Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Updates: U.S. Plans In Syria, EMP Threat Continues To Make News

Dialogue, Operations and Weapon supplies: The US plan to defeat Russia in Syria

Since the beginning of the Russian military campaign against ISIS and other terrorist outfits in Syria, the US has been finding it difficult to devise a counter-balancing strategy. It would not be an exaggeration to contend that the Russian campaign certainly has jeopardized the US vital strategic objectives. Neither is the US in any position to remove Assad from power—a vital objective of the US Syria strategy—nor is it in any position to fight the terrorists because they are the US only ground source available at the moment to keep the Syrian Army engaged in the conflict. Hence, the question: how is the US actually trying to off-set the Russian campaign in Syria?

As of October 28, 2015, the US is operating at least on three different yet highly interconnected fronts to defeat Russia in Syria. These fronts include: diplomatic, Islamic militancy and a proper military offensive, including both ground and air operations. These apparently looking diverse fronts have one cardinal objective in common: removal of Assad from power and consequent defeat of Russian campaign against the CIA backed terrorist organizations.

On the diplomatic front, the US has very keenly invited Iran to discuss peace proposal. The important question that we must be asking is why has the US included Iran in this round of talks? Does the US expect Iran to change its erstwhile stance towards Assad? It seems to be highly unlikely that Iran would change its stance. Iran has been a staunch ally of President Bashar Al-Assad and it also has a strategic view of the Syrian crisis and has its own interests, materialization of which depends upon the continuation of Assad’s regime.

As such, on more than one occasion recently, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, who is a key point person, has come closest to affirming the centrality of Assad in any Syrian settlement. Last month, while on a visit to Beirut, he said, “Political solution is the only way to put an end to the Syrian crisis and Bashar Assad is part of that solution.”

This being Iran’s position with regard to Syria and Assad’s rule, the question of Iran’s inclusion becomes all the more important, especially given that the US Government has, on more than one occasion, reiterated its position that political settlement in Syria cannot take place with Assad in power. “Assad must go” is the idea the entire US strategy for Syria is cornerstoned on.

The fact of the matter is that the US is investing everything into coaxing Iran into its own side as a means to weaken, if not completely defeat, the Russian military offensive against the Islamists. Had this not been the case, the US would have spared no words in castigating Iran for its last week announcement to send more military reinforcements to support President Bashar Al-Assad. Hence, the question: why is the US not confronting Iran, the way it is confronting Russia, for supporting Assad? And why has the US included Iran in “peace talks” despite the fact that Iran has been supporting Assad since the very beginning of the conflict?

It is already a well-known fact by now that the US has never been fighting ISIS or any other Islamic militant organization in Syria. On the other hand, it has been supporting them by all means. An unmistakable evidence of this support came when the mystery of ISIS’ “Toyota Army” was finally resolved recently.

Secondly, a stepped-up military operation against ISIS would not help the US achieve its cardinal strategic objective in Syria: removal of Assad. It appears a highly illogical strategy, as far as the US viewpoint is concerned, to bomb the most important “ally” it has on the ground against Assad’s forces. Such a strategy would amount to changing the focal point of US engagement in the region: “regime change.” Such a strategy is, therefore, only a cover to hide the US unchanged true objective: removal of Assad. It was made plainly clear by a US official, John Kirby, in daily press briefing on October 27, 2015.

The US hopes that Russia and Iran will, after expending considerable financial and political capital to radically change the realities on the ground in Syria, come around to Washington’s view that Assad must go and a new government made up of the opposition must be installed. Iran and Russia will be hard-pressed, the US seems to believe, to negotiate due to the US sustained support to “moderate” terrorist organizations as well as its ground invasion of Syria—an eventuality primarily aimed at Balkanizing Syria.

As such, by playing a hypocritical game with both Iran and Russia, the US is sowing seeds for further destruction of both life and property in Syria and beyond. As Cater confirmed in his testimony, the US will be supporting “moderate” forces in Syria as well as in Iraq. If this is the US new strategy, one has to content that the US government’s mantra of “peaceful resolution” and “dialogue” is only a hypocritical cover to protect its proxy-terrorist groups and defeat Russia and Iran in their fight against them. The central idea of all this is that if the US succeeds in coaxing Iran, it will isolate Russia. But if it fails to accomplish this task, the US will keep both of them engaged in the conflict for long enough a period to exhaust them and thus eventually force them into accepting the end of Assad’s rule in Syria.

