Back from three weeks in Tahiti and visiting the six inhabited Marquesas Islands. Will report on my trip and experiences when I dig out from under. Meanwhile am just posting some articles that should be of interest but no time for real analysis and broad reporting and will not be doing so for several more weeks because leaving for grandson's graduation and then another one week vacation to recover from the last one.
In 1 below, George Friedman gives us an informative heads up on why we are now talking to Iran.
In 2 below, Yisrael Ne'eman explains why casualties determine military actions in today's world of wars. His comments beg the question of whether wars are winnable anymore. Alas, PC'ism increasingly dictates and narrows policy and military options.
In 5 below, Ne'eman presents an analysis of the the long awaited Winograd report.
In 3 below, my friend Elliot Chodoff explains the dream world in which Lebanon's leader apparently lives. I mentioned much earlier and consistently that Hamas and Fatah would kill each other and this has been happening daily. Palestinians, and Arabs in general, possess a DNA tribal and rival culture of always needing to be in conflict with someone.
In 4 below, Fred Burton reminds us that the Chinese espionage threat is ongoing and is one of the largest ever assembled against our naton's vital interests.
We routed ourselves through Los Angeles because I wanted to visit a dear friend and client and Fred Burton's review of Mexico's drug cartels only begins to touch the surface of how California and our entire country has been invaded by illegals. Virtually everyone working at the Los Angeles airport is of a foreign origin and I would suspect that some of those working in security are illegals most likely.
I am not opposed to immigration but, again, I believe a nation that does not respect and protect its borders from illegal immigration is doomed. (See 6 below.)
Before I left for the South Pacific, I mentioned my meeting with a person high up in Israeli circles and related to a key Israeli government official. He made the point that Israel has been trying to raise the world's concerns about Iran so that it would not be seen as a problem solely for Israel. The article below is further evidence of this effort. (See 7 below.)
The five Jews that most influenced the world.
Moses said: The Law is everything.
Jesus said: Love is everything.
Marx said: The Capital is everything
Freud said: Sex is everything.
And then Einstain came and said: Everything is Relative
1) The United States, Iran and the Iraq Negotiation Process
By George Friedman and Reva Bhalla
At long last, the United States and Iran announced May 13 that they will engage in direct public bilateral talks over Iraq. From Washington, it was the office of Vice President Dick Cheney and the National Security Council that broke the news. From Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad confirmed that the two sides will meet in Baghdad in a few weeks, most likely at the ambassadorial level. That makes these talks as officially sanctioned as they can be.
Already there have been two brief public meetings -- albeit on the sidelines of two international conferences -- between senior officials from the Iranian Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department in March in Baghdad and in May in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The upcoming meeting in Baghdad, however, will be the first official bilateral meeting. After months of intense back-channel discussions, both sides have made a critical decision to bring their private negotiations into the public sphere, which means Tehran and Washington must have reached some consensus on the general framework of the negotiations on how to stabilize Iraq.
The U.S. political situation illustrates why both sides are willing to come to the table right now. Both Iran and the United States are closely eyeing each other's busted flushes, and they understand that time is not on their respective sides.
From the U.S. perspective, it is no secret the Iraq war has soaked up an enormous amount of U.S. military bandwidth. With the 2008 presidential election fast approaching, the Bush administration is left with little time to put a plan in action that would demonstrate some progress toward stabilizing Iraq. It has also become painfully obvious that U.S. military force alone will not succeed in suppressing Sunni insurgents and the Shiite militias enough to allow the government in Baghdad to function -- and for Washington to develop a real exit strategy. But by defiantly sending more troops to Iraq against all odds, Bush is sending a clear signal to Iran that it is not in the Iranians' interest to wait out this administration, and that the United States is prepared to use its forces to block Iranian aspirations to dominate Iraq.
From the Iranian perspective, Tehran knows it is dealing with a weak U.S. president right now, and that the next U.S. president probably will have much greater freedom of action than Bush currently does. The Iranians learned that dealing with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter would have been preferable to dealing with his successor. If you know negotiations are inevitable, it is better to negotiate with the weak outgoing president than try to extract concessions from a strong president during an increasingly complicated situation. The Iranians also know that the intensely fractious nature of Iraq's Shiite bloc -- which Iran depends on to project its power -- makes it all the more difficult for Tehran to consolidate its gains the longer Iraq remains in chaos.
U.S. and Iranian Demands
And so the time has come for both Iran and the United States to show their cards by laying out their demands for public viewing.
U.S. demands for Iraq are fairly straightforward. Our understanding of what Washington wants from Tehran regarding Iraq rests on these key points:
1. The United States wants Iraq to be a unified and independent state. In other words, Washington knows a pro-U.S. regime in Baghdad is impossible at this point, but Washington is not going to permit an Iranian-dominated state either.
2. The United States does not want jihadists operating in Iraq.
3. The United States wants to be able to withdraw from security operations, but not precipitously, thereby allaying Sunni Arab states' concerns.
Essentially, the United States is looking to create an Iraqi government that, while dominated by the Shia, remains neutral to Iran, hostile to jihadists and accommodating to mainstream Sunnis.
Iran's answers to these demands were publicly outlined in a paper at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit. The Saudi-owned, U.K.-based daily newspaper Al Hayat established the details of this paper in a May 5 article. The key points made in the presentation include the following:
1. Iran does not want an abrupt withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq for fear this would lead to reshuffling the cards and redistributing power. Instead, there should be a fixed timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. and British forces from Iraqi cities and relocation at bases and camps inside Iraq, provided the Iraqi forces have reached the point at which they can provide security. The Iranians also stated that they would extend all possible assistance so that foreign forces could exit "honorably" from Iraq.
