Belmont Club

Roundup December 13, 2011

Iran Says It’s Almost Done Decoding Drone: “Iranian experts are in the final stages of recovering data from the U.S. surveillance drone captured by the country’s armed forces, state TV reported Monday.”

Reverse Engineering: “There is the potential for reverse engineering, clearly,” said Air Force Chief Gen. Norton Schwartz. “Ideally, one would want to maintain the American advantage. That certainly is in our minds.”

Barack Obama demands Iran return downed US drone: “President Barack Obama on Monday acknowledged a US drone was in Iranian hands for the first time and said the United States has asked Tehran to return the sophisticated spy aircraft.” President Obama earlier rejected any attempts to retrieve the vehicle or destroy it prior to its discovery by the Iranians.

Iran Won’t Return Drone: Also complains to the United Nations.

US meets deadline to vacate Pakistani airbase: “The last U.S. cargo planes were loaded and took off Sunday from the Shamsi Air Base after the Pakistan government ordered the United States to vacate the base by a Dec. 11 deadline.”

Pakistan rushes air defense assets to border — to fight America: “The Pakistani army is bolstering air defenses along its Afghan border, including deploying shoulder-to-air missiles, officials said this week — a move that could threaten NATO aircraft and reflects the depths of anger and suspicion here after a deadly NATO airstrike.”

France says Syria behind attack on its troops in Lebanon: “France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Sunday Paris believed Syria was behind attacks on its troops in Lebanon earlier this week. A roadside bomb wounded five French peacekeepers in southern Lebanon on Friday, in the third attack this year on United Nations forces deployed near the frontier with Israel.”

Syria conflict threatens Iraq consensus: “At the very moment American troops are pulling out of Iraq, the revolt in neighboring Syria is threatening to disrupt the fragile political consensus that U.S. forces spent most of the past few years striving to uphold.”

Chinese hackers free to attack without retribution: “As few as 12 different Chinese groups, largely backed or directed by the government there, commit the bulk of the China-based cyberattacks stealing critical data from U.S. companies and government agencies, according to U.S. cybersecurity analysts and experts.”

“Right now we have the worst of worlds,” said Cartwright. “If you want to attack me you can do it all you want, because I can’t do anything about it. It’s risk-free, and you’re willing to take almost any risk to come after me.”

The U.S., he said, “needs to say, if you come after me, I’m going to find you, I’m going to do something about it. It will be proportional, but I’m going to do something … and if you’re hiding in a third country, I’m going to tell that country you’re there. If they don’t stop you from doing it, I’m going to come and get you.”

China’s theft of US secrets may be harming America: Chinese spies may have so many US secrets that they are just left lying around.

In 1995, a middle-aged Chinese man walked into a C.I.A. station in Southeast Asia and offered up a trove of secret Chinese documents. Among them was a file containing the top-secret design of the American W-88 nuclear warhead that sits atop the missiles carried by Trident submarines.

He told a story to the C.I.A. that was so bizarre it might just be true. He said that he worked in China’s nuclear program and had access to the archive where classified documents were stored. He went there after hours one night, scooped up hundreds of documents and stuffed them into a duffel bag, which he then tossed out a second-story window to evade security guards. Unfortunately, the bag broke and the papers scattered.

Outside, he collected the files and stuffed them back into the torn bag. Although many of the documents were of interest for their intelligence content, it was the one about the W-88 that roiled American counterintelligence most because it contained highly classified details about a cutting-edge warhead design.

President Obama is ‘winning the climate debate’ with China:”The U.S. saw an opportunity to push China into accepting the same rules as everyone else and took it,” said Andrew Light, coordinator of climate policy at the Center for American Progress, a research group in Washington with White House ties.

Beijing, Washington Take Same Side in Taiwanese Election: “Beijing has let it be known that it favors President Ma even though he comes from the Kuomintang, their ancient foe. Ma is seen as being more receptive to Beijing’s position on economic issues and not opposed to Taiwan’s eventual unification with the mainland.”

From Washington’s point of view, President Ma is to be applauded for cooling tempers in cross-strait relations. On the other hand, he has done little to improve Taiwan’s ability to defend itself. Military spending, for instance, has hovered just above 2 percent of gross national product rather than the 3 percent he pledged before taking office. …

Obama officials have taken no public position, as is usual on other people’s elections. Privately, they suggested that President Ma was known and they foresaw no surprises.

Smart Power: Term of the day. “According to Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela R. Aall, smart power ‘involves the strategic use of diplomacy, persuasion, capacity building, and the projection of power and influence in ways that are cost-effective and have political and social legitimacy’ – essentially the engagement of both military force and all forms of diplomacy. … The term, invented in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, comes as a reaction to George W. Bush’s more neoconservative-driven foreign policy. Viewed as a liberal alternative to such policy, its proponents prefer international institutions that provide a major role, as opposed to solo role, to the United States.”

Republicans “at war” with Smart Power: “The concept of smart power was coined in 2004 to describe the belief that trade, diplomacy, foreign aid and the spread of American values should be employed alongside military force to achieve U.S. goals in the world. It brings together a mix of soft power, the proverbial carrot, with hard power, the stick, in order to achieve aims. The concept is so basic, so elemental as to be almost cliché – it’s foreign policy 101. And yet the Republican field has dedicated itself to rejecting it.”

America still commands great soft power resources, in addition to the most powerful military on Earth. U.S. values, culture, universities, companies and diversity are still, by and large, the envy of the world. China, in particular, wishes it had such pull. China’s communist leaders have gone to great lengths to make the country’s culture and values attractive. Alas, the GOP candidates want to unilaterally abdicate America’s spot as global leader.

The Republican candidates yearn for another American century. The quickest way to ensure the next century won’t belong to the U.S. is to jettison the concept of smart power.

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $3.99, print $9.99
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