Ed's Blog

"Some people know everything, but that's all they know."

GENERAL FLYNN’S FATAL MISTAKE

DIA Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum

The minute Gen. Mike Flynn decided he could fly solo in his interaction with Russian officials, his fate was sealed. This happened before President Donald Trump selected him to be his national security advisor or when he lied to Vice President Pence about his phone conversation with the Russian ambassador. It likely began in 2015 when he traveled to Russia to participate in a forum and he met with Vladimir Putin .

As a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency it’s not as if Gen. Flynn doesn’t have plenty of experience dealing with foreign intelligence officials (friendly and not so friendly), although I doubt he met with them alone. Furthermore, his career in U.S. Army military Intelligence wasn’t in counter-intelligence or counter-espionage. Why is that important? Because counter-intelligence trained people never forget that practically every Russian or Chinese government official, especially diplomats, are always spotting and assessing individuals susceptible to recruitment, people they can elicit information from or useful idiots they can use.

Understanding the breadth and depth of their efforts and the measures the United States uses to counter them makes one far more sensitive to the danger that exists when you appear on their radar. I suspect Gen. Flynn didn’t fully appreciate the risk he was taking, or he just became overconfident in himself. He should have known that any phone conversation with the Russian ambassador would be tapped by NSA and made available to the Department of Justice. If he had, he never would have kept the Vice President in the dark. I heard in a news report today that Gen. Flynn knew he was under surveillance. If that’s true, the first thing he should have done was immediately make the President and Vice President aware of what he was doing and saying, but apparently he didn’t.

Throughout my 43-year career in the military and as a Department of Defense civilian I’ve seen this happen too many times. A military officer or civilian official decides he has the skills or rank to meet with Russian or Chinese officials on his own for the purpose of improving U.S.-Russia or U.S.-China relations. He allows himself to believe that there is no requirement to take someone else along or report his contact to the FBI or his superior to ensure that nothing in the meeting or conversation comes back to bite him.

Three individuals I know were convicted and went to jail because of their contacts with Chinese officials. Others were harshly counseled or their careers were ruined. As the senior country director for China in the office of the Secretary of Defense, I met with Chinese attaches and diplomats on a regular basis. I even had one defect to me in my office. I either took someone along to lunches and meetings with them, or I reported my contacts to the FBI. I knew never to say anything to a Chinese official I didn’t want my boss reading back to me.

I have no doubt that Gen. Flynn is a patriot and had nothing but the best intentions. His service to America has been exemplary. We have not yet seen a transcript of the phone conversation between Gen. Flynn and the Russian ambassador, and I doubt we ever will given how it was obtained, so we don’t know if he gave the ambassador assurances about what the Trump Administration might do after the election on U.S. sanctions on Russia or if the subject only came up tangentially. Personally, I would be surprised if it was the former. Gen. Flynn has enormous staff experience and knew that staff officers don’t make such commitments to foreign governments. Despite accusations by Democrats, it’s also highly unlikely that President Trump told him what to tell the Russian, otherwise, there would have been no reason to lie to the Vice President.

Serving at the highest levels in the national security establishment is a high honor and rare opportunity to serve your country. In that sense, it can be extremely rewarding. At the same time it often is like walking on a wire over an alligator pit. When you slip and fall there is no forgiveness and there are no second chances.

Filed under: China-Taiwan, Military, National Security, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

UKRAINE: APPROACHING CRITICAL MASS?

Ukraine

Critical mass in nuclear science is the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Critical mass in international politics is the smallest amount of aggression needed to start a war. Despite what President Obama and other Western leaders say and do, the situation in Ukraine may be fast approaching that point.  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: National Security, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

RESTRUCTURING THE MILITARY

defense-spending

Like most conservatives, President Obama’s proposed reductions of the U.S. armed forces disturb me. Since after World War I, every time we have reduced our military strength after a war, we’ve regretted it. Nevertheless, it’s time to rethink the mission, size and composition of the U.S. military, preparing for the next war, not a repeat of the last one. It all comes down to the correct assumptions.  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: Military, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

COMMUNISM, SOCIALISM AND SHORT MEMORIES

communism

We might forgive NBC Sports for glossing over the evils of Soviet communism during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, if it weren’t for all those young men and women, born since the fall of Soviet Union, that have no memories of the Cold War or the “evil empire.” Given the U.S. education system these days, I doubt they learned much about it in school.  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: China-Taiwan, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

THERE YOU GO AGAIN MR. PRESIDENT

US-VIETNAM-OBAMA-SANG

Mr. President, are you and the people who write your talking points ignorant of the history of Vietnam and those that inspired Ho Chi Minh, or were you just attempting to humor the President of Vietnam last week when you took a break from your perpetual campaign to meet with Truong Tan Sang in the Oval Office? Either way it’s troubling.  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: The Presidency, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

POPE FRANCIS AND THE POWER OF THE PAPACY

Jorge_Mario_Bergoglio

In October 1978, the visiting CIA analyst teaching my National Security Affairs course at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, began class by asking, “What’s the significance of this new Polish Pope?” Without waiting for an answer he said, “He will hasten the fall of the Soviet Union.” Recalling that experience, I asked myself, what is the significance of this new Argentine Pope?  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