The U.S. decision to surge more troops into Iraq forced Iran to think twice about placing its bets on a complete U.S. withdrawal. An abrupt withdrawal without a negotiated settlement leaves more problems than Tehran can manage in terms of containing Iraq's Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions, and Iran does not want to be left to pick up the pieces in a country that is already on the verge of shattering along sectarian lines.
It is important to note that Iran is not calling for a complete withdrawal from Iraq, and actually acknowledges that U.S. forces will be relocated at bases and camps inside the country. Though this acts as a blocker to Iranian ambitions, the presence of U.S. bases also provides Iran with a stabilizing force placating the Sunnis and Kurds. Moreover, the Iranians are sending assurances to the United States that they are willing to cooperate so the Iraq withdrawal does not look like another Vietnam scenario for the U.S. administration to deal with at home.
2. Iran is "strongly opposed to all attempts to partition Iraq or impose a federal system that allows for regional autonomy." No region should be allowed to monopolize the resources in its territory and deprive other regions of the revenues from these resources.
Iran is essentially saying that Tehran and Washington have a common desire to see a unified Iraq. The U.S. insistence on a unified Iraq takes into account Sunni concerns of being left with the largely oil-barren central region of the country. Iran is signaling that it is not interested in seeing Iraq get split up, even if such a scenario leaves Tehran with the second-best option of securing influence in a Shiite-dominated, oil-rich southern autonomous zone.
3. Iran wants a plan, involving the Kurds and Sunnis, drawn up to root out the transnational jihadist forces allied with al Qaeda in Iraq. Sunni tribes should also assume the responsibility of confronting jihadists, whether they are Iraqi citizens or are from other Arab and Muslim countries.
In this demand, Iran and the United States share a common goal. The jihadists will use every attempt to sow sectarian strife in Iraq to prevent a political resolution from developing. The United States does not want to provide al Qaeda with a fertile base of operations, and Iran does not want its ideological nemesis gaining ground next door and working against Shiite interests.
4. Iran clearly states that the negotiations over Iraq cannot be separated from other regional issues and Tehran's nuclear file.
Stratfor has extensively discussed the nexus between Iran's nuclear agenda and its blueprint for Iraq. Iran is trying to link the nuclear issue to its dealings with the United States on Iraq as a sort of insurance policy. Iran does not want to reach an agreement on Iraq and then leave the nuclear issue to be dealt with down the road, when the United States is in a stronger position to take action against Tehran.
Iran basically is looking for a deal allowing it voluntarily to agree to freeze uranium enrichment in exchange for political concessions over Iraq, but without it having to dismantle its program. That would leave enough room to skirt sanctions and preserve the nuclear program for its long-term interests. Washington is not exactly amenable to this idea, which is what makes this a major sticking point. The United States already has made it clear that it is leaving the nuclear issue out of the Iraq discussions.
5. Iran wants a new regional formula that would make Iraq a region of influence for Tehran.
While it does not appear that Iran explicitly stated this in its presentation, a majority of participants at the conference got the message. Washington cannot afford to allow Iraq to develop into an Iranian satellite, but it is looking for assurances from Iran that a U.S. withdrawal will leave in place a neutral, albeit Shiite-dominated, government in Iraq.
The Iranian paper outlined several key concessions it would offer the United States and Iraq's Sunni faction if its demands were met.
1. Iran would help the Iraqi government rein in the armed Shiite militias and incorporate them into the state security apparatus.
2. The de-Baathification law can be revised to allow for the rehiring of former Iraqi army personnel, the bulk of whom are tied to the Sunni nationalist insurgency. However, Iran wants assurances that former Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and other former Baathists will not be allowed to hold the position of prime minister when the time comes to replace current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
3. Iran would be willing to see fresh parliamentary elections, the formation of a new Cabinet and the amendment of the Iraqi Constitution to double the Sunni seats in parliament to 40 percent, with the Shia retaining 60 percent. Tehran has said nothing about what would be left for Kurdish political representation, however.
4. Iran has proposed the "fair" distribution of oil revenues in Iraq to satisfy all parties, especially those in "central Iraq," the Sunni-dominated, oil-deprived heart of the country.
Tehran's offers illustrate the Iranians' open acknowledgment that they are not going to be able to have their cake and eat it too. Instead, they are going to have to guarantee Iraqi neutrality by giving the Sunnis a much larger slice, leaving the Kurds to get screwed yet again.
Back in Washington, the Bush administration is looking at the Iranian withdrawal plan skeptically. Right now, the United States wants assurances that a withdrawal plan worked out with the Iranians does not simply leave a longer-term opportunity for Iran to gradually take control of Iraq once the major roadblocks are out of the way. In other words, the United States needs guarantees that, as it draws down its troop presence, the Iranians will not simply walk in. The Iranian proposal to expand Sunni representation is a direct response to these concerns, provided the relevant parties can actually deliver on their promises.
This is still highly questionable, though significant developments are already taking place that reveal the United States, Iran and various Iraqi players are making concrete moves to uphold their sides of the bargain. With Iran's blessing, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) has announced it will undergo a process of "Iraqization" -- a largely symbolic demonstration that SCIRI will not operate simply as an Iranian proxy. Meanwhile, the Sunni tribes and clans in Anbar province are increasingly broadcasting their commitment and progress in combating transnational jihadists. And finally, numerous reports in the Arab media suggest the United States would be willing to heed the Iranian demand that the Iraqi military not have offensive capabilities allowing it to threaten its Persian neighbor.
The negotiations are moving, and it is becoming more and more apparent that a consensus is emerging between Tehran and Washington over how the Iraq project should turn out. With enough serious arrestors in play for this deal to fall through, it is now up to all players -- whether those players call Washington, Tehran, Riyadh or Baghdad home -- finally to put their money where their mouths are.
