The XX Committee: 2014 in Review
This year now ending I stuck more often than not to Ken Tynan’s authorial motto: “Write heresy, pure heresy.” What a year it has been.
My writing in 2014, like pretty much everyone’s in national security affairs, was dominated by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, an event which has upended the post-Cold War European order and introduced a dangerous new world where Vladimir Putin aims to end American hegemony. So far, he’s doing an impressive job.
This year included a lot of updates on the situation in both Ukraine and Moscow. More substantively, I was among the first commentators to pronounce that we are in Cold War 2.0 now, whether we like it or not. Moreover, I pointed out, not to everyone’s liking, that Putin in fact does have an ideology. He is about more than the will to power. I termed him the head of the Anti-WEIRD Coalition and towards the end of the year I elaborated that Putinism is now engaged on what might be termed an Orthodox Jihad, a dangerous fusion of xenophobia, Chekism, and Russian Orthodoxy which pushes a messianic anti-Western, and especially anti-American, vision of the world.
My coining of the term Special War in 2013 turned out to be more prescient than I had imagined, and the elite media even picked it up regarding what Putin did to Ukraine: it became A Thing. I further elaborated how Special War is employed against Ukraine and the West generally, including NATO countries like France and Hungary. I explained back in June how NATO could rather easily deter further Russian aggression, but that counsel was (as expected) ignored by Washington, DC and the Atlantic Alliance. The new year therefore promises to be a hazardous one, thanks to Putin’s ability to wage Special War against the West, which will be only increased in 2015 due to the dire economic predicament the Kremlin now finds itself in.
Russian intelligence operations were a major focus of this blog in 2014, centered around an explanation of what provocation (provokatsiya) means to Moscow, including many writings on the Snowden Operation, which is the jewel in the crown of Putin’s special services of late. I pronounced the end of that Operation early in the year — it took the mainstream media many months to catch up — along with evidence that Ed was firmly in bed with Russian intelligence. Since it’s now obvious to all but the willfully blind that Snowden is a pawn of the Russian special services, the key counterintelligence question is when that relationship began, and I explored that too. I countered efforts by U.S. intelligence to protest that the damage from the unprecedented Snowden Operation just isn’t all that bad. For good measure, I explained how Snowden has become linked with earlier Russian Active Measures against NSA and Western intelligence, while elaborating how Western journalists getting in bed with the Kremlin is, alas, nothing new. By the end of 2014, it’s clear that Snowden is in Moscow for the long haul, as I predicted long ago, a tool of Putin’s Kremlin who cannot be bothered to even keep his cover story straight. All we can do is wait for the next Snowden to appear.
I also wrote quite a bit about terrorism, especially of the jihadist variety, another longstanding focus of my analysis, including an emphasis on what jihadist bad guys are up to in Southeastern Europe, including Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo. Sarajevo in particular remains a source of concern, not least due to rising Iranian malfeasance in the region, as well as the robust connections between jihadism in Bosnia and the Balkans and its real hub which, I explained, lies in Austria, specifically in Vienna. I also explored worrisome linkages between Iranian intelligence and terrorism in Turkey.
The terrorism and radicalism story of the year, of course, has been the stunning rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which represents a strategic challenge to the Middle Eastern order which has prevailed, by hook and by crook, since the settlement of World War One. I explained the sudden ascendancy of Da’ish, as well as providing a step-by-step guide on how to defeat it: this, too, has been ignored, with the result that the U.S.-led campaign against the murderers and rapists of Da’ish is going poorly, for familiar reasons that I elaborated in detail.
My views on terrorism are contrarian, thanks to my experience in counterintelligence, as I explained in a provocative post asking readers if everything they know about the subject is wrong. Relatedly, I made a plea — to date it has fallen on the usual deaf dears — to reinvestigate the still murky Oklahoma City bombing, the twentieth anniversary of which will soon be upon us. Speaking of anniversaries, we had the commemoration of the 28 June 1914 Sarajevo assassination, the most impactful (to use a horrible Pentagon term) terrorist event of modern terms, and I shed some light on that attack, which also remains surprisingly murky a full century on. For good measure, I commemorated the first Allied victory of the Great War, which has been almost entirely forgotten.
The continuing dysfunctions of important aspects of the U.S. Government, despite the efforts of many smart people and the expenditure of vast sums, was another theme of this blog in 2014. I asked why it is that nobody knows anything anymore — even in the Pentagon. I shared my views on the CIA torture scandal, as well as how to meaningfully reform that troubled agency, while to round out the year I added my two cents why it is that the Pentagon, despite possessing the finest military on earth, continues to lose easily winnable wars. I am confident all this counsel will be ignored, but I’ve provided signposts for reform in case anybody wants any.
The cancer of advocacy journalism is another reason why reform of anything seems increasingly difficult, as public debates descend into hysterics and propaganda. As a reactionary social democrat of the old school, I have no political home in America today, as I explained at length. Yet things are even worse in Europe, where demographic decline and politico-economic turmoil are unraveling what Putin has not (yet).
The new year about to start promises to be nothing if not interesting, and as usual I will be adding my commentary and counsel on big events as they happen, so watch this space. I have interesting new initiatives inbound, which I’ll be telling you about soon. In the meantime, I wish my readers a happy 2015 and all best wishes in the new year!