And sure enough, they’ve taken the bust out of the private conference room and put it back on public display. So first I wondered if this had something to do with the fact that I had pointed out what had happened with the bust.  I thought I had achieved something great that showed the massive power of the press.  But now I realize that it’s not so good because I have brought him out of the obscurity which into it had fallen, but without any context, so he is essentially being portrayed as a heroic figure.  I am wondering whether I couldn’t set up a little booth next to the bust and sell copies of my book so people could understand who he really was.

Why the Dulles brothers?  What interested you about them to write a book on those two men?

I am interested in the question of American intervention overseas.  One thing I often ask myself is Why are Americans like this? Why do we do this? Why are we so eager to intervene in the affairs of other countries?  I concluded that the story of the Dulles brothers and what they did in the 1950s would help explain some of that.  The forces that created the Dulles brothers are the forces that created America.  If you can understand those sources you can understand a good deal about this country.  And they left us some important lessons that are still relevant.  So I am presenting a biography here: this is the story of these two immensely powerful brothers who helped shape the world in the 1950s.  But in the larger sense I am using the framework of biography to ask larger questions about the way the United States behaves in the world.

It seems like John Foster Dulles, and Allen Dulles to a certain extent, were very religious.  And as I read your book, it appeared that their religious background colored their world view.  Did it not?

They were brought up in a particular Calvinist religious tradition and came from a long line of clergymen and missionaries.  They were taught, first of all, that the world was divided between good and evil  and that there was one true religion, that all the other religions were wrong and evil.  If you believe that about religions, it is a very short step to believing the same thing about world politics — that there is one political system that’s the right and good system for people to live under rather than all the other systems which are wrong and evil.  In addition, they grew up with a strong admiration for the missionary idea, which tells you that a good Christian should not simply stay home and hope that good triumphs over evil, but now he has to go out and wage the fight on behalf of good.  This is another religious precept that is easily transferable to the political realm.  You begin to believe that it isn’t enough for us to enjoy the blessings of freedom at home.  We need to go out into the world and liberate others who are not enjoying what we consider the blessings that they deserve.

While the brothers do share similar traits, they did have different temperaments.  Is that correct?

It is quite a remarkable feature, their personalities.  Politically and professionally they were identical.  They saw the world the same way.  They had grown up intimately, shared a worldview and hardly ever disagreed about anything.  That was one reason it was so dangerous to the United States to have the two of them in power.  They never felt the need to consult any experts other than the two

of them.  So politically they were peas in a pod. In their private lives however, in their personalities, they were direct opposites.  Foster Dulles was dour and gruff and socially inept.  I have a whole page in my book about all the awkward things he would do.  Even his friends didn’t like him.  Allen Dulles, the CIA director, was just the opposite.  He was a sparkling personality with an endless supply of stories. He had a wine cellar; he was a tennis player; he had a 100 mistresses; he was a wonderful addition to the Washington dinner scene.

Allen Dulles, as you say in your book, was intrigued with Rudyard Kipling’s Kim.  Do you think this paved the way for him to become a spy.  Is this something that he was incredibly intrigued with?

I think there was a kind of romantic fascination on the part of Allen Dulles in the idea of covert action.  He read Kim when he was a young man and he kept it with him his whole life.  It was on his bed table when he died.  I would go on to another equally romanticized version of the espionage trade that Allen Dulles came to appreciate later in life.  That was the novels of James Bond. Those novels have nothing to do with real life intelligence work.  They show that the work of a single intrepid agent can change the course of history and that there are never any long term effects as soon as the bad people are done away with.  This is a very dangerous mindset for intelligence agents to get into because the real world is not like that.  At some point Allen Dulles even asked his tech division at the CIA to duplicate some of the gadgets that James Bond used.  He was told that those were not realistic.  It shows a little bit of the danger of mixing reality and fiction.  I think Allen Dulles fell into that sometimes.

The First Edition of Rudyard Kipling's Kim.  First published in book form in 1901.
The First Edition of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim. First published in book form in 1901.

 

The Dulles family, specifically their grandfather and their uncle, had a lot to do with their path in life.  I thought it was fascinating that John Watson Foster, their grandfather, is responsible for the concept of defense attachés in our embassies.  Could you expound on that?

