Trump & North Korea: Beware the Boogeyman

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from The Jurist | Aug. 11, 2017) Tyrants need a war. Looking back over the past hundred years one finds that tyrants come to power in conflict and remains in power largely due to conflict. It centers the populace, distracting them from other societal challenges to include their civil liberties.

Historically these conflicts created by a tyrant, dictator or insecure leader rarely succeed. The immediate result may be a distraction, but in the long term that nation, and its leader, end up weakened and in some cases worse off than they were before the conflict.

Politically weak or insecure leaders also need a distraction. I call those distractions boogeymen–nations, a peoples, or culture that the leader perceives to be a threat to the national security. This boogeyman also distracts from the political challenges both real and imagined that leader faces. Hitler had the Jews; Stalin capitalism; the Ayatollah the “Great Satin,” and Assad “terrorists” by way of a few examples.

Dictators and other leaders need a populace that is afraid. Fear is a powerful psychological tool to govern with and leaders use it for various reasons. A populace that is afraid of “something” looks to its leader for security and a solution. This is where the shadow of a boogeyman is useful. Fear can bring a society together in common cause.

Historically these conflicts created by a tyrant, dictator or insecure leader rarely succeed. The immediate result may be a distraction, but in the long term that nation, and its leader, end up weakened and in some cases worse off than they were before the conflict. Various circumstances intervene that were unintended consequences. History shows that these unintended consequences rarely benefit a leader.

Only the citizens of that country suffer those consequences. Simply put some of their loved ones do not come home. Tens of thousands perish their nation weakened politically and economically by the conflict. The nation itself loses stature internationally. Weakened trade through sanctions and other action only bring more unrest and insecurity.

The result is a country in worse shape than before the conflict. It all blows up in the tyrant’s face, with more unrest and division a result. In this information age, conflict is bad for global trade and business, unlike the industrial age where conflict was good for business. The world suffers from this type of threat and conflict as well.

As our President, politically weak, deeply insecure and challenged on all fronts looks for a distraction and a boogeyman, he conveniently has been handed one in the guise of Kim Jong-un and North Korea. From the President’s point of view, he has a “twofer,” a threat worthy of a conflict and a boogeyman. To maintain his political relevancy (and to silence whatever demons whisper to him) a looming crisis with nuclear implications is just what the doctor ordered. Words such as “fire and fury” ring true to him.

Suddenly the Russia scandal is off the front page. No one is talking about collusion, conspiracy, perjury or obstruction of justice. Attention is diverted across the Pacific Ocean to a hermit kingdom led by a crafty leader who uses just this type of tension to maintain his own power.

Kim Jong-un is a dictator, he needs a looming conflict, and he needs that boogeyman, as well, to distract his citizenry away from daily famine towards an impending attack by their boogeyman, the United States. The President has handed him politically a reason to lead his nation and consolidate power on a silver platter.

We have an insecure and an unstable leader in our President now in a possible “dance of death” with a brutal tyrant who is “crazy like a fox” …

To read the full article, click here.


Members of INSCT Offer Thoughts on North Korean Threat

(SU News | Aug. 11, 2017) Syracuse University faculty members William Banks, a professor in both the College of Law and Maxwell School, and Robert Murrett, who also is a professor at both the Maxwell School and the  College of Law, offer their thoughts on the possible threat of North Korea to U.S. interests at home and abroad. Both are also members of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT).

“The US is forbidden from using military force against North Korea absent a Security Council Resolution or action by North Korea against us that would trigger self-defense.”

When it comes to declaring war on North Korea, according to Banks, the founding director of INSCT, “Under United States law, the president cannot lawfully strike militarily at North Korea without authorization from Congress. Under international law, the U.S. is forbidden from using military force against North Korea absent a Security Council Resolution or action by North Korea against us that would trigger self-defense.”

When asked if the armistice still in place from 1953 between the U.S. and DPRK gives the U.S. president international law options he might not have when dealing militarily with another country, Banks says “the fact that the Korean War ended in the stalemate of an armistice has little or no bearing on the current military situation and the legality of a strike against North Korea.”

As for Murrett, the former director of naval intelligence, “When it comes to the intelligence assessments of North Korea, we look at three tiers: their nuclear capability, the weaponization of their nuclear capability and the types of delivery vehicle they have, be they missiles, submarines or aircraft. When it comes to degrees of certainty in regard to North Korea’s current nuclear capability, I have very high confidence in the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community, and these intelligence assessments will influence U.S. policy and planning.

