Can We Win in the ‘Grey Zone’?

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 10 April 2021. © Richard Kemp

In March, US President Joe Biden issued his Interim National Security Strategic Guidance. Across the Atlantic, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy to parliament. Both leaders expressed concern over the increasing challenges in the grey zone and promised measures to respond more effectively.

The grey zone is the space between peace and war involving coercive actions that fall outside normal geopolitical competition between states but do not reach the level of armed conflict. Actions in the grey zone are conducted by states often using proxies including terrorists, and also by terrorist organizations in their own right. Grey zone actions are aggressive and often ambiguous, deniable and opaque. They are intended to damage, coerce or influence, to destabilise target states or undermine the international status quo. They usually seek to avoid a significant military response, though are often designed to intimidate and deter a target state by threatening further escalation.

Grey zone actions are not new and have long been the prevalent form of conflict across the world. But as America and Britain both recognise, globalisation and technology are increasing the frequency and efficacy of such activities, and the speed at which they unfold. More actors are becoming involved, using increasingly powerful means of ‘grey warfare’, including cyber, space, internet, social media, digital propaganda and drones.

Grey zone techniques can include terrorist attacks, sabotage, assassination, blackmail, hostage-taking, espionage, subversion (such as funding and manipulation of political groups in a target country), cyber attacks, political warfare including lawfare, disinformation, propaganda, electoral influence and economic coercion. They sometimes involve military intimidation and conventional and unconventional military operations. Continue reading

Face future threats but keep troops

Article published in The Daily Mirror, 16 March 2021. © Richard Kemp

The Government is right to focus major funding on new threats like cyber and new capabilities like AI and unmanned systems.

But defence planners, rightly eager to avoid the traditional British sickness of ‘fighting the last war’, often become dazzled by the new at the expense of the old.

The reality is that not all future enemies will fight in the so-called grey zone.

It is a mistake to cut large numbers of troops, combat planes and warships.

Our major enemies such as Russia, China and Iran watch how we respond to lesser threats and take advantage of any weakness of capability or political will.

As Boris Johnson said yesterday, the US remains our major ally.

When trouble hits, boots on the ground are always the top of their shopping list.

Roy Greenslade’s distorted version of the history of the Troubles is as shameful as it is naive

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 2 March 2021. © Richard Kemp

Roy Greenslade, the former Guardian journalist, admitted this week that he supported the IRA terror campaign that killed hundreds of his country’s soldiers and police.

He wrote columns for An Phoblacht, Sinn Fein-IRA’s influential propaganda newspaper, which for decades was used to promote and justify Republican terrorism. He stood surety for John Downey, an IRA terrorist believed to have been involved in the 1982 Hyde Park bombing that killed four soldiers and seven horses. He was friends with Pat Doherty, a Sinn Fein politician accused of membership of the IRA Army Council.

I’ll let others question Mr Greenslade’s journalistic integrity, given that he effectively kept his allegiance secret for years while piously judging others on media ethics.

My concern, as a former British soldier who served in Northern Ireland, is what appears to be his attempt to rewrite the history of the Troubles, and to insult the memory of those who died trying to stop the violence.

In his article in the British Journalism Review, Mr Greenslade explains his conversion to republicanism took place in part on the basis of what he heard about ‘the security forces’ use of collusion, the deliberate failure by the authorities to act quickly enough in response to phone calls warning of bomb placements, and the willingness of the RUC and army to allow loyalist paramilitaries to bomb and kill with impunity’.

But what Mr Greenslade says he heard was a shocking distortion of Continue reading

The Duped Generation that Supports BDS

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 23 February 2021. © Richard Kemp

Yet again we approach the depths of the annual Jew Hate Week around the world. Its organizers know better than to call it what it is. They brand their hatefest ‘Israel Apartheid Week’, but their true meaning and purpose is blindingly obvious. Since its early festerings in Toronto in 2005, Jew Hate Week has inflicted itself on the world, polluting universities from America to Australia and from South Africa to Northern Ireland.

Held on campuses at around this time each year, Jew Hate Week is the racist Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s flagship event for subverting university students to their malevolent cause. Palestinian-led, at the forefront of BDS are Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace in the US, and Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and War on Want in the UK. Democrat Squad members Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are among its main cheerleaders in America. In Britain, disgraced former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a staunch supporter as are many of his party including members of parliament.

BDS trumpet their claim to support ‘freedom, justice and equality’ for the Palestinian people. They are less open about their desire to eradicate the Jewish state for fear they would lose backing from individuals and organizations that have a genuine desire to improve the lives of Palestinians but do not want to eliminate a whole country and its Jewish citizens.

