War Over An Island

War Over An Island?

The experts are placing the odds where WWIII will explode and the consensus is that it is Taiwan. This unsettling prediction comes at a time when the world’s super powers are straining and, in some cases, failing to move politically toward some degree of bipartisanship in their own domestic governing. The United States is torn politically in half, and that affects not only the ability to govern both nationally and locally, but our health is at stake with our inability to confront a killing virus. Fact: Half the country won’t take the vaccine, and that places the rest of us in danger. In France, neither the French president nor his party have strong local support, nor does the right-wing National Rally party. We have cancelled a trip to England. Cruise ships are basically sitting in port. And as I write this, the United States and its allies condemn China for hacking the Microsoft Exchange email server that affected tens of thousands not merely in the United States but around the world. All this as it unveiled the world’s fastest train– a maglev train capable of a top speed of 372mph.

Although Taiwan is the focus of this Commentary, I feel it would be remiss not to pause to consider the state of Hong Kong. China, contrary to its agreement with the UK, has begun to squeeze the last vestiges of a democratic form of governance from the former UK colony. Four federal agencies have warned U.S. companies in mid-July that operating in Hong Kong puts both their employees and businesses at the mercy of an increasingly hostile Chinese government.  The potential impact is huge: U.S. direct investment in Hong Kong totaled $82 billion in just one year. On a personal level, I fear for an Indian Muslim whose family has lived for generations in Hong Kong and who I have known for years. He operates a small, international family custom clothing business in the former colony. He and his family’s business have a bleak future with no guarantee of survival both financially and privately.

In the past, I have written about China’s aggressive stance and its hostile advances in the South China Sea. At lightning speed, Beijing built military installations on artificial islands and small, coral reefs and now aggressively confronts their small neighboring nations in their own territorial waters. China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

More than once, our naval or air force has had dangerously close encounters with the Chinese that have placed the U.S. on high alert, causing serious concerns around the world. India and China keep sending fresh troops to their common border where sporadic, small arms firing have taken place. We are moving far past these types of unsettling, aggressive markers, in the escalation toward a much greater and dangerous conflict with a belligerent and powerful nation.

There is no question that “China poses the greatest long-term challenge to the United States’. Strengthening deterrence against China will require the Department of Defense to work in concert with other instruments of national power,” this by the Pentagon’s 2022 Defense Budget Overview. There has been a marked escalation in the tone and posture of the confrontation between China and United States. And it is palpable.

To emphasize the importance of the Pentagon statement: it requested in excess of 715 billion dollars for its military budget for the year 2022. With an additional 38 billion dollars sought for the design and production of a nuclear arsenal. As one commentator called the move: “The U.S. is preparing for a high-intensity” war to “out run” and overwhelm China. There is a small bipartisan group of lawmakers who seek additional sums in order to provide “billions” in aid to our “Asian allies” looking toward what will inevitably be an ever increasingly hostile technological race with China.

At dinner with my wife, I was discussing my thoughts regarding this Commentary. She was unaware of the history of Taiwan, an island along with some smaller islands, off the coast of mainland China. After the end of WWII, fighting continued to rage in China but now, after the defeat of Japan, a brutal Chinese revolution. The fighting between the Nationalist Party (headed by Chiang Kai-shek also known famously as Generalissimo, who served as head of the Republic of China from 1928 to 1949) and those who allegiance was to the Chinese Communists Party. The Generalissimo, after being defeated on the battle ground and forced from power, he (with his iron fisted wife who was as popular as he) were exiled by the Chinese Communists to Taiwan where 1.2 million Chinese followed, and where he serve as president of the Republic of China on Taiwan. There are over 23 million Chinese presently living in Taiwan. As the decades past, the tensions between China and Taiwan built, as the Taiwanese leaders slowly but steadily moved the “Island” from a dependent political status to claiming to be a fully independent nation. Labeled as a defector nation or, as Beijing considered the island — a renegade province.

The island’s political status posed a serious bone of contention in the United States’ relation with China, which has only continued to escalate over decades. In the late 70s, the two countries entered into an agreement that any move by Beijing to attempt to change Taiwan’s status by force, would be considered by the U.S. a “threat to the peace and security of…and of grave concern, to the United States.” As analyzed, the wording in the agreement neither guarantees our intervention in the event of armed attack against the island, nor does it rule it out. There are those in Congress today who believe, because of the level of increased tension between the two nations, that it is time to change the ambiguity in the U.S. commitment to ”strategic clarity”: that we will come to the defense of Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

In July of this year, the Global Times Editorial page published a striking opinion: The Chinese Ministry of National Defense issued a warning that the U.S. stop playing “with fire in its relationship with Taiwan”.  “The U.S. and the island of Taiwan have felt heavy pressure from the increasing strength of the mainland and its preparation for potential military struggle.” The Taiwan government not only continues to reject the idea of reunification, but holds on to the idea of being internationally accepted as an independent nation before the UN. Also, the Global Times editor notes that the “U.S. also has the intention of containing China’s rise” as an international power.  It is interesting to note that every year China celebrates a victory over the United States. We know it as the Korean War; the Chinese call it the “War to Resist American Aggression and Aid to Korea”. China does not let the world forget America’s loss.

When Mao Zedong’s “People’s Volunteer Army” turned back the U.S. Eighth Army in December 1950, it inflicted what is still known today as the longest retreat in American military history. Clearly, China has unquestioned strategic dominance in the Taiwan Straits. It also has the capacity to deploy overwhelming military forces in the South China Sea. It is building its navy at great-neck speed, but with less fire power than the U.S. navy. The Express.co.uk reported that the Chinese threat—that the U.S. will be defeated in any military confrontation with China, was in response to the largest joint military drills that were being carried out by the U.S. The U.S. joint drills with Japan, Australia and France in “one of the most complex deployments (the U.S.) has ever organized” and was clearly intended as a show of force aimed at Beijing.

China’s leader had described the U.S. led military exercises in southern Japan, involving troops and hardware from the four nations, as” a waste of fuel”, adding that the drill had “no impact” on China and that there will be a reunification with the wayward province.

While China continues to claim authority over virtually the entire South China Sea and, as noted above, it has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. It also claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a functioning democracy of 24 million people, despite the fact that the two “nations” have been governed separately in excess of seven decades. It is almost certain that the China-U.S. confrontation will only escalate. The question is: will it plateau without a shot being fired and both sides claiming victory.

Something to think about—we all know what a spy is. We’ve seen enough movies and read enough John Le Carre books. You steal a top secret file, microfilm it, and hide in a hollowed out pen that you place behind a rock in Central Park and walk away. On the other hand, a mole is one who arrives in the United States and disappears and melds seamlessly into a nondescript community and waits, and waits and waits. Months, maybe years, waiting for the order from the mother country to do an act that will severely injure the host nation.
In reading the following, do not make any comparisons to our unconscionable actions toward the Japanese-American population on the West Coast at the beginning of WWII. Unlike with China today, there were not decades upon decades of open hostility between Japan and the United States prior to December 7th. How many “Chinatowns” are there in the United States? There are fifty– located mainly in major cities. New York City has 4 or 5 such major enclaves within its five boroughs. How many “Americantowns” are there in China? First, the Chinese do not allow an immigrant to remain too long within the country, and, two, there are too few Americans in China to form a town. So the answer is: none. If war were to erupt between the two nations think about this.

               Richard Allan

                       The Editor

A Clear and Present Danger—NOW and What’s Missing.

