What is the Syria Strategy from the West?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

In the days ahead, it appears that Russia and the rogue friends they keep will respond to the West likely by an obscure cyber war. Take personal caution with your financial activity.

The other warning pertains to news reports indicating specific assassination attempts made to look like suicide. While we heard about the poison assassination attempt in Salisbury, England of Skripal and his daughter, the United States had it’s own successful assassination in 2015 of Mikhail Lesin in Washington, DC. Additionally, the UK had two other successful wet jobs, as they are called, going back to 20o6 and 2010. Those victims were Alexander Litvinenko and  Gareth Williams who worked for GCHQ

There are many other hit operations that happened in Russia including the recent death of Maxim Borodin.

There are an estimated 250+ journalists that have been killed since the fall of the Soviet Union.

So, it is now declared that the United Nations quit counting the dead from the Syria civil war since the number has officially exceeded 500,000. What is disgusting, however, is we sorta care about the dead, but the methods no longer matter unless chemical weapons are used. How nuts is that? So, France, Britain and the United States respond to the most recent attack –>

check – round one of airstrikes

check – round two of airstrikes

Let’s give credit where credit is due. By John Hannah

First, U.S. President Donald Trump set a red line and enforced it. He warned that the large-scale use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would trigger a U.S. attack. When Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crossed that red line a year ago, Trump responded with 59 cruise missiles that took out about 20 percent of Syria’s operational aircraft. A year later, Trump has acted again after Assad chose to challenge him a second time. This attack was twice as big and hit multiple targets, including what U.S. defense officials called the “heart” of Syria’s chemical weapons program, substantially degrading Assad’s ability to produce the deadly agents.

That ain’t peanuts. No, there’s no guarantee it will end Assad’s use of chemical weapons — in which case Trump and his military have made clear that they’ll strike again, almost certainly harder than the time before. And no, nothing that happened Friday night will, in isolation, alter the trajectory of Syria’s bloody civil war. But the effective deployment of U.S. power in defense of a universal norm barring the use of some of the world’s worst weapons against innocent men, women, and children is nevertheless to be applauded — limited an objective as it may be. Also to be praised is the possible emergence of a commander in chief whose threats to use force need to be taken seriously by U.S. adversaries. Once established, this kind of credibility (while no panacea) can be a powerful instrument in the U.S. foreign-policy arsenal. Once lost, it is hard to recover, and the consequences can be severe. For evidence, just see the post-2013 results, from Crimea to Syria.

A second important virtue of Friday night’s attack was its multilateral character. With barely a week’s notice, Britain, France, and the United States, the three most powerful militaries of the trans-Atlantic alliance, all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, seamlessly operated on the seas and in the skies of the Middle East to defend their common interests and values against a murderous Russian and Iranian client. What’s the worth of that kind of unity, coordination, and seriousness of purpose? It’s hard to quantify precisely. But anyone who’s ever toiled as a practitioner in the national security space knows, deep in their bones, that it matters — a lot. And it especially matters in the case of a U.S. president who has too often unfairly — and, to my mind, dangerously — discounted the value of Europe, the West, and the post-World War II system of institutions and alliances that his predecessors built. In that power and righteousness of the world’s leading liberal democracies acting in concert, there’s a significant value-added that no mere counting of ships, planes, and missiles can adequately capture. Kudos to the president and his team for their skill in mounting this posse. It’s an important framework that they hopefully will continue to invest in to confront the multitude of urgent international challenges now staring us in the face.

A few other related observations: Say what you will about the wisdom of some of the president’s public messaging last week, but once he made clear that he again would act to enforce his red line, U.S. adversaries took him deadly seriously. Russian ships dispersed from port. Syria abandoned its own air bases and rushed to co-locate its aircraft near Russian military assets. And Iranian-backed fighters, including Hezbollah forces, allegedly vacated certain positions and went to ground for fear of a possible U.S. strike. Again, the fact that the United States’ worst adversaries appear to take Trump’s threats with the seriousness they deserve is a very good thing, a genuine national security asset that needs to be husbanded, reinforced, and carefully but systematically exploited going forward. But hopefully last week’s experience also serves as a reminder to the president of the deep wisdom inherent in the criticism that he’s long leveled at his predecessors: Don’t telegraph your military punch.

