Monthly Archives: July 2017

Russia, China, North Korea, Iran: The Combined Threat

Several deeply disturbing international military actions were reported recently involving Iran, North Korea, China and Russia. It would be a serious mistake to consider these events in isolation, for they are, together, pieces of a coordinated threat that places the United States and its allies in increasing jeopardy.

The development of a powerful Iranian rocket, swiftly followed by another North Korean ICBM test, while Russia and China engaged in an extraordinary joint naval maneuver in the Baltic Sea sent a clear warning to the west. The actions headlined both the military prowess of each of the four nations involved, as well as the coordination and inter-cooperation of this unified threat.

According to the U.S. State Department “With its latest launch of a Simorgh space launch vehicle on 27 July, Iran has again demonstrated activity inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231. We condemn this action. This resolution calls upon Iran to not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such technology like this launch. Space launch vehicles use technologies that are closely related to those of ballistic missiles development, in particular to those of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. This step follows missile launches into Syria on 18 June and the test of a medium range ballistic missile on 4 July. Iran’s program to develop ballistic missiles continues to be inconsistent with UNSCR 2231 and has a destabilizing impact in the region. We call on Iran not to conduct any further ballistic missile launches and related activities. We are writing to the UN Secretary General with our concerns. The governments of France, Germany and the United Kingdom are discussing these issues bilaterally with Iran and are raising their concerns.”

Iran’s rocket launch was swiftly followed by a North Korean ICBM launch. The State Department  issued a similar statement: “The United States strongly condemns North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the second this month, in blatant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions that reflect the will of the international community. All nations should take a strong public stance against North Korea, by maintaining and strengthening UN sanctions to ensure North Korea will face consequences for its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. As the principal economic enablers of North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development program, China and Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability.”

China and Russia were apparently not content to just “bear responsibility” for their client states. While those missile and rocket tests were underway, Beijing and Moscow engaged in a joint naval exercise in the Baltic Sea. The U.S. Naval Institute (USNI)  notes that the maneuver “is raising eyebrows in northern Europe, NATO headquarters and Washington.” The German publication DW writes “China and Russia are signaling to NATO that they are willing to cooperate militarily and deepen diplomatic ties with joint naval maneuvers currently taking place in the Baltic Sea…”

The Chinese official organ People’s Daily described the joint operation: “The drill aims to develop China’s and Russia’s comprehensive strategic partnership, deepen friendly and pragmatic cooperation between the two armed forces…[the exercise is] the farthest from China for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy…‘an embodiment of confidence and power.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping added an exclamation point to China’s newly aggressive stance, including its alliance with Russia and its continued backing of North Korea, during a military parade held concurrently with its naval maneuvers in Europe in which his armed forces paraded its advance weaponry.  President Xi instructed his armed services to be an “elite force.”

According to Douglas Schoen and Melik Kaylan, authors of a study on the Moscow-Beijing alliance, the most formidable crisis facing the United States is the “unprecedented partnership developing between Russia and China…From their support for rogue regimes such as those in Iran, North Korea and Syria to their military and nuclear buildups…Moscow and Beijing are playing the game for keeps.”

There has been little discussion in the media about the interrelationship of these actions.  The inadequate analysis of the unified threat against the U.S. and its allies is a troubling reminder of the failure of many news outlets—and, inexcusably, many politicians–to comprehend the nature of the clear and present danger that is rapidly escalating.

America’s Educational Crisis, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government concludes its two-part look at the crisis in American education

Why Schools Fail

Part of the problem facing our education system has been the plague of left-oriented politicization of education.  Just as history and civics have been ignored by a progressive school establishment that is uncomfortable with America’s culture of individual rights, science education has suffered from the displacement of much traditional course matter with politically-motivated “sustainability” instruction. Writing in Science Education, Noah Weeth Feinstein and  Kathryn L. Kirchgasler worried that “…there may…be risks involved in incorporating sustainability into science education. What concerns us, in particular, is the possibility that science education will advance an oversimplified idea of sustainability that diminishes its social and ethical dimensions, exaggerating the role of technology and the importance of technical expertise at the expense of non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines and nontechnical expertise. Rather than supporting a generation of students to engage with science in realistic and productive…this approach might lead students to systematically misinterpret and underestimate the challenges that confront their local, regional, and global communities.”

While much attention has been paid to public education’s failings in science and literacy, not enough has been said about its disastrous record in a subject that constituted one of the key reasons why public education was instituted in the first place: teaching students about their own nation’s history, and how its government works. Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s most profound early supporter of education, was clear on why he believed it was so important: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be,”

As the New York Analysis of Policy & Government recently reported, “A Nations Report Card study found that only 18% of eighth grade students are proficient in U.S. history.  Similarly, a worrisome 2014 survey of 1,416 adults recently conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy  Center  found that:

  • While little more than a third of respondents (36 percent) could name all three branches of the U.S. government, just as many (35 percent) could not name a single one;
  • Just over a quarter of Americans (27 percent) know it takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto; and
  • One in five Americans (21 percent) incorrectly thinks that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration.

In 2014, Capitol Times.com quoted a statement by Arizona state legislator Steve Montenegro, a Republican, that “Civics and Social Studies and History are being boxed out of the classroom.”  He notes that “96% of a sample group of high schoolers in Arizona and Oklahoma failed to pass a basic test on citizenship issues.”

A 2013 Pew study found “Overall, 66% say either that the education system in this country needs to be completely rebuilt (21%) or that it requires major changes (45%); only 31% think the system works pretty well and requires only minor changes…The public has long seen room for improvement in the way education works in this country. At least six-in-ten have said the education system needed an overhaul when the question was asked in 2005, 2006 and 2011. And dissatisfaction is widely shared: majorities of all major demographic groups say the education system needs to be revamped…However, there is no difference in opinion between parents of children under age 18 and those without children under the age of 18, and about two-thirds of Republicans (65%), Democrats (67%), and independents (67%) agree that the education system needs at least major changes. College graduates (75%) are more likely than those with no college experience (60%) to say the education system needs major changes or to be completely rebuilt. However, there is a modest difference of opinion among college graduates: 68% of those with a post-graduate degree say the education system needs at least major changes compared with 79% of those with no more than a college degree.”

Why do our superbly financed public schools fail? Former NYC schools chancellor Joel Klein, writing in the Atlantic magazine answers this key question:

“If the forces behind reform seem scattered and weak, those defending the status quo—the unions, the politicians, the bureaucrats, and the vendors—are well organized and well financed…The school system doesn’t want to change, because it serves the needs of the adult stakeholders quite well, both politically and financially.

“Let’s start with the politicians. From their point of view, the school system can be enormously helpful, providing patronage hires, school-placement opportunities for connected constituents, the means to get favored community and business programs adopted and funded, and politically advantageous ties to schools and parents in their communities…politicians can reap enormous political support from the unions representing school employees. The two national unions—the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association—together have some 4.7 million members, who pay hundreds of millions of dollars in national, state, and local dues, much of which is funneled to political causes. Teachers unions consistently rank among the top spenders on politics.

“Moreover, millions of union members turn out when summoned, going door-to-door, staffing phone banks, attending rallies, and the like. Teachers are extremely effective messengers to parents, community groups, faith-based groups, and elected officials, and the unions know how to deploy them well…Albert Shanker, the late, iconic head of the UFT, once pointedly put it, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”

Klein goes on to illustrate how, due to union pressure, firing a teacher for bad or even illegal conduct is almost impossible, and how pension benefits dramatically higher than the average American receives is bankrupting school systems.

The federal government’s growing role in education has exacerbated the already serious problems. As the author of the Declaration of Independence explained, “But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by…[any] general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience…” The Daily Signal notes that “While Jefferson supported the idea of public education, he would not have placed schools under government supervision. Instead, he argued for the placement of ‘each school at once under the care of those most interested in its conduct.’ He would put parents in charge… Taxpayers would provide the resources for public education; the community would arrange the schooling.”

SOLUTIONS

While the problems facing American schools are serious, the solutions need not be painful. In 2015, The New York Analysis of Policy & Government recommended:

  • End “mission creep.” Increasingly, schools are tasked with ever increasing responsibilities to feed and babysit their students. Neither should be the prime purpose of educational institutions. The focus should be, as exclusively as possible, on learning.
  • Spend dollars on actual instruction, not on patronage or community relations positions, non-pedagogical staff or non-pedagogical activities. For far too long, the needs of the students have played second fiddle to those of unions, community organizers, and politicians.
  • Emphasize the basics and stop spending dollars and time on educational fads. Students who can’t read well or perform basic math will not succeed. Students who don’t know the basic facts of American history and civics will not have the tools to be intelligent citizens. The latest version of “new math” and other fads almost always fail to accomplish anything.
  • Take Washington bureaucrats out of the picture. The federal government has failed to improve academic achievement, but it has wasted taxpayer dollars and distracted local schools from their primary tasks.
  • Take truly troubled students out of the mainstream and place them into special programs where their needs can be met.
  • Provide facts, not opinions, in lessons. More and more, opinions are replacing actual facts and traditional values in such subjects as history, social studies, civics, and even reading.

Lawrence J. Fedewa, writing in the Washington Times, examined the terrible statistics resulting from America’s failing education system and warned that   “It is clear that failing schools lead to failing societies. According to these data, our turn is coming if not already here. Our schools need a lot of fixing if America is to retain its standard of living…”

 

America’s Educational Crisis

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government takes a two-part look at the crisis in American education

One of the most fundamental requirements for the future success of the United States is the development of a well-educated generation, competitive with global peers.  This is not happening. Our failing school system is producing students who are disturbingly deficient in both science and language skills, as well as being ignorant of their own nation’s history and structure.

The federal government has been steadily increasing its role in education, states have been spending more, and the results have not been beneficial. The Wall Street Journal notes that the U.S. rates a dismal 27th place in education among developed nations. The U.S. Dept. of Education reports that “Today, the United States has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the world. Among students who do complete high school and go on to college, nearly half require remedial courses, and nearly half never graduate.”

