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The Black Lives Matter Movement Must Solve Its Violence Problem

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 18:45

Amitai Etzioni

Security, Americas

Violence even by a small minority within a movement “is food for the adversary.”

The issue is an old one; however, current events require that we revisit the question of whether it is justified to resort to violence to gain social change in democratic societies (however flawed they are). The Black Lives Matter movement deserves great credit for mainly peaceful demonstrations, and for working hard to limit looting and violence. However, the use of force by some demonstrators has received support from a significant segment of the public. A recent CNN poll found that one out of four (27 percent) Americans believe that violent protests are justified. This is a considerable increase from the 14 percent who felt this way in 2016. Almost half of the Democrats hold that violent protests are justified; the same is true of 23 percent of White respondents. 

A troublingly large line-up of public intellectuals are again providing justifications for violent protest. Wellesley College assistant professor of African studies Kellie Carter Jackson recently wrote, “Violence disrupts the status quo and the possibility of returning to business as usual. . . . The American Revolution was won with violence. The French Revolution was won with violence. The Haitian Revolution was won with violence. The Civil War was won with violence. A revolution in today’s terms would mean that these nationwide rebellions lead to black people being able to access and exercise the fullness of their freedom and humanity.” Northeastern University associate professor of sociology Gordana Rabrenovic argues that the violence that African American people experience in their interactions with state-sponsored individuals and systems leads them to ask, “If they use violence, why shouldn’t we use violence?” American University provost Daniel J. Myers offers another justification: “Violent protest . . . advertise[s] the cause in a uniquely powerful way.” University of Pennsylvania professor, historian, and author of The Loud Minority Daniel Q. Gillion reports, “Nonviolent protest brings awareness to an issue; violent protest brings urgency to an issue. It forces individuals to pay attention to these important discussions of race relations.” Finally, New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote: “Some of the people now breaking things and burning things and looting things are ironically participating in a storied American tradition. There has long been a penchant for destruction in this country, an insatiable bloodlust, that the country conveniently likes to forget. American violence is learned violence. It is the American way. . . . White riots have often, historically, targeted black people, while black people have rioted to protest injustice. On either side, racism is the root. And we have refused to sufficiently address it. Now, that chicken is coming home to roost.” 

As I see it, revolutions are very rare, very hard to bring about, involve large bloodshed, and often are followed by new tyrannies. Moreover, there are prudent reasons to urge protestors not to resort to violence. According to Georgetown Professor Michael Kazin, “[N]on-leftists often see [the left] as a disruptive, lawless force. Violence tends to confirm that view.” Research shows that violent campaigns are less likely to succeed than nonviolent ones, and, conversely, those nonviolent movements have a higher success rate than violent ones.  

Three studies support this observation. University of Denver Professor Erica Chenoweth collected data on all major nonviolent and violent campaigns seeking the overthrow of a government or a territorial liberation since 1900. Her data shows that from the 1960s to 2006 the success rate of nonviolent movements was consistently higher than that of violent movements, and, within recent decades, the success rate of violent movements decreased steeply while the success rate of nonviolent movements greatly increased. 

Another study asked eight hundred people to react to a situation inspired by events in which violence erupted in a clash between White nationalists and antiracist groups. When antiracists resorted to violent tactics, study participants were less likely to support them and more likely to support the White nationalists. The study shows that “violence [by the antiracists] led to perceptions of unreasonableness, which reduced identification with and support for the protest group.”

These findings are further supported by Princeton University professor Omar Wasow’s study of presidential politics in the 1960s. He discovered that “proximity to black-led nonviolent protests increased white Democratic vote-share whereas proximity to black-led violent protests caused substantively important declines and likely tipped the 1968 election from Hubert Humphrey to Richard Nixon.” More recently, instead of scaring the elites into yielding, violence has contributed to the growth of increasingly large and heavily-armed police forces. 

Some claim now, as they did then, that the violence of those who supported Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and the Weathermen helped the overall cause because it made Martin Luther King, Jr.’s movement seem moderate in comparison. But this perspective ignores the fact that the elites used violent acts to smear the moderates. Violence even by a small minority within a movement, as sociologist Todd Gitlin observed, “is food for the adversary.”  The 1968 riots led to few reforms, but to great increases in the firepowers of the police. 

Moral deliberations point in the same direction. Violence is not merely a poor strategy, but it also raises major ethical concerns. The key moral value that the Black Lives Matter movement taps into is the sanctity of life. It is the recognition—reflected in the legal and moral codes of ancient and contemporary societies, above all in those of liberal democracies—that taking a life is a much more serious offense than most any other action. This is the reason courts typically mete out a much more severe punishment for murder than for other crimes. Moreover, one can readily recognize that all individual rights logically presuppose respect for the right to live. Dead people have very few rights; live ones, no matter how injured, may recover, exercise their rights, and confront those who oppressed them. This certainly holds for Black lives and is the reason major, encompassing reforms in the ways public safety is provided must be introduced and implemented. However, it is also the reason to oppose violence—every life precious. Indeed, I believe a strong case can be made for the Black Lives Matter movement to add to its brief the demand that all death penalties be outlawed.  

One may argue that—so far—loss of life has been inflicted almost completely by the police and not by the demonstrators, which is, indeed, to the demonstrators’ credit. However, once violence is justified, protests lose on both prudent and moral grounds.   

Amitai Etzioni is a university professor and professor of international affairs at The George Washington University. In 1968, he wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine called “Confessions of a Professor Caught in a Revolution.” For more about the Columbia University protests, see his memoir, My Brother’s Keeper. Etzioni is the author of Demonstration Democracy, among other books.

Image: Reuters

What Was ISIS’s Real Estate Market Like? GW University Releases “The ISIS Files”

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 18:43

Matthew Petti

Security, Middle East

Lot number 128. Previous owner: apostate.

George Washington University has released the first batch of its “ISIS Files,” a trove of bureaucratic documents captured from the Islamic State during the Iraqi offensive in Mosul.

The files paint a picture of a militant group that enmeshed itself into daily life even as it fought a war against the entire world with stunning brutality. Most of this first batch is related to real estate and finance, with only a few documents related to ideology and terrorism.

“The picture that emerges from this repository is revealing in both its range and complexity,” wrote Haroro J. Ingram and Devorah Margolin, senior fellows at the George Washington University's Program on Extremism, in a paper released alongside the files.

“[D]ocuments from the Islamic Police and Agriculture departments tell of an organization seemingly obsessed with bureaucracy and institutionalizing every detail of its system of control,” they continued. “The collection also offers a human perspective of the Islamic State, with each file detailing the lives of those that lived under the Islamic State’s occupation.”

The documents were unearthed by Rukmini Callimachi, a New York Times reporter who was embedded with the Iraqi military during the 2016 offensive to recapture the major metropolis of Mosul.

Callimachi and her colleagues recovered around 15,000 pages of documents. The New York Times and George Washington University worked together to digitize them, and handed the originals to the Iraqi Embassy in Washington.

Only 68 files are currently available on the university website, with more to be released over the coming months. The files have been translated into English, and personal information has been redacted from both the Arabic and English copies.

The largest part of the 15,000 pages is related to agriculture, Ingram and Margolin wrote.

But even the agricultural files have a darker side. ISIS raised money by seizing land from the religious minorities and dissenters it expelled or slaughtered, renting the properties out to loyal Sunni Muslim farmers.

Spreadsheets from the ISIS real estate office show lot numbers and tenant names next to derogatory terms for the original owners: “heretic” or “apostate.”

The ISIS files project has raised ethical concerns. It has also brought back painful memories of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, when U.S. forces confiscated millions of pages from the Iraqi state archives.

Iraqi writer Sinan Antoon described both the 2003 files and the ISIS files as “plunder” in an interview with The Intercept.

However, George Washington University maintains that it followed ethical best practices in dealing with the archive.

“As caretakers of these historic documents, we are acutely aware of the important social role of repositories and recognize their value to the public interest,” the university wrote on its website. “The key underlying principle that shapes our work is that in archiving The ISIS Files, we will endeavor to do no harm.”

Its goal, the university stated, is “[t]o ensure unbiased open access to the documents while respecting data and privacy concerns of those named and identified in them.”

Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter: @matthew_petti.

Image: Reuters.

DirecTV Is Losing Customers Fast (And Now They Raised Prices on New Customers)

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 18:35

Stephen Silver

Technology,

The price increase was not announced, but is reflected on the company's websites, the report said.

AT&T absolutely bled subscribers in the first quarter of 2020, even by the standards of cord-cutting that have accelerated. According to one measure, the company lost over a million video subscribers in the quarter, with DirecTV losing nearly 900,000 and AT&T Now losing about 138,000. This makes up for around half of the 2 million subscribers lost in the first quarter by major pay-TV providers in the U.S.

This followed news last December that, per Ars Technica, the company had announced a price increase starting in January.

Now, a new report says that AT&T has announced another increase, albeit only for new customers.

