World War I was supposed to be the "war to end all wars," and the Fall of the Wall was supposed to usher in a new era of peace and tranquility as the a tyrannical system (Communism) that threatened a global empire was put to rest. Neither of these predictions came true. Today, the world is as dangerous as it has ever been though there is less recognition of the individual or allied threats to the United States and her citizens, as well as those of other nations who love freedom.
(Map: Green represents Islamist governments and strongholds. Red represents communist and nationalist governments. Yellow represents governments at risk of falling to antagonistic elements.)
While we'll discuss the primary recognized threat of terrorism, we'll also address the threats of renewed communist movements, rival nation-states, international criminal organizations, and internal threats.
The Iranian threat is understated in world politics and media because Iran uses proxies to execute its strategies. The cartoonish image and speeches of Ahdiminijahadist leads to a lack of seriousness when analyzing the threat the nation poses to the world and region. He is however little more than a spokesman for the Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khameni. Have no doubt that the Iranian leadership is cunning and coniving. The area that refined the game of chess are still masters of it, both the board and its politico-diplomatic style. Khomeni, Khameni, and their various underling "Presidents" have successfully made US Administrations, beginning with Carter and including Obama, look like novices at diplomacy, naivete, and negotiations.
The primary proxy of Iran is Hezbollah. It is the first and greatest success of Iran to export Islamism and Terrorism. Hezbollah has successfully grown from simple terrorism to a shadow government that the UN and government of Lebanon will not cross, a conventional Army in Lebanon, and a political party elected to the Lebanese Parliament. But with all of these successes, it remains first and foremost a terrorist organization with ever growing tentacles in the world. It has strongholds in South America and cells in Canada and the United States.
Hezbollah is active in Iraq as well as Lebanon. It is allied with Muqtada al-Sadr and the splinter, Special Groups, from which it found an incubator. While these three may be rivals for power, they have the same goals and a common fight.
The brother of Hezbollah and surrogate of Iran is Hamas. This is the Sunni version of the Shi'a terrorist organization and is based in Gaza. It is just as deadly if smaller in size. Hamas blatantly operates "charity" organizations within the United States.
Al-Qaeda is a known and recognized threat. Currently, its largest command and control elements are known to work out of Pakistan, Somalia, North Africa, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. This should not be construed to mean the governments are aligned with Al-Qaeda, though there are questions of how aggressively those governments are pursuing AQ elements. In most cases, AQ is aggressively attempting to overthrow those governments, though most have also placated AQ, its members, or its surrogates in some way historically.
Al-Qaeda is known to have cells throughout Southeast Asia and in the Philipines as well as in London, Sydney, Iraq, Central Asia, and East Africa. It has successfully recruited inside the United States from immigrant populations as well as prison populations and the far left. The highest level American Al-Qaeda grew up on a California Commune while Nidal Hassan was of Palestinian Jordanian descent and al-Awlaki was born in the US of Yemeni parents and OBL is a Saudi of Yemeni parents.
Al-Qaeda and Iran have worked together as far back as the early 90's with Hezbollah providing specialized training to AQ instructors. Official membership in AQ proper is relatively small because it is retained as only its core leaders which then run splinter or merged organizations. This follows the Iranian model. The link between Iran and AQ was the Sudan, which became Iran's Sunni arm of Islamist expansion. The continued evidence of the link is the presence of known AQ members of bin Laden's family in Iran, at the invitation of the Iranian government. Iran remains one of the possible locations of OBL himself.
Closely allied with Al-Qaeda are the Taliban and Haqqani who are entrenched in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is virtually no difference between the Afghan and Paki adherents of these two, while their AQ overlords are more hands off of the local scene. Recently, the Paki Taliban has increased its international role, with attempts in Times Square and elsewhere. Drone attacks into Pakistani Tribal areas may feel good, but they've done nearly as little to stop it as cruise missiles did to stop Al-Qaeda in 1990's Afghanistan.
But Islamism is not solely relying on terrorism to attain its goals of a renewed empire. Islamism has always maintained political, legal, and religious arms. The internal disagreement over whether political activism, religious conversion, or violent jihad will be the means to the end may or may not be overblown, but there is a joint effort on many levels. Organizations such as CAIR and the AMA have demonstrated ties to Hamas through "charities" such as the Holy Land Foundation and protests in London have openly espoused Al-Qaeda. Underlying all efforts is the shadowy Muslim Brotherhood, which rarely hits the radar, but maintains an incredible if secret membership of great diversity.
The US Government has itself been fooled by Islamists in moderate clothing, such as al-Awlaki, who was invited to the Pentagon to help understand the religion, the "radicals," and how to combat them. As the Ground Zero Mosque controversy continues, it is increasingly believed that the "moderate" behind it has ties to islamism and ideology that seeks to implement sharia over the US.
While the islamist threat in Europe is centered in London and Hamburg and France, in the US, it is centered in Dearborn, MI, Minneapolis, and New York with tentacles throughout the Nation and recruits in Alabama and Tennessee.
But islamism is not the only threat to America or its allies. Chavez has not only taken over Venezuela but sponsored similar minded leaders in Latin America. The ties between Chavez and the FARC and ELN in Colombia are disputed only by him and his surrogates. Indeed, ties to Chavez, FARC, and even islamists have been found by the FBI to peace activists inside the US.
