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Commentary—Why?

I had just posted my latest blog about the lethal use of drones when a very dear friend, whom I have known since grade school, asked me why I couldn’t write something uplifting. He said I have done so much international traveling why not write about that. Stop providing us with the unsettling side of national security. Stop telling us that we may have to move back to the cave.

For the past 60 plus years I have seen a good part of the world, seen different cultures and tried to leave my comfort space to be able to be embraced by new or different ways to live.

I have walked a beach where the vast majority of the bathers were people recuperating from sex change operations. I have, on two very separate occasions, walked the streets of abject, unimaginable poverty and deformity. I have been a guest in the home of a person whose sole aim was to buy all the land surrounding his home so he could not see an alien chimney or driveway. I have seen and eaten food that cannot be described with my vocabulary.

Obviously, my friend doesn’t want me to write about most of this. He wants me to describe and take him happily with my words to those places of magical dreams— swimming off Bora Bora, sitting in a palatial apartment overlooking the Seine or the Louvre, drinking high tea at the Dorchester, pumping ice cold water from a well high on a mountain overlooking Lake George.

Last week, during a moment of “what I’d like to do at 88 years of age “other than think about getting up on the right side of the grass — is to fly a helicopter —be an analyst at the CIA, have a late night radio program in a small town in New England, be a piano player in a small pub anywhere. If given enough time, the list would go on. But as my father would say— “take the needle out of your arm“or my wife always with the wakeup words: “reality” and “responsibility”.

We’ve often talked that we worry not about our adult children but about the world of our “four boys” –our grandsons, who are growing older and taller and wiser.

I’ve known that my blog/ commentary ranks in the 70s of the 101 Intelligence sites, but I have no idea who really reads my comments other than the few friends and relatives who may comment weeks after publication. My hope is that — in my response to my old friend — there might be someone who reads the commentary who can change things, who can make a difference, who might be moved, however slightly, by my rantings and would be willing and able to take the next important step—so we no longer have to “worry “about the world of our grandchildren.

Richard Allan

The Editor

 

Commentary–The Drone Overhead

Commentary—The Drone Overhead

When my son was very young, I bought him a model plane with a small kerosene motor. The plane was attached to a very long lanyard to control and manage the plane’s flight. One Sunday morning we traveled into Brooklyn to an empty schoolyard started the engine that was loud enough to wake the dead and flew the plane for no more than three minutes. We were scared to death we might lose control of this non deadly “thing”. Today we have drones and they are lethal.

If you’re so inclined you can buy one of the sophisticated toys drones on Amazon. The cheapest is $29.99, or if you’re really hooked, there is one for over $10,000. It’s the non-toys that concern me and should you. The United States’ drone (the “Reaper MQ9) shot down by Iran cost the taxpayers between 123 to 139 million dollars. A second U.S. drone was shot down since June by the Iranian allied Houthis. These are very expensive losses. A smaller one from Iran was destroyed by a specially trained group of our navy in the straits of Hormuz.

We all know that drones are not flown with a pilot in a cockpit (thus called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), but from, in many cases, thousands of miles away. They range in shape and size, some with enormous wing spans and can cost in excess of 4 million dollars for just one! They can carry multiple sets of bombs and “Hellfire” missiles (whose cost depending upon the model is in excess of 99,600 dollars for each one). They have multi-mission capability, multi-target precision-strike ability, and can be launched from multiple air, sea, and ground platforms. Some drones also have the capability to loiter overhead for 14 hours when reaching their target. I attempted to count the number the different types of military drones and stopped at ten. All American. What country doesn’t have a military drone? “There are at least 150 different military drone systems being used by 48 countries.” Drones range in size from a hummingbird size “Black Hornet to the massive 15,000-pound RQ-4 “Global Hawk. “There are at least 28 countries with armed drones in their military, and we know at least nine (the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan) have actually used them in operations. Six of those countries used an armed drone in just the last two years.” By consensus, the cutting-edge current UAV’s are flown by U.S., Israel and China. Most information regarding their operational capacity and components fall under the heading of “military secrets” and, thus, unknown.

To bring down an enemy drone, one of two procedures are generally followed: Jamming and Spoofing. Jamming is utilizing a transmission blocking signal to disrupt communications between a drone and the pilot and to take over control of the drone’s activity.  Spoofing a drone refers to a third party taking over the drone remotely by impersonating the remote control. It involves emitting a signal that is supposed to confuse the drone, so that it thinks the spoofing signal is legitimate (when in fact it isn’t).

What is clear is that our security (I am not referring to our privacy having a drone monitoring our backyard activity) is in jeopardy at any moment. I am not paranoid. A little less than one year ago, Christopher Wray, the FBI Director, said the risk of drone attack against the United States is “steadily increasing” due to their wide spread availability and ease of use”.
For 1500 dollars you can rig your civilian drone with a flame thrower. What I just learned, to my naive thinking, is that flame throwers are legal in a good part of this country and have the ability of throwing a 25 foot flame. Why would anyone want one other than to do damage.

The EU Security Commissioner noted that drones are” becoming more and more powerful and smarter,”  and warned within the last weeks, “which makes them more and more attractive for legitimate use, but also for hostile acts.”

This is not new news—and I have warned about that threat especially in crowded areas such as New York.  “And the real fear from a drone attack is that a chemical or biological payload could be delivered into the midst of a crowded space with relative ease.” According to Germany’s de Welt, France’s Anti-Terrorism Unit (UCLAT) issued a “secret report” for the country’s Special Committee on Terrorism. The report warned of “a possible terrorist attack on a football stadium by means of an unmanned drone that could be equipped with biological warfare agents.”

I have reported, before, on terrorist use of drones in the Middle East to mount attacks—countless Islamic State (ISIS) raids on the Iraqi frontline, recent attacks on Saudi targets and the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad sharing video online of an attempted drone attack on Israeli tanks on the Gaza border. I said at the time, that security agencies focus on the possibility that a dangerous payload would target the West. Terrorist-drone threat has now become the topic of interest for those who try to anticipate the future methods of a terrorist attack. “Last year, at a closed meeting with one of the U.K.’s leading soccer clubs, the stadium’s security director told the room ‘there are two things that terrify us: a large vehicle driven at speed at thousands of fans as they head home after a match, and, of course, drones.’” The meeting room overlooked a stadium where “it is estimated that 50,000 plus people gather 25 plus times a year”. I remember, many years ago, reading a novel whose center theme was a dirigible attack on a football stadium during the Super Bowl.

FBI Director, Christopher Wray, told a Senate Homeland Security Committee last year that the terrorist threat from drones is escalating—such devices “will be used to facilitate an attack in the U.S. against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering”. A year earlier Wray had told senators that “we do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones. We’ve seen that overseas already…the expectation is that it’s coming here. They are relatively easy to acquire, relatively easy to operate, and quite difficult to disrupt and to monitor.”

Islamic State propaganda posters have already depicted a drone attack on the Eiffel Tower in Paris and New York City. Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, has warned that the threat from drones “is outpacing our ability to respond…terrorist groups such as the Islamic State aspire to use armed drones against our homeland and U.S. interests overseas.”

Remember, ISIS operatives have extensive drone experience from the Middle East. A U.K. police counter-terror spokesperson commenting on drones: they “have been used on the battlefield and what’s used on the battlefield will eventually be adapted to be used on domestic soil.”