According to the website TV Answer Man, AT&T on Monday "raised the first-year monthly price for new subscribers to DIRECTV and AT&T TV." The company, however, has not raised prices for AT&T TV Now, nor has it touched prices for existing customers.

The price increase was not announced, but is reflected on the company's websites, the report said.

"New subscribers to DIRECTV now must pay $59.99 a month for the first year of its Select plan (155 channels), compared to $49.99 previously; $69.99 a month for the first year of its Choice plan (185 channels), compared to $59.99 a month previously; $79.99 a month for the Xtra plan compared to $69.99 previously; and $84.99 a month for the first year of its Ultimate package (250 channels), compared to $74.99 a month previously," the report said.

This is reflected on the sites. The Select Package, per AT&T's website, is now priced at $59.99 a month. According to the Wayback Machine, that same site offered the package for $49.99 a month as of May 7. The same is the case for the Choice and Ultimate packages.

In another change, AT&T last week stopped offering AT&T Watch TV, the ultra-skinny bundle launched two years earlier for $15 a month.

"Standalone WatchTV is no longer available for new sign ups or to re-subscribe," the website said.  "Existing WatchTV customers who subscribe to the app or have a qualifying AT&T Unlimited plan can continue to use the service. The site then, after a few seconds, automatically redirects to the myAT&T login page.

Fast Company described AT&T Watch TV as "an obvious PR ploy from the start," aimed at currying favor at the time that AT&T was seeking government approval for its ultimately successful acquisition of Time Warner.

Also this week, Forbes reported some details showing that AT&T employees appear to have unwittingly signed up customers for DirecTV Now subscriptions without their permission, in order to goose subscriber numbers. In 2017, after the scheme was discovered, "the company fired employees found to have engaged in unethical practices." This led to multiple shareholder lawsuits.

A CNBC report last month said AT&T was looking to dump the money-losing DirecTV, but no such deal has yet come to fruition.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters. 

New Sonos Arc: The Expert Reviews Are In...(There Are Issues)

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 18:22

Stephen Silver

Technology,

So far, the reviews are mostly positive. However, there are a few challenges you might need to overcome

Back in May, Sonos announced that it was selling a new soundbar, called the Arc. Retailing at $799, it represented Sonos' first product to be equipped with Dolby Atmos support.

The first reviews of the new product arrived earlier this month, with The Verge, Gizmodo and other outlets praising the soundbar's quality, while noting that it would only work with newer TVs.

Now, more reviews of the Arc have appeared.

RTINGS.com, in a review published Monday, gave the Sonos Arc a score of 6.5, calling it "a decent overall soundbar." It listed pros that included its "sleek and very well-built design," an upgradeable setup and the Room Correction feature. Cons included "lack of bass" and "poor performance at max volume."

"It's quite a versatile bar, though there seem to be some issues with the bass range and it performs quite poorly at max volume," the review said. "Overall, the soundbar sounds a bit bright, even after using the room correction feature. On the upside, it's a very well-built bar that has a sleek design and it features built-in Google Assistant and Alexa."

The reviewer went on to note that a new firmware update has been released, following the completion of their evaluation.

In RTINGS' rankings of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, published last month, it listed the Samsung HW-Q90R as the best one, with a mixed-usage score of 8.2, compared with 6.5 for the Arc. That soundbar, however, is more expensive, with a listed price of around $1,000.

TechRadar, in a review published last week, gave the Sonos Arc five stars, and described it as "bending the rules of surround sound." It praises the Dolby Atmos use, what it called a "discrete all-in-one soundbar" and the surround sound, while cautioning that the product "Doesn’t suit every room," and that the Trueplay Tuning feature is iOS-only.

"The Arc from Sonos is a streamlined soundbar that offers a premium surround sound experience without the need for supplementary speakers," the review said. "If you want a minimalist surround sound package and you have a squarish home cinema room then the Sonos Arc is an excellent all-in-one surround sound system."

Metro, in the U.K., also recently reviewed the Sonos Arc, calling it "a big, bold gadget taking over flagship duties from the seven-year-old Playbar."

"The Arc hasn’t become Sonos’ most expensive product for any old reason but £800 is still on the affordable side when you look around at the other Atmos-enabled soundbars out there," the review said. "The sound is terrific and it fits in simply and reliably with other Sonos speakers you may have around the house."

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Sonos. 

This Year’s iPhones Won’t Come With Earbuds or a Charger, Analyst Says

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 18:13

Stephen Silver

Technology,

If one of the leading Apple analysts is to be believed, those purchasing this year’s iPhones won’t get a couple of the benefits that they’re used to getting when they buy one of the devices.

If one of the leading Apple analysts is to be believed, those purchasing this year’s iPhones won’t get a couple of the benefits that they’re used to getting when they buy one of the devices.

A research note published Sunday by Ming-Chi Kuo of TF Securities, and reported on by CNBC and elsewhere in the business press stated that Apple will not be including either earbud headphones or a power adapter with this year’s iPhones. Kuo also used the name “iPhone 12” in the report, although it’s not clear that’s the name Apple will use.

Kuo had said last month that the earphones were probably not going to be offered in the box. Analysts with Barclays, last week, had reached a similar conclusion about the lack of earbuds or a charger, according to MacRumors.

The move is seen as an effort to cut costs, as the addition of 5G capability is expected to make this year’s iPhones more expensive than previous editions have been. It will also, in theory, encourage users to make separate purchases of those items, or choosing the more expensive AirPods. A new 20W power adapter is also expected to be offered separately, per Kuo’s note.

The report by Kuo also predicted that Apple will release a new iPhone SE in 2021, also without headphones or a charger. Apple released an iPhone SE this spring, the first update to that lower-cost iPhone in four years.

Kuo and other analysts have been putting out predictions about what we’re likely to see in this year’s iPhones, and also about the likely timing for their arrival.

Consensus seems to show that Apple will put out four new iPhones this year, at least some of which will have 5G capability, in a first for Apple. There were concerns earlier this year that coronavirus’ effect on the supply chain in Asia would cause a delay in the iPhone, although most analysts now predict the phones will arrive somewhere in the late September/early October time frame.

We do know that the iPhone will feature the debut of iOS 14, which was introduced last week’s at the company’s “virtual” World Wide Developers’ Conference. Also at the event, Apple officially announced that, in its Mac computers, it will switch from Intel chips to what it calls “Apple Silicon.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Is North Korea Really Prepared to End the Korean War?

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 17:29

Bruce W. Bennett, Soo Kim

Security, Asia

The end of the Korean War and peace on the peninsula are no more likely to occur as the result of a peace agreement than has North Korean denuclearization occurred as the result of multiple denuclearization agreements. Ultimately, North Korean objectives matter, and real peace does not appear to be part of those objectives.

The end of the Korean War and peace on the peninsula are no more likely to occur as the result of a peace agreement than has North Korean denuclearization occurred as the result of multiple denuclearization agreements. Ultimately, North Korean objectives matter, and real peace does not appear to be part of those objectives.

The North Korean regime has been very clear that its two primary objectives are regime survival and Korean unification controlled by the North. The North Korean regime has reason to be worried about its survival, given its many failures in the last several years, to include the difficulties it is apparently facing in just feeding the people of Pyongyang now. The regime seems to perceive that it can overcome its third world, impoverished conditions if it can impose unification on the South, perhaps the only justification for the regime’s building dozens of nuclear weapons.

But first, the North must help decouple the ROK/U.S. alliance. Without U.S. extended deterrence, the South could be vulnerable to North Korean nuclear coercion and attacks. While we seldom consider the Korean War ending with the North’s original objective of victory, Kim Jong-un appears to be hoping to achieve that outcome. His insistence on the importance of unification has been a recurring theme in his New Year’s addresses.

Despite Kim’s dream of controlling the peninsula, a unification imposed by North Korean nuclear coercion or attack would be unlikely to really end the Korean War. Seeking dominance rather than unification, a North Korea in charge of all of Korea would probably use its hallmark brutality in purging ROK business, political, and military leaders, replacing them with North Koreans loyal to the Kim Family but so lacking in the knowledge and experience required to run South Korean business that they could instead destroy those businesses. The North’s use of nuclear weapons would also probably lead to the imposition of substantial international trade sanctions, which when combined with North Korean mismanagement could gradually strangle even the ROK economy which is heavily export-oriented—a real trade war. The wealth of the South would not last long in such extreme circumstances, leaving the South Korean people impoverished as the North might expropriate their residual wealth. This is not a picture of peace.

To end the Korean War, the North could abandon its designs for dominating the South. Doing so would allow the North to abandon its quest for a major nuclear weapon force, instead of investing in the welfare of the North Korean people. After all, North Korea has not needed nuclear weapons to defend itself against U.S. attacks since 1953. The North’s saying so is simply an excuse for building an offensive nuclear weapon force when no defensive force is needed.