2) The Power of Casualties
By Yisrael Ne'eman
Many are wondering whether this government and especially PM Ehud Olmert will survive the fallout from the Winograd Interim Report. If it were only the current Report and even the final document in July, it is possible he could survive. The fact the PM is under criminal investigation may have more to do with his eventual ouster than the results of the Second Lebanon War against the Hezbollah last summer.
Many are comparing this war to that of Yom Kippur in 1973 and expect this government to fall just like Golda Meir's did in the spring of 1974 (taking Defense Minister Moshe Dayan with her). The Olmert government may fall but the differences are enormous.
In 1973 Israel almost lost the war in its totality; it is said Dayan was considering surrender. Others were weighing the use of the nuclear option. The Syrian army on the Golan front was on the way to overrunning the Galilee and there was a day or so when Israel stood on the edge of destruction. In 2006 people were harried in the north with Katusha rockets falling and close to a million refugees fleeing south but Hezbollah was not going to destroy the country. Today the feeling is of deep disappointment and that we certainly could have crushed the Hezbollah but missed the opportunity, at least in part. In the aftermath of 1973 there was a visceral personal and national fury at the government. To add further insult the Agranat Report only dealt with military failure and did not touch government behavior of decision making. To this day many call for its cancellation considering it a cover-up. Winograd is investigating everyone, including previous governments.
Next we have the casualty counts, something which very few want to discuss. Close to 3000 soldiers died in the Yom Kippur War (over the years casualty counts go higher as more soldiers die of their wounds) when Israel's population was less than half the size it is today. Last summer 119 soldiers and several tens of civilians lost their lives. Proportionally we are speaking of 2% military casualties this past summer in comparison to the Yom Kippur War. Examining the 1967 Six Day War with some 700 killed and a population 40% the size of today's, the number of casualties suffered last summer is 7% in comparison. Let us not forget there are 3 times are many wounded as killed, another permanent reminder for everyone. Furthermore the 1967 War is seen as an enormous victory and unfortunately those killed and their bereaved families were largely forgotten in the national memory in lieu of victory celebrations and despite Memorial Day remembrances over the past 40 years.
This is all very "politically incorrect" and downright insulting to the bereaved families but first and foremost the nation recalls the results of the war and then decides whether it was "worthwhile" when weighing how much of a victory was obtained. Israelis do not believe they defeated the Hezbollah and therefore the casualties were "for naught". The former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz fought a very careful war (except for the last few days), utilizing the air force to its fullest extent. But despite the best use of air power wars are won on the ground. As his friends and apologists have so correctly pointed out - had Israel gone for a full ground victory (and obtained it) casualties would have been much higher. Is that the price the Israeli public was willing to pay? As usual there is an abyss (call it a contradiction) between what is wanted on the national level and what one is willing to pay personally for "glorious" victories.
As a result of the shift in values away from collective, societal rights to those focusing on the individual in all western societies including Israel, the media and national spotlight illuminates the personal loss suffered by each individual family much more than previously. Soldiers cut down in their teens and 20s with their whole lives in front of them seem the greatest loss of all despite their military status as defenders of the nation. Their loss is amplified greater than previously but once the journalistic exposure has run its course and the collective pain has passed, the deep never ending anguish of the bereaved families remains forever.
Here numbers count and the defining moments in a nation�s history are made up through mass euphoria (1967) or fury (1973). Expectations also play a major role as in 1967 Israel expected to lose in the order of 10,000 men where as in 1973 one would have been hard pressed to find someone who expected war to break out. The summer of 2006 held expectations for a victory without casualties, a contradictory myth. It is extremely difficult to measure success when battling a non-state entity such as the Hezbollah since it is not a state and quite amorphous. Not killing Hassan Nasrallah or returning our abducted soldiers became symbolic of what went wrong.
Finally a bit of perspective may be in order. The deep long term anger at the end of the Yom Kippur War is not with us as the average person was affected in the short term only. The economy is doing quite well (it took a nose dive after the Yom Kippur War) and few Israelis are suffering the effects of the war even if there are suspicions concerning the future. Despite all the media coverage and the Winograd Report, casualties were low and that most vulnerable raw nerve was not squeezed as happened 33 years previously.
Olmert and his advisors recognize the situation for what it is and figure they can ride out the storm provided the final July report is not a total catastrophe or he gets nailed on a corruption charge. The PM is a clever politician having played the game for more than 30 years. Without sentiment he knows, "It ain't over, until it's over."
3) Siniora's World
By Elliot Chodoff
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora lives in an enviable, attractive world. In an op-ed in the New York Times (Give the Arab Peace Initiative a Chance,) NYTimes, May 11, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/11/opinion/11siniora.html) Siniora calls on Israel to agree to the terms of the newly renovated Arab Peace Initiative. If Israel would only withdraw to the pre-1967 borders and allow the Palestinians to establish an independent state, all would be right on planet Earth.
The Arab League is willing to extend full recognition to Israel and pay the "high price" of permitting Israel to exist within the pre-1967 boundaries. In return, Israel is expected to finally comply with international law, ending "illegal occupations, over-flights, detentions, house demolitions, humiliating checkpoints, attacks and counterattacks," thus restoring peace and tranquility to the Middle East and its inhabitants.
Siniora condemns Israel's actions in the summer war of 2006, decrying the damage to Lebanese infrastructure, destruction of villages and killing of Lebanese citizens, which "epitomizes the protracted injustice Arabs feel as a result of Israel's record of destruction of their lives and livelihood, its oppression of the Palestinian people and its continued illegal occupation of Arab lands."
