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Rosenblum writes: "Professionals understand how terrorists operate. Those we need to fear most find ways to come in the front door. Others are already here. Slamming our doors to all desperate refugees and qualified immigrants only creates yet more extremists ready to devote their lives to making us pay."

Michael Morrell. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Michael Morrell. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

War and Peace Abridged

By Mort Rosenblum, Reader Supported News

05 March 18


o riff on the NRA’s moronic mantra: missiles don’t kill people, stone-cold demagogues kill people. The issue is not whether we should fear new Russian supernukes. It is why Vladimir Putin so pointedly boasts about them.

Here is Michael Morell, who knows whereof he speaks:

“There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that after the invasion of Georgia, the invasion of Ukraine, the intervention in Syria, the meddling in our election, the attack last week by Russian mercenaries on U.S. forces in Syria, that we are again in a Cold War.”

And this time, he adds, we are fast approaching hot conflict. Both sides reached mutually assured overkill decades ago and kept the lid on. Today, chest-bumping bullies – one far tougher and savvier – could trigger the unthinkable.

Putin says Russia would join China to defend North Korea, if attacked. He sloughs off U.N. officials’ accusation of war crimes in Syria. For starters.

I’d be less troubled if Morell still had his old job, acting CIA director. After 30 years out in the real world watching human behavior shape geopolitics, his soft-spoken guidance helped steer politicians clear of folly. But in Washington today, competence is a drawback.

Now he is a private consultant, one of those CBS News experts whose wisdom is too often lost among uninformed babble. I’ve seen the CIA up close at its worst and best since the 60s when it handed the Congo to Mobutu. He is the real deal.

As the presidential campaign neared showdown, Morell abandoned neutrality. Having seen Hillary Clinton in action, he trusted her to make sensible decisions. Trump’s amateur-hour simplicities scared him silly.

Putin’s greatest threat is democracy, Morell says, and if he can undermine it in the United States and Europe, he is stronger at home. Discord in America weakens its ability to act abroad. Without sanctions that bite and oversight of social media, he concludes, Putin will amp up his cyber-meddling in 2020.

It gets worse.

After Bashar al-Assad gassed civilians in 2013, Morell urged a targeted strike smack on his doorstep to get his attention and then tough negotiation in face-saving secrecy. Instead, Barack Obama waffled and let the Russians weigh in.

Now Putin dominates the Middle East backgammon board. The more Trump leans toward Israel and Saudi Arabia, the more Iran’s proxy zealots crank up the heat. And Russia’s priorities do not include protecting America from terrorism.

In a CBS News interview last week, Morell warned of the blowback:

“ISIS has for some time said that they want to acquire weapons of mass destruction and to use them and they’ve actually been able to manufacture chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria and use them on the battlefield.

“I think we need to be more worried about them making it here. This stuff is difficult to transport, it’s difficult to get it by customs and immigration. I think it’s more likely that they send the recipe here to their followers and they make it here.”

That, he concluded, is relatively easy. It takes only a degree in chemistry and a few basic elements.

Plenty of other seasoned analysts echo Morell’s fears, basing assessments on hard data and trusted sources in the thick of things. But Trump demoralizes them, tuning them out and listening to his inexperienced ideologues.

Professionals understand how terrorists operate. Those we need to fear most find ways to come in the front door. Others are already here. Slamming our doors to all desperate refugees and qualified immigrants only creates yet more extremists ready to devote their lives to making us pay.

In the long run, America’s challenge is China, with its insatiable need for raw materials and strategic metals along with its global efforts to quash free expression and human rights. Smart diplomacy and sensible politics can work out coexistence.

More immediately, we need to stop two megalomaniacs intent on comparing penis size before this gets out of hand, and they end up blowing a chunk out of the planet. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+1 # jsluka 2018-03-05 23:59
Here we go again - "The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming"!!!
+4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-03-06 09:28
js -- did you see the recent tweet from Hillary:

"I say this as a former Secretary of State and as an American: the Russians are still coming. Our intelligence professionals are imploring Trump to act. Will he continue to ignore & surrender, or protect our country?"

"The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" was a cold war satirical movie from 1966. I wonder why this phrase is now all over the place but no one seems to remember the satire. Better get Borowitz on it right away.
+14 # janie1893 2018-03-06 01:56
Trump is the greatest terrorist the west has yet seen. He terrorizes the continent of North America.
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-03-07 13:28
janie -- I think Bush II is still our worst terrorist. During his term in office, he killed somewhere around 2 million people and destroyed the lives of another 10 million more. Obama is up there, too. Probably he killed a half million, maybe more, and destroyed the lives of another 10 million people. Trump is not there yet. Hopefully, he will be replaced by a president committed to peace in 2020. Trump won partly because he campaigned as less of a terrorist and mass murderer than Hillary did. Of course, Trump was lying. I wonder if Hillary was lying or telling the truth. I guess we will never know.
+4 # jazzman633 2018-03-07 14:48
And Bush paints stupid pictures in Texas instead of serving life for war crimes. Is there no justice?
+2 # librarian1984 2018-03-08 08:32
I think we can safely assume Hillary was lying.

Most losers have the grace to retire quietly, but such probity is not in the playbook of Clinton, Palin or Cheney.

I don't believe we can give W that #1spot without putting Cheney in there too. He was so much a source of the evil. But I agree, they are #1.

I'm no fan of the Democrats but the GOP is in a class by itself, one of the most regressive political organs in the world, delivering toxic policy and horrible leaders like clockwork, dragging down the country (How much longer will the dollar be the world's currency of choice, and then the excrement REALLY hits the fan) and the world (The US should have been a leader in green economy).

The rise of this GOP has been a disaster for the planet and our country -- D!ck & W the most blood-soaked, Reagan the most insidious, Nixon the most corrosive. I suppose Trump is the most disruptive, but he'd enjoy the distinction. I hope one day we can say he was the one who brought on the resurgence of a truly progressive government.

The Democrats just underperformed in TX. Rather, turnout was good but Republican turnout was better. They are still banking on 'We're Not Trump' in 2018, and that is not enough to win back Congress. When they lose again and we have two more years of GOP control, THEN will they accept reform?
+4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-03-06 07:33
The cold warrior neo-cons are out in full force scaring the US into another splurge of weapons buying. The US really does not fight wars very well. It loses them all. But it is very good at buying expensive weapons. Morrell is one of the crazies, a salesman and con-artist for the emerging round of pushing trillions of dollars into weapons manufacturers and their owners on Wall Street.

Russia spends less than $70 billion a year on all of its military. The US spends around $1.5 trillion on its military. (about half of US military spending is not in the pentagon. It is in other agencies like the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Dept. of Energy, Dept. of State. Dept. of Agriculture, and off the books "contingency operations.")

This new cold war will be a race to bankruptcy. The last one bankrupted the Soviet Union. Russia seems to have learned that lesson very well. The US did not. It is likely that in some time, the US will be bankrupt. It will have some enormous weapons, most of which will only be partly tested, but it will be bankrupt.

As for terrorism, it has never made sense to fight terrorists in their home nations. That only creates terrorists. If the US withdrew from the middle east, terrorism would stop.
+8 # indian weaving 2018-03-06 08:23
Only one megalomaniac is on the world stage: Trump. Putin is one of the greatest leaders on the planet by comparison, and his diplomats are far superior to any of the idiots Trump hired for his cabinet - none of them acceptable. This Morrell is just another USA politician anymore, the worst of humans.
+5 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-03-06 16:54
And, when exactly was it that the CIA stopped lying?
+4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-03-06 18:35
not yet!

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