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Topic: Geo Political matters (Read 90522 times)
Geo Political matters
December 10, 2004, 11:27:43 AM »
Russia seems to be at a free market/command driven economy crossroads, with things trending toward command driven. Crafty has posted some pieces about the related Ukrainian election. My sense is that we are at a pivotal moment in Russian relations, with the current climate there having a flavor of 1930's Germany. Also seems to me there is a deafening silence out of China as this geopolitical game unfolds.
This out of today's Investor's Business Daily:
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Russia: Not that long ago, we were rather bullish on the country. That hope has faded. The nation of 144 million has skidded off its once-promising path.
He's not Russia's George Washington. Or even its Vaclav Havel, the writer who led the Czech Republic's escape from its rotting Bolshevik prison. But President Vladimir Putin is no Vladimir Lenin, either.
Which is why we're confounded ? and not a little disappointed ? to see the new Russia starting to act a little too much like the old one from which Soviet expansionism was steered. Putin's KGB background aside, the country seemed to hold real promise.
Three years ago, for example, Putin looked for all the world like a free-market reformer, talking about a privatization of the pension system. He also seemed sincere in wanting to leave behind a closed society and move toward a European openness.
"Russia needs only one thing to develop normally," Putin said while visiting Crawford High School in Texas with President Bush in November 2001. "We need normal standards, conditions and relations with all the leading economies of the world, and primarily with the United States."
Early on, Putin showed a commitment to unshackle the Russian economy. He aligned himself with the late Anatoly Sobchak, then a tough anti-communist and market-leaning mayor of St. Petersburg, and German Gref, his minister of economic development and trade, who prefers markets over central control and planning.
More important, Putin had then, as he has now, a known free-market reformer as chief economic adviser: Andrei Illarionov.
But the Putin of today is dropping a heavy hand on the private sector. VimpelCom, the country's second-biggest cell phone operator, is the latest victim, having been slapped on Wednesday with a tax bill totaling $157 million.
Recall that it was a crushing tax bill from Moscow ? at least $20 billion and perhaps as much as $27 billion ? that forced the breakup of Yukos, Russia's biggest oil company.
Yukos' chief was sent to a gulag, and his company will have been essentially nationalized once the state-owned gas company Gazprom ends up owning it, as expected.
No wonder Exxon Mobil CEO Lee Raymond this week expressed concern about Russia's business and investment climate.
Theories vary on why Yukos and VimpelCom were targeted. Perhaps they were hit with big tax bills for legitimate reasons. But it looks like they have been declared enemies of the state because their executives backed Putin's rivals or criticized the government.
That's no way to liberalize an economy and invigorate a lethargic nation. If Putin is interested in polishing his legacy, he needs to listen more to his chief economic adviser than to the voice of Lenin that he must be hearing. The last 80 years clearly show which one has the right answers.
Geo Political matters
Reply #1 on:
December 10, 2004, 06:48:33 PM »
Geopolitical Intelligence Report: Russia: After Ukraine
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THE GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT
Russia: After Ukraine
December 10, 2004 1849 GMT
By Peter Zeihan
The Russian defeat in Ukraine is nearly complete.
In presidential runoff elections, the Ukrainian government's candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, won the official ballot. However, protests launched by opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko over alleged election fraud -- combined with strong international pressure -- caused the results to be overturned. New elections will be held Dec. 26, and Yushchenko is widely expected to win. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, in an effort to deny Yushchenko the powers that he himself has enjoyed, succeeded in forcing the Ukrainian opposition to accept constitutional amendments that will transfer some presidential powers to the Parliament, but these changes will take effect only after the next parliamentary elections in 2006 -- elections in which the opposition already is celebrating victory.
But the biggest loser in the election was not Yanukovich or Kuchma -- his
political master -- or even the oligarchic clans that sponsored him. It was
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Not only has the Ukraine Supreme Court made a public mockery of Putin's international proclamations of the election's "fair" nature, but Kuchma and the oligarchic interests supporting him have all but abandoned Yanukovich. That has left Russia as the only serious entity hanging a hope on the now-"vacationing" Yanukovich.
Ukraine is not the only place where Putin has found geopolitical egg on his
face of late; Russian geopolitical defeats in the past four years have come
fast and furious.
Putin's desire not to be a focus of American rage after the Sept. 11 attacks guided him to sanctioning a strong U.S. military presence in Central Asia -- a presence that is extremely unlikely ever to leave. Moscow's efforts to get Washington to label the Chechens as terrorists were successful, but at the price of the United States committing to taking care of the issue itself; there are now U.S. military trainers indefinitely stationed in Georgia. In the background, both the European Union and NATO have expanded their borders steadily and now almost the entirety of the Central European roster of the Warsaw Pact is safely within both organizations -- and out of Russia's reach.
All of this pales, however, in comparison to Ukraine, Russia's ancestral
home. The 10th- to 13th-century entity of Kievian Rus is widely considered to the birthplace of today's Russia. But Moscow's queasiness over losing Ukraine is far from merely the anxiety of emotional attachment.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but without Ukraine, Russia's political,
economic and military survivability are called into question:
* All but one of Russia's major infrastructure links to Europe pass through
* Three-quarters of Russia's natural gas exports pass through Soviet-era
pipelines that cross Ukraine.
* In most years, Russia has imported food from Ukraine.
* Eastern Ukraine is geographically part of the Russian industrial heartland.
* The Dnieper River, the key transport route in Russia's Belarusian ally,
flows south through Ukraine -- not east Russia.
* With a population of just under 50 million, Ukraine is the only captive
market in the Russian orbit worth reintegrating with.
* The Black Sea fleet -- Russia's only true warm-water fleet -- remains at
Sevastopol on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula because it is the only deep-water
port on the entire former Soviet Black Sea coast.
* A glance at a population density map indicates just how close Russia's
population centers are to the Ukrainian border, and how a hostile Ukraine
would pinch off easy Russian access to the volatile North Caucasus, a region already rife with separatist tendencies.
* Moscow and Volgograd -- Russia's two defiant icons of World War II -- are both less than 300 miles from the Ukrainian border.
It would not take a war to greatly damage Russian interests, simply a change in Ukraine's geopolitical orientation. A Westernized Ukraine would not so much be a dagger poised at the heart of Russia as it would be a jackhammer in constant operation.
The significance of the loss only magnifies the humiliation. Like the failed
submarine-launched ballistic missile tests of Putin's re-election campaign,
this operation had Putin as its public face. He traveled twice to Ukraine to
personally -- if indirectly -- campaign for Yanukovich, and Kremlin spin
doctors who successfully ushered in Putin's second term provided much of the brains behind the prime minister's political campaign.
Putin has lost more than face; he also has lost credibility at home in his
wider foreign and domestic policy goals. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11
attacks, Putin overruled opposition within Russia's national security
apparatus to align with Washington. The immediate costs included -- among other things -- Russian pre-eminence in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Putin anticipated -- and grudgingly accepted -- this loss in anticipation of
having time and U.S. sponsorship to trigger a Russian renaissance. Putin
needed the Americans to get off his back about things such as human rights, press freedoms and Chechnya. The unofficial agreement was simple: Russia would assist the United States in the war on terrorism, and in exchange U.S. criticism of Russian domestic policies would be muted. It is a deal that continues to this moment.
With the United States satisfied, Putin proceeded with his plan, the opening stage of which was to establish himself as the unquestioned leader of Russia as both a state and a civilization.
First, Putin defined the problem. Russia is in decline -- politically,
strategically, economically and demographically. The Commonwealth of
Independent States, the only international organization that Moscow can rely upon to support it (and, incidentally, the only one it dominates) is moribund because of lack of interest. The Americans are in Central Asia, and the other former Soviet republics are squirming out from under Moscow's grasp. Talk of a Russian-led Eurasian Economic Community that would reform the Soviet economy remains largely talk. Everything from Russia's early warning satellite system to its rank-and-file army is collapsing, with 90,000 troops unable to pacify Chechnya even after five years of direct occupation. HIV and tuberculosis are spreading like wildfire, and the death rate stubbornly remains nearly double the birth rate, hampering Russia's ability even to field a nominal army or maintain a conventional work force.
Second, Putin realized that before he could reverse the decline, he had to
consolidate control. One of Boris Yeltsin's greatest mistakes was that he
lacked the authority to implement change. More to the point, no one feared Yeltsin, so the men who eventually became oligarchs robbed the state blind, becoming power centers in and of themselves.
Putin spent the bulk of his first term reasserting control. The once-unruly
(and heavily oligarch-dominated) press has been subjugated to the state's
will. Regional governors are now appointed directly by the president. Nearly all tax revenues flow into federal -- not regional -- coffers. The oligarchs, particularly now that the Yukos drama is moving toward a resolution, are falling over each other to pay homage to Putin (at least publicly).
Putin systematically has worked to consolidate political control in the
Kremlin as an institution and himself as a personality, using every
development along the way to formalize his control over all levels of
government and society. The result is a security state in which few dare
oppose the will of the president-turned-czar.
From here, Putin hoped to revamp Russia's economic, legal and governmental structures sufficiently so that rule of law could take root, investors would feel safe and the West would -- for its own reasons -- fund the modernization of the Russian economy and state. Put another way, Putin was counting on his pro-Western orientation to be the deciding factor in ushering in a flood of Western investment to realize Russia's material riches and economic potential.
Putin's problem is that revamping the country's political and economic
discourse required a massive amount of effort. The oligarchs, certainly not at first, did not wish to go quietly into that good night, and the Yukos
crisis -- now in its 17th month -- soaked up much of the government's energy. During this time the Kremlin turned introspective, understandably obsessed with its effort to hammer domestic affairs into a more manageable form. Moreover, as Putin made progress and fewer oligarchs and bureaucrats were willing to challenge him, they also became too intimidated to act autonomously. The result was an ever-shrinking pool of people willing to speak up for fear of triggering Putin's wrath. The shrinking allotment of bandwidth forced Russia largely to ignore international developments, nearly collapsing its ability to monitor and protect its interests abroad.
This did not pass unnoticed.
Chinese penetration into the Russian Far East, European involvement in the economies of Russia's near abroad and U.S. military cooperation with former Soviet clients are at all-time highs. As Putin struggled to tame the Russian bear, Moscow racked up foreign policy losses in Central Asia, the Baltics, the Balkans and the Caucasus. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan all became U.S. allies. Serbia formally left Russia's sphere of influence, Georgia welcomed U.S. troops with open arms and ejected a Russian-backed strongman from one of its separatist republics, and the three Baltic states and the bulk of the Warsaw Pact joined both NATO and the European Union. And now, Ukraine is about to take its first real steps away from Russia.
In short, Putin achieved the necessary focus to consolidate control, but the cost was the loss of not just the empire, but with Ukraine, the chance of one day rebuilding it.
More defeats are imminent. Once Ukraine adopts a less friendly relationship with Russia, the Russian deployment to Transdniestria -- a tiny separatist republic in Moldova kept alive only by Russian largesse -- will fade away. Next on the list will be the remaining Russian forces at Georgian bases at Akhalkalaki and Batumi. Georgia already has enacted an informal boycott on visa paperwork for incoming soldiers, and the United States has begun linking the Russian presence in Georgia and Transdniestria to broader Russian security concerns.
Once these outposts fall, Russia's only true international "allies" will be
the relatively nonstrategic Belarus and Armenia, which the European Union and United States can be counted upon to hammer relentlessly.
To say Russia is at a turning point is a gross understatement. Without
Ukraine, Russia is doomed to a painful slide into geopolitical obsolescence
and ultimately, perhaps even nonexistence.
Russia has three roads before it.
* Russia accepts the loss of Ukraine, soldiers on and hopes for the best.
Should Putin accept the loss of Ukraine quietly and do nothing, he invites
more encroachments -- primarily Western -- into Russia's dwindling sphere of influence and ultimately into Russia itself, assigning the country to a painful slide into strategic obsolescence. Never forget that Russia is a
state formed by an expansionary military policy. The Karelian Isthmus of
Russia's northwest once was Finnish territory, while the southern tier of the Russian Far East was once Chinese. Deep within the Russian "motherland" are the homelands of vibrant minorities such as the Tatars and the Bashkirs, who theoretically could survive on their own. Of course the North Caucasus is a region ripe for shattering; Chechens are not the only Muslims in the region with separatist desires.
Geopolitically, playing dead is an unviable proposition; domestically it
could spell the end of the president. Putin rode to power on the nationalism of the Chechen war. His efforts to implement a Reaganesque ideal of Russian pride created a political movement that he has managed to harness, but never quite control. If Russian nationalists feel that his Westernization efforts have signed bit after bit of the empire away with nothing in return, he could be overwhelmed by the creature he created. But Putin is a creature of logic and planning.
Though it might be highly questionable whether Putin could survive as
Russia's leader if this path is chosen, the president's ironclad control of
the state and society at this point would make his removal in favor of
another path a complicated and perhaps protracted affair. With its economy, infrastructure, military and influence waning by the day, time is one thing Russia has precious little of.
* Russia reassesses its geopolitical levers and pushes back against the West.
Russia might have fallen a long way from its Soviet highs, but it still has a
large number of hefty tools it can use to influence global events.
If Putin is to make the West rethink its strategy of rolling back Russian
influence and options -- not to mention safeguard his own skin -- he will
have to act in a way to remind the West that Moscow still has fight left in
it and is far from out of options. And he will have to do it forcefully,
obviously and quickly.
The dependence upon Ukraine goes both ways. While Ukraine's south and east are not majority Russian, those regions are heavily Russofied. Should a Yushchenko-led Ukraine prove too hostile to Moscow, splitting a region that is linguistically, culturally and economically integrated into Russia off from Ukraine would not prove beyond Russia's means.
Also on the Ukrainian front, Russia has the energy card to play. Kiev's
primary source of income is transit fees on natural gas and oil. Russia
supplies about one-quarter of all European consumption. Tinkering with those supplies -- or simply their delivery schedules -- would throw the European economies into frenzy.
Russia could use its influence with Afghanistan's Northern Alliance to make the United States' Afghan experience positively Russian. Sales of long-range cruise missiles in India or Sovremenny destroyers complete with Sunburn missiles to China would threaten U.S. control of the oceans. Weapons sales to Latin America would undermine U.S. influence in its own backyard. The occasional quiet message to North Korea could menace all U.S. policy in the Koreas. And of course, there is still the Red Army. It might be a shadow of its former self, but so are its potential European opponents.
All of these actions have side effects. The U.S. presence in Afghanistan
limits Islamist activities in Russia proper. India is no longer a Cold War
client; it is an independent power with its own ambitions which might soon
involve a partnership with the United States. Excessive weapons sales to
China could end with those weapons being used in support of an invasion of the Russian Far East. Large-scale weapons sales to Latin America require Latin American cash to underwrite them. Russian meddling in North Korea would damage relations with China, Japan and South Korea as well as the West. And a Russian military threat against Europe, if it could be mustered, would still face the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
Such actions would also have consequences. The West might often -- and
vigorously -- disagree within itself, but there has not been a Western war in nearly three generations. The West still tends to see Russia as the dangerous "other," and by design or coincidence, Western policy toward the former Soviet Union focuses on rolling back Russian influence, with Ukraine serving as only the most recent example. Russian efforts to push back -- even in what is perceived as self-defense -- would only provoke a concerted, if not unified, response along Russia's entire economic, political and geographic periphery.