Another observation: There was much nervous hand-wringing before the strike about a possible U.S.-Russia confrontation. Rightly so. No one wants World War III to break out over Syria. All prudent and appropriate measures should be taken to mitigate those risks. But in some circles, the hyping of the concern threatened to become absolutely paralyzing, a justification (or excuse) for doing nothing in the face of Assad’s abominable use of weapons of mass destruction.

In the end, of course, for all their chest thumping, the Russians did next to nothing as Western planes and missiles flew under their noses to strike a client that they’ve expended significant resources to save.

Just as the Israelis, for their part, have conducted nearly 100 strikes against Russia’s Iranian, Hezbollah, and Syrian allies with barely more than a clenched fist from Moscow. The fact is that for all the firepower they may have assembled in Syria, and for all the success they’ve enjoyed carpet-bombing defenseless civilian populations and poorly equipped Islamist radicals, Russian forces are severely overmatched — both in terms of quality and quantity — by what the United States and its allies can bring to bear in any head-to-head confrontation in the eastern Mediterranean. Putin knows it. So does his military. That reality of the actual balance of power — not only militarily, but economically and diplomatically as well — is always worth keeping in mind.

On their own, the Syrians and their Iranian allies were virtually defenseless against the U.S.-led strike. The best they had was a flurry of unguided missiles haphazardly fired after the mission’s designated targets had been turned to smoldering ruins. Of course, it was only a few years ago (well before the Russians intervened with their advanced S-400 surface-to-air batteries) that senior U.S. officials were pointing to the dangers of Assad’s air defenses as an excuse for not acting to protect Syrian civilians from being systematically terrorized by barrel bombs, indiscriminate artillery fire, and Scud missiles. Let’s hope that the overwhelming success of this attack puts the reality of that threat into somewhat better perspective for U.S. military planners — while also serving as a powerful reminder not just to Assad, but to Iran and other adversaries as well, of the extreme vulnerability they potentially face at the hands of U.S. air power and weaponry.

My criticisms of the U.S. strike? It was clearly at the lowest end of the options presented the president. As suggested by some of what I’ve said above, Trump was too risk-averse. Even with the president telegraphing that a strike was coming, the universe of targets that the United States could have attacked — while still minimizing collateral damage and the threat of great-power escalation — was far larger than what it ended up hitting. Trump could have done much more to degrade the Assad regime’s overall capability to wage war against its own people. The United States could have sent far more powerful messages to the Syrian government’s key military and intelligence power nodes of the risks they run to their own survival through mindless obedience to Assad’s genocidal criminality. Ditto the Russians and Iranians, and the realization that their failure to reign in the most psychotic tendencies of their client could substantially raise the costs and burdens of their Syrian venture if they’re not careful.

In short, everything the United States wanted to do with the strike — hold Assad accountable, re-establish deterrence against the use of chemical weapons, send a message to the Russians and Iranians about the price to be paid for failing to control their client, and move toward a credible political settlement — could have been done more effectively, at acceptable risk, with a significantly larger strike.

More fundamentally, I have deep concerns about what appears to be the president’s emerging strategy in Syria. It amounts to defeating the Islamic State, deterring the use of chemical weapons, and then withdrawing U.S. forces as quickly as possible from eastern Syria. As for the more strategically significant menace posed to vital U.S. interests by an aspiring Iranian hegemon seeking to dominate the Middle East’s northern tier, drive the United States out of the region, and destroy Israel, the administration’s strategy is not particularly compelling. As best as one can tell from the president’s recent statements — including the one he made on Friday night announcing the Syria strike — it amounts to encouraging some combination of regional allies (and perhaps Russia) to fill the vacuum the United States leaves behind.

That kind of abdication of U.S. leadership rarely works out well. Leveraging U.S. power to demand greater burden-sharing from partners who have even more at stake than the United States does? Definitely. Less effective: When the United States washes its hands of a problem with deep implications for U.S. national security in vague hope that other parties — smaller, weaker, more deeply conflicted and strategically myopic than the United States is — will organically rise to the occasion and mobilize a virtuous coalition that takes care of business and keeps at bay the country’s most vicious adversaries.

