Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 140924
ISIS . . . Over There?
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
September 24, 2014
Fourteen of yesterday’s early morning attacks in Syria focused on ISIS targets. Very important is that another eight Khorasan target areas were attacked by U.S. weapons, reportedly as somewhat of an afterthought, because recent intelligence indicated that these jihadis were on the verge of launching attacks in Europe and/or the U.S. homeland. Are we prepared to counter other “unidentified” homeland attacks?
Last week’s message (Click here.) keyed off the uncertainty of whether we are at war or not at war with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS = ISIL = Islamic State = IS = Caliphate)—well, that uncertainty is no more.
Unambiguously, we are at war! Now we have only to identify the enemy, our allies, and our strategy for victory. And the devil is in the details.
Notably, the attack occurred as Congress was leaving Washington—so much for a debate about a Congressional resolution declaring war.
As departing Washington to campaign through the November election, the congress appropriated $500 million for training the alleged moderate Syrians—who also oppose Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (Don’t ask me to explain how that will work out.) and $60-80 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).
And Assad has not raised a finger to resist our operations in Syria—probably leaving such objections to its ally and our nemesis, Russian President Vladimir Putin. But I digress.
Who is the Enemy?
ISIS is our enemy—just like al Qaeda, according to Pentagon spokesman RADM John Kirby. Of course, ISIS is a spin-off of al Qaeda, so ruthless that al Qaeda disowned them.
Adm. Kirby reported that fourteen of yesterday’s early morning attacks in Syria focused on ISIS targets in and around ISIS’s de facto capital, Raqqa.
Very important is that another eight Khorasan target areas in and near Aleppo were attacked by U.S. weapons, reportedly as somewhat of an afterthought, because recent intelligence indicated that these jihadis were on the verge of launching attacks in Europe and/or the U.S. homeland, presumably from commercial aircraft.
The Khorasan Group is another seasoned spin-off of al Qaeda veterans finding safe haven in Syria . . . wonder how many other spin-offs exist and are just waiting to attack us, thereby warranting our military wrath? Hmmmm . . .
The Khorasan Group has ties to Pakistan—home for Osama bin Laden for nine years while he was the recognized leader of al Qaeda. Pakistan has over a hundred nuclear weapons—and, according to a September 22 Washington Post article, is expanding its nuclear force, raising concerns about the possibility of a Pakistan-India nuclear conflict. (Click here.)
Maybe an Islamic bomb for use by ISIS, Khorasan or some other Islamic group?
In any case, al Qaeda has not really been “on the run” since Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden . . . as President Obama famously claimed repeatedly, nor has it spawned just a bunch of “JV squads” also his description . . . learning late is better than never, perhaps.
Also, by attacking Khorasan the administration has finally unambiguously admitted there is an imminent threat to our American homeland. Just last week its spokesmen were testifying before congress that, specifically, this was not the case.
I cannot conclude this brief summary of the Islamic threat without mentioning Iran, a Shia Islamic state that is moving methodically toward developing nuclear weapons that can be mated to its existing ballistic missiles to attack the United States from vessels off our coasts or even from their proven satellites.
Some keep hoping, foolishly in my view, that Iran will help defeat ISIS in some kind of an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” strategy.
So, just who is our enemy? Our leaders seem to identify the enemy as pick-up teams of overtly threatening jihadi form—one by one. And remember that the President claimed ISIS is not Islamic—I suppose, presuming to advise those who call themselves “the Islamic State” of the error of their ways.
Herein lies our problem. Islam simply is not a “religion of peace” as claimed by many, ever since President George W. Bush so claimed immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Islamic “true believers” in sharia law are the enemy. They offer a choice to others: “convert or die.”
Until we take that fact into account, we will have difficulty is fashioning a credible strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” not only ISIS, but also the rest of the family of those who hate us and Western Civilization.
Who are our Allies?
Not recognizing our enemy makes it difficult to recognize our allies.
The administration emphasizes that yesterday was the first time that several Arab states joined in air strikes. Those Sunni states (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates) are themselves threatened by the Sunni ISIS—which more closely adheres to the seventh century dictates of Islam’s sharia law—and considers the so-called moderates as heretics deserving death.
Of course, confusion abounds when these so-called moderates regularly demonstrate behavior consistent with their view of sharia, but absolutely rejected by Western Civilization—e.g., their degrading treatment of women, not to mention amputations and other ruthless penalties for activities secular nations would ignore or minimally penalize. And at least some of these “allies” have in fact provided funds to support ISIS, with whom we are at war.
Then, our erstwhile NATO ally, Turkey, has not joined the coalition and is dealing with its own immigration problems as the masses seek to escape from ISIS terror—and its longstanding difficulties in dealing with the Kurds, now a major counter to ISIS. Regrettably, we don’t appear to be helping the Kurds in their fight against ISIS. And Turkey’s President Erdogan has been systematically dismantling the secular democracy created a century ago by modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Stay tuned and add that to the confusion.