Russia still might have options, but it did lose the Cold War and has fallen
in stature massively. In the years since the Cold War, Western options -- and strength -- have only expanded. Even if Russian efforts were so successful that they deflected all foreign attention from it, Russia would still be doomed. Russia has degraded too far; simply buying time is not enough.
* Russia regenerates from within.
Unlike the United States, which has embraced change as part of daily life,
Russia is an earthquake society. It does not evolve. Pressures -- social,
political, economic -- build up within the country until it suffers a
massive, cataclysmic breakdown and then revival. It is not pleasant; often as a result of Russia's spasms, millions of people die, and not always are they all Russian. But in the rare instances when Russia does change, this is invariably how it happens.
Ironically, the strength of the Soviet period has denied Russia the
possibility of foreign events triggering such a change. Russia, as the Union
of Soviet Socialist Republics' successor state, has nuclear weapons capable of reaching any point on the globe. As such, a land invasion of Russia is unthinkable.
That simple fact rules out a scenario such as what happened after World War I. Massive defeat by the Central Powers might have triggered the Bolshevik Revolution, but that did not directly result in the constitution of the Soviet Union. Forging Russia into a new entity took another invasion on multiple fronts. Foreign sponsorship of the White armies during Russia's civil war -- and the direct involvement of hundreds of thousands of foreign troops -- was necessary to instill a sense of besiegement sufficient to make the Russians fight back and create a new country. The "mere" loss of Ukraine during World War I was simply not enough. Russia did not merely need to be defeated, humiliated and parsed -- Russia itself, not simply Ukraine, had to be directly occupied.
As long as Russia has nukes, that cannot happen.
If Russia is to choose this third path, it must trigger its reformation by
itself from wholly domestic developments.
Perhaps it could be done by some sort of natural catastrophe, but to be
effective the catastrophe would need to be sufficient to mobilize the entire
Russian population. Russian society's muted response to the Beslan massacre -- in which Chechen militants killed 350 Russian citizens, half of them children -- indicates that terrorism will not be a sufficient stimulus.
Depopulation caused by HIV might prove a trigger, but by the time the effects are obvious, there would not be much of a Russia left to revive.
That leaves the personal touch of a Russian leader to shake the state to its very core.
Most likely, Putin is not the man for the job. He is, among all else, from
St. Petersburg. He's sees Russia's future in the West, particularly the
European West -- but only on Russia's terms. Of course, this is not how
realignment of civilizations works. Ask the Spanish (who took a leave of
absence from the West during the Franco years), or the Greeks (who have shuttled between West and East), or the Poles (forced separation), or the Romanians (never really in the West) or the Turks (wanting, but not too desperately, to join), or -- in a few years -- the Ukrainians (who really have no idea what they are signing up for). To join the West you must change; the West does not change to join you.
Putin also is a gradualist. Russia cannot even attempt the necessary internal renaissance until such time as the oligarchs are liquidated -- not merely reshuffled, as is happening currently. That necessitates a Russian upheaval on a scale for which Putin does not appear to have the stomach. Putin has been in command for four years, and in that time he has liquidated four oligarchs: Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky, Rem Vyakhirev and Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Four oligarchs in four years. Not exactly revolutionary.
Making matters worse, all the assets of these four have either been
expropriated to other private oligarchs or shuffled into the hands of a
growing class of state oligarchs such as Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.
Actually eliminating the oligarchs as a class (which, incidentally, controls
nearly 70 percent of the country's economy) will require a massive national spasm complete with a complete scrapping and reformation of the country's legal structure, up to and including the constitution. Investors who have been spooked by Russia's anti-oligarchic efforts have not seen anything yet.
But just because Putin is not the spy for the job does not mean Russia is not capable. Russian leaders have done this before. Peter the Great did it. Ivan the Terrible did it. Joseph Stalin did it. It tends not to be pretty.
(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
Big hope for outsourcing in Russia after slow start
Reply #2 on:
December 15, 2004, 03:07:44 PM »
Watching Russia deal in fits and starts with the creation of a free market infrastructure has been fairly interesting. It appears Russia is trying to catch up with India and China in the arena of jobs outsourced by American hi tech companies, but is lagging due to a lack of high speed data connectivity and English speakers.
I think it's worth noting that one of the Russian clients cited in the article is the US Department of Energy, which handles, among other things, US nuclear materials. I wonder what sort of information Russia, India, and China are mining in the course of their outsourcing efforts.
By Erin E. Arvedlund The New York Times
Thursday, December 16, 2004
It trails India but could compete on costs
MOSCOW Off a snowy path winding through the campus of Moscow State University, Alexis Sukharev is packing his boxes and moving to bigger offices in the city, hoping to help create Russia's version of India's Bangalore: a prime destination for other countries' offshoring of technology jobs.
Sukharev, 58, is well known to American information technology executives. He was the first to create a commercially successful Russian outsourcing company, on the eve of the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
His original client was Hewlett-Packard. His latest client is International Business Machines.
Sukharev said he had little fear of the U.S. backlash against offshoring.
Moreover, Sukharev says some Western companies he has visited - like Bechtel, which has 200 different proprietary programs - "are not cutting people because of outsourcing." Instead, he said, companies are farming out new business to companies like his or to Indian or Chinese companies.
Sukharev said he was encouraged by Russia's recent initiatives to support software programming centers, beginning with one in Dubna, about 120 kilometers, or 75 miles, north of Moscow.
But Russia still lags far behind India, according to Luxoft, an outsourcing company here, which said that India's $11 billion outsourcing industry last year dwarfed Russia's, at $500 million.
Still, the Russian ministry in charge of communications and information technology estimates that figure could grow to $2 billion in the next two years.
"Indian companies are considerably more mature," Sukharev said. And the Indian government was quick to offer home-grown companies tax breaks and near-zero customs taxes in some cases. "They're about 12 years ahead of us," Sukharev said. "But the gap is closing."
And there are day-to-day obstacles. Always a powerhouse in cybernetics, Russia still boasts a talented pool of scientists - but many are jolted by the realities of commercial business as opposed to research.
"The biggest problem," Sukharev said, "is finding skilled workers who not only specialize in theory but in practice. Many still need English-language training."
Still, that figure for programmers is growing. In 2004 the number of Russian graduates with master's degrees in computer science or majors in software engineering was 68,126, up 6.9 percent from 2003, according to the Russian State Statistics Committee.
"We're seeing our growth in all outsourcing companies here," said Julia Rovinskaya, a spokeswoman for Luxoft in Moscow, but she echoed many of the problems that Sukharev identified, especially English-language training.
Russia also needs new infrastructure, something on which India has made more headway. Russia lacks the wealth of basic Internet "backbone" infrastructure already in place in the United States and India; that has kept inexpensive, high-bandwidth Internet capacity out of reach for many here, Sukharev says. A T-1 line, or fast, dedicated phone and data line, with high capacity might cost $500 a month in the United States. In Russia, it costs $50,000 a month. "That is something only the Russian government can build," he said.
President Vladimir Putin recently led a delegation to India with Leonid Reiman, Russia's minister of communications; Russian business executives, including Sukharev; and computer scientists to visit the technology giant Infosys and learn how India's government helped along its outsourcing boom.
Putin has now also agreed in principle to a government-sponsored concept to help develop Russia's computer programming industry - though few details have been put in motion.
Russian outsourcing companies want to compete with India's giants, like Infosys, Satyam and Wipro. But size does matter, and Sukharev says that Russia has only one or two outsourcing companies with at least 1,000 employees.
"We just don't have big companies," Sukharev said, "but we can compete on price." Russian programmers work for $15 to $25 an hour, about the same as their Indian competitors, he estimates. IBS is one of Russia's bigger companies, with more than 3,000 employees, and clients include Shell, BP, J.P. Morgan, Ford and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Sukharev's outsourcing company, which is called Auriga, and other similar Russian companies desperately need the country's famously thick red tape to dissolve if they are to grow.
Customs clearance is a continuing nightmare, Sukharev said. Just five years ago, Auriga imported a color laser printer that authorities confused with advanced hardware for research and development. It was confiscated.
So why is Putin interested in outsourcing now?
"He understands Russia's IT industry has potential," Sukharev said. "But we have to learn from and partner with Indian companies."
Geo Political matters
Reply #3 on:
January 06, 2005, 04:11:49 PM »
THE tsunami's devastation on the Indian Ocean's shores offers a strategic lesson of incomparable importance. Whether or not the Pentagon's current leadership is capable of grasping that lesson is another matter.
The Indian Ocean and its adjoining seas and gulfs form one crucial, integrated strategic theater. The region has been critical to Western dominance for five centuries. Yet, when our intelligence services or military planners consider this vast, densely populated region at all, they poke at the different parts and miss the whole.
The Indian Ocean theater contains the world's largest democracy (India), the world's most populous Muslim state (Indonesia), the greatest concentration of oil (on the Arabian Peninsula and in the Persian Gulf), the first Muslim nuclear power (Pakistan), the most progressive economies in Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand) and the greatest concentration of terrorists in the world.
On its eastern extreme, this vast region is bounded by Australia, a sturdy Western outpost. To the west, the Indian Ocean laps the old Swahili Coast and the Republic of South Africa, a state on its way to becoming the continent's first indigenous great power.
No region of the world is so complex, or so thick with both threats and opportunities. The Indian Ocean region is not only critical in detail, but has an overall importance even greater than its parts. From the vital sea lanes that once carried spices and now carry oil, to the competing civilizations on its littorals, the Indian Ocean binds together the world's great passions, needs and dangers.
This is where Islam must ? and can ? change; where nuclear weapons are likeliest to be used; where the future economic potential is vast; where the bulk of the world's heroin is produced; and where the heroin of the world economy ? oil ? could be cut off with a handful of nuclear weapons (think Iran, the Suez Canal and a few Arab ports).
We have failed to see the forest for the palm trees. Nature recognized what our government consistently fails to understand. The earthquake centered off the coast of Sumatra triggered deadly waves that struck Thailand and Somalia, India and Indonesia, Burma and the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Africa's Swahili coast.
The tsunami drew a strategic map of the 21st century. It took a tragedy to inspire serious American involvement in the region (apart from the Middle East, with which we remain rabidly obsessed). While cognizant of the horrors that brought them to Indonesia, U.S. Navy officers are relieved to have a mission at last. Largely excluded from participation in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the reactionary choices the service made, our Navy has suffered from a perception of fading relevance.
Yet, our Navy remains as important to America's security as it ever was. The problem is that the Navy itself can't see it. The service suffers from the destructive nostalgia that afflicted the Army a decade ago, the desire to perfect a force to fight the wars of the past.
Nonetheless, our Navy remains the lead service for security affairs in the Indian Ocean. The Air Force will have a role in crises, while the Army and Marines will be needed to fight the region's ground campaigns of tomorrow (they're coming), but our naval presence is the indispensable military and strategic tool required by the Indian Ocean's strategic environment.
We have lost our focus on the control of the seas.
Half a millennium ago, the Indian Ocean proved to be the soft underbelly of the Ottoman Empire. Obscure naval battles off the coast of India secured the spice routes for Europe and triggered the long Ottoman decline. Today, the Indian Ocean is the weak link in Western security, a distant theater whose sea lanes carry not only oil, but vital trade, from the Suez Canal to the Straits of Malacca. No other region is so critical and so vulnerable. If we look beyond the terrible toll of the tsunami, there is much to be hopeful about. Far too little attention has been paid to the Thai government's position that, while it welcomed foreign recovery expertise, it did not need post-tsunami financial aid. Only a generation ago, Thailand was dirt-poor; today, it's proud of its ability to self-recover.
India has become a prized source of top-flight human capital. Afghanistan's proving that democracy can work in the absence of superhighways and investment bankers. South Africa is pioneering a dynamic multiracial society on a continent old-school thinkers blithely write off. And Indonesia, for all its problems, relishes its new democracy and its tolerant forms of Islam.
The future is waving its arms and shouting, but we see only the past.
First in uniform, then as a civilian, I've visited most of the countries on the Indian Ocean littoral, from Burma to Mozambique. I've become convinced both of the need to view the region as a unity and of the criticality of intelligent American engagement.
Only last month, I completed a book ("New Glory," due out next summer) that argues for a shift in our strategic priorities and a fundamental rethinking of the way we view the world. My conclusion was that the Indian Ocean lies at the heart of postmodern strategy. I didn't expect the disaster of the century to underscore my point.
The tsunami's devastation raised a signpost to the 21st-century's future. Does our government have the strategic literacy to read it?
Ralph Peters is a former Army officer and the author of 20 books.
US Military to Balkan Bases?
Reply #4 on:
January 14, 2005, 11:36:06 AM »
US military eyes Balkan bases
Nato's top commander in Europe, US Gen James Jones, has been meeting officials in Romania and Bulgaria, exploring possible future military bases for US forces in the Balkans.
He says such strategically-positioned bases would enhance Nato's capabilities as the US adjusts its post-Cold War priorities.
The BBC's South-East Europe analyst, Gabriel Partos, examines the US plans.
The commander of United States forces in Europe, Gen James Jones, has been inspecting military sites in Bulgaria which the US might use in future as bases when it redeploys troops from western Europe.
Gen Jones' visit, and a series of talks in Romania, come as part of his preparations for Congressional hearings at which he will outline the Pentagon's plans for reassigning US forces in Europe.
Washington is planning to withdraw from their current locations some 70,000 troops stationed abroad.
Most of the forces to be redeployed - including two heavy army divisions based in Germany - are to be pulled out of western Europe.
Notwithstanding the reductions in US strength in western Europe over the past 15 years, the continuing presence of troops there in substantial numbers is seen as part of the Cold War's now redundant legacy.
In that bygone era, the troops' primary role was to resist a possible Soviet conventional attack.
Today's security environment is very different.
Washington perceives many of the main threats to its interests as coming from the Middle East - a volatile, oil-rich region which is either the source of, or the stage for, a number of conflicts.
During the Iraq war, the US made use of military bases in Bulgaria and Romania to assist its military effort.
These two south-east European countries are much closer to the actual and potential trouble-spots of the Middle East than Germany.
They are also in close proximity to Kosovo, home to the largest remaining US base in the region, and to Bosnia-Hercegovina.
The threat, even if remote, of a potential flare-up in either of these two areas means that swift reinforcements might be required.
Bulgaria and Romania also offer other benefits for the Pentagon - not the least of which is the fact that costs are considerably lower than in western Europe.
Some investors regard a US military presence in a country as a sign of stability
However, as the US administration has made clear, there is no question of any large-scale redeployment of US troops in south-eastern - or for that matter, central - Europe.
Most of the troops to be pulled out of Germany will be returning to the US, or they will be deployed in various trouble-spots elsewhere, as and when they are required.
