Gladiatoren im Kalten Krieg: Die Stay-Behind-Netzwerke der NATO

Von Danny Chahbouni. Danny Chahbouni studiert Geschichte und Politikwissenschaft an der Philipps-Universität Marburg.

Emblem des italienischen Stay-Behind-Ablegers "Gladio"

Emblem des italienischen Stay-Behind-Ablegers “Gladio”

Der Kalte Krieg, die Blockkonfrontation zwischen Ost und West, war mehr als 40 Jahre lang Gestaltungsrahmen des internationalen Systems und entwickelte eine Totalität, die auf beiden Seiten häufig den Zweck über die Mittel des staatlichen Handelns stellte. Die aktuelle Krise um die Ukraine bescherte dem Kalten Krieg medial eine gewisse Renaissance, auch wenn solche Vergleiche nur oberflächlich überzeugen können. Dabei ist seit dem Fall der Berliner Mauer 1989 eine ganze Generation junger Menschen herangewachsen, für die REFORGER-Übungen und Raketen-Stationierungen soweit aus ihrer Lebenswirklichkeit verschwunden sind, wie die Befreiungskriege gegen Napoleon oder der Sturm auf die Düppeler Schanzen (vgl. John Lewis Gaddis, “The Cold War. A New History“, Penguin, 2007).

Für den Historiker wirft diese Episode des 20. Jahrhunderts dagegen immer noch diverse ungeklärte Fragestellungen auf, vor allem was die Tätigkeiten der Geheimdienste angeht. Viele Archive sind nach wie vor verschlossen oder werden erst schrittweise erschlossen. Eines der mysteriösesten und für die westlichen Geheimdienste unrühmlichsten Kapitel dieser unvollendeten Geschichte bildet dabei das Phänomen der Stay-Behind-Netzwerke und ihrer Verwicklungen in den Rechtsterrorismus. Ein „Gentlemen’s-Business“, wie der erste Chef des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND), Reinhard Gehlen, die nachrichtendienstliche Aufklärungstätigkeit in seiner Autobiographie charakterisierte, kann man hinter diesen Strukturen nur schwer erkennen (vgl. Reinhardt Gehlen, “Der Dienst“, Hase&Köhler, 1971).

 
Ein Netzwerk quer durch Europa
Die Idee ein klandestines Netzwerk einzurichten, welches im Falle einer Invasion Widerstandsgruppen aufbauen sollte, war dabei kein Auswuchs der Blockkonfrontation, sondern beruhte auf Erfahrungen des Zweiten Weltkriegs. Für viele nord- und westeuropäische Länder kam der deutsche Blitzkrieg überraschend, da in den Jahren vorher weder in Frühwarnung noch an organisierte Widerstandsplanungen gedacht wurde. Der britische Auslandsgeheimdienst MI6 hatte jedoch bereits 1938, nachdem das Deutsche Reich Österreich annektiert hatte, damit begonnen eine eigene Abteilung für den Guerillakrieg, die einfach Abteilung D genannt wurde, aufzubauen. Deren erste Aktionen bestanden darin, für den Fall einer deutschen Invasion geheime Waffenlager in Südengland anzulegen. Bereits 1940 wurde die Abteilung D, in das auf Veranlassung Churchills neu gegründete, Special Operations Executive (SOE) eingegliedert. Diese neue Organisation trug den verdeckten Widerstandskampf hinaus in die besetzten Länder.

Offiziell wurde die Organisation 1946 aufgelöst, gleichzeitig wurde jedoch im MI6 die Abteilung Special Operations neu gegründet. Die Briten bildeten somit die Keimzelle für den Aufbau eines Stay-Behind-Netzwerks in der NATO. Nachdem die Amerikaner ihre Ansichten über die Sowjetunion revidiert und 1947 mit der Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) einen neuen Geheimdienst für das aufgelöste Office of Strategic Services (OSS) etabliert hatten, beteiligten sie sich ebenfalls am Aufbau dieser Struktur in Europa. Noch bevor die NATO am 02. April 1949 gegründet wurde, gab es innerhalb der Westeuropäischen Union ein sog. Western Union Clandestine Committee, welches 1949 innerhalb der NATO-Struktur als Clandestine Planing Committee (CPC) weitergeführt wurde. Ein weiteres Gremium, welches einem bei Recherchen immer wieder begegnet, ist das Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC). Das ACC hatte innerhalb des SHAPE den Auftrag die Arbeit der nationalen Geheimdienste zu koordinieren und sorgte für die nötige Abstimmung beim Aufbau und Betrieb der Netzwerke. Dazu zählte auch, das Anlegen von versteckten Erddepots, in denen Waffen, Sprengstoff, Funkgeräte und teilweise Schmuck und Goldmünzen als Tauschmittel für den Kriegsfall versteckt wurden. Die Netztwerke sollten, wie der Name „Stay-Behind“ impliziert, sich von den sowjetischen Invasionsstreitkräften überrollen lassen und danach Anschläge, Sabotageakte, sowie Aufklärungs-, Evakuierungs- und Rettungsmissionen für wichtige Personen durchführen.

Beim Anschlag auf den Hauptbahnhof von Bologna am 02. August 1980 starben 85 Menschen und mehr als 200 wurden verletzt. Die neo-faschistische, terroristische Organisation Ordine Nuovo wurde beschuldigt, den Anschlag verübt zu haben - wahrscheinlich mit der Absicht die Tat der linksextremen Szene in die Schuhe zu schieben. Ebenfalls wurden zwei Agenten des italienischen Geheimdienstes SISMI und der Vorsitzende der Propaganda Due, Licio Gelli, wegen Behinderung der Ermittlungsarbeiten verurteilt.

Beim Anschlag auf den Hauptbahnhof von Bologna am 02. August 1980 starben 85 Menschen und mehr als 200 wurden verletzt. Die neo-faschistische, terroristische Organisation Ordine Nuovo wurde beschuldigt, den Anschlag verübt zu haben – wahrscheinlich mit der Absicht die Tat der linksextremen Szene in die Schuhe zu schieben. Ebenfalls wurden zwei Agenten des italienischen Geheimdienstes SISMI und der Vorsitzende der Propaganda Due, Licio Gelli, wegen Behinderung der Ermittlungsarbeiten verurteilt.

Die erste „Filiale“ dieses Netzwerkes, die in Europa angelegt wurde, war die italienische. Italien als Gründungsmitglied der NATO, hatte bereits seit 30. März 1949 einen militärischen Geheimdienst, den sog. SIFAR. Innerhalb des SIFAR war das Büro R für das Stay-Behind-Netzwerk zuständig, welches den Namen Gladio (= Kurzschwert vom lat. Gladius) erhielt. Die Mitglieder wurden deshalb auch als „Gladiatoren” bezeichnet. Gladio wurde zuerst 1990 durch den italienischen Ministerpräsidenten Giulio Andreotti offiziell bestätigt, weshalb der Begriff Gladio als Synonym für die anderen Stay-Behind Netzwerke benutzt wird. Offiziell waren die nationalen Netzwerke allerdings unabhängig und hatten daher überall andere Bezeichnungen. (vgl. Daniele Ganser, “NATO-Geheimarmeen in Europa. Inszenierter Terror und verdeckte Kriegsführung“, Orell Füssli, 2014, S.24-56)