I mentioned a moment ago that one of the factors that shaped the Dulles brothers was their religious background.  A second factor is the family background to which you refer. Their uncle was secretary of state — Robert Lansing — but their grandfather, John Watson, was also secretary of state.  So as kids they grew up with these two remarkable relatives.  John Watson Foster was a remarkable paragon of the American experience during the age of Manifest Destiny.  He grew up on the frontier and made a business for himself, ingratiated himself to powerful men, rose through politics and became an ambassador, and then became secretary of state.  Doing among other things, he modernized the state department and began the practice of systemic research into

John Watson Foster.  The thirty-second US Secretary of State and Grandfather of John Foster and Allen Dulles.
John Watson Foster. The thirty-second US Secretary of State and Grandfather of John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles.

foreign embassies and advances in foreign weaponry military tactics.  He sent messages to all American legations asking them to send people to libraries and bookstores to look for anything new that was being developed in these fields.  John Watson Foster was also the secretary of state who presided over the first American overthrow of a foreign government — that was Hawaii — in 1893.  He would have later understood the role John Foster Dulles played, almost half a century later in overthrowing governments in Iran, Guatemala, and other places. I began to wonder if there wasn’t some genetic predisposition to regime change in the Dulles family.

The Dulles brothers seemed to jump back and forth between public service and the private sector — particularly back to the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell.  Was this a trend throughout their lives?

Now you are putting your finger on what I think is the third most important factor in shaping the Dulles brothers.  Religious belief was one, family and class background was the second, and certainly the third was the decades that the brothers spent working for the remarkable law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell in New York.  This was not a law firm like any other.  It had its speciality.  Its speciality was helping big American companies pressure foreign governments into doing what they wanted.  Virtually every large American multi-national corporation retained Sullivan & Cromwell.  Every time those companies had trouble in some other country they would turn to Sullivan & Cromwell.  Sullivan & Cromwell found ways to make offers to those countries that they couldn’t refuse.  It means that the Dulles brothers understood the world from the perspective of their Wall Street clients. It also means that at an early age they became experienced in the technique of pressuring foreign governments.  The skills that they learned at Sullivan & Cromwell would serve them well when they came into power in the 1950s.

Both men went to law school.  Was the law just a stepping stone for those men in that age?

John Foster Dulles was the highest paid lawyer in America during the peak of his career.  He was a masterful servant of the plutocracy, although he was not a plutocrat himself.  I think their service in that world gave them a certain perspective about what should motivate American foreign policy.  They saw a world in which a great force was arrayed against the United States.  And they took this back to the experiences they had at the law firm and they felt that foreign governments were always seeking to use pressure on American companies as a way to pressure the United States. It was not possible for them to imagine that foreign governments would take steps that would be harmful to American companies. This was strictly out of reasons that came from domestic politics; not because they had been ordered to do so by the Kremlin or that it was some part of a broader geopolitical plot.  So they came to office with a narrow vision that I do think came from their legal work.

Something that surprised me to learn was that John Foster Dulles was supportive of National Socialism in the early thirties.

John Foster Dulles was quite sympathetic to the Nazi party in the 1930s.  He spent a lot of time in Germany.  He was an admirer of Hitler in the 1930s.  John Foster Dulles became the principal broker in the United States for German bonds that supported the municipalities and corporations.  He also weaved the Krupp iron works company into an international nickel cartel that gave the Nazis access to nickel, which of course is important in warfare. He continued to visit Germany all the during the 1930s.  His law firm closed its office in Germany but he was against it.  So Foster Dulles did have a history of sympathy for the Nazis.  I think part of the reason for that was he saw them as a bulwark against the Communists.

What is happening during the brothers during the 30s?  When did they figure out that they would have to fight the Nazis?  Did John Foster change his thinking?

In the mid-1930s Sullivan & Cromwell took a vote to close their Berlin office.  As I said, Foster Dulles opposed that.  But once the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 it became impossible to paint them as peace lovers.  And certainly after the American declaration of war everything became quite clear.  It was after that declaration that Allen Dulles was named head of the OSS station out of Bern,

Allen Dulles CIA ID card.
Allen Dulles CIA ID card.

Switzerland.  It was a very important post because it was one of the last remaining neutral outposts in Europe.  Allen had a quite an adventure getting into Bern.  He had a lot of fun times in Switzerland.  It was his second tour there, he had been an intelligence officer in Bern during the First World War.

Let’s fast forward a little bit to the 1940s and 1950s.  Tell us what operation Ajax was and please, if you could, tell us about Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles roles in that operation.