Ted Koppel, the anchor of ‘Nightline’ from its inception in 1980 until his retirement in 2005, is now buying freeze-dried food for his family as a result of recent ominous conclusions spelled out in his book, “Lights Out”, revealing the great dangers that we are facing from a debilitating and potentially very deadly ‘grid-down’ cyberattack. And it’s not science fiction…
The fact that we are utterly dependent upon the power grid for our survival as a nation and a people, exposes one of our greatest vulnerabilities – the constant flow of electricity. Ted Koppel exposes just how vulnerable we really are to a massive cyberattack – bringing it all down… 

There are a number of popular fictional books surrounding the scenario of power grid failure and the apocalyptic aftermath thereof, however Ted’s non-fiction book is the first that I am aware of written by a highly regarded mainstream media figure who through his levelheaded talent as an interviewer uncovers a frightening and very real situation that we are facing right now… a cyberattack on our power grid. 
Mr. Koppel understands the devastating impact of power grid failure when he writes, 

Extended periods of darkness, longer and more profound than anyone now living in one of America’s great cities has ever known.
As power shuts down there is darkness and the sudden loss of electrical conveniences. As batteries lose power, there is the more gradual failure of cellphones, portable radios, and flashlights. 
Emergency generators provide pockets of light and power, but there is little running water anywhere. In cities with water towers on the roofs of high-rise buildings, gravity keeps the flow going for two, perhaps three days. When this runs out, taps go dry; toilets no longer flush. Emergency supplies of bottled water are too scarce to use for anything but drinking, and there is nowhere to replenish the supply. Disposal of human waste becomes a critical issue within days. 
Supermarkets and pharmacy shelves are empty in a matter of hours. It is a shock to discover how quickly a city can exhaust its food supplies. Stores do not readily adapt to panic buying, and many city dwellers, accustomed to ordering out, have only scant supplies at home. There is no immediate resupply, and people become desperate.
-Ted Koppel (the first few paragraphs of the book)

He states “We have developed dependencies we could not even have imagined a generation ago.” “To be dependent is to be vulnerable.”
While Mr. Koppel exhibits traits of being preparedness-minded, he knows that “the ranks of our enemies, those who would and can inflict serious damage on America, have grown and diversified.” These (enemies) are not just nation states, but they include hackers, proxies, and independent actors who make it difficult or even impossible to know exactly who they are. 
While researching for nearly two years, Koppel interviews an impressive number of ‘high ranking’ people who are ‘in the know’, and his thorough reporting thereof reveals alarming and sobering apparent truths. 
For example, during an interview with the four star general who commands CENTCOM (United States Central Command), the general put it this way regarding a power grid cyberattack, “It’s not a question of if, it’s just a question of when.”
“The Chinese and the Russians already have, essentially, ‘time bombs’ inside our power grid.” He goes on to say that they probably won’t use them because of our inter-relationships, but if you start thinking about the Iranians, the North Koreans, and groups like ‘ISIS’, they are all developing the same kind of capability and they wouldn’t be restrained the same way that the Chinese and the Russians would.
“What scares me is the fact that people in government…there’s no plan” says Koppel, despite the warnings from high ranking officials of a coming ‘cyber Pearl Harbor’. There is no plan for a cyber attack that would potentially be infinitely longer in duration than disaster from hurricanes, snowstorms, or earthquakes (for example) while affecting more than tens of millions of people.
Ted adamantly points out that we need to prepare for the consequences of a cyberattack and says “We are not ready”. He also points out how we are not a preemptive society, but instead a reactionary society. He’s right on. Very few people think ‘preemptively’ while the vast majority are stuck in ‘normalcy bias’ going about their daily lives ‘reacting’ to circumstances. 
After all of his research, Ted Koppel is entirely convinced that ‘something is going to happen’ (cyberattack and power grid failure) and is quite apparently an advocate for preparedness because of it. He knows (as exemplified in the book) that government is in no way ready or capable of dealing with such a disaster, and while he is stupefied as to the government’s lack of acknowledgement to this threat and their lack of action, he is evidently taking responsibility for himself and his family while doing what he can to prepare…
As someone who is actively involved with preparedness, I have been encouraged having read his book that someone such as himself (a major mainstream media figure) is sounding the alarm. 
I do recommend his book, “Lights Out”, which reports and explains much more of the technical substance to substantiate the systemic risk that we all face, when the lights go out…

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