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Information Abuse at the New York Times

November 26, 2014

Information is power.  An old saying goes “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. I’d like to simplify that a bit and just say “Power can corrupt”.

Wielding power in the form of information can be a heady thing. Knowing and not disclosing secrets can be too much for some people, they just have to talk.  Even knowing information that is not classified can be a big deal, and in the case of two reporters from the New York Times, it was.

I don’t normally comment on domestic issues inside the United States unless they are somehow related to informing, influencing, or reaching out to the leaders or people of another country, region or globally.

The events in Ferguson, Missouri, however, are in the news, in a very, very big way. Not only do these events dominate the domestic news front, but all the propaganda outlets in the world are cackling with delight and broadcasting these events as if the United States is breaking apart at the seams.

Since the grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, a split that is, quite literally, almost black and white, has torn at the very fabric of this nation.

Some disagreed with the decision.  Two New York Times reporters, Julie Bosman and Campbell Robertson, decided to publish an image containing the address of Officer Wilson here. The article has been edited, the image with the address has since been removed but from the information still contained in the article, it is very simple to figure out his address (and his new wife).

So, thinking turnabout as fair play, some newsites published Julie Bosman and Campbell Robertson’s addresses, here, here and here. I suspect the last link, to “Why Can’t We Publish Addresses Of New York Times Reporters?” is the original article. All three publish the home addresses of both Bosman and Robertson.

In all these cases it is a matter of privacy, to not publish their addresses. In the case of Officer Wilson’s address, seeing the destruction of private property in and near Ferguson, MO, the looting, and the rioting. This practically screams ‘This is where he lives, go shoot him!’  That is almost tantamount to a death threat.  It is irresponsible, negligent, unprofessional and potentially dangerous.  It was also irresponsible and unprofessional to publish the home addresses of the two reporters.

This information is often publicly available, too much so, in too many cases.

Information is power. Power can easily be abused. Think, people.  Think.

Isis Wear Nappies In Battle

November 26, 2014

Islamic State fighters are wearing nappies on the battlefield because their backsides are so weak from constant bouts of “man love”. The crazed jihadis’ sordid secret was discovered by shocked members of the British-trained Iraqi army. It’s thought the extremists — hell bent on creating a Muslim caliphate across swathes of Iraq and Syria — are resorting to vigorous buggery to release tensions.

But their lust for man-on-man rutting has led to an unforseen problem: a growing number of fighters with slack sphincters. One Iraq Army source said,

“Every time we overrun an Islamic State position we’re always pretty horrified to find discarded shitty nappies (diapers). One or two of them could possibly be dismissed, but we are seeing them everywhere.”

“A few have been examined and, not to beat around the bush, they are caked in excrement and semen. We doubt that they’re all gay men — gay men would take better care of themselves”.

“The only theory we can think of is they’re sex-starved and so desperate to rid their tensions they’re turning to each other for emotional release. But it’s obviously had a very visible physical effect on them too, as it looks as though their backsides are dripping out their contents all day long.

“It’s pretty disgusting — but then this is Islamic State we’re talking about.”

Ironically, the militants released a video mocking US President Barack Obama saying his troops were too scared to take on Isis fighters. In the 15 minute film, one fighter asks: “Obama, did you prepare enough diapers for your soldiers?”

Published at http://casualinfamy.com/isis-wear-nappies-in-battle/

Germany and the disinformation politics of the Ukraine crisis

November 26, 2014

The reach of Russia into Germany cannot be understated, the reach of Russian propaganda is indicative of their emphasis on ‘total war’.

This article really outlines not only what Putin is doing in Germany, but also outlines the typical arguments used by Russians in almost any conversation, discussion or argument.  Their points are simple and they hammer these points with a vengeance.

Please notice the same points were made by the Germans before the Anschluss, they continue to work today. Recognizing these points and the tactics used is the first step in defeating these simple but effective techniques.

Putin Merkel .jpgLooking at both the historical and current pro-Putin segment of German public discussion, one can identify the target groups and methods of Russian disinformation politics

In early March, in central Berlin, I came across a demonstration protesting against ‘Neo-Nazis on the Maidan.’ I tried to talk to the activists standing there, but they responded to all of my comments with just one question: ‘Are you a member of the fascist Svoboda party?’ Up to that point, I had not realised the scope of Putin’s propaganda in Germany, and the fact that the topic of Ukraine will soon become one of the major division lines inside German society. I have been following various public discussions and debates, from the Bundestag to the Day of German Historians, and from the Berlin Poetry Festival to the German teachers conference, and I have come to understand better, German attitudes to the situation in Ukraine, usually defined in German media as the ‘Ukraine Crisis.’ Looking at the pro-Putin segment of German public discussion, one can identify the target groups and methods of Russian disinformation politics as well as the cultural stereotypes it is based on.

Key Putin-friendly beliefs

‘The responsibility for the Ukraine crisis lies with the West.’ This belief relies on the presumption that the West itself has violated the principle of the inviolability of borders. It is said that while the West has supported and recognised the independence of Kosovo, it has also challenged the international power balance by enlarging NATO up to the very borders of Russia. Using this historical analogy, ‘the self-determination’ expressed during the Crimean ‘referendum’ is often equated to the self-determination of Kosovo. But, at the same time, the choice of the majority of Ukrainians, voting in favour of European integration, is portrayed as being imposed from the outside (the notion of ‘American money for the Maidan’ is often raised in this respect). And the EU is blamed for promoting ‘unrealistic expectations’ of Kiev, and thus provoking Putin. This logic usually stresses the need to take into consideration the ‘legitimate interests of Russia’ in the post-Soviet space. This means therefore that the conflict in Ukraine should be solved ‘not against Putin, but together with Putin’ (a quotation from a speech on the ARD TV-show given by retired NATO general Harald Kujat).

‘In Ukraine we are dealing with a civil war between the East and the West of the country caused by the nationalism of the Kievan post-Maidan government.’ This image is based on an intensively promoted description of Ukraine as a deeply divided country where the pro-European and, at the same time, ultra-nationalistic ‘West’ stands against the pro-Russian or just Russian ‘East.’ Ukraine here is depicted as a failed state, the accidental outcome of the collapse of the Soviet Union and a country with no historical and cultural agency of its own. In other words, Ukraine is seen as just a battleground for the real superpowers. The notion of the ‘civil war’ also helps to downplay the question of the Russian intervention; and a comparison of Ukraine to Czechoslovakia promotes the idea of a peaceful divorce as a desirable solution.