The president is right, of course: The Middle East is a deeply troubled place. There are no great victories to be won there. There is no glory to be gained. Just worst disasters to be avoided, threats contained, and important national interests preserved. Yes it is imperative that the United States does so smartly, prudently, by, with and, through local partners and multilateral coalitions, using all instruments of national power, and in a way that sustains the understanding and support of the American people. But do so the country must. Packing its bags and vacating the playing field to the likes of Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah is escapism masquerading as strategy. Trump’s important response to the Syrian chemical weapons attack last week is evidence that he may still be capable of grasping that unforgiving reality. He should be encouraged to build on it.

John Hannah


The Murderous Castro Regime Hands The Reins To Hand-Picked Communist Leader

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

This coming Wednesday, Raul Castro will hand the Cuban communist baton to a hand-picked successor named Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57. This will be the first time in 59 years that one of the murderous Castro brothers has not led Cuba. Raul Castro is now 86 and his health is failing. He has been president of Cuba since 2008. Fidel toddled off to hell not long ago and his brother should join him shortly. Fidel Castro ruled Cuba as prime minister starting in 1959 and then as president starting in 1976. He passed away in November of 2016. As founders of Cuba’s 1959 communist revolution, Fidel and Raul Castro directly shaped the country’s history and its role in power dynamics across the globe.

Some have speculated on Díaz-Canel’s moderate views but, in the past year, he has taken an increasingly hard line, emphasizing the continuation of Cuba’s single-party political system and centrally planned economy. Diaz-Canal will be appointed by Raul Castro. He will not be nominated or elected. They don’t even bother with fake elections in Cuba like Russia does.

Miguel Díaz-Canel is considered a rising star in the Communist Party. Little is known about him other than he has been in politics most of his adult life. It is a certainty he is a communist extremist just as the Castros were. He was the leader of the Communist Party of Cuba in the Villa Clara province between 1994 and 2003. His personal life is shrouded in mystery, but I have a feeling we are about to get a front row seat to his viewpoints and his political proclivities. For the past five years, he has held the title of first vice president — a title also once held by Raul Castro under the regime of his brother, Fidel.

Before rising to be first vice president of Cuba, Diaz-Canel was minister of higher education. That title in a communist regime sends a cold shiver down my spine. Díaz-Canel is no fan of independent journalism. He was caught on tape in 2017 criticizing independent media to other members of the Communist Party. He will censor and use them as propaganda outlets just as the Castros did. This guy also has no love for the United States, so relations with Cuba are likely to deteriorate. Not that they were peachy before, or that they even should be. They are communists after all.

During a speech in October, he criticized the U.S. for saying that Cuba needed to move toward democracy. “Imperialism can never be trusted, not even a tiny bit, never,” he stated, comparing Cuban citizens getting more of a say in their government with a hostile American takeover. He was captured in a video leaked last summer criticizing independent media and telling Communist Party members that the embassies of the U.S., Norway, Spain, Germany and Britain were supporting “subversive activity.” Díaz-Canel said the Obama administration’s 2015 re-establishment of relations between the U.S. and Cuba “was a different way [for the U.S.] to try to reach its final objective to destroy the revolution.”

In a video tape of a meeting of Communist Party members that was leaked and posted on YouTube last year, Díaz-Canel said: “The U.S. government… invaded Cuba, put the blockade [embargo] in place, imposed restrictive measures. Cuba did not do any of that, so in return for nothing they have to solve those asymmetries if they want relations and if they want normalization of the relations.”

Things may not get any easier for Cuba under Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton, Trump’s new national security adviser and that’s a very good thing. In 2002, Bolton, then undersecretary of state for arms control, accused Cuba of sharing bioweapons technology with other “rogue states.” Which they did. Bolton has a history of favoring sanctions and has said he doesn’t “do carrots” when negotiating with rogue nations.