 
Strategie der Spannung
Andreottis Offenlegung führte dazu, dass auch in den anderen NATO-Ländern und auf EU-Ebene die Parlamente hellhörig wurden und sich für Untersuchungen einsetzten. Das Europäische Parlament verurteilte die Existenz einer solchen Organisation, die über all die Jahre ohne parlamentarische Kontrolle bestanden haben soll. In der Bundesrepublik wurde die Existenz von einer Stay-Behind-Organisation zwar zugegeben, deren multinationale Vernetzung im Rahmen der NATO, oder gar eine Finanzierung durch die CIA oder den britischen MI6 jedoch geleugnet. Auf eine kleine Anfrage der damaligen PDS-Bundestagsabgeordneten Ulla Jelpke antwortete die Bundesregierung 1991, dass der BND ende der 50er Jahre ca. 75. Verbindungsführer, die insgesamt 500 Quellen betreuten, eingesetzt hatte. In der Antwort auf die Anfrage wurde weiterhin eingestanden, dass es im Rahmen dieses Netzwerkes bi- und multilaterale Kooperation gegeben habe und darüber hinaus, dass bis 1983 Teile der deutschen Stay-Behind-Organisation auch für Sabotageaktionen trainierten. Danach sei die Zahl der Verbindungsführer auf 25 verkleinert wurden.

Interessant ist dieser Sachverhalt vor allem vor dem Hintergrund der These, dass Teile des NATO-Netzwerkes in terroristische Aktivitäten verwickelt oder explizit dafür vorgesehen waren (vgl. dazu Ganser, 2014). Die Strategie dahinter soll darauf abgezielt haben, Stimmungen in der Bevölkerung zu manipulieren und Attentate der politischen Linken in die Schuhe zu schieben. Dieser Verdacht geht offiziell zurück auf eine Serie blutiger Anschläge in Italien zwischen den 1960er und den 1980er Jahren. 1984 sagte der italienische Rechtsextremist Vincenzo Vincinguerra aus, das er an verschiedenen Anschlägen beteiligt war, die durch Personen aus dem Umfeld des italienischen Militärgeheimdienstes SISMI gedeckt wurden. Das Ziel sollte sein, mit diesen Anschlägen die italienische Linke zu diskreditieren. Der zuständige Untersuchungsrichter Felice Casson konnte nach umfangreichen Recherchen derartige Verbindungen tatsächlich nachweisen. Die Folge dieser Ermittlungen war die Enttarnung des Stay-Behind-Netzwerkes Gladio, dessen Existenz Ministerpräsident Andreotti schließlich eingestehen musste.

In Deutschland gab es zwei Vorfälle, die einen Kontakt zwischen westlichen Geheimdiensten und Rechtsextremisten vermuten lassen. 1952 meldete sich der ehemalige SS-Mann Hans Otto bei der Polizei und sagte aus, das er Mitglied des Bundes Deutscher Jugend (BDJ), einer Vereinigung ehemaliger Nazis, sei. Der BDJ sei allerdings nur eine Tarnorganisation für eine Gliederung namens Technischer Dienst (TD). Dieser sei eine durch das amerikanische Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) finanzierte Kampftruppe, die für einen Guerillakrieg im Falle einer sowjetischen Invasion vorgesehen ist. Die Truppe wurde im hessischen Wald-Michelbach in einem abgelegen Bauernhaus regelmäßig durch amerikanische Ausbilder trainiert. Bei der Durchsuchung des Anwesens fand die Polizei neben Waffen und Sprengstoff auch eine „schwarze Liste“, mit den Namen führender Köpfe der SPD, so u.a. Herbert Wehner und Erich Ollenhauer. Die Personen auf dieser Liste galten als politisch unzuverlässig und sollten im Kriegsfall unverzüglich ausgeschaltet werden. Der TD hatte dafür bereits mit eigenen „Agenten“ Teile der SPD infiltriert. Die Organisation wurde 1953 in einigen Bundesländern verboten, die Amerikaner gestanden eine Zusammenarbeit auch teilweise ein. Ermittlungsverfahren wurden nach Intervention amerikanischer Dienststellen zumeist eingestellt. Besonders unrühmlich ist die Verwicklung des “Schlächters von Lyon”, Klaus Barbie, der nicht nur als Agent für das CIC tätig war, sondern auch ehemalige Nazis für den BDJ rekrutierte. Im Dunkeln liegt bis heute, welche Rolle der BND-Vorläufer „Organisation Gehlen“ und die Verfassungsschutzämter als zuständige Inlandsnachrichtendienste in dieser Angelegenheit spielten.

Attentat auf das Oktoberfest in München 1980

Attentat auf das Oktoberfest in München 1980

Fast 30 Jahre später, am 26. September 1980, führte Gundolf Köhler, ein Student der vorher Kontakt zur Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann hatte, einen Bombenanschlag auf das Oktoberfest in München durch. Bis heute war dies mit 13 Toten und über 200 Verletzten der schlimmste Anschlag, den es in der Bundesrepublik jemals gab. Für die Hinterbliebenen der Opfer und einige Journalisten gibt es bis heute diverse Ungereimtheiten in der Aufarbeitung des Falls. Im letzten Jahr führte dann plötzlich eine Spur aus Luxemburg zurück in die Bundesrepublik des Jahres 1980.

 
Der Bommeleeer-Prozess
1984 und 1985 wurde Luxemburg durch eine Reihe von Bombenanschläge auf Strommasten erschüttert. Außerdem wurde in einem Wald durch Radfahrer eine Sprengfalle entdeckt. Nach langen Jahren, in denen sich einige Legenden und Verschwörungstheorien entwickelt hatten, wurden im Jahr 2007 zunächst zwei ehemalige Polizisten der Brigade Mobile de la Gendarmerie (BMG), einer Spezialeinheit der Polizei, festgenommen. Diese sollten die Anschläge verübt haben. Als Motiv wurde vermutet, dass durch die Akte die Ausrüstung und das Ansehen der BMG erhöht werden sollten. Der Prozess gegen die beiden Angeklagten begann im Februar 2013 und macht seitdem als Bommeleeer (Bombenleger) Schlagzeilen in der luxemburgischen Presse.

Der Anwalt einer der beiden Verdächtigen, Gaston Vogel, hatte für seine Verteidigung einen besonderen Zeugen aus Deutschland gefunden, der seinen Mandanten entlasten konnte: Andreas Kramer. Kramer bezeichnet sich selbst als Historiker und gibt an, als Archivar im deutschen Bundestag tätig gewesen zu sein. Im März 2013 sagte er unter Eid aus, dass die Anschläge einen gänzlich anderen Hintergrund hatten. Sein Vater, ein ehemaliger Hauptmann der Bundeswehr, der anscheinend auch zum BND abgeordnet war, sei Operationsleiter für das Stay-Behind-Netzwerk gewesen und die Anschläge in Luxemburg waren nicht das Werk von Terroristen, sondern seien eine geheime Sabotage-Übung von Gladio gewesen. Kramer senior soll im Zuge dessen auch sehr gute Kontakte zum damaligen Chef des luxemburgischen Geheimdienstes, Charles Hoffmann, gehabt haben. Dieser habe das Treiben in seinem Land zunehmend kritischer gesehen, konnte aber nichts gegen den BND ausrichten, der innerhalb des ACC eine stärkere Stellung gehabt habe.

Gesprengte Strommasten in Luxemburg. Terrorserie oder Stay-Behind Übung?

