Cold War II

“Out on the road today I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.  A little voice inside mydeadhead head said ‘Don’t look back, you can never look back…’”

“America can never be conquered.  It can only be brought down from within.”

“…Keep on rockin’ in the free world…”

The Cold War started before the guns of World War II had cooled.  All of us served in one capacity or another in that forty-four year non-conflict.  Many served when the war heated up nearly to the boiling point in faraway Korea and Vietnam.  Many lost life or limb and came home with unseen wounds and scars.  Many served with Army and Air Force units in Europe. Many served in the Marines and Navy around the world.  We won that war.  We thought it was over and we were right, but now it’s come round again.

For hundreds of years Russia has cast a covetous eye to the west and south.  While she has abundant natural resources one she has always lacked is warm water ports.

Murmansk Port

Murmansk Port

Much of Russia’s western ports (Murmansk) are located above the Arctic Circle and are iced in much of the year.  Vladivostok is on the Pacific coast and off the beaten track.  She has a major naval base on the Crimean Peninsula at Sevastopol but her Black Sea Fleet would have to force its way through both the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles Strait to get to the Mediterranean Sea and ultimately the Atlantic.

For much of the nineteenth century Great Britain and Russia engaged in what was then called the Great Game.  Russia took and annexed Central Asia with the goal of moving on India which was then the greatest jewel in Britain’s colonial crown.  Great Britain moved an army into  Afghanistan to block Russia.  Unfortunately for Britain, the Afghans didn’t (and still don’t) appreciate foreigners on their soil with guns in their hands.  Britain lost an entire army.  One doctor managed to make it back to India to tell the tale.

In October, 1917, the government of the Romanov Czars fell to the Bolsheviks.  Russia morphed into the Union of Soviet Socialists.  Once the Bolshevik (Communist) party had assumed control of the country they continued the programs the Czars had started with an additional goal of taking the Baltic states.  Regardless of who holds power in Russia the goal always remains the same.  In 1939 the Stalin government signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany.  Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June, 1942.

By the Spring of 1945 the Soviet Union and the Western Allies (the United States and Great Britain) had driven the German Wehrmacht back into Germany and had captured Berlin.  The war had cost the lives of millions of Russian citizens.  The Soviets had overrun the Balkan States, Eastern Europe and roughly half of Germany.    Stalin occupied the Eastern Europe.  He installed puppet Communist governments in each.  They would serve as a buffer zone for the Soviet Union in the event Germany tried to invade again.  This coalition was known as the Warsaw Pact. Western European countries led by the United States and Great Britain set up their own alliance known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This is where many of us came in.  NATO and the Warsaw Pact maintained a state of watchfulness on each other for more than forty years.    Many of us were there.

To make a long and complicated story short, the Warsaw Pact came apart and the Communist government of the Soviet Union fell in 1991.  Democracy was tried, but after

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin 2015

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin 2015

generations of strict Communist governance the Russian population wasn’t comfortable with freedom.  Many yearned for a strong leader.  That leader appeared in the person of one Vladimir Putin on December 31, 1999.

Putin had served the Soviet Union as a KGB operative in East Germany (he speaks fluent German).  With the fall of the Soviet Union he resigned (rank: lieutenant colonel) and entered politics in Saint Petersburg.  He very quickly worked his way up to become Prime Minister and President Boris Yeltsin’s hand-picked successor.  On 31 December, 1999 Yeltsin resigned as president.  Putin stepped up to replace him and has never looked back.

Putin has shown himself to be the reincarnation of a combination of the Czars and the Communist Party premiers.  Political opponents have been tried for various crimes and imprisoned.  Ditto political dissidents.  Reporters that have been critical of Putin’s activities have been murdered and the crimes remain unsolved.  While he hasn’t (yet?) gone to the genocidal extremes of Stalin, Putin obviously intends to not only maintain power in Russia, but he also plans to extend Russian hegemony.

“So, what does any of this have to do with a Cold War that’s long over?” I hear you ask.

I’m glad you brought that up.  In 1941 Imperial Japan knew that they couldn’t fight and defeat the United States.  They did know that if they could strike and defeat the U.S. Pacific Fleet in a surprise attack that the United States would be unable to rebuild and strike back before Japan had attained her strategic goals.  They obviously misread and underestimated the political will of America’s leadership and the ability of her people to build the war machine that would ultimately crush them and turn two of her cities into radioactive rubble piles.