That means that Washington's plan for the new military facilities envisages the deployment of small units, mostly maintenance and logistical staff, who can handle at short notice much larger troop movements in times of emergency.
Some may also be used for training purposes and for military exercises.
But as Gen Jones made it clear during his visit to Bulgaria, the four or five facilities the Pentagon is seeking there will not be US bases in the traditional sense of the term:
"The type of facilities that we hope to be able to partner with Bulgaria will affect the US navy, the US air force, US army, the US marines, and hopefully some facilities where we can pre-position equipment," Gen Jones said.
"We are not talking about establishing US bases. This is a partnership arrangement where these will be Bulgarian bases, at which we will be privileged to be a tenant."
Yet whatever the limitations of these plans, Bulgaria and Romania - as well as other countries in the region - are eager to attract a US military presence.
A continuing US deployment would be seen as consolidation of the host countries' integration in the Nato security system.
Direct financial benefits linked to the US presence are among some of the important considerations.
And there are also likely to be indirect benefits with a possible expansion in foreign - particularly American - investment.
That is because some investors regard a US military presence in a country as a sign of stability.
Whatever the advantages, and possible drawbacks, the process of US redeployment is a lengthy one.
According to current plans, it is unlikely to get under way until next year.
Published: 2005/01/14 14:36:43 GMT
CIA gives grim warning on European prospects
Reply #5 on:
January 16, 2005, 10:53:12 AM »
by NICHOLAS CHRISTIAN
THE CIA has predicted that the European Union will break-up within 15 years unless it radically reforms its ailing welfare systems.
The report by the intelligence agency, which forecasts how the world will look in 2020, warns that Europe could be dragged into economic decline by its ageing population. It also predicts the end of Nato and post-1945 military alliances.
In a devastating indictment of EU economic prospects, the report warns: "The current EU welfare state is unsustainable and the lack of any economic revitalisation could lead to the splintering or, at worst, disintegration of the EU, undermining its ambitions to play a heavyweight international role."
It adds that the EU?s economic growth rate is dragged down by Germany and its restrictive labour laws. Reforms there - and in France and Italy to lesser extents - remain key to whether the EU as a whole can break out of its "slow-growth pattern".
Reflecting growing fears in the US that the pain of any proper reform would be too much to bear, the report adds that the experts it consulted "are dubious that the present political leadership is prepared to make even this partial break, believing a looming budgetary crisis in the next five years would be the more likely trigger for reform".
The EU is also set for a looming demographic crisis because of a drop in birth rates and increased longevity, with devastating economic consequences.
The report says: "Either European countries adapt their workforces, reform their social welfare, education and tax systems, and accommodate growing immigrant populations [chiefly from Muslim countries] or they face a period of protracted economic stasis."
As a result of the increased immigration needed, the report predicts that Europe?s Muslim population is set to increase from around 13% today to between 22% and 37% of the population by 2025, potentially triggering tensions.
The report predicts that America?s relationships with Europe will be "dramatically altered" over the next 15 years, in a move away from post-Second World War institutions. Nato could disappear and be replaced by increased EU action.
"The EU, rather than Nato, will increasingly become the primary institution for Europe, and the role Europeans shape for themselves on the world stage is most likely to be projected through it," the report adds. "Whether the EU will develop an army is an open question."
Defence spending by individual European countries, including the UK, France, and Germany, is likely to fall further behind China and other countries over the next 15 years. Collectively these countries will outspend all others except the US and possibly China.
The expected next technological revolution will involve the convergence of nano, bio, information and materials technology and will further bolster China and India?s prospects, the study predicts. Both countries are investing in basic research in these fields and are well placed to be leaders. But whereas the US will retain its overall lead, the report warns "Europe risks slipping behind Asia in some of these technologies".
For Europe, an increasing preference for natural gas may reinforce regional relationships, such as those with Russia or North Africa, given the inter-dependence of pipeline delivery, the report argues. But this means the EU will have to deal with Russia, which the report also warns "faces a severe demographic crisis resulting from low birth rates, poor medical care and a potentially explosive Aids situation".
Russia also borders an "unstable region" in the Caucasus and Central Asia, "the effects of which - Muslim extremism, terrorism and endemic conflict - are likely to continue spilling over into Russia".
The report also largely en dorses forecasts that by 2020 China?s gross domestic product will exceed that of individual western economic powers except for the US. India?s GDP will have overtaken or be overtaking European economies.
Because of the sheer size of China?s and India?s populations their standard of living need not approach European and western levels to become important economic powers.
The economies of other developing countries, such as Brazil, could surpass all but the largest European countries by 2020.
Geo Political matters
Reply #6 on:
January 16, 2005, 08:12:35 PM »
Global Market Brief: Jan. 17, 2005
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been ratcheting up the rhetoric over cutting off U.S. markets from Venezuelan oil supplies during the past
On the surface the idea seems preposterous. Along with Mexico, Canada and Saudi Arabia, Venezuela has ranked among the top four U.S. oil suppliers for decades and currently supplies approximately 11 percent of U.S. oil needs. Located just across the Caribbean from the U.S. Gulf Coast, it is ideally situated to supply the U.S. market. Denying that in order to supply customers in Asia or Europe would cut deeply into Venezuela's profit margins.
However, Chavez's primary rationale is not economic, it is political.
Opposition to the United States is an ideological fact for him, and he wants
to reduce Venezuela's economic links to the superpower to his north -- even if it means a little less cash for his coffers.
Now, we do not take Chavez exactly at his word. We never expect him to stop all shipments to the United States, not out of love or kindness, but because the primary customer for Venezuelan crude in the United States is Citgo, a subsidiary of PDVSA, the state-owned Venezuelan oil company. Chavez might be many, many things, but he is not about to cut off supplies to one of his own companies -- or at least not before he sells it (although that is another issue we will get to in good time).
Citgo uses about 860,000 barrels per day to supply its refineries and
approximately 700,000 bpd of that total comes from PDVSA. To fill domestic refinery needs, Venezuela keeps about another 1.3 million bpd at home, of which some 900,000 bpd of product is shipped abroad with the remaining 400,000 bpd being used at home. That leaves Venezuela with only about 600,000 bpd of additional crude exports to play with. In a global system where demand is at about 80 million bpd, 600,000 bpd can be mopped up pretty quickly.
But Chavez has even selected where he wants his country's crude to go:
China. Chinese representatives have been hopscotching all over Latin America during the past few months attempting to pen trade and investment deals. For China, energy security is an acute issue. The Persian Gulf states enj oy a near monopoly on exports to Asia, resulting in a stiff premium on supplies. Venezuela's heavy crude might be of inferior quality to the lighter, sweeter streams that come from the Middle East, but it does not have to steam past regional rivals Australia, India, Singapore or Vietnam to reach Shanghai. The lower cost of Venezuelan crude -- not to mention the lack of a premium -- should also offset the higher transport cost of getting it across the Pacific.
Venezuela is already in advanced negotiations with Panama to trim some of that transport cost. Panama possesses a pipeline -- the Petroterminales de Panama -- that transports crude from its Pacific to its Atlantic coast. Chavez wants to reverse the flow so Venezuelan crude can reach the Pacific basin. The process is rather simple and cheap -- and with oil prices where they are Venezuela can afford it. Should an agreement be struck, Venezuelan cargos could be steaming to Asia by August. At maximum capacity the Petroterminales de Panama can handle 800,000 bpd.
The one hitch in the plan is that Venezuelan crude is so thick that very few Chinese refineries can run it at all. Refitting sufficient capacity to use
the stuff could take up to two years. Currently, China could handle no more than 100,000 bpd according to sources in the U.S. Department of Energy.
But even here Venezuela has a bridge to make things work out. Singapore currently has spare capacity of about 300,000 bpd which is capable of handling the Venezuelan crude, and the U.S. West Coast has plenty of refineries that would be willing to take a few cargos to supplant -- or supplement -- Middle Eastern deliveries even if only on a temporary basis. When Venezuelan crude oil hits the Pacific, Chavez will have his pick of potential customers -- even if the Chinese are not among them at first.
That leaves only the pesky issue of Citgo, a front on which no moss is
gathering. On Jan. 13, Chavez restructured the PDVSA board of directors and installed Bernard Mommer, until now PDVSA's U.K. director, in the new lineup. Mommer favors PDVSA selling all of its international holdings. Add that PDVSA President Rafael Ramirez's first assignment for the new board was to completely review all of PDVSA's contracts and agreements with foreign firms, and it appears ground is being laid for a rolling Venezuelan disengagement from the United States.
US sees a spy in China's Lenovo
Reply #7 on:
January 24, 2005, 09:04:36 PM »
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. . . .
From today's Asian Times
US sees a spy in China's Lenovo
WASHINGTON - In a potentially damaging move for Sino-US business relations, American regulators are reportedly blocking IBM's proposed $1.25 billion sale of its personal computer business to the Lenovo Group of China, on national security concerns.
Citing unnamed sources "familiar with the matter", Bloomberg reported on Sunday that members of the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) are concerned that Lenovo employees might be used to conduct industrial espionage. According to the report, these members are worried that Chinese operatives may use an IBM facility in North Carolina to launch industrial espionage to further China's military technology. The Chinese government has a majority share in Lenovo, formerly known as Legend. Incidentally, the US recently sanctioned eight Chinese companies for exporting technology to Iran for use in a missile program, according to a recent New York Times report.
CFIUS comprises 11 US agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, and is chaired by the Treasury Department. The influential committee has the ability to veto the deal and could also launch an investigation into the implications of such a deal. IBM had earlier this month said that it had filed for CFIUS approval as part of the necessary regulatory approvals it was seeking to formalize the deal. The Lenovo sale got a US anti-trust clearance earlier this month.
Lenovo and IBM formally filed a notice seeking CFIUS clearance on December 29, according to the unnamed sources. US law stipulates that if the committee doesn't approve a foreign takeover in 30 days, it must open a formal investigation and finally take the matter the US president for a decision. "Because of national security concerns, we do not comment on matters that may be under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment," Treasury spokesman Tony Fratto was quoted as saying. The committee never reveals whether it's studying a certain transaction or the decisions it takes on them.
IBM and the government are negotiating the matter, the sources told Bloomberg. "IBM has filed a required notice with the Committee on Foreign Investments," Edward Barbini, a spokesman for IBM Corp of Armonk, New York, was quoted as saying. "IBM is fully cooperating with all government agencies in their review of this transaction." In a statement, Lenovo spokeswoman Alice Li said: "Lenovo continues to fully cooperate with relevant authorities." Treasury Department spokesman Rob Nichols declined to comment, so did Chinese government officials in Beijing.
CFIUS, which reviews takeovers of US firms by foreign entities to ensure that the deals do not endanger US national security, has previously blocked similar acquisitions by companies with links to China. In 2003, it scrapped the sale of Global Crossing to Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, the Hong Kong conglomerate controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing, because of national security concerns raised by Chinese control of the company's global undersea cable communications network.
According to the terms of the IBM-Lenovo contract, touted as the most ambitious attempt by a Chinese company to penetrate the American market, IBM will would get $650 million in cash and $600 million in Lenovo stocks to hold a 18.9% stake in the Chinese state-controlled computer major. Lenovo would move its PC business headquarters to New York from Beijing, combining the 9,500 IBM personal-computing division employees with its own 10,000 workers. Lenovo's operations were to be jointly run from Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, where the design and marketing of IBM PCs is centered, and from Beijing, where Lenovo is headquartered.
IBM's PC division hasn't made money in over three years now. It posted a net loss of $139 million in the six months ended June 30 and its shares have fallen 3.9% since. During the past four years, IBM's PC operation has lost about $1 billion, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission regulatory filing. IBM has not been manufacturing its own PCs for many years now, getting most of its products made by partners largely in China. But despite operating at a loss, IBM was supposedly the third-largest vendor worldwide for PCs in 2004, with 5.5% market share. The combined Lenovo/IBM was expected to command a market share of about 8%, making it the third-largest PC supplier worldwide. Lenovo is 57% controlled by Legend Group, which was established in 1984 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a government institution.
Lenovo is now raising $1.2 billion to help it complete the deal. Lenovo, along with China Eastern Airlines Corp that's seeking $225 million to purchase planes, epitomizes the growing transnational ambition of Chinese companies. Chinese companies spent $4.1 billion buying overseas companies last year, up from $2 billion in 2003.
Reports of the US hurdle, surprisingly, pushed up shares of Hong Kong-traded Lenovo by 5%. Lenovo's shares have shed around 20% since it announced the deal last month as the market has generally viewed the deal negatively because of IBM's recent history of losses in its PC venture.
Soylent Green, Not
Reply #8 on:
February 03, 2005, 01:53:12 PM »
Perhaps this would be better posted under "Geo-cultural Matters." As that may be, as someone who grew up amid zero population growth doomsayers, this piece demonstrates once again that terminal chest thumping is usually wrong.
Think the most interesting point arising from the following lengthy article is the posited swing in political power toward the aging demographic and how this will impact younger adults. Specifically, the thought that overly taxed producers won't have the income to raise children has some interesting implications.
Demographics and the Culture War
By Stanley Kurtz
Stanley Kurtz is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
We moderns have gotten used to the slow, seemingly inexorable dissolution of traditional social forms, the family prominent among them. Yet the ever-decreasing size of the family may soon expose a fundamental contradiction in modernity itself. Fertility rates have been falling throughout the industrialized world for more than 30?years, with implications that are only just now coming into view. Growing population has driven the economy, sustained the welfare state, and shaped modern culture. A declining population could conceivably put the dynamic of modernization into doubt.
The question of the cultural and economic consequences of declining birthrates has been squarely placed on the table by four new books: The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity and What to Do About It, by Phillip Longman; Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future, by Ben Wattenberg; The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know About America?s Economic Future, by Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Scott Burns; and Running On Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It, by Peter G. Peterson. Longman and Wattenberg concentrate on the across-the-board implications of demographic change. Kotlikoff and Burns, along with Peterson, limn the economic crisis that could come in the absence of swift and sweeping entitlement reform.
Taken together, these four books suggest that we are moving toward a period of substantial social change whose tantalizing ideological implications run the gamut from heightened cultural radicalism to the emergence of a new, more conservative cultural era.
Drawing on these books, let us first get a sense of the new demography. The essential facts of demographic decline discussed in all four are not in doubt. Global fertility rates have fallen by half since 1972. For a modern nation to replace its population, experts explain, the average woman needs to have 2.1 children over the course of her lifetime. Not a single industrialized nation today has a fertility rate of 2.1, and most are well below replacement level.
In Ben Franklin?s day, by contrast, America averaged eight births per woman. American birth rates today are the highest in the industrialized world ? yet even those are nonetheless just below the replacement level of 2.1. Moreover, that figure is relatively high only because of America?s substantial immigrant population. Fertility rates among native born American women are now far below what they were even in the 1930s, when the Great Depression forced a sharp reduction in family size.
