Erik Prince has been in the news lately, doing the rounds of various television shows to make the case for his plan to privatize the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. Depending on who you listen to, either Mr. Prince’s efforts are finding support within some quarters of the Trump administration or this privatization effort is never […]
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Luis Rueda is a retired CIA Operations Officer with over 28 years of experience in the clandestine service. During his storied career with the CIA, Rueda served as Chief of Station New Delhi and Chief of Iraq Operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I’ve decided to wade into the security clearance debate occurring inside Washington, D.C. I’m sure various people will attack me, but what the hell—let’s give it a try! Members of the intelligence community don’t usually like to make public statements. The public outcry from officials in this instance is a cause for great concern. First, […]
For the first time since its creation, U.S. support for NATO is in question. The main reason given publicly is the failure of many NATO countries to reach the agreed goal of two percent of GDP spending for each country’s defense budget. The corollary to this is that the U.S. is being taken advantage of—we […]
A withdrawal of U.S. military forces in Syria will reform the power balance in the Middle East, and not in a good way. I can understand some of the reasoning for a pullout from Syria. All these counterterrorism and counterinsurgency conflicts being waged across the globe are a financial drain on our national budget. We spend billions that could be better used for other needs. The endless conflicts take their toll on the military, wearing down people and equipment. We have 2,000 troops in Syria, surrounded by various unhelpful competitors like Russia, Iran, Turkey, and others. All these issues beg the question: Why not pull out? We have finished ISIS—mission accomplished—it must be time to go home.
The Middle East is undergoing major political shifts that come with significant opportunities as well as high risks. These changes in the Middle East are ongoing, and we don’t know how they will finally shake out, but we can see the general directions these shifts are taking. The two things that appear to be driving these changes are Iran and Syria.
Concerns about Iran’s growing influence and search for regional hegemony have propelled Israel and various Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, closer together, shifting decades of enmity and rivalry as well as putting pressure on the Palestinians to come to a peace agreement with Israel. Israel and the Arab states view each other as useful allies in their struggle to contain Iran. Israel fears Iran’s potential nuclear capability, something that endangers Israel directly and breaks Israel’s decades of military superiority.
Too often the United States fails to take into account the unintended consequences of its actions. Don’t get me wrong, the unintended consequences are discussed and debated at national security and principals’ meetings, where most major national security decisions are made, but after we make a decision we forget about the unintended consequences of our actions and, even worse, make few plans for those consequences.
Let’s look no further than Iraq, in which I was a keen direct participant and observer of this phenomenon, and Libya, to see the reality. The consequences of Libya cost us little, other than instability, mass refugee crisis for Europe, and a breeding ground for ISIS, while Iraq’s consequences cost us thousands of dead and wounded Americans, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, billions in expenses and continued war for years to come.
We are in a tumultuous period in US foreign and national security policy. We face serious challenges to our power and position in the international order. Throughout the world, there appears to be a realignment of alliances and power structures, some of which present opportunities for the US, but many of which threaten and weaken our position. These challenges are a combination of the natural rise of other power centers such as China and the apparent accelerated abdication of US influence under the Trump administration. Are we witnessing the end of America as the leading world power? Is this a natural, inevitable realignment or something that can be prevented? Let’s take a look at where we stand.
What a conspiracy we face. Fanatically anti-Trump government officials, holdovers from a previous administration, embedded in the very fabric of our government, working tirelessly to overthrow the duly elected President of the United States. A coup if there ever was one. What are the American people to make of this? If you are a Trump supporter you see the truth of this conspiracy in so many actions of the federal government and the press. If you are anti-Trump, you see fake news, a conspiracy theory pedaled by those trying to draw attention away from criminal activity of the administration.
What is the truth?
Unfortunately, as with most things political, the truth is the main casualty of this battle. Along with the truth, the federal government as a whole is a casualty as well. As the attacks against the “Deep State” continue to escalate, there is a growing perception that the government itself is the problem, that it is populated by treasonous personnel, answerable to no one but themselves, working toward their own, mysterious ends.