Putin is thinking along the same lines, I think.  He wants to reestablish the East European buffer zone against NATO. He also wants to reestablish the old Russian empire.  He knows he doesn’t have to strike the United States or NATO militarily to attain his goals.  He’s judged the leadership of both and found them weak.  He’s already seized the Crimea from Ukraine and sponsored a revolt for roughly a third of that country to secede and reattach itself to Russia.  The Russian (I very nearly typed ‘Soviet’, old habits die hard, I guess) air force is busy bombing rebel and civilian targets in Syria to help prop up the Assad regime.   He has, in fact reignited the Cold War.

Putin knows he can never conquer, much less invade, the United States.  He also knows that to accomplish his short term and long term strategic goals the United States must be kept out of his way.  The best way for him to do this is to divide the United States politically and to keep us divided.  Up until this election cycle he’s only had to sit back and watch us divide ourselves.  For the last eight years we’ve become expert at doing just that.  Since Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 we’ve become every bit as divided as we were in 1860. The one big difference is that we’re not divided geographically as we are politically.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

Until Obama was elected I had never heard of demands that an elected president show his birth certificate.  Did I miss something in the forty-eight years that I’ve been eligible to vote?  I had never heard of demands for any president before Jimmy Carter to show proof of their citizenship. I’ve been a life-long Republican.  These days I’m referred to as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) by people that haven’t been voting nearly as long as I have.  I learned in the Army that when we saluted an officer we saluted the rank, not the man.  I believe that the office of President is owed a certain amount of respect whether one agrees with his politics or not.  Although I didn’t (and wouldn’t) vote for him I believe that Barack H. Obama is the legally elected president of the United States.

The “Birther” Movement that tried (and still tries) to prove that Obama can’t be the legally elected president because he is ‘technically’ an American citizen.  The ‘Birthers’ believe that Obama was born in Kenya.  Apparently there was a conspiracy when he was born to some day make him the president so that he could drag the country to Hell.  They also believe that he’s Muslim. I haven’t read in the Constitution that any particular religion disqualifies a person from holding office, but I digress. One of the leaders of the ‘Birther’ movement has been one Donald J. Trump. He has kept pouring small amounts of gasoline on the birther fire since it’s conception although he denies it in spite of video and audio evidence to the contrary (“Who you gonna believe?  Me? Or that lying video?”)

Now Trump is the Republican candidate for president.  Against all expectations he managed to defeat a very qualified GOP field of primary candidates.  He made every possible mistake that a candidate could possibly make and still won the nomination.  The only insult that he hasn’t thrown at his opponents is to accuse any of them of bigamy (see Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachel) but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he did.  To say that Trump has run a very unconventional campaign would be the understatement of the millennium.  Trump has proved time and again that he is not qualified to hold the office of president (Nuclear Triad? Why can’t we just nuke ISIS?) yet his supporters don’t care.  They claim that during his campaign rants that Trump says what they’re thinking.  That thought alone makes me very nervous.

One of the few people that Trump has not insulted (besides his supporters) is Vladimir Putin.  Trump claims that he has never met Putin (depending on which Trump interview you believe) but that Putin has said nice things about him so he believes that Putin must be a nice guy.  Trump even defended Putin during the third presidential debate with Hillary Clinton.  Evidently, Putin is a very nice guy.  He’s done more to advance Trump’s presidential hopes than probably anyone else.

Russian intelligence services have hacked Democratic Party computers as well as those of Clinton’s campaign staff.  They’ve passed hacked emails to Wikileaks which has posted them on the internet for the world to see.  Trump has read these emails to the crowds at his rallies.  I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t care that they’re stolen goods.

So, we have a foreign power openly interfering in American politics during a presidential election year.  I have to wonder why.  My theory is that Putin wants an American president that he can not only manipulate but can possibly push around using whatever tricks he learned in the KGB.  Trump thinks he’s a lady’s man.  He believes that rich as he is he’s entitled to any woman he wants.  He took the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow.  According to Russian intelligence sources, they have plenty of dirt on Trump.  A possible honey trap wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility; the Russians are masters at that.

Before any of this information came out Trump had publicly announced that the United States pays too much into NATO.  He said that in the event of a war in that region he would have to check the balance sheet of the affected countries to see if they’d payed their dues before we would come to their assistance.  Possibly he didn’t realize that we have ground units in Poland?  Would he at least try to get them out of harm’s way or would he sacrifice them to ‘Nice Guy’ Putin?  I believe that if Trump is elected president he would leave the door to Eastern Europe wide open to Putin’s strategic ambitions.  Eastern Europe would be on its own and some of the blood shed would be American.

