HILLSDALE COLLEGE www.hillsdale.edu
Early Warning: The Continuing Need for National Defense
Brian T. Kennedy
President, The Claremont Institute
BRIAN T. KENNEDY is president of the Claremont Institute and publisher of the Claremont Review of Books. He has directed the Institute’s Golden State Center in Sacramento and its National Security Project. A member of the Independent Working Group on Missile Defense and co-author of Shariah: The Threat to America, his articles on national security affairs and public policy issues have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, and Investor’s Business Daily.
The following is adapted from a speech delivered on March 4, 2014, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.
Harold Rood, a professor of international relations at Claremont McKenna College who died in 2011, was not as well known as he was influential. A soldier in Patton’s army in World War II, he taught his students that war is permanent to the human condition, and that in war it is better to win, for no one ever had to accommodate a loser. America will always have enemies, he told them, and those enemies will forever be planning and expending resources to place themselves in a position to defeat us. It would be nice if it was otherwise, he was fond of saying, but it is not otherwise. It is the way the world works.
During the Cold War, Dr. Rood would demonstrate in his classes–often by reading stacks of clippings from newspapers from around the world—that the leaders of the Soviet Union understood the world in these stark terms, and that they acted consistently on that basis. He would also lecture on technology, from German steel production before 1914, to the state of Japanese fighter aircraft before 1941, and even, curiously, to maps of America’s electrical transmission lines and power plants. It was important, he thought, to understand the strengths and vulnerabilities of a nation. His classes served as an antidote for students who had grown up in post-war America—a much needed antidote, because citizens of free nations in peacetime do not historically think in such terms. We today, and our elected leaders—in whose hands we place the responsibility for national defense—are in urgent need of such an antidote, because the U.S. is increasingly and dangerously vulnerable, and our elected leaders appear oblivious.
One would think the attack on September 11, 2001, would have awakened Americans for the foreseeable future to the need to prepare for unexpected dangers. Surprisingly, its effect was short-lived. Two relatively recent attacks show the problem. The first I’ll discuss took place on April 16, 2013, on an electric-transmission substation owned by Pacific Gas & Electric in California. One reason it did not get much notice was that the other—the Boston Marathon bombing that killed or injured 260 people—had occurred the day before.
The San Jose Attack
Last April 16, just outside of San Jose, California, a group of terrorists or soldiers, operating on American soil, attacked the Metcalf transmission substation in a military action aimed at disabling a part of America’s electrical infrastructure. The operation began at 1:00 a.m., when the attackers cut underground fiber optic cables, disabling communications and security systems. Thirty minutes later, using high-powered rifles, they began a 20-minute assault on the substation’s extra-large transformer and the cooling system that supports it. Police arrived at 1:50, but the shooters disappeared into the night. To this day there is no trace of them.
John Wellinghoff, then chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, would call this attack “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving [America’s electrical] grid that has ever occurred.” Obviously it was a professional operation by skilled marksmen—estimates of the number of gunmen range from two to six—with training in reconnaissance, stealth, and evasion. That the plan went undetected, the casings from the spent shells bore no fingerprints, and the perpetrators have not been caught, suggests a high degree of intelligence. Damage to the facility forced electricity to be rerouted to maintain the integrity of power transmission to the Silicon Valley, and repairs took several months.
The political response to the attack ranged from an immediate dismissal by the FBI of the idea that it was a terrorist act—puzzling given its sophistication and its proximity in time to the Boston bombing—to recognition by a bipartisan but small group of U.S. Senators and Representatives that defending America’s electrical grid is an urgent priority. Although there are over 100,000 transformers of all sizes throughout the grid, the destruction of less than two dozen key large transformers—which weigh hundreds of tons, are transported on special rail cars, and are mostly produced in Korea—would cause a catastrophic failure that would blackout the United States. Such is the vulnerability of the system.
America’s electrical grid is vulnerable not only to San Jose-style attacks, but to an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack—a nuclear explosion in the high atmosphere, creating an electro-magnetic pulse that destroys electrical wiring and hardware across the affected area. Such an explosion placed over the center of the U.S. could destroy the infrastructure that distributes electricity to consumers and industrial users in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. This phenomenon has been well understood since the 1960s, and Cold War–era nuclear strategy assumed that a nuclear attack on population centers would be accompanied by an EMP attack in order to disable an enemy’s command and control system. Read the rest of this entry »
On Tuesday, after protests by students, faculty and outside groups, Brandeis University revoked its invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree at its commencement ceremonies in May. The protesters accused Ms. Hirsi Ali, an advocate for the rights of women and girls, of being “Islamophobic.” Here is an abridged version of the remarks she planned to deliver.