Despite his lamentations of Israel's destructive conduct, Siniora�s world is really a wonderful place. In it, there is no Hezbollah threatening his regime as well as Israel's security. The Shiite terrorist organization that has caused so much grief in the region and the world gets not even a dishonorable mention in Siniora's commentary. And of course, there are no IDF soldiers held by Hezbollah, no katyusha rocket attacks, no cross-border incidents; only the pastoral peace of the Middle East shattered by Israeli militarism.
In Siniora's world, there are no terrorist organizations calling for Israel's destruction. No Hamas, no Islamic Jihad, no al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, no al Qaeda. There are no suicide bombers and no Qassam rockets; no IDF soldier held hostage by Hamas in Gaza and no calls for Israel's annihilation. Instead, there are only Israeli roadblocks and detentions of innocents, resulting from the Israeli reliance on force and its refusal to seek a negotiated conclusion to the conflict with the Palestinians. Evidently, in Siniora's world there is no Camp David and there never was an Arafat who simply rejected every compromise.
In Siniora's world, there is no oppressive Ba'ath regime in Syria that threatens war with Israel, supports Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist organizations, and assassinates Lebanese politicians who dare to stand up for Lebanese independence from Syrian intervention. There is no Bashar Assad who speaks peace out of one side of his mouth and threatens to initiate a war if Israel does not accede to his demands. There are no terrorist headquarters in Damascus and no massive shipments of arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon in direct violation of Security Council resolutions and directly threatening Lebanese sovereignty. Rather, there is Israeli intransigence, escalation and revenge that threaten the tranquility of the Arab world and bring death and destruction on the people of the region.
Siniora�s world is one of enticing fantasy. Not only does it conveniently ignore the true threats to security in the region, it proposes a simple, unilateral solution to all the region's ills. In his alternative reality, Siniora can sleep well at night, because those who really would like to eliminate him, Syria and Hezbollah, don't really exist. The problem, of course, is much as we would like to join Siniora in his world, he is stuck with us in the real one, whether or not he would like to believe it.
4) Technology Acquisition and the Chinese Threat
By Fred Burton
A U.S. District Court jury in Santa Ana, Calif., was still deliberating May 9 in the trial of Chi Mak, a naturalized Chinese-American accused of acting as an agent of the Chinese government and exporting military information, among other charges. Chi's wife, brother, sister-in-law and nephew are awaiting trial in connection with the case.
The clandestine and highly sensitive nature of espionage cases, as well as the need to protect the sources and tactics used to discover such operations, makes it difficult to prosecute alleged spies, even when the government is certain the accused party is guilty. For example, alleged American spy Felix Bloch was observed meeting with a KGB officer in a Paris cafe, though he was never prosecuted. Prosecuting suspected spies is further complicated in cases involving the Chinese government, which is renowned for its patient, long-term approach to espionage. Due to these factors, U.S. prosecutors did not accuse Chi of espionage, but of the lesser crimes of being an unregistered foreign agent and violating export laws.
Regardless of the outcome of the trial, however, the testimony and evidence presented in this case provide an inside look at the methods the Chinese use in the United States to acquire cutting-edge technology -- and the U.S. government's efforts to counter them.
An Age-Old Problem
Espionage, often called "the world's second-oldest profession," has been practiced since the beginning of recorded history. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the launch of the global war on terrorism, however, the FBI redirected nearly all of its assets for foreign counterintelligence (FCI) programs into the counterterrorism effort. This meant that for the first time in the bureau's history, practically no counterintelligence efforts were taking place. Although the scope of the damage caused by this virtual FCI hiatus might never be fully appreciated, the October 2005 arrest of the Chi family was one sign that the pendulum was beginning to swing the other way -- that resources were being allocated to address the enormous problem of foreign spies.
While the FBI's limited FCI programs run up against the espionage efforts of dozens of foreign countries, no country poses a more aggressive or widespread intelligence threat to the United States than China.
The Chinese in many ways use the espionage version of the "human wave" attacks they employed against U.S. military forces during the Korean War. Due to China's size and the communist government's control of society, the Chinese can devote immense manpower to gathering intelligence. For example, the U.S. State Department issued 382,000 nonimmigrant visas and 37,000 immigrant visas to Chinese citizens in 2006. Additionally, more than 62,000 Chinese students were studying at U.S. universities last year. Granted, very few of these people were spies, though the number still represents an enormous pool of potential suspects to vet and watch, especially when one considers that there are only 12,575 FBI agents in the United States -- most of whom are assigned to tasks other than FCI, such as terrorism and white-collar crime.
The bottom line, therefore, is that it is very difficult to determine which of these visitors are in the United States to steal secrets and technology. Indeed, many serve in both capacities: They are legitimate students and part of the intelligence effort. Furthermore, not everyone who collects information for the Chinese government realizes they are doing so. By engaging in normal conversations with Chinese friends or relatives about all manner of things, including work, the average person can be providing these friends -- the real intelligence agents -- with critical information.
Additionally, in many cases, the activities of Chinese agents do not fit the legal definition of espionage. Scouring open-source material for new and emerging technologies, attending technology conferences and trade shows and hiring firms to look at new technologies are all legal activities -- and U.S. companies do this all the time. Some Chinese agents, then, are engaging much more in business intelligence than in true espionage. Given the blurred lines between civilian and government/military technology in China, however, the information gleaned can easily find its way into military applications.
The Chinese Style
The Chinese are renowned for their patient and persistent espionage methods, and for their technological reverse-engineering capabilities. They also are noted for taking an extremely long view of their political and military needs and of the intelligence required to meet them. Because of this, the Chinese pose the greatest intelligence threat to U.S. technology.