Money Isn’t the Problem

It’s certainly not for lack of financial support.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics  “Current expenditures per student enrolled in the fall in public elementary and secondary schools were 5 percent higher in 2013–14 than in 2003–04 ($11,222 and $10,641 respectively, both in constant 2015–16 dollars). A CBS report found that “The United States spends more than other developed nations on its students’ education each year…Despite the  spending, U.S. students still trail their rivals on international tests…When researchers factored in the cost for programs after high school education such as college or vocational training, the United States spent $15,171 on each young person in the system — more than any other nation covered in the report…As a share of its economy, the United States spent more than the average country in the survey. In 2010, the United States spent 7.3 percent of its gross domestic product on education, compared with the 6.3 percent average of other OECD countries…The United States routinely trails its rival countries in performances on international exams despite being among the heaviest spenders on education…U.S. fourth-graders are 11th in the world in math in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, a separate measure of nations against each other. U.S. eighth-graders ranked ninth in math, according to those 2011 results. The Program for International Student Assessment measurement found the United States ranked 31st in math literacy among 15-year-old students and below the international average. The same 2009 tests found the United States ranked 23rd in science among the same students.”

Schools Get Failing Grades

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)–sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. Education Reform and National Security reported these grim statistics in 2012:

  • More than 25 percent of students fail to graduate from high school in four years; for African-American and Hispanic students, this number is approaching 40 percent.
  • In civics, only a quarter of U.S. students are proficient or better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
  • Although the United States is a nation of immigrants, roughly eight in ten Americans speak only English and a decreasing number of schools are teaching foreign languages.
  • A recent report by ACT, the not-for-profit testing organization, found that only 22 percent of U.S. high school students met “college ready” standards in all of their core subjects; these figures are even lower for African-American and Hispanic students.
  • The College Board reported that even among college-bound seniors, only 43 percent met college-ready standards, meaning that more college students need to take remedial courses.

Cevin Soling, writing in The Daily Beast reported: “ The [high school] curriculum has precious few courses that provide skills that are meaningful in the job market…1 in 3 high school graduates lacks basic math skills… two studies by the Department of Education show that only 15% of American adults can perform complex and challenging literacy activities and those proficient are much more likely to credit home learning for their skills.”

The Report continues tomorrow.

U.S. Reviews Russian Military Power, Part 2

The Defense Intelligence Agency has just issued its report on Russian military Power.  The New York Analysis of Policy & Government has examined the report, and concludes its summary in this article.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has released its 2017 report on Russian military power The New York Analysis of Policy & Government has reviewed the document.  Today’s summary of key points looks at advanced weaponry and tactics.

Space/Counterspace

The Russian General Staff postulates that modern warfare is increasingly reliant on information, particularly from space, because of the expansion of the geographic scope of military action and the information needs of high-precision weapons. Russia has a significant constellation of satellites in orbit. According to Colonel Sergey Marchuk, chief of the Main Test Space Center, Russia has more than 130 spacecraft, civilian and military, performing communications, navigation, geodetic survey support, meteorological, reconnaissance, and intelligence gathering missions. Russia’s space program is both formidable and in a state of rebuilding. Moscow seeks to maintain the health of its current constellations while deploying a next-generation architecture on par with Western space systems. Over the next several years, Russia will prioritize the modernization of its existing communications, navigation, and earth observation systems, while continuing to rebuild its electronic intelligence and early warning system constellations.

Russia’s current systems provide an array of capability including high-resolution imagery, terrestrial and space weather, communications, navigation, missile warning, electronic intelligence, and scientific observations. With a long-standing heritage in space, Russia gains a sense of national pride from its space program, which has included manned missions and leading the world in space launches. Russia has concluded that gaining and maintaining supremacy in space has a decisive impact on the outcome of future conflicts.

The Russian General Staff argues for pursuing in wartime such strategies as disrupting foreign military C2 or information support because they are so critical to the fast-paced, high-technology conflicts characteristic of modern warfare. Military capabilities for space deterrence include strikes against satellites or ground-based infrastructure supporting space operations.

In 2015, Russia created the Russian Federation Aerospace Forces by merging the former Air Force and Aerospace Defense Troops.

Cyber

Russia views the information sphere as a key domain for modern military conflict. Moscow perceives the information domain as strategically decisive and critically important to control its domestic populace and influence adversary states. Information warfare is a key means of achieving its ambitions of becoming a dominant player on the world stage.

Since at least 2010, the Russian military has prioritized the development of forces and means for what it terms “information confrontation,” which is a holistic concept for ensuring information superiority, during peacetime and wartime. This concept includes control of the information content as well as the technical means for disseminating that content. Cyber operations are part of Russia’s attempts to control the information environment.

The weaponization of information is a key aspect of Russia’s strategy and is employed in time of peace, crisis, and war. In practice, information battles draw upon psychological warfare tactics and techniques from the Soviet Era for influencing Western societies. Moscow views information and psychological warfare as a measure to neutralize adversary actions in peace to prevent escalation to crisis or war.

Chief of the General Staff Gerasimov announced that “information operations troops” were involved for the first time in the Kavkaz-2016 strategic command staff exercise in September 2016, demonstrating Russian military commitment to controlling the information domain.

Cyber-Enabled Psychological Operations

One of the newest tools in Russia’s information toolkit is the use of cyber-enabled psychological operations that support its strategic and tactical information warfare objectives. These new techniques involve compromising networks for intelligence information that could be used to embarrass, discredit, or falsify information. Compromised material can then be leaked to the media at inopportune times.

  • Hacktivists. Russian intelligence services have been known to co-opt or masquerade as other hacktivist groups. These groups appeal to Russia due to the difficulty of attribution and the level of anonymity pro – vided. It is widely accepted that Russia, via patriotic hackers, conducted a cyber attack on Estonia in 2007. Under the guise of hacktivism, a group called “CyberCaliph – ate,” seemingly ISIS associated, conducted a hack against French station TV5 Monde in January 2015. The CyberCaliphate group was later linked to Russian military hackers. The same group hijacked the Twitter feed of the U.S. Central Command.

