George Sarant

A raw feed of material that may be updated or appear elsewhere.

Posts Tagged ‘security

STAY OUT OF THE LINE OF FIRE

leave a comment »

The USA has not been blessed with leaders with a clear-eyed, long-term geopolitical view of the interests of the country for decades, and that record, along with the consistent ineptitude of the present administration, makes inaction preferable to action on a number of fronts. Iraq is descending into a chaotic civil war, due to the precipitous disengagement of the Obama administration and a total lack of strategic vision. There is no question that the blunders of the Bush administration are responsible for instigating these problems, but in that case at least half the blame belongs to Saddam Hussein himself for so successfully faking WMD capabilities in order to be perceived as a more formidable force in the region. That posture backfired, as did his removal. Sadaam was an awful dictator, but he counterbalanced the equally odious Iranian regime, which became the principal beneficiary of his demise. Broader strategic thinking would have made that outcome obvious. 

More importantly, Sadaam was a secular leader who checked religious extremism as long as he was in power. The same dynamic is at work in Syria now, where the US currently has zero credibility or respect, having drawn a  “line in the sand,” which it then ignored.  A wiser, long-term geopolitical understanding would have informed us of the saliency of the religious extremism in the two branches of Islam, and guided our strategic thinking accordingly. This is a long term, historic conflict that could still last centuries. Do we want to be part of that? At this stage, given the bumbling proclivities of our leaders, I think the best course for the US is to use this as an opportunity to get out of the line of fire. By that I mean ceasing to be enemy number one to extremists on both sides of the Islamic rift.  We have managed to fumble our way into that position, and it is now time to extricate ourselves. 

There are many countries in the world with an “Islamic problem,” meaning either a restive minority population or conflict with an aggressive neighbor. The US is not one of them, and a cursory examination of global borders makes that obvious. There is no inherent reason for the US to be at odds with any of these players, but for inserting ourselves into their affairs. Contrary to the beliefs of some on the left, it’s not about oil. We are more self-sufficient in this hemisphere than most other countries, and would be even more so but for the anti-energy policies of this administration, which sooner or later will be undone. The people who depend on mideast oil are the Japanese, the Europeans, and increasingly, the Chinese. Consequently what happens in the area is of far more consequence for them than it is for us. 

As for cultural conflict, Europe has a large, unassimilated Muslim population. Russia, and even China have restive Muslim minorities. Thus, the problems are far more acute for them, so why should the US wind up being the Great Satan? Bin Laden (who primarily targeted the US for stationing forces in Saudi Arabia, which are now gone) is dead and most of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack are accounted for. The Muslims are not our problem, and the more we disengage from conflict with them the less we would be targeted. Their main goal is obtaining power within the Islamic world. They are basically a headache for the existing regimes, who until now have managed to deflect such hostility onto the west. We are not sufficiently ruthless for this kind of conflict.

This does not mean cutting and running, but making a realistic policy that in essence says you don’t bother us and we won’t bother you, for if you do you will be annihilated with overwhelming force.  We would basically make an offer they couldn’t refuse. Let the CIA do its job for a change and come up with accurate information on these movements. Given the nature of the present administration I do not see a better path. 

We have paid dearly for all of this, not just in lives and treasure, but in terms of our own liberties. We now have a massive security state that is adept primarily at inconveniencing us at airports. Yet the end result is a situation no better than it was before, and given the instability in the area, arguably worse. We need to focus on rebuilding strength at home, where our way of life has deteriorated significantly. I am not suggesting isolationism here, but realism, as per Theodore Roosevelt’s axiom, speak softly but carry a big stick. 

 

WE NEED AN “OTHERNET”

leave a comment »

The NSA is now working with Google to investigate the recent spate of cyberattacks emanating from China. It is high time more attention was focused on this issue, for what is clear is that potential foes now realize they don’t need nuclear weapons and all out war to destroy the United States; they can instead attack it electronically and wreak havoc with commerce, the countries infrastructure, communications systems, and anything else that is wired. Thus far effective defenses against such attacks have been limited, but this should be one of the highest security priorities. Virtually everything is wired today, and all aspects of life could easily be brought to a standstill. Obviously one way to deal with this is to hire hackers to probe for weaknesses and plug them before our enemies can get to them
.
What is most disturbing in all of this is that the government itself is not protected sufficiently. Although I was in New York during the horror of 9/11, what disturbed me more even then was the fact that the Pentagon was so vulnerable to attack. It has also been subject to cyber attacks and has been hacked. This is totally unacceptable and a solution must be found that is foolproof.

The Internet initially came to life through DARPA and the Defense department. Given how ubiquitous it is now I believe we need something more fundamental than plugging leaks and fixing break-ins after they occur. Something new is required that will wall this stuff off from the Internet. Top security matters should not be connected to an entity anyone can use. What we need then is an Uber-net, an OtherNet that cannot be penetrated from the existing Internet, particularly for military and security information. This new net would be designed from the bottom up with security as a foremost concern. It ought to be possible to come up with the protocols and even the infrastructure necessary to accomplish this. I’ve come up with the concept, now the people working in these agencies should figure out how to engineer it. I encourage anyone reading this to forward it to the responsible parties.

Written by georgesarant

February 2, 2010 at 6:31 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

BYPASS MOHAMMED BUT WATCH THOSE RIGHT-WINGERS!

leave a comment »

While every terrorist act in recent years has been committed by an Islamic fanatic, the nominated head of the Transportation Security Administration remains clueless. According to Errol Southers, the nominee, “Most of the domestic groups that we pay attention to here are white supremacist groups. They’re anti-government, in most cases anti-abortion, they are usually survivalist type in nature, identity oriented…..Those groups are groups that claim to be extremely anti-government and Christian identity oriented.”