When the Dulles brothers came into office in the early 1950s, Iran was establishing its democracy and had propelled this interesting leader — Mohammed Mossadegh — to the prime ministers job.  Mossadegh had persuaded the Iranian parliament to vote for the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry.  This industry had been previously owned by one British company which was in turn owned principally by the British government.  So the nationalization of Iranian oil was quite the topic at the time the Dulles brothers came into power.  And they had relations with Iran in the years before that.  The Dulles brothers, when in Sullivan & Cromwell, represented the bank for the British oil company that operated in Iran, and that bank lost its interest.  So the Dulles brothers came into office with a grudge against Mossadegh.  Mossadegh had also helped kill a big development for American engineering firms that Allen Dulles had helped broker.  His threats to the international oil cartel was thought of as dangerous, not just to oil but to all international and multinational businesses because they challenged the concept that rich countries are entitled to resources from poor countries at the price that they want to pay.  So once in power, the Dulles brothers began immediately plotting against Mossadegh, and he was overthrown eight months later and Iran never recovered from it.

President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles in 1956.
President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles in 1956.

Communism was also a driving concern for the Dulles brothers at this time as well, correct?

Certainly the way the Dulles brothers saw the world was a great confrontation between Communism and capitalism.  That would have been the way most Americans saw the world.  Most of our major institutions saw the world through that prism.  The Dulles brothers believed that everything that happened in the world was in some way related to this conflict.  People in other parts of the world saw the global situation differently.  In much of Asia and Africa and Latin America the world looked like it was divided in a different way.  It seemed to be divided between dozens of new nations that were trying to find their place in a turbulent world on the one hand.  And then there were the old traditional ruling powers that were trying to keep them back and prevent their nationalism from flowering into projects of development at home and neutralism abroad.  So the world looked very clear to the Dulles brothers, and everything that happened in it seemed to be part of the Cold War struggle.  That’s why they found so many enemies in the world; they were loose in their interpretation what constituted an enemy or hostile activity.

They didn’t necessarily agree with some of the other big names back then that also didn’t like Communism — John Foster Dulles was not a big fan of George Kennan, was he?

No, as a matter of fact it was Dulles who forced George Kennan out of the state department.  Kennan didn’t see the world in as clear black and white terms as Dulles did.  And I think the state department was not big enough for both of them.  It was clear that Dulles could not run the state department listening to Kennan.  And Kennan didn’t want to be there giving advice to someone who saw the world so differently.

The famous theologian and philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr also disagreed with Dulles, didn’t he?

Niebuhr warned against nations becoming too arrogant.  He felt if the United States was faced with extinction as a country it wouldn’t be from a foreign threat; it would be from our own hubris and self-destructive impulses. That was not the way John Foster Dulles saw the world.  So they were critics of each others visions.

Is it true that the birth of the U2 program started at a dinner party?

Allen Dulles was having a dinner with some scientists and they spoke about some advances in high-altitude photography.  This led him to call a few people into his office and ultimately produced what became the U2 project.  That was particularly important in those days.  One reason the Cold War became so intense was our absolute ignorance on what was going on inside the Soviet Union.  Because we were allies during WWII we hadn’t really concentrated on building intelligence networks inside the Soviet Union. So when the war was over we were really shut out; it was a denied area to Americans. One of the very first flights that the U2 took brought back information that we had greatly overestimated the number of fighter jets that the Soviets had.  This kind of information came back repeatedly from U2 flights.  That did play a role, I think, in calming some overblown fears.

 

Let me close with one more question.  What do you think the Dulles brothers biggest effect was on US foreign policy?  What is their legacy look like today?

The Dulles brothers approach to the world did not work out well for the United States. Rather than confront that fact and see what lessons we can draw from that experience, we find it easier to forget about them and move on.  That’s one reason why these brothers who were so famous in the 1950s are now effectively forgotten.  They did however leave some very important legacies.  One is that they were strongly opposed to negotiation with our enemies.  John Foster Dulles always opposed summit meetings between the U.S. President and leaders of the Soviet Union or Communist China.  Nations should first show some sympathy toward us or be friendly toward us or we should not negotiate with them.  That tendency is still strong in the United States today.