Qatar-born Omar Barghouti, founder of BDS, has repeatedly rejected a two-state solution, instead advocating one state: ‘Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.’ He makes clear that his definition of ‘Palestine’ includes the entirety of the State of Israel.

Barghouti’s fellow traveller, Harvard graduate, writer and activist Ahmed Moor agrees: ‘BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state’. Continue reading

Dolours Price Was No Victim

Letter published in the Belfast Telegraph, 16 February 2021. © Richard Kemp

Your article on Steven Rea’s recollections of his ex-wife Dolours Price seems to portray the ‘sensitive’ Price as a victim. Of course her husband speaks fondly of her, but your newspaper has a responsibility to temper emotion with objectivity, especially for younger readers who will be unaware of Price’s character as a hardened terrorist. By her own admission it was Price who in 1972 drove the abducted Jean McConville across the border where she received a bullet in the back of the head, and then hid her body. Failure to mention this does no justice to McConville’s seven youngest children, including six-year-old twins who survived on their own in the family flat, cared for by their 15-year-old sister. The unrepentant Price went on to bitterly oppose the cessation of the Provisional IRA terrorist campaign and the Good Friday Agreement. As these tragic events thankfully fade into history it’s especially important to give proper context.

Image: Jean McConville with three of her children in 1972

The International Criminal Court Threatens Middle East Peace

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 11 February 2021. © Richard Kemp

The International Criminal Court (ICC) waited until after US President Joe Biden took the oath of office before unilaterally handing itself territorial jurisdiction over Israel — more than a full year since the pre-trial chamber was asked to rule on the matter. Mindful of President Donald J. Trump’s sanctions against ICC staff, including revoking Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s US entry visa, and his warnings against efforts to brand Israel and other allies as war criminals, court officials lacked the steel to make an announcement while he remained in the Oval Office.

The ICC has long had its sights on what it no doubt considers an unholy trinity: Israel, the US and Britain. Its reasons are twofold. First, these are the three Western democracies most active in using legitimate military force to defend their interests. This is anathema to the left-liberal doctrine of ICC officials and their soul-mates in such morally dissipated places as the UN Human Rights Council. Second, they wish to virtue signal, deflecting criticism that the court is biased against African states, which led to South Africa, Burundi and The Gambia threatening withdrawal in 2016. Yet by its charter, dealing with countries that lack the will or capability to bring their own to justice is the sole purpose of the ICC. This does apply to some states in Africa and elsewhere but demonstrably does not apply to Israel, the US or Britain, each of which have long-established and globally respected legal systems.

Bensouda failed to get her way with the US and UK. Despite having submitted more than 20,000 pages of documentation in support of her demand for a formal investigation into alleged crimes by US forces in Afghanistan over a 15-year period, the pre-trial chamber turned her down, in part due to a rightful US refusal to cooperate with a body that it considers likely to abuse its power. Having first Continue reading

Educational Ethnic Cleansing

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 20 January 2021. © Richard Kemp

‘The goal is achieved! No more Jews at German universities,’ the leading Nazi student newspaper, Die Bewegung, triumphantly proclaimed in 1938.

Of course, nothing like it could ever happen again. Except something like it is happening again — now, and in Britain. According to a report published this week by David Collier, a British researcher, some UK universities are now virtually Judenfrei: free of Jews.

This is a chilling indictment not just of British academia but of a liberal democratic society that has tolerated, often through ignorance or complacency, a wave of discrimination against Jews that has swept through the universities over recent decades. From these halls of learning antisemitism has spread out, driving and empowering what is now a solid movement that threatens Jews in various parts of society and has led to many of them leaving. This is not just in Britain. Collier characterises academia as ‘the epicentre of global antisemitism’.

This Jew-hate is cloaked in anti-Zionism, a doctrine that claims the Jewish state, alone among the nations, has no right to exist. It seeks to whip up anti-Israel hatred by focusing on three core lies: accusations of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and settler-colonialism.