The U.S. decision to stop aid to Pakistan is the culmination of years of frustration with the government there. We have been frustrated by the apparent duplicity of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism, its support to Taliban factions while at the same time supporting U.S. forces in Afghanistan, its support for regional terrorist groups while fighting other terrorist groups, and its use as a safe haven for Al Qaida and Taliban leadership.
Until ISIS came along, many of the terrorist attacks throughout the world had some connection to Pakistan. U.S. anger has been building for years. Why can’t Pakistan get on board with U.S. policy, stop providing safe havens for terrorist groups, and help us finish the job? We all know that we cannot win the fight in Afghanistan without eliminating the Taliban safe havens inside Pakistan. The arguments against Pakistan are all too familiar.
Recent statements from politicians promoting regime change in Iran show a remarkable lack of understanding regarding the topic and Iran itself. It also demonstrates a simplistic view of covert action, which presumably will be the major tool of a regime change program. It will only lead to more difficulties for the United States in the Middle East.
Having been involved in numerous covert action programs, including some involving regime change, I see some major obstacles to a successful regime change policy as it pertains to Iran.
While the outcome of the compromise in China is significant, what led to it could be more damning as we trek into the future.
I was so filled with anger when I heard the news about President Trump revealing highly classified information to the Russians that I had to sleep on it before writing this article, lest it would come across as an emotional screed. As a former professional intelligence officer, I have been involved in several situations overseas where an individual revealed classified information to a third party without authorization.
In my experience, this usually happens when an ambassador reads an intelligence report and then calls the individual mentioned in the report to confirm the information without thinking of the consequences. I have been left to clean up the mess from the ensuing counterintelligence investigation launched by the host government. Thus, this type of thing is something I have very strong feelings about. Now, after a good night’s sleep I can deal with the situation in a relatively calm and rational manner.
From France to Eastern Europe to the U.S. we are witnessing the return of a more aggressive, more capable old enemy — the Russian intelligence services. The SVR (Russian Foreign Intelligence), FSB (Domestic Intelligence and Security) and GRU (Military Intelligence) are at the forefront of Russian power projection and policy. Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former intelligence officer himself, is wielding his intelligence agencies as the premier tools of Russian policy and expansion. Much of this involves Russian Active Measures efforts to attain these policy objectives.
In addition to annexing areas around Russia’s periphery, Putin is reestablishing Russian influence in those Middle Eastern countries that were client states of the former Soviet Union… Russia is moving fast to take advantage of the US administration’s seeming internal chaos and lack of focus on international affairs. According to Reuters, Russia appears to have […]
“Regardless of whether or not the Trump campaign went into these meetings to cooperate with the Russians or merely to develop contacts that would be useful for their administration, the Russians went into these meetings to promote their covert action campaign of election manipulation…” There has been much reportage on Russian meddling in the most recent […]
Who is to say it wasn’t an inside job facilitated by Russian HUMINT operations… Last week WikiLeaks released the first tranche of the CIA’s foreign espionage tools for hacking into smart phones, televisions and other devices. This is potentially the largest leak in the history of the CIA, with the initial dump consisting of 7,818 […]
Cutting foreign aid leaves US with only one option, military action… First, let me be clear—I agree with the need to increase the Pentagon’s budget. We need to recapitalize our military after over a decade of wars. We have planes that can’t fly due to a lack of spare parts, we are exhausting our inventory […]
By Luis Rueda: Reports in the press that Trump campaign members were in regular contact with Russian intelligence officers leaves me very concerned. What possible reason could Trump campaign officials have for maintaining regular contact with intelligence officers of a hostile power while that power hacks their political opponent? Was the contact benign? As a former […]
By Luis Rueda: The recent executive order initiating a travel ban for seven Muslim-majority countries has caused considerable controversy in the US and abroad. We have witnessed demonstrations on moral and constitutional grounds, a legal back-and-forth in the courts, and a great deal of discussion of the wisdom of the ban. Much of the discussion […]