The relative ease — availability and execution — to support a drone attack alarms security agencies worldwide. What is clear is that the amount of explosives or missiles that can be carried by obtainable drones are not unlimited. But there is one explosive (as I will discuss further in this Commentary) that weights little in comparison to size and weight of conventional missiles, and has immense destructive power upon impact.

Less than five months after the alleged military defeat of ISIS in Syria, a report from the UN stated that the leaders of that terrorist group could launch international terrorist attacks. It was claimed that ISIS has reconnaissance potential targets and has positioned explosives. And, in today’s NYT (8.20.19) front page headline: “After ‘Defeat’ ISIS Rekindles In Middle East”—“Killing and Recruiting as U.S, Draws Down.” All this notwithstanding President Trump’s claim that the group has all but been eliminated as Al Qaeda sits quietly and safely in Afghanistan protecting the Talban leadership, and we are planning to begin to remove our troops on a public announced timetable that he derided many years ago. But they are not the only ones we should fear. Domestic attacks are on the rise and more deadly. Presently, domestic terrorists are not treated under a terrorism statute but under the general criminal law statutes.

New York has been called a lot of different names. Some of them pejorative, some anti-Semitic, some racist. New York was a different symbol for those who decided to strike us on 9/11.

If you want to hurt us you can. And if there are enough of you, you can want to destroy us. And you, in this world of information gathering at your fingertips, and with not too much of a stretch of one’s imagination, your actions can be devastating.

Pick a stretch of industrial land in Queens were one can find an ample number of empty factory warehouses. Move the equipment you will need into your empty building after the workers in the nearby occupied factories have left for the evening but before it gets too dark. Don’t attract attention. Assemble the drones you have purchased legally on Amazon, and attach the maximum weight of an explosive that each drone can carry. You might want to use Semtex, also known as “plastic”, and then wait. I have seen Semtex at work and was overwhelmed at the amount of damage a small amount can accomplish.

You want a clear day with the week following rainless and bright. Then at eleven o’clock in the morning when all the inborn traffic to Manhattan had peaked — Drone A and B will be flown the short distance into the base of the air control tower of JFK and LaGuardia airports. Drone C and D will be flown into the western tower of the Manhattan Bridge spanning the width of the bridge and anchoring its suspension cables. The Bridge carries 450,000 people each day. About 80,000 by automobile and the balance by four of the City’s subway lines from and to Brooklyn and Manhattan. Last, Drone D will be flown into the massive complex of the new, crowd gathering, Hudson Yards. Drone C and D will arrive at the bridge 10 minutes after Drone A and B struck JFK and LaGuardia airports. And Drone E will arrive 20 minutes later at Hudson Yards. Each attack 10 minutes apart.

The massive JFK and LaGuardia airports will be closed and disrupt domestic and international air traffic. The destruction and loss of a major element of the City’s subway and vehicular transportation venues systems would cause havoc, and the debris from the collapsed portion of the bridge would end what economic use there is of the East River. Hudson Yards would remind us of 9/11.

Aside from the lives lost— not nearly the number murdered in the 9/11 attack, and faced with major transportation systems incapacitated or crippled, the fear and panic created, spread and percolated would overwhelm and might eventually destroy the heartbeat of the City.

Some drones are toys; some in the future will deliver your Walmart package to your front porch and some……

Richard Allan

The Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commentary: We’ve taken our eye off the prime enemy.

President Trump happens to be the loudest person on the planet earth and sucks the oxygen out all the others who are attempting to speak. Sound does not travel in a vacuum. And we have provided him a platform. We instinctively follow the noise and a loud trombone. We turn our heads to the sound of the drum. Tonight, I hear about yet another shooting and, not quite buried in the news, the gas lighting by a public official who has not been playing it straight with the American public— think of the attorney general. I decided I need to take a quiet break. A very dear boyhood friend asked me this afternoon: “can’t you write something funny”? And we agreed that we no longer worry about our children but fear what we are creating for our grandchildren. A dangerous, hostile environment that starts in the street and rises to the highest offices of government. And not just in the United States. America has always been “the” leader in the world, and the rest of the world is now following our steps in hate and domestic violence. “Beat them up and I’ll pay your legal fees”. Not some mob boss, but the president of the United States. The President is using trade wars and tariffs as a wrecking ball. The American farmer is living on life support with your tax dollars. The cost to you is 16 billions of dollars on top of 12 billion last year. And, however you might want to spin the facts, there is no such thing as clean coal. And you can watch each day as the stock market flirts with going lower and lower, as 40 percent of all Americans would struggle to meet a $400 emergence expense. That’s untenable, unacceptable and the list goes on. And as the facts get lost in the loud noise, our national security has been placed in jeopardy by our failure to appropriately focus our military ingenuity and resources. China built that Great Wall to keep out the invaders; presently it is building an even greater “wall” to embrace however far it can reach outward. China’s naval fleet is growing faster than any other fleet in the world, and after decades upon decades they are in the throes of controlling all the coastal water far from their shores. We presently sail thru the South China Sea at our peril. But that is only the tip of the rolling wave. Decade after decade we have been in one war after another with one eye on the large red star in Moscow and the other unfocused, failing to see the Chinese as a potential military threat much greater than the Russian dictator. They have changed the balance of power in the Pacific in two decades and are in the process of making our all but invincible aircraft carrier fleet obsolete and impotent. To compound our lack of focus, the Trump Administration has pulled money from ballistic missile surveillance programs to fund the Great Trump Wall on a desert stretch of barren land. While our navy is directed to conduct “freedoms of navigation” operations, in claimed territorial water, for the purposes of challenging what is clearly Chinese excessive maritime claims of control and dominion. The U.S. Department of Defense released an annual assessment of Chinese military power. That report revealed in stark terms that the Beijing’s artificially constructed islands (I have written about this in the past) were subject to considerable militarization throughout 2018. Beijing placed “anti-ship cruise missiles and long-range surface-to-air missiles on outposts in the Spratly Islands, violating a 2015 pledge by Chinese President Xi Jinping that ‘China does not intend to pursue militarization’ of the Spratly Islands . The area is already militarized and part of the total Chinese aggressive military movement. The traffic and trade war with China however controlling they are of our nation’s headlines and in turn our pocket books, the economic volatility will get worse and might end in all probability to erase all predicted financial gains this year. And we can look forward to decades of toe to toe world competition, with China our most powerful economic competitor. There will be a long term economic war of attrition and conflict between the two nations. Before I focus on the enlarging security challenges by the Chinese, it is obvious that most eyes are on Iran, underlined by the president’s constant references to an armed conflict with that nation. To put that in perspective: Although it is true that Iran has an elite naval force, it is of no consequence to the American navel capacity in that area of the world—the Straits of Hormus– a naval choke point between the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. The Straits are a vital shipping line that Iran alleges it controls. If one would compare that to the dangers of conflict with China, Iran is mosquito that will disintegrate before American’s naval and air power. I don’t say that in a flippant manner, and I do not mean to minimize its importance, but it is imperative to understand the enormous difference in problems present and future that each of these nations present. With regard to China: the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet has sailed thru the South China Sea to challenge China’s excessive maritime claims. China promptly responded that this aggressive act was provocative and an infringement on Chinese sovereignty and dangerous to international peace. This naval exercise followed a recent transit by two other warships through international waters in the Taiwan Straits. With outstanding reporting and analysis by Reuters excellent investigation team and Benjamin Kang Lim, we have been well schooled on how powerful China has become and its military ability to forcefully confront the U.S. military dominance. China’s biggest state-owned missile maker, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Ltd, screened missiles that are specifically designed to attack aircraft carriers which have been, since the demise of the massive battleship, the mainstay of our military dominance. If you have a moment look at the size and shape of the latest aircraft carrier, you can only marvel on not only its size but its capacity to bring enormous destruction to the enemy far from its decks. “Across almost all categories (of missiles manufactured by the Chinese) of these weapons, based on land, loaded on strike aircraft or deployed on warships and submarines, China’s missiles rival or outperform their counterparts in the armories of the United States …” Beijing, has always been unrestrained by the INF Treaty (which the U.S. just cancelled unilaterally with Russia), in its deploying them in massive numbers. And their range of operation is very impressive: between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (3,418 miles). This includes the so-called carrier killer missiles like the DF-21D, which can target aircraft carriers and other warships underway at sea at a range of up to 1,500 kilometers, according to Chinese and Western military analysts. If these missiles are as effective as described, and it would be wrong to discount this information, they would give China a destructive capability no other military can boast. China’s advantage in this class of missiles is likely to remain for the foreseeable future, despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in February to withdraw from the treaty in six months.” China is also making rapid strides in developing so-called hypersonic missiles, which can maneuver sharply and travel at five times the speed of sound. Presently, the United States has no defenses against a missile like this, according to Pentagon officials, and this positions China as having the most advanced defensive ballistic missile system in the world. Without sabre rattling, America is at a sever disadvantage to the power in the East. But it is important to note I have used the word “defensive” in terms of China’s power. The United States has 11 aircraft carriers, China just two. China is not looking to proactively engage the U.S. in a naval battle, but they are more than prepared to defeat the U.S. if it is the aggressor threating its claimed territorial waters. In addition, China has the capacity to push back its military as it looks to expand its influence over vast areas of the South China Sea, by quietly ramping up its naval and air incursions around Taiwan and pushing its operations into territory it disputes with Japan and others in the vast East China Sea. Two challengers have been posed to me: The first is China’s weapons have yet to face the reality of battle. China, I am reminded, has not fought a war since invading Vietnam in 1979. We, the U.S., have done nothing but test our hardware in war after war over the past two decades. What makes me so sure that China is our number one capable military adversary? And second, “if China were so very far advance in the military spectrum of international military jostling and has no fear of U.S. intervention wouldn’t they ‘just liberate’ Taiwan”. If in fact the description of China’s extraordinary missile ability is only 90 percent accurate, any aggressive moves by a multi U.S. Carrier fleet into or near the South China Sea in a real or perceived aggressive stance will invite the possibility of massive destruction. Are we willing to test China’s ability or resolve in this reckless way? Taiwan is and will never be a threat to China. It is an ongoing annoyance, a political embarrassment but nothing more. To “liberate” Taiwan would require a military operation and become a quagmire and an internationally diplomatic nightmare for China. We tend to think of China not as a nation, as we view England, France or Russia but as individuals who we have seen through the decades in our movies, televisions and characters in sitcoms. How many in the U.S. see the individual Chinese person. May I say on the one hand our responses boarder on racism while marveling at their mathematical genius? China is looking to replace the United States as the world leader and we do an immense disservice to our grandchildren if we ignore facts, rely upon stereo type, and market our aggressive military posture. Richard Allan The Editor

