Under the Radar News…aka New Mexico Jihadists, Jedi Mind Tricks, and What Chinese Aggression Can Teach Woke Charlotte
You may remember that last week, I led off with the New Mexico jihadist school shooting training compound (which really sounds like some newsworthy, supercharged SEO verbiage). I say that you “may” remember it because that story has disappeared from the landscape faster than neo-Nazis 25 through 50 trying to make it Unite the Right 2. It shouldn’t. The incident has farther reaching implications than most Americans will know or most reporters are willing to investigate. Radical jihadists squatting on their neighbor’s land, inexplicable FBI incompetence, Women’s March founder Linda Sarsour, rampant child abuse and brainwashing, the corpse of a four-year old boy, the failure to seize guns, video cameras and a laptop for the upcoming prosecution; a 21st Century Waco situation miraculously avoided. This story warrants every bit of investigation and transparency as the Las Vegas shooting, Flight MH370, and the Trump collusion case. It doesn’t seem to be getting it.
Speaking on politically incorrect threats, a British citizen was arrested in the UK for driving his car into Parliament Square, targeting cyclists and pedestrians during rush hour. He was in London to apply for a Sudanese visa. Who knows, he might still get it.
Can you handle one more outrage from the UK? It’s gotten a lot of press in the UK; not as much here. Far-left kook (and Labor party leader) Jeremy Corbyn has taken a lot of heat for holding a wreath at the plaque for the Black September terrorists who slaughtered the Israeli Olympic team at Munich in 1972. Though Corbyn attempted some backpeddling, this sort of thing is not new for Corbyn who is a fairly well-established anti-Semite. Probably didn’t help that Corbyn flashed the hand sign for the Muslim Brotherhood as well. There is plenty of well-deserved coverage of powerful far-right nuts in both Europe and the US. This serves as a good reminder that there are plenty of powerful left-wing ones as well. And that both left and right wingers are moving to the extremes.
In another terrorist-related news, the Taliban overran a base in northern Afghanistan, killing 14 and capturing 40. Clearly, ending NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014 was the right move. So much easier to suffer a few green-on-blue attacks and hold the patient’s hand while it dies. Let me underline that I’m being sarcastic here. Since no one cares about Afghanistan anymore there are those who might mistake it for a good point.
Last week, I mentioned the Chinese penetration of Sen. Diane Feinstein’s staff. Marc Thiessen has a perfectly good callout of the situation. Let me remind partisans that infiltration of Feinstein’s staff does not excuse whatever we find out about Trump. Nor am I trying to distract from the allegations against Trump. Let’s be adults about this; good citizens should have enough outrage to spare for multiple allegations of sleaze, spying and compromise — regardless of party affiliation.
For example, Lawfare has uncovered an intriguing possibility that the rabid search for Hillary Clinton’s missing 30,000 emails may have directly led to paying Russian hackers to uncover them. Isn’t it just like Trump to snatch virtue from the jaws of a righteous cause? Can’t reasonable people should want Hillary prosecuted for clear obstruction of justice and compromise of classified information and want Trump nailed to the wall for enlisting foreign intelligence and/or cyber to do his oppo research?
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US informed Chinese conglomerate HNA Group that it has to sell its majority stake in a skyscraper that houses the police precinct tasked with protecting Trump Tower. It’s a small sign of the healthy respect the US has for Chinese espionage. I welcome such signs since the US is blowing it when it comes to Chinese military superiority. I can picture the same Twitter creatures who applauded “woke Charlotte” reprimanding her grandmother for saying “Mandarin” (apparently unaware that Mandarins are hardly some oppressed “other”), being the first in line to fearlessly state their lack of concern with Chinese military superiority. Ignorance isn’t just bliss, it’s also a shortcut to moral high ground.
It’s finally here. Zephyr. A high-flying drone that does the work of a satellite. Now you can spy on your neighbor’s pool party and cancel DirectTV. Unless your neighbor has a microwave cannon. Try eating a Hot Pocket from one of those. Did I mention I’m not really a tech guy?
On a slightly more serious note, some DoD satellite terminals GPS downlink signals can be intercepted remotely. Per the article, “while the risk to troops is high, the risk of bad actors actually being able to use the exploit was only medium.” That’s the kind of analysis that you like to hear if you’re hunting terrorists in sub-Saharan Africa. Not so much if you’re war gaming possible confrontations with Russia, China, Turkey, North Korea, or Iran.
Wait, Turkey? Why would we square off against a NATO ally? Because Turkey is actively swiping right, looking for “new friends” on geopolitical Tinder. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has only himself to blame. He’d rather endure a currency crisis, target social media, and court Iran or Russia or China rather than release US pastor Andrew Brunson. Of course, this might be just the excuse Erdogan has wanted for a while to embrace his inner Islamist despot.
