Category: Andrew E. Harrod

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ACT for America Declares Culture War


“America is under attack.  Our country is being transformed before our very eyes,” ACT for America founder Brigitte Gabriel stated on September 4 in a ballroom in Crystal City at Virginia’s Hyatt Regency hotel.  ACT’s tenth-anniversary national security conference brought together over 200 ACT activists nationwide for a clarion call of political warfare to preserve American freedoms against myriad subversive Islamist and leftist threats.

Gabriel described how, since she founded ACT in 2002, “today the national security threat is no longer confined to radical Islamic terrorism.”  ACT is not a one-trick pony; rather, the group must contend with numerous others like Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and MS-13 gangs.  Against these criminal and totalitarian organizations, “ACT for America is today the largest grassroots national security organization in the country with one million members.” 

Gabriel emphasized the stark polarization between the worldviews of freedom-loving conservative groups like ACT and their opponents.  “Our enemy is dedicated to destroying us,” she said.   “No matter what you do, they are going to call you a hater.”  Accordingly, she dismissed appeals that “we need to convert the unconverted” with “don’t waste your time” and focused on the mobilization of committed allies.  

Later in the afternoon, Zionist Organization of America national president Morton Klein echoed Gabriel’s observations about leftist slanders.  “Doesn’t the left love to use that word, ‘racist’?” he said while noting conference protesters outside.  “Without that word, they would have nothing to say.”  By contrast, as he demonstrated with his presentation’s reiteration of past arguments, ACT is among few groups that “tell the whole courageous, rational truth about the Arab-Islamic war against the West and Israel.”

Following Gabriel in the speaker schedule, former Republican congressman and United States Army lieutenant colonel Allen West reflected her militant mood.  He expressed anger at the necessity of the instructions given to conference attendees to avoid speaking to the media and displaying conference badges outside conference events:

That should not happen in these great United States of America, that people who believe in our fundamental principles and values are forced underground by people that who believe in a fundamental transformation of the greatest nation the world has ever known.

West noted that some of the greatest modern threats to America’s exceptional experiment in liberty come from ideological struggles in the wider culture.  Thus:

[The] most important elected position in the United States of America, it is not president, it is not senator, it is not congressman, it is not governor – it is school board.  So I want to see more ACT for America people out there running for school board.

West’s remarks received elaboration from later speakers like the conservative political mobilization wunderkind Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA.  Western civilization’s future depends upon an “ideological, cultural battle on college and high school campuses, and we are losing horribly, terribly,” he stated.  He noted that 85 percent of $100 billion in the last decade’s college donations came from registered Republicans, who “have funded the Marxist indoctrination camps of tomorrow.”  Accordingly, conservatives must implement be a “complete and total divestment from giving philanthropically to our schools.”

Kirk noted radical academia’s central role in the transformation of a Democratic Party that in generations past shared a pro-American outlook.  Democratic leaders today are “committed anti-American Marxists that want to destroy this country.”  This situation demands explicit condemnation of leftists’ “sick and twisted morals,” therefore “don’t give them the gift of saying these are good people.” 

Unrestricted immigration’s dangers formed a key conference theme, including an entire panel with experts like the former immigration law enforcement officer Michael Cutler from the Center for Immigration Studies.  He noted that America’s immigration policies are a bipartisan “failure by design; [they are] doing exactly what the elite wants, and [they go] against everything that every Americans wants.”  Rather than being “broken,” as often described, the “immigration system is the most efficient system in the entire federal government” as a system that “delivers an unlimited supply of cheap, exploitable foreign labor.”

Cutler’s remarks on immigration reform reflected that improved border security stanching the influx of illegal aliens into America would reduce American social welfare spending and drug crime.  Therefore, “within a year or two, the wall pays for itself.”  Meanwhile, his fellow panelist, Numbers USA deputy director Chris Chmielenski, discussed ending “birthright citizenship,” which allows illegal aliens and visitors to acquire American citizenship for children born on American soil in a “birth tourism industry.”

Gabriel during her morning address worried that Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa “basically have no loyalty to our country,” a theme Ryan Fournier elaborated upon during his lunch address.  The Students for Trump national chairman denounced leftists as “see[ing] the world through a fantasy lens.  Their fanatical pursuit of diversity and cultural enrichment is a threat to Western civilization.”  Particularly in Europe, “multiculturalism” and “open border policies have led to a wave of terror attacks,” such that “left-wing politicians have blood on their hands.”  America should learn from Europe’s negative experience that “there is a clear difference between Eastern and Western cultures, and blending the two simply does not work.”

The Palestinian-American convert from Islam to Christianity Hazem Farraj confirmed in his afternoon address that “some cultures are just better than others.”  Living in Jerusalem’s Muslim Arab community, where his conversion prompted death threats, he has “been on the other side” of Western civilization, while he has “friends who are running from the culture of Islamism.”  In his remarks, he contrasted the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an “almost sacred” document, with sharia oppression in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam.  His slides stated that globally, “Islam is the ‘fastest growing religion’ BECAUSE it’s the most ENFORCED,” while “20% of 1.6 billion Muslims are secret unbelievers.”