Gesprengte Strommasten in Luxemburg. Terrorserie oder Stay-Behind Übung?

Was bis hierhin bereits sehr abenteuerlich klingt, bekommt noch eine andere Qualität: Kramer sagte im April 2013 nämlich weiterhin aus, dass sein Vater Urheber des Attentates auf das Oktoberfest war und mit Gundolf Köhler die Bombe gemeinsam in seiner Heimatstadt Donaueschingen baute. Das pikante: 1980 führte tatsächlich eine Spur von München zum Rechtsextremisten Heinz Lembke in die Lüneburger Heide. Mehrere Gesinnungsgenossen Lembkes sagten nach dem Attentat aus, dass dieser mehrmals Waffen und Sprengstoff angeboten habe. Lembke hatte außerdem Verbindungen zur Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann. Eine Hausdurchsuchung bei Lembke blieb zunächst ohne Erfolg, ein Jahr später entdeckten Waldarbeiter jedoch ein verstecktes Waffendepot in der Nähe von Munster. Lembke verdiente sein Geld als Revierförster in diesem Gebiet. Nach seiner Verhaftung legte er weitere Depots offen und kündigte an, eine umfangreiche Aussage zu tätigen. Dazu kam es aber niemals: Er wurde am Morgen seiner Aussage mit einem Telefonkabel erhängt in seiner Zelle aufgefunden – offiziell ein Suizid.

Es ist ungeklärt, ob Lembke wegen seiner Tätigkeit als Revierförster durch einen Verbindungsführer des BND angeworben wurde, um geheime Waffenlager anzulegen. Dokumente der Funkaufklärung des MfS sollen zumindest belegen, dass in dem Gebiet Übungen von Stay-Behind-Agenten stattgefunden haben. Die Spur zum Oktoberfest-Attentat bleibt schwammig und kann nicht nachgewiesen werden. Andreas Kramer wird darüber hinaus als nicht sehr glaubwürdiger Zeuge eingeschätzt und verstrickte sich mehrmals in Widersprüche. Der Prozess in Luxemburg läuft allerdings weiter und führte dazu, dass die Bundesregierung erneut mit den Anfragen von Abgeordneten konfrontiert wurde. Das Portal Telepolis behauptet zudem, dass ihm Unterlagen des luxemburgischen Ministere d’etat vorliegen, die beweisen sollen, dass der BND an Übungen des Stay-Behind-Netzwerks in Luxemburg beteiligt war. Verifizieren lässt sich das freilich nicht. Die letzte Antwort der Bundesregierung ist vom März diesen Jahres. Darin findet sich u. a. eine detaillierte Auflistung des Inhaltes zweier im Raum Berlin gefundener Waffendepots:

5. Was genau war nach Kenntnis der Bundesregierung der Inhalt der Depots
(bitte Gegenstände und Anzahl pro Depot vollständig angeben)?

Der Inhalt des ersten Depots stellte sich wie folgt dar:
– 1 schwarzer Kunststoffbehälter mit Deckel und 6 Edelstahlschnappverschlüssen
– 2 Taschenmesser
– 1 Springmesser
– 1 Taschenlampe
– 1 Fernglas mit Ledertasche
– 1 Marschkompass mit Lederhülle
– 1 Taschenbuch „Im Gelände mit Karte und Kompaß“
– 3 Kugelschreiber
– 3 Bleistifte
– 1 Taschenflasche Weinbrand
– 2 Tafeln Vollmilchschokolade
– 1 Buch „Der totale Widerstand“
– 1 Buch „Gefechtstechnik Band 1“
– 1 „Taschenbuch für die Feldzeugtruppe“
– 1 „Taschenbuch der Luftfahrt 1954“
– 1 „Ergänzungsband 1955/57 zum Taschenbuch der Luftfahrt 1954“
– 1 Selbstladepistole, 9mm, mit 2 Magazinen (jeweils mit 8 Patronen)
– 1 Selbstladepistole, 9mm, mit einem Magazin (mit 13 Patronen)
– Karton mit 25 Patronen, 9mm
– 9 einzelne Patronen, 9mm
– 3 Glasfläschchen mit Medikamentenkapseln
– 1 Tube gefüllt mit Patronen Kaliber 22
– 1 Verbandkasten
– 1 Feuerzeug
– 1 Flasche für Feuerzeugbenzin (ausgelaufen)
– 3 Armbanduhren
– 1 „Taschenbuch der Panzer 1943-1957“
- 3 Handgranaten
– 4 Eisenbahnfackeln
– 1 Entfernungsmesser für Landkarten
– 1 Entfernungs- und Maßstabschablone
- 1 gefüllte Werkzeugtasche.

Antwort der Bundesregierung vom 03.03.2014, S. 3f.

 
Fazit
Das Stay-Behind-Netzwerk der NATO bleibt ein Mysterium des Kalten Krieges. Nachgewiesen werden kann, dass es entsprechende Strukturen gegeben hat, was in Anbetracht der Gefahr einer sowjetischen Invasion durchaus legitim und nicht verwunderlich ist. Ungeklärt bleibt allerdings, ob durch Initiative der CIA, des MI6 oder anderer westlicher Geheimdienste tatsächlich eine Strategie der Spannung verfolgt wurde, um linke Parteien und Regierungen zu diskreditieren. Ohne die entsprechenden Dokumente bewegt man sich im Bereich der Spekulation und stützt seine Argumentation auf Zeitungsberichte und fragwürdige Politikeraussagen, wie Daniele Ganser es in seinem oben zitierten Werk tut (eine ausführliche Review bietet das Journal of Intelligence History). Offenkundig ist unterdessen, dass vor allem durch die USA auch ehemalige Nazis für ihre Zwecke rekrutiert wurden. Wie diese Rekrutierungspraxis in der Organisation Gehlen bzw. dem BND weiterverfolgt wurde und inwiefern entsprechende Personenkreise möglichweise ihre neuen Positionen zur Verfolgung ihrer kruden politischen Ziele missbrauchten, könnte vor allem die unabhängige Historikerkommission zur Erforschung des BND klären. Haben möglicherweise, vermeintlich instrumentalisierte Extremisten, begonnen aus eigenem Antrieb zu handeln?

Vor dem Hintergrund des Attentates auf das Münchener Oktoberfest gibt eine konzertierte False-Flag-Aktion westlicher Geheimdienste zumindest keinen wirklichen Sinn. Zwar tobte der Bundestagwahlkampf zwischen Helmuth Schmidt und Franz Josef Strauß, bei dem auch Sicherheitspolitik eine große Rolle spielte, aber der Sozialdemokrat Helmut Schmidt galt keineswegs als sicherheitspolitisch unzuverlässig. Schließlich drängte er selbst seit 1977 auf die Raketen-Nachrüstung der NATO. Darüber hinaus wurde die Bundesrepublik seit über zehn Jahren von linksextremen Terroranschlägen überzogen. Warum also sollten westliche Geheimdienste das Risiko eingehen einen Anschlag in der Bundesrepublik zuinszenieren? Auf den Massenprotest der Bevölkerung gegen den NATO-Doppelbeschluss hatte der Terror der RAF keine Auswirkungen, die Angst vor dem Atom-Krieg war größer. Franz Josef Strauß wurde außerdem bereits zu seinen Zeiten als Verteidigungsminister von den USA als unberechenbarer Heißsporn eingeschätzt.