The UK mounted a multi-nation naval exercise to sail the Black Sea, as international tension rose a Russian destroyer shot across the bow of one of the UK’s warships; U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots after a close encounter with Iranian vessels; Hezbollah’s German presence grows despite terrorist designation; The Russians enlarge their Artic military presence; US-UK Warn of new worldwide Russian cyberespionage; Biden has leveled meaningful sanctions against Russia and is drafting and considering more; An attack by drones on Iran’s centrifuge production facility in Karaj caused major damage, and with all this upon us, American’s in huge numbers, clutching their vaccination passports, began the rush to airports. The nation, as of late June and early July, started to stare at a map of the world, trying to anticipate who would “hit” us next? As noted below, I have been writing about terrorism since 1990, and for almost the entire time I reached out to the international community to discern their secrets and understand their thinking’s. Today, this tact is the Wrong Direction to Look and More.

Just prior to 1990, I sought a sabbatical from my law school, as I became interested in what I then considered mundane questions concerning the act of terrorism. All to the dismay of Dean David Trager, the then Dean of Brooklyn Law School: “Who studies that craziness?” At that time those interested in terrorism were a handful of academics studying the history of political and religious violence. There was little if any writing, let alone analysis as to the then current state of terrorism, its structure and impact. For the next four decades my focus has been just that: terrorism/counterterrorism/national security as it has arrived at our door step all seemingly from abroad. In the 90s, I spent time at INTERPOL (did a study for them) in Lyon, France, then worked with the head of their Counter-terrorism division, a seconded FBI agent, and spent time in Jerusalem with the counter-terrorism advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel. Time has changed all that focus.

Our greatest danger of a terrorist attack, at this very moment comes from within our boarders by our “fellow-Americans”. Those people who live down the block. The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, by Timothy McVeigh, who detonated a truck bomb outside a federal building, killing 168 people with scores of children, remains the deadliest homegrown terrorist attack in American history. But it was an aberration at that time.

In early spring of this year, DHS reported that the US intelligence community has increased its “development, production, and sharing of intelligence and other actionable information central to countering domestic terrorism, which now poses the most significant and immediate terrorism-related threat to the United State.” Then in mid-May the DHS reported: “Today’s terrorism-related threat landscape is more complex, more dynamic, and more diversified than it was several years ago. “ Then it posted: “Violent extremists may seek to exploit the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions across the United States to conduct attacks against a broader range of targets after previous public capacity limits reduced opportunities for lethal attacks.” It then went on to state: “Historically, mass-casualty Domestic Violent Extremist (DVE) attacks linked to racially- or ethnically-motivated violent extremists have targeted houses of worship and crowded commercial facilities or gatherings” . Some terrorist advocates, via social media and online platforms, have outlined their plans for a race war with the premise that civil disorder would rip thru local communities, one after the other, to provide them the opportunities to engage in extended violence and to further their ideological and social objectives.

When combining these prior statements, the overall message can be no more clearly stated—or frightening—domestic terrorism, here, now. This is what our nation faces. At the outset let’s be clear; ransomware attacks, like Colonial Pipeline or a massive meat processor, are not terrorist’s attacks. Nor am I thinking about the overused term “Militias”—those created by some self-appointed civilian group, who like the sound of the word, whose definition is neither clear nor precise nor created by a legitimate act of a governmental agency. I am not referring to II Amendment of our Constitution which permits a well-regulated “Militias” that are governmentally created or those that are established and sanctioned by a state.

Not coincidental, almost simultaneously with the warnings from our own intelligence community, London’s Metropolitan Police have said that as the COVID risk dwindles in Europe, warnings should be issued across Europe of renewed terrorist threats as they witnessed an increase movement of extremism and of ISIS or as some refer to as “Daesh”. With all this, we appear to watching the rebirth and growing influence of the defeated Islamic State, as they fester in their refugee camps. They have, within the last few weeks, have attached LEDs to buses that pass thru crowded districts.

As the data reveals, terrorism events in the U.S. are now soring to new heights. The vast majority executed by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim groups and those few who label themselves as “just anti-government-grievance” driven. The number of all domestic terrorism attacks peaked last year, with most coming at the hands of those who overtly support the white supremacy ideology and those influenced by foreign terrorist and political groups of the far right. Their victims are, as my former colleague Dick Farrell would say, “non- discriminational” –Blacks, Jews, immigrants, LGBTQ, Asians and anybody else who “looks different” from the attacker or is a member of a different religious institution. Kenneth Robinson, pastor of Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte — one of several Black churches that has been attacked— said some his members remain apprehensive—“Trauma is a way of life…” The data reveals that over the past six years, 16 mosques and 13 synagogues were attacked or threatened by extremists on the far right .The bold headlines during late May underline the spike in antisemitism connected with hate speech and violence. Asian women are openly attacked on the street. The scope of today’s terrorism threat and the scope of the new battlefield is more complex, fluid, more diversified, more jarring in its tone then it was not too many years ago. It feels closer to home and more dangerous.

In general terms, the international terrorist threat to U.S. interests, as noted by some commentators can be divided into three categories: the radical international jihad movement, the formalized terrorist organizations, and state sponsors of international terrorism. Each of these categories represents a threat to U.S. interests abroad, but, more importantly, and today in the United States. The most serious international terrorist threat to U.S. interest’s today stems from Sunni Islamic extremists, such as Usama Bin Laden and individuals affiliated with his Al-Qaeda organization And we have statutes that address those issues. But today the focus must be on the domestic threat, whether it be the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers or Three Percenters or the hundreds, yes hundreds of other domestic violence groups. The domestic terrorist is our present day greatest threat. That fact that since Jan 6th, the far-right groups are beset by internal leadership turmoil and financial stress should not be relied upon to minimize either our understanding or appreciation of their potential for extreme violence.

The January 6 insurrection at the Capital could be viewed as a raucous national convention of terrorists groups and the wanna-be terrorist, each trying to outdo the other in the volume of insults they could hurdle and violence they could inflict. People died. Police were permanently injured. And incredibly, there are people who deny the reality of the event. Equally, or maybe more important was the clear failure of intelligence to warn the appropriate authorities prior to the Jan 6 insurrection. The FBI director has failed to answer for that failure. But the failure goes beyond the FBI.

Looking to see who are the most aggressive actors—one need only look to the CSIS database as one of the best public sources of information about domestic terrorism incidents. What is particularly troublesome is that more involvement in far-right attacks and plots are by military service members, veterans and current and former police officers, some of whom participated in the riot at the Capitol. FBI Director Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 2. “The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now and it’s not going away anytime soon.” As far back in April 2009, Department of Homeland Security intelligence assessment held–“Right-wing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda”. Biden’s homeland security adviser, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall , believes that most terrorists are lone actor: “there is no top-down “ leadership.” I do not believe that is totally accurate and misleading. There are groups of persons loosely connected with the same aim or target of their hatred and vitriol that coalesce for a terrorist strike without a formally appointed or agreed upon leader who would organize and put a plan into formal operation. They are as dangerous, and in some cases more dangerous, as the more formalized groups.

This month the President issued a 32 page memo that sought to coordinate efforts across the government in law enforcement. He called for new spending at the Justice Department and FBI to hire analysts, investigators and prosecutors; greater information-sharing between the federal government and state and local enforcement partners, as well as with tech companies. What it didn’t do is to suggest or propose what has been lacking for years: a national criminal terrorist statute. We have no federal terrorist statute, even as the FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told Congress that the bureau had made “close to 500 arrests” in connection with the Capitol insurrection attack. Wray has said that the total number of domestic terrorism investigations increased to 2,000 from 1,400 at the end of last year.

