Let's open our eyes to the ugly reality as the decade ends

Copied from http://home.earthlink.net/~eldonenew/fascism.htm, green parts are mine.

"Characteristics of Fascism" by Dr. Lawrence Britt
Dr. Britt, a political scientist, wrote an article about fascism that appeared in Free Inquiry magazine -- a journal of humanist thought. Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile). He found the regimes all had 14 things in common, and he calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The article is titled 'Fascism Anyone?', by Lawrence Britt, and appeared in Free Inquiry's Spring 2003 issue on page 20.

The 14 characteristics
  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism -- Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.[Both Democrats and Republicans in the United States exaggerate the flag-waving and flag decorum compared to almost all other countries. Many Republicans additionally revere the traitors' battle flag.]
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights -- Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to 'look the other way' or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. [Disdain for human rights shown by Republicans in cases of caging, torture advocacy, elevating war criminals to campaign props]
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause -- The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic, or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. [Scapegoating is habitual for Republicans; Muslims, brown people, blacks, Hispanics, LGBTQ, and not the least Democrats]
4. Supremacy of the Military -- Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. [Republicans immediately increased of the already ludicrously high military spending despite budget deficit increase after years of debt hysteria - and did so for no reason. Elevating SEALS above the law. Lots of generals in cabinet-level positions. Cuts to social programs, empty promises on public infrastructure.]
5. Rampant Sexism -- The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy. [Not really necessary to elaborate, is it? Republicans check the box - their politicians are overwhelmingly white men and they often obsess about things like forcing transvaginal probes on women who try to exercise a constitutional right.]
6. Controlled Mass Media -- Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or through sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common. [Republicans: Extensive attempts to promote right wing media sources, independent media cut off from press briefings, interviews. Attacks on critical media as 'fake media', hate campaign against independent media, move against internet neutrality]
7. Obsession with National Security -- Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. [Republicans: check - Migrant caravan is coming! Scary brown Muslims! Seriously, they even used the "national security" argument against steel imports from Canada. "National security" talk has been on an exaggerated level in the U.S. compared to all European countries for many years. The only "National Security" that Republicans are not concerned about is security against Russia's intelligence service campaigns.]
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined -- Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions. [Republicans: Evangelical leaders assert that the lying moron has a mandate from heaven, talk of 'chosen one', the Vice President is a bible humper etc.. Nothing about separating children from parents, taking away food aid, allowing more pollution, hatemongering or mocking the disabled is really Christian. This is a clear-cut case of box checked.]
9. Corporate Power is Protected -- The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.  [The only really consistent Republican policy besides fearmongering and hatemongering is pursuit of plutocracy. Big businesses that politically support the lying moron get relief from import tariffs.]
10. Labor Power is Suppressed -- Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely or are severely suppressed.  [Suppression and cracking of labour unions other than police and firefighters labour unions is a long-standing Republican policy. Republicans only targeted those labour unions for union-busting that were not clearly leaning their way.]
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts -- Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free-expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts. [Republicans promote hostility to college-educated people, coastal elites etc - and their dear leader literally claimed to love the uneducated.]
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment -- Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses, and even forego civil liberties, in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. [Republicans: Clear cut check the box, particularly in regard to migrants. Most domestic law enforcement is not under federal control, but Republicans sure cheered the 'law and order' types such as the criminal Sheriff Arpaio. Republicans were in solidarity with policemen and deputies who killed citizens for no good reason. Other American politicians play the "law and order" racket as well, but Democrats very largely turned away from it.]
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption -- Fascist regimes are almost always governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions, and who use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. [Republicans sure check the box in regard to cronyism and corruption. Accountability is avoided even by obstruction of Congress (not complying with binding subpoenas). The dear leader routinely self-enriches himself through the office by allowing bribes by foreign diplomats paying above-market rates in his Washington hotel, and other scandals]
14. Fraudulent Elections -- Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against (or even the assassination of) opposition candidates, the use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and the manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections. [Republicans are known for gerrymandering, voter suppression incl. voter caging, closing polling places in non-Republican-leaning areas, requiring ID to minimize non-Republican-voter turnout, resisting a law in Florida to withhold voting rights from citizens, rejecting suitable ID to maximise the effect, suppressing a decisive recount, allowing and demanding that foreign governments intervene in domestic elections on Republicans' behalf]
One might add the corruption and perversion of the judicial branch by appointment of hyperpartisan judges and smears against non-compliant judges by the Republicans.

I am past pretending that the United States of America are a Western country under the present president. They have a fascist government. 

It doesn't take a 100% replay of Hitler or Mussolini to be fascist*. The characteristics - all of which incompatible with a modern liberal* Western society - are all met by the Republicans who control the executive branch, paralyse the legislative branch and take over the judiciary branch of federal government.

Their fascist government may not be entrenched well-enough to withstand the 2020 elections, but the fascist nature of today's Republican party is evident.

The United States are furthermore a most questionable ally (that habitually disregards its obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty anyway) against the threat that the Russian Federation poses to up to four EU members. 

Europe may secure itself AGAINST the Americans in the medium term (3...5 years) rather than with them. America has a (weak) fascist government now. The USA are a THREAT to free Europe in the medium term perspective.

Europeans should stop considering the Americans to be allies at all and prepare AGAINST them. This requires a lot more ship-killing capability (primarily by air power, for the whole USN can only muster a few hundred naval aircraft), so we need to secure our combat aircraft against cruise missile attack and purchase a lot more anti-radar and anti-ship missiles (and not from outside Europe, including not from the UK which still cannot make its mind up whether it's American or European). Europe generally needs to devise and implement a strategy for resilience against precision-guided missile attack (we should simply assume that most missiles hit, regardless of whether they're ballistic or air-breathing missiles).

