This is the final announcement for the presentation on….

Achieving World Food Security

Why We Continue to Fail

 and What it Means for Our National Security

with

Avram “Buzz” Guroff

Senior Executive, the USDA and ACDI/VOCA

The Ramada. 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 4, 2015

In a world of some 7.3 billion people, over 842 million are food insecure, with the vast majority living in developing countries. Poor nutrition causes nearly half the deaths of children under five—3.1 million each year! One of every 6 children is underweight; one in 4 of the world’s children is stunted.

In countries facing the worst food conditions, most are prone to civil disorder, large displaced populations, widespread poverty, and may also suffer more from natural disasters. Given that the global population is projected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050, with nearly all of the population increase occurring in developing countries, food production will need to increase by 50%! Is there enough land, water and genetic diversity to meet the need? Is the political will there to deal with the challenge?

Buzz Guroff, who spent his career in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and later with the non-profit international agricultural development organization ACDI/VOCA, will present an overview of the state of food insecurity in the world, highlighting key areas of most concern. He will discuss the reasons why the international community has thus far failed to eliminate food insecurity, and will address the national security implications of the likely worsening situation. Guroff will suggest courses of action that could alleviate this ongoing tragedy.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy breakfast, coffee and conversation.

You are encouraged to RSVP by clicking HERE. You may also RSVP by e-mailing info@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking HERE. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership.

The Iran deal: A Critical Assessment

by Fred LaSor

Special Commentary for the National Security Forum

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini issued a joint statement in Vienna July 14 announcing a deal the New York Times said would “significantly limit Iran’s nuclear capability for a decade”.  The announcement was widely welcomed because the thought of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran’s revolutionary government is troubling and because a number of countries who have honored trade sanctions with Iran up until now want to reopen commerce again.

But the ink had not dried on the document before we began to see differing interpretations of what had been agreed and what the ramifications were for Iran, for Iran’s trade partners, for Israel, for Europe, for the USA, and for inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  No matter who was commenting, consensus lacked on what had been agreed.

President Obama claimed the deal would prevent development of an Iranian nuclear bomb for at least 10 years.  The Iranians said the delay was five years.  “Breakout time,” the technical delay for development of a nuclear weapon, is said by American experts to be “at least a year.”  Clearly,  interpretations on this particular differ widely.

One indisputable point is that Iran will continue funding and supporting Islamist terrorism.  Defense Secretary Carter testified this week that Iran “is likely the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.”  As troubling as this is to Europe and the United States, it hits closer to home for Sunni Muslim nations, including most of Iran’s neighbors, who live daily with Iran’s deadly meddling.

The deal included a stipulation (point 34.i) that it be sent immediately to the UN Security Council for their endorsement,  granted within the week, which triggered a 90 day implementation schedule.   European, US and UN sanctions are thus expected to terminate around mid-October, notwithstanding Secretary Kerry’s assurances to the contrary.  As for President Obama’s promise of “snap back” reimposition of sanctions,  that genie will not go back in the bottle.

And now we have confirmation that the agreement is not all that was signed: at least two codicils were not included in the 159-page document Zarif and Mogherini released on Bastille Day.  Kerry admits he has not read them and cannot do so.  Rumors hint the side deals might include severe limitations on IAEA inspections and other matters that would likely be unacceptable to us.

Iran has said it will not start honoring the terms of the agreement before sanctions are removed, and several Republican Senators have said their 60-day review period will not begin until all the agreement – including codicils – have been delivered to Capitol Hill.  A classic standoff.

Another issue, explored recently in a Wall Street Journal op-ed by David Rivkin and Lee Casey, is President Obama’s avoidance of the constitutional treaty process.   They write that a deal done by executive order is not binding on individual states, (despite the wording of section xix.25) and can ultimately be undone by another executive.  A treaty with Senate approval would not pose this problem, but it appears this administration and the Iranians prefer an imperfect deal done quickly.

Strong defenders of this administration are appearing on US TV this week saying the deal “is better than war,” although the two options are not mutually exclusive and the agreement remains seriously flawed.  Even respected analysts insist a bad deal is better than no deal at all.  Meanwhile, opponents are predicting Iran will cheat, which this agreement will not prevent. CNN’s latest poll has US public opinion running 61% against the deal.