Various anti-Western Islamic doctrines also concerned the sharia expert Stephen Coughlin, who addressed how, under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “Turkey is taking operational control of the Muslim Brotherhood” worldwide.  Coughlin highlighted Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs or Diyanet, a ministry expressly instituted in Turkey’s 1924 constitution that financially supports mosques all around the world.  Noting the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C., he stressed the political nature of such a Diyanet institution and warned to “never think about it as a mosque.”

Coughlin noted the expressed hopes of Diyanet leaders to create a “counter-state” capability among Muslim communities in places like Europe.  Diyanet president Ali Erbas had indicated that the Diyanet will demand from European law enforcement authorities cooperation with Diyanet-led Muslim communities, a “direct claim of jurisdiction.”  “If the Europeans want to push back, there will be blood in the streets,” Coughlin warned.

Center for Security Policy senior fellow Deborah Weiss in turn presented her past research on Hollywood’s “multiple Islamist influence operations” that seek to “dominate the information battlespace” in a “stealth or civilizational jihad.”  The “extremely well connected” nature of a leftist-Islamist “red-green axis” in the movie industry and beyond had raised fears that conservatives like her were fighting a losing battle.  Yet she rightly rallied in an “ideological war” that “Islam might seem like Goliath, but we’re David. … Pick up the sword of truth and soldier on.” 

“America is under attack.  Our country is being transformed before our very eyes,” ACT for America founder Brigitte Gabriel stated on September 4 in a ballroom in Crystal City at Virginia’s Hyatt Regency hotel.  ACT’s tenth-anniversary national security conference brought together over 200 ACT activists nationwide for a clarion call of political warfare to preserve American freedoms against myriad subversive Islamist and leftist threats.

Gabriel described how, since she founded ACT in 2002, “today the national security threat is no longer confined to radical Islamic terrorism.”  ACT is not a one-trick pony; rather, the group must contend with numerous others like Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and MS-13 gangs.  Against these criminal and totalitarian organizations, “ACT for America is today the largest grassroots national security organization in the country with one million members.” 

Gabriel emphasized the stark polarization between the worldviews of freedom-loving conservative groups like ACT and their opponents.  “Our enemy is dedicated to destroying us,” she said.   “No matter what you do, they are going to call you a hater.”  Accordingly, she dismissed appeals that “we need to convert the unconverted” with “don’t waste your time” and focused on the mobilization of committed allies.  

Later in the afternoon, Zionist Organization of America national president Morton Klein echoed Gabriel’s observations about leftist slanders.  “Doesn’t the left love to use that word, ‘racist’?” he said while noting conference protesters outside.  “Without that word, they would have nothing to say.”  By contrast, as he demonstrated with his presentation’s reiteration of past arguments, ACT is among few groups that “tell the whole courageous, rational truth about the Arab-Islamic war against the West and Israel.”

Following Gabriel in the speaker schedule, former Republican congressman and United States Army lieutenant colonel Allen West reflected her militant mood.  He expressed anger at the necessity of the instructions given to conference attendees to avoid speaking to the media and displaying conference badges outside conference events:

That should not happen in these great United States of America, that people who believe in our fundamental principles and values are forced underground by people that who believe in a fundamental transformation of the greatest nation the world has ever known.

West noted that some of the greatest modern threats to America’s exceptional experiment in liberty come from ideological struggles in the wider culture.  Thus:

[The] most important elected position in the United States of America, it is not president, it is not senator, it is not congressman, it is not governor – it is school board.  So I want to see more ACT for America people out there running for school board.

West’s remarks received elaboration from later speakers like the conservative political mobilization wunderkind Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA.  Western civilization’s future depends upon an “ideological, cultural battle on college and high school campuses, and we are losing horribly, terribly,” he stated.  He noted that 85 percent of $100 billion in the last decade’s college donations came from registered Republicans, who “have funded the Marxist indoctrination camps of tomorrow.”  Accordingly, conservatives must implement be a “complete and total divestment from giving philanthropically to our schools.”

Kirk noted radical academia’s central role in the transformation of a Democratic Party that in generations past shared a pro-American outlook.  Democratic leaders today are “committed anti-American Marxists that want to destroy this country.”  This situation demands explicit condemnation of leftists’ “sick and twisted morals,” therefore “don’t give them the gift of saying these are good people.” 

Unrestricted immigration’s dangers formed a key conference theme, including an entire panel with experts like the former immigration law enforcement officer Michael Cutler from the Center for Immigration Studies.  He noted that America’s immigration policies are a bipartisan “failure by design; [they are] doing exactly what the elite wants, and [they go] against everything that every Americans wants.”  Rather than being “broken,” as often described, the “immigration system is the most efficient system in the entire federal government” as a system that “delivers an unlimited supply of cheap, exploitable foreign labor.”

Cutler’s remarks on immigration reform reflected that improved border security stanching the influx of illegal aliens into America would reduce American social welfare spending and drug crime.  Therefore, “within a year or two, the wall pays for itself.”  Meanwhile, his fellow panelist, Numbers USA deputy director Chris Chmielenski, discussed ending “birthright citizenship,” which allows illegal aliens and visitors to acquire American citizenship for children born on American soil in a “birth tourism industry.”