NO, (not yet).
Keep the alliance on paper, prepare as if it didn't exist for a while until the Europe-U.S. alliance doesn't help to dampen transatlantic conflict any more.
This includes kicking all Americans out of European defence planning, keeping them out of multinational HQs in Europe and cutting intelligence ties to the same level of minimal cooperation that we have with the Russians.

Huawei isn't a trustworthy supplier of internet hardware for Europe? Well, neither is Cisco. That's a fairly mainstream remark by now, of course.

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I understand most Americans will hate this post and reflexively think of me as anti-American. That's a very convenient way of avoiding a confrontation with the dark side of the own nation (a side that all nations possess in varying degrees).

Nobody wants to admit that he or she is the bad guy, on the wrong side of history. Historical Fascists didn't think of themselves as the bad guys or on the wrong side of history, either. Yet there's no reasonable doubt that Fascists are both. So if the criteria for Fascism are met - and they are in this checklist and other checklists - then the diagnosis is complete. Change the ways of your nation if you don't want to be with the bad guys (or leave). You may still have a choice (maybe).


*: By my experience, Americans are clueless about the meaning of political science terminology like this. They don't know what Fascism or Liberalism are. American English has perverted and distorted the meaning of such words.


The stupid wall of the internet

Russia got serious last year about being able to cut off its telecommunications from the global internet. 
It was but a matter of time till some *insert disparaging word here* came up with the proposal that the West or the EU should be able to do so as well.

Let me explain in a concise form why this is utter bollocks and nothing but a threat to our freedom:

1) Disconnecting from the global internet helps a government to oppress its population by excluding dissenting information and it helps itself avoid repercussions by keeping its oppression less visible to the rest of the world (example Iran 2019).

2) Disconnecting DOES NOT in any way help against subversive information without suppressing freedom of speech and freedom of the press domestically. A tiny microSD card that could be hidden almost anywhere and thus easily be smuggled could 'infect' the interior area of such a cut-off space with the subversive information. It would require domestic oppression of information to defeat this. This would require a totalitarian government.

3) Disconnecting DOES NOT protect against 'cyber warfare'. A large-scale attack would rather more likely than not be launched BEFORE the EU could de-couple from the internet. To disconnect would cause extreme economic costs and dissatisfaction. It would thus require a very, very convincing argument.
The disconnecting would thus happen late - too late. We would not disconnect in peacetime, period. We should not be aggressors, so in any legitimate war of ours our enemy would have the opportunity to launch his 'cyber offensive' before we disconnect.

4) Hostile intelligence services could easily and quite cheaply prepare against this by preparing sleeper cells that could still launch a 'cyber offensive' AFTER the de-coupling.

5) Disconnecting would only affect the official connections. There could still be cross-border connections by radio or laser comm, or even use of not European-controlled comm satellite networks (and jamming satellite networks is not part of the proposal). Every private EU-internet-connected computer with such an unofficial connection to the outside world would constitute a  gateway despite the official disconnection.* Hostile intelligence could easily install such gateways, even fully automated ones.

So in conclusion; people may be serious about preparing our telecommunications and the things that depend on telecommunications for the case of all-out 'cyber warfare'. A switch to turn the EU into an internet island, disconnected from the rest of the world internet, still makes no sense.

We should rather identify critical institutions and businesses that require the ability to disconnect themselves. Critical infrastructure should not receive software updates over the internet (every online updater is de facto a backdoor) or insecurely sourced spare parts, and their timely patching should be regulated and supervised with greatest fervour. ANY intelligence service's demand for backdoors in software or hardware should be answered with extreme prejudice against said bureaucracy. 

There are many possible actions to mitigate some of the 'cyber warfare' harm done to us in a future war scenario. To disconnect from the rest of the world is the most primitive option, and an easily circumvented one. Such preparations suit oppressive governments only.


*: This and efforts like Starlink render Russia's internet disconnection switch mostly useless, too. They would need to have an excellent surveillance and censorship enforcement on their national internet to complement their disconnection ability (see #2).





Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.

  1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
  2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
  3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
  4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
  5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
  6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
  7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
  8. Followers feel they can never be "good enough".
  9. The group/leader is always right.
  10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader.

  1. Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
  2. Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower's mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused--as that person's involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
  3. Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as "persecution".
  4. Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
  5. Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
  6. Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
  7. A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
  8. Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
  9. Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
  10. Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.

I suppose those who should realise that they're following a bad cult leader are the least likely to recognize it, even if they saw this.



Link drop Dec 2019


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Info for readers who understand English, but not German:
A relatively much-read German security policy blog by a professional journalist is Augengeradeaus, and it exists at least partially also in an English version:
So you could use that link to rarely read a (mostly pro establishment, particularly compared to me) German security policy publication. Most of its articles are not available in English, though. You may give an auto-translation of the German version a try as well.

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"NATO’s current burden sharing goals totally ignore military needs and effectiveness, and merely call for spending 2% of GDP on total defense spending levels, and at least 20% of annual defense expenditure on major new equipment. (...)
The analysis shows that NATO heads of state, Ministers, and parliaments/legislatures do not properly examine the priorities that would emerge from net assessments of the balance or on improving NATO’s capability to deter and fight. They fail to focus effectively on its many individual national problems and issues in strength and readiness, and they have failed to create coherent force and modernization plans for the future.
Worse, this report presents considerable quantitative evidence that NATO’s current burdensharing goals actually focus the Alliance on the wrong objectives, and do so in ways that encourage pointless burden–sharing debates over the wrong objectives. It shows that the 2% and 20% goals have six critical defects:
  • They are irrelevant, given intelligence estimates of the actual level of NATO resources relative to the key Russian threat.
  • (...)"
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Such research could be a gold mine for future officer selection process reform.