Whichever side you are on there is no denying that President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and Ayatollah Khamenei do not have a reputation for reliability or the integrity of their word.  The difference between their personal assurance and that of President Reagan when he coined the slogan, “Trust but Verify”,  is enormous.

President Obama has challenged his critics to come up with a better way for dealing with Teheran’s nuclear ambitions – ambitions which Iran denies, by the way.  And testifying before Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry commented that the alternative to approving this deal is for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon immediately instead of ten years hence.  Obama and Kerry have given us a bad agreement and call for its approval because the alternative is worse.  We’ve been handed a crap sandwich with mayonnaise and assured it’s better than one without mayonnaise.

The United Nations Security Council claims we have a deal in which Iran agrees to delay processing weapons grade nuclear material for a decade.  President Obama contends he can implement US participation by executive order (just as the next president could reverse it) and will veto any legislation that impedes implementation.  In the meantime, Congress can refuse to approve what they have been offered, a course of action supported by growing public opinion, or they can accept it as better than the alternative.  But the bottom line is, critics cannot stop this deal.

Iran’s deal with the EU/E3+3 and the UNSC will stand with US accord guaranteed by executive order no matter what Congress decides to do. Iran will follow whatever course of action they determine is in their best interest, happy with trade restored.  Obama would prefer to have Congress go along with it, just as he hoped to be able to say acceptance of ObamaCare was bipartisan.  The Congress should gracefully decline: having the Iran agreement enter into force by executive order alone leaves no doubt as to its parentage and simplifies reversal at a later date.

Gardnerville resident Fred LaSor retains a keen interest in international affairs since retirement from the Foreign Service in 1997.  He follows developments in the Middle East and Africa closely.

Please join us for this most timely presentation on….

Achieving World Food Security

Why We Continue to Fail

 and What it Means for Our National Security

with

Avram “Buzz” Guroff

Senior Executive, the USDA and ACDI/VOCA

The Ramada. 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 4, 2015

In a world of some 7.3 billion people, over 842 million are food insecure, with the vast majority living in developing countries. Poor nutrition causes nearly half the deaths of children under five—3.1 million each year! One of every 6 children is underweight; one in 4 of the world’s children is stunted.

In countries facing the worst food conditions, most are prone to civil disorder, large displaced populations, widespread poverty, and may also suffer more from natural disasters. Given that the global population is projected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050, with nearly all of the population increase occurring in developing countries, food production will need to increase by 50%! Is there enough land, water and genetic diversity to meet the need? Is the political will there to deal with the challenge?

Buzz Guroff, who spent his career in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and later with the non-profit international agricultural development organization ACDI/VOCA, will present an overview of the state of food insecurity in the world, highlighting key areas of most concern. He will discuss the reasons why the international community has thus far failed to eliminate food insecurity, and will address the national security implications of the likely worsening situation. Guroff will suggest courses of action that could alleviate this ongoing tragedy.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy breakfast, coffee and conversation.

You are encouraged to RSVP by clicking HERE. You may also RSVP by e-mailing info@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking HERE. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership.

Colleagues,

Below please find the link to General Joe Shaefer’s PowerPoint presentation on “Water, Murder and Mayhem”.  We all thought it was an extraordinary, informative and very comprehensive talk.  The General was also kind enough to add footnotes to each slide for further explanation.  Also note that his information is copyrighted, so if you forward his PowerPoint on, please make note of this.

General Joe Shaefer’s PowerPoint

General David Petraeus and Michael O’Hanlon recently wrote an op-ed advocating that “the right approach for the United States is not to pull out next year but to keep several bases and several thousand U.S. and other NATO-coalition troops in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future”.  They argue that the costs– perhaps $7-13 billion a year and many U.S. casualties– is a worthwhile investment that would deter another major terrorist attack against the U.S. homeland.  Below, USAF Special Ops veteran Michael Haas argues to the contrary.

