Archive for May, 2011


May 31, 2011

On May 30, 2011, UPI reported that eight senior Libyan military officers, including five generals, had defected.

General Melud Massoud Halasa, one of the defectors, said only 10 generals remain loyal to the embattled Libyan leader,

The officers said they had quit the Gadhafi regime in protest of the killing of civilians and the shredding of Libya’s military strength by 80 percent,

The British newspaper The Telegraph cited one unattributed report as saying the generals may have been forced out in favor of younger, more aggressive officers, many of them from Gadhafi’s own tribe.

Abdurrahman Shalgam, Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations who defected early on in the uprising, said at least 100 other army officers also have fled Libya recently.

Meanwhile NATO has increased its attacks against Gadhafi’s compound in Tripoli, forcing him to move in secret among locations. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said:

Gadhafi’s reign of terror is coming to an end. He is increasingly isolated at home and abroad, Even those closest to him are departing, defecting or deserting.

Britain has revealed the Royal Air Force is preparing 2,000-pound Paveway III bunker-buster bombs to target Gadhafi’s compounds.


May 31, 2011

Wall Street Journal on May 31, 2011, reported that the Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.

The Pentagon’s first formal cyber strategy represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country’s military.

Recent attacks on the Pentagon’s own systems have given new urgency to U.S. efforts to develop a more formalized approach to cyber attacks. A few days ago Lockheed Martin, a major military contractor, acknowledged that it had been the victim of an infiltration, while playing down its impact.

One idea gaining momentum at the Pentagon is the notion of “equivalence.” If a cyber attack produces the death, damage, destruction or high-level disruption that a traditional military attack would cause, then it would be a candidate for a “use of force” consideration, which could merit retaliation.


May 29, 2011

The U.S. government said on May 28, 2011 (as reported by Fox News), that U.S. weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. has been hit by an unspecified cyber incident.

The security disruptions prompted the company to step up measures to protect its data.

A major defense contractor said the cyber attack was “significant and tenacious,” but the company kept its secrets safe.

Lockheed said in a late evening statement that the company’s security team detected the threat quickly and no customer, program or employee personal data had been compromised. The Pentagon said the impact on its operations is “minimal.”

Lockheed manufactures some of the most sophisticated US military hardware, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22 Raptor. It is also a major international supplier of military equipment.

Lockheed Martin is the world’s biggest aerospace company.


May 28, 2011

US President Barack Obama as reported by BBC News (May 28, 2011) praised Poland’s economic growth and its support of pro-democracy movements in North Africa and the Middle East.

He thanked efforts by members of Poland’s Soviet-era pro-democracy Solidarity movement to offer support to Egypt’s post-revolution government.

Polish leaders, however, had hoped Obama would rectify what many saw as a slight, when he cancelled President George W Bush’s missile shield plan as part of efforts to “reset” US relations with Russia.

Many in Poland were disappointed when the US decided not to go ahead with the shield on Polish soil. They were reading it as deference to Russia and as a sign of a lack of commitment to Poland.

The breadth of the US-Polish agenda speaks volumes as to the increasing significance of Poland as a European actor, both within Nato, and the European Union.

Mr Obama repeated his insistence that the strategy was about reaffirming the Nato principles of mutual defence, saying it allowed their two countries to deal with shared threats.

“Nato is the strongest alliance in history primarily because it has a very simple principle – that we defend each other,” he said.

“What we want to do is create an environment in this region in which peace and security are a given – that’s not just good for this region, it’s good for United States of America. We will always be there for Poland.”

The two countries also announced plans to hold high-level bilateral business meetings to promote ways of boosting economic growth.

Mr Obama said they had discussed co-operation on “a range of clean energy initiatives” including natural gas projects and nuclear power.

He says the hope in Warsaw was that Mr Obama would support the opening of the shale reserves, ideally with the help of American energy companies.

The US had already announced a new initiative on security – to set up a US air detachment in Poland to train Polish personnel.


May 28, 2011

On October 1, 2011, Voice of America’s Chinese radio service will go silent, as U.S. international broadcasting abandons the airwaves and moves to the Internet. In the face of Chinese regime internet censorship there is a continuing relevance of shortwave radio.

The Heritage Foundation in Washington DC calls for a way forward strategy of the United States in international broadcasting.

In May 2011 China announced the creation of its State Internet Information Office (SIIO), intended to further expand and enhance China’s information dissemination policy, and leading many to question whether abandoning the airwaves is truly the best way to reach America’s audiences throughout the world.


May 27, 2011

AP on May 27, 2011, reported that nearly half the Senate urged President Obama to authorize quickly the sale of F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan, a request that has been hanging for five years.

Taiwan says it needs the 66 planes to maintain a credible defense and provide leverage in negotiations with Beijing.

“Without new fighter aircraft and upgrades to its existing fleet of F-16s, Taiwan will be dangerously exposed to Chinese military threats, aggression and provocation, which pose significant national security implications for the United States,” says a letter, signed by 45 of the 100 members of the Senate, both Democrats and Republicans.

The Obama administration is obligated under U.S. law to provide Taiwan the means of self-defense.

Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who initiated the letter, said it was rare for so many senators, both Democrats and Republicans, to send a message jointly to the administration.

The senators’ letter says China is in the process of deploying next generation Chinese and Russian manufactured ships, fighter aircraft and submarines, and has more than 1,400 missiles aimed at Taiwan.


May 25, 2011 and Fox News on May 24, 2011, reported on a NASA plan to develop a new deep space vehicle, one based on an earlier capsule concept, in order to send astronauts on expeditions to an asteroid, and then on to Mars.

The spaceship is known as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV). It will be based on designs originally planned for the Orion spacecraft. Orion was part of NASA’s now-canceled Constellation program, which aimed to return astronauts to the moon by 2020.

