Weekly Briefing – December 8 – 13, 2014
Sunday, December 14th, 2014 @ 12:07AM
Nuclear Threats on the Rise – Rethinking the Unthinkable – Houston T. “Terry” Hawkins, Senior Fellow Los Alamos National Laboratory & ACD Board of Directors – Today there are major imbalances between the new and expanding nuclear weapons research and production capacities of Russia and the declining capabilities of the United States. The end of the Cold War brought many changes including the unification of Germany, the expansion of democracy into Eastern Europe, and the integration of Russia into the global economy. It also removed the previous five-decades-long worry about a nuclear war. “Thinking about the unthinkable,” that is, seriously contemplating nuclear war, has all but vanished from the minds of most people. But given Vladimir Putin’s annexing of Crimea last spring and his boast in September that he could invade five NATO capitals inside two days, a Cold War 2.0 may be just around the corner. .…more…
Spotlight on Global Jihad – Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center – December 1-9, 2014 – Main events: In Syria and Iraq, the US-led campaign against ISIS continues. In the city of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) in northern Syria, the fighting continues with no decisive victory by either party. In the area of Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria, ISIS attempted to take over the Syrian military airfield, so far unsuccessfully. In Iraq, ISIS’s efforts to cleanse the pockets of resistance in the Sunni province of Al-Anbar and other areas in the north continue. ISIS released a video of a Canadian operative calling for more attacks in Canada. …more…
Nuclear Vigor: Russia, China and Iran – Houston T. “Terry” Hawkins, Senior Fellow Los Alamos National Laboratory & ACD Board of Directors – Just as the United States surprised its adversaries in World War II with technological advances such as the atomic bomb, its adversaries today can do the same to it. Today, in contrast to what is happening at their American counterparts, these Russian institutes are seeing their benefits, compensation appreciation, working conditions, facilities, and meaningful research significantly improve. Rigorous research—including year-around experimentation at their Novaya Zemlya Test Site, which is leading to the development and deployment of new Russian nuclear weapons for newly designed delivery systems—continues to be their top priority… at a time when U.S. nuclear weapon budgets are being cut and U.S. nuclear weapon experts are being offered early retirements or terminated, Russia’s 2014–2016 defense program is planning a 50 percent spending increase in its nuclear program,.…more…
The Muslim Brotherhood in Russia – J. Millard Burr – In the pre-Soviet epoch, Islamic law ruled every aspect of life in Central Asia and, to a lesser extent, throughout the Caucasus. In the Soviet Union severe restrictions were placed on Islam beginning in the late 1920s. The Sharia, which serves as the Muslim code of law that regulates various aspects of social and community life, ceased to exist in any officially recognized manner. Still, Islam was not extirpated; rather, it was driven underground…. In the last years of the Soviet Union an incipient jihadist movement, which evolved from the war in Afghanistan, was nearly always viewed by the Soviet press as something alien to or in conflict with Muslim traditions. That was particularly true in the northern Caucasus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan—all of which would become especial targets of the international Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimun).…more…
Russia’s Renewed Nuclear Threat – Part I – Houston T. “Terry” Hawkins, Senior Fellow Los Alamos National Laboratory & ACD Board of Directors – …Putin’s actions come on the heels of the modernization of Russia’s nuclear weapons program. In stark contrast, the nuclear weapons research, testing, and production infrastructures of the United States have to decline through elimination and restructuring of organizations and reductions of workforces and budgets. These trends must be examined and evaluated. They certainly cannot be ignored. Tough Talk from the Bear: Russia’s recent actions to demonstrate its independence, military prowess, and new economic power are troubling…Russian spokesman Dmitry Kiselyov starkly reminded the United States that, “Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash.” In December 2013 President Putin had named Kiselyov to head a new state news agency charged with portraying Russia in the “most positive light.”…more…
Islamists’ Political Power in the U.K. and U.S. – Rachel Ehrenfeld – Tony Blair got it right. When asked about the consequences of the West’s intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, Britain’s former Prime Minister, once again reiterated “the reason it was tough in Iraq and tough in Afghanistan is the reason it is tough today…. It’s tough because terrorism is deep-rooted and it’s got very strong causes within the religion of Islam,” he is quoted saying. Earlier this year, Blair pointed out that radical Islam destabilizes “communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence”…Blair is being mocked by the British and American leftist media which has been very careful not to blame Islam for violence and terrorism. Even the Royal family’s love affair with Saudi royals and Gulf Emirs, matched until recently only by the British Foreign Office, is being undermined by the Muslim Brotherhood…. Barack H. Obama dismissed hundreds of thousands of American petitioners to designate the Brotherhood. Instead, the White House issued this statement: “We have not seen credible evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood has renounced its decades-long commitment to non-violence.”…more…
Reality vs. Virtual Reality – Sol W. Sanders – In the mid-1960s, I quit taking photographs for publication for my employer, US News & World Report, in addition to my writing. With my trusty little 35mm Leica body and Nikor lenses, I had blossomed from a rank amateur to become quite proficient. There were even battlefield pictures although I was not, as we said then, a “bang-bang reporter”. I was doing more overall reporting and analysis of a complicated political as well as military war in Vietnam and still nominally “covering” the rest of South and Southeast Asia. I quit for several reasons. I found that I was beginning to look at everything around me through an imaginary camera rangefinder, even before I put it to my eye….That now seemed to be what was happening with my camera: I was losing the overall perspective on the scene I was observing with my attention drawn to how to record it with the camera. There was another reason, as well. I found that nothing lied as much as a photograph, even perhaps more than words.…more…
News & Analysis
Congress Passes Four Cybersecurity Bills – National Law Review
FBI: 90% Of Cyber Security Systems Out There Would Not Have Been Able To Block The Sony Hackers – Business Insider
FCC reiterates jammer ban; extends E911 comment period – RCR Wireless News
For homework, Kurds turn to Canadians – Steven Chase
Islam and Innocence: Canada’s Predicament – Michael Coren
Capitol Hill Hearings
Joint Subcommittee Hearing: After the Withdrawal: The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Part III) – Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa – December 10
ISIL’s Reign of Terror: Confronting the Growing Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq and Syria – Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy, and Global Women’s Issues – December 9
Aviation Security: Rapid Growth in Expedited Passenger Screening Highlights Need to Plan Effective Security Assessments, GAO-15-150: Published: Dec 12, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 12, 2014.
Missile Defense: Cost Estimating Practices Have Improved, and Continued Evaluation Will Determine Effectiveness, GAO-15-210R: Published: Dec 12, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 12, 2014.
Nuclear Weapons: DOD’s Plan for Implementing Nuclear Reductions Generally Addresses Statutory Requirements but Lacks Some Detail, GAO-15-89R: Published: Dec 11, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 11, 2014.
Unmanned Aerial Systems: Efforts Made toward Integration into the National Airspace Continue, but Many Actions Still Required, GAO-15-254T: Published: Dec 10, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 10, 2014.
Space Acquisitions: DOD Needs More Guidance on Decisions to Store Satellites, GAO-15-97R: Published: Dec 9, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 9, 2014.
The “Islamic State” Crisis and U.S. Policy – Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs; Christopher M. Blanchard, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs; Carla E. Humud, Analyst in Middle Eastern and African Affairs; Rhoda Margesson, Specialist in International Humanitarian Policy; Matthew C. Weed, Analyst in Foreign Policy Legislation – December 8
FY2015 Budget Requests to Counter Ebola and the Islamic State (IS) – Susan B. Epstein, Coordinator, Specialist in Foreign Policy; Sarah A. Lister, Specialist in Public Health and Epidemiology; Amy Belasco, Specialist in U.S. Defense Policy and Budget; Don J. Jansen, Specialist in Defense Health Care Policy – December 9
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