US Director of National Intelligence: Security Threat to the US Growing
Dennis C. Blair | Committee on National Security | August 2009
In a report released in August for the Senate Select Committee on National Security, the Director of the National Intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, made statements that question previous assumptions of security threats:
Iran: According to Blair, the country will have the technical means to produce highly enriched uranium in 2013 at the earliest. Also there is no evidence that Tehran is trying to obtain material for the construction of bombs. The pressure on Iran will remain effective as long as the international community stays alerted.
Economic crisis: Blair names the global economic crisis as the primary near-term security concern for the US. Especially in Latin America, the countries of the former Soviet Union and Sub-Saharan Africa where the crisis can have a regime changing impact. Financial turmoil often fuels social unrest through collapsing credit systems and high unemployment rates. The resulting humanitarian catastrophes such as the refugee flow from the Caribbean constitute a concrete threat to the security of the US. The crisis undermines financial means and domestic willingness to participate in international security tasks, especially in those countries that have been hit hardest by the crisis.
Afghanistan: To curb the Western influence in Afghanistan, the Shiite Iran paradoxically (and secretly) supports the Sunnite Taliban, who actually consider the Shiites to be heretics. They are doing so despite the officially good relations with the government in Kabul. This policy is meant as a backup for Iranian interests, in case the Taliban bring the country back under their control. The legitimacy of the government in Kabul is also being undermined from within, for example corrupt public servants who profit from the opium trade are representing 90% of the global market. The situation is additionally complicated by Pakistan. Islamabad places higher value on their own national interests, especially the disputes with India and over cooperation with the US and NATO in the fight against al Qaeda groups in the Afghan border region. With regard to the drastic increase in attacks by the Taliban in 2008 and the internal problems of the Afghan security forces, a downsizing of military personnel levels in Afghanistan seems improbable for now.
Pandemics: According to the predictions of the American intelligence services a new pandemic of influenza will break out in the near future. Similar to that of 1918, it will cause up to 71 Million deaths worldwide and will cause another recession if the costs exceed US$ 3 trillion.
Blair names another great challenge of the next 20 years in climate change. The current administration needs to find solutions to the necessary renewal of the US infrastructure as well as to worldwide water scarcity and the associated migratory movements.
This summary was prepared by the Atlantic Community editorial team from "Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community" published here by the Senate Select Committee on National Security.