Ukraine is seen as just a battleground for the real superpowers.

‘The Russians and the Russian language deserve special protection in Ukraine, especially in the regions with a Russian majority population.’ This phrase, which sounds like a reasonable European norm – in the context of the lack of knowledge about the language situation in Ukraine – often turns into the acceptance of Putin`s identification of speaking Russian with being Russian, and with it a loyalty to the Russian Federation. The German, as well as British or French media, quite often publish misleading maps of ‘ethnic zones’ in Ukraine that overlook the situational and social dimensions of Ukrainian bilingualism (mostly Russian-speaking cities, including Kyiv, and mostly Ukrainian-speaking villages, also in the very east of the country), and automatically ascribes the preferred language of everyday communication to political preferences and even ethnicity. For example, on 23 August 2014, in his interview for the Welt am Sonntag [national Sunday newspaper] German vice-chancellor Siegmar Gabriel claimed that Ukraine could maintain its territorial integrity only by proposing a federalisation to the regions ‘where the Russians are in a majority.’

‘Germany should avoid a new war, especially if there is a danger of nuclear weapons being used.’ Avoiding a war in this case involves making concessions to Putin, showing peaceful intentions and the will to talk. This logic is built on the European culture of political consensus, and overlooks the fact that every sign of indecision and weakness only encourages further aggression from the Kremlin. There are also fears of a totally unpredictable and chaotic ‘Russia without Putin.’ They influence the orientation and preference of German politics for keeping the option of ‘letting Putin save face,’ and a return to ‘business as usual.’ This orientation ignores the effects of the war propaganda campaign inside Russia and the nature of Putin`s political legitimacy, which has to move from one geopolitical victory to another to remain acceptable to the majority of the population.

‘The economic and historical aspects of German-Russian cooperation should not be sacrificed in favour of an obscure, distant and weak Ukraine.’ This view is based on the belief that Ukraine’s problems are somehow local (see the idea of the ‘civil war’ mentioned above), and thus bear no real threat to Germany. And yet the worsening of relations with Russia is seen as a real threat – economically, militarily and culturally. According to this reasoning, Ukraine appears as just a petty obstacle to the long-lasting search for the mutual understanding and cooperation between Germany and Russia. Such logic, for instance, was evident in West German politicians’ attitudes to Polish Solidarity during the 1980s.

‘The criticism of Russian politics in Ukraine is a new form of Russophobia.’ As a Ukrainian academic and commentator, I am constantly trying to prove the opposite: uncritical support or unwillingness to confirm the fact of Russia`s aggression against Ukraine is a kind of Russophobia, because it pushes Russia to the point of economic and political collapse, and denies the democratic potential of its development.

The views above are not simply products of the Kremlin’s propaganda efforts, but result from a genuine desire to prevent the worse-case scenario and further Germany national interests. The supporters of such an attitude do not constitute a homogeneous social or political group. Among them are people on the left, particularly voters of the Die Linke Party. But that does not mean that the entirety of the German left is pro-Putin, because the Green Party enthusiastically supports Ukraine. There are also some representatives of German business, especially those closely related to the Russian markets, and there are people of conservative views who are often sceptical towards further enlargenment of the EU. These people are represented politically by a new right-wing political party — Alternative for Germany.

The German cultural backgrounds of pro-Putin attitudes

The German cultural backgrounds of pro-Putin attitudes are many and varied.

Anti-American sentiments, for example, especially among the leftist German circles that, as Anna Veronica Wendland put it, point to imperialism in the West, but completely fail to notice it in the Russian politics on the post-Soviet space.

German post-war culture believes that every conflict could be solved if all sides will drink enough coffee together

There is the German post-war culture of consensus and pacifism, which believes that negotiations are always better than a coercieve approach, that peace should be established by peaceful actions only, and every conflict could be solved if all sides will drink enough coffee together. Unfortunately, this approach does not explain what to do if one of the sides, especially when it is not recognised as an aggressor, does not keep its promises and constantly uses violence to establish facts and advantage on the ground. Such pacifism tends not to notice somehow the military involvement of Russia, and sees the deliberate presentation of the war in Donbas as a kind of ‘legitimate fight for self-determination’ as being in some way comparable to the Kurdish, Catalonian or Scottish independence movements.

There is the historical stereotype of Eastern Europe as a terrain of political chaos, ethnic nationalism and anti-semitism. Putin`s propaganda tends to depict the current events in Ukraine according to this recognisable image of ‘Eastern Europe,’ which also includes Poland or the Baltic states, but not Russia.

There is the historical guilt towards Russia felt by a lot of Germans in relation to the Nazi atrocities committted during the Second World War. In German mass consciousness, the war in the East – that actually took place mostly on the territories of present-day Belarus, Poland and Ukraine – is perceived as a ‘war in Russia.’ But German historical guilt towards Ukraine, twice occupied by German troops during the 20th century (first in 1918 and then in 1941-1944), is practically absent in the evaluation of the current events.

Finally, there is the weakness of cultural and historical links with Ukraine caused, among other factors, by the lack of institutionalized Ukrainian studies in Germany and the shortage of Ukrainian cultural initiatives in the West.

Looking at all of the above, the most important conclusion is that for a lot of Germans, Ukraine has no historical and cultural agency of its own and is treated as just an instrument for stronger powers competition or a function of the anti-American or anti-EU sentiments.

For a lot of Germans, Ukraine has no historical and cultural agency of its own

‘Тhose who understand Putin’

Kremlin propaganda in Germany tends not to directly promote widespread acceptance and sympathy towards Putin’s politics, but to spread fear and disorientation. This propaganda is designed to prevent political and social consensus on Germany’s position towards Ukraine, and thus resistance to Russian intervention. Despite its variety, the principal aim of the pro-Putin discourse in Germany could be summarised in one word — non-interference. According to this logic, Ukraine should not expect NATO membership in the future, nor Western military assistance. The prospects of Ukraine’s EU membership can only be mentioned as a distant and vague possibility. At the same time, the sanctions against Russia should be abandoned (or at least not expanded) in order to overcome a ‘new cold war.’ But such an approach gives no clear vision of the future to Ukraine: how it could exist as a ‘bridge’ between conflicting integration projects (the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union).