Both sides could then turn to eliminating the hostility that each feels. But North Korea appears far more hostile toward the United States than vice-versa. After all, no U.S. indoctrination tells its people that the North Koreans are the eternal enemies of the United States, but North Koreans are trained that Americans are their eternal enemies from a very young age. Can there be true peace on the Korean peninsula if such behavior continues?

Many of the sanctions against North Korea are condition-based. If the North constrains and eventually reduces its nuclear weapon program, those sanctions will be relaxed. And without nuclear weapon threats and those sanctions, both sides could build toward ending the Korean War. But North Korea has to decide that it seeks peaceful coexistence and not peninsula dominance. Is it ready to do so?

Bruce Bennett is a senior defense analyst at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

Soo Kim is a policy analyst at RAND.

Why Samsung’s 65-Inch Q70T QLED Falls Short

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 17:19

Ethen Kim Lieser

Technology,

But still worth your hard-earned money? 

Samsung’s 65-Inch Q70T QLED Falls Short of Previous-Gen Models but Still Delivers the Goods

 

By Ethen Kim Lieser

If you feel uneasy about committing thousands of dollars on a QLED HDTV, perhaps a mid-range option with some nice added perks would be the way to go.

Well, it appears that Samsung has you covered—the 65-inch Q70T Series QLED HDTV is now retailing for $1,100, $200 off the regular price.

At this reasonable price range, know that the Q70T is much cheaper than its OLED TV rivals—which can easily creep into the $2K or $3K range. Despite the smaller investment, you’ll still be getting yourself arguably the planet’s second-best panel.

The Q70T is the successor to the Korean tech giant’s Q70 and Q70R QLEDs from 2019. However, the Q70T surprisingly lacks a bit of the verve from the previous generations, as it doesn’t perform as well, has lower peak brightness and lacks the much-coveted local dimming feature, which comes with the Q70R. On the flip side, you will get eARC support on the Q70T.

Despite these issues, the Q70T still provides outstanding overall image quality with plenty-deep black levels. The set’s robust video processing is also a welcomed boon for hardcore gamers and lovers of intense action films.

Be aware that the wide-angle viewing, though, falls a bit short of the higher-end models, so if you have wider or wraparound seating arrangements, make sure to take note of that. And if you find yourself often watching TV during the daytime or in a bright room, the Q70T does a valiant job in masking those annoying glares and reflections.

The Q70T employs Smart TV capabilities powered by Tizen, which can be a mixed bag for some. Much like its Korean archrival LG’s webOS platform, the Tizen has a pleasant stripped-down interface but it really lacks any real punch that is needed for today’s data-heavy streaming TV world.

Yes, Tizen has access to run-of-the-mill popular apps like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, but a platform like Android TV or Roku will give you much more bang for your buck. Moreover, Tizen really isn’t that flexible when it comes to sideloading apps, which could affect the TV’s use in different markets and regions. On a more positive note, Amazon Alexa is now built into the software.

The overall design of the Q70T is indeed classic Samsung. The panel is as thin as you can get for a QLED TV right now and it does exude a slick and refined look. The legs, however, are set quite far apart, so if you’re using a TV stand or a table, make sure that it is long enough.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

No, the 'Any Three-Digit Number' Google Search Doesn't Show a Coronavirus Conspiracy

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 17:07

Stephen Silver

Technology,

It was an image macro that made its way around social media last week, making appearances on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Nextdoor: It implored users to go to Google, enter any three-digit number, and the phrase "new cases." The answer, supposedly, would show "proof" that Google, and/or news outlets, are conspiring to sew fear, or possibly even that coronavirus in its entirety was a hoax.

It was an image macro that made its way around social media last week, making appearances on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Nextdoor: It implored users to go to Google, enter any three-digit number, and the phrase "new cases." The answer, supposedly, would show "proof" that Google, and/or news outlets, are conspiring to sew fear, or possibly even that coronavirus in its entirety was a hoax.

Some high-follower social media accounts pushed the conspiracy theory, as did websites like Gateway Pundit, which alleged that "Google continues to push the coronavirus panic-porn by pushing headlines to their users." Some users even posted videos of themselves doing the searches in real time.

Doing that search, or even doing it with four-digit numbers, does indeed return results for most numbers. But as it turns out, this isn't proof of any kind of conspiracy or untoward behavior. It's really just a matter of mathematical probabilities.

Ever since coronavirus hit the United States earlier this year, hundreds if not thousands of government entities have announced daily statistics about new cases, deaths and other aspects of the pandemic. This has happened at the city, county, state and national level, nearly every day, for four months. Because coronavirus is a topic of major interest, media outlets tend to write about them. And the results about “new cases” are nearly all about coronavirus, because in the last several months, what else would “new cases” refer to?

Therefore, that's a lot of numbers. And because the governments reporting those numbers represent areas of varying sizes, the numbers are sometimes large and sometimes small. And sometimes the number refers to another line in the article, possibly referencing a total number of cases to date, or deaths.

But what they all are is real.

To take a number at random, 250. A search for "250" and "new cases" brings up a government report from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), from June 26, listing "250 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19." The results also return, on the first page, multiple news articles from Oregon newspapers and TV stations about that OHA report. There's also a separate report, from a Florida news outlet, about 250 cases in Brevard County, on June 27, and a June 24 story from a local TV station in Texas, about Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District stating that the total number of cases in that county had reached 250.

To take another number, 315. The first several results are all news articles based on the announcement on June 23, by the governor of Kentucky, that that state had 315 new cases. Further down is an African Press Organization story from June 9 about 315 new cases reported in Nigeria.

These are all real stories, from real government offices and real news articles. They haven't been faked or manipulated by Google or anyone else. And most sadly of all, those numbers represent real people who really do have a potentially fatal disease.

The issue was even addressed by Danny Sullivan, Google's public search liason.

"If you search for words or figures, we try to show pages that have those words & figures," Sullivan tweeted last week. "With 100,000s of pages from 1,000s of agencies with daily stat updates on COVID-19, you can search for most anything & get a match."

So in other words, there is zero reasons to believe that those numbers aren't real, or that Google is making them up to scare people about coronavirus, which is real.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Why the Korean War Is Truly the Ultimate 'Forever War' (And It Must End)

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 16:50

Michael D. Cohen

Security, Asia

Author: "I would argue that one way for the United States to end North Korea’s love affair with nuclear weapons—if that is indeed possible—would be for the United States to somehow credibly commit to living with North Korea. This now means credibly committing to living with a nuclear North Korea, which many Americans and others would not be willing to do. But if the alternative is war on the Korean Peninsula, then isn’t this at least worth further consideration?"

Editor's Note: As the world commemorates the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the Center for the National Interest’s Korean Studies team decided to ask dozens of the world’s top experts a simple question: Do you believe that the Korean War will finally come to an end before its next major anniversary in 2025? The below piece is an answer to that question. Please click here to see even more perspectives on this important topic.

When we speak of America’s forever wars, we tend to think of Afghanistan and perhaps Iraq, but of course, the United States has been at war with North Korea for over three times as long. If the term ‘forever war’ implies that many people are beginning to question whether it is worthwhile, then North Korea’s status as a longtime U.S. adversary seems so etched into the minds of foreign policy inclined Americans that pressure for it to end pales in comparison to the acceptance of this status quo. As the war reaches its seventieth anniversary, the prospects of its ending warrant special attention.

We debate the causes and consequences of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, but some causes that few would disagree with, although their importance can be debated, is that the United States is much more powerful than North Korea, has a military alliance with South Korea (not to mention Japan and Australia), has not formally recognized North Korea despite President Donald Trump’s recent summitry, and has not ended the Korean War. Given all this, should we be surprised that North Korea has turned to nuclear weapons, especially after the fate of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Muammar el-Qaddafi’s Libya?

I would argue that one way for the United States to end North Korea’s love affair with nuclear weapons—if that is indeed possible—would be for the United States to somehow credibly commit to living with North Korea. This now means credibly committing to living with a nuclear North Korea, which many Americans and others would not be willing to do. But if the alternative is war on the Korean Peninsula, then isn’t this at least worth further consideration?

There are several challenges, not least of which is that Kim knows democratic leaders come and go and that their successors can always press the reset button on the North Korea relationship. Kim, therefore, has little incentive to play along. We can criticize Trump’s summitry for its lack of lower-level planning, but even had this been much better, Kim still would have had strong incentives to demand much, to commit little, to play a long game and see who would succeed Trump. After seven decades of mistrust and little communication, cycles of threats and confrontation are hard to get away from.

Ending the Korean War seems a good—perhaps the best?—way for a U.S. president to signal to North Korea that Washington not only wants to ratchet down tensions but is willing to at least seriously consider living with a nuclear North Korea. But the many forces which have pushed against this thus far lead me to regard this as unlikely; it may be most likely if Trump wins a second term in November. If he continues his summitry with North Korea, then there may be a good chance that the end of the war will be part of a larger settlement. Of course, if this settlement involves the United States in any way weakening its alliance with South Korea—I expect it would—it could be a very destabilizing outcome that might even lead to a greater probability of conflict. In that event, Trump or his successor could still reinstitute the state of war with North Korea much more easily than the current state of war could be ended. Given that these pressures to maintain, or reintroduce, a state of war seem far greater than any initiatives to overcome them, I’d predict that the Korean War will most likely not have ended by 2025. So it may be the ultimate forever war of our time.