Population decline is by no means restricted to the industrial world. Remarkably, the sharp rise in American fertility rates at the height of the baby boom ? 3.8 children per woman ? was substantially above Third World fertility rates today. From East Asia to the Middle East to Mexico, countries once fabled for their high fertility rates are now falling swiftly toward or below replacement levels. In 1970, a typical woman in the developing world bore six children. Today, that figure is about 2.7. In scale and rapidity, that sort of fertility decline is historically unprecedented. By 2002, fertility rates in 20 developing countries had fallen below replacement levels. 2002?also witnessed a dramatic reversal by demographic experts at the United Nations, who for the first time said that world population was ultimately headed down, not up. These decreases in human fertility cover nearly every region of the world, crossing all cultures, religions, and forms of government.
Declining birth rates mean that societies everywhere will soon be aging to an unprecedented degree. Increasing life expectancy is also contributing to the aging of the world?s population. In 1900, American life expectancy at birth was 47 years. Today it is 76. By 2050, one out of five Americans will be over age 65, making the U.S. population as a whole markedly older than Florida?s population today. Striking as that demographic graying may be, it pales before projections for countries like Italy and Japan. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, 42 percent of all people in Italy and Japan will be aged 60 or older.
Can societies that old sustain themselves? That is the question inviting speculation. With fertility falling swiftly in the developing nations, immigration will not be able to ameliorate certain implications of a rapidly aging West. Even in the short or medium term, the aging imbalance cannot be rectified except through a level of immigration far above what Western countries would find politically acceptable. Alarmed by the problems of immigration and assimilation, even famously tolerant Holland has begun to turn away immigrants en masse ? and this before the recent murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, which has subsequently forced the questions of immigration and demography to the center of the Dutch political stage.
In short, the West is beginning to experience significant demographic changes, with substantial cultural consequences. Historically, the aged have made up only a small portion of society, and the rearing of children has been the chief concern. Now children will become a small minority, and society?s central problem will be caring for the elderly. Yet even this assumes that societies consisting of elderly citizens at levels of 20, 30, even 40?or more percent can sustain themselves at all. That is not obvious.
Population decline is also set to ramify geometrically. As population falls, the pool of potential mothers in each succeeding generation shrinks. So even if, well into the process, there comes a generation of women with a higher fertility rate than their mothers?, the momentum of population decline could still be locked in. Population decline may also be cemented into place by economics. To support the ever-growing numbers of elderly, governments may raise taxes on younger workers. That would make children even less affordable than they are today, decreasing the size of future generations still further.
If worldwide fertility rates reach levels now common in the developing world (and that is where they seem headed), within a few centuries, the world?s population could shrink below the level of America?s today. Of course, it?s unlikely that mankind will simply cease to exist for failure to reproduce. But the critical point is that we cannot reverse that course unless something happens to substantially increase fertility rates. And whatever might raise fertility rates above replacement level will almost certainly require fundamental cultural change.
Why does modern social life translate into the lower birth rates that spark all those wider implications? Urbanization is one major factor. In a traditional agricultural society, children are put to work early. They also inherit family land, using its fruits to care for aging parents. In a modern urban economy, on the other hand, children represent a tremendous expense, and one increasingly unlikely to be returned to parents in the form of wealth or care. With the growth of a consumer economy, potential parents are increasingly presented with a zero-sum choice between children and more consumer goods and services for themselves.
Along with urbanization, the other important factor depressing world fertility is the movement of women into the workforce ? and the technological changes that have made that movement possible. By the time many professional women have completed their educations, their prime childbearing years have passed. Thus, a woman?s educational level is the best predictor of how many children she will have. As Wattenberg shows, worldwide, the correlation between falling female illiteracy and falling female fertility is nearly exact. And as work increasingly becomes an option for women, having a child ?means not only heavy new expenses, but also the loss of income that a mother might otherwise have gained through work.
Technological change also stands behind the movement of women into the workforce. In a modern, knowledge-based economy, women suffer no physical disadvantage. The ability of women to work in turn depends upon the capacity of modern contraception, along with abortion, to control fertility efficiently. The sheer breadth and rapidity of world fertility decline implies that contraceptive technology has been a necessary condition of the change. Before fertility could be reliably controlled through medical technology, marriage and accompanying strictures against out-of-wedlock births were the key check on a society?s birth rate. Economic decline meant delayed marriage, and thus lower fertility. But contraceptive technology now makes it possible to efficiently control fertility within marriage. This turns motherhood into a choice. And what demographic decline truly shows is that when childbearing has become a matter of sheer choice, it has become less frequent.
The movement of population from tightly knit rural communities into cities, along with contraception, abortion, and the related entry of women into the workforce, explain many of the core cultural changes of the postmodern world. Secularism, individualism, and feminism are tied to a social system that discourages fertility. If a low-fertility world is unsustainable, then these cultural trends may be unsustainable as well. Alternatively, if these cultural trends cannot be modified or counterbalanced, human population appears on course to shrink ever more swiftly.
Yet there are?signs that the current balance of social forces is not sustainable and may well give way sooner rather than later. That, at any rate, is the view of Longman, Peterson, Kotlikoff and Burns. (Wattenberg is somewhat more sanguine about our ability to weather the coming challenge, although he does not directly address the more dystopic scenarios Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns float.) Broadly speaking, both the free market and the welfare state assume continual population growth. ?Pay as you go? entitlements require ever-larger new generations to finance the retirement of previous generations. Longman argues that economic growth itself depends upon ever-increasing numbers of consumers and workers.
Population growth, he argues, drove the Industrial Revolution, and there has never been economic growth under conditions of population decline. Thus, for example, he ascribes Japan?s current economic troubles to its declining fertility. And though Longman doesn?t point to Germany, it us interesting to note that this particular low-fertility country is also struggling economically to the point of revisiting the famously shorter European work week ? a phenomenon obviously related to the struggle to reduce the pensions promised to an aging population and premissed on more younger workers than actually came to exist.
Both Longman and Wattenberg raise the question of whether markets need population growth in order to thrive. As Wattenberg puts the point, it hardly makes sense to invest in a business whose pool of potential customers is shrinking. That much might be true, even if entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare were fully funded. But Social Security and Medicare are not fully funded. On the contrary, America?s massive unfunded entitlement programs have the potential to spark a serious social and economic crisis in the not too distant future. And the welfare state in the rest of the developed world is on even shakier economic ground.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the combined cost of Medicare and Medicaid alone will consume a larger share of the nation?s income in 2050 than the entire federal budget does today. By 2050, the combined cost of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the national debt will rise to 47?percent of gross domestic product ? more than double the level of expected federal revenues at the time. Without reform, all federal spending would eventually go to seniors. Obviously, the system will correct before we reach that point. But how?
Already, senior citizens vote at very high rates ? reacting sharply to any potential cuts in benefits. As the baby boomers retire, the political weight of senior citizens will be vastly greater than it already is. Proposed pension reforms brought down French and Italian governments in the 1990s. Even China has been forced by large-scale protests and riots to back off from attempts to reduce retirement benefits.
In the absence of serious reform, we may be in for an economic ?hard landing.? Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns warn of a spiraling financial crisis that could even lead to worldwide depression. Former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker sees a 75?percent chance of an economic crisis of some sort within the next five years.
What might such a ?meltdown? look like? Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns spin out essentially the same scenario. The danger is that investors might at some point decide that the United States will never rein in its deficit. Once investors see America?s deficits as out of control, they will assume their dollar-based securities will be eroded by inflation, higher interest rates, and a serious decline in the stock market. Should a loss of confidence cause leading investors to pull their money out of U.S. securities, it could set off a run on the dollar. That would create the very inflation, interest rate increases, and market decline that investors feared in the first place. Such has already happened in Argentina, which Kotlikoff and Burns use as a paradigm in which loss of investor confidence brought down the economy in a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy. The danger is that the United States and the rest of the industrialized world may already have entered the sort of debt trap common among Third World nations. A rapidly aging Japan is even more vulnerable than America, say Kotlikoff and Burns. They add that, should investors looking at teetering modern welfare states and the long-term demographic crisis bring down any of the advanced economies, the contagion could spread to others.
Are we really headed for a worldwide economic meltdown that will leave tens of millions of aging seniors languishing in substandard nursing homes while the rest of us suffer from long years of overtaxation, rising crime, and political instability? Kotlikoff and Burns say the prospect is all too real, and Peterson implies as much.
Yet there are also critics of such disaster scenarios. They argue that growth rates in the new information-based economy will likely be somewhat higher than in the past. Higher rates of economic growth will bring in enough revenue to offset the rising costs of entitlements. Medical advances are keeping older workers healthy and productive. Raise the retirement age by a couple of years, say many, and the expanded workforce would boost government revenues enough to offset shrinkage in the number of younger workers.
Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns say these fixes won?t work. Despite increased life expectancy, older workers have generally been retiring earlier. It would be politically difficult to force them in the other direction. And according to Kotlikoff and Burns, delayed retirement produces negligible gains for the economy. When people work longer, they save less because they have fewer years of retirement to finance. The effects cancel out. Overall investment in the economy is reduced, as is the real wage base available for government taxation.
Kotlikoff and Burns also argue that the apparent productivity gains of the late nineties were illusory. Peterson argues that, even if productivity gains prove real, the benefit for the deficit will be canceled out by increases in discretionary spending.
The truth is, no one knows what future productivity will be. There?s a chance rates will turn higher on into the future, yet it seems imprudent to rely on luck with the stakes so high. And as Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns point out, so long as Social Security is indexed to wages, revenue gains from higher productivity will be canceled out by increased benefits. Even an ideal growth scenario cannot solve the entitlement crisis unless Social Security is indexed to prices rather than wages. It would seem that politically difficult reform and significant de facto benefit cuts are inevitable even on the most optimistic of reckonings. And the optimistic scenarios themselves seem strained.
What about the pessimistic scenarios? It would be foolish to predict with certainty an economic ?hard landing,? much less world-wide depression. Still, the case that these are at least real possibilities seems strong. Even without a ?meltdown,? long-term prospects for the economy and the welfare state in rapidly aging societies seem uncertain at best. How exactly will nations like Japan or Italy be able to function when more than 40 percent of their citizens are over 60? Hard landing or not, and the political power of the elderly notwithstanding, there seems a very real chance that America?s entitlement programs will someday be substantially scaled back. But what sort of struggle between the old and the young will emerge in the meantime, and how will a massive and relatively impoverished older generation cope with the change?
The Coming Generational Storm and Running On Empty?are important books. Whether or not the reader is ultimately persuaded by these premonitions of economic peril, it?s time the United States had a serious debate over entitlement reform. Nonetheless, there is also something problematic in the way that Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns place the lion?s share of blame for our problems on our political leadership. True, both parties deserve to be chastised for running from the entitlement crisis. Yet even if Peterson, Burns, and Kotlikoff are right about that, they put too much blame on politicians for what broader cultural and demographic forces have wrought. Peterson nods to demography as the background condition for the deficit dilemma yet barely explores the link. Kotlikoff and Burns have much more to say about the demographic details yet treat our changed fertility patterns as irreversible and therefore irrelevant to policy.
That is a questionable assumption. The growing expense of child-rearing, for example, plays a key role in holding birth rates down. Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns are quick to criticize the push for lower taxes, yet rising taxes arguably helped to deepen the population decline at the root of our economic dilemma. In 1955, at the height of the baby boom, a typical one-earner family paid 17.3 percent of its income in taxes. Today, a median family with one paycheck pays 37.6 percent of its income in taxes ? 39?percent if it?s a two-earner couple. So the new demography has put us into an economic trap. High taxes depress birth rates, but low taxes expand demographically driven deficits still further.
Precisely because we are at an unprecedented demographic watershed, politicians have no model for taking these factors into account. Political leaders in an earlier era could take it for granted that ever-growing populations would keep the welfare state solvent and the economy humming. It?s not surprising that neither the public nor politicians have been able to adjust to the immense, unintended, and only gradually emerging social consequences of postmodern family life. With their eyes firmly fixed on the underlying demographic changes, Wattenberg and Longman are less disposed to browbeat politicians than are Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns.
A new conservatism?
On the matter of the new demography and its social consequences, the work of Ben Wattenberg holds a place of special honor. In 1987, 17 years before the publication of Fewer, Wattenberg wrote The Birth Dearth. That book was the first prominent public warning of a crisis of population decline. Yet many rejected its message. In an era when a ?population explosion? was taken for granted, the message of The Birth Dearth flew squarely in the face of received wisdom. Subsequent events, however, have proved Wattenberg right.
Despite that vindication, Wattenberg?s own views have changed somewhat. Whereas The Birth Dearth advocated aggressive pro-natalist policies, today Wattenberg seems to have all but given up hope that fertility rates can be substantially increased. On the one hand, he thinks it unlikely that worldwide population can maintain a course of shrinkage without end. On the other hand, he sees no viable scenario by which this presumably unsustainable trend might be reversed.
In The Empty Cradle, Philip Longman takes a different view. Longman believes that runaway population decline may be halted, yet he understands that this can be accomplished only by way of fundamental cultural change. The emerging demographic crisis will call a wide range of postmodern ideologies into question. Longman writes as a secular liberal looking for ways to stabilize the population short of the traditionalist, religious renewal he fears the new demography will bring in its wake.
Given the roots of population decline in the core characteristics of postmodern life, Longman understands that the endless downward spiral cannot be reversed without a major social transformation. As he puts it, ?If human population does not wither away in the future, it will be because of a mutation in human culture.? Longman draws parallels to the Victorian era and other periods when fears of population decline, cultural decadence, and fraying social safety nets intensified family solidarity and stigmatized abortion and birth control. Longman also notes that movements of the 1960s, such as feminism, environmentalism, and the sexual revolution, were buttressed by fears of a population explosion. Once it becomes evident that our real problem is the failure to reproduce, these movements and attitudes could weaken.
Longman?s greatest fear is a revival of fundamentalism, which he defines broadly as any movement that relies on ancient myth and legend, whether religious or not, ?to oppose modern, liberal, and commercial values.? Religious traditionalists tend to have large families (relatively speaking). Secular modernists do not. Longman?s fear is that, over time, Western secular liberals will shrink as a portion of world population while, at home and abroad, traditionalists will flourish. To counter this, and to solve the larger demographic-economic crisis, Longman offers some very thoughtful proposals for encouraging Americans to have more children. Substantial tax relief for parents is the foundation of his plan.
Longman has thought this problem through very deeply. Yet, in some respects, his concerns seem odd and exaggerated. He lumps American evangelicals together with Nazis, racists, and Islamicists in the same supposed opposition to all things modern. This is more interesting as a specimen of liberal prejudice than as a balanced assessment of the relationship between Christianity and modernity. Moreover, the mere fact that religious conservatives have more children than secular liberals is no guarantee that those children will remain untouched by secular culture.
Still, Longman rightly sees that population decline cannot be reversed in the absence of major cultural change, and the prospects of a significant religious revival must not be dismissed. In a future shadowed by vastly disproportionate numbers of poor elderly citizens, and younger workers struggling with impossible tax burdens, the fundamental tenets of postmodern life might be called into question. Some will surely argue from a religious perspective that mankind, having discarded God?s injunctions to be fruitful and multiply, is suffering the consequences.
