secure freedom blog

May 18 2017 image description
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North Korea-Iran Nexus: Can their nuclear ambitions be stopped?

On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, the Center for a Secure Free Society hosted a Washington, D.C. roundtable discussion on a most timely subject: “The North Korea-Iran Nexus: Can their nuclear ambitions be stopped?” Four participants representing a range of perspectives tackled the thorny issue of Iran and North Korea’s nuclear proliferation efforts and made substantive recommendations for U.S. policymakers, at a time of heightened tension as the North Korean regime ratchets its nuclear ambitions with a series of menacing missile launches.

The panel consisted of columnist and television commentator Gordon G. Chang, author of Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World;  Dr. James Carafano, Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Collum Davis Institute at the Heritage Foundation and author of Surviving the End; Ilan Berman, Senior Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council and author of Iran’s Deadly Ambition: The Islamic Republic’s Quest for Global Power and Benjamin Friedman, Research Fellow for Defense and Homeland Security Studies at the Cato Institute. The panel was moderated by Adam Kredo, senior writer at the Washington Free Beacon.

Berman set the stage by giving an overview of the shared history and ominous relationship between Iran and North Korea, describing it as “the dog that isn’t barking.” Berman underlined how the most recent JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action includes the five permanent UN security council members, Germany and the European Union) nuclear treaty has provided Iran with an overabundance of new resources that incentivize the completion of the country’s nuclear objectives. Meanwhile, North Korea, a seminal partner in Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon, has been heartened by the permanence of the treaty, interpreting it as acknowledgement of a nuclear status quo.

Chang outlined the extent to which China and Chinese entities have armed North Korea. Financial, technical and other assistance has largely kept the North Korean arsenal supplied with the latest available technology, and Beijing has also assisted Iran in meeting its nuclear objectives. Chang argued that since North Korea has abrogated the terms of all previous arms agreements, the U.S. should increase pressure on China by sanctioning Chinese companies known to supply the North Koreans. In effect, if these companies continue to do business with Pyongyang they should be prohibited from doing business with parties to the arms accord. Similarly, Chang suggested inspecting contraband shipments to Iran and increasing U.S. signaling on North Korea to China.

Dr. Carafano reviewed the foreign policy of the Obama administration in its quest for equilibrium in three critical regions: Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He argued that the new Trump administration should work for a “persistent presence” of the U.S. in these three regions to secure vital American interests. With regard to the North Korean situation, he stressed the need to place heavy sanctions on Chinese entities that supply and enable the North Koreans as well as the Iranians. Carafano emphasized that the recent North Korea crisis has forced the new U.S. administration to reformulate policy in real time.

Benjamin Friedman argued that the worst aspects of the current North Korean crisis can be halted, although he expressed more optimism for halting Iran’s nuclear plans, arguing that “containment has been historically successful” over military conflict. Friedman stressed the need to manage relations with both actors, placing emphasis on internal conflicts in the ruling elites in both countries.

Chang and Berman also pointed out that the problem with both Iran and North Korea is more ideological than it is technical. Moreover, the level of collusion between the two regimes remains noteworthy as Iranian technicians have been present for the last five North Korea missile launch tests and numerus sources have reported that North Korea is temporarily storing Iranian nuclear technology, hampering efforts to confirm Iranian compliance with the JCPOA.

While disagreeing fundamentally on a number of critical points, Friedman and Carafano made reference to a strategy of containment not unlike during the Cold War era, whereas Berman and Chang stressed the inevitable and continued conflicts that might arise unless both regimes are denuclearized and eventually replaced. The latter also stressed increasing support for dissenting and opposition forces within each country as an important component of US strategy towards both regimes.

The intellectually charged and highly informative discussion delved into policy recommendations for the U.S. foreign policy and national security communities, and was followed by a lively question and answer session with attendees.

June 15 2016 image description
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SFS partners with the Daniel Morgan Academy to discuss the future of the Western Hemisphere

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Wednesday, June 8 – The inaugural 2016 Western Hemisphere Security Forum in Washington, D.C., co-sponsored by the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS) and the Daniel Morgan Academy (DMA) brought together several leading regional experts and security scholars for a day-long discussion about the many issues affecting governance and the rule of law throughout the Americas…. Continue Reading

March 4 2016 image description
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21st Century Refugee Crisis: What are the stakes of resettlement? February 29, 2016

Washington D.C. — On February 29, SFS hosted a policy roundtable with Amb. Alberto Fernandez, former Congressman Peter Hoekstra, and SFS International Fellow Candice Malcolm, all engaged in a lively and insightful discussion of the current refugee crisis affecting the Middle East, Europe, and North America. The discussion was moderated by Jordan Bloom, opinion editor, The Daily Caller.

According to Amb. Fernandez, Vice President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the response to the refugee crisis has become “an exercise in virtue signaling,” by many Western politicians. While pressure is placed on Western nations to solve the problems of a flood of migrants, political leaders, and others focus on humanitarian responses while largely ignoring the root causes of the migration: the lack of humanitarian involvement by Middle Eastern players, the ideological environment, and the security implications for the receiving nations.

The virtue signaling of the political classes is creating a shift in public opinion, according to Candice Malcolm, SFS International Fellow for Canada.The stress on overburdened welfare states in Europe is creating a new, and potentially volatile, political climate. Appeals for larger refugee numbers is taking place alongside the rise of anti-migrant forces, both on the right and the left. In Canada, Malcolm emphasized that the new Trudeaugovernment has pushed for higher migrant quotas despite warnings from resettlement and security agencies that capacity to process the refugees is being overstretched. Malcolm also pointed to effective private humanitarian efforts to alleviate the crisis without losing sight of the immense security challenges.

Former Michigan Congressman Peter Hoekstra, who served as chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, reviewed the steady rise in the number of terrorist incidents since September 11. Hoekstra underscored that each time there’s a new failed state, decades are needed to restore a semblance of stability and reconstruction. The result is that prevailing problems are escalating and the situation abroad becomes more complex on a daily basis. Hoekstra was joined by the other panelists in emphasizing that the need to identify the enemy, its ideology, and to formulate a clear strategy for defeating radical Islam — is of paramount importance.

December 9 2015 image description
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Should Venezuela be listed as a State Sponsor of Terrorism?

For several years, SFS has actively researched the linkages between Venezuelan government officials and international terrorism. On June 4, 2014, our first policy report, Canada on Guard: Assessing the Immigration Security Threat of Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba, revealed a criminal-terrorist pipeline sending funds and drugs from Latin America to the Middle East and bringing back foreign fighters and potential Islamic terrorists. This report identified specific Venezuelan government officials who developed an illicit financial network functioning as a service provider for Islamic militants from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. In particular, the report mentions at least 173 individuals from the aforementioned countries receiving either passports, visa’s, or national ID cards from the Venezuelan government.

America’s columnist, Mary O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal highlighted the findings of our report and this criminal-terrorist pipeline in one of her weekly column’s titled The Iran-Cuba-Venezuela Nexus. As did journalist Helen Aguirre Ferre of The Miami Herald in her editorial Jihad in our Hemisphere and Antonio Maria Delgado from their Spanish counterpart El Nuevo Herald in Venezuela, trampolîn del Hezbolá hacia America del Norte.

More recently, a Venezuelan diplomatic officer formerly stationed in Iraq, Misael López Soto, affirmed that this criminal-terrorist pipeline is still operational through an explosive declaration made on YouTube accompanied by supporting documentation and a report by the CICPC (Venezuela’s largest national police agency, responsible for criminal investigations and forensic services). Beyond the countries identified in our research, Mr. Lopez Soto added Pakistan and the Palestinean territories and confirmed that at least one individual is a member of Lebanese Hezbollah.

You can see Mr. Lopez Soto declaration (in Spanish) below or read an English translation and transcript of his declaration. Supporting documentation for his claim can be found on this website of Venezuela journalist Andreína Flores.

This compelling evidence raises the question as to whether the current Venezuelan regime should be designated as a country that sponsor’s terrorism per the U.S. State Department. Executive Director Joseph Humire argues as to why this question should be taken seriously by U.S. government officials during a recent congressional briefing organized by the Center for Security Policy’s Menges Hemispheric Security Project on October 29, 2015. See the video of Mr. Humire’s remarks below:

December 2 2015 image description
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PUTIN AND HIS POLICIES: By Evgueni Novikov, Ph.D.

Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Center for a Secure Free Socierty (SFS). 

Evgueni NovikovIntroduction:

The reader might appreciate that my opinions on Russia and its leadership are based on my long time cultural experience as an insider and observer of the Soviet/Russian elites. My mother’ sister, Olga Nikolaevna, was a wife of Mr. Alexey Koslov, CPSU top apparatchik, former deputy of Soviet PM Malenkov and a Soviet minister of agriculture. Olga Nikolaevna’s social status made it possible for her to be a friend of Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alilueva. In my childhood years I would spend a lot of time with Olga Nikolaevna’s family and I had vivid impressions about the way of life of Stalin’s party elite members. Mr. Alexey Koslov helped me to enroll in the prestigious Nachimov Naval preparatory school in Leningrad, where I became a friend of Admiral Yuri Panteleev who was the President of the Leningrad Navy War College. I was accepted into the Admiral’s family and was able to watch the life styles of members of the Soviet military. While I pursued my studies in Leningrad, I became acquainted with the Leningrad culture of the intelligentsia, to which the family of young Putin belonged. Following my years at the Nachimov Naval preparatory school, I became a student at a most prestigious Soviet University – MGIMO (all Russian foreign ministers are and have been alumni of this University). After graduation, and until my defection to the USA in 1988, I worked for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee’s International Department. (My former colleague, Mr. Alexey Pushkov is a head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Duma). My cultural and personal experience enables me to understand the way of thinking and acting of the Russian inner circle and of President Vladimir Putin. Based on the above experience I shall try to explain why the Russian people like and support President Vladimir Putin. More importantly, an appraisal of Putin’s domestic support can help us to discern his ambitions in Ukraine and his latest endeavor in the Middle East.

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