Gabriel during her morning address worried that Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa “basically have no loyalty to our country,” a theme Ryan Fournier elaborated upon during his lunch address.  The Students for Trump national chairman denounced leftists as “see[ing] the world through a fantasy lens.  Their fanatical pursuit of diversity and cultural enrichment is a threat to Western civilization.”  Particularly in Europe, “multiculturalism” and “open border policies have led to a wave of terror attacks,” such that “left-wing politicians have blood on their hands.”  America should learn from Europe’s negative experience that “there is a clear difference between Eastern and Western cultures, and blending the two simply does not work.”

The Palestinian-American convert from Islam to Christianity Hazem Farraj confirmed in his afternoon address that “some cultures are just better than others.”  Living in Jerusalem’s Muslim Arab community, where his conversion prompted death threats, he has “been on the other side” of Western civilization, while he has “friends who are running from the culture of Islamism.”  In his remarks, he contrasted the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an “almost sacred” document, with sharia oppression in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam.  His slides stated that globally, “Islam is the ‘fastest growing religion’ BECAUSE it’s the most ENFORCED,” while “20% of 1.6 billion Muslims are secret unbelievers.”

Various anti-Western Islamic doctrines also concerned the sharia expert Stephen Coughlin, who addressed how, under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “Turkey is taking operational control of the Muslim Brotherhood” worldwide.  Coughlin highlighted Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs or Diyanet, a ministry expressly instituted in Turkey’s 1924 constitution that financially supports mosques all around the world.  Noting the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C., he stressed the political nature of such a Diyanet institution and warned to “never think about it as a mosque.”

Coughlin noted the expressed hopes of Diyanet leaders to create a “counter-state” capability among Muslim communities in places like Europe.  Diyanet president Ali Erbas had indicated that the Diyanet will demand from European law enforcement authorities cooperation with Diyanet-led Muslim communities, a “direct claim of jurisdiction.”  “If the Europeans want to push back, there will be blood in the streets,” Coughlin warned.

Center for Security Policy senior fellow Deborah Weiss in turn presented her past research on Hollywood’s “multiple Islamist influence operations” that seek to “dominate the information battlespace” in a “stealth or civilizational jihad.”  The “extremely well connected” nature of a leftist-Islamist “red-green axis” in the movie industry and beyond had raised fears that conservatives like her were fighting a losing battle.  Yet she rightly rallied in an “ideological war” that “Islam might seem like Goliath, but we’re David. … Pick up the sword of truth and soldier on.” 



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New Bill Insures America First


The International Insurance Standards Act of 2018 (IISA) “would be a milestone in fulfilling the Trump administration’s promise to put America First,” wrote Nevada Republican activist Lisa Noeth.  After having passed the House of Representatives on July 10, IISA deserves to become law after approval in the Senate in order to protect America’s uniquely federalist insurance regulations from foreign encroachment.

The House approved IISA using a procedure for bills with such broad support that they bypass usual House rules.  Congress passed the bill after about a 40-minute debate in a voice vote.  Congress then rejected a motion to hold a recorded vote. 

“This bill is pro-consumer and pro-state insurance regulation,” stated Jon Gentile from the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA).  As a congressional report on IISA elaborated:

[The] United States’ state-based regulatory framework is the strongest and most robust insurance regulatory architecture in the world.  No other system of insurance regulation combines the state-based focus on policyholder protection with the four, interconnected aspects of consumer protection, solvency protection, market-conduct protection, and resolution protection.

A 2015 research paper on “State vs Federal Regulation of Insurance” analyzed that if the “primary function of insurance regulation is to protect consumers, a unified system is not the answer.”  In particular, America “is a very large country in terms of both population and geographical size,” with differing needs across rural and industrial areas.  While Louisiana faces hurricane risks, Nebraska confronts wind damage.

Local regulatory control means that “changes can be made to address problems specific to an individual state” and “more effective regulatory decisions can be made quickly and efficiently,” the paper added.  By contrast, “central regulation of insurance would give [the] federal government more influence over our nation’s economy … ultimately imposing on the rights of states to govern themselves.”  “State insurance regulatory systems are accessible and accountable to the public and sensitive to local social and economic conditions,” the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has concurred.

In contrast, the report noted worries:

International insurance standards negotiations could be used as a “back-door” method to implement European insurance standards in the United States.  The European insurance regulatory model is bank-centric and less policyholder friendly than the U.S. insurance regulatory regime.

The report cited American involvement in ongoing “negotiations regarding global insurance standards in international forums, including the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) in Basel, Switzerland.”  Similarly, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) “has long expressed concern” that IAIS negotiations “could conflict with and undermine the regulatory structure that has served U.S. consumers for more than 150 years.”  “International negotiations can have serious consequences for the domestic insurance industry and its consumers,” Gentile has stated.

Accordingly, per the congressional report, IISA “codifies the primacy of the United States’ system of insurance regulation during international insurance negotiations.”  Thus, “any party negotiating international insurance standards, on behalf of the Federal Government, may not vote in favor of any agreement if it is inconsistent or does not reflect the current United States system.”  The act also includes measures for federal negotiators to consult with Congress and to “closely consult, coordinate with, and seek to include in” all negotiations state regulatory representatives.

