National Intelligence Bulletin for 03 August 2018

The National Intelligence Bulletin is a weekly look at national security, domestic systems disruption, the risk of failing critical infrastructure, and threats to social, political, economic, and financial stability in the United States. This report is available each week for Intelligence subscribers.

 

In this National Intelligence Bulletin… (2,809 words)

  • InFocus: Why is Russia “meddling” in U.S. society?
  • Trend: fewer caregivers to care for nation’s aging elderly
  • The normalization of anti-white rhetoric
  • Hatch: Culture war now “at a tipping point”
  • NYU Professor: We’re on the verge of “completely losing our culture”
  • DHS to unveil National Risk Management Center
  • Perry: U.S. nearing energy independence
  • Congress to DoD: Hold a national cyber response exercise
  • Weekly Economic Wrap-Up

InFocus: Yesterday, a handful of senior government officials gathered at the White House for a briefing on Russian operations and U.S. election security. U.S. intelligence has previously described Russian tactics: penetrating state election systems, hacking into and leaking emails, and conducting information operations on social media. And, yes, I believe Russia has done and will continue to do all three of those things. Before we get to the details of the briefings, let’s briefly examine why this is happening.

– NATO expansion is a matter of national security for Russian president Vladimir Putin. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact collapsed with it, but NATO remained even though its primary mission of deterring war with the Soviet Union had been successful and was, by 1991, obsolete. And not only did it remain, but it continued to expand, like the Cold War had never ended. Since Putin first became president, NATO has added 10 member nations, and he sees NATO expansion as a Western attempt to destabilize and topple the Russian government to further globalized interests. The more NATO expands, the more threatened Putin feels, and the more reason he has to act out and disrupt the Western campaign of regime change.

– Putin is a dictator, but he sees himself (and pro-Putin Russians see him) as a necessary stalwart against Western liberalization of traditional, orthodox Russia. Traditionalist Russians essentially (and sometimes literally) say, “Look at the West. There are men parading as women, they allow gay priests to lead their churches, and their popular culture, television, and music promote degenerate behavior. Is that what we want for Russia? Do we want to become degenerate like the West?” Beyond that, Russians need not look any further than the migrant crisis in Europe to see that the European Union is encouraging the destruction of national cultures and identities by mandating mass migration. Traditionalist Russia doesn’t want its country to be turned into north Africa or the Middle East — yet another reason, according to Russians, to resist the influence of the West. (If you want a better picture, just look at the difference between the Russian and French World Cup teams.) After the lawlessness throughout the 1990s that followed the Soviet collapse, many Russians see Vladimir Putin,  if even by propaganda alone, as the man who brought back order to Russia and who will lead the nation back to global prominence.

– Prior to the election, Viktor Yanukovych campaigned for the Ukrainian presidency on a pro-European platform, but he began to pursue pro-Russian interests after he assumed office in 2010. That didn’t sit well with the Ukrainians who had elected him, nor with the United States. By 2014, the Maidan revolution had forced him from office, almost certainly with the help of Western intelligence agencies. Putin doesn’t want a pro-U.S. leader on his western flank, but that’s what he has as a result of the coup.

These two events, among others, probably form the basis for why Putin felt justified for going after European nations and the United States in previous elections. Now what Russia did in 2016 was actually relatively benign. Hacking into government computer networks is routine; that’s just espionage (and the U.S. does it, too). Conducting information operations aimed at fomenting unrest is not a big deal when we consider that the U.S. foments unrest in Russia, as well. As for hacking into emails; yes, absolutely — that’s just espionage. I can’t say for certain whether or not Russia was behind all of the email leaks, but if our key assumption is that Russia wanted to retaliate for Western meddling in Russia and for what happened in Ukraine, then dumping embarrassing emails makes a lot of sense. That’s part of my rationale for believing that Russia is absolutely behind the “meddling” in the 2016 elections, because it’s essentially a taste of U.S. foreign policy’s own medicine. Russia’s targeting of U.S. elections is intended as retaliation to disrupt Western influence campaigns against Russia. That’s very evident.

“We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States,” said Dan Coats, the Director of National Security, in yesterday’s briefing. FBI director Christopher Wray said that he hasn’t seen attempts of cyber exploitation like in the lead up to the 2016 election, and instead Russia is focusing on information warfare. And the chief of U.S. Cyber Command said that both Cyber Command and the NSA are “tracking a wide range of foreign cyber adversaries and are prepared to conduct operations against those actors attempting to undermine our nation’s midterm elections.”

Earlier this week, Facebook announced that they’d deleted eight pages and 17 accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior”. While Facebook didn’t mention the owner of the accounts, it’s likely that Russia’s Internet Research Agency was behind them. The accounts ran Facebook pages like “Black Elevation,” “Aztlan Warriors,” and “Resisters”, and coordinated counterprotests against right wing and white nationalists rallies.

