Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… We present below some of the most interesting or relevant features for each section.
Read the 19 February scan →
World (all matters related to war, international and national security) – The focus this week stems from the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism currently held in Washington D.C. (see White House Fact sheet).
First, in a very “Washingtonian” way, the summit leads to the publication of a host of reports and articles, as think tanks, newspapers, researchers, experts and pundits try to have their voices heard by policy-makers, some of them having been crowd-sourced here and worth checking and reading.
Second, the summit forces the various actors to face an issue that had been pregnant, but in a rather unsaid way, since at least the start of the US-led coalition strikes on the Islamic State. President Obama categorically refuses to state that the war and the focus of the summit is on “radical Islam”, or on “Islamism” (if we take both notions as equivalent), and the extremism it could breed, or more exactly on the Salafism practiced by the Islamic State. As a result, all reference to any kind of Islam, indeed any religion, are removed (see again, for example, the White House fact sheet). As pointed out in the Weekly featured article: “
The summit “will not focus on any particular religion, ideology or political movement and will, instead, seek to draw lessons that are applicable to the full spectrum of violent extremists,” White House national security spokesman Ned Price told Yahoo News. (Olivier Knox, “Obama’s ‘Crusades’ controversy highlights war on terrorism’s rhetorical minefield”, Yahoo News).
As a result, the summit will try to fight ideas and beliefs-based dynamics and goals with materialism and materialistic solutions… thus being completely prey to a specific ideology (stemming from modernity and modernisation, e.g. Max Weber and its “disenchantment of the world”, see Stanford Encycopediae of Philosophy), ironically! We are nowhere close to find even the beginning of answers if this programme is respected.
Followed from Obama declarations a very strong debate in the U.S. fought across actors, who position themselves for or against this approach, through their articles and reports.
Interestingly, it would seem that this refusal to consider specific religions echoes a similar phenomenon taking place at least in France. Following the atrocious beheading of twenty-one Egyptian Christian Copts in Libya, both France (click on links to access official statement) and the U.S. failed to mention that the victims were Christian Copts. The U.S. statement even emphasizes it is a “wanton killing of innocents”, and that “ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect, or ethnicity.” On the contrary, the European Union, did mention the victims were Christians, but killed “by terrorists.” The U.K., for its part, underlined both the real quality of the victims and of the perpetrators, “recognising that violent Islamist extremists pose a threat to both countries [Britain and Egypt].”
Whoever has read a transcript – if not watched the video considering the high degree of horror carried by the images – of the Islamic State psyops video on the mass assassination, which is titled “a message signed with blood to the nation of the cross” is in no doubt that those killed were not selected randomly but killed because they were Christians. The full transcript by Michael S. Smith II- but with images – can be found on Downrange. For those who wish to avoid the images here are some extracts:
“The people of the cross, the followers of the hostile Egyptian Church.” (showing the victims) “All praise is due to Allah, the strong and mighty. And may blessings and peace be upon the ones sent by the sword as a mercy for the worlds.”… “O Crusaders, safety for you will be only wishes, especially when you’re fighting us all together. Therefore, we will fight you all together, until the war lays down its burdens, and Jesus, peace be upon him, will descend, breaking the cross, killing the swine and abolishing jiziyah. And the sea you’ve hidden Sheikh Usama bin Laden’s body in, we swore to Allah we will mix it with your blood.”…”And we will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission, the promise of our Prophet, peace be upon him.” (Michael S. Smith II, “IS in Libya threatens Rome” Downrange).
Whoever has read any of the psyops product by the Islamic State or watched any of its video, or followed the war in Iraq and Syria or Libya is in no doubt about their religious aims.
Why, thus, are we faced with such a denial from at least France and the U.S.? This attitude is all the more absurd and incomprehensible that, Egypt not only recognises the risks created by an extremist Islam, for example when its President al-Sisi courageously addresses the Al-Azhar Islamic University in Cairo with his “We Must Revolutionize Our Religion” (Memri transcript, 28 December 2014). Meanwhile Egypt also recognises Christian Copts as part of the national community by declaring a week of national mourning (e.g. Hana Levi Julian, 16 February 2015, The Jewish Press). Neither Jordan nor Egypt hesitate to ask the U.N. to lift the arms embargo on Libya to fight an extremist Islam. So far, it seems that only Qatar strongly protested against Egyptian retaliatory strikes in Libya (Tunisia however opposes intervention). Most states where Muslims live are part of the US-led coalition to fight the Islamic State. We should not either forget that the first victims in terms of numbers of the Islamic State are Muslims and that they are those on the front line fighting it. Thus, this denial of reality does not make any sense.
Removing an absolutely crucial component of an enemy’s worldview, strategy, and as a result tactics and operations is at best absurd, at worst dangerous. It will hinder analysis as many will not dare to go “against” governments, and potentially stop proper answers, notably those that are not military, but must be endeavoured, as pointed out, for example, in the latest National Security Network report (see the Weekly). It also puts populations even more at risk as, without doubt, the Islamic State will want to have its message heard and will send it again and again, in its horrific way.
Finally, it is also a loss opportunity, to show that all faiths and “non faiths” can join and work and fight together against a common enemy, whatever its beliefs.
Could it also be a weak signal, if nothing changes, that the American leadership of the US-led coalition might become, with time, imperilled?
Economy – To the uncertainty regarding Greece, the Euro and Europe we already underlined last week, we can add new, or rather continuing, bad news regarding Japan.
Energy and environment security – Dr Daum identifies a renewal of interest for nuclear energy, despite controversies, as “some prominent environmental veterans are leading a discussion about nuclear power as a climate change solution. This includes a renewed discussion about Nuclear Power in Australia.” Meanwhile, “Wind energy is on the increase. Yet, this energy is not without problem either as an article this week discusses how the design of some wind turbines might be selectively killing migratory bats”.
He also points out that “in addition to green house gasses, very short-lived substances (VSLS), which are not controlled by UN treaty, and whose increasing concentrations might impact the ozone layer (Science Daily).
On the politics of climate change, “The International Institute for Environment and Development noted that progress at the climate talks in Geneva has been a good start for the upcoming climate talks in Paris and may result in a fair deal for developing countries.”
Tech & Weapons – Notably, an interesting article (with a glitch in the link which should actually be this one http://passcode.csmonitor.com/planx) explains what is Plan X, or the Darpa (Pentagone) 4 years programme to give “cyberwarriors “instantaneous knowledge of the fact [their] network is being attacked.”
The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. It was started as an experiment with Paper.li as a way to collect ideas, notably through Twitter. Its success and its usefulness led to its continuation.
The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement but points to new, emerging, escalating or stabilizing problems and issues.
If you wish to consult the scan after the end of the week period, use the “archives” directly on The Weekly.
Featured image: “C-band Radar-dish Antenna”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons