Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing"

Monday, February 21, 2005

China Good, Gap Bad.... Now if we can just effectively communicate that

China, although semi-communist and lacking in coherent human rights and political/social reform, is not the enemy. The Gap, the reasons behind the Gap and the shadowy figures who lurk in the Gap are the enemy.

But, of course this administration is not the best at communicating effectively both here on the homefront and the world abroad. Right now the last thing we need to be telling the world and China in particular is that we think of them as a large and looming threat and that they should view us in the same way.
China Faces Threat of the U.S. in Three Directions
Donga-ilbo Feb 21 2005

Just looking at the simple and unadulterated facts concerning China, one will begin to see why they are not a 'looming threat', unless of course we want/force them to be.
In 2001, we were spending $396.1 Billion on defense while China was spending just $42 Billion. Now while they are increasing defense spending dramatically(11%), they will in no way come close to even half of our expeditures within 20-30 years. So militarily, we have NO peer nor will we have one anytime soon.
China is important not only us but to globalization as a whole for several reasons one of the most important being the fact that we need their influence both in the Asian-Pacific Region (N.Korea, Russia come to mind) as well as in the Middle East/Central Asian regions. The ME/CA region is of extreme importance due to the fact that they WILL be coming regardless of our actions in a bid to secure their own insatiable need for energy and this presents us with an opportunity to form a strategic security partnership with them. Instability in the region does no one good and it will be in their best interests energy wise to see a safe and stable Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. China already has some extremely lucrative energy contracts with Iran and would stand to lose quite a lot by any military or economic sanctions imposed on the mullahs.

Now, am I saying that China is an American ally on par with the UK and Australia? Not exactly, but they have their place and the right to earn our trust. That said, we have the same obligations. So why all the hushed talk around Pentagon and CCP circles about 'looming threats, encirclement, a New Cold War'? Well, in a strategic sense, look at China from a geo-political overview and you will quickly notice what seems to be a classic encirclement tactic. US ground forces in nearby Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries, B2's and B52's within range at Diego Garcia and Guam, Couple hundred thousand troops in Korea and Japan, Carrier Group 5 floating around and a whole bunch of stuff a few days away in the Persian Gulf region. Plot it on a map and China looks like they close to an invasion. Then add recent statements from the US and Japan on a joint Taiwan Security policy and fears of the EU Arms Embargo being dropped and you might actually see the threat level in China rising.

So what to do.... Communicate

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Changing the Levant (and the Middle East)..... Bush Style

Who woulda' thunk that a devastating bombing and assassination of the internationally respected former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri, would have brought about the uproar, the dialogue and seemingly, the change that is beginning to rise in the Levant (Levant is referred to as the region of Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Palestine). Certainly not the perpetrators of the incident, whether they be Islamist terrorists or Syrian agents, they more than likely did not anticipate that thousands of Lebanese protesters would demand that Syria get out of Lebanon or that they Lebanese opposition would declare an 'intifada of independence' and that calls for Syria to release their influence and remove their troops would be echoed loudly by Pres. Bush. I believe it is the loud condemination and effective harsh rhetoric from the Bush administration, backed by the actions of the Iraqi War that helped to effect change in Lebanon/Syria and in time the entire middle east. essentially, Walk Soft, Talk Hard, Remind others of the portfolio of your Big Stick (ie Iraq, Afghanistan, GWOT Operations)

Now of course there is the constant harassment from Syrian/Iranian backed Hezbollah, calling for the Lebanese people to "cool" their anti-Syrian rhetoric or else and the muted attempts at stopping the UN Resolution 1559 calling for the removal of foreign troops and dismantling of Hezbollah.

Then looking back over last week, you have the Iranian government giving public support to their only Arab allies the Syrians and wanting to create a 'united front', only to have the Syrians release an immediate statement that basically says, 'Thanks but we don't want to share the American Crosshairs with you (Iran)'.

