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Intelligence Chief Details Threats Facing America

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2001 – The world is in transition from the Cold War to something new and the top military intelligence officer expects the next 10 to 15 years to be “at least as turbulent, if not more so” as the past 10.

Navy Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Feb. 7. In his written statement to the committee he said the basic forces bringing stress and disorder to the world will continue.

“No power, circumstance, or condition is likely to emerge capable of overcoming these [forces] and creating a more stable global environment,” Wilson said. “Within this environment, the ‘Big C’ issues – especially counter drug, counter intelligence, counter proliferation, counter terrorism … will remain key challenges for the United States.”

Driving all, according to Wilson, is globalization. On one side globalization means the increasing flow of ideas, money, people, information and technology around the world. The European Union broke down barriers in Europe. The North American Free Trade Pact can do the same here. The Internet and the explosion of information available at the click of a mouse has fueled this drive toward globalization.

But it also has a dark side, Wilson said. “Globalization is generally a positive force that will leave most of the world’s people better off,” he said. “But in some ways, globalization will exacerbate local and regional tensions, increase the prospects and capabilities for conflict and empower those who would do us harm.”

The transfer of information and technology increases the dangers from weapons of mass destruction. Wilson said this trend “will increasingly accord smaller states, groups, and individuals destructive capabilities previously limited to major world powers.”

Wilson analyzed the state of the world today and detailed some of the threats he sees facing the United States. Sometime during the next two years he predicts a “major terrorist attack against United States interests, either here or abroad, perhaps with a weapon designed to produce mass casualties.”

He said this type of terrorist attack remains the most likely threat to the United States.

If conditions worsen in the Middle East this could lead to an expansion of Israeli-Palestinian violence. A breakdown in the Middle East peace process could cause an increased risk of anti-American violence, an increased risk of a wider regional conflict and intensified Iraqi efforts to exploit the conflict to gain relief from sanctions, Wilson said.

Within the next two years, the United States must closely monitor the Korean peninsula. A breakdown in the growing rapprochement between North and South Korea may mean war. On the other hand, the United States must prepare for an accelerated move toward reunification whose impact catches regional powers unprepared.

The United States must guard against an expanded military conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. This is more serious now since both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. “Both sides operate from ‘zero-sum perspectives,’ retain large forces, in close proximity, across a tense line of control,” he said. “The potential for mistake and miscalculation remains relatively high.”

In the next two years there may be intensifying disagreements with Russia over National Missile Defense and its implications on the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty, European security moves and so on. These disagreements are “spurred by President Putin’s more assertive and potentially confrontational foreign policy,” Wilson said.

There is a possibility of conflict between China and Taiwan “resulting from increased pressure by Beijing for reunification or a more assertive stance from Taiwan on independence.”

There is a possibility of more violence in the Balkans. Wilson said the violence could be between Serbia and Montenegro and/or Kosovo as these smaller territories continue their demands for increased autonomy or independence.

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Related Sites:
Defense Intelligence Agency Web site

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Intel Chief Addresses Longer-Range Threats to U.S.

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