A second tendency that they felt was an absolute lack of understanding of the nature of Third World nationalism.  They saw every assertion of nationalism by countries in other parts of the world as defiant to the United States.  They wanted countries to be subservient to the United States.  They couldn’t understand the desire for countries to make their own choices, even if they were not good ones.

The finally legacy they left us is that they had no idea of what today we would call “blowback.”  It never occurred to them that their operations would have such long term consequences.  Perhaps, like James Bond, they kept this idea that you go out in the world and you violently intervene in the political process of another country and then everything will go back to normal, with no serious effect.  It never occurred to them that by destroying democracy in Iran it would send that country into a spiral of dictatorship and religious rule that would last for generations.  When they overthrew the democratic government of Guatemala that a genocidal civil war would break out in which hundreds of thousands of people would be killed.  When they decided to pursue Ho Chi Minh after the British and French decided he could not be defeated, it never occurred to them that it could trigger a war that cost so much pain and horror for Vietnam and the United States.  That’s a good lesson for us to learn from them — I think all three of those are.  Never negotiate with your enemies.  Don’t recognize the nationalist sentiments of people of other countries.  And delude yourself into believing that there will never be any long term effects to foreign intervention.  Those would be the three lessons from the Dulles brothers that we would be wise to learn from.

Thank you very much Stephen, what’s next for you?

I am working on a book about the period when the United States first became involved in taking overseas territories, which was around 1898.  Maybe we can get together for another chat then.

That sounds great.  Thank you Stephen Kinzer, it was a pleasure talking with you.

Thank you.

Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent whose articles and books have led the Washington Post to place him “among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling.”  Kinzer spent more than 20 years working for the New York Times, most of it as a foreign correspondent. He was the Times bureau chief in Nicaragua during the 1980s, and in Germany during the early 1990s. In 1996 he was named chief of the newly opened Times bureau in Istanbul. Later he was appointed national culture correspondent, based in Chicago.Since leaving the Times, Kinzer has taught journalism, political science, and international relations at Northwestern University and Boston University. He has written books about Central America, Rwanda, Turkey, and Iran, as well as others that trace the history of American foreign policy. He contributes to the New York Review of Books and writes a world affairs column for the Boston Globe.  Currently, he is a Fellow at the Watson Institute of International Studies at Brown University.

Lieutenant Commander Christopher Nelson, USN, is a naval intelligence officer and the book review editor for the Center for International Maritime Security.  He is a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and the Navy’s operational planning school, the Maritime Advanced Warfighting School in Newport, RI.  Those interested in reviewing books for CIMSEC can contact LCDR Nelson at books@cimsec.org  The views expressed in this paper are those of only the authors and do not express the official views of the US Navy, the DoD or any agency of the US Government.

Members’ Roundup Part 19

Welcome back to another edition of the member roundup. We have a variety of topics covered by CIMSECians across the globe this week, ranging from the US Rebalance to the future of US air combat superiority.

On the US Naval Institute’s blog, Roger Misso writes a response to Anna Grenville’s blogpost at Task and Purpose. Titled ‘4 Reasons I Am Resigning My Commission As A Naval Officer,’ she provides some insight as to why her, and others, decide to leave the profession. Miss agrees on many points raised in the original article but offers a counter-narrative: junior officers can build the service we want. This, of course, is only facilitated if the junior officer corps reaches critical mass and carries their views through the ranks. You can access Roger’s post here.

Over at The National Interest, Dave Majumdar provides a roundup of the top five lethal American weapons of war. From the Gatling gun to stealth bombers, he analyses why these weapon systems make it onto the list. The second article questions whether the next generation of fighters will be capable of dominating the skies. The F-35 program has come under intense scrutiny over the years, ranging from project delays to criticisms over its air combat capability.

uss-indiana-revoloing-cannon-508

Dean of the Fletcher Law School, James Stavridis, returns in this week’s edition with two articles. The first titled ‘The Arab NATO’ appeared in Foreign Policy, and assesses the development of the 40,000-strong Arab League response force. It is clearly poised to counter Iran’s potential rise post-negotiations. In the second article, featured in The Hill, Stavridis explains why we need a ‘consumer protection act’ for the cyber threat data market. Given that cyber threats span public, private and non-profit sectors, it is time to adopt more appropriate measures for dealing with this commodity in less regressive terms. You can access both articles here and here, respectively.