Ein endgültiges Fazit über das Ausmaß und die Verwicklungen des Stay-Behind-Netzwerks der NATO wird wohl erst möglich sein, wenn die entsprechenden Aktenbestände der westlichen Geheimdienste der historischen Forschung gänzlich zugänglich gemacht worden sind. Was allerdings fundamental erstaunt, ist die Nicht-Berichterstattung der deutschen Medien über den Prozess in Luxemburg, zumal man sich im Zuge des NSA-Skandals sowieso gerade auf die amerikanischen Geheimdienste eingeschossen hat.

 
Weitere Informationen

Posted in Danny Chahbouni, Nachrichtendienst, Sicherheitspolitik, Terrorismus | Leave a comment

Sea Control 29 – Interview with Erik Prince

Starting today until April 19, CIMSEC’s Next War blog features a themed special week about Private Military Contractors (PMCs). Thus, Matthew Hipple interviews Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, founder of Blackwater USA (after several name changes, now know as Academi) and author of “Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror“, in episode 29 of Sea Control. As of 2013, he heads a private equity firm called Frontier Resource Group (FRP), operating in more than a dozen African countries serving as an adviser to Israeli and Chinese investors in Africa (cf.: George Chen, “Into Africa: Ex-navy SEAL sets trail for investors“, South China Morning Post, 19.11.2012).

According to Prince, it seems that FRP will concentrate on logistics in Africa. If FRP will tackle security challenges with own mercenaries in Africa, is not entirely clear. For example, Prince will control fuel theft or container losses with monitoring techniques like tracking beacons and doesn’t speak about security personnel. Another example: Prince thinks that FRP could provide African states the equipment to control their territorial sea, but he doesn’t say anything about training. Already Xe (the name of Blackwater before the company was named Academi) unsuccessfully tried to provide maritime security. Therefore the company converted the NOAAS McArthur (S 330) to a private maritime security ship (MV McArthur). According to Prince, Xe finally sold off the ship.

Eric Prince with his book "Civilian Warrior"

Eric Prince with his book “Civilian Warrior”

Unsurprisingly Prince sees a big importance of PMCs in conflict zones and predict a robust future for this kind of business. According to him, one of the big advantages of Blackwater was to have its own personnel, vehicles, planes, helicopters and so on. No other PMC of the United States can provide that amount of own assets, which Blackwater did. But he his very critical about the US government, which finally torched Blackwater. His greatest regret is to have worked for the US State Department.

Listen to episode #29 immediately

Latest: Episode #29 – Archive: all episodes – Don’t miss any future episodes and subscribe on iTunes.

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CIMSECThe Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank. It was formed in 2012 to bring together forward-thinkers from a variety of fields to examine the capabilities, threats, hotspots, and opportunities for security in the maritime domain. Check out the NextWar blog to join the discussion. CIMSEC encourages a diversity of views and is currently accepting membership applications here.

Posted in English, Söldnerei, Sea Control | Leave a comment

Cartoon of the month: Putin’s Missing Shirt

Molina

Judging by the pictures of Mr. Putin in his free time, he is in need of a new shirt. In light of his recent behaviour, cartoonist Pedro Molina from Nicaragua has a fashion tip.

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Molina is a cartoonist, illustrator and editor of the weekly humor supplement “El Alacran” for ten years. For additional cartoons by Pedro Molina check out his homepage or his page on Cartoon Movement

Posted in Cartoon, Russland | Leave a comment

HMAS Canberra LHD To Be Handed Over Q3 2014

DigitalGlobe imagery from 15JAN14 of HMAS Canberra at Williamstown

DigitalGlobe imagery from 15JAN14 of HMAS Canberra at Williamstown

The latest satellite imagery shows the HMAS Canberra LHD at the fitting out pier at BAE’s Williamstown shipyard located in Victoria, Australia.

LHD_AWD_ANZAC_FFG_Size_ComparisonThe Canberra class amphibious assault ships are the largest vessels ever constructed for Australia, and it appears the Royal Australian Navy will be receiving one later this year. Measuring 230 meters and weighing over 27,000 tons, the Canberra class can carry 16 helicopters, among which include the UH-60 Blackhawk, CH-47F Chinook and the EC665 Tiger ARH.

According to multiple reports in the Australian press, the ship has been undergoing a series of sea trials since March, which will eventually culminate in a voyage around Victoria and Gippsland to test the vessel’s performance. Those watching satellite imagery of the vessel at BAE’s Williamstown shipyard from 2013-2014, have long awaited the trials. Imagery has shown less and less clutter on the deck suggesting the vessel was readying to sail, further substantiating progress reports. After the trials are complete, the ship will be handed over to the Navy in Q3 2014. And if all goes according to plan, it will be commissioned in 2015.

LHD_Canberra_Class_Concept_CutawayThe Canberra is the first of two LHDs being built for the navy at a cost of about $3 billion. It will carry up to 1600 soldiers to support disaster relief and peacekeeping operations, or so the narrative goes. The lower decks will be capable of holding more than 100 trucks as well as other vehicles including up to a dozen Abrams battle tanks. Four mechanized landing craft will also be on board ready to ferry the troops and their equipment to shore, as shown in the cutaway (right).

Most recently, US Marine Corp personnel deployed to Australia in order to instruct the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR) on planning amphibious operations, including expeditionary logistics and expeditionary communications. Members who participated validated their training with a capstone exercise synchronized with the joint US-Australian Exercise Talisman Sabre in 2013. The exercise usually focuses on improving combat readiness and interoperability between the forces.

As a joint production project, the construction of HMAS Canberra began in late 2008 at Spain’s Navantia Shipyard at Ferrol. Her keel was laid in September 2009 and launched on time in February 2011. The first steel was cut for the second ship, HMAS Adelaide, in February 2010. HMS Adelaide was launched in July 2012 and is over 85% complete. In December 2013, the Adelaide was loaded on the MV Blue Marlin where she has since made her way to BAE’s Williamstown shipyard, according to handhelds published in February 2014.

HMAS Canberra at Ferrol in March 2012

HMAS Canberra at Ferrol in March 2012

Upon finishing both vessels, Australia will join other Asia-Pacific naval forces like China and Japan in constructing multipurpose aircraft carriers supporting force projection far beyond national boundaries.

Posted in Australien, Chris B, English, International, Militärtechnologie, Sea Powers, Sicherheitspolitik | Leave a comment

NATO’s Pivot to Russia: Cold War 2.0 at Sea?

by Felix F. Seidler. Felix is a fellow at the Institute for Security Policy, University of Kiel, Germany and runs the site Seidlers Sicherheitspolitik“. This article was published there at first

Putin’s annexation of the Crimea shifts NATO’s focus back to Europe. Therefrom, maritime security’s relevance for the Alliance will suffer. Nevertheless, Russia’s new assertiveness has massive impact on NATO’s maritime priorities. Other than expeditionary missions, European homewaters are now the theatres of concern.

Russian military forces within 75 kilometres of Russia's border with Ukraine near Rostov (click on the image for more details).

Russian military forces within 75 kilometres of Russia’s border with Ukraine near Rostov (click on the image for more details).

All opportunities gone
After the Cold War, NATO was never threatening Russia, but rather sent dozens of cooperation offers to Moscow. Moreover, if Russia would sincerely have seeked NATO membership, Putin would fly to NATO’s September Summit. However, in NATO, Russia would never have been eye-on-eye with the US, but rather would have found itself on a level with Germany, France and the UK. Thus, Russia would never have found the global prestige and geopolitical influence it was looking for. That is the real reason why Russia never joined the Alliance.