Yet we needn?t resort to disaster scenarios to see that our current demographic dilemma portends fundamental cultural change. Let us say that in the wake of the coming economic and demographic stresses, a serious secular, pronatalist program of the type proposed by Longman were to take hold and succeed. The result might not be ?fundamentalism,? yet it would almost certainly involve greater cultural conservatism. Married parents tend to be more conservative, politically and culturally. Predictions of future dominance for the Democratic Party are based on the increasing demographic prominence of single women. Delayed marriage lowers fertility rates and moves the culture leftward. Reverse that trend by stimulating married parenthood, and the country grows more conservative ? whether in a religious mode or not.
But can the cultural engines of postmodernity really be thrown into reverse? After all, people don?t decide to have children because they think it will help society. They act on their personal desires and interests. Will women stop wanting to be professionals? Is it conceivable that birth control might become significantly less available than it is today? It certainly seems unlikely that any free Western society would substantially restrict contraception, no matter how badly its population was dwindling.
Yet it is important to keep in mind that decisions about whether and when to have children may someday take place in a markedly different social environment. As mentioned, children are valued in traditional societies because of the care they provide in old age. In the developed world, by contrast, old age is substantially provisioned by personal savings and the welfare state. But what will happen if the economy and the welfare state shrink significantly? Quite possibly, people will once again begin to look to family for security in old age ? and childbearing might commensurately appear more personally necessary.
If a massive cohort of elderly citizens find themselves in a chronic state of crisis, the lesson for the young will be clear. Wattenberg notes that pro-natalist policies have failed wherever they?ve been tried. Yet in conditions of serious economic stress and demographic imbalance, sweeping pro-natalist plans like those offered by Longman may in fact become workable. That would usher in a series of deeper cultural changes, most of them pointing society in a more conservative direction.
Then again, we may finesse the challenge of a rapidly aging society by some combination of increased productivity, entitlement reform, and delayed retirement. In that case, fertility will continue to fall, and world population will shrink at compounding speed. The end result could be crisis or change further down the road, or simply substantial and ongoing reductions in world population, with geostrategic consequences difficult to predict. One way or the other, it would seem that our social order is in motion.
The emerging population implosion, then, may be taken in part as a challenge to Francis Fukuyama?s ?end of history? thesis. As Fukuyama himself came to recognize in his 2002 book, Our Posthuman Future, the greatest challenge to the ?end of history? idea is the prospect that biotechnology might work a fundamental change in human nature and society. In the form of modern contraception, it may already have done so. And contraception could be only the beginning.
Like others who warn of the dangers of biotechnology, Fukuyama is most concerned about the prospect that genetic engineering could undermine the principles of liberty and equality. If children are genetically engineered for greater health, strength, or intellectual capacity, erstwhile liberal society could be plunged into a brave new world of genetically-based class hierarchy.
That is a grave concern, yet there may still be others. The disruptive effects of biotechnology will play out in a depopulating world ? perhaps a world shadowed by economic and cultural crisis. So the immediate challenge of biotechnology to human history is the prospect that the family might be replaced by a bioengineered breeding system. Artificial wombs, not the production of supermen, may soon be the foremost social challenge posed by advancing science. Certainly, there is a danger that genetic engineering may someday lead to class distinctions. But the pressure on the bioengineers of the future will be to generate population. If and when the prospect of building ?better? human beings becomes real, it will play out in the context of a world under radical population pressure. That population crunch will likely shape the new genetics at every turn.
With talk of artificial wombs and the end of the family, we are a long way from the idea of a conservative religious revival. The truth is, the possibility of a population crisis simultaneously raises the prospect of conservative revival and eugenic nightmare. In his landmark book on Western family decline, Disturbing the Nest, sociologist David Popenoe traces out contrasting ideal-typical scenarios by which the Western family might be either strengthened or further eroded. Looking at these scenarios, it?s evident that a population crisis could trigger either one.
What could reverse the decline of the Western nuclear family? Anything that might counter the affluence, secularism, and individualism that led to family decline in the first place, says Popenoe. Economic decline could force people to depend on families instead of the state. A religious revival could restore traditional mores. And a revised calculation of rational interest in light of social chaos could call the benefits of extreme individualism into question. We?ve already seen that a demographic-economic crisis could invoke all three of these mechanisms.
But what about the reverse scenario, in which the nuclear family would entirely disappear? According to Popenoe, the end of the nuclear family would come through a further development of our growing tendency to separate pair-bonding from sex and procreation. Especially in Europe, marriage is morphing into parental cohabitation. And in societies where parents commonly cohabit, the practice of ?living alone together? is emerging. There unmarried parents remain ?together? yet live in separate households, only one of them with a child. And of course, intentional single motherhood by older unmarried women ? Murphy Brown-style ? is another dramatic repudiation of the nuclear family. The next logical step in all this would be for single mothers to turn their children over to some other individual or group for rearing. That would spell the definitive end of the nuclear family.
A prolonged economic crisis accompanied by widespread concern over depopulation would undoubtedly place feminism under pressure. Yet it?s unlikely that postmodern attitudes toward women, work and family could be swept aside ? or even significantly modified ? without a major cultural struggle. A eugenic regime would be the logical way to safeguard feminist goals in a depopulating world, and there is ample precedent for an alliance between eugenics and feminism.
After all, birth control pioneers like Margaret Sanger in the United States and Marie Stopes in England blended feminism and eugenics at the outset of the twentieth century. As birth control came into wide use, fertility sharply declined ? particularly among the upper classes, which had access to the technology. Alarmed by the relative decline of the elites, Teddy Roosevelt urged upper-class women to have more children. Even progressives began to question their commitment to women?s rights. Margaret Sanger?s response was to promote a eugenic regime of forced sterilization and birth control among the unfit. Instead of urging ?the intelligent? to have more children, Sanger advocated the suppression of births among ?the insane and the blemished.?
The women?s movement of the 1960s forged still more links between feminism and eugenics. Shulamith Firestone?s 1970 classic, The Dialectic of Sex, argued that women would truly be free only when released from the burden of reproduction. Today, as scientists work to engineer embryos in the laboratory, while others devise technology to save premature babies at ever earlier stages of development, the possibility that a viable artificial womb will someday be created has emerged. While feminists are divided on the issue, many look forward to the prospect.
Thus, if faced with an ultimate choice between feminist hopes of workplace equality with men and society?s simultaneous need for more children, it is not hard to imagine that some on the cultural left would opt for technological outsourcing ? surrogacy in various forms ? as a way out. To some extent, this phenomenon has already begun: Consider the small but growing numbers of older, usually career women who choose and pay younger women to carry babies for them. As with Sanger and Firestone, eugenics may be seen by some as the ?logical? alternative to pressure to restore the traditional family.
Christine Rosen, who has usefully thought through the prospects and implications of ?ectogenesis,? suggests that objections to the human exploitation inherent in surrogacy could actually propel a shift toward artificial?wombs. Of course, that would only complete the commodification of childbirth itself ? weakening if not eliminating the parent-child bond. And if artificial wombs one day become ?safer? than human gestation, insurers might begin to insist on our not giving birth the old-fashioned way.
Such dark possibilities demand serious intellectual attention. Neither principled objections to tampering with human nature nor instinctive horror at the thought of it suffice to meet the challenge of the new eugenics. Philosophy and instinct must be welded to a compelling social vision. The course and consequences of world population decline offer just such a vision. In the end, philosophical principles and reflexive horror are guardians of the social order, yet without a lively vision of the social order they are protecting, these guardians cannot properly do their work.
Even in the?celebrated image of the conservative who stands athwart history yelling ?Stop!? there is a subtle admission of modernization?s inevitability. Tocqueville saw history?s trend toward ever greater individualism as an irresistible force. The most we could do, he thought, was to balance individualism with modern forms of religious, family, and civic association. Today, even Tocqueville?s cherished counterweights to radical individualism are disappearing ? particularly in the sphere of the family.
It is indeed tempting to believe that the fundamental social changes initiated in the 1960s have by now become irreversible. Widespread contraception, abortion, women in the workforce, marital decline, growing secularism and individualism ? all seem here to stay. Looked at from a longer view, however, the results are not really in. We haven?t yet seen the passing of even the great demographic wave of the ?baby boom.? The latter half of the twentieth century may someday be seen not as ushering in the end of history, but as a transition out of modernity and into a new, prolonged, and culturally novel era of population shrinkage.
The most interesting and unanticipated prospect of all would be a conservatism. Of our authors, only Longman has explored the potential ideological consequences of the new demography. In effect, Longman wrote his book to forestall a religiously-based conservatism precipitated by demographic and economic decline. Yet even Longman may underestimate the potential for conservative resurgence.
It wouldn?t take a full-scale economic meltdown, or even a relative disparity in births between fundamentalists and secularists, to change modernity?s course. Chronic low-level economic stress in a rapidly aging world may be enough. There is good reason to worry about the fate of elderly boomers with fragile families, limited savings, and relatively few children to care for them. A younger generation of workers will soon feel the burden of paying for the care of this massive older generation. The nursing shortage, already acute, will undoubtedly worsen, possibly foreshadowing shortages in many other categories of workers. Real estate values could be threatened by population decline. And all these demographically tinged issues, and more, will likely become the media?s daily fare.
In such an atmosphere, a new set of social values could emerge along with a fundamentally new calculation of personal interest. Modernity itself may come in for criticism even as a new appreciation for the benefits of marriage and parenting might emerge. A successful pronatalist policy (if achieved by means of the conventional family rather than through surrogacy or artificial wombs) would only reinforce the conservative trend. In that case we will surely find that it is cultural radicals standing athwart history?s new trend yelling ?Stop!?
Humankind faces three fundamental choices in the years ahead: at least a partial restoration of traditional social values, a radical new eugenics, or endless and compounding population decline. For a long time, this choice may not be an either/or. Divisions will likely emerge both within and between societies on how to proceed. Some regions may grow more traditional, others may experiment with radical new social forms, while still others may continue to shrink. And a great deal will depend upon an economic future that no one can predict with certainty. In any case, the social innovations of the modern world are still being tested, and the outcome is unresolved.
Geo Political matters
Reply #9 on:
February 04, 2005, 01:02:04 AM »
Fascinating read Buz-- I will read it more closely in the next day or so.
In a different vein, here's this from Stratfor:
The following is an internal Stratfor document produced to provide high-level guidance to our analysts. This document is not a forecast but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, plus suggestions on areas for focus.
Intelligence Guidance: Feb. 2, 2005
February 02, 2005 1725 GMT
The Iraqi election is over and the insurgents failed to significantly increase the scope or scale of attacks on election day. What is next for the insurgents? Are they capable of maintaining the relatively high tempo of attacks seen in the last month or so, or have they reached a peak? Can the Shiite leadership deal with the Sunni nationalist guerrillas? What of the jihadist forces?
Iran has emphatically said it is not ready for friendly ties with the United States, but could talk to Washington via Europe. This was somewhat astonishing as the only overt comments and actions out of Washington have not been apparent invitations to establish peaceful ties. Iran is signaling, and given the movement toward a Shiite-dominated government in Iraq, what is the next step in the hidden dance between the United States and Iran? There are hints of cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan; where else can they cooperate without being obvious? What does Washington want from Tehran, aside from not allowing Iran to dominate Iraq, and is there room for compromise with Iran's interests?
Colombia and Venezuela have apparently made up after tempers flared over the clandestine arrest of a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader on Venezuelan territory. However, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has developed a relationship with the FARC that he is unwilling or unable to reverse, and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez cannot allow the FARC to take sanctuary in neighboring Venezuela. While there have been public niceties, the fundamental interests appear irreconcilable. Who makes the next move, and how long until things flare up again?
Al Qaeda has been steadily shifting its operations back into the Middle East, failing to gain significant traction for actions in Europe and the United States. With the exception of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, major (or even minor) al Qaeda actions have been few and far between. Is the organization losing its grip on the international jihadist movement? If it is losing its place as the vanguard, it must strike out or be replaced by others. The question that now arises is: Can it? Is the silence a prelude to a major hit somewhere in Europe or the Muslim world?
U.S. President George W. Bush has started his second term in office, and he will do what he can to begin shifting attention away from Iraq and even the U.S.-jihadist war as the conflict becomes more routinized. During the pre-Sept. 11 days of the first Bush term, China was the biggest concern for the administration. There are rumblings that Beijing might once again bear the brunt of U.S. foreign policy. China got a reprieve from U.S. pressure after Sept. 11. How will Beijing react to a return to business as usual?
Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said that state oil firm Rosneft's recent acquisition of Yuganskneftegaz, the former subsidiary of Yukos, was made possible by a $6 billion loan provided by the Chinese. The Russians have been very skittish -- and with good reason -- about letting the Chinese get their hands on any part of Russia's strategic assets. Changing that mindset would require a complete strategic re-evaluation of the nature of China. Has at least a part of the Kremlin done that? Or is this just the Russians grabbing some conveniently available capital to continue their financial machinations? Or is Moscow seeking to maneuver China into a strategic bloc -- willingly or otherwise -- to counter the United States and Western push on the Russian borders?
VDH on the Mideast End Game
Reply #10 on:
February 18, 2005, 06:02:52 PM »
The effects of American policy throughout the Middle East are gradually being felt.
Victor Davis Hanson
Last week, Mr. Abbas ordered the ruins of Yasir Arafat's Gaza headquarters cleared away. The Israelis had destroyed the building in 2002, and Mr. Arafat had kept the ruins as a kind of memorial. Suddenly, in a day, it was gone." ? New York Times, Sunday, February 13, 2005.
In the war against the Islamic fascists and their supporters there have been a number of unheralded victories that have played some role in changing the landscape of the Middle East and eroding the power of the Islamists.
The first bold move was to censure and then ignore Yasser Arafat for his complicity in unleashing suicide bombers, his rampant corruption, and his stifling of Palestinian dissidents. At the time of the change in American policy, other members of the quartet ? the Russians, the Europeans, and the U.N. ? were aghast. The "moderate" Arab world protested vehemently. Pundits here alleged Texas recklessness and clung to the silly idea of the Arafat/Sharon moral equivalence, as if a freely elected democratic leader, subject to an open press and a free opposition, was the same as a thug who ordered lynchings and jailed or murdered dissidents.
Review press accounts from the summer of 2002: Neither ally nor neutral approved of Bush's act of ostracism and instead warned of disaster. Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country then held the EU's rotating presidency, lectured that without dialogue with Arafat "Israel could not stop Palestinian violence through force." A circumspect Colin Powell visited the region often to smooth over hurt feelings and in the process to soften Bush's bold action. Dennis Ross, remember, had met with the American-subsidized Arafat almost 500 times, and it was said that the latter visited the Clinton White House more than any other foreign leader ? a fact apparently lost on the Palestinian street, which still spontaneously cheered on news of September 11.
Lost in all the controversy was the simple fact that Arafat had come to power through a rigged vote. He proceeded to corrupt the state, censure the media, and let thugs terrorize Palestinian reformers while he systematically looted public monies. His legacy was a ruined economy, murder, and systematic theft.
