RUSSIA'S AGGRESSION AGAINST UKRAINE:
IMPLICATIONS FOR NATO
By Nina Jobe
Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea early last year, and its subsequent invasion of Ukraine proper, discussions about the country’s ambitions and goals have become common in European capitals. Even more so as Russian adventurism has not been limited to Ukraine. Flybys with transponders turned off, and dangerous mid-air maneuvers in international airspace are now a regular occurrence. The search for a Russian submarine in Swedish waters last year brought back memories of the Cold War era.
The rhetoric from Moscow about nuclear capability and intent is escalating at the same time. In March, Russia’s military claimed that it was sending its Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, a Russian province on Poland’s border. It additionally stated that it was planning to “deploy long-range, nuclear-capable Tu-22M3 bombers to Crimea”. Conventional weapons and troops are also being moved into Kaliningrad, a recent article in RFERL confirmed. The sabre-rattling is concerning.
Questions about NATO’s future and capabilities are increasing in conjunction with rising Russian adventurism. There is a growing belief that NATO is fractured and does not have the political will to act in the face of the threats it faces from a resurgent Russia. There are questions about the alliance’s cohesiveness, and commitment to one another. Is the alliance able to respond adequately to the current threats it faces from Russia?
NATO faces dual threats from Russia. The threat of a conventional war with Russia is being debated, with both experts and dilettantes trying to anticipate which alliance member Russia will invade first. Alongside this, the phrase ‘hybrid war’ is being bandied about, though its meaning and what it entails is not agreed upon. In essence the group is facing the threat of war by unconventional means. Tactics include propaganda aimed at minority populations in order to destabilize domestic politics in NATO countries, and cyber warfare, among others. These are threats that the alliance was not designed to counter.
It seems unlikely that Russia could win a conventional war on the battlefield with NATO. As a result, Russia is resorting to asymmetrical attacks, and intimidation tactics. Attacks that NATO was not designed to counteract. While the alliance has only recently stated that a cyber attack would be considered a reason for action on Article 5, the parameters are unclear. Poland, for example, has experienced seven reported cyber attacks in the last year alone. Although it is unclear if the source of the attacks is the same, as it has not been publicized.
At the same time, an internal fracturing appears to be taking place. NATO has always been something of a loose confederation of nations who could be relied upon to act if a member was attacked. It has become even looser in the last couple of decades. The common enemy it was initially designed to counter no longer existed, as the Warsaw Pact collapsed, and Russia was transformed from a threat into a partner. New threats emerged to fill the vacuum left by the USSR, but rather than acting as a unifying force, they sometimes led to discord. The alliance struggled to define their purpose and common interests in the face of these changes and challenges.
Pew Research Center recently released a poll about attitudes to the alliance and the conflict in Ukraine with Russia. The polling agency dramatically declared that more than half of Germans thought their country should not abide by Article V in coming to the aid of an alliance member if they got into conflict with Russia.
The Pew poll was criticized, however, for misrepresenting their findings. In fact, the poll question did not specify the instigator of the hypothetical conflict. Something that would almost surely make a difference in the way someone answered the question, and certainly would change how NATO reacted.
Even so, it appears that NATO lacks the political will to act as a whole. Articles 4 and 5 may not be the guarantee they were once believed to be. Politics still play a role in the alliance’s decision-making process. This principle was laid out as early as 1956, when the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Ismay, stated: “NATO is a political as well as a military alliance”.
Immediately following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Poland and Lithuania called for “extraordinary consultations” based on Article 4 of the Washington Treaty, on the premise that Russia’s actions were ‘a threat to NATO’. Consultations based on Article 4 have only been called four times since 1949.
Article 4 of the NATO treaty reads:
“The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.”
Article 5 of the treaty has only been invoked once, by the United States after it was attacked on September 11. Article 5 requires all members to agree to act, and does not mention technological advances. There has been some question of what happens in the case of a cyber attack. But NATO Chief Stoltenberg reassured allies earlier this year, saying, “NATO has made clear that cyber attacks can potentially trigger an Article 5 response.”
Another question that has been on the coalition’s backburner for years is the budget. According to numbers just released by NATO, only five countries (Estonia, Greece, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are spending the suggested two percent of GDP (gross domestic product). This percentage is not mandatory, but the fact that it is not has caused some resentment among the various members. In addition, there are 18 countries who plan to increase their contribution, Stoltenberg stated on Monday. Nevertheless, he continued, the budget is expected to fall “by 1.5%” this year.
These budgetary disputes demonstrate a lack of commitment to other alliance members, and have led to some resentment about countries who do not contribute, but still expect to benefit.
Some NATO members were also hesitant to allow former Warsaw Pact countries to join the alliance after the end of the Cold War. And accession has been frozen since 2009, when Albania and Croatia joined. Both Ukraine and Georgia have been denied entry despite statements of intent. However, in the face of increasing Russian sabre-rattling, there has also been interest expressed by non-NATO countries in expanding their partnership, or even joining the alliance. Polls conducted in Sweden, for example, show that popular support for NATO ascension is the highest it has been in years -- 31% according to a recent poll.
Russia’s ambassador to Sweden has recently responded with threats, saying [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-warns-sweden-it-will-face-military-action-if-it-joins-nato-10331397.html]: “The country that joins Nato needs to be aware of the risks it is exposing itself to.”
On a recent visit to Finland, former Russian Finance Minister, Alexei Kudrin, also asked for guarantees that the alliance “would not continue to expand”. A promise Russia has claimed they were given at the end of the Cold War.
It is difficult not to be sceptical of the capability of a fractured NATO to respond to Russian aggression. NATO has demonstrated clearly that it is technically and technologically capable in the face of a conventional invasion.
As Stoltenberg recently stated: “NATO is here. And NATO is ready.”
He continued by laying out the coalition’s future plans, including deployments, and new “logistics headquarters”.
Nevertheless, it seems frozen when confronted with unconventional attacks. Additionally, it appears to be politically incapable of reaching a consensus on so-called existential threats, and even identifying its common enemy.
Editor's Note: Nina Jobe is a freelance writer who has lived and worked in the post-Soviet space for the past decade. Her interests include social media, human rights, corruption, security, & terrorism, particularly in Russia's North Caucasus. She has been a contributor to Global Voices' RuNetEcho project, and she currently blogs at ninajobe.wordpress.com, where she writes about news in the post-Soviet space.
After months of denial, Official Washington has reluctantly conceded that the Chinese hack of federal personnel records inflicted serious harm on the United States. But so far at least, no one in government seems prepared to admit just how damaging it really was. Simply put, by rooting through federal personnel records without detection for more than a year, the Chinese have crippled US Intelligence for at least 10 years, and probably more, and rendered 15 of the 16 agencies and bureaus that comprise the Intelligence Community suspect. Due to the high probability of Chinese penetration and compromise, their "product" can no longer be deemed reliable.
In the Twilight War of the Intelligence Services, counterintelligence services spend a great deal of time studying opposition services, to learn three things: What is the Opposition's Table of Organization? What is the Opposition's Order of Battle? And who among the the Opposition's personnel are most susceptible to recruitment? Presumably, the Chinese had already figured out our TO and our OB. But now they can put names and faces into specific organizational blocks and, with the data lifted from their personnel records, conduct vulnerability assessments. Just how serious this is has been spelled out by Dr. John Schindler in the article below. Dr. Schindler is a former National Security Agency (NSA) counterintelligence officer, a former professor at the US Naval Academy, and an accomplished global strategist. We urge you to read Dr. Schindler's assessment with the utmost seriousness:
The OPM Hacking Scandal Just Got Worse
The other day I explained in detail how the mega-hack of the Office of Personnel Management’s internal servers looks like a genuine disaster for the U.S. Government, a setback that will have long-lasting and painful counterintelligence consequences. In particular I explained what the four million Americans whose records have been purloined may be in for:
Whoever now holds OPM’s records possesses something like the Holy Grail from a CI perspective. They can target Americans in their database for recruitment or influence. After all, they know their vices, every last one — the gambling habit, the inability to pay bills on time, the spats with former spouses, the taste for something sexual on the side (perhaps with someone of a different gender than your normal partner) — since all that is recorded in security clearance paperwork...
Do you have friends in foreign countries, perhaps lovers past and present? They know all about them. That embarrassing dispute with your neighbor over hedges that nearly got you arrested? They know about that, too. Your college drug habit? Yes, that too. Even what your friends and neighbors said about you to investigators, highly personal and revealing stuff, that’s in the other side’s possession now.
The bad news keeps piling up with this story, including reports that OPM records may have appeared, for sale, on the “darknet.” Moreover, OPM seems to have initially low-balled just how serious the breach actually was. Even more disturbing, if predictable, is a new report in the New York Times that case “investigators believe that the Chinese hackers who attacked the databases of the Office of Personnel Management may have obtained the names of Chinese relatives, friends and frequent associates of American diplomats and other government officials, information that Beijing could use for blackmail or retaliation.”
We can safely replace "may" in that quote with "almost certainly did" since for Chinese intelligence that would be some of the most valuable information in any of those millions of OPM files. Armed with lists of Chinese citizens worldwide who are in "close and continuing contact" (to cite security clearance lingo) with American officials, Beijing can now seek to exploit those ties for espionage purposes.
This matters because, while many intelligence services exploit ties of ethnicity to further their espionage against the United States — Russians, Cubans, Israelis, even the Greeks — none of the major counterintelligence threats to America are as dependent on blood ties as the Chinese. Simply put, in its efforts at recruiting spies abroad, Beijing is often uncomfortable operating outside its ethnic milieu. Spies run by Beijing who are not ethnic Chinese are very much the exception. This poses less of a problem for them that it might seem, however, as there are something like fifty million “overseas Chinese” worldwide, including about four million living in the United States.
Nearly every espionage case in the United States involving Beijing comes down to the ethnic angle, somewhere. To cite only a few examples, among many, Larry Wu-Tai Chin, a CIA translator/analyst, passed highly classified information to Beijing for over thirty years. Katrina Leung managed to severely damage FBI intelligence against China for years, in a complex and messy operation that confounded the Bureau. Then there’s the messy case of Wen Ho Lee, a scientist employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, whom U.S. counterintelligence believed passed significant amounts of classified nuclear information to Beijing. Most recently was there was the case of Xiafen “Sherry” Chen, a Federal worker who was caught having unreported meetings with a Chinese regime official.
It should be noted that all the persons mentioned in the previous paragraph were born in China (Lee was born in Taiwan) then immigrated to the United States. They seem to have been persuaded to betray their adopted country on behalf of their native land. Ms. Chen, against whom serious charges were recently dropped, has alleged ethnic bias in the FBI’s pursuit of her, as did Wen Ho Lee. Members of Congress and ethnic activists have joined that chorus too. Interestingly, Beijing has sung the same tune, with regime outlets alleging that anti-Chinese prejudice is at the root of U.S. counterintelligence efforts. However, whatever blame here lies in Beijing, not Washington, DC, since it is China that is exploiting its nationals abroad to further their espionage.
Beijing also uses its citizens abroad to facilitate espionage. An interesting recent case in Hawaii, which is something of a hotbed of Chinese spying, given the large number of U.S. military commands housed on Oahu, involved a retired U.S. Army officer and defense contractor working at U.S. Pacific Command who apparently got honey-trapped by a fetching young Chinese student (this is being a common Chinese tactic). Benjamin Bishop has been sentenced to more than seven years in jail for stealing classified information from work and passing it to a Chinese woman less than half his age, who was in the United States on a student visa.
The modus operandi of Chinese intelligence and its operations abroad are understood by the FBI and the Intelligence Community. However, the extent of the information loss in the OPM hack is so vast that all the counterintelligence awareness in the world may not be able to offset the advantage in the SpyWar that Beijing has won with this vast data theft. If you are (or have been) employed with the Federal government and have listed Chinese persons in any way on your SF86, it’s time to be vigilant.
Editor's Note: Originally published by the XX Committee on 11 June 2015. The Editors of Intelligence Briefs wish to thank Dr. Schindler for permission to republish this important article.
NOW HERE'S A SURPRISE:
THE POWERS-THAT-BE ARE DOWN ON MR. TRUMP
On 16 June, billionaire Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination - and promptly ignited a firestorm by criticizing the present, bi-partisan policy of open borders/non-enforcement of immigration law. According to Mr. Trump, Mexican migrants are "bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists [although] some, I assume, are good people."
VOTING WITH THEIR FEET
Trump immediately came under withering fire from the GOP Establishment, the Establishment media, and the politically correct corporate world, despite the factual accuracy of his statements: some 80 per cent of female migrants report being raped in transit, most often by the smugglers they've hired to get them across the border, and approximately 70 per cent of foreign nationals incarcerated in US prisons are Mexican citizens - where they are costing US taxpayers an estimated $1.6 billion dollars per year.
Nonetheless, Trump was denounced by every major GOP candidate save Ted Cruz, the Spanish language television channel Univision and NBC both withdrew from their contractual obligations to broadcast the Miss USA pageant and, rather ironically, the Macy's department store chain announced they were dropping Mr. Trump's line of men's clothing. Only a year ago, Macy's agreed to an out of court settlement for racial profiling.
Rather than back down, Trump replied with a vigorous defense - and was promptly rewarded with a huge surge in the polls. Depending on which survey you choose to believe, he rose from obscurity to second or third place in the race for the GOP nomination. Once again, the facts were on his side: in the fortnight that followed, almost a dozen Americans were killed by illegal immigrants, either through negligent homicide or deliberate murder. One of them was an unoffending young woman in San Francisco, gunned down by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times previously.
In a more honest era, the Trump contretemps would be no more than another tempest in the political tea pot. But in challenging the bi-partisan immigration consensus of open borders and non-enforcement of immigration law, he has also challenged the Establishment's real but never openly stated policy of demographic revolution from above. The primary objective of this revolution is to upend the racial and religious balance in America by diluting native born Americans to the point of political irrelevancy, as a necessary prerequisite for achieving the Financial Elite's long-held dream of global integration and dominion. The trick is to do it without getting caught...
Ordinary Americans have a very difficult time grasping how the political system actually works. Most assume the United States is a representative democracy, and that the political system operates more or less as described in their high school civics book. But in actual fact, the United States is an oligarchy tempered by a democratic process.
The simplest way to understand how the system actually works is is to imagine it as a solar system, with the Financial Elite - that is the stockholders who own the banks that own the Federal Reserve System - at the center as the Sun, and the Establishment - that is, the people and institutions that profit from or depend upon the Fed - as the planets that revolve around it, with their proximity determined by their degree of profit or dependence. In the closest orbit are the "second tier" banks and associated financial institutions that depend upon the Fed for liquidity; in the next orbit out, the US Government, which depends on the Fed to buy and broker its debts; in the third orbit out, the large corporations; and beyond that, the universities, the grant-making foundations they depend on, and the think tanks and public policy centers the financial and corporate elites bankroll.
Policy - especially foreign policy - has not been made by the US Government since the mid-1930's, when the Roosevelt Administration effectively subcontracted foreign policy to the Rockefeller-controlled War and Peace Studies group. Since then, policy has originated in the think tanks and public policy centers, and are passed backwards through the system to the grant-making foundations and universities, and then on to the major corporations, Congress, and the Executive Branch. This is a winnowing process, and only those policy recommendations endorsed by the Financial Elite have any realistic chance of being adopted as federal policy.
Chief amongst them since the end of the Cold War has been "Globalism" or - less politically correct - the "New World Order" of which there is a strong but never stated racial component. It is a fact that the world's population is approximately 90 per cent non-white, and it is also a fact that people prefer to be ruled by those who resemble them rather than others who do not. To maintain their primacy, then, the Financial Elite must literally change the color of their skin; and to maintain its dominant place in the world, the United States Government must change its demographic base from "White Christian" to "Colored Other."
Although any honest explanation for the bi-partisan consensus for open borders and the non-enforcement of immigration law would be explicitly racial and religious, the policy itself is not motivated by racial or religious bigotry. It is not the "War Against Whites" that some believe; it is simply a matter of power politics writ large, and played out on a global stage.
With his recent statements Trump has explicitly challenged the bi-partisan consensus that favors open borders and the non-enforcement of immigration laws, thereby challenging, implicitly, the Financial Elite's long-sought dream of a single global marketplace governed by a single set of rules and regulations and enforced by a single global government.
What does this have to do with national security? If one takes von Clausewitz seriously, a great deal indeed. For it was von Clausewitz who identified "friction" as the decisive factor in war - friction between privates and NCOs; friction between NCOs and junior officers; friction between junior officers and field rank officers; friction between field rank officers and senior officers; and friction between the generals and the civilians they serve.
Much the same applies to statecraft, for successful foreign policy ultimately depends upon public support in much the same way that armies depend on cooperation up and down the chain of command. By an overwhelming majority, the American people do not support the bi-partisan consensus favoring open borders, endless immigration - legal or otherwise - and the non-enforcement of immigration laws.