AMERICANS THAT OWN, USE, AND RESPECT GUNS

At the “Nation’s Gun Show” at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia, this weekend, law-abiding Americans that own, use, and respect guns gathered as they do there every couple months to buy, sell and trade guns and all the paraphernalia that goes with them. What struck when I went to the gun show wasn’t that there may be a mass murderer lurking in the crowd, but the kind of people who come to these shows and why they come.  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NEGOTIATING WITH IRAN: A LOSING PROPOSITION

Successful negotiations require three elements—an acceptable and achievable objective, effective leverage, and convincing the other party that if you cannot reach an acceptable result by a date certain you will walk away from the negotiation and resort to other means. All three are lacking in ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear weapons program. (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: National Security, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

DON’T CONFLATE THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD WITH THE EGYPTIAN ARMED FORCES

Critics of President Obama are condemning his administration’s decision to waive legislative restrictions related to Egypt’s democratic transition and allow Egypt’s annual Congressional appropriation of $1.3 billion in military assistance to go forward. There is much about the Obama administration’s Middle East policy to criticize; but in this case it made the right decision. (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: National Security, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SEEK TRUTH FROM FACTS: THE KEY TO DEFEATING PRESIDENT OBAMA

“Seek truth from facts” (實事求是), a Chinese expression that dates from the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 25 AD) and used by Deng Xiaoping to reclaim China from Mao Zedong’s destruction, should be the Republican Party’s campaign slogan in 2012. President Obama and the leadership of the Democratic Party seek to create truth from campaign rhetoric, fear, and deception. If the Republican presidential nominee and candidates down the ticket simply and clearly present the facts and conservative policies they won’t abandon in office, Republican candidates will win in a national landslide.  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MILITARY STRIKE ON IRAN RAPIDLY BECOMING ONLY OPTION

Recent media stories tell us of an internal Israeli government debate over attacking Iran’s nuclear weapons program as the International Atomic Energy Commission’s (IAEA) prepares to release its report that Iran could soon have its first nuclear weapon. Taking out Iran’s dispersed nuclear-weapons-related installations—many of which are deep underground—is a difficult task; and Iranian retaliation on Israel and U.S. forces in the region could set off a destructive and costly war. Nevertheless, military action by Israel and or the United States is rapidly becoming the only option left after sanctions and covert action have failed to do the job. (More)

Filed under: National Security, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

THE LEGACY OF 9/11 IS ABOUT MUCH MORE THAN TERRORISM

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

Image via Wikipedia

To say that 9/11 changed America is a gross understatement. It could well prove to be the lynchpin in a series of events that will determine the course of American history in the 21st century. Like the aggression and rise of nationalism in the early 20th century, which led to World War I, World War II, and the Cold War with it’s Korean and Vietnam wars, the 9/11 attacks and the Islamic Jihadism that spawned them will have lasting and profound effects on America for generations. (More)

Filed under: Politics, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WIKILEAKS WAR ON AMERICA: Obama, CINC or Conscientious Objector?

Barack Obama holds first cabinet meeting 4-20-09

Image via Wikipedia

Wikileaks has declared war on America. Will President Obama be our Commander-in-Chief or a conscientious objector? With the third and most recent release by Wikileaks of classified information—sensitive State Department communications—Attorney General Eric Holder “opened an investigation.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was “an attack on America’s foreign policy interests” and an attack on the “international community.” So far, however, President Obama has been AWOL. He has shown little interest in Wikileaks, and he has given little indication how he will respond to this blatant breach of U.S. national security. (More)

 

Filed under: National Security, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NICE GUYS, LIES, AND RUSSIAN SPIES – A Little Indignation Please

“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” said Captain Renault to Rick in Casablanca as a croupier hands him a pile of money. The police captain had the good sense to at least feign indignation when he found himself in an awkward situation involving illegal activity. Renault, of course, condoned the gambling by participating in it.

Obama administration spokesmen, on the other hand, weren’t the least bit indignant last week, feigned or otherwise, when the Justice Department announced, on the heels of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the White House, that 11 people were accused of being Russian spies. Their reaction was just the opposite. They described the incident as “a mere bump in the road to better relations with America’s former Cold War foe.” (More)

Filed under: National Security, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MAKING NUCLEAR WEAPONS OBSOLETE

Is making nuclear weapons obsolete really a good idea? Do we want to return to a world were nuclear deterrence no longer exists? It certainly is a grand and altruistic idea, but would it make the world a safer place? For the 45 years of the Cold War the Soviet Union and the United State went to extreme lengths to avoid direct military conflict with each other. We fought each other’s proxies. We fought the North Koreans and the Communist Chinese in Korea and the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese Army in Vietnam. They fought the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Without nuclear weapons on both sides the likelyhood of a WWII-scale war between us would have been much higher. What would happen in the Taiwan Strait if the US and China did not possess nuclear weapons and a war broke out there. It may not be likely at present, but it could be in the future.

Filed under: Military, , , , , , , , ,

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