One year ago, the city and suburbs of Boston were still in mourning. Families who only weeks earlier had children and siblings to hug were left with only photographs and memories. Still others were hovering over bedsides, watching as young men, women, and children endured painful surgeries and permanent disfiguration. All because two brothers, radicalized by jihadist websites, decided to place homemade bombs in backpacks near the finish line of one of the most prominent events in American sports, the Boston Marathon.
All of you in the Class of 2014 will never forget that day and the days that followed. You will never forget when you heard the news, where you were, or what you were doing. And when you return here, 10, 15 or 25 years from now, you will be reminded of it. The bombs exploded just 10 miles from this campus.
You deserve better memories than 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing. And you are not the only ones. In Syria, at least 120,000 people have been killed, not simply in battle, but in wholesale massacres, in a civil war that is increasingly waged across a sectarian divide. Violence is escalating in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Libya, in Egypt. And far more than was the case when you were born, organized violence in the world today is disproportionately concentrated in the Muslim world.
Another striking feature of the countries I have just named, and of the Middle East generally, is that violence against women is also increasing. In Saudi Arabia, there has been a noticeable rise in the practice of female genital mutilation. In Egypt, 99% of women report being sexually harassed and up to 80 sexual assaults occur in a single day. Read the rest of this entry »
There are times when you just have to hope you’re having a bad dream and will wake up. That’s the case with what I am about to discuss with you.
According to an editorial in Investors Business Daily, “Islamofascism: With an eye toward the 2016 election, the radical Muslim Brotherhood has built the framework for a political party in America that seeks to turn Muslims into an Islamist voting bloc. “Muslim voters have the potential to be swing voters in 2016,” said Nihad Awad in launching the benign-sounding U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), whose membership reads like a Who’s Who of Brotherhood front groups. We are aiming to bring more participation from the Muslim community.”
This is absolutely consistent with the document uncovered in the 1991 FBI raid in northern Virginia referred to as the Strategic Memorandum of the (Ikwan) Muslim Brotherhood, which you can read here. Translated from Arabic, the secret documents listed a number of Brotherhood front organizations — some of which just happen to make up the newly formed USCMO — certainly not a coincidence. And another non-coincidence is that you have an administration, headed by Barack Hussein Obama, under which this Islamic infiltration can find acceptance and cover, including as part of the administration in certain key positions, such as Homeland Security.
As Investors Business Daily reports, front and center of USCMO is the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, the catalyst behind this Trojan horse jihadist political party. CAIR is linked in federal criminal court documents to the terrorist group Hamas, the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch.
CAIR’s chief Awad, who announced the USCMO at the National Press Club, is so radioactive, the FBI refuses to do outreach with him and his so-called Muslim-rights group until it can “resolve whether there continues to be a connection between its executives and Hamas.”
Equally troubling is the Muslim American Society, another founding member of the USCMO. MAS was formed as “the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States,” a 2007 Justice Department court filing states. A 2011 MAS press release praised Osama bin Laden as “a visionary who believed in an Islamic state in Afghanistan.”
And who is the chairman of America’s new Islamist party? None other than Oussama Jammal, who once headed the notorious Bridgeview Mosque in Chicago — damn, another coincidence you presume? One of that mosque’s leaders was arrested and jailed for funneling millions to Hamas. And one of its most honored guests was bin Laden’s spiritual mentor, the late Palestinian cleric Abdullah Azzam. Some of Azzam’s relatives are Bridgeview members. Read the rest of this entry »
John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that “Russian provocateurs” had infiltrated eastern Ukraine in order to foment “an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis.” Also on Tuesday, the Pentagon announced steep cuts to U.S. nuclear forces, four years ahead of schedule, in accordance with the 2010 New Start treaty with Russia.
At this point in Barack Obama‘s Presidency we should be used to the mental whiplash. But we still feel concussed.
So let’s slow down and follow the thread. Russia has seized Crimea and has 50,000 troops as a potential invasion force on the border with eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin is also abrogating the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which Kiev agreed to give up its nuclear arsenal—at the time the third largest in the world—in exchange for guarantees of its territorial integrity from Russia, the U.S. and U.K. That memorandum has now proved to be as much of a scrap of paper to the Kremlin as Belgium’s neutrality was to Berlin in the summer of 1914.
The Kremlin is also violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which bans the testing, production and possession of nuclear missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles. Russia has tested at least three missiles—the R-500 cruise missile, the RS-26 ballistic missile and the Iskander-M semi-ballistic missile—that run afoul of the proscribed range limits.
The Obama Administration has suspected for years that Vladimir Putin was violating the INF Treaty, which supporters hail as the triumph of arms control. The Russians were boasting of their new missile capabilities in open-source literature as far back as 2007. Yet as defense analysts Keith Payne and Mark Schneider noted in these pages in February, “since 2009, the current administration’s unclassified arms-control compliance reports to Congress have been mum on the Russian INF Treaty noncompliance.”