Michael D. Cohen is is a senior lecturer (assistant professor) at the National Security College of the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy. He is author of When Proliferation Causes Peace: The Psychology of Nuclear Crises and is co-editor of North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: Entering the New Era of Deterrence.

Image: Reuters. 

Mossberg 500: The Best Shotgun of All Time?

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 16:41

Richard Douglas

Security, World

Here's what you need to know about this fascinating weapon.

The Mossberg 500 has been a staple in the shotgun game for over fifty years, and for a good reason:

It’s manufactured to military specs, and the only pump-action shotgun to pass the MIL-Spec 3443 E test—requiring the gun to handle 3,000 rounds of 23-gauge buckshots, non-stop, without fail.

Today, there are two types of Mossberg 500s made: the field model and the special purpose model. The field model is perfect for hunting, while the special purpose is optimal for self-defense and law enforcement.

How has this gun maintained its popularity over so many decades? Keep reading to find out...

Accuracy

Accuracy is pretty much inherent with a pump-action. The 28” barrel increases the range by a mile, and the double beads and choked barrel improve the accuracy even further. In fact, I’ve fired over 400 shots through the Mossberg 500 and maintained a 1” grouping.

Reliability

The 500 is astoundingly reliable. It passed the MIL-Spec 3443 E test and it doesn’t rely on maintenance for reliability. While you should always keep up with proper cleaning and maintenance on your guns, this isn’t one of those shotguns you have to clean in between each use for reliability. I’ve fired over 400 rounds with zero misfires!

Handling

The Mossberg 500 is a high functioning shotgun, with a good balance between adaptability and consistency. It handles smoothly, and feeds, fires, and ejects without issues. The 500 has an infinite selection of aftermarket accessories and interchangeable barrels to allow complete customization, and you can switch the barrels easily. All you have to do is unscrew the magazine knob, pull the action down halfway, and twist the barrel to pull it off the receiver. Then, just put the new barrel in, screw the knob back into the tube, and pump the action. The forend is a nice, tight fit on the action rails, and the serrated wood is easy to grip.

Trigger  

The Mossberg 500 features a top-tang safety, mounted at the top near the rear of the receiver. It’s easy to see, convenient to reach without moving your trigger finger, and naturally ambidextrous. The trigger is crisp, breaking at 6 lbs even, which is ideal for most uses. If enhanced safety is important to you, you’ll be happy to hear that the action is manually operated, meaning you have to squeeze the trigger to fire each shot.

Magazine & Reloading

The mag capacity is 5+1, but it also ships with a wooden stopper to permit loading only three shells, due to stricter hunting laws in some areas. Dual-action bars ensure reliable cycling, and the shell lifter keeps debris from collecting inside the receiver, making loading easier. The shell lifter only lowers for a moment during the loading cycle when the slide is all the way back, so there’s no risk of catching your thumb or glove between the lifter and the magazine. Loading is simple: you cock the action, press a lever by the trigger guard to unlock the action, and load the magazine. Then, actuate the bolt release, and rack the forend to load a shell into the chamber. The 500 comes with dual extractors, and the pump ejects fired shells and chambers a fresh round via the forend.

Length & Weight

The Mossberg 500 comes as a 12-gauge, 20-gauge, and .410 bore. If you buy the Field Combo, it ships with two barrels: 28” and 18.” With the 28” barrel, the gun weighs 8.7 lbs; and with the 18” barrel, it weighs 7.4 lbs. While it’s not the lightest shotgun around, it’s still relatively lightweight, partly thanks to the aluminum receiver. It keeps the weight down, while still being strong enough to keep the gun well balanced.

Recoil Management

Recoil is pretty much average for a 12-gauge shotgun, if not a little better. There’s a rubber recoil pad at the butt of the gun, and this along with the stock design makes firing more comfortable than other 12-gauge pump-actions.

Price

The Mossberg 500 retails around $320. It’s a pretty mid-priced pump-action, unlike its budget-friendly counterpart, the Maverick 88. While these two shotguns are pretty similar, it’s worth spending the extra money on the 500 if you can swing it!

My Verdict?

This is the perfect all-purpose shotgun. You can use it for hunting, clay shooting, and home defense. Here are some of the best features:

  • Outstanding, military-grade reliability
  • Easy to change barrels adapt to different situations
  • Has stood the test of time—proven in the streets, field, and combat

In short: The Mossberg 500 is one of the best pump-action shotguns on the market today. There’s a reason these have been around for so long: they’re affordable, reliable, tough, and functional.

Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has appeared in large publications like The Armory Life, Daily Caller, American Shooting Journal, and more. In his free time, he reviews optics on his Scopes Field blog.

Image: Reuters

Will the U.S. Pushback on Turkey For Bombing Iraqi Kurdistan?

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 16:39

Matthew Petti

Security,

Congress is furious, but the State Department is quiet.

Congressional pressure is building to reprimand Turkey for its military campaign against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

The Turkish military is carrying out two offensives—Operation Claw-Eagle and Operation Claw-Tiger—aimed at rooting out Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The operation has struck rural PKK hideouts as well as populated areas, including the Makhmour Refugee Camp and the Yazidi community of Mount Sinjar.

“I strongly condemn the Turkish air strikes & ground operations near Kurdish & Yazidi civilian areas,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D–N.Y.) announced in a Friday statement. “This type of reckless endangerment of civilian lives is unacceptable, especially for a NATO ally.”

Engel, the outgoing head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to stop the operation “immediately.”

Rep. Jim Cooper (D–Tenn.) added on Saturday that he was “disturbed” by the operation. Cooper represents Nashville, a city with a large Kurdish community.

The lawmakers’ comments came after a widely-shared video showed an alleged Turkish bomb striking a lake while a family played nearby. Local journalist Jîl Şwanî claims that the video showed his brother and nephew in Kunamasi, a town in Sulaymaniyah Governorate.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, appointed by Congress to investigate human rights worldwide, condemned the offensive for its effects on Yazidi genocide survivors.

Turkish forces “represent a dangerous escalation of violence in an already-fragile area,” USCIRF chair Gayle Manchin said in a June 19 statement, and “are particularly threatening to hundreds of traumatized Yazidi families attempting to return to Sinjar and to other civilians in northern Iraq.”

Rep. Frank Pallone (D–N.J.) shared the statement on Twitter, adding that the United States must “diplomatically work with our allies to end Erdogan's reckless, dangerous, and cruel actions in the region.”

USCIRF previously slammed Turkey’s military offensives against Kurdish militants as a threat to religious freedom in Syria.

Turkey defends its cross-border incursions as a defensive campaign against the PKK, which both the Turkish and U.S. governments consider a terrorist group. PKK militants have waged a decades-long war against the Turkish state.

“The only target of our heroic Turkish Armed Forces in the successful Operation Claw-Tiger was the terrorists,” the Turkish defense ministry announced in its own Friday statement. “As before, no civilians were or will be harmed in this operation.”

The Turkish offensive has killed at least five civilians so far.

Iraq’s central government condemned the operation as a violation of its sovereignty, summoning the Turkish ambassador in protest. Iran also shelled several Kurdish villages during the operation, the Iraqi government alleges.

Turkish foreign minister Hami Aksoy told reporters on June 26 that Turkey “would like to reiterate one more time our expectations such as cooperation and acting in harmony with Turkey against the [PKK] terror organization.”

Iraqi Kurdish authorities have been more muted. Iraqi Kurdistan has hosted thousands of Turkish troops for years, and the region’s ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party is a rival of the PKK.

The U.S. State Department has also been muted, despite the mounting pressure from Congress.

“We continue to urge all of Iraq’s neighbors to respect its sovereignty. At the same time, we recognize that Turkey has legitimate security concerns,” a State Department spokesperson told the National Interest on June 16. “This is a matter of sovereignty for both countries that needs to be settled on a bilateral basis.”

Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter: @matthew_petti.

Image: Reuters.

Was General “Mad Dog” Mattis Soft on Iran? John Bolton Thinks So.

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 16:35

Matthew Petti

Security, Middle East

“I also wanted to minimize any potential gains for Iran, something Mattis never seemed to prioritize.”

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis wanted to “downplay” the threat posed by Iran, former National Security Advisor John Bolton claims in his upcoming book.

Mattis was nicknamed “Mad Dog” and “Chaos,” but Bolton portrays the retired four-star Marine general as a voice of moderation in President Donald Trump’s early cabinet—especially as Bolton pushed for a self-described policy of “regime change” towards Iran.

“[T]he ghost of Mattis’s protestations about taking Iran seriously would dog us right until the end of 2018, when he departed, and beyond,” Bolton wrote.