It is incomprehensible that at this stage in our history, with the dramatic rise of domestic terrorism we have no federal criminal statute to charge the domestic terrorist. Law enforcement is forced to fall back on other laws and statues not initially designed to address the violence of the domestic terrorist. Why?

Richard Allan,
The Editor

“I Spy” — Not the TV Series

I was hooked on a spy novel set in England and France, prior to and just after, the D-Day invasion of Europe. Much of the story is based upon now verifiable facts. A good portion of the novel reinforces the depth of our understanding of French complicity with their invaders, after being occupied by German forces. Over the decades since 1945, no matter how much the various governing forces in Paris might try to sugar coat their so-called WWII resistance, the truth shines thru and it is more than shameful. In particular, most evil were the French police who directed and operated the first of “round-ups” under occupation that occurred on July 16-17(immediately after Bastille Day in 1942) so not to upset the general population). Unaided by the occupying German army, the French police began its first rounded up– 13,000 Jewish men, women and children, and sent them to their ultimate extermination. Those sent in the cattle cars to their death didn’t encounter one German soldier until they arrived at the infamous death camp. Obviously, our information gathering technique – spying–has moved light years in its sophistication since WWII or the “hot & cold wars” that followed. Today, after decades of ferreting out Russian spies and holding congressional investigations—some infamous, our eyes-on-spies have turned west to China. And rightfully so.

It has been noted by some commentators, that after gunpowder and the ongoing development of nuclear weapons, the “third revolution” in the art of warfare is artificial intelligence (AI). I respectfully disagree. Before the first rock was hurled, before we migrated out of Africa, across continents and open sea, after the dinosaurs ended their reign, we spied upon our enemy– that other creature also hobbling on its two hind legs, or that animal we required for the warmth of its skin and food. And today, as I research and write this Commentary, I am forced by necessity with all the noise surrounding me to ask: “What’s all this Tik Tok business?” So off I went in search of what all “young people” are craving and raving about. I had seen headlines in the financial columns of last year, of Trump getting involved (why is that?), and the Chinese government flexing its muscle every time Tik Tok is mentioned. Now I learned that you can get it free. What could be better? And from a country whose exports last year rose to their highest level notwithstanding the pandemic, and while the rest of the world faced economic downturn. Then I read that Tic Tok, known as Douyan in China, is a “free social application for creating, editing ad sharing videos” all developed in China by ByteDance initially for the Chinese market. While it steadily gained in worldwide popularity, the Americans became involved. This all sounds perfectly innocent to me — a place for all that unspent young energy creating and editing while sharing your videos for all that music and dancing. There are 14 million TikTokkers in the U.S. alone. It now embraces sports and the NFL with all their celebrities.

When I was a kid, there were bars all over the city that had right next to the open front door –opposite the bar — a food table with steaming slabs of meat. A sign in the window said: “Free Lunch!” Staring at it one day with the corn beef smell wafting across the sidewalk, my father looked at the sign, the gleam in my eyes and said: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” It was one of the most important lessons of my life.

Let’s work backwards for a moment.

It is now 70 years since Beijing was fully engaged with us in Korean War, and in acknowledging that anniversary, the Chinese announced that they are, although always willing to negotiate with Washington, they prepare for war on a moment’s notice. They have just announced that they are seeking thru genetic manipulation, the ability to create a “super” soldier for combat. China is reported to be among the biggest traders, funders and infrastructure builders, along with being the preferred lenders to Africa, Central and Southeast Asia. And moving to consolidate its political and military reach, it is crushing Hong Kong’s democracy. The absorbing of Twain into its control would be its next logical target, along with it hostile grabbing of assets in the vast seas spreading out from mainland China. In very rare instances does China succumb to international criticism. And it has signaled that it doesn’t intend to stand down in the current crises in the China Sea.

To carry out its influence in activities abroad, the Chinese government employs two units , the first—the United Front Work —directs “overseas Chinese work,” which seeks to co-opt ethnic Chinese individuals and communities living outside China, while another unit of the government’s strategy seeks to influence targeting foreign actors and states.

Beijing “is engaged in a highly sophisticated malign foreign influence campaign,” FBI director Chris Wray ( who will stay on in the Biden Administration) said in a July 2020 speech: these efforts involve “subversive, undeclared, criminal, or coercive attempts to sway our government’s policies, distort our country’s public discourse, and undermine confidence in our democratic processes and values,” One year later Avril D. Haines, President Biden’s nominee for director of national intelligence, took questions from senators (1/19/21), during his confirmation hearing, and revealed that in espionage as in other aspects of our relationship, China is clearly an aggressive and dangerous adversary. The intelligence community, he testified, has to work to counter “their aggressive and unfair actions, in including the glaring problem that we do not having enough Mandarin-speaking analysts.” Haines said she recognized that “China is focused on a very long-term horizon, where the United States frequently is not.” There are presently 25,000 Chinese intelligence agents embedded in the United States. Not including about 15,000 recruited agents. This is not hyperbole. It is more than disturbing. Starting in 2010, the CIA began to lose its imbedded agents in China. Keep this in mind as we learn that China has launched more satellites than any other country this year. This puts China on track to win the space launch race three years in a row.

All this in light of the economic relationship between China and the United States– two overt adversaries: the U.S. national debt has grown during the covid attack, and so today it is around 25-26 trillion dollars with most of it owned by United States players—of that amount, China owns around 1.1 trillion dollars. But its fingers, in our financial wellbeing, must also take into account that Hong Kong ( now under China’s thumb) is the fifth largest holder of our financial debt and that China buys U.S. Treasury securities thru custodial accounts in Belgium (the 10th largest holder of U.S. debt) ,among other nations. China, while actively seeking inroads in our security, holds a heavy hammer on our financial wellbeing.

It is claimed, in multiple law suits that when you log onto Tic Toc, not the only “company” employed by China to make headlines ( i.e., Huawei, China National Offshore Oil Corp) as they intentionally worm their way into our security systems, you are opening your device to a complete invasion of your cyber-system. Read the terms of your acceptance of Tic Toc -–but first I suggest you go to law school so that you can begin to understand their overwhelming claim of rights. Then set aside a day to be able to read the entire document. In one class action it is claimed: “TikToc clandestinely has vacuumed up and transferred to servers in China vast quantities of private and personally-identifiable user data that can be employed to identify, profile, and track the location and activities of users in the United States now and in the future,”

With the new Administration, sanctions will be imposed; there will no longer be unrecorded conversations with Putin and Moscow. The Biden Administration will aggressively investigate Russian hacking and election interference as part of its elevation of cybersecurity issues in U.S. national security policy. There will be a greater show of force and “push back” by the United States to reign in China’s overt and covert hostile moves. And there will be a more concerted effort to stop and roll back China’s spy network in the United States and in cyberspace.

Richard Allan,

The Editor

Who “Owns” The United States

My grandmother was my love, my protector and one of the reasons I was tubby. She was also a master of negotiations with the innate skill of protecting ones’ turf and a keen sense of when to strike when her feelings of what was right were violated. She also knew when she had blundered by immediately saying: “I didn’t said it “which foreclosed any further discussion of her mistake. No one owned her, not even the cancer that killed her.

My feelings today, as I peek under the veneer that distorts reality, is that we as a nation are owned , manipulated , and at times being told to bug off by nations that take our billions in aid. The first to come to mind is Turkey who with a slight-of-hand movement pokes a finger in our eye. The U.S. is investigating whether Turkey violated agreements with Washington about the use of U.S.-provided weapons and equipment, including whether Ankara knowingly and improperly transferred those weapons to its proxies in Syria, groups that U.S. officials say may have committed war crimes and ethnic cleaning .Why won’t I be surprised by its findings. And while Congress moves to sanction Turkey, the President nevertheless invites its leader to the White House as Turkey announces it will not remove its troops from Syria, threatens to further inflame tensions between the two nations by indicating its purchasing of Russian military fighter jets, and once again attacks the Kurds. Former national security adviser John Bolton suggested during a private speech in Miami last week that the president’s approach to U.S. policy on Turkey is motivated by his personal and financial interests in that country.

When we talk about our national debt (which keeps rising under Trump, notwithstanding his promise to reduce it) we must frame what may seem like a strange question — who owns America – who owns our U.S. released treasury bills, notes and bonds? The answer is startling — China owns 27% of our world’s value. They have a big key to our pantry.

Under Putin, the Russian economy is based solely upon how much gas, oil and minerals it can extract from the ground. In all senses, the former Soviet Union has little if any resemblance to the economic diversity necessary for a strong national economy. Putin, thus strong arms weaker and smaller nations to bend to his needs to shore up Russia’s economic deficiency, while his paranoia has encouraged the successor to the KGB, the FSB (a strong arm group he wholly supports) to be “enforcers” so that so-called “vital” scientific material and knowledge (as determined by him) may not be sold abroad without proper (his) authorization. In other words keep everything at home in the hope of developing a monopoly to benefit his cronies. His latest method is to have major Russian scientific institutions raided and scientists (some recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize) detained for long periods of questing. People’s lives have been put on indefinite hold. None of this has upset the leader of the United States to help him achieve his goal to make Russia great again (MRGA). Putin, not only the master of a vast nation seeking to drain the will and resources of those who dare cross his line in the sand, has mastered the mechanics of a mystical cloak that has just produced what bombs and thugs could not. He winked twice with his right eye and “The “ President of the United States handed over control of the Syrian “crisis” and its complex fault lines throughout that area to the Russians. Trump pulled out our troops (with no consultation with those with any understanding of consequences), the Kurds were swept into a dust bin and the Israelis were further surrounded by their emboldened enemies. The rocket launching toward Israel started once again this week after a long interval of quiet.

Muhammad Hussein Al-Momani, on the board of directors of Jordan’s Al-Ghad daily and Jordan’s former government spokesman and state minister for media affairs, “slammed the U.S. for its decision to withdraw its forces from northeastern Syria”.

Al-Momani warned that this “hasty, miscalculated and uncoordinated” step would harm America’s interests in Syria as well as the interests of its allies. Russia becomes the clear winner in the area since the withdrawal only reinforces its standing as the major decision-maker in Syria and Iran. That position will be the launching pad for it to be able to expand its regional influence with little or no resistance. All to our detriment.

“The mutual hostilities in northern Syria go far beyond Turkey, the U.S. and Russia. The events there have placed all the countries in the region in a state of doubt and uncertainty, causing complete chaos and granting Russia and Iran an opportunity to fill the strategic vacuum created by America’s hasty, uncalculated and uncoordinated unilateral withdrawal.”

President Trump has created a dangerous strategic quagmire by the withdrawal, ignoring the interests of our supporting allies and clearly upsetting what regional stability there is. What happens to our interests in combating terror and preventing the reemergence of ISIS, at the same moment curbing Iran’s influence in Syria? His precipitous withdrawal has threatened not merely the region’s stability but our own interests in the area. We have, by throwing the Kurds to the wolves, not only diminished their ability and will to fight ISIS in northern Syria but created the obvious strategic vacuum that will be filled by Iran. Our growing aggressive nuclear enemy!

As noted, Mr. Putin and Russia will benefit most from these developments. They will have greater credibility, undermining whatever standing we may have had in the region and opens the way for Iran to expand and increase it influence politically. Boldly, Iran announced this week that it is increasing its nuclear capabilities and advancing it timetable for nuclear development.

But the unsettling story doesn’t end there, on the other side of the world– Trump has caved to China giving them a major trade victory. In an article by Brian Klaas,: “Early in his presidency, President Trump scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade bloc that would have put the United States at the center of a trade zone that represented about a third of the global economy. Now, 2½ years later, China is putting itself at the center of an alternative trade zone that represents about a third of the global economy.” Trump’s animosity toward China is governed by his personal, unwieldy political desires instead of our national interests. His rational is blindsiding our involvement in a $49 trillion dollar trade bloc that might embrace half the world’s population. As Mr. Klass noted: “And China couldn’t be happier.”

And it doesn’t end there! lost in the back pages of any decent newspaper is the story that in mid-January, Kevin Moley, the senior State Department official responsible for overseeing U.S. relations with the United Nations and other international organizations, “issued a stern command to a gathering of visiting U.S. diplomats in Washington: China was on the rise, and America’s diplomatic corps needed to do everything in its power to thwart Beijing’s ambitions. It doesn’t seem like much of an important event, but the news illustrates China’s bid to place itself ahead of the U.S. on all fronts.” As I have written in the past China’s aggressiveness started last year with it militarization of uninhabited rocks in the South China Sea into military installations.

China’s move to place one of its own top officials at the head of the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which helps direct agricultural and food security policies worldwide, is a perfect example of China’s international efforts in achieving world dominance. Defeating China would become a key U.S. foreign-policy goal. Five months later, the race ended in a harsh rout for the United States. Beijing’s candidate, the vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs won. U.S. diplomats initially anticipated their favored candidate, a former Georgian agriculture minister, receiving at least 60 votes. He ended up getting 12.

While the nation is focused on impeachment, and the President is attempting to change the subject of the daily news by lashing out in all directions we, as nation, are fast losing our international importance, status and moral compass—our leadership. In other words –our international clout. And even if Trump is defeated in 2020, his failures, his lack of self-discipline and the damage he has inflicted on this nation to enhance and defend his purse and unhealthy ego will last far beyond the end of his presidency. It will take years to right the wrongs he has created.

Richard Allan,  Editor

Turkey’s Politics — Should We Care?

A number of years ago we began moving our travel destinations further and further from home. Three of our grandchildren are the most adventurous in demanding the freedom to travel alone and as far afield as they desire. On the one hand I am thrilled and, yet, I closely follow their movements on a world-wide terrorist alert site. As I write this commentary, I realize that if there is a push-the-envelope travel gene imbedded in their psyche, in all probability they inherited it from me. At age 16, I couldn’t understand why I could not get a job working on international cargo ships. Forget that I looked like I was 12, had never been away from home and blamed by parents for my lack of success. In the mid-1950s, I and 3 other Americans “escaped “ from the violent chaos in Haiti as the only passengers on what turned out, for a long while, to be the last Pan Am flight out of Port a Prince, as rioting and political upheaval made the Island far too dangerous for us to remain. To complicate our trip, we were only able to fly as far as Kingston, Jamaica. Aside from the pandemic that is unsettling and complicating world, travel, there are parts of the world that I have happily visited and wished to have stayed, but in today’s world I would not return.

India is racked with the virus and in a volatile and violent boarder dispute with China during which lives have been lost. There is nothing like a Pitu – Cachaca as you get closer to Brazil but South America is…..

There is nothing like the sunset along the California coast, but aside from the fact that the coronavirus can provide an 89 percent jump in hospitalizations next month, the fires that are burning with a strange, dirty orange sky that are consuming the oxygen that our lungs thrive upon. And as I started writing this Commentary, there was an epic attempt to save the observatory on top of Mt. Wilson.