. CyberBerkut – A False Persona. Russian hackers also use false personas. CyberBerkut is a front organization for Russian state-sponsored cyber activity, supporting Russia’s military operations and strategic objectives in Ukraine. CyberBerkut employs a range of both technical and propaganda attacks, consistent with the Russian concept of “information confrontation.” Since emerging in March 2014, CyberBerkut has been implicated in multiple incidents of cyber espionage and attack, including distributed denial of service attacks against NATO, Ukraine, and German government websites. More recently, it has focused on the online publication of hacked documents, ostensibly obtained from the Ukrainian government and political figures’ computers. CyberBerkut uses information gained through these hacks to discredit the Ukrainian government. The intent is to demoralize, embarrass, and create distrust of elected officials.

  • Trolls. Russia employs a troll army of paid online commentators who manipulate or try to change the narrative of a given story in Russia’s favor. Russia’s Troll Army, also known as the Internet Research Agency, is a state-funded organization that blogs and tweets on behalf of the Kremlin.304 Trolls typically post pro-Kremlin content and facilitate heated discussions in the comments sections of news articles. Their goal is to counter negative media and “Western influence.” While the goal of some trolls is to simply disrupt negative content, other trolls promote completely false content.
  • Bots. Another way Russia manipulates the information space is through the use of bots. Bots are automated pushers of content on social media. These bots vary in sophistication and can continuously push content or imitate real life patterns. Bots can drown out unwanted content or push a specific message. Bots have the ability to overwhelm the information space and discourage readers from looking for real content.

Electronic Warfare

Based on authoritative military academic writings, the Russian military views electronic warfare as an essential tool for gaining and maintaining information superiority over its adversaries. Russia’s world-class electronic warfare forces support denial and deception operations and allow identification, interception, disruption, and, in combination with traditional fires, destruction of adversary command, control, communications, and intelligence capabilities.

In addition to technical disruption, effective use of electronic warfare can confuse adversary commanders and decision-making at any or all levels, demoralize opposing troops, and allow Russian forces to seize the operational initiative. Russia has fielded a wide range of ground-based electronic warfare systems to counter GPS, tactical communications, satellite communications, and radars. Further, military academics have suggested that electronic warfare fuse with cyber operations, allowing electronic warfare forces to corrupt and disable computers and networked systems as well as disrupt use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Russia has aspirations to develop and field a full spectrum of electronic warfare capabilities to counter Western C4ISR and weapons guidance systems.

Power Projection

Moscow continues to prioritize modernizing its military forces, viewing military power as critical to achieving key strategic objectives and global influence. Russian acquisition plans for its ground, air, naval, and missile forces are designed to enable the ability to conduct out of area operations during peacetime and to contest U.S./NATO military superiority in the event of a regional conflict. The rebuilt Russian military includes modernized, agile general purpose forces, vital to limited out-of-area power projection.

Underground Facilities

Russia inherited a vast underground facilities (UGFs) program from the Soviet Union, primarily designed to ensure the survival of the leadership and military command and control in wartime. This program involved the construction of underground bunkers, tunnels, secret subway lines, and other facilities beneath Moscow, other major Russian cities, and the sites of major military commands. Although the majority of these hardened facilities are near-surface bunkers, many critical sites are built deep underground and, in some cases, are hundreds of meters deep.

Deep underground command posts both within and outside of Moscow are interconnected by a network of special deep subway lines that provide leadership a quick and secure means of evacuation. The leadership can move from their peacetime offices through concealed entryways to protective quarters beneath the city. A deep underground facility at the Kremlin and an enormous underground leadership bunker adjacent to Moscow State University are intended for the National Command Authority in wartime. They are estimated to be 200–300 meters deep and can accommodate an estimated 10,000 people.

The leadership can remain beneath Moscow or travel along the special subway lines that connect these urban facilities to their preferred deep underground command posts outside the city, and possibly to the VIP terminal at Vnukovo Airfield, 27 kilometers southwest of the Kremlin. Two of the most important underground complexes for the National Command Authority and General Staff are located some 60 kilometers south of the city.

Denial and Deception

The Russian military relies on extensive use of denial and deception (maskirovka) to obscure intentions and conceal military movement. The family of capabilities that composed traditional maskirovka includes camouflage, deception, denial, subversion, sabotage, espionage, propaganda, and psychological operations.

Moscow employed maskirovka at the beginning of the 2014 conflict in Ukraine, when media reported on the presence of “little green men” in Crimea who strongly resembled Russian soldiers although they wore uniforms without insignia identifying their origins. President Putin insisted they were “self-defense groups” or “volunteers.” By the time Moscow admitted to the presence of Russian troops in Crimea, this deception had created enough confusion to forestall significant international intervention in the conflict, and the ground reality was irreversibly tipped in Russia’s favor.

Outlook: A Modernizing Force

Recently, Russian forces have been involved in conflict in Ukraine and conducted an expeditionary deployment to Syria, providing experience in combat operations, and employing new tactics and advanced weapons systems. This more flexible and modern Russian force did not spring up overnight but is a result of years of concentrated effort to develop and field an improved military force.

Russia is rapidly fielding a modern force that can challenge adversaries and support its “great power” aspirations.