Mattis, through a spokesperson, declined to comment on the book.

The conflict between Bolton and Mattis over Iran began on April 7, 2018, when Bashar al-Assad was accused of launching a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians in the rebel-held city of Douma.

Trump had earlier bombed Syrian military bases in response to a similar incident in 2017. Bolton wanted to make Assad, whose government was defended by Iranian troops, “pay dearly” for using chemical weapons again.

But, he claims, Mattis “pushed relentlessly” for an “innocuous” response. Mattis was, in Bolton’s eyes, “focused on ISIS rather than Iran” in Syria.

France, Britain and the United States bombed a group of Syrian chemical research facilities on April 14. Six soldiers and three civilians were injured, according to the Syrian government.

“The Pentagon's proposed response to Syria's chemical weapons attack was far weaker than it should have been, largely because Mattis had stacked the options presented to Trump in ways that left little real choice,” Bolton wrote.

Mattis butted heads with Bolton again later that month, when Trump was considering nixing a 2015 deal aimed at regulating the Iranian nuclear program. Bolton instead wanted to pursue a pressure campaign either “to bring Iran to its knees, or to overthrow the regime.”

Mattis sent Bolton a “classified document” weighing in against the decision, although he also said that he could “live with it,” according to Bolton.

Trump eventually pulled out of the deal.

At a July 26 meeting to discuss the progress of the campaign against Iran, Mattis tried “to downplay the overall importance of Iran in the international threat matrix,” according to Bolton.

Tensions over Iran flared up for the last time in September, when attackers fired on the U.S. Consulate in Basra, Iraq. 

“‏Coming days before the anniversary of 9/11, and with the 2012 assault on our Benghazi diplomatic compound on our minds, we needed to think strategically about our response,” Bolton wrote. “Dead Americans in Iraq, tragic in themselves, might accelerate withdrawal, to our long-term detriment, and that of Israel and our Arab allies.”

Bolton thought that the attackers were “undoubtedly supplied by Iran,” but says that Mattis argued that “we weren’t abolustely sure the Shia [Muslim] militia groups were tied to Iran, which defied credulity.”

After two more attacks, “even Mattis could not deny the Iran connection.” The State Department evacuated the consulate in Basra and issued a statement blaming Iran.

Mattis and Bolton found themselves on the same side at the end of the year, both fighting to keep Trump from withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria. But Bolton could not help but insult Mattis’s views on Iran.

“I also wanted to minimize any potential gains for Iran, something Mattis never seemed to prioritize,” he wrote, claiming that Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford “understood better” the Iranian threat.

The bureaucratic fight over Syria eventually prompted Mattis to publicly resign from Trump’s cabinet.

“He may have established a reputation as a warrior-scholar for carrying with him on the battlefield a copy of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations,” Bolton wrote, “but he was no debater.”

Less than a year later, Bolton was also out of the White House—fired by a tweet.

Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter: @matthew_petti.

Image: Reuters.

South Korea's Top Export: How K-Pop Rose to Conquer the World

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 16:18

Mark Episkopos

Culture, Asia

Korea's special music has a truly global following.

Breaking out of the East Asian market in the mid-2000s, K-Pop has surged in popularity to become one of the world’s fastest growing music genres. It is also the spear tip of South Korea’s thriving cultural export industry, boasting a net worth of approximately $5 billion and projected to generate tens of billions of dollars for South Korea’s economy in the coming years.

But what exactly is K-pop, and how did this upstart genre outgrow its humble roots to become a global cultural phenomenon with a loyal western following?

The rise of K-pop is relatively easy to date. “Pop music” is an umbrella term for countless commercial genres since the mid-twentieth-century, but K-pop refers to a specific aesthetic and performance style that grew out of Korean adaptations of American popular music in the early 1990’s. The birth of K-pop is commonly traced to the group Seo Taiji and Boys, whose unique blend of hip-hop, rock, and tight dance choreography took the South Korean music scene by storm. Several major music studios, beginning with SM Entertainment in 1995, were founded to capitalize on this growing untapped market. The earlier grunge elements of K-pop were replaced with a focus on mass-marketable idols, the first of which became the wildly successful boy band H.O.T.

As K-pop crystallized into a well-established musical genre over the next decade, it came to be defined by several industry traits that help explain its competitiveness as a cultural export: an impressively high standard for choreography and vocals, an accessible and widely appealing aesthetic, an effective network of Seoul-based producers capable of putting out a quality product at a fast pace, and generous government support.

At the core of what gives K-pop its characteristic polish is the “trainee system”: a process developed by SM Entertainment founder Lee Soo-Man for scouting, refining, and promoting idols. After being selected by a rigorous audition process involving hundreds of candidates, the prospective idol is run through an extensive training period. This period, which can last from months to years, involves schooling in vocals, rapping, and dancing, as well as English language classes. Idol trainees are expected to endure a grueling rehearsal schedule and must prove that they can maintain a company-approved public image. Those who make it through to the end are finally offered a contract, which can take the form of becoming part of a group or—for a select few—being supported in a solo venture.

The trainee system has ensured that the K-pop industry keeps on churning out a steady supply highly talented performers, but it’s not cheap; training an idol can cost just shy of $30,000 per month according to industry insiders, while the process of making assembling and signing a K-pop group from beginning to end costs millions of dollars. Government support has been a crucial means of offsetting these costs, with the Culture Ministry establishing an entire department to oversee K-pop-related matters. Aside from fostering a growth-friendly regulatory climate, the Culture Ministry has injected the K-pop industry with hundreds of millions of dollars in grants meant to foster Korea’s tourism and cultural export sectors.

There is no single factor to account for the breakout success of K-pop, which stems from a constellation of propitious circumstances and sound strategies pursued on the level of management. In just over three decades, K-pop has gone from a fringe phenomenon to a lucrative and globally renowned network of state-sponsored producers and performers—an unmitigated success on South Korea’s longstanding path to become a leading soft power exporter.

Mark Episkopos is a frequent contributor to The National Interest and serves as research assistant at the Center for the National Interest. Mark is also a PhD student in History at American University. 

Image: Reuters

Want to End the Korean War? Talk to a Veteran Who Fought In It.

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 16:08

Jonathan Corrado

History, Asia

Listening to veterans is the best way to learn the lessons of the Korean War and to honor those who served. They remind us both what we lost and what we have gained through the conflict. Time is running out to gain the benefits of their experience and wisdom directly.

Editor's Note: As the world commemorates the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the Center for the National Interest’s Korean Studies team decided to ask dozens of the world’s top experts a simple question: Do you believe that the Korean War will finally come to an end before its next major anniversary in 2025? The below piece is an answer to that question. Please click here to see even more perspectives on this important topic.

Although current conditions suggest that an end to the Korean War before 2025 is an unlikely outcome, the seventieth anniversary of the war’s start provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of the conflict and the lessons it offers. The perspective offered by studying the war’s beginning, expansion, and aftermath provides valuable lessons that help illuminate an informed approach to deterring future conflict and achieving a stable and lasting peace. 

The United States was caught unprepared twice during the Korean War: first during the North Korean invasion, and then again when Chinese forces poured over the Yalu River and entered the conflict. The CIA did issue a prescient warning in June 1949 saying that “Withdrawal of US forces from Korea in spring of 1949 would probably in time be followed by an invasion [...] by the North Korean People's Army possibly assisted by small battle-trained units from Communist Manchuria.” However, most analysts and policymakers in Washington were focused on other regions as potential flashpoints for satellite conflicts with the Soviet Union, including Iran, Greece, Turkey, and Berlin. Just before North Korea invaded in June 1950, the CIA ranked Korea fifth in terms of “explosiveness.”

Although sufficient information was collected to suggest both North Korea’s invasion and China’s subsequent entrance into the war, the quality of the analysis was diluted by presumptions about the adversary. Policymakers over-attributed Moscow’s centrality to the decisionmaking of all Socialist countries and paid not enough consideration to local actors and incentives. Analysts applied mirror imaging, interpreting the interests of the adversary through the prism of their own perspective. In the case of China, recovering from civil war and woefully outmatched by American military muscle, the costs expected of conflict seemed to outweigh potential gains, but a glimpse into Chinese strategic history illustrates that Chinese empires have for centuries spent blood and treasure to intervene on the Korean Peninsula.

The aftermath of the war set conditions for the establishment of an alliance that has credibly deterred conflict for over sixty-five years. This isn’t to say that the U.S.-ROK Alliance hasn’t changed, grown, or adapted over the years. Indeed, the alliance has weathered numerous stressors and evolutions, including major force reductions in 1960, 1971, and 2004, provisional plans for withdrawal under the Carter administration, and substantial reconfigurations of the force presence.