And then there is Turkey. When we landed in Istanbul 15 years ago, our flight having been delayed, I had lost the opportunity to speak at length with a dear friend, Joe Serio, who had attended an international conference on national security and terrorism. This would have been an important briefing for me. His parting comments to me were: “I think things might change here.” How perceptive of today’s Turkey. At that moment, there was nothing to dampen our excitement for the coming holiday, as we moved toward our first stop: checking into a marvelous hotel that had once been a prison, quickly unpacking and walking the streets. The smells, sounds and color that flew past us immediately told us that we were going to have a marvelous holiday. We did and we still speak of certain events with nostalgia. Today, I think: not. Today, Turkey is on the opposite end of a very long national strategic fence of international partners–NATO. The history of Turkey has turned increasingly and dramatically ugly within the last decade.

Some political history is necessary to understand the upheaval in Turkish political life and, in some instances, the overriding importance of its international aggressiveness:

Its president is directly elected by the citizens for up to two five-year terms, but is eligible to run for a third term if the parliament calls for early elections. Strong man President Erdogan began his rise and tightened the reigns of his political position in the Turkish government within his time as prime minister and his aggressive move toward the presidency in 2014. A constitutional referendum passed in 2017, during the time of an aborted coup while the State was under emergency control, and he manipulated the political system and created a new presidential hierarchy. It expanded his role and effectively consolidated the president’s position and power. Then in an early election in June 2018, at Erdogan’s request to allegedly implement the new presidential system, the prime minister’s role was abolished, leaving him with full control over the government. He is eligible for a third term, and could hold office through 2028, if he is, as expected, be reelected again.

Erdogan’s ruling political party, the AKP, has asserted control over the judiciary, the police and the media, and has aggressively manipulated national agencies either to eliminate or weaken his political opposition. The world has witnessed the Erdogan government arrest opposition leaders, educators, military personal and journalists, accusing them of crimes from terrorism to “insulting” the president. Non-Muslim religious groups are under tight government restraints regarding most of their activities. What was once a full secular state no longer exists. The separation of church and state, which was one of the historic foundations of what had become a vibrant modern Turkey, has been all but eradicated by Erdogan. Symbolically, this past July, in his attempt to reverse Turkish history, he began the process of converting the beautiful Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine church and then a popular secular museum, back into a mosque .
Internationally, Erdogan’s actions mirror one who has long been attempting to put Turkey, and thus him, at the controlling center of a geo-political sphere of influence reaching as far as Greece, Italy, infuriating France and supporting those who threaten Israel, as he also backs the Muslim Brotherhood in their conflict with the President of Egypt. Erdogan’s government early condemned the Syrian regime, attacked its leaders and supported the country’s rebels with arms and tactical advice. He also supports Hamas and their aggression against Israel. Presently, we witness Turkey’s growing aggression toward Greece and others in a contentious fight for control and domination in the Mediterranean Sea. In July of this year, Dr. Ilan Fuchs wrote in a long analysis that Turkey’s Erdogan is trying to replicate a “neo-Ottoman” sphere of influence, or as he notes a “Pan-Turkism and Pan-Islamism empire”. Any of the labels one might choose is immaterial, with an increasingly presence of blinking red lights– the results are clearly evident on the ground in Turkey and to the east and west and to the United States, half-way around the globe. We are all involved. Turkey is aggressively placing itself squarely in the critical conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in what is evolving into a full-blown out-and-out war. Mercenaries from various countries are pouring into the conflict. Erdogan has dispatched Jihadists in the Caucasus to aid Azerbaijan. European nations, practically France, who has long since had a voice in that region have let it been known to Turkey in a stern warning from its President that “France will play its role. Azerbaijan and Armenia then agreed to a “humanitarian ceasefire” in the conflict one week after a prior pause in fighting fell apart.
Most Americans learned in grade school that Turkey is unique in that it is a country that geography has one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, and your mother wished she had a rug woven in that Country. What most Americans are not aware of is that the United States Air Force has a major airbase in Incirlik. It is a mere 500 miles from the capital Istanbul, This air base is rated high in our military/strategic importance not only because of its proximity to Russia and other strategic capitals of the Mideast, but its unequal importance as a storage facility for our regional nuclear weapons.
Presently, the Turkish economy has been, as in all other countries decimated by the covid-19 virus pandemic, with spiraling double-digit inflation, soaring unemployment and a deep financial deficit. You might remember the uproar when Turkey announced that it would purchase its S-400 air defense system from Russia and not, as a NATO member, a NATO compatible system. The swords were rattled further after Erdogan announced: “The issue of the Aegean and the Mediterranean is one that Turkey will never take a step back from. We will resolutely continue to protect and defend our rights and interests at all times and under all circumstances.” In other words, notwithstanding his membership in NATO and our military presence in Turkey, he was moving toward a Russian partnership. Then at the beginning of this month, angering Greece, the Turkish government announced it is preparing live-fire exercises of the Russian tracking system in the Aegean Sea and has transported its Russian-made S-400 air defense system to international waters in the Black Sea.

This past August, it has been widely reported (again in the back pages of the international news) that as Tukey planned for testing both its offensive and defensiveness of its Russian tracking system, it programed its surface-to air-missile launcher system to track U.S. made, Greek F-16 fighter planes.

What I find amazing is how long it has taken for a bi-partisan group of United States’ Senators to speak out and address the issues of Turkey’s move not only toward a full dictatorship but their embrace of the Russian dictatorship as they seek the imposition of U.S. sanctions. Silence was the answer from the White House aside from the Secretary of State visiting Greece. The city he should have visited with a clear message was Istanbul not Athens.

One can only wonder could the delay or stalling by the present Administration’s response to Erdogan internal and international power grab be that the President openly admires dictatorial leaders: Kim Jon, Putin, and the Philippine’s Duterte. Or could it be that unlike dealing with a world power like China, where to the person in the street, the issues are fairly clear cut– financial and political world dominance. Turkey‘s unique position– political and geographical –in the international community requires, as a member of NATO, a more delicate touch and nuanced skills that are presently lacking in the Trump Administration. There is not much time left on the clock before Turkey is lost, and that would be catastrophic.

Richard Allan
The Editor

Sadly It’s Just A Date

It was a sunny morning, and I had arrived at my law school early and happy to do so. I had developed a blister where my new loafers were rubbing the back of my heel, and I knew that I had bandages somewhere buried in my desk. I never sit when I lectured — but pace and step on and off the lecture platform. No bandages found. My thought as I grabbed my lecture notes was: This I don’t need. The date was 9/11.

As I walked into the classroom a bit before 9 AM, one of my law students, a highly decorated army officer, waved me over to his seat, in our amphitheater type classrooms, and pointed to the screen of his army issues laptop. What I saw was startling. “What’s happened?” he asked. I told him: “We’ve been attacked.”
That happened 19 years ago and killed 2,976 people in New York, Pennsylvania and Arlington, Va. Although there are no percolating headlines today, that event still occupies the time and close attention of many people. A trial of the captured, suspected masterminds of the attack has yet to take place, and an overwhelming portion of the population has long since forgotten about these defendants. We mark the date of the event and move on. In France, they marked the date of the horrific attack on a satirical magazine and kosher supermarket that roiled Paris and the Country in 2015 by going to trial.