Are Russian information operations attempting to foment civil unrest? Yes, undoubtedly. Whether or not the Russians or anyone else will disrupt the 2018 electoral process is unknown, but I’m somewhat concerned that accusations of Russian influence or interference will be the backdrop of future complaints over election results. And maybe that’s exactly what the Russians want. – S.C.

 


Priority Intelligence Requirements

PIR1: What are the new indicators of systems disruption and threats to critical infrastructure?

PIR2: What are the new indicators of potentially disruptive social, cultural or political conditions or events?

PIR3: How are state and federal agencies preparing for domestic conflict, emergencies, or other instability?

PIR4: What are the new indicators of systems disruption and threats to the economic or financial industry?


 

PIR1: What are the new indicators of systems disruption and threats to critical infrastructure?

Trend: fewer caregivers to care for nation’s aging elderly

According to a Merrill Lynch survey, there currently aren’t going to be enough caregivers for those who need care later in life. From 2015-2050, the number of caregivers is projected to grow by 13 percent while the potential who need elderly care will expand by 84%. [source]


 

PIR2: What are the new indicators of potentially disruptive social, cultural or political conditions or events?

The New York Times recently announced the addition of South Korean-born immigrant Sarah Jeong to its editorial board. It didn’t take long for social media sleuths to begin pulling up dozens of now-deleted incendiary tweets about white people (which she tweeted over the course of two years). Tweets like:

“oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men”

“#CancelWhitePeople”

“White people have stopped breeding. you’ll all go extinct soon. that was my plan all along.”

This one is my personal favorite:

The NYT released a statement in defense of Jeong, explaining that she was the victim of racism and that her tweets were an attempt to troll her attackers. Even if that were the case, this is an example of how anti-white rhetoric can be rationalized and sometimes encouraged (vis-à-vis progressives who defended Jeong and expressed similar sentiments). Needless to say, if Sarah Jeong were Sarah Jenkins and she had tweeted “#CancelBlackPeople” as a response to online trolling, she would have been summarily fired. On a Tuesday in February of this year, the New York Times announced the hiring of Quinn Norton as an opinion writer. By Thursday, she’d been fired after years old tweets surfaced containing derogatory language about blacks and gays. Norton was white, and there is a double standard in America.

We can take a look at the politics of demographics: younger generations are becoming more diverse due to mass immigration and more socially progressive due to indoctrination in the schools and through pop culture. And for all the cheerleading of Generation Z as the ‘most conservative’ generation since the Silent Generation, the data that proves it just isn’t there. The data shows that white kids in Generation Z are more conservative than in previous generations, but overall the generation continues a trend of being successively less white and less conservative.

The cultural Marxist ideology being exposed to Millennials and Generation Z is that the world is unfair for two reasons: capitalist exploitation and white colonization. Why is Africa poor? It couldn’t possibly have to do with pre-colonial monarchies and their extractive economies. (For instance, for a period of time in present-day Congo before the Belgians arrived, land rights couldn’t be passed down to the next generation. Your land was expropriated by the king and doled out for his benefit. When the Belgians arrived, Congolese tribes weren’t even using wheels or plows to farm. It’s not because they didn’t understand the technology; it’s because extractive economies de-incentivized productivity. The fruits of one’s labor could be expropriated by the king at any time, extracting wealth out of his subjects and keeping them in abject poverty. There was absolutely zero reason to increase production over what was required for subsistence. So the Belgians wanted to develop the region by improving productivity. Even after introducing improved farming methods, no one was interested in increased yields. But the Congolese king started buying Portugese rifles so he could enslave competing tribes because it was more profitable. Others followed suit.)

Other polls I’ve mentioned in previous reports show that democratic socialism is popular among younger generations. According to one survey late last year, 51 percent of Millennials supported either socialism or communism over capitalism. It’s probably the result of two major factors: 1) they’ve been influenced into believing that capitalism is unfair and is the source of their problems, and 2) they haven’t seen “real socialism” in practice. They’ve never been subjected to learning about life under the Soviet system, or under the Maoist Chinese system, or how poor African economies remained under socialism (and why capitalist economic reforms are raising Africans out of poverty. The poverty rate in Africa is expected to be just 24 percent by 2030, as compared to 58 percent in 1999). History is a great teacher because life doesn’t reward bad decisions. I hope it’s not something they have to try out for themselves before they realize it doesn’t work.

The point is this: Anti-white rhetoric is becoming normalized (take a look at publications like The Root) at the same time that younger generations say they’re more supportive of socialism or communism than of capitalism. We are undoubtedly headed toward the consequences of easy money policies and profligate spending. We could start feeling the very painful effects as soon as the next recession, or maybe the Federal Reserve will be able to stave off another 2008. Regardless of when it happens, Sarah Jeong’s “old white men” and capitalism will be central to a message assigning blame. Frankly, I’m not as hopeful as some who say that the rise in anti-white sentiment in America is a passing trend. I’m not optimistic that capitalism will continue to dominate the battle of ideas in America. (There’s been at least two pilot programs for Universal Basic Income in the United States this year. That’s probably the future for at least a section of the Democratic Party.) There’s no need to necessarily panic, but we have to understand that we’re probably entering a period of great social unrest. Maybe upheaval.