Today, an overwhelming majority of Koreans and Americans continue to support the alliance. The strong foundation of this relationship has proven resilient enough to withstand past pressures and will continue to serve as a bedrock for the road ahead. It is the key to seeking positive improvements on the peninsula, with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in suggesting that the alliance should remain after denuclearization, a peace treaty, and even unification. A strong alliance creates ideal conditions for lasting diplomatic progress. Gen. Robert B. Abrams, commander of the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and United States Forces Korea, said the joint U.S.-ROK Alliance posture supports “negotiation by permitting our diplomats to speak from a position of unquestioned strength and capability.”

Listening to veterans is the best way to learn the lessons of the Korean War and to honor those who served. They remind us both what we lost and what we have gained through the conflict. Time is running out to gain the benefits of their experience and wisdom directly, but you will still be able to watch Marine veteran and Korean War Veterans area commander Sal Scarlato recount his journey into service and revelation about why the United States joined the fight as well as take advantage of the collection of oral histories from Korean War veterans curated and made available to the public by the Korean War Legacy Foundation.

Jonathan Corrado is the director of policy at The Korea Society (TKS). You can follow him on Twitter @jcorrado1953.

Image: Reuters. 

Nearly 90% of South Koreans Think North Korea Will Never Give up Its Nuclear Weapons

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 15:56

Daniel R. DePetris

Security, Asia

And that can only mean one thing: dialogue and negotiation are needed, now more than ever. 

Marking the anniversary of the 1950-1953 Korean War is always a heavy emotional affair. You can see the strain and grief in the eyes of the men (the youngest now in their late-80’s) who fought on the frontlines and continue to carry the memories of that horrible three-year ordeal with them. Nobody is anticipating an official conclusion of the war anytime soon, which means the vast majority of these veterans will die without seeing a peace treaty signed between Washington, Seoul, and Pyongyang. The fact that a full seventy years have passed with the armistice still in place only compounds the sadness and leads many who experienced the conflict to wonder whether peace will ever be possible.

It’s this context why the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU)’s latest unification survey is so timely and important. Seven decades after the first shots were fired on the Korean Peninsula and over eight months since U.S. and North Korean officials last met for face-to-face nuclear talks, how are South Koreans feeling about the prospects for peace with their northern neighbor? Are they discouraged? Sad? Angry? Hopeless? Or do they hold at least some sliver of hope that the situation could turn around?

According to KINU’s poll, there is no question South Koreans are a bit apathetic about the North. Trust in North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s regime has declined from 23.8% in November 2019 to 15.6% today, a result of a two-year inter-Korean reconciliation process that hasn’t resulted in the divine peace and harmony South Korean President Moon Jae-in promised in 2018. Nearly 90% of South Koreans believe North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons regardless of what the U.S. and Seoul offer in return. 41.7% are skeptical there is anything the South Korean government can do about the North’s nuclear development—a seven-point rise from the previous year. The South Korean population, at least if KINU’s survey is any indication, largely looks at North Korea and sees an uncooperative, stubborn, if not irreconcilable entity that will remain a nuclear power for years to come. 

You can’t fault the South Korean people for this perception, particularly given the events of the last two weeks, with North-South communication links cut, the liaison office blown up in a spectacular show of defiance, and Moon himself showing the limits of his patience with Pyongyang’s antics .

KINU, however, also finds that South Koreans are quite pragmatic with respect to North Korea policy. While Kim’s trust numbers may be in the toilet, the percentage of South Koreans who said that dialogue and compromise with the North should be pursued increased from 38.1% last November to 45.7% today. 

These numbers are confused on the surface, but there is actually some logic to it. 

First, Moon Jae-in’s engagement policy with Pyongyang appears to be one of his biggest positives. As the poll suggests, the South Korean people remain supportive of what Moon is trying to do: establish a degree of tranquility with the Kim regime in order to minimize the possibility of a miscalculation, demonstrate to the North that there are more goodies in cooperation than confrontation, and strive toward the day when the two Koreas can finally exchange ambassadors, operate embassies on one another’s territory and celebrate normal diplomatic relations. Sure, the Blue House may not have much to show for its efforts (partly because Washington continues to put Seoul on a leash and restrict what it can do on the reconciliation track), but it’s not like Moon’s conservative political opposition has a better idea about how to address the problem.

Second, never underestimate the power of history. The Korean War is a graphic reminder to tens of millions of Koreans on the peninsula of how bloody and destructive inter-Korean relations can get if dialogue is sacrificed. While younger South Koreans don’t exactly have North Korea top of mind in their daily lives, the three-year war between the North and South is baked into the national narrative on both sides of the DMZ. South Koreans have been living for decades under the cloud of North Korean artillery stationed a few dozen miles outside of their capital city. Any renewed armed conflict between Seoul and Pyongyang would certainly involve Washington and likely drag Beijing into the mix as well. While North Korea wouldn’t be able to compete with U.S. and South Korean military hardware, the Kim regime could unleash a torrent of fire on South Korean soil that would kill hundreds of thousands of people—millions if nuclear weapons become part of the equation.

Maintaining a dialogue, or at least channels of communication, is a low-cost and common-sense mechanism to ensure the worst doesn’t happen.

Unless something unexpected happens, the inter-Korean track and U.S.-North Korea negotiations will be frozen in place this year. President Donald Trump will be focused on his re-election campaign over the next five months and believes the political costs of another summit with Kim Jong-un outnumber the benefits. As Frank Aum of the U.S. Institute of Peace pointed out in May, “It’s hard to envision anything that could cause any dramatic shifts from either side, at least this year.” No truer words have been written.

South Koreans, however, don’t see many viable alternatives to keeping the phone lines open. 

Daniel R. DePetris is a columnist at the Washington Examiner and a contributor to the National Interest.     

Image: Reuters

Why The Korean War Was Never Formally Ended

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 15:45

Kate Kizer

Security, Asia

Author: "Despite pessimism and brinkmanship in Washington and Pyongyang, the Korean War—the United States’ longest-running war—will officially end by 2025. With the war, which was merely paused by the armistice agreement of July 1953, having reached its 70th anniversary, it’s important to reflect on what it will take to conclude it and to work toward lasting peace. While there are many roadblocks, the most important is the lack of political will in the United States and the international community."

Editor's Note: As the world commemorates the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the Center for the National Interest’s Korean Studies team decided to ask dozens of the world’s top experts a simple question: Do you believe that the Korean War will finally come to an end before its next major anniversary in 2025? The below piece is an answer to that question. Please click here to see even more perspectives on this important topic.

Despite pessimism and brinkmanship in Washington and Pyongyang, the Korean War—the United States’ longest-running war—will officially end by 2025. With the war, which was merely paused by the armistice agreement of July 1953, having reached its 70th anniversary, it’s important to reflect on what it will take to conclude it and to work toward lasting peace. While there are many roadblocks, the most important is the lack of political will in the United States and the international community.

The key to building this political will is changing the Washington foreign policy establishment’s perception of associated political and security costs. The idea that ending the war is a “gift” to North Korea or an insult to our South Korean allies is false. Ending the war is a common-sense, low-stakes step supported by South Korea. It does not, as some contend, mean the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea or undermine the ability of the United States to defend itself or its regional allies. It would, however, provide a crucial security guarantee to North Korea and uphold part of the Singapore Summit joint statement.

While ending the conflict may not have the immediate effect of North Korea’s unilateral denuclearization—the unattainable fever dream of many in Washington foreign policy circles—it would help create the environment to address the security concerns that justify the development and existence of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, as well as its totalitarian system of government. Seventy years of “strategic patience,” bombastic rhetoric, and military brinkmanship have done little to ensure the well-being of people on the Korean Peninsula. Recognizing these failures and recent developments should pave the way for a new approach in the next five years.

For what may be the first time, members of Congress have begun to understand the linkages between building peace and addressing the United States’ concerns with a nuclear-armed North Korea. People in the United States support diplomacy with North Korea. Furthermore, South Korea has a progressive president who was elected with a popular mandate to seek inter-Korean reconciliation, and whose party won sweeping majorities in the latest election. This is likely to only further President Moon Jae-in’s willingness to seek peace.

While recent North-South tension might seem like an irreversible breakdown, it is more likely the North’s attempt to break the stalemate with the United States. In which case, it provides a critical opportunity to renew diplomatic entreaties and offer steps, including limited sanctions relief and an end-of-war declaration, to jump-start de-escalation and progress.

Perhaps what provides the clearest evidence that the war will end by 2025 is the growing transnational solidarity movement of peace advocates, such as Women Cross DMZ and Peace Action, in the United States and South Korea. This movement has begun socializing the idea that prioritizing peace is an essential component of achieving the United States’ stated national security goals in Korea. The coordinated grassroots organizing that has taken hold across borders since the Trump-Kim diplomatic opening has grown from a vision of shared security and well-being that rejects militarism as the primary tool of safety.

The coronavirus crisis has further revealed what this movement recognizes: a re-envisioning of how governments, including the United States, achieve security and prosperity for everyday people is urgently needed. Ending the war with North Korea is an opportunity to reimagine U.S. engagement from one based on hostility and military threats to one based on understanding and cooperation. It is this people-powered movement helping push governments to pursue such a transition that will be essential to building safety for all and ending the Korean War by 2025.