Then today, you have the possible culmination of all of these activities in the indication that Syria is indeed going to begin to remove its 16,000+ troops from Lebanese soil. So, lets take a little look at the events basically starting last October with the passing of UN Resolution 1559

  1. Oct 2004 - UN Resolution 1559 passes, calls for removal of foreign troops from Lebanon (Syria) and the subsequent removal of Hezbollah.
  2. Feb 11 2005 - Hezbollah 'curses the UN for its call to lay down its arms'
  3. Feb 14 2005 - Massive, Mysterious explosion devastates downtown Beirut, killing 2 dozen including the lead reformer and opposition member, frm PM Hariri.
  4. Feb 14 2005 - World condemns bombing, US immediately warns of possible 'bad things' to the perpetrators.
  5. Feb 16 2005 - Iran proposes 'United Front', Syria says it does want to unite with anyone against the US
  6. Feb 17 - 2005 - Bush tells Syria point blank, Quit Lebanon
  7. Feb 18 2005 - Lebanese Tourism Minister quits, Syrian Spy Chief sacked
  8. Feb 19 2005 - Hezbollah tells the Lebanese that they should cool it and stop making so much noise
  9. Feb 20 2005 - Lebanese tell Hezbollah where they can stick it and continue massive protests and opposition declares an 'intifada of independence'
  10. Feb 21 2005 - Syria announces that it will begin troop withdrawal
So in a very small amount of time, the situation in the Levant, has changed quite rapidly and it seems for the better.
  1. Lebanon will soon be free of most Syrian troops and eventually influence
    1. Perhaps then they will be able to collectively secure their country from Hezbollah in the south and begin again the process of Re-Connecting their country to globalization
  2. Syria seems to have blinked when it comes to semi-united world condemnation
    1. Why though? I believe it is due simply to the fact that Bush is not to be taken lightly and that his words are mostly backed up with swift actions (ie Iraq)
    2. Syria also shrugged off support from an old time ally, the Iranians. This too I believe was an effort to tell Bush that we are not with those guys.

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Killing the "Connectors" in Tsunami-stricken Asia

Australia Warns of Terror Attacks on Aceh Aid Workers
Feb 19 05 VOA News
It seems that certain non-state actors will do almost anything to keep their little niche of the "non-integrating Gap" disconnected from the rest of the World. In the devastated province of Aceh in Indonesia, the Australian government is warning that militant Islamic groups are threatening attacks on the very aid workers that are there to help those who lost so much in the Christmas Tsunami.

This is just another example of how trans-national and ideological terrorists organizations are willing to sacrafrice themselves and their own people for the sake of staying apart from the rest of humanity. Its one thing to try to disconnect a society from the global "Core" and quite another to try to further disconnect and disrupt one that was disconnected in the first place.

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

MAD part deux, Asian Style..

So, North Korea has finally admitted that they are in fact, in possession of nuclear devices and the ballistic delivery systems capable of deploying them as far away as the west coast of the United States. Not something entirely new to most people with a TV set and an IQ over 80, but the fact that they have publicly admitted their existance means two things.

  1. They have nothing left to bargin with and so needed to play one of their last cards on the table
  2. The tyrannical regime of the DPRK is becoming rather bored (imploding) and like any dying and cornered animal, is lashing out for what may be its final breath.
The first reason is the most likely and the most productive for the DPRK , yielding the best results. They hope to bring the US back to the table as they did in 1992 and obtain more security guraentees, food aid, money, fuel oil and whatever else their hearts desire. In exchange, they will no doubt promise to dismantle their weapons program and make nice with their brethern to the south. In reality we undoubtly be caught once again in the insanity that is the Korean Flashpoint and find ourselves 4 years from now asking why we keep repeating the same thing and expecting different results, i.e. the definition of insanity.