Pompeo has been highly critical of Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba, calling it “misguided” and offering too many concessions with little in return. But during his Senate confirmation hearing, Pompeo indicated he favored once again building up the staff at the downsized U.S. Embassy in Havana. Let’s hope that does not happen.

Don’t expect Raul Castro to be giving up all his influence and power either. He will still remain the head of the country’s Communist Party and it is suspected that he will have a lot of influence over the new president. Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Cuban Studies Institute in Miami, told USA Today that it’s possible that Raul Castro will not actually be giving up anything other than a title. “Raúl never liked the diplomatic activities, going to the parties,” he said. “So he’s going to put this guy in there and create a facade for the new generation. But Díaz-Canel is not going to have any decision-making power.”

In early March, the Trump administration announced it would permanently reduce the staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana by 60 percent. The decision came after the U.S. evacuated nonessential personnel in October after embassy staff members were sickened in a series of unexplained health incidents. As a result, the State Department issued a warning, recommending Americans “reconsider” traveling to the island. Cuba denied any role and has pretended to cooperate with an FBI investigation. It is suspected that it is a sonic weapon of some sort that was used by the Cubans and/or the Russians.

What does all this mean? Things are not going to change in Cuba any time soon. In fact, they may get much worse as Russia, China and Iran get ever more entrenched in the country. Cuba is pushing their influence in South America and spreading communism wherever they can. Should we find ourselves at war with Russia, China, Iran or North Korea, we may have a real problem down south. This is what happens when you don’t care what happens outside your borders. You can’t trust communists. Communism and dictatorships spread and eventually, they come knocking at your door. Sometimes with nukes.


Russia’s Response to the West, Cyber War

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the United Kingdom’s (UK) National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) released a joint Technical Alert (TA) about malicious cyber activity carried out by the Russian Government. The U.S. Government refers to malicious cyber activity by the Russian government as GRIZZLY STEPPE.

NCCIC encourages users and administrators to review the GRIZZLY STEPPE – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity page, which links to TA18-106A – Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Targeting Network Infrastructure Devices, for more information.

Senator Tom Cotton: Our nation’s communications networks benefit us in ways unimaginable at the start of the digital age.  But a potential danger lurks: hidden “backdoors” in network equipment.  A hostile foreign power could use these backdoors to spy on Americans or attack our critical infrastructure by injecting viruses or launching denial-of-service attacks.  These backdoors can be designed into routers, switches, and virtually any other type of telecommunications equipment that, together, make up our networks.

This highlights the importance of our networks’ supply chain—that is, the process by which telecommunications equipment is manufactured, sold, distributed, and installed.  Whether the threat involves hacking into our nation’s communications networks or conducting industrial or political espionage at the behest of a foreign government, the integrity of the supply chain has worried U.S. government officials for years.

In 2012, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a bipartisan report on the national security threats posed by certain foreign manufacturers.  This past year, Congress barred the Department of Defense from buying certain equipment and services from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE on account of concerns about those companies’ connections to that country’s government.  And Congress recently banned all federal agencies from using products or services made by Kaspersky Lab, a company with alleged ties to the Russian government.

We’re committed to protecting our national security, and this proposal is a prudent step to accomplish that goal.

But the supply-chain threat persists.  Just this February, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified about “the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.”  These risks include the ability to “maliciously modify or steal information” and “conduct undetected espionage.”  As the supply chain for our networks increasingly stretches beyond U.S. borders, this danger has become all too real.

Given the national security risks, we believe it’s time for more concerted federal action.  Among other things, that means making sure that our government doesn’t make the problem worse by spending the American people’s money on products and services from any company that poses a national security threat to our communications networks.

The Federal Communications Commission is a good place to start.  It regulates America’s communications networks.  And it administers the Universal Service Fund, an almost $9 billion-per-year program designed to ensure that all Americans have access to phone and broadband services.  The money in the Fund comes from fees paid by the American people on their phone bills.  About $4.7 billion annually is spent expanding high-speed Internet access in rural communities; $2.7 billion helps connect schools and libraries to the Internet; $1.3 billion assists in making phone and broadband services more affordable to low-income Americans; and about $300 million supports communications services for rural health-care facilities.  These are important programs.  But there’s no reason one dime of this funding should go to suppliers that raise national security concerns.  There are plenty of other providers we can use to help bridge the digital divide.

