Category: Terrorism

Lessons from Boston and Dallas: We must unite, not divide, in the face of opposition

In a recent article at FOX Business, former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who served during the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013, addressed the Dallas community following the “cowardly attack on 12 of Dallas’ Finest.” He correctly asserted that the recent “war on cops” doesn’t just fracture our nation, but draws our attention and resources away from the War on Terror.

“We cannot weaken our resolve with internal conflicts here in our own homeland,” wrote Davis, who will address the NCPA at a Patriot’s Day luncheon on September 9th.  Indeed, the Balkanization of the police and the neighborhoods they patrol creates a polarized and distrustful atmosphere at a time when law enforcement needs citizens’ help to identify potential terrorist activity. Any conflict will also siphon off critical resources needed to protect communities against terrorism. This self-inflicted tension distracts from the external threat of radical Islam –‒ a threat that makes no distinction among Americans.

Davis’ upcoming appearance in Dallas comes on the heels of Micah Johnson’s killing spree a month earlier, which left five Dallas police officers dead and nine more injured. Dallas Police Chief David Brown had previously achieved some success bridging the divide between police and certain communities. But the sad irony remains, as Davis points out, that the cowardly and unprovoked slaughter of innocent police officers “could have the potential to deal…a crippling blow to [DPD’s] community policing efforts.”

Davis also outlined some key areas of reform to ensure American can bridge the gap, including:

  • Employing impartial academics to collect and evaluate real data.
  • Improvement to police training in areas of de-escalation and training citizens on police authority and confrontation.
  • Help media outlets deliver accurate and timely information that avoid inflammatory statements and misinformation.

Now is not the time for internal strife.  The external threat of terrorism should inspire Americans to come together and resolve our internal disputes. We must gather as a nation to face a much greater threat. Otherwise, we may not have a county to argue over.

Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis will share his story as the lead law enforcement official at the time of the Boston marathon bombing in 2013 at the NCPA luncheon in Dallas on September 9th. Davis will recount the attack, law enforcement’s subsequent battle with the Tsarnaev brothers and the city’s continuing recovery effort.  He plans to also offer seasoned insight on how to counter the rise of homegrown terrorism and how that relates to the international fight against radical Islam.  For tickets, please visit http://www.ncpathinktank.org/events/patriot-s-day-boston-police-commissioner-ed-davis.

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The Brexit and American Opportunities

Some believed the British exit from the European Union to be a calamitous economic event. However, the referendum actually provided the United States with several opportunities to improve its economy and security.

The United States remains the EU’s largest trading partner, despite the crippling taxes and suffocating regulations the organization imposes on those U.S. trade agreements with member states. The EU requires standardized agreements between the United States and each individual member, rather than allowing the parties involved to settle on arrangements that meet their particular needs. Separately, the EU levies a 2 percent tariff on all American goods. A similar tariff will hit the United Kingdom in the coming months, meaning that the 44 percent of British exports sent to EU countries in 2016 will be hit with a tariff in 2017.  This tariff will likely drive many British goods to new markets as they are priced out of continental Europe. America could be an option.

In any case, the Brexit means the United States and Britain can move away from the financial impositions of the EU and develop a trade agreement that meets the specific needs of both countries. An important relationship indeed since Britain accounted for 18 percent of the EU economy, and 17 percent of its exports went to the United States in 2015. With Britain now free from the economic shackles of Brussels, the United States could negotiate a trade deal with fewer economic barriers.

Security remains the other benefit of the Brexit. The EU represents 28 nations and dozens of security agencies, which unfortunately retards the ability to share information quickly and inhibits a coordinated response to conflict. Working directly with Britain would allow the United States to develop an improved security network through the cultivation of state-to-state relationships.

Britain’s armed forces would also no longer be subject to the proposed EU draft ‒‒ an idea now openly discussed by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and other Brussels elites who prefer a centralized European military authority. This armed force would be, among other things, an expensive redundancy to NATO.