This is von Clausewitz's friction, writ large, and it is - ironically - as much a nation-killer as the current policy of diluting native-born Americans to the point of political irrelevancy.
Trump understands this friction, and seems willing to exploit it to further his campaign. Whether or not he can succeed in overturning the bi-partisan policy of open borders, non-enforcement of immigration law and demographic-revolution-from-above remains to be seen.
But one thing is sure: his explicit challenge to the Political Establishment and his implicit challenge to the Financial Elite is bound to provoke retribution.
Following the Geneva conference of 1954, which brought the First Indochina War to a close, the United States made much of the refugee flow from the Communist North to the American-aligned South. According to American spokesmen, the Vietnamese were "Voting with their feet."
Much the same phenomenon occurred with each Communist takeover, with hundreds of thousands - sometimes millions - of anti-Communist refugees fleeing for the safe havens of the United States, Australia, New Zealand or NATO allies in Europe.
But in recent years the phrase has lost its official cachet, as more and more Americans are casting shoe-leather votes: since the turn of the millennium, more than 1000 millionaires have left these shores for greener pastures abroad: countries with lower tax rates, less intrusive government, better financial opportunities, clement weather and less crime. Now it seems less privileged Americans are thinking along the same lines.
According to an online poll conducted by the money transfer company TransferWise, an astounding 35 per cent of adult Americans would consider leaving the United States for good. After narrowing the age range to those between 18 and 34, the number shoots up to a shocking 55 per cent!
The reasons aren't hard to divine: incompetent and corrupt government, a surveillance apparatus more onerous than that of North Korea, cultural collapse and economic decline. America is no longer the Land of Opportunity; it's not even a good place to live any more.
GOING TO THE MATTRESS
Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 film, The Godfather is considered one of
the greatest and most influential films of all time. In addition to
illuminating the Italian immigrant experience in America, it contributed
memorable words and phrases to the American vocabulary. One of these
was "going to the mattress," a term used by gangsters to describe their
habit of hunkering down in semi-fortified enclaves during mob wars.
Interestingly enough, many members of the wealthy elite who have chosen to remain in America have begun emulating the practice. According to an article published by The New York Times on May 25, fortified "safe rooms" in New York's luxury high rise buildings are now all the rage. In these, one can have the comfort of a luxury hotel and the security of Ft. Knox.
“The world is a very scary place right now, especially for people of means; they feel cornered and threatened,” said Tom Gaffney, the president of Gaffco Ballistics, which has installed a number of safe rooms around New York City. “When you have so much to lose, and you can afford to, you put a premium on your safety.”
Outside of New York, fortified bunkers reign supreme. One company builds large, comfortable and secure underground shelters similar, but vastly superior to, the fallout shelters of the early 1960's. Spacious, lavishly furnished and equipped with blast doors, an independent power source, an air filtration system, and large reservoirs for water and fuel, these are typically stocked with extended shelf-life rations and equipped with large arsenals. They are also expertly camouflaged. In the event of emergency, the owners can remain safe and secure underground for extended periods.
Another company has built scores of very large group shelters at more than 20 secret sites around America, charging a large monthly fee to reserve a place in the event of catastrophe. Interestingly, reservation offers are highly selective: each group shelter has enrolled doctors, nurses, dentists, engineers, psychologists, teachers and mercenary soldiers - precisely the sort of people who would be most needed in a post-apocalypse world.
So what's with the safe rooms, bunkers and fortified communities? The strand that runs through them is a loss of confidence in the United States government. Hardly a surprise when one thinks about it.
US Marines like to refer to the Navy as their "transportation corps," and sometimes joking refer to Navy ships as "taxis."
Although the jibe has always been lighthearted, it's no longer a joking matter: due to the savage, bi-partisan defense cutbacks imposed in 2011, there aren't enough taxis to go around. Unless the Marines can figure out how to walk on water (as some claim they can), they're going be stuck until the Navy' amphibious warfare shipbuilding program is completed in 2028. The Navy presently has 30 amphibious warfare ships; the Marines say they need 38 to fulfill their missions.
In order to cope with the lack of seagoing transport, the Marine Corps has entered into talks with the British, Spanish and Italian navies in the hope of catching a ride with them. According to reports coming out of the Pentagon, the Marine Corps hopes to put landing teams of 80-120 officers and men on allied ships, along with three or four Osprey vertical take off and landing assault aircraft, mostly in the Mediterranean Theater.
How that would work out is anyone's guess. On the bright side, it would undoubtedly contribute to NATO training and interoperability. But on the downside, it's not at all clear that our allies would order their ships into harm's way to carry out a contested landing.
VICTORY IN VIETNAM
Forty years after the cessation of hostilities, it looks like the United States has finally won the Vietnam War. For an excellent article on US-Vietnamese-Chinese competition in South East Asia, please click on the link below:
The Tipping Point
A REVOLUTION UNNOTICED
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has long held a well deserved reputation for caution in foreign affairs.
One reason for this was the Kingdom's lack of confidence in its armed forces: until the Gulf War (1990-1991), no one was quite sure if the Saudi military would fight. But another reason, perhaps even more important, was the reigning monarch's task of balancing rivalries within the extended Royal Family. Unique in that its founder, King Ibn Saud, declared all of his descendants "royals," the Saudi Royal Family now numbers more than 5000. And while the reigning monarch has always had the last word, both pragmatism and tradition dictated that policies be based upon a broad familial consensus. As a result, the Saudi government's policies have always been developed slowly and altered gradually, if at all.
But King Salman appears to have changed all that. After inheriting the throne in January, he quickly consolidated his personal power before embarking on a series of major policy changes that included the line of succession, reorganizing the Kingdom's government, restructuring the oil sector and launching a war in neighboring Yemen. He has also proclaimed the Kingdom's commitment to basic human rights, the equality of citizens, and free expression. Although likely rhetorical, these commitments are nonetheless revolutionary by past standards.
While several of King Salman's 35 brothers survive, they pose no threat to his position. Most have been sidelined by age, infirmities, or royal directives, and those powers not reserved by the King have been successfully delegated to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef - who holds the portfolio of Interior Minister, and also heads a secret committee charged with deciding major security issues - and the King's son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who heads the Defense Ministry and the committee on economics and economic development. The only major government entity not controlled by Salman or the crown princes is the Saudi National Guard, which is still led by a son of the late King Abdullah.
According to some analysts, King Salman's rapid consolidation of power and his dispensation of consensus-government represent the victory of the Sudairi branch of the ruling family, i.e., of the seven sons born to King Saud's favorite wife. Perhaps so, but it was the failure of the Obama Administration's Mid East policy that set the stage for their victory.
After winning the White House in 2008, President Obama set about rectifying the historic error made in 1967, when the United States abandoned the profoundly defensive, naval oriented National Policy and supporting Grand Strategy that had been quietly adopted during the Grant Administration, in favor of a new National Policy of Global Oil Control supported by a Grand Strategy of Armed Mid East Intervention. Driven more by concern for oil company profits than America's national interests, the 1967 strategic revision was a catastrophic blunder. It led directly - almost inexorably - to the Bush Administration's decision to invade Iraq. That decision destabilized the entire region, and led to the present imbroglio.
Obama attempted to address that blunder by embracing a new National Policy and supporting Grand Strategy which closely mirrored that of the Grant Administration. Obama's new approach was, incidentally, almost identical to that advocated by the Center for Intelligence Studies following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Although Obama's strategic vision was flawless, his foreign policy team was so utterly inept in execution that the strategic repositioning has failed miserably. What should have been a carefully phased withdrawal from ground combat in the Middle East, in favor of a repositioning designed to defend the littorals of Europe and Asia, turned into a rout after the President's precipitous abandonment of Iraq. The resulting fiasco sent shock waves coursing through the region and ensured Iran's emergence as the regional hegemon.
Compounding one disaster with another, President Obama has apparently negotiated an agreement with Iran that will permit that country to obtain - and maintain - a nuclear weapons "breakout capability," after promising for years that he would not tolerate a nuclear armed Iran. Although the reported agreement will technically fulfill the President's promise by freezing the Iranian nuclear weapons program on the threshold, it will nonetheless leave them with the ability to slap together a workable weapon in a matter of weeks rather than years.
The net effect of the Administration's blundering has been to shake the confidence of Saudi Arabia and other Mid East allies in America's willingness to defend them against Iranian aggression. It was this sudden perception of vulnerability that forced the Saudi's to abandon their traditional government-by-consensus approach, and centralize power to permit a timely to external threats.
It has also set in motion a new regional arms race that includes tens of billions of dollars worth of new, powerful and sophisticated conventional arms - many of which, pointedly, have been ordered from France, Britain and Russia rather than the United States - and a regional scramble to acquire nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia is reported to have already purchased at least one nuke from Pakistan; it's now a safe bet they will attempt to purchase more.
Thanks to the extraordinary incompetence of the Administration's foreign policy team, one can reasonably expect a half-dozen or so Mid East countries will acquire nuclear weapons in the next decade. If so, a catastrophe is all but certain.
When rival Kings negotiated a treaty during the Middle Ages, they would often slumber together in the same bed to signify their pacific intentions. From this strange custom comes the saying that "Politics makes for strange bedfellows."
How and why this practice arose is an interesting curiosity lost to history. But the more interesting question is why rivals put aside their differences and opt for peaceful relations instead. Most often, it is due to the emergence of a new threat that menaces both: intermittently at war for the better part of 700 years, Britain and France reconciled after the unification of Germany in 1871. Although mutual disdain is still very much in evidence, the British and the French have been close military allies ever since.
With the emergence of a nuclear armed Iran a similar scenario may play out in the Mid East, between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. With a reported arsenal of between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads, and a triad of delivery systems, Israel is the dominant nuclear power in the Mid East. It is also lays claim to what is - arguably - the most powerful conventional force in the region.
Although at peace with Egypt and Jordan, Israel remains technically at war with most of the other Arab states. But with the emergence of a nuclear-capable Iran, that technicality is approaching irrelevance. According to persistent rumors, Saudi Arabia has offered to shut down its air defense system for "maintenance" in the event Israel decides to launch an aerial attack against Iran's nuclear facilities - thereby permitting Israel jets to overfly Saudi territory without being officially noticed - and it is well within imagination that the Gulf States might provide clandestine support for the effort as well.
The bad news is that a nuclear-capable Iran all but guarantees a regional conflagration. The good news is the Iranian threat has broken old patterns and prompted a regional realignment of powers. Although the likelihood of a disastrous conflict is high, the Iranian menace seems to have established the necessary precondition for a modus vivendi between the technically belligerent Arab states and Israel.
The Arabs and the Israelis will never love each other, anymore than the British and the French. But like the one-time European enemies, they may find it in their mutual interests to put aside generations of hatred and hostility in favor of an entente.
THE NEW FACE OF WAR
Kinetic energy has been employed in warfare since the first cave man hurled the first rock at an enemy. The development of nuclear weapons changed that, and now cyber weapons have changed it once again.
Although kinetic weapons still dominate the battlefield, and the specter of nuclear Armageddon still casts a dark shadow over human civilization, the United States is menaced by two more immediate threats: the first is an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack; the second is a cyber attack directed against critical infrastructure.
Nuclear weapons of any size generate an electromagnetic pulse wave capable of "frying" undefended electrical or electronic systems carrying electricity when struck, by permanently re-arranging the molecular structure of their conducting material(s). The copper wiring found in power cables and electrical cords, for example, will no longer be able to carry a current after being struck by an EMP. The only way to restore the copper's ability to do so would be to re-smelt it entirely.
A Balance of Terror based on survivable, second-strike capabilities has optimistically ensured that an all-out nuclear exchange will not occur. But no such guarantees exist when it comes to smaller nukes employed in an asymmetric warfare attack. A tiny nuclear weapon smuggled into the United States and detonated on board a civilian aircraft at 30,000 feet would devastate the region below; a larger nuke delivered by missile and detonated at 60,000 feet would do far worse.
The threat has been well-understood for many decades, but the rapid proliferation of nuclear technology to rogue states such as N. Korea and Iran has in recent years given the threat real urgency. According to former CIA analyst Peter V. Pry, PhD, a 2008 Congressional study concluded than an EMP attack could kill 90 per cent of all Americans because of the excessive vulnerability of our electrical grid, which was designed and largely completed before the danger was known. North Korea already has the ability to carry out such an attack, and Iran is not far behind it.
Making a nightmarish possibility even worse, Muslims regard an EMP attack as a "Sharia-compliant" form of warfare because it wouldn't kill civilians directly. "Their reasoning is that because we have elevated technology to the status of a god, and because we live a corrupt, materialistic lifestyle [we would be dying] of our own sins...
"Without electricity, there's no communications, no transportation, business and finance doesn't work. Even food or water would not work, or be available to the public..."
Although it is possible to defend against an EMP attack by "hardening" the electrical grid and electrical and electronic equipment, very little has been done to date, even though the Congress has unanimously passed several bills to prioritize the hardening effort. The problem, says Dr. Pry, is the utility companies don't want to spend the money hardening would require and their lobbyists have managed to keep the legislation from being sent to the White House for the President's signature. Although Dr. Pry didn't name the culprit, he implied that a single senator - who had voted for the bills on the Floor - was responsible for blocking their release.
It is for precisely this reason that the Center for Intelligence Studies advocates a radical de-scaling and decentralization of electrical power, and proposed legislation that would provide tax-credits and - if necessary - federal subsidies to ensure that every residence, commercial property, office building and factory in America be made energy self-sufficient and at least minimally hardened. There is no way an EMP attack could take out all of them; a significant power capability would remain.
But defending against EMP attacks alone will not be sufficient to protect America. A similar tho slightly less dangerous threat is posed by cyber attacks, which are growing bolder and more destructive by the day. A successful cyber attack could drop regional power grids, shut down municipal water pumps, disrupt telephone and Internet communications, and snarl air and railroad traffic for days on end. Not quite the catastrophe of an EMP attack, but hundreds and perhaps thousands would die and billions of dollars would be lost.
But unlike EMP defense, there are no entrenched Special Interests trying to block cyber security. As a result, governments at all levels and the private sector are making measurable progress toward establishing an effective defense against cyber attacks.
AN ORPHAN SPY
During the Cold War, the Soviet and Bloc intelligence services dispatched a steady stream of "illegals" to Western Europe and the United States - that is, intelligence officers and agents operating under deep cover, independent of their embassies. Some were sleeper agents, ordered to blend in and lay low until activated, others were support agents, who assisted "legal" spies, while still others operated independently as spies. When the USSR imploded and the East Bloc unraveled, thousands became "orphan agents."
Some returned home, others went to work for the successor regimes, while still others simply blended into society to live normal lives. One of those was Jack Barsky, a German national who arrived in the US with $6000 and two cover identities. Posing as an American, Barsky found employment with the information technology department of the New York Independent System Operator, which overseas the electrical grid in that state. For ten years he fed the KGB information that would have enabled them to sabotage the grid and black out New York State.
Although details remain sparse, Barsky faded into American society after the USSR collapsed, and apparently became a loyal American. It is not clear whether he turned himself in or was uncovered long after, but the few facts revealed to date suggest the former. He is freely cooperating with the FBI and has not been dismissed from his job.
How many other orphans are out there? An educated guess would be more than 10,000 but less than 20,000 in Europe and the US combined.
WHY GROUPS USE TERRORISM:
A REASSESSMENT OF THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
By Max Abrahms, Ph.D.
Over the past decade, political scientists have learned a great deal about terrorism. For a while, the conventional wisdom held that groups commit terrorism because it’s strategically effective. For this reason, the dominant paradigm is sometimes referred to as the Strategic Model of Terrorism. Its logic seemed self-evident: To avert additional pain to their civilians, governments were presumed to adopt a more dovish stance by granting the perpetrators their political demands. Prominent scholars from Robert Pape to David Lake to Andrew Kydd and Barbara Walter promoted this viewpoint until it became the conventional wisdom.
COMING TO TERMS WITH THE AMERICAN EMPIRE
There was only one problem with this emerging scholarly orthodoxy. It wasn’t supported by the evidence. Increasingly, empirical evidence has revealed that terrorism is a remarkably ineffective tactic for groups to induce government concessions. In 2006, I published the first study to examine a sample of terrorist groups in terms of their political effectiveness. What I found is that groups are far more likely to attain their demands when their violence is directed not against civilian targets, but military ones. Since then, other researchers with different samples have confirmed that hardly any of the thousands of terrorist groups since the dawn of modern terrorism around 1970 have achieved their political demands by attacking civilians. The historical record is not entirely barren of such cases, but they are the exception that proves the rule.
Subsequent statistical studies have found that terrorism is not simply correlated with political failure; the attacks on civilians actually lower the odds of government concessions. This is because terrorism tends to shift electorates to the political right, strengthening hardliners most opposed to appeasement. But don’t take my word for it; just look at how target countries have responded to Islamic State and associated Islamist attacks.
