“Monitoring the On-going Stability of Foreign Countries and Their Policies toward the United States – Part 1, an Overview”
“Monitoring the On-going Stability of Foreign Countries and Their Policies toward the United States – Part 1, an Overview”
Published ©2014 RSI/Dr. Mark D. Lurie (all rights reserved)
Examination of threats to the United States has always been treated as analysis and policy formation based the “primary” prospective (potential or “what-if” scenarios) of direct attacks on home-soil, that being corporate and industry assets and the lives of citizens.
Since Pearl Harbor and the following planned collateral attacks of United States and allied military bases, nothing had come close to what took place on 9-11. It clearly reflected not only the ability to launch a “coordinated, successful attack on U.S. soil that resulted in massive acts of destruction, not only of thousands of civilian lives, but collateral effects on United States (and global) economics, businesses as well as our most recognized military government installation/operation seriously damaged, the Pentagon.
There was no luck involved with 9/11. Not a group of ignorant, improperly trained amateurs. There is no question it was planned well, financed well and executed well, save except for the heroic acts of passengers on one of the planes that took their own lives to assure others would live.
Now it is 2014, and with two theatres of world wars under our countries’ belt, what have we truly learned from the past? Technology and logistical support, as we know it today, did not exist, and many of our government agencies did not exist as well. With the intentions of the Japanese during peace negotiations with their ambassador while at the same time Pearl Harbor was being bombed, what have we truly learned about the past?
We can point at many “military” changes. Specific agencies and departments were created and steps were taken on a “reactive” level. The Japanese camps in the United States were a “reactive” result of what took place. There was no question that World War 2 was a direct threat not only to our allies, but to the United States. But again, what was truly learned? What can we clearly point to that has changed?
Vietnam was a war that was not a war (or was it…). It remains a paradox of many deaths and wounded which, to this date, many veterans are still not recognized. It was a war based upon a policy known as the “Domino Effect”.
In simple terms, it was the fear that Communism, as we understood it at that time, would spread throughout the world and that the Southeast Asian countries would fall one after another – eventually the world.
It never happened.
With the fall of Communism between East and West Berlin that triggered a reverse-domino effect throughout Eastern Europe, was it a positive step toward our allies and our own security?
With 9/11 and our steps taken against Iraq and subsequently Afghanistan, did our intervention into these countries stop or reduce the risk to our allies and the United States (both domestically and abroad)?
Has it stopped or reduced the number of attacks on United States assets and our citizens? Just randomly picking a person off the street and asking them what our policy is in Afghanistan, they really don’t know. That is an honest, but disturbing fact.
These questions all follow a simple number of logical analytical steps that lead to a “patterned” conclusion.
First, we have, in many of the cases, made decisions “reactively”.
Second, we have not learned from prior mistakes (some of them exceptionally bad) to where we would substantially advance our own technology and intelligence-gathering capabilities, and continue to advance them.
It is a full-time pursuit if a country, such as ours, is able to truly monitor and decipher the information on what changes (some on a daily basis) could indirectly or directly affect our security domestically and abroad.
The public doesn’t tolerate the “big brother” monitoring of civilian activities, yet they squawk about “why” we didn’t know about a bombing or an attack that took place somewhere, some place on United States assets or citizens. An old saying applies, in that “When we do right, no one remembers – when we do wrong, no one forgets.”
As mentioned earlier, the United States public, on the whole, doesn’t have a clue on the number of thwarted attacks over the years since 9/11. We are not talking about one or two attempts, but hundreds upon hundreds of planned attacks and disruptions that targeted United States assets and citizens, both domestically and overseas.
This was not luck, but the result of “proactive” planning and policies in place; however there are not enough of them for the entire system to work and function and the level it potentially could. This would not guarantee a successful attack, but it would allow more information to be reviewed and analyzed in a “proactive” manner. The results could only improve the present system. It would allow more successful “mitigation” of such attacks WHEN they happen, not if.
Unfortunately, “reactive” thinking, planning and actions took place, resulting in a nebulous strategy and segmented policies, many which were openly disagreed with.
There have been attacks on United States-owned operations and government agencies abroad (not to mention American and allied citizens and their families), but the primary focus has always been that of our physical country.
With foreign policies changing daily, intelligence networks have a massive responsibility of keeping up with a constant flow of information and communications from resources that can only be defined as reliable as the sources they work with or monitor.