Never mind that there has barely been a peep out of right-wing extremists, and you have to look pretty hard to find white supremacists anywhere nowadays; they are nevertheless the principal threat to this moron. Everyone else seems to know that we are threatened by Islamic terrorists, not right-wing kooks. It is this kind of warped priorities that account for the government’s ineptitude in handling the underpants bomber. This guy’s nomination is a joke and should be withdrawn.

The TSA has been gripped by political correctness since its inception, treating grandma with the same procedures as Islamic males. This whole edifice should be dismantled, and reassembled to deal with the threats we actually face rather than political enemies. There is real hypocrisy in knowing who threatens us yet behaving as though we are all suspect. Our resources should be concentrated on identifying and destroying the actual enemy, not on harassing the public every time they try to get on an airplane. One of the tools that should be used is profiling. The public seems to understand and favor this, but the elites are tone-deaf and governed by ideology rather than the facts on the ground. The enemy may eventually wise up and change tactics, but right now they are giving us a gift of fairly obvious jihadis. We should take it.

Written by georgesarant

January 16, 2010 at 11:17 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

IS IT BETTER TO BE LOVED OR FEARED?

leave a comment »

In posing this question from the standpoint of a head of state Machiavelli clearly thought it was better to be feared. When President Obama was elected there was an international outpouring of “love,” following the departure of the fearsome George Bush, culminating in the Nobel Peace prize. Obama has done everything possible to encourage this sentiment, opting for multilateralism, dialogue, closing Guantanamo, ruling out “torture,” effectively apologizing for his predecessor, etc.

But while western Europeans may be enthralled, our enemies remain unimpressed, for this has only reinforced Al Qaeda’s notion that Americans are weak, vulnerable, and can be worn down in the long run. “Change” has engendered new “hope” that we can be defeated. Terrorists know they will be treated kindly if caught and now be turned over to the dysfunctional U.S. justice system.

In this case is it not better to strike “fear” in the hearts of our enemies? Killing them alone will not work because they want to be martyrs. What we need to do is make them face the most horrific circumstances possible from their standpoint. How about assigning them aggressive female guards and whatever else they would view as a fate worse than death Let them face what they perceive to be hell on earth. Let them fear us. Let us not hear any more about “our” values, which only generates contempt on their part. We should terrorize the terrorists. Only then will we gain their respect. It is nice to be loved when possible, but in this case it is better to be feared.

Written by georgesarant

December 30, 2009 at 5:59 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

THE UNDERPANTS BOMBER

leave a comment »

If the federal government uses the logic of its shoe-bomber strategy then it would follow that we may all have to drop our drawers at airports due to the underpants bomber. In case you forgot, the reason we all have to take off our shoes to get on an airplane is due to one guy who tried to blow up an airplane with an explosive in his shoes. He was stopped by passengers, and again passengers handled the underpants man, yet now security will be further “tightened.” Yet according to Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, the “system” worked. Sure. That’s why they were so good at coordinating terrorist lists. Given the ineptitude of government our primary line of defense is ourselves.

If we weren’t so squeamish about “profiling” maybe we’d have a more effective security system. Instead we have grandmothers being scrutinized and forced to remove their shoes. All the security apparatus in place makes flying ever more miserable and humiliating, yet the underpants man still got through. Fortunately this time he only burned himself. But it makes no sense to continue to harass normal people equally instead of focusing on potential threatening characters.

On the other hand this incident also indicates weakness, stupidity, and lack of imagination on Al Qaeda’s part. Despite all the various doomsday scenarios we have effectively suggested to them, they are still apparently focused on airplanes (and secondarily trains, as in London and Madrid). There is a remarkably consistent profile of terrorists so far. Like the 9/11 bombers, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was an Islamic male, came from a relatively affluent background, and was educated in the west. They all became alienated from societies that are so obsessed with multiculturalism and self-loathing of “liberal” elites that they no longer believe in themselves, and so discourage others from doing so as well. There is a self-destructive death spiral gripping Europe and the American left.

How much confidence can we have in this administration’s ability to protect us from terrorists when it won’t even acknowledge that there is, or ought to be, a continuing “war on terror?” We cannot always count on our enemies being so inept and must recognize that these attacks will continue. Next time we may not be so lucky. It is time to stop wasting resources, profile the likely attackers, and recognize the fact that, despite softer euphemisms,whether we like it or not, these people are at war with us. The only way to be rid of this menace is to ruthlessly pursue and destroy them.

Written by georgesarant

December 28, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

MUTUAL PARANOIA

leave a comment »

I have been getting a lot of Email lately from right-wing fringe elements regarding coming social chaos and collapse, secret concentration camps being set up, UN troops here, etc. This is reminiscent of the 90s “black helicopter” stories. This is the sort of paranoia that percolates when the “other” side is in control of the government.

The “government” in turn, through the Department of Homeland Security has announced there is a potential “terror” threat from right-wing groups, while presenting no evidence and including such menacing baddies as American veterans. Janet Napolitano subsequently gave an inadequate apology to veterans.

It is less than reassuring when the department charged with security is as nutty as the people that are purportedly a threat.

Written by georgesarant

April 16, 2009 at 11:44 PM

Posted in government

Tagged with