Friday, December 30, 2005

Words of Power #9: The Goblet of Fire, The Deep Magic & The Giant Sequoias

NOTE: Words of Power is published on a bi-weekly basis, and alternates with the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing, also posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. "Words of Power" commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. The GS(3) Intel Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. For more information, go to

Words of Power #9: The Goblet of Fire, The Deep Magic and The Giant Sequoia

Bill Moyers: Myths are clues?
Joseph Campbell: Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life…
Bill Moyers: You changed the definition of a myth from the search for meaning to the experience of meaning.
Joseph Campbell: Experience of life. The mind has to do with meaning. What's the meaning of a flower. There's the Zen story about a sermon of the Buddha in which he simply lifted a flower. There was only one man who gave him a sign with his eyes that he understood what was said. Now, the Buddha himself is called "the one thus come". There's no meaning. What's the meaning of the universe? What's the meaning of a flea? It's just there. We're so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it's all about.

"We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us - the labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world."

The common use of the word “myth” (at least in American popular culture) reveals a disturbing spiritual malnutrition in the psyche of post-industrial society. A quick Google search is illustrative. Here are a few items pulled from a search on “Top Ten Myths:” Ten Myths about Jobs and Outsourcing, Ten Myths of Science Theory, Top Ten Myths about Human Cloning, Top Ten Myths about the Uninsured, Top 10 Myths About [Organ] Donation & Transplantation, Ten Myths about Open Source Software. The word has been widely adopted as a synonym for illusion, falsehood, superstition, untruth, etc.
But myth, in its purest sense, is a transformative and empowering agent of the Psyche; and it always finds new ways to reasserts itself, e.g, through personal creative vision in literature and cinema, as the popularity of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia demonstrate, Indeed, there is a global re-awakening to the Mythical and Magical dimensions of life, independent of dominant religious and cultural traditions.
Flying from London to Copenhagen, I sat next to several burly Norwegian oil-riggers on their way home for Christmas. They drank straight scotch and carried tins of chewing tobacco in their back pockets. As they rose from their seats to change plans for Oslo, they reached into the overhead compartments and pulled out shopping bags crammed with Gryffindor swords and shields and other Harry Potter paraphernalia for their little boys.
Walking in the rain through downtown Buenos Aires, I observed that Che Guevara and Harry Potter, two powerful transformative icons, had been given equal prominence in several bookstore window displays. Traveling the Pacific Rim, I marveled at two adolescent Asian girls, one in an airline lounge in Tokyo and the other at a Starbucks in Hong Kong, both were two-third of the way through “Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire,” which had been released less than a week earlier.
I have promised you GS(3) and Words of Power will not only explore security, but also spirit and sustainability. Indeed, it is my premise that all three are interdependent and that you cannot truly address issues in any one of them without truly addressing related issues in the other two. Well, the great myths of the modern and post-modern world, i.e., Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Chronicles of Narnia, all center on the challenges of preserving or restoring security, sustainability and spirit. And I will be drawing on them from time to time as we explore these themes.
Last week, those in tune with the great cycle of the seasons acknowledged the solstice in one way or another. The solstice is a beautiful expression of the divine symmetry of polar opposites on a planetary scale. In Sydney, Jo-Burg and Santiago, it was the summer solstice; in Dublin, San Francisco and Ulan Bator, it was the winter solstice. In the southern hemisphere, the light was at is zenith. In the northern hemisphere, the light was at its nadir.
Either way, it was a turning of the wheel.
I journeyed to Yosemite to commune with the Great Sequoias of Mariposa Grove
They are hundreds of feet tall and thousands of years old. The branches that grow from their limbs are the size of most trees. Impervious to fire, insects, disease and severe weather, they are seemingly immortal. Their own shallow roots pose the greatest threat. They radiate an intense, primordial energy. Their presence unlocks the human imagination. The broken limbs and shattered rocks scattered around their bases morph into animal skeletons and surrealist sculpture. Blackened cavities scar their huge trunks. (Forest fires that decimate other trees merely singe them.) Gazing into the charred wood, I could glimpse ghostly shapes, swirling like cave paintings inside of black holes.
Four visitors, an older man with youths, came to the largest and oldest of these great trees. “Its an Ent,” one of the young men declared. The others asked: “What’s an Ent?”
But the youth just stood there awe-struck.
“Yes.” I called from the other side of the giant tree, “it’s definitely an Ent.”
“Thank you,” he responded.
His companions repeated, “What's an Ent?”
Finally, he responded: “It’s a tree shepherd.”
“What is a tree shepherd?”
“From Tolkien’s Lord of The Ring,” I interjected.
“Oh, OK,” they answered, and then fell silent.
“Now,” exclaimed the youth as he stretched out on the forest floor, “let’s hear what it has to tell us.”
Would that youth have recognized what he felt in the presence of the Giant Sequoias without first being exposed to Lord of the Rings? Well, he certainly could not have articulated it so clearly to himself or had it confirmed by a passing stranger. We are toiling at the mid-way point of a twenty-year span, (this last decade, and the decade to come) which may well determine future of both human civilization and the planetary environment that has tolerated it so far.
If we survive and flourish as a species, it will be due in some part to those people, both young and old, who have been inspired by the great myths of this era.

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc.
You can reach Richard Power via e-mail:
For more information, go to

Thursday, December 22, 2005

GS(3) Intelligence 12-22-05

NOTE: GS(3) Intelligence Briefing is posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. The Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue provides insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. “Words of Power" commentary is also posted on a bi-weekly basis. This commentary explores a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit.
This issue of GS(3) Intelligence Briefing contains excerpts from 15 news items that deserve your attention. Here is a summary of each of the five sub-sections. The excerpts with links to full text follow below. Europe, Middle East & Africa: While the US mainstream news media focused on the Iraqi elections, a tragic farce which will only lead to more chaos and anarchy, Hamas surged forward in the Palestinian elections. The policy shapers and pundits of Beltwayistan (Washington, D.C.) will sorely miss Arafat, who they gave the bum’s rush, and the PLA, which they abandoned. The Bush administration’s doctrine of malignant neglect toward the Israeli/Palestinian peace process is one of its greatest failures. Asia Pacific: The racial rioting in Sydney, like the recent violence in Paris, are painful reminders that civil order is held together with a very thin thread. Although to a citizen of Sydney, or Paris, the mass media coverage is sensationalistic, these eruptions nevertheless underscore two important security issues. First, racial malcontent and economic discontent fester in all advanced societies, and those who mean the societies ill need only light a match to spark a fire. Second, the thin thread of civil order is made from the raw silk of several assumptions (i.e., reliable food, fuel and water distribution, as well as employment for most of the populace). If one or more of these assumptions is proven false, hell will break loose. Americas: Recent developments in Venezuela, and the landslide victory of Morales in Bolivia, will only increase the tensions between the current U.S. administration and the Southern Hemisphere as a whole, and both aggravate existing risks to U.S. business interests and activate long dormant ones. It doesn’t have to turn ugly, but it probably will – in large part, because of the Bush administration’s heavy-handedness and refusal to embrace the multi-lateral model of the 21st Century. Global: Five stories that highlight the danger of a Bird Flu pandemic -- in particular, concern about the effectiveness of Tamiflu and other drugs and well as its potential economic toll. Cyberspace: GS(3) continues to monitor develops in the insecurity of electronic voting systems. In this issue, I have included two stories from Florida, which still has not restored public confidence in the integrity of the voting process. Electronic voting is not only a political issue, it is, at heart, a cyber security issue involving serious and obvious threats that the US mainstream news media still refuses to show appropriate concern. All of these stories, across the planetary spectrum, highlight a profound “disturbance in the force,” and offer a chilling glimpse into a possible future.
Is your organization prepared? Is your family prepared? Are you prepared? Personnel security programs, including background checks and travel security, are vital for all your organizations. Crisis management and business continuity plans are also critical – both for your organization and for your family. [NOTE: GS(3) can provide help in developing these programs both for your organization and for your personal life.]
Consider the results of a recent, world-wide survey on people’s trust in institutions:
“A global public opinion survey shows people losing faith in governments, business and even non-governmental organizations. The survey showing ‘an alarming picture of declining levels of trust’ was conducted for the World Economic Forum, to meet in Davos in Switzerland next month, by GlobeScan, a public opinion research firm, and is based on interviews with more than 20,000 people in 20 countries. ‘What the survey shows is people losing faith in a whole range of institutions,’ Mark Adams from GlobeScan told IPS by phone from Geneva. ‘This is very worrying for the world community…The report shows that the cement which holds world institutions together is coming adrift,’ Adams told IPS…

Among the highlights of the report:
  1. Public trust in national governments, the United Nations and global companies is now at its lowest level since tracking began in January 2001.

  2. Since 2004, trust in government has declined by statistically significant margins in 12 of the 16 countries for which tracking data is available.