The stability of countries which are allegedly aligned with us may have a totally different agenda that we are clueless about until it surfaces – usually too late for us to adapt to or even recognize.
A typical selection of “variables” that can have a direct or indirect effect on a foreign countries’ policy to change how it views the United States can include, but not be limited to:
- Election changes in the United States or the foreign country in question
- United States congressional and political changes in foreign policy law
- United States changes in economic laws that involve foreign business relationships with the United States and/or its allies
- Negative Propaganda specifically targeting the foreign country in question
- News Media and Reporting (e.g. Television, Radio Broadcasting, Newspapers, Magazines, etc.)
- Fall-out(s) from trade agreements
- Increases in tariffs of imports or exports
- United States views on human rights (e.g. abuses, children’s rights, women’s rights, dissidents treatment, torture of those who oppose the present government in place, or the policies of the present government) within the foreign country in question
- Criticism of the United States or the foreign country regarding any policy or action
- Changes in the relationship(s) with allies or enemies of the United States and that countries’ relationship with another foreign countries relationship in question
- Increase or decrease in military aid
- Increase or decrease in military presence
- Reduction in trade or trade agreements
- Religious viewpoints or actions, statements or comments made publically
- Trials and court decisions over United States citizens in the foreign country in question
- Drone attacks on suspected terrorists
- United States trials and court decisions addressing foreign citizens of a specific foreign country being tried in the United State or allies of the United States on the grounds of terrorism or acts of terrorism
- Position on loans owed by the foreign country in question to the United States
- Business pull-outs or decisions not to do business with the foreign country in question
- United Nations voting by the United States that would directly or indirectly effect the foreign country in question
- NATO actions or activities that would be considered improper, unfair or aggressive toward the foreign country in question
- Reducing or stopping economic aid to specific country(s)
- Removal of a United States ambassador from the foreign country in question
- Embargos against the foreign country in question
- Not recognizing the present or new government leaders of the foreign country in question
- Supplying aid or military assistance to resistance groups the foreign country in question and its present in-place government
- The killing of labeled “Terrorist” individuals within the foreign country in question or any other country as that matters
- Placing of the foreign country in question on the International Terrorist Watch List
- Attempts by the United States to “destabilize” the foreign country (in question) by means including, but not limited to economy, infrastructure, utilization of propaganda, supporting opposition groups or militant organizations within the foreign country for the purpose of ousting the present government, supply financial and/or military aid to the militant organizations within the foreign country who are attempting to over-throw it and the like
- To destabilize/destroy a relationship that exists with another foreign power for the purposes of having them removed by the foreign country in question (e.g. mining contacts of an outside power with the foreign country in question so as to make the opportunity for the United States to gain the now-open mining potential relationship with the foreign country in question)
- To directly or indirectly effect the credit standing in the world community
These are a few results of unpredictable changes in foreign policy have been catastrophic at a minimum:
- Embassies destroyed
- Key intelligence personnel killed (and not just a single death, but several at one time)
- Entire economic losses from the Nationalization of countries of our assets (e.g. Venezuela)
- Attacks on American Personnel, Dignitaries and Ambassadors
- Destruction of American-owned Assets Overseas
Intelligence networks in the United States have failed to examine the larger scope of the objectives they are given to achieve successfully with policies to follow in tandam. We have funded individuals, countries and organizations to find out they not only do they eventually go “rogue”, but turn directly against us resulting in both exceptional threats and risks. The amount of revenue losses is staggering, but the loss of life is even more obscene.
Working within the foreign theatre initially carries a high-risk, let alone the opportunity of being exploited financially (short or long-term). Investments being made by U.S. institutions into foreign enterprises is based upon potential profits first, and intelligence analysis second. It is simple to determine that the potential of failure is high, but this is disregarded since the profitability of the investment could yield millions or billions of dollars.
The African Continent theater is finally being noticed, as once was the Middle East was; however this time it is not for oil, but for raw minerals, metals and precious stones. These assets have been taken for granted but now, many of these countries have become knowledgeable and educated to the degree that they have not only an economic needs of their assets by other countries that they can provide, but potentially they are the only resource of such assets available in large quantities.