And so far, the role of many of our usual allies is still notably minor—e.g., the United Kingdom.
While scratching your head over these imponderables, it seems most important to me to emphasize that the ISIS/whatever jihadi threat can reach us here at home. Happily, the press reports that the FBI is on the job, tracking at least some of the Americans now returning home from being over there with ISIS. But what about others who didn’t go over there? Or those coming over our leaky borders?
It sounds somewhat ridiculous to say, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” But the redundancy is actually profound, worthy of my favorite philosopher, New York Yankee Yogi Berra. It echoes another memorable comment by my good friend and Chairman of the EMP Commission, Dr. William R. Graham, “The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.”
What is our Strategy to Degrade and Ultimately Defeat ISIS?
Not much yet to add here to the President’s statements, except that it’s hard to understand how we will “degrade and ultimately defeat” ISIS without major modifications to the actions thus far taken—and announced constraints on future operations. For example, the President has repeatedly ground-ruled out U.S. “boots on the ground” in a combat role.
But his two previous Secretaries of Defense (Gates and Panetta) and numerous retired Generals have publically emphasized that victory cannot be achieved without ground combat troops. Former Secretary Leon Panetta observed it was an error not to maintain such a ground force in Iraq after our 2011 victory, as was then recommended by our military leaders. An example of snatching failure from the jaws of victory
They were overruled by President Obama, which produced a power vacuum and set the stage for the rise of ISIS and the problems we now confront.
Perhaps the most graphic criticism of the President’s strategy so far was by former Marine Commandant Retired General Jim Conway, who said the President’s plans didn’t have “a snowball’s chance in Hell of succeeding.”
At least, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey testified last week that if our current focus on air strikes and reliance on others for ground forces does not work in the future, he may recommend the deployment of U.S. ground troops. (Click here.) So . . . ???
Given these conditions—especially including the possibility of imminent threats to the U.S. homeland, it seems to me we should be thinking about what jihadis already in our midst might do to cause us great harm, and have contingency plans to deal with those possibilities.
The Terrorist Threat to the Electric Power Grid.
For example, what could they do to take down our electric power grid for an indefinite period, and return the nation to a 19th century existence? All essential elements of our economy would stall without electricity.
For months, we have elaborated the potential of natural and manmade EMP threats to create these conditions. A more conventional threat also exists. A more conventional threat also exists.
This was illustrated when at most a few individuals (unidentified and still at large) on April 16, 2013 attacked and disabled the Metcalf substation near San Jose, California. Except for not severing a key link to a control center, all of Silicon Valley probably would have been taken down.
As reported yesterday (Click here.), major vulnerabilities still remain a year-and-a-half later. This was illustrated a few weeks ago when the security at this same substation was again breached—and the perpetrators escaped and remain at large.
Furthermore, the Federal Energy Reliability Commission (FERC) has indicated that if only the right nine (9) substations across the nation are taken down for an extended period, the entire U.S. grid could fail.
Suppose that the U.S. ISIS cell can figure out that possibility? I wouldn’t bet the farm against it.
Obama Priorities at the United Nations.
Yesterday, President Obama discussed his high priority on “climate change” as a growing and urgent threat.
Given the dubious scientific basis for this claim and the low priority given to “climate change” by the American public, the above class of existential threats to the electric power grid seem to me to be far more important.
Maybe we will hear today more important information on this critical threat when the President addresses the United Nations.
I hope so, because I would like to support our Commander in Chief. So far, I have some serious doubts.
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
Washington is badly broken—both the Executive and Legislative Branches. Thus, we are renewing our efforts to inform the state and local authorities—and publics—in states around the Gulf of Mexico of the important role their states can play in defending all Americans against the existential EMP threat.
Given the lethargy in Washington, we will continue informing all who will listen about the existential threats to the electric power grid and expanding our work with the National Guard to help them gain knowledge and workable plans to help harden the electric power grid and counter these threats. This work will go hand in hand with efforts of State legislators who are seeking to expand on the excellent work of those in Maine and Virginia, who have passed legislation requiring serious studies of the EMP threat and the needed countermeasures to protect the electric power grid.
The most recent bill passed in record time without a single negative vote in Virginia can be used as a ready pattern.
We are working with South Carolina National Guard to help them understand how best to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to understand and respond to these serious threats. We also expect support from Cong. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) whose district includes my SC farm—and who is a member of the Congressional EMP Caucus seeking passage of the Shield Act and the Infrastructure Protection Act, as well as other SC representatives.
We will be working with members of the EMP Coalition and others who are seeking to take our message across the country—especially with Bob Newman, a former Adjutant General of Virginia, to help us link our SC plans more broadly and especially into Virginia and the National Capital region.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
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