  3. The UN, while continuing to receive higher trust levels than other institutions, has experienced a significant decline in trust from 2004 levels in 12 of the 17 countries for which tracking data is available, suggesting an impact of the scandal over the Iraq oil-for-food program.

  4. Public trust in companies has also eroded over the last two years. After recovering trust in 2004, it has since declined for both large national companies and for global companies. Trust in global companies is now at its lowest level since tracking began.

  5. NGOs remain the leaders in trust, but they also have to contend with some decline. In 10 of 17 countries for which data is available, trust in NGOs has fallen since 2004, in some cases sharply, as in Brazil, India and South Korea.
’This is a wake-up call for the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos in January,’ Adams said. ‘If we do not regain the trust of people, the world will become ungovernable.’”
Inter Press Service, 12-15-05

Europe, Middle East & Africa
Fifty percent of Israelis polled in mid-December by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem would support talks with Hamas if this was necessary to reach a peace deal, while 47 percent would be opposed, said Yaacov Shamir, who conducted the survey. Shamir said Israelis had not grown more accepting of Hamas, but understand the group's popularity among Palestinians is growing. Hamas has made a strong showing in Palestinian municipal ballots in recent months. Opinion polls put its strength at around 30 percent ahead of the Jan. 25 parliamentary election. Reuters, 12-21-05
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Sunday warned that the EU could halt tens of millions of dollars of aid to the Palestinian Authority if the armed group Hamas wins next month's Palestinian elections and fails to renounce violence. Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombing attacks, swept municipal elections in several West Bank cities last week, reflecting Palestinian dissatisfaction with the ruling Fatah Party. The strong showing, combined with bitter infighting within Fatah, has raised concerns that Hamas could win the Jan. 25 Palestinian parliamentary elections. Haaretz, 12-18-05

Asia Pacific
Beaches were eerily bare in Sydney on Sunday as families heeded police warnings of a reprise of last week's race-hate rioting in which a beer-soaked mob of white youths beat up anyone of Arab appearance they could find…More than 2,000 officers, backed by tough new laws rushed through state parliament last week, ensured troublemakers were kept away from Cronulla, the scene of the December 11 outrage, and the focus of attention a week later. Roadblocks were thrown up around Cronulla and five other beaches, more than 30 roads closed, and thousands of cars and buses stopped and searched. Police were after the baseball bats, golf clubs, petrol bombs and other makeshift weapons that gangs of mostly ethnic Lebanese had armed themselves with last week to stage 'smash and bash' retaliatory raids from their heartlands in outer Sydney suburbs. Proof positive that the alert was not an overreaction came when two groups of men were arrested for attempting to carry quantities of Molotov cocktails to beach suburbs cordoned off by police. One of the seven men arrested had travelled the 1,000 kilometres from Melbourne with fire bombing in mind, police said. One group was picked up on its way to iconic Bondi Beach after a bus driver smelled petrol fumes in the bus and called in to arrange a rendezvous with police. Deutsche Presse-Agentur,  12-18-05
Massive race riots have erupted on the beaches of suburban Sydney, with 5,000 whites hunting down Arabs and savagely beating any they caught. An ambulance tried to reach five victims and was itself attacked by the berserk throngs. The drunken mobs of white Australians have been building up to Sunday's incredible display for weeks. White thugs have used cell-phone text messaging to bring hundreds of their followers to Cronulla Beach at a moment's notice to attack Middle Eastern beachgoers. E-mails calling for attacks on Arabs have made the rounds, too. "Bring your mates and let's show them that this is our beach and they are never welcome," one message said. In the past two weeks, violent outbreaks have flared up on the beaches south of Australia's biggest city. Reports that Arab men had assaulted two lifeguards seemed to be the last straw for white Australians. But the tensions didn't start with the lifeguard incident. Message boards have been full of tales of Lebanese "gangsters" taking the train from their western suburb to the eastern shore -- where they've reportedly vandalized shops. And in 2000, Sydney was gripped by lurid tales of "Leb rape gangs," which ended with the trial and conviction of seven Lebanese Aussie youth who assaulted and raped white Australian girls as part of an organized campaign of terror…The Australian mobs are made up of middle- and working-class whites from Sydney's sunny beach towns. As they swarmed the beaches on Sunday, they shouted in unison for attacks on "Lebs" -- the local insult for Lebanese now used generically against all men and women of Arab descent. Sploid, 12-12-05

Venezuela has given the world's biggest oil company, ExxonMobil, until the end of this year to enter a joint venture with the state. Failure to do so will almost certainly result in Exxon losing its oil field concessions in the country. Venezuela's socialist government has now signed new agreements with almost all foreign petroleum companies. After months of pressure from left- wing leader Hugo Chavez most foreign oil firms working there have caved in. They have agreed to hand over a controlling stake of their oil interests to the Venezuelan state. This means that Venezuela now calls the shots in what the foreign guests can and cannot do. In addition, the companies which have signed the new contracts - such as Chevron, BP, Shell and Total - will in future be presented with much higher tax bills by the government. BBC, 12-20-05
BOLIVIA has its first indigenous Indian president after a landslide victory that leaves relations with the United States at a historic low and Washington's war on drugs in tatters. Evo Morales, 46, who was the clear favourite, far exceeded expectations, with exit polls and quick counts of the ballots showing him passing the 50 per cent barrier. He will be the first president to do so since the country returned to democracy in 1982…The key issue for many Bolivian voters was the nationalisation of the country's oil and gas. Bolivia sits astride the largest known deposits of natural gas in South America, but these are mostly under the control of foreign companies, among them British Gas. Mr Morales has pledged to rip up existing contracts and said that while he will stop short of confiscation, everything has to be renegotiated. “We will not extort foreign companies," he said. "But the Bolivian people demand we take control of our natural resources." But the overwhelming victory could push his reforms farther than originally planned…Washington now has few friends in South America. Only Colombia's Alvaro Uribe is a stalwart ally and even he seems to be distancing himself, last week rebuking the American ambassador to Bogota for interfering in internal affairs. The rest of South America divides into those fervently opposed to George Bush, headed by Mr Chavez, and other left-wing governments like that of Brazil, which keep Washington at arm's length. The US looks to have lost control of its "back yard". The Scotsman, 12-19-05
The shock waves could be economic as well as political. Analysts believe that at least some of the global energy giants that have collectively invested $3.5bn (£2bn, €2.9bn) in the past decade to develop Bolivia’s vast gas reserves could opt to abandon the country, concerned at Mr Morales’s support for nationalisation of the gas industry. The potential of Bolivia to destabilise the region has not escaped the US’s policy-making establishment. In a July speech to the Hudson Institute, a Washington think-tank, Roger Pardo Maurer, the Pentagon’s deputy assistant secretary for western hemisphere affairs, spoke of a “revolution going on in Bolivia, a revolution that potentially could have consequences as far- reaching as the Cuban revolution of 1959 – the things going on in Bolivia could have repercussions in Latin America and elsewhere that you could be dealing with for the rest of your lives” How an election in Bolivia could hurt big business, Financial Times, 12-15-05