Since 1991, there were many opportunities for naval cooperation between NATO and Russia. In Partnership for Peace (since 1994) and the NATO-Russia Council (since 2002), the Alliance reached out to Moscow, aiming to work closer together at sea. Positively, some of these opportunities turned into reality. NATO and Russia were working together in the Mediterranean in Operation Active Endeavour to combat terrorism and in the Indian Ocean to combat piracy. Moreover, the planned, but cancelled joint naval mission to protect the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons has shown the potential for increased cooperation. However, with the annexation of the Crimea, these opportunities ceased to exist.

Step up Black Sea presence
Ukraine has no significant navy anymore. Instead, Ukraine’s warships were taken over by Russia, which makes Moscow’s navy, by numbers, larger than the US Navy. However, due to the warships’ poor quality, this increase in naval power does not present a game changer. Surely, a plus for Putin’s navy is that Sevastopol will remain a Russian naval base for decades.

After Sevastopol is lost, Ukraine’s only significant port left is Odessa. NATO’s response should be to support Ukraine in keeping at least a small navy. Moreover, NATO should give a guarantee that, in case of further Russian aggression, Ukrainian ships can find shelter in Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey or Greece. In addition, SNMGs and SNMCMGs should pay regular visits to Odessa; on the one hand for partnership with Ukraine and on the other hand as show of force to Russia. Trips to Georgia should go along.

Like it or not – The Bosporus has become a bargaining chip. NATO should make contingency plans how to close the Bosporus for Russian warships, should Russia invade Eastern Ukraine or Moldova. NATO must make clear to Russia that a price to pay for further annexation of territories would the loss of access through the Bosporus.

A Russian sailor holds the Russian Navy's St. Andrew's flag while standing on the bow of the surrendered Ukrainian submarine Zaporozhye on March 22 in Sevastopol.

A Russian sailor holds the Russian Navy’s St. Andrew’s flag while standing on the bow of the surrendered Ukrainian submarine Zaporozhye on March 22 in Sevastopol.

France, please cancel the Mistral deal
Russia could have done military campaigns like Georgia 2008 or Crimea 2014 much easier with one of the Mistrals. One of these LHD would also be useful for Russia’s navy in campaigns against Moldova, with regard to Gagauzia and Transnistria, or even against Estonia, because the Mistrals can serve as a platform for command and control, attack helicopters and landing troops. That Russia announced to base its Mistrals in the Pacific does not mean that they will operate there. For its Syria show-of-force, Russia deployed warships from its Pacific Fleet to the Mediterranean.

Regarding the military balance in Europe, France would do its allies a disservice, if it would deliver the Mistrals to Putin. Instead, these vessels should remain either in Europe or in a like-minded country. Options where to sell the ships could be South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa or India; countries, which are looking for new LHD. An even better idea comes from Jeff Lightfoot. He argues that “NATO should buy the Mistrals“. Like AWACS and AGS, the Mistrals could become a shared NATO asset. Although I fully support Lightfoot’s arguments for a NATO-nization of the Mistrals, I disagree with him about how to do that. After the NATO Response Forces and EU Battlegroups failed, NATO’s SNMGs are the only multinational units with combat capabilities, which ever really worked. Moreover, Europe was carrying most of the burdens in the SNMGs, which face a serious of lack amphibious capabilities. Thus, the Mistral purchase should be mostly funded by the Europeans. Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland and Belgium could go for “NATO Mistral 1″, while the US, Canada, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Turkey could go for “NATO Mistral 2″. A NATO LHD in the Baltic or Black Sea would send clear message to Russia. Deployments to the Mediterranean or Indian Ocean would help to pursue Western maritime interests.

The Landing Helicopter Dock Dixmude (L9015) in Jounieh bay, Lebanon (mMrch 2012).

The Landing Helicopter Dock Dixmude (L9015) in Jounieh bay, Lebanon (mMrch 2012).

Sustain superiority in the Baltic and the Mediterranean
With the entry of the Baltic Countries and Poland into NATO and EU, the Baltic Sea was a solely political issue, not worth military considerations. This has changed, too. However, this does not mean that we are on the brink of war. Nevertheless, NATO needs to make plans how to deter Russia from threatening the Baltic Countries from the sea. The Alliance must make sure that its naval superiority in Baltic remains clear. Deploying an SNMCMG to the Baltic and regular naval exercises, such as BALTOPS (non-NATO), are efforts worth doing. Moreover, Sweden and Finland should join NATO. Both countries would bring great contributions to NATO and their membership would even increase Russia’s isolation in the Baltic Sea.

Russia is no partner for cooperation in the Mediterranean anymore. Beside the consequences of Crimea, Russia’s show-of-force in the Eastern Mediterranean to cover Syria made clear that Putin is willing to use naval power in missions targeted against Western interests. In consequence, the Europeans have to prevent – politically – that Russia opens new naval bases in the Mediterranean, for example in Cyprus or Egypt. EU member Cyprus must receive the clear message from Brussels that a Russian base on Cyrus is unacceptable. In addition, NATO should closely monitor all Russian naval activities in the Mediterranean and make plans about how to deal with them in case of further Russian aggression. Moreover, NATO states should close their ports for Russian ships to be replenished.

We need nuclear deterrence
Besides guaranteeing NATO’s future, Putin’s Crimea annexation also ends the American and British debates about the need for a sea-based nuclear deterrent. The argument for retiring the SSBN was that state-to-state conflict was unlikely and, therefore, nuclear deterrence was outdated. However, sea-based nuclear deterrence provides the minimum of global stability we need to prevent devastating state-to-state conflict. Where could the conflict with Russia go, if global zero was reality? What would prevent Putin from sending Russian tanks through Tallinn via Riga to Vilnius? Surely not statements from Berlin to keep the diplomatic hotlines open.

No matter about the massive unpopularity – Europe will need the nuclear umbrella provided by the US, UK and France. We are not yet back in the pre-1989 times. There is not yet a Cold War 2.0 at sea. However, if we forget the lessons learned of nuclear and conventional deterrence, we may find ourselves in exactly these situations much sooner than we think.

USS Kentucky (SSBN-737), Ohio-Class, US Navy

USS Kentucky (SSBN-737), Ohio-Class, US Navy

NATO-building starts at home
NATO’s pivot to Russia will shift attention away from the maritime domain back to the continent. Armies and air forces will receive, once again, much more attention than navies. While Putin’s aggression increased the importance of NATO for its member states, maritime security’s relevance for member states and, therefore, for the Alliance will decrease. In consequence, theaters like the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean will become of much less concern for NATO.

In case the Crimea crisis did not happen, NATO, to sustain its relevance, would probably have looked for new maritime tasks in the Mediterranean, Gulf of Guinea and the Indian Ocean, maybe even in Southeast Asia. However, thanks to Putin, we will find NATO’s warships deployed back in the Baltic and the Black Sea. Given Operation Ocean Shield ends this year, we will not see NATO back in the Indian Ocean very soon; except maybe for a few friendly port visits. After Crimea and with Putin’s hands on Eastern Ukraine and Moldova, NATO’s debates about partners across the globe and global alliance are finally dead.