For Representative Sean Duffy, one of IISA’s sponsors, the involvement of state insurance officials is particularly important.  Most American trade representatives “have little experience regulating the insurance industry,” he has noted.  He and NAIC have both expressed concerns about unclear provisions in a 2017 European Union (E.U.)-United States insurance agreement, given the limited participation of American state regulators.

With the support of insurance representatives, Duffy explained IISA’s value after the bill’s House passage.  Americans “should not have some executive appointee negotiate a trade deal that undermines our state-based model.”  Rather, if American officials “are going to be changing rules, you can’t just do it without us and through international negotiations[.] … [W]e have a role in this chamber and oftentimes we cede power to the executive.”

Against IISA’s merits, the objections of individuals like R.J. Lehmann from the free-market think-tank R Street are unconvincing.  As he has noted, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that IISA’s consultation processes would cost no more than $500,000 annually.  Greater consultation among stakeholders would also in the long run allow the development of more consensus over trade deals, rather than “render insurance a topic permanently off the table in international trade negotiations.”  

Lehmann has also raised constitutional objections to IISA.  Lehmann asserts that a “statutorily mandated consultation with state officials amounts to a direct contravention of Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution” or Supremacy Clause.  To buttress his claim, he cites the Supreme Court case American Insurance Association v. Garamendi.

Yet the Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8 explicitly states that “Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations,” a power that includes the conditioning of regulatory negotiations.  Given Congress’s historic primacy concerning trade, academics have already advocated greater trade consultation between the executive and legislature.  Senator Mike Lee currently is seeking “to restore the proper balance of power between the branches of government” on trade after Trump’s recent tariffs.  Meanwhile, in Garamendi, the Supreme Court merely prohibited a state from unilaterally influencing American trade relations.  

As Noeth has written, IISA is an “important step in protecting U.S. sovereignty” against “international bodies with agendas incidental to U.S. interests.”  IISA ensures that “state-level policymakers and Congress continue to have the authority to make decisions that best serve their constituents – not international bureaucrats.”  American lawmakers should listen to grassroots citizens like her.

The International Insurance Standards Act of 2018 (IISA) “would be a milestone in fulfilling the Trump administration’s promise to put America First,” wrote Nevada Republican activist Lisa Noeth.  After having passed the House of Representatives on July 10, IISA deserves to become law after approval in the Senate in order to protect America’s uniquely federalist insurance regulations from foreign encroachment.

The House approved IISA using a procedure for bills with such broad support that they bypass usual House rules.  Congress passed the bill after about a 40-minute debate in a voice vote.  Congress then rejected a motion to hold a recorded vote. 

“This bill is pro-consumer and pro-state insurance regulation,” stated Jon Gentile from the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA).  As a congressional report on IISA elaborated:

[The] United States’ state-based regulatory framework is the strongest and most robust insurance regulatory architecture in the world.  No other system of insurance regulation combines the state-based focus on policyholder protection with the four, interconnected aspects of consumer protection, solvency protection, market-conduct protection, and resolution protection.

A 2015 research paper on “State vs Federal Regulation of Insurance” analyzed that if the “primary function of insurance regulation is to protect consumers, a unified system is not the answer.”  In particular, America “is a very large country in terms of both population and geographical size,” with differing needs across rural and industrial areas.  While Louisiana faces hurricane risks, Nebraska confronts wind damage.

Local regulatory control means that “changes can be made to address problems specific to an individual state” and “more effective regulatory decisions can be made quickly and efficiently,” the paper added.  By contrast, “central regulation of insurance would give [the] federal government more influence over our nation’s economy … ultimately imposing on the rights of states to govern themselves.”  “State insurance regulatory systems are accessible and accountable to the public and sensitive to local social and economic conditions,” the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has concurred.

In contrast, the report noted worries:

International insurance standards negotiations could be used as a “back-door” method to implement European insurance standards in the United States.  The European insurance regulatory model is bank-centric and less policyholder friendly than the U.S. insurance regulatory regime.

The report cited American involvement in ongoing “negotiations regarding global insurance standards in international forums, including the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) in Basel, Switzerland.”  Similarly, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) “has long expressed concern” that IAIS negotiations “could conflict with and undermine the regulatory structure that has served U.S. consumers for more than 150 years.”  “International negotiations can have serious consequences for the domestic insurance industry and its consumers,” Gentile has stated.

Accordingly, per the congressional report, IISA “codifies the primacy of the United States’ system of insurance regulation during international insurance negotiations.”  Thus, “any party negotiating international insurance standards, on behalf of the Federal Government, may not vote in favor of any agreement if it is inconsistent or does not reflect the current United States system.”  The act also includes measures for federal negotiators to consult with Congress and to “closely consult, coordinate with, and seek to include in” all negotiations state regulatory representatives.

For Representative Sean Duffy, one of IISA’s sponsors, the involvement of state insurance officials is particularly important.  Most American trade representatives “have little experience regulating the insurance industry,” he has noted.  He and NAIC have both expressed concerns about unclear provisions in a 2017 European Union (E.U.)-United States insurance agreement, given the limited participation of American state regulators.

With the support of insurance representatives, Duffy explained IISA’s value after the bill’s House passage.  Americans “should not have some executive appointee negotiate a trade deal that undermines our state-based model.”  Rather, if American officials “are going to be changing rules, you can’t just do it without us and through international negotiations[.] … [W]e have a role in this chamber and oftentimes we cede power to the executive.”