I’m obviously not a Trump supporter.  I haven’t been since I listened to his announcement that he was tossing his hat into the presidential ring.  The man disgusts me to be perfectly honest.  There are many more reasons that I don’t want to see him sitting in the Oval Office, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll stick to the cold war that’s been reignited.  I believe that if/when Trump takes office his butt won’t even have time to warm his chair in the Oval Office before Putin starts making his moves.

Perturbation-1992 The Last Election of the Cold War

Perturbation: a disturbance of motion, course, arrangement, or state of equilibrium; especially:  a disturbance of the regular and usually elliptical course of motion of a celestial body that is produced by some force additional to that which causes its regular motion” Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Binary Star system

Binary Star system

Today, November 1, 2016, President Obama’s approval rating is 54% per Gallup. Without a doubt, President Obama is a very popular president.  In comparison, George H.W. Bush basked in the glow of the successful prosecution of the Persian Gulf War with an 89% approval rating at the beginning of the 1992 election season. At the time Bush was so popular that Democratic top tier contenders like Mario Cuomo waved off the opportunity to run and, in the vacuum, Democrats Jerry Brown (California Governor and reformer), Bill Clinton (Arkansas governor and centrist or New Democrat), Tom Harkin (Iowa Senator and populist), Bob Kerrey (Nebraska Senator with a business and military background), Paul Tsongas (Former Massachusetts Senator and fiscal conservative) , and L. Douglas Wilder (Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder, African-American)  signed up for the Democratic primary battles.

Perturbation in the Democrat-Republican binary star system appeared when Ross Perot, a cheeky, independent, Texas billionaire who eventually drew about 19% of the popular vote entered the race. If anyone had cared to listen, Ross Perot was playing to a large portion of America’s working class population afraid that the trade impact of NAFTA, the North America free Trade Agreement, would result in loss of American manufacturing jobs and the secondary fear of increasing national debt.  Although on the ballot in all 50 states, Perot eventually sunk himself by withdrawing, then re-entering the race.

The Democrat-Republican binary star system was further vexed by an asteroid belt of candidates from the: Libertarian Party, New Alliance Party, Natural Law Party, U.S. Taxpayers’ Party, Populist Party, Lyndon LaRouche’s candidacy, Socialist Workers’ Party, Ron Daniels candidacy, the Workers League, the National Rainbow Coalition and a host of twelve others with party names like “Looking Back” and “Apathy” who had ballot access in one or more states. Continue reading

Déjà vu Somalia

Dedicated to the memory of Brett Fredericks. Thank you for your service.

On October 3rd and 4th, 1993, two years after the Cold War was declared ‘over’, the U.S.somalia military was in Somalia and they were still fighting. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush deployed 28,000 U.S. troops to Somalia to protect food and medical supply lines to the millions of starving people who suffered at the whims of a gaggle of warlords. The newly-elected Clinton considered the mission important, so the military, including the Delta Force, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), were in Somalia executing the orders of the Commander-in-Chief.

This was the setup for Black Hawk Down the First Battle of Mogadishu, which was part of Gothic Serpent, an operation to capture Mohamed Farrah Aidid, perhaps the vilest of the Somali warlords and self-appointed president of Somalia. Of the eighteen Americans who died on October 3rd and 4th, 1993, five were Delta Force. Seeing an American soldier’s body dragged through the street enraged an American public. Instead of turning the furies of hell loose to smash the evil, the U.S. withdrew its troops in March 1994. But, why was the U.S. really there in the first place? Did George H.W. Bush, President and former CIA Director, really care about suffering Africans?

Running from the problem didn’t solve it. Twenty-two years later the warlords still battle it out in Mogadishu. In December retired Delta Force member, Brett Fredricks, was murdered there by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab rebels. The questions are what is the current political situation, what or who is Al-Shabaab, and why did former Delta Force member Brett Fredericks die on Somali soil? Continue reading

Mogadishu

“Black Hawk Down” is a simple phrase.  After the passage of two decades, these three wordssomalia.mogadishu summon images to my mind that, unbidden, give rise to rage, horror, and impotence.  On October 3rd and 4th, 1993, two years after the Cold War was declared ‘over’, our military was in Somalia still fighting on a front the ten-month old Clinton administration considered important.  The military was denied the support the field command requested.  Black Hawk Down is a common name for the First Battle of Mogadishu, part of the larger operation Gothic Serpent to capture the Somali warlord, Mohamed Farrah Aidid.  The Somali Maalintii Rangers lost many in this battle and, locally, refer to it as Day of the Rangers.

