Intelligence Forecast
February 2018

1. The Future of the Mexico-U.S. Border Security

Lasting 35 days, the government shutdown is finally over for now, but unfortunately, nothing was gained for the national security of the United States. The current temporary funding bill will only last until February 15th, meaning that another funding bill will have to be passed to keep the government open.

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, meets with Republican and Democratic legislative leadership members Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, in the Situation Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead).

The Mexico-American border remains a vulnerable (some might even say semi-porous) area, susceptible to drug cartels and terrorists. A state-of-the-art, modern barrier constructed along our southern border could help enhance national security and alleviate the concerns of some experts.

The outlook for building a barrier on the southern border is looking worse every year for the Trump administration. Promises to “build the wall” seem to work well as a rallying cry for conservatives in D.C., but — as Americans can see — it’s easier said than done. What’s more likely is the government will shut down again after the February 15 deadline.

Liberals and conservatives in the capital had 35 days — the longest shut-down in American history — to debate about funding and came up with nothing. The odds of the same lawmakers figuring out the solution in under three weeks are low.

Ultimately, conservatives need to make good arguments for the barrier on the southern border, which haven’t been forthcoming.

As far as construction of the wall, it comes down to President Trump on what he’ll do regarding the federal spending bill. It’s within his purview to keep the government shut down until he leaves office, but this isn’t likely.

A slightly more realistic outcome in the next month is for the Trump Administration to declare a state of emergency in order to justify building the wall on the Mexico-American border. The constitutionality of such a decision, as well as the judicial or liberal responses, are uncertain.

For now, the border wall’s prospects grow slim. The national liberal agenda is pretty obviously to resist Trump. Their fervor to stymie him seems to come even at the expense of American national security. Liberals today claim to be against the border wall, but it wasn’t so long ago that they were all for increasing border security.

Even former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton supported a border wall. She said at one point, “(We need) to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in.”

It seems the modern-day liberal is more interested in social justice than American security. Part of American society seems to have forgotten the events of 9/11/2001, thus making national security issues and American actions in the near future as uncertain.

2. U.S. Involvement in Venezuela Uncertain

Socialism has yet again destroyed another country. Consider the last few years in Venezuela: Venezuela was once one of the richest countries in the world, now brought low by endemic poverty, corruption and inflation the likes of which are reserved for “history’s worst” compilations.

National institutions and corruption are to blame. In Venezuela’s case, president Nicolás Maduro embraced socialism during the initial fall of Venezuela in 2013. Shortages, poverty, and crimes increased dramatically during Maduro’s presidency. These awful living conditions led to mass protests. Venezuela’s inflation rate peaked at over 1,000,000% during 2018, leading to unlivable conditions for most citizens.

Much like Hugo Chavez before, Maduro is an authoritarian dictator disguised as a president. Elections are a socialist’s best friend in these types of countries, frequently rigged to favor socialists.

During the recent Venezuelan Presidential elections, rampant anti-democratic and authoritarian tactics gave Maduro the win, but the results have been disputed.

In the midst of that dispute, Juan Guaidó has been declared interim president of Venezuela. He’s recognized by the United States, Canada, the European Union, and the Organization of American States as the true president. Other governments around the world, however, have sided with the Maduro regime, including Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, and Turkey. Obviously, a struggle for power in the South American region is about to begin.

Corrupt, anti-democratic regimes like Venezuela’s are the result of complacency. The United States must continue overseeing the Americas, and prevent socialist regimes’ corruption. America’s interests depend on former Communist powers being prevented from gaining influence in South America.

If the socialists’ violence continues, it’s entirely possible that the United States could send troops to Venezuela to keep the peace and help Juan Guaidó make a peaceful transition as the true leader of Venezuela.

American national security could be enhanced by such action as well. If America can ensure these countries in South America are free of corrupt governments, drug lords, and economic disasters, maybe there would be fewer issues related to the Mexico-American border. Although it is uncertain what actions are going to happen with Venezuela, it is likely the United States will somehow get involved, especially if there is a multilateral action towards the operation.

3. Al-Shabaab’s Continued Rise in Eastern Africa

In the last month, Kenya has yet again been under attack by al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda linked terrorist group. Despite western officials’ warnings, Kenyan intelligence services failed to act and al-Shabaab killed 14 civilians.

This is worrisome — not only is terrorism continuing its spread through the horn of Africa, but also that America’s only current hope for counter-terrorism in most parts of Africa are incompetent intelligence agencies equivalent to local police forces.  Kenyan forces have made efforts in Somalia to limit the manpower of al-Shabaab, but the efforts have been lacking at best.

This isn’t the first attack in recent news committed by al-Shabaab. In late 2017 a truck bombing killed over 500 civilians in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Experts have said the recent attacks by al-Shabaab could have been far worse but were only committed to gain media attention.

Al-Shabaab and ISIS are not allied, in fact fighting between the two terrorist organizations is apparent. Al-Shabaab has claimed they killed an ISIS commander operating in Somalia. However, al-Shabaab may have extended itself too fast, as they are currently limited on supplies, manpower, and money. Likely, this will push them to make more dangerous attacks and movements, including capturing people for ransom, stealing goods from industry in Somalia, and even more attacks to gain media attention for recruiting.

The current efforts in Eastern Africa to stop the spread of terrorism has been failing since the Somali civil war. The United States needs to eventually step in and aid the Kenyan forces either with munitions or American troops to limit the spread of al-Shabaab. American intelligence and military assets should be deployed in support of uncovering, identifying and preventing the spread of al-Shabaab in Africa. Radical Islamic terrorist organizations are direct threats to American national security and the American way of life, even those as far away as Kenya.