Can America Trust Israel?


The Associated Press did a revealing story recently that exposed the Israelis as the worst US ally for spying on America.  What was disturbing about the story was how it seemed that Israel made it a point to let CIA officials know that Israel was spying on them almost taunting them.

“The CIA station chief opened the locked box containing the sensitive equipment he used from his home in Tel Aviv, Israel, to communicate with CIA headquarters in Virginia, only to find that someone had tampered with it. He sent word to his superiors about the break-in.

The incident, described by three former senior U.S. intelligence officials, might have been dismissed as just another cloak-and-dagger incident in the world of international espionage, except that the same thing had happened to the previous station chief in Israel.”

Some might read the above story and think it’s just the Israelis being aggressive, having a little fun.  Unfortunately the above was far from the only example, Israeli intelligence operations run the entire spectrum from spying on suspected terrorists in the US (which may be somewhat understandable) to industrial espionage, thats right they steal from us routinely.

“The CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency’s Near East Division, the group that oversees spying across the Middle East, according to current and former officials. Counterintelligence is the art of protecting national secrets from spies. This means the CIA believes that U.S. national secrets are safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel.”

The above quote is kind of a sad statement to make about an US ally that the story says has received about $60 billion in aid from US tax payers since the 1980’s.  I am generally a supporter of Israel but have also known about their extensive intelligence operations they have run against the US so to be honest I am glad someone is once again exposing them for what they do.  Its one thing to spy on some terrorist who happens to be in the US quite another to steal US military secrets about advanced fighter aircraft, missile defense technology, nuclear weapons and so on.  I believe its long past the time that we hold Israel accountable for their over zealous spying they do to us.

US Sees Israel as spy Threat

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Presidential Campaign Update, Should Obama Be Worried?


With several polls now showing Romney taking the lead is it time for Obama to start worrying.  After all the president relentlessly attacked Romney during the past month with negative ads out in overwhelming force.  Make no mistake Obama is certainly not running on hope and change this time out, his campaign is all about going negative against Romney.  Unfortunately for the president after going so hard after Romney, his campaign even ran a deficit last month, he has nothing to show for it.  On top of this you have his regrettable statement about business owners not being responsible for their own success which has boomeranged on the president putting his campaign on the defensive.  A few weeks ago I wrote how Romney appeared to be the one in trouble.  My feelings right now are that if the GOP had a top-tier candidate running against Obama he/she would clean the president’s clock because people seem to be so down on his administration.  Fortunately for the president Mitt Romney is his opponent.  As we have seen with his latest gaffe about the London Olympics not being ready (which is probably true) right before he visits London shows  sometimes he can leave much to be desired.  Obama still has some things going for him in several key battleground states so that coupled with Romney’s inability to effectively campaign against the president will combine to make this race a lot closer than it should be.

CAMPAIGN
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ROMNEY PULLS TO 5 POINT LEAD...

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China Militarizes Disputed Islands


 

In a move sure to raise tensions with neighboring countries China has announced that it will establish a military base on disputed islands in the South China Sea.  Several countries including Vietnam, the US, and the Philipines all denounced the move.  The area in question was actually annexed by China after a skirmish with Vietnam back in the 1970’s.  What this does signal to the rest of the world is all the Chinese propaganda about a peaceful rise to great power status was only to keep the world at bay while China finished modernizing so it could soon begin to wield its new-found might.  The real question becomes what can anybody actually do about the great Chinese land grab that is about to get underway?  Unfortunately the answer is not that much.  The only country with power to check Chinese aggression would be the US but I would think it highly unlikely that the US would risk an open confrontation over the issue.  The US could mop up the Chinese military in the South China Sea in short order.  However, the cost economically would be unbearable.  This is why you should never be indebted to a foreign power, and under no circumstance be indebted to a foreign power who happens to be your chief strategic competitor in the world.  The situation the US finds itself in with China today will in the future be a case study of how not to conduct a nation’s policy at the military, political, and economic level.

Spratly Islands Conflicting Claims

Claims by Country
Country South China Sea Spratly Islands Paracel Islands Gulf of Thailand
Brunei UNCLOS no formal claim no n/a
Cambodia (n/a) n/a n/a UNCLOS
China all* all all n/a
Indonesia UNCLOS no no n/a
Malaysia UNCLOS 3 islands no UNCLOS
Philippines significant portions 8 islands no n/a
Taiwan all* all all n/a
Thailand n/a n/a n/a UNCLOS
Vietnam all* all all UNCLOS
UNCLOS = UN Convention on the Law Of the Sea
n/a = not applicable
*excluding buffer zone along littoral states (calculations for buffer unknown)
  http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/spratly-conflict.htm

US Concerned about Chinese Troops Plans on Disputed Island

http://yume.vn/hotrungnghia/article/viet-nam-or-china.35A6114A.html

North Korea Talks Of Using EMP Weapons In A War With South Korea


Recently word came out of North Korea that said the regime was planning on using EMP (electro magnetic pulse) weapons in any future war with South Korea.  EMP blasts have the ability to knock out most if not all electronic circuitry in the blast radius.  Some of you may recall that this blog has done several stories about the effects of EMP blasts.  Recently Newt Gingrich compared the power outages around the 4th of July as similar to what a small EMP blast would do.  To sum it up an EMP blast can send the target area back to the stone age.  North Korea already has nuclear weapons ( which when detonated produce a massive EMP blast wave) so the threat has to be taken seriously.  However, for now it does not seem clear if they have a safe, effective way to deliver the nuclear warhead to the upper atmosphere to detonate it where it could cause the most damage to the south.  This is because of their recent missile test failure, which has done real damage to the credibility to the North’s threats.  The fact that China neighbors North Korea might actually keep them from using this until they can accurately fire the missile, can you imagine the Chinese reaction if the missile veered off course and detonated above their country sending half of China back to the dark ages?  Having said that the North has had successful missile launches in the past so this is cause for concern.

North Korea builds EMP munNorth
Korea’s Taepodong 2 Nuclear Missile
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Oh Canada!


 

Word out of the great white north is that Canadians are now more wealthy than Americans for the first time ever.  Several factors have contributed to this new development but the biggest without question would be the collapse in the US housing market, which in turn torpedoed Americans wealth since a house is most people’s biggest asset.  Besides the housing market the economy in Canada is stronger with unemployment at around 7.2% in Canada vs. 8.2% in America.  The real question is whether or not a long-term trend will develop where Canada is consistently more wealthy as America continues to struggle with extricating itself from the meltdown in 2008?  Only time will tell.

CANADIANS NOW RICHER THAN AMERICANS

The Economic Recovery, What Is Different This Time


Very informative article once again over at the Economist.  I highly encourage you to read it to get a better understanding of how the American economy is changing.  The article is too long to try and go over the whole thing here so I figured we could just take a look at this chart which compares the most recent economic recoveries and what contributed to the growth.

1.  The first thing you notice is how each successive recovery is weaker than the last.

2.  Also notice that in the latest recovery the housing industry contributes nothing to the recovery where as in the previous two it had.  This makes sense because of the housing bubble.

3.  The other major difference is the decline in consumption and the growth in exports.  This had to happen as our trade deficit prior to the meltdown was unsustainable.  Since then it has gone from 6% od GDP to 4% GDP, which is still too high.  For comparison it was only around 1% GDP in the early 90’s.

Besides reading the article you should also check out the reader comments.  It is both entertaining to see how people from around the world view America while at the same time cause for concern because of the misconceptions about the US.

America’s economy

Points of light