Commentary–National Security Where Is the Line Drawn?

America has been at war for a very long time. From the end of WWI to the “great” depression, when I was born, Europe and the U.S. celebrated. The 1929 depression was deep, and the reveling ended. My family was hit, and it hurt for a very long time.

It is hard to ignore that WWII and the effort to defeat Hitler was a significant event that brought jobs back to this country. It was also a time that we, in Brooklyn, had air raid wardens who wore helmets, and we participated in periodic air raid drills.  One very dark night, the air raid sirens went off when an unidentified plane flew over the City. This seemed like the real thing, so we took cover in our back hallway as my mother sat with my bed-bound grandmother.

We opened the widows to prevent shattering in the event a bomb landed near us. And to support our National Security, we bought war bonds as savings and gave them as gifts. There were war bond rallies headlined by celebrities to support the war effort –our national security.

When the hostilities ended, another war began. The Cold War.  And sitting here tonight, I don’t remember a time that “national security” was not an issue: from the evil of Joe McCarthy to the misguided Bay of Pigs Invasion, and the invasions in the mid-East or this country after 9/11.

I am not alone in tossing about the term “nation security”. It’s tossed as one might toss a handful of confetti. In 1979-1980 there were a very small handful of us writing about terrorism and national security. Today, it is a thriving cottage industry. Today, everyone is a national security expert. That claim has been parsed into small fragments for “in-depth” analysis by television appearances, in print and with a large focus by the federal government.

The cold war ended with the war in Korea. Korea is a country that most of us know little if anything about, and yet, it is, today, one of the centers of our muddled national security history. I know your first response to what I have written is that I have mischaracterized the name of that country. Prior to WWII and since the mid-1800s Korea was “owned” by the imperial kingdom of Japan. At the end of the war the uneasy allies, U.S. and Russia, had to decide the fate of the Japanese empire, including Korea. The fact that Russia came very late to the war in the Pacific, in order to have its finger in the political pie in that part of the world, a semiliterate state department genius decided the fate of Korea by cutting it in half. The northern portion went to Russian domination and the southern half, demarcated by the infamous 38th parallel, was ceded to the U.S. domination.   All this, notwithstanding before the end of WWII both the United States and the UK thought of Russia and Communism as a world threat and an attack on Western national security.

On June 25, 1950, the cold war ended and hostilities began with the Korean War. Some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel. One month later America entered the war on behalf of the pro-Western Republic of Korea (South Korea).  The motivating force behind our entering hostiles on the side of South Korea was the concern that this was a war against the military and political forces of international communism—thus our national security. Three of my closest friends served in the army. One of them described the horrific retreat his battle group suffered.  Meanwhile, American officials began to be concerned about the possibility of a widening conflict, and three years after hostilities began, the U.S. anxiously attempted to fashion some sort of armistice with the North Koreans. In the end, nothing was accomplished. The boundary between North and South Korea remained the 38 parallel.  In all, some 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives during the war. Forty thousand U.S. troops died and the same number were injured. We gained nothing. The Korean peninsula is still divided today at the same 38th Parallel. Our real national security issues with regard to Korea did not start with the end of WWII, but began in the 1980s with their  investment in nuclear weapons and their delivery. We did nothing, and so, today, we are behind the curve.

During the 1st century AD, the Chinese attempted to integrate the people of Vietnam.  Ultimately, the Chinese interference was unacceptable to the French colonists. In 1946, the First Indochina War began, as France sought to impose, once again, its colonial rule. The French fared badly and in 1954 suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Ho Chi Minh at Dien Bien Phu.

Similar to the attempts to settle political issues in Korea, Vietnam was subsequently divided at the 17 parallel with the promise of elections in the South. North Vietnam, with its capital Hanoi, was ruled by a Communist regime under Ho Chi Minh. South Vietnam, with its capital Saigon, was ruled by a pro-Western strongman and corrupt leader, Ngo Dinh Diem. In 1955, Diem refused to hold the promised elections and, backed by Hanoi in the north, Viet Minh forces began armed attacks in the south. In 1964, the Americans had an advisory position helping the South. After a contrived incident in the Gulf of Tonkin, LBJ used the event to start the Second Indochina War – known to the Vietnamese as the American War, which would ravage the country for almost 20 years.

