Monday, February 27, 2012

The New WikiLeaks Publication and Iran’s Nuclear Program

WikiLeaks has been one of the most controversial organizations in the world during the last year. The site has published a long number of controversial documents over the years including
• The Climate Gate E-Mails concerning the subject of Global Warming
• The Afghan War Diaries
• Secret Files from Guantanamo Bay
• The Cablegate with the publishing of secret US Diplomatic Cables

Today WikiLeaks has released around 200-emails from the Private Security Firm Stratfor. In the end of the last year Stratfor was hacked by a group that is believed to be Anonymous; in the initial media reports the event was described largely as an attempt to steal credit card numbers but it has become clear that 5 million e-mails from the company also were obtained. Today WikiLeaks made the announcement that they will start publishing some of the e-mails in cooperation with a number of different newspapers including The Rolling Stone and The Sunday Star Times.

There has been an enormous controversy surrounding WikiLeaks and its founder this year; Julian Assange is currently in Great Britain awaiting a possible extradition to Sweden for two alleged cases of Rape and Bradley Manning how is believed to have leaked information to WikiLeaks is currently being court marshaled after being under military custody since May 2010 when he was arrested in Iraq. Assange has been portrayed as terrorist by some and as a hero by others.

Iran’s Nuclear Program
One of the hottest subjects during the last period of time has been Iran’s nuclear program. It’s believed by some that Iran’s program that the country is claiming is an attempt to create a civilian program for nuclear power may also be an attempt of constructing nuclear bombs. The European Union has decided to impose sanctions against Iran and stop oil imports from Iran.

Iran currently exports just over 2 million barrels of oil per day of the around 4 mb/d they produce per day (World Energy Outlook 2011: p 134-135). Iran’s Oil Production Peak around 1970 with a production of over 5 million barrels per day and the country still has 10% of the world reported oil reserves. From this perspective Iran’s effort to invest in nuclear power seems natural since it will allow the country to export more of its declining oil production instead of using it to produce electricity for their own population. The Iranian production of electricity does not provide enough power for entire nation; it is currently estimated that 25% of the villages in Iran lack the access to electricity.

In the media there has been steady reports concerning the situation and fears that Israel might launch an attack against Iran’s nuclear program like it did against the Iraqi Osirak Reactor in 1981 and as it did in 2007 against a facility in Syria. In the recent e-mails from WikiLeaks a surprising series of e-mails has emerged.

Israeli Attacks against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities?
The discussion in the media has largely circulated against the Israeli capability to carry out an airstrike against the facilities in Iran but today information has become available that suggest that attacks against facilities in Iran might already have taken place. In a series of e-mails an alleged Israeli source has provided information that suggested that

Source below was asked to clarify his remarks that the nuclear
infrastructure had been destroyed. Source response:

Israeli commandos in collaboration with Kurd forces destroyed
few underground facilities mainly used for the Iranian defense
and nuclear research projects.”
This statement can also be linked to a number of media reports; a report from BBC the 12th of November 2011 shows a satellite picture where extensive damage to buildings being explained as an explosion in an ammunition depot by officials from Iran killing 17 soldiers. In the e-mails from Stratfor the discussion regarding the implications of this information continues:

In the open media many are pushing and expecting Israel to
launch a massive attack on Iran. Even if the Israelis have the
capabilities and are ready to attack by air, sea and land, there
is no need to attack the nuclear program at this point after the
commandos destroyed a significant part of it.”
According to the e-mails the source was also asked regarding if he believed that Israel was planning a military attack against Iran and the answer was

"Source was asked what he thought of reports that the Israelis
were preparing a military offensive against Iran. Response:

I think this is a diversion. The Israelis already destroyed
all the Iranian nuclear infrastructure on the ground weeks
ago. The current "let's bomb Iran" campaign was ordered by the
EU leaders to divert the public attention from their at home
financial problems. It plays also well for the US since
Pakistan, Russia and N. Korea are mentioned in the report."
The information in this series of e-mails is very interesting and raises a number of questions
• Has Iran’s Nuclear Program been damaged or destroyed by Israeli forces?
• How can it be that a non state actor can get their hands on this type of Intelligence from personnel working within state Intelligence Agencies?
• What type of implication will there be now when this information has become public?

It’s very hard to assess if the new information provided by WikiLeaks is real. It’s also hard to know if the source that was discussed in these e-mails were actually telling the truth. But some the information provided in the e-mails match other data and news reports adding to the credibility that it is. In my opinion this type of information is controversial since it causes trouble for public and private actors around the world; but it also provides the public and media with a rare opportunity to get insights into what might be going on behind the scene. Weapons of Mass Destruction are a very sensitive subject and were one of the main arguments supporting the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The other trend with the Privatization of Security in the form of Private Military Companies (PMC) and Private Security Companies (PSC) is a very important trend that is not often discussed in the media. In this case the leakage of information seems to have occurred twice; first from someone working within the Israeli Intelligence Community to the private company Stratfor and later from the hacking of Stratfor.

