Wednesday, December 30, 2015


My latest @ National Review
President Obama's 2015 Foreign Policy Disasters Pave the Way for 3 New Crises in 2016

Note, this quote: ''While Iran has been bloodied by the Syrian conflict, it’s Baghdad, and not Damascus, that is the center of gravity in the regional power struggle.'' should be read in the context of my recent piece on Iranian actions in Iraq. My links on other foreign policy issues can be seen under the foreign policy header of my bio.
National Review Online

Monday, December 28, 2015

*How Islamic State Covert Action Teams are Plotting Major Attacks in Europe

* I pitched this piece to 3/4 outlets on November 1st (12 days before ISIS attacked Paris). No one accepted. For me, that makes this pitch a good example of the challenge that freelance pitches entail. The Editor has a lot of pitches in front of him/her and a finite amount of time. Some important pieces - such as this one - inevitably fall through the cracks.

“Fewer than 50” Special Operators will deploy to Syria to fight the Islamic State. This is vintage Obama national security strategy:  “fewer than 50” represents a number calibrated to avoid liberal disquiet, and even enough for a pretense of strategic viability. Still, while the deployment-strength obviously isn’t ideal, the 2001 US campaign in Afghanistan shows what a few talented professionals can do with maps, radios, mobility and friendly aircraft overhead. Who knows, hopefully IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will be al-Zarqawi-d by the year’s end.

Unfortunately the Islamic State isn’t sitting idle. As the US sends its operators onto IS home turf, the Islamic State is reciprocating in much greater measure.

As I noted in May 2014, IS ideology and its western recruitment has always posed serious danger. Yet last November, IS prioritized international attacks and it now poses an unprecedented threat. Take the UK. Speaking last week, the Director of MI5 (Britain’s domestic intelligence service) noted that 5 and its partners had “thwarted six attempts at terrorist attacks in the UK in the last year, and several plots overseas.  He added, “We are seeing plots against the UK directed by terrorists in Syria” and “greater ambition for mass casualty attacks.” But what really concerns MI5 is overstretch. That’s because at present, MI5 personnel are greatly stretched by their human surveillance taskings: they have limited numbers of surveillance officers to deploy and many jihadist returners from Syria (plus other terrorist suspects) to monitor. In addition, IS has improved its training to help its covert agents avoid capture. To make matters worse, some young Muslim men remain profoundly skeptical of the British government and open to radicalization.

France faces a similar threat. Consider the recent report  by French newspaper, Le Monde, on a government document that shows the Fifth Republic’s challenge in grappling with IS fighters who have returned to commit atrocities.  Noting an interviewed suspect’s description of Syria as a terrorist “factory”, the document also explains the resource and assessment challenge in prioritizing high-threat ‘returners’ for surveillance. Most ominously, the report claims IS has told its European recruits to travel to EU states other than their own. Relying on open inter-EU border rules, IS hopes a terrorist who is known by his home nation will be unknown to a foreign intelligence service. As such, intelligence cooperation-trust on counter-terrorism issues has never been so crucial*. Then there’s Germany. Today, concerned that Chancellor Merkel’s open doors immigration policy endangers national security, the Germany intelligence community appears to be leaking information against that policy. Aware that IS perceives human refugees as a useful cover for large scale infiltration into Europe, German intelligence fears that attackers might have already entered their country and activated attack plans.

Of course, some will read this and say that its scaremongering. Others will point to terrorist casualty statistics and say that the risks are exaggerated. But these arguments fail to account for terrorism’s ultimate target: the human soul. After all, while an attack might kill relatively few people, its second and third-order impact on public confidence, the economy, and society are profound. Anyone in London on July 21st 2005 – when, just two weeks after the July 7th terrorist attacks, bombers attempted four more bombings– can attest to this truth. And as we’ve seen in IS propaganda videos, al-Baghdadi’s hordes take special pleasure in their conscious fetishism of human misery. Pursuant to its total-war project to purify the earth under a unified caliphate, IS desperately wants to claim the throne of global Salafi-Jihadism from al-Qaeda.

In short, the Islamic State threat is real, and it is growing. We desperately need a new strategy to defeat IS (here’s mine). Again, the numbers tell the tale of seriousness. We’re sending 50 Special Operators into Syria, and the Islamic State is mobilizing thousands

*- … As I noted last year, the intelligence relationship issue is one reason why the Senate’s CIA sham report was so pathetic.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The McLaughlin Group - 2015 AWARDS SHOW pt. 1

My time linked comments:
BIGGEST WINNER: Ayatollah Khamenei 
MOST ORIGINAL THINKER: Biden for his speech at White House
MOST STAGNANT THINKER: Bernie Sanders (followed by a discussion on Heston)
BEST PHOTO OP (most powerful): The dead Syrian boy on the Turkish beach
HONORABLE MENTION: Joe Dunford and Ash Carter

Friday, December 25, 2015