U.S. Reviews Russian Military Power

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has just issued its report on Russian military Power.  The New York Analysis of Policy & Government has examined the report, and summarizes key points in today and tomorrow’s articles.

U.S. REVIEW OF RUSSIAN MILITARY POWER

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has released its 2017 report on Russian military power .  The New York Analysis of Policy & Government has reviewed the document, and presents key excerpts.

Russia Resurgent

The resurgence of Russia on the world stage—seizing the Crimean Peninsula, destabilizing eastern Ukraine, intervening on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and shaping the information environment to suit its interests—poses a major challenge to the United States.

Moscow will continue to aggressively pursue its foreign policy and security objectives by employing the full spectrum of the state’s capabilities. Its powerful military, coupled with the actual or perceived threat of intervention, allows its whole-of-government efforts to resonate widely. Russia continues to modernize its extensive nuclear forces and is developing long range precision-guided conventional weapons systems. It is manipulating the global information environment, employing tools of indirect action against countries on its periphery and using its military for power projection and expeditionary force deployments far outside its borders. Its ultimate deterrent is a robust nuclear force capable of conducting a massed nuclear strike on targets in the United States within minutes.

Within the next decade, an even more confident and capable Russia could emerge.

DEFENSE BUDGET

Russian government spending on national defense has generally grown over the last decade and in 2016 reached a post-Soviet record. This increase in defense spending was enabled by both a general increase in the size of Russia’s GDP and a political decision to increase the defense burden—the share of national wealth devoted to defense. The 2016 budget is 4.5% defense burden on GDP. [U.S. spends approximately 3.5%.]

Russia’s commitment to building its military is demonstrated by its retention of the draft. All Russian males are required to register for the draft at 17 years of age and all men between the ages of 18 and 27 are obligated by law to perform one year of military service.

CORE RUSSIAN MILITARY CAPABILITIES

Nuclear Weapons

Moscow plans to spend about $28 billion by 2020 to upgrade the capacity of its strategic nuclear triad.

Russia continues to retain a sizable nuclear stockpile even after several decades of arms reduction treaties. Russia has a large nuclear weapons infrastructure and a production base capable of producing large numbers of new nuclear weapons annually.

According to Russia’s New START Treaty data provided on 1 April 2017, Russia declared 1,765 warheads on 523 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers.215 Russia currently has an active stockpile of approximately 2,000 non-strategic nuclear weapons. These include air-to-surface missiles, short-range ballistic missiles, gravity bombs, and depth charges for medium-range bombers, tactical bombers, and naval aviation, as well as anti-ship, anti-submarine, and anti-aircraft missiles, and torpedoes for sur – face ships and submarines. There may also be warheads remaining for surface-to-air and other aerospace defense missile systems.

Biological & Chemical Weapons

In 1992, then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin admitted having an offensive biological weapons program and publicly committed to its termination. Subsequently, the Russian government reversed itself and now claims neither the Soviet Union nor Russia has ever pursued an offensive biological weapons program. In 1997, Moscow declared the world’s largest stockpile of chemical agents and munitions—40,000 metric tons of agents—under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The declared inventory consisted of a comprehensive array of traditional chemical warfare agents filled in munitions such as artillery, bombs, and missile warheads, as well as stored in bulk.

As a state party to the CWC, Russia is obligated to destroy its chemical weapon stockpile. As of January 2017, Russia had destroyed 96.4% of its declared chemical weapons stockpile, according to press reporting.  Russia intends to complete destruction of its remaining declared stockpile by 2020. Moscow has completed destruction activities and closed the facilities in Gornyy, Kambarka, Maradykovskiy, Leonidovka, Schchuch’ye, and Pochep and continues destruction of its remaining chemical weapons stockpile at a facility in Kizner. Russia used chemical incapacitants to resolve the Dubrovka Theater hostage situation in 2002 and may consider using them in other counterterrorism actions.

Information Operations

Information operations are seen as a critical capability to achieve decisive results in the initial period of conflict with a focus on control of the information spectrum in all dimensions of the modern battle space. Authors often cite the need in modern warfare to control information—sometimes termed “information blockade” or “information dominance”—and to seize the initiative early and deny an adversary use of the information space in a campaign so as to set the conditions needed for “decisive success.” Russia continues to emphasize electronic warfare and other information warfare capabilities, including denial and deception as part of its approach to all aspects of warfare including Anti-access/area denial (A2/AD.)

Strategic Air Operations

Russian doctrine continues to emphasize that strategic objectives can be achieved with mass aerospace strikes early in a conflict with victory achieved without the seizure and occupation of territory by forces.

Russian doctrine places a great deal of emphasis on aerospace defense as a key component in its overall A2/AD strategy. Though still in development, Russia’s 21st century integrated air defense system will be designed to integrate future and existing systems around a central command structure that is designed to promote the interaction of all air defense forces and weapons. Capabilities optimized against cruise missiles are key to this defense component, not just those optimized to target aircraft.

Russia continues to develop a variety of sea and aerospace-based programs that offer a variety of offensive and defensive capabilities that could enable the implementation of its integrated A2/AD strategy. These include the continued production and deployment of coastal defense cruise missiles, air/surface/ sub-surface-launched anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs),249 submarine-launched torpedoes, and naval mines, along with Russian fighter, bomber, and surface-to-air missile capability.