Aggressive efforts by the Chinese government to obtain critical technologies are no secret. The Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, for instance, lists science and technology acquisition programs such as its National High-tech R&D Program (known as the 863 Program) on its official Web site. This program provides guidance and funding for acquiring or developing technology that will have a "significant impact on enhancing China's overall national strengths." Targeted technologies include those for civilian use in areas such as information technology (IT), biotechnology, agriculture, manufacturing, energy and the environment. Many of these technologies, however, also have military applications.
While the 863 Program calls for the Chinese to acquire or develop these technologies, it is far cheaper and quicker to acquire them -- and China has a long history of doing so. A great many of China's weapons systems have been developed either by stealing designs and technologies or by outright copying the entire system. In addition to copying small arms such as the AK-47, the RPG-7 and the Makarov pistol, Chinese military industries have even reverse-engineered fighter aircraft. The Chengdu F-7 fighter, for example, is a copy of the Soviet MiG-21. This crash technological advancement program is intended not only to close China's technological gap with the West, but also to leapfrog ahead of it.
To acquire critical technologies, then, the Chinese rely not only on traditional espionage, but also on collecting the needed information via open sources. Such open-source collection is both faster and easier than engaging in espionage -- and it is legal. In effect, the Chinese are exploiting the openness of the U.S. research and development (R&D) system. Such openness allows faster development of technologies in the United States because scientists and engineers from various institutions and companies can share ideas, and thus contribute to different aspects of the concept. The openness, however, also makes it easy for others to "eavesdrop" on the ongoing technological conversation.
Other countries, including Israel, France, India and South Korea, do the same thing -- though none has matched China in the amount of effort and resources devoted to this process. To obtain the desired technology, China is sending students, scholars and researchers to work and study in the United States and other industrialized countries. Some of these visitors then return to China to work in high-tech "incubator parks," where R&D takes place. Among this group, however, are real intelligence officers who are sent to steal critical technologies.
The Chi case provides insight into this process at work in the United States. According to the U.S. government, Chi was employed as a principal support engineer for Power Paragon, a subsidiary of L-3 Communications/SPD Technologies/Power Systems Group in Anaheim, Calif. Chi, who was born in China and became a U.S. citizen in 1985, was granted a "secret-level" security clearance in 1996 and worked on more than 200 U.S. defense and military contracts as an electrical engineer.
During the investigation into Chi's activities, the FBI performed a "trash cover" on him -- literally combing through his trash for evidence -- and found two documents containing instructions for Chi to attend more seminars and lists of the technologies he was to obtain. The lists had been torn up into small pieces, but the FBI was able to reconstruct and translate them. The FBI then performed surreptitious searches of Chi's residence and reportedly found documents pertaining to a number of the technologies listed on both documents.
Redefining the 'Company'
Efforts to collect sensitive technology are conducted not only by individual intelligence agents, but also by the many corporations established and controlled by the Chinese government. One such corporation is the Xinshidai Group, which was established by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and is one of China's two largest military hardware conglomerates. One of the armaments companies Xinshidai controls is Norinco, which is widely known in the United States for sales of light arms and ammunition.
While conglomerates such as Xinshidai are not officially part of the Chinese government, they were established solely to serve the needs of the PLA and the Chinese military-industrial complex. And one important need of the Chinese government is to acquire advanced defense technology. Many Xinshidai subunits, including Norinco, own subsidiary companies in the United States, and employees of these companies attend trade shows and technology conferences, and also meet with representatives from other companies. Of course, with so much information available online, much of this open-source collection can be accomplished from a desk in China
Many times, early technologies related to the defense industry are not yet classified and therefore not protected. These technologies often become classified only after the U.S. government has purchased them. Information on these emerging technologies, then, can be obtained during the early stage, when their developers are applying for patents or looking for venture capital, partners and/or customers.
The technology acquisition process more often crosses the line into traditional espionage inside China, where Chinese intelligence officers -- operating without fear of prosecution -- frequently steal sensitive documents or copy a target's hard drive. This situation is further complicated when one considers that many of the major U.S.-based corporations doing business in China or seeking to expand market share there also have lucrative contracts with the U.S. Defense Department or other federal agencies. Some of these companies are going beyond Chinese manufacturing and are establishing design and software development centers in the country, meaning even more technology and proprietary information must be made available there.
The expansion of foreign companies into China brings a host of potential targets right to the Chinese intelligence apparatus, allowing China to apply even more pressure to even more points in its quest for technology. Moreover, the techniques used against companies and travelers in China can be far more aggressive than those employed against similar targets in the United States.
In addition to the threat posed to U.S. national security, allowing China to close the technology gap through the acquisition of proprietary information -- legally or not -- ultimately will hurt U.S. multinationals as Chinese companies use the information to become competitors. This means U.S. companies wishing to remain competitive by operating in China or partnering with Chinese firms and their subsidiaries in the United States must maintain a high level of vigilance.
5) Winograd Repercussions at First Glance
By Yisrael Ne'eman
Israeli PM Ehud Olmert's decision to establish the Winograd Committee to investigate the failures of the Second Lebanon War was the correct decision for two main reasons. Committee members are experienced, intelligent and honest with chairman Judge Eliahu Winograd especially fitting for the job. But more significantly it is not a judicial forum with legal powers as were the Agranat (Yom Kippur War of 1973) and Kahn (first Lebanon War of 1982) Commissions of Inquiry.
Rather Winograd was established to scrutinize failure in Israeli preparedness and decision making during the summer conflict with the Hezbollah. The Committee is not expected to demand resignations but instead to set the record straight, expose failures and suggest avenues for their correction. The top military and political leadership did not view the Committee as a court of law but rather as a panel of investigation. Olmert appointed the panel over the objections of critics from the Left, Right, military reserves and those demanding "responsible government". They preferred a judicial commission "with teeth". Whether by design or not, leaving the judiciary powers out kept the Committee clean, since as most Israelis know, the Supreme Court is identified as left wing secular for the most part. The Winograd Committee cannot be tainted with such a brush.