Just when you think the idea of a Space Force is goofy, unnecessarily provocative, cumbersome, and possibly illegal…it appears Russia may have launched a “laser or microwave space weapon targeting satellites”. A US State Department official has said that a Russian “satellite” has been acting in very suspicious ways on-orbit, and inconsistent with any known technology — but consistent with an anti-satellite weapon. Did you know Russia has a Space Force? It does. And its commander stated that one of its objectives was to develop “new prototypes of weapons.” Naturally, the Russians were offended anyone would suspect them of launching a new prototype of a weapon.
When was the last time you saw the original Star Wars? I saw it again yesterday and it reminded me that I want to be Alec Guiness when I grow up. But it also occurred to me that a Jedi mind trick is just a very simple denial. So simple, it is hard to believe it would work. And I would dismiss it as pure fiction if not for the fact that simple denials work shockingly well these days: “Russia does not interfere in other countries’ elections;” “This is just an humanitarian center, there are no intelligence officials here;” “This is not the paramilitary force you are looking for.”
Speaking of Russians and wordplay…is the Caspian Sea a sea or a lake? It’s more than a trivia question. The Caspian, the largest enclosed body of water in the world, contains a massive 48 billion barrels of oil and 9 trillion cubic metres of natural gas in proven offshore reserves. Prior to the dissolution of the USSR, it was divided up between Iran and the USSR. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan suddenly had a stake in the Caspian — 20% if it was a “lake,” or whatever portion of adjacent coastline each country owned if it was a “sea”. Iran doesn’t have much coastline, so it isn’t happy that the Caspian, it turns out, will be a lot closer to a sea than a lake. It’s another big win for Russia and its friendly satellites in the area.
There’s a mystery brewing in Sweden. Who are the arsonists starting these fires in Gothenburg? We don’t know yet. Were they Russian-backed? Islamist-backed? Neo-Nazi backed? This story hints at what I’ve gleaned talking to Scandinavians recently — the foreboding feeling that, with so many barbarians at the gate, peace is only a façade at this point.
On the other hand, Central America would be grateful at this point for even the façade of peace. While Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama are doing relatively well, the Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are — and have been — a mess for years. This has become an increasingly greater issue with the mass migration of underage migrants from the region into the US, so the Council of Foreign Relations put out an explainer as to why the Northern Triangle is perpetually troubled. I found CFR’s historical background a tad vague, lacking, for example, an appreciation of the Obama administration’s fumble with the Honduran coup or why Bush’s post-9/11 expansion of Plan Colombia was so successful and couldn’t be replicated further south. On the other hand, it’s interesting to know that 90 percent of documented cocaine entering the US comes through the Northern Triangle, or that 55 percent of 3.4 million people born in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are undocumented and living in the United States.
Speaking of flawed reports, Foreign Policy has an optimistic article about the possibility of the peaceful transfer of power in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Why flawed? While the article makes a strong case for creating viable “off-ramps” for would be dictators, it makes a left turn at the end, cautioning the US to “work itself out of a job” in DRC in order to ensure the country can become independent. Not once is there a mention of China, which is gobbling up cobalt mines throughout the country, in addition to enslaving DRC to debt-trap diplomacy. There are good arguments that the West should pull out of African aid altogether, but ignoring China’s de facto colonization while tsk-tsking the US is, at best, an incomplete view of the reality in DRC.
While we’re on the subject of roadblocks to independence, Tunisia is having a bitch of a time keeping an even keel, thanks to the chaos in Libya. The Tunisian Foreign Minister lays blame on the NATO campaign of 2011. Let me say it again — Trump is abominable. But one can be disgusted with Trump and still conclude that, based on Obama’s actions from Libya to Syria to Iraq to Afghanistan to Honduras to Crimea to Iran to Ukraine that he ranks as the worst foreign policy president in US history.
On a more positive note, CFR put out a very solid piece on the Saudi-Canadian rift which has been widening this past week. This is one of those underreported stories that should be gathering more steam if not for the 24-hour Trump reality show. For the unaware, Saudi Arabia has been cracking down (again) on women reformers, and Canada spoke out against it. For that, Saudi retaliated by expelling the Canadian diplomatic presence. CFR rightly voices dismay that the US has been so silent, “This silence is shortsighted, as it fails to recognize the relationship between the status of women and core U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. If the Trump Administration wants to put America’s interests first, it ought to support women’s human rights, freedom of expression, justice and accountability, all of which are critical to advancing our interests abroad.” Amen. It has been two presidencies since the US championed freedom and our foreign policy has been adrift without its touchstone.
Lastly, a few random items of interest…
In case you were sick that day in fourth grade, here is everything you need to know about the plot to kill George Washington.
Greece has decided to help Syria (read: Assad) out. Bankruptcy, perpetual unrest, left-wing agitation, neo-Nazi groups, anti-US sentiment…I mean, thanks for that whole democracy thing, but what exactly has Greece done for the world lately?
Until next week…