‘Those who understand Putin’ (Putinversteher) constitute a heterogeneous group of influential ex-politicians (such as ex-chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schroeder), as well as journalists, political experts, businessmen and people within the German military. They are particularly visible on German TV talk shows and social media, where they attack every pro-Ukrainian publication or comment.

Notwithstanding the Putinversteher, it seems that, despite their best efforts, there is a growing understanding in Germany that Putin`s politics do have a global dimension. After all, his politics question all existing international institutions and the entire system of international law. In this sense, Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and the ensuing global information war poses a number of challenges to the EU (especially given its complicated decision-making process): how should democracies stand up to an authoritarian nuclear power? How can pacifism prevent war with a violent aggressor? And how can freedom of speech deal with disinformation?

Published at https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/andriy-portnov/germany-and-disinformation-politics-of-ukraine-crisis#.VHTjEHqwrJI.twitter

Russia, China, Iran Waging Political Warfare, Report Says

November 26, 2014

Cadet members of China’s People’s Liberation Army / AP

Bill Gertz nails it.  The US lacks a counter-propaganda strategy.  To add to this point, the US lacks a coherent strategy – period.

U.S. currently lacks strategy to counter unconventional, information warfare threats from states and terrorists

November 25, 2014 5:00 am

Russia, China, Iran, and Islamists are waging unconventional warfare around the world, and the United States currently lacks a clear strategy to counter the threat, according to a recent report by the Army Special Operations Command.

“This challenge is hybrid warfare combining conventional, irregular, and asymmetric means, to include the persistent manipulation of political and ideological conflict,” states the Army white paper, “Countering Unconventional Warfare.”

“Foreshadowed by Iranian actions throughout the Middle East, and by Chinese ‘unrestricted warfare’ strategists in the 1990s, hybrid warfare has now reached its most brazen form in Russia’s support for separatist insurgents in Ukraine.”

The 48-page white paper, published Sept. 26 by the Fort Bragg, North Carolina command, urges building new, non-kinetic warfare tools into a comprehensive U.S. and allied strategy.

The tools should include covert and clandestine special operations commando activities combined with political, intelligence, diplomatic, and financial warfare methods to counter the activities of states like Russia, China and Iran, and insurgent activities by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State.

Countering unconventional warfare also should be made “central to U.S./NATO security policy and practice over the next several decades,” the report states.

The Army study said the U.S. government “lacks a cohesive [information warfare] strategy to counter adversary [unconventional warfare] campaigns conducted by state and non-state actors, and this has hindered the U.S./NATO response to Russian aggression in Ukraine.”

“The U.S. government must develop a comprehensive framework to plan and execute regional and global IW strategies and operations that counter adversary UW campaigns as part of a whole-of-government approach,” the report said.

Russian unconventional threat

The report says that while Islamists in Iraq and Syria are “cascadingly disruptive,” the threat posed by Russia is more significant.

“Russian unconventional warfare is thus the central, most game-changing component of a hybrid warfare effort involving conventional forces, economic intimidation of regional countries, influence operations, force-posturing all along NATO borders, and diplomatic intervention,” the report said.

“The brazen audacity of unconventional warfare within Russian hybrid warfare has produced urgent concern among America’s NATO and non-NATO partners that Russia may apply similar approaches to other regional countries in the region with dissenting Russophile populations, such as the Baltic States, Moldova, and Georgia,” the report adds.

According to the report, Russia is using special operations forces, intelligence agents, political provocateurs, and news media reporters, as well as transnational criminal elements in eastern and southern Ukraine.

“Funded by the Kremlin and operating with differing degrees of deniability or even acknowledgement, the Russian government uses ‘little green men’ for classic [unconventional warfare] objectives,” the report says.

The objectives of Russian covert warfare include “causing chaos and disrupting civil order” and provoking an excessive reaction from Ukrainian security organs that Moscow hopes will delegitimize the Kiev government.

The Russians have engaged in a successful unconventional warfare campaign against Ukraine by organizing pro-Russian separatists and dispatching advisers and fighters from Russian special forces and intelligence units to assist them. Activities include funding and arming, tactical coordination, and fire support for separatist military operations.

The report identified retired Col. David S. Maxwell, a former Army special operations officer, as a “chief advocate” for a new counter unconventional warfare strategy and methods.

“Our enemies are conducting unconventional warfare and political warfare: Russia and its new Generation Warfare, Iran and its Iranian Action Network, and the Chinese Three Warfares,” Maxwell said in an email to the Washington Free Beacon.

“Non-state actors such as al Qaeda are conducting unconventional and political warfare,” he added. “We need to understand their strategies and we need to be able to counter their strategies. Counter unconventional warfare provides a foundation for strategic thinking about the threat strategies we face.”

Maxwell told a U.S. Special Operations Command briefing in July that counter unconventional warfare, or U-CW in Army parlance, can prevent states and groups from achieving their strategic aims.

Counter programs against unconventional war are likely to be “protracted and psychological-centric in nature,” Maxwell told SOCOM and added that the United States should “comprehensively employ political, economic, military, and psychological pressure” to degrade both the will and capability of enemies to use the new form of warfare.

U.S. should resume political warfare

The report quotes the late George Kennan, architect of Cold War containment policies against the Soviet Union, as urging the use of “political warfare,” which he defined as peacetime efforts using all means short of conflict to achieve national objectives.

The future geopolitical environment will feature ideological battles among states, the report said, noting that “Russia, China, and Iran currently conduct political warfare activities to further their individual goals.”

The United States, by contrast, ceased using political warfare at the end of the Cold War and instead is focused on “public diplomacy” that seeks to “tell America’s story” rather than influencing events in support of U.S. and allied interests.

The United States should renew political warfare efforts as part of a new strategy to influence local struggles, the report said. Additionally, “policies should be developed assigning political warfare as a core mission of government agencies responsible for C-UW doctrines and capabilities,” the report said.