My best advice: This is the time to find your tribe, to build community, to prepare the “human terrain” of where you live because the more socially and economically resilient you are, the better you’ll be able to navigate these challenges.

Hatch: Culture war now “at a tipping point”

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal last Friday, where he decried America’s combative, partisan culture. He writes, “To be clear, I am not calling for an end to the culture war. Indeed, it can and must be fought.” But what Hatch wants is “a détente in partisan hostilities” and an end to the politicization of politically-irrelevant zones. “The assault on communal spaces is a subset of the politicization of everything—the culture war equivalent of a scorched-earth policy.” Hatch calls for a Geneva Conventions of culture war. [source]

NYU Professor: We’re on the verge of “completely losing our culture”

In a missive posted to Facebook, New York University Global Literary Studies department professor Dr. Michael Rectenwald described the U.S. as in the midst of a “cultural revolution”.

We’re undergoing a Maoist-like Cultural Revolution — with the power of the corporate mass media, corporate social media, the academy, most of corporate America, the deep state, the shadow government, and most of the legal apparatuses behind it. Anti-western, anti-individual, anti-Christian, anti-liberty monsters are ravaging our cultural legacies as well as our contemporary arts and letters. Our entire culture is under siege and undergoing an utter and relentless social justice dismantling. Leftist totalitarianism is running amok. We’re on the precipice of completely losing our culture, the benefits of western civilization, and the entire legacy of western civilizational history. A major resurgence and counter attack is necessary and soon. [source]


 

PIR3: How are state and federal agencies preparing for domestic conflict, emergencies, or other instability?

DHS to unveil National Risk Management Center

Responding to a gap in capabilities, the DHS announced the opening of the National Risk Management Center to oversee coordination between government and private companies to manage cybersecurity risks. [source] Analyst Comment: The public and private entities that manage U.S. critical infrastructure had demonstrated an inability to coordinate on cyber security. Most critical infrastructure is privately-owned and many of those private companies are unable to adequately defend against nation-state exploitation. Furthermore, cyber intrusions haven’t always been reported to DHS or cybersecurity officials. Through this new center, DHS aims to provide better coverage on the scope of cyber exploitation across the nation, and prepare private companies to defend their infrastructure.

Perry: U.S. nearing energy independence

Energy Secretary Rick Perry appeared in a CNBC commentary last week, writing that the United States is nearing energy independence. “Gone are the days of America’s crippling dependence on foreign energy sources. True energy independence is finally within our grasp and we are exporting more of our energy to our allies.” [source] Analyst Comment: This is not to say that the U.S. is safe from disruption to Middle East oil supplies or other geostrategic developments, but officials do appear to be insulting the country from foreign systems disruption.

Congress to DoD: Hold a national cyber response exercise

In a sign that Congress is increasingly concerned about cyber attacks and a U.S. response, the Senate and House Armed Services Committee wants to order the Defense Department to hold a national cyber response exercise with U.S. Cyber Command, the National Security Agency, U.S. Northern Command, and other cyber and defense arms. A Government Accountability Office report said that the DoD had not held an exercise to test their ability to provide cyber support to civilian authorities. [source]


 

PIR4: What are the new indicators of systems disruption and threats to the economic or financial industry?

Economic/Financial Wrap-up

– Officials at the Federal Reserve met last week and decided not to raise interest rates. President Trump has been critical of the Fed, saying that raising interest rates too quickly would hurt the Trump economy. And JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon warned in an interview that previous quantitative easing and now tightening has him worried. “I don’t want to scare the public, but we’ve never had QE. We’ve never had the reversal. Regulations are different. Monetary transmission is different. Governments have borrowed too much debt, and people can panic when things change.” [source]

– Bloomberg is reporting this morning that U.S. and Chinese officials are in negotiations to prevent further tariffs and maybe bring an end to the “trade war”. [source]

– One survey found that the probability of a rate hike in September hit 82.5 percent, up from just 60 percent in early June. President Trump spoke out against aggressive interest rates last week, saying that they could hurt the economy. When interest rates go up, borrowing money becomes more expensive so there’s less borrowing, which leads to a loss of economic activity.

– According to recent reports, the Trump administration is set to make a decision by late August on whether or not to implement new tariffs and/or raise them against China. Some Trump officials are pushing the president to raise tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent in hopes that it will bring the Chinese to the negotiations table.

– The U.S. Treasury announced last week that it would increase borrowing by 63 percent (as compared to the same six months last year). The Office of Management and Budget predicted that the U.S. would run trillion dollar deficits in each of the next four years, starting next year. The Trump strategy is based on the key assumption that lower taxes creates more economic growth, which would offset a drop in tax revenue. Said one financial strategist: “The notion that tax reforms are going to pay for themselves is being tested right now.” [source]

 

// END REPORT

S.C.

Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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