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"(...) the motorized brigades of the Saudi Arabian National Guard (or SANG). (...) The mission of the motorized brigades is to provide internal security within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, particularly for the oil fields in the Eastern Province. They provide quick reaction forces to the guard mounts and light vehicle-borne patrols that provide the actual site security. In addition, the brigades’ internal security mission requires them to be able to quickly move anywhere in the kingdom to conduct a full spectrum of internal security operations. Lastly, in time of war (...)"
Lt.Col. Martin N. Stanton, Armor Magazine, Mar-Apr 1996, page 6

I realized I do often refer to this article as a description of how the Saudi military isn't a military in the modern Western sense. It serves four purposes
  1. playing ground for princes
  2. secure the rule of house Saud
  3. pretend that Saudi-Arabia has a real military
  4. spreading income to natives (Saudi-Arabia is a top-down distribution scheme similar to mafia organisations; loyalty is purchased by handing down shares of the oil revenues)
It's one of those armed services where loyalty to the ruler is more important than competence. The consequence is inevitably a low degree of competence in peacetime (wartime weeds out at last some of the incompetents). Such armed forces are common in much of the Third World, and even NATO has a member (Turkey) which can solidly be suspected to have sabotaged its armed forces this way.

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It's difficult to watch this without skipping:

Embedding this is the closest I'll ever go in regard to supporting torture.



A puzzle about Americans and daesh in Syria

Do you remember that the lying moron claimed the Syrian oil fields are secured? It was a headpalm moment if there ever was one. That would not be something that a U.S. official would be supposed to say out loud even if oil was the objective of U.S. military action.

He was basically telling the Syrians that Americans were there to grab what's left of Syrian wealth, which kind of provokes (if not justifies, given the absence of an invitation by the Syrian government) the killing of U.S. troops in Syria. He made it really easy to paint the American troops there as resource-thieving invaders, modern-day Mongols. PsyOps people all over the Western World must have laughed out loud in despair at this ineptitude gift to daesh and Assad propaganda.

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Well, the ISW blog's graphic on the location of the U.S. troops

made me wonder; Syria's oil fields aren't all in that one area around Tanf, aren't they? I thought I remembered some of those depicted in the East of Syria in my old atlas (I read that book way too much).
(Supposedly, about 600 American servicemen are in the Northeast, but those seem to be rather embeds and the exact locations of small teams are not known to the public for obvious reasons.)

Well, a quick search later it turned out that they are indeed almost all over the place*, EXCEPT at Tanf.


Now where is daesh active?
So there's hardly any daesh (a.k.a. ISIS) activity in or around Tanf, either.
Maybe that's because of the American presence?

No, that's not it, either. daesh wasn't ever much active there, just some presence along the road** - a very minor theatre of operations for daesh.
The American military doesn't stay in Syria to protect some oil, or to protect people - Kurdish or whoever. It's not there to fight daesh territorial control (attempts), either. It doesn't block escape routes for daesh militants because it blocks at best but one of very many possible routes.
The American military stays in Syria because it wants to keep playing in the great powers playground formerly known as Syria.

Maybe some professional journalists (those who get paid to look into such things) should have a look at this and start a public discussion about WTF they're doing there? I suspect they simply maintain a helicopter refuelling point (or base) for SOCOM raids outside of pesky Iraqi jurisdiction.


*: (and particularly in the East, hooray)
**: I don't know details, but I suspect that was little more than toll-raising banditry. 

P.S.: This irregular (non-Saturday) blog post was a part of next Saturday's link drop, but outgrew it. Think of it as making up for missing the Nov 2nd slot.
Regarding the "daesh"; I know grammar asks for a capital "D", I just think it's suitable to not grant Daesh any capital letter. They lost any claim to a capital. ;-) 

edit a few hours later:
"He said 'we have total control of the oil' and 'we can do with the oil what we want'" (3 Dec 2019)


Leopard 2 tanks getting knocked out in Syria


(The action starts at 0:36 min. The huge explosion likely stems from a side penetration by the SACLOS ATGM that reached the front hull munitions storage. A mere 15 quick-to-use rounds can be stored in the safer turret bustle)
The (old) German tanking field manuals that I read strongly implied that the threat (felt like 90% of the threat) was a MBT (T-64, T-72, T-80, but also T-62 and even T-55 well into the 80's). One example; the field manual advised to avoid the middle of a large open field and to instead drive along the edge of woodland. Such a movement is a horrible idea if you fear RPGs, but it's the thing to do if you fear hostile MBTs and ATGMs. Tactics were built on the often only implied assumption that the long-ranged MBTs and ATGMs rather than short-ranged RPGs were the main threat.

The Leopard 2 was devised as a well-rounded duel vehicle to combat tanks. It had great mobility on Central European terrain, great penetration power, and great (though of course not perfect) protection in the frontal 60°. Its reverse gears allowed for quick evacuation of firing positions in a delaying action and its gun depression allowed the exploitation of hull down firing positions in the many rolling hills areas of Central and Southern West Germany. Damaged or broken down tanks were relatively quickly repaired, but the tank was designed to not break down very often anyway. The tank commander had an excellent all-round vision (without head protection), as there wasn't much equipment installed on the rather flat roof. Gunners, drivers and loaders could be 18-month conscripts.
The tank was designed with the defence of Central Europe in mind, with an emphasis on blunting the numerically superior armoured spearheads of the Warsaw Pact. The delaying action against superior numbers was considered to be a very important tactic for attrition of the hostile tank force.

People don't usually seem to be aware of it, but the Cold War Soviet forces and indeed even the late WW2 Soviet forces were rather weak on infantry quantity in the combined arms mix (the Red Army suffered horrible loses in 1941-1945, and was rather bled white by 1945 as was the whole nation till the 60's). That's where the emphasis on artillery and tanks came from. So if you assume a tank- and arty-centric opposition, you expect few infantry forces with RPGs in suitable firing positions. Additionally, the West knew that RPG-2 and RPG-7 were inaccurate (terribly so in crosswind) when it developed the first Chobham tank generation including the Leopard 2. A 30 kph moving tank was at little risk of getting hit by a RPG gunner in a stressful combat situation at 100 m distance.

