America’s Cyber Vulnerabilities

ISTOCK.COM/MONSITJ

 

Cyber is the newest branch of warfare. Even in its baby stages, it has the potential to cripple the United States.

On the afternoon of Dec. 23, 2015, Ukrainian engineers from a Prykarpattya Oblenergo power station stared at a computer screen while the cursor progressed on its own across the monitor. The mouse on the table had not moved. But the cursor hovered over the station’s breakers, each one controlling power to thousands of Ukrainian citizens. Then, with one mouse click at a time, the hackers now in control of the power station began shutting off power to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.

At the same time, Kyivoblenergo employees watched as dozens of substations shut down, one by one. In their case, there was no phantom mouse. A computer on their network that they could not locate was being used by someone to shut down the power—and there was nothing they could do. Continue reading

NATO Splinters: Germany Completes Withdrawal From Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase

 

Several months after an unprecedented collapse in relations between two NATO member states, on Thursday Germany’s military announced it has finished its withdrawal from Turkey’s strategic airbase Incirlik, which as a reminder was prompted by Ankara’s refusal to allow visits by German parliamentarians. Going forward, Bundeswehr planes will instead be based in Jordan. Continue reading

Fresh Wind Down the Silk Road (I)

BERLIN/TASHKENT (Own report) – To secure its influence in Central Asia in rivalry to Russia and China, Berlin is taking new initiatives toward Uzbekistan, the most populous country in the region. Among the five post-Soviet Central Asian countries, Uzbekistan has been Germany’s key partner for the past 25 years, even hosting a Bundeswehr base over an extended period of time. Now the German government seeks to reinforce it position in Uzbekistan by expanding economic relations. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in office since one year, is initiating a neo-liberal policy in his country. At the same time, Russia’s rise in influence in the economic and military sectors, alongside China’s greatly enhanced economic advances has put Germany under pressure. If Germany does not want to lose ground in Central Asia, it must act quickly.

Continue reading

The Imperial Consensus

BERLIN (Own report) – With the Alternative for Germany (AfD), an extreme right wing party will enter the German Bundestag for the first time since the 1950s. With 13 percent of the vote, the AfD has successfully mobilized an extreme right-wing potential that, according to a sociological study, has always existed within the German population. All parties in the Bundestag openly repudiate the AfD. However, this only obscures the fact that the AfD’s program, particularly on the important issues of foreign and military policy, show remarkable parallels to the political objectives of almost all other parties in the Bundestag. Like the CDU/CSU, FDP, SPD and the Greens, the AfD sees Germany as a global “policy-making power,” whose armed forces should be massively upgraded and made more operational. Whereas, the mainstream parties in the Bundestag are relying on the EU as the instrument for German global policy, the AfD favors a national course for Germany exercising global power. This course would probably take effect should the EU disintegrate due to the growing internal dissentions or if more and more countries opt to exit.

Continue reading

Struggle over the Arctic

BERLIN (Own report) – According to a German military officer, China’s economic activities in Greenland and Iceland could cause future wars. If the People’s Republic should “establish” itself in the Arctic – as a “great power alien to the region” – this would “instigate military conflicts,” according to a recent semi-official publication. To prove his point, the author, a reserve officer of the Bundeswehr, refers to China’s mining investments in Greenland and Beijing’s alleged plans to settle systematically Chinese specialists in the region. The “ethnic form of influence” expressed in this plan and the People’s Republic’s commitment to protect the “sovereign rights of the indigenous population” constitute a “declaration of war on the West,” the author writes. With regard to Iceland, the officer particularly criticizes the construction of a harbor in the Northeast of the island state, which is allegedly financed by a Chinese company. If the People’s Republic is thus creating a “regional central hub” for raw materials extracted from the Arctic, it would be in “favorable geopolitical starting blocks” vis-à-vis the “European Atlantic states,” the author explains, speaking already of a “gradual Chinese land grab” at the polar circle.

Continue reading

Germany Is Conquering NATO

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) speaks with US President Donald Trump (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ® at the NATO headquarters, in Brussels, on May 25, 2017. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

 

Many think President Trump is pushing Germany to remilitarize, but he is actually giving in to what Germany demanded decades ago when NATO was founded.

At the nato headquarters in Brussels at the end of May, United States President Donald Trump once again urged European nato members to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on their military. Meeting President Trump’s demands will make Germany and Europe an independent military superpower within nato. Many in Germany, such as Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, are up in arms about Mr. Trump’s demands.