Among the tools are increased intelligence to understand foreign unconventional threats and applying diplomatic, informational, economic, financial, and legal power along with military forces to wage hybrid and irregular counter-war.

Key elements of a new strategy will be using special operations “special strike” capabilities, like the use of Seal Team Six, and “surgical strike capabilities” a reference to precision attacks, such as covert drone strikes that have been highly effective against terrorist leaders.

Ken McGraw, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., said the Army report is a doctrinal think piece. Countering unconventional warfare currently is “neither a recognized special operations mission or activity in either Army or joint special operations doctrine” but could be in the future, McGraw said.

Several aspects of the new strategy appear to be part of the Obama administration’s current campaign against the Islamic State. The administration has sought to apply financial and diplomatic pressure on IS and announced plans to attack the Islamist ideology motivating the group. So far, however, the non-military results have had a limited impact on the group currently holding territory in Syria and Iraq.

China’s ‘Unrestricted Warfare’

China’s use of unconventional warfare was described in the Army report as based on the 1999 book by two Chinese colonels called Unrestricted Warfare that calls for using all means to defeat enemies, including cyber attacks, ecological warfare, financial warfare, and terrorism.

“China will use a host of methods, many of which lie out of the realm of conventional warfare,” the report said. “These methods include trade warfare, financial warfare, ecological warfare, psychological warfare, smuggling warfare, media warfare, drug warfare, network warfare, technological warfare, fabrication warfare, resources warfare, economic aid warfare, cultural warfare, and international law warfare.”

Examples include China’s threat several years ago to sell off large U.S. debt holdings to protest U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and cutting off sales of rare earth minerals to Japan in a dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Chinese news outlets also are used in media warfare, including at the White House. “The Chinese state-controlled television station network CCTV has a White House pool reporter that could influence U.S. media reporting on China issues,” the report said.

Cyber attacks also are a key Chinese unconventional warfare tool and the report said Chinese hackers are suspected of causing power outages in the northeastern United States and Florida, the report said.

“China’s cyber-attacks clearly show the vulnerabilities to the U.S. public and private sectors information and infrastructure security,” the report said. “States like Russia and China will continue to exploit weaknesses in cyberspace to gather information and influence others.”

Iran’s Qods Force

Iran’s main use of unconventional warfare is its support for terrorism and subversion through surrogates, like the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force.

“Through the Qods force, Iran provides ‘material support to terrorist or militant groups such as HAMAS, Lebanese Hezbollah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Taliban, and Iraqi Shia groups,’ the report said. “Hezbollah is the primary terrorists’ proxy for Iran working together with a campaign of terror against Israel, the United States, and other western nations.”

Qods operatives are working in Iraq with Shia militias to “counter U.S. objectives and diminish the presence and influence of Sunni groups,” the report said.

Iranian special operations commandos in Iraq are trained to attack critical infrastructure such as dams, power plant, and pipelines.

Iran also is developing cyber warfare capabilities as one of its key unconventional warfare tools.

“Iran seeks a sophisticated offensive cyber capability to weaken adversaries to gain military superiority and to counter external actions and activities,” the report said

“An effective cyber capability allows Iran the ability to have effects on an adversary with plausible deniability, and those cyber actions may not reach the level of retaliatory reactions.”

Iranian hackers were blamed in 2012 by U.S. intelligence for cyber attacks on U.S. banks that produced “debilitating” effects, the report said, adding that Iranian hackers also infiltrated Navy and Marine Corps computer networks.

Iran also is backing the Syrian Electronic Army cyber group.

“Adversaries are using and growing capabilities, which avoid current western overmatching combat strengths,” the report concludes. “Adversaries will continue using asymmetrical approaches such as applications derived from technological proliferation, cyber operations, terrorist activities, information, and media operations to diminish western advantages.”

Like conventional military strategy, the report says a counter unconventional warfare approach should rely on intelligence about enemy activities that can be used in counter attacks against enemies.

Additionally, U.S. special operations forces can apply similar methods used in unconventional warfare as part of their operations, the report says.

Irregular warfare main form of conflict

Sebastian Gorka, the Horner professor of military theory at the Marine Corps University and an adviser to Army Special Operations Command, notes that 80 percent of all war since Napoleon has been irregular or unconventional. “So only a fool would believe that ‘Big War’—​​​tanks versus tanks, fighter jets versus fighter jets—will define the threat to America,” he said.

“U.S. Army Special Forces—or Green Berets—were created to understand and function in this irregular threat environment,” Gorka said. “The truth is that the current global situation is defined by non-state actors using irregular warfare​, such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS), or nations such as China, Iran, and Russia using unconventional means, be it cyber warfare, proxies, or balaclava-wearing special forces without rank tabs or units insignia in Crimea.”

The biggest challenge for the U.S. policymakers in Washington is to treat U.S. Special Forces and irregular warfare as tactical assets and a tactical domain. They also fail to understand that the Green Berets are a strategic asset, and that China, Iran, Russia, and the jihadis are all at war with us right now,” Gorka said.

Bill Cowan, a former Army Special operations officer, said the need for a strategy to counter unconventional warfare is obvious but the recommended “whole of government approach” is a problem.

“No matter how well thought out and put forward, any implementation of a strategy that requires ‘a whole government’ approach to implement becomes problematic from the outset,” Cowan said.

“The notion of ‘coordinated synergy’ undermines the very basis of implementation unless driven decisively from the highest levels of the U.S. government,” he said. “We don’t have the leadership to make this concept/doctrine the core doctrine of our fight against our enemies.”

The Army report was first reported by The Epoch Times newspaper last week in an article on Chinese intelligence activities.

Published at http://freebeacon.com/national-security/russia-china-iran-waging-unconventional-warfare-report-says/

The ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’ and Russian Non-Linear War

November 25, 2014

General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation

The power of information has transcended the power of weapons, according to this article with emphasis.

For me, this is probably the most important line in the whole piece, so allow me to repeat it: The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness. In other words, this is an explicit recognition not only that all conflicts are actually means to political ends–the actual forces used are irrelevant–but that in the modern realities, Russia must look to non-military instruments increasingly.