All knew this; few would say it publicly; none would do anything about it.
Calumny followed as the Israelis unilaterally went on to start their fence, take out the terrorist elite of Hamas, plan to abandon Gaza, and, pace Mr. Moeller, precisely through force crush the intifada. In those bleak months of suicide murdering, Arafat courted the world's sycophantic press as he railed against Sharon from his pathetic bunker at Ramallah.
Then something unexpected happened. Almost imperceptibly in his last two years, he devolved from a feared dictator to a defrocked terrorist to finally an irrelevant functionary. That metamorphosis proved critical as a prerequisite to his demise, as Arafat slowly lost his four-decade-acquired capital of intimidation ? critical for any Middle East autocrat ? and with it his grip on the popular imagination of the West Bank. In the Middle East a tyrant can look murderous or even psychopathic, but not impotent ? and especially not ridiculous.
Thus when he died, far from being sanctified as a mythical strongman, he was almost immediately forgotten and his legacy is currently undergoing a sort of Trotsky-like erasure. Postmortem stories almost immediately spread about absconded funds, tawdry fights broke out over his estate, and, mirabile dictu, a few signs of freedom emerged on the West Bank as elections mysteriously followed and with them renewed discussions of peace. The American ostracism did not ensure that we would see a settlement, only the chance that we could ? and that is some progress in the Middle East.
Later in April 2003, the United States withdrew its troops from Saudi Arabia ? most pilots and crews in the desert. The ostensible reason for their original deployment ? protection from Saddam Hussein's army in Kuwait and monitoring the no-fly zones ? was no longer valid. But many strategists thought Americans were still needed in the kingdom to ensure the free flow of the world's oil supply and perhaps to secure the royal family from the very terrorists that many in the clan had subsidized and abetted. Were we "abandoning" an "old and trusted" ally, or finally coming to our senses that the subsidized protection of a near-criminal state had to cease under the changed conditions of the post-Cold War Middle East?
In reality, Americans in uniform were subject to humiliating conditions, such as female military personnel being forced to veil when leaving bases, while helping to ready planes to protect a country where a great many were privately happy that 15 of their jihadists had murdered 3,000 Americans. Our presence among the "holy shrines" only played into bin Laden's hands, as his 1998 fatwa revealed. The Saudi state media often blamed the Americans or the Zionists for most of their own self-inflicted pathologies, hoping that such smears and billions in bribes to terrorists and Wahhabi fanatics might deflect popular outrage onto us.
But by withdrawing, the United States took the first steps in a long overdue disengagement from an autocratic dynasty that will either change under a consensual government into a titular and ceremonial royalty ? like the British crown heads ? or, as in the case of Iran's shah, be driven out by theocratic fundamentalists. Finally, the United States at last is beginning to cut loose from an octopus whose petroleum tentacles have wrapped deeply around banks, lobbyists, defense contractors, and lawyers in Washington and New York, both Republicans and Democrats, oilmen and multiculturalists alike. It is neither a wise nor a moral thing to have much to do with 7,000 royal cousins who have siphoned $700 billion from their country while unemployment there reaches 40 percent and while women, laborers from the third world, Christians, and assorted others are treated as undesirables.
Now in hindsight, few seem to object to the ostracism of Arafat or estrangement from Saudi Arabia. The moral?
As a rule of thumb in matters of the Middle East, be very skeptical of anything that Europe (fearful of terrorists, eager for profits, tired of Jews, scared of their own growing Islamic minorities) and the Arab League (a synonym for the autocratic rule of Sunni Muslim grandees and secular despots) cook up together. If a EU president, a Saudi royal, and a Middle East specialist in the State Department or a professor in an endowed Middle Eastern Studies chair agree that the United States is "woefully na?ve," "unnecessarily provocative" or "acting unilaterally," then assume that we are pretty much on the right side of history and promoting democratic reform. "Sobriety" and "working with Arab moderates" is diplo-speak for supporting or abetting an illiberal hierarchy.
There are other key decisions to be made that will go mostly unnoticed by the world's media. We should decide now to distance ourselves from the Mubarak regime, and to be ready for a dynastic squabble with the passing of the present strongman. We have over the years given $50 billion to that "moderate" dictatorship not to attack Israel ? as if it would really start a fifth war it would surely lose. It didn't.
But Egypt did unleash venom against us and become the intellectual nexus of Arab anti-Americanism. In the Arab world, a change in American policies to promote democracy was publicized as "anti-Arab" by state-run media ? in almost the identical manner that former support for the corrupt status quo was once condemned as "anti-Arab" by Middle East intellectuals. No matter: Despite the short-term lose-lose proposition, no one ever went wrong in the long-term by standing on the side of freedom.
No longer should we remain in thrall to any Arab government that with its left hand rounds up over-the-top terrorists, while with its right gives others less violent a pass to unleash virulent hatred of America. The Rubicon has been crossed in Iraq, and we can no longer watch Americans die for democracy in the Sunni Triangle while giving billions to a regime that kills off consensual government in Cairo. Diplomats can work out the details without sounding either moralistic or naive, smiling and assuring the Egyptians that our friendship will be only strengthened from a new understanding, as the money dries up and we part without acrimony ? even as in desperation Mubarak readjusts to his "helpful" role as a third-party interlocutor in Iraq and Palestine.
The American effort to democratize postwar Afghanistan and Iraq has placed a heavy burden on the United States to develop a coherent and consistent policy of supporting reformers throughout the Middle East. We should continue with demands for elections in a Lebanon free of a tyrannical Syria, elevate dissidents in Iran onto the world stage, pressure for change in the Gulf, and say goodbye to Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. If Western elites are really worried about the legitimacy of past elections in Iraq, let them go instead to Lebanon where they can worry first about having any at all, and then later complain about the proper degree of voter participation. The forces of history have been unleashed and we should cease apologizing for the deluge and instead steer the waves in the right direction.
Americans understandably focus on the hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet just as important are the unsung successes that received little praise, and then have a weird tendency to drift off into the collective global amnesia as if they arose from natural, not American-induced, reform.
? Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is victorhanson.com.
Geo Political matters
Reply #11 on:
February 19, 2005, 08:54:27 PM »
World of Worry
Problems abound around the globe, but Stratfor thinks we fret over the wrong ones
By JONATHAN R. LAING
INVESTORS HAVE A WORLD OF WORRY to fret about these days, from the Middle East to Korea. But they're mostly worrying about the wrong things, contends George Friedman, who heads the private intelligence-service Stratfor. The Austin, Texas firm has prospered since we first publicized it just weeks after the
Sept. 11 attacks. Collecting real-time information from the Internet and from informants around the world, Stratfor forecasts and geopolitical analyses have become staples in stories on the war on terror. Likewise, Friedman's commentary is sought by news shows and Fortune 500 clients -- including some of the largest financial institutions. His views are frequently provocative and idiosyncratic, but always stimulating.
His forecast for 2005, conveyed via telephone, proved to be no exception. Our talk spanned the globe, building from progress in the Middle East -- despite new violence in Lebanon -- through North Korea's rumblings, on to why investors should be cautious on China and Russia.
Mapping Danger: From nukes to new separatist movements: Headed by George Friedman, Stratfor produces geopolitical analyses valued by investors and leaders across the planet.
As a political scientist and admirer of realpolitik, Friedman feels that the U.S.'s aggressive action and military presence in Iraq has inestimably helped the war on terror by, among other things, motivating reluctant allies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan and erstwhile enemies like Syria and Iran to help the U.S. by cutting off their support of al Qaeda and serving up better intelligence to Western governments.
"I call it the coalition of the coerced, but the tempo of timely arrests of al Qaeda operatives around the world, and the fact that the U.S. suffered no terrorist attacks running up to last year's election, can in good part be attributed to better intelligence from the Islamic world," Friedman avers. "Our victory in Afghanistan was insufficient. We had to show the Islamic world that we meant business by putting large numbers of troops into the Mideast, into harm's way, rather than cutting and running such as the U.S. had done previously in its rapid pull-out from Beirut in the 1980s and Somalia in the '1990s."
In this context, Friedman sees Syria's and Iran's recent announcement of their united front and the assassination of former Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri as an attempt by the two nations to strengthen their bargaining position with the U.S. He claims that the bombing that killed Hariri was likely contracted out to Syria's and Iran's favorite terrorist organization, Hezbollah. He adds, "Syrian intelligence doesn't do suicide bombings like we think the Hariri assassination was, but Hezbollah most certainly does. The two countries, by killing someone the U.S. really likes, seem to be sending a message that if pushed too hard by the U.S., they will react."
China's economic and social horizons are brimming with trouble.
While Friedman cautions against excessive euphoria over the recent elections in Iraq, he contends that the situation there is beginning to stabilize. Moreover, he expects that the war will begin to recede from the headlines. The virulence of the Iraq insurgency took Stratfor somewhat by surprise. But, he adds, the violence has been largely confined to the Sunni Triangle. (See "Winning in Iraq" in the June 14, 2004 Barron's on the strategic reasons Friedman supported invading Iraq.)
Moreover, the training of the Iraqi security force is starting to bear fruit, particularly since the number of Sunni recruits has been cut back, due to their dubious loyalties [Saddam is Sunni]. Friedman also expects to see more involvement by Iranian-trained Shiite militia units in patrolling some of the hot combat zones now that the Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani slate appears to have won a victory. He expects U.S. casualties and troop levels to start trending lower in the months ahead; among other things, U.S. forces will likely be shifted to larger, well-protected bases more remote from Sunni cities.
As for Iran, Friedman is not as concerned as many other observers about its nuclear-weapons program. Iran has actually been quietly helpful to the U.S. both in the war on terror and in Iraq, and has a major stake in creating a dependable ally on its western border in the form of a Shiite-dominated united Iraq.
Iran is largely using its nuclear ambitions as a bargaining ploy with both the U.S. and the European Union. Negotiators from Germany, France and Great Britain are attempting to play the good cop with Iran, while the U.S. remains the bad cop. In the latter role, according to Friedman, the Bush Administration may well have covertly planted the expos? in the New Yorker last fall by Seymour Hersh -- which claimed that U.S. and Israeli special-operations teams operating inside Iran had already catalogued numerous special nuclear facilities for eventual attack. "Iran's nuclear program isn't really all that viable, and the country has to know that if she continues to enrich uranium in defiance of Western desires, then the U.S., or perhaps Israel, will hit them with the big stick," he insists. "Iran isn't that stupid."
Iran has helped in the war on terror, although Pres. Mohammed Khatami may not brag about it.
Likewise, Friedman contends that the North Korean nuclear standoff has been much overhyped by the world media. "It's merely a beautiful bargaining strategy on the part of a country with the economic importance of Chad to make itself into a centerpiece of world diplomacy," he observes. "None of the weapons are usable, since North Korea would be turned into glass within minutes should the country lob a missile at somebody."
The bizarre economic policies of Kim Jong Il have, in fact, bolstered rather than threatened the survival of his regime, despite the existence of widespread malnutrition and grinding totalitarian mind-control in North Korea. Neither China nor South Korea is particularly anxious to assume the economic burden of this failed state, Friedman believes. Kim is hoping to use the nuclear wild card to win a peace treaty (only an armistice was signed between the U.S. and North Korea after the Korean War) and full diplomatic relations with the U.S.
Then, he continues, North Korea might be able to attract more foreign investment and economic aid, all while keeping the zany Kim dynasty in power.
Friedman sees more peril in 2005 from developments in quarters of the globe that have received less media attention. China, for example, this year could see significant deceleration in its torrid economic growth rate and may well be on the cusp of a meltdown, he says. Moreover, Friedman contends that China is likely to become more bellicose and nationalistic as its economic malaise swells, because foreign aggression has been a tried and true method for deflecting people's attention from problems on the home front.
To be sure, Friedman's pessimism about China's prospects places him at odds with the conventional wisdom pushed by virtually every U.S. corporate chieftain and by scores of news commentators.
Dear Leader as paper tiger: North Korea would be "turned into glass" if Kim acts out.
"Today's China boom can only be compared to the dot-com frenzy of the late '90s in the hype and conviction that China will somehow defy all the rules of normal economic cycles," he avers. Yet many observers are still agog over China's low labor costs, the gleaming office buildings of Shanghai, the state-of-the art plants rimming its eastern cities, huge currency reserves and surging trade surpluses.
Friedman sees growing imbalances, seething social discontent and a rotting financial structure. In fact, to Friedman, the current China exhibits unsettling similarities to Japan in the late '80s, just before the sun set on the latter economy.
China, like Japan of yore, is experiencing an insensate real-estate boom and looming overcapacity in its industrial base.
The financial structures of both countries suffer from the rot of loan misallocation, a shaky banking system and a huge overhang of bad debts, Friedman notes. Likewise, much of today's economic growth in China is profitless, due to both the weight of moribund state-owned enterprises in the economy and a mania for market-share growth at the expense of economic returns.
Finally, Friedman claims that many China enthusiasts are ignoring the demographic time bomb of an aging population as a result of China's one-child-per-family crackdown. The more rapidly advanced graying of Japan has already put a damper on Japan's consumer spending.
Signs of trouble in China are beginning to accumulate just below the surface of glossy economic growth, Friedman asserts. The economy continues highballing along, despite all government attempts to rein in growth by a small interest-rate hike and restraints on lending to some key industrial sectors. China can't afford too much monetary restraint; any large increase in interest rates could trigger a cascade of loan defaults and pop the credit bubble.
Stratfor has also noted a dramatic jump in riots, strikes, bombings and the like throughout China that have largely gone unnoted or unreported by the bedazzled world news media. Social tensions only figure to grow as a result of increasing layoffs at the state-owned enterprises and yawning disparities in wealth between China's populous agrarian hinterlands and the thriving coastal cities.
U.S. troop casualties in Iraq should drop this year as soldiers move to better-protected bases.
He claims that paranoia on the part of party authorities seems to be growing apace, as evidenced by their increasing resort to security sweeps against dissidents. The government's fear of riots following the recent death of Zhao Ziyang, the disgraced former general secretary of the Communist party and a hero of the democratic movement, was just one example of this new attitude, says Friedman.
Friedman also expects Chinese authorities to increasingly fan nationalistic fervor in an attempt to defuse growing tensions at home. The recent spate of saber-rattling with Taiwan is just one example. China's dispute with Japan over exclusive economic control of a large swath of ocean waters south of Japan must be seen in the same light. "The Japanese are widely disliked in China, so the Chinese authorities can always use Japan as a potent symbol of why the Chinese people must remain unified," Friedman claims.
At present, capital inflows into China remain enormous from the nation's positive trade balance, foreign direct investment chasing the Chinese dream and currency speculators betting on a revaluation of the yuan. But Friedman points out that capital flows can turn on a dime -- as witness the capital flight suffered by other East Asian nations in 1997 and 1998.
In recent months, Chinese companies and other entities have begun to make substantial investments in overseas natural resources, land and tech companies. Most observers see this as an indication of China's growing economic might. Still, Friedman wonders if this foreign direct investment might be an incipient sign of capital flight by Chinese businessmen looking for a safer and more profitable home for their money.