Kate Kizer is the Policy Director at Win Without War, a national network of organizations and activists working to establish a progressive foreign policy for the United States. Follow her on Twitter @KateKizer.

Meet the DP-28: The Red Army's "Record Player" (Or Killer Machine Gun)

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 15:37

Peter Suciu

Security, Europe

A very robust, high-capacity weapon.

With its top-mounted pan magazine the Pulemyot Degtyaryova Pekhotny (Degtyaryov’s infantry machine gun)—better known as the DP-28—looked archaic but it proved to be a very efficient design. The light machine gun was reliable, accurate and most importantly durable. As with other Soviet small arms it could be manhandled, used in foul conditions and still work like it was new. It could, and did, endure freezing temperatures and continue to lay down fire on enemy positions when other weapons wouldn’t function.

One look at the weapon and it isn’t hard to see how it earned the nickname “the record player” as it featured a large pan magazine on the top that held 47 rounds of 7.62x54mmR ammunition, the same caliber that was used in Russian/Soviet military’s Mosin Nagant bolt action rifle. While there is no evidence that it was based on the American-designed Lewis Gun that was used by the British military during the First World War, it certainly had similarities in the design.

The DP-28 as it is known in the west, despite the fact that according to some sources it was never known by that name within the Red Army, was designed by Vasily Alekseyevich Degtyaryov in the late 1920s. Degtyaryov was one of those Soviet arms designers who had managed to survive the end of the Imperial Russian Czarist era and went on to work for the new Communist regime. He even rose to head the very first Soviet firearms design bureau.

During his lengthy career he created several types of machine guns, submachine guns and even anti-tank weapons. Degtyaryov reached the rank of Major General of the Engineering and Artillery Service, was a doctor of technical sciences and later was awarded the Hero of Socialist Labor—becoming the second recipient of that honor after Joseph Stalin!

One of his first weapons was actually the DP-28 light machine gun. But light is certainly relative, and unlike what current video games may suggest, it really couldn’t be fired easily on the move. The top loading pan magazine may seem an odd choice today, but it must be remembered that many other arms manufacturers and designers considered how gravity could aid the feeding process, which is why the British Bren Gun and other light machine guns of that era also featured top loading magazines. In the case of the DP-28 the round magazine provided plenty of ammunition but it also ensured that the line of sight over the weapon wasn’t obscured. By placing the rounds on top of the weapon it also provided mobility that was lacking in belt-fed light machineguns.

While heavier than a rifle, a single Red Army soldier could still carry and operate it—much like the Bren, Lewis or the American Browning Automatic Rifle. Weight-wise, at roughly 20 pounds unloaded/25 pounds loaded, it was a bit heavier than the BAR but around the same as the Bren. But unlike those other weapons a soldier needed to be prone or have the bipod supported on a flat service if the shooter hoped to have any accuracy at all.

Simple but Robust

The DP-28 featured a simple design with very few parts—just 80 in total in the early models—compared to other machine guns of the era. The gas operated weapon was able to fire approximately 550 rounds per minute, a lower rate of fire than some machineguns but this actually helped reduce the risk of the barrel overheating. This was important because, unlike the Bren or the German Army’s MG34 general purpose machine gun, the DP-28 didn’t feature a changeable barrel. Despite this shortcoming in combat situations, it filled the role of a squad light machinegun very well.

A far bigger issue with the DP-28 was that the magazine held just 47 rounds and changing the magazine was far from a quick process. Even worse was the fact that reloading the magazines was a slow and tedious process. DP-28 gunners typically carried the gun with a loaded pan magazine and had three more in a carrying pouch.

The weapon was updated in 1943/44 as the DPM and this version featured a more rigid bi-pod and added a pistol grip that made it easier to hold. In total only about 795,000 DP-28/DPM light machine guns were produced by the Soviets between 1928 and the early 1950s. Copies of the weapon were later produced by Poland in the early days of the Cold War while Communist China produced its own copies of the late-war DPM as the Type 53.

It was the standard Soviet infantry light machine gun during the World War II and afterwards the weapon was used in the Chinese Civil War, the Korean War and even the Vietnam War—where both DP-28s and DPMs were provided to the PAVN and VietCong forces. Examples have been seen in modern conflicts including Somalia, as well as in the ongoing civil wars in Libya and Syria and even in Afghanistan. That is a testament to Degtyaryov’s design—it is the record player that just keeps going!

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

Image: Creative Commons. 

How Did the Chicago Tribune Nearly Sink America's Pacific War Effort During World War II?

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 15:16

Warfare History Network

History, Americas

It was one simple headline...

Key Point: The one saving grace was that Japan wasn't reading American newspapers.

Stanley Johnston, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune accredited to the Navy as a correspondent, had made two forays into the South Pacific aboard the aircraft carrier Lexington. He was rescued when the ship was sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942. He and other survivors returned to San Diego via Noumea. En route, Johnston’s roommate aboard the cruiser Chester was Commander Morton Seligman, executive officer of the sunken carrier. Seligman had a copy of Admiral Nimitz’s operation order to the Midway forces. The message was top secret. Whether Seligman actually showed it to Johnston or left it adrift in the stateroom for Johnston to read is moot. The fact that security was compromised almost had terrifying results and could have reversed the course of the war.

The ability to continue to read Japanese messages since several enemy codes had been broken was crucial to victory, and Johnston almost gave that secret away. He filed a story on the victory at Midway with the Chicago Tribune. It was picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle and run on its front page.

Johnston’s exclusive said that the Navy knew of the Japanese plan for Midway beforehand and was waiting to meet the enemy there. It was an almost verbatim text of the top secret message. Anyone who read it could infer that the Japanese codes had been broken. What else could the headline, “Navy Had Word of Jap Plan to Strike at Sea” imply?

There was talk of bringing Chicago Tribune owner Robert R. McCormick and Johnston to trial for endangering national security. The only vestige of hope that the Navy had was that the Japanese did not read American newspapers and that Americans would soon regard the headline as “yesterday’s news.” Evidently, the Japanese did not pick up on the blunder, and the attention of the American public was diverted.

McCormick and Johnston were never tried lest it highlight an incident which the Navy wanted to bury. Johnston became persona non grata to the Navy. Proposals that the Navy requisition the ships bringing timber for newsprint across the Great Lakes for the Tribune or that Canada suspend delivery of pulp to McCormick never came to fruition. Admiral Ernest J. King decreed that Seligman would never be promoted to captain and retired him in 1944.

Seligman had received a Navy Cross in World War I, two more later and a Purple Heart in early 1942. Under statutes that remained in effect until 1958, as a decorated officer of the Navy, Mort Seligman became a “tombstone” captain. He held the rank and privileges but not the pay of a retired Navy captain.

This article by Colonel James W. Hammond, Jr. originally appeared on the Warfare History Network.

Image: "USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) hit by two Kamikazes in 30 seconds on 11 May 1945 off Kyushu. U.S. Navy. Overlaid with headline from the Chicago Tribune, June 7, 1942.

Ruger's P94 Pistol: One of the Most Underrated Guns Ever?

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 15:16

Kyle Mizokami

Security,

The P94 represented a maturation of the P-series design that benefited from seven years of being on the market.

Here's What You Need To Remember: The Ruger P94 was a historically underrated handgun. Although eventually outdated by more modern designs, it was accurate, rugged and reliable. It is still well regarded by Ruger aficionados and was an important stepping stone to the company’s contemporary line of pistols.

During the 1980s, an invasion of European nine-millimeter handguns washed over the United States, achieving swift victories in the American handgun market and capturing large market shares. One of the first American counterattacks against this invading force was the Ruger P-series semiautomatic handgun. The P-series was ultimately exemplified by the P94 handgun.

Much like the 1960s saw the “British invasion” of pop music into the United States, the 1980s saw a similar invasion of the so-called European “Wonder Nines”—a slew of black, high capacity, nine-millimeter semi-automatic pistols. Wonder Nine pistols were typically nine-millimeter handguns made of polymer and aluminum, resulting in strong but lightweight firearms, often with magazine capacities fifty percent larger than their American equivalents.

The “Wonder Nines” overwhelmed the American firearms industry by introducing something totally new—and at an affordable price point. They also built up considerable cachet: the Glock 17 handgun benefitted from allegations it was “undetectable” in airport metal detectors (it wasn’t) while the Beretta 92SB-F distinguished itself by becoming the official handgun of the U.S. Armed Forces.

One of the first American guns to counter the European invasion was the Ruger P-series. First released in 1987, the Ruger P85 wasn’t the most elegant looking of handguns, but it was rugged and dependable. The P85 had been developed by Ruger for the Pentagon’s Joint Service Small Arms Program (JSSAP) handgun competition. JSSAP’s mission was to field a new handgun to replace a raft of service handguns across the army, air force, marines and navy, particularly hundreds of thousands of World War II-era M1911A1 series handguns.

