Gates Warns that Cuts in Funding could Affect US Gains in Iraq

Secretary Gates warned last Thursday that if the Pentagon does not get the funding that it has asked for that there could be major problems arising in Iraq. He was particularly referring to the troop withdraw the Iraqi government is requesting of the US by the end of the year. Gates has stated that instead of maintaining a military presence their, the US has decided to take a more pronounced role in police training and at the embassy in Baghdad. He  said that if these personnel do not have the equipment needed to keep themselves safe (an increase in helicopters and armored vehicles). Gates feels that if these interests are not protected then the US has a good chance of losing all the advancements it has made in the country.

I feel the US must maintain the advancements it has made in Iraq, and if that means beefing up some of the defense spending to secure safety for civilians from the State Department, then I say we better follow through with Gates’ advice. Though I do not like the fact that we would be spending more money, I do feel that this is a very delicate situation that needs to be handled carefully and appropriately. Funding must go into securing Iraq and preventing the formation of a power vacuum.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/02/17/gates.iraq.hearing/index.html?iref=allsearch

-Brian

The Drug War Grows Younger

Mexican police recently detained a group of teenagers after a a shootout in Ciudad Juarez.  The teenagers led police on speed chase through the city while shooting several rounds into the police car.  Ten pounds of marijuana as found in their pickup truck after they were arrested.  This group of teenagers consisted of three 15 year olds and two 17 year olds.  Arrests of drug-related suspects under the age of 18 is an evergrowing trend that is now prominent throughout all of Mexico.  With this comes the rise of drug-related victims under the age of 18 as well.  Last year, police arrested a 14 year old boy who they claimed was working as an assassin for a drug gang in central Mexico.  In the Gulf state of Tabasco, two 18 year olds were found shot to death on the side of the road next to a hand-written sign that read, “This is what happened to me for being a snitch and an informer, and believing the army could protect me.” 

This trend shows how consumed the country is by these drug cartels.  Their influence stretches far and wide, spreading their violence throughout the mexican states, and now their people.  Surviving in Mexico has become the key priority for its citizens, and many citizens turn to the cartels for safety.  The young population is growing up experiencing this as a way of life.  It is vital that the military, police, and government prove to its people that they can protect them and meet their needs, thus taking some power away from the cartels.

http://www.banderasnews.com/1101/nr-teenshootout.htm

-Rachel

Westerner stands in Iraqi Trial for the 1st time after US-Iraqi security agreement

       Danny Fitzsimons from Rochdale is being held on trial in Iraq, for the killing of two of his colleagues in August 2009. The killing took place when all three had been working for the British Security firm ArmorGroup, based in the Iraqi capitals green zone. Fitzsimons states that he shot the men out of self -defense when an altercation broke out.

      Fitzsimons is the first westerner to stand for trial in Iraq, after a 2009 US-Iraqi security agreement lifted immunity on foreigners. There are two security issues on display here. One, what kind of treatment will Fitzsimons be given in the Iraqi courts? Iraq’s dissatisfaction with it’s previously western occupiers is no secret, it is to be seen if this distaste will play out in their decision or if they will conduct a fair trial. Chances are that because this is Iraq’s first opportunity to hold this type of power, they will make a decision that will represent their position towards the West right now.  The Second issue to examine is if there will be any backlash from Britain against the U.S. Fitzsimons is a British citizen and because of a U.S security agreement with Iraqi’s his immunity has been threatened. Though chances of Britain showing animosity towards America is not high, after the Iraqi courts make a decision it is possible that their position may change.

~ Priyanka 

Article-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-12516625

Does China know the Canadian budget??

According to sources in the Canadian government, as well as several news organizations in Canada, hackers infiltrated Canadian government computers. These two computers were allegedly located in the Treasury Department and housed the information on the new budget proposals that have yet to be unveiled in Parliament. Members within the Treasury Department have cited how significant this hacking effort was, because it specifically targeted financial documents that can be found within these computers. As is typical of the Chinese government, they have denied any involvement in the cyberattacks on the Canadian computers. One of China’s Foreign Ministers told Reuters, “What you mentioned is purely fictitious and has an ulterior motive.”

While it seems likely that the Chinese government is lying, there are some who believe that the story the Canadian government is telling is a little bit fishy. An expert on other Chinese cyberattacks noted that the Canadian government’s uncertainty on the origins of the attack and the fact that they are not divulging how much information was stolen is odd. He says that it would be rather easy for Canada to track down the origins of the hackers and that they should not be loathe to divulge how much information was in fact stolen.

While this was not an attack on the United States, I think it shows just how vulnerable important facets of any government are to cyberattacks. It was not coincidental that these attacks happened less than a month before the Canadian budget is to be unveiled. And, if the attacks can be traced to the Chinese government it would interesting to see how that could effect Chinese-Canadian relations.

-Monique

Bioterrorist Threat Against the US and UK

This past weekend, a South African man, Brian Roach,  was arrested after making biological terrorist threats against the United States and United Kingdom. He threatened to release foot and mouth disease in both the US and UK. Foot and mouth disease can affect cattle and other animals. While the disease cannot affect humans, it can devastate the agricultural economy of both the US and UK, leading to economic crisis, especially in the agricultural division. Apparently, Roach was unhappy with the UK and US involvement in helping Zimbabwean farmers in 2000 who were losing their land. His threats were in regards to that issue, although they have been empty threats so far. No evidence of Roach having any foot and mouth disease has been found, but investigators are still looking. It is still unknown if Brian Roach was acting alone or if others were involved.