Now fast forward to the 2000's and 2010's and Chobham generation MBT users find themselves clobbering brown Muslim war bands that are almost devoid of heavy arms and have few ATGMs. MBTs are mostly employed in stationary overwatch missions, or as assault guns. Those wars last years, not months - and troops cannot maintain vigilance indefinitely.
It's as if the Americans hadn't shown that such campaigns are stupid and unproductive. Other powers did the same stupid and unproductive shit in 2015-2019 with no end or gain in sight.

Many of the assumptions of the Leopard 2 design don't apply in such a scenario, and thus the design is suddenly not well-rounded, but rather a mismatch to the mission. Some users rush upgrade kits into service, which adds costs, maintenance demands and mass, and reduces soft soil mobility (which may be decisive on Baltic terrains) and readiness rates.



Drone wars

Artificial intelligence made the biggest steps forward in regard to perception, but also good progress on decision-making. It appears to be feasible to create a small autonomous robot that can accomplish a mission set by 2030.

The combination of autonomous robots with miniaturization may yield autonomous robots the size of small birds with useful performance. 

Small autonomous drones may be very practical for quantity production. Let's assume that such drones become very effective militarily. The result may be that military power in the 2030's may depend first and foremost on the ability to acquire by production or import millions if not tens of millions of autonomous war drones.

This may spell the end for main battle tanks and other line of sight weapons platforms save for high-flying aircraft: A couple thousand or ten thousands of anti-tank guided missiles were incorrectly predicted to make the concept of main battle tanks obsolete, but millions of tank-penetrating drones would almost certainly make line large and expensive of sight combat platforms obsolete.

What would such autonomous war drones look like?

A basic concept would be a kamikaze killer drone. In concept it would be a kind of missile, albeit with loitering and / or waiting ability, possibly also the ability to recharge itself from the environment. It would detect and identify a target, decide to engage, and likely be consumed by the hit. A shaped charge warhead would be used to penetrate vehicles at known weak spots, and a much smaller EFP-style shaped charge could be used to kill individual troops without the need to close in with it the last few metres.

We will no doubt devise and test, if not deploy, numerous countermeasures ranging from netting to drone-hunting drones. So we can expect drones to replay the growing specialisation of military aircraft. Initially, there were observer aircraft, but the urge to kill was great enough to develop ground attack aircraft almost immediately. This created the need for fighter aircraft. Later we added passive electronic reconnaissance aircraft, active electronic warfare (jamming) aircraft (even different types for different wavelengths), refuelling aircraft, transport aircraft, target practice aircraft, decoy aircraft (typically unmanned) and so on.

We might see such a wide range of autonomous drones as well, and in addition to the task specialization we might also have terrain-specialised types. Drones for urban settings, drones for open fields and drones for woodland could benefit from terrain specialisation for low detectability and endurance. Particularly well-equipped military bureaucracies might also include war drones that could submerge in water and thus hide in lakes, ponds and slow-moving rivers - and exploit the underwater stealth for an approach movement. Other drones may be tasked as stay-behind sabotage drones, and hide under leaves, foliage or even in soft soil.

Operational art may become about layering detection and defence against drones, organising supply & stocks, and deploying large swarms of mission-tailored composition to search, probe, push, occupy and finally meticulously clear out defined areas.
Concentrations of drones would be engaged by classic artillery, but other than that the classic trio of infantry, tanks/cavalry and artillery may be replaced by drones.

The first area to become dominated by drones might be mountainous areas, for the classic trio is the least capable there. Artillery has difficulties to hit reverse slopes, infantry move extremely slowly and tanks cannot negotiate much of the terrain.
Meanwhile, drones could handle such terrain quite easily, though flying drones may require enlarged rotors or wings to compensate for the low density atmosphere at altitude.
The last area to become dominated by drones might be urban terrain, as buildings offer many opportunities to restrict the movement of small drones and an army would want to interact with the civilian population rather than just kill.

Autonomous drones would be a novelty, and both the conservatism of the armed bureaucracies and the political desire to not open Pandora's Box too much might delay the build-up of stocks of such hardware. Rapid technological progress might also render stocks obsolete in a few years, possibly reducing their value to that of decoys. That would be another disincentive to a stocks build-up.
The armed bureaucracies would have much disdain for the drone business, as it wouldn't be soldierly, wouldn't follow what the officers were taught when they were till young, armies would need to think like air forces to grasp the matter, the need for most career officers and their skill sets would vanish and so on.
There are thus many reasons to expect a rather slow build-up, even slow R&D. That is, except in nations whose devious leaders seize on such a land warfare revolution as a means to topple the balance of power and succeed with some war(s) of aggression.

Personally, I see little reason to fear robot wars more than human troops wars. We certainly proved that the latter can turn genocidal and easily break societies, nations, if not cultures. To send out drones to kill is no more anonymous than the movement of division markers on Field Marshall Haig's table or the firing of a 155 mm HE shell by a howitzer crew. War drones won't be able to reproduce themselves, so their threat to mankind would be limited by their numbers even if they turn against their human masters.

There's still the Star Trek-ish scenario of fully automated (or simulated) war becoming all-too easy, but don't we have this problem with wars abroad already anyway?

War might finally cease to be much about morale, and become all about readiness and money.






One of the saddest things in life

... is to see a friend join  a bureaucracy and turn from a person who meant to improve the world into a person who is defending processes that are in the way of improving the world.

