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... supports Professor William Snyder's sections of National Security Law, Counterterrorism Law, and Prosecuting Terrorists at the Syracuse University College of Law.

Gen. Hayden’s 5 things to look out for: SATSA

The following was posted by Zach over at Crossroads blog, and reposted here:

I just got back from SATSA's 8th Annual Conference on National & International Security. The conference was expertly run, with a great range of panelists that spoke on fascinating topics. The food was good, too (most importantly).

I'm going to focus in one the conference's keynote speaker; it's hard not to. General Michael Hayden (ret.) gave a keynote address entitled Hot Spots at Home and Around the World, and it was fantastic. For those that don't know, Gen. Hayden was the former Director of both the NSA and CIA. In his address, Gen. Hayden laid out 5 things that security types are paying attention to:

1. Iran. Gen. Hayden said that during his time with the CIA, Iran was the 2nd most discussed topic. Specifically, the Iranian's nuclear ambitions. Gen. Hayden said that President Bush never wanted a U.S. president to be faced with two options on Iran (presumably one option being a nuclear Iran). However, the General believes that we're rapidly approaching that point.

If we see ourselves on a road traveling towards a nuclear Iran, the General suggested that our off-ramps (i.e. options for dealing with Iran outside of force) are increasingly showing up in our rear view mirror. What's ahead is a symbolic fork in the road, with one path presumably leading to a nuclear Iran. I assume (but am not sure) that the second path leads to force. Interestingly, the General believes that the U.S. hits that fork in 2014. However, the Israelis see the fork coming in 2012. The General was careful to note that the chances of the Israelis attacking the Iranians are still low.

Great quote (from the Gen.): "If you turn your cheek to the Iranians, they hit you with the other hand."

2. China. Gen. Hayden said that what's happening in China affects our the U.S. national security calculus. Moreover, the General noted the U.S. shift in military strategy was a pivot towards the east. However, this change in strategy does not mean that the U.S. is preparing for war with China. Rather, it means that the U.S. is just seeking to maintain the balance of power.

The General also noted the Chinese Politburo's difficulty in attempting to formulate uniform policies when there are effectively two China's (the more modern China on the coast, and the poorer China on the interior). This leads to a China that is both growing in strength and growing in fragility.

3. Mexico. The General noted that there have been roughly 50,000 cartel murders in Mexico. With this backdrop, Mexican President Felipe Calderon apparently came to the U.S. in 2007 and said that "we" (i.e. both the U.S. and Mexico) have a problem. The General went on to compare Mexico to Columbia, but distinguished the two because Mexico is dealing with a criminal enterprise whereas Columbia is dealing with a political insurgency. Thus, we view Mexico largely through a law enforcement lens.

However, the General sees that Mexico has increasingly taken on an "Afghanistan texture" as opposed to a CSI texture. Despite the difference in name, what's going on in Mexico isn't all that different than an insurgency. The General even suggested the possibility of unarmed U.S. drones over Mexican airspace.

4. Cyber. In consideration of cyber, the General noted that the internet's underlying architecture was not built with security in mind, but rather, was built with an assumption of trust. We can see where that has gotten us. Along the same lines, there is an inherent tension between getting the government to protect our privacy interests (in cyberspace) and letting the government get far enough into our privacy interests in order to effectively protect them.

5. Terrorism. Gen. Hayden said that Al Qaeda's ability to harm any country has been much reduced. Thus, future terrorist attacks will likely be less organized and less likely to succeed. However, that means that there may be more of them.

This list was not exhaustive, it was just the General's top 5. This post also was not exhuastive, just what I managed to write down.

487px-Michael_Hayden,_CIA_official_portraitGen. Michael Hayden (ret.)


A few other interesting tidbits (all from the General):

  • Pres. Bush was a mix of Wilsonian and Jacksonian presidential styles. Pres. Obama is a mix of Wilsonian and Jeffersonian. Pres. Bush learned by talking to people. Pres. Obama learns by reading.
  • "I'm the fact guy. The decision maker is the vision guy. I'm the world as it is. He's the world as we want it to be."
  • "Despite where I've been, I've never been faced with the choice of choosing my agency or my country."

Check out the SATSA website here. A great event. If they post any video or transcripts of the panels, I'll be sure to post them.

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