That’s why the FCC will vote on April 17 on Chairman Pai’s recent proposal to bar the use of universal service funding to buy equipment or services from any company that poses a national security threat to the integrity of our communications networks or the communications supply chain.  If approved, the proposal would also seek public input on how we should identify suspect firms and which types of telecommunications equipment or services should fall within the prohibition.  Everyone concerned about this issue will have a chance to weigh in.

Bottom line:  We’re committed to protecting our national security, and this proposal is a prudent step to accomplish that goal.  The FCC, Congress, and all government agencies must work together to safeguard the integrity of our communications supply chain.  We strongly urge the full Commission to approve this proposal and for other agencies to follow the lead.


Lessons for America, Courtesy of Russian Troll and Bots Operations

By: Denise Simon | Political Vanguard

Every political campaign in history has performed or been a victim of opposition research where items emerge that were both true and untrue. Opposition research has assumed new and global platforms where hostile and objectionable stories are planted in planned human form, automated form and in artificial form.

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg found himself on The Hill for two days before the House and Senate combined committees answering questions about internal operations, selling data to application developers and the deference of data-mining performed by artificial intelligence synthesis.

In the course of American political elections we learned about the St. Petersburg, Russia based Internet Research Agency, a troll farm, we learned about Cambridge Analytics and search engine manipulation of results pertaining to politicians and issues, most of all Google.

It is now easy to predict that every political season joined with campaigns and opposition parties will be the victims of trolls and bots and worse, continued fake news.

Then we have media that create trending scandals and actually create shallow and unverified dossiers themselves such as the New York Times, Media Matters and the Washington Post. For proof, we don’t have to look into the too distant past and remember the accusations against then U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. Over time, those female accusers and stories were for the most part dismissed and such appears to be the case with Missouri governor Eric Greitens and some mistress and some photo(s) on a cellphone that perhaps now she just dreamed about.

Russian trolling and bots are hardly a new phenomenon, yet the amoral political culture in America have applied those tactics effectively and they are here to stay.

Trolls and bots have been proven to have accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Other accounts such as a large Black Lives Matter Facebook account was created and administered by a white guy in Australia making full use of donations for his personal gain.

Media of all sorts collects topics, scandals, donations, speeches, appearances and exploits facts to fit twisted narratives while omitting other facts and evidence distorting context, circumstances and the full story.

The audience and users continue to allow others to lead with headlines that hardly speak or tell truths, all of it and the hate speech begins as well as censorship. The result? A polarized society where virtually any subject has lost common ground and the odds are that blame is misplaced. Unity is lost.

The Russian application of active measures is a layered operation and while trolls and bots are common, we see frequent plots employed by rogue actors and nation states. The United States is the naïve victim of such measures by organizations planted in industry, academia and government across the country. Beyond cyber theft and espionage, there are agreements and relationships. Senators Rubio and Cruz have been on a campaign with some effectiveness to dismiss the Confucius Institute from college campuses. Countries such as Iran and Russia have major lobby operations in the United States that affect news headlines and policy. The same goes for trolls, bots and a dossier or two or more.

Your work for the full facts, context and evidence just got harder because of opposition research, social media, sellout professors, money and news outlets.


The Denise Simon Experience – 04/12/18

The Denise Simon Experience

Hosted by DENISE SIMON, the Senior Research / Intelligence Analyst for Foreign and Domestic Policy for numerous flag officers and intelligence organizations.

THIS WEEK’S GUESTS: Major Scott Huesing, USMC / Rachel Bovard / Brian Tarling / Linda Wall

THURSDAYS: 9:00PM (eastern) on:
WJHC – Talk 107.5FM
WDDQ – Talk 92.1FM
WLBB – News Talk 1330AM

And on her Digital Flagship Station: TALK AMERICA RADIO – The NEW Dominant Force in Conservative Talk Radio

VISIT DENISE’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.FoundersCode.com