Against IISA’s merits, the objections of individuals like R.J. Lehmann from the free-market think-tank R Street are unconvincing.  As he has noted, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that IISA’s consultation processes would cost no more than $500,000 annually.  Greater consultation among stakeholders would also in the long run allow the development of more consensus over trade deals, rather than “render insurance a topic permanently off the table in international trade negotiations.”  

Lehmann has also raised constitutional objections to IISA.  Lehmann asserts that a “statutorily mandated consultation with state officials amounts to a direct contravention of Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution” or Supremacy Clause.  To buttress his claim, he cites the Supreme Court case American Insurance Association v. Garamendi.

Yet the Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8 explicitly states that “Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations,” a power that includes the conditioning of regulatory negotiations.  Given Congress’s historic primacy concerning trade, academics have already advocated greater trade consultation between the executive and legislature.  Senator Mike Lee currently is seeking “to restore the proper balance of power between the branches of government” on trade after Trump’s recent tariffs.  Meanwhile, in Garamendi, the Supreme Court merely prohibited a state from unilaterally influencing American trade relations.  

As Noeth has written, IISA is an “important step in protecting U.S. sovereignty” against “international bodies with agendas incidental to U.S. interests.”  IISA ensures that “state-level policymakers and Congress continue to have the authority to make decisions that best serve their constituents – not international bureaucrats.”  American lawmakers should listen to grassroots citizens like her.



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Defense Department-Amazon Deal Risks Chinese Espionage


Recent Department of Defense (DoD) actions indicate that the DoD is considering making Amazon the DoD’s sole online cloud provider, the Washington Examiner notes.  Such a deal entails numerous disadvantages, not least of which is threats of espionage arising from Amazon’s compromising relationship with China.

On October 30, the DoD made a “Request for Information” (RFI) soliciting private-sector advice about modernizing DoD cloud services.  The RFI specifications suggest that the DoD is seeking a single global cloud-provider.  Amazon would most likely be the contract recipient, given several past multimillion-dollar cloud contracts with multiple national security agencies.

I.T. contractors and several trade groups have made “stern warnings about the potential effects of choosing just one cloud provider.”  The “[DoD]’s diverse needs and mission requirements” argue against an “approach that could eliminate the potential for multiple cloud services providers.”  As one trade group analogizes, “almost all Fortune 500 counterparts have established multi-cloud architectures because no singular cloud solution meets all of their mission and business application requirements.”

Innovation and cost-cutting also favor multiple suppliers, the trade groups and contractors note.  “A Department cloud [comprising] multiple interoperable offerings would ensure that the Department obtains the benefits of competition to achieve best value.”  The “diversified solutions from the commercial market will facilitate a culture of experimentation, adaption, and risk-taking and increase the speed of technology development and procurement.”  By contrast, “selecting only one cloud[-]provider drastically impairs competition in the future, effectively leaving [DoD] captive to one provider.”

“Failing to diversify,” the Washington Examiner notes with particular concern for national security:

… puts any investor, especially the government, at a greater risk.  The stakes are high here, as a breach by a cloud services provider could lead to the leak of military secrets to China and other U.S. competitors that do business with Amazon.

One trade group sees particular concerns in the RFI’s terms.  The RFI “appears to raise in priority the needs of the supplier above the needs of the customer for issues, like national security.”  The RFI specifically states that “DoD is prepared to pursue the revision of existing policies and federal regulations to remove barriers to success.”

The Amazon-DoD deal’s inadequacies are especially glaring, given the extensive history of Chinese espionage against the United States.  National Security Agency director General Keith Alexander once called the economic fruit of this spying the “greatest transfer of wealth in history.”  Sophisticated Chinese government hackers have breached the computer security of American media firms like the New York Times and Washington Post as well as major corporations like Alcoa, U.S. Steel, and Westinghouse.  Some commentators worry that “businesses are now unlikely to keep valuable information secure online.”

The Trump administration’s recently revealed new national security strategy only emphasizes China concerns, noting:

China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.  They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence[.] … China gathers and exploits data on an unrivaled scale and spreads features of its authoritarian system, including corruption and the use of surveillance.

As one CIA analyst noted, companies like Amazon that invest in China are particularly susceptible to China’s pressures.  For example, “Beijing encourages multinational corporations to conduct R&D in China as a means to promote domestic technological innovation.  Increasingly, key firms are complying for their own self-interest.”  Chinese laws have already forced Amazon’s Chinese operations to run Amazon’s Chinese cloud businesses through a Chinese partner in which Amazon may have only a minority share as well as to accede to Chinese online censorship.

The extent of Amazon’s business relationships with China makes the firm particularly vulnerable to Chinese pressure.  Some estimate that 25 percent of Amazon’s retailers are from China.  Predicted coming trade fights between China and the Trump administration will only place Amazon’s China investments in a more precarious position and incentivize Amazon officials to stay on China’s good side.

Under these circumstances, making Amazon a sole-source DoD provider for the very type of cloud technology Amazon has sold to China is fraught with hazards.  The United States cannot allow Chinese espionage to extend its tentacles from American business to national defense.  Rather, the United States should draw upon the best in its free-market economy of numerous private producers to protect vital national interests.

