August 29, 2014
Many U.S. officials fear the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is planning to attack the United States by crossing the porous southern border with Mexico. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has already warned that the militants probably are lying in wait in some U.S. border towns. Mexico dismisses the talk as “absurd,” but it does so little to police its own border that three Ukrainians with long criminal records easily walked into Texas recently.
New Nightmares: ISIS Crossing Border; Sleeper Cells in US
Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Jabhat al-Nusra pose on a road in northern Iraq. (Getty Images)
Oil Price Spike Likely Because of Mideast Turmoil
August 11, 2014
Special Economic Analysis
by Peter Warburton, PhD

The international price of a barrel of crude oil has held at a surprisingly narrow range over the past two years, bounded by $100 on the downside and about $120 on the upside. Despite the scale of geopolitical concerns, North Sea Brent crude sits around $105 per barrel today. The escalation of tensions in Iraq has had little impact so far on its oil producing regions to the south. The risks of supply disruption in the Middle East and North Africa, however, are “extraordinarily high,” according to the International Energy Agency. An oil price spike above $120 is probable over the next 12 months.
Despite Iraq Failure, US Must Defend Kurds, Lead Against ISIS
August 10, 2014
By Fred Fleitz

Ronald Reagan once joked about America’s cynicism toward government when he said: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

When President Obama said Thursday “America is here to help” on the Iraq crisis, he generated similar cynicism given the president’s obvious credibility issues on Iraq and the fact that the “help” he is offering is extremely limited.

Obama’s Limited Response to Unlimited ISIS Ambitions
August 8, 2014
President Obama’s “targeted strikes” at the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria may be too little too late to stop the terrorist army that moved in this summer to fill the vacuum left after Obama pulled out U.S. troops in 2011, declaring Iraq a “stable and self-reliant” nation.

If the first U.S. airstrikes Friday are any indication, Obama appears content to hit only the most imminent tactical threats to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, but not targets of strategic consequence such as ISIS leaders or mass troop concentrations. So far, this is a far more limited response than the type of focused action discussed in LIGNET on June 17 (Insurgent Forces Vulnerable to US Counterstrike in Iraq).

Troop Buildup Raises Fears Russia Will Invade Ukraine
August 8, 2014

Russia doubled the number of its troops on the Ukrainian border and conducted military exercises this week, increasing the prospects for an invasion to support pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. Moscow also retaliated against new Western sanctions, suggesting it will be difficult to reach a diplomatic solution to lower tensions.

Russia Tries to Intimidate US With New Ties to Cuba
August 8, 2014
An iconic Cold War-era Russian spy base in Cuba once used to steal communications from the United States could soon be back in business. Russian President Vladimir Putin has worked the last two years to rejuvenate relations with Cuba. His recent trip to Havana has the Castro brothers and Cubans nostalgic for the Soviet era, salivating at the prospect of a Russian renaissance in the Caribbean.
Bipartisan Defense Report Warns of ‘Widening Gap’ Between US Strategy, Force
August 7, 2014
A recently completed study of future U.S. defense spending plans underscores the consequences of deep cuts in force posture and capabilities, concluding that, if carried out, they pose a direct threat to national security.

The study by the National Defense Panel is the product of a joint call from Congress and the Defense Department for an independent critique of the Pentagon’s own planning document, the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which proposes, in recognition of looming cuts in defense spending, to scale back U.S. military capabilities over the next decade.

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