"Just like the controversial Japanese acquisitions of Pebble Beach and Rockefeller Center in the late '80s, might the recent deal Chinese computer maker Lenovo reached to buy IBM's personal-computer business be a sign of trouble at home rather than self-assertion of a growing economic powerhouse?" he asks.
Watch Putin's actions against Russian companies -- not his lips.
Likewise, Friedman thinks Vladimir Putin's Russia may be a growing problem for the West -- after more than a decade of grudging Russian acquiescence to U.S. great-power supremacy and fumbled attempts to "Westernize" its economy and political systems. Russian authorities today see market capitalism as something of sham that brought riches mostly to the oligarchs and Western financial interests.
Even worse for Putin, Western political influence is growing in states that made up much of the former Soviet Union. The Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania recently joined both NATO and the EU. Pro-Western governments are in place in the former Soviet republics of Georgia and, most ominously from Russia's standpoint, Ukraine. Elections this year could push other former Soviet states Moldova, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan into the Western camp. Meanwhile, Americans now are stationed in former Russian bases in Central Asia as a result of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Putin has fought back by increasing centralized control of the Russian economy -- the recent state expropriation of key assets of Yukos must be seen in this light -- and re-establishing Kremlin control of regional governments. But Putin may not be able to keep the centrifugal forces at work inside Russia at bay, Friedman claims.
Stratfor has picked up indications from Russian intelligence sources that Chechen separatists may be planning to take over a strategic missile base or nuclear power plant to force a Russian withdrawal from Chechnya. Other Muslim areas in the Russian federation are becoming more defiant, says Friedman.
Facing a desperate, disintegrating situation, the Kremlin will, at a minimum, try to overthrow the Georgian government and block the Ukraine from joining NATO, Friedman says. He also expects Putin to try to re-establish state control over such corporations as Unified Energy Systems (Russia's power monopoly); Transneft (the oil transport monopoly); and private oil companies Sibneft and Surgutneftegaz. In addition, Putin has defied the U.S. by threatening to sell various strategic weapons systems to Syria and China, Friedman claims.
Let it never be said that we don't live in interesting times.
Reply #12 on:
March 12, 2005, 12:08:35 AM »
Perhaps this could be better filed elsewhere, but Hitchens' thesis speaks to the way many geopolitical matters are covered.
Nuke this journalistic clich?.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, March 7, 2005, at 2:41 PM PT
"Fuel." What a nice, reassuring word. Our remotest ancestors began to become civilized when they learned how to gather it from kindling wood and how to keep it burning. Cars and jets are powered, at one remove of refinement, from fossil "fuels." Quite often in literature, it is used as a synonym for food or drink. Those who condescended to help the deserving poor at holiday times are often represented as donating "winter fuel," in the form of a log or two, to the homes of the humble. Varying the metaphor a bit in his Bright Lights, Big City, Jay MacInerney described those who went to the men's room for a snort of Bolivian marching powder as having gone to the toilet to "take on fuel." Further on the downside, a crisis of fuel would be a crisis of energy, or power.
This is fuel as a noun, if you like. As a verb, however, it has become a positive menace. Almost anything can be "fueled" by anything else, in a passive voice that bestows energy and power on anything you like, without any concomitant responsibility or attribution. "Fuel" is also a nice, handy, short word, which means that it can almost always be slotted into a headline.
This is the only possible excuse for a pull-quote that appeared in bold type inside the New York Times on March 2: "U.N. report could fuel American fears of weapons duplicity" (note that the Web version of the article does not include this quote). This was perhaps an attempt to clarify an overly complex sentence by Richard Bernstein concerning a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which provided clear evidence of Iranian concealment in the matter of inspections.
But the agency's report is virtually certain to be seized upon by the United States as further evidence of what Washington characterizes as Iranian duplicity in concealing what the United States believes to be a nuclear weapons program. The same report, on a news page and not bodyguarded by any "news analysis" warning, goes on to say that repeated discoveries of cheating and covert activity mean that "the credibility of Iran has been harmed." Just look at the syntax. Plain and uncontroverted evidence is "seized upon" by those who "characterize" as true something that nobody has the nerve to deny. The slack and neutral language of the headline reinforces the pseudo-objectivity of the article, whereby things that are only latent or deductive (the "fears," by no means all of them American, that Iran might be up to something nasty) are "fueled" by something that is real and measurable. Since the critical matter here happens to be the enrichment of uranium for "fuel," one can see that words are becoming separated from their meaning with alarming speed. The same goes, as it happens, for the lame word "credibility." In this instance, it is assumed without any evasive or qualifying words that the Iranian mullahs do possess a stock of it and that this mysterious store of credibility could be "harmed," presumably by such corrosive and toxic agents as mendacity. (Could undeniable mendacity "fuel" a "perception" of the entire absence of credibility? Not in any article on the subject that I have so far read.)
However, and on the opposite side of the page or ledger, it is repeatedly asserted that some things do indeed "fuel" a perception of other things or, sometimes, the thing itself as well as the "perception" of it. For example, I would like to have a dollar for every time I have read that the American presence in Iraq or Afghanistan "fuels" the insurgency. There must obviously be some self-evident truth to this proposition. If coalition forces were not present in these countries, then nobody would or could be shooting at them. Still, if this is self-evident one way then it must be self-evident in another. Islamic jihadism is also "fueled" by the disgrace and shame of the unveiled woman, or by the existence of Jews and Christians and Hindus and atheists, or by the publication of novels by apostates. The Syrian death squads must be "fueled" by the appearance of opposition politicians in Lebanon or indeed Syria. The janjaweed militia (if we must call them a militia) in Sudan must be "fueled" by the inconvenience of African villagers who stand in their way.
This confusion between the active and the passive mode is an indicator of a wider and deeper reticence, not to say cowardice. I wrote last week about the way that the phrase "Arab Street" had been dropped, without any apology, when it ceased to apply in the phony way in which it had first been adopted. But extend this a little. Can you imagine reading that "the American street" had had its way last November? In all the discussion about the danger of offending religious and national sensibilities in the Muslim world, have you ever been invited to consider whether Iranians might be annoyed by Russian support for their dictators? Or whether Chinese cynicism about its North Korean protectorate is an interference in Korean internal affairs? There is a masochistic cultural cringe somewhere in our discourse, which was first evidenced by those who felt guilty at being assaulted in September 2001, or who felt ashamed by any countermeasures. Though it will take a much more profound discussion before all of this mental surrender is clarified and uprooted, a brisk war on the weasel word "fuel" is needed in any case.
NRO on Bolton
Reply #13 on:
March 12, 2005, 03:20:56 PM »
National Review Online's take on Bolton:
March 08, 2005, 7:50 a.m.
A Bolt of Good Sense
John Bolton is the right man for the U.N.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr
Times are tough at the United Nations? headquarters on the East River.
The Oil-for-Food scandal becomes more appalling with each new revelation of self-dealing, malfeasance, and moral turpitude. Blue-helmeted peacekeepers are found to have engaged in rape and other criminal activity in the course of their humanitarian missions. Corruption appears to be pervasive. Proliferators of weapons of mass destruction are enabled and excused. And, the mob rule that performs much of the organization?s decision-making continues to legitimate and otherwise protect despicable tyrants.
The United Nations? apologists tend to respond to this litany of complaints by arguing that there is nothing wrong with the institution and its current leadership that a little ?reform? won?t fix. They seem to think that an investigation here, a resignation there will suffice ? if only the United States redoubles its commitment to the organization, pays its disproportionate share of membership dues and other costs (e.g., those of peacekeeping operations), and plays ball with the U.N.?s lowest-common denominator agenda: Maintaining the status quo, even where it is at odds with the United Nations? own charter guaranteeing freedom as a basic human right.
President Bush, however, recognizes that ? if the U.N. is to survive and be useful ? it is going to have to engage in not just cosmetic reform, but in a significant course correction. In order for the institution to deserve, let alone enjoy, the generous support of the American people, it must live up to its founding principles.
It was, in no small measure, toward this end that President Bush insisted on action by the United Nations in the face of Saddam Hussein?s serial defiance of its Security Council resolutions. Subsequently, he has repeatedly challenged the organization to confront the dangers posed by regimes willing to engage in genocide and pursuing the destructive means to affect it.
Regrettably, the institution has, to date, largely responded with smug contempt and defiance. President Bush has been treated as though he were the problem, with his willingness to work with ?coalitions of the willing? outside of the U.N. to address security challenges of the day, rather than allow them to metastasize under the protection of veto-wielding members of the Security Council. U.N. bureaucrats have made no secret of their view that such American conduct is illegal, even as they excuse the institutional paralysis that made such action necessary.
President Bush is responding to these tough times at the U.N. with a bit of tough love. His selection of Undersecretary of State John Bolton to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations signals a call for systemic change, not merely superficial behavior modification.
After all, Bolton has been one of this country?s most thoughtful critics of past U.N. misconduct. During his stint during the Bush-41 administration as assistant secretary of State for international organizations ? the bureau in Foggy Bottom responsible for relations with the United Nations ? Bolton became intimately familiar with the institution and its shortcomings.
When, in the Clinton years, Bolton was a top figure at the American Enterprise Institute, he was undiplomatic when it came to the U.N., but never inaccurate. Such quotes have been much circulated in the past and will doubtless be given considerable play in the course of his confirmation hearings. If so, they should be recognized as in the best tradition of American representatives to the U.N., such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Charles Lichtenstein.
It has been in his current capacity, however, that John Bolton?s appreciation of both the promise and the limitations of the current United Nations has been most closely honed. His arms-control portfolio has put him on the frontlines of Bush-43 efforts to prevent the further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to nations like Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. He has tirelessly sought creative solutions to some of today?s most vexing problems ? ranging from shaming the International Atomic Energy Agency into doing its job, to seeking Security Council action where possible, to the negotiation of the intrepid Proliferation Security Initiative (bilateral agreements forged with dozens of countries to stop suspect ships on the high seas).
It is noteworthy that, while John Kerry has denounced the Bolton appointment, some other Democratic senators like Minority Leader Harry Reid and Joseph Biden have so far been more measured. Even more interesting, however, has been the reaction of some of the U.N.?s most prominent champions. A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Annan is quoted as saying that Annan had "nothing against people who hold us accountable," and that the latter was "looking forward to working with Mr. Bolton."
Former Democratic senator and United Nations official Tim Wirth, currently the president of the UN Foundation, a Ted Turner-supported advocacy group, issued a release yesterday saying: ?In the past, Mr. Bolton has been tough on the UN; we hope that if he is confirmed by the Senate, he will be an advocate for improving the vital U.S.-UN relationship, and for helping the UN to achieve its many complex missions, ranging from global health to advancing democracy, strengthening human rights and forging stronger global environmental standards, caring for refugees and feeding millions of disaster-stricken people. The UN needs the support of the U.S. both to sustain its mission, and to reform itself for the demands of the 21st century.?
In short, it would appear that the U.N.?s admirers recognize not only that George W. Bush is determined to shake things up on the East River, but that such a shakeup is in order. The savvier of them may also appreciate that John Bolton is uniquely capable of persuading the Republican majority in Congress that such an effort is worth making ? and that it has a reasonable chance of rebuilding the United Nations into an institution worthy of further, generous American support and involvement. The price may be a sustained dose of tough love, but it is one that must be paid.
? Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is an NRO contributor and president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington
Taipei Times' Take on Sino/Russian Wargames
Reply #14 on:
March 19, 2005, 10:43:51 AM »
Interesting take on some distant saber rattling.
Editorial: Beijing's clumsy maneuvers
Saturday, Mar 19, 2005,Page 8
According to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, an argument -- the paper calls it a "scandal" -- has arisen over the site of the first Chinese-Russian joint military exercise, Commonwealth-2005, due to be held this autumn.
Apparently the original point of the exercise was to hone both armies' anti-terrorism skills, and the Russians originally suggested that the exercise be conducted in Xinjiang Province. The reasoning for this is obvious enough. Not only does Xinjiang have its own separatist movement, responsible for a number of bombings in recent years, but it also borders Central Asia which is rife with the explosive combination of potential oil wealth, extremely repressive governments, great poverty and Islamic fundamentalism.
China wasn't interested in the kind of separatists who put bombs on buses or in market places, however. Loss of human life has never been a problem for Beijing. Rather it was more interested in the type of separatists who invest US$100 billion in your country and employ 100 million of your workforce, but just don't want to receive the tender embrace of the "motherland." So Beijing vetoed the Xinjiang plan -- almost certainly because the last thing China ever wants to do is to admit there is a problem where there actually is one -- and suggest that Russia join it in practicing for an invasion of Taiwan. The location in Zhejiang Province was chosen for its similarity to Taiwan's coastline.
The Russians balked at this, but not because they are partisans of Taiwan independence. They have, after all, shown in Chechnya a ruthlessness on the "anti-secession" principle against which China's pales in comparison. Nevertheless, like any country with an interest in the freedom of shipping routes in the western Pacific, Russia would be better off with a Taiwan separate from China, better off -- like everyone else in fact -- with the status quo.
The Russians were dismayed by the proposed Zhejiang location. We would like to think they were shocked at the baldness of China's behavior -- their proposal was rather like a man asking you to help rape his next-door neighbor -- but perhaps this is wishful thinking. But they were certainly concerned that the military exercise, as China conceived it, simply had nothing to do with Russia's security interests. China wanted, for example, to practice amphibious landings with marines. How important this branch of military science is to Russia can be gleaned from the fact that, vast as the country is, it has only about half as many marines as Taiwan.
There was also the not inconsiderable problem of Japanese and US reaction, particularly in light of the joint statement of these countries on Feb. 19 labelling the Taiwan Strait an area of mutual strategic concern. Moscow has no interest in ruffling the feathers of either of these two countries. And yet it does have an interest in selling weapons to China, for which the exercises would be a showcase calculated to get Chinese generals salivating.
Russia was therefore forced into a negotiation with China that has tried the patience of both sides, and however their armed forces might benefit, has certainly led to their diplomats honing their skills. The result is that the Russians have consented to the exercises being moved 800km to the north on the coast of Shandong Province. It will be interesting to see whether the Russian's contribution to the maneuvers amounts to much more than an airshow.
And once again we can see that China just hasn't learned its lesson. The "Anti-Secession" Law was a huge mistake, alienating public opinion on Taiwan and forcing the US and Japan to give up their stance of strategic ambiguity, without obtaining any tangible benefit for China. Now Beijing thinks that it can involve foreign countries in its hegemonistic land grab. What a pity that the supineness of so many governments, especially those of the EU, abets China in this fantasy.
Fascism Rising in Russia?
Reply #15 on:
March 29, 2005, 09:28:13 PM »
Russian Politics, Playing With Fuhrer
By Masha Lipman
Tuesday, March 29, 2005; Page A15
Sergei Mironov, speaker of the Russian upper house, was talking recently about the "real threat of a fascist putsch in Russia" -- "a new fuhrer with fascist-type, nationalist ideology" emerging in the 2008 presidential campaign.