Finally, the Brexit allows the United States and Britain to collaborate in areas of terrorism that might otherwise be impeded by EU legal system. For instance, Muslim fundamentalists have historically benefited from lenient EU courts. Knowing this, several leading Wahhabi Imams, such as Anjem Choudary of London, advocated for the U.K. to remain in the EU because “certain principles and caveats” essentially prevented the prosecution of Islamists. According to British media outlets, almost 33 percent of all the cases the U.K. loses at the European Court of Human Rights are lost to extremists and other violent criminals. In some instances, Al Qaeda affiliates originally found guilty in British courts were freed after EU courts overturned the rulings.

The United States would certainly see benefits to a more autonomous Britain in both security and economy, and should take full advantage.

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Foxnews – Gen. Mike Flynn, Allen West, Dr. David Grantham: Yes, we can defeat terrorism

This piece originally appeared at Foxnews.com. “The legendary Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu rightly observed generations ago that “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” But he also taught that “if you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” And right now, our strategy suggests we know neither the enemy nor ourselves.

That must change, and quickly.

The president refuses to know that our current adversary in radical Islam lives by an apocalyptic worldview – one that relies on unconscionable levels of slaughter to bring about its final caliphate.

One cannot rationalize away such an irrational ideology. No medieval battles over Jerusalem, no features of Guantanamo Bay and certainly no aspect of Western culture can justify this level of bloodlust. And yet the current administration stubbornly searches for a clarification that might explain that militant Islam is the result of something other than irreconcilable religiosity. It is a theme akin to “we have met the enemy and decided to deny its existence.”

This obfuscation and denial is the pattern of the administration, one revealed early on when officials termed the Islamic terrorist attacks as “man-caused disasters” and combat operations as “overseas contingency operations.” This willful ignorance has prompted a dangerous mismatch in priorities. The president telling future military leaders, for example, that they are derelict in their duties if they deny climate change creates an environment of false truths, resulting in unsafe policy. Those on the front lines cannot defend against the threat when the threat is purposely misidentified.

It has also led to dishonest conclusions, such as arguing that the loss of territory equates to American military success, and the frequency of terrorist attacks represents the Islamic State’s desperation. Even those with a cursory knowledge of jihadists understand that the successful execution of an attack is seen as a signal of divine support. Frequency only strengthens their resolve.

One should never be so intransigent as to deny the truth of the enemy. That only concedes the initiative and gives the enemy an ability to outmaneuver you strategically.

Instead, we must get into the head of the enemy. All three of us have been there. It’s not pretty. There exists an unparalleled devotion to their cause; a fanatical adherence to Islamic conventions.

Take for instance Abu Zubaydah, a senior Al Qaeda leader captured in 2002. His religious fidelity led him to actually thank his overseers for enhanced interrogation because, according to him, those captured were permitted by Allah to provide information once they reached their own limit for physical or psychological hardship. He said “you must do this for all the brothers.”

They are resolute in their convictions. They are dedicated to the slaughter of any who do not share their warped vision for the future. That’s the enemy.

But America must also know itself. Jihadists do not distinguish between black and white, young or old, poor or rich. Our enemy sees us all as Americans, and we should do the same. It is essential that we champion American exceptionalism — defined not as a pompous view of self, but as the beacon of light for individual freedom in a world lacking it. We must have a shared understanding that our country, our constitutional republic, will always be the last great hope for liberty. And above all, we must agree to protect it.

The government must also know its responsibilities. The next administration and each one thereafter must embrace its constitutional obligation to provide for the common defense, and must never put the interests of others above those they serve. Those leaders should clearly and correctly define the enemy, and articulate an unambiguous national and international strategy to defeat it.

Make no mistake; we are at war. And the enemy possesses an unalterable 7th century ideology with 21st century capabilities. But even the most dogmatic can be defeated. They have been defeated when the United States, leaders and citizens alike, chose to know the enemy and resolved to defeat it. From the Barbary Wars to Nazism, Imperial Japan to communism, America chose sacrifice over compliancy, bravery over fear. The American people squared their collective shoulders and faced the threat head-on.

All of this can be done. And we will do so with unwavering integrity, renewed strength and unapologetic resolve. Knowing ourselves and our enemy will ensure victory.”

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General Flynn goes from the NCPA to the Republican National Convention

General Michael Flynn headlined the Republican National Convention Monday night with a rousing speech that laid out what the next president must do in order to protect the United States and its interests around the globe.