Precision Strike

Russia was unable to achieve real progress in the development of precision strike until the first decade of the 21st century, when it was able to create a viable state armaments program that allowed prioritization of certain key components of 21st-century warfare. Between 2010 and 2015, Russia’s strategic forces, space and aerospace defense platforms, and precision-guided munitions such as ISKANDER, KALIBR, or KH-101 were defined as priorities, and system development, production, and testing occurred. The effectiveness of precision-guided munitions are being tested in a variety of settings, as well as operationally against targets in Syria beginning in 2015.

The Report concludes tomorrow.

What Destroyed America’s Middle Class Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government concludes its review of the policies and trends that have severely harmed America’s middle class

A substantial portion of the downturn in the middle class has been the loss of steady, well-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector.

According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing “Over 63,000 factories have closed since 2001, and 5.1 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2000. President Bill Clinton dramatic alteration in trade relations with China bears a great deal of responsibility for the manufacturing employment exodus. His “U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000” granted permanent normal trade relations with China…It is reasonable to ask why Clinton advocated a measure that clearly would harm industrial workers.”

Michael Bargo, Jr., writing in the American Thinker  believes the problem began early in the Clinton presidency, on May 28, 1993, he issued Executive Order 12850, which “illegally shifted the decision-making role [about China’s trade status] to the Secretary of State… Clinton’s Executive Order was issued at a time when the U.S.-China trade deficit was only $18 billion a year. In 2015 the deficit was $367 billion.”

Bargo provides a suggested motive for the odd move: “just as the Clinton Foundation has been linked to relationships Hillary had to her speech payers and donors, Bill Clinton’s decision to send jobs to China by permanently controlling its MFN status has been linked to campaign donations. Boeing Company wanted the EO. Boeing was the parent company of the Loral Corporation, which donated $100,000 to the Democratic National Committee in June, 1994, according to a Washington Post report at the time. A nice reward to Clinton for his MFN status change. The Loral Corporation is a major developer of missile flight control software and at the time they wanted to launch satellites from China. Boeing also owned McDonnell-Douglas which in 1994 made an agreement with China to open a parts factory in Beijing. If this all seems oddly similar to the deals Hillary made with foundation campaign donors, well, that’s because it is.”

There is some slight cause for optimism, though.  AP  reported in May that American industry expanded production last month at the fastest pace in more than three years. President Trump’s emphasis on U.S. manufacturing, and his rejection of extremist environmental policies, particularly regarding coal, are bright spots.

Another factor detrimentally affecting the middle class is America’s high corporate tax rate, which has chased jobs offshore. The Daily Signal  notes that “The U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest in the developed world—by a long shot. At 39.1 percent (35 percent federal rate plus the average of state rates), it remains substantially higher than the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 25 percent. Combined with the ‘worldwide” tax system’ employed by the U.S. (where companies’ overseas income is taxed when they return it to this country) the excessively high corporate tax rate poses serious problems for the American economy.”

The final nail in the middle class coffin came courtesy of Obamacare.

Alexander Hendrie, writing for The Hill explained that “ObamaCare imposed a long list of taxes that directly hit middle class families. Further, the ACA legislation increased medical costs overall for middle class Americans.  It also harmed middle class-owned businesses. “the 3.8 percent net investment income tax on capital gains and dividends…hits many small businesses organized as pass-through entities that file as individuals, increasing their top federal rate to almost 45 percent.”

Zero Hedge  reports that “Per the Wall Street Journal, since 2007 middle class families have been forced to increase the share of their overall spending on healthcare by nearly 25% while cutting back massively on other necessities to cover the difference.”

This month, The Wall Street Journal reported that “Thanks to the ACA, hiring the 50th full-time employee effectively costs another $70,000 a year on top of the normal salary and benefits. Many business owners have described how this penalty prevents them from hiring and has caused them to reduce work hours to below the full-time threshold…Many businesses, when they do not offer coverage, keep their payrolls just below 50 full-time employees and thereby narrowly escape the ACA’s penalty…. the businesses employing just fewer than 50 often said the ACA caused them to hire less and cut hours below the full-time threshold. The penalty caused payrolls to shrink or prevented them from growing. Nationwide, we estimate the ACA-inspired practice of keeping payrolls below 50 has cost roughly 250,000 jobs. This does not count jobs lost when businesses close … or shrink because of other ACA incentives.”

What Destroyed America’s Middle Class

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government reviews, in two parts, the policies and trends that have severely harmed America’s middle class

At first glance, the U.S. economy seems to be doing quite well. The June report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics  indicated that America’s businesses added 222,000 jobs last month, a four month high. In May, the unemployment rate reached a phenomenal 16 year low. Another encouraging sign, though a small one: The job participation rate ticked slightly upwards as well. Those who had left the labor force entirely jumped back in greater numbers than at any time since 1990.

But dig a bit deeper, and troublesome indicators appear. Average hourly pay growth is anemic, and that backbone of the economy, middle income jobs, remains at seriously depressed levels. This is not the result of any cyclical downturn, or even the lingering effects of the 2007 recession. Rather, it is due to bad policy decisions over the past 18 years, as well as the impact of technology.

