Save the date for the upcoming forum:

THE NEW CALIPHATE (ISIS-IS)

Radical Islam at War with the World

With

John Jandali, Lawrence Martines, and Richard Hobbs

The Ramada     Thursday, August 7   9:00 am

The “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (ISIS) emerged as an off-shoot of Al Qaeda (which has disavowed it) and has become one of the major jihadist groups fighting government forces in Syria and Iraq. The militant group has secured significant territorial gains in a surprisingly short period of time, as well as seizing enormous caches of money in the regions it has occupied. ISIS, now known as the Islamic State, is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has proven his talents as a battlefield commander, leading ISIS/IS in taking key Iraqi cities such as Mosul.

This session will bring three experts together to discuss the historical origins of ISIS, its relations with Al Qaeda, its current military strengths and financial resources, and its battlefield successes. The group will also analyze the movement’s ability to gain popular support, particularly in Sunni areas, as well as its stated objectives in the Arab Middle East (and beyond). Attention will also be given to what the rise of ISIS/IS means for the Kurds (significant shift to separate nation?), Israel, and the West.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

To RSVP, please click here You may also RSVP e-mailing RJ@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking here. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.

Summary of presentation on “Putin: Russia, Ukraine and the West”

Summary of  the presentation on…

“Putin, Russia, Ukraine and the West” by Dr. George Kalbouss. 

National Security Forum members were treated to an extraordinary examination of the new Russia that has emerged under Vladimir Putin by Professor George Kalbouss. Dr. Kalbouss addressed the topic of “Faith, Tsar and Fatherland—Putin’s Revolution Leads Russia Back to the 19th Century”, drawing on his extensive career as a professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the Ohio State University.

Kalbouss drew attention to the historic roots of the Russian state and the intimate ties between Ukraine and Russia, the relative few times that Ukraine has existed as a separate entity, and the strategic importance to Moscow of this region—including the Crimea, now part of Russia and providing a long desired warm water port.

Although Putin spent his career in the Soviet KGB and was a member of the Communist Party, Kalbouss finds Vladimir Putin to more closely resemble a Tsar rather than a Commissar. He found considerable inspiration for Putin’s actions to lie substantially in ethnic ties, in ambitions and fears that characterized Tsarist Russia, and in the spiritual foundations laid by Russian writers from Dostoevsky to Soloviev.

A summary can’t do justice to his presentation. Please click here for Kalbouss’ PowerPoint which will provide a better appreciation of this fascinating discussion.

Forum and Membership Reminder

“FAITH, TSAR, AND FATHERLAND”

Putin’s Revolution Leads Russia Back to the 19th Century

With

Dr. George Kalbouss

Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University

The Ramada, Thursday, July 17th, at 9:00 am

Who would have known that an ex-KGB agent would espouse the most anti-Marxist ideology ever conceived on Russian soil, or that he would resurrect the Holy Trinity that characterized 19th century RussiaOrthodoxy, Nationalism, and Autocracy? No longer does one hear of the glory of Karl Marx’s prophecies, or even much about Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Ideology has disappeared, replaced by the nationalistic spirituality that characterized Tsarist Russia. However, the role of the media and education has not changed from that of the communist era, it has just shifted—it is still to inculcate values, concepts, and the glorification of personalities.

The key purpose today of education seems not to be technological advancement, but inculcating patriotism in place of the development of democratic institutions that was attempted after the fall of the Soviet Union. Same with media– today, the Russian media extols Vladimir Putin personally and urges the emergence of a Russia that would hold the same sway in global politics as did the USSR. In place of the attempt to eradicate religion under Communist rule, today, religionat least as expressed in the Russian Orthodox Churchis revered. Putin is justifying his geo-political moves in Georgia, Ukraine, and other parts of the former Soviet empire, as well as consolidating his power at home, by returning to these 19th century themes.

Dr. Kalbouss follows Russian media closely and will talk about the shift back to Tsarist Russia. He will also discuss events in Ukraine, which many Russians regard as the birthplace of Russia itself and therefore an integral part of the “empire”.