Last year, Islamic State said the purpose of beheading the American journalist James Foley was to persuade the United States into calling off military operations in Iraq. But the terrorist act had the opposite political effect. In the immediate aftermath of the beheading, President Obama declared that the U.S. would consequently ramp up its air campaign in Iraq and extend it into Syria for the first time.
The Paris attacks had a similar effect on France. The French were the opposite of intimidated. Instead, they were defiant. Attendance at the post-attack Paris march was essentially unprecedented. Crowds that size hadn’t been seen since the end of World War Two. Simultaneously, sales of the Charlie Hebdo magazine soared from about 60,000 to millions worldwide. The Islamophobic far-right Front National picked up numerous supporters. Of course, France also dramatically increased its participation in the anti-ISIS military coalition, reflected best in its deployment of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to the Gulf. And while Islamic State detests the Assad regime, the French public suddenly warmed to him.
Canada, too, did the political opposite of what the Strategic Model would predict. After a couple terrorist attacks on Canadian soil, the public gave its spy agency unprecedented powers to disrupt terrorism at home, while suddenly favoring an expanded role in the coalition against Islamic State. Indeed, Canada is now arguably even more hawkishly anti-terrorism than its southern neighbor.
Jordan was a real question mark. The Jordanian public had been highly ambivalent about fighting Islamic State before its citizen was torched to death in a cage. Would Jordan withdraw from the counterterrorism coalition like the anomalous case of Spain after the 2004 Madrid attacks? Just the opposite — in response to the torching, Jordan began bombing the lights out of Islamic State, even ordering additional fighter planes to help get the job done.
The beheading of 21 Coptics in Libya had the same counterproductive effect on Egypt. Although not formally a member of the anti-ISIS coalition, Cairo quickly volunteered to lead a pan-Arab military force against Islamic State.
Even Japan became more bellicose after its citizens were slaughtered. Since 1947, Article 9 of the Constitution has banned Japan from possessing war-making capabilities. But thanks to the terrorist attacks, the Japanese rallied around the flag, pushing for the repeal of Article 9 to better respond to threats like Islamic State.
All of this raises what I’ve coined as The Puzzle of Terrorism: If attacking civilians only encourages governments to dig in their political heels, why do groups do it? In a new study in International Organization, Phil Potter and I propose an original theory that can accurately account for variation in militant group violence against civilians. It turns out that certain kinds of groups are significantly more likely to attack civilians than others – those suffering from leadership deficits in which lower level members are calling the shots. Leadership deficits promote terrorism by empowering lower level members of the organization, who have stronger incentives to harm civilians.
For many reasons, there’s an inverse relationship between the position of members within the organizational hierarchy and their incentives for harming civilians. For starters, lower level members may try to rise up within the group by committing atrocities against civilians. Such organizational ladder-climbing is well documented in gangs, but is also quite common in militant groups – just ask Jihadi John. Furthermore, lower level members have less access to organizational resources than the leadership, incentivizing them to strike softer targets. And leaders tend to have more experience in asymmetric conflict, so they are more apt than their subordinates to understand the political risks of indiscriminate violence in the first place.
In accordance with this new theory for terrorism, our study reveals that decapitation strikes with drones make militant groups more likely to attack civilians by weakening the leadership. Decentralized groups are also prone to civilian targeting because the leadership must delegate tactical decision-making to lower level members. Similarly, we demonstrate that as operatives travel further away from the leadership, they gain a measure of autonomy and are thus more inclined to attack the population. Unlike the Strategic Model, our organizational theory does not rest on the dubious assumption that terrorism helps induce government concessions. But more importantly, it can help to predict which groups will attack civilians, when, and why.
Editors' Note: The Editors wish to thank Dr. Abrahms for permission to reprint the above article. Dr. Abrahms is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University and a leading academic authority on terrorism.
A thoughtful essay from Stratfor
"Empire" is a dirty word. Considering the behavior of many empires, that is not unreasonable. But empire is also simply a description of a condition, many times unplanned and rarely intended. It is a condition that arises from a massive imbalance of power. Indeed, the empires created on purpose, such as Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, have rarely lasted. Most empires do not plan to become one. They become one and then realize what they are. Sometimes they do not realize what they are for a long time, and that failure to see reality can have massive consequences.
World War II and the Birth of an Empire
The United States became an empire in 1945. It is true that in the Spanish-American War, the United States intentionally took control of the Philippines and Cuba. It is also true that it began thinking of itself as an empire, but it really was not. Cuba and the Philippines were the fantasy of empire, and this illusion dissolved during World War I, the subsequent period of isolationism and the Great Depression.
The genuine American empire that emerged thereafter was a byproduct of other events. There was no great conspiracy. In some ways, the circumstances of its creation made it more powerful. The dynamic of World War II led to the collapse of the European Peninsula and its occupation by the Soviets and the Americans. The same dynamic led to the occupation of Japan and its direct governance by the United States as a de facto colony, with Gen. Douglas MacArthur as viceroy.
The United States found itself with an extraordinary empire, which it also intended to abandon. This was a genuine wish and not mere propaganda. First, the United States was the first anti-imperial project in modernity. It opposed empire in principle. More important, this empire was a drain on American resources and not a source of wealth. World War II had shattered both Japan and Western Europe. The United States gained little or no economic advantage in holding on to these countries. Finally, the United States ended World War II largely untouched by war and as perhaps one of the few countries that profited from it. The money was to be made in the United States, not in the empire. The troops and the generals wanted to go home.
But unlike after World War I, the Americans couldn't let go. That earlier war ruined nearly all of the participants. No one had the energy to attempt hegemony. The United States was content to leave Europe to its own dynamics. World War II ended differently. The Soviet Union had been wrecked but nevertheless it remained powerful. It was a hegemon in the east, and absent the United States, it conceivably could dominate all of Europe. This represented a problem for Washington, since a genuinely united Europe — whether a voluntary and effective federation or dominated by a single country — had sufficient resources to challenge U.S. power.
The United States could not leave. It did not think of itself as overseeing an empire, and it certainly permitted more internal political autonomy than the Soviets did in their region. Yet, in addition to maintaining a military presence, the United States organized the European economy and created and participated in the European defense system. If the essence of sovereignty is the ability to decide whether or not to go to war, that power was not in London, Paris or Warsaw. It was in Moscow and Washington.
The organizing principle of American strategy was the idea of containment. Unable to invade the Soviet Union, Washington's default strategy was to check it. U.S. influence spread through Europe to Iran. The Soviet strategy was to flank the containment system by supporting insurgencies and allied movements as far to the rear of the U.S. line as possible. The European empires were collapsing and fragmenting. The Soviets sought to create an alliance structure out of the remnants, and the Americans sought to counter them.
The Economics of Empire
One of the advantages of alliance with the Soviets, particularly for insurgent groups, was a generous supply of weapons. The advantage of alignment with the United States was belonging to a dynamic trade zone and having access to investment capital and technology. Some nations, such as South Korea, benefited extraordinarily from this. Others didn't. Leaders in countries like Nicaragua felt they had more to gain from Soviet political and military support than in trade with the United States.
The United States was by far the largest economic power, with complete control of the sea, bases around the world, and a dynamic trade and investment system that benefitted countries that were strategically critical to the United States or at least able to take advantage of it. It was at this point, early in the Cold War, that the United States began behaving as an empire, even if not consciously.
The geography of the American empire was built partly on military relations but heavily on economic relations. At first these economic relations were fairly trivial to American business. But as the system matured, the value of investments soared along with the importance of imports, exports and labor markets. As in any genuinely successful empire, it did not begin with a grand design or even a dream of one. Strategic necessity created an economic reality in country after country until certain major industries became dependent on at least some countries. The obvious examples were Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, whose oil fueled American oil companies, and which therefore — quite apart from conventional strategic importance — became economically important. This eventually made them strategically important.
As an empire matures, its economic value increases, particularly when it is not coercing others. Coercion is expensive and undermines the worth of an empire. The ideal colony is one that is not at all a colony, but a nation that benefits from economic relations with both the imperial power and the rest of the empire. The primary military relationship ought to be either mutual dependence or, barring that, dependence of the vulnerable client state on the imperial power.
This is how the United States slipped into empire. First, it was overwhelmingly wealthy and powerful. Second, it faced a potential adversary capable of challenging it globally, in a large number of countries. Third, it used its economic advantage to induce at least some of these countries into economic, and therefore political and military, relationships. Fourth, these countries became significantly important to various sectors of the American economy.
Limits of the American Empire
The problem of the American Empire is the overhang of the Cold War. During this time, the United States expected to go to war with a coalition around it, but also to carry the main burden of war. When Operation Desert Storm erupted in 1991, the basic Cold War principle prevailed. There was a coalition with the United States at the center of it. After 9/11, the decision was made to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq with the core model in place. There was a coalition, but the central military force was American, and it was assumed that the economic benefits of relations with the United States would be self-evident. In many ways, the post-9/11 wars took their basic framework from World War II. Iraq War planners explicitly discussed the occupation of Germany and Japan.
No empire can endure by direct rule. The Nazis were perhaps the best example of this. They tried to govern Poland directly, captured Soviet territory, pushed aside Vichy to govern not half but all of France, and so on. The British, on the other hand, ruled India with a thin layer of officials and officers and a larger cadre of businessmen trying to make their fortunes. The British obviously did better. The Germans exhausted themselves not only by overreaching, but also by diverting troops and administrators to directly oversee some countries. The British could turn their empire into something extraordinarily important to the global system. The Germans broke themselves not only on their enemies, but on their conquests as well.
The United States emerged after 1992 as the only global balanced power. That is, it was the only nation that could deploy economic, political and military power on a global basis. The United States was and remains enormously powerful. However, this is very different from omnipotence. In hearing politicians debate Russia, Iran or Yemen, you get the sense that they feel that U.S. power has no limits. There are always limits, and empires survive by knowing and respecting them.
The primary limit of the American empire is the same as that of the British and Roman empires: demographic. In Eurasia — Asia and Europe together — the Americans are outnumbered from the moment they set foot on the ground. The U.S. military is built around force multipliers, weapons that can destroy the enemy before the enemy destroys the relatively small force deployed. Sometimes this strategy works. Over the long run, it cannot. The enemy can absorb attrition much better than the small American force can. This lesson was learned in Vietnam and reinforced in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq is a country of 25 million people. The Americans sent about 130,000 troops. Inevitably, the attrition rate overwhelmed the Americans. The myth that Americans have no stomach for war forgets that the United States fought in Vietnam for seven years and in Iraq for about the same length of time. The public can be quite patient. The mathematics of war is the issue. At a certain point, the rate of attrition is simply not worth the political ends.
The deployment of a main force into Eurasia is unsupportable except in specialized cases when overwhelming force can be bought to bear in a place where it is important to win. These occasions are typically few and far between. Otherwise, the only strategy is indirect warfare: shifting the burden of war to those who want to bear it or cannot avoid doing so. For the first years of World War II, indirect warfare was used to support the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union against Germany.
There are two varieties of indirect warfare. The first is supporting native forces whose interests are parallel. This was done in the early stages of Afghanistan. The second is maintaining the balance of power among nations. We are seeing this form in the Middle East as the United States moves between the four major regional powers — Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey — supporting one then another in a perpetual balancing act. In Iraq, U.S. fighters carry out air strikes in parallel with Iranian ground forces. In Yemen, the United States supports Saudi air strikes against the Houthis, who have received Iranian training.
This is the essence of empire. The British saying is that it has no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests. That old cliche is, like most cliches, true. The United States is in the process of learning that lesson. In many ways the United States was more charming when it had clearly identified friends and enemies. But that is a luxury that empires cannot afford.
Building a System of Balance
We are now seeing the United States rebalance its strategy by learning to balance. A global power cannot afford to be directly involved in the number of conflicts that it will encounter around the world. It would be exhausted rapidly. Using various tools, it must create regional and global balances without usurping internal sovereignty. The trick is to create situations where other countries want to do what is in the U.S. interest.
This endeavor is difficult. The first step is to use economic incentives to shape other countries' behavior. It isn't the U.S. Department of Commerce but businesses that do this. The second is to provide economic aid to wavering countries. The third is to provide military aid. The fourth is to send advisers. The fifth is to send overwhelming force. The leap from the fourth level to the fifth is the hardest to master. Overwhelming force should almost never be used. But when advisers and aid do not solve a problem that must urgently be solved, then the only type of force that can be used is overwhelming force. Roman legions were used sparingly, but when they were used, they brought overwhelming power to bear.
The Responsibilities of Empire
I have been deliberately speaking of the United States as an empire, knowing that this term is jarring. Those who call the United States an empire usually mean that it is in some sense evil. Others will call it anything else if they can. But it is helpful to face the reality the United States is in. It is always useful to be honest, particularly with yourself. But more important, if the United States thinks of itself as an empire, then it will begin to learn the lessons of imperial power. Nothing is more harmful than an empire using its power carelessly.
It is true that the United States did not genuinely intend to be an empire. It is also true that its intentions do not matter one way or another. Circumstance, history and geopolitics have created an entity that, if it isn't an empire, certainly looks like one. Empires can be far from oppressive. The Persians were quite liberal in their outlook. The American ideology and the American reality are not inherently incompatible. But two things must be faced: First, the United States cannot give away the power it has. There is no practical way to do that. Second, given the vastness of that power, it will be involved in conflicts whether it wants to or not. Empires are frequently feared, sometimes respected, but never loved by the rest of the world. And pretending that you aren't an empire does not fool anyone.
The current balancing act in the Middle East represents a fundamental rebalancing of American strategy. It is still clumsy and poorly thought out, but it is happening. And for the rest of the world, the idea that the Americans are coming will become more and more rare. The United States will not intervene. It will manage the situation, sometimes to the benefit of one country and sometimes to another.
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"Coming to Terms With the American Empire is republished with permission of Stratfor."
A REVOLUTION UPON US
Robots have an ancient pedigree. Engineers in ancient China, Greece and Egypt developed the concept of self-operating machines, and some were actually built. In the Fifth Century BC, two Chinese inventors are said to have to have perfected a self-powered mechanical bird that actually flew; around the time of Christ, the Greek mathematician and inventor Hero of Alexandria built many automated devices, and left behind detailed descriptions of machines powered by air pressure, steam, and water; in the Third Century AD, a Chinese engineer by the name of Yan Shi is said to have built a life-sized humanoid robot for the Emperor Mu; in the 11th Century, robots supposedly imported from Europe are said to have stood guard over the Buddha’s relics; and in 1495 Leonardo da Vinci sketched detailed plans for the mechanical knight now known as Leonardo’s Robot. More detailed designs for robots appeared in France during the 18th Century, along with working models.
In 1877, the first self-powered, remotely controlled naval torpedo was patented, and during World War II the German Army deployed drone aircraft and remote-controlled “mini-tanks.” But the civilian sector largely ignored robots until the 1970’s, when computerized industrial robots began appearing in force. Adopted by the automobile industry to cut costs and increase quality, programmable robots now perform approximately 70 percent of auto assembly tasks.
Robots are now being developed by the U.S. military to perform a wide range of tasks, including a robot “mule” to carry heavy loads in mountainous terrain. But assembly line work and military tasks aren’t the only applications: autonomous robots are about to make their debut as workers in scores of industries – including film and televised entertainment. In Japan, a major bank announced it will begin deploying robots to assist this year, while an entertainment production company has announced it is developing a TV show that would include a humanoid robot named Pepper. The 120 centimeter tall Bot will dance, play games and perform tongue-twisters with his human counterparts. Within a matter of 3-5 years, experts predict that robots will begin appearing in every service sector.
There are three problems. The first is the displacement of low-wage workers, and the almost inevitable development of a permanently unemployable underclass. The problem will be severe, in large part because politicians have spent the past three decades claiming that the American economy desperately needed tens of millions of unskilled, low IQ workers to perform jobs that native-born Americans scorned. It wasn’t true – the jobs went unfilled due to absurdly low wages, rather than a lack of native-born workers – but the Political Establishment sold it to the public anyway.
This set up the second problem – a potentially calamitous situation in which somewhere between a third and a half of the adult workforce will become permanently unemployed. The overwhelming majority of these will be non-white, and a large majority will be recent immigrants. This will undoubtedly exacerbate already serious racial and ethnic tensions as inexpensive robots take over the unskilled workplace. Economists believe the robotic revolution will create vast numbers of new jobs, but these will require high levels of intelligence and creativity. These jobs will go to whites and Asians – but given the fact that American blacks have an average IQ of 85 and foreign-born Hispanics far less than that, the majority of non-whites will be shut out of the workplace.
In the past, the problem posed by low IQ workers was manageable, because IQ increased generationally in rough proportion to financial progress. The sons and daughters of low IQ but highly paid auto workers, for example, often grew up to become successful doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists and teachers. But the extinction of highly paid industrial jobs has shut down the conveyor belt, so to speak, and with it – probably – the generational increase in intelligence levels. The prospect of an emerging underclass that is poor, stupid, unassimilated and inassimilable is frightening indeed.