His comments echoed those he delivered only months earlier at the National Center for Policy Analysis’ biannual Hatton W. Sumners Distinguished Lecture Series — an NCPA program where nationally and internationally renowned speakers address business leaders, college students and the general public on the the nation’s most pressing issues.

In a passionate address to NCPA supporters in March 2016, General Flynn spoke at length about the specific threat from terrorist organizations, adversarial governments and cyber belligerents, and the overlap among them. Flynn stressed the need to improve America’s intelligence capabilities, and made a spirited plea for the administration to engage its allies and moderates in the Middle East in order to defeat the rising tide of radical Islam.  America must identify and work directly with those reformists like Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi if we expect to see victory, Flynn said.

The defining moment at the NCPA event came when the General emphasized the importance of protecting national security information, and found himself genuinely dumbfounded that a candidate who so willfully compromised that material would still be considered worthy of the highest office.  The findings from the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server released months later proved she had quite deliberately (but without malice) undermined the national security of the United States.  As a veteran and former intelligence specialist like General Flynn, I found the compromise equally troubling, and now fear our intelligence capabilities may see a tremendous decline since sources who risk their lives to work with us will lack confidence that we can maintain their anonymity. I have addressed here why this extreme level of carelessness is so dangerous to U.S. security and why NOT charging Clinton further undermines our long-term capabilities.

Just as he had months earlier to NCPA guests, Flynn told the crowd at the RNC Convention that these threats facing America had to be confronted head-on with “unwavering integrity, renewed strength and unapologetic resolve.” He also noted that the U.S. military needed the support to undertake the missions asked of them. The president’s recent troop requests for Iraq and Afghanistan, absent the funding necessary to do so, proved yet again that he intends to prolong the fight without providing the support to the warfighter to accomplish the mission. It does not have to be this way, though.

There is a way to maintain and increase troop levels without adding more to the budget. For example, rerouting funds away from ambiguous climate change programs and related civilian positions, and eliminating the climate directive issued in January 2016 which saddles the military with unnecessary tactical considerations, would be the first step in maximizing efficiency while stabilizing expenditures (explained here).  Another goal would be to address the rise in misplaced defense spending, which has only seen a decrease in American security — a paradox I have termed defenseless debt.  Solving the problem, in part, would involve decreasing and moving executive slush funds, like the Overseas Contingency Operation account, back under defense control, while limiting Pentagon staff positions and decreasing spending on expensive and potentially harmful security assistance programs in places like Africa.

Each of these would be a first step in properly funding defense capabilities and will ensure the warfighter has the tools to protect America. Flynn says the threat must be faced head-on. But our forces cannot do so when leadership has its head in the sand.

 

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Learning From Israel in the Aftermath of Orlando

Danielle Zaychik is a research associate with the NCPA: “As we mourn the victims of the Orlando attack, gun control is once again at the forefront of the political debate.  But the solutions should be more geared towards terrorism.  Having lived in Israel for an extended period, I made some observations that may help the readers understand how a country combats terrorism within its borders.  The following suggestions come both from relevant literature and from Israeli experience.

Aggressively pursue terrorist suspects: In light of ISIS’s encouragement of lone wolf attacks, the U.S. government must step up its attempts to identity and track potential adherents to their message.  Not only had Omar Mateen twice popped up on the FBI’s radar, a gun company and Disney both reported Mateen to the FBI because of his suspicious behavior.  While there is definitely a place for restrictions on FBI investigations aimed at protecting citizens’ privacy, the U.S. government cannot ignore the changing nature of terrorism.  Israel has seen success using aggressive counterterrorism measures, including targeting terrorist organizations’ use of information and communication technology.  Since these platforms are used to inspire attacks, the United States government could consider creating an aggressive surveillance, monitoring, and counterterrorism system that combats those efforts.  Additionally, integrating local police units into federal counterterrorism efforts is critical for safety and security.