“The U.S. military is a planning machine and U.S. Forces Korea, part of the U.S. Pacific Command, has detailed contingency plans for the Korean Peninsula—drawn up in collaboration with South Korea and Japan—which offer a range of different options. Although I am concerned about the North Korean threat to Guam—that territory is an essential part of the U.S. presence in the Pacific—we can’t forget our Pacific allies, not just South Korea and Japan but Australia, New Zealand and others. We must keep them informed of the planning we perform and the diplomacy we execute.”

Members of INSCT Offer Thoughts on North Korean Threat

War Games: Robert B. Murrett Discusses North Korea Tensions with CNBC

US-South Korean war games provide trigger that could further inflame Pyongyang

(CNBC | Aug. 10, 2017) Annual war games exercises with tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean forces are expected to start later this month and could further inflame tensions with North Korea.

Defense experts see little or no chance Washington will call off the two-week drills. They believe doing so would jeopardize readiness and be the wrong signal to nuclear-armed North Korea and U.S. allies in the region. The North has previously indicated it might sit down for talks but first wanted joint military exercises to be halted.

The North Korean regime led by 33-year-old Kim Jong Un sees the drills as a provocation and sometimes responds with threats and a show of power. For example, last year the hermit regime conducted its fifth nuclear test exactly a week after the joint military exercises had formally concluded …

… In June, a North Korean diplomat raised the possibility that Pyongyang might be “willing to talk” with the U.S. about freezing its nuclear and missile tests but first asked for the U.S. to “completely stop” large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea, temporarily or permanently.

“I would be reluctant to trade on those terms because of a signal it may be sending to others around the world and specifically to others that rely upon us heavily in the region,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Robert Murrett, deputy director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University.

Murrett, a former director of Naval Intelligence who also ran the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, added that it still maybe a good idea to “do a day in, day out” assessment because of the situation on the Korean peninsula …

To read the full article, click here.


No Fishing Expedition: William C. Banks Talks Russia Probe with Bloomberg Law

Rosenstein Says Probe is not a “Fishing Expedition”

(Bloomberg Law | Aug. 7, 2017) William C. Banks, Director for the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University College of Law, discusses the ongoing investigation surrounding Russian involvement in the 2016 election. He speaks with Greg Stohr.

Journalism & International Justice: David M. Crane Chautauqua Lecture Now Online

(July 18, 2017) “Journalism and International Justice” with David M. Crane, Syracuse University College of Law and former Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court of Sierra Leone, and Brian Rooney, journalist and winner of four Emmy Awards and two Edward R. Murrow Awards.

This recording is part of the Center for the Study of Art, Architecture, History & Nature (C-SAAHN) and Chautauqua Archives Heritage Lecture Series 2017.

Lady Liberty’s Promise Matters to Immigration Law

By Ryan J. Suto 

(Re-published from The Hill | Aug. 4, 2017) President Trump and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue’s (R-Ga.) White House announcement of the new version of the RAISE Act, a bill that aims to lower legal immigration to the U.S. by more than 40 percentby turning away non-English speakers and low-skilled or unskilled immigrants, flies in the face of American ideals and is simply bad policy.

Miller’s dismissal of the reference to the Statue of Liberty in a policy discussion shows a narrow understanding of the framing of ‘American tradition.’” 

The bill itself is problematic first because it awards points for “English-language ability,” which will discriminate against millions of hard-working and well-meaning individuals from non-English speaking countries. This preference reflects the broader demographic goals implicit in the Trump administration’s other policies, such as the wall on the Mexican border and Muslim ban.

Second, the bill makes no economic sense. The Bipartisan Policy Center stated, “The RAISE Act’s goal of reducing legal immigration is a threat to the U.S. economy and would place additional strains on the Social Security system by reducing the size of the labor force.”

Later that day, White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller answered questions about the new RAISE Act from the Brady briefing room. At the start of a heated exchange, CNN’s Jim Acosta, a first-generation Cuban American, invoked “American tradition” in challenging the law, referencing the Emma Lazarus poem, “The New Colossus,” that appears on the monument: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

In response, Miller stated, “The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of Liberty enlightening the world, it’s a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to was added later is not part of the actual Statue of Liberty.” During the exchange with Acosta, Miller rhetorically asked what number of immigrants would meet the “Statue of Liberty poem’s law of the land.”

Miller’s dismissal of the reference to the Statue of Liberty in a policy discussion shows a narrow understanding of the framing of “American tradition.” That tradition includes more than just what is found in dusty law books, but also what is called meta-doctrine. Meta-doctrine is composed of the concepts and prescriptions that provide structure and limitations to specific legal doctrines. They form the spirit of the country and define our goals and how we see ourselves …

To read the full article, click here.