I had an orientation week when I began university studies. A senior student led the orientation group and assured us that after a certain amount of studying in the field, we would adopt the way of thinking that characterizes the field. I considered the notion repulsive.

Years later, I agreed. It had changed me, it had changed how I approached issues and questions, what tools and methods I used to find solutions. It was kind of the point of doing the studies, for frankly, I forgot much if not most of the content (details) of the studying within weeks after the tests. The lasting effect wasn't about memorizing details.

Organisations and professions can suck you in, absorb you, assimilate you - and turn you into one of them. It's scary, but it depends whether it's a good thing or not. An organisation that's on the wrong track will pull those who enter it onto the wrong track. An organisation that's on a good track may make very good use of such an assimilation power.

The challenge remains to guide an organisation onto a good track (such as serving the country, not itself) before it guides YOU onto its status quo track. 

This suggests that the secret ingredient of reform may lie in keeping enough of a distance to it. A superhuman ability to resist such assimilation was hardly ever observed.

I wrote a lot about how secretaries of defence should guide the armed bureaucracy onto the path of pursuing the national interest instead of self-interest. Such ministers usually turn into champions of the armed bureaucracy's self-interest within a few weeks.

Maybe a different interaction with a lot more spacing may do the trick. We might tweak the responsibilities, tasks and authorities of the office in order to ensure that a minister of defence is considered by others (and by himself/herself) as first and foremost the nation's first critic of the armed services, not as their organisational leader. Failures and embarrassments of the armed services should not be blamed on the minister if the minister criticised them and punished the underperforming part of the bureaucracy and its chain of command. The minister should not identify as part of the armed services community, but as its worst nightmare - a nightmare that keeps it honest and pursuant of national interest rather than self-interest.
Think of it as leadership by sanctioning failure.

disregard the smile
Maybe you readers would consider it excessive, but I think the uniform dress code should include a "pink ballerina skirt" that the minister could add to the obligatory officers uniform of any part of the armed services for any duration on short notice.

I have a hunch that internal red tape could be overcome real quick if we had that.

We should move to a political culture where we would chastise a minister of defence for NOT 'upgrading' the officer dress code like that if the armed service mismanaged procurement, displayed poor readiness, wasted personnel strength on pointless activities, allowed deterioration of skills, or resisted some novelty for too long. 
That kind of political culture might be just enough to ensure that such failures would simply not happen and the skirt would remain a theoretical possibility.

Meanwhile, every minister of defence in the real world of today would consider it an embarrassment to himself or herself if officers were photographed with pink ballerina skirts over their trousers. There's no good reason for it, but that's how we roll. In the end, the fish stinks from the head, and this head is our political culture; it's in what we expect from the civilian leadership. The rot begins at a very fundamental level. Most people appear to think that a minister of defence should work for the armed services rather than for the country.



Fund for World Peace

Nervos belli, pecuniam infinitam.
Endless money forms the sinews of war

Mankind spent USD 1.8 trillion on military power in 2018, presumably to keep the peace. It's a tragedy that we're presumably keeping the peace against each other, but there's another interesting thing about this sum:

A tiny fraction of it would probably suffice to create world peace at least between states if reallocated to solely this purpose.

I present you the

Fund for World Peace

The nations of the world pay 1% of their military spending into this fund. Within a few years, the fund grows to well over € 100 billion.

A country under attack would receive as much interest-free credit (due in rates after ten to 20 years) from the FWP as needed for its defence whenever the U.N. General Assembly or the UNSC (disregarding vetoes) condemn a country for a direct or sponsored aggression against another country. All U.N. member countries are required to allow arms exports (save for a couple technologically too sensitive categories) to the defending country.

Still, attacked countries might succumb under assault by an aggressor. The United Nations General Assembly may authorise the use of force to liberate such a country, as happened in the case of Kuwait. The FWP would then offer a bounty for the liberation of the country (costs plus 50%). It would also provide a loan for a credible effort (at negotiated conditions).

The fund would accept emergency loans from countries (at their ten-year bond rates, repayable in ten years) if its liquidity is insufficient to meet its mission.

The effect would be that even great powers such as Russia or the U.S. would be deterred from many potential military aggressions because even small powers would suddenly have the economic means to defend themselves or to liberate nearby occupied countries.

It wouldn't be perfect. The decision-making could be flawed, powers could try to exploit the rule set and some powers might not fear countermeasures because they can threaten the use of nuclear munitions. Still, it would be a powerful deterrent - for a tiny fraction of the current annual expenses.



German / European Syria policy

The wannabe chancellor candidate of the conservatives in Germany is bungling in Syria policy with a proposal for military protection mission that almost nobody else in Europe appears to want.

The problem right now is that you cannot have a satisfactory Syria policy these days without either having very low expectations or a satisfactory Turkey policy.

There, that's the real issue:
What's the Turkey policy?

Turkey is NATO member, and it appears settled that it won't join the EU in this generation. Its autocratic government is dominated by a nationalist-pseudoreligious party and its undisputed leader.
Turkey clearly chose to have improved and more close relations with Russia, regardless of the incident about a shot down Russian aircraft. 
Turkey's geostrategic role is extremely important. It controls the Bosporus, is in striking distance of Crimea and Suez Canal, is neighbour with Syria, Iraq, Iran and Georgia. It has at least the potential to bridge between Orient and Occident, though not with the current president. The Turks dominated Arab countries for centuries in the Ottoman Empire, and there's a certain justified unease about their changed policies regarding especially Syria, but also northern Iraq.
Meanwhile, Turkey is a multi-ethnic country that oppresses the Kurdish minority, maybe because it cannot afford to accept the notion of not being a nation-state.

So what is the European Turkey policy? I understand the United States have a dysfunctional foreign policy right now that doesn't extend past personal interests and fixations of its president, but what's the European strategy?