At a minimum, Congress should call on Rose Gottemoeller, confirmed last month as under secretary of state for arms control over strenuous objections from Florida Senator Marco Rubio, to explain what the Administration knew, and what it disclosed, about Moscow’s INF violations when she negotiated New Start.
Ms. Gottemoeller has been publicly noncommittal on this point, perhaps because she knew New Start would never have won a two-thirds Senate majority if Russia’s INF cheating had been widely known. The episode reminds us of why people like former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl were right to oppose the ratification of New Start. Read the rest of this entry »
I was really, really happy when Kickstarter came on the scene. The crowd-funding Web site offered the opportunity for struggling artists and filmmakers to bypass corporate, union or not-for-profit funders and their agendas and interests.
Kickstarter was set up to allow us to put up a pitch — go directly to the public; if people liked it, they could fund it with small donations.
And it worked like a dream. For my last film, the pro-fracking documentary “FrackNation,” 3,305 people gave $212,000 to make it happen.
But now it seems that Kickstarter is turning into a bad dream for those who want to wander from the orthodox.
Now, Kickstarter has always been dominated by projects with liberal, environmental and even ultra-left-wing leanings. That’s no surprise — the arts are dominated by people with such views.
But Kickstarter promised to be different. Its founder and CEO, Yancey Strickler, was quite clear on this, for example telling viewers of CBS’ “This Morning” that the site is a center for “very diverse ideas.”
So when I had the idea of making a film about the life and crimes of Kermit Gosnell, the now-notorious Philadelphia abortion doctor, my first idea was to go to Kickstarter — since there was no point going to Hollywood or any establishment media outlet.
Gosnell was a Philadelphia abortionist who for decades took babies who’d already been born and stabbed them in the neck and cut their spinal cords. He probably killed thousands of infants during his 40-year killing spree.
In the words of ABC correspondent Terry Moran, Kermit Gosnell was “America’s most successful serial killer.”
I’ve only been in America a few years, but one thing I’ve learned is that Americans are fascinated by killers and serial killers. You see it every night on prime-time TV — “Law & Order,” “Criminal Minds,” “Dexter,” “The Following,” “CSI” and “The Mentalist.” And that’s not including the TV movies — three on Ted Bundy, four apiece for John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer, three on Gary Ridgway and five on the Zodiac Killer.
So a film about Gosnell seemed like an obvious idea that Hollywood was neglecting.
Of course, the reason for this neglect was pretty clear: This serial killer was an abortionist who was completely unregulated. His trial threw up ugly realities about abortion that changed the minds of several jurors, a liberal journalist at the trial and even Gosnell’s defense attorney. Hollywood, with its Planned Parenthood fund-raisers, would want to stay away from this case. Read the rest of this entry »
Sometimes, especially lately, it’s depressing to think about the future of the U.S.
The economy has been in the doldrums since Barack Obama took office, and, in a slew of ways, is actually worse now. Median incomes are the lowest since 1995 [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/median-income-falls-inequality_n_3941514.html], the workforce is its smallest in nearly 50 years [http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/13/data-shows-millions-of-americans-falling-out-of-the-workforce/], real unemployment is running at 16.6 percent [http://www.gallup.com/poll/125639/Gallup-Daily-Workforce.aspx], and all those 20-something kids who should be are moving back home with their parents. [http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/01/living/parents-moving-home-millennials/]
But that’s not the real problem. See, on top of all that, we’re $17.5 trillion in debt.
The last time America was debt free was 1836. That lasted one year. When Ronald Reagan took in 1981, the national debt was less than $1 trillion. When he went home to California, the debt was three times that. George H.W. Bush pumped the debt up to $4 trillion. Bill Clinton ran it up to $5.6 trillion. And by the time George W. Bush left office, the debt had nearly doubled to more than $10 trillion.
In Mr. Obama’s first four years, the debt has soared more than $7 trillion.
How’d we get here? Consider this: When Mr. Obama went to Brussels this week, he took a 900-person entourage, three cargo planes, two 747s, a slew of support planes, a phalanx of Marine One helicopters and nearly 50 for his motorcade.
That was for a 24-hour stay.
But it’s not just that. America has been so rich for so long, it just can’t get used to the notion that it’s not wealthy any more. It’s as if America is the wife of a billionaire who finds herself suddenly divorced. No more suites at the Ritz-Carlton, time for the Days Inn. Oh, and get used to mac ‘n’ cheese.
There’s a puzzling puzzle that virtually no one seems to notice: If America is the richest country in the world, why doesn’t everyone owe us money? Why do we owe China $1.2 trillion? Hell, we owe ourselves $4.4 trillion. Read the rest of this entry »