The third problem is a robot take-over. The renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has publicly warned of the danger, and over the past several years he has been joined by Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. According to them, the problem goes far beyond job displacement – robots with intelligence equal or superior to humans are just over the horizon. Hawking fears that artificial intelligence (AI) “will take off on its own,” Bill Gates has expressed alarm at the threat and concern for the fact that so few comprehend it, and Wozniak has described intelligent robots as “scary and very bad for people.” He’s also wondered aloud if humans will end up as “pets” for a new, artificially-intelligent master class.
THE ECONOMISTS’ WAR
Last year, the Bank of England shocked the world by releasing two authoritative reports supporting the claims of striking economics students. According to the students, their textbooks were wrong and their professors were miseducating them. The B of E agreed with the students on both points: for more than a century, economics students have been taught “mythology” rather than facts or well-supported theories. From this it would seem to follow that the past three generations of economists hadn’t the slightest idea of what they were pontificating about.
Well, not exactly. Though incorrect on important points – the role of banks in money-creation, especially – and incomplete in others, Mainstream Economic theory has nonetheless enabled economists to built models with amazing predictive power – 95 per cent of the time. It’s the other 5 percent that’s a killer…
Enter the late Hyman Minsky, an American economist who developed a theory of financial collapse. According to Minsky, during periods of economic stability, households, firms, banks and governments will – over time – move from a position in which they can carry their debts to one in which they can’t. When they reach the point where they can do no more than service their existing debts, the larger economy becomes unstable and government-owned or controlled central banks intervene by printing money in the vain hope of inflating their way out of the trap. But inflation is a double-edged sword: if the relative debt is halved, the relative value of stocks, real estate and commodities is doubled – thereby pushing their list value far beyond what they’re actually worth. Collapse becomes inevitable.
Mainstream economists dismissed Minsky as a crank, until his scenario played out precisely as prophesized in 2008. When Lehman Brothers collapsed in September of that year, it was quickly dubbed the “Minsky Moment.”
Mainstream Economics is based on a series of assumptions, some of which are obviously false. Consumers, for example, are presumed to be rational even though that is clearly not the case. Grocery stores, after all, place low-priced high-profit items like candy bars at the checkout counter for a reason. These obvious errors have led to the rise of an insurgent school of economics, fittingly called “Behavioral Economics” because it is based upon observed behavior rather than chalk board theories. But according to Minskyites, Mainstream Economics suffers from a much deeper flaw: it assumes that capitalism is inherently stable – which may well be true – but ignores the demonstrable instability of government-regulated, financially complex capitalism.
This takes one to the heart of the problem: Mainstream Economics is always right until it’s wrong – in which case Minsky’s theory explains what went wrong and why. But since there is no way to predict when things will go wrong, no one is quite sure what to do with it. Like General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics in physics, the two systems work well independently but do not mesh. They are fundamentally incompatible.
But James Rickards has an idea. A lawyer, economist, Wall Street banker, national security expert and the author of two best-selling books, Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis and The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System, Rickards argues the parallels between financially complex capitalism and physics should be taken more literally. Complex systems, qua complex systems, exhibit common characteristics and behaviors regardless of their composition. An avalanche composed of individual snowflakes, for example, behaves very much like a collapsing financial system composed of dollars. For that reason, Rickards argues the next step forward in Economics is the application of Complexity Theory to capital markets.
As of this writing, the outcome of the Economists’ War remains in doubt. But many experts are convinced that enough issues will be resolved this year for economists to mesh Mainstream Economic Theory with Minsky’s Theory of Collapse, and develop a new and far more useful General Theory of Economics.
SPY WARS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and the ISIS have proved remarkably adept at exploiting the online social media for propaganda and recruiting. Less obviously, intelligence services have learned to exploit them as well.
According to China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), a Chinese citizen identified as “Mr. Duan” – a taxi driver with a criminal record – was arrested for espionage last month in the province of Henan. Having run low on cash two years ago, Duan responded to an anonymous Internet ad. Posted on an online messaging platform, it offered lucrative payments for classified information. According to the MSS, Duan was instructed to take photographs of nearby military facilities with his cell phone, scan hand drawn maps of installations he serviced with his taxi, and forward them to an anonymous e-mail address in exchange for electronically-transferred cash payments that roughly doubled his monthly income. Easy money, until he got caught…
Apparently, Duan isn’t the only Chinese who succumbed to Internet temptation. According to Chinese press reports, the phenomenon of “street level agents” recruited online by foreign intelligence services is becoming a serious problem. Last year a major espionage ring was uncovered which – by implication – had been recruited and organized online, and last month two men in northeastern China were convicted to selling photographs of military aircraft to an anonymous online source.
Barring the occasional “walk-in” (volunteer), identifying potential agents and recruiting them for service used to take both skill and a large investment of time and resources. But since the dawn of social media approximately 10 years ago, all that has changed. Today’s spies and terrorists are most often self-selected and self directed, and require little in the way of training or field handling. All you have to do is e-mail them your “shopping list,” and transfer the cash when the desired items land in your computer’s in-box.
The rise of social media is an intelligence collector’s dream, and a security or counterintelligence officer’s nightmare. Not surprisingly, the latter two have taken to “trolling” – there’s now an excellent chance that postings on social media sites such as the one Mr. Duan responded to are “rat traps” set by security or CI services.
Certainly, that would seem to be the case with the MSS, which last month appeared to offer a way out for Chinese citizens who had fallen victim to temptation. “Don’t be afraid if you receive threats from your counterparts” [i.e., handlers] a MSS official announced on TV. “Don’t let them lead you by the nose. Anyone who is tricked into activities that harm national security, but reports them promptly, can be spared prosecution. Such important meritorious service even warrants rewards.”
On the face of it, that announcement would appear to be an offer of amnesty with the possibility of reward. Not likely – it’s almost certainly a clever recruiting program for those who stumbled into a rat trap set by the MSS, and those who turn themselves in will most likely be impressed into service as informers or agent provocateurs. It will be a lifetime sentence, albeit one without bars.
THE ROT AT THE TOP
According to the historian Arnold Toynbee, civilizations rarely die of natural causes. They are sometimes slain by others – but far more often, they die by their own hand. Civilizational suicide is shockingly common, and it happens when the “creative minority” loses its will or its ability to effectively respond to challenges. Their Elites retain the power to rule long after losing their capacity lead.
There are many indications of Elite Failure. One is a decline in public morality, another is corruption, but the most telling is an unwillingness to punish bad behavior within its own ranks. By any of these measures, America is in a world of trouble. Three recent scandals make the point:
When it was revealed in early March that Hillary Clinton had used a personal e-mail account based on a privately-owned server located in her residence throughout her tenure as Secretary of State, the howls of partisan outrage were deafening. The two questions that reoccurred over and over were 1) was this either illegal, or in violation of State Department or other federal regulations? and 2) was she using her secret server to hide illicit activities, i.e., an alleged scheme to shake down foreign heads of state for multi-million dollar contributions to the Clinton Foundation?
The answer to the first question was “not at that time;” the second question remains unresolved. But as important as both questions may be, there is a far more important question that has not been publicly asked: did Hillary Clinton compromise the national security? The answer to this is yes, and catastrophically so. Secretary Clinton’s private server was unsecured and undefended, and her e-mails unencrypted. To suggest they somehow went unnoticed by scores of foreign intelligence services is to indulge in fantasy. They were monitored in real time by friends and foes alike, and they revealed the two most important secrets the United States Government has: The Mind of the State, and the State’s State of Mind. With these, foreign governments could easily anticipate America’s every diplomatic move. Even with the most sympathetic reading, this qualifies as espionage under the 1917 Act.
The second scandal revolved around billionaire and convicted pedophile Jeffery Epstein, owner of a private island off the coast of Florida. A major contributor to the Democratic Party, Epstein was in the habit of entertaining his powerful friends with underage women, at least one of which was just 12-years old. But despite having served a year in jail for sex crimes, his high powered friends just kept coming: Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew, Harvard professor and celebrity attorney Alan Dershowitz, and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, among many others. For anyone who has spent more than five minutes in the intelligence business, it is glaringly obvious that Epstein was running a “Honey Trap” for the high and mighty. But no one in government will ever admit that…
Although Epstein may go back to jail, Clinton, Prince Andrew, Dershowitz, Barack and others will walk, because the Elite no longer believes it should be subject to the law. But retired Gen. David A. Petraeus was not quite so lucky. The four-star general, who staved off defeat in Iraq and went on to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, last month pleaded guilty to one count of “unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.” It seems the general had kept seven hand written notebooks containing a wealth of classified information, including the true identities of deep-cover American agents – which he then shred with his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell. Despite violating the Espionage Act and racking up another half-dozen or so serious charges – including his illicit affair, itself grounds for court martial - Petraeus plea-bargained a slap on the wrist.
The wonder is that Gen. Petraeus was charged at all. According rumors drifting from CIA Headquarters, his transgressions were leaked by senior career officers opposed to his efforts to downgrade espionage in favor of increased covert operations. Had he been politically adroit, he would have walked as well.
CONSANGUINITY AND TERROR
The dangers of consanguinity (blood relations) have been known since ancient times. In both Republican and Imperial Rome, civil law prohibited marriages between couples of four degrees of consanguinity (or less). Couples who shared the same great grandparents were forbidden to marry.
Mediaeval Christendom raised the degree of separation even higher, to seven, until eventually forced to lower it back to the Roman levels. Because Charlemagne had created only 350 counties in all of Western Europe - and a mere 350 noble families to rule them - Mediaeval aristocrats eventually ran out of permissible marriage partners. The situation was far worse with the royals: dynastic politics were marriage politics, and for that reason inbreeding was all but inevitable.
The effects were disastrous. By the mid-1800's, a significant number of European royals were sickly, physically deformed, insane, or stupid. Had World War I not swept away most of Europe's monarchies, the genetic time bomb planted by Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, would have destroyed them anyway: Victoria and Albert had nine children together, all of whom inherited a grave genetic disorder, believed to be hemophilia. One became King of Great Britain; seven married into other dynasties. Their children would have doubtless married into all.
And yet, the appeal of consanguinity is so strong than many cultures overlook the well-known dangers of inbreeding. Consanguinity makes it possible to keep a tight hold on wealth, property, and in some cases, political power. In ancient Egypt, for example, royal siblings frequently married to maintain political control, despite full knowledge that their incestuous relationship would eventually lead to their family's extinction.
In the contemporary world, the handful of surviving Royal houses have abandoned consanguinity, and Royal offspring now routinely wed lesser aristocrats or commoners. But among the tribal societies of North Africa, the Middle East, and Pakistan, consanguinity is the norm: an estimated 34 per cent of all marriages in Algeria are consanguine; 46 per cent in Bahrain; 33 per cent in Egypt; 39 per cent in Tunisia; 60 per cent in Iraq; 64 per cent in Jordan; 54 per cent in Qatar; 67 per cent in Saudi Arabia; 40 per cent in Syria; 39 per cent in Tunisia; 54 per cent in the United Arab Emirates; 45 per cent in Yemen, and 70 per cent in Pakistan. Overall, about half the world's Muslim population is inbred.
Consanguinity has been a part of Muslim culture since Mohammed gave inbreeding his blessing some 1400 years ago, and the results have been horrific. According to Danish psychologist Nicolai Sennels, the genetic damage caused by Muslim inbreeding has produced lower average intelligence, a higher incidence of physical defects, and a higher incidence of mental illness.
According to Sennels, children born to consanguinious marriages have an IQ 10-16 points lower than normal, are slow to develop social skills, and are twice as likely to have mental or physical disabilities. "It probably explains...why two-thirds of all immigrant school children with Arabic backgrounds [remain] illiterate after 10 years in the Danish school system."
No surprise, then, that they grow up to be unemployed, and unemployable. Nor is it a surprise that severe mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia occur at much higher rates among Muslims than among non-Muslims.
Sennels also believes that Muslim inbreeding may explain why the Islamic world produces so little in terms of science: "The limited ability to understand, appreciate, and produce knowledge [that follows from a limited IQ] is also partly the reason why Muslim countries produce 1/10th of the world average when it comes to scientific research.."
But on the bright side, Muslims are the undisputed champions when it comes to producing rapists, suicide bombers and psychotic killers.
IN EUROPE: A SLOW MOTION COLLAPSE
The great meta-historian Oswald Spengler published his majestic tome in Germany in 1918, under a title which most correctly translates as The Submergence of the West. When it was published in English four years later, it was incorrectly translated as The Decline of the West.
One word made all the difference: Spengler's point was not so much that the West was in decline - although that was certainly true - but rather that the West would inevitably be submerged by the sheer weight of the other, non-white, non-European peoples.
Many Europeans grasped the threat, including Adolf Hitler - who, with his inimitable brutality, decided to deal with it by exterminating all non-whites and by enslaving the Slavs and other, lesser Caucasians.
The Allied victory in 1945 precluded Hitler's plans, and the European Elite which succeeded him embraced a different solution: rather than slaughter the allegedly inferior breeds, they would create a new global order and a new and inclusive global culture incorporating what they deemed to be the "Best of the West, Along with the Rest." "Multiculturalism" and "Diversity" became their watchwords.
As Alan Greenspan once implied, their New World Order was to be built on the bedrock belief that humanity's one common denominator, true of all peoples at all times and all places, is the desire to improve one's material circumstances. The peoples of the world would gladly embrace the new regime, because it would provide them with the opportunity to acquire and enjoy "more stuff."
It was for this reason that Europe's leaders - and also the leaders of Britain and America - gleefully welcomed millions of Muslim immigrants into their countries, despite the fact that the newcomers had all been raised in cultures instinctively hostile to the beliefs and values the West had been founded upon, and despite the fact that many of them - perhaps most of them - were fervently committed to an alien and militantly aggressive faith.
It hasn't worked out. And now the European leadership - and the British and the American, to a lesser extent - find themselves caught between the blades of a scissors. One blade consists of the Elite's belief system, which implausibly denies the importance of culture and faith while simultaneously insisting upon the absurd claim of cultural equivalence; the other blade militant Islam, which insists, irrationally and despite all evidence to the contrary, that Islamic culture is inherently superior and, must, therefore rule all the world.
Unwilling to admit they were wrong and unable to adapt, the European Elite is floundering and the British and American elites are not far behind. Simply put, their own policies have brought about a situation very much like Spengler predicted. They are being submerged, and they haven't the slightest idea what to do about it.
For an appalling overview of their fumbling response, please click on the link below:
ISLAMIC TERRORISM, SHARIA PATROLS
LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND DELUSIONS
It is a sad testament to our world that statesmen must lie. Abraham Lincoln dissimulated when he said the North wouldn’t negotiate with the South during the Civil War; FDR perpetrated innumerable lies to maneuver the United States into World War II; Eisenhower lied over the U-2 incident; JFK lied about the impending invasion of Cuba; and even Ronald Reagan may have shaded the truth a bit during the arms for hostages scandal.
But there are the lies of statesmen, and there are the damned lies of politicians. The lies of statesmen are intended to protect the nations for which they are responsible; the damnable lies of politicians are intended to advance their careers or their agendas. Here, Barack Obama stands as an exemplar. Candidate Obama lied repeatedly during the 2008 campaign for the White House, claiming he was unaware of Rev. Wrights open hostility and contempt for both whites and the United States, despite the fact Obama had previously identified Wright as a mentor; and as President, he piled lie upon lie while campaigning for his Affordable Care Act. He claimed those already insured could keep their doctors and their insurance plans under the ACA, and he claimed it would lower premiums. Neither claim was true, and he knew it.
Far worse is his stubborn refusal to admit the obvious link between Islam and terrorism. He insists the terrorist attack at Ft. Hood - and each of the half-dozen or so bloody incidents perpetrated by Islamic extremists that followed - are merely “workplace violence;” that the attack on a kosher market in France was random; that the ISIS now terrorizing the Levant and threatening Europe isn’t Islamic; and the Christians recently beheaded by the ISIS in Libya weren’t killed for their religious faith. As former CBS investigative reporter Cheryl Atkinson observed, Obama lies, then denies he lied, and then lies about the lies he’s told.
This is more than a character flaw. The great danger of what the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre called “bad faith” is that the liar not only deceives others but himself as well, and “divorces further and further from reality, so he sees less and less clearly the choices before him and what is at stake…”
Eventually, the liar is no longer able to distinguish between his lies and reality, and slips into a delusional state.
Given the fact that President Obama is responsible for the safety and well-being of more than 300,000,000 Americans, his willful denial of obvious truths is worrisome indeed.
STRAIGHT TALK FROM AN ARAB CROWN PRINCE
President Obama's unstated strategy for defeating the Islamic State is simple: contain the IS with air power and provide neighboring countries with what assistance they may require to grind it down, with the eventual goal of reducing the presently severe threat to a police problem.