(1) Do we try to keep Turkey in NATO at all costs, appeasing it regardless of aggressive actions and sporadic cuddling with Moscow?

(2) Do we try to at least keep Turkey from joining Russia's bloc? We should then neutralize them in NATO; there's no way to kick them out, but they need not be involved in secret affairs. 

(3) Do we try to push for a preferable political leadership in Turkey?

(5) Do we ignore Turkey and its actions?

We need to have and settle on a satisfactory Turkey policy before we can devise a satisfactory Syria policy. Else, we wouldn't know if to wield the power of the UNSC against Turkey, for example. Armed forces protecting the Syrian Northeast make sense only if they are meant to actually protect it, even against advancing Turkish forces of against advancing Turkish proxies supported by Turkish forces.

The current Syria policy appears to be short-sighted, incomplete, and many important actors do not appear to have thought enough about the Syria case.

About the German Minister of Defence: It was a folly that the proposal to send protection troops to NE Syria came from the Minister of Defence instead of from the minister of foreign affairs. A policy trial balloon about protection troops from the minister of foreign affairs with some dissent from the Minister of Defence would have damaged intra-NATO relations less. The military policy origin needlessly puts the military policy question (is Turkey really considered a NATO ally or a great power to be restrained) into the field of view more than if the minister of foreign affairs would have done it.
It's indeed a double folly, for the proposal isn't even national policy; the cabinet is divided about it.





A couple notes

For the first time ever, I noticed a major news outlet mentioning that Article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty makes aggressions illegal. Hooray!
Now apply this insight beyond just Turkey.

Not-so-fun game: Try to come up with ways how the' president of the united states' a.k.a. "lying moron" could possibly serve Russian interests better than he already does.
- He drove oil prices up with Iran
- He drives wedges into NATO
- He seems to drive Turkey out of NATO into Russia's arms
- He utterly destroyed U.S. diplomatic capability - there's no ability for actual diplomatic agreements left. That's in part becuase of State Department disassembling, in part because he's not giving real guidance to diplomats (so all negotiations are a mess) and in part because he's proving his country to be utterly unreliable (up to signalling that ratified treaties are merely the starting point for a shakedown for a fictional better deal).
- He worked hard to get Russia sanctions lifted
- He gets an Ukrainian government into trouble
- He withheld arms deliveries to Ukraine
- Did nothing against the threat of election fraud

I think of myself as someone who has a lot of ideas, can improvise and find ways how to unhinge seemingly stable systems. I doubt I could have made up these pro-Russia moves in a week.
I would have insisted on backdoors in network and computer hardware and software to make Western computer networks more vulnerable to Russian attack - which incidentally is something the U.S. government (and politicians in the EU) did want, too.

I don't really share the criticism about the fake Syria withdrawal a.k.a. betrayal of the Kurds. The criticism is too much in opposition (and thus in favour of having troops deployed in Syria) as a matter of principle.
It could have been done in a competent way - there was enough time. The Kurds could have negotiated autonomy with Assad under favourable conditions using the possibility of a U.S. withdrawal as one of the bargaining chips instead of being forced to plea to Assad for help. The Turkish invasion (expansion of invasion) would rather not have happened if the Syrian border guard and army were on the border.

Having troops in Syria is great power gaming nonsense in my opinion. So an actual (not fake) withdrawal would have been fine if done well. I suppose those senators who criticise it just want to continue the great power gaming nonsense. They don't care more about the Kurds than the lying moron does.

The mess was created for practically not gain (there are still U.S. troops in Syria, and expected to stay), at least concerning Western interests.
What now? The U.S. could abstain from protecting Turkey in the UNSC instead of doing childish pseudo-tough talk and embarrassing letters. The UK and France would probably not protect Turkey. Maybe Russia would, but keep in mind Syria would have to appeal to the UNSC to act against the invasion in the first place. Putin would have to choose whether to side with Turkey or Syria.

I didn't write as much as usual lately because I got distracted. Stuff happens.

Right wing extremism may have passed a zenith in several European countries at least for this generation. The right wing extremists in Germany suffer from several problems
- the Austrian right wing radicals' corruption scandal, which exposed the workings of right wing extremists
- it's becoming increasingly obvious that their primary party is more of an Eastern German protest party than anything else
- a court declared it legal and no libel to call one of their far-far-right members a "fascist", which clarified the matter
- their favourite target, chancellor Merkel, it slowly leaving the spotlight since she gave up party chairmanship
- the migration issue has ebbed
Personally, I wonder when and whether ever the nation will pay attention to far right wingers having no working answers to challenges and problems. They're mostly about fear and hate, only in few countries (Hungary, Poland) has the far right wing been smart enough to break from the mold and actually do something for the poor and the middle class.

I'm concerned that there's neither much of a movement for a ban on autonomous lethal drones nor a hurried development of countermeasures against them. This has a "1905" feeling of seeing horse cavalry divisions, but neither armoured motor vehicles nor anti-armoured vehicles guns in the army.



Strategy changes

Several of my blog posts were written under the (mentioned) assumption that we should have a division of labour in NATO / EU. The Baltic countries and Poland should focus on self-defence against a strategic surprise attack. Germany should be able to quickly deploy a decisive ground forces strength capable of stopping Russian ground forces, Turkey should be able to close the Bosporus even to submarines, Spain should be able to close Gibraltar Strait even to submarines and so on.

I hinted back in 2017 that such an alliance grand strategy of deterrence by frustrating even strategic surprise attack scenarios might need adjustments if the Turkey situation doesn't develop well.  Strategy changes may be necessary, and this may be a terrible issue given the inertia in the armed services.

A complete change of an air war strategy may take 30...40 years, for that appears to be the life cycle length of combat aircraft and air defences from introduction to disappearance. I doubt it will become much quicker unless there's a major war wearing down the inventory.