Chromium, Gold and Industrial Grade Diamonds represent just a fraction of the rich resources existing in the African continent, but at what price do we not only pay for such resources financially, but politically? A number of these countries represent a direct threat to our way of life and our policies. We cannot just re-adjust them to appease those we wish to do business with, and then find out too late that we “will” be exploited, both financially as well as with American lives. Is the solution making the preferable “Deal with the Devil”?
The United States has, in the past, made exceptionally unwise decisions to back individuals into their countries’ leader’s (perhaps dictators in many cases) who ended up turning their countries into disasters. The names are numerous, but historically forgotten since they are either (a) dead, (b) displaced, (c) in prison or (d) accepted into other countries where they will live their life out in somewhat of a comfortable (if putting it mildly) environment.
We always appear to tell those who work in the intelligence community and agencies that focus on the monitoring of foreign countries to “think outside the box”. It has been our, RSI’s position, for decades, that we analyze and determine intelligence in a manner that believes “there is NO box“.
There are no boarders that are immune to treachery or greed, let alone a dictator’s agenda or a president’s aspirations of world domination. Those “agendas” and “ideas” do not fit in ANY “box” known to man. We attempt to departmentalize (or compartmentalize) such information, when in fact, history has proven too many times that it just cannot be departmentalized or contained in “any” manner known – period.
Homeland Security is comprised of multiple components and agencies. As if comparing it to a single jewel, each agency within Homeland Security is a “facet” cut into that jewel; however even if there were dozens upon dozens of facets (which there are), it is still all connected to that same single jewel. So as with our governmental agencies that comprise Homeland Security.
As this writing reflects, we truly do not understand the degree of research and analysis that each agency collects or researches; however what is a more important question is “how” this information is shared between them? Is there truly a transparent system that allows collected intelligence to be shared, reviewed, analyzed and validated?
The existing problem with our “Internal Protection” is we truly don’t have a handle on the “foreign” intelligence which doesn’t have a clearly defined structure for its acquisition; the review and analysis of it; and ultimately the sharing of it with other agencies that may have fragments of related intelligence that may either support or disprove the credibility of it. The term “transparency” literally doesn’t exist.
Not to digress, going back to foreign countries (even those we are on excellent terms with) – when changes in their party strategies, their philosophies and their objectives could surface with new challenges to present our administration and those in power in those foreign countries. Our elections could result in total reversals in how foreign countries view their relationship and commitments to our country placing us in an awkward position should they terminate their relationship with us altogether. This is a reality and historically proven over and over again.
When we hear the term, Homeland Security, let us not forget the initial definition of what it was formed for is exceptionally broad. Under the United States Department of Homeland Security, there are hundreds of definitions of what the department defines many aspects of activities, people, events, activities, etc. that make up a complex network to monitor and determine what is a threat or not.
“Defining Homeland Security: Analysis and Congressional Considerations” written/issued by Shawn Reese (submitted January 8th, 2013 as a CRS Report for Congress), who is an Analyst in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, made it clear that since 9/11, there still does not exist a true and understandable definition of what Homeland Security is.
So we DO have the jewel, called Homeland Security, and we know that is comprised of numerous facets, each representing an agency, from the CIA to FEMA, but the biggest mystery is that no one will disagree over is that Homeland Security is NOT transparent.
In simpler terms, it does not presently have a perpetual, seamless method for the transmitting of intelligence and information, especially “validated” information, let alone another facet, a department that can “consolidate this information in such a manner to where ALL the gathered intelligence, no matter what the volume/quantity of it, can be properly researched, analyzed and ultimately validated or dismissed.
This takes time, increased resources and not to mention a definite increase in budgeting such funds to run it; however it is no longer an option with the state of affairs we face now, and in the future. It is not an option – It is mandatory for Homeland Security to work successfully and as efficiently as possible on a 7/24 basis. Homeland Security is NOT a part-time commitment.
As mentioned beforehand, we, as a country, hear very little if ANY information on potential plots and planned attacks, whether they be on American soil or against American assets abroad that have been stopped or intercepted and dealt with, and for good reason – so as not to disclose our methodologies, strategies, resources and personnel involved. Simply put, to keep what is done secret and not to be compromised.
The compromising of this information could have far-reaching effects. A single intelligence worker, such as Snowden is a perfect example of an individual, NOT in a high-ranking position in the intelligence forum, who did exceptional damage to our intelligence network and overall agencies. This doesn’t even address what damage has been done that we “don’t” know about, or the lives that have been compromised as well.
