And Now, Your Regularly Scheduled Coup; Does Strategy Still Drive the Pentagon? Everyone is Spying on Everyone; Snowden, again; Bad news from Afghanistan and a bit more.
By John Reed Morsy’s Got A Day Left To Change. The Egyptian military yesterday told the government of Egyptian President Mohammad Morsy it had 48 hours to adhere to the will of the people or it would pretty much face a coup. This came a day after millions of Egyptians took to the nation’s streets ...
By John Reed
By John Reed
Morsy’s Got A Day Left To Change.
The Egyptian military yesterday told the government of Egyptian President Mohammad Morsy it had 48 hours to adhere to the will of the people or it would pretty much face a coup. This came a day after millions of Egyptians took to the nation’s streets in protests over the way Morsy has run the country as its first democratically elected president. (Remember, Egypt’s economy has been in the tank since longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011.) The protests turned deadly as supporters of Morsy and his political party, the conservative Muslim Brotherhood, clashed with demonstrators. The military had been sitting on the sidelines until Sunday night when military helicopters flew over protesters in Cairo and were greeted with cheers (and laser pointers) by a crowd that was reportedly thrilled to see them. Yesterday, numerous military choppers were photographed flying over cheering protestors in Egypt with giant Egyptian flags streaming beneath them.
Here’s an excerpt from the military’s announcement yesterday, (translated by NPR).
"The Armed Forces will not take part in the policy making and will not accept a role outside of the democratic framework set by the people.
The nation’s national security is under threat following the latest developments, each side should exhibit responsibility.
The Armed Forces had previously expected this instability, had given a week for the various forces to reach consensus and end the crisis, but this week passed with no action, which led the people to go on the streets, to express their freedom in a manner that impressed the local and international community.
Wasting more time will not result [in anything] except in more polarization and conflict. The people of Egypt have suffered for so long with no one to save them. Accordingly, the Armed Forces feels obligated to embrace the will of the people who proved they are able to do the impossible.
Meanwhile, the White House appears to be attempting to walk a tightrope of support for a democratically-elected president while also backing the people who elected him that now want him gone.
From the New York Times.
"Mr. Obama told the Egyptian president that ‘the United States is committed to the democratic process in Egypt and does not support any single party or group.’ He stressed that ‘democracy is about more than elections,’ the statement said, and encouraged Mr. Morsi to demonstrate ‘that he is responsive to the concerns of the protesters and underscored that the crisis must be resolved through a political process."
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Are the Bean Counters Running the Pentagon?
Historically, strategy had driven budget choices at the DOD. (Or at least that’s the idea.) Lately, however, the Pentagon’s strategy shop appears to be taking a back seat to finance people in Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s Strategic Choices and Management Review, reports FP’s Gordon Lubold.
"The tension inside the building over the Strategic Choices and Management Review (SCMR) is palpable," writes Lubold. "Each of the services is attempting to protect its ‘rice bowl,’ fighting for its programs and resources, but they say privately that they’re doing so in the dark. They say they don’t have a sense of what the Pentagon’s overarching strategy will be."
Lubold quotes an unnamed military officer as saying:
"It’s a mysterious process… The real decisions are being made in a smoke-filled room… It is like letting the accountants write the business plan,’ he said. ‘They’re not bad people, but they do not have a strategic perspective on anything but the bottom line. Our national security should be measured in more than just dollar signs."
Read more here.
The French Hate Spying, Unless They’re Doing It.
Yes, the French are expressing outrage that the United States would dare spy on European diplomats, as revealed by the latest document dump by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Adam Rawnsley nails it head on by pointing out in FP that this Gallic outrage is "pretty hilarious" coming from a nation known to spy on just about everyone.
"If you’ve been paying attention, you know that France is a proficient, notorious and unrepentant economic spy. ‘In economics, we are competitors, not allies,’ Pierre Marion, the former director of France’s equivalent of the CIA, once said. ‘America has the most technical information of relevance. It is easily accessible. So naturally your country will receive the most attention from the intelligence services."
There’s a large country in Asia that we usually reserve that kind of analysis for. The takeaway; everyone is stealing everyone else’s secrets.
"France lacks a domestic defense market large enough to support cutting edge development so it opts to steal American military technology in order to save R&D costs and enjoy advanced weaponry for its own military and competitive for exports abroad. France’s economic espionage hasn’t been confined solely to America’s defense industrial base, though. In the late 1980s, French intelligence reportedly spied on premiere firms such as Texas Instruments and IBM in a bid to help out its domestic computer industry. Reports of hidden microphones in the seats of Air France picking up the indiscreet business chatter of American executives have since become common intelligence lore…And the spying continues even today, according a recent U.S. National Intelligence Estimate. The NIE declared France, alongside Russia and Israel, to be in a distant but respectable second place behind China in using cyberespionage for economic gain."