In a misconceived attempt to contain Communism, the United States first sent advisers to assist the southern regime in 1960. By 1965, the air force had started regular bombing of the north, and U.S. combat troops had landed at Danang . By 1968, US troop strength had risen to more than half-a-million men, but that year’s offensive by the Viet Cong sapped Washington’s will to fight. In 1973 the last US combat troops were withdrawn. Within two years, in April 1975, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) had captured Saigon, and Vietnam was once again unified.

We were looking, once again, to contain the threat of world domination by communism. What was accomplished by our involvement to “allegedly “protect our national security? Nothing. It ravaged our nation in a long, costly war that did nothing for our national security. Viet Nam is a communist nation that does not represent a threat to the well-being of this nation. In fact, a massive factory in Hanoi that once produced uniforms for the Vietnamese Army now produces uniforms for our Olympic teams.

Dick Cheney, (Bush’s vice president) who some have called an evil person, wanted a war, and he found one after 9/11.  We have been embroiled in the mid-east since. Why? The claim of national security then extended to our national security “interests” and, still further, to a “national emergency.”

What is the definition of national security? There is none. Initially, it referred to our military defenses. It now encompasses all that is in the imagination of a presiding government, including the President’s blatant attempt to bypass Congress and create a “national emergency” to send arms to Saudi Arabia. And just as I was about to put the final period to this commentary, after my copy editor corrected my punctuation and spelling, an article hit the front page of the Sunday New York Times and then the Wall Street Journal, describing the new Cold War. The enemy is now China, whose investments in the U.S. have dropped 90% since the onset of the Trump administration and the trade war. But that is not the issue.  “Fear of China has spread across the government from the White House to Congress to federal agencies…where Beijing’s rise is unquestioningly viewed as an economic and national security threat and the defining challenge of the 21stcentury.”  Trump’s hawk-in-chief Bannon commenting on China’s building a war machine and aggressive economic stance said: “one side is going to win, and one side is going to lose.” “These are two systems that are incompatible.” Then one day later, in the WSJ, it was revealed that China has signed a secret deal with Cambodia (which Cambodia called “fake news”) permitting its armed forces to use a Cambodian navy base, as China looks to boast it military power. Remember, not only do we have bases all over the world, imbedded to protect our national security and extend our national interests, but, just revealed the U.S. has 150 H-bombs in Europe and Turkey. They are deployed at bases in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey.

A rational definition of national security is as close as one can get: it is a nation’s ability to meet multiple threats to the well-being of its people and to survive as a nation-state at any given time. This definition does not factor in Clinton’s involvement in Bosnia, which clearly was not in any sense a challenge to our national security, nor Trump’ bombing Syria after its dictator’s use of lethal gas. “National security”,” interest”, “emergency” have become catch phrases that are frightening. Their indiscriminate use by an unscrupulous politician is untenable. We have created an undisciplined prescription for disastrous consequences — to the present and the future well-being of the nation.

Richard Allan

    The Editor

Commentary–Hiding in Plain Sight

In the very early spring of 1988, I would hop a train to take me from my home in NoHo to the second stop in Brooklyn. Then, a short walk to Brooklyn Law School. Then three events changed the way I travel within the City.

One morning, as the subway moved slowly toward Brooklyn, the smell of smoke begin to permeate the car I was in. The train stopped. I was in the last car. Suddenly those in the forward cars started to move en mass to the rear where I was seated. The crowd attempted to open the back door to escape onto the tracks and away from the increasing presence of smoke. The door was locked. Some people tried to close the cars window others; wanted them open, and a fight broke out in the panic. Moments later the fire department arrived and led us to a catwalk then up a steep ladder to emerge in Foley Square. Sometime later, on the same subway line, a fire broke out in the subway tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The train stopped, my heart skipped and the train moved forward at a snail’s pace thru the fire to the first stop in Brooklyn. 

In early spring of 1990, with all this in mind, and unrelated to these incidents, I met with the head of the New York City transit authority. During the meeting, I learned that there is a huge ventilation system built into our subway system to keep the air flowing within all our underground tunnels.  I immediately thought of the saran gas subway attack years before in Tokyo. And I have not been on the subway since. Saran is the deadest of all gases and was created by the Germans, but never used under Hitler’s orders. 

Why all this comes to mind today is that our political and social scene, within the last two years, has changed dramatically and, with that, the increased power, size and platform of those people who would initially turn to violence to seek the ends they desire a violent shift to the very extreme right. And not just in the United States. In Europe we are witnessing the rise of populism, nationalism and the radicalization of large portions of society. Within the last few days, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), flying the Nazi flag, threatened armed violence to destroy those they deem “freaks” in Detroit.  That and other platforms motivate the individual –the lone wolf—the loner who believes all others have failed to move fast enough or strongly

enough to their conception of a proper form of society. They want to be the poster person for change, and they live among us in plain sight. 

Like others who have concentrated on the operations of ISIS and other organizations of foreign terror, we have given little thought to the lone wolf in our midst until an event occurs and even then, we do not expand our investigation. It loses its headline factor. We must change our focus. We had been momentarily rocked in 2016, in Florida when a lone wolf attack took the lives of 49 people and wounded scores of others. In this past year, 11 people were murdered in a Pittsburgh synagogue, and there was yet another who mailed homemade bombs to liberal politicians and CNN. And most of us remember with horror Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, and the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in1995. That attack killed 168 people and wounded 680 others. But what is seared in my mind were the scores of children, who were in a daycare center in that building who died. Two men and the death of 168 people.

None of these events have created a sustained law enforcement focus of the lone-wolf, his profile, his individual motivating force and how we combat that menace.  In a marvelous article written by John Ubaldi in “In Homeland Security”, we are introduced to that terrorist. “The actions by individual terrorists have become harder to detect, because these perpetrators often live in the shadows, operate alone, and do not communicate their plans or intentions to others.” They are, in most instances, unmarried and are politically and socially connected to the utterance of some extremist group. But they act outside the network or group they admire. In attempts to be able to track them, which is extremely difficult, law enforcement monitors the social networks looking for the extremist. But by the sheer size of those engaged in spuming their hate on social network, it is as if we were searching for a needle in the haystack. It becomes an almost impossible task to pinpoint the person likely to act out their views because, as noted, as loners although they might rant on places such as Facebook, they do not communicate their intentions to others. Undercover agents, while very effective in tracking a terrorist group activity, are not in most instances available to track the lone actor because of the size of potential individual actors.

In the 1970s, a Japanese man sought a visa to the US that was denied multiple times. Thru some fluke, the State Department ultimately granted his request. When he arrived in NYC, he rented a car and crisscrossed the US, living in his car, and buying empty fire extinguishers, nails and explosive ingredients. His intentions where to explode the car in Times Square. For some unknown reason, he stopped in the last service station on the New Jersey Turnpike before entering New York City. When he returned to his car, it was alleged by a state trooper that he drove out of the large parking area at an excessive speed. When stopped, the officer also alleged that he saw the bombs on the back seat, and he was arrested.  Notwithstanding a strong procedural attack on the arrest, he was convicted. Caught by sheer luck and convicted. If he had not stopped at the service station, in all likelihood, there would have been a successful terrorist attack. The lone wolf—those who live in “the shadow of Society.”   No defense. There have been multiple attempts to explode bombs in NYC, each has failed for one reason or another and not because we were tracking the particular terrorist, a lone wolf.