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 2001 one of the criticisms was that the American Intelligence Agencies did not share enough information; the many report published by WikiLeaks show that opening up this type of systems can make them very vulnerable when individuals and group can get their hands on this information and make it public. It also raises the subject concerning how often this happens but never becomes public.

Also see:
Peak Oil and Our Mental Models - The WikiLeaks Cable and the Worlds Largest Oil Fields

Sunday, February 19, 2012

An Education – The Most Important Tool For a Bug Out?

Within the Preppers and Survivalist Bug Out Bags (BOB) and Evacuations is a common subject that is often discussed. Different types of natural disasters like Wild Fires and Hurricanes may force people to leave their homes in order to avoid death or injury. But there are also Man-Made threats that may force people to leave their homes like Wars, Civil Wars and failing technical systems like a Nuclear Power Plant Meltdown.

Long Term Displacement
Wars have often always been a major factor forcing people to leave their homes. During the Second World War many fled the affected areas in order to avoid the fighting, bombings and occupation forces. After the end of the World War over one million people were displaced. The process to rebuild destroyed housing and infrastructure would take a very long time.

During modern civil wars and collapsed states it’s not uncommon that more than half of the entire population is displaced either within the affected country or forced to flee to other countries. The violence during civil wars often involve systematic attacks against the civilian populations in forms of artillery attacks, snipers, torture, systematic sexual violence, torture, amputating limbs, forced castrations and other abuses making the level of terror extremely high. Its often common that specific groups becomes target through ethnic cleansing; its can often be very hard for these groups to return after the conflicts end; this has been the case for different groups on the Balkan and for Palestinian refugees. The lack of state institutions and dysfunctional political leadership in collapsed states makes these settings very problematic and the road to recovery is often very long.

People do not only move when there forced; many also try to move to other countries to get away from poverty and in order to get better opportunities. This has been the case many times throughout history and is still the case today. There are also other more disturbing trends like the Trafficking of People and Slavery attached to this problem; vulnerable people after conflicts may often end up being the victims of this type of activities.

Many talk about Bug Out Bags like a tool intended to support you for 72 hours; if your forced to leave your home it might be for good. Your home may not be there when you return or other conditions may make it impossible to return. Survival for most people more than knowing how to build a fire, navigate, build a shelter, purify water and signal for help. For most people making through everyday life is about having a job and being able to have an income.

Livelihoods and an Education
Knowledge, Skills and Experience are things that are always with you. If you are ever displaced being able to find a work in a different location or country can become much more important than having traditional survival related skills. An education is a valuable tool for many reasons;

• It means that you have some kind of specialized knowledge that everyone does not have.

• Many jobs like Doctors, Nurses, Dentists and Engineers are needed everywhere and the chances of finding a job are often high.

• You get the opportunity to get to know a lot of people and expend your social network; this can be just as important as the education itself during your life.

• You get learn how to work through and analyze large quantities of information, source criticism and methodology.

Different professions have a different status over the world but some are needed no matter what. Having an education or specialized profession does not only provide a form of security in your everyday life; for many that been forced to leave their homes it has provided an opportunity to start over. I suggest that no matter what your profession is that you try to expand your knowledge and get specialized knowledge related to this field. Unskilled jobs can be hard to find and the salary can often be very low.

Language Barriers and Discrimination is problems that can often face refugees and immigrants in their new settings. Discrimination can make it hard to find a job but also cause other problems like harassments and problems with law enforcement, institutions and other officials. Learning how to speak different languages can help you to minimize these problems but also make it possible for you to practice your profession in other settings. People how are forced to flee to other nations often find themselves in a long process before they are given a citizenship and may also have to cope with other challenges like physical and emotional trauma while adjusting to a new unfamiliar setting.

Never Stop Learning
Gaining knowledge, skills and experience is a constantly ongoing process. No one knows everything; we always have new things to learn. If you have the opportunity to get an education I suggest that you take the chance. Getting an education is a privilege; don’t waste the chance if you get it. For most people there are several ways to gain new knowledge; taking evening courses; joining different organizations; studying on your own or utilizing opportunities provided by your work.

If there is professions that you would like to learn don’t let anything stop you. It’s often common that the people around us may have expectations or strong opinions regarding what ways that we should walk. Find your own way and follow it.

Many Survivalist and Preppers approach the subject or evacuations or “Bugging Out” from a perspective that it is a tool intended to provide you with what you need to make it through the first time after a disaster. There is also a tendency to focus heavily on equipment such as Bug Out Bags (BOB), Survival Knives, Lights, Pocket Survival Kits, Every Day Carry (EDC), Get Home Bags (GHB) and stockpiling equipment. Having the right equipment can be critical in many situations; but having the knowledge, skills, experience and physical fitness required to utilize this resources is just as important. Equipment and physical possessions can be lost in a matter of seconds from natural disasters or a fire. The knowledge, skills and experience that you have is something that you always carry with you. Survivors can find themselves in a situation when their home, their saving and their old jobs have been lost; being forced to travel to other regions or even other nations in order to find safety. Millions of people all around the world have been forced to take this step throughout history; if you ever are forced to make this transition a Bug Out Bag can be valuable tool; but having an education or a specialized profession can be much more important.