As Jewish students and professors were hounded out and eventually banned from universities and high schools by German state edict, today in Britain anti-Zionist academics and the students they influence have created an environment that alienates many Jews, by using the pretext of their support for the Jewish state. Of course, not every Jewish student supports Israel and very few are uncritical, as with their own country. Nevertheless, Collier says:

‘Jewish people today on campus can be tolerated, protected or abused. At no point are they treated as equals. The best they can Continue reading

Media: Israel Must Be Denigrated for Its World-Beating Vaccination Programme

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 12 January 2021. © Richard Kemp

Prejudice against the Jewish state is so intense in the Western media that praiseworthy actions guaranteed to hit the headlines if attributable to any other country are frequently ignored, diminished or denigrated when it comes to Israel. When there is a disaster anywhere in the world, for example, Israel is often the first, or among the first, to offer assistance and send in relief workers. Most recently, last month the Israel Defence Forces dispatched a team to Honduras following the devastation of category 4 hurricanes Eta and Iota which left thousands homeless.

In the last 15 years IDF relief missions have deployed in Albania, Brazil, Mexico, Nepal, the Philippines, Ghana, Bulgaria, Turkey, Japan, Columbia, Haiti, Kenya, the US, Sri Lanka and Egypt — and many other countries in the years before.

Under Operation Good Neighbour, between 2016 and 2018, the IDF set up field hospitals on the Syrian border to treat civilians wounded by violence in their country and sent vital supplies directly into Syria, a nation which is at war with Israel, to help suffering people there.

Few outside Israel, Jewish communities around the world and the places that have benefited from IDF assistance have any idea of any of this because the media is not interested. In some cases, news items about countries contributing teams to disaster relief have omitted Israel despite knowing the IDF was playing an important role.

The same negative policy extends to other major benefits that Israel has brought to the world, including scientific innovation, medical technology and life-saving intelligence. It goes against editorial Continue reading

The Nature of Courage

Letter to the editor of The Times, published 5 January 2020. © Richard Kemp

Sir, Max Hastings claims that moral courage is ‘far more valuable’ than physical courage. Both are indispensable virtues in any society. The potential hazards of moral courage can be serious: humiliation, rejection or perhaps loss of friendships or opportunity. But they cannot be compared to the extreme risks of physical courage in battle. Courage under enemy fire is by definition life-threatening. There can be no greater act of courage than to deliberately jeopardise your own life, knowing you could be giving up your very existence, everything you ever had and could ever have or hope for.

Max is also wrong to assert that we do not need a new generation of Spitfire pilots. Today, young soldiers from my own regiment, the Royal Anglians, are on patrol in Mali, risking life and limb as members of the most dangerous peacekeeping mission the UN has ever undertaken. Most of them enlisted with the same spirit of adventure and appetite for danger that Max dismisses in his family’s wartime generation. Thank goodness that these ‘macho men’, as he calls them, still exist. We shall have as great a need for them as ever in the dangerous years ahead.

 

We Need a Global Alliance to Defend Democracies

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 31 December 2020. © Richard Kemp

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to use the G7 summit that Britain is hosting in 2021 to launch the ‘D10’, intended as an alliance of democracies to counter China.

His proposal is for the G7 group of leading industrialised nations to be joined by Australia, South Korea and India. The focus would be on developing 5G telecommunications technology to reduce dependence on Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party as well as reliance on essential medical supplies from China.

President-elect Joe Biden put forward a somewhat similar initiative in 2019 and it is widely believed that he plans to convene a ‘Summit for Democracies’ in 2021. It appears his intention is broader than Mr Johnson’s both in scope and participation, and that it includes promoting liberal democratic values across the world.

This raises the spectre of abortive efforts at democracy-building in the Middle East and South Asia in the years after 9/11. It would be ill-judged and it fails to recognise a changed world in which allegiance to the US has been devalued as economic incentives from China to many countries, including democracies, have significantly grown. Confidence in US leadership has also been substantially undermined by interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, which today are widely regarded as failures. Under a Biden administration, many will be mindful of the Obama-era sell-out of America’s Middle East allies while accommodating the hostile Iranian ayatollahs.

In other words, while the spread and development of Western-style democracy should of course be encouraged, something of more concrete utility to national self-interest than a liberal-left world view needs to be on offer. Instead of attempting an ideological programme to duplicate American democracy around the world, the US should work with the UK on a version of Mr Johnson’s action-oriented D10 proposal, but significantly expanded in scope.

This would recognise that, despite the optimistic indulgences by foreign policy experts and politicians over decades, China will not reform to allow normal coexistence within the world order but must instead be contained. As British Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter said in a speech this month:

‘What’s needed is a catalyst somewhat like George Kennan’s “long telegram” in which he observed that peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union in 1946 was unlikely to work. This led to the Truman Doctrine of containment which provided the basis of US and Western strategy throughout the Cold War.’ Continue reading

Security – Defence – Intelligence – Counter Terrorism