Doctors in Vietnam reported on Wednesday they had found more evidence that the H5N1 bird flu virus can quickly mutate into a form that resists the effect of the frontline drug Tamiflu. They said the case of a 13-year-old girl, who died despite getting the correct doses of the drug early on in her illness, shows the need to be very careful in using Tamiflu and underscores the need for new antivirals to treat influenza. Four of eight patients treated in Vietnam for bird flu infections died despite the use of Tamiflu, Dr. Menno de Jong of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh city and colleagues wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine. Other experts said the study showed that individuals should not be stockpiling Tamiflu for their own possible use in case of a pandemic…Four drugs treat influenza, but H5N1 already resists two older drugs, amantadine and rimantadine.
Reuters, 12-21-05
Indonesia would be the economy most sensitive to a bird flu outbreak followed by Vietnam and India with these economies depending on agriculture and their healthcare systems not well developed, a Citigroup report said on Thursday.
The report by Citigroup's investment research team took into account such factors as healthcare spending, doctor's per capita, tourist arrivals, livestock's share of gross domestic product (GDP) and population demographics.
Among 11 Asian economies ranked in terms of "outbreak sensitivity", Thailand emerged fourth, followed by the Philippines, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Taiwan and South Korea were considered less sensitive than the others.
Jakarta Post, 12-18-05
If an avian flu pandemic spreads to Canada, it could carve as much as $14 billion off the country's economy, say senior federal Finance Department officials. In documents obtained by The Canadian Press under an Access to Information request, federal officials say such an outbreak could cut as much as 1.2 per cent off the country's annual gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy. That may not sound like a great loss to Canada's economy in percentage terms.But with GDP expected to grow at an average of 2.8 per cent in 2005, which the Bank of Canada says is pretty much its optimum speed, a 1.2 per cent loss of about $14 billion would slice the pace of healthy economic growth almost in half. Certain sectors would be hit harder than others, should a deadly avian flu strain begin to spread from person to person in Canada, the analysis by Finance economists suggests. Travel and tourism would be obvious early targets but the hospitality and entertainment sectors would also be hit hard as people would likely avoid going out socially and risking infection…The documents show officials did calculate that if an avian flu pandemic were to hit, as may as 6.2 million Canadians could fall ill and 133,000 would likely die…Some of their economic conclusions are consistent with findings from a study last fall by brokerage house BMO Nesbitt Burns.
Chief economist Sherry Cooper figured that for Canada, the costs of an avian flu pandemic could run from $8 billion to $18 billion.
The Canadian Press, 12-18-05
Britain is not as prepared for bird flu as it should be, an influential Lords committee will say this week, because thousands of companies have not investigated how they would keep going during a pandemic that could last four months and affect a quarter of their employees. Supermarkets and smaller shops need to work out more detailed plans for maintaining food supplies. The committee also fears the transport industry has not yet come up with any strategic plan for keeping trains and buses running…A pandemic would last for between three and four months and infect an estimated 25 per cent of the population so, according to government estimates, up to 7 per cent of staff would be off at any one time. But some companies think the real rate of absenteeism would be far higher - up to 60 per cent off at any one time. Kevin Hawkins, director of the British Retail Consortium, told the committee last month the great vulnerability would be a shortage of lorry drivers to distribute food: 'I think our main challenge would be to keep the food supply chain going.' Other industry figures were worried about 'cascades of failure', such as the impact if mobile phone networks were closed down by a major power failure across London. The Observer, 12-11-05
The rise of deadly new diseases such as SARS and bird flu could be linked to the destruction of the environment, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
"Human health is strongly linked to the health of ecosystems, which meet many of our most critical needs," Maria Neira, director of WHO's Department of Protection of the Human Environment told a news conference at the launch of a new report.
Population growth and economic development were leading to rapid changes in global ecosystems and this was affecting human health, the report said.
It said natural resources such as water, food, fuel and climate were important to prevent diseases and sustain good health as many human diseases originated in animals.
Such diseases, including influenza, tuberculosis and measles, established themselves in human populations after crossing from domesticated animal species including chickens, cattle and dogs. "As a result of human actions, the structure and the world's ecosystems changed more rapidly in the second half of the twentieth century than at any other time in human history," the report said. About 60 percent of the benefits that the global systems provided to support life on Earth were being degraded and used substantially, said the report, which involved more than 1,300 experts worldwide. Reuters, 12-9-05

Due to security design issues and contractual non-performance, Leon County supervisor of elections Ion Sancho told Black Box Voting that he will never use Diebold in an election again. He has requested funds to replace the Diebold system from the county. He will issue a formal announcement to this effect shortly. Finnish security expert Harri Hursti proved that Diebold lied to Secretaries of State across the nation when Diebold claimed votes could not be changed on the memory card. (BBV: Leon County, FL to Dump Diebold After Undetectable Hack Reverses Test Election!,, 12-14-05)
Diebold voting machines will soon be history in Volusia County. After a nearly five-hour hearing today, County Council members voted to replace its Diebold machines with an entirely new system manufactured by Election Systems & Software. The move, which will cost more than $2.5 million just for the equipment, was prompted by a federal mandate to buy at least one handicapped-accessible voting machine per precinct by Jan. 1. But the only such devices approved for use in Florida are ATM-like touch-screen machines that don't use paper ballots. But a majority of County Council members want devices that use paper…A report received by The BRAD BLOG late last night from an activist down in Volusia in regard to the meeting anticipated today, summed it up thusly: Between Ion Sancho scrapping his Diebold machines, the successful hack of his Diebold op-scan system, the securities fraud lawsuit, the resignation of Diebold's CEO, the illegal certification of the Diebold touch-screens by the state of Florida, and the fact that the Diebold TSX does not meet the requirements of state statutes for disabled access (not to mention not meeting the requirements of HAVA), we're hoping that NO ONE will end up supporting Diebold. (Breaking News: Volusia County Dumps Diebold Too,, 12-16-05)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Words of Power #8: Odom and Wilkerson Bear Witness

NOTE: Words of Power is published on a bi-weekly basis, and alternates with the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing, also posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. "Words of Power" commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. The GS(3) Intel Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. For more information, go to

Words of Power #8:  Gen. Odom and Col. Wilkerson Bear Witness

The invasion of Iraq may well turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in American history. In any event, the longer we stay, the worse it will be. Until that is understood, we will make no progress with our allies or in devising a promising alternative strategy.
"Staying the course" may make a good sound bite, but it can be disastrous for strategy. Several of Hitler's generals told him that "staying the course" at Stalingrad in 1942 was a strategic mistake…He refused, lost the Sixth Army entirely, and left his commanders with fewer forces to defend a wider front…the Middle East is not a pottery store.  It is the site of major military conflict with several different forces that the United States is galvanizing into an alliance against America. To hang on to an untenable position is the height of irresponsibility.  Beware of anyone, including the president, who insists that this is "responsible" or "the patriotic" thing to do. (Lieutenant General William Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), Want stability in the Middle East? Get out of Iraq!,Neiman Watchdog,  11-11-05)

They are not neo-cons. They are not new conservatives. They're Jacobins. Their predecessor is French Revolution leader Maximilien Robespierre. And to say that these people are dead, dormant or lying quiescent is not encouraging because there are enough of them left. And it's going to be incumbent on the rest of us, in this country at least, to watch these trends and make sure that their ugly head doesn't rise up and cause more problems in the future…(Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, U.S. Army (Ret.), “A Leaderless, Directional Superpower,” SPIEGEL ONLINE. 12-6-05)

The United States of America is in great peril of not only losing its strategic edge in the world, but also of losing its own soul.
Some recent news items highlight our spiritual, political and geopolitical predicament:
What are the common threads that weave these stories into a banner of warning and despair? All of them underscore an utter abdication of moral responsibility and a profound denial of reality on the part of the Bush-Cheney administration. As I wrote in an earlier posting, there is a conscious effort to keep the official death toll for Katrina as low as possible. Clearly, there is also a national indifference to the plight of thousands of our fellow citizens, as well as to the death of one of our major cities. Is there anyone reading this post that feels that it is conscionable for the U.S. government to deny the International Red Cross access to prisoners held in our custody? If you do, then we live in two different countries, and we are getting closer to the day that we will have to decide which America is the real America. Global warming, aggravated and accelerated unnaturally by human consumption of fossil fuels, is a grave crisis that threatens the future of the human race itself, and is acknowledged as such by all of the great nations, except for the U.S., and yet it is not even being explored or debated in prime-time or acted on in the corridors of power. For two years, U.S. Justice Dept. prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been conducting a serious criminal investigation into the treasonable offence of exposing the identity of Valeria Plame, a Central Intelligence Agency operative working covertly on WMD proliferation. One senior White House official has been indicted, on five counts involving obstruction of justice, perjury, etc., and soon there will probably be at least one more senior White House official indicted. And now, Robert Novak, the columnist and TV pundit who initially “outed” Plame, has said George W. Bush knows who revealed her identity to him; implying that the President of the U.S. has been protecting members of his staff, and thereby participating in a cover-up.

Odom and Wilkerson Dissent on National Security
Over the past several weeks, in interviews, op-ed pieces and speeches, two men, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, U.S. Army (Retired), Colin Powell’s close aide for sixteen years, and Lieutenant General William Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), former Director of the National Security Agency for U.S. President Ronald Reagan, have spoken out with extraordinary, candor, courage and conscience.
Odom and Wilkerson bear witness to the most immediate concern in regard to the U.S.A.’s spiritual, political and geopolitical peril: i.e., the ongoing occupation of Iraq, and the related issues of torture, etc.
In his remarks for Neiman Watchdog, Gen. Odom opined that the war in Iraq could turn out to be the “greatest strategic disaster in American history,” and invoked Hitler’s blunder on Stalingrad to provide some context for the magnitude of the problem.
In a recent interview, Der Spiegel asked Col. Wilkerson: “Isn't the loss of America's moral authority the biggest problem?” Wilkerson: “Yes. Recently I had occasion to be on a panel with a former prime minister of Canada who said, 'It's not so much that we Canadians are anti-American, it's that we are very, very worried about a headless giant.' And that stuck with me because that is an apt metaphor in some cases for this superpower right now. It seems leaderless. It seems directionless…”    
You certainly cannot dismiss the views of Wilkerson or Odom as partisan, uninformed or unpatriotic. They are, like Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), are speaking for many others still inside of the U.S. government and military.
Full Disclosure: I have been opposed to this foolish military adventure since a time when it was little more than a glint in the dreamy eyes of Bush, Cheney and the others who signed the PNAC document, not because it is immoral or illegal, but because it is stupid, strategically stupid, and such stupidity is very dangerous.