INSCT CAS in Postconflict Reconstruction alumnus Ryan J. Suto (JD/MS/MAIR ’13) is Government Relations Manager for the Arab American Institute, an organization that encourages the direct participation of Arab Americans in political and civic life.

Shoring Up the Eastern Flank: VP Pence’s Visit to Estonia, Georgia, and Montenegro

By Kamil Szubart

From July 30 to Aug. 2, 2017, US Vice President Mike Pence paid a three-day visit to Estonia, Georgia, and Montenegro. This trip took place less than a month after President Donald J. Trump’s visit to Poland, where he participated in the Three Seas Initiative Summit (TSI) in Warsaw, gathering political leaders from 12 countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

“Pence’s visit to Eastern Europe—taking in two ex-Soviet republics—was primarily focused on the US commitment to NATO.”

The Pence visit can be seen as part of the new US strategy toward the region, which includes a reassuring US politico-military commitment to Central and Eastern Europe, especially significant after the 2014 Russian aggression in Ukraine, and increasing economic ties between US businesses and their partners in the region.

Some also looked for the Trump Administration to use Pence’s trip to underscore a hard line toward Russia and to counter the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. After the success of Trump’s visit to Poland, the White House has begun to consider Central and Eastern Europe as a strong foothold and as a strategic balance for US interests in Western Europe, and particularly in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

Pence’s visit to Eastern Europe—taking in two ex-Soviet republics—was primarily focused on the US commitment to NATO. He echoed Article 5 by saying, “At the heart of our alliance is a solemn promise that an attack on one is an attack on all.” Trump previously had been criticized for failing to pledge commitment to the Alliance during his first visit in Europe and, specifically, during the NATO Meeting in Brussels on May 25, 2017.

Estonia: In the Shadow of Zapad 2017

In Estonia, Pence met with Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and the three Baltic States presidents: Kersti Kaljulaid (Estonia), Raimonds Vējonis (Latvia), and Dalia Grybauskaitė (Lithuania). Estonia and its Baltic sister states are facing a tremendous threat from Russia. Despite the fact that these countries have been in NATO since 2004, their forces would be unable to counter Russian aggression, and Russian troops attacking from three sides (Belarus, the Kaliningrad Oblast, and the main Russian territory) could overrun the Baltic States within 45 to 60 hours.

Therefore, the Baltic States have increasingly invested in their armed forces. In fact, Estonia, along with Poland, is the regional leader in defense expenditures and is one of only five NATO member countries—the US, the UK, Poland, Estonia, and Greece—to invest more than 2% of GDP on defense. The Baltic States also spent plenty of diplomatic capital to bring NATO to the region. At the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, the leaders of 28 NATO member countries agreed to deploy four multinational Battalion Battle Groups (BBG) to the Baltic States and Poland. And since 2004, NATO also has been responsible for protecting Baltic airspace within the framework of Baltic Air Policing. In response to the 2014 Russian aggression in Ukraine, NATO enhanced its air mission adding four jet fighters to protect the states.  

The visit also was symbolic because it took place exactly one month before joint Russian and Belarusian military exercises called Zapad 2017. In recent years, Russia has increased its military capabilities through regular military exercises that often involved imagined aggression against NATO nations and their allies (a nuclear attack on Stockholm, for instance). Baltic leaders will also recall that the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia followed the Kavkaz 2008 military exercises. Russia further increased tensions by delaying its notification of Zapad 2017 to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), violating the 2011 OSCE Vienna Document that is designed to ensure transparency in large-scale military exercises. This year’s drills might engage up to two Russian divisions throughout Belarus, Kaliningrad, and the Russian Western Military District.

Georgia: Waiting for NATO

The second stop was Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where the Vice President met with President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. Again, Pence reaffirmed the US commitment to Article 5. He also noted that the US and its allies are seeking better relations with Russia but that the US “strongly condemns Russia’s occupation on Georgian soil,” directly referring to the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Pence also attended the 2017 Noble Partner military exercises, involving the US, Germany, the UK, Turkey, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Armenia.

Notably, Pence strongly supported Georgia’s ambition to join NATO. Although it was agreed at the 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest that Georgia could become a member, there has been no consensus regarding the next enlargement of the Alliance. Most NATO member countries—and particularly France and Germany—are aware that putting Georgia on the formal road to membership will trigger a possibly hostile Russian response. Moreover, a Georgian membership could mean collective defense is required in the event of another conflict between Georgia and its neighbor. Currently, Georgia can only expect NATO support for political reforms, the strengthening of civilian control of the military, and participation in the Partnership for Peace (PfP).