Decrease vulnerability:  In general, the idea of increasing the presence of public and private security guards does not sit well with Americans.  It seems unfathomable to put a guard in front of every major terror magnet (including concerts, malls, and train stations).  However, this is precisely what Israel did; Israelis got used to living with security as a part of daily life.  The most recent wave of violence in Israel, the Jerusalem Intifada, consisted largely of lone wolf copycat attacks, inspired by the social and mainstream media.  Attacks have been primarily halted by security forces and the increased security presence in high-conflict places, like the Old City of Jerusalem, has likely dissuaded others.  It can work in America, too.  Placing security guards in schools, for example, became more popular after Sandy Hook without controversy.

Improve response time. Active shooters often do not stop shooting until they meet resistance.  Or will continue their attack elsewhere if they do not meet resistance at the first location.  In many ways the Orlando shooting resembled the Bataclan massacre, which also had around a three hour police response time, although the Orlando police properly followed protocol based on previous incidents.  But protocol in regards to response could be considered for change.  Finding ways to improve response time, as they have done in Israel, will undoubtedly save lives during the next attack.

Past domestic and international experience provides a blueprint for creating measures that could mitigate future terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.  We cannot fall into the trap of crafting policy that tries to prevent the last attack.  We must implement measures that will best mitigate both threats similar to those we have seen in the past and new threats going forward.”

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Is the Iran Deal on the Rhode to Recovery?

This originally appeared in my townhall column:

“I always figured a breach in the seemingly impenetrable circle surrounding the administration and its puzzling national security solutions would be the result of loose lips, rather than revulsion at the troublesome ideas circulating therein. And now deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes is trying to take back his words.

Most know by now his admission that the White House misled the public on the purpose of the deal, and acknowledged that many of his media “compadres” serve as palace guards for the Obama administration. But retrieving words once spoken is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. And now Congress needs to step in. The Senate should consider using the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to protect the country and our allies from the administration’s “agreement” with Iran.

Apologists are trying to save face in the wake of these comments by attempting to rebrand the deal as a clumsy product of group think; or the hurried maturation of a bad idea in a space completely insulated from counter-arguments. An “echo chamber,” as Rhodes called it.

My father has a better term: group stupid. He correctly reasons that we do things in a group that we would never consider on our own.

In any case, group stupid now remains the most attractive excuse for this pitiful agreement, simply because critics will often extend grace to the hapless. After all, most observers recognize actions of group stupid to be reckless and impulsive, and if given a second chance, believe those involved would generally avoid the same course of action.

Rhodes’ comments, however, confirm that the Obama administration brokered the agreement with full knowledge of its terrible structure and unbalanced conditions, and then sold it as something else. That’s premeditation, not imprudence.

Rhodes has verified this deal to be as solid as a pinky swear with an Ayatollah missing both hands.

Congress can begin to fix it, here’s how.

The NDAA, the annual bill that sets the military budget, has arrived in the Senate. As part of funding our defense force, the Senate could also consider adding portions of proposed legislation as amendments to the NDAA to rectify this miserable pinky swear agreement.

First, the Senate could consider using excerpts from H.R. 3662 Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, introduced by Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.), as an amendment. In one instance, the proposed bill legislates congressional authority wherein “Any rule to amend or otherwise alter a covered regulatory provision regarding sanctions on Iran shall be subject to congressional review requirements.” In other words, this statue prevents the executive branch from unilaterally and arbitrarily applying or rescinding sanctions. This would curb the excesses of an otherwise emboldened executive branch and limit future administrations who harbor similar ambitions.

Congress could also consider including excerpts from of H.R. 4342 Iran Ballistic Missile Prevention and Sanctions Act introduced by Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), as another amendment as a means of penalizing Iran for its missile tests.

Indeed, as one can see, the Iran issue has bipartisan support. Adding amendments of this nature could find backing across party lines. And the American people would love to see such compromise, especially on an issue in which they so stringently disagree with the administration.

The Rhode to accountability starts with the NDAA.

The NCPA is proposing a viable course to achieve a fiscally responsible military that will keep America safe. Join us in this endeavor as we focus on the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act at NCPA.org and our Provide for the Common Defense Now! Petition.”

