A brief weekend Update
China, Russia and stopping the preposterous "Special Master" nonsense
My apologies as that today’s offering may be far shorter than some of my posts. Some of you may be relieved as well. It’s one of those flu and cold week’s and keep my old brain a bit foggier than usual. I’ll simply attempt to add some context to a couple of today’s prominent news related to our threats.
1. Xi in China is readying his forces to put an end to the ongoing, nationwide “Zero-COVID” protests. These ongoing protests are some of the largest in recent history and emotionally charged, sometimes going as far as calling for Xi to step down. Xi, in a display of raw power, had a political rival removed from the recent meeting of the Party Congress as he achieved a precedent setting, third term. Xi, along with his new strategy of Chinese Rejuvenation built around his BRI strategy was only a couple of years ago, widely perceived at home as an omen of success for China. In the interim, he has made countless poor decisions that have now seriously undermined China’s economy, their global prestige and caused a near reversal on many of his earlier achievements.
The recent protests are indicators of a growing dissatisfaction and distrust of Xi, his motives and his policies. Still, China’s history dating past 4,000 years is full of examples regarding just how brutal leadership can be in China when putting down protests. Xi putting troops, LE and equipment in the streets is just the beginning. We all should recall the brutality of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Should protests continue, this example is what we should expect from Xi. After all, he does have nearly two-million Chinese minorities in concentration/ work camps, not to mention the lethal brutality that comes with them.
2. Putin says he’s open to talk about his genocidal war against Ukraine (don’t hold your breath)
This week, there’s lots of talk about talking… about Ukraine. As the old saying goes, “if you believe that, I’ll gladly sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.” Even if, not at all likely at this time, Putin does allow this, it will be a stalling tactic to get him through winter without depleting his military further.
It would be almost impossible to resurrect the Russian Army’s status these days after their humiliating display of incompetence against Ukraine. Putin can’t recruit, with the exception of dragging students out of college classes, off the streets or offering prisoners freedom in exchange for “signing up.” His equipment has failed just about as badly as his troops. Logistics are non-existent and his influence campaigns are impotent when up against Ukrainian influencers. There are many reasons that Putin’s influence campaigns fall flat against Ukraine, but that is a long story and for another time.
Diplomatically, he has failed as well while that NATO and others have unified in solidarity in a manner wholly underappreciated and unexpected by Putin. Putin’s current reason for saying no to talking is that there is a prerequisite for him to remove his troops from all of Ukraine first. To do so would mean that all of Russia, already fed up with his deceit and incompetence would have to swallow the humiliation and shame. To an old, mid-level KGB officer like Putin, that is not doable.
No, there won’t be any serious peace talks anytime soon. Please keep the faith and continue backing our fellow freedom loving Ukrainians against the Russian, genocidal thug.
Finally for this week’s abbreviated wrap-up, something domestic and there was plenty to choose from.
The story I selected occurred yesterday and is admittedly, a trigger for me and other like-minded national security professionals. Still, I will treat this fairly and support my opinions with the most credible of facts.
Trump’s “Special Master” review of the stolen/ unreturned classified documents from Mar-a-Lago has been tossed out.
This should stir elation in every citizen and among allies that today’s ruling may partially mitigate the damage done by Trump and his colleagues, to ours and our allies’ national security. A few points:
· There never should have been a “Special Master.” The documents, especially those with yellow trim on the cover sheet contain information that had zero business outside of a SCIF.
· They should have had a legal “chain of custody” accounting,
· They should never have been seen outside of anyone with a current, appropriate clearance etc.
There are literally thousands of pages of documents that regulate every little thing about handling classified information. There is zero value to those docs except to our adversaries. I know this because I spent most of my uniformed career being tested, background checked periodically and scrutinized for how anyone handled such, in my presence. Even deployed in combat zones, the rules, laws and policies apply.
Within the five volumes of the SSCI (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) reporting on the Russian interference in the 2016 election, there are innumerable, verified, intelligence reports of Trump and Campaign/ administration staff connections to Russian operatives. In my world, I would have not even been considered for a clearance if I had even one.
There are also countless examples while in office of Trump compromising US and allied intelligence. Trump is and has always been a grave risk to US national security, by industry standards. That those documents were strewn about Mar-a-Lago, playing hide-and-seek with the authorities, to include some being missing, has raised alarms in most of the critical intelligence agencies, globally.
There is more but, as that I have written on this in the past, in more detail, I will just be relieved that the IC/ Intelligence Community can now restart their risk assessments over these critical issues. As I always recommend, let the system play out and accept the results. Overall, the IC is an extraordinarily committed coalition. I trust them to do this job appropriately. We will know soon enough as DOJ completes their work too.
Have a great weekend and as we kick off a December of holidays… Savor every moment.