The original article, “THE VALUE OF SCIENCE IN PREDICTION”, by General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation, is notable, as it provides a template for operations recently undertaken by the Russian army.  The role of information cannot be understated.

The ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’ and Russian Non-Linear War

But what happens when the bear looks like a stray dog, or a cute little kitten?

Call it non-linear war (which I prefer), or hybrid war, orspecial war, Russia’s operations first in Crimea and then eastern Ukraine have demonstrated that Moscow is increasingly focusing on new forms of politically-focused operations in the future. In many ways this is an extension of what elsewhere I’ve called Russia’s ‘guerrilla geopolitics,’ an appreciation of the fact that in a world shaped by an international order the Kremlin finds increasingly irksome and facing powers and alliances with greater raw military, political and economic power, new tactics are needed which focus on the enemy’s weaknesses and avoid direct and overt confrontations. To be blunt, these are tactics that NATO–still, in the final analysis, an alliance designed to deter and resist a mass, tank-led Soviet invasion–finds hard to know how to handle. (Indeed, a case could be made that it is not NATO’s job, but that’s something to consider elsewhere.)

Hindsight, as ever a sneakily snarky knowitall, eagerly points out that we could have expected this in light of an at-the-time unremarked article by Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. In fairness, it was in Voenno-promyshlennyi kur’er, the Military-Industrial Courier, which is few people’s fun read of choice. Nonetheless, it represents the best and most authoritative statement yet of what we could, at least as a placeholder, call the ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’ (not that it necessarily was his confection). I and everyone interested in these developments are indebted to Rob Coalson of RFE/RL, who noted and circulated this article, and the following translation is his (thanks to Rob for his permission to use it), with my various comments and interpolations.


Military-Industrial Kurier, February 27, 2013

(My comments are indented and italicised and in red, and the bold emphases are also mine)

THE VALUE OF SCIENCE IN PREDICTION 

General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation

In the 21st century we have seen a tendency toward blurring the lines between the states of war and peace. Wars are no longer declared and, having begun, proceed according to an unfamiliar template.

The experience of military conflicts — including those connected with the so-called coloured revolutions in north Africa and the Middle East — confirm that a perfectly thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict, become a victim of foreign intervention, and sink into a web of chaos, humanitarian catastrophe, and civil war.

There is an old Soviet-era rhetorical device that a ‘warning’ or a ‘lesson’ from some other situation is used to outline intent and plan. The way that what purports to be an after-action take on the Arab Spring so closely maps across to what was done in Ukraine is striking. Presenting the Arab Spring–wrongly–as the results of covert Western operations allows Gerasimov the freedom to talk about what he wants to talk about: how Russia can subvert and destroy states without direct, overt and large-scale military intervention.

The Lessons of the ‘Arab Spring’

Of course, it would be easiest of all to say that the events of the “Arab Spring” are not war and so there are no lessons for us — military men — to learn. But maybe the opposite is true — that precisely these events are typical of warfare in the 21st century.

In terms of the scale of the casualties and destruction, the catastrophic social, economic, and political consequences, such new-type conflicts are comparable with the consequences of any real war.

The very “rules of war” have changed. The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness.

For me, this is probably the most important line in the whole piece, so allow me to repeat it: The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness. In other words, this is an explicit recognition not only that all conflicts are actually means to political ends–the actual forces used are irrelevant–but that in the modern realities, Russia must look to non-military instruments increasingly.

The focus of applied methods of conflict has altered in the direction of the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures — applied in coordination with the protest potential of the population.

All this is supplemented by military means of a concealed character, including carrying out actions of informational conflict and the actions of special-operations forces. The open use of forces — often under the guise of peacekeeping and crisis regulation — is resorted to only at a certain stage, primarily for the achievement of final success in the conflict.

This is, after all, exactly what happened in Crimea, when the insignia-less “little green men” were duly unmasked as–surprise, surprise–Russian special forces and Naval Infantry only once the annexation was actually done.

From this proceed logical questions: What is modern war? What should the army be prepared for? How should it be armed? Only after answering these questions can we determine the directions of the construction and development of the armed forces over the long term. To do this, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the forms and methods of the use of the application of force.

What Gerasimov is signalling here, and it may prove an important point, is that the Russian military needs to be tooled appropriately. This may mean a re-opening of the traditional hostilities with the politically more powerful defence industries (that want to pump out more tanks and the other things they produce) over quite what kind of kit the military gets. When former defence minister Serdyukov announced a moratorium on buying new tanks, Putin slapped him down and restated the order. Shoigu and Gerasimov will have to be more savvy if they want to make progress on this one.

These days, together with traditional devices, nonstandard ones are being developed. The role of mobile, mixed-type groups of forces, acting in a single intelligence-information space because of the use of the new possibilities of command-and-control systems has been strengthened. Military actions are becoming more dynamic, active, and fruitful. Tactical and operational pauses that the enemy could exploit are disappearing. New information technologies have enabled significant reductions in the spatial, temporal, and informational gaps between forces and control organs. Frontal engagements of large formations of forces at the strategic and operational level are gradually becoming a thing of the past. Long-distance, contactless actions against the enemy are becoming the main means of achieving combat and operational goals. The defeat of the enemy’s objects is conducted throughout the entire depth of his territory. The differences between strategic, operational, and tactical levels, as well as between offensive and defensive operations, are being erased. The application of high-precision weaponry is taking on a mass character. Weapons based on new physical principals and automatized systems are being actively incorporated into military activity.

All worthy enough, but in fairness nothing we haven’t heard before.

Asymmetrical actions have come into widespread use, enabling the nullification of an enemy’s advantages in armed conflict. Among such actions are the use of special-operations forces and internal opposition to create a permanently operating front through the entire territory of the enemy state, as well as informational actions, devices, and means that are constantly being perfected.

This, on the other hand, does show something of a different nuance, with the renewed emphasis on “internal opposition”, something which harkens back to Soviet-era playbooks rather than post-Soviet military doctrine, which was largely cleared of such language except in some specific contexts such as counter-insurgency.

These ongoing changes are reflected in the doctrinal views of the world’s leading states and are being used in military conflicts.