Homeland Security is truly in its infancy stages even now. Most who would never except that comment; however it takes decades to formulate strategies and policies, let alone groom personnel, policies, systems and procedures to fit and perform the role(s) necessary to provide the level of quality intelligence and analysis that is so badly needed.
What this is leading up to is as important as the various facets “presently” in place with Homeland Security – the focus on history and political monitoring must be broadened to take into account the foreign countries we work with or against, and all aspects of their own past, present and potential future policies and positions with not only the United States, but with their neighbors and other countries no matter how minor and insignificant it may appear.
In the end, changes WILL take place. In the END, countries allegiance to the policies and position of the United States WILL change. History is not built in stone. Only the lessons of what have happened are.
Acquiring and training more resources for this facet would circumvent a “reactive” policy WHEN something changes. It would allow for “proactive” planning for “what-if” scenarios that can become a very real reality.
That is what planning and strategy is all about.
By us having a better on-going and current understanding of each countries policies and how it integrates into our own, we can better judge and plan for un-planned changes. “What-if” scenarios can be examined more carefully and with intelligence, validated intelligence, that could make a major difference in the end.
Combining this with more effective intelligence that would represent the “collective” submission of information, of intelligence from ALL facets would provide:
(1) A reduction in time of acquiring such information;
(2) A larger pool of information and intelligence that would be explored (not redundantly as it presently is which uses up precious time and costs) in a more expeditiously handled manner;
(3) From such analysis and research being performed expeditiously from a collective pool, determinations on its validity could be made faster;
(4) Being able to take the proper time and attention to validating the credibility and accuracy of such intelligence; and
(5) Appropriate actions and strategies could be taken that would be more effective with less of a risk of ending up being an embarrassment, or a loss of assets, or most important – loss of life
Do we truly know, and more important understand “why” foreign countries view the United States? This question is not as broad or requiring a long answer as one would think. Most of all the important, detailed answers required a simple yes or no response.
Then, the “supporting” intelligence and analysis to support the answer truly would give insight to the answer. Further analysis should be able to supply a history of changes in their policies, their views and reasonable, clear explanations of why the changes occurred.
The next group of questions are those solely based upon their overall important to our National Security, and whether they pose a:
(1) Present threat;
(2) A future threat;
(3) No present threat but the issue of trust of a foreign country is questioned (to any degree);
(4) The foreign country is unstable and no determination can be made; and finally
(5) The foreign country is in the middle of coup (military or otherwise), overthrow, take-over, war, or has no government at all (e.g. Somalia, for how many years?)
The answers acquired allow gleaning of more intelligence into the “risk-versus-results” of our support, trust and financial/equipment assistance (including military assistance/aid or even intervention). It would also influence treaties, both trade and military.
Again, just looking at these five (5) minimum sets of required questions reflects that such information acquired could be totally researched, validated and credible, or represent just a snap-shot at that time and date or be totally invalid and inaccurate (intentionally or unintentionally).
When a foreign country promises to stop nuclear proliferation/research pursuits (for whatever reason) in trade for food or economic considerations, yet on the other hand perform on-going sword-rattling addressing destruction of those who they are negotiating economic help from (especially fuels and food), does it make much sense?
Is it just for show (e.g. status and attention), to save face, or is it a precursor to a legitimate warning or action?
To determine this would have to ask the BIG questions that require the “honest” answers: “Does it benefit us to truly “get” the answer, and if so, regardless of the answer, would we still pursue such negotiations? How does it ultimately benefit our country?”
The “Chamberlin Strategy” was one that would be a very early version of the strategy and policies of Homeland Security for Britain (and speaking for a great portion of the world). It was designed to negotiate peace. The intelligence network at that point in history was not young, nor did it have the sophisticated equipment and resources available in today’s era.
Yet, the intelligence was centralized and collectively reviewed/analyzed. The answers coming in reflected that this strategy was nothing less than madness. Was it? How many countries were given away without their approval?
How many millions were either enslaved or killed as a result of such a peace strategy?
Finally, how did it truly affect the Homeland Security of the countries that supported it?
How much did those countries endure as the result of positioning one power to end up starting WWII?