Zachary Keck returns in this edition with two articles in the past week. The first explores the future of US Air Combat superiority. Based on a new Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment report, Keck cites several dissenting claims against the findings of the report. The second article reports that China’s anti-satellite capabilities are well on track to be able to destroy satellites beyond low orbit.

Lauren Dickey guest blogs with Janine Davidson over at the Council on Foreign Relations, this week, exploring the current state of the US Rebalance. There is a tendency in Washington circles to draw sweeping policy judgments with few facts to back them up. The actual numbers, however, indicate that the policy shift remains on track. You can access Lauren’s article here.

The U.S.-Australia Force Posture Agreement ensures both that 2,500 Marines rotate annually through Darwin for the next twenty-five years and that U.S. military and intelligence representation at Australian facilities continues.
The U.S.-Australia Force Posture Agreement, part of the Rebalance, ensures both that 2,500 Marines rotate annually through Darwin for the next twenty-five years and that U.S. military and intelligence representation at Australian facilities continues.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.

Members’ Roundup Part 18

Welcome back to another edition of the Roundup! After a brief hiatus we are back to share with you more of our members’ works. There are plenty of articles to share, ranging from maritime infrastructure development to thoughts on the new maritime strategy.

Back in February Miha Hribernik wrote a piece for The Diplomat regarding piracy in Southeast Asia. Although this presents a significant and worrying problem, it is manageable. Miha presents some suggestions for regional States on how to resolve this issue. You can access the article here. 

To surpass China in Sri Lanka, India needs to pursue proactive and dynamic diplomacy. Nilanthi Samaranayake explains, over at The Diplomat, that the key to reaffirming India’s presence in the region is through infrastructure investment. More specifically, the focus should be on public-private partnership and government to government investment in the maritime domain. You can access Nilanthi’s article here.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 1.53.03 pmJerry Hendrix, from the Center for a New American Security, published a report in February called ‘Avoiding Trivia: A Strategy for Sustainment and Fiscal Security’. In it, he argues that the United States has strayed from its historic and cultural approach to the world, leaving behind its traditional maritime-focused, technologically innovative, free-trade based strategy. The solution to this, according to Hendrix, is a more clear eyed strategy that seeks to avoid trivia and address the US’ current weaknesses in order to shore up its long term strategic position.

Over at War on the Rocks David Wise shares with us an article titled ‘Blowback as National Policy.’ Many of the current security threats that the Western world faces today are a result of those decisions made in years past. Before making the foray into the geostrategic game, which is more than just a big game of Risk, first have a look at David’s cogent words on what we face today.

Mira Rapp-Hooper writes on the Lawfare Institute’s blog a post examining the impact of China’s increased military spending (and the US’ relative decline in spending) on neighbouring countries. You can access her post here.

Following the trend of AMTI posts, Bryan McGrath shares his analysis on how China might view the United States’ revised Maritime Strategy. Given that Bryan was heavily involved in the development of the 2007 strategy, you will certainly find his views on the matter very insightful. You can access his piece here.

Vice Admiral Robert Thomas, commander of the US 7th Fleet, proposed the creation of joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea by ASEAN member nations – this was quickly met with mix reactions. Scott Cheney-Peters provides some solutions to challenge the arguments presented by the ‘nay-sayers’ and suggests that the presence of the “white hulls” of the U.S. Coast Guard could mitigate many of the perceived drawbacks. You can find out more by accessing his article on the AMTI’s website, here.

Harry Kazianis, on The National Interest, shares an analysis of the core reasons behind China’s ‘massive’ military buildup. He explains the historical roots of the Chinese military psyche due to subjugation at the hands of external powers. The solution to this is to employ an asymmetrical strategy  to defeat, in battle, forces that are superior to its own. You can access his article here.

Long range anti-ship missiles contribute to an essential element of China's deterrence.
Anti-Ship Missiles contribute to an essential element of China’s deterrence.

On the National Defense Magazine’s online blog, Sandra Erwin reports that the current pace of shipbuilding and funding will not be able to meet the future demands of the Navy. Given that is an annual obligation of the Navy to tell Congress how many ships it will need and how much they will cost, it should certainly raise some alarm bells for decision-makers in Washington. For more on this, you can access Sandra’s post here.

