Libya peace process

The recent apparent success of German diplomacy in negotiating a peace process (and possibly aid) for civil war-torn Libya looks like a success story of the kind of diplomacy that the United States, France, Italy and Russia are not capable of (any more):

Five rounds of diligent and patient negotiations with all important stakeholders without provoking much public attention, largely with a non-partisan  'honest broker' reputation and behaviour. Almost all parties agreed on a long list of promises (Greece and Saudis were not invited to the final conference and did thus not sign the promises as far as I know).
Libyan Civil War
Map of approx. territorial control in Libya, source Ali Zifan / Wikipedia
We'll see how much good that does in the next five years or so, but we already know that it exceeds what the French and Italians (both considered to be partisans in the conflict) achieved in their earlier effort.

I wish this diplomatic effort much success - especially as such diplomacy might find ways out of seemingly ever-lasting conflicts more often in the future.

The only obvious downside to Germany is that there's much talk about a need for German blue helmets for Libya. Personally, I don't see at all why a diplomatic 'honest broker' would be obliged to send blue helmet troops. This strikes me as thinking typical of those people who wouldn't come up with 'honest broker diplomacy' as their first idea for addressing such a conflict at all. Why would their opinion deserve much weight in this case? How would an 'honest broker' stay non-partisan for when violence flares up and requires further negotiations if it's involved with fighting troops? Don't those reporters and pundits think before writing? Is 'we must deploy troops into crisis region' some kind of reflex? And don't get me started on whether deploying troops into Libya is helpful at all. There's  little supporting evidence for such a notion - but reporters and pundits appear to think of it as self-evidently true.

The African Union, Pakistan and Jordan would be fine candidates for providing troops for a blue helmet mission. To let them help Libya get back to functioning is more promising (on the psychological level) than to insist on Europeans or even Americans meddling there.

There's the ubiquitous concern about how willing such forces would be to use force against organised armed resistance and about their proneness to corruption and human rights abuses, of course. Let's face it; Western troops deployed to Libya wouldn't necessarily be exemplary, either. American and French troops in particular have a deserved reputation for 'rough' behaviour towards no-name civilians and German troops would inevitably have extremely restrictive rules of engagement forced by our politicians, which would limit their utility to providing local security. I don't see them as a force that would forcibly disarm a warlord army, for example.

There are benefits in non-partisanship in international diplomacy. The Swiss understand this intuitively, and I have a hunch that Western great powers in particular lost sight of this. The serious international conflicts that exist today exist because there are opposing factions that cannot finish off the conflict through overwhelming power. The worst cases (such as Syria) are multi-polar, where the partisan powers being 'friendly' and 'opposing' does not produce a clear-cut two sides of a conflict; the enemy of an enemy may both be your enemy or your friend in such a conflict. Such conflicts are terribly complicated and crying out loud for a non-partisan 'honest broker diplomacy' effort.



Defence against strategic surprise air attack

Previous posts dealt with the threat and challenge of a possible surprise air attack on high value targets (HVT*)**, particularly with hundreds of precision-guided missiles (PGM*). Such a surprise air attack could take out much of Europe's air power and other high value targets in the first hour of hot conflict.
Hypersonic missiles are the scare missiles du jour,
supposed to scare you
I suppose that there's no promising way to protect against such an attack in calm times because the required defences could not realistically be held in a sufficient readiness (with high-powered radars operating 24/365, for example). It might be feasible to protect against it in times of crisis. Recent events have highlighted the side effect risks of such a readiness, though. 

So let's look at how we could set up such (crisis time) defences under the assumption that we could (technically) detect and intercept even terrain-following cruise missiles that possess very small radar reflexivity and quasiballistic / hypersonic missiles with a worthwhile probability of success.

Europe is large, and both its coastlines and its Eastern frontier are long. So I suppose that the only feasible way of actually defending against a large wave of PGMs would be through the use of area air defences. It doesn't appear to be promising to use hundreds of short-range air defence sites. Short range air defences are most unlikely to be effective against quasiballistic / hypersonic PGMs anyway. 
The area air defences would have a much smaller 'footprint' (protected area) against quasiballistic / hypersonic PGMs than against cruise missiles (a well-known phenomenon with existing area air defences), so this backbone of defence could be split into a defensive line behind frontier (with spacings suitable for intercept of cruise missiles) and along coasts on the one hand (same) and other 'rear' firing units providing a protective 'umbrella' to clusters of HVTs (also against medium range quasiballistic and hypersonic missiles).


The erroneous killing of civilian aviation could be avoided by not permitting the area air defences to fire on subsonic targets unless there's a high confidence detection of a large wave of incoming cruise missiles somewhere in Europe.
A small first wave of PGMs might be launched to exploit this and take out the area air defences, of course. Soft kill (multispectral smoke, local and directed jamming against imaging radar and satellite navigation), hard kill (short or very short range air defences to intercept the few incoming missiles) and evasion (quick reaction movement of the possibly targeted assets by few hundred metres) could be used to harden the defence network against this. This would be a particular challenge at coasts and close to certain borders (where many cheap munitions could be used with very little warning time to defeat the defence network), and much easier for rear cluster defence units (such as near Berlin or Paris, for example).
Another problem is airborne standoff jamming.  The frontier chain of defence against cruise missiles might be exposed to this, and thus be an unreliable proposition for defence. Standoff jamming would help stealthy cruise missiles a lot. Non-radar sensors may be required to make this line technologically redundant and thus more trustworthy.
Legitimate supersonic contacts would be known to all firing units (not many friendly supersonic capable aircraft would be around, and they would have their transponders active), so threat supersonic/hypersonic missiles would be identified as such with ease once detected.
Such defences would be integrated (keyword IADS), but this integration must not be a necessity, for a necessity would introduce a potential systemic point of catastrophic failure.

