Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, yesterday released its unclassified version of its Intelligence Community Annual Threat Assessment provided to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
First on the list of threats is the continuing economic crisis, which could further destabilize world economies.
Blair offered encouraging observations on the ideological battle against Islamist extremism, suggesting that we are “turning the corner on violent extremism” and that Muslim populations are increasingly turning against the arbitrary violence of Islamic terrorists.
While seeing improvement in the fight against radicalism, Blair nonetheless categorizes the Middle East as an “arc of instability,” where Palestine and Lebanon remain troubled, along with a surge in the regional power of Iran — which means a surge in Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. In Palestine, Fatah and Hamas continue to create chaos in their struggle for power. Meanwhile, Blair points to the growing stability of Iraq as a “counterbalance” to this regional chaos.
Meanwhile Pakistan and Afghanistan remained hopelessly intertwined, like the snakes of Medusa, as the growing violence of the border region and the increasingly lethal tactics of the Taliban pose dangers to both governments.
Blair’s report does not focus exclusively on the Middle East by any means, touching upon the increasing power of Asia, driven by military and economic growth in China and India. Russia is seeking to revive the old balance-of-power geopolitical environment, setting itself up as the only counter to uncontrolled American power. In Latin America, the “corruptive influence and increasing violence of Mexican drug cartels” is one of our most dangerous threats. The assessment of the entire continent of Africa “falling further behind” just about says it all.
Blair wraps up with a dire assessment of the growing threat in the realm of cyber security and transnational organized crime.The section on cyber security addresses the corruption and exploitation of IT infrastructures, as one would expect, but also throws in the use of the Internet and New Media as tools of ideological radicalization, recruitment and propaganda on an international scale.