Already in 1991, during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, the U.S. military realized the concept of “global sweep, global power” and “air-ground operations.” In 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, military operations were conducted in accordance with the so-called Single Perspective 2020.

Now, the concepts of “global strike” and “global missile defense” have been worked out, which foresee the defeat of enemy objects and forces in a matter of hours from almost any point on the globe, while at the same time ensuring the prevention of unacceptable harm from an enemy counterstrike. The United States is also enacting the principles of the doctrine of global integration of operations aimed at creating in a very short time highly mobile, mixed-type groups of forces.

In recent conflicts, new means of conducting military operations have appeared that cannot be considered purely military. An example of this is the operation in Libya, where a no-fly zone was created, a sea blockade imposed, private military contractors were widely used in close interaction with armed formations of the opposition.

Yes, these were all used in Libya, but whether they were that new is open to question. The key point for Gerasimov, I believe, is that actions such as the no-fly zone that were presented as (and have traditionally been) the preserve of humanitarian interventions were really used to favour one side in the conflict, the rebels. Combined with the use of mercenaries to support them, this makes Libya a convenient synecdoche for the kinds of operations the Russians are really contemplating, in which the mask of humanitarian intervention and peacekeeping can shield aggressive actions.

We must acknowledge that, while we understand the essence of traditional military actions carried out by regular armed forces, we have only a superficial understanding of asymmetrical forms and means. In this connection, the importance of military science — which must create a comprehensive theory of such actions — is growing. The work and research of the Academy of Military Science can help with this.

The Tasks of Military Science

In the main, I will comment less on this section, because often it really doesn’t connect so clearly with the first half. However, taken together it is worth noting that it presents a pretty scathing picture of modern Russian military thinking. I can’t help but wonder whether Colonel General Sergei Makarov, head of the General Staff Academy since only last year, must be feeling a little anxious about his prospects.

In a discussion of the forms and means of military conflict, we must not forget about our own experience. I mean the use of partisan units during the Great Patriotic War and the fight against irregular formations in Afghanistan and the North Caucasus.

These are interesting examples, not least because they omit other, equally or even more appropriate examples, such as the Soviet experiences fighting the basmachi rebels in 1920s Central Asia and supporting anti-colonial insurgencies in Africa, Asia and Latin America during the Cold War. In the latter, for instance, the Soviets tended to use military assistance, handfuls of specialists and trainers, third-party agents and extensive propaganda, influence and subversion operations to achieve political goals, ideally with as little direct conflict as possible and without letting Moscow’s hand be too obvious. Sound familiar?

I would emphasize that during the Afghanistan War specific forms and means of conducting military operations were worked out. At their heart lay speed, quick movements, the smart use of tactical paratroops and encircling forces which all together enable the interruption of the enemy’s plans and brought him significant losses.

Another factor influencing the essence of modern means of armed conflict is the use of modern automated complexes of military equipment and research in the area of artificial intelligence. While today we have flying drones, tomorrow’s battlefields will be filled with walking, crawling, jumping, and flying robots. In the near future it is possible a fully robotized unit will be created, capable of independently conducting military operations.

How shall we fight under such conditions? What forms and means should be used against a robotized enemy? What sort of robots do we need and how can they be developed? Already today our military minds must be thinking about these questions.

The most important set of problems, requiring intense attention, is connected with perfecting the forms and means of applying groups of forces. It is necessary to rethink the content of the strategic activities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Already now questions are arising: Is such a number of strategic operations necessary? Which ones and how many of them will we need in the future? So far, there are no answers.

There are also other problems that we are encountering in our daily activities.

We are currently in the final phase of the formation of a system of air-space defense (VKO). Because of this, the question of the development of forms and means of action using VKO forces and tools has become actual. The General Staff is already working on this. I propose that the Academy of Military Science also take active part.

The information space opens wide asymmetrical possibilities for reducing the fighting potential of the enemy. In north Africa, we witnessed the use of technologies for influencing state structures and the population with the help of information networks. It is necessary to perfect activities in the information space, including the defense of our own objects.

The operation to force Georgia to peace exposed the absence of unified approaches to the use of formations of the Armed Forces outside of the Russian Federation. The September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi , the activization of piracy activities, the recent hostage taking in Algeria all confirm the importance of creating a system of armed defense of the interests of the state outside the borders of its territory.

Although the additions to the federal law “On Defense” adopted in 2009 allow the operational use of the Armed Forces of Russia outside of its borders, the forms and means of their activity are not defined. In addition, matters of facilitating their operational use have not been settled on the interministerial level. This includes simplifying the procedure for crossing state borders, the use of the airspace and territorial waters of foreign states, the procedures for interacting with the authorities of the state of destination, and so on.

It is necessary to convene the joint work of the research organizations of the pertinent ministries and agencies on such matters.

One of the forms of the use of military force outside the country is peacekeeping. In addition to traditional tasks, their activity could include more specific tasks such as specialized, humanitarian, rescue, evacuation, sanitation, and other tasks. At present, their classification, essence, and content have not been defined.

Moreover, the complex and multifarious tasks of peacekeeping which, possibly, regular troops will have to carry out, presume the creation of a fundamentally new system for preparing them. After all, the task of a peacekeeping force is to disengage conflicting sides, protect and save the civilian population, cooperate in reducing potential violence and reestablish peaceful life. All this demands academic preparation.

Controlling Territory

It is becoming increasingly important in modern conflicts to be capable of defending one’s population, objects, and communications from the activity of special-operations forces, in view of their increasing use. Resolving this problem envisions the organization and introduction of territorial defense.

Before 2008, when the army at war time numbered more than 4.5 million men, these tasks were handled exclusively by the armed forces. But conditions have changed. Now, countering diversionary-reconnaissance and terroristic forces can only be organized by the complex involvement of all the security and law-enforcement forces of the country.

The General Staff has begun this work. It is based on defining the approaches to the organization of territorial defense that were reflected in the changes to the federal law “On Defense.” Since the adoption of that law, it is necessary to define the system of managing territorial defense and to legally enforce the role and location in it of other forces, military formations, and the organs of other state structures.

