Energy security is a key element of national security. The missing piece of America’s energy security policy, in turn, is the glaring absence of a strategy to coordinate and secure the enormous energy resources of the Western hemisphere.

Today, America is over-dependent on the increasingly volatile Middle East, China is increasingly aggressive in its quest for energy sources worldwide, and Russia is exploiting its energy reserves not just economically but as an instrument of global power. Clearly it’s important to reduce demand through various domestic means and to increase supply from alternative sources. But for now and even the mid-term future, it is more realistic to generating energy now and in the mid-term via an effective national energy policy which relies on the Western Hemisphere. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: As terrorist groups increasingly work with drug gangs and other international criminals, they pose new threats to the United States – but they also create new vulnerabilities that savvy Americans can use to attack them, said the Pentagon’s top drug war expert, William Wechsler.

The US needs to go beyond thinking of terrorist groups purely as terrorists and attack them “as business enterprises and criminal enterprises,” said Wechsler, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats, addressing a small audience at the annual irregular warfare conference hosted by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement, IDGA. Tactically, Wechsler said, that approach offers new ways to target terrorist finances and logistics. Strategically, it opens the possibility of a moral judo in which the terrorists discredit themselves. When the US exposes terrorists’ ties to crime, said Wechsler, “it undermines their support within their own populations because most people in the world don’t like this kind of activity. There aren’t a lot of people in the world who love drug trafficking and think it would be great if their son or daughter was hooked on drugs.” Keep reading →

Reaping the Benefits of a Global Defense Industry

Greg Sanders CSIS photo

  As the Defense Department’s budget goes down, the number of contracts awarded without competitive bids is going up. The share of contracts awarded without competition has risen from 39 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2012, according to a report I co-authored with Jesse Ellman and Rhys McCormick on DoD Contracting Trends. The news for… Keep reading →