President Obama shut down the Constellation program last year, tasking NASA instead with sending people to an asteroid by 2025, and then to aim for crewed Mars missions by the 2030s.

NASA said in a statement:

We are committed to human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and look forward to developing the next generation of systems to take us there.

Lockheed Martin Corp., NASA’s prime contractor for Orion, will continue work to develop the MPCV spacecraft, agency officials said.
It is designed to be 10 times safer during launch, re-entry and landing than its predecessor, the space shuttle, NASA officials said.

The MPCV will, according to NASA, launch aboard a new heavy-lift rocket that NASA is also developing. Congress instructed the agency to have the spaceship and the launch vehicle ready to go by 2016.


May 23, 2011

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates speech at the University of Notre Dame was commented on by The Weekly Standard on May 22, 2011. Gates warned against allowing America’s might and military to decline:

As we make the tough choices needed to put this country’s finances in order and to secure our future prosperity – including the sacrifices that will be required of all Americans – there will undoubtedly be calls to shrink America’s role in the world – for us to sharply reduce our international commitments and the size and capabilities of our military.

Much of his address aimed to counter calls to “shrink America’s role in the world.”

Gates is retiring from his position in June, 2011 and he was seemingly critical of President Obama.

The Defense Secretary continued:

If history – and religion – teach us anything, it is that there will always be evil in the world, people bent on aggression, oppression, satisfying their greed for wealth and power and territory, or determined to impose an ideology based on the subjugation of others and the denial of liberty to men and women. [M]ake no mistake, the ultimate guarantee against the success of aggressors, dictators, and terrorists in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is hard power –the size, strength, and global reach of the United States military.

To be sure, a strong military cannot exist without a strong economy underpinning it. At some point fiscal insolvency at home translates into strategic insolvency abroad. As part of America getting its financial house in order, the size of our defense budget must be addressed. That means culling more bureaucratic excess and overhead, taking a hard look at personnel levels and costs, and reexamining missions and capabilities to separate the desirable or optional from the essential. But throughout this process we should keep in mind historian Donald Kagan’s observation that the preservation of peace depends upon those states seeking that goal having both the preponderant power and the will to accept the burdens and responsibilities required to achieve it. And we must not forget what Winston Churchill once said, that “the price of greatness is responsibility…the people of the United States cannot escape world responsibility.

Gates ended by saying:

Public business…must always be done by somebody. It will be done by somebody or another. If wise men decline it, others will not; if honest men refuse it, others will not.

To this the Defense Secretary added:

If America declines to lead in the world, others will not.


May 22, 2011

The personal diary of Lavrenty Beria, Stalin’s bloodthirsty chief of the NKVD, the Soviet security body, has been published in Russia.

The purported diary covers the period between 1938 and 1953. Beria had, when he came to Moscow, been a leading figure in the Georgian Soviet Republic

The three-volume publication of Beria’s diary was prepared by Sergey Kremlyov, who authored several books on the era of Stalinism and the World War II. The origin of the material is mysterious.

The author claims that he was received a typewritten copy of the text by a man who introduced himself as “Pavel Lavrentievich” (the patronymic may imply the man was Beria’s son, but his only known child’s name was Sergo). The stranger also showed a photocopy of the original, and Kremlyov believes it may have been written by Beria’s hand.

Another Russian author and expert on Beria said that the “diaries” probably are a fake. If the volumes will be published in the West further information might be available on the authenticity. Uncritical reports on the “diaries” are in May 2011 circulating in Denmark.


May 21, 2011

Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, on May 21, 2011 in Wall Street Journal (“Israel’s 1967 Borders Aren’t Defensible”) warned that the old armistice line is impossible as a non-negotiable starting point for peace talks.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he said, plans to lobby the U.N. General Assembly in September 2011 for a resolution that will predetermine the results of any Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on borders. He will insist that member states recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 lines, meaning Israel’s boundaries before the Six Day War.

Unfortunately, even President Barack Obama appears to have been influenced by this thinking.

The pre-1967 demarcation is an armistice line, not a recognized international border. No Palestinian state ever existed that could have claimed these prewar lines.

The cornerstone of all postwar diplomacy was U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, passed in November 1967. It did not demand that Israel pull back completely to the pre-1967 lines.

As America’s ambassador to the U.N., Arthur Goldberg, would explain, Resolution 242 did not preclude Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem. In fact, Resolution 242 became the only agreed basis of all Arab-Israeli peace agreements, from the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace to the 1993 Oslo Agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

How were Israel’s legal rights to new boundaries justified? A good explanation came from Judge Stephen Schwebel, who would later be an adviser to the State Department and then president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Mr. Gold points out that Schwebel wrote in the American Journal:

It should be noted that Israel’s title to West Bank territory—in the event that it sought alterations in the pre-Six Day War lines—emanated from the fact that it had acted in lawful exercise of its right to self-defense. It was not the aggressor.

In 2004 U.S. stipulated that Israel was entiled to “defensible borders”.

Mr. Gold rightly concludes that Mr. Abbas’s unilateral move at the U.N. represents a massive violation of a core commitment in the Oslo Agreements in which both Israelis and Palestinians undertook that “neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of Permanent Status negotiations.”

By turning to the U.N., Mr. Abbas wants to use the international community to change the legal status of the territories. Why should Israel rely on Mr. Abbas in the future after what is plainly a material breach of this core obligation?

Abbas has chosen to cooperate with Hamas, the radical organization that is the antithesis of peace. Its infamous 1988 Charter calls for Israel’s complete destruction and sees Islam in an historic battle with the Jewish people.

Mr. Abbas clearly is not prepared to make a historic compromise and the U.S. administration seems to share the view of the Palestinian leader.