Dr. George Kalbouss has taught Russian language and literature at Ohio State University. He closely follows the Russian media today and will provide an understanding of the role that these new policies are playing in creating a glorified image of Putin both to the Russians as well as the outside world. George is also an accomplished pianist, so we will try to entice him to play some familiar Russian and American tunes prior to the performance!

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

Kindly RSVP by clicking here. You may also RSVP e-mailing RJ@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking here. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.

 

China’s Shifting Policy towards North Korea

China’s Shifting Policy

towards North Korea

By Xiaoyu Pu

Special report prepared for the National Security Forum

According to recent news reports, some leaked documents indicate that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has formulated a set of emergency measures to cope with a possible collapse of North Korea’s regime. The Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately denied the existence of these plans. However, it is reasonable to assume that the PLA might have such contingencies. The leaked documents generate wide speculations regarding Beijing’s policy on North Korea. Is Beijing calculating a shift against North Korea? Does this leak of documents reflect any internal Chinese debate? Is there a new rift occurring between China and North Korea? To answer these questions, one must first understand China’s calculations about the Korean peninsula.

 

China’s Calculations

 According to former Chinese top diplomat Dai Binguo, regime security is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s top priority in defining national interest. Next to regime security is sovereignty, territorial integrity, and lastly, the stable development of China’s economy and society. These main interests could help explain why Beijing has not yet abandoned North Korea, despite of all the troubles that alliance has wrought.

In the eyes of CCP leaders, a collapsing North Korea will pose a serious challenge for China’s regime security. Of course, China is different from North Korea. China maintains an authoritarian regime, but it has a globalized economy and dynamic society, while North Korea remains an isolated, totalitarian regime. However, the two countries still share the same political legacy, as one-party “communist” countries. Facing domestic unrest and civic challenges to the status quo, Chinese leaders do not want to see a communist regime collapsing near its borders. They worry about the political shock to their own regime. Further, China is a multi-ethnic nation, and the collapse of North Korea might destabilize China’s northeastern borders where millions of ethnic Koreans reside.

From a geopolitical perspective, Chinese leaders have viewed the Korean Peninsula as a buffer zone for hundreds of years. China’s Ming and Qing dynasties fought wars with Japan over Korea. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) fought the Korea War with the United States because of the same geopolitical reason. Given the importance of the Korean Peninsula, Beijing has strong incentives to influence security developments in Korea.

The ideal outcome for Beijing would be for the Korean peninsula to remain divided, while North Korea begins implementing economic reforms. However, such a “soft-landing” ofNorth Korea might be unlikely, given the brutality and stringency of the regime. A unified Korea allied with the United States might be a nightmare for Beijing. If Beijing cannot achieve its ideal goals of a more moderate and globalized North Korea, it would likely strive to shape a neutralized Korean peninsulain the long term.

While Beijing has supported North Korea, Pyongyang has increasingly become China’s “rogue ally.” North Korea’s nuclear weapon program is likely to generate an arms race in East Asia. Pyongyang’s belligerent behaviors inevitably pushes South Korea and the United States to take tough military measure to respond, which will impact China’s security environment. In many issues, North Korea has clearly jeopardized China’s national interests. Furthermore, because of its troubling international behavior, North Korea has a very negative image in Chinese society, especially among the Chinese middle class and intellectuals. Some Chinese elites have come to view North Korea as China’s “negative strategic asset,” and they call for a tougher policy on North Korea. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier this year, “We have a red line, that is, we will not allow war or instability on the Korean peninsula.” Wang’s statement was an explicit warning to North Korea.

 

The Leaked Documents: Two Explanations

For the recent leaked documents, there might be two explanations. First, some Chinese military officers might intentionally send such a message to North Korea through international channels. Accordingly, this leak of documents might reflect internal Chinese debate. As some Chinese elites increasingly view North Korea negatively, it is not surprising that they might want to send a strong signal to Pyongyang.