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Use the NDAA Against Iran

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual bill that sets the military budget, is in the markup phase. As Congress begins to review and edit the content of the bill, now is the time to make our voice heard. The urgency in repairing our defense readiness capabilities dovetails with the U.S. national security urgency in holding Iran accountable for acts of aggression.

First, the Senate could consider adding a version of H.R. 3662 Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, introduced by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), as an amendment to the NDAA.  I have written previously about the bill here, which passed the House but has not received a vote in the Senate.

Congress could also consider a version of H.R. 4342 Iran Ballistic Missile Prevention and Sanctions Act introduced by Rep. John Delaney (D. MD), as another amendment. Indeed, as one can see, the Iran issue has bipartisan support. Adding amendments of this nature could find backing across party lines.  And the American people would love to see such compromise, especially on an issue in which they stringently disagree with the president.

In any case, something must be done.

Iran has repeatedly violated the so-called “agreement,” which has turned out to be more like a Pinky-Swear Agreement (PSA) rather than a real contract. And for some unknown reason, the Obama administration plans to comply with the PSA with or without Iran. Now the Department of Energy has gone through with its purchase of Iran’s heavy water — used in the process of creating nuclear material — per the PSA. The Islamic Republic will receive $8.6 million. As the agreement stands, that money could be used to fund terrorism. Speaker Paul Ryan rightly called this idea subsidizing Iran’s nuclear program. This is just the latest mind-numbing strategy from the administration, and does not include billions in unfrozen assets flowing into Tehran. American Soldiers on their knees in surrender, rocket tests, etc; the in-your-face dissent will continue because Iran simply has no incentive to abide.

Meanwhile, Russia has recently agreed to supply Iran with S-300 missiles ahead of schedule and remains in talks to send even more military equipment.  I continue to believe that Israel will likely be the first victim of the Ayatollah’s wrath. And the PSA sets the ground work for that.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey once said, in reference to how American dollars sent to buy Middle East oil help enrich hostile governments and terrorist organizations, “Except for the Civil War, [the War on Terror] is the only war that we have fought where we are paying for both sides.”

Sounds like the PSA.  Even worse, we provided money that will likely fund Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations for virtually nothing in return.  The NDAA could help turn that around.

We, at the National Center for Policy Analysis, have developed the “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!” petition to ensure that the FY 2017 NDAA helps provide for a strong, fiscally responsible national defense plan. If you stand with us, please sign it.

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The Hidden Enemy

This post originally appeared in my townhall column: “There is a Chinese proverb that states, “May you live in interesting times,” which has become a defining character of these times in which we are living. This new 21st century battlefield has brought a seemingly innumerable level of conflict and conflagrations that expands across the globe. It is a battlefield that has no boundaries or borders, and finds attacks occurring against civilian populations near and far.

It is not just the threat from traditional nation-state actors, but also the proliferation of non-state, non-uniformed, unlawful enemy combatants that makes this a rather complex battlespace. The latter enemy blends in with civilian populations as a means of cover. There are nations that provide support and sanctuary for these unlawful actors, enabling their sustainment. What has been a new frontier in this battle has been the use of new information technology, which gives a new and broad platform for the enemy and adversaries to promulgate their violent ideology.

But, there is also another means by which technology is enabling our enemies to be successful on the battlefield.

Tuesday the 26th of April is recognized as World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. According to the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here are the major impacts of IP for America:

  • Incentivizes innovation and creativity,
  • Creates 40 million jobs, drives 2/3 of our GDP, and ¾ of all US annual exports, and
  • Protects consumer safety by allowing consumers to make informed decisions about the safety, reliability, and quality of the products they purchase.

 

But there is a very vital aspect of our IP that relates to the most critical function of our federal government — national security.

These are times when we are decimating our current military force structure. We have an Army that is being cut down to pre-World War II levels. Our U.S. Marine Corps is at World War I levels. Our venerable U.S. Navy, “a global force for good,” is now the smallest Navy we have fielded when analyzing surface warships since 1917 — and it appears Russia enjoys “buzzing” our Destroyers. Our U.S. Air Force is the smallest and oldest fleet since we created the modern Air Force as a separate service branch. There are those who would say this is all good. Easy for them to say such, when they are not on those frontlines for freedom as guardians.