With its interim report published and made public on April 30 the Committee was damning in its evaluation of military and civilian preparation for such a conflict while condemning the government for not coordinating war objectives with the IDF. The main culprits are PM Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. So far the investigation includes only the first five days of the war, considered the most "successful" phase although the word "failure" hovers above the entire document.
The Committee now leaves it to the political arena to make corrections and/or force a change in government although the final report will only be issued in July. After all, the 120 member Knesset was voted in by "the people" just last March 28 and the Kadima led coalition formed exactly a year ago. "The People" are sovereign and are now left the choice of forcing the government from power through massive demonstrations and petitions, or not. "The People" must decide, not the unelected judiciary or Supreme Court who would have been responsible for selecting a Commission of Inquiry (such as Agranat and Kahn). On Thursday 100,000 demonstrated in Tel Aviv demanding the government's resignation. It depends on "the people" if this signals the beginning of the end for the Olmert government. The confrontation is between the electorate (not the judiciary) and its government.
So will Olmert's government fall? It is impossible to know but the damning facts as exposed by the Committee make it difficult for the PM to continue. Defense Minister Peretz announced he will leave office and demand the treasury as the Finance Minister Avraham Hirshzon, facing criminal charges for theft of public funds, is expected to leave office shortly.
Replacing Olmert is another issue. Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni, seen as Ms. Clean appears as the popular choice for many. However, she has little ministerial experience and was not involved in crisis management. The Winograd report did not find fault with her behavior during the Second Lebanon War which may be a plus, but a closer look raises questions as to why she did not take more responsibility and force her way into the decision making process. Absence or avoidance of responsibility during a crisis does not prove leadership capabilities. The Winograd findings placed much blame for this summer�s debacle on the lack of experience of both Olmert and Peretz. Today Livni has little more experience than she did ten months ago.
The fall back position is to elect veteran 84 year old Shimon Peres with 55 years of political know-how. Peres is trying to stay out of the limelight but many see him as the automatic plug-in. Although he never won an election he was Labor PM from 1984-86 in the National Unity Government (NUG) with Yitzchak Shamir and the Likud after a dead heat tie in the balloting. During his term inflation was reduced from 450% to 20% and Israel withdrew to the security zone in south Lebanon. His second time in office came after Yitzchak Rabin's assassination in November 1995 but he lost the election to Benyamin Netanyahu in May 1996 as a result of Palestinian terror attacks (Feb. and March 1996) and Operation Grapes of Wrath against the Hezbollah in April. Over the years Peres held the defense (1974-77), finance (1988 - 90) and foreign ministry portfolios (1992 - 95).
Experience he has, but what of his policies? As architect of the Oslo Accords he is faulted for the subsequent Palestinian violence and many declare him to be overly na�ve for having trusted Yasir Arafat. He believed in a secular-democratic "New Middle East". Instead there is a different "New Middle East", jihadist - Khomeinist.
Peres has made it clear that neither the Hamas nor the Hezbollah are negotiating partners, but is he overly dependent on the success of the Palestinian secularists such as Fatah (many of whom also want to destroy Israel) and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and the Seniora government in Lebanon. Fatah and Abbas have virtually no power and Seniora may have half the country behind him, but that is the same half with little weapons or military experience.
And what of Assad, Syria and the Golan? With Damascus it is all or nothing. Would he withdraw from the Golan for "peace" with Syria? The Right cannot make too much noise here, Netanyahu negotiated on that principle when he was PM from 1996 - 99. Most importantly, is there any reason to negotiate with Syria at all? Syria is an ardent supporter of the Hezbollah, Hamas and other Islamic terror organizations working against Israel, the US and the West. Furthermore, who would understand best how to handle the rise of a radical eastern front led by a rejuvenated Islamist Iran after the American withdrawal from Iraq? On the European front Peres has excellent relations with EU leaders and is on speaking terms with the European Left, very helpful when dealing with Damascus and the Palestinians.
Peres is mum at the moment and everyone is clueless as to what Livni would do. Being that the coalition partners do not want elections where Netanyahu and the Likud could come to power should the coalition collapse, many are moving to the fall back position of crowning Shimon Peres as prime minister in the hope he will steady the ship but not take too many "initiatives." Peres thought he was looking at a ceremonial presidential term for the next seven years but instead he may become premier for a third time at just one more crucial juncture in Israel's history.
6)Mexico: The Price of Peace in the Cartel Wars
By Fred Burton
So far, 2007 has been a bad year for one of Mexico's two most powerful drug-trafficking enterprises: the Gulf cartel. In January, the organization suffered a major hit when Mexico extradited its captured leader, Osiel Cardenas, to the United States. Then, on April 17, authorities arrested five Gulf members just south of the Texas border in Reynosa. Among those taken into custody was Juan Oscar Garza, purportedly an important Gulf cartel leader in the city. Less than a week later, authorities in Nuevo Laredo captured Gulf cartel leader Eleazar Medina Rojas. The Mexican Attorney General's office described Medina as "a major killer."