I think this type of threat is one not focused on as much as biological terror threats that can affect humans. Biological terrorist attacks on agricultural means of a country are almost just as bad, in my opinion, as a biological attack on humans. Agricultural is a large part of most countries’ economies and if a biological disease were to affect those agricultural means, it would have giant repercussions in that nation. I think it is good that the federal government is looking into this situation very closely, ensuring there are no other suspects and that there really is no foot and mouth disease in the hands of any disgruntled people. It is a legitimate concern, and I think that countries need to be more aware of the potentiality of a biological attack/terrorist attack to agricultural and to humans.. both are equally important. Also, countries need to find ways to prevent these attacks or to learn sooner than later about any pending attacks certain groups or people may have planned.

http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20110214_7233.php

-Alex

Transnational Romanian Crime

Râmnicu Vâlcea is a town in Romania that is home to a plethora of cyber criminals who prey on unsuspecting consumers across the globe. The schemes have gotten more elaborate and a network of Romanian’s living outside of the nation has arisen to collect funds and wire them back to Romania or anywhere in the world.
The young Romanian men who turn to transnational crime are in it entirely for the money. There is no political statement made, just a desire for easy wealth
How can this security concern be approached by other nations? Romanian police are cracking down, but when people across the world are directly affected should other nations be allowed be involved in weeding out and persecuting the cyber criminals?
I don’t think that other nations should directly step in and be able to arrest and persecute the criminals themselves. Working multilaterally with Romania to improve their resources and abilities to fight this sort of crime. Any perceived imposition on a state’s sovereignty would be a greater security threat to the host nation (Romania). Multilateral cooperation is key in stamping out international crime, but nations need to be careful to not step on too many toes and work diligently to ensure the host nation’s concerns are top priority.
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/01/ff_hackerville_romania/all/1
-Russ

Egyptian Revolution?

In my opinion, one of the most intriguing parts of the panel were Dr. Kramer’s comments claiming that the uprisings in Egypt are not technically part of a revolution.  Even if protesters are seeking regime change, no real leaders among the resistance have emerged with the goal of replacing Mubarak’s establishment.  Since the entire government is based around Mubarak’s political party, there are few groups that are in a position to step up and claim actual leadership.

This potential power vacuum could create two possible security situations in the near future: internal anarchy in Egypt or the promotion of a leader that is hostile to regional interests.  Without a leader, the situation could very easily turn violent.  With the military in control, they may decide to put an end to protests violently which would obviously cause immediate issues with human security and could create refugee flows south or west into Africa, east into the Middle East, or even north into Europe.  The possibility of a radical leader taking advantage of the chaos might push regional tensions to the breaking point.  With genocide and potential civil war in Sudan to the south and Qaddafi’s oppressive Libyan regime to the west, it would be easy for Egypt to provoke its neighbors.  The relaxed tensions with Israel under Mubarak may snap if a radical Arab leader comes to power.  Only time will tell who will step up and what it will mean for Africa and the Middle East.

-Ian

Egypt Panel

What struck me the most throughout the entire panel discussion was the emphasis all of the members put on the spread of protest and unrest. Not one of these incidents occurs in isolation from the others, instead they feed off of one another. I think this facet of what is happening in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and other countries strikes me as being the most relatable to our discussions. The fact that these types of demonstrations are not just limited to one country- but that they can spill over and directly influence others is a problem of both security and conflict. While this may not be an immediate problem for the United States’ security, I’m sure leaders who find themselves in a similar organizational situation are looking for ways to extinguish revolutionary sparks in their own country.

Additionally, there was a mention of how important it is for these elections to happen sooner rather than later. The people involved in these protests want to see substantive change and receive some sort of compensation for their efforts. If, however, they do not receive any kind of recognition, these protests might turn into prolonged conflicts. Furthermore, there is a chance they could turn into more violent and radicalized problems that might pose a challenge to United States interest.

-Monique

Somali Pirates Release Vessel

On February 10, a South Korean fishing vessel, and her crew, was released by Somali pirates after about four months of captivity. A EUNAVFOR warship secured the vessel and crew after a request for assistance from the South Korean government. None of the former captives were very badly injured and after some quick maintenance by the assisting warship, the Golden Wave was escorted to a Kenyan port.
The Golden Wave had been used as a “mother ship” from which the pirates launched some of their attacks. According to the captain of the Golden Wave, no ransom was paid for the release of the crew or vessel.
It is difficult to say why the pirates would give up a ship and her crew for nothing. Maybe the vessel was in too poor shape after months tooling around the Gulf of Aden. Or possibly there was no hope for a ransom from South Korea for the captured ship (most of the ship’s crew are native Kenyans). Whatever the reason, it is relieving to see a formerly captured ship be released with very little or no harm done to the hostage crew.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12463951
-Russ

Nukes in Japan

A nuclear security training site was launched in Japan on February 10, 2011 according to the press. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency said it was going to focus on training scientists of developing nations about the early stages of developing nuclear weapons. The things would hi-light training on nuclear counter terrorism,  and atomic material safe guards. This could potentially be dangerous because Japan is training countries who are not allies of the Nuclear proliferation treaties and talks.

http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20110210_8109.php

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