YouViewed/Editorial posted the following excellent piece on Mogadishu simply entitled Today Marks The 20Th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Mogadishu.

Order Of Battle

U.S. and UNOSOM Units involved in the battle:

Task Force Ranger, including :

  • C Squadron, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D) — aka “Delta Force”
  • Bravo Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
  • 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (The Night Stalkers) with MH-6J and AH-6 “Little Birds” and MH-60 A/L Black Hawks
  • Combat Controllers and Pararescuemen from the USAF 24th Special Tactics Squadron

SEAL Team Six (four Navy SEAL operators)

CVN-72 U.S.Abraham Lincoln & Carrier Air Wing 11

Task Force-10th Mountain Division, including:

  • 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment,
  • 1st platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment
  • 15th FF Battalion, of the Frontier Force Regiment, Pakistan Army
  • 19 Lancers of the Pakistan Army

United Nations Forces

19th Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment of the Malaysian Army

10th Battalion Baloch Regiment of the Pakistan Army, (less two companies who were held in reserve)

Somali Militias

The size and organizational structure of Somali forces are not known in detail. In all, between 2,000-4,000 regular militia members are believed to have participated, almost all of which belonged to Aidid’s Somali National Alliance, drawing largely from the Habar Gedir clan.” But wait, there’s more!

The Law of Unintended Consequences: Fairy Tales and Dragons

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”―Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Star Trek’s recurring antagonist, the Borg is, perhaps, the best known collective of today’s generation.  The Borg passionately devour technology and profess its only goal is to “raise the

A dragon if unintended consequences

A dragon if unintended consequences

quality of life” of the species they “assimilate.” “Resistance”, they say, “is futile”. The Borg goal is noble; the unintended consequence is the loss of the very thing the Borg requires, energy. Free will and individual thought, two high-energy generators, are exterminated by “assimilation”.  Star Trek was a Cold War (1947-1991) fairy tale and, while it was not clear exactly how the Borg dragon could be slayed, it was always assumed that it could be beaten.

The Borg fairy tale is social engineering taken to the limits of imagination nurtured in a Cold War

culture of astounding technological progress and a religion of science. The Borg is closer than we want to believe. It is within Political Correctness that came to bloom during the William J. Clinton administration. It is within the Patriot Act passed during the George W. Bush administration. It is within the Affordable Care Act of the Barack H. Obama administration. Like the Dickens tale, The Christmas Carol, we have the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas yet to come. The unintended consequences of these actions are a logical progression of ideas defined during the Cold War and the dragons that must be slain.

Politically Correct, PC, is defined by The Free Dictionary as being “of, relating to, or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.”[1] Certainly, it sounds very nice. We don’t use gender-based or race-based words any more. The unintended consequence is that people have become afraid to have trivial or meaningful discussions about contentious matters of any kind. Ideas are stifled; as are differences and opposing views. Many are convinced that people with opposing viewpoints will stone the opposition. For example, the current world situation requires an understanding of Islam. The absence of the ability to air fear and ignorance as well as accurate accounts of Islam denies individuals the ability to address those issues. The present Department of Justice witch hunt of social media for anything it considers to be inflammatory or derogatory to Islam or Muslims as a violation of Civil Rights drives hatred and distrust not resolution. PC, as practiced, is dangerous. It creates ‘good’ people and ‘evil’ people based on political manipulation. It is okay to hate ‘evil’ people and deny them their rights as they do not deserve the same treatment as everyone else. Free speech and the law are available only to people who are on the ‘correct’ political side. Sweeping issues under the language rug has built great divides based on age, race, gender and religion. PC is the ghost of Christmas past and the dragon of the unintended consequences of PC must be beaten.

The Patriot Act, courtesy of George W. Bush’s administration and strengthened at reauthorization during Barack H. Obama’s administration, is a target rich environment of unintended consequences. My personal favorite assumes the benign name of Infragard,[2] a public private partnership between the FBI and industry to protect U.S. Infrastructure from terrorist attacks. Sounds good, right?