On the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, some two dozen relatives of those who had died in the attack attended a solemn meeting with President Trump in the formal Blue Room of the White House. After each family had a hushed individual moment with the President and the First Lady, the families pointedly asked the President to release sealed documents, tightly held within the possession of the F.B.I., of their very comprehensive investigation into attack. Significantly, the Justice Department has continually refused to reveal that information under the last two presidents—one a Republican and one a Democrat. This time, the request was embraced and articulated as a desperate “need for closure”…they had “waited long enough”. They needed to know the truth. Some of the relatives reminded Trump that Presidents Bush and Obama blocked them from seeing the files, as did some of the F.B.I. bureaucrats Trump so reviled and openly detested. The visitors did not mention, and was reported by those covering the event, that they hoped to use the documents in a current federal lawsuit that accuses the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — an American ally that has grown suspiciously closer under Trump — of complicity in the attacks. The President, it was reported and recorded said: “It’s done.” The families were later informed that the President had directed the attorney general to release the name of a Saudi diplomat who was linked to the 9/11 plot. Justice Department attorneys revealed the Saudi official’s name in a protected court filing that could be read only by lawyers for the plaintiffs. Unfortunately, as was reported in the back pages of the press, the AG toppled the families’ hopes: in a statement to the court, the AG insisted that other documents that might be relevant to the case had to be protected as state secrets. Their disclosure, he wrote, risked “significant harm to the national security.” An overused and abused “legal phase” employed by the Government to hide so-called important and relevant information.
A little over a year ago, and for the first time, a U.S. military court judge in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, set a trial date for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other four men charged with plotting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Judge W. Shane Cohen, an Air Force colonel, said the trial should begin on Jan. 11, 2021, though a number of other procedural deadlines would need to be met for the long-awaited trial to attempt to lurch forward.

Beginning in May of 2012, with any new military criminal charges, new laws were adopted. War crimes defendants were to be provided the same protections offered in national security trials in federal court. Due process now requires that the government turn over all evidence normally required to criminal defense attorneys. Lawyers for the 9/11 five terrorist defendants say prosecutors have not been totally forthcoming. That claim is not uncommon.

Many trial experts have suggested that the scheduled trial date is unrealistic, and they say Guantánamo isn’t physically ready or convenient for a trial of that scale or magnitude. Prosecutors, it’s claimed, have been asking for a trial date for several years and say that finally scheduling one will motivate all parties. At this writing there is a hearing scheduled for this month at a date that has not been released, at which time it has been signaled that the defense attorneys will argue that the confessions obtained by the government are tainted and inadmissible because of the harsh interrogations conducted by the CIA during the early stages of detention. The stakes in the upcoming trail are obviously high for the defendants. The defendants are charged with war crimes that are punishable by death, for their alleged role in helping the airline hijackers in executing the attack.

Fascinating, and I had no idea until I started to research this topic, that the alleged mastermind defendant in this case, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed had also has been linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002, and the 2003 Jakarta Marriott bombing, as well as other attacks by the al-Qaida network. This man is not new to his profession.

You might remember, if you lived in New York City, the uproar during the opening days of the Obama Administration, when he announced that he will fulfill his promise that he would close the infamous Guantanamo base and suspend military trials. The AG then decided to move the trial of these defendants to federal court house in Foley Square in Manhattan. The public and local government reaction was nothing less than a firestorm of protests. The trial would “put a terrorist target on New York City”, and there would not be any vehicular traffic because it would all come to a halt in downtown Manhattan. The headlines were relentless until that idea was quietly abandoned.

Some important background to why this case has taken so long to come to trial and has complicated the prosecutions difficulty in mounting its case: the defendants, after their captures in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003 were held out of the States and of reach by the courts for years in the belief (hope) that they might, if pressured sufficiently (tortured?), have information that could stop another attack and help interrupt the work of the Qaeda terrorist network. To accomplish that, they were sent to secret networks of prisons run overseas by the C.I.A. Some claim, in their reporting that the C.I.A’s intent was to never to bring them to trial, but to forestall and disrupt any further terrorists attacks. Obviously, that was a strategy that never was going to work, and only increased the demands for a trial that would reveal, in the normal course of events, the C.I.A’s illegal methods of interrogation. It took five years for President George W. Bush to order that the defendants be transferred to Guantanamo for trial. During that time the defendants were held incommunicado. Mohammed was water boarded 183 times. It was alleged that the five defendants were “brutalized, isolated and kept incommunicado.” For years into their custody, the defendants were denied contact with any attorneys, and it took five years after their capture to formally charge the defendants in a death penalty case. In the interim, there have been a revolving number of military judges and defenses counselors, each being subject to in-depth security clearance.
Two important points come to mind: Because of the years spent in custody without benefit of council, aside from the claim of “torture”, the admissibility of the evidence the C.I.A collected is placed in serious jeopardy. Second, and unlike the “traditional” criminal trial in state and federal courts, a military judge in a national security case cannot direct the government to disclose information requested by the defendants. The only option, if the government refuses to divulge the information demanded, is to suspend the trial until such time the government complies or in the alternative dismiss the case. In the first instance to place the trial on hold waiting for the government to respond is useless, and the stonewalling could go on indefinitely. Second, if the military court were to dismiss all charges because of the government’s rejection of an information demand, there would be a national outcry that could not be contained.

Each year the names of those who were killed on 9/11 are read aloud. Each year I remember where I was; I remember a person– a friend of a friend who died; I remember a person who took the wrong train to work, arrived late and ran as the buildings came down around her. Will these trials, if they ever take place, change anything in the lives of the persons in the street? You and me. I doubt that very much. The date will be remembered. And that’s about all. To the legal historian, the review of these events might make a good case history or maybe a seminar course at a law school. I still look up in the sky when a plane flies close over the city. To most: it’s just a date.

Richard Allan
The Editor.

When We Were Not Looking

It’s now July 9th, the days are getting much warmer, and I wish I were on the holiday my wife and I had planned. On my desk calendar the notation for today: Leave for London. Instead, I am in my pajama bottoms and a dress shirt top, thinking about the last few months. America was attacked in a park across the street from the White House, and the pandemic virus killed thousands more. We met our grandson, not in our apartment, but in a small neighborhood pocket park. Releasing myself from self –detention and heading home after a short walk, my temperature was taken by the people who guard the front door of my apartment house. I try not to think of “what next”.
Merging one into the other, the pandemic and national protesting has created the impression of a nation in suspended animation. There appeared to be nothing else occupying our attention. There should have been, and there will be a price to be paid.
Being so narrowly focused and preoccupied, our national security concerns are overtaken by others who seek to inflict harm. There are those who wait for and thrive on the chaos of others. And the present chaos has provided a wide window of opportunity for the domestic and international terrorist.

In the UK, Detective Superintendent Matthew Davison, Coordinator at Counter Terrorism Policing, noted with the uncertainty generated by the pandemic that young people are potentially more vulnerable to negative influences and exploitation, as they explore their concerns online. The terrorist/extremist groups troll in the same cyber space, looking to use our apprehension, fear and uncertainty of the pandemic as a vehicle to spread disinformation, fear and to encourage violence. We certainly see an unsettling uptick in violence in the U.S… The Department of Homeland Security uncovered plans that white radically motivated extremists, the followers of Neo-Nazi James Mason, are planning to use the COVID-19 as a bioweapon. This reminds me of the saran gas attack in the Tokyo subway systems many years ago.

There is ample evidence that terrorists are looking at new approaches and techniques, being inspired by the confusion and slaughtering statistics caused by the virus. They also see that professional sports around the globe are grappling with suspending or limiting their playing seasons. The stock market collapsed after being in the bull territory for 11 years, and the WHO declared a global pandemic as the President cut off travel from Europe. And those were the events only until March 11 of this year. All of this has duly been noted by the terrorist abroad and at home as they incorporate COVID “fear” as an additional tool, along with explosive material to be planted in the minds of the civil population. One command from the James Mason Neo Nazi group was quite clever directing its followers to fill their contaminated saliva in spray bottles and use the spray bottle as a weapon in particularly non-white areas.