In response to Putin, NATO-building begins at home. NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division has to be fully focused on the Alliance’s core business, reaching out to the member states’ ordinary taxpayers. The changing European security environment requires an emphasis on the big messages: Defense, deterrence and security. Thus, zeitgeist-motivated campaigns should be stopped. In these times, NATO must tell the people what armies, air forces really are for and how soldiers serve their countries and the Alliance.

Posted in English, Felix F. Seidler, International, Russland, Sea Powers, Sicherheitspolitik | Leave a comment

SWJ Book Review: The Lieutenant Don’t Know

by Jeong Lee, a freelance writer. This article was originally posted at Small Wars Journal and is cross-posted with permission.

The Lieutenant Don't Know by Captain Jeffrey Clement, USMC

The Lieutenant Don’t Know by Captain Jeffrey Clement, USMC

Since 9/11, many war memoirs have chronicled the collective experiences of the fighting men who fought and bled in Afghanistan and Iraq. From Nathaniel Fick’s One Bullet Away (2004) to Mark Owen’s No Easy Day (2012), such books have successfully captured the collective hardship of infantrymen or special operations forces commandos. However, very few war memoirs have told the story of logistics personnel who have often shared their miseries in America’s longest war to date.

Marine Captain Jeffrey Clement’s first book, The Lieutenant Don’t Know: One Marine’s Story of Warfare and Combat Logistics in Afghanistan, offers a unique insight into the war experience of Marine logisticians of the Combat Logistics Battalion 6 where he served as a truck platoon commander. In Afghanistan, where “the term ‘front lines’ didn’t exist [since all types of u]nits could be attacked anywhere,” Captain Clement faced the same dangers and horrors as his infantry counterparts.

Captain Clement’s memoir is divided into two parts: his life prior to joining the Corps and his first tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2010 as a Marine truck platoon commander. Clement writes that he decided to serve in the military because “Both of my parents and both grandfathers had been in the Navy. The September 11th attacks strengthened my resolve.” While he originally planned to join the Navy, Clement later chose the Marine Corps because one former Marine sergeant in his Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps battalion kept telling him that he should be a Marine officer if he had “something to prove.” In an unforgiving environment where the institution “chewed people up and spit them out if they couldn’t hack it,” Captain Clement learned to lead his Marines from the front.

Captain Clement tells his tale and those of his Marines with brutal candor and humility throughout his book. For Clement and his Marines, combat meant a constant state of boredom punctuated by brief moments of terror where their “large, slow moving logistics convoys [became] easy targets” for the Taliban insurgents. Throughout his first tour in Afghanistan, Clement would deal with multiple IEDs planted by an elusive enemy and watch his fellow Marines die.

Furthermore, in e-mail interviews with me, Captain Clement told me that the fear of having the enemy “sneak up and take [his] Marines prisoner” would cause him to stay awake for more than 48 hours, and that because he desired nothing less than to lead by example, he would personally drive trucks regularly notwithstanding regulations against officers personally driving vehicles. Perhaps it was because of his concern for his Marines that, by the end of his first tour, Clement would suffer from war-related injuries.

Particularly noteworthy is Clement’s keen observation of his fellow Marine officers with whom he served. Clement seemed to say that the Marine Corps is led by officers of mixed qualities. In his memoir, he recounts his reunion with his former instructor, a seasoned colonel who fell out of favor with the higher-ups because he lacked political finesse. Of women officers in combat, Clement praises one of his fellow platoon commanders as a competent commander who knew how to fight. Clement does not hold back criticisms against incompetent officers who could not handle the unrelenting pressures of combat, however. According to the author, he saw one officer popping a red smoke grenade—which is used to signal someone’s death—inside his truck because he was scared, while another officer left her sergeant to run her platoon because “she didn’t want to be the convoy commander.”

Overall, The Lieutenant Don’t Know is well-written and offers a realistic picture of what it is like to serve in Afghanistan as a Marine combat logistician. As editor of War on the Rocks and Marine veteran, Thomas Gibbons-Neff argues, Clement’s realism “is where [he] shines.” Indeed, Clement’s memoir has the potential to become a classic of the Afghanistan War.

All I can do after having finished the book is to express my utmost gratitude for allowing me to get a glimpse of the hardships and terrors Captain Clement and his fellow Marines endured.

— Jeffrey Clement, “The Lieutenant Don’t Know: One Marine’s Story of Warfare and Combat Logistics in Afghanistan” (Havertown: USMC Casemate Publishers, 2014), 264 pages.

Posted in Afghanistan, Buchtipp, English, Jeong Lee | Leave a comment

Sea Control 28 – The F-35

As announced in Sea Control episode 26, this episode is the East Atlantic edition, hosted by Alexander Clarke, Principal Researcher of the Phoenix Think Tank. He is joined by Steve George, former engineer with the F-35 program and a Royal Navy veteran. From a British perspective, they discuss possible challenges, misconceptions and rumours about the Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II program. For example: Could the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant F-35B burn holes into a carrier deck? Has the F-35 program a weight problem? Is it worth to go through all the problems to make the F-35 stealthy? How capable will be the combination between the F-35B and the coming Queen Elizabeth class carriers?

More information
Steve George, “F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – Congressional Report – Analysis“, Phoenix Think Tank, 11.01.2012.

Listen to episode #28 immediately

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• • •

CIMSECThe Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank. It was formed in 2012 to bring together forward-thinkers from a variety of fields to examine the capabilities, threats, hotspots, and opportunities for security in the maritime domain. Check out the NextWar blog to join the discussion. CIMSEC encourages a diversity of views and is currently accepting membership applications here.

Posted in English, International, Militärtechnologie, Sea Control | Leave a comment

BAE Taranis UCAV At RAAF’s Woomera Airfield

OSIMINT (19SEPT13) Taranis UAV Woomera AUS

Satellite imagery acquired by DigitalGlobe appears to show the BAE-built Taranis stealth UCAV at Australia’s RAAF Woomera Airfield.

Taranis

BAE Taranis in flight 10AUG13 (Credit: BAE)

BAE Systems, a British defense and aerospace company, revealed earlier in February that the Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrator successfully completed its maiden flight at an undisclosed test location in Australia back in August.

Recent imagery acquired by DigitalGlobe would appear to confirm that the UCAV took off from Woomera airfield, South Australia, a location well known to plane spotters. Although the imagery is of relatively low fidelity, measurements using Google Earth suggest a wingspan of around 9 meters matching public information. Unfortunately, an accurate measurement of the fuselage is practically impossible with the current imagery quality, especially since the nose appears to be fitted with a communications array or a pitot tube with AOA indicators, according to handhelds.

Imagery from October available in Google Earth still showed the aircraft parked on the apron at the airfield. In addition, surrounding support equipment around the aircraft may even suggest pre-post flight activity at the time of capture. BAE Systems Nigel Whitehead said a number of flights were executed last year at a variety of altitudes and speeds but could not confirm details.

DG (19SEPT13) Taranis

DG imagery from 19SEPT13

About Taranis
The joint British-French project is named after the Celtic god of thunder and is comparable with the US Navy’s X-47B. Like its US counterpart, the aircraft has been designed to fly with a high degree of autonomy from take-off to landing. According to BAE’s own infographic, the UCAV would fly over a target location using a predetermined flight plan providing persistent surveillance until a target has been identified. It would then let loose its payload from two internal weapon bays only after confirmation from a human controller at mission command. Beyond this seemingly standard ground attack capability, not much else is known in terms of offensive measures, especially in regards to negotiating enemy aircraft.