In June of this year at the G-20 meeting in Japan, the U.S. joined other nations in calling for social media companies to crack down on violent terrorism content on line. It is hoped that the social media would not permit the use of their platform to facilitate terrorism

Some have suggested that the social networks be more intrusively monitored by law enforcement.  Others have chanted “privacy” or the Second Amendment. I am reminded of a former colleague whose daily complaint was aimed at the police until the day they allegedly took too long to respond to his call. Clearly, there must be an accommodation between the two—law enforcement and privacy. We live in a fluid society with radical changes in demography, communications and easily obtained methods for mass violence.  Defense against the lone wolf must be viewed pragmatically. We don’t live in an ideal world; the “slippery slope” argument is never an appropriate argument, and reality must be our guiding principal.

Richard Allan

   The Editor 

Commentary: We’ve Taken Our Eye Off the Enemy

President Trump happens to be the loudest person on the planet earth and sucks the oxygen out all the others who are attempting to speak. Sound does not travel in a vacuum. And we have provided him a platform. We instinctively follow the noise and a loud trombone. We turn our heads to the sound of the drum. Tonight, I hear about yet another shooting and, not quite buried in the news, the gas lighting by a public official who has not been playing it straight with the American public— think of the attorney general. I decided I need to take a quiet break.

A very dear boyhood friend asked me this afternoon: “can’t you write something funny”? And we agreed that we no longer worry about our children but fear what we are creating for our grandchildren. A dangerous, hostile environment that starts in the street and rises to the highest offices of government. And not just in the United States. America has always been “the” leader in the world, and the rest of the world is now following our steps in hate and domestic violence. “Beat them up and I’ll pay your legal fees”. Not some mob boss, but the president of the United States.

The President is using trade wars and tariffs as a wrecking ball. The American farmer is living on life support with your tax dollars. The cost to you is 16 billions of dollars on top of 12 billion last year. And, however you might want to spin the facts, there is no such thing as clean coal. And you can watch each day as the stock market flirts with going lower and lower, as 40 percent of all Americans would struggle to meet a $400 emergence expense. That’s untenable, unacceptable and the list goes on. And as the facts get lost in the loud noise, our national security has been placed in jeopardy by our failure to appropriately focus our military ingenuity and resources. China built that Great Wall to keep out the invaders; presently it is building an even greater “wall” to embrace however far it can reach outward. China’s naval fleet is growing faster than any other fleet in the world, and after decades upon decades they are in the throes of controlling all the coastal water far from their shores. We presently sail thru the South China Sea at our peril. But that is only the tip of the rolling wave.

Decade after decade we have been in one war after another with one eye on the large red star in Moscow and the other unfocused, failing to see the Chinese as a potential military threat much greater than the Russian dictator. They have changed the balance of power in the Pacific in two decades and are in the process of making our all but invincible aircraft carrier fleet obsolete and impotent. To compound our lack of focus, the Trump Administration has pulled money from ballistic missile surveillance programs to fund the Great Trump Wall on a desert stretch of barren land. While our navy is directed to conduct “freedoms of navigation” operations, in claimed territorial water, for the purposes of challenging what is clearly Chinese excessive maritime claims of control and dominion.

The U.S. Department of Defense released an annual assessment of Chinese military power. That report revealed in stark terms that the Beijing’s artificially constructed islands (I have written about this in the past) were subject to considerable militarization throughout 2018. Beijing placed “anti-ship cruise missiles and long-range surface-to-air missiles on outposts in the Spratly Islands, violating a 2015 pledge by Chinese President Xi Jinping that ‘China does not intend to pursue militarization’ of the Spratly Islands . The area is already militarized and part of the total Chinese aggressive military movement.

The traffic and trade war with China however controlling they are of our nation’s headlines and in turn our pocket books, the economic volatility will get worse and might end in all probability to erase all predicted financial gains this year. And we can look forward to decades of toe to toe world competition, with China our most powerful economic competitor. There will be a long term economic war of attrition and conflict between the two nations.

Before I focus on the enlarging security challenges by the Chinese, it is obvious that most eyes are on Iran, underlined by the president’s constant references to an armed conflict with that nation. To put that in perspective: Although it is true that Iran has an elite naval force, it is of no consequence to the American navel capacity in that area of the world—the Straits of Hormus– a naval choke point between the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. The Straits are a vital shipping line that Iran alleges it controls. If one would compare that to the dangers of conflict with China, Iran is mosquito that will disintegrate before American’s naval and air power. I don’t say that in a flippant manner, and I do not mean to minimize its importance, but it is imperative to understand the enormous difference in problems present and future that each of these nations present.

With regard to China: the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet has sailed thru the South China Sea to challenge China’s excessive maritime claims. China promptly responded that this aggressive act was provocative and an infringement on Chinese sovereignty and dangerous to international peace. This naval exercise followed a recent transit by two other warships through international waters in the Taiwan Straits.

 With outstanding reporting and analysis by Reuters excellent investigation team and Benjamin Kang Lim, we have been well schooled on how powerful China has become and its military ability to forcefully confront the U.S. military dominance. China’s biggest state-owned missile maker, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Ltd, screened missiles that are specifically designed to attack aircraft carriers which have been, since the demise of the massive battleship, the mainstay of our military dominance. If you have a moment look at the size and shape of the latest aircraft carrier, you can only marvel on not only its size but its capacity to bring enormous destruction to the enemy far from its decks.

“Across almost all categories (of missiles manufactured by the Chinese) of these weapons, based on land, loaded on strike aircraft or deployed on warships and submarines, China’s missiles rival or outperform their counterparts in the armories of the United States …” Beijing, has always been unrestrained by the INF Treaty (which the U.S. just cancelled unilaterally with Russia), in its deploying them in massive numbers. And their range of operation is very impressive: between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (3,418 miles). This includes the so-called carrier killer missiles like the DF-21D, which can target aircraft carriers and other warships underway at sea at a range of up to 1,500 kilometers, according to Chinese and Western military analysts. If these missiles are as effective as described, and it would be wrong to discount this information, they would give China a destructive capability no other military can boast. China’s advantage in this class of missiles is likely to remain for the foreseeable future, despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in February to withdraw from the treaty in six months.” China is also making rapid strides in developing so-called hypersonic missiles, which can maneuver sharply and travel at five times the speed of sound. Presently, the United States has no defenses against a missile like this, according to Pentagon officials, and this positions China as having the most advanced defensive ballistic missile system in the world.

Without sabre rattling, America is at a sever disadvantage to the power in the East. But it is important to note I have used the word “defensive” in terms of China’s power. The United States has 11 aircraft carriers, China just two. China is not looking to proactively engage the U.S. in a naval battle, but they are more than prepared to defeat the U.S. if it is the aggressor threating its claimed territorial waters. In addition, China has the capacity to push back its military as it looks to expand its influence over vast areas of the South China Sea, by quietly ramping up its naval and air incursions around Taiwan and pushing its operations into territory it disputes with Japan and others in the vast East China Sea.

