Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yemen home to world's most dangerous terrorists

A Washington Post report informs us as to the nature of the next big threat:
For the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, CIA analysts see one of al-Qaeda's offshoots -- rather than the core group now based in Pakistan -- as the most urgent threat to U.S. security, officials said.
To paraphrase one of our country's Founding Fathers, the price for freedom is knowing what we have to fear next. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Size of defense budget best measure of national security

What does Gary Hart stand for?
One thing we learned from George W. Bush was that when it comes to keeping America safe, a true leader goes with his gut.   On the other end of the spectrum, you have politicians like Gary Hart who are inclined to pose a lot of challenging questions before deciding whether to bomb another country.

But that's not the worst of Gary Hart's leadership defects.   James Fallows writes on his blog at the Atlantic: 
I am biased in favor of Gary Hart. I met him when researching my book National Defense back at the dawn of the Reagan Administration. At the time, as a first-term Senator in his early 40s, he was a genuine pioneer in pushing the concept of "defense reform" -- the then-radical idea that we should judge our military policies on grounds more complicated than "spend more" versus "spend less." Defense reform is a radical idea still, but that's another topic. 
What Hart -- and by the sounds of it Fallows too -- don't understand is that there is good reason for evaluating the efficacy of the defense policy of the United States on  the size of the defense budget.  Today it is widely understood that the more the US spends on defense, the more national security we have.  And that's a good thing.   The more money Americans spend on defense, the more conscious Americans can be made of the gravity of the threats this country faces.   Some defense spending, of course, goes toward publicizing threats; making the American people aware of the fact we live in a dangerous world.  A strong defense sector supports quality advertising and a news media well-attuned to highlighting national security risks.

Imagine living in a country where your only source of information was the equivalent of NPR, and you couldn't tune into Fox News or listen to Rush.  A place like that exists.  It's called Europe.  Relative to America, Europeans spend very little on defense.   As a result, the populations of European countries think they have less reason to be afraid. Indeed, Europeans are less fearful.  Europeans never feared Communist Russia in their bones, the way Americans did, right up until the end of the Cold War.   Europeans did not show sufficient fear of Saddam Hussein prior to the Second Iraq War.    Even today, except for a few of our allies in Holland and England, Europeans generally do not have sufficient fear of terrorism.  Also, Europeans seem indifferent to the outcome of the war in Afghanistan and oblivious to the threat now posed by Iran.

If Europeans spent more on defense, they would spend more time contemplating such threats.  The defense sector wants to advertise, it wants to spread public awareness of various dangers, but it needs to be properly funded.

Defense spending is the tried and proven measure of American security in our dangerous world.  Yet some people don't get it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Most of Canada would die, too"

One citizen who read the article commented, "This is without a doubt the scariest thing I have ever read."   Another astute reader commented, "It's not a matter of 'if' an EMP attack is launched at the U.S. - it's a question of 'when?'" 

They were commenting on "End of the world...for real" by James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation. The article was recently published in the Washington Examiner:
A high-altitude nuclear explosion can create an electromagnetic pulse that mimics a solar tsunami, a fact validated in 2004 by the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from electromagnetic pulse attack (EMP).

A massive EMP attack on the United States could produce almost unimaginable devastation by wiping out essential infrastructure. Communications would collapse, transportation would halt, and electrical power would disappear. Not even a global humanitarian effort would be enough to keep hundreds of millions of Americans from dying of starvation or exposure.

Nor would the catastrophe stop at our borders. Most of Canada would die, too. Its infrastructure is integrated with the U.S. power grid. Without the American economic engine, the world economy would quickly collapse. Much of the world's intellectual property (half of it is in the United States) would be lost as well. The Earth would likely recede into the "new" Dark Ages.

There's nothing we can do to prevent a solar tsunami, but thwarting a nuclear missile attack is well within our capabilities. "Countering the EMP Threat: The Role of Missile Defense," (PdF) a recent report from the Independent Working Group (IWG), offers some practical and readily achievable recommendations...
With the thawing of the Cold War era, many of us thought the threat of EMP had receded.  But the IWG authors point to a new danger: the possibility that a terrorist will try to use EMP against America:
Several years ago, Iran tested a short-range ballistic missile in a way that indicated an interest in developing an EMP capability— so this threat is not hypothetical. It also must be remembered that terrorists might purchase such missiles—even possibly armed with nuclear weapons.
What can America do?   We must fund the development of a robust missile defense system.  In these times of budget cutbacks, this will require political resolve.  A March 30 Time Magazine article explores how some far sighted Americans are working to build the political will to fund the development of the EMP defenses we need:
"Despite repeated warnings, Congress has taken virtually no action to prepare or protect against an EMP attack," write the Heritage Foundation's Jena Baker McNeill and James Jay Carafano. "In order to facilitate a national discussion regarding the EMP threat, Congress should establish March 23 as EMP Recognition Day" — not coincidentally, that's the date of Reagan's famous 1983 speech launching his missile-defense initiative.
As its own contribution to EMP Recognition Day, the Heritage Foundation... is urging lawmakers to shut down congressional cafeterias, walk to work, shut off their BlackBerries and turn off the lights. "If Congress took these four steps for one day," the Heritage Foundation says, "all members would understand the magnitude of the dangers posed by an EMP attack."
DoF strongly supports this worthwhile initiative.