But while it would seem that so grave a danger calls for urgent and resolute action, Mironov sounded vague and nerveless about what should be done. Perhaps, he mused, the looming threat would simply impel the Russian people to ask President Vladimir Putin "to stay, not to leave" in 2008, when his constitutional term expires.
The idea that the Kremlin might use the risk of a nationalist takeover as a justification for scrapping the election and extending Putin's tenure is but one of several 2008 scenarios thought to be circulating in that body. It's telling that the one scenario missing from the political rumor mill and analysts' forecasts is a democratic transfer of presidential authority, something that has never occurred in Russia.
As in any "soft" authoritarian regime, the prospect of yielding power to a political rival is unacceptable to the ruling elite. Putin presides over a political system in which state power is basically usurped by the administration. Other branches of government are reduced to mere decoration, and decision making is confined within the Kremlin walls.
Laws and courts are bent to fit the needs of the regime. In addition, the new Putin elite has increasingly gained control over huge chunks of Russia's resources, the most striking example being the destruction of the oil company Yukos, followed by the sale of its best asset in a farcical auction and its prompt resale to a state-run company controlled by Putin's top aide. Big power and big property have become so closely entangled in Putin's Russia that a change of supreme authority would be bound to result in a new round of property redistribution, stripping those in the Kremlin's inner circle and their clients of their gains. The example of Ukraine's former president, Leonid Kuchma, provides a horrible prospect for Russia's ruling elite: Kuchma failed to preserve the status quo, and now he may be facing legal action at the hands of his political rivals.
Hence the urgency of "the challenge of 2008," as the effort to preserve the political status quo has been called in political circles.
Rumors have it that the Kremlin may attempt a replay of the anointment that propelled Putin to power in 2000, or that it might consider a change in the constitution that would provide for a transition to a parliamentary system, with Putin assuming the role of an all-powerful prime minister and leaving the now-powerless presidency to a trusted puppet. Whatever scenario the Kremlin might opt for, it is not at all sure that it would be able to handle it without provoking a political crisis.
Capitalizing on the nationalist threat appears to be especially destabilizing. Nationalism and xenophobia are not invented dangers but very real ones. Ethnic violence and even the murder of non-Russians -- ranging from Tajik children to African diplomats -- have become almost routine on the streets of Moscow and other cities. Nationalist literature is abundant in respectable Moscow bookstores. In the polls, an increasing number of Russians support ideas such as "Russia is for Russians." Young people are more likely than older ones to share the view that "ethnic minorities have too much power in our country." Overall, more people accept this idea than reject it.
Putin's policies have played a large role in the rise of ethnic bias and hatred. The ongoing, atrocious war in Chechnya has had a brutalizing effect on those who have served in it (about 1 million altogether in the past decade) and on the nation as a whole. Putin and his aides have stirred the besieged-fortress mentality by resorting to militant, Soviet-style rhetoric and implying that the West is seeking to harm Russia. A raving nationalist journalist is granted prime time on television and radio professing extreme anti-Western views to the broad public. Almost invariably the police respond to ethnic violence by denying the ethnic element in it and qualifying such crimes as "mere hooliganism."
Rather than taking drastic measures to curb the nationalist threat, the Kremlin opts for a policy of using it to its own advantage: Such a threat is a sure justification for tough policies. Even the squeamish West is unlikely to insist that democratic procedures be observed if there's real risk of a fascist lunatic emerging as the leader of a nuclear state. Putin or one of his trusted men may come to be regarded as acceptably benign compared with a "fuhrer."
Before the parliamentary election of 2003 the Kremlin masterminded creation of a nationalist party, Rodina, headed by Dmitry Rogozin. Rodina drew the nationalist vote, but it did even better than the Kremlin had expected, and today it is on the rise. To what extent Rogozin himself is controlled by the Kremlin -- or whether he'll be able to keep control of the sentiments and impulses of his constituency -- is an open question. In seeking to ensure the survival of the current political elite, the Kremlin is engaged in a highly dangerous game.
Masha Lipman, editor of the Carnegie Moscow Center's Pro et Contra journal, writes a monthly column for The Post.
Head in the Sand Inteligence Education
Reply #16 on:
March 31, 2005, 12:37:10 PM »
No doubt many of those whining loudest about the failure to find WMDs in Iraq are also opposed to the program discussed below.
March 31, 2005, 7:47 a.m.
Who Will Defend the Defenders?
The academy takes aim at the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program
America's intelligence agencies need recruits who understand the languages and cultures of the Middle East. The lives of our soldiers depend on it. Trouble is, the leftist professors who control America's universities want to stop their students from joining the CIA. The ROTC has long been banned from our most prestigious campuses. For decades, area-studies professors have undermined scholarship programs designed to bring knowledgeable recruits into our defense and intelligence agencies. And now, 40 years of anti-military scheming has created what may become the sharpest campus conflict of all ? a fight over the newly established Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program.
These new scholarships are named after Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kan.). Graduate students receive up to $25,000 a year for their studies, in exchange for a promise to serve in an intelligence agency for at least 18 months after graduation. The identities of Roberts Scholars are not made public, and this has provided leftist professors with a pretext to oppose the program. The claim is that Roberts trainees will spy on their professors. It's also alleged that the Roberts program may give some countries an excuse to ban American field-researchers.
Opponents of the Roberts program say it's not the spying they object to, just the secrecy. If someone wants to work for the CIA and do fieldwork in another country, that's just fine, says anthropologist David H. Price, the Roberts program's most outspoken critic. So long as CIA recruits openly identify themselves to every Pakistani villager they talk to, Price is happy.
Assisted suicide for aspiring CIA analysts may be morally acceptable to Professor Price, but I suspect Roberts Fellows may feel differently. It's tough to take the secrecy excuse seriously when our leftist professorate has banned and boycotted utterly transparent military and intelligence programs for decades. ROTC participation is public. So why aren't the Roberts Programs' critics agitating to bring the ROTC back to campus?
NOTHING NEW IN THE IVORY TOWERS OF ACADEMIA
We wouldn't need the Roberts Fellowships to begin with if it weren't for decades of misbehavior by America's professors. Every time Congress creates a scholarship program designed to bring language and area experts into our national-security apparatus, the academy subverts it. And every time a scholarship program is undermined, Congress responds by creating an even more targeted program. Now Congress has been forced to create the most targeted program of all ? an advanced scholarship expressly designed to train mature intelligence analysts. Naturally, the program requires secrecy. But of course, if the academy had allowed the earlier, broader, and fully transparent programs to work the way they were supposed to, we wouldn't be looking at the Roberts program today.
Back in the 1950s, a Cold War Congress passed the National Defense Education Act for the express purpose of funneling foreign-language experts into our defense and intelligence apparatus. Eventually, the National Defense Education Act was incorporated into the Higher Education Act of 1965 as Title VI. Slowly but surely, the academy turned Title VI into a liberal arts subsidy, de-emphasizing the linguistic expertise and government recruitment that were the original focus of the program. With the advent of Edward Said's "post-colonial studies" in the 1980s, area-studies programs pocketed millions of federal dollars, even as professors claimed it was immoral to put their knowledge at the service of the American government.
Just after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, then Senate Intelligence Committee chairman David Boren (D., Okla.) saw that Title VI wasn't working. Despite millions of dollars in government subsidies to Middle East and other area-studies programs, our defense and intelligence agencies had few personnel who understood the languages and cultures of the Middle East. That's why Boren established the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a scholarship that required beneficiaries to serve in a national security related agency after graduation.
The leftist professorate immediately set out to gut the NSEP. First, they expanded the definition of "national security-related agency," until students could serve almost anywhere in government after graduation. Even that didn't stop professors from trying to destroy the NSEP altogether, as I showed in "Boycott Exposure." Is it any wonder that Sen. Roberts is still trying to solve the problem that confronted Chairman Boren 15 years ago?
The academy is complaining about the Roberts program because it's specifically targeted to produce mature and knowledgeable intelligence analysts, and because the names of those analysts remain secret. Well, what do you expect? For decades the academy deliberately diluted and subverted broader and more transparent programs. Under pressure from the war on terror, Congress has been left with no choice but to create a highly targeted program designed to accomplish precisely what our leftist professors have spent decades trying to prevent.
PROTECTING ROBERTS FELLOWS, ABROAD AND AT HOME Why does the Roberts program have to be secret? Unfortunately, it's not just a matter of protecting lives abroad. Fellows also need to be protected at home. Clearly, were participants publicly named, they would be liable to harassment by leftist professors and students alike. While some professors pretend that all they object to is the program's secrecy, we know that other professors openly admit to refusing letters of recommendation to students in the NSEP. Given the history of vicious scholarly boycotts against the NSEP (see my "Boycott Exposure,") it's obvious that Roberts scholars will be subject to similar harassment, intimidation, and retaliation.
But isn't higher education built on the principle of transparency? No, it is not. The Roberts Program's opponents claim that "secrecy has no place in academe." Actually, the academy is virtually built on institutionalized secrecy. Everything from faculty hiring, to promotion, to tenure, to juried journal submissions, to decisions to publish university press books, to the authorship of student evaluations of professors, is secret. And in every case, the secrecy is designed to protect those vulnerable to retaliation. I fear that under the guise of fair and neutral scholarship, academic secrecy is too often used to protect the Left's political monopoly on campus. But no one can claim that institutionalized secrecy designed to protect those susceptible to retaliation is unheard of in academe. In the case of intelligence fellowships, secrecy is justified by a long and ongoing record of professorial hostility and retaliation ? not to mention the fact that, overseas, the lives of Roberts Fellows are literally at stake.
Roberts Program opponents point to the abuses of the McCarthy era and claim that recruits will be asked to spy on their professors. According to Sen. Roberts himself, that's absurd. Roberts points to the vast array of safeguards against domestic spying abuses put in place in the 1970s. It's perfectly fair to temper our intelligence needs with attention to the dangers of abuse. But what's the point of instituting all those safeguards if we give up on training knowledgeable intelligence analysts altogether? Despite their denials, that sort of surrender is exactly what Roberts Program opponents want.
The great exception here is the courageous Felix Moos, the anthropologist who first floated the idea for something like a Pat Roberts program. Moos knows perfectly well that Title VI subsidies aren't bringing recruits into our defense or intelligence agencies. "I'm a former director of a Title VI center," he says, "and I think it would take a decade to reform that system or to create a new title from scratch." All honor to Felix Moos, and to Sen. Roberts, for creating this new program. But the need for the Roberts program only highlights the necessity of finally doing something about Title VI. The sooner we establish an Advisory Board to reform Title VI, the better.
Ironically, the same academics who oppose an Advisory Board for Title VI are demanding an Advisory Board for the Roberts program. Their strategy is to destroy the Roberts Program by putting scholars on the board who would "out" student participants. Of course, both Title VI and the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program ought to have boards. But the point of these boards is to represent the requirements of the government agencies served by the programs. The academy wants to pack these boards with scholars so that, in effect, the professors can oversee themselves. Instead, the boards of both the Roberts Program and Title VI should be composed of representatives of government agencies and congressional appointees. A Roberts Program Board might also benefit from scholars with a proven track record of cooperation with the intelligence community.
THE ACADEMY'S DUTY TO THE STATE
The controversy over the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program is just the latest episode in the American academy's shameful betrayal of its duty to our country. It wasn't enough for leftist scholars to dissociate themselves from Title VI or the NSEP. They had to actively dilute and undermine these programs for others, until these scholarships could no longer fulfill the purpose for which they were intended.
The deeper issue here is the relationship between the academy and society. The many opponents of the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program argue that the academy should be independent of the state. But the Roberts program's isolated and courageous defender, Felix Moos, responds that scholars have a duty to help their country. Moos faced down his critics during a fascinating colloquium sponsored by The Chronicle of Higher Education, repeatedly making the point that "we are at war." (The Chronicle also published "Cloak and Classroom," an excellent article describing the larger battle over the Pat Roberts program.)
To Moos's critics, saying we're at war is a non sequitur ? a point with no bearing on the debate over the Roberts fellowships. Funny, but when the higher-education lobby comes to Capitol Hill looking for more Title VI money, it's happy to tell Congress that professors care about national security. But unmasking higher education's hypocrisy is less important than exposing the illusion that the academy can be entirely divorced from society. It isn't just a question of the academy's unquenchable thirst for federal money. Scholars are quick to bridle at the thought that America's intelligence needs might complicate their lives. Yet these professors can't see that their decades-long war against defense and intelligence scholarships has endangered the lives of every American. Ultimately, the academy's freedom and prosperity are guaranteed by our soldiers.
With any luck, the bitter battle over the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program will expose the delusions of the academics for what they are. The entire system of federal scholarships for area-studies students has to be reformed. The shame of excluding the ROTC and military recruiters from our campuses has to end. Most of all, we've got to find a way to break the intellectual monopoly of the leftist professorate and revive the marketplace of ideas on our college campuses.
Geo Political matters
Reply #17 on:
April 01, 2005, 10:14:09 AM »
the following article is another proof of how people are biased about (geo)politic and war, I think this topic is a good place to post it... it's really surprising to see that the leftists or Democrats are world-wide considered as the "good ones" compared to the Republicans
Quote from: Victor Davis Hanson,
The Paradoxes of American Military Power
Strange new guidelines about the way we fight.
Critics now fault an American military that ripped apart Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait to Kurdistan in three weeks for its apparent inability to restore civilization in the sixth months after the demise of Saddam Hussein's 30-year nightmare. It seems to mean little that fewer combatants have been killed in two years of fighting than were lost in an average week in Vietnam, that deposed enemies like the Taliban and Saddam Hussein were right out of the Dark Ages, that our efforts were incomprehensible without September 11, that we are promoting democracies, not installing tyrannical yes men, and that reconstructing Iraq 7,000 miles away seems to be going more quickly than the rebuilding on the crater in Manhattan.
Why? Because we are in a war that is not quite a war, but has an array of baffling rules all its own that we are only slowly grasping.
The unforgiving minute. Of course, well before our pass on storming Baghdad in 1991, it was true that the failure to destroy a doomed enemy could later prove near disastrous for a victorious force. Witness the German pause outside Dunkirk when a trapped British Expeditionary Army escaped to England largely intact, or the Allied laxity in closing completely the Falaise Gap in summer 1944 that allowed thousands of Germans to escape, regroup, and attack six months later in the Bulge.
Yet the conditions of the new warfare ? instant and televised global media exposure, wide-scale pacifism, and postbellum terrorism ? have made the need to destroy a reeling enemy before the shooting stops more critical than ever before. Conflicts proper ? the period in which belligerents freely attack one another in conventional fighting ? are now often brief, indeed more a matter of days or weeks than of months or years. And these windows of war per se constitute about the only time that Western forces are given transitory leeway to use their overwhelming military preponderance ? without worries of censure ? to finish off quite odious enemies.
Yet a false sense of morality, public-relations worries over gruesome images televised into the world's living rooms, and the sheer arrogance engendered by rapid victory sometimes have stopped the full exercise of American power that would finish the job. The so-called "highway of death" of 1991 was not quite the massacre promulgