Week in Review, March 4-8

By EWI BLOG | by Rachel Ehrenfeld
Friday, March 8th, 2013 @ 8:33PM

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The news about capturing bin Laden’s son in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, in Jordan, and bringing him to trial in New York’s federal court, instead of before a military court in Guantanamo, lends support to our analysis earlier in the week. So we begin this review on-

WEDNESDAY:

According to Sens. Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, “The Obama administration’s lack of a war-time detention policy for foreign members of al Qaeda, as well as its refusal to detain and interrogate these individuals at Guantanamo, makes our nation less safe,” Graham and Ayotte said in a joint written statement. “We are at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups, and America’s detention policy must reflect that reality.”

The Administration’s ostrich policy — pretending al Qaeda, as other jihadists groups are no longer a threat to the U.S. –has also influenced the U.S. strategy in Mali. And it is putting our allies and our interests at risk:

In his State of the Union Address last month, Obama talked about “remnants of al Qaeda” and “al Qaeda affiliates. “According to Obama, decimated al Qaeda is “a shadow of its former self,” and “on the run.” Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other Americans who died in Benghazi would have probably challenged this view.

Latest reports on a congratulatory phone call to al Qaeda’s leader in Mali shortly after they were tragically deserted by the administration and left to be killed proves the president wrong.

What could have comic is how the administration’s lawyers argued for weeks whether providing actionable intelligence to facilitate French airstrikes would make the U.S. a “cobelligerent” and would lead to al-Qaeda attacks on American interests in the region.

Clearly the parties to the debate still don’t realize that what’s going on in Africa, to wit, a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Finally, the administration finagled the meaning of “cobelligerent,” deciding we weren’t cobelligerents because the U.S. was merely “supporting the French rather than joining the campaign.” As incredible as it may appear, the administration seems worried that al Qaeda might consider the U.S. as an enemy!

In addition, the Administration willfully ignores evidence of Qatar’s funding of radical Muslim groups such as Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al Qaeda groups in Mali. While Qatar continues to deny its involvement, the Mayor of Gao has stated that Qatar’s support of a network jihadist institutions in Mali begun in the 1980s, and offered this explantion:

“‘Mali has huge oil and gas potential and it needs help developing its infrastructure. Qatar is well placed to help, and could also, on the back of good relations with an Islamist-ruled north Mali, exploit rich gold and uranium deposits in the country.'”

It probably never occurred to the French that the Emir of Qatar, whom they TWICE awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, (in 1980, and again in 1998), would fund his jihadist brethren to undermine their interests. Perhaps they should consider reclaiming the medal to regain some “honour…”  See– “Leading From Farther Behind in Mali.”

MONDAY:

Comparison of two repressive nations — Saudi Arabia and China -which, in addition to suppression of political dissent, share another the trait of investing vast sums of money abroad instead of creating more jobs domestically.

In Riyadh,

Growing the royal wealth and keeping it safe abroad seems more important than creating jobs or relieving destitution. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal stated that at least 12.5% of Saudis were unemployed at the time the Kingdom employs 8 million migrant workers in service jobs legally, and more than 2 million illegally. Not surprisingly the Saudi media didn’t quote him: instead his statement was put out by Iran’s Press TV.

Earlier this week, Prince Alaweed received much better coverage in the Saudi media. But this seemed as an issue of national pride; FORBES offended Alaweed!  Thus he severed his ties to FORBES, because the magazine deliberately “undervalued” his wealth by $9.6 billion, listing him as the 26th richest men in the world with “only” $20 billion. Such as Shanda

As for unemployment, the Saudis prefer to keep things quiet. In 2011, for example, three young Saudi video bloggers were arrested and jailed for two weeks for producing an online video about poverty in Saudi Arabia.

In Beijing,

The Chinese misreport their unemployment and underemployment. While some of their huge investments overseas, buying up industries and stealing intellectual property, may help create new jobs domestically, they are also “exporting” large numbers of unemployed Chinese. Most go to Africa, but they can be found in large numbers also in places China is attempting to gain influence, including, most lately, the Caribbean.

On June 11, 2011, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, gave a speech in Zambia warning of a new colonialism caused by the Chinese (although she didn’t mention China by name): “It is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave.” Clinton described only part China’s MO in Africa.

In addition to buying off and underwriting public works projects for local leaders, the Chinese have been injecting a substantial number their own citizens into the continent as “temporary” workers. This has brought them remittances, continued influence in Africa, and very, very modest relief to their unemployment problems.

One of our readers, China expert Harvey Nelsen, pointed out that, “the leadership is expressing considerable concern about the increasing wealth/poverty gap in China and is undertaking some concrete measures to address it.  One is to slow the growth bubble in upscale housing while starting an admittedly small-scale program of low cost housing development.

“A second is the gradual expansion of a basic social security program. Third was the abolition of the agriculture tax a few years ago, which was borne almost exclusively by the peasantry.  Fourth the leadership has been ignoring the strict limits of the household registration law enabling well over 100 million peasants to migrate into the cities to find work that pays better than small scale agriculture.  Granted, their lives are still really hard, but it is an improvement or they would not do it.”

At the same time, Nelsen is “not an optimist about a ‘China spring.'”  Efforts to improve the lives of the poorer citizens are being undermined by endemic corruption and the democracy allowed at village level has not empowered the peasantry except in rare instances.  China spends more on internal security than it does on national defense.  Repression is still the default mode in Beijing.”