U.S. Navy Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships assigned to Patrol Coastal Squadron 1 (PCRON 1), USS Hurricane (PC-3), USS Chinook (PC-9) and USS Typhoon (PC-5), transit in formation during a divisional tactics exercise in the Persian Gulf.
U.S. Navy Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships assigned to Patrol Coastal Squadron 1 (PCRON 1), USS Hurricane (PC-3), USS Chinook (PC-9) and USS Typhoon (PC-5), transit in formation during a divisional tactics exercise in the Persian Gulf.

Bringing the theme of this Roundup to the naval profession, Matthew Hipple in a joint article with Dan Follet and James Davenport, remind us the important role of patrol coastal ships in securing the seas. In this edition of Proceedings, the authors suggest that patrol coastal ships are an “incredible platform for both mission execution and cultivating war fighting.” To read more about why this is the case, you can access their article here.

Over at War on the Rocks, CIMSECian Emil Maine (and company) provide some critique of Congressman Mac Thornberry’s ‘Defense Acquisition Reform’ initiative. Defence acquisition is a necessity, but the question is whether political momentum can be sustained long enough to overcome the usual barriers to wholesale reform. More on this topic here.

Finally we conclude this edition with a shameless plug for my own work. The first is an article featured in the March-April edition of the Australian Defence Force Journal. Titled ‘Evolution of the Battlefield’, I examine existing strategic and legal challenges to developing an effective cyber warfare policy for military planners. My second piece is a brief analysis of the Australian Department of Defence’s new First Priniciples Reviewthis will hopefully provide an insight into some of the organisational challenges faced by the ADF and Department of Defence. Perhaps some of the US readers can find some similarities and provide suggestions for the Australian context. You can access each of the above articles here and here.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.

Our Final Kickstarter / Fundraising Update

Four months ago, we concluded our inaugural fundraising campaign.  The results too us aback; not only had we exceeded our initial fundraising goal by over 300%, but the support and enthusiasm from our members and the public reaffirmed our resolve in our mission.  On behalf the of the CIMSEC leadership team, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation for your support.

Since the conclusion of this fundraising campaign, we at CIMSEC have pressed on to expand our programming while maintaining our traditional content.  Last month, we published our first compendium on private security contractors at sea and have many more to release in the coming months.  Additionally, we leveraged our newly acquired resources to host the first annual CIMSEC Forum for Authors and Readers—an opportunity to expand the conversation regarding your favorite NextWar articles – and to further encourage maritime security education by sponsoring an essay scholarship contest exclusively for high school students.  Only three months into 2015, we think you’ll be excited to see what the rest of the year holds.

By now, all of our original Kickstarter backers should have received all of their respective rewards, with the most recent being the recipients of the official CIMSEC Drinking Implement (if not, the pint glass is in the mail!).  These were hand engraved with lasers (lasers!) by our very own President.  Additionally, we will be launching a new page on this site listing these generous original backers with their respective titles.  For backers who have not received all of their rewards or who have an issue with the spelling of their name (or would prefer to be anonymous), do not hesitate to contact us at treasurer[at]cimsec.org.

Again, the CIMSEC leadership team would like to reiterate our thanks for your support.  We look forward to what lies ahead and tackling this adventure alongside our members and readers.

Sincerely,
The CIMSEC Leadership Team

Members’ Roundup Part 17

Welcome back to another edition of the Members’ Roundup, where we share with the rest of the CIMSEC readership the great work that our members have produced elsewhere. From the geopolitical situation in the Indian Ocean region to military science-fiction, there will definitely be an article for every interest.

Automation has long colonised jobs that were once performed through manual labour; changes to military operations will be no less profound. In an article for a joint War on the rocks – Center for a New American Security on military robotics and autonomous weapons, Paul Scharre reminds us that beneath all of the technological developments is the human element driving the military application. Nations and militaries that are able to better understand the policy, strategic and operational challenges will be better placed to succeed on the battlefield. You can access his article here.

Over at Real Clear Defense, Emil Maine presents a stark assessment of the state of the  United States’ munition stockpile. According to Maine: ‘unless policy makers act to raise discretionary caps on defense in the upcoming fiscal year, the severity of weapon shortfalls will only intensify.’ Given that the preference by coalition partners is to avoid committing boots on the ground, there will be a future need for a consistent supply of munitions in order to sustain the current rate of operations.

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Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 crews prepare for another mission against ISIS.