We need well-grounded recommendations on the use of interagency forces and means for the fulfillment of territorial defense, methods for combatting the terrorist and diversionary forces of the enemy under modern conditions.

Again, here defence is used in Aesopian terms to address issues of offence. I don’t dispute there is a genuine need for this kind of coordination, and it may reflect the confidence of a recently re-empowered General Staff in trying to reassert some kind of supreme authority over national defence after years in which the security agencies have been dominant. But primarily I read into this a recognition of the importance for the close coordination of military, intelligence and information operations in this new way of war. If we take Ukraine as the example, the GRU (military intelligence) took point over Crimea, supported by regular military units. In eastern Ukraine, the Federal Security Service (FSB), which had thoroughly penetrated the Ukrainian security apparatus, has encouraged defections and monitored Kyiv’s plans, the Interior Ministry (MVD) has used its contacts with its Ukrainian counterparts to identify potential agents and sources, the military has been used to rattle sabres loudly on the border–and may be used more aggressively yet–while the GRU not only handled the flow of volunteers and materiel into the east but probably marshalled the Vostok Battalion, arguably the toughest unit in the Donbas. Meanwhile, Russian media and diplomatic sources have kept up an incessant campaign to characterise the ‘Banderite’ government in Kyiv as illegitimate and brutal, while even cyberspace is not immune, as ‘patriotic hackers’ attack Ukrainian banks and government websites. The essence of this non-linear war is, as Gerasimov says, that the war is everywhere.

The experience of conducting military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq has shown the necessity of working out — together with the research bodies of other ministries and agencies of the Russian Federation — the role and extent of participation of the armed forces in postconflict regulation, working out the priority of tasks, the methods for activation of forces, and establishing the limits of the use of armed force.

[…]

You Can’t Generate Ideas On Command

The state of Russian military science today cannot be compared with the flowering of military-theoretical thought in our country on the eve of World War II.

Of course, there are objective and subjective reasons for this and it is not possible to blame anyone in particular for it. I am not the one who said it is not possible to generate ideas on command.

I agree with that, but I also must acknowledge something else: at that time, there were no people with higher degrees and there were no academic schools or departments. There were extraordinary personalities with brilliant ideas. I would call them fanatics in the best sense of the word. Maybe we just don’t have enough people like that today.

Ouch. Who is he slapping here?

People like, for instance, Georgy Isserson, who, despite the views he formed in the prewar years, published the book “New Forms Of Combat.” In it, this Soviet military theoretician predicted: “War in general is not declared. It simply begins with already developed military forces. Mobilization and concentration is not part of the period after the onset of the state of war as was the case in 1914 but rather, unnoticed, proceeds long before that.” The fate of this “prophet of the Fatherland” unfolded tragically. Our country paid in great quantities of blood for not listening to the conclusions of this professor of the General Staff Academy.

What can we conclude from this? A scornful attitude toward new ideas, to nonstandard approaches, to other points of view is unacceptable in military science. And it is even more unacceptable for practitioners to have this attitude toward science.

In conclusion, I would like to say that no matter what forces the enemy has, no matter how well-developed his forces and means of armed conflict may be, forms and methods for overcoming them can be found. He will always have vulnerabilities and that means that adequate means of opposing him exist.

This is an obvious, if necessarily veiled allusion to Russia’s relative weakness compared with the West today and, probably, China tomorrow. The answer is not to not have conflicts, but rather to ensure they are fought in the ways that best suit your needs.

We must not copy foreign experience and chase after leading countries, but we must outstrip them and occupy leading positions ourselves. This is where military science takes on a crucial role.

The outstanding Soviet military scholar Aleksandr Svechin wrote: “It is extraordinarily hard to predict the conditions of war. For each war it is necessary to work out a particular line for its strategic conduct. Each war is a unique case, demanding the establishment of a particular logic and not the application of some template.”

This approach continues to be correct. Each war does present itself as a unique case, demanding the comprehension of its particular logic, its uniqueness. That is why the character of a war that Russia or its allies might be drawn into is very hard to predict. Nonetheless, we must. Any academic pronouncements in military science are worthless if military theory is not backed by the function of prediction.

- Published at http://inmoscowsshadows.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/the-gerasimov-doctrine-and-russian-non-linear-war/

How to efficiently fight anti-Israel propaganda?

November 25, 2014

Screenshot of Mahmoud Asila’s Facebook page, with writing in Arab calling to “Run over people for the sake of Jerusalem”. (photo credit:screenshot)

In the Western world Israel has largely lost the propaganda battle against the Arabs. More than 40 percent of Europeans believe the conspiracy theory that Israel aims to exterminate the Palestinians. In reality, the Palestinian population has greatly increased. The Palestinian- Israeli conflict is often absurdly presented as the greatest threat to world peace.Palestinian criminality, while similar to that in several other Muslim countries, is ignored or whitewashed by many media figures, politicians and others. Around the globe, whether within or outside of the Muslim world, large numbers of people are massacred, some by governments. The US government and the European Union, however, often remain silent about such mass killings. Yet they religiously publish condemnations of Israel for building homes outside the Green Line, as if that was endangering the world. This is yet another success of Arab propaganda.According to the Anti-Defamation League, the number of anti-Semites in the world exceeds one billion people. The anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic hate propaganda emerging from large parts of the Muslim world knows no limits.

This is a highly dangerous development.

Israel is a small country with many enemies. Its survival depends on being smarter than them.

The question is, then, why is Israel’s propaganda falling so short? The strategic answer is simple. Israel is fighting a total war which has a number of facets. One is military.

For that purpose, Israel has an efficient instrument, the IDF. It oversees the entire military battlefield and innovates methods for dealing with future threats.

A second facet is the intelligence war. To fight this war, Israel has three competent agencies: the international agency Mossad, the domestic security service Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the military intelligence branch, AMAN. Cyber-warfare has become yet another major battlefield and Israel is investing heavily to become a world leader in this area.

To fight the fourth element of the total war, however, there is, quite surprisingly, no effective instrument.

There is no governmental or non-governmental organization which oversees the entire propaganda battlefield. Some Israeli government bodies, private NGOs and other operators participate in the anti-propaganda battle, but there is little coordination between them.