During his 2006 election campaign, Mexican President Felipe Calderon pledged to take measures to quell the brutal cartel war that has been raging in his country since 2003 -- a war that has escalated dramatically over the past two years. Calderon, in attempting to fulfill his campaign promise, is responsible for the angst currently being felt by the Gulf cartel. Sources familiar with the operation say the Gulf cartel is the government's primary target now, and that Calderon hopes to have it dismantled within a year. Should this operation succeed, it will have public security ramifications on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The immediate benefit, of course, would go to Mexico's other main cartel, the Sinaloa organization, which would assume control of the Gulf cartel's operations in many areas. However, with the long-running turf war between these two organizations concluded, the brutal violence that has spread across the country could subside, at least for a time. On the other hand, members of the cartel's infamous Los Zetas enforcement arm would be left without a master -- or the protection that comes with being part of a powerful cartel. At least some of the Zetas would flee into the United States, spreading their particularly brutal style of violence north of the border.
Given its geographic location, Mexico has long been used as a staging and transshipment point for narcotics, illegal aliens and other contraband destined for U.S. markets from Mexico, South America and elsewhere. The smuggling routes into the United States are controlled by the cartels, which operate major transshipment points, or plazas, run by a top figure within each cartel known as the "gatekeeper."
Currently, the majority of Mexico's smuggling routes are controlled by three key cartels: Gulf, Sinaloa and Tijuana -- though Tijuana is the least powerful. This has not always been the case. As recently as November 2005, the Juarez cartel was the dominant player in the center of the country, controlling a large percentage of the cocaine traffic from Mexico into the United States. The death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes in 1997, however, was the beginning of the end of the Juarez cartel. After the organization collapsed, some elements of it were absorbed into the Sinaloa cartel -- a relatively young and aggressive organization that has gobbled up much of the Juarez cartel's former territory.
Over time, the balance of power between the various cartels shifts as new ones emerge and older ones weaken and collapse. The interplay between cartels is, in fact, very much like that between some nations: The chances for peace are highest when a kind of stable coexistence is maintained and profits flow freely. However, a disruption in the system -- such as the arrests or deaths of cartel leaders -- generates tensions and, frequently, bloodshed as rivals move in to exploit the power vacuum.
Leadership vacuums sometimes are created by law enforcement successes against a particular cartel -- thus, cartels often will attempt to use law enforcement against one another, either by bribing Mexican officials to take action against a rival or by leaking intelligence about a rival's operations to the Mexican government or the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The Current Cartel War
The collapse of the Juarez cartel, the February 2002 death of Tijuana cartel leader and chief enforcer Ramon Arellano Felix, who was killed in a shootout with police in Mazatlan, and the March 14, 2003, capture of Gulf cartel kingpin Cardenas in Matamoros combined to spark the current period of unrest -- and particularly brutal warfare -- among what were then the three main cartels. The aggressive Sinaloa cartel saw those developments as an opportunity to expand its territory -- and profits -- and made its move.
Sinaloa's expansion efforts forced the Tijuana cartel to cede the plaza in the northwestern border city of Mexicali, while Sinaloa's move into Gulf territory in Nuevo Laredo made that town a war zone. The Gulf and Tijuana organizations did unite briefly against the powerful Sinaloa cartel through a deal their leaders struck in prison in 2004. The alliance crumbled, however, as Cardenas and Benjamin Arellano Felix fell to squabbling in 2005. At that point, the Gulf cartel began launching violent incursions into the Tijuana cartel territories of Mexicali and Tijuana, and the three-way war was on again, though the heaviest fighting has been between Gulf and Sinaloa.
The Tijuana cartel was further weakened in August 2006 when its chief, Javier Arellano Felix, was arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard on a boat off the coast of southern California. Mexican army troops also were sent to Tijuana in January in an operation to restore order to the border city and root out corrupt police officers, who mostly were cooperating with the Tijuana cartel. As a result of these efforts, the Tijuana cartel is unable to project much power outside of its base in Tijuana.
This current cartel war is being waged not only for control of the smuggling plazas into the United States, such as Nuevo Laredo, Mexicali and Tijuana, but also for the locations used for Mexico's incoming drug shipments, in places such as Acapulco, Cancun and Michoacan, and for control of critical points on transshipment routes through the center of the country, such as Hermosillo.
While there has always been some level of violence between the Mexican cartels, the current war has resulted in a notable escalation in the level of brutality. One significant cause of this uptick is the change in the composition of the cartels' enforcement arms. Historically, cartel leaders performed much of their own dirty work, and figures such as Cardenas and Ramon Arellano Felix were recognized for the number of rivals they killed on their rise to the top of their respective organizations. In the recent past, however, the cartels have begun to contract out the enforcement functions to highly trained outsiders. For example, when cartels such as the Tijuana organization began to use active or retired police officers against their enemies, their rivals were forced to find enforcers capable of countering this strength. As a result, the Gulf cartel hired Los Zetas, a group of elite anti-drug paratroopers and intelligence operatives who deserted their federal Special Air Mobile Force Group in 1991. The Sinaloa cartel, meanwhile, formed a similar armed force called Los Pelones, literally meaning "the bald ones" but typically understood to mean "new soldiers" for the shaved heads normally sported by military recruits. Although the cartels had long outgunned Mexican police, these highly trained and aggressive enforcers upped the ante even further, introducing military-style tactics and even more advanced weapons.
The life of a Mexican drug cartel enforcer can be exciting, brutal -- and short. Los Zetas and Los Pelones are constantly attacking one another and some members of the groups even have posted videos on the Internet of them torturing and executing their rivals. Beheading rival enforcers also has become common. The current cartel war has proven to be a long and arduous struggle, and there has been heavy attrition among both organizations. Because of this attrition, the cartels have recently begun to bring fresh muscle to the fight. Los Zetas have formed relationships with former members of the Guatemalan special forces known as Kaibiles, and with members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) street gang.
