Sunday, February 22, 2009
Two admirals met in 1999 in Hawaii. One was from Washington, the other from Beijing. The Chinese officer rudely critiqued U.S. policy toward Taiwan. The American listened and then said, "Let me tell you a couple of things."
Gesturing toward the Pacific, he continued, "First, I own the water out there. Second, I own the sky over the water out there. Now, don't you think we should talk about something constructive?"
The American was Adm. Dennis Blair, 62, at the time commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, and he confirms the story. A sixth-generation naval officer, he now is director of National Intelligence and President Barack Obama's chief security adviser.
The admiral did not work on the presidential campaign and served only as a sporadic adviser to Mr. Obama in the Senate. An Annapolis graduate, as a Rhodes Scholar in the same class as Bill Clinton, he earned a master's degree in Russian studies at Oxford.
Back in the U.S. Navy he commanded destroyers and the Kitty Hawk Battle Group.
Known as an intense workaholic, he also tried to water ski in Japanese waters while being towed by his destroyer. As the ship stepped up its speed, Blair lost control and was dunked, to the delight of the ship's crew, which had been promised entertainment by the skipper.
It is said that the four-star admiral resigned from the Navy, ending his 34-year career, when he was passed over as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld considered him too independent.
Meanwhile, before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Blair, sounding like a university scholar rather than the fighting Navy commander he has been, detailed just how the threat of terrorism and the dangers of wars were now outweighed by the global economic crisis.
Recent fears were not ignored. Blair spoke about global struggles for energy, food and water resources, exploding populations and the threat to our information networks by hackers.
Of course, he spoke about the potential (but not inevitable) threats of Iran's missiles and development of a deliverable nuclear weapons program. In his report on Afghanistan, Blair was frank in his views as to the future of war against the Taliban, echoing many of our generals on the increasing problems of corruption, the thriving opium trade and a weak government, hardly reaching beyond the capital.
While he spoke about the growing availability of biological weapons and near-immediate threats to our interests in African countries, the admiral did not ignore China.
The view of the boss of our intelligence services, in his first-risk assessment, was that China's military and its defense-industrial complex are driven by Beijing's thoughts of a potential conflict with Taiwan. But he is concerned that the mission of the People's Liberation Army "goes well beyond China's territorial interests."
He continued by talking about China's refinement of ballistic and missile capabilities, while its nuclear weapons capabilities continue to increase. He outlined China's military priorities as including counter-command, control and sensor systems together with communications jamming and satellite jamming.
Senators were told that if the current economic crisis lasts more than two years, some national governments might collapse, including a number of our allies who might no longer be able to meet their defense and social obligations.
The admiral said that our financial meltdown has eroded confidence in both our economic leadership and belief in free markets. He reminded them of the historical warnings of the 1920s and 1930s, which forecast regime threatening instability and could be repeated if our economic problems are not resolved.
The senators were shocked to discover that Blair believed he was acting as their own intelligence officer, telling them about the areas in which they ought now to show concern.
Professional intelligence analysts and even some senators who heard Blair agreed that he demonstrated both the personality and charisma to lead them to storm many barricades.
An amusing exchange ensued another day at the Senate confirmation hearing of Leon Panetta, who for many years supported the Institute for Policy Studies, as our CIA director.
Asked by Democrat Sen. Carl Levin if he knew that he would fall under Blair's supervision, Panetta, obviously unhappy that the question had been asked, answered in the affirmative.
But foolishly, he added that the CIA was an "operational arm" and that the admiral's job was to "coordinate activities" with the National Security Agency, the still rarely mentioned National Reconnaissance Office and other agencies.
Panetta's unfortunate, unplanned response baffled Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who asked with Oklahoma bluntness, "Is the DNI your boss or not?"
Panetta replied quickly: "The DNI is my boss."
Now, let's wait for the interagency feuds to begin.
Dateline D.C. is written by a Washington-based British journalist and political observer.
and here is Students re-occupying public space ...
on a smaller scale.
Same issue... OWNERSHIP.
WE THE PEOPLE OWN OUR WORLD.... not some banking-corporation.
Take Back NYU! Taking Their Message Around the Globe
With their three-day occupation of the Kimmel Center now in hindsight and eighteen of their members possibly facing suspension, Take Back NYU! is attempting not to lose momentum and forge ahead. Today they posted the above picture sent in from a student group at Loyola University in Chicago. And yesterday it was the famous activist and scholar Noam Chomsky expressing solidarity with the group. Chomsky released a statement supporting their call for "universities to end their participation in the brutal oppression of Palestinians."
Of course the backlash against Take Back NYU!'s actions haven't exactly disappeared either. Washington Square News reports that a couple of NYU alums have created a site named Fake Back NYU mocking the group's demands. The paper also says that when they went out and spoke to thirty random NYU students, not one fully supported the Take Back's demands. One former member of TBNYU criticized the movement saying, "It was a stage, and they just wanted the publicity...[It was] a manifestation of the latest fad."
Statement from Noam Chomsky sent to TBNYU!
Feb 22nd, 2009 by Take Back NYU!
I would like to express my support for the actions of the students who are calling on their universities to end their participation in the brutal oppression of Palestinians by divesting from corporations that participate in and profit from these crimes, in violation of international and US law.
Faculty, MIT Linguistics and Philosophy