 Two challengers have been posed to me: The first is China’s weapons have yet to face the reality of battle. China, I am reminded, has not fought a war since invading Vietnam in 1979. We, the U.S., have done nothing but test our hardware in war after war over the past two decades. What makes me so sure that China is our number one capable military adversary? And second, “if China were so very far advance in the military spectrum of international military jostling and has no fear of U.S. intervention wouldn’t they ‘just liberate’ Taiwan”.

If in fact the description of China’s extraordinary missile ability is only 90 percent accurate, any aggressive moves by a multi U.S. Carrier fleet into or near the South China Sea in a real or perceived aggressive stance will invite the possibility of massive destruction. Are we willing to test China’s ability or resolve in this reckless way? Taiwan is and will never be a threat to China. It is an ongoing annoyance, a political embarrassment but nothing more. To “liberate” Taiwan would require a military operation and become a quagmire and an internationally diplomatic nightmare for China.

We tend to think of China not as a nation, as we view England, France or Russia but as individuals who we have seen through the decades in our movies, televisions and characters in sitcoms. How many in the U.S. see the individual Chinese person. May I say on the one hand our responses boarder on racism while marveling at their mathematical genius? China is looking to replace the United States as the world leader and we do an immense disservice to our grandchildren if we ignore facts, rely upon stereo type, and market our aggressive military posture.

Richard Allan

The Editor

The Suicide Drone

Although it hasn’t been warm enough to go outside in a light jacket, I decided, today, it was time to do the necessary clearing of my winter pile of papers, clippings and magazines on my desk and accept that spring will come one day.

I am blessed with a wife who cleans out our junk mail right at our mail box into a garbage can provided by coop, but being a hoarder, there are certain items I grab and tuck onto my desk. What remained today were three items, which although miles apart in subject matter, are connected and very troublesome for our national security.
One of the catalogues, I was able to salvage, as my wife happily tossed them away, advertised as a new and exotic drone. One is small enough for your apartment and a larger model for your Central Park enjoyment. The second “type” drone I found in a press release from those who follow the news out of Moscow. The drone hyped by Moscow is being developed and operated as a “suicide” weapon. Suicide is the intentional causing one’s own death. An example would be those persons the Palestine Authority financially support, who choose the role of strapping a bomb to their body. That is suicide.

The Russian suicide drone is very different from drones we presently employ which are much large –more than 20 feet in length and carry rockets to be launched. The drone remains intact and is redeployed for another mission. The major news outlets have referred to the new Russian drone as a “suicide drone”, which on first blush is misleading, but on second thought makes total sense. Imagine a drone with all the capacity to sustain itself flying over a long distance, hover, choose its target and then destroy itself on impact. Now imagine several such drones flying in a semi-formation over an enemy battalion or city, and then simultaneously destroying itself upon not one but several designated targets.

First some background that is important to review: A report issued by the Dutch National Coordinator of Counterterrorism and Security reported that Muslim extremists are recruiting to radicalize European Muslims in schools, mosques and social groups. Notwithstanding ISIS’s loss of territory, it continues to be a significant terrorist threat. This is especially true for all those who fought with ISIS and are coming home to Europe. It becomes evident that ISIS and al-Qaida are using this quiet time in preparing to launch multiple attacks. In addition, hundreds of American commandos and other troops are leaving West Africa at the same moment terrorist attacks are intensifying and spreading across that continent.

Although there have been lulls in terrorist attacks in 2018—only 6 attacks in Europe, compared to 20 in 2017, we must not, cannot assume that international terrorism is on the decline. When we move from the European theatre to the United States, according to FBI figures shared with The Post, in the 2017 budget year there were about 110 people arrested in the United States, after being investigated for actions inspired by foreign terror groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. Of those, about 30 faced terrorism charges. Lawmakers are rightfully worried about domestic terrorism in the United States and want the FBI and the Justice Department to provide a complete accounting of the threat after recently disclosed data show arrests in such cases now outpace those in international terrorism probes.

The third prong of this discussion is a front page graph and lengthy article in the New York Times asserting that attacks by White Extremists are growing. More important, is their connection, however tenuous, to each other. In addition, the attacks in North America are more deadly.

If you put each of these developments side-by-side it is possible that the terrorist is on the cusp of changing how it might attack in a new, more dangerous and surgically applied way to inflict greater damage and to increase its psychological impact. Let me explain.

I have never visited Abu Dhabi, let alone attended an armaments exhibition but the blog “In Homeland Security” staff has led us thru a small section of an exhibit of the get-together of the world’s munitions and arms companies, as they walked the runway touting their latest methods for the most efficient ways of us killing each other. Most of us looking at the Paris fashion world (even the non-aware people such as myself) know the names of the world’s famous fashion designers, but how many of us know the name: Kalashnikov Group? You should.

Their designer product is on the lips of every person when there is a mass shooting in the United States—the infamous, deadly, accurate AK-47 assault rifle. It has become the most lethal tool across the globe. It is cheap, easy to use and best of all very efficient. In Homeland Security blog it claims that the United States “purchases secondhand Kalashnikov (AK-47) rifles for its allies in Syria and Afghanistan, rather than give them the more expensive American-made guns.” That in “arms” terms is a compliment.

Although it is widely known that the U.S. and Israel have incorporated suicide drones into their resources, the Russian government has the KUB drone designed and built by the people who brought us the AK-47. The KUB, as described, is faster, more accurate, delivers twice the explosive capacity and has a greater range than the devices presently slapped together by terrorists or the U.S. and Israel. “And unlike U.S. and Israeli exploding drones, the KUB will be ‘very cheap,’ said one of the Kalashnikov representatives.” The Russian corporate spokesperson described the drone as four feet wide, can fly for 30 minutes at a speed of 80 mph and carries six pounds of explosives. “That makes it roughly the size of a coffee table that can be guided to explode on a target 40 miles away.”

This weapon changes not only the face of warfare between major adversaries but the face of terrorism. If the KUB is as simple and cheap to make and is as accurate as described, then it is very conceivable that a well-funded terrorist organization can copycat its design and delivery. In addition, considering its size, it can be transported and delivered anywhere in the world with a little ingenuity. That is one side of this unsettling news. The other side is the rise in numbers of individual extremist and local extremist groups. They are not traveling to the United States, they are already here and are part of our society whether in Portland, California or Kansas or Charleston where attacks have occurred. They don’t have to smuggle a stolen Russian suicide drone. They can duplicate it right here at home.

I well remember 9/11, that day and the days following. Not only the psychological shock, but paranoia swept thru the City and the nation. The cancellation of air flights across the country. The swift shutting down of mass transit leaving people stranded. I can vividly recall the pictures of people running thru the streets to escape downtown Manhattan. And the smell that lingered for weeks.

Now visualize, not a 9/11 concentrate attack against two closely placed buildings, but five or six simultaneously launched suicide drones from a sparsely dense neighborhood in Queens or Westchester each carrying six pounds of the deadliest explosives, exploding into the towers of JFK and LaGuardia airports, the center of Times Square, Grand Central Station, and a number of highly dense towers spread out in Manhattan. That attack would close the City and paralyze the nation. ISIS and al-Qaeda and their subparts are not defeated, but much more important is that we have become more vulnerable to our own homegrown white extremists who think globally but act locally.