It is this environment of extreme and often gratuitous violence -- killings, beheadings and rocket-propelled grenade attacks -- that has sparked Calderon's actions against the Gulf cartel. Why he is focusing specifically on the Gulf cartel is unclear, though it is possible the government has better intelligence on it than on the others. Or perhaps it is because the Gulf cartel has a more centralized command structure than does Sinaloa, which is a federation of several smaller cartels. Of course, the Gulf cartel itself has argued that the Calderon administration is on the Sinaloa payroll and is being used by Sinaloa to destroy its rival. Another possible reason is that taking out Los Zetas -- who have become emblematic of extreme cartel violence -- would be a major accomplishment for the new president.
The Organizational Structure
The cartels are large, intricate crime syndicates often made up of supporting alliances of smaller cartels, such as the Sinaloa federation. Thus, even if the arrest of a leader or other figure damages one part of the organization, another part of the group can assume the damaged part's role. Additionally, the cartels often are compartmentalized so that one section's removal does not compromise the group as a whole. Further hardening them against law enforcement efforts are the cartels' robust organizational structures. They are distributed horizontally, and are based on family relationships and personal alliances. Because of this, multiple figures can fill leadership vacuums when high-ranking members are arrested or killed.
That said, however, the Gulf cartel has borne the brunt of Calderon's anti-cartel offensive to date -- and even a robust organization with redundant structures will begin to crack when it is hit repeatedly and in different locations, as the Gulf cartel has been. This pressure has resulted in retaliatory attacks against law enforcement and the Sinaloa cartel, which is being blamed for the government's targeting of the Gulf cartel. In the short term, then, the violence will continue, perhaps even escalate as the Gulf cartel fights to survive and maintain its territories and profit stream.
Once there is blood in the water, so to speak, other cartels are likely to swarm over the share of the market the weakened Gulf organization no longer can defend. Sinaloa already is attempting to wrest Nuevo Laredo from Gulf control, and there are indications that Sinaloa also has begun to make a grab for Matamoros. Should the Sinaloa cartel succeed in taking these vital (and lucrative) plazas from the Gulf cartel, it would significantly reduce Gulf's revenues and power. If that happens, and the government action against the Gulf cartel continues, the once-powerful organization could go the way of the Juarez cartel.
On the public security front, however, if Sinaloa is able to make a powerful move and quickly consolidate control over Gulf territory, the result could be the end of the current cartel war and a period of relative calm. The drugs and other contraband will continue to flow, but the violence that has placed so much pressure on the Mexican government will be over -- at least for a season.
Although the ferocious shootouts have been the most pressing issue in the press and public opinion -- and one that can be resolved by taking out one of the main cartels involved -- not all the violence is connected to inter-cartel warfare. Mexico also has a long history of attacks against journalists, as well as honest police officers and others who oppose the cartels and their criminal activities. Thus, even if the inter-cartel warfare is dampened by establishing Sinaloa as the new dominant entity, journalists, police and pro-justice crusaders still will have to live in fear of their area warlords. Average civilians, however, will be less likely to be killed in the crossfire between the cartels.
Implosion of the Gulf cartel, though, would leave Los Zetas and their Kaibile and MS-13 allies exposed. Certainly, after the number of government officials and Sinaloa and Tijuana cartel members Los Zetas and their confederates have killed and terrorized, there will be many who would seek to hunt them down. A collapse of the Gulf cartel infrastructure and the organization and revenues required to maintain safety for the group could result in open hunting season on Los Zetas.
Facing that situation, the remaining Zetas could attempt to form an alliance with another cartel, form their own cartel or perhaps even be forced to flee from Mexico. Should they run, their links with the Kaibiles and MS-13 could prove to be mutually beneficial. MS-13 could help shelter Los Zetas in Central America or even the United States. Los Zetas, on the other hand, possess a level of training, discipline and experience that would be quite useful to MS-13. One thing is certain: the Zetas are brutal thugs and, wherever they land, they will continue to commit crimes.
Years of operating in towns along the U.S.-Mexico border has allowed the Zetas to form close relationships with a number of criminals and organized crime organizations in the United States. Some, in fact, already have been associated with killings as far north as Dallas. There also is far more money to be made in the United States than in Central America. Although that opportunity brings with it the risk of having to evade U.S. law enforcement, it is highly likely that a number of Zetas will find their way to U.S. cities.
Their history suggests they would be most comfortable living in cities along or near the border, where they could quickly flee back to Mexico should U.S. law enforcement close in. Being part of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas would have better connections in places adjacent to the cartel's plazas, such as the Texas border cities of Laredo and Brownsville, or in cities along the smuggling route, like San Antonio or Houston. However, the Gulf cartel's distribution network stretches to places such as New Orleans, Atlanta and Washington -- meaning Zetas also could turn up in those cities as well.
7) NUCLEAR ARMED IRAN
While the stakes are incredibly high, we must invest maximum effort on this issue, we agree with The New York Jewish Week’s editorial from a number of weeks ago that it would be “counterproductive to raise the level of rhetoric to the point of hysteria, something that will only make it harder to rally the nation when the time comes to make the hard decisions about Iran… Dire statements from Jewish groups may play into the hands of those who want to shrug off the Iranian threat as a Jewish problem, of no concern to the rest of the world.”
A recent poll conducted by The Israel Project indicates that while an overwhelming majority of Americans are somewhat or very worried that Iran might develop nuclear weapons and believe the U.S. should have some involvement in dealing with Iran, they are also skeptical about any information coming from Israel or American supporters of Israel. This indicates that the messenger on this issue is at least if not more important than the message content. Thus, while the Jewish community should be clear and assertive about its concerns, it is vital that we reach out to our non-Jewish coalition partners across the political and religious spectrum. The issue should be framed not as a “Jewish” or “Israeli” issue, but as one that demands the attention of the entire civilized world.