What to do you ask?
MAD. Mutually Assured Destruction. A unpopular strategic nuclear policy put into full practice by Robert McNamara in the 60s, MAD is credited with helping to prevent a nuclear and total great power war by simply allowing both sides to realize that war with nukes is impossible to win (and so they never launch). Largely a Cold-War strategy, I believe with some tinkering that this concept can be employed in both Central Asia and the Asian-Pacific Rim to the benefit of our allies in the region and of course the United States proper.

Have you lost your mind?
Thats beside the point. In response to North Korea's obvious intentions to continually harass us and its neighbors with the threat of ballistic missiles tipped with nuclear warheads, let us instead turn the tables on them and call their bluff. Oh and dont forget China. China stands to lose almost more than anyone if the Korean pennisula turns into a fighting match and yet still stands on the side-lines in a vain effort to use "strong" language when dealing with their ideological counterparts. If we were to, oh I dont know, either allow or give (deploy) nuclear weapons in Japan and/or South Korea and then give some command and control to those respective goverments, we may just see a quick change of heart when it comes to threatenning your neighbors. By allowing an Asian MAD strategy to emerge between S. Korea/Japan vs. N Korea, several things will immediately happen. The most promininently of which will be the entire Chinese Communist Party taking a collective gasp and start a mad(no pun intended) dash to either A) Reposition their relatively small nuclear forces to account for a "threat" in the East or B) March into Pyongyang and quickly, willingly and without question remove the Kim Jong Il dynasty in the name of regional stability and security (this would be my guess and my hopes). By forcing this situation into the very laps of the Chinese, we will ensure that they take responsibility for their own neighborhood or suffer the conseqences of their inaction. I am willing to bet that the situation in North Korea would be very quickly resolved thanks to our sino-counterparts.

Holes I am found..
Unlike most people, I find holes in my own ideas and try to plug them. The first and largest hole in this idea is the simple fact that the Japanese people have such an understandable aversion to nuclear weapons due to being the only population to have experienced their devestation. In order for this plan to work, the Japanese goverment would have to make it publicly known that they have nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Given the historical public outcry against military expansion of any kind, this is a large stumbling block. Oh and I almost forgot... during one time or another, the Japanese empire has invaded, pilaged and overrun almost all of the nations on the pacific rim and so giving them nuclear capabilities would surely upset many of them.

Asian's MAD?
So is the short term answer to the North Korean situation a MAD policy for the Asian/Pacific comunity? I think it is one of many viable alternatives to this continued prolonged negotiations that we seem to be perpetually stuck in. Overall direct military options are not ideal and we obviously are having trouble with convincing the N Koreans that they should rejoin the human race and the global community, so forcing China to take action through the threat of an Asian Nuke race may be the answer. In this respect, China will be able to coherantly maintain "face" while other Asian nations will be able to exercise their own regional rights and responsibilites. While I do believe that the security and stability situation in that region of the world is vitally important to the interests of teh United States, it is in fact their neighborhood and they are ultimately responsible for policing their block.

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Re-Disconnecting Lebanon

Regardless of whether it was Syria or Islamists behind the massive explosion that killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri, the attack was designed for one purpose alone, to disconnect once again, Lebanon from the emerging globalized world. In a seemingly brilliant strategic move, the assassins targeted not only the single most influential person in economic and political reform in Lebanon, but also succeeded in shaking the foundation of security that the PM Hariri had fought so hard to rebuild.

Disconnection Part I
Prior to the Lebanese Civil War of the 70's and 80's, the capital city of Beirut was remarked as the "Riviera of the Middle East". Boasting a warm Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches and a vibrant tourism industry, Beirut quickly became an economic powerhouse and the center of regional banking. Following the the two Israeli-Arab wars, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees flooded the neighbor to the north and within a few short years they became organized and began launching attacks against Israel from their haven in southern Lebanon. What followed was one of the bloodiest and longest civil wars that the region has ever felt. Fed by Syrian and Israeli invasions, Hezbollah recruitment, PLO operations and Maronite Christian militias, the country essentially collapsed upon itself and ceased to be a sovereign nation. Without the presence of a coherent governance and the greater international community shrugging their shoulders at the problem, Lebanon de-evolved into a failed state and hence and incubator for trans-national and state-sponsored terrorists, arms and drug dealers and organized crime. This disconnection from the world is what allowed these groups to succeed for so long and to perpetuate the decades of civil strife and chaos.