Speaking of Spies, Edward Snowden Resurfaced (Maybe)
NSA leaker Edward Snowden apparently sent out a statement from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport yesterday saying he was applying for political asylum in dozens of countries and that he would continue to "fight for justice in this unequal world." This came after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Snowden could only stay in Russia if he stops leaking information that harms the United States. Apparently, Snowden has no intention of stemming the leaks. He reportedly withdrew his earluer application for asylum in Russia after learning of Putin’s comments. The only problem with this move is that Ecuador, his original destination, has decided that Snowden won’t be welcome there, either. Unless one of the nations he’s applied to for asylum grants it, he’s stuck in a country that doesn’t sound like it wants him (though we’ll see what actually happens) with no place to go.
Still, some doubt whether or not Snowden actually wrote the statement given that it’s rather clumsily-worded for something penned by a native-English speaker. As Slate’s Farhad Majoo tweeted: No American would use plural verbs for America – the United States "have been." The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan added, "What American writes dates as ‘1st July 2013′?" The statement was released via WikiLeaks so it’s entirely possible someone there wrote it with Snowden simply signing off. Click here to read the document for yourself.
Sad News From Kabul
Taliban militants are claiming responsibility for a Tuesday morning attack on a NATO supply base in Kabul Afghanistan that killed seven people. The attackers apparently detonated a truck bomb outside the compound then tried to get inside, exchanging gunfire in an hour-long fight with security forces. Five security guards (four from Nepal and one from Afghanistan) and two civilians died in the attack, CNN reports. This comes just a week after three security guards and three militants were killed in an attack on the Afghan presidential compound in Kabul. This comes after the Afghan interior ministry announced that 299 police officers were killed and 618 were wounded there in June, the month local security forces officially took the lead on securing the country.
Negotiations With the Taliban Remain on Hold
Meanwhile, the U.S., the Afghan government and the Taliban can’t even get to the table to even discuss a peace deal. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called off all talks with the U.S. on the status of U.S. forces there after 2014 until the Taliban agree to meet with him. The Taliban recently set up an office in Qatar as a venue for peace talks with the U.S., a move that upset Karzai since the Taliban refuse to meet with his government directly.
Susan Rice’s Sharp Elbows
Newly appointed National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s tough style may be perfectly suited for her new job in the White House, writes FP’s UN reporter Colum Lynch. Here are the money quotes from his piece.
"Rice is, in the words of one of her Security Council colleagues, ‘a control freak’ who values discretion and loyalty among her colleagues and who likes to stage-manage the finest details of her personal and diplomatic life.
In the thick of Obama’s re-election campaign, when rumors swirled over her prospects for the top job at Foggy Bottom, a U.N. colleague told her she would make a better fit at the White House. ‘I told her, ‘Everybody says you’re going to be secretary of state, but I think you’re more suitable for the national security advisor’s job,’ said the diplomat, who asked not to be named. ‘So she turned around and said, ‘Why do you think that?’ And I said, ‘Because of your propensity to bite off other people’s noses.’ It was said with affection, and she took it that way."
- USA Today: The IG identified 88-cases of misconduct between October 2012 and March 2013.
- Defense Tech: GAO reports that SOCOM and the Marines still love Palantir’s terrorist-hunting software.
- Reuters: Morsy says he’s got a plan to stay in power.
- New York Times: Remembering 19 fallen firefighters.
- Associated Press: Russia-China to engage in Beijing’s largest-ever naval exercise with a foreign partner.
John Reed is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He comes to FP after editing Military.com’s publication Defense Tech and working as the associate editor of DoDBuzz. Between 2007 and 2010, he covered major trends in military aviation and the defense industry around the world for Defense News and Inside the Air Force. Before moving to Washington in August 2007, Reed worked in corporate sales and business development for a Swedish IT firm, The Meltwater Group in Mountain View CA, and Philadelphia, PA. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter at the Tracy Press and the Scotts Valley Press-Banner newspapers in California. His first story as a professional reporter involved chasing escaped emus around California’s central valley with Mexican cowboys armed with lassos and local police armed with shotguns. Luckily for the giant birds, the cowboys caught them first and the emus were ok. A New England native, Reed graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a dual degree in international affairs and history.
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