Bloomberg News puts in this way:  “A strange thing seems to be happening to the U.S. economy. On surveys, businesspeople and consumers say the future looks bright. But recent economic activity hasn’t appeared very robust…The University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers show confidence at the highest levels they’ve been since before the crisis…But again, some hard numbers tell a different story. Retail sales fell in May, and have been relatively lackluster for the entire year. Auto sales are falling as well. Since cars are expensive, long-term purchases, consumers often signal lack of optimism by holding back on the purchase of a new car, choosing instead to drive their old model for a little while longer. So this is another data point that belies rosy consumer confidence numbers. Pending home sales provide a third spot of weakness.”

Middle Class Loses Ground

The reality is, middle income Americans are losing ground. In December, 2015, Pew Social Trends  reported “…middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.”

In a subsequent report, Pew Social Trends noted that “The American middle class is losing ground in metropolitan areas across the country, affecting communities from Boston to Seattle and from Dallas to Milwaukee. From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas, compared with a 4-point drop nationally.”

In a 2011Forbes article, Jenna Goudreau reports:  “Are stable, well-paying middle-class jobs an endangered species? Economists say: Sort of. ‘The idea that one can have a single-earner family, get a good job, keep it for life and have a comfortable living is all but gone,’ says Kevin Hallock, professor of labor economics and director of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University. ‘Long-term job stability is declining, … Generally, jobs are disappearing where there’s been a technological advance …or a change in the way that organizations function, says Hallock. And not only are old-fashioned assembly line jobs on the decline, several white-collar office positions are also in jeopardy. ‘There has been some long-term decline in middle-income jobs,’ says Harry Holzer, Georgetown University economist and co-author of Where Are All The Good Jobs Going. ‘Specifically, it’s good-paying production and clerical jobs that are disappearing.’ …Because over 20 million people count on clerical work, the vanishing act is a major blow to the middle, but there are other more niche positions that are also on the chopping block. Internet travel sites have essentially erased the need for travel agents, an occupation which declined by 14% and 12,500 jobs in the last five years for which data is available. Similarly, proofreaders—generally highly skilled workers with a four-year college degree—were once vital to publications and communications departments. These positions shriveled by 31%, likely due to advanced software, Holzer says.”

Bipartisan Recognition

The plight of the middle class has been recognized by both those on the right, who agree with President Trump’s drive to protect U.S. manufacturing and stop illegal immigration, and those on the left, who are emphasize the need for ‘living wage’jobs.

In 2016, Common Dreams, a progressive publication, notes: “Our middle-income jobs are disappearing…the evidence shows that living-wage, family-sustaining positions are quickly being replaced by lower-wage and less secure forms of employment. These plentiful low-level jobs have padded the unemployment figures, leaving much of America believing in an overhyped recovery…research is beginning to confirm the permanent nature of middle-income job loss. Based on analysis that one reviewer calls ‘some of the most important work done by economists in the last twenty years,’a National Bureau of Economic Research study found that national employment levels have fallen in U.S. industries that are vulnerable to import competition, without offsetting job gains in other industries. Even the Wall Street Journal admits that ‘many middle-wage occupations, those with average earnings between $32,000 and $53,000, have collapsed.”

The Report concludes tomorrow.

The Descent of American Journalism, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government concludes its look at the latest challenges to journalistic ethics.

The collapse of objectivity in journalism has been noted by respected members and observers of the media who are not engaged in the worrisome trend.

In her significant book, The Silencing, journalist Kristen Powers discusses how the media has purged those who disagree with left-wing bias.

“The vast majority of people who work in the mainstream media are left of center….and some prominent journalists have openly confessed it…Daniel Okrent…conceded in July 2004, when he was editor of the New York Times, that on social issues…’if you think the Times plays it down the middle…you’ve been reading the paper with your eyes closed.’ Similarly, at the Washington Post in 2005, one of the paper’s editors, Marie Arana, wrote “The elephant in the room is our narrowness.  Too often, we wear liberalism on our sleeve and are intolerant of other lifestyles and opinions…if you work here, you must be one of us. You must be libweral, progressive, a Democrat.”

The American Press Institute has discussed the “The lost meaning of ‘objectivity.”

“Journalists who select sources to express what is really their own point of view, and then use the neutral voice to make it seem objective, are engaged in a form of deception. This damages the credibility of the craft by making it seem unprincipled, dishonest, and biased.”

Michael Goodwin, in a landmark speech at Hillsdale College reported in Imprimis, said that

“I’ve been a journalist for a long time. Long enough to know that it wasn’t always like this… last year’s election gave us the gobsmacking revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale—that most of what you read, watch, and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility. I have never seen anything like it. Not even close.

“It’s not exactly breaking news that most journalists lean left…But I was still shocked at what happened…This was a whole new approach to politics. No one in modern times had seen anything like it…The evidence was on the front page, the back page, the culture pages, even the sports pages. It was at the top of the broadcast and at the bottom of the broadcast…We were watching the total collapse of standards, with fairness and balance tossed overboard. Every story was an opinion masquerading as news…For the most part, I blame The New York Times and The Washington Post for causing this breakdown…They set the tone, and most of the rest of the media followed like lemmings…

“…the papers dropped the pretense of fairness and jumped headlong into the tank for one candidate over the other. …What happened to fairness? What happened to standards?

…If I haven’t made it clear, let me do so now. The behavior of much of the media, but especially The New York Times, was a disgrace. I don’t believe it ever will recover the public trust it squandered…

“Free speech is under assault, most obviously on many college campuses, but also in the news media, which presents a conformist view to its audience and gets a politically segregated audience in return.”

