October 15 - 21, in the rearview mirror
A look at our primary threats last week
Here’s a roundup of this week’s and associated news, on primary threats:
First, a short introduction into how I go about these types of reports. For the sake of your time, I use the same approach that I have used on LinkedIn for years, and it’s ridiculously simple. I will post an article from this week that is relevant to the topic and write a short intro to explain the point I’m trying to make, when reading it. As noted previously, I am darn near obsessive about credibility of sources. For this reason, I ignore patently right or left type news. If a source is rated outside the spectrum of moderately left or right, you will never see it in my work. I also use a variety of research products, so you may occasionally see these.
Fridays, I try to keep it fairly simple and to the point. Usually, not more than two or three paragraphs per article. Keep your fingers crossed on this as that sometimes I get carried away on topics I’m passionate about.
My very best for your weekend.
Analysis: U.S. Republicans aim at Ukraine aid but unlikely to block it
From an exclusively national security perspective, I am not at all surprised by the 57 names voting against aid to Ukraine. They are the worst of the worst representing Americans and their “no” vote, is exclusively partisan. This group and a handful of others have long been the most extreme, dishonest and partisan, with few exceptions. This, not only signals support to Putin (yes, public votes and statements are often used as signaling methods for governments) from the right side of the aisle but is as un-American as it gets. We spent decades defending freedom against Russia and her sphere of influence during the Cold War, with freedom and liberty as our calling card. These 57 representatives, all who swore an oath to defend our constitution and nation, are now explicitly and publicly opposing such.
From a military point of view, slowing, diminishing or any reduction of weapons systems or other logistical support gives Putin an edge. Ukraine is already operating at a pace that doesn’t allow Putin’s genocidal invasion, a chance to breath. Slowing the already stressed quantity of logistics, allows Putin’s thugs to catch their breath and resupply/ rearm themselves. These 57 know this but like the Trump administration itself, they are weak on Putin and to a point, supportive.
The final comment on this is, Putin has crossed an international law threshold that kept him, somewhat in check the past two decades. That threshold was crossed when he invaded, sovereign Ukraine. NATO member nations would have been next. Either we back Ukraine, or we would have to go to war ourselves, along with the rest of NATO (dishonestly disparaged by Trump, Pompeo etc.) against Russia and possibly others. Any investment in Ukraine is a bargain, if we had to do the fighting ourselves. So, not only do our brothers and sisters-in-arms in Ukraine fighting for freedom deserve our support but, they are also saving us from the fight. If we or NATO stepped onto the battlefield, the risk to everyone globally increases.
Glory to Ukraine
The big reveal: Xi set to introduce China's next standing committee
Here in the States, Americans have an unfortunate habit of seeing the world exclusively, through American eyes. While patriotism is good, seeing everything through a western lens causes grave and sometimes catastrophic consequences. The closest thing in the states to the “big reveal” of Xi’s, Politburo Standing Committee, is the naming of cabinet members when a new presidential administration takes over. This perspective dramatically downplays the power of China’s version. Let’s make one thing straight before continuing. China may use the name, “Politburo” or Communist but, China is NOT communist. The Standing Committee is part of the NPC, National People’s Congress. Very euphemistic on paper but there’s a darker underside. What Xi is revealing is better described as a cross between sycophants, bureaucrats, ideologues, and with a little bit of mob-boss mixed in. Officially, they have a say over constitutional issues, guide policy etc. but Xi’s wishes are the guiding vision. That vision, is precisely, global conquest.
The world, All-Under-Heaven, is one, with China / the “Middle Kingdom” at the center and at the pinnacle, is an Emperor or “Son of Heaven”, the sole interface with heaven with no peer. The Han are the “enlightened "while everyone outside is “barbarian” and seeking a tributary relationship with enlightened China for commerce and protection. Those who do not voluntarily seek tributary status must be persuaded or conquered militarily. This will unify All-Under-Heaven under the Chinese paradigm of world order.
There are plenty of serious think tanks that do deep analysis on those who sit on the Standing Committee. For today’s purposes, just know that such analysis, when available will become important to US and global policymakers regarding how to deal with Xi’s aggression for the next five years.
BBC World News
This deep look, from the BBC world news about Bannon’s downfall is perfectly timed with his sentencing this morning, for contempt of congress. I won’t mince words about Bannon. He has been for a couple of decades, one of the most dangerous threats to American/ Western democracy. This includes years of undermining Pope Francis’ leadership of the Catholic Church. His passion for blowing up democracy in favor of rigid, extreme right-wing authoritarianism, predates his time at Breitbart. Even Breitbart’s conspiracy-theory laden propaganda, pales in comparison to the dark, dystopian world he has worked so hard to achieve.