The Turkistan Islamic Party is a known terrorist group with close ties to Al Qaeda, and it is looking to the pandemic to ravage its enemies. While Most of Hezbollah’s topmost commanders have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, it hasn’t impeded its activities. The New Jersey Governor said violent Islamist extremists have used propaganda about the racial and political tensions in the country “to discredit the United States and motivate residents to accept their violent extremism and encourage supporters to conduct terrorist attacks.” There have been concerted efforts to disrupt police radios and take down websites in Minnesota, Illinois and Texas. Federal intelligence agents warned that law enforcement should be ready for such tactics as protests continue. The Department of Homeland Security issued a separate warning reporting that personal information of police officers nationwide is being leaked online, a practice known as “doxxing.” Last year was, in terms of domestic terrorism, the worst since the Oklahoma City truck bombing of a federal building on April 19, 1995, that killed 168 people, including 19 children– hundreds of others were injured. All this as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and signed by Iran, to contain its nuclear development and arsenal— has been unraveling as the world focuses on COVID-19.
On July 5, front page headline in the New York Times, a story that has been percolating for some weeks that a sergeant major in the German elite Special Forces, was arrested. This member of the selected forces was hiding kilograms of PETN, an explosive which is very similar to nitroglycerin, along with AK47 rifles, silences and thousands of rounds of ammunition along with a trove of stolen material from the German army. Found, also, were reams of SS neo-Nazi material. Clearly, this was an issue that had been present far too long, and too dangerous for Germany to ignore any further both domestically and internationally. The problem has deepened beyond what had been anticipated by the German Republic and more important the far-right has probably infiltrated its national security services.

As I was preparing to end this Commentary, it was reported that essential nuclear centrifuges in Iran’s uranium development program were severely damaged or destroyed in a fire of unknown origin. A number of high ranking Iranian officials have suggested such attacks could have been launched in a cyberspace attack by the United States or Israel. Iran, in today’s global tension, may last out with a cyberspace attack where it faces a level playing field compared to a conventional military conflict.
As noted in my last Commentary, the South China Sea is becoming more dangerous as the U.S. is steadily increasing its naval presence with massive naval war games.
And lastly, words do matter when they attack our national and cultural values as a nation, and are spoken by the President of the United States. On 4 July, the President signaled that as part of his reelection message, it is his intention to rally his base of white supporters with an ominous and dangerous depiction of the recent national protests. He darkly predicted that the country will be attacked by throngs of “angry mobs, sought to unleash a wave of violent crimes in our cities.” The statistics indicate that those “angry mobs” have been embraced by an overwhelming portion of the nation and major corporate enterprises.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

When We Were Not Looking

It’s now July 9th, the days are getting much warmer, and I wish I were on the holiday my wife and I had planned. On my desk calendar the notation for today: Leave for London. Instead, I am in my pajama bottoms and a dress shirt top, thinking about the last few months. America was attacked in a park across the street from the White House, and the pandemic virus killed thousands more. We met our grandson, not in our apartment, but in a small neighborhood pocket park. Releasing myself from self –detention and heading home after a short walk, my temperature was taken by the people who guard the front door of my apartment house. I try not to think of “what next”.

Merging one into the other, the pandemic and national protesting has created the impression of a nation in suspended animation. There appeared to be nothing else occupying our attention. There should have been, and there will be a price to be paid.

Being so narrowly focused and preoccupied, our national security concerns are overtaken by others who seek to inflict harm. There are those who wait for and thrive on the chaos of others. And the present chaos has provided a wide window of opportunity for the domestic and international terrorist.

In the UK, Detective Superintendent Matthew Davison, Coordinator at Counter Terrorism Policing, noted with the uncertainty generated by the pandemic that young people are potentially more vulnerable to negative influences and exploitation, as they explore their concerns online. The terrorist/extremist groups troll in the same cyber space, looking to use our apprehension, fear and uncertainty of the pandemic as a vehicle to spread disinformation, fear and to encourage violence. We certainly see an unsettling uptick in violence in the U.S… The Department of Homeland Security uncovered plans that white radically motivated extremists, the followers of Neo-Nazi James Mason, are planning to use the COVID-19 as a bioweapon. This reminds me of the saran gas attack in the Tokyo subway systems many years ago.

There is ample evidence that terrorists are looking at new approaches and techniques, being inspired by the confusion and slaughtering statistics caused by the virus. They also see that professional sports around the globe are grappling with suspending or limiting their playing seasons. The stock market collapsed after being in the bull territory for 11 years, and the WHO declared a global pandemic as the President cut off travel from Europe. And those were the events only until March 11 of this year. All of this has duly been noted by the terrorist abroad and at home as they incorporate COVID “fear” as an additional tool, along with explosive material to be planted in the minds of the civil population. One command from the James Mason Neo Nazi group was quite clever directing its followers to fill their contaminated saliva in spray bottles and use the spray bottle as a weapon in particularly non-white areas.

The Turkistan Islamic Party is a known terrorist group with close ties to Al Qaeda, and it is looking to the pandemic to ravage its enemies. While Most of Hezbollah’s topmost commanders have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, it hasn’t impeded its activities. The New Jersey Governor said violent Islamist extremists have used propaganda about the racial and political tensions in the country “to discredit the United States and motivate residents to accept their violent extremism and encourage supporters to conduct terrorist attacks.” There have been concerted efforts to disrupt police radios and take down websites in Minnesota, Illinois and Texas. Federal intelligence agents warned that law enforcement should be ready for such tactics as protests continue. The Department of Homeland Security issued a separate warning reporting that personal information of police officers nationwide is being leaked online, a practice known as “doxxing.” Last year was, in terms of domestic terrorism, the worst since the Oklahoma City truck bombing of a federal building on April 19, 1995, that killed 168 people, including 19 children– hundreds of others were injured. All this as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and signed by Iran, to contain its nuclear development and arsenal— has been unraveling as the world focuses on COVID-19.

On July 5, front page headline in the New York Times, a story that has been percolating for some weeks that a sergeant major in the German elite Special Forces, was arrested. This member of the selected forces was hiding kilograms of PETN, an explosive which is very similar to nitroglycerin, along with AK47 rifles, silences and thousands of rounds of ammunition along with a trove of stolen material from the German army. Found, also, were reams of SS neo-Nazi material. Clearly, this was an issue that had been present far too long, and too dangerous for Germany to ignore any further both domestically and internationally. The problem has deepened beyond what had been anticipated by the German Republic and more important the far-right has probably infiltrated its national security services.

As I was preparing to end this Commentary, it was reported that essential nuclear centrifuges in Iran’s uranium development program were severely damaged or destroyed in a fire of unknown origin. A number of high ranking Iranian officials have suggested such attacks could have been launched in a cyberspace attack by the United States or Israel. Iran, in today’s global tension, may last out with a cyberspace attack where it faces a level playing field compared to a conventional military conflict.

As noted in my last Commentary, the South China Sea is becoming more dangerous as the U.S. is steadily increasing its naval presence with massive naval war games.

And lastly, words do matter when they attack our national and cultural values as a nation, and are spoken by the President of the United States. On 4 July, the President signaled that as part of his reelection message, it is his intention to rally his base of white supporters with an ominous and dangerous depiction of the recent national protests. He darkly predicted that the country will be attacked by throngs of “angry mobs, sought to unleash a wave of violent crimes in our cities.” The statistics indicate that those “angry mobs” have been embraced by an overwhelming portion of the nation and major corporate enterprises.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

War With China — We Lose

I find myself in what seems like a lockdown that is lasting forever, obsessing about China.