While Communism was pronounced dead with the Fall of the Wall, North Korea remains a hard core communist nation. Cuba and China have both demonstrated moves away from communism, but are still practicing communist ideologies where it suits their tyrannical rule. Though communism and its offshoots have maintained the slogan "power to the people," it is the common man and poor that it has most often trampled when it attained power. Its calls for equality and fairness have universally meant equal pain and punishment without the freedom to speak against it. Today's youth never experienced the Cold War and often don't realize that Che Gueverra, who graces so many clothes, was a murderous thug and rich doctor.
But our Southern Border is seeing the most direct threat. Violence is literally spilling over from the Drug Wars in Mexico. More people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico than Troops killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Viet Nam combined. More people are killed annually by the Drug Wars in Mexico than by American Car accidents annually. More civilians die from Drug War Violence in Mexico than Civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a serious issue.
While the government of Mexico is not openly on the drug lord dole, so many government officials have been wrapped up in the drug running that one can no longer tell how deep into the drug trade the government there has become. Its public policies on illegal immigration benefit the drug runners, whether or not that is the intention, but one certainly must question that. Mexican Security Forces can not overcome the problem, as many are involved with drug running, and the rest are outgunned and out financed.
But the problems of Mexico could be the result of successes in Colombia. This decade has seen remarkable improvements in what was once the lawless nation beseiged by narco-terrorists and communist guerillas who joined forces to improve their financial and military situation. As the drug runners were pushed out of Colombia, they moved into Mexico and the situations moved in inverse directions.
All of these threats have a US internal component. Organized Crime, from common thugs and street gangs to mafia have ties to the drug trade. While the mafia was primarily Sicilian in nature in the 70's and 80's, Chinese, Russian, and Latin organized crime has moved in and established strongholds. These new players make the Sicilian mafia look tame, though the newest generations have demonstrated less restraint and less honor than their forefathers.
One of the biggest new growths has been "MS-13," a latino based gang which is highly organized and originated in El Salvador. Its members are found in nearly every large city if not most medium sized cities throughout the US.
But perhaps the most distressing threat are not those groups and individuals that openly threaten the US, but those politicians and organizations that conceal their support for them, wrapped in political correctness. There can be no doubt that every National level leader understands the threat to the Southern Border and the threat from Islamism, but many politicians have openly espoused protections for those that flood across it, even to the point of joining foreign nations in suing state governments that try to protect their citizens.
With the politicians in DC being fully cognizant of the threats, one must question if the motivation is power and greed, or political ideology. There is little doubt that their positions are designed to attract votes and many believe they hope illegal aliens will turn out to vote for them, but there is another threat to the US.
The mounting debt, which has grown at unprecedented rates in recent years, threatens to bring the US to its financial knees while paying interest to the biggest rival of the Nation, China, which has been increasing its economic and military might, at an ever faster pace. It was out of control spending which broke the back of the Soviet Union.
But the debt which grows faster than we can pay interest on it, is not fueled by the mandated Constitutional spending on National Security, nor even our current conflicts. Spending on Defense and War has decreased at the same time that deficits have added 50% to the debt. We spend a smaller percentage on Defense now than we did when the Soviet Union collapsed. And even as our military rivals develop newer, better technology in fighter jets, air defense, and naval warfare, we're cutting the next generation of fighters.
Our Military is smaller now than it was in 1992 despite the fact that we are fighting two wars and deployed in greater numbers throughout the world with many small threats popping up constantly. The modest growth of authorized strength in the first half of the decade hasn't made a dent in the cuts of the 90's that went beyond "peace dividends" to selling the stock of peace through strength itself.
And while the best means of securing the Southern Border may be debatable, that it needs security is without debate. There isn't a security professional in the world that will truthfully say that a physical barrier is not helpful in establishing security, even if they also say that technology and manpower is also important. When these elements are combined, it creates security and increases the efficiency of every person conducting security. It is long past time to build the fence. The economic burden of illegal aliens should be sufficient to do so, but the fact that terrorists are crossing along with drug runners and organized criminals should certainly provide the impetus for politicians to vote to fund it.
Our citizens are unemployed in record numbers and there are only a certain number of jobs. Deport the illegals and the pool of potential employees increases while the pool of criminals decreases.
Increase the authorized strength of the Military. Our recruiters are turning away qualified recruits. While the military benefits from 100% High School graduated recruits, that also means that the same level of education that has won many wars is left in the streets. By maintaining the Military at post-Cold War levels, Our Troops must rotate into combat more often. Less than 1% of Our Nation has served in the Military and that is not completely the fault of the other 99% who Congress has not authorized to serve. Only 25% qualify under current standards but only 1% are allowed to join.
Stop using the Defense budget for political pandering. The purpose of the Military is not to create demand for green energy. The purpose is to win wars. Buy the equipment needed to win wars and you'll prevent wars while employing Americans.
As I look at politicians in power, I remember a final scene from the movie "The 300," in which the Spartan politician was revealed as taking the money from the enemy to argue against the defense of Sparta, of the democratic freedoms of the city-state. The fact is that Our Nation is facing many threats and too many politicians are arguing against Our Defense.