Because this strategy depends heavily upon the support of what the White House describes as "moderate" Muslims, the President has gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid associating Islamic terror with Islam. As a result, the President and his staff have repeatedly tied themselves into the verbal equivalent of pretzels, in their efforts to dance around obvious facts. The giggle factor has become so pronounced that in many circles the President is now seen as a fool.
His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Salman - himself a Muslim - has offered a better, more sophisticated and far more useful definition of the threat, which President Obama would be well-advised to adopt as his own: the problem, Prince Salman argues, isn't Islam, per se, but rather the crazed and power-hungry theocrats who have exploited and degraded Islamic teachings to justify a new form of totalitarianism, Theocratic Fascism.
Unlike President Obama, Prince Salman doesn't deny the Islamic connection. He has instead placed it in framework that is historically and ideologically plausible.
Westerners familiar with history instinctively grasp the Prince's point: Savonarola in Mediaeval Italy comes immediately to mind, as does Oliver Cromwell in England and John Calvin in Geneva. It was Calvin, of course, who planted the seeds of modern totalitarianism with his vow to "force men to be free" (even if it killed them).
To read Prince Salman's insightful essay in full, please click on the link below:
KNOW THINE ENEMY
THE PARIS MASSACRE
At 11:30 am on January 7th, two masked and heavily armed Muslims forced their way into the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French newspaper. After finding the staff in an editorial conference, they sorted them by name before systematically executing the paper’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier, his police bodyguard, and nine other staff members. In the process, 11 others were wounded. Five minutes after the attack began, the two killers exited the building to a waiting car driven by an accomplice. En route to the vehicle they opened fire on a police car, briefly halting their escape to execute a wounded police officer lying helpless on the sidewalk. Ironically, the murdered policeman was himself Muslim.
The attack was intended to exact vengeance against the newspaper, which takes pride in its reputation as an equal opportunity offender. In addition to savagely humorous attacks on politicians and celebrities, it has in recent years it has skewered Christianity, Judaism and Islam – and given Muslims special offense by republishing an inflammatory Dutch cartoon of Mohammed in 2006, and more recently by publishing an edition that was, supposedly, guest-edited by the Prophet himself. In retaliation for the latter offense, the Charlie Hebdo building was firebombed and Charbonnier subjected to anonymous death threats.
Although the driver of the escape car promptly surrendered to police, it took three days and the largest police manhunt in French history to locate and kill the two brothers who had carried out the attack. In the meantime, another Muslim extremist associated with the Islamic State assassinated a policewoman before carrying out a diversionary attack against a kosher grocery store, killing four hostages. His accomplice, a female convert to Islam, escaped and is still at large at this writing. Altogether, 17 French police and civilians were killed.
Three aspects of the attack are notable. The first provides important background; the second and third will compel action.
First, it illustrates the extreme sensitivity of Muslims to any characterization of Islam, Mohammed, or other revered figures in less than devout terms. Freedom of speech and expression are alien to Islamic societies, heirs to or practitioners of Sharia law. In Pakistan, the legal code considers blasphemy a capital crime, and vigilantes routinely kill those accused of slandering Islam; in Israel, Muslims rioted in response to a Jewish artist’s derogatory depiction of the Virgin Mary; and in Saudi Arabia, a man has been sentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years imprisonment for “insulting” Islam on the Internet.
Second, it seems to confirm dark fears of a spillover from the fighting in the Middle East. Thousands of European Muslims have left their countries to fight for Al Qaeda, its various offshoots, or the Islamic State, and European police and security services have long feared they would eventually return to wage war against their countries of birth or naturalization. Both of the Paris gunmen received training from an Al Qaeda affiliate, and for that reason the attack on Charlie Hebdo may signal a new and bloody phase in the Islamic campaign against Europe.
Third, it has brought to the fore the previously suppressed conflict over Muslim immigration and assimilation. Although the European elites are as deeply committed to using massive and essentially unrestricted immigration to dilute national identities as their American counterparts, the European peoples have never accepted their vision of a New World Order in which nation-states are reduced to administrative zones of a global, Socialist Commonwealth. Nor have they accepted the Elite’s obviously false claim that Islam and Western Civilization are somehow compatible. Absent a revolution within Islam as thorough, complete, and as bloody as the European Reformation, there is no realistic possibility of Muslims assimilating to the West. The Islamic understanding of God is fundamentally different from either the Christian or the Jewish, and the body of law that has grown up around Islamic scriptures can be charitably described as Mediaeval. Many analysts regard Islam as a form of institutionalized insanity.
Through a determined effort, the European elites have managed to suppress public sentiment for decades. But the Paris massacre has changed the political equation. In Paris, an estimated 100,000 took to the streets to protest the atrocity, and the once marginalized anti-immigrant National Front party is surging in the polls. Across the Channel, the similarly oriented United Kingdom Independence Party is likewise emerging as a major political force. If elections were held today, the UKIP would almost certainly be able to demand cabinet seats in a coalition government.
The Paris massacre thus marks the end of an era, the death of an Elitist dream. Europe may remain united in the loose confederation that is the European Union, but it will not be the secular, non-national, multicultural Utopia the Elites aspired to.
THE NEXT PHASE
In an effort to win re-election, President Obama made a subtle but nonetheless determined effort to promote the illusion that the War on Terror had been effectively won. It wasn’t true, but the lull in terrorist attacks that followed the killing of Osama bin Laden gave the President’s claims the brief appearance of truth.
In actual fact, Islamic extremism was in the process of morphing into a far more serious threat. The Al Qaeda terrorist organization that carried out the 9-11 attacks against New York and Washington was in the process of re-organizing to support a new strategy built around small scale “lone wolf” assaults, while in eastern Syria the ISIL offshoot was preparing a quasi-conventional ground offensive intended to expand its territorial control deep into Iraq.
The Obama Administration maintains that the US intelligence community dropped the ball and failed to properly assess the momentarily quiescent but growing threats; the intelligence community maintains the Administration ignored their warnings for political purposes. Regardless of the actual truth, it was not until the ISIL – since renamed the Islamic State, or IS – stormed out of eastern Syria to rout the American trained and equipped Iraqi Army that Official Washington took public notice. Since then, the Administration’s strategy has been to contain the IS in Iraq while building up regional capabilities to deal with the threat. The long-term objective is to provide local forces with the wherewithal to grind the IS down to the point where it becomes a police and intelligence problem rather than a military threat.
Although the strategy is sound, in so far as it goes, it fails to take into account the long-term strategies of either Al Qaeda or the IS. Their shared goal is to shatter European societies by fomenting an Islamic insurrection throughout the Continent – and, to the extent possible, to distract the United States by staging or encouraging terrorist attacks on the American homeland.
Central to the IS/Al Qaeda strategies is a social phenomenon that arose with the Internet. In past generations, spies, saboteurs, and terrorists had to be carefully identified, recruited, nurtured and trained by professionals. But the Internet has changed all that. The current generation of spies, saboteurs and terrorists are most often self-selected and self-directed. All an intelligence service or terrorist organization need do is provide encouragement and basic instruction on the Internet, and make training facilities available for the “walk-ins” who appear at their installations or camps. After that, they can create their own support networks and obtain weapons and explosives without further assistance.
Although Al Qaeda is reportedly is still committed to staging spectacular attacks when practical, self-selected/self-directed Islamic terrorists with minimal training now pose the greatest threat to Europe and – probably – the United States as well.
WHEN ELITES FAIL
Elites are a self-defined statistical phenomenon. They are the few that rule the many – and they conform, more or less closely, to Pareto’s 80/20 Rule.
The best way to understand the phenomenon of elites is to imagine a typical high school with 1000 students. Of these 1000 students, approximately 500 will be male. And of these 500 young men, about 20 percent will have the skills and attributes required to play high school football. Of these 100, about 20 percent will have the skills and attributes required to play college ball, and about 20 percent of these will have the skills and attributes required to play in the NFL. Of these 4, about 20 percent will have the skills and attributes required to be NFL superstars. It is this 8/10ths of one percent that make up the football elite.
The same pattern repeats itself in every field of human endeavor, including political leadership. Barring the occasional fluke of history, those who rise to the top of their political systems are the best of the best. But they remain human, and for that reason they are prone to folly. They blunder at fair intervals, and when they do the consequences are often severe.
The present European Elite is no exception. It arose from the ashes of World War Two, deeply committed to preventing another such tragedy. Their unstated motto was “Never again.”
Their goal was to weave the world together in such a way that war would become impossible. The United Nations would provide a global political framework; regional free trade would lead to Europe’s economic and financial integration; prosperity would undercut the appeal of nationalism; and essentially unrestricted immigration from the Third World would change the tribal nature of European societies. The day would come when the French, the Germans and others would come to see themselves as Europeans first – and then, eventually, as citizens of the world. Across the Channel and the Atlantic, the victorious Anglo-American Elite adopted parallel policies – the Brits, by partially integrating with Europe and by deliberately changing the color and composition of their society through massive and sustained Third World immigration; the Americans, by doing the same while forging a de facto North American Super State through free trade with Mexico and Canada.
But as the Paris Massacre has forcefully revealed, the post-war dream of peace through economic integration hasn’t worked. Based on the false premise that humanity’s economic instincts would inevitably prevail over cultural, religious, nationalist, ethnic and tribal conflicts, “Diversity” and “Multiculturalism” have created new problems without resolving the old, and massive and essentially unrestricted immigration – especially Muslim immigration – has created dangerous Fifth Columns in both Europe and North America.
Thus the question, what next?
When elites in formally democratic societies fail, one of three things happens: they recognize their failure and change course, thereby preserving their power and prestige; they recognize their failure, but publicly deny it and try to muddle through with a minor tweak here and another there, losing prestige but preserving their power; or they recognize their failure but, for whatever reason, refuse to either acknowledge or act upon it. In the first case, names and faces change, but the Elite remains; in the second, the crisis is pushed down the road and the Elite retains a tentative grip on power; and in the third, it is swept away by revolution – peaceful, or otherwise.
The Western Elites –including the British and the American – thus face a dilemma. Their policy of Global Integration has failed miserably, but they have invested so much political and ideological capital that they cannot publicly admit it. The most likely outcome, then, is that the Western Elites will cling to their failed policies, reassuring their publics that a bit more security will solve the problem. It won’t, and for that reason they’ll eventually be swept away by the grassroots rebels of the National Front, the UKIP and other similar parties elsewhere.
THE RELIGION OF PEACE
The Australian government’s move to tighten anti-terrorist legislation in response to the Sydney hostage siege last September has provoked outraged protests from Muslim clerics, who maintain the proposed ban on incitement to violence violates their religious rights. According to Grand Mufti of Australia Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, and the National Imams Council, the proposal to criminalize “advocating terrorism” will expose Muslim clergy to arrest and prosecution for merely citing the Quran. Apparently, they are especially concerned about three passages from their scriptures:
Quran (2:191:193) And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from wherever they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief, or rejection of Islam) is worse than killing…
Quran (8:12) I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them...
Quran (9:5) So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them…
The problem is the Quran not only sanctions violence under specified circumstances, but commands the faithful to engage in bloodshed. To criminalize terrorism is therefore to criminalize the Quran, and the practice of Islam.
Because Islam asserts the Quran is literally the word of God, prescriptions found therein supersede the laws of man – and for that reason, it necessarily follows that Muslims are exempt from worldly laws contrary to their faith. Simply put, they believe that God has granted them a special license to kill infidels, apostates, pagans, Christians, Jews and – indeed – other Muslims who violate their interpretation of Islam.
BUT THEY’RE NOT ALL CRAZY
As Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi recently demonstrated, some Muslims realize the Islamic World is tearing itself apart. Speaking to a clerical audience at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University – the world’s most influential center of Muslim thought – Sissi told the visibly shocked scholars that the Islamic World was in need of a “religious revolution.” And like many Western experts, Sissi attributed that less to the Quran – which can be rationalized, like the Bible – than to the body of literalist interpretations and laws that have grown up around it over the past 14 centuries.
Placing the blame for the Islam’s chaotic violence squarely on accepted dogma, Sissi called for a complete rethinking of “that corpus of texts and ideas we have [enshrined] over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible…
“I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution [because our Islamic World] is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost – and it is being lost by our own hands.”
WHAT DO MUSLIMS REALLY BELIEVE?
There are two major branches, dozens of sects, and more than a billion Muslims. Figuring out what they really believe is tough...
Measuring What Muslims Really Believe
THE MUSLIM DEBATE
Mounting Islamic terrorism has forced Muslims to take a hard look at themselves, and their faith. Many don't like what they see...
Violence Fuels a Muslim Debate
RULE BY DECREE
On Thursday, November 20th, President Barack Obama carried out his threat to impose by executive order a limited amnesty for approximately 5,000,000 illegal aliens. But given the fact that the White House has ordered the purchase of more than 30,000,000 blank identification documents for presently illegal immigrants, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that his initial, limited amnesty is intended to set the stage for a much larger one downstream.
The President's decision ignited immediate controversy among legal scholars, who are divided as to whether the president has the authority to impose de facto legislation, and on Capitol Hill, where the recently victorious Republicans cried foul but nonetheless adjourned without taking action to block the amnesty.
At the heart of the controversy are two contentious questions, one concerning the extent of "Prosecutorial Discretion" and the other concerning the nature of executive orders.
Prosecutorial Discretion is an ancient doctrine deeply rooted in the Anglo-Saxon legal tradition. Reduced to bare essentials, it asserts that the sovereign may exercise discretion in the prosecution of crimes. The point is practical: if, for example, 1000 people engage in riot, it makes more sense to prosecute the ringleaders than the rank and file rioters. But the practice invites abuse through selective prosecutions: if, for example, two individuals commit the same crime, and the one who is a friend of the king is not prosecuted, while the other, who is not a friend, is prosecuted, that would be selective prosecution - an unjust abuse of power, and a hallmark of tyranny.
By extending a sweeping version of Prosecutorial Discretion to millions of illegal aliens through his executive-ordered amnesty, the President has arguably overturned existing law and usurped the law-making function of the Congress.
The other issue is the proper role and extent of Executive Orders within the Constitutional system. Executive orders have long been understood as presidential directives crafted to instruct federal officials and workers as to how they are expected to implement existing laws. As such, executive orders carry the force of laws, but are not, in themselves, laws. President Obama's executive-ordered amnesty goes far beyond any traditional understanding of executive orders and, again, seems intended to usurp the law-making prerogatives of Congress.
According to Mr. Obama, his action was made necessary - and justified - by the failure of the Congress to pass immigration reform legislation. But that argument is disingenuous at best: the illegal immigrant crisis didn't just happen - it was willfully and deliberately created by successive administrations which refused to secure the border and enforce existing immigration laws. And while Obama is the most recent offender, he is arguably not the worst: his predecessor, George W. Bush, opposed almost every effort to secure the border and stem the tide of illegal immigration and, indeed, threatened to veto a $40 billion homeland security bill because it contained too much money for border security.
The unfortunate truth is the illegal immigration/border security crisis was deliberately manufactured in response to intense pressure from the Financial Elite. That Elite abandoned the concept of the nation-state in the 1930's, and has pressed for a new form of global organization ever since. Their goal is to establish a world-wide "Free Trade Regime" in which nation-states are reduced to administrative units and capital, goods, and - inevitably - labor are permitted to cross borders without hindrance, in response to supply and demand.
The fact that the American people are strongly opposed to the Elite's policy of open and undefended borders is of no matter; they abandoned democracy along with the nation-state back in the 1930's. As David Rockefeller is alleged to have once said, "Dictators are easier to work with."
Whether the Republicans will rein in President Obama after they assume control of both houses of Congress in January remains to be seen. But there are hopeful signs abroad: British political developments tend to precede those in the United States by five years or so, and in that country a political revolution led by the upstart United Kingdom Independence Party is well-underway. Once on the fringe of British politics and geographically confined to London and its immediate vicinity, the anti-Establishment UKIP has recently emerged as a truly national party in Britain. The UKIP candidate for the European Parliament easily won a national election, polls indicate that working class Brits believe the UKIP best represents their interests, and the two Conservative MPs who bolted for the UKIP have won resounding re-election victories. Their success is expected to encourage others.
The UKIP describes itself as "democratic libertarian," and its party platform might be described as "small government conservative." Its policy prescriptions are strikingly similar to the Tea Party Movement here in the United States, especially with regard to immigration, legal or otherwise. Given Britain's "leading edge" role in American politics, the UKIP's publicly stated belief in "Britain for the British" may soon find expression here as "America for Americans."
THE OTHER INVASION
Americans were told for decades that massive, sustained, and essentially uncontrolled immigration was essential for the economy. Immigrants - legal or otherwise - were willing to take jobs native-born Americans scorned. Without them, we were told, there would be no one to pick fruit and lettuce, or perform other physically difficult jobs.