His reach into the darkest, most authoritarian slices of European/ Russian, far-right extremism is representative of, a cross between Hitler and Putin. He’s buddies with Hungary’s neo-Nazi leader, Victor ‘Orban, who hosted this Spring’s CPAC meeting in Hungary and where all manner of extremist, right-wing demagoguery was on display. Let’s also be crystal clear that CPAC is NOT conservative, it’s a bunch of conspiracy theory addicts, preaching and cheering the vilest type of extremism, devoid of reality and hell-bent on forcing all Americans to throw away our constitution, our values and our security. If anyone sees my perspective as too harsh or political, you have some homework to do, and I will gladly debate this with you afterwards... if you still believe his dangerous ideology.
Iranian troops in Crimea backing Russian drone strikes
The Associated Press
This is a critical story for a variety of reasons, some on a higher level than others. Each of these reasons are important to understand but I’ll just hit the highlights.
1. Iran is elevating their support for Putin from merely supplying military weapons to actually participating as a proxy, on the battlefield.
2. Iran is operating from Crimea, the strategic gem that Putin stole from Ukraine in 2014 via another illegal “annexation.”
3. Crimea and Putin’s surge of missile strikes against civilian population centers in Ukraine are a direct response to the partial destruction of the bridge connecting Crimea to mainland Russia. Putin’s ability to continue supporting his war in mainland Ukraine from Crimea, after the bridge explosion is a serious setback.
4. Crimea, just like Putin’s illegal annexations in Ukraine’s Eastern Oblasts (states) is on the list of areas that Ukraine has sworn to recover from Russia. Iran cannot afford to engage in a long, drawn-out losing effort for Putin.
5. This also is a strong indicator of just how desperate Putin has become with his genocidal assault on a fellow-Slavic nation next door. When you must depend on some of the globes’ nastiest leaders for support, you are publicly acknowledging that sanctions are biting, you cannot support yourself (even with his failed mobilisation/ draft) and that no one else is coming to his aid. This is especially insightful since China could but won’t.
6. This also indicates, just how little the oppressive theocracy in Tehran cares about the ongoing nuclear negotiations to restore the nuclear deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that the Trump administration, pulled us out of, in 2018. The potential ramifications of Iran’s direct support for Putin’s genocide have far reaching effects.
7. With some of the worst rioting against Iran’s theocratic leader occurring at the moment, support for Putin adds additional destabilization risk to their government. We are already seeing far more draconian actions by the regime in Tehran against her citizens demanding justice. A serious uprising in Iran has far too many geo-political ramifications, to cover today. Some of those potential outcomes could have a dangerous impact on much of the world, especially in regard to terrorism.
Last piece for today
Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy… at least to all Americans except, today’s Republican Party
Whether you are a principled conservative, a principled liberal or otherwise the pre-midterm election actions, taken by the extremists who now control the Republican party, should terrify us all.
First, a disclaimer. I do not support either party and only talk about either when they become an existential threat to the nation. Yes, both parties have extreme wings. On the left, that wing is completely boxed in. On the right, they own the party.
Until or if, Eisenhower-like, principled conservatives reclaim control of the party, there is no party. The elephant logo is now the logo of a powerfully, anti-American, extremist movement.
My analysis will be seen by many as leftist, democratic propaganda etc. It’s not and for the simple reason, that like George Washington, I despise parties or as he would have said, “factions.”
Opposing Extremism is an American value. Being an extremist is not.
Here’s this week’s short list of articles, outlining the threat to democracy from the current Republicans:
1. Pence warns of 'unprincipled populists,' 'Putin apologists' | AP News
a. A VP that stayed silent through 6 years of dangerous behaviour and the undermining of America, has at least found his voice
2. What to expect at polling places from 2022 midterms | AP News
a. Republican states have legislated a lot of changes that would allow for discounting and suppressing voting. How un-American
3. Explainer: How new U.S. laws could trip up voters this November | Reuters
a. Same as #2
4. The Republican Party's Irrational War on Voting Rights - The Atlantic
a. Same as #2
5. Vote Suppression | Brennan Center for Justice
a. Same as #2
6. How The Republican Push To Restrict Voting Could Affect Our Elections | FiveThirtyEight Same as #2
7. 60 Percent Of Americans Will Have An Election Denier On The Ballot This Fall | FiveThirtyEight
a. Few things are as un-American as undermining an extraordinarily safe voting system. Also, these immoral, anti-American values candidates, are the pinnacle of hypocrisy. They wish to be elected by the same system they abuse.
8. 'Stop the steal' supporters train thousands of U.S. poll observers | Reuters
a. The Texas version is voter intimidation on steroids
9. Democracy on the ballot—How many election deniers are on the ballot in November and what is their likelihood of success? (brookings.edu)
a. Critical analysis to be read carefully
10. Texas election workers saw increased threats after 2020 voter fraud claims | The Texas Tribune
a. Here in TX, this is the rule, not the exception
b. It’s like this in most red states
Finally, please see this extraordinarily important post from Spytalk’s Jeff Stein, national security reporter, extraordinaire. It doesn’t fit nicely into any category but all the same, it’s a most important read.
Have a terrific weekend
p.s. Go Aggies, Buckeyes and Browns