Recent Department of Defense (DoD) actions indicate that the DoD is considering making Amazon the DoD’s sole online cloud provider, the Washington Examiner notes.  Such a deal entails numerous disadvantages, not least of which is threats of espionage arising from Amazon’s compromising relationship with China.

On October 30, the DoD made a “Request for Information” (RFI) soliciting private-sector advice about modernizing DoD cloud services.  The RFI specifications suggest that the DoD is seeking a single global cloud-provider.  Amazon would most likely be the contract recipient, given several past multimillion-dollar cloud contracts with multiple national security agencies.

I.T. contractors and several trade groups have made “stern warnings about the potential effects of choosing just one cloud provider.”  The “[DoD]’s diverse needs and mission requirements” argue against an “approach that could eliminate the potential for multiple cloud services providers.”  As one trade group analogizes, “almost all Fortune 500 counterparts have established multi-cloud architectures because no singular cloud solution meets all of their mission and business application requirements.”

Innovation and cost-cutting also favor multiple suppliers, the trade groups and contractors note.  “A Department cloud [comprising] multiple interoperable offerings would ensure that the Department obtains the benefits of competition to achieve best value.”  The “diversified solutions from the commercial market will facilitate a culture of experimentation, adaption, and risk-taking and increase the speed of technology development and procurement.”  By contrast, “selecting only one cloud[-]provider drastically impairs competition in the future, effectively leaving [DoD] captive to one provider.”

“Failing to diversify,” the Washington Examiner notes with particular concern for national security:

… puts any investor, especially the government, at a greater risk.  The stakes are high here, as a breach by a cloud services provider could lead to the leak of military secrets to China and other U.S. competitors that do business with Amazon.

One trade group sees particular concerns in the RFI’s terms.  The RFI “appears to raise in priority the needs of the supplier above the needs of the customer for issues, like national security.”  The RFI specifically states that “DoD is prepared to pursue the revision of existing policies and federal regulations to remove barriers to success.”

The Amazon-DoD deal’s inadequacies are especially glaring, given the extensive history of Chinese espionage against the United States.  National Security Agency director General Keith Alexander once called the economic fruit of this spying the “greatest transfer of wealth in history.”  Sophisticated Chinese government hackers have breached the computer security of American media firms like the New York Times and Washington Post as well as major corporations like Alcoa, U.S. Steel, and Westinghouse.  Some commentators worry that “businesses are now unlikely to keep valuable information secure online.”

The Trump administration’s recently revealed new national security strategy only emphasizes China concerns, noting:

China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.  They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence[.] … China gathers and exploits data on an unrivaled scale and spreads features of its authoritarian system, including corruption and the use of surveillance.

As one CIA analyst noted, companies like Amazon that invest in China are particularly susceptible to China’s pressures.  For example, “Beijing encourages multinational corporations to conduct R&D in China as a means to promote domestic technological innovation.  Increasingly, key firms are complying for their own self-interest.”  Chinese laws have already forced Amazon’s Chinese operations to run Amazon’s Chinese cloud businesses through a Chinese partner in which Amazon may have only a minority share as well as to accede to Chinese online censorship.

The extent of Amazon’s business relationships with China makes the firm particularly vulnerable to Chinese pressure.  Some estimate that 25 percent of Amazon’s retailers are from China.  Predicted coming trade fights between China and the Trump administration will only place Amazon’s China investments in a more precarious position and incentivize Amazon officials to stay on China’s good side.

Under these circumstances, making Amazon a sole-source DoD provider for the very type of cloud technology Amazon has sold to China is fraught with hazards.  The United States cannot allow Chinese espionage to extend its tentacles from American business to national defense.  Rather, the United States should draw upon the best in its free-market economy of numerous private producers to protect vital national interests.



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The Red-Green Axis Goes Ballistic: Iran, North Korea, and Proliferation


“It’s a match made in hell,” writes journalist Benny Avni of the nuclear weapon and ballistic missile proliferation nexus between Iran and North Korea.  This international, potentially apocalyptic version of what is known as a “red-green alliance” between radical Islamic and leftist elements makes America’s often neglected missile defense efforts all the more urgent.

Various commentators have noted a “stark contrast” between the ideological natures of the Iranian and North Korean regimes.  As Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies observes, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a theocracy, while North Korea is a hereditary tyranny with an anti-religious, Marxist ideology.  Nonetheless, these two rogue state international outcasts, once included in President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil,” both “feel a serious threat from the United States and the West,” notes Harvard University’s Matthew Bunn.

Accordingly, Israeli analysts have observed that the “nuclear and ballistic interfaces between the two countries are long-lasting” since the carnage of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War.  During the conflict, Iran internationally “was a pariah, desperate for military equipment and ammunition,” notes North Korean military analyst Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr.  “If Iran has sometimes been desperate to buy arms and military technology, North Korea has always been desperate to sell arms and military technology,” given the country’s economic isolation, writes Cordesman.  Thus, North Korea “needed money more than it needed anything else.  Iran, which needed missiles more than anything else, was the ideal partner,” concludes the think-tank Geopolitical Futures.  

