“It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.”*

From Victor Davis Hanson’s The Second World Wars:

In France during the 1920s, teachers’ unions had all but banned patriotic references to French victories (which were regarded as “bellicose” and “a danger for the organization of peace”) and removed books that considered battles such as Verdun as anything other than a tragedy that affected both sides equally.

Sound familiar?

How about this:

Readiness Capability

There’s a dismaying graph in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal that illustrates the combat readiness of several of NATO nations’ forces.

In essence,

If Europe came into conflict with Russia, only several thousand of the more than one million troops in its armies would be ready for rapid deployment, military planners fear.

Plans to correct this (using the term loosely) don’t come close to the capability regularly exercised during the Cold War, when the US planned for moving 10 divisions into Europe within 10 days.  Current planning goal is to feed dribs and drabs into the furnace.

Yemen and Spain

Is Yemen becoming like 1930s Spain?  Is the civil war in Yemen being used, like Nazi Germany did the Spanish civil war, by Iran as a test bed for doctrine and weapons development?

Iran certainly is trying out techniques for running terrorist clients there, just as it is in Syria and Iraq.  Iran has an active ballistic missile development program, too, and Iranian ballistic missiles have been tried out against Saudi Arabia, including a mini-barrage of seven tested over the weekend.

Which, just incidentally, also is giving the Iranians valuable data on the Saudis’ (read: our) missile defense capabilities and techniques.

The PRC and Intellectual Property Theft

In the absence of any serious legal protections against intellectual property theft in the People’s Republic of China, businesses operating there are engaging more and more in sweeping conference rooms there for bugs and equipping personnel with sanitary burner phones for use while in the PRC.

That’s a start for those willing to put their proprietary information at risk through a business venture inside the PRC or with a PRC-based business anywhere, but it’s inadequate by itself, as illustrated by this bit of naivete by the linked-to piece’s author:

Probing the Attempted Murder of an Ex-Spy

Recall that an ex-spy and his daughter were attacked in a British park with a view to killing at least the ex-spy.  The weapon used was a nerve gas that’s only made in Russia.  The investigation itself is pointing strongly at Moscow as the instigator of the murder attempt; although the investigation is not complete.  Now Russia is refusing to cooperate in the investigation unless certain conditions are met.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow would only cooperate with the UK’s investigation into the nerve-agent poisoning of a former spy if London supplied the substance in question and opened up the probe to Russian officials.

Peace in our Time

Republic of Korea’s envoy trip to northern Korea has produced a Baby Kim promise to play nice with the RoK and to talk with us about nuclear weapons.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised to not use nuclear or conventional weapons against South Korea and expressed willingness to hold talks with the United States on denuclearization, Seoul said on Tuesday after a rare two-day visit to Pyongyang.

The Hermit Kingdom added that it’s willing to give up its nuclear weapons if military threats against North Korea subsides….

RoK National Security Director Chung Eui-yong said after his safe return to Seoul

Tariffs and National Security

In response to President Donald Trump’s of tariffs to be applied to imports of steel and aluminum at some unspecified in the (presumably relatively near) future and coming from as yet unnamed nations, Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said

I believe there is absolutely no impact on America’s national security from imports of steel and aluminum from Japan, which is an allied nation.

I agree in principle with the generally negative attitude toward tariffs.

However, Seko has misunderstood the national security question. Stipulate that Japan (and the Republic of Korea, another staunch ally and key exporter of steel to us) is a strong and reliable ally.

“Dialog” with Northern Korea

Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in wants the US to “lower the threshold for dialogue” so that “dialog” with northern Korea can begin.  Adding offensiveness to the foolishness, Moon didn’t even suggest this to us; he said it to People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping via a meeting with an envoy of Xi’s.

No.  The onus is on northern Korea to “lower the threshold.”  Until Baby Kim agrees to discuss—seriously discuss, not just engage in idle chit-chat—the dissolution of his nuclear weapons program and of his nuclear weapons, there is no basis for dialog.

Full stop.

Telecommunications Security

The US is concerned about People’s Republic of China’s cell phone company, Huawei, and the threat it poses to our national security, through an ability to use its equipment to conduct espionage and to shut down our communications networks, were it to get a significant foothold in our cell phone network, whether via its cell phones or its network equipment—its routers, switches, and cell-tower gear.  The concern stems from Huawei’s relationship with the PRC government, which makes the company an arm of that government.

Trusting Russia on Ukraine

The US and Russia, along with NATO and Ukrainian officials, talked about setting up a peace-keeping force to get and maintain peace in Ukraine.  Interestingly, that force would be placed along the front that separates the Russian and rebel-held eastern Ukraine from the rest of the nation instead of being on the Ukrainian border with Russia.  The proposal also carefully ignored the status of Russia-occupied Crimea.  A US counterproposal, offered by the US’ chief negotiator, Kurt Volker, suggested that the force should include, also, that border—not instead of the front—while still ignoring Crimea.