To restore U.S. prestige and credibility, shore up its strategic edge and renew its spiritual life, serious and independent investigations need to be conducted, both by U.S. Justice Dept. prosecutors fully empowered and free of political influence, as well as congressional hearings with full subpoena power, in order to determine if any high officials of the U.S. government should be prosecuted and/or impeached for treason and war crimes related to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and for criminal negligence and cover-up in regard to failures of federal disaster relief in response to Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps it is too late to get hard answers on the pre- and post-911 blunders of White House officials, but it is not too late for accountability on Iraq and Katrina. And if we start digging who knows what will be unearthed?
Our friends and allies, and especially our adversaries and enemies, must see that there is a clean break with the failed national security policies of the past five years, that something abnormal and aberrant has occurred in the U.S., and that it will not occur again.
And, for the sake of our own souls, and the soul of the nation itself, we must reaffirm that the oath is to serve and defend the Constitution of the United States – against all enemies foreign and domestic.
There is still hope. As I write this post, revelations concerning unconstitutional domestic spying on U.S. citizens has made it into the mainstream news media, and in defiance of the Bush administration, the U.S. Senate, at least for today, has blocked an extension of those particularly odious aspects of the PATRIOT ACT due to sunset.

NOTE: These are my conclusions, I am not ascribing them, even indirectly to Gen. Odom or Col. Wilkerson. Their words speak for themselves. For archival purposes, I have posted excerpts from two pieces below, with bios and links to the full texts. One is an analysis written by Gen. Odom for Nieman Watchdog, and the other is a Der Spiegel interview with Col. Wilkerson.

Odom bears witness
BIO: Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. He was Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer. From 1977 to 1981, he was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski.
The ‘Global Balkans: Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski has called this region the "global Balkans," a name that recalls the role of the European Balkans during two or three decades leading up to the outbreak of World War I.  By themselves the Balkan countries were not all that important. Yet several great powers, especially Russia and Austria, were jockeying for strategic advantages there as they anticipated the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and competition for control of the straits leading from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. Britain and France wanted neither Russia nor Austria to dominate; and Germany, although uninterested in the Balkans, was allied to Austria. From a strategic viewpoint, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 was unimportant, but it set in motion actions that soon brought all of the major powers in Europe to war. Four empires collapsed, and the doors were opened to the Communists in Russia and the Nazis in Germany as a result. Brzezinski's point today is that the Middle East and Southwest Asia have precisely that kind of potential for catalyzing wars among the major powers of the world today, although nothing in the region objectively merits such wars. 
Thus Brzezinski calls for the United States to lead the states of Europe plus Russia, Japan, and China in a cooperative approach to stabilizing this region so that it cannot spark conflicts among them. As he rightly argues, the task of stabilization is beyond the power of the United States alone. With allies, however, it can manage the challenge.
A Missed Opportunity: After al Qaeda's attacks in the United States, the European members of NATO invoked Article Five of the North Atlantic Treaty, meaning that they considered the attack on the United States as an attack on them all. Article Five had never been invoked before. Moreover, over 90 countries worldwide joined one or more of five separate coalitions to support the U.S. war against al Qaeda.  Seldom has the United States had so much international support.  It was a most propitious time, therefore, for dealing with "the Global Balkans" in precisely the way Brzezinski suggested. 
Over the next year and a half, however, in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, many neoconservatives, both inside and outside the administration, disparaged NATO and other US allies as unnecessary for "transforming the Middle East."  Because the United States is a superpower, they insisted, it could handle this task alone.  Accordingly, we witnessed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s team and some officials in the State Department and the White House (especially in the Vice President's office) gratuitously and repeatedly  insult the Europeans, dismissing them as irrelevant.  The climax of this sustained campaign to discard our allies came in the UN Security Council struggle for a resolution to legitimize the invasion of Iraq in February-March 2003.
From that time on, we have seen most of our allies stand aside and engage in Schadenfreude over our painful bog-down in Iraq.  Winston Churchill's glib observation, "the only thing worse that having allies is having none," was once again vindicated. 
Withdrawal is the Precondition to Progress: Once the invasion began in March 2003, all of the ensuing unhappy results became inevitable. The invasion of Iraq may well turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in American history. In any event, the longer we stay, the worse it will be. Until that is understood, we will make no progress with our allies or in devising a promising alternative strategy.
"Staying the course" may make a good sound bite, but it can be disastrous for strategy. Several of Hitler's generals told him that "staying the course" at Stalingrad in 1942 was a strategic mistake, that he should allow the Sixth Army to be withdrawn, saving it to fight defensive actions on reduced frontage against the growing Red Army. He refused, lost the Sixth Army entirely, and left his commanders with fewer forces to defend a wider front. Thus he made the subsequent Soviet offensives westward easier.
To argue, as some do, that we cannot leave Iraq because "we broke it and therefore we own it" is to reason precisely the way Hitler did with his commanders. Of course we broke it!  But the Middle East is not a pottery store.  It is the site of major military conflict with several different forces that the United States is galvanizing into an alliance against America. To hang on to an untenable position is the height of irresponsibility.  Beware of anyone, including the president, who insists that this is "responsible" or "the patriotic" thing to do.
(Want stability in the Middle East? Get out of Iraq!, Neiman Watchdog,  11-11-05)

Wilkseron bears witness
BIO: Lawrence Wilkerson, 60, was for 16 years one of former Secretary of State Colin Powell's closest aides and was Powell's chief of staff from 2002 to 2005. The retired US Army colonel served in the Vietnam War and later was the head of the Marine War College in Quantico, Virginia. He retired with Colin Powell in January 2005.
SPIEGEL: Colonel Wilkerson, hardly an insider of the Bush Administration has ever criticized it as sharply as you are now. Why?
Wilkerson: The straw that broke the camel's back, what made me finally decide to go public, was the issue of departure from the Geneva Conventions. It was the departure from international law and treaty with regard to what I perceive to be a policy that permeated the leadership from the Vice President through the Defense Department and out to the military forces in the field. In my view, it was not only damaging to the armed forces -- and I was a member of the Army for 31 years -- but also damaging ultimately to America's image and credibility in the world and damaging to our capability to win this conflict against Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al Zarqawi and others like them. You can't win what essentially is a war of ideas by departing from your own ideas….
SPIEGEL: Shouldn't then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice have ensured that President Bush was better advised than he proved to be?
Wilkerson: There was a single word used by countless people in the government to describe the National Security Council under Dr. Rice and that is "dysfunctional." And if you think about it for a moment, this dysfunctionality of the statutory process was a nice camouflage for the alternative decision-making process that revolved around the vice president….
SPIEGEL: The Pentagon always claimed that a stable government could be installed in Iraq within a matter of months. Was there a climate of arrogance?
Wilkerson: Yes there was. Incredible arrogance. I call it the administration of hubris. How could anyone look at that region and believe it? As opposed to the Pentagon, we in the state department never signed up to that idea that our troops would be greeted with flowers. There were so many mistakes from the very outset of the administration -- beginning with sticking our finger in the world's eyes with our rejection of Kyoto without offering an explanation. The gracelessness, the ineptitude of how we confronted the world made foreign policy and international relations in general very difficult in the first Bush term….
SPIEGEL: Isn't the loss of America's moral authority the biggest problem?
Wilkerson: Yes. Recently I had occasion to be on a panel with a former prime minister of Canada who said, 'It's not so much that we Canadians are anti-American, it's that we are very, very worried about a headless giant.' And that stuck with me because that is an apt metaphor in some cases for this superpower right now. It seems leaderless. It seems directionless…
SPIEGEL: Haven't the neo-conservatives and their policies failed?
Wilkerson: They are not neo-cons. They are not new conservatives. They're Jacobins. Their predecessor is French Revolution leader Maximilien Robespierre. And to say that these people are dead, dormant or lying quiescent is not encouraging because there are enough of them left. And it's going to be incumbent on the rest of us, in this country at least, to watch these trends and make sure that their ugly head doesn't rise up and cause more problems in the future…
(“A Leaderless, Directional Superpower,” SPIEGEL ONLINE. 12-6-05)

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc.
You can reach Richard Power via e-mail:
For more information, go to

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

GS(3) Intelligence 12-8-05

NOTE: GS(3) Intelligence Briefing is posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. The Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue provides insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. “Words of Power" commentary is also posted on a bi-weekly basis. This commentary explores a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit.