Some major anti-Israeli propaganda matters are barely dealt with.

In recent decades, the role of diplomats has expanded to include public diplomacy (hasbara in Hebrew). They are expected to not only maintain government contacts in the country where they are located, but also to communicate with the public there and influence them to view Israel favorably. A variety of tools have been developed for this purpose.

One often hears that Israel should be more effective in its public diplomacy.

That is true, because many people abroad do not have a structured, hostile attitude toward Israel, but are simply uninformed. Fighting the propaganda war, however, is a very different issue. Here one does not deal with the poorly informed, but one’s adversaries.

Hostilities against Israel come from both government and other sources within Muslim states, from Muslims in the Western world, politicians from many countries, NGOs, academics, trade unions, church leaders – mainly liberal ones – a variety of Western socialist parties, the extreme Left, the extreme Right, and so on. Social media is yet another arena for hate propaganda.

Diplomats are quite ineffective in a propaganda war. To put it brutally, they have been well trained to say it is raining if one spits in their face.

The only way to fight the propaganda war is to establish a central body, much like those that exist for military, intelligence and cyber-warfare: an agency which oversees the entire battlefield.

What would such a centralized Israeli anti-propaganda agency do? Let me map out some of the basics.

It would have to focus on three major pursuits: research, monitoring and operations.

The research branch would cover a number of areas. It would have to investigate, in detail, how the entire anti-Israel propaganda war works. This would include analysis of the key motifs of demonization, where major attacks originate, the investigation of the main categories of perpetrators, the interactions between them, how the hatred is transmitted, and so on.

For Israel to effectively expose and fight its multiple adversaries in the propaganda war it would have to know, in an organized manner, much more about them than it presently does. The anti-Israel defamation and hate system is far from having been explored in its totality. Developing an understanding of both unstructured and structured anti-Israel incitement and how they mutate should be an ongoing project. A database should be established with all the information collected.

The second function of the anti-propaganda agency would be to monitor current developments.

Such monitoring would be done by specialists, in various ways. Some would follow developments in specific countries. Others would specialize in specific categories such as Muslim governments, Muslims in the Western world, politicians, academics, etc. A third monitoring group would follow specific types of anti-Israeli incitement such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, false accusations, the application of double standards, false moral equivalence, scapegoating and other fallacies.

The operational branch of the new structure would have to develop increasingly effective methods to fight the anti-Israeli propaganda as well as anti-Semitism. It would have to assess which activities it undertakes itself and which should be left for others, such as other government services, nongovernmental bodies in Israel and abroad, or even some individuals.

The success of a central Israeli anti-propaganda agency would depend on both the quality of its staff and the availability of government funds. Rough estimates put the financial requirements in the $200 million to $250m. per year range. Had Israel started to fight hate propaganda efficiently in the 1980s, it would have been able to avoid much of the damage done since.

To demonstrate that the fight against hate propaganda requires a central Israeli body overseeing the battlefield is simple. Its establishment, however, depends on the political will of the government to create – decades too late – this highly necessary agency and allocate to it the necessary funds.

The author is a board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (2000-2012).

Vladimir Putin seeks Opec oil deal with direct appeal to Saudi in Vienna

November 25, 2014

#PutinFail

Putin is desperately trying to save the failing Russian economy by falsely propping up oil prices.  #RussiaFail

Russian president hopes oil-producing nations will act collectively to cut production quota to halt a 28pc slide in prices since June

Vladimir Putin’s top oil lieutenants were locked in tense meetings in Vienna with Opec delegates on Tuesday in a last ditch effort to reach a deal with the cartel as Russia faces a deep recession from falling oil prices.

Igor Sechin, chief executive of Russia’s state-controlled oil giant Rosneft, and the country’s oil minister Alexander Novak held a second meeting with officials from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela this afternoon amid intense speculation over whether the group will act collectively to cut its production quota to halt a 28pc slide in prices since June.

However, the meeting held at the Hyatt Hotel appeared to have ended inconclusively with Mr Sechin and Opec officials leaving by a side entrance. A planned press conference was cancelled following the discussions.

Analysts say that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), which pumps a third of the world’s oil, would have to make deep cuts of up to 1.5m barrels per day (bpd) of crude to their existing 30m bpd quota levels in order to revive prices. However, that will require non-Opec producers such as Russia to also limit output.

Moscow currently pumps over 10m bpd of oil and provides Europe with the majority of its natural gas supplies but the country has been haemorrhaging revenue since the US and European Union imposed sanctions.

Venezuela’s main Opec delegate Rafael Ramirez told reporters in Vienna on Tuesday that the meetings with Russia would be key to the group of 12 producers reaching a consensus when they officially meet on Thursday.

“It’s likely the market is currently pricing in the nervous expectation that Opec won’t agree to cut production,” said Graham Martin, Managing Director at Optima Investment Management. “If Opec announced a co-ordinated cut of 500,000 barrels per day or more we would expect a rally in oil and oil related equities.”

“While core-Opec [Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait] will undoubtedly demand some output reductions from members such as Angola, Nigeria, Venezuela, Qatar, and Algeria, the main cuts will have to come from, and are more likely to be forthcoming from, the Persian Gulf States,” he added.

Today’s high-level meetings in Vienna come after Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, warned yesterday that the country faced an economic crisis from the loss of revenue incurred from falling oil prices.

“We are losing around $40bn [£26bn] per year due to geopolitical sanctions and we are losing some $90bn [£58bn] to $100bn [£64bn] per year due to oil prices falling 30 pc,” Mr Siluanov said in a speech in Moscow, reported by RIA Novosti news agency.

“Saudi Arabia, the most powerful member of the cartel, has continuously insisted that they will not take action unless there is a consensus,” wrote Helima Croft, head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets in a note to investors.

Bloomberg has reported that one proposal under consideration would be to exclude Iran, Iraq and Libya from any cuts that Opec may agree to. However, this proposal would potentially meet resistance from Gulf states who may be concerned of eventually losing market to both Tehran and Baghdad.

Although Iran sits on vast oil and gas reserves its production and exports are limited due to tough nuclear sanctions, which won’t be lifted until at least next year after the recent failure to reach an agreement with the US.

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