Reconnecting to the Global Economy
Much of the civil war damage has now been repaired throughout the country, and foreign investors and tourists have returned. Lebanese civil society generally enjoys significantly more freedoms than elsewhere in the Arab world. Much of this was brought about by the Prime Minister Hariri and his policies of economic reform, ability to gain foreign direct investment, his relations with the west and even his very own money. A multi-billionaire from his lucrative construction contracts and dealings in Saudi Arabia, allowed Hariri to infuse millions into many downtown sections of Beirut, cleaning up after the bloody civil war. Part of the rebuilding involved overhauling the tourists industry and bringing back the banks that were once the cornerstone of the Middle Eastern Riviera. With the Israeli withdrawal from the country in 2000 and the reformed government that allowed for the election of a Christian President, Sunni Prime Minister and a Shi'ite speaker of the legislature, it seemed that there was a perfect balance of representation of the 3 main groups that comprised of Lebanon's citizenry. One important detail that was still unresolved however was the 15,000 + Syrian troops that still occupied the land and their ensuing influence over Lebanese political and social structure.

Pulling the plug on the reconnection
This latest attack in Lebanon was not an act of retribution nor a random killing of a former high level government official. It is likely a concerted and focused effort at destablizing the country for a potential plethora of reasons most of which is this, disconnectedness. Trans-national terrorists entities prey upon disconnected failed states due to their ripeness for discontent and relative freedom to operate in country without impunity. This is most evident in failed states like Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Chechnya and Afghanistan. Other nation-states seek out instability in neighboring states in order to solidify their hold and influence over them. Syria is doing just this. In an attempt to thwart the actions of the connected "West" and UN Resolution 1559, forcing Syria to withdraw its troops from in-country, Syria is attempting to create further instability to justify its presence there.

In either case, the bombing and killing of former Prime Minister Hariri is an attempt at re-escalation and re-destablization of a country that for so long has yearned for the opposite. I am however optimistic in my beliefs that the Lebanese people no longer want to be used by outside actors and will not allow this re-disconnecting to occur. It is my belief that once you undergo extreme suffering and survive its rigors, you emerge a stronger, more passionate and humble people and that is just what the people of the country of Lebanon have become.

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Is calling your ambassador home a sign of impending doom?

In response to yesterdays massive explosion and assassination of a Lebanese former Prime Minister and up and coming Syrian opposition leader, the White House today has recalled the ambassador to the US in order to begin "urgent consultations" and decide the next best course of action in regards to the terrorist attack in Beirut.

Taking a step back from this situation and looking at events that have unfolded in the region and on the international stage in the past 6 months, one can quickly see a pattern emerging. Syria is on the chopping block and they know it. Unlike its Hezbollah co-sponsor Iran, Syria does not enjoy the benefit of deterrence from possible nuclear weapons nor from a friendly Shi'ia majority in neighboring Iraq. Iran has become almost completely immune to international threats for these two reasons irregardless of the heated rhetoric exchanged between Tehran and Washington.

So what does this mean for Syria?
It means that without drastic changes in its policies and international dealings, it is next in line for a democratic overhaul courtesy of the United States of America. It means that Syria may have one last chance to heed UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and remove its troops and support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. It means that continued complacency in allowing Islamists and Jihadi wannabes to stream through the borders into Iraq will begin to have real and tangible consequences. It means that Syria will soon find itself alone, without other Arab allies or friends and quite possibly with many neighboring enemies. It means that the days of the Syrian Baa'thists regime is as numbered as was Sadaams and that clock may have already been started on its demise. but most importantly, it means that another despotic, isolated and disconnected regime may in fact be on its way into the bright shining light of freedom and liberty.

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.