Montenegro: A Bulwark in the Balkans

Finally, on Aug. 2, Pence held a meeting with Montenegrin President Filip Vujanović and Prime Minister Duško Marković. On July 5, 2017, Montenegro became the 29th NATO member state, the first in nearly 10 years.

Montenegro’s role within NATO will be to help stop the spread of Russian influence throughout the Balkans. Recently, Montenegro accused Russian secret services of masterminding a coup attempt to prevent the country from joining the Alliance, and in June 2017 the Montenegrin High Court charged two alleged Russian intelligence officers with attempting acts against the constitutional order.

This episode illustrates that the Balkans have become increasingly unstable due to Russian influence, poor economic conditions, the rise of Islamist extremism, and foreign terrorist fighters returning from the Middle East and North Africa.

The visit in the Balkans is a clear signal to Russia that the US and its allies will stand together with Montenegro against any pressure and outside (i.e., Russian) interference. During the meeting with Balkan leaders, Pence underlined the need to keep the door open to further NATO enlargement in the region, which could help with stability, democracy, and human rights issues. Pence’s visit and words were also a boost to other countries in the region, especially Serbia, FYR Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are interested in joining NATO and enhancing bilateral ties with the US.

Whatever the Balkan nations took away from the visit, it is probable that Pence made a much better first impression on Montenegro’s Marković than President Trump did. At the NATO meeting in Brussells, Trump appeared to shove the Prime Minister aside to get to the front of a group photo opportunity causing a minor diplomatic stir!

INSCT Research and Practice Associate Kamil Szubart is a 2017 visiting fellow at INSCT, via the Kosciuszko Foundation. He works as an analyst for the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan, Poland, where he is responsible for German foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, Islamic threats in German-native-speaking countries and topics related to NATO, CSDP, OSCE, and the UN. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation examining US-German relations in the field of international security since 9/11.


Miriam Elman Examines the Fallout from New Israeli Visa Restrictions

Seriously, Boycotters: If the Goal of Your Visit is to Harm Israel, Stay Home

By Miriam Elman

(Re-published from | July 31, 2017)  Ever since a group of right-wing and centrist lawmakers joined forces to ban foreigners boycotting Israel from entering its borders, Israel’s amendment to its 1952 Entry into Israel Law has been a lightning rod of bi-partisan rage. While the amendment predictably drew outrage from anti-Israel activists, it also sparked the ire of many who whole-heartedly support the Jewish state and oppose the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

“Why would people who so detest Israel want to go there, study there, or screen their films there?”

Most recently, the brouhaha re-erupted when five “famous and significant” radical BDS-promoters were barred from flying from the U.S. into Israel.

There’s a radical irony to the hysterical response these individuals had to being barred from Israel, one that is no doubt lost on the boycotted boycotters. By exercising their own First Amendment rights to vent on social media and in the press, these activists, working to undermine and undo the country 24/7, are now upset at being kept out of the very country that they so despise.

But laying aside this irony, those who oppose this law are wrong. Most of these criticisms of the law, which passed in the Knesset this past March in a 46-28 vote, have been overblown. In fact, the amended Entry Law shouldn’t make it difficult for the vast majority of people who criticize Israel to get tourist visas, as was re-iterated this week in a joint statement issued by Interior Minister Arye Dery and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan.

The statement was offered a day after the latest controversy erupted, and it enumerated a list of criteria that the Interior Ministry plans to use in determining who will be barred. To meet the criteria, you have to hold a senior-level position in certain targeted organizations, be key activists in the boycott movement, be an establishment figure who openly supports the boycott, or operate on behalf of the targeted organizations.

In other words, if you’re a left-wing Jewish-American college student who tweeted using the hashtag #BDS; a faculty member who made a one-time donation to a BDS-supporting organization; or a rabbi who signed a resolution favoring the boycott of products from West Bank settlements at some point in her life, you will not be banned from Israel.

The law also won’t apply to organizations that are “anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian,” much less to foreigners critical of settlements. Israel’s government has neither the manpower nor the interest in establishing such a self-imposed quarantine.

Rather than stifling free speech, the law is a long overdue corrective to the absurd situation that’s developed in Israel in recent years, in which high-profile foreign nationals have routinely taken advantage of the country’s democracy in order to work against it.