Kevin Macdonald’s 2009 political thriller State of Play deals a card from the plot deck that has the whistleblower from the government contractor telling the journalist all about a $30-$40 billion a year prize. The brass ring, it seems, is a contract that covers all manner of domestic (inside of the U.S.) tasks everything from electronic surveillance to law enforcement. Whistleblower cites the corporation as having been federally deputized and authorized to shoot to kill Americans in post-Katrina New Orleans; a function normally reserved for the National Guard and local law enforcement. After the final credits rolled, I tucked the grandsons in bed, cleaned up the popcorn mess to avoid the fight with the spouse, and ran to research the citation. The plot card was good, the event happened as advertised. According to a 2007 NPR article, Blackwater, LLC “…landed a $73 million contact to protect FEMA staff…”.[3]  Blackwater eventually got itself crossways with the American people, went down in flames and multiplied. The firm rose again as several corporations with different names and interlocking boards.[4] Some of these new little Blackwater groups are, no doubt, among the beneficiaries of Infragard, a linkage I discovered during the New Orleans research.

It seemed strange that after forty odd years of managing and operating infrastructure at the local, state and federal level, I had not heard of Infragard.  Started in the late 1990’s Infragard was intended to do all the right things for the right reasons; works as a team with the federal government to protect U.S. assets. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorists attacks in New York, Infragard morphed from an under 2,000 member citizen advisory group to today’s 55,000 plus ring-knocking, secret hand-shake ready-action group that attracts 7,000 plus new applicants a year.

Infragard has garnered the attention of several Civil Liberties groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU.[5] Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, writes, “…One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law…”.[6] Sweet unintended consequences from Christmas present. Infragard has duties and responsibilities including reporting the suspicious to the FBI and DHS. Funded properly with tech toys and contracts, Infragard insiders are privy to secure connections for early warning of trouble, even earlier than state and local officials. In 2009, Chairwoman Kathleen Kiernan of the InfraGard National Members Alliance (INMA) defended allegations of civil liberties violations stating “It’s not an elitist group in any way, shape or form,” she says. “We’re out there trying to protect everybody. Any U.S. citizen on the planet is eligible to apply to InfraGard.”[7] What Kiernan fails to mention is the Infragard bureaucracy in which some members are more equal than others. Did I mention that each chapter of Infragard is controlled by a local FBI Field Office? They are. The FBI and DHS do not need Infragard. Representatives from those agencies may attend the professional gatherings of these groups and ascertain the same information as their stated objective, protecting the infrastructure, for a great deal less money. The unintended consequences of the Patriot Act and its hatchlings like Infragard represent more dragons to slay.

The ghost of Christmas future, The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, is yet to be defined. None of the legislators read the 2,000 pages plus document before they passed the Act. Some unintended consequences, such as the hiring of more than 16,000 new IRS employees for enforcement and the elimination of child-only insurance policies in some states, are defined. Most of the unintended consequences, however, are yet to unfold. There is no doubt that this act, like the Patriot Act, will provide a target rich environment of dragons to slay.

I hope that the dragons of unintended consequences were not considered by the purveyors of these acts because, if they were, then the actions are unforgiveable. Life is not a fairy tale but, as in a fairy tales, the dragons can be beaten. The knights in shining armor slaying the dragons of unintended consequences will be individuals with ideas, not the collective. The collective can never break new ground as it is only as good as the knowledge base of the last species it assimilated. It is the energy of free will and individual thought that brings new ideas that can be vetted and honed through the firebrands of discourse, argument, and action to chart a path forward.



[1] The Free Dictionary; Politically correct; http://www.thefreedictionary.com/political+correctness

[3] NPR; September 28, 2007; Dina Temple-Raston; Blackwater Eyes Domestic Contracts in U.S.;  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14707922

[4] The Atlantic Wire; Aug 8, 2012; John Hudson; Time for Blackwater to Change Its Name Again; http://www.theatlanticwire.com/business/2012/08/time-blackwater-change-its-name-again/55532/

[5] The Daily Journalist; Mike Brickner of ACLU on the InfraGard Organization; http://thedailyjournalist.com/the-expert/mike-brickner-of-a-c-l-u-on-the-infragard-organization/

[6] The Progressive; February 7, 2008; Matthew Rothschild; FBI Deputizes Private Contractors With Extraordinary Powers, Including ‘Shoot to Kill’; http://www.alternet.org/story/76388/fbi_deputizes_private_contractors_with_extraordinary_powers,_including_’shoot_to_kill

[7] Kaplan, D. (2009-01-01). “On guard: InfraGard makes strides under new leadership”. SCMagazine