Where the US fails to lead, others are willing to step up. Predictably, that means China. Less predictably, that means Russia as well.
Let’s take South Sudan as an example. South Sudan – Since 2013, tens of thousands killed, 4 million displaced, current and constant famine conditions. The US has banned arms sales to South Sudan for several years, but on July 13, the UN Security Council banned all countries from supplying arms there until May 2019. The UN pats itself on the back for doing something meaningful despite abstaining votes from Ethiopia, Russia and China; South Sudan shrugs. South Sudanese officials publicly stated that the government will get whatever help it wants from Ethiopia or Uganda – and that the UN had only pushed South Sudan closer to China and Russia – good news for two countries that covet South Sudan’s oil fields.
Since the end of Operation Observant Compass, the US-led effort to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa, US and African Union troops have disappeared from the Central African Republic (CAR). Power abhorring a vacuum and whatnot, it is interesting, if not sadly predictable, that Russia is filling the void. France24 produced one of the best videos I’ve seen on CAR and its issues between the ex-Seleka Muslims and the government (read: UN) trying to unify the country. But the real story begins when the Russian paramilitary teams show up. Russia has been invited into CAR by President Touadera – the fact it is working both sides of the conflict show that it sees value cementing its place in an unstable mineral-rich state. The video doesn’t mention that the Chinese are already mining heavily in CAR. Maybe it’s because the Chinese haven’t brought their troops in. Yet.
Meanwhile, the Chinese activity in Oceana has prompted the Australian military to strike a $26 billion deal with BAE for anti-submarine warships.
Every week, it seems there’s new information on the Paris bomb plot that was foiled when Iranian diplomat Assodolah Assadi was arrested and charged with coordinating the plot. This week’s tidbit is that Mossad spearheaded Assadi’s capture.
From the homefront, the Supreme Court’s judgement in Sessions v. Dimaya regarding the definition of a violent crime has led a judge in Virginia to rule that the language describing a “crime of violence in immigration law is unconstitutionally vague.” As a result, American jihadist/Lashkar-e-Taiba member Seifullah Chapman was released from prison 14 years into an 65-year sentence. Maybe the judge is right, maybe not – I’m not a lawyer. But I hope someone is keeping their eye on this dude.
Let’s backburner why the FBI felt, in the wake of Helsinki, it needed to re-up it’s explanation of Venona and the maturation of US counterintelligence and just read it as a fascinating slice of history. That said, if you were planning on subjecting the world to conspiracy theories gleaned from your vast experience reading the Twitter feeds of Jack Prosobiec or Michael Avanetti, it might be worth poring over.
What do you think about using kids as sources in criminal investigations? The UK has been doing it for a while and the House of Lords is reviewing the practice. I don’t know – it worked for Sherlock Homes, didn’t it?
In case you have been sleeping too well recently, “deepfakes” are about to become the new rage in psychological and information warfare. A “deepfake” is a well-produced video that appears to be real – this example shows “Barack Obama” saying things you wouldn’t expect to hear. While the deepfake can be debunked, it requires time and an honest media – two things that aren’t always a given. For those prone to outrage (that runs the gamut from Hamas to Twitter), a deepfake such as a politician taking a bribe, or soldiers “shown murdering innocent civilians in a war zone,” or “emergency officials ‘announcing’ an impending missile strike on Los Angeles,”can start an inflagration with real-world consequences way before reason and cooler heads can prevail. Oh, and there’s an app for it too.
Lastly, if you know of a clean one-bedroom with a high-speed router – must have nearby restaurants that deliver – please alert the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. They’re asking for a former friend – Oh, nevermind, I guess they found someplace for him to go.
Until next week…