This week we have two contributions from Vijay Sakhuja. The first is an article for the National Maritime Foundation, based in India, and it analyses the bilateral relationship between India and the Seychelles.  President James Michel’s Blue Economy project presents many opportunities for cooperation, but how this will be implemented is the challenge. The second article features in the Nikkei Asian Review; Vijay discusses the nature of Chinese infrastructure development in the Indian Ocean region and the ‘maritime silk road.’ In spite of growing tensions, many Asian countries continue to invite Chinese investment, leading to a win-win situation.

CIMSEC’s very own Scott Cheney-Peters features in this week’s edition of the Roundup with his short story “Red Light Challenge” published on the Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare website. The story is about a start-up team’s journey, with undertones of a hacker counterculture amongst the members, as they begin designing a flight-capable exoskeleton for the military. Throughout the piece, however, we see the human side during the project development; each character has their own traits and reasons for participating in the challenge. You can read Scott’s story here, as well as a follow-up interview about it here.

Sea ChangeThe Indo-Pacific region is rapidly emerging as a key focus of maritime geopolitics. In June last year, the Stimson Center and the Observer Research Foundation co-hosted a three-day conference titled Sea Change: Evolving Maritime Geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific Region. Two CIMSECians were invited to speak at the event; Scott Cheney Peters presented a paper on U.S. security relationships in the region and Nilanthi Samaranayake presented on the strategic importance of island states in a region of great powers. A copy of the publication can be accessed through the Stimson Center’s website.

In the latest Proceedings MagazineJohn Morton explains that the Third Offset Strategy needs more Mahanian thinking than meets the eye. Mahanian doctrine holds that a properly conceived national interest reflects the foundational sinews and national establishment of the era and must inform implicit long-term grand strategy. Today, the information age and globalised economy are what is important for long-term prosperity. You can read more of John’s article here.

Over at The National Interest there are three CIMSECians whose work I wish to draw attention to for this week’s edition of the Roundup. Zachary Keck reports that most Chinese citizens believe the PLA could seize islands in the East and South China Seas, even if the U.S. military were to intervene in the conflict. Earlier in the week, Keck cited a Heritage Foundation report that assessed America only had ‘marginal’ capacity to defend vital interests in the current threat environment. You can access that post here. Harry Kazianis continues the theme with an assessment of sequestration’s affect on America’s military readiness. Across the board, munitions levels are considerably low and it risks putting lives in danger. It is not, however, all doom and gloom. You can read more of Harry’s article to find out why. Kyle Mizokami presents his own roundup of the Top 5 most deadly anti-ship missiles of all time.

Finally, a quick and shameless spruik for my own work over at Young Australians in International Affairs. Earlier this week I wrote a blog post posing the question of what Australia’s military would look like if there was an opportunity to start with a blank canvas. Many of us in the military understand that force structure and procurement are constrained by fiscal and structural realities, but sometimes it is important to break down the fundamental requirements of national defence to truly understand what is needed to achieve the task.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.

Members’ Roundup Part 16

 Welcome back to another edition of the Members’ Roundup where we disseminate to you, the great work that CIMSECians have had published elsewhere. We have a variety of topics presented this week, ranging from the Eurozone financial crisis to Russia’s new aircraft carrier. Of note for this week’s edition we would like to welcome one of CIMSEC’s newest members: Milosz Reterski.
In an article for Jane’s, Milosz discusses the vulnerabilities of geonavigation systems such as GPS and GLONASS. Miniaturization and affordability of high-end electronics are putting GNSS  disruption capabilities into the hands of non-state actors—organized criminal groups and insurgents. Despite the introduction of new systems such as eLoran and atomic clocks to harden GNSS, future attacks will be mobile and deniable, and will “swarm” to create frequent degradations in systems that may then lead to permanent damage. Jane’s full content is through subscription only. Otherwise you can request for an instruction through this link.
Kuznetsov
The Russian Navy currently has only one aircraft carrier – the Admiral Kuznetsov. Launched in 1985 under the USSR, it features a ski ramp for aircraft launch. It is believed that Russia’s new carrier will utilise a catapult system.

In the news this week it was reported that Russia is looking at building a new aircraft carrier. Zachary Keck, of The National Interest,  writes this has been confirmed by the head of the Russian Navy. Currently, the Russian Navy only operates a single carrier (pictured below) that was launched in 1985 under the Soviet Union. In the past decade Russia has undertaken a massive program of military modernisation and this announcement will certainly assist in achieving this goal. You can read more on Zachary’s article here.