The Iran-Iraq War began a relationship in which, one Israeli academic notes, “several analysts believe that Iran was the primary financial supporter of North Korea’s missile development program.”  In exchange for Iranian oil wealth, North Korea provided Iran with Scud-B missiles that North Korea began producing in 1987 after having reverse-engineered them from missiles procured from Egypt in the late 1970s.  By the end of the 1980s, Iran had received hundreds of Scud-B and Scud-C missiles.

Subsequently, Iran agreed in 1992 to provide North Korea with $500 million for joint nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development.  As a result, North Korea fielded the Nodong missile in the 1990s while Iran deployed its clone, the Shahab-3, in 2003 after several years of testing.  While North Korea’s Nodong missiles can hit parts of Japan, Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas) notes that from Iran, the Shahab-3 can strike Israel and Central Europe.  North Korea’s Musudan missile, 19 of which Iran obtained sometime before 2007, has theoretically an even longer range, capable of striking from Iran targets like Berlin and Moscow.

While some analysts deny the existence of Iran-North Korea missile design collaboration or joint development, Iranian-North Korean ballistic cooperation extends beyond missiles themselves to fields such as test data exchanges.  “It’s doubtful there has been a single Iranian missile test where North Korean scientists weren’t present, nor a North Korean test where Iranian scientists didn’t have a front row seat,” notes the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Rubin.  Missile test sites in Iran and North Korea also exhibit strong similarities.

Evidence concerning Iran-North Korea nuclear cooperation remains more indefinite, although both countries have used similar nuclear supply chains like that of Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.  Despite numerous reports through the years of technical personnel exchanges and visits, sometimes involving hundreds of individuals, Cordesman notes that American intelligence has never confirmed such cooperation.  Yet British officials on September 10 argued that the rapid progress of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development indicated foreign help from a country like Iran or Russia.  

Any Iran-North Korea collaboration in the fields of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles involves grave stakes, Cordesman notes.  “Containing, deterring, and defeating either Iran or North Korea is difficult enough when each nation is treated separately.  It becomes far more difficult to the extent they are cooperating to develop missile and nuclear forces.”  Accordingly, former Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) describes Iran and North Korea as “two pieces of a greater national security puzzle.”

CIA director Mike Pompeo worries that the “North Koreans have a long history of being proliferators.”  In particular, notes University of Denver Professor Jonathan Adelman, the Iran-North Korea relationship “has become so tight that nuclear weapons and missiles in North Korea would rapidly be duplicated in Iran.”  The spotty record of interdicting shipments between Iran and North Korea leaves open the possibility that North Korea will simply ship complete warheads to Iran.  “Quite a frightening scenario to consider,” says one commentator.  “It’s hard enough to put one nuclear genie back in the bottle.  What are the chances we’ll be able to do it twice?”

Particularly in the Iran-North Korea “blooming axis of proliferation,” notes Middle East expert Matthew RJ Brodsky, “any bilateral agreement with one of its members can be easily undone by another.”  Critiquing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Rubin observes that “one of the biggest holes to which the Obama administration agreed was not recognizing that Iranian nuclear work doesn’t necessarily take place in Iran.”  Today, senior Trump administration officials and others argue that North Korea is stockpiling illicit nuclear material on Iran’s behalf in order to circumvent the nuclear agreement’s restrictions.  The Israeli analysts further argue that the “Obama administration shot the U.S. in the foot,” as sanctions relief under the agreement will facilitate nuclear programs in both Iran and North Korea.

The possibilities of deliverable nuclear weapons in Iran and/or North Korea present numerous strategic nightmares for the United States and its allies similar to World War II’s dual German and Japanese threats.  Nuclear proliferation in both Iran and North Korea could force the United States to confront simultaneously two crisis fronts in conjunction with any available allies, while either rogue state could benefit from the other tying down Western powers.  Even proliferation in one of these rogue states would be a major challenge. 

Such interrelated, multifaceted, yet regionally distinct threats demand a comprehensive, multilayered missile defense system of land-, sea-, and space-based elements that can counter missile threats at all ranges and all points globally.  Only then could the United States protect itself, its allies, and its deployed forces from varied missile threats, whether accidental or intentional, regardless of launch origin.  Yet the United States has neglected for years missile defenses even as North Korea finally tested on July 27 a missile capable of targeting America’s west coast.

Accordingly, America’s best missile homeland security system, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, remains dangerously limited.  While America slept before emerging crises, missile defense has become a weak link in American security.  An Iranian or North Korean nuclear strike against any American vital interest would make Pearl Harbor’s December 7, 1941 Day of Infamy look like a Sunday picnic.

“It’s a match made in hell,” writes journalist Benny Avni of the nuclear weapon and ballistic missile proliferation nexus between Iran and North Korea.  This international, potentially apocalyptic version of what is known as a “red-green alliance” between radical Islamic and leftist elements makes America’s often neglected missile defense efforts all the more urgent.

Various commentators have noted a “stark contrast” between the ideological natures of the Iranian and North Korean regimes.  As Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies observes, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a theocracy, while North Korea is a hereditary tyranny with an anti-religious, Marxist ideology.  Nonetheless, these two rogue state international outcasts, once included in President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil,” both “feel a serious threat from the United States and the West,” notes Harvard University’s Matthew Bunn.