Even unspectacular changes of a national defence strategy such as reorganisation of the army (which should be possible in little more than a year including the re-training periods) often last 5+ years nowadays.

This slowness is what seemingly almost everyone has become used to, and has become accepted as normal, if not inevitable.
It's not. 
Remember, Germany built a continent-dominating military based on a 100,000 men army and 10,000 men navy in less than seven years. No computer programs were used, and we should get rid of them if computer programs were slowing down rather than accelerating things. Technology advanced, so we should be quicker, not slower. Whatever technological change made us slower should be dispensed with.

It's a rule of thumb to replace a strategy every about five years in a business. Few large businesses (such as concrete factories) can successfully operate without having and adapting a strategy. Likewise, we should expect strategy changes every five years on the national and collective defence levels. Any longer intervals are symptoms of failure by the executives involved.

An armed bureaucracy that expects to change strategy every about five years has to move to be able to change course every about five years. Such an adaptable armed bureaucracy could dare to react to its environment with more specialised adaptions than a sluggish armed bureaucracy that lives and preserves inertia and conservatism above every thing else. It's a bureaucracy's self-interest to preserve itself and to not change much, so the impetus towards adaptability has to come from the civilian leadership.

Political leadership may change as well, but ours in Germany exists in four-years legislative cycles, and this fits the five-year rule because we don't really hand over power in four-year intervals. Our governing coalitions last about 5...14 years.

We should be much more adaptable on the strategic level both as nations and as collective security organisations (alliances).



Operational Planning Processes and Tactical Decisionmaking

I'm still not much in a creative mood, so I present you a slightly modified blog post written in 2014, but not published till today.

The Operational Planning Process (OPP) is a linear, analytic method for planning used by most NATO ground forces. The problems and inadequacies are well-known, and I'm not motivated to provide a list thereof.

I am motivated to push for an alternative approach, though:

This alternative approach is really an approach, not a method.
First, it is important to understand and value the consequences of Moltke the Elder's quote (which I assume to be largely correct based on military history):

"Kein Plan übersteht die erste Feindberührung."
("No plan survives first contact with the enemy.")

Second, it is advisable to take a look at how highly successful commanders actually led their forces tactically in mobile warfare: Many of them commanded in person on the scene - preferably at their Schwerpunkt. This is often ideal for leaders of battalion- to small brigade-sized forces.

Third, it is advisable to keep in mind that war isn't like exercises - especially if there's no front-line. There's often only one starting point (unless invasions happen) followed by campaigning till the end. Exercises have a starting point, few hours or days of action and then rinse, repeat. Many exercises are scripted to have serial phases.
Mobile continental warfare would be different. The phases would run in parallel, and the only starting points that are repeated are the insertions of refreshed reserves into the meat grinder. A staff officer might wake up, go to his folding desk and be confronted with reports of past actions, an ongoing action, a tactical plan for the day, a logistics plan for tomorrow and ongoing logistics planning for the day after - in parallel. He wouldn't be in "the" planning phase.

Fourth, there are great advantages to be found in training officers to the point where they can understand if not anticipate their peers' standard actions without much fuss.
A common doctrine that's good enough to be actually employed by the vast majority of officers is one way to support this - but only to a point, since doctrinal flexibility has its merits.
A personnel system that provides staffs and ground forces in general with enough stability to enable officers to get to know each other well long before they're transferred helps as well.

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I'd like to push for a different attitude:
Planning should lose much of its prominence.

Planning should focus on delivering what was known as "Combat Service Support" (~support that doesn't affect the enemy directly; mostly logistics) and moving reinforcements. This is known to be a rather fruitful area of activity for planners.

Updates of (not very specific) missions given to manoeuvre forces on the other hand would be directed in a more "naturalistic" or "artistic" way. The corps or theatre commander or his deputies could make such adjustments right away, in reaction to a change of mind or a change of the situation that happened only minutes ago.

The tactical actions - both preservative and aggressive ones - should be led by commanding officers on the scene, leading from their position among their troops.

This should not sound very unusual, for it happened in many conflicts. My claim is that the way to go is to develop a system of command and control, leadership, coordination, planning et cetera based on the expectation that this is how things could be, should be and will be.

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Let's see how this could look in a simple example:

Traditionally, HQ would draw up and consider some plans and finally issue orders to subordinate forces: Team A engages and fixes the enemy, Team B flanks.
The whole process takes a lot of time and the enemies don't play along. A and B often need to adapt themselves on their own on the spot, since HQ issued new orders with too much delay.

Now instead, HQ would tell Teams A and B to deploy into respective mission areas, with respective levels of ambition regarding tolerance for hostiles' presence there.
Hostile forces close with A, but A is not meant to fight decisively yet (dictated through the set level of ambition) - A ambushes and delays if the hostiles come really close. 
The deputy commander (commander is sleeping) at the HQ re-appraises the situation and tells A and B to cooperate with an increased level of ambition for their combined areas. A and B become authorised to update their common area border bilaterally without specific HQ orders.
A and B manoeuvre, and after a series of skirmishes their leaders sense an opportunity to strike, agree and execute a pincer attack.

Pay attention to the choice of words here; "level of ambition" and "mission area". The deviation from conventional doctrines here is to not give a mission about what to achieve, but to order an area to be (similar to the positions assigned to a patrol line of wolfpack submarines) AND to set a level of ambition. Level of ambition could range (in steps) from "do not engage under any circumstances" to "find opposing forces and inflict maximum casualties". The extreme levels of ambition would be suitable in a guerilla war only, of course. Typical continental warfare in Europe would rather have levels of ambition ranging from "deploy to detect and report movements of hostile units, but avoid losses" to "destroy hostile forces when conditions aren't disadvantageous".