Our defense discretionary budget is approximately 18% of our overall budget. Nearly 64% of our federal budget is spent on the mandatory spending side encompassing Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the net interest on our ever growing debt. As a percentage of our GDP, defense takes up about 3.2%. Sure, we can find savings in our defense budget. One of the most obvious is to reform our weapons systems acquisition and procurement process – where protection of our IP is paramount. Many believe that we can “afford” to cut back on our manpower requirements because we have a technological edge, advantage. But on this new battlefield, that may just no longer be the case.

If you have not paid requisite attention, there has been a marked increase of cyber-attacks against the United States. This has not just occurred against our military facilities and forces, but has rather been targeted towards our private sector industry, research and development, and institutions of higher learning. In a recent speech delivered to the National Center for Policy Analysis, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn stated that the Chinese have a Cyber Unit with a manning level of some 800,000. In contrast, our US CYBERCOM has between 10-15,000 manpower, and we all know that cyber is another area of this new battlefield.

What are the dangers?

If you have not noticed, China’s new fighter aircraft has a very marked resemblance to our F-35 fighter. And there is another very dangerous aspect of this new hidden enemy: parts counterfeiting. Several years ago, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) looked into this very problem. In a year-long investigation the SASC examined some 1,800 cases of counterfeit parts, involving a total of more than 1 million individual counterfeit parts found in the military supply chain — totally unconscionable.

Some of the critical weapon systems where these counterfeit parts were found include helicopter forward-looking infrared, F-16 hostile tracking radar, portable nuclear identification tools, and aircraft pilot displays. There appears to be a very targeted method for these counterfeit parts. In the report from the SASC, former Chairman Senator Carl Levin stated, “Our report outlines how this flood of counterfeit parts, overwhelmingly from China, threatens our national security, the safety of our troops, and American jobs. It underscores China’s failure to police the blatant market in counterfeit parts — a failure China should rectify.” Senator John McCain chimed in on the subject, stating, “Our committee’s report makes it abundantly clear that vulnerabilities throughout the defense supply chain allow counterfeit electronic parts to infiltrate critical US military systems, risking our security and the lives of the men and women who protect it.”

The National Center for Policy Analysis has developed the “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!” petition, which advocates for reforming the military acquisition and research and development process to eliminate significant cost overruns and guarantee warfighters receive modern weapon systems on time and under budget. If you stand with us, please sign it.

On this World IP Day we can certainly celebrate the incredible innovations and ingenuity resulting from the indomitable American entrepreneurial spirt. But what we must never forget is that exact same innovative capacity and capability is being targeted, and threatens our national security. If we continue decimating our force structure while the hidden enemy unlawfully usurps our technological advantage on the battlefield — then we are not ensuring that seminal responsibility to “provide for the common defense.”

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The Military, Nation-Building and Counterterrorism in Africa

“History does not repeat itself, as the old adage goes, but it surely rhymes. What began in 2002 as an antiterrorism assistance program for a handful of impoverished African countries at risk from violent extremist groups has since expanded into the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership.

This expensive, Department of State-led program, which is now integrated into the military’s U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), boasts lackluster oversight and a penchant for nation-building –‒ using multiple agencies to rebuild a given country’s political, economic and social infrastructure. In fact, its shape and language resembles failed, Cold War anticommunism programs in Latin America that ended up complicating rather than solving American security problems.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) must take a more measured approach to the military’s financial commitment to the Trans-Sahara partnerships and its counterterrorism efforts in Africa, and rethink the rules of engagement within this broadly defined “capacity-building” program….” Read the full report here.

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The Decline of American Regard

This post originally appeared in West’s Townhall column: “When I was a Congressional representative from South Florida, one of the major concerns was beach re-nourishment, the process of pumping sand back onto eroded beaches. The district I represented was all coastline, from Ft. Lauderdale up to Jupiter Inlet, and one of the major economic concerns was the erosion of the beaches. As we all can understand, if the beauty of the south Florida beaches declined, so did the attraction of visitors and economic growth.

It is no different when one considers the slow erosion of American strength that has been occurring over the past seven years. This has led to the decline of our regard on the global stage. Recent events tell the tale cracks in our foundation, as well as serious (and we pray not irreparable) damage to American strength.

