On today’s show we have a hodgepodge of stuff to get through. Today’s Critical Intelligence, as usual, this Doomsday Clock thing, some declassified Agency reports from the Guatemalan insurgency of the late 1960s, and a strange Putin joke. Very interesting fellow.
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Here’s today’s Critical Intelligence brought to you by the Forward Observer Watchfloor…
1. Japan’s making some waves of its own. In his annual policy speech to Japanese lawmakers, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged that the country would engage in a more robust defense policy as threats from North Korea and China increase. “With tensions growing over North Korea, the Self-Defense Forces carried out a mission to protect U.S. vessels and aircraft for the first time,” Abe said on Monday. “An alliance gets stronger if the partners can help each other. The Japan-U.S. alliance has without a doubt become stronger than ever.” Prior to 2016, the Japanese Self Defense Forces were not permitted under Japanese law to defense allies if they were being attacked. And, by the way, virtually every nation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is significantly increasing defense budgets. Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other U.S. allies are preparing for the likelihood of conflict with China.
2. I published this report today. It’s for National Intelligence subscribers, but I’ll let you in on it. News outlets were buzzing in previous weeks regarding the arrest of a former CIA officer — a U.S. citizen of Chinese origin — who is being accused of retaining highly classified material after his departure from the Agency in 2007. In truth, the story is a little more salacious: the former officer is suspected of providing CIA source information to Chinese authorities, which resulted in the arrest and murder of numerous Chinese citizens.
At least once a month, I see the Department of Justice publish a public affairs release about the arrest or conviction of a Chinese national engaging in espionage against the United States on behalf of the Chinese government. We’ll work on a roll-up of events from 2017 and maybe have a running count for 2018. Most recently, a 31-year old Chinese national was sentenced to five years in prison for theft of proprietary source code from his U.S. employer. This is very common — just about once a month by my recollection — but it’s causing serious erosion to U.S. technological advantages over China. Much of Chinese technology is derivative of what’s been stolen from the U.S. and other advanced Western nations. Chinese espionage is highly dependent on Chinese nationals and U.S. citizens of Chinese descent. As unpalatable as it may be — and it’s certainly not politically correct — the only way to significantly disrupt this type of Chinese espionage is for U.S. tech companies to end the practice of hiring Chinese nationals, and possibly even U.S. citizens of Chinese descent. Otherwise we’ll continue to see technology siphoned away from the U.S. in what can only be described as the largest transfer of wealth in world history.
3. And as soon as the show’s over, I’ll be adding one report to Strategic Intelligence. It’s about the U.S. nuclear posture and, after decades of deferred maintenance and neglect, how the Trump administration is trying to play catch up. In an interview, the recently retired head of the National Nuclear Security Administration says that he’s concerned that the U.S. has taken a pause in nuclear modernization while Russia and China are making great strides in nuclear development, which could affect U.S. nuclear deterrence. And on that, the Nuclear Posture Review is due out soon from the Trump administration. The Pentagon gave some senators a classified sneak peak, and we’ll be peering at the unclassified version as soon as it comes out.
And with that, we’re going to get into the Doomsday Clock thing in just a moment, after this commercial break.
Welcome back to the ACE on Forward Observer Radio. I got an email today from a listener who said that he wanted to start getting more Open Source Intelligence information. Maybe he didn’t know, maybe because I don’t mention it every day, but you know… we have three intelligence reports that span a wide variety of intelligence topics, and you can subscribe to them and read threat reporting from intelligence professionals.
Strategic Intelligence is about global threat issues and instability, including what the U.S. and foreign militaries are doing to prepare for war. And I do believe that we’re going to be involved in another world war. History is on our side of that argument, as is the number of flashpoints around the globe, especially in relation to a status quo power fighting for hegemony and revisionist powers fighting to degrade that hegemony. It’s the Thucydides Trap — 70% of the time a revisionist power challenges a status quo power, the two sides go to war. And if a war does break out involving the U.S., we’re going to be spinning up, if necessary, a 24/7 ACE to chronicle, as best we can give our time and resources, what’s going on in that conflict.
National Intelligence covers national security, domestic systems disruption, the risk of failing critical infrastructure, and threats to social, political, and economic stability.
And then there’s — last but not least — the Alt-Observer, a weekly look at the development of domestic conflict, revolutionary political movements, tribal violence, and other factors that disrupt our “civil” society. Each Friday, we’ll bring you the latest news and analysis from the front lines of the culture war, and look for ways in which culture is spilling over into violence. And we’re also doing daily roll-ups for Alt-Observer now, in case you want to watch the drama unfold one blog post, one photo, or one Tweet at a time.
Starting in 1947, scientists from the Manhattan Project wanted to create a mechanism by which they could tell how close to nuclear war the world was. It’s called the Doomsday Clock and it started at seven minutes to midnight some 71 years ago. Today, things are quite different. Its timekeepers at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved us up thirty-seconds, where we sit here in 2018 — two-minutes to midnight.
Here’s an excerpt from their post: “The failure of world leaders to address the largest threats to humanity’s future is lamentable… It is two minutes to midnight, but the Doomsday Clock has ticked away from midnight in the past, and during the next year, the world can again move it further from apocalypse. The warning the Science and Security Board now sends is clear, the danger obvious and imminent… The world has seen the threat posed by the misuse of information technology and witnessed the vulnerability of democracies to disinformation. But there is a flip side to the abuse of social media. Leaders react when citizens insist they do so, and citizens around the world can use the power of the internet to improve the long-term prospects of their children and grandchildren… They can demand action to reduce the existential threat of nuclear war and unchecked climate change. They can seize the opportunity to make a safer and saner world.”
By the way, speaking of climate change, I heard a really good explanation as to why this stuff about rising sea levels was questionable. I’ll try to find the link, it’s this guy at some symposium or conference giving a profanity-laced expiation as to why the sea levels aren’t rising. His argument boils down to condos and high rises in resort towns. He says that if rising sea levels were a certainty, insurance companies would not insure these new buildings going up on the beach. If the sea levels were rising, these multi-million dollar developments would not be going up, because they’d be under water in a matter of years. These people spending tens of millions of dollars building properties that are going to be flooded, and who would be able to afford flood insurance on these properties And that’s just not a very good return on investment. He’s goes into a little greater detail than that. It’s a must-watch in my opinion.
Declassified memos on Guatemalan insurgency
– Point is, insurgency is ugly.
– Putin jokes