Additionally, becausethe original news report that attracted so much international attention comes from Japan’s Kyodo, it is plausible that the Kyodo report was based on intelligence sources from Japan or the United States. By leaking China’s contingency plans to the media, Japan or the United States might want to push Beijing to change its policy on North Korea.

No matter which explanation better accounts for the sudden emergenceof these leaked documents, it is time for Beijing to rethink its foreign policy towards North Korea.

 

Breaking the Taboo

While open discussion of North Korea’s collapse remains taboo in China, Beijing should consider finally addressing pervasive questions and concerns about North Korea’s future. Discussions of contingency plans might benefit China’s own interests. These discussions will also increase crisis management for relevant countries.

For several decades, North Korea has hijacked China’s diplomacy inEast Asia. North Korean leaders understand that their collapse would be too costly for Beijing. By demonstrating that Beijing has contingency plans to cope with a collapsing North Korea, Beijing could demonstrate its resolve to constrain North Korea’s belligerent behavior. Obviously, this type of signal should not be sent through formal diplomatic channels. However, informal signals might be appropriate and necessary.

Breaking such a taboo should also help manage any international crisis involving the two Koreas. Assuming the United States, China, South Korea, and Japan all have their own contingency plans, it is critical for these countries to have some coordination. Without minimum coordination, accidental conflicts might occur when dealing with any military crisis on the Korean Peninsula. The United States has been working hard to get China to talk about contingency plans. Beijing’s continued reluctance to discuss specific contingencies has hindered its ability to effectively discuss sensitive topics. This will likely cause future key conversations to veer towards more generic topics. Furthermore, “track-II diplomacy,” i.e., informal contacts and activities between non-state actors, involving scholars and think-tanks analysts, could facilitate a mutual understanding of the risks associated with the possible collapse of North Korea.

 

Xiaoyu Pu is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno. Before joining the faculty at UNR, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

 

 

Summary of ‘Fracking’ Presentation

SUMMARY OF DR. FISHER’S PRESENTATION ON ‘FRACKING’

JUNE 19, 2014

Dr. Bert Fisher, a research scientist and expert in environmental litigation, presented a comprehensive report on Hydraulic Fracturing to the National Security Forum at the Ramada in Reno, Nevada, on June 19, 2014.

Much has changed since the Arab Oil Embargo of the mid 70’s, and the low point of domestic oil and gas production of 2005. Dr. Fisher told the audience that crude oil and natural gas reserves and production in the United States, have increased markedly while imports have decreased. North America–the U.S, Canada and Mexico–are rapidly becoming the world’s leading producers of oil and gas. By 2020, North America will be energy independent. The U.S. is poised to overtake both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top petroleum producer this year, and already is the #1 natural gas producer, having just surpassed Russia.

This is due to the advent of horizontal boring/drilling and the increasing use of, and constant improvement to, an extraction technique known as “Hydraulic Fracturing”. Fracking, which has been in use for more than 70 years, is a mining technique in which a liquid (in most cases, water) is mixed with sand and chemicals, and the resultant mixture is injected at high pressure into a well. This creates small fractures in deep rock formations along which gas and petroleum can migrate to the well. Dr. Fisher described the state-of-the-art process of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Dr. Fisher showed how the industry has minimized potential environmental concerns by improvements to exploration, drilling, including well-head security and casing integrity, and transportation of product.

Dr. Fisher reported that the increases are good news for American energy independence, oil field and associated infrastructure security and our balance of payment deficits. This revolution in technology has permitted the U.S. to convert planned LNG import terminals into export terminals. The same could be true for oil except that there has been a 40-year ban on U.S. oil exports (designed to keep gasoline prices down).

Dr. Fisher gave a brief history of oil production in Nevada, and the potential for giant increases in our state’s oil production with the development of oil and gas leases in northern and north central Nevada.

Dr. Fisher’s PowerPoint presentation on ‘fracking’ can be viewed by clicking here.