Richard Allan
The Editor

2-9-19 Commentary- ISIS IS Not Defeated

 In the latter part of 1989, when terrorists and suicide bombers from the mid-East were beginning to create consistent headlines, I began to think back, 45 years earlier, to the Japanese kamikaze pilots during WWII. For those who have no memory of this group of young Japanese fighter pilots, with their flowing white silk scarfs and their “Banzai” war chant or battle charge, their mission was to ultimately ram their plane into the largest allied fighting ships in the Pacific. At that time I wasn’t surprised by their suicidal acts, nor in reflection am I now, considering the ancient Japanese culture of an honorable death — seppuku or, as we know it, hara-kiri—to restore honor. I came to understand that this particular action was not terrorism, as we define it, but an act of war…instead of dropping the bomb, the kamikaze pilot flew the bomb into the target.

But in 1989-90 what was motivating this new breed of mid-eastern terrorist? There was no ancient mid-eastern honor code to direct sacrificing one’s life to correct a breach of duty or honor. The terrorists who were hijacking airplanes and detonating vest bomb and forfeiting their life were not an “elder” whose misstep brought dishonor. In 1989-90, I could find no ancient scroll to help me understand this new type of terrorism. What I did learn was that there is a long history in the use of terrorism first domestically then as an offensive weapon. One thing that history teaches us, but invariably we fail to acknowledge, is that history does repeat itself—not necessarily verbatim but in some similar form. The President has claimed that ISIS is defeated, and has decided to withdraw our military forces from Syria without consulting our allies. This is a denial of history clearly indicates that he has absolutely no understanding of the facts on the ground or the history of the last 25 years and is tone deaf to the uproar it created.

During a Senate hearing the highest ranking intelligence officials warned that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, was capable of attacking the United States and painted a picture of a still-formidable terrorist organization notwithstanding its loss of occupied territory. The President repeated the very same inaccurate picture during his State of the Union address. Additionally, a released Pentagon report sets out a stark warning that without US military presence and pressure, ISIS could, in all likelihood, regain the territory it lost in Syria within the next six months to a year. One can accurately forecast that with our withdrawal ISIS will re-establish its caliphate left by our disappearing act and its void. There are three things that are on the top of the list of danger zones we presently face either because of a lack of knowledge or not looking at the history of global attacks by terrorism as follows:

The first is Trump’s latest snap decision proposal for a 20-mile safe zone that Turkey will establish. This plan has been made with no process or analysis. This area would encompass all Kurdish areas of eastern Syria. There is no armed force ready to take over that responsibility, nor time to build one, as American troops prepare to leave. And entry of Turkish-backed opposition forces would likely displace thousands of Kurds, as well as threaten vulnerable Christian communities interspersed in these areas. The strategic consequences of Trump’s decision are already playing out: The more Turkey expands its reach in Syria, the faster our Arab partners in the region appear to lean toward Damascus. In addition, Bloomberg news finally reports what very few media outlets seem to understand about Syria: “US troops aren’t even marginally involved in the fight against the biggest remaining jihadi force there — which is al-Qaeda, not ISIS.”

The second point, as reported in great detail in Smithsonian Magazine, more than 17 years after the Global War on Terrorism was initiated by President George W. Bush, it is now truly global. “We found that, contrary to what most Americans believe, the war on terror is not winding down—it has spread to more than 40 percent of the world’s countries. The war isn’t being waged by the military alone, which has spent $1.9 trillion fighting terrorism since 2001. The State Department has spent $127 billion in the last 17 years to train police, military and border patrol agents in many countries and to develop antiterrorism education programs, among other activities.” This is a damming statement, contradicting the claim that the “world is safe”; ISIS has been defeated. We think of ISIS as mid-east phenomena, but that was only a seed from a previously terrorist group that has been replicated and is now embedded across the globe: as I write this commentary, the WSJ reported that ISIS has made a “surprise” comeback in West Africa. Why the surprise? Which brings me to my third thought.

What any historian studying the incubation and evolving of present day international terrorism will list as number one is that, like the amoeba we looked at thru a microscope in high school, terrorist groups have internal conflicts and wins and losses on the battle field that prompt them to split and reorganize. When one group is “defeated” or there appears to be internal conflict, a splinter group develops and takes on its own mantle with a new or adjusted focus and methodology. ISIS is not dead, and with its loss of territory in the mid-East (which it will fill with Trump’s retreat) it will find, as it has done, a different venue to operate and control.

Trump in a repeating tweet, true to form, that in no uncertain terms, he “knows more and better” than his senior security heads. And he continues to declare ISIS defeated by pushing the envelope to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Imagine for a moment the CPA you retain each year for your tax advice and corporate filing. She is about ready to have brain surgery, and prior to the anesthetist saying “count back from 100” she tells her surgeon, in great detail, how to proceed in performing the operation. You would get a court mandate to do both the operation as planned by the surgeon and instantly commit the person to a psychiatric institution… and find a new accountant.

Richard Allan,

The Editor

Commentary: Japan and World Order

As a child, late on the afternoon of December 7th 1941, I was sitting with my father in the balcony of a movie theatre called the Brooklyn Paramount. It had a large ornate interior much like the Paramount movie theatre then on Broadway. The movie we were watching was “One Foot in Heaven”. It was a period piece set in 1917, and I believe the star was Fredric March, as the head of a happy family. I recall I was thinking that afterward I wanted to go to the Horn and Hardat restaurant for their apple pie when suddenly, the picture on the screen started to flutter and stop. The house lights went on and a man in (to the best of my recollection) an army uniform walked out to the middle of the stage, looked into the audience, and told us that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. He told all the service men that they must return to their base immediately. The lights went off, the movie flickered on, and the characters on the screen were celebrating the end of WW I. I began to cry, thinking that my father, although not in the army, would leave us.

In September of 1945, I saw, I believe in Life Magazine, the historic picture of the signing of the unconditional surrender of Japanese forces. A cloth covered mess table had been placed on the deck of the battle ship the USS Missouri (which then was the last battleship commissioned into the United States Navy), anchored in Tokyo Bay, along with over two hundred other allied warships but no aircraft carriers. There were four or five men in uniform (Japanese and allied) standing on opposite sides of the table, signing. Thus began five and half years of American occupation of Japan.

On 27th September of that year, in a photograph, the towering figure of General Douglas MacArthur (hero of the Pacific war) is shown standing next to the Japanese Emperor Hirohito, for their first meeting. MacArthur has his hands in his pockets and the Emperor, ramrod stiff, in formal attire.

MacArthur’s title was Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, and to the world he was the leading figure in all that took place in the ensuing years, until he was “fired” by President Truman. MacArthur forgot (or ignored the fact) that there was a Commander-in-Chief of American forces who also happened to be the President of the United States. He never diminished the growing impression that whatever flowed from his office in Tokyo had its inception under his direct command. What I learned, only recently, was that there was concentrated planning in Washington for the eventual defeat of Japan and its “rehabilitation” two years prior to its actual defeat and occupation.

By 1946, the Japanese government, under U.S. military occupation, thought it was MacArthur’s intention that they draft a new constitution for the emerging postwar, post occupation nation. Upon review by MacArthur’s team, it was immediately rejected and MacArthur ordered (without consultation with any of the US Allies) a government section of his occupying forces to draft a constitution, to be ready for submission within a matter of weeks.