Goodwin believes that advances in technology may be the savior of free speech, despite censorship attempts by Facebook and Google.

Long the subject of criticism for left-wing bias, the 2016 campaign brought into clear focus the extraordinary extent of journalism’s’ lost standards.

On election day, Kelly Riddell, reporting for the Washington Times  noted: “There’s one thing I’m certain about going into Wednesday: The mainstream media is going to need to go through a serious readjustment period after this presidential election. The collusion between reporters and the Clinton campaign, revealed by WikiLeaks, have laid bare to the American public the left-leaning bias of the press. The American public thinks the media wants Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to win by an almost 10-to-1 margin, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll released late last month. It mirrors an Associated Press/GkF poll showing 56 percent of likely voters, including 87 percent of Donald Trump’s supporters, believe the media is against him. The mainstream media has let the American public down in serving their own interests.”

The Descent of American Journalism

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government takes a two-part look at the latest reduction in journalistic ethics.

The descent of American journalism continues, as the last vestiges of objectivity from the most well-known news sources continue to be reduced. The traditional leaders in the field have chosen to become partisan advocates, rather than reporters.

The problem was highlighted in May, when the New York Times decided to eliminate the position of “public editor,” which was held at the time by Liz Spayd. The public editor was charged with keeping the Times honest.  The publication had suffered substantial damage to its reputation over the past decade as charges of both plagiarism and bias were levied and authenticated.

In doing so, the Times joins the nation’s other best-known newspaper, the Washington Post, in doing away with personnel charged with retaining journalistic standards. In 2013, the Washington Post (which, ironically has as its motto “Democracy dies in Darkness,”) announced that it would no longer have an ombudsman to insure the quality of its reporting, ending a 43-year old practice.

Will Oremus, who was not particularly complimentary towards Spayd, nevertheless wrote in Slate magazine,  that the Times’ first public editor, Daniel Okrent, had “challenged the paper to introspect more honestly…he took a thoughtful look at the Times’ reliance on anonymous sources—as urgent a topic today as it was then.”

A publication that is as conservative as Slate is leftist, the National Review,  blasted the Times’ move.

“Now the Times has joined the WaPo [Washington Post] in dumping its designated internal soul-searcher …Spayd, who said upon her appointment last summer that “I’m not here to make friends,” was apparently a little too good at not making them… Spayd… said that journalists shouldn’t ‘apply their own moral and ideological judgments to the candidate.”

One of Spayds’ moves that apparently infuriated her employers was discussing bias (in favor of Clinton, and against Trump) in the 2016 campaign.  Kyle Smith, writing for the National Review, reports that “After Spayd told Tucker Carlson that some tweets by professionally neutral Times news reporters that displayed open contempt for and hostility to Donald Trump were ‘outrageous’ and ‘over the line’ and should face ‘some kind of consequence,’ the blue-checkmark battalions rose up to denounce Spayd, calling her ‘the worst possible public editor for the Trump era’ and ‘a disgrace,’ adding that the Times had ‘embarrassed itself’ by hiring her.”

The Times decision came at roughly the same time as another major embarrassment to journalism was revealed.

On June 27, Project Veritas  released a video of CNN Producer John Bonifield, captured via one of the organization’s hidden cameras,  stating  that there is no proof to CNN’s ongoing claim about a Trump-Russian collusion. The video shows Bonifield stating, concerning the story, “I mean, it’s mostly b******t right now…Like, we don’t have any giant proof …I haven’t seen any good enough evidence to show that the President committed a crime. I just feel like they don’t really have it but they want to keep digging. And so I think the President is probably right to say, like, look you are witch hunting me. You have no smoking gun, you have no real proof.”

Project Veritas describes Bonifield asserting that the instructions came from CNN CEO Jeff Zucker: “Just to give you some context, President Trump pulled out of the climate accords and for a day and a half we covered the climate accords. And the CEO of CNN (Jeff Zucker) said in our internal meeting, he said good job everybody covering the climate accords, but we’re done with that, let’s get back to Russia.”

CNN has retracted parts of its Russian story. In the aftermath, three of its key editorial personnel resigned. A CNN Money article stated: “Three CNN journalists, including the executive editor in charge of a new investigative unit, have resigned after the publication of a Russia-related article that was retracted. Thomas Frank, who wrote the story in question; Eric Lichtblau, an editor in the unit; and Lex Haris, who oversaw the unit, have all left CNN. ‘In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignations of the employees involved in the story’s publication,” a spokesman said…. An internal investigation by CNN management found that some standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published, people briefed on the results of the investigation said. The story, which reported that Congress was investigating a ‘Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials,’ cited a single anonymous source.”

CNN has sought to make those three the token sacrifice for its corporate-wide mishandling of the news. Retracting a single story has not remedied the overall problem of CNNs’ exceptionally biased leftist reporting, which prompted it to gain the nickname “Clinton News Network” during the 2016 campaign.

A Rasmussen poll released in January found that “Among those who tune in to cable news networks at least occasionally, 42% say Fox News is the channel they generally watch, compared to 35% who turn to CNN and 19% who prefer MSNBC. These findings, too, are little changed from last year. Among cable news network viewers who watch Fox News most often, 50% say they trust the political news they are getting. That compares to 43% of MSNBC viewers and just 33% who tune in mostly to CNN.”

The Report concludes tomorrow.