This issue of GS(3) Intelligence Briefing includes fourteen news items that deserve your attention. In Europe, Middle East & Africa: an EU study on the impact of climate change on Europe, a Munich Re Foundation report on the record-breaking cost of extreme weather in 2005, the latest developments in the Hariri assassination investigation in Lebanon (as GS(3) predicted, there is more to this story than meets the eye, and we will continue to monitor it), and a U.S. Council on Foreign Relations study on geopolitical and global security issues in Africa. European organizations and governments will confront tremendous challenges in the coming years -- from the rapidly changing climate, and the extreme weather it will bring, as well as from the increasingly destablized Middle East and deterioating conditions in Africa. Business continuity, crisis management capabilities and travel security will be particularly important. In Asia Pacific: an analysis of the larger issues involved in China’s chemical spill into the Songhua River, and a UN study on potential using windmill power for generating energy in the Third World (especially, Mongolia, Vietnam and Nicaragua). Globalization may be inevitable, and indeed evolutionary, but unless it is made to work for labor and the environment as well as for the corporatocracy, it will only lead to greater problems. In Americas:  three news items that provides further documentation on the profound national security failures of the Bush administration, and two items on Venezuela (as Chavez advances, emboldened by victories in recent parliamentary elections, the risk of  violent action from reactionary elements within Venezuela or even a direct clash with US and/or Columbia increases). U.S. citizens should demand their elected representatives take urgent action on the 9/11 Commission recommendations and on implementation of the Murtha plan for withdrawal from Iraq. Organizations with interests or operations in Venezuela should review their security postures, and develop contingency plans for emergency situations such as coups, counter-coups, violent protests and assasinations. In Global: three items on the danger of a Bird Flu pandemic, i.e., on civil preparations in Australia, the lack of adequate equipment and expertise in Southeast Asia, and what airlines and hotels are doing to come to grips with the potential impact on the global travel industry. Is your organization ready for a pandemic? Is your family? In Cyberspace: a study exploring the cost of cyber crime and the lack of cyber security on businesses in New Zealand. Substantive answers on the real costs of computer crime and on how to quantify such losses continues to elude us. Such studies are vital.

Europe, Middle East & Africa

Climate change is Europe's biggest environmental challenge, as the temperature on the continent is rising a third faster than the global average, according to a report by the EU's environmental agency. The three hottest years on record were the past three - 2002, 2003 and 2004 - as Europe's average temperature rose by 0.95 degrees Celsius (1.71 degrees Fahrenheit) during the 20th century, says the study by the Copenhagen-based European Environment Agency…The report, a five-year assessment covering 32 countries - the 25 EU member states plus Bulgaria, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Romania, Turkey and Switzerland - says 10 per cent of Alpine glaciers disappeared during the summer of 2003 and three quarters of Switzerland's glaciers will have melted by 2050 at current rates. "Europe has not seen climate changes of this scale for 5,000 years," said Jacqueline McGlade, the agency's director. "Without effective action over several decades, global warming will see ice sheets melting in the north and the spread of deserts from the south. The continent's populations could effectively become concentrated in the center." Apart from climate change, other areas of concern include biodiversity, marine ecosystems, land and water resources, air pollution and health.
Climate Change Major Environmental Challenge for Europe, Associated Press, 12-30-05

The world has suffered more than 200 billion dollars in economic losses as a result of weather-related natural disasters over the past year, making 2005 the costliest year on record, according to preliminary estimates released Tuesday by the Munich Re Foundation at the international climate conference in Montreal.  These damages significantly exceeded the previous record of 145 billion dollars set in 2004, according to the Foundation, which is part of Munich Re, one of several leading re-insurance companies that have warned repeatedly over the past decade that global warming posed serious threats to the world's economy.  It said most losses resulted from the unprecedented number and intensity of hurricanes in 2005, particularly Wilma, which hit Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula; and Katrina, which overwhelmed New Orleans and other coastal areas in the U.S. states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and parts of Alabama…"There is a powerful indication from these figures that we are moving from predictions of the likely impacts of climate change to proof that it is already fully underway," said Thomas Loster, the Foundation's director, who added that policy-makers should not only be concerned about the staggering economic loss. "Above all, these are humanitarian tragedies that show us that, as a result of our impacts on the climate, we are making people and communities everywhere more vulnerable to weather-related natural disasters," he said.
(Jim Loeb, 2005 Costliest Year for Extreme Weather, Inter Press Service, 12-7-05)

The United Nations investigation into the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, is beginning to show some cracks: one witness is dead, another is in jail and still another has recanted his testimony with a fantastic story of abduction, drugging and bribery…While it is too soon to draw any firm conclusions on how the new developments will affect the investigation, they have at least raised questions about the validity of crucial evidence supporting the charge that the Syrian state was responsible for Mr. Hariri's assassination…A month ago, Syrian officials were reeling, accused by investigators of complicity in the killing and fearful that the Security Council would demand that they hand over some of Syria's most powerful people or face crushing economic sanctions and international isolation. But now, it is Syrian on the offensive, undercutting credibility of witnesses and diluting charges that Syria has refused to cooperate by sending officials to Vienna for questioning And more troubling news seems to be on the way, as Mr. Mehlis prepares to make his final presentation to the Security Council by Dec. 15. Two people who work for a Syrian government agency said Tuesday that another witness would soon recant his testimony, claiming he was bribed with half a million dollars by Lebanese officials to level charges against Syrian officials. (Michael Slackman, Syria Attacks Evidence as U.N. Case Turns More Bizarre, New York Times, 12-6-05)

Africa's strategic importance to the United States -- both with respect to Washington's "war on terrorism" and the growing competition with China for access to energy supplies and other raw materials -- should be given more attention by policy-makers and the public, according to a major new report released here this week by the influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The 139-page report, which charges the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush with lacking a comprehensive, long-term strategy for dealing with the region, calls on Washington to upgrade its diplomatic and intelligence capabilities in the region by appointing an ambassador to the African Union (AU) and opening more missions in key African cities, particularly in energy-producing countries. It also calls for greater high-level attention to resolving conflicts in the region, particularly those, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), that threaten the stability of whole sub-regions or involve large-scale atrocities …In particular, Africa's growing importance as an energy producer needs to be given greater prominence. West African producers currently provide about 15 percent of U.S. oil imports, but that is expected to rise to 25 percent by 2015. At the same time, however, Washington faces much greater competition for those energy resources, as well as other raw materials, particularly from China, which, according to the task force, "does not share U.S. concern for issues of governance, human rights, or economic policy.” On the war on terrorism, the report complained that Africa "does not receive sufficient political attention to the threat nor sufficient funding to combat it," despite the large and growing Pentagon and intelligence counter-intelligence initiatives for the Horn and the Trans-Sahelian regions. The report calls for the State Department to exert more oversight over those initiatives to ensure that they do not provide "collusion or unintended support for repressive regimes," such as the military junta that seized power in Mauritania earlier this year. (Jim Lobe, Ignore Africa at Your Peril, Think Tank Warns Bush, Inter Press Service, 12-6-05)

Asia Pacific

This month's toxic spill into China's Songhua River forced the evacuation of thousands of people; poisoned the water supply for millions in northeast China, including Harbin, the region's major city; and now threatens the supply for as many as 70 downstream Russian cities and villages. Thus far, most analysts following the disaster have focused on the challenges faced by urban Chinese and the real problems of lax environmental regulatory enforcement, corrupt local officials and delayed sharing of crucial information with affected populations. But they have missed two far more significant points about the spill, which involved 100 tons of benzene, a powerful carcinogenic petrochemical that causes leukemia. First, it is not a singular event but a manifestation of a much larger structural problem within China that disproportionately impacts rural areas where the country's majority lives. And second, the world as a whole to varying degrees is implicated in this predicament, and can no longer afford to pretend otherwise…As the world's companies continue to rush to China to set up factories to avoid the environmental and occupational regulations elsewhere, as well as unionized labor, they are dragging communities worldwide on a downward race to the bottom as they struggle to compete with China's socially and ecologically destructive industrial platform. It is this sad truth we must face, and it is the related challenge to the world's communities that we must directly confront. It is too easy to raise a short-lived cry of dismay at each toxic news event, pointing fingers at corrupt local leaders and industrialists, or even at the failure of China's regulatory system, only to move on to another story next week. Instead we must tackle the environmentally and socially unsustainable ways we choose to globally produce and consume. (Joshua Muldavin, Beyond the Harbin Chemical Spill, International Herald Tribune, 12-2-05)