But other German politicians have been calling for this for decades.

Germany is currently only spending about 1.2 percent of annual gdp on its military. Spending 2 percent would mean spending $80 billion—more than any other European state. This would make Germany a military powerhouse within Europe and nato. Continue reading

Citizen Participation (II)

BERLIN (Own report) – The current discussion in Germany about the German population’s “resilience” to attacks by enemy combatants can be traced back to reflections expressed in World War I and during the Nazi period. In 1935, Gen. Erich Ludendorff, who had been appointed in 1916 to the Supreme Command of the German Empire’s army, declared that the “German people’s spiritual unity” was a prerequisite to victory in the coming “total war.” According to Ludendorff, the population, the military and the political leadership must be “welded” into a “powerful unity,” seeing itself as a “community of destiny” and devoting all its energy to the service of warfare. To this end, the general demanded the introduction of “general compulsory service” for men and women, as well as the launching of the appropriate propaganda campaigns – “already in peacetime.” Parallels can be found today in current German government initiatives. For example, in its “Civil Defense Concept” the German Ministry of the Interior speaks of changing the constitution to permit women to be obligated to work in “defense-relevant domains.” Through “social discourse” the population should be prepared to “assume risks” and “endure” damaging events.

Continue reading

Citizen Participation (I)

BERLIN (Own report) – The Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS) is calling for a propaganda campaign to strengthen the German population’s resilience to attacks in their country by enemy combatants. In collaboration with “media partners” and “civil society,” an “understanding” must be achieved that “firmness against crisis” by each citizen towards “terrorist attacks” forms an “integral part” of society’s overall resilience,” explains the government’s military policy think tank. BAKS explicitly refers to the “White Paper on Security Policy and Future of the Bundeswehr,” presented by the German Defense Ministry in 2016, which is also pleading “to improve the ability of both state and society to withstand and adapt” to all kinds of attacks, necessitating a “whole-of-government approach to security.” The state-owned Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft had launched urban projects along the same lines, already years ago, in which “each individual citizen” is considered “part of a comprehensive concept of resilience to multiple security risks.”

Continue reading

Future of Iraq

WASHINGTON/BERLIN/BAGHDAD (Own report) – A strategy paper prepared by the US Atlantic Council think tank – with the assistance of Germany’s CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation – is proposing measures for Western powers to take to insure their continued influence in Iraq following the fall of Mosul. According to the paper, published a few days ago, US military forces should remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future, train and equip Iraqi forces to prevent IS from regrouping and recovering after its expected defeat. To push back Iran’s influence, measures should also be taken to help the country’s economic development. In Baghdad, a government “strongly inclined to cooperate closely with the United States” is needed, the paper states, and calls for US allies – particularly European countries – to engage in Iraq to “tackle sensitive areas in which the United States is not seen as neutral.” Berlin is already using this opportunity to build its own base of influence in Iraq and is supporting the reconstruction of towns recaptured from the IS. Insuring western control of Iraq is considered all the more urgent, since Russia could successfully obtain major influence in Damascus following the anticipated end of the Syrian war.

Continue reading

The Years of Terror (I)

LONDON/BERLIN/RIYADH (Own report) – With its continued worldwide support for Salafis, Germany’s close partner, Saudi Arabia, is relentlessly fertilizing the soil for the growth of jihadi terror, according to the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). “The consequences of Saudi Arabia’s support for Salafism are catastrophic,” the SWP concludes in light of IS/Daesh activities in Europe. British experts are also sharply criticizing cooperation with Riyadh. If one seriously wants to combat jihadi terror, one “should start by stopping the mass export of Wahhabism’s intolerance and hatred from Saudi Arabia,” an insider recommends. This is, however, countered by Germany, other European powers and North America’s relentless cooperation with the Saudi ruling clan. Just a few weeks ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel launched regular military cooperation with the Saudi armed forces. Out of consideration for Riyadh, the British government has been withholding an investigation, showing the – presumably Saudi – financiers of British jihadis. This had been made known only three days before the latest terror attack in London.

Continue reading

Germany Is Quietly Building a European Army Under Its Command

[GETTY]

 

Berlin is using a bland name to obscure a dramatic shift in its approach to defense: integrating brigades from smaller countries into the Bundeswehr.