But that claim was untrue, and deliberately designed to obscure two basic realities. The first is that welfare benefits have become so generous that public assistance pays better than many menial jobs - anyone skilled at gaming the system can easily collect the equivalent of $40,000 in cash payments, food stamps, housing subsidies and other government services. The other falsehood is the availability of labor: while it may be true that few native-born Americans would have picked fruit and lettuce at the prevailing wage, basic economics tells us that an increase in remuneration would produce an increase in available labor. The simple truth is that advocates of endless immigration were lying to protect government programs and private sector profits.
Since the Great Recession began in 2007, claims of economic necessity have subsided, but the damage is already done - we now face a new invasion, which will displace the 11,000,000- 30,000,000 illegal immigrants picking fruit and lettuce, washing dishes, waiting tables, and so on and so forth. Only this time they are not coming across the border illegally, but will soon be lawfully imported from Japan.
Faced with a demographic implosion but unwilling to alter the nature of the Japanese "Family State" by importing immigrants, Japan has invested prodigiously in developing life-like robots capable of performing complex tasks now largely performed in the United States by illegal immigrants - picking fruit and lettuce, flipping burgers, waiting tables, washing cars, etc.
Described as "chillingly life-like," the latest generation of humanoid robots have taken Japan by storm. At the Tokyo Designers' Week show, a "female" android named Asuna stunned the audience with "her" realistic skin, voice, eye movements and facial expressions. One male member of the audience was quoted as saying - presumably in jest - that she would make a "good date."
For the moment, androids like Asuna have not been equipped with the advanced artificial intelligence (AI) required for face and voice recognition, or the learning of complex tasks which would permit them to autonomously interact with humans, but the follow-on generation already rolling off the assembly lines are. They are so sophisticated - and convincing - that Japanese film producers intend to substitute them for actors. Looking downstream, Japanese android manufacturers are planning to sell exact imitations of deceased family members to the bereaved, and "life partners" to the lonely. Obviously, an android capable of playing Hamlet can pick lettuce, flip burgers, wash dishes and wait tables as well. Manufacturers also believe they will make ideal receptionists, maids and janitors, as well as providing lawn, pool and dog-walking services, elder care, and - perhaps eventually - child care as well.
As with human wage-workers, the issue with androids is cost. Although presently too expensive for most applications, the per unit price is dropping fast. This is critically important, and should be a central part of the amnesty debate: within a matter of years, most of the estimated 11,000,000-30,000,000 illegal aliens in the United States will be rendered unemployed and unemployable. That's once again good news for businesses seeking cheap labor and for Progressives who seek to increase the size and scale of the welfare state - but it's decidedly bad news for the American tax payers who will have to pick up their tab.
MICHELLE OBAMA, NUTRITION, AND NATIONAL SECURITY
One has to hand it to the First Lady: Michelle Obama is relentless in her quest to improve American nutrition.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was passed by Congress as a direct result of her intense lobbying campaign for healthier school lunches. Under heavy financial pressure, many school districts had resorted to installing soda machines in the lunchrooms and hallways and vending machines that offered high-profit junk food.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Acts effectively banished carbonated beverages and junk food from school grounds, and imposed new nutritional guidelines for school lunches. Unfortunately, this well-intended effort has been a fiasco - for while it has dramatically improved the nutritional content of school lunches, it has been met with scorn by the students who were intended to benefit from it. More than a million have are said to have resorted to "brown bagging" lunch, and a brisk black market in contraband treats has replaced the former vending machines. Others students have resorted to sarcasm, by posting unflattering comments about the First Lady at #thanksmichelleobama, and posting pictures of lunches that could only appeal to fanatical vegetarians. Others have posted pictures of overflowing school dumpsters, loaded with food that students refused to eat.
On the face of it, Mrs. Obama's crusade for better nutrition seems akin to other Statist efforts to use the force of law to compel changes in public behavior. Much as John Calvin believed his religious dictatorship in Geneva could "force men to be free," Michelle Obama seems to believe she can force America's kids to be healthy.
The effort is failing, and badly, but there is a serious underlying issue that will have to be addressed sooner or later: as of today, a quarter of young Americans are obese, and a shocking 70 per cent cannot meet the minimum physical standards required by the armed forces. After other types of disqualifications, such as drug use or criminal histories, that means the military's recruiting pool has shrunk dangerously low. In a crisis, a full-scale military mobilization might prove impossible.
Britain faced a similar situation during the second Boer War, when they were unable to raise an army due to the poor physical condition of potential recruits, caused by inadequate diet, contaminated drinking water and the debilitating effects industrial contaminants. In response to the problem, the British government launched a massive public works program to provide potable water and remove sewage from urban centers, and to improve the quantity and quality of foodstuffs available to the poor. The effort paid off, and likely saved Britain: when World War I broke out 12 years later, public health had improved to such an extent that the United Kingdom was able to field a massive conscript army.
The problem faced by American military planners today is similar, but differs in critical respects: external factors over which they had no control had undermined the health of British youth during the Boer War, but the ill-health of American youth today is due almost entirely to life-style choices. The question, then, is how to alter those choices.
Statist coercion has failed, but there are alternatives. One tried and true possibility would be to levy a "sin tax" on junk food, similar to the taxes applied to alcohol and tobacco. Another would be to take a leaf out of President Kennedy's playbook, and place a renewed emphasis on physical education - which schools have downplayed or abandoned altogether in recent years. A more expansive version of this would be to combine health instruction - including nutrition - with gym, extend the combined class by at least a half- hour, and make it daily.
Although the military recruitment problem is not yet critical, the trend line is alarming. The day of reckoning is fast approaching, and for that reason the Administration should make physical fitness - rather than unpalatable school lunches - a national priority.
Just hours after rioting broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, telephone and computer networks went on the fritz in Washington, DC, and beyond. Starting around 1:00 am on Tuesday, November 25th, internet subscribers began experiencing problems that, apparently, extended as far as Texas. Although the federal government has not confirmed suspicions that the communications grid was hacked, the available evidence suggests that a hostile state or entity mounted a probing attack while the Department of Homeland Security’s attention was - presumably - focused on the developing riot.
If true, the apparent attack matters for two reasons. First, it demonstrates that hostile states and/or entities were attempting to determine to what extent, if any, domestic disturbances degraded America’s cyber defenses. And second, it underscored the extraordinary vulnerability of American society to computerized attacks – a fact that is causing mounting concern within the U.S. defense and intelligence establishments.
Although traditional weapons retain their importance, many in the national security apparatus believe the future of warfare is to be found in “switch flipping,” i.e., shutting down the enemy’s electrical and communications grids by remote. Until recently, cyber attacks were disruptive but fairly easy to manage. But a new generation of computer viruses designed to cause power and communications networks to malfunction in such a way that produces lasting physical damage to their electrical, electronic, and mechanical components could inflict lasting and catastrophic damage. Indeed, the threat is so great that Admiral Michael Rogers, who heads both the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command, has warned Congress that such an attack could shut down utilities, communications, fuel and water delivery, air transport, banking, and other industries reliant upon computers. With the flip of a switch, the United States could be thrust back to the 1870’s.
THE LONELIEST MAN IN THE WORLD
An insightful essay from commentator Peggy Noonan:
The Loneliest President Since Nixon
GERMANY: SITUATION "CRITICAL"
According to the Interior Minister, Radical Islam poses a "critical" threat to Germany. The number of people capable of staging terrorist attacks within that country is at an all time high.
So much for "Multiculturalism"...
For more on this important story, please clcik on the link below:
RED ALERT IN DEUTSCHLAND
AMNESTY: THE PRESIDENT'S SECRET PLAN
Throughout the summer, President Obama proclaimed his intention to use his claimed executive authority to impose a de facto amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. But after his poll numbers tanked yet again, he fell strangely silent.
But unlike his many other unfulfilled promises, Obama apparently intends to carry out his promise of a White House imposed amnesty. According to Breitbart news, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a draft solicitation for bids on printing between 4,000,000 and 9,000,000 ID cards in Fiscal Year 2016, and a multi year total of as many as 34,000,000. The agency is already purchasing materials for Permanent Residency Cards (Green Cards) and Employment Authorization Documentation cards.
According to Jessica Vaughn, an immigration policy expert with the Center for Immigration Studies and a former State Department official quoted by Breitbart, President Obama is apparently intent on imposing by executive action an amnesty "even more extensive than the plan Congress rejected in the 'Gang of Eight' immigration bill.
Aside from the fact that the President's intended action is extra-Constitutional and probably illegal, the number of identification cards the USCIS is contemplating seems to confirm the Center for Intelligence Studies estimate of the number of illegal immigrants residing in the United States. The Federal Government has long claimed that they number no more than 11,000,000, but the CFIS has calculated the number as being as high as 30,000,000.
Unfortunately, due to federal indifference and incompetence, no one has the slightest idea of who they are, where they are, or what their intentions may be. That lack of knowledge alone constitutes a major threat to the national security.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATIONAL SECURITY
Global warming has been long since discredited - temperature averages have remained unchanged for almost 18 years, and there are no indications that the upward trend that began in the late 19th Century will resume. But climate change in general is an increasingly serious threat.
The Earth's climate has apparently cycled through freeze and thawing throughout recorded history, and likely since it first developed an atmosphere. These cycles are closely associated with mass migrations, such as the one that appears to have devastated Mediterranean civilization around 1000 BC, and the mass migrations that seem to have begun around 200 AD which, eventually, doomed the Western Roman Empire.
A more beneficial climate change began around 800 AD, and produced the Mediaeval Warm Period, which lasted about 500 years. The Warm Period ended with The Little Ice Age, which began imperceptibly about AD 1275 and abruptly intensified around 1430. Periods of warming are associated with peace, progress and population increases; periods of cooling - which seem more abrupt - are associated with famines, mass migrations, wars and plagues.
There are two problems with climate change. One is it's unpredictability - although the freeze-thaw cycles appear to run 500-700 years, they tend to change from one to the other abruptly and without warning. The second is its devastating impact on day to day life and, especially, agriculture. Food production booms or busts in response to sudden climate shifts, and when it busts, all hell breaks loose. Hungry people are desperate people - they typically migrate in huge numbers, and are quick to resort to force when blocked.
Although the problem has long been understood by historians, the Pentagon has only now taken note: in early October, the Department of Defense released a report that identified climate change as an immediate threat to national security. Changing weather patterns - presumably a subset of climate change - such as the ongoing drought in sub-Saharan Africa or the episodic dry spells effecting the western coasts of South and Central America, will diminish food supplies, intensify the migrations already in progress, and increase the risk posed by terrorism and infectious diseases.
It may also impact on force structures and force deployments. Here the fabled Northwest Passage - which links the North Atlantic to the North Pacific - is a case in point: if it opens to large-scale maritime traffic, it will cut the time and cost of moving goods between Europe and Asia by about half, and render the Suez Canal obsolete. It will also open an estimated 30 per cent of the world's total oil and gas reserves to commercial exploitation.
Although discovered in the 1600s, the first successful commercial transit of the Northwest Passage was not made until 1969. Since then, the number of commercial vessels making the passage has slowly increased, due the diminished number of icebergs there. At present, about 30 commercial ships transit the waterway each year and the numbers are expected to grow. If they do, the U.S. and Canadian navies will have to police it - and deny Russia control over it - which will require new, specialty warships and new naval and air bases in the far north.
Editor's Note: The current generation of warships are not built to withstand extended Arctic deployments. To prevent their hulls from cracking, ships designed for long-term Arctic use require purpose-built hulls made from specialty steels.
AN ARMY AT RISK
Three years after President Obama withdrew the last U.S. combat troops from Iraq, the United States has reentered the war. And while Obama claims there will be no American boots on the ground, well-sourced rumors in Washington say that as many as 3000 US troops are already "in country" as advisers, intelligence analysts, and forward air controllers. Most analysts believe the American presence will increase substantially.
This is a problem, especially for the U.S. Army. According to the Pentagon, the Army will be placed at risk when the next round of mandatory budget cuts go into effect during Fiscal Year 2016, which begins next September 30. Already starved for funds, the Army is facing huge risks as it downsizes from 490,000 troops to 450,000, while trying to maintain combat readiness, repair aging equipment, and purchase new hardware.
A large part of the problem is attributable to the 2013 bi-partisan budget deal that imposed across-the-board cuts on the U.S. Government as a whole. All of the armed services suffered severely, but the Army - as the largest service - took the biggest hit.
The problem has been compounded by the fact that the Army is faced by a procurement conundrum. Its major weapons-systems were designed in the mid-to-late 1970s, deployed in the 1980s, and subjected to extraordinary wear and tear in the 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan - and although they are badly in need of replacement by new and better systems, the technology for the replacement arms is not quite mature. Under normal circumstances, the Army would deploy them now, and fix and/or upgrade them as they go, but the current budget won't permit that approach. As a result, they are forced to repair, overhaul and rebuild what they have at an ever increasing cost per unit.
This bodes ill for the rejoined conflict in Iraq: if the United States is forced to commit ground forces on a large scale, they will be stretched to the breaking point and required to fight with old weapons-systems that will be, presumably, less reliable due to the number of times they have been overhauled, rebuilt, and repaired. In terms of illustration, the U.S. Army entered World War II with 24-year-old leftovers from World War I. If it has to renter Iraq on a large scale, many of its weapons will be ten or more years older than those.
BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA,
ISLAM, AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER
Barack Hussein Obama has a curious history. Despite longstanding claims to the contrary, documentary evidence indicates he was born into a multiracial, multinational family in Hawaii on August 4, 1961. His mother was a student at the University of Hawaii, his father a Kenyan-born foreign exchange student at the same institution.
Although information on his early life remains sketchy, the basic dates and facts are nonetheless clear: his parents separated shortly after he was born; he and his mother moved to Washington state where they lived during 1961-1962; they returned to Hawaii in 1963 so his mother could continue work on an anthropology degree; his parents divorced in 1964, and his mother married an Indonesian citizen in 1965; and after she completed her undergraduate degree in 1967, she moved to Indonesia to reunite with her husband, and took young Barack with her. There the future president attended an Indonesian-language Catholic elementary school for 2 1/2 years before being enrolled in a government-run Indonesian language school, returning to Hawaii in 1971 to enroll in a prestigious private school. During her sojourn in Indonesia, his mother was an assistant director for the U.S. government-subsidized Indonesia-America Friendship Institute, and later an English-language teacher at the Institute of Management and Education.
After returning to the United States, Obama graduated from high school in 1979; studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years before transferring to Columbia, where he took a BA in political science with an emphasis on international relations; and worked as a community organizer for five years before enrolling in Harvard Law School, from which he graduated magna cum laude. Curiously, none of his former classmates from Occidental or Columbia seem to remember him; and despite having been editor of the Harvard Law Review, he apparently published nothing at all. It seems as though he was a ghost during his college and graduate years; or as more suspicious minds might suggest, either a spook or the son of one.
The suspicion is not preposterous. Despite the CIA's calculated effort to promote its public image as a secretive organization engaged in dark and exotic espionage operations against Americas' enemies abroad, during the 1950s and 1960s the Agency was deeply engaged in political influence operations throughout the Third World - including Indonesia - and was a major source of funding for organizations like the ones the President's mother worked for. During that time-frame, credentialed and well-traveled anthropologists such as she were secretly recruited as contract agents on a routine basis. Given the times and the circumstances, then, it is entirely plausible to suppose she was involved with the Agency to one extent or another. Indeed, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who has a long history of breaking intelligence-related stories, has implied as much.
If it is true that President Obama's mother was a contract agent for the CIA, or even had a less formal relationship with that Agency, it would explain a great deal about Obama's domestic and foreign policies - and especially, his policies toward Muslims. Although nominally a Christian, Obama has given little public indication of faith and has routinely overlooked appalling and ongoing atrocities against his purported brethren in the Middle East. But he has publicly proclaimed solidarity with Muslims, and frequently waxed eloquent on the virtues of Islam - including, lately, genuinely bizarre claims as to Islam's historic contributions to America (of which there are none).
Some critics have been quick to say that Obama's public affinity for Islam reflects the fact that he is a secret Muslim, a claim bolstered by Egyptian newspaper reports that Obama is, in fact, a devout Muslim, hiding his true faith of political necessity. But a far more likely explanation is the President has simply bought into the notion of "Remaking the Third World" in preface to integrating these countries into a new and better international system, aka, the New World Order. Whether official policy or not, this notion was widely held by CIA officers during the 1950s and 1960s, and his mother would surely have been aware of that. President Obama may have acquired this belief from her, or from her friends and acquaintances in Indonesia. Given the times and the circumstances, at least some of them would surely have been contract agents.
Having pried Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union's grip, and successfully brought most of Latin America, Africa and Asia into the emerging international system, American policymakers in Washington believe the major task remaining is to bring the Muslim lands of the Middle East into the fold. Given his unusual background, and his experience of Islam while living in Indonesia, President Obama may feel a personal commitment to this effort, and believe that he is uniquely suited to carry it out.