Windmills have far bigger than expected potential for generating electricity in the Third World, according to new U.N. wind maps of countries from China to Nicaragua. "Our studies show about 13 percent of the land area has potential for development," Tom Hamlin of the U.N. Environment Program told Reuters on the fringes of a U.N. climate conference. Previously, he said, maybe just 1 percent of developing nations was judged sufficiently windy, discouraging governments and investors from considering the nonpolluting source as an alternative to burning oil, coal or natural gas. The new maps, part of a $9.3 million study, use data from satellites, balloons and other sources to model winds in 19 developing nations. In the past, wind potential was based on data from meteorological stations that were often built in Third World countries too close to trees or buildings which braked winds. Or winds were typically gauged at airports -- not built in the windiest locations. "It's very consistent," Hamlin said. "The weather data was not reliable and generally low." Among the nations surveyed, Nicaragua, Mongolia and Vietnam had the greatest potential with about 40 percent of the land area suitable for windmills. Least promising was Bangladesh, with just 0.2 percent of the land area suited to windmills, along with countries including Cuba and Ghana. Hamlin said the U.N. maps, part of the Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment, could help poor nations facing high bills for oil imports. "A lot of what's really driving investments is the price of oil," he said. In Nicaragua, for instance, the government in the 1980s estimated the nation's wind power potential at just 200 megawatts. The U.N. map estimates its potential at 40,000 megawatts, a rough equivalent of 40 nuclear power plants. The study defines suitable areas as those that could generate 300 watts per square meter (10.8 square feet), needing winds of at least 6.4-7.0 meters (21-23 feet) per second at 50 meters (164 feet) above the ground.
More of Third World Fit for Wind Power: UN Study, Reuters, 12-5-05


Thomas H. Kean, the former chairman of the 9/11 commission, sounded like the parent confronting his bright but lazy child…Kean was standing on a stage in the Ronald Reagan Building in front of a giant poster grading the federal government's response to the 9/11 commission's recommendations. And the results weren't pretty: Five F's, 12 D's, two incompletes and only one A, which translates to a grade-point average of 1.8.
"Our leadership has been distracted in this country," Kean protested, citing the "scandalous" failures to improve emergency communications or get security money to highest-risk areas. "We're frustrated at the lack of urgency in addressing these various problems." The problem pupils were absent from this dressing-down. Members of Congress were on their extended Thanksgiving vacation. And, at the exact moment Kean and his fellow former commissioners were warning about a distracted government, President Bush was at a White House holiday reception for children…The normally mild Kean lobbed words such as "shocking" and called it "scandalous that we still allocate scarce Homeland Security dollars on the basis of pork-barrel spending."
Last to speak was Jim Thompson, the gruff former Republican governor of Illinois, who warned of a "disorganized, savage society" and offered a series of rhetorical questions about the federal government's failures. "Are we crazy? . . . What in the world is the excuse for not putting national security money out there where it's needed? . . . Why aren't our tax dollars being spent to protect our lives?"
Dana Millbank, With Abysmal GPA, Government Fails to Make Kean's List, Washington Post, 12-6-05

The U.S. general who used to head the National Security Agency says the only way to stabilize the Middle East is to leave Iraq. Retired three star Lt. Gen. William Odom, writing for, wrote that while President George W. Bush wants to bring democracy and stability to the Middle East, the only way to achieve that goal is for the U.S. armed forces to get out of Iraq now. Odom, one of the most respected U.S. military analysts and a prominent figure at the conservative Hudson Institute in Washington, wrote, "We have seen most of our allies stand aside and engage in Schadenfreude over our painful bog-down in Iraq. Winston Churchill's glib observation, 'the only thing worse that having allies is having none,' was once again vindicated.
"There is no chance that our allies will join us in Iraq," he wrote. "... Iraq is the worst place to fight a battle for regional stability. Whose interests were best served by the U.S. invasion of Iraq in the first place? It turns out that Iran and al-Qaida benefited the most, and that continues to be true every day U.S. forces remain there."
U.S. ex-general calls for Iraq pull out, UPI, 12-1-05

“Most U.S. troops will leave Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth," Rep. John Murtha told a civic group. Two weeks ago, Murtha created a storm of comment when he called for U.S. troops to leave Iraq now. The Democratic congressman spoke to a group of community and business leaders in Latrobe on Wednesday, the same day President Bush said troops would be withdrawn when they've achieved victory, not under an artificial deadline set by politicians.
Murtha predicted most troops will be out of Iraq within a year. "I predict he'll make it look like we're staying the course," Murtha said, referring to Bush. "Staying the course is not a policy." Murtha, 73, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, expressed pessimism about Iraq's stability and said the Iraqis know who the insurgents are, but don't always share that information with U.S. troops. He said a civil war is likely because of ongoing factionalism among Sunni Arabs, and Kurds and Shiites. He also said he was wrong to vote to support the war. "I admit I made a mistake when I voted for war," Murtha said. "I'm looking at the future of the United States military." (Murtha says Army is "Broken, Worn Out," Associated Press, 12-1-05)

Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, has pulled off his greatest public relations coup yet in his campaign to irritate the Bush Administration with a deal to supply cheap fuel to thousands of poor residents of Boston and New York. To the anger of many in Washington, Citgo Petroleum Corporation, a company controlled by the Venezuelan Government, will supply more than 45 million litres of oil at 40 per cent below market prices. The deal is one of the most spectacular moves yet in Mr Chavez's attempt to market his "21st-century socialism" using his country's oil wealth. While it will not change many minds in Washington about his populist and autocratic regime, Caracas hopes it will bolster Mr Chavez's claim as the coming leader of an anti-capitalist Latin America. Mr Chavez, who once dubbed President George Bush a "genocidal madman" and led a huge anti-US protest earlier this month, first proposed his fuel offer in August when oil prices were at a record high after Hurricane Katrina. Joe Kennedy, the chairman of Citizens Energy, one of the organisations that will distribute the oil, said the deal highlighted the failure of oil companies in the US and the Government to step in to help. (Alec Russell, Chavez's cheap oil for US poor angers Washington, Guardian, 11-25-05)

Boosted by oil prices, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has just bought himself a new arsenal to defend his "Bolivarian Revolution," incidentally blowing a raspberry at Washington. In this context, the Spanish armaments industry has brought off a historic contract. The agreement, officialized Monday in Caracas in the presence of Spanish Defense Minister José Bono, anticipates Venezuela's purchase of four warships, as many coastal patrol boats, ten troop transport planes and two maritime reconnaissance planes. The estimated value of the transaction, which will re-launch a Spanish naval industry presently in bad shape: 1.7 billion Euros. "More than a commercial act, it's a demonstration of dignity" on Spain's part, exclaimed a triumphant Hugo Chavez. The Chief of State warmly thanked King Juan Carlos, José Luis Zapatero's government, and all Spaniards - this "free and honorable" people who "do not bow to Empire," he stated. The United States had, in fact, done everything to block this sale of military material to leftist populist Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, its president the continental champion of anti-Americanism, who happily characterizes George W. Bush as a "genocidal and crazy" president and accuses him regularly of weaving plots against his regime. On the grounds that the Spanish ships are endowed with American navigation technology, Washington is still trying to obtain an annulment of the transaction. But "if necessary, the company will use an alternative technology," José Bono retorted Monday. (Roméo Langlois, Chavez Defies Bush and Buys Arms from Spain, Le Figaro, 11-30-05)


VICTORIA will be locked down if bird flu strikes here, under radical plans unveiled by the State Government. Melbourne would become a virtual ghost town as sporting venues, concerts, churches, cinemas, the casino and other areas were shut down. Venues where "many people congregate" would be closed immediately if a case of human-to-human bird flu happened in a public place in Victoria. The Commonwealth Games would be cancelled if an outbreak happened before March, and major shopping centres and public transport could also be shut. Premier Steve Bracks told the Herald Sun the State Government would be forced to ban people from gathering in public places.
"If a pandemic affected 30 per cent of the Victorian population, estimates in the plan say this could lead to almost 25,000 hospitalisations and more than 10,000 deaths," he said…Victims would be treated at three Melbourne hospitals: the Royal Melbourne, Monash, and the Austin….Elective surgery could be cancelled at other hospitals to boost their ability to deal with extra emergency patients…The Federal Government has commissioned Melbourne-based company CSL to produce a vaccine against bird flu.
CSL is testing the vaccine on 400 volunteers in Melbourne and Adelaide and hopes to release the final product next August. Federal and state governments began operation Eleusis in Victoria, NSW and South Australia this week with more than 1000 people involved. The exercise aims to test how well agriculture and health departments can identify, contain and eradicate any outbreaks.
Ghost city plan to fight bird flu, Herald Sun, 12-8-05

The World Health Organisation's top bird flu expert in Asia said on Tuesday that a lack of equipment and expertise in the region's rural areas was limiting efforts to curb the spread of the disease. Laboratory facilities were limited in many countries, especially Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and China where humans live in close contact with domestic and wild fowl, Hitoshi Oshitani, the WHO's communicable disease expert in Asia, told Reuters. "We have to strengthen these capacities," said Oshitani, who is in Singapore to attend a WHO meeting to discuss responses to pandemics. He warned of more bird flu cases as colder weather sets in this year. Oshitani, who told Reuters in September that there was a slim chance of preventing a bird flu pandemic, said surveillance was still a problem and that Asian governments needed to raise awareness of the virus in rural areas through public health campaigns. "The big, big challenge is to expand the surveillance network in the rural areas," Oshitani said. "We have to provide some training and equipment and build new facilities to improve the testing capacities."
WHO sees big gaps in bird flu surveillance, Reuters, 12-6-05

“The Shangri-la Hotels and Resorts, which operates dozens of four- and five-star hotels in China and is expanding in North America, saw occupancy rates at its China World Hotel, a favorite of business travelers in Beijing, dip to just 10 percent during the SARS crisis…Shangri-la is paying especially close attention to food preparation, said Lori Lincoln, director of public relations for North America. It is requiring that all chickens at its China properties be bought from government-certified suppliers and that chicken meat be cooked above 158 degrees…Airlines, airports and hotels are working to stop a bird flu pandemic before it starts. Many stay in close touch with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization in Geneva…The arc of infection ranges widely, from Southeast Asia to Eastern Europe. Airlines and airports are on especially high alert. Modern jetliners that zip people in hours from one continent to another also transport deadly microbes and can serve as incubators for disease…United Airlines, the dominant carrier at San Francisco International Airport, which handles more than 90 percent of Northern California's international fliers, carries protective masks on its aircraft and would isolate passengers suspected of carrying avian flu from other travelers, in accordance with interim CDC guidelines for airlines, according to United. Moreover, passengers who became ill during a flight would use their own bathroom and biohazard bags. Flight crews would alert medical authorities on the ground to meet the plane, said representatives for United, which flies to Asia and other foreign and domestic destinations from SFO…The United Nations World Tourism Organization, which promotes leisure travel and represents tourism organizations, said panicking at the threat of bird flu could endanger the global travel industry, which generated $622 billion in worldwide revenue last year and is expected to grow 6 percent in 2006…The CDC, for example, is increasing the number of airport quarantine clinics around the United States from fewer than 10 to 25. Such clinics briefly hold arriving passengers in isolation before transferring them to hospitals for treatment…Marriott International, which operates 2,600 hotels and resorts around the world, is stocking surgical-style respiratory masks for both employees and guests in its Asia hotels, according to the company. Marriott representatives also said the company would take the temperatures of food handlers, if needed, and use cleaning fluids recommended by the World Health Organization for bedclothes and guest rooms should bird flu spread in humans.
David Armstrong, Travel Industry Braces for Bird Flu,  San Francisco Chronicle, 12-4-05


Internet security breaches are costing New Zealand businesses between $140 million and $240 million a year, a new study shows. According to an Internet Security Survey conducted by the Employers and Manufacturers Association Northern in November, the range was "conservatively estimated" from the lowest to the median costs of the disruptions reported by 356 businesses, extrapolated across the country's 123,000 businesses employing more than one person.  Despite the cost of vulnerability, many businesses are failing to protect themselves in even the most rudimentary of ways, the study shows. "For instance, 91 per cent of companies employing 20 people or less have antivirus software installed compared to 84 per cent of companies employing more than 20 people. 55 per cent of smaller companies have deployed anti-spyware compared to 49 per cent of larger firms," said EMA communications manager Gilbert Peterson. Investment in IT remained static from 2004 to 2005, the survey said, with 51.2 per cent of respondents spending less than $19,000 this year, compared to 51.8 per cent in the last survey in March 2004.Of that relatively modest investment, 55.8 per cent invested five per cent or less on security in 2005 -- level pegging with the 55.7 per cent that spent five per cent or less in 2004…"The range of internet security breaches has become broader and more complex. Twenty one months ago, the top security concerns were limited to viruses, hackers and spam. Now the list includes Trojans, worms, spyware and email scams such as phishing, and others," said Mr Peterson.(Computer security incidents cost NZ businesses millions, National Business Review, 12-5-05)

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Words of Power #7: Global Warming Is A Security Threat To Your Family & Your Business

NOTE: Words of Power is published on a bi-weekly basis, and alternates with the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing, also posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. "Words of Power" commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. The GS(3) Intel Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. For more information, go to

Words of Power #7: Global Warming Is A Security Threat to Your Family and Your Business

“About 10,000 environmentalists and officials from around the world gathered in Canada's Montreal on Monday for the first United Nations (UN) climate conference since the Kyoto agreement came into force in February. During the next 10 days, participants from 180 nations will brainstorm on how to slow the effects of greenhouses gases and global warming. The conference is considered the most important gathering on climate change since 140 nations ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which calls on the world's top 35 industrialized countries to cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emissions by 5.2 percent below their 1990 levels by 2012. The conference will also focus on what further action to take after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires, although most signatories are already falling far short of their targets. The United States, the world's largest emitter of such gases, has refused to ratify the agreement, saying it would harm the U.S. economy and is flawed by the lack of restrictions on emissions by emerging economic powers such as China and India…As host government, Canada is trying to find a formula which would enable the United States, other industrialized countries and the developing nations to unite under a combined statement on future action. But on the eve of the talks, the US chief negotiator Harlan Watson said he would strongly resist Canada's proposal, saying that it was premature to make any further commitments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Meanwhile, the European Union appears to be taking the lead, endorsing a plan in June to bring emissions of greenhouses gases down 15 percent to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.” (Xinhuanet, 11-28-05)

“The record-breaking year touched virtually every corner of the nation - from flattened, flooded homes in the Gulf to eye-popping fuel prices at the gasoline pump just about everywhere. Estimates of direct losses from hurricane Katrina alone range from $70 billion to $135 billion…Dennis, then Emily, set records for the most intense hurricane before August. Katrina became the most destructive storm on record with an estimated $50 billion of insured damage, breaking the estimated $25 billion record (in 2005 dollars) set by Andrew in 1992. Wilma became the third Category 5 storm of the season - the first time three Category 5 storms have formed in one year. Alpha became the 22nd named storm of the 2005 season, breaking the record of 21 named storms in 1933. 
 Beta became the 13th hurricane of the 2005 season, breaking the record of 12 hurricanes in 1969. Epsilon became the 26th named storm of the 2005 season, according to NOAA.” (Christian Science Monitor, 11-25-05)

The timing of the UN conference is poignant. This week marks the end of the 2005 hurricane season, which as predicted, broke numerous records.
Global warming is, indeed, accelerated and aggravated by our activity.
It is too late to thwart the crisis, and perhaps it is even to late to mitigate it (although it is imperative, spiritually and psychologically, that we, as a species, try to mitigate it).
Either way, we must understand and prepare. We must adapt.
Analyzing and articulating the security implications of global warming is one of the most important aspects of our adaptation, but it is being largely ignored.
In this issue of Words of Power, we will explore some of the reasons why all us globally, i.e., parents, officials, business executives, and, especially, security and intelligence professionals, should be considering how global warming and climate change are already impacting the security situation of our organizations, our societies and our personal lives. But, first, a reality-check…

Reality-Based, Not Faith-Based
Three important studies, released in recent days, confirm that profound changes are underway, and two of them provide conclusive evidence concerning the human factor:
“The powerful ocean currents that transport heat around the globe and keep northern Europe's weather relatively mild appear to be weakening, according to a new scientific report…Computer models have long predicted that the warming of the oceans and the "freshening" of the seas with water from melting glaciers and increased precipitation — all linked to the warming of the Earth by greenhouse gases — could slow the currents, but scientists did not expect to see such changes so soon… (Los Angeles Times, 11-30-05)
“Global warming is doubling the rate of sea level rise around the world, but attempts to stop it by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be futile...The oceans will rise nearly half a metre by the end of the century, forcing coastlines back by hundreds of metres, the researchers claim…By drilling down 500 metres through layers of different sediments and using chemical dating techniques, the scientists were able to work out where beaches and dry land were over the past 100m years. The analysis showed that during the past 5,000 years, sea levels rose at a rate of around 1mm each year, caused largely by the residual melting of icesheets from the previous ice age. But in the past 150 years, data from tide gauges and satellites show sea levels are rising at 2mm a year. (Guardian/UK, 11-25-05)
“An ice core about two miles long — the oldest frozen sample ever drilled from the underbelly of Antarctica — shows that at no time in the last 650,000 years have levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane been as high as they are today…The work provides more evidence that human activity since the Industrial Revolution has significantly altered the planet's climate system, scientists said. "This is saying, 'Yeah, we had it right.' We can pound on the table harder and say, 'This is real,' " said Richard Alley, a Penn State University geophysicist and expert on ice cores who was not involved with the analysis. (Los Angeles Times, 11-25-05)

Security Implications of Global Warming
The profound climate change that these and other important studies document confronts us with both direct threats and threat-enhancing factors:
Severe Weather: Hurricanes and typhoons will increase in strength, length of duration and frequency, so will drought, floods and heat waves.
Infrastructure Failures: Most national infrastructures are already under duress. As extremes of heat and cold impact densely populated regions, massive blackouts (such as those that plunged 50 million North Americans and 50 million Italians into prolonged darkness in 2003) and other forms of infrastructure failure, will increase.
Food Security: Unmitigated climate change due to global warming will significantly impact grain yields, particularly in developing countries and low-latitude regions. Lower yield will result in tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions) more hungry human beings, as well as escalating food prices globally. These factors will aggravate the chasm between rich and poor countries (as well as the chasm between rich and poor within the rich countries) and also impact globalization by decimating emerging trading partners. (NOTE: The World Bank defines “Food Security” as Food security as "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.”)
Collapse of Governments and Disintegration of Societies: Climate change will stress some governments and societies to the breaking point. Several African nations and Afghanistan offer painful examples of what happens when governments collapse and societies disintegrate. The security threats that arise in such chaos not only subsume all life within the borders of the self-immolated country, but can also reach far beyond the borders, inflicting suffering on many human beings, both near and far.
Migrations: Societies, which are either not directly impacted, or only marginally impacted, in the early stages of global climate change could nevertheless encounter serious difficulties in coping with mass influxes of human beings fleeing drought, famine, rising sea levels, mega-storms that will snuff out the life of whole cities (New Orleans was the first of how many?) or the anarchy that any combination of these factors could cause.
Energy Security: The issues of global warming and renewable energy resources are inextricably intertwined. But not simply because human burning of fossil fuels is accelerating and aggravating global warming. They are also interconnected because ironically this next two decades, in which human burning of fossil fuels is cooking our atmosphere, is also marked by both a voracious and ever-spiraling demand for more energy and the end of peak oil production. The twin stresses of climate change due to global warming and a drop-off in global oil production will create unprecedented geopolitical and economic tensions. The irony is a bitter one. The solution to both of this great problem is the same: the political will to commit nations and the community of nations as a whole to the technological development and industrial adaptation of renewable energy resources.
Economic Security: The economic impact of coping with climate change, in regard to food security, energy security, disaster recovery and relief, etc., will itself become a powerful threat-enhancing factor.
Diseases and Pests: Climate change is both increasing the threat from tropical diseases (e.g. dengue fever and malaria) at lower latitudes and spreading them to higher latitudes. Pests that threaten human agriculture, the planet’s forests and whole animal species are growing stronger.
Travel Security: Both business travel and holiday travel will be profoundly impacted both by the deteriorating security situation and environmental conditions in many countries. Traveling to, and operating in, some countries that already pose a heightened security risk will almost certainly become even more problematical. And, indeed, one aspect of climate change that, at least to my knowledge, has not been explored publicly at all is the impact on the overall safety of air travel, e.g., will established flight paths have to be reconsidered due to new or increased turbulence?
Submersion of Islands: In the long-term, the fates of whole nations (for example, the Seychelles and the Maldives) hang in the balance, as well as the fates of great cities, in particular London and New York.

Pentagon Study Highlights Global Warming As A Profound Security Issue
While the Bush administration played its ludicrous game of pretend, acting as if the consensus of scientific opinion was still undecided on global warming, the Pentagon was studying what global warming meant to national security.
“Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.. A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world. The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. 'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'…Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network. An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.” (The Observer, 2-22-04)
How does one resolve the contradiction between the White House position and the Pentagon study? Well, perhaps there is no contradiction. It may not be as simple as seeing only what you want to see, as with the cherry-picking and “sexing up” of pre-war intelligence about Iraq; it may be that after gaming it out, the Neo-Cons have concluded, in their warped view, that global climate change crisis is one that may, at least in the initial decades, favor the North American continent, or more perhaps more importantly, their own economic and military agendas. Remember, the Neo-Con world-view leads them to welcome instability in the Middle East as a transformative factor, discern a silver-lining in the destruction of New Orleans (rebuilding contracts, real estate, electoral college edge, etc.) and even caused them to wax poetically (pre-9/11) of their need for “a new Pearl Harbor” to promote their “Plan for A New American Century.”

Abdication of Responsibility by US News Media and Political Opposition
But the Bush administration, with its Neo-Con world-view, is not solely to blame for the U.S.’s abdication of responsibility on this most crucial global security issue.
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (F.A.I.R.) performed an analysis of the U.S. mainstream news media and found its approach misleading and contrived:
Consider a study done by Fairness & Accuracy In Media (F.A.I.R.).
“Despite the consistent assertions of the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that human activities have had a "discernible" influence on the global climate and that global warming is a serious problem that must be addressed immediately, "he said/she said" reporting has allowed a small group of global warming skeptics to have their views greatly amplified…Using the search term "global warming," we collected articles from this time period and focused on what is considered "hard news," excluding editorials, opinion columns, letters to the editor and book reviews. Approximately 41 percent of articles came from the New York Times, 29 percent from the Washington Post, 25 percent from the Los Angeles Times, and 5 percent from the Wall Street Journal. From a total of 3,543 articles, we examined a random sample of 636 articles. Our results showed that the majority of these stories were, in fact, structured on the journalistic norm of balanced reporting, giving the impression that the scientific community was embroiled in a rip-roaring debate on whether or not humans were contributing to global warming...Through statistical analyses, we found that coverage significantly diverged from the IPCC consensus on human contributions to global warming from 1990 through 2002. In other words, through adherence to the norm of balance, the U.S. press systematically proliferated an informational bias.” (Journalistic Balance as Global Warming Bias: Creating controversy where science finds consensus, F.A.I.R., November/December 2004)
During the 2004 U.S. presidential election campaign, the opposition candidate, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) had an opportunity to make the looming global warming crisis, and the Pentagon study, into a major national security issue in his campaign:
“If he's smart enough to use it, the Democratic nominee may have just been handed the perfect cudgel with which to pummel President Bush - and cripple Karl Rove's attempts to position his man as America's go-to guy on national security. The weapon in question is a new report on the grave and gathering threat posed by global climate change - and the potentially cataclysmic consequences of the Bush administration's obstinately ignorant approach to global warming…Dryly entitled "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security," the report reads like the plot summary of the upcoming Dennis Quaid doomsday flick, "The Day After Tomorrow," in which global warming pushes the planet to the edge of anarchy and annihilation. But this scenario is not science fiction. According to the Pentagon study, the question is not if abrupt climate change will happen, but when. It could be, according to the report's authors, as soon as the next three years, with the most devastating fallout potentially occurring between 2010 and 2020. At that point, we could find ourselves in the midst of a new ice age in which mega-droughts devastate the world's food supply, drinkable water becomes a luxury worth going nuclear over, 400 million people are forced to migrate from uninhabitable areas, and riots and wars for survival become commonplace…One of the defining traits of leadership is the ability to see not just the crisis right in front of you, but the one lurking around the next corner. Bush's steadfast refusal to act upon the potential desolation that awaits us if we do nothing to confront global warming makes him a major national security liability.” (Ariana Huffington,, 2-25-04)
But, sadly, the leaders of the Democratic Party, with the noble exception of former Vice President Al Gore, even now, fail to prioritize their national agenda to adequately reflect the gravity of the global crisis that climate change and the end of peak oil is bringing upon us all. Why do the US mainstream news media and the political opposition do little more than pay lip surface to the greatest global security threat of all? Well, complicity with the energy lobby is one element, and the other is cowardice. Remember, messengers who bring bad news sometimes don’t survive the telling of it.

What Does This Threat Mean to Your Family and Your Business
Here are some recommendations for both organizations and individuals, culled from recent GS(3) Intelligence Briefings.
Organizations, in all regions, should already be factoring the security and crisis management implications of global warming and climate change into their programs.
For example, in the near-term, the impact of severe weather conditions (e.g., major storms, serious flooding, prolonged, intense heat waves, etc.) on already inadequate and out-dated power grids in Europe and North America will be significant. Likewise, the security situations in already marginal social structures in Africa will deteriorate even further as climate conditions grow extreme.
Your organization should implement security programs, including business continuity and crisis management plans, for all facilities and all information systems. If your organization already has such plans, they should be revised to address short-term, near-term and long-term security implications of global warming and climate change. In particular, organizations should regularly review, revise and test business continuity and disaster recovery plans. If your organization does not already have such a plan, it is imperative that you develop one and implement it ASAP.
Your organization should also perform a risk analysis, concerning the potential impact of global warming and climate change, including its security implications. This risk analysis should incorporate the threat and threat-enhancing factors we have enumerated, and be tailored to the regions in which you operate and the nature of your operations.
Your organization should incorporate relevant information and suggestions about climate change, in general, and specific regional issues (e.g., floods or fires), in particular, into existing security awareness and education programs for its workforce. If your organization does not already have a security awareness and education program, you should develop or acquire one ASAP, and incorporate common sense security recommendations for the home as well as the office.
On the personal level, all families and circles of friends should have their own disaster preparedness plans. If you do not already have such a plan in place, GS(3) recommends starting with practical answers to three simple, but sweeping questions:
What would you do if you had to leave your home in 15 minutes?
What would you do if you had to stay inside your home, without utilities, for five days?
How would you communicate with your loved ones if your day-to-day forms of communication, e.g. cell phones, instant messaging, etc., were inaccessible?

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc.
You can reach Richard Power via e-mail:
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