Unveiled to the public by BAE in 2010, the demonstrator took 1.5 million man-hours to build and costs around $303.3 million. The UCAV has been in development since December 2006 when BAE signed the contract with the UK Ministry of Defense. By April 2013 taxi trials were underway at Warton Aerodrome, an airfield also hosting BAE’s manufacturing facilities. With its blended wing shaped body, the Taranis is the most advanced UAV ever developed by the UK.

More information

Posted in Chris B, English, International, Militärtechnologie | Leave a comment

Recension: Cyber War Will Not Take Place

By Danny Chahbouni. Danny Chahbouni studies History and Political Science at the Philipps-University of Marburg (original published in German).

cyber war will not take place coverIn his latest work, Thomas Rid, Professor of Security Studies at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, vigorously opposes the thesis of the Internet as the fifth dimension of warfare. The paperback, published with a completely non-bellicose gracefully pink cover, comprises a total of eight chapters spanning 256 pages. The book appeared as a first edition from the London publishing house of Hurst & Co. in 2013 and can be ordered from Amazon.

Through his arguments, Rid sets himself against the contentions of ​​the “mainstream” military and security experts who attach ever-increasing importance to the Internet as a theatre of war and who put the threat it poses to modern, networked societies on a par with the menace of nuclear weapons. In doing so, Rid pursues the thesis that through the increased use of the Internet in inter-state conflicts, as well as in asymmetric conflicts, the intensity of violence tends to decrease. To substantiate his argument, Rid therefore first seeks to define the concept of war or cyber war. To do so, he orients himself on the construct of war espoused by Carl von Clausewitz, according to which war is an act of violence that instrumentally pursues the aim of forcing the opponent to succumb to one’s own will exclusively for political motives. Rid’s understanding of past and hypothetically possible operations on the Internet does not fit into this definition, which is demonstrated by means of various examples. So, imagine for instance, an F-16 that fires a sidewinder air-to-air missile at an enemy fighter plane or at a rebel lighting an IED on the roadside. There always are direct actions that are aimed at an opponent to inflict losses. According to the understanding of cyber war, however, every action taken against the opponent would cause them to suffer losses only indirectly; for example, a manipulated industrial plant might explode or a plane might be brought to a crash. With these considerations in mind, Rid analyses a whole series of past cyber incidents, such as the cyber ​​attacks on Estonia in 2007.

The term “Cyber ​​Wars” is for him, therefore, something of a didactic construct, rather than a real phenomenon, for which there would be historical or present examples. The idea of ​​a war on the Internet that could pose a security challenge for the future is not shared by Rid. On the other hand, he identifies three threat vectors in which “weaponised codes”, as he refers to “cyber weapons”, can be used in an offensive manner: sabotage, espionage and subversion. Each vector is described in a separate chapter in which Rid again first analyses the exact meaning and origin of each term before suggesting the bridge into cyberspace. This is usually based on an analysis of past attacks. Rid goes into detail here; for example, the Israeli air attack on the construction site of a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007 (see picture below). To facilitate this attack, the Israelis probably sabotaged a Syrian radar station in advance using malicious software, rather than physically destroying it or interfering electronically. This incident proffers some interesting facets to the problem at hand, especially in terms of the violence of a cyber attack.

English version - DER SPIEGEL 45:2009 Page 118

In the penultimate chapter Rid looks at the problem of “attribution”, i.e. the extent to which it is possible to attribute the responsibility for a cyber attack to an actor and how real political consequences stem from such an attribution. Previously, making a perpetrator responsible for their actions, seemed to be more a problem for law enforcement authorities, who try to identify the offender, rather than a role adoptable by international politics. In the event of a serious cyber attack by unknown parties, governments would be forced to act, which, according to Rid, would above all have an effect on the threshold at which an actor is attributed responsibility.

[...] the attribution problem is a function of an attack’s severity. Attributing political cyber attacks, if executed professionally and if unsupported by supplemental intelligence, is very hard if not impossible. Even if an attack can be traced to a particular state, and even if that state’s motivation to attack seems clear, the attribution problem’s technical, social, and political architecture gives the accused state sufficient deniability. [...] the more damaging and the more violent an attack, the higher the political stakes. And the higher the political stakes, the more pressure the targeted country will be able to bring to bear on the country of the suspected origin to cooperate in a forensic investigation. [...] The political situation in the wake of [a "cyber 9/11"] would be extraordinary, and military retaliation would be a real option. In such a situation, two changes would be likely: first, the standards of attribution would be lowered, not to the unreasonable but to the realistic. These standards as well as the transparency of the evidence are already lower than in an American court trial, perhaps comparable with the far murkier intelligence that regularly supports covert operations and drone strikes in farflung places The second change would be that the burden of proof would shift to the suspect. — Thomas Rid, “Cyber War Will Not Take Place” (London: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd, 2013), 160f.

 
Conclusion
Those who are interested only in the technical details of the subject are sure to quickly become annoyed by the digressions into political theories. Rid’s argumentation makes it clear that he is very familiar with the technology underlying the topic; every example is accompanied with detailed, technical explanations. The focus of the work, however, lies in offering a counterpoint to the rampant idea of ​​a cyber war. To this end, Rid provides extensive historical and political definitions on the topic of war, which are elegantly set in the context of cyberspace. The examples, in which various incidents since the early 80′s are examined, are especially interesting for the illuminating new light they shed on well-known conflicts. In this way, an introduction to the complex topic of “Cyber ​​War” is provided, which makes the book interesting even for newcomers to the subject. Whether Rid’s reasoning is worth following, rooted as it is in the Clausewitzian concept of war, or whether one is of the opinion that the Internet will indeed form the “fifth dimension” of warfare in the future, is left for the reader to decide for themself. Personally, I find, however, that in his work Rid concentrates too much on the theoretical negation of cyber attacks as a form of war. Precisely because (as he himself writes in the introduction) our modern societies depend to a very large extent on digital technology and a whole generation of young people has grown up with these technologies, for me the reference to a catastrophic impact that a sudden failure or a long-lasting disruption of this critical infrastructure would have on a society is given too little attention. The idea of ​​”Cyber ​​War” has seen enormous hype in recent years. In this work, Rid counters this hype with a more sober, yet very full-bodied survey of the issue.

— Thomas Rid, “Cyber War Will Not Take Place” (London: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd, 2013), 256 pages.

Posted in Buchtipp, Cyberwarfare, Danny Chahbouni, English | Leave a comment

Rational Actors Don’t Always Make the Decisions We Would

Vladimir Putin

President Vladimir Putin meets with senior Russian policymakers at his residence outside Moscow, March 28, 2014 (Kremlin)

When countries act in ways Westerners find confusing, it’s easy to regard their behavior as irrational. Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear capacity and Russia’s recent invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea are cases in point. Both have incurred high costs on these countries and isolated them internationally. The choices they have made might not seem rational, but only if we assume they should make the same tradeoffs we would. From their perspective, these decisions are perfectly rational. Their priorities are simply different.

The question of whether Iran’s leaders are acting rationally has concerned strategists for years. Russia’s recent annexation of the Crimea has raised similar questions about President Vladimir Putin — posed by, among others, Foreign Affairs and Slate (which would have us believe Putin actually wants us to believe he’s irrational).