It shouldn't be much of a problem to elevate the defences to crisis (high readiness) mode. This should not require a political-level  direction. Spares budgets and personnel policies should allow for military leadership to elevate the readiness to crisis mode at slight hints of a surprise attack threat on its own. The safety precautions and defensive nature should suffice to convince the political leadership to permit this.

This begs three important questions:
(1) Is this technically feasible? Can we really detect and intercept challenging PGM targets with sufficient reliability, possibly in face of standoff jamming by hostile aircraft and disruptions of network integration?
(2) Is this affordable? Several existing air defence projects have shown extremely high costs for area air defences. Active radar seeker missiles are very expensive. Even the Russian S-400 system is said to be multiple times as expensive per regiment than S-300.
(3) Should it be done as a multinationally (EU or NATO) coordinated program akin to what was done with AWACS or at least the coordinated Central European area air defence belt of NATO in the 70's and 80's?

NATO SAM belt in Cold War
I do suspect that the technical feasibility is at most a challenge of possible 10-20 years additional R&D. The obsession with BMD since the 1991 SCUD scare should actually have served a purpose in preparing us against quasiballistic and hypersonic missiles. I'm less convinced that we could deal with stealthy terrain-following cruise missiles. Especially missiles / killer drones that fly at bird speed with a bird's radar signature could slip though to at least the forward line of defence. Our doppler radars would be fooled.

The affordability is a question of political will, and thus a question of problem awareness. Even extremely expensive systems would have a price tag that disappears in the noise of economic growth volatility.
I suspect that Poland might mobilise such awareness and might set up defences for Warsaw at least. France and Italy might relocate their SAMP/T batteries for protection of their capitals and equip them with the newer BMD missile version, but I doubt that more than this is realistic.
A strategic PGM surprise attack in some war might be a warning shot (similar to the 1967 Six Days' War surprise attack on airbases) that could raise threat awareness to a sufficient level for a 80% solution within ten years.
The affordability could be helped by grouping HVTs in fewer clusters, but the effort to relocate HVTs is an obstacle.

Should it be done multinationally? Well, at least the exchange of situation data should be arranged. The European geography doesn't necessitate more than that IMO. Let's say Belgium did not set up a coastal line of intercept. That would not force Netherlands, Germany and France to set up lines of intercept at Belgium's borders. We wouldn't really need a linear defence that far west. Belgium's coast should merely be covered by early warning sensors, and that might actually be possible with over-the horizon (OTH) radars that require no Belgium-specific sites.
I see no reason why NATO should be involved. Returning D&F readers may understand that this is because not only Russia, but also the U.S. should be considered as a medium- to long term missile strike threat country by Europeans. A coordination of the effort by the relevant continental countries (Germany, Poland, Italy, France, Spain, possibly Denmark, Czech Republic, Portugal and Netherlands) including joint competitions for technical solutions (even if they lead to purchase of different offers as in some past competitions) would be appropriate.

The purpose of such spending would be to deny aggressor war planning the optimism that could lead to an aggression. Aggressor war planners should fear that a strategic surprise attack would fail if launched in times of crisis, and the European allies would thus retain enough military power through the first day of hot conflict to defeat an aggression with conventional means.
The feasibility depends on technical questions and political will.



*: Acronyms used to shorten the text and make it a little less repetitive
**: The links are near the end of the blog post.


China's international position

There's a curious map about which countries support the PR China in regard to its oppression of the Muslim Uighur minority in the West of China:

It is curious that multiple Muslim countries appear to support China in its oppression of its Muslim minority. The Chinese influence or perceived bonds to China must be strong if the map is correct.

There's another and very similar map about support for China regarding its South China Sea territorial dispute, but it didn't withstand scrutiny:

I didn't do the research to check the former map's accuracy, for the latter map already has the key takeaway: There's no non-"Western" support for arbitration. I interpret this as most poor countries not being in favour of fair international law approaches to conflicts when the PRC is involved. This interpretation may be to far-reaching, but I am not aware of any evidence to the contrary.

I wrote repeatedly that the Western World is only a stalwart proponent of international law when it's about enforcing its will, and habitually ignoring international law and even its own treaties when they restrict the West in its bullying (a.k.a. "cruise missile diplomacy").

That would leave a terribly small quantity of true supporters of international law. Switzerland, Liechtenstein ... anyone else?

Aside from the IL angle, I read a really strong position of the Chinese (relative) newcomer great power in the "Third World" and "Second World" in these graphics and this fits to what else I saw over the years. It appears that the West isn't just failing to ward off Chinese efforts to secure its access to African raw materials; it's failing to look attractive. We've got too much baggage, and may even look like the inferior future customer and investor market.
This doesn't quite fit to the self-image of Europeans, Americans and Japanese who tend to think that their way of life is the best or very close to being the best.

It appears that the West needs a grand strategy change in foreign policy. Instead, it's playing petty games in Syria and elsewhere and brings lots of useless politicians into positions of great power.



Link drop January 2020

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"The second annual Reagan National Defense Survey, completed in late October, found nearly half of armed services households questioned, 46%, said they viewed Russia as ally.
Overall, the survey found 28% of Americans identified Russia as an ally, up from 19% the previous year."
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The lying moron may have written this because he would have done it in Obama's place.

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It's a leap over the L/52 barrel length step, but unlike many other U.S.Army projects this one is just an upgrade tot he already Frankenstein-ed M109, so it may actually succeed rather than be cancelled as most of their blank sheet of paper designs.

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The article is behind a paywall, so I link to a summarizing left wing website, too:

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It's not a new diagnosis. This was already understood to be a problem generations ago.
I highly recommend to watch this in full:

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