Accordingly, Israeli analysts have observed that the “nuclear and ballistic interfaces between the two countries are long-lasting” since the carnage of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War.  During the conflict, Iran internationally “was a pariah, desperate for military equipment and ammunition,” notes North Korean military analyst Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr.  “If Iran has sometimes been desperate to buy arms and military technology, North Korea has always been desperate to sell arms and military technology,” given the country’s economic isolation, writes Cordesman.  Thus, North Korea “needed money more than it needed anything else.  Iran, which needed missiles more than anything else, was the ideal partner,” concludes the think-tank Geopolitical Futures.  

The Iran-Iraq War began a relationship in which, one Israeli academic notes, “several analysts believe that Iran was the primary financial supporter of North Korea’s missile development program.”  In exchange for Iranian oil wealth, North Korea provided Iran with Scud-B missiles that North Korea began producing in 1987 after having reverse-engineered them from missiles procured from Egypt in the late 1970s.  By the end of the 1980s, Iran had received hundreds of Scud-B and Scud-C missiles.

Subsequently, Iran agreed in 1992 to provide North Korea with $500 million for joint nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development.  As a result, North Korea fielded the Nodong missile in the 1990s while Iran deployed its clone, the Shahab-3, in 2003 after several years of testing.  While North Korea’s Nodong missiles can hit parts of Japan, Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas) notes that from Iran, the Shahab-3 can strike Israel and Central Europe.  North Korea’s Musudan missile, 19 of which Iran obtained sometime before 2007, has theoretically an even longer range, capable of striking from Iran targets like Berlin and Moscow.

While some analysts deny the existence of Iran-North Korea missile design collaboration or joint development, Iranian-North Korean ballistic cooperation extends beyond missiles themselves to fields such as test data exchanges.  “It’s doubtful there has been a single Iranian missile test where North Korean scientists weren’t present, nor a North Korean test where Iranian scientists didn’t have a front row seat,” notes the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Rubin.  Missile test sites in Iran and North Korea also exhibit strong similarities.

Evidence concerning Iran-North Korea nuclear cooperation remains more indefinite, although both countries have used similar nuclear supply chains like that of Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.  Despite numerous reports through the years of technical personnel exchanges and visits, sometimes involving hundreds of individuals, Cordesman notes that American intelligence has never confirmed such cooperation.  Yet British officials on September 10 argued that the rapid progress of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development indicated foreign help from a country like Iran or Russia.  

Any Iran-North Korea collaboration in the fields of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles involves grave stakes, Cordesman notes.  “Containing, deterring, and defeating either Iran or North Korea is difficult enough when each nation is treated separately.  It becomes far more difficult to the extent they are cooperating to develop missile and nuclear forces.”  Accordingly, former Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) describes Iran and North Korea as “two pieces of a greater national security puzzle.”

CIA director Mike Pompeo worries that the “North Koreans have a long history of being proliferators.”  In particular, notes University of Denver Professor Jonathan Adelman, the Iran-North Korea relationship “has become so tight that nuclear weapons and missiles in North Korea would rapidly be duplicated in Iran.”  The spotty record of interdicting shipments between Iran and North Korea leaves open the possibility that North Korea will simply ship complete warheads to Iran.  “Quite a frightening scenario to consider,” says one commentator.  “It’s hard enough to put one nuclear genie back in the bottle.  What are the chances we’ll be able to do it twice?”

Particularly in the Iran-North Korea “blooming axis of proliferation,” notes Middle East expert Matthew RJ Brodsky, “any bilateral agreement with one of its members can be easily undone by another.”  Critiquing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Rubin observes that “one of the biggest holes to which the Obama administration agreed was not recognizing that Iranian nuclear work doesn’t necessarily take place in Iran.”  Today, senior Trump administration officials and others argue that North Korea is stockpiling illicit nuclear material on Iran’s behalf in order to circumvent the nuclear agreement’s restrictions.  The Israeli analysts further argue that the “Obama administration shot the U.S. in the foot,” as sanctions relief under the agreement will facilitate nuclear programs in both Iran and North Korea.

The possibilities of deliverable nuclear weapons in Iran and/or North Korea present numerous strategic nightmares for the United States and its allies similar to World War II’s dual German and Japanese threats.  Nuclear proliferation in both Iran and North Korea could force the United States to confront simultaneously two crisis fronts in conjunction with any available allies, while either rogue state could benefit from the other tying down Western powers.  Even proliferation in one of these rogue states would be a major challenge. 

Such interrelated, multifaceted, yet regionally distinct threats demand a comprehensive, multilayered missile defense system of land-, sea-, and space-based elements that can counter missile threats at all ranges and all points globally.  Only then could the United States protect itself, its allies, and its deployed forces from varied missile threats, whether accidental or intentional, regardless of launch origin.  Yet the United States has neglected for years missile defenses even as North Korea finally tested on July 27 a missile capable of targeting America’s west coast.

Accordingly, America’s best missile homeland security system, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, remains dangerously limited.  While America slept before emerging crises, missile defense has become a weak link in American security.  An Iranian or North Korean nuclear strike against any American vital interest would make Pearl Harbor’s December 7, 1941 Day of Infamy look like a Sunday picnic.



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