Articles

General Wesley K. Clark (Ret.)
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander
March 30, 2015

Background

 The Kremlin has been waging a covert, hybrid war against Ukraine since February of 2014. In this war, Moscow has used a combination of local separatist forces, irregular volunteers, and Russian special forces and regular (conventional) forces. Since the original Minsk I ceasefire in September and the Minsk II ceasefire in February, the Kremlin-directed forces have taken additional territory.

The team consisted of General Wesley K. Clark (Ret.), former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, Lieutenant General Patrick M. Hughes (Ret.), former Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Lieutenant General John S. Caldwell (Ret.), former Army Research, Development and Acquisition Chief. The team met with senior civilian and military officials, including Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko, US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, and Ukrainian ministers, parliamentarians, and leaders at all levels of the military, both in Kyiv and in the operational area.

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Reports on Wednesday that the president of Yemen has fled his country underline the latest crisis to strike the state system in the Middle East.

Three other Arab nations – Libya, Syria and Iraq – are already fractured among religious, ethnic and tribal groups, with fighting exacerbated by outsiders bankrolling and arming proxies.

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The voters of Israel have spoken, and their answer augurs more friction with the United States and Europe over issues ranging from Iran nuclear negotiations to creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, campaigning fiercely for his political life, led his Likud Party to an impressive victory, roaring past a somewhat reinvigorated center-left.

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Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham authored an essay for the latest edition of the French-language magazine Pouvoirs d'Afrique.

In the piece entitled "What Legacy will Barack Obama Leave in Africa?", Pham writes, "With both U.S. political parties, Democratic and Republican, under pressure to demonstrate to the electorate ahead ofthe 2016 presidential election that they are capable of governing, rather than merely obstructing their opponents, there is demand for policy areas where genuine bipartisan consensus can be found and Africa has traditionally stood out as one of those exceptions where there has been broad continuity between administrations."

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Bottom Line Up Front:

• The Islamic State accepted Boko Haram’s allegiance, or bay’at, pledged to the Iraq and Syria-based extremist group over the weekend

• Given the recent military setbacks for Boko Haram and the Islamic State, and their increasing convergence, this development is unsurprising and a propaganda victory for both groups

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Among those attending the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington last week was Roger Cukierman, president of an umbrella group of Jewish organizations in France.

Anti-Semitic violence there has gotten global attention since the January attacks on a Jewish deli and the headquarters of a satirical magazine in Paris, but the trend began more than a decade ago, Cukierman says.

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It is seductive to conclude that "hybrid war" is a creature of the 21st century in which technology now offers an alternative and indeed reinforcement to the blunter use of military force. Based on successful Russian encroachment into Ukraine and occupation of Crimea with hybrid war tactics, it is fair to ask if that could happen to the Baltic States. Consider Estonia as a candidate target for Moscow.

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AFTER RUSSIAN democratic leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down in Moscow last weekend, I posed this question at a Harvard Kennedy School conference: Is it possible that, in Vladimir Putin's highly controlled dictatorship, no one in the Russian government had anything to do with Nemtsov's murder?

We may never know the answer. Possible culprits range from Russia's security apparatus to one of the extreme nationalist movements emboldened by Putin's climate of fear and paranoia. In a cynical regime like Putin's, the last thing we should expect is for the truth to emerge. Indeed, Kremlin apologists pointed to all the usual suspects in the killing's aftermath — Chechen terrorists, the Ukrainian government, Russia's democratic opposition itself, and even the United States. The Kremlin knows what to do at a moment like this — bury the truth deep beneath the Russian tundra, where no one will ever find it.

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The group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) can't abide competition even from the mute remains of its region's fabled past.

An equal opportunity destroyer, IS has gone beyond lopping off the heads of live perceived enemies to demolishing priceless artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia that had survived previous waves of conquest.

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For those of us old enough to recall the Vietnam War, fact and reality were obscured and mangled by successive White Houses anxious to reach the delusional "light at the end of the tunnel." Tragically, at the end of the tunnel lay a quagmire that consumed 58,000 American and countless Vietnamese lives. In the highly complex and complicated fight against the Islamic State (IS), are fact and reality similarly being distorted or ignored by the White House either because of lack of understanding of the conflict or other human error and misjudgment?

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