But the leaders of the BDS movement are legend for taking advantage of Israel’s democratic institutions. Think of the Qatari-born Omar Barghouti, founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) who opposes Jewish self-determination and calls on the world to isolate Israel. Despite all this, Barghouti chose to study for an advanced degree at Tel Aviv University. Then you’ve got prominent anti-Israel campaigner Ken Loach, who wants every musician and artist to stop performing in Israel, apparently exempts his own films, which have been screened in the country without his objection since the early 1990s, from the anti-Israel cultural boycott.

Why would people who so detest Israel want to go there, study there, or screen their films there? It makes sense only in the context of the BDS-promoting tourist activism that’s gone unimpeded for years, and at which the newly amended entry law takes aim. Prominent representatives of major BDS organizations who go to Israel, like the five hardcore BDS activists who were prevented from boarding their flight this past Monday, don’t arrive to do touristy things like creating life-long memories at the country’s holy sites, natural wonders, cultural venues, or world-class restaurants …

Read the whole article here.

Supporting Post-9/11 Military Veterans in Higher Education

By Corri Zoli, Daniel Fay, Sidney Ellington, and David Segal

(Re-published from Military Times | July 27, 2017)  A question: “How many active and former service members are there in the United States today?” What’s your best guess? It may surprise that for an accurate answer, you won’t be able to turn to the Veterans Administration (VA), the US Department of Defense, nor the Department of Education or the Census Bureau — these agencies can’t reliably or consistently answer this question either.

“Why is there not a greater push to help student veterans seeking educational support?”

Likewise, despite the well-established role of the GI Bill in transitioning veterans to civilian life, we do not know how many veterans take advantage of this hard-earned benefit. Nor do we have a good handle on how well veterans do in school, which degree programs they choose, or whether they achieve success in post-service careers.

“Big data” — the tracking of our lives and habits — might be one of the buzzwords of the moment, but when it comes to keeping demographic track of service members and veterans, big data is still in its infancy.

Why should we care about such data?

Because without it, it is nearly impossible for Americans to ensure that veterans are getting a good return on taxpayers’ $14 billion-a-year investment in their education and whether they are successful transitioning out of service.

Furthermore, despite our own research and some important new efforts by the Student Veterans of America, lack of information can easily become a lack of concern for an important generation of Gulf War and Post-9/11 military veterans.

Making matters worse, colleges and universities are not asked whether they actually help veterans get the most out of the GI Bill on campus and beyond. For instance, the Obama administration’s 2012 executive order (establishing “Principles of Excellence” for schools) had no reporting metrics, and even though more 250 campuses registered for the “8 Keys to Veterans Success” (a 2013 Department of Education and VA initiative), this program also included no follow-up assessment or metrics. Some schools are exceptions, like Syracuse University, Columbia University, and perhaps new efforts at Wesleyan.

What we do know is that half of all veterans choose not to use their hard-earned GI Bill benefits, and that many veterans who do go to university face cultural and bureaucratic barriers, even discrimination. Yet our research also indicates that, given service members’ training and professionalization, many veterans are “pre-qualified” for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers, among other professions. However — again with some exceptions — few pipelines exist inside the academy to match veterans’ skillsets to degrees and jobs.

Distressingly, elite universities that should be leading the way for others are falling down on the job. Most Americans don’t realize how few veterans are enrolled at top colleges. GI Bill recipients comprise nearly 5 percent of the national collegiate student population, yet less than 1 percent of top 20 universities. Moreover, Inside HigherEd’s Wick Sloane notes that among the Ivy League, only Columbia University stands out, with 375 student veterans in 2016. Other Ivies enrolled just 62 service members total in 2016, with just one veteran at Princeton and three at Harvard.

Yet we know that universities can rally quickly to serve populations they deem “underserved.” Nearly 50 campuses, including the entire Ivy League, signed a letter opposing President Trump’s Jan. 27, 2017, immigration order, which academic leaders claim undermines support for vulnerable foreign, immigrant, and undocumented students. Although most universities advocate for “diversity,” this concept rarely includes student veterans, despite the fact that the military is the most demographically diverse institution in American life.

So why is there not a greater push to help student veterans seeking educational support? How long will veterans on and off campus remain demographically “invisible,” thanks to federal data research priorities, or underserved in higher education, thanks to lack of oversight and a narrow understanding of “diversity”?

To read the full article, click here.

Photo: Senior Airman Jasmine Helm-Lucas working with data in June 2017 at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. (Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam/Air Force)