17 January 2018   2 comments

US President Trump has been sharply critical of Pakistan lately, claiming that the country was undermining US efforts to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Apparently, however, there is a backchannel between the US Central Command (CENTCOM) and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).  The ISI published a report on 12 January outlining a telephone discussion between Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Commander US Central Command (CENTCOM) General Joseph L. Votel.  That report claims that

“The General said that US values Pakistan’s role towards war on terror and expected that on-going turbulence remains a temporary phase. He also conveyed COAS that US is not contemplating any unilateral action inside Pakistan but is seeking cooperation to tackle Afghan nationals who, in US view, use Pakistan’s soil against Afghanistan. This view, he felt, was undermining in Washington, Pakistan’s contributions in war against terrorism.”

It appears as if there is a discrepancy between the rhetoric coming out of Washington and the reality on the ground in Afghanistan.

Pakistani General Qamar Javed Bajwa


For many years, Freedom House has issued an annual report on the state of freedom in the world.  The report uses 25 indicators of freedom (press freedom, elections, availability of government information, and others) and scores every country on a scale of 1-4.  The process is subjective, so it is difficult to assess the accuracy of the conclusions.  But the scoring has been done over many years and most of the indices can be quantified with plausible data.  So the value of these reports is how countries score over time, not necessarily in how countries compare to each other.  This year’s report is grim.  The number of countries that experienced a decline in the number of freedoms protected was quite large.  The report singles out the US as one of those countries:

“The past year brought further, faster erosion of America’s own democratic standards than at any other time in memory, damaging its international credibility as a champion of good governance and human rights.

“The United States has experienced a series of setbacks in the conduct of elections and criminal justice over the past decade—under leadership from both major political parties—but in 2017 its core institutions were attacked by an administration that rejects established norms of ethical conduct across many fields of activity. President Trump himself has mingled the concerns of his business empire with his role as president, appointed family members to his senior staff, filled other high positions with lobbyists and representatives of special interests, and refused to abide by disclosure and transparency practices observed by his predecessors.”

Democracy is in crisis around the world, with 2017 marking the 12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. www.FreedomInTheWorld.org


Jerry Chun Shing Lee was in the US military and then worked for the CIA for a number of years before he retired in 2007.  He was a case officer in the CIA and had access to some of the most important secrets in the US government.  He had been living in Hong Kong but was arrested on Monday for illegally holding on to highly classified documents.  Lee could be the missing link for the loss of some 20 US spies in China.  Since 2011 those operatives have either gone missing or imprisoned, depriving the US of important information about Chinese activities.  The loss of those operatives was a mystery:

“According to the New York Times, Beijing launched a major assault on America’s intelligence operations in China between 2010 and 2012. During that time, Chinese officials murdered or jailed around 20 American assets and spies. One asset was reportedly shot in the courtyard of a Chinese government building.

“That proved a major setback for the US. It takes many years to build an intelligence network in a foreign country, and in 2010 the US had the best information on China it had in years. That’s partly because the US recruited informants from inside the Chinese administration, which helped the US better understand the inner workings of a highly secretive government.”

It remains to be seen if Lee was responsible for outing those spies, but that possibility is being pursued aggressively.

Posted January 17, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

2 responses to “17 January 2018

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