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I mixed a good dose of horizontal cooperation into this scenario. The same is true for area-centric missions and ambition levels. These favourite topics of mine are parts of the tool bag that could replace planning where the latter doesn't work anyway.

So in the end, there are ways to avoid the well-known inadequacies of the very bureaucratic processes. Such processes have their times and places, but I am in the mainstream when I assert that they're being used for too many purposes. The decision-making on the scene by leaders among their men - an almost alien thought in a computerised staff exercise - deserves to destroy many planners' claims relevance in regard to manoeuvres and combat.
We should also get away from trying to predict things. This does not work, period. Missions given by higher commands should be limited in detail by even higher command's orders. Any too detailed corps HQ orders should be outlawed and thus ineffective, period. A corps commander who pinpoints the timing of an action down to the minute shall go to prison as a private, period. "When you're ready, preferably before 1230" is accurate enough.


Written by someone who is really into improvisation and never liked planning much for activities where plans don't last anyway.


Business as usual

Germany got a new minister of defence, said minister has no background in military, military policy, security policy, or even only good experience in foreign policy.

A few weeks into the term, said minister publicly claims that the budget is inadequate.

A budget that grew extraordinarily over the past couple years.

The real problems are different ones, but the minister has already 100% failed on the job by doing the usual thing. Minister and bureaucracy now share interests. The minister is pursuing the bureaucracy's self-interest. There's no hope that this minister (or any, really) will steer the bureaucracy off the course towards self-interest and onto the course towards public interest.

The German armed bureaucracy will NEVER have enough money, and will NEVER become swift enough to do its job properly unless it gets yanked off its course by a proper reformer. There's no reason to expect a conservative minister to do meaningful reform, of course.*

It's depressing.


*: Conscription was deactivated under a CDU (conservative party) minister, but a very strong case can be made that he was no conservative, but a person with 80% show, 20% thirst for power and 0% substance.


Link dump September 2019


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Sadly, this is true of other countries as well. It's just not THAT obvious there.

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 12,019 "false and misleading claims" (lies) in 928 days

Those were only the public lies.

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[German, 2019] heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Klingeltoene-und-WhatsApp-EU-Staaten-fuer-maximale-Vorratsdatenspeicherung-4498291.html
[German, 2016] heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Europaeischer-Gerichtshof-bekraeftigt-Anlasslose-Vorratsdatenspeicherung-ist-illegal-3578920.html
Angesichts des offensichtlichen Willens zum Rechtsbruch braucht es vielleicht drastische Rechte, um  solche nicht verfassungstreuen Bürokraten aufzuhalten. Wie wäre es mit einem Organklagerecht hierzu, damit die höchsten Gerichte auch staatliche Institutionen als kriminelle (bzw. illegale Zwecke verfolgende) Organisationen identifizieren und auflösen können?

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Die Achtung der Verfassung und von Bürgerrechten ist ein tendenzielles Problem bei der CDU. Das belegen auch die vielen von Verfassungsgerichten aufgehobenen, von der CDU lancierten Gesetze. Bei der illegalen Vorratsdatenspeicherung versuchen sie es sogar immer wieder, obwohl schon höchstrichterlich entschieden wurde, dass sie illegal ist.
Zwischenzeitlich dhat das die CDUler schon so geärgert, dass sie die lästige Durchsetzug von freiheiten durch das Bundesverfassungsgericht beschränken wollten. Den Angriff auf hinderliche Richter hat nicht der lügende Schwachkopf aus Amerika erfunden.

Eine andere Tendenz ist, dass sich Innenminister als "Law and Order" Kraftmeier aufspielen. Doch statt "Law" haben die dann vorwiegend "Staatsgewalt" im Sinne und ordnen der möglichst allmächtigen Staatsgewalt dann allzugerne Recht und Gesetz unter.
Zur "Law and Order" Masche gehört leider auch, dass solche Typen viel auf Show und Effekthascherei wertlegen. Uniformierte Streifen mit Schutzweste und MPi usw..
Die wirklich wirksamen Maßnahmen sind in der Regel kaum für die Öffentlichkeit wahrnehmbar und daher für solche Selbstinszenierungen nutzlos. Dazu gehört zum Beispiel, dass auch bei kleinen Verbrechen anständig kriminaltechnisch ermittelt wird und es nicht bei Einbrüchen mit geringen Schäden bei einer oberflächlichen Beschau durch Streifenpolizisten bleibt.
Die Aufklärungsquoten sind bei Morden geradezu unfassbar hoch, weil da viel Aufwand betrieben wird. Es braucht für die Strafverfolgung undd en Schutz der Öffentlichkeit vor Verbrechern nicht mehr Rechte oder selbstdarstellerischer Innenpolitiker, sondern einen besseren und konsequenteren Einsatz der vorhandenen Möglichkeiten.

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Ich werde hier ausnahmsweise die CDU in Schutz nehmen:
Meines Wissens nach macht diese Ungenauigkeit wohl so gut wie nichts aus wegen dem zweigliedrigen Wahlsystem mit Direkt- und Listenstimme (wie auch beim Bundestag). Letztere gleicht Gerrymandering aus. Die einzige relevante Ausnahme wäre wohl, wenn die Wahlkreisgrenzziehung einer Partei ein zweites Direktmandat verwehrt, die an der 5% Hürde scheitert. Von der Regel halte ich allerdings ohnehin wenig. Wir sollten die Hürde einfach bei allen Wahlen in Deutschland runtersetzen auf 2% und die Direktmandatregeln abschaffen.
Im Übrigen spricht schon lange nichts mehr dagegen, die Abgeordneten mit einem (ungleichen) Stimmgewicht zu versehen, dass 1:1 ihrer erhaltenen Stimmenzahl entspricht. Das bisschen Kompliziertheit ertragen wir locker.