Every few years, the idea of an EU army finds its way back into the news, causing a kerfuffle. The concept is both fantasy and bogeyman: For every federalist in Brussels who thinks a common defense force is what Europe needs to boost its standing in the world, there are those in London and elsewhere who recoil at the notion of a potential NATO rival.

But this year, far from the headlines, Germany and two of its European allies, the Czech Republic and Romania, quietly took a radical step down a path toward something that looks like an EU army while avoiding the messy politics associated with it: They announced the integration of their armed forces. Continue reading

Increasing Power at the Gulf

BERLIN/KUWAIT CITY (Own report) – Berlin is considering deploying German fighter jets in Kuwait to systematically expand its foothold in this Middle East Emirate. It is not yet clear, whether the Bundeswehr’s Tornados, currently participating in the anti-IS war, will be removed from Incirlik Air Base or where they may otherwise be stationed. The Kingdom of Jordan or the British colony on Cyprus (Akrotiri and Dhekelia) may be alternatives. Kuwait is also an option, given the fact that the German government has been intensifying its cooperation with the Emirate for quite some time – not only economically but also with arms deliveries. Increasing the German military presence in Kuwait would raise German-Kuwaiti relations to new heights. The Bundeswehr would also gain another foothold directly at the Persian Gulf. So far, particularly the US, British and French armed forces have a presence in that region. Continue reading

Assisting Famine

BERLIN/RIYADH (Own report) – This Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected in the Saudi capital Riyadh for talks on the wars in Syria and Yemen, according to the Saudi media. Her talks in the Golf monarchy will therefore focus not only on expanding economic relations but on the proxy wars, Saudi Arabia is currently waging against Iran. Berlin supports Riyadh in these proxy wars – politically but also with the supply of weapons proven to have been used in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is strongly criticized for its war in Yemen, which is causing numerous civilian casualties. In addition, Riyadh’s maritime blockade of Yemeni ports is causing a famine. 2.2 million children are malnourished, including half a million who are severely malnourished and at imminent risk of death. In March, Berlin authorized the delivery of supplementary German patrol boats to Saudi Arabia, in spite of them being used to enforce the maritime blockade. Aid organizations are sounding the alarm. Continue reading

US Air Force to quit Incirlik, move to Syria base

After seeing what transpired in Turkey last year, it’s definitely believable that America wants out of it. However, this story adds a twist to the plot. Not only is moving one USAF airbase into Syria odd, but five in total is a tell-tale sign of something possibly larger around the corner.

For this to happen Assad would have to be gone. Either by peaceful means or force. Syria would then be split up among three or four powers — likely American, Russian and Chinese/European forces. The Chinese have mobilized 150,000 PLA troops not only for a possible North Korean fallout.

It’s also interesting to note that the Bundeswehr (German army) is also on the move and positioning itself. Perhaps this is part of its military ‘golden triangle‘ (see also HERE) strategy.

It’s a bit of a mystery now, so this story is something to keep an eye on.

 

 

Several US engineering teams are working round the clock to build a big new air base in northern Syria after completing the expansion of another four. They are all situated in the Syrian borderland with Iraq, DEBKAfile’s military forces report.

This was going on over the weekend as senators, news correspondents and commentators were outguessing each other over whether the US missile attack on the Syrian Shayrat air base Friday, in retaliation for the Assad regime’s chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun, was a one-off or the start of a new series. Continue reading

Is Germany Ready to Fire Shots?

Caption: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the 2017 Munich Security Conference on February 18 (Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

 

Bundeswehr officials expect a more active and a more lethal role for Germany in the Middle East.

German military leaders are preparing to take on a more active role in the fight against the Islamic State in the Middle East. This news emerges following the February 17–19 Munich Security Conference. Spiegel Online reported on February 20 that German diplomats and military officers left the conference feeling that some major challenges ahead of them go far beyond merely increasing the nation’s military budget. The feeling was that Germany must get ready to fire shots.

German generals expect future missions to include air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and possibly an increased deployment of the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan. Spiegel Online quoted a German military general who attended the conference as saying, “[United States President Donald] Trump doesn’t only want more money from us but he also wants us to finally fire shots” (Trumpet translation throughout). Although former President Barack Obama had previously insisted on a more active NATO involvement, the quoted general believes that the tone is sharper now and that Germany must prepare to pull the trigger. Continue reading