Again, historically the answers are very clear, well-documented and tragically quite real.
The formation of any type of entity as “our” Homeland Security “should be” requires a plan totally centered around and birthed from “proactive” logic and thinking.
Is that the case with our present United States Department of Homeland Security?
The answer is both “yes” and “no”. Unfortunately such a paradoxical answer is not adequate for the type of entity that is to operate with best, reasonable effort and resources resulting in the most accurate, validated and timely intelligence full-time without any breaks or holidays.
What would be the best place to start so as to make Homeland Security more effective and transparent to all the agencies which make it up?
What would make Homeland Security more effective in its responsibilities in protecting our homeland, being that of our assets and people – not just here but anywhere?
Granted, we have intelligence agencies that are responsible for monitoring foreign countries and intelligence gathering; however, can we do better, design programs better so as to keep as up-to-date with current, valid information that would give us “a better” advantage of a potential event or plan that would allow us to prepare better, either by thwarting it, or mitigating the effects? – Most important, being able to clearly identify the source or sources that could potentially be/are/were responsible.
Again, it is a massive task to undertake, especially to make it truly effective and as accurate as possible when it comes to validating foreign (or even domestic) information that may or will effect changes. It is similar to predicting weather, which is not 100% accurate until after-the-fact.
In summary, the importance of knowing “where” we stand with each and every “country” is important, but not as important as the factors, events and issues that are constantly changing and are fluid from day-to-day that can “change” foreign countries posture towards our country – from good to bad – friend to foe.
This type of analysis, validation and decision-making cannot be the responsibility of “one” agency, and more important MUST be transparent which presently, it is not, among the agencies that do monitor and manage the vast amounts of information necessary to perform the proper research, validate that research, make proper decisions and recommendations. Errors can be exceptionally dangerous, if not unrecoverable from.
History and political science have, in our educational system suffered immensely. In many curriculums, it isn’t even considered important enough to make mandatory in educational curriculums any longer, and so much of it has been watered down to where major issues, major considerations are no longer mentioned or raised.
History and political science cannot be watered down. History cannot be “re-written” to appease the public unless solid facts and validated evidence can be provided that would “correct” errors that have been written; however, all-in-all, history is what it is. It is a learning tool for us NOT to repeat errors made in the past. Not to “ignore” mistakes made or overlooked.
The focus on world opinion towards the United States is critical more than ever. Our enemies are not just a country, but in many cases a policy, a religious interpretation or a nebulous issue that we just see as minor (or not see at all) that is major to another country and/or its populous.
Terrorism generates from countries that have mixed policies. Many of the attacks are condemned from the countries where those who carried out the attacks came from. How do we approach retaliation?
Doing it “reactively” can get us into a war or conflict that is like getting stuck fly-paper. We get into something we cannot get out of, and then we escalate the conflict even more, potentially alienating foreign citizens of that country that were originally sympathetic to us – worse yet, having the entire foreign nation turn hostile against the United States.
But without the proper “validated” intelligence and analysis which is so greatly needed to be performed, we truly don’t know WHO we are fighting anymore. If we end up targeting foreign countries, or specific people IN those foreign countries who are truly NOT part of some conspiracy or plot to disrupt or damage/destroy the United States, we can change that countries policies against us, which in turn could have a ripple effect with their own allies and neighbors. “Making enemies is much easier than maintaining friends.”
Yes, it is exceptionally hard to define who our enemy is in the present. It is not as clear as what things were seventy to a hundred years ago (or more). The number of variables and options did not exist as they do today. More important, technology and telecommunications have created “instant” monitoring of events as they unfold.
From the initial attacks on Iraq with Desert Storm, to viewing the death and carnage of dead Americans and Foreigners alike after a bombing in some other foreign country – This has had a major impact on how our own American public views the “need” of intelligence. Valid intelligence.
There are dozens upon dozens of factors that affect our foreign policies throughout the world, but the basis of the foreign policy formation is totally contingent upon intelligence and the resulting analysis-findings that we get from it. If it is flawed or incorrect, if the research is truly incomplete, how serious can it affect Homeland Security looking at the big picture?
An organization such as Homeland Security must be cohesive, transparent and economically supported to do these best, most reasonable job that is no longer an option, but a mandatory requirement for our security.
Dr. Mark D. Lurie/RSI<<< Back