When I was in my first year at college, my hope/dream was to become a doctor and move to China. There was something very mystical about its people and culture. At some point in my adult life (married with two children) I tried to teach myself one of the many dialects of Chinese. That lasted one week. And now I am back again, reading all I can about a country that is becoming more threatening to our national security. And by that I mean that China is a threat not merely to our economic wellbeing but also our physical security. Although China, like the rest of the world, is fighting the coronavirus, it is also experiencing a severe economic crisis. Notwithstanding these daunting domestic issues, it sluffs off international condemnation as it moves aggressively in escalating military tension between China, its neighbors and United States.
Hong Kong, one of several thorns of conflict in China’s mission to lead the world, will not precipitate a war-like international conflict, but will precipitate and escalate the economic conflict between the U.S. and China. The second prong, Taiwan, has been on the Chinese radar screen to be folded into mainland by the year 2030, and that might well precipitate a war between us. There is a treaty that we have with that island nation. Will India and China go to war over a long simmering border dispute that has erupted in gun fire across their common border? I doubt that very much. Air travel between the two nations was banned and tensions increase, and then the ban was loosened. Our focus should be The South China Sea. Tensions there might very well precipitate an armed conflict within the immediate future.

The South China Sea and its control is a critical military and economic component not merely for the wellbeing and support of the Chinese economy and its neighboring nations, but also the world. If there is a military confrontation between the United States and China are we ready to go to war? Don’t answer that question too quickly.
One given in life is that nothing remains a secret forever. For example–scientists might have just witnessed the birth of a new planet for the first time in mankind’s memory. That is exciting news. Another secret just uncovered, is the Pentagon has been conducting secret in house war games against China. The scenarios were different and diverse. Some involved clashes in the South and East China Seas. One – the worst-case scenario – was an out-and-out war in 2030. The results were devastating—we lost at every turn. The conclusions drawn from those military operations have opened a Pandora’s Box– why are we in that untenable military situation.
In a long “REVIEW” article in the recent weekend edition of the WSJ the headline is “The End of U.S. Military Primacy”. Note—there is no question mark at the end of the title. My online dictionary defines “Primacy” as “the state of being first (as in importance, order, or rank)”. My initial reaction when I read the WSJ headline was– could this be true? I had recently learned that the United States presently spends over 1 Trillion Dollars each and every year on our defense– why then is there that headline. My research seeking our “world standing” — our “national security”, “our national defense” has only heightened my anxiety.

Let me begin with two items: The first is date-marked three years ago (May 2017). Keep in mind that this is a three years old report by Air Force General Frank Gorenc. He maintained that “the airpower advantage the United States has enjoyed over Russia and China is shrinking… (This) comes as part of a deluge of commentary on the waning international position of the United States. The U.S. military, it would seem, is at risk of no longer being able to go where it wants, and do what it wants to whomever it wants. Diplomatically, the United States has struggled, as of late, to assemble ‘coalitions of the willing’ interested in following Washington into the maw of every waiting crisis.” This is a daunting statement and was published three years ago. Clearly nothing has changed this stark picture. Our air force now ranks marginally ahead of China.

The Second, currently from the pen of the China Power Project director, Bonnie Glaser at The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a think-tank in Washington: “Every simulation (pentagon war game simulation) that has been conducted looking at the threat from China by 2030 have all ended up with the defeat of the US,” The war-games revealed that the U.S. risked “capital losses” even under our present defense efforts. Capital loses is a reference to both our major fighting ships, such as our enormous nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and advanced operational military bases such as those entrenched in Guam and Okinawa (the southernmost of 5 islands that constitute the Japanese nation.)
The results of the Pentagon war games were startling in that in every one of the various war simulations– China won—we lost! How could that be? And this at a time when we may lose the fight to control the future of communications, and the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accuses the United States of pushing China to the brink of a new Cold War.

Christian Brose who had been a staff director of the Senate Armed Services has written in his latest book that the Chinese are not focused on projecting power but rather preventing U.S .world domination and preventing its ascendency. I don’t agree. China is flexing their muscle to expand their economic influence and military power starting in the Pacific Ocean. They are developing precisions weapons to prevent us from mobilizing our armed forces in any action against them as I will discuss later in this commentary. There are two major truths to keep in mind: first, in attacking China, its mainland does not begin and end at Beijing but runs for an additional 2500 miles west toward its heart (more of this later). Two, as David Ignatius has written in reviewing Christian Broses’ book, our military hardware and planning has for years been compromised by political/lobbyist/bureaucratic inertia all compounded by powerful entrenched interests. “The Pentagon is good at doing what it did yesterday, and Congress insists on precisely that. We have been so busy buffing our legacy systems.” The then Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis and then-Navy Secretary, Richard Spencer attempted to have an aircraft removed from service in 2019, because these supercarriers are becoming the relics of the modern era – like the battleships of WW II era. Congress refused. “A lot of (aircraft carrier) capabilities, which excel in attacking low-level non-state threats, don’t survive that well against an opponent with advanced anti-access and area denial capabilities,” wrote Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Dr Malcolm Davis.

Why are parts of our fighter jet, the F-35, built in every state in the Union? Political pork barreling practiced at its worst. Not merely unacceptable but dangerous to our national security.

In any armed confrontation, we learned from the Pentagon war games, that China has the ability to deploy hypersonic weapons. There are additional survivability issues that come clear:
*our spy and communications satellites would immediately be disabled;
* our forward military bases in Guam and Japan would be “inundated” by China’s precise missiles;
*our aircraft carriers would have to sail away from China to escape attack by their DF-21 missiles , the world’s first anti-ship missile which Brose tags as “the carrier killer”;
* our carrier-borne F-35 fighter jets couldn’t reach their targets because the refueling tankers they need would be shot down, and they have an unrefueled combat radius of about 685 miles. Keep in mind that Beijing is physically located at the eastern end of mainland China with its area defense “envelope” (A2AD), extending to about 2500 miles west from that nation’s capital.

The evidence leads to a number of conclusions:
We need inexpensive autonomous weapons at the edge of the fighting perimeter, rather than a few sexy, eye catching ones (the aircraft carriers and marine assault ships) that are vulnerable to successful military attack. Davis also noted, we need to be “spreading offensive capability across greater numbers of smaller vessels.”
There are systems that we already possess, but not in satisfactory numbers and not fully deployed, to make a significant impression in our military force –-the Air Force unmanned XQ-58A, better known as the “Valkyrie” which cost roughly 45 times less than the F-35 fighter jet. We have an unmanned underwater system known as the “Orca” which is amazingly 300 times less in cost as our Virginia-class attack submarine. There should be additional investment in our bomber capabilities in long distance strike platforms– a larger B-21 Raider force, adapting B-1Bs to carry hypersonic weapons.

To underscore these points, China, within the last weeks, conducted an 11 week combat exercise in the Yellow Sea, which is very closer to mainland China than is the South China Sea, so not nearly as provocative. Their message is they are getting ready for a military confrontation with the U.S. and telling us so.

But our robust robot forces, along with other smaller lethal attack forces, are neither sufficient in number nor sufficiently deployed. We should be spreading our offensive strike capability and strength across a larger number of smaller vessels and larger platform bombers. One problem of serious consequences is that we, as a nation, do not have a lobby forceful enough to rival the giant defense contractors allied with political interests in Congress. Jamie Seidel, a military analyst, wrote that “China is not moving slowly” as we are in the development of its modern navy and air force (in addition to cyberspace). That is not a statement that can’t be contradicted. It’s a fact and these truths only exacerbate our lack of readiness to meet China on the world stage in the coming decades.

Dr. Davis noticed a simple truth: “We have the money, the technological base, and the human talent,” What we lack is the will to change.

Richard Allan,
The Editor