Over at War is Boring, Kyle Mizokami writes that North Korea may have a significantly high number of nuclear weapons – far more than was previously believed. This report is based on information provided by a former State Department official and it always difficult to accurately assess the true state of the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear arsenal. At the very minimum, the report represents a road map to what North Korea wants and, if true, has dire consequences for the strategic balance in the region. You can access Kyle’s article here.

Annapolis-based CIMSECian, David Wise, shares with us an article featured on the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies’ website. It deals primarily with the financial and debt crisis in the Eurozone. For the maritime security junkies amongst our readership, David does conclude with how  this could have an effect on the positioning of the Russian fleet. You can access his article here.

On The National Interest’s website, Robert Farley provides a 5-step guide to building a world-class navy. Requirements of a blue-water have come a long way from the days of establishing coal stations on the far side of the world, but much of the logic remains the same. The basic requirements, according to Farley, are: undersea warfare, logistics, air assets, strike capability, and experience.

Over at Signal Magazine, James Stavridis of the Fletcher Law School, shares some thoughts on the Navy’s newest ‘innovation’ department. Under the official title of ‘Task Force Innovation’, Stavridis raises some poignant questions about who should fill the billets. Should it be personnel already screened for promotion? He also suggests that whoever is involved should fight to be heard by the Secretary. You can access the article here.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.

Members’ Roundup Part 15

Welcome back to another edition of the Members’ Roundup. This week we have a variety of topics covered by CIMSECians around the globe. From developments in anti-ship missiles to land reclamation in the South China Sea, here is a roundup of the must-read articles for the weekend.

Darshana Baruah returns this week with another post over at The Diplomat. As Darshana describes, ‘small islands dotting the Indian Ocean are emerging at the center stage of great power politics unfolding in the Indian Ocean Region.’ As China looks to expand its presence beyond the South China Sea, here is a list of islands that can support China support its aims. You can access the article here.

When Air-Sea Battle was publicly introduced into the nomenclature of strategic thinking there was a flurry of criticism, both from a diplomatic perspective as well as commentary on the effectiveness of the concept as a whole. With ASB’s redesignation as JAM-GC (Joint Concept for Access & Maneuvre in the Global Commons) Himanil Raina explains how the Army can contribute. You can access the article through the Centre for Land Warfare Studies.

China continues land reclamation in Johnson South Reef in the South China Sea, otherwise known as the Mabini Reef by the Philippines and Chigua Reef by China.
China continues land reclamation in Johnson South Reef in the South China Sea, otherwise known as the Mabini Reef by the Philippines and Chigua Reef by China.

Mira Rapp-Hooper, Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, continues to inform with an analysis of ‘before and after’ imagery of several reefs in the South China Sea. All of the land reclamation involved has not gone without notice and is publicly acknowledged by the Chinese. Confidence building measures (CBM) have been agreed to by the Chinese and the United States, aimed at reducing accidents and the risk of escalation. The goal of these measures, however, are wider reaching and are non-binding. As Mira explains, the best sign these CBMs are working may be if we don’t hear much about them at all. You can access her article here.

A Norwegian Coast Guard vessel patrols the Arctic.
A Norwegian Coast Guard vessel patrols the Arctic.

James Stavridis, retired Admiral and Dean of the Fletcher Law School, recently returned from a voyage through the Drake Passage (between South America and Antarctica) and penned his thoughts about the state of the southern landmass. Antarctica continues with broad international consensus on its future and there is no conflict over the area. So what can be learned from this place and how can it be applied to the Arctic, where tensions are rising over claims and resources. You can access the article here at Foreign Policy.

Over at The National Interest Harry Kazianis begins a new series looking into the security competition that has been developing between the United States and China. With all the recent media attention on ISIS and the situation in Ukraine it is easy to miss the signs of the competition brewing between two of the world’s largest powers.

Lockheed Martin is currently working on a sub-launched variant of the LRASM
Lockheed Martin is currently working on a sub-launched variant of the LRASM

Over at The National Interest, Zachary Keck reports that the US Navy is seeking a submarine-launched stealth anti-ship missile. It is believed that the missile is based on Lockheed’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). You can read more about this development here.

Finally, a quick plug for my own work for this week’s edition. Earlier this week the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott released his National Security Statement. It certainly sets the tone for the current Government’s security agenda but it raises more questions, than answers, in the Australian Security debate. You can access my post here on the YAIIA Insights blog.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.