Editors Note: Contrary to the claims of Left wing critics, the CIA - as an organization - has always been decidedly left of center.
IRANIAN INTELLIGENCE: GOING (SEMI) PUBLIC
The first thing an intelligence service wants to know about an opposition service is its Table of Organization, ie., how the target service is structured. The second thing it wants to know is the target's Order of Battle, i.e., which officers and support personnel are assigned where.
Naturally, intelligence services don't like to divulge either. But over time, the knowledge of how they are structured eventually seeps out. At that point, the game changes and some public acknowledgement of structure is publicly admitted. But specific details are still guarded, special sections are hidden in other parts of the bureaucracy, and personnel assignments are jealously protected.
It seems the Iranian intelligence apparatus has reached that point: in October, Iran disclosed that Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi heads a coordination council that oversees the operations of 16 intelligence services which - supposedly - constitute the Iranian Intelligence community. The announcement was published in a magazine produced by the Intelligence Ministry on the 30th anniversary of its creation, when several legacy services inherited from the deposed Shah were consolidated and brought under a unified command.
Why the Iranians chose to make this information public at this time is unclear, but it seems a part of a larger trend toward greater openness that began several years ago. Indeed, Iranian intelligence went so far as to publish a special contact number after a public appeal for greater citizen assistance.
One plausible theory is that Iranian intelligence is having trouble attracting new recruits, and decided to increase its visibility in order to encourage greater public awareness of the career prospects it offers. If so, that would not be especially surprising: intelligence services are having problems attracting new recruits in the U.S. and Russia, and presumably the rest of the world as well.
For their part, the Russians have just rolled out a new cloak and dagger TV series based loosely on Edward Snowden's defection to Moscow, quietly sponsored by the KGB to boost enlistments. Presumably, the U.S. intelligence community has a successor to the phenomenally successful Homeland in the works, as well.
There was a time when aspiring spooks were "spotted" by professors at select universities. But these days, it's all - well, mostly - a matter of Show Biz...
On July 1, 2014, the one-time Army machinist and atomic spy David Greenglass died with little fanfare at a retirement home in New York. The brother-in-law of Julius Rosenberg and brother of Ethel Rosenberg, Greenglass provided damning testimony against his sister in her 1951 trial in the Southern District Court of New York. As a result of his testimony, she was sentenced to death for her part in providing the Soviet Union with the atomic bomb secrets.
The evidence against Julius was sufficient for conviction, but the evidence against Ethyl was both slight and questionable until Greenglass testified that she had typed up information purloined from the atomic bomb project. Greenglass later claimed his testimony was coerced, and that he fabricated most of it in exchange for the promise of a reduced sentence, and freedom for his wife.
Although that was apparently the case, the alleged coercion did not come from the FBI. According to Raymond W. Wannall, former Assistant Director for National Security, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover did not want Ethel Rosenberg to receive the death penalty, fearing both a miscarriage of justice and the prospect that she would become a Communist martyr. Instead, the arm twisting appears to have resulted from secret collusion between federal prosecutor Irving Saypol, Judge Irving Kauffman, and The New York Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger. All three were Jewish, and reportedly deeply concerned that the Rosenbergs' treason would spark a wave of anti-Semitism in the United States. The obvious solution was to have a Jewish prosecutor demand the maximum penalty for both the traitors, a Jewish judge to levy the sentence, and a Jewish-controlled newspaper to back them up. Although there is no documentary evidence that proves Saypol conspired with Judge Kauffman, the Judge is known to have secretly and improperly solicited Sulzberger for The New York Times editorial support, prior to passing sentence. Sulzberger agreed.
Aside from the fact that Judge Kauffman's actions were grossly improper - and probably illegal - there was another downside to the arm twisting and the behind-the-scenes collusion that condemned Ethel Rosenberg: specifically, the fact that Greenglass was never properly debriefed. At the time, the FBI believed he was a minor figure in the Rosenberg spy ring, but subsequent evidence suggests that he may have been the key player. If so, a wealth of information was lost to U.S. analysts - information that might have made American counterespionage and counterintelligence far more effective during the 1950s.
After his release from prison, Greenglass claimed his memory was faulty, and that he was unsure who had done what in the Rosenberg ring. Maybe so, but in light of later evidence it seems more likely that he was covering his tracks. But the Soviet threat has vanished, Greenglass is dead, and his soul - presumably - has moved on to Dante's First Circle. He won't be missed.
NAPOLEON, OBAMA AND THE EBOLA CRISIS
After spending weeks reassuring the American people that that Ebola posed only a slight risk to the United States, President Obama was forced to appoint former White House staff member Ron Klain as his "Ebola Czar." This followed three confirmed cases of the disease in the continental United States and the possible infection of at least 800 other individuals, due to the medical negligence of Texas health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where the first confirmed case was recorded, and subsequent bungling by the U.S. Center for Disease Control, located in Atlanta.
The incoherent federal response to the Ebola threat was due in part to President Obama's obsessive commitment to Globalist ideology, and the open borders policy that sustains it, and in part to the incompetence and negligence of lesser officials. But there's a deeper problem in play, rooted in the very structure of American government.
Napoleon once observed that he could provide effective supervision for five generals under ordinary circumstance, but only three in the heat of battle. This led him to develop the concept of "span of control," which became the basic organizational principle of his army. It has since spread to every fighting force in the world, which are now organized on the principle of "three plus one commander," "four plus one commander," or - rarely - "five plus one commander."
The same problem that confronted Napoleon is found in other organizations as well, including civilian government. In the United States, the President presides over 17 cabinet secretaries and 6 (sometimes 7) cabinet-level agency chiefs - a total number which is far exceeds Napoleon's "span of control."
This begs the obvious question: if an undisputed organizational genius such as Napoleon couldn't effectively manage the United States Government, as presently structured, how can one expect a President of far lesser ability to do so? The equally obvious answer is that one cannot. It's simply impossible.
This was not a significant problem when the federal government was content to defend the borders and deliver the mail. But it has become increasingly acute as the size and responsibilities of government have grown. The ad hoc solution that emerged in the 1970s was the appointment of so-called "Tsars," i.e., presidential assistants charged with coordinating cross-cabinet responses to specific challenges. Hence, the Drug Tsar, the Energy Tsar, and now the Ebola Tsar.
The "Tsar Solution" has worked reasonably well as an organizational adaptation, because it is more or less consistent with modern management theory - which has abandoned traditional hierarchies in favor of new, radically decentralized ("flat") organizations in which decisions are no longer made at the top and passed down, but are made at some relevant point in the new organizational structure and passed along laterally. Management theorists call this the "Starfish Model," and businesses which have adopted it have proved more agile, adaptive and profitable than those that have clung to the traditional top-down, hierarchical decision-making scheme.
Still, there are problems. First, the "Tsar Solution" is extra-constitutional, and for that reason is bound to be eventually challenged by the Congress or in the courts. And second, it is a stop-gap solution to a much deeper problem - specifically, the ever-increasing size, cost and incapacity of modern government to perform its most basic tasks.
As James Rickards has pointed out, government - like every other human endeavor - is subject to the Law of Diminishing Returns, and by any reasonable measure we are on the negative side of the investment curve. Simply put, the more we spend on government the less we will get in return.
In Rickards' view, modern government has become a losing proposition. It is a burden rather than a boon, and unless we move promptly to downsize and de-scale, it will collapse under its own weight. But that would require a revolution in public beliefs and perceptions, and a willingness to admit that government, qua government, simply cannot provide the things that politicians have promised - a development that is, in our opinion, unlikely at best until the "Me Generation" of Baby Boomers passes from the scene.
Editors Note: The editors of Intelligence Briefs strongly urge the public to read Rickards' two recent books, Currency Wars and The Death of Money. Both provide excellent background on the coming crisis of government.
THE ISLAMIC STATE:
STRATEGIC BLUNDERS OF MONUMENTAL PROPORTIONS
As of this writing, the Islamic State (IS) is the most threatening of the many Islamic terrorist groups that confront the United States and its allies. But because of two catastrophic blunders, its long-term prospects are bleak.
Its first mistake was to declare itself a “Caliphate.” A caliphate is a traditional form of governance in the Muslim Middle East, in which political and religious authority is combined in the person of a caliph who rules – theoretically, at least – over all Muslims. It is by definition non-national, and for that reason it is fundamentally incompatible with the system of nation-states first established in Europe by the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which subsequently spread throughout the world. Because political leaders world-wide are stakeholders in the Westphalian System, the proclamation of a caliphate was bound to provoke a harsh reaction, even among the Arab states of the Middle East. This accounts for President Obama’s relative ease in recruiting Arab partners for the aerial campaign against the IS - who are, as of the writing, carrying out the lion’s share of the sorties flown against IS targets in Syria.
The second mistake was the extraordinary brutality the IS visited on the largely Muslim population it subjugated in Iraq. Because Islam draws a sharp distinction between Infidels and the Faithful, it’s one thing to behead Christians and Jews and quite another to slaughter fellow Muslims: Islamic State fighters have executed thousands of Iraqi military prisoners; raped and crucified countless women and young girls; buried old men and young boys alive; and gleefully recorded their atrocities for the Internet. No surprise, then, that a wave of revulsion has swept over the Islamic World. In the end, the IS and other Islamic terrorist organizations will die from this self-inflicted wound.
Victory in the War on Terror depends on Muslims looking inward, and asking themselves if this is who and what they wish to be, and if this is the Islam they wish to follow. The IS has held a mirror up before the Islamic World, and the greatest majority of Muslims have turned away in disgust.
As a result of the Islamic State’s barbarism, an Islamic reformation of sorts has begun – very different from the Protestant Reformation in Europe five centuries ago, but potentially just as consequential.
THE ROCKEFELLERS SEND A MESSAGE
John D. Rockefeller made most of his vast fortune in oil. A century later, his descendents are abandoning the industry he helped create: on September 22nd, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund - an $860,000,000 philanthropic organization - announced it was divesting from fossil fuels. This follows 180 other charitable and religious organizations, pension funds and local governments that have also abandoned conventional energies, and at first glance seems to be part of a much larger movement. But it given the prominence of the Rockefeller Family, it can also be seen as a signal.
Much as then-Princess Elizabeth's 1947 speech to the British Commonwealth legitimized the post-war Civil Rights Movement by tacitly endorsing racial and religious equality, the Rockefeller announcement can be seen as signaling the end of the Fossil Fuel Era and the beginning of a new era of alternative energies. Certainly, the timing is auspicious.
Here cell phones are instructive: in the early 1980s a consulting firm hired by AT&T disregarded the march of technology and concluded that portable, hand held phones were too bulky, too expensive to buy and operate, too limited in range and too limited by battery capacity to catch on. They estimated that the total market for cell phones world-wide wouldn't exceed 900,000 units, and for that reason they advised AT&T to abandon the market. But they were wrong - today, several billion are currently in operation, and all but the poorest of the world's poor can afford one.
Much the same criticism has been leveled against solar power, which after almost 30 years provides only about 1 per cent of the world's electrical power. But the amount of solar power harvested has been doubling every two years for the past three decades, which means that within 14 years solar power can provide for 100 per cent of the planet's electricity needs with existing technology. And much like cell phones, solar technology has advanced at an incredible rate even as the cost per unit dropped. The cost of solar panels has declined by 75 per cent in the past five years, and price keeps dropping. By 2020, solar power will be "grid competitive" and by 2030 it will cost a fraction of conventional electricity. Importantly, the technologies for other alternative energies are advancing in a similar manner: the cost of wind, tidal, bio-mass, thermal and waste breakdown energies is dropping almost as fast as solar.
The combined impact of these new energy generating systems is revolutionary. Within 15 years or so, the cost of electricity will be measured in terms of the initial outlay for generating system alone; monthly meter charges will go the way of the horse and buggy. Utility companies will go slowly bankrupt and "the grid," as it is called, will become a distant memory.
The political implications are equally profound. Since rise of large-scale industry in the late 18th century, production requirements have driven society toward an ever-greater centralization. Big factories required large labor forces; large numbers of workers gave rise to large cities; the prevalence of disease among concentrated populations required muscular city governments to provide fresh water, sewage, and trash disposal to prevent epidemics; the human propensity for crime and carelessness required centralized police and fire protection; the business cycle, which inevitably resulted in large-scale layoffs, required a welfare system to prevent starvation and riots; and eventually, a centralized electrical grid was needed to light and power factories, offices, streets and homes.
Simply put, technology gave rise to industry, and industry required ever expanding government, ever increasing taxes, and ever expanding government regulations. Within that context, labor unions made sense - and so, too, did left wing political parties to represent their interests. But technology is now in the process of reversing the direction of social change and reshaping the political landscape. The days of centralized, top-down control are fast coming to an end, and a new era of radical decentralization is just over the horizon.
As a practical matter, that means the Era of Big Government is truly over - and perhaps just in time. As historians have observed, civilizations progress through life-cycles with more or less definable stages. Why they decline remains contentious but how they decline is clear: civilizational decline is invariably associated with the rise of a centralized, parasitic government that places its own interests above those of its people. The deliberate de-industrialization of America, the export of high-paying American jobs, the progressive collapse of the American middle class, hyper-regulation and the dramatic expansion of the welfare state are all symptomatic. So too, are unsustainable levels of government debt and currency debasement - in this case, through officially denied inflation.
Few serious observers believe the United States can long continue on its present course - indeed, many are predicting a catastrophic financial collapse once the general public awakens to the fact that the US Government cannot meet its debt obligations. With the financial system in ruins, they argue that the rest of society will quickly unravel. The already emergent "Friendly Fascism" will be the only way to stem the chaos.
But rapid advances in technology - especially, in alternative energies, the new 3-D Printing process, and digitalized "private currencies" - offer a way out. They are pushing us in the direction of economic and - by extension - government decentralization, and toward a new era of individual initiative and self-reliance.
By happy coincidence, this is precisely what many experts believe is needed to stave off a comprehensive collapse.
AN UNTOLD STORY:
It is often said that demography is destiny. If that's true, the Islamic World is in deep trouble.
The post-war baby boom struck the Muslim lands late, toward the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, and it was especially pronounced in the Arab lands of North Africa and the Middle East: by 2001, almost 60 per cent of Arab population was 20-years old or under. Many were well-educated, but due to lagging economic growth rates few had jobs, or even the prospect of a job. Angry, bitter and disillusioned, they were easy pickings for al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups. If they could not live the good life, they could at least die for God in glory.
For reasons that remain unclear, most Western scholars assumed that the Islamic Baby Boom would continue unchecked. As a result, they expected a human tsunami, as Muslims multiplied unchecked. But that didn't happen - instead, Muslim birthrates are plummeting worldwide at an historically unprecedented rate.
According to a study sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, data from 49 Muslim-majority countries or territories reveal a 41 per cent decline in overall fertility rates from 1975-80 through 2005-10 - a decline 10 per cent greater than the non-Muslim population world-wide. 22 of these Muslim countries/regions experienced more than a 50 per cent decrease in fertility rates, with the greatest declines recorded in Iran, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Bangladesh, Libya, Albania, Qatar and Kuwait. In Iran, the fertility rate dropped a staggering 70 per cent!
Far from conquering the globe through population growth, the Islamic World is on the verge of contraction. Indeed, the populations of many Muslim countries now seem destined to shrink in size. The only Muslim area where fertility levels have remained high is sub-Saharan Africa.
Family planning advocates have been quick to claim credit, arguing that Islam is far more receptive to birth control and abortion than other faiths. But there are other, far more important factors at work.
One of these is the fact that unemployed young men rarely marry, due to local customs or financial reality. Another is that young married couples often find it nearly impossible to secure housing: the "wait list" for a government-owned apartment in Egypt is more than 40 years. Yet another and increasingly important factor is the "flight from marriage" that has become common among Muslim women, particularly in the Mid East.
Although Islam is routinely criticized for its treatment of women, it does provide women with several important rights - specifically, the right to work, and to keep the fruits of their labor; and the right to divorce. And local customs in many Islamic countries permit unmarried women a greater degree of freedom than their married counterparts. Muslim fathers, it seems, are a great deal more indulgent toward their daughters than Muslim husbands are toward their wives. Acting in combination, these three factors have led to a marked decline in marriage and procreation.
But underlying all is the phenomenon of "Historical Optimism," which is the single largest factor in female fertility: 1000 years of meticulously kept European statistics clearly demonstrate that when women believe the future will be better, they prefer more children to fewer; when they believe the future will be worse, they prefer fewer to more. The fact that fertility levels are plummeting all over the Islamic World is therefore a collective vote of "no confidence" in Islam's future. It signifies a crisis of faith, one of truly monumental proportions.
