Thursday, September 17, 2009

Russia, China, Iran and North Korea challenge US interests, US National Intelligence Strategy

The US National Intelligence Strategy 2009 released on September 15, 2009, has identified Russia and China along with Iran, North Korea and non-state and sub-state actors posing major challenges to US interests at home and abroad. While analysing the prevailing and emerging strategic environment, the report also identified other challenges such as environment, emerging technologies, pandemics, failed states and ungoverned spaces and economic crisis.

Detailing on the challenges, the NIS 2009 said that adversaries are likely to use asymmetric means and technology to compete with and challenge the US interests. Talking about China, the report noted that while US and China cooperate on several issues, "its increasing natural resource-focused diplomacy and military modernisation
are among the factors making it a complex global challenge." Speaking on similar lines, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said that China's advanced weapon systems could possibly undermine US military power in the Asia-Pacific. Gates was speaking to the Air Force Association in Maryland noted, "In fact, when considering the military-modernization programs of countries like China, we should be concerned less with their potential ability to challenge the US symmetrically -- fighter to fighter or ship to ship -- and more with their ability to disrupt our freedom of movement and narrow our strategic options." Similarly, China's "investments in cyber and anti-satellite warfare, anti-air and anti-ship weaponry, and ballistic missiles could threaten America's primary way to project power and help allies in the Pacific -- in particular our forward air bases and carrier strike groups."

Similalrly on Russia, the report said that the two countries are cooperating a great deal on issues like securitng fissile material, nuclear terrorism and so on, but the fact that Russia "may continue to seek avenues for reasserting power and influence in ways that complicate US interests" is worrying to the US. The report considers Iran as a challenge essentially due to its nuclear- and missile-related activities, but also for its involvement in terrorism, providing lethal aid to US and other Coalition adversaries. On North Korea, the report noted that it continues "to threaten peace and security in East Asia because of its sustained pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, its transfer of these capabilities to third parties, its erratic behavior, and its large conventional military capability.

The report additionally identified six major mission objectives: Combat Violent Extremism; Counter WMD Proliferation; Provide Strategic Intelligence and Warning; Integrate Counterintelligence capabilities; Enhance Cybersecurity; and Support Current Operations (ongoing US diplomatic, military, and law enforcement operations). The report has also categorised seven "enterprise objectives" including, 1) Enhance Community Mission Management; 2) Strengthen Partnerships; 3) Streamline Business Processes; 4) Improve Information Integration & Sharing; 5) Advance S&T/R&D; 6) Develop the Workforce; and 7) Improve Acquisition.

China has reacted sharply to the NIS 2009, with the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu stating that "As a staunch force safeguarding and promoting world peace and stability, China will not pose a threat to any country in its development. We urge the US to abandon Cold War mentality and prejudices, correct mistakes in the report, and stop making remarks that mislead the US public and undermine mutual trust between China and the US."

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