Acting on the presumption that Putin is a rational actor and will respond to measures that make further aggression in Ukraine most costly, the West has imposed sanctions against Russian officials and threatened to expand the boycott to the whole of the Russian economy. If Russia continues on its current course, President Barack Obama warned last week, “the isolation will deepen, sanctions will increase and there will be more consequences for the Russian economy.”

“He may be proven right,” writes Reuters’ David Rohde. “Over the course of 2014, the threat of economic sanctions may result in Putin backing down in Crimea and Ukraine. And historic sanctions against Iran — which slashed oil sales and cut the country off from the world banking system — could produce an accord that halts Iran’s nuclear program.”

“If not,” he believes “a 16th-century Machiavellian truism will reassert its dominance: The party most willing to decisively use force will prevail over a noncommittal opponent.”

That has so far seemed to be the case, at least for Russia. If anything, the apocalyptic leadership in Tehran has responded more “rationally” to sanctions that sunk its economy by reopening negotiations over its nuclear program. While it remains far from certain these talks will produce anything more than they did in the past, there is no question the sanctions forced Iran to reenter them. The Russians, on the other hand, seem to be taking the sanctions in stride. Indeed, some of the officials barred from traveling to the West claimed to be proud to be on the sanctions list — as did the Americans targeted by the Russians in return. They did not appear at all concerned. Putin himself mocked the sanctions, opening an account with the Rossiya Bank which was the only company boycotted by the Americans. Even as support for a tougher Russia policy is growing in Germany, Russia’s most important European trading partner which has so far been reluctant to impose heavy sanctions, Putin does not appear deterred.

A NATO Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft takes off for a flight to Poland from the AWACS air base in Geilenkirchen, near the German-Dutch border. The NATO alliance said it will start reconnaissance flights with AWACS planes from their home base in Geilenkirchen and Waddington, Britain, over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in neighboring Ukraine, where Russian forces have taken control of Crimea. NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels this week suspended all practical cooperation with Russia in protest against its actions in Crimea and asked military commanders to draw up plans to reinforce NATO members in eastern Europe that are fearful about a threat from Russia (Photo: Ina Fassbender/Reuters).

A NATO Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft takes off for a flight to Poland from the AWACS air base in Geilenkirchen, near the German-Dutch border. The NATO alliance said it will start reconnaissance flights with AWACS planes from their home base in Geilenkirchen and Waddington, Britain, over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in neighboring Ukraine, where Russian forces have taken control of Crimea. NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels this week suspended all practical cooperation with Russia in protest against its actions in Crimea and asked military commanders to draw up plans to reinforce NATO members in eastern Europe that are fearful about a threat from Russia (Photo: Ina Fassbender/Reuters).

Irrespective of the sanctions, the World Bank has warned that Russia’s economy will contract 1.8 percent this year, simply as a result of depressed confidence in the country. This, too, doesn’t seem to have an effect on Putin’s behavior. Is the former KGB agent becoming delusional after fourteen years in power, as The Economist and Washington Post suspect? Or might it be that Putin is a rational actor after all, but that his priorities are simply different from what a Westerner’s would be?

While Putin’s motives are a matter of speculation, what is clear is that the annexation of the Crimea follows decades of perceived humiliation of Russia by the West. After the collapse of the Soviet Union — a huge blow to Russian morale in itself — its former Cold War rivals brought NATO right up to its border, incorporating even the newly-independent Baltic nations that had been part of Russia proper. Russia, believing itself to be a world power, was sidelined and sidestepped time and again, from NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999 to the intervention in Libya in 2011, playing right into its historical sense of cultural inferiority vis-à-vis the West. Now, it has finally seen fit to reassert itself and not just challenge the West by its actions, but also in the way it justifies its conduct.

Putin famously described the Soviet Union’s dissolution as the twentieth century’s “greatest catastrophe.” But not just because it shrunk Russia’s empire. Rather, because it left millions of Russians stranded on the “wrong” side of the border in former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact states. The time has come to bring those “compatriots” back into Russia’s fold. The Russian Senate gave Putin permission to invade Ukraine to that very end. Russian state media, watched anxiously in parts of eastern Ukraine that are home to millions of Russian speakers, had for weeks preceding the Crimean invasion played up fears of ethnic division in the country. Neo-Nazis were supposedly about to take power in Kiev — backed by those nefarious Americans to boot — evoking memories of Nazi efforts to eradicate the entire Slavic population of Eastern Europe.

Russia sees itself as standing tall in opposition to such schemes with Putin leading the way. As Mark Galeotti, a New York University professor and Russia expert for the consultancy Wikistrat, puts it: “A man whose self-image of himself as Russia’s saviour, as well as a growing belief in what we could call Russian exceptionalism, a belief that Russian civilization has a distinctive and unique place in the world and must be protected from homogenising Western influence, have come to the forefront.”

It’s not just Putin who sees it this way. Many Russians approved of his invasion which they considered only an appropriate response to an imagined Western conspiracy to snitch the Ukraine from their sphere of influence. A recent survey by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion found more than 90 percent of respondents favoring unification with the Crimea while 86 percent said the peninsula, which was transferred to Ukraine by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954, is part of Russia. Putin’s personal approval rating has skyrocketed, jumping nearly 10 percent in less than a month to 71.6 percent, the highest it has been in three years, according to the same polling firm. A full two thirds of Russians sees their country as a superpower again, up 16 percent compared to late 2011, according to Levada Center poll. What Western leader would look at those numbers and decide their policy is irrational?

Hassan Rouhani Vladimir Putin

Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Vladimir Putin of Russia meet in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, September 13, 2013 (Presidency of Iran)

If Iran hopes to build a nuclear weapon, its motivations for doing so are similar. That country, too, feels threatened by American preponderance. Its sense of insecurity dates back to the 1953 coup against the democratically elected government of Iran with was supported by the West. Today’s regime still suspects that American and British intelligence services are plotting to dismantle it. The assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists can have only enforced the sense that Iran is vulnerable to foreign intervention. The country’s fears were exacerbated in the last decade by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran’s neighbors. Iran itself was declared part of an “axis of evil” and warned to sever its ties with terrorists and give up weapons of mass destruction or risk coming under attack.

Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons program, hoping to stave off military action. North Korea, by contrast, continued its efforts unabated. The former was toppled by a Western military intervention anyway; the latter survives. The lesson Iran must have drawn from this was that anti-American regimes that refuse to budge under pressure can persevere whereas leaders who give into pressure are removed once they have done so. From Iran’s point of view, a nuclear weapons capacity — which wouldn’t even require actually building a bomb yet — is the best guarantee of maintaining its sovereignty. It might come at a huge price. Its economy is in tatters, threatening the stability of its authoritarian regime from within. It has hardly any friends in the world. If it weren’t for the “Arab Spring” uprisings, its foes — all of them American allies — would have been in a strong position to deny it any regional influence. Yet regime survival trumps all these concerns.

Is this irrational? Hardly. Western government might derive much of their legitimacy from economic performance and believe their foreign policies are morally superior, but for the leaders in Moscow in Tehran, the world has changed far less. They still have to care about their immediate security, which sometimes necessitates sacrificing economic gains and involves building the prestige to placate their populations and deter potential adversaries.

Posted in English, Iran, Libyen, Nick Ottens, Nordkorea, Russland, Sicherheitspolitik, Ukraine | 1 Comment