CUBA'S PLAYING A LONG GAME
According to a recently published FBI report, the Cuban foreign intelligence service (DGI) is actively recruiting spies and agents of influence on American college campuses, where patriotism is a rare virtue. Most academics regard a commitment to country as an atavistic impulse, to be rightly scorned; and as members of the cognoscenti, many believe it their duty to work toward a brave new world of global socialism.
Despite the fact that Cuba's Communist experiment has been a miserable failure in practice, leftist academics are apparently willing to help the DGI, as "spotters," recruiters, agents-of-influence, or actual spies. As professors they have a unique opportunity to identify and assess students for recruitment to the Cuban cause; to help the recruits obtain employment in the federal government; to support and legitimize Cuban propaganda; or - for those with defense contracts - to engage in actual espionage.
Recruiting American academics is a remarkably easy task: having spent most or all of their adult lives in the Ivory Tower, most are profoundly naive. When they meet foreign academics at international conferences, as they routinely do, they tend to accept their credentials at face value. The possibility that foreign academics might also be active or reserve intelligence officers on assignment rarely crosses their mind.
Initial assessments are typically made at academic conferences abroad, and if an American professor is deemed a likely candidate for recruitment, often pursued by invitations to other academic conferences held on home ground, or at least on friendly soil. As an enticement, the Americans may be given a prominent place on the speakers roster, expenses and not infrequently an honorarium. If that doesn't work, a rowdy late night drinking expedition - often including prostitutes and illegal drugs - that ends in an embarrassing arrest will do the trick. Bailed out of jail by a host country "colleague" - who, by amazing coincidence, just happens to have a cousin who can bury the tawdry affair - the American will be more than happy to help their benefactor out with a few extracurricular odds and ends. Especially after being informed that "those bastards in the security service filmed the whole thing."
But intelligence services are amazingly flexible, and the Cuban service is no exception. Infiltrating American business is also a priority, so business students are highly prized recruits as well. Once "spotted" by Cuban-controlled professors, their careers are carefully followed. Once they reach a level of responsibility, the DGI will attempt to seduce them with lucrative business deals. What's a little technology transfer among friends when there's millions to be made with otherwise legitimate trade deals? Especially now, when Cuba's transition from Communism to a form of "Managed Democracy" is just over the horizon.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Cuba's espionage operations against the United States - of which recruiting academics is an integral part - is the fact that Cuban intelligence is playing a long game. They're looking past the present Communist regime toward a future in which Cuban intelligence, like the KGB in Russia, will occupy an important and perhaps dominant role.
A NATIONAL SECURITY NIGHTMARE
President Obama's plan to "administratively amnesty" as many as 5,000,000 illegal aliens is a "security nightmare" according to Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who believes it will make terrorist attacks against the continental United States even easier. Sessions is concerned because executive orders issued by the President have already re-directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) resources away from national security, and created "massive" enforcement loopholes that can be exploited by terrorists. As a result of these executive orders, virtually anyone who turns up at the southern border and claims to be of Central American origin and under the age of 18 is automatically admitted to the United States for humanitarian reasons.
According to Border Patrol agents, many of these refugees are clearly not from Central America and are obviously well-over 18 - but the White House has ordered them admitted anyway. Although still officially denied, press reports say that at least four of these "refugees" were subsequently apprehended as known terrorists.
Thus far the Administration has given wildly conflicting assessments of the threat posed by terrorists crossing our southern border. On the one hand, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes has publicly stated that he's seen no evidence that terrorists (specifically, Islamic State terrorists) intend to exploit the effective abrogation of frontier security by mounting a cross-border attack on the United States; on the other, President Obama has justified the American aerial campaign against the IS in Syria and Iraq by asserting that it poses a grave threat to American security.
Given precise wording used by the President to justify his action in the Middle East, it's difficult to escape the conclusion that he has exposed the nation to attack - and doesn't know what to do about it. Under intense pressure from Hispanics, and having painted himself into a corner with his incessant demands for amnesty, he has apparently concluded that his best bet is to wage war on the IS abroad and hope that it doesn't come home to haunt him.
Apparently, the President believes "wishing upon a lucky star" can substitute for a reality-based national security policy.
WHEN RHETORIC COLLIDES WITH REALITY
There's a quiet debate going on behind-the-scenes in Washington: the gap between President Obama's rhetoric and reality has grown so large that some think he's out of touch; others think he just views the world through rose color glasses.
For an excellent article addressing this question - surprisingly, from The New York Times - please click on the link below:
Haunted by Words Past
THE CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST
Her Majesty's Government is alarmed. There are now more British Muslims fighting with the ISIS in the Middle East than there are serving in the British armed forces. Worse yet, most of the radicalized Brits intend to return home one day, and bring their Jihad with them.
Following hard on the heels of the Trojan Horse Conspiracy in Birmingham, in which a clique of Muslims tried and nearly succeeded in hijacking the public school system in order to impose an "Islamic-compliant" curriculum and code of conduct, the emergent threat posed by British Jihadists has rattled the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Just days after raising Britain's terrorist alert level from "Substantial" to "Severe" - meaning a major terrorist attack is deemed likely - Cameron authorized sweeping new counterterrorist measures which include authorizing the police to arrest returning Jihadists and seize their passports, and to impose temporary travel restrictions on suspected terrorist sympathizers. More stringent measures, including a mandatory "deprogramming" process for returning Jihadists, have been shelved for now.
According to Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party - the upstart fourth party now surging in the polls - that's all well and fine, but beside the larger point. The real problem is the British Establishment's foolhardy commitment to "Multiculturalism," which has divided Britons and pushed their country apart. In the process, it has given rise to a dangerous Fifth Column of Muslims in Britain who are British in name only. They are neither capable nor willing to assimilate to a democratic society.
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is often characterized as the British Tea Party, as it seeks to "take Britain back" from the unresponsive British Political Establishment, in much the same way that the Tea Party seeks to "take America back" from the equally unresponsive Political Establishment on this side of the Atlantic. Ending their respective establishment's failed policies of "Multiculturalism" and "Diversity," and limiting massive and essentially unrestrained immigration from culturally distant lands, are major goals of both movements.
Largely for these reasons, the UKIP is fast emerging as a major political party in Britain: once considered part of the radical fringe, and limited geographically to London and its immediate environs, the UKIP has in the past year emerged as a truly national party with an increasingly broad and respectable base of support. An appropriate slogan might be, "The UKIP: Not Just for Nutters Anymore."
The rise of the UKIP matters on this side of the pond, because British political developments tend to precede American political developments by about five years. Although few Americans or Brits are aware of the fact, the British and American Financial Elites effectively merged with the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913 - and the Political Establishments on either side of the Atlantic, beholden to the bi-national Elite, have acted in tandem to support its interests since the 1930's. The success of the UKIP's grass roots rebellion and its emergence as both a competitive and respectable political force, one able and willing to challenge the British Political Establishment - and the Financial Elite that pulls its strings - therefore suggests the Tea Party may soon achieve comparable success in the United States as well.
Though not quite a revolution, that would be revolutionary nonetheless.
Editor's Note: For those interested in the rise of the Anglo-American Financial Elite, and the Political Establishment it spawned on both sides of the Atlantic, we highly recommend Georgetown Professor of History Carroll Quigley's majestic tome, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time.
At the end of August, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned that terrorists dispatched by the ISIS would reach Europe in a month, and the United States in two, and urged the governments of each to take all due precautions. According to the Saudi monarch,
These terrorists do not know the name of humanity and you have witnessed them severing heads and giving them to children to walk with in the street...
By implication, King Abdullah believes the ISIS will commit similar atrocities in Europe and the US.
The Saudi monarch went on to state that he was so concerned by the prospect of an ISIS terrorist attacks against the United States and Europe that he had ordered his ambassadors to relay his warning directly to the governments they are accredited to. But for whatever reason, the Obama Administration has apparently disregarded the Saudi king. Shortly after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel described ISIS as an "imminent threat" to the United States, the White House began backpedaling by publicly claiming ISIS terrorists do not pose an immediate danger to the US.
For the Obama Administration, much is at stake - most immediately, the President's de facto policy of open borders and unrestricted immigration. If the Administration were to publicly acknowledge the threat of a cross-border attack from Mexico by ISIS terrorists, he would be compelled to secure the frontier - something he is utterly opposed to doing. Halting unrestricted immigration into the US would contradict the Political Establishment's unstated but nonetheless real policy of upending the demographic balance of the United States and, ultimately, force an acknowledgement that "Multiculturalism" and "Diversity" are dangerous failures.
The Administration's stubborn refusal to accept the painfully obvious reality that these policy precepts have failed the test of experience is difficult to understand. By any reasonable analysis, leaving the border open and essentially undefended is a high risk, low reward policy gamble - one which threatens both the President and his legacy: should the ISIS or any other terrorist organization succeed in mounting a successful cross-border attack, Obama's presidency will be effectively ended, and his legacy forever tarnished.
THE AMERICAN POLICE STATE
The seemingly endless civil unrest that rocked the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson following the fatal shooting of the unarmed, 18-year old Michael Brown by a local police officer did more than provoke widespread outrage at the seemingly unjustified use of deadly force. It also brought millions of TV viewers face to face with the reality of police militarization, as they watched a small, local police department deploy armored fighting vehicles, machine guns and assault rifles. For the better part of two weeks, Ferguson looked more like a Third World dictatorship than suburban America.
Ferguson's militarized police police force is the result of a well-intended federal program initiated in 1990, known as the 1033 Program, to upgrade local and state police departments so they could better cope with increasingly well-armed drug dealers. The 1033 Program established a form of domestic lend-lease, in which the Pentagon would transfer military surplus to civilian police agencies and departments, with the proviso that the police properly maintain them. At the time, a great many police departments needed at least one bullet-resistant vehicle. After a deadly shootout in Los Angeles, in which a team of bank robbers engaged the police with automatic weapons, many police departments decided to add assault rifles to their inventory as well. Since 1997 the dollar value of the military-to-police transfers amounted to some five billion dollars; in Wisconsin alone, 219 police agencies have received some 67,000 military items from the Pentagon.
The 1033 Program, which has gone through successive incarnations, received a major boost after 9-11. Terrorist attacks could happen at any time and any place, and police departments throughout the United States began "heavying up" to deal with the possibility. All-terrain armored fighting vehicles that could move through streets clogged by rubble and debris were at the top of their lists, followed helicopters, grenade launchers, night vision equipment, sniper rifles and heavy machine guns. More recently, police departments have been requesting aerial surveillance drones.
Apparently unaware of the full range of transfers, members of Congress have reacted to the Ferguson Police Department's deployment of armored fighting vehicles, automatic weapons and - apparently - a heavy caliber machine gun. Congressional veterans assert that wasn't what they had in mind when they set up the program, and several congressional offices are reportedly scrambling to produce a revised bill to limit Freguson-style deployments.
Despite their good intentions, the legislation governing Pentagon-to-Police transfers will probably stand. The reason for this is President Obama's 2008 campaign pledge to create "A domestic security force as large and as capable as our military." After a public backlash, Obama soft-peddled the idea, but never abandoned it. Hence the massive ammunition purchases by federal law enforcement agencies, a new and heavy emphasis on federal inter-agency police training and co-ordination, and the establishment of regional command centers by the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate local police departments. For all practical purposes, we now have a de facto, bi-level national police force, composed of federal police, augmented by local departments coordinated by Homeland Security.
Given the threat posed by foreign terrorists, there is no question that local police departments need some military arms to hold the line until the national guard or military can arrive. But these should be carefully calculated minimums, and held in strict reserve.
The fact that America's local police have morphed into para-military formations and tied together in a national network without fanfare or public debate is chilling - and all the more so, given the tremendous erosion of civil liberties over the past decade. Surveillance cameras are now ubiquitous; every telephone call, text message and e-mail is now intercepted, recorded and logged; and new surveillance equipment so sophisticated that they might have been inspired by science fiction dystopias have combined to effectively nullify the Fourth Amendment. Privacy has been abolished.
When you add to that distressing fact the Administration's effort to gut the First Amendment by proposing "legitimate journalists" be licensed, and its ongoing effort to undermine the Second Amendment, it is difficult to argue that America remains a "free country." American citizens are now more heavily surveilled than the subjects of the former Soviet Union and, almost certainly, contemporary North Korea.
The Grand Irony here is that most of this is unnecessary. Security could be achieved as well, or better, by sealing the border, limiting immigration, and subjecting foreign ships and cargo aircraft to simple security measures.
But that would reduce business profits, and contradict the US Government’s real but never publicly stated policy of Global Integration...
AN ISLAMIC CIVIL WAR
Since storming out of their haven in northeastern Syria and northwestern Iraq to overrun much of the latter, the Islamic State in the Levant - now known as the Islamic State, or IS - has won a well-deserved reputation for savagery. At a minimum, it has slaughtered at least 10,000 Iraqi civilians and unknown thousands of captured Iraqi soldiers. Most recently, it brutally beheaded American journalist James Foley.
Composed exclusively of Sunni Muslims, the IS has also called for the extermination of Muslim Shiites, whom it regards as Infidels, as well as Christians, Jews and anyone else who might object to its newly proclaimed Caliphate and its exceptionally severe brand of Islamic law. It has also threatened to "drown the United States in blood" and to attack the White House.
The astonishing battlefield successes of IS forces has placed President Obama in a difficult situation. Having authored what is now seen as a precipitous American military withdrawal from Iraq in December of 2011, Mr. Obama has been forced to reintroduce American combat forces into that country to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and, likely, genocide on a scale not witnessed since World War II.
It has also forced Muslims to confront the reality of Islamic Extremism for the first time. For so long as Muslims were fighting against Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was easy to justify atrocities committed in the name of Allah - especially when they were directed against Americans, Britons, and Europeans. These Infidels were, after all, waging war on Islam - or so Muslims persuaded themselves.
But now that Muslims are the primary target of Islamic terror, that rationalization is no longer possible. As a result, several heads of Arab states have condemned the IS, including the King of Saudi Arabia, and opprobrium is spreading throughout the Islamic World. Most recently, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia - the world's largest Muslim-majority country - has condemned IS-initiated violence as "shocking" and "out of control," and called on world leaders to act in concert to suppress it.
Perhaps more important than its effect on Muslim leaders, is the long-term impact of IS barbarism on ordinary Muslims world-wide. Now that Muslims are slaughtering other Muslims, they have been forced to critically examine themselves, and their faith, for the first time. Based upon the Christian experience of the Religious Wars in Europe, this will likely be a shattering experience which will reverberate across centuries. It will force Muslims - especially those residing in Western lands - to choose between a literal adherence to their faith, or a sort of "Smorgasbord Islam" reminiscent of the "Smorgasbord Christianity" that eventually emerged from the European catastrophe.
This is important, because it was the Smorgasbord Approach that made it possible for Catholics to shrug and say to their Protestant and Jewish neighbors, "Yes, I'm Catholic, but I don't pay much attention to doctrine;" and for Protestants and Jews to say much the same in reply. Despite its obvious theological failings, the Smorgasbord Approach was and remains an essential precondition for religious tolerance and the practice of democracy.
Although the theo-political ferment occasioned by IS atrocities in the Islamic World is a welcome development, it may take a very long time for it to bear fruit - and as Lord Keynes once quipped, long-term developments are of small concern, because "In the long run, we're all dead anyway."
Simply put, we have to live in the here and now, and for that reason it is critically important for the United States and its allies to develop an appropriate and effective response to the threat posed by the IS.
HOLD, CUT AND KILL
From a military standpoint, the IS is wildly over-extended.
Having conquered an estimated 40 per cent of Iraq's total territory and subjugated perhaps 35 per cent of the population with a combat force built around an estimated 4000 hardened fighters, augmented by tribal allies and remnants of Saddam Hussein's army, the IS is dangerously vulnerable to counterattack.
The obvious strategy for defeating the IS can be summarized as HOLD, CUT and KILL: for the Iraqi army and their Kurdish allies to hold what they have, then cut the IS's lines of communications with airstrikes and commando raids, and then destroy the IS positions they've isolated, one by one. The strategy is simple in concept, and with complete command of the air it should be comparatively easy to execute in practice.
Having decided that the United States cannot allow the IS to overrun Iraq - and seize the Mid East's second largest oil reserves - President Obama must now decide on the proper level of American military involvement. Since opposition to the reintroduction of US ground forces is nearly universal, it follows that the American intervention should be limited to the provision of intelligence, strategic bombing, aerial interdiction operations, air support for Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces, logistical support, training - especially for the Kurds - and advice. Two to three thousand American military personnel "in country" is a plausible figure, with another 15-20,000 outside the country engaged in air operations and support.
This time, however, American assistance should not come cheap. During the first phase of America's involvement in Iraq, the United States picked up the multi-trillion dollar tab to secure the country and establish a democratic government. This time, the US and participating allies should insist that the Iraqi government pay some or all of their costs. To do otherwise would encourage Iraqi irresponsibility.
The time has come for the Iraqi political class to accept responsibility for their own survival - and for the survival of their country - and in this, financial sacrifice looms large.