How much are the Chinese and the Saudis are spending on internal security is unknown. However, Saudi repression is notorious. Fearing incitement by al-Qaeda sympathizers who call for the end the monarchy’s corrupt hold on the country, as well as a possible uprising by the Shiite minority, keeps the Saudi royal family edgy. While they have managed to control widespread demonstrations thus far, the destabilization in the region presents a real threat. To mitigate it, the Saudis are now developing four new cities that would create jobs. However, considering the large foreign investments in these cities, most jobs are likely to go again to migrant workers. In the meantime, the Saudis do what the Saudis have always done — pay off disenfranchised groups and send them to fight elsewhere to advance the holy jihad.

Read more– “Beijing’s & Jeddah International Shopping Spree Leaves the Poor & Disenfranchised in the Dirt”

TUESDAY:

Americans have had previous episodes of leaning towards authoritarian temptation offered by European Communism and Nazism. While some entertained them, most withstood these temptations. Indeed, America survived the Progressive Era and Huey Long.

Europe, however, has long been sliding down the slippery slope of giving in. Perhaps early dementia prevents them from remembering the twentieth-century experience of three hideous totalitarian regimes in Germany, Russia, and Maoist China.

Statism, the rule of unelected elites, the failing welfare state, and stagnation induced by Labor Unions is what the Europeans seem to prefer theses days. The likelihood that they can find the road back to democracy and free markets doesn’t look promising just now.

It is worrisome that Americans are tempted to follow Europe’s lead despite what we see of Europe’s experience especially the rise of bureaucratic totalitarianism that rules Europe from Brussels, with un-cunning similarities to Beijing’s ruling its provinces.

Sol Sanders, a former correspondent for Business Week, U.S. News & World Report, and United Press International, warned of the danger of “demagoguery masquerading as populist reformism”:

Unfortunately, there is a decided ring to the noises coming out of Washington now, and they resemble nothing so much as the attempt by Huey Long of Louisiana in the early 1930s to capture the popular imagination for a near-dictatorship in his own state and with a threat to carry it on to a national level with the help of a rogue priest, Father Charles Couglin of Michigan. Had he not been cut down by an assassin’s bullet, he might well have imitated the roles of the European dictators who took over in the 1930s and led the world into bloody World War II.

Long, too, made attacks on “the rich”, exalted giveaway social programs, and initiated grandiose proposals for infrastructure as his bait for the unsuspecting voter, caught up in the toils of The Great Depression. Long before Hitler’s Josef Goebbels pointed out the significance of The Big Lie — out and out prevarication of the truth with no limits as more successful than eating around the edges of truth as more effective — Long spun them.”

Read more — “The Totalitarian Temptation-Again”

THURSDAY:

Why does the U.S. government treat hacking as if it is an emerging threat? Cyberattacks are “old news.” The real news is that the Administration has done little to counter them.

While the administration’s soft-approach plan of giving “clear” diplomatic signals takes time and is subject to a different interpretation. We weren’t told of any action that will be taken if the signals have been not as clear as the administration hopes. Signaling displeasure about cyber theft without adding the option of actions to stop the stealing is worthless.

In addition, the widespread tendency is to focus on the technical aspects of cyber security, with little or no attention paid to the people who use the technology to commit the intrusion, or the theft.  When the subject comes up, it can be truly stupefying; On March 3, the New York Times decried U.S. intelligence agencies wondering: “Why had the Chinese done it?”  Who cares? They’ve done it, and will do it again unless stopped.

The theft of our intellectual property and scientific innovations have already cost billions of dollars and severely damaged our economy. It’ll take time, finances, and lots of effort to gain back the market, that is, if we can stop the hemorrhaging. However, a new study by the civilian Defense Science Board, which was released yesterday, indicates that our national security is under severe threat, and openly criticizes the Defense Department for not being “prepared to defend against this threat.”

The report warned that “The cyberattacks could be combined with conventional attacks at sea and in space…. Attackers could crash servers, corrupt data, tamper with the supply chain and insert malicious software into critical systems.” Hacking into the systems, attackers could order U.S. guns, missiles and bombs not to fire, or “direct them against our own troops.” Moreover, even our nuclear weapons are vulnerable to cyber sabotage and attack.” If that happens, “military commanders ‘may rapidly lose trust’ in their ability to command.”

Since it is not possible to protect all military units and installations from cyberattacks, the report “recommends isolating critical systems and weapons, and equipping small numbers with advanced defensive measures to ensure they survive an attack.”

Clearly, an effective deterrence is needed posthaste:

For example, hackers into our systems should have their computers be hacked instantaneously. Their content should be “vacuumed,”, preferably including their backups, too, and, if possible, they should be physically destroyed. If this will be done regularly, systematically and secretly the message “don’t mess with me” will be clearer that any diplomatic signal the White House has in mind.  This way there is a chance to retrieve information that was hacked.

Replacing an army of hackers with appropriate computers takes time even in China. In the meantime, we could strengthen our defensive and offensive capabilities.

Projecting our renewed strength could then bolster our defense. But to get there, we must now mount the best offense we can muster.

More in– “CyberDiplomacy vs. CyberSecurity.”

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