Two items of the new constitution, adopted in 1947, are of particular importance today. The first is that the Emperor, under the newly proposed constitution, would lose the position of ultimate authority, although remaining as head of state. In essence, what real political power he previously exercised would be abolished, and the rights of peerage would be abolished. In principal, Japan became a constitutional monarchy. The second element, Article 9 of the Constitution, is presently in the forefront of a political challenge for modern day Japan. Historically, not one coma in their Constitution has been changed in over 70 years, and the constitutional challenge for Japan and its people has international implications.

Article 9 of the Japanese constitution is commonly known as the “peace clause”. The clause requires that Japan relinquish and abandon any right to wage war or to maintain a “war potential” military force. Its military might is limited to defensive measures only. As we enter 2019, Japan’s regional neighbors are clearly more hostile than the world order was at the time the constitution was formally adopted in 1947. Today, Japan’s partnership with the U.S. in that region is crucial to the national security of both nations. Russia’s submarines are increasing their patrols in the seas north of Japan. North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and expansion creates a dangerous and hostile environment. China’s military program, its cyberwar, and stealing foreign held trade secrets is producing an unacceptable security setting in that enlarging geographic area.

To modify Article 9, the Emperor, similar to the Queen of England, is a mere bystander. That task falls to the elected members of both houses of the Diet, their legislative branch of government. The Prime Minister views Article 9 as an impediment to Japan enlarging its military forces, so that they have the ability to play a more proactive role in regional security and on the world stage.

In an excellent article by Adam P. Liff and Ko Maeda, they contend that it will be next to impossible for the Prime Minister to effect change for at least two reasons. The first is the procedural process, which is very difficult. It requires a two-thirds majority vote by both houses of the Diet and then a national referendum. Second is the population of Japan, whose position on the issue of modifying their constitution runs from “pacifisms to the fear of being entrapped in a U.S. war far from home” Let me propose a third almost unspoken position. I have met Japanese, who although not born at the time of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have said they have no desire to bring a child into a world that has the potential for the use of an atomic bomb. That memory gets passed down through generations of Japanese.

American military might is stretched thin. It can no longer effectively fight on more fronts than it is now engaged. We need the military power of the Japanese to be at the ready and to be aggressive, when necessary, if China, North Korea or Russia threatens regional or world order. I think of Kosovo, when there was a genuine humanitarian crisis, and the U.S. led intervention. We need able and willing partners throughout the world, not just in the far Pacific, not just in the mid-East but as unanticipated events occur that demand our moral, political and military attention.

Richard Allan — Editor:     P.S. — As I began my final edit and posting of this Commentary, ISIS supporters threaten attack during the holiday, and the President abruptly announced, against the advice of the military and members of his own party, the withdrawal of 2000 American troops from Syria. David Sanger wrote in a front page article for the NYT that what we have learned through the hard lessons brought home in the post 9/11 years “…that deployed forces are key to stopping terrorists before they reach American shores and vital to maintaining the alliances that keep the world safe.” The Kurds, if abandoned by the U.S., responded that they will release 3200 ISIS in their prisons. And then the resignation of General J. Mattis. President Trump’s tax break has fizzled, his tariffs are pounding Middle America and the stock and bond markets are flashing red lights as the Feds see an economic downturn next year. Mr. Trumps is impeding our ability to maintain our security at home and abroad. RA

Commentary– What Will Be Wrapped For Christmas?

 Thanksgiving is over — both eating and leaning what the early settlers ate—and it wasn’t turkey.

There was little, if any, political discussion before and during dinner, but looking around the very large double dining room table, I quickly realized the majority of those present were age 16 to 24. It was then that my internal worry button was pressed. I have long stopped worrying about the world as it is or will impact upon my children and their spouses, but it is the life of the younger generation that will feel the blunt of today.

The world is turning nationalistic, and although that is worrisome enough, it is just below the radar screen supporting that movement that is unsettling. It is the growth and flourishing of a prime industry: the manufacturing and distribution of military hardware including the proliferation of nuclear bomb making knowledge and material.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute –“After 13 consecutive years of increasing in global military expenditures from 1999 to 2011, and relatively unchanged spending from 2012 to 2016, total global military spending rose again in 2017.” The total amount spent worldwide in 2017 was an astonishing 1.7 trillion dollars. This would represent in 2.2 per cent of the global gross domestic product. Translated it means that worldwide, each person would theoretically have spent $230 towards the purchase of military hardware. The increases in spending are partially due to China, India and Saudi Arabia and their race to dominate their region or world competition.

Not surprising, the US spends more money on military expenditures than any other nation. But surprising to me was learning that we spend more money than the next seven highest spenders—combined! And under President Trump that number is growing, notwithstanding that there are almost 40 million people in the United States living under the poverty level. In addition, not lost in the global picture is that although Russian military complex is the leading edge of its world political posture and aggressiveness (its present naval attack against the Ukraine), its military expenditures have been reined in by its economic stagnation since 2014, and actually fell in 2017. In the 10 countries in the Mideast, Israeli is number 8 in military spending.

Not only are these worldwide spending numbers staggering, one particular item creates the greatest risk–more than guns and tanks, jets and submarines is the amount spent on the nuclear arsenals. And while there is abundant knowledge of what has been spent, there is a wide area that the amount is not known. This presents a far greater global threat than any fighting unit of tanks or squadron of jet fighters.

In 1987, the US entered into a treaty with Russia that prohibited either country from positioning missiles with a firing range from approximately 320 miles to a bit over 3400 miles. Many military strategists believe this treaty eliminated nuclear missiles from the European continent. It is Trump’s position that the Russians have been violating this agreement for years, and with China’s globally strong entry into the political/military equation, US international strategy must change. Thus, this agreement became irrelevant. Trump is in the process of unilaterally cancelled the agreement with Putin.

More than two dozen nations have nuclear power. Only nine possess actual nuclear weapons: Russia, the United States, China, India, Israel, France, North Korea, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Combined, they represents a present day arsenal of 14 plus thousand nuclear warheads, a significant reduction from an earlier high of over 70 thousand.

At least two issue major issues are apparent to me. The first, within the group that possesses an actual nuclear weapon; there are two that I fear have a dangerous political posture in their control and stockpiling of these weapons. They are not being held as deterrents against would-be aggressors but as offensive weapons in their expanding arsenal—North Korea and Pakistan.

Second, recently reported in some of the press, the CIA has raised the question of whether the Saudis are preparing for the building of their own atomic bomb. The Saudis crown prince (the one accused of ordering the killing of a journalist) has been in negotiations with both the United States’ Department of Energy and the State Department for the sale of nuclear “designs”. The deal is worth some allege 80 billion dollars, contingent upon the ultimate number of nuclear plants to be built. One demand by the Saudis has produced flashing red lights. They have demanded that instead of their purchasing nuclear fuel abroad, they produce their own. The New York Times reported that that the Saudis could purchase that fuel in the open market at a cheaper cost than generating it at home. What concerns those familiar with the negotiations is that if they produce their own nuclear fuel, it would be possible for them to covert the end product into an atomic bomb without any UN oversight or limitations. This places Washington and the West in the same dilemma that was presented prior to the conclusion of the Iran nuclear accord in 2015. The open competition for a bomb making between the rival Saudis and Iran would become a reality.

So on this gloomy Monday morning, with the caravan of immigrants being turned away at our boarder, with tear gas in response and the haunting picture of an immigrant mother fleeing from tear gas with her child, what rings hollow and violates my sense of logic and humanity is the world spending 1.7billion dollars for military destruction. What have we become and what are we leaving to our grandchildren?

Richard Allan,

The Editor