The P85 failed to win the JSSAP project—the contract went instead to Beretta—but the gun was released to the civilian market. There it was known as a dependable, rugged, affordable handgun that was easy to disassemble for cleaning. The slide, barrel and internal parts were all made of stainless steel, while the frame was made of aluminum. The only plastic used in the P85 was for the grip panels. Normally a double action handgun, it also had an exposed hammer for single action use. It had a noticeably chunky exterior typical of late twentieth century Ruger handguns, which tend to be slightly overbuilt.

In 1994, Ruger came out with the P94 handgun. The P94 represented a maturation of the P-series design that benefited from seven years of being on the market. The gun’s blocky features were trimmed back quite a bit, resulting in a sleeker, more modern-looking weapon. The slide in particular, which looked like something from a 1940s-era handgun, became more monolithic and plain-looking—and in this case plain was definitely better. The ribbed grip panels, which looked antiquated in the 1980s, were replaced with a more contemporary waffle pattern.

Internally, the P94 differed only in caliber. The P94’s primary difference from earlier P-series guns was being designed to shoot the new—at the time—.40-caliber Smith & Wesson cartridge. Introduced in the 1990s, the .40 Smith & Wesson was typically slower than a nine millimeter Parabellum pistol round (1074 vs 1138 feet per second) but delivered more muzzle energy (423 foot-pounds vs 357 foot-pounds). The use of the wider .40 S&W however reduced magazine capacity significantly, from the fifteen rounds of the nine millimeter P85 to just ten rounds in the P94. The .40 S&W round was seen as a middle ground between what many considered an anemic nine millimeter round and heavier .357 Magnum and .45 ACP pistols and revolvers.

The .40 S&W round’s popularity has receded in recent years, due to what many consider an unpopular recoil action and the marketing of more lethal nine-millimeter ammunition. The P94 itself was discontinued in 2004, ten years after the first introduction, and today in its place Ruger offers the SR40 pistol.

The Ruger P94 was a historically underrated handgun. Although eventually outdated by more modern designs, it was accurate, rugged and reliable. It is still well regarded by Ruger aficionados and was an important stepping stone to the company’s contemporary line of pistols.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he co-founded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

Image: Wikipedia.

These 5 Weapons Made Nazi Germany a Military Superpower

The National Interest - Mon, 29/06/2020 - 15:15

Kyle Mizokami

History, Europe

Hitler's most fearsome weapons.

Key Point: German war technology nearly ended Western civilization as we know it.

The forces of Nazi Germany in World War II were some of the most formidable fielded in any war. Backed by German science, engineering and modern mass-production techniques, it was a new type of highly mechanized warfare. Faster paced and deadlier than the armed forces that fought in the Great War just twenty years before, it overwhelmed slower-moving enemies and helped Germany subjugate an entire continent. Here are five examples of German war technology that very nearly ended Western civilization as we know it.

The Panzerkampfwagen VI (Tiger Tank)

The tank’s modern reputation as a fast, hard-hitting, deadly war chariot is largely due to the German Army’s use of the tank in the early years of World War II. Although first invented by the British in World War I, the Wehrmacht and SS took the tank to its logical conclusion, in doing so swinging the pendulum of war from defense as the dominant form of warfare back to the offense.

Although the bulk of German tank forces was composed of smaller tanks such as the Panzerkampfwagen III and IV, the Panzerkampfwagen VI—or Tiger tank—was designed to be the decisive factor on the armored battlefield. At fifty-four tons, it was considerably larger than contemporary tanks, and together with its thick armor and eighty-eight-millimeter main gun, made the Tiger a so-called “heavy” tank. Introduced in 1942, the Tiger’s KwK 36 gun could gut any mass-produced Allied tank built during the war, and the tank’s thick armored hide could shrug off most Allied antitank rounds.

Tigers were organized into heavy tank battalions and deployed by German Army commanders where they were needed the most. As a result, unlike other German tanks which prioritized protection and mobility over firepower in a general offensive, the Tiger emphasized firepower and protection over mobility, as it typically had specific objectives in mind.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was hands down the most lethal fighter of the Second World War. Designed by legendary aircraft designer Willy Messerschmitt in the mid-1930s, it replaced a grab bag of forgettable interwar German fighters with a fresh design that included a monocoque airframe, retractable landing gear and a closed cockpit.

Early Bf109A models served in the Spanish Civil War. By the late thirties, German rearmament was in full swing and the Me109 became the main fighter of the fledgling Luftwaffe. Fast and maneuverable, it was also hard hitting, featuring two .51-caliber heavy machine guns and one twenty-millimeter cannon.

The Bf109A and the Luftwaffe served all over Europe, North Africa and European Russia, dominating all other air forces until 1943 with the exception of the Royal Air Force. The Bf109 and its wartime variants had the most serial aces of the war, including pilots such as Adolph Galland, Werner Molders and Johannes Steinhoff. Overall, 33,984 Bf109s of all kinds were built by German and Czech factories. Ironically, a variant of the Bf-109, the Czech Avia 199, served with an embryonic Israeli Air Force in the late 1940s.

MG-42 Machine Gun

The crew-served machine gun was a major contributor to the high death rate of World War I, and the interwar German Army, though small, ensured it had highly effective machine guns to help it punch above its weight. The MG-34 machine gun, adopted in 1934, was lightweight, had an extremely high rate of fire of up to 1,200 rounds per minute, and was capable of quick barrel changes on the battlefield—a must for an infantry-support machine gun.

Unfortunately, the MG-34 was built made more like a watch than a battlefield weapon, and as a result manufacturer Rheinmetall could not keep up with demand. The MG-42, introduced in 1942, was an attempt to simplify the design into something that could be more easily mass-produced, and ultimately four hundred thousand were produced. The MG-42’s high rate of fire proved highly beneficial in defensive battles, particularly strongpoints backed up by mobile reserves on the Eastern Front.

German small arms doctrine held that the MG42—not the infantry weapon—was the foundation of infantry firepower. The infantry, armed with slower-firing Karabiner 98k bolt-action rifles, supported the machine gun. By contrast, the U.S. Army placed less emphasis on machine guns, fielding fewer of them than a comparable German unit, while at the same time increasing overall firepower with the semiautomatic M1 Garand and the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle.

The U-Boat

The German Navy (Kriegsmarine) in World War II was not the dominant arm of the German military. There would be no repeat of the German High Seas Fleet. As a result, it had to focus its limited resources on what was most effective its traditional maritime foe, the Royal Navy. While the response to the French Navy was the German Army, fighting the United Kingdom required a naval response.

But without capital ships, how would Germany take the fight to the Atlantic? The answer was the Unterseeboot, or U-boat submarine. U-Boats had been highly successful in World War I, and the Kriegsmarine heavily reinvested in them in World War II. This again proved successful, with U-boats sinking 2,779 Allied ships totaling 14.1 million tons between 1939 and 1945. The most successful U-boat, U-48, sank fifty-one ships. That translated to 306,874 tons of Allied shipping—the equivalent of three modern Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.

Not only did the U-boat campaign force the Allies to slow the flow of troops and war materials across the Atlantic and organize shipping into convoys for protection, it also affected the British civilian population, which suffered chronic shortages of foodstuffs and other goods. Initially powerful, U-boats were eventually nullified by Allied countermeasures and ultimately failed to sever lines of communication between North America and western Europe. Germany’s submarine force lost heavily—765 U-boats were lost during the course of the Second World War.

Panzerfaust

Germany’s use of masses of tanks on the modern battlefield opened Pandora’s box. Within a few years Allied forces would be returning the favor and it was suddenly the German Army that was facing large numbers of British, American and Soviet tanks. As the quality of German forces declined and the number of Allied forces went up, the Wehrmacht had a need for a cheap, inexpensive way to saturate the battlefield with tank-killing firepower. The result: the Panzerfaust.

The Panzerfaust was incredibly simple for an effective antitank weapon. A single-shot, recoilless weapon, it featured a large, egg-shaped warhead attached to a disposable metal tube. The primitive trigger ignited the black powder propellant, sending the warhead to an effective range of thirty yards. The shaped charge warhead had an astonishing penetration capability of up to 7.9 inches, making it capable of destroying any Allied tank.

The Panzerfaust made anyone—even old men and children dragooned into the German Army late in the war—a potential tank killer. The introduction of this new short-range, last-ditch weapon made Allied tank crews more cautious around German infantry that did not appear to have strong antitank defenses, such as towed guns. During the Battle for Berlin, some Soviet tankers even welded bed springs to their tanks, in hopes that prematurely detonating the shaped charge warhead would save their tank—a tactic the U.S. Army used decades later with so-called “slat armor” on Stryker armored vehicles.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the DiplomatForeign PolicyWar is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This article first appeared several years ago and is republished here due to reader interest.

Image: Wikimedia Commons / Julius Jääskeläinen

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