An Uncharacteristic Gaffe

By COL Michael Haas (USAF-Ret)

The usually astute General David Petraeus and his colleague Michael O’Hanlon are making an uncharacteristic gaffe in their urging President Obama to rescind the scheduled withdrawal of all American operational combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of next year (“The U.S. needs to keep troops in Afghanistan,” Washington Post op-ed, July 7).

The case put forth by Messrs. Petraeus and O’Hanlon suffers on a number of fronts, from their arguable misreading of recent history to speculating on hypothetical events in Afghanistan’s future.  More troubling still are the authors’ negation by exclusion of the extent to which Islamic terrorism has morphed in ways unimaginable since Task Force Dagger sent U.S. Special Operations and CIA paramilitary teams into Afghanistan a long fourteen years ago.

The authors’ advocacy for prolonging US involvement in Afghanistan post-2016 appears based on three central tenets:  First, the plausible risk that a resurgent Taliban will again welcome Al Qaeda (AQ) back into the country.  Second, the Afghan political class and general public “overwhelmingly want us to stay.”  And third, America’s financial and blood investments to date have been for a cause well worth still more of the same in a future Afghanistan.  Let’s take these assertions one at a time before considering this author’s counter-perspective on the Petraeus/O’Hanlon viewpoint.

As to the speculation that AQ may someday return to Afghanistan, this Special Operations veteran and historian responds, “Probably not and even if they do, so what?”  My impudence warrants explanation.

It’s worth remembering that AQ grew out of the ashes of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, propelled largely by two forces: One was a wealthy, radicalized Saudi prince, the other a regional hostility to AQ that would not allow these terrorists to openly operate anywhere else but Afghanistan.

For the last four years that wealthy prince has been lying at “an undisclosed location” somewhere on the bottom of the Indian Ocean.  And not only AQ but its derivative, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), now enjoy strongholds in oil-rich regions immeasurably better-placed than Afghanistan for its attacks on Middle Eastern, North African, and Western foes.  Succinctly put, the hypothetical threat emanating from a much-diminished AQ returning to isolated Afghanistan, will pale in comparison to the Islamic terrorism the West is already failing to stop in many more important countries.  (Pakistan’s leaders may not share this view!)

As for the authors’ assertion that the majority of Afghan citizens still want the US to stay in their country, it’s hardly a wonder why.  The decade-plus presence of American security forces and financial largesse has brought once-unimaginable fortunes to Afghanistan’s corrupt political elites.

And it’s also masked a very indiscrete question:  How is it that a nation of some thirty million people cannot effectively cope with a Taliban insurgency estimated at a mere thirty thousand fighters?  Even for we “math disadvantaged” souls that appears to be 1,000 citizens facing each insurgent.  Who wouldn’t want the world’s richest, most generous country to come fight the local trouble-makers on behalf of the sidelined majority population?

On Messrs. Petraeus and O’Hanlon’s last point, staying to “protect our investment’” (2,000 American KIA, untold numbers permanently maimed, one trillion US taxpayer dollars), this author turns to the shrewd philosophy sung by an American not generally credited as a foreign policy expert:

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away . . . And when to run

Kenny Rogers

The fundamental point offered in this counter-view is that the Islamic terrorism envisioned by Osama bin Laden nearly two decades ago has since morphed into something beyond even that madman’s hopes.  With ISIS firmly at the helm of global terrorism and expanding steadily against an irresolute West, Afghanistan’s priority has slipped badly in the big scheme of things.  When Gen. Petraeus and Mr. O’Hanlon assert an American withdrawal from Afghanistan next year “would be playing roulette with Afghanistan’s future”, this writer wonders in turn, “Why not let the Afghans take responsibility for playing their own roulette wheel?”

As jarring as it sounds to the national security mindset, the country where it all began—at least from the American experience—has now come to represent the same liability to both the West and ISIS:  Afghanistan is in 2015 a backwater theater to which neither side can afford to divert serious resources.

—————–

Col. Michael Haas, USAF, ret.

During his joint Army-Air Force career the author served in a number of Special Operations, Air Staff, and Defense Intelligence Agency assignments.