Take the economic blackmail threat by the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister’s reference to legislation supporting the declassification of 28 pages from the 9/11 investigative report. There are many who believe that these pages contain information implicating Saudi officials in the financial and resource support of the 9/11 conspirators, many of whom were Saudi nationals. The fact that the Saudi Foreign Minister would threaten the sell-off of U.S. treasury securities is a blatantly disrespectful gesture. It is reprehensible when we consider that this is the Saudi response to what could be a revelation of their complicit actions in an act of war against the United States. However, when there is a decline in American regard, such obtuse and belligerent statements can be made with full arrogance.

China, whose President Xi Jinping received full honors and a State dinner at the White House recently, has defied every sense of international regard in constructing islands in the South China Sea. And, have emplaced military weaponry and airstrips on them, which now receive military aircraft. Those who know a little about history can recall in the 20th century when an Asian nation militarily fortified islands, constructed airstrips, and sought to build its maritime force. This action has sought to evidence a lack of regard for American influence with other nations in the Pacific Rim region such as Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. China has strategically built these new islands along a major sea lane of commerce with some 30-35 percent of trade transits. Certainly not a coincidence, considering the impending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which excludes China.

And, let us not forget the massive “investment” China has made into its offensive cyber capability. Some say its dedicated unit is comprised of some 800K. The continued aggressive nature of Chinese cyber activity, along with their focused intellectual property threats, cannot be debated. Yet, we are dismissing it. This, along with their economic subterfuge, shows a clear decline in American regard that has even inspired China’s attack dog, Kim Jung Un and North Korea, to ramp up its belligerence.

With Iran, there can be no more greater evidence of a decline of American regard. First, let’s be very clear. There is no such thing as a nuclear agreement with Iran — they are not signatories of anything. Yet, the current presidential administration has released billions of dollars to the number one state sponsor of Islamic jihadism and terrorism. And no, there is no such thing as “snapback sanctions.” That horse has long since left the barn.

Who can forget the pictures and videos of our U.S. sailors on their knees at gun point by the terrorist designated Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps – and, then we thanked the Iranians. Israel just uncovered new Hamas tunnels.  Needless to say, we all know who funds Hamas and their exploits. Iran has fired off more ballistic missiles and we have done nothing. Iran’s head of the terrorist designated Quds Force, General Qassem Suleimani, has violated U.N. resolutions and traveled on several occasions to Russia. His latest excursion was to seal the deal on Iran’s acquiring, not just new state of the art T-90 tanks and fighter jets, but the lethal S-300 surface to air missile system — which Iran has stated it will parade upon receipt. The acquisition of the latter, with their new found economic boon, is a game changer for any potential operations against a nuclear facility. They know it, and we know it as well, but we are doing nothing. Iran has become a regional hegemony in the Middle East over these past seven years, now controlling Sanaa Yemen, Beirut Lebanon, Damascus Syria, and Baghdad Iraq. President Obama clearly stated his foreign policy strategy was to pivot from the Middle East and engage in the Pacific, a flawed strategic policy that has resulted in the further decline of American regard.

Lastly, the continued provocations of Vladimir Putin and Russia are not by mistake. After all, President Obama did tell then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that after his reelection he would have more “flexibility.” That “flexibility” has resulted in our Naval warships, in international waters of the Baltic Sea, being buzzed at dangerously close distances by Russian Su-24 fighter jets. These actions against our maritime forces evidence Russian aggression at a time when the Baltic States have major security concerns. We continually hear the rhetoric of “avoidance of war” but those are sweet and aromatic words to despots and dictators — such as it was to the ears of Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo in the last century. Even with a failing economy, Vladimir Putin shows strength, and on a grand international stage portrays American weakness.

Sadly, this will continue for the remaining months until our nation can make a decision in November as to whether we want to be liked or respected. In the past two presidential election cycles we chose the former. It has led to this, a decline in American respect and regard. And this missive did not make mention of the expansive growth of the global Islamic Jihad.

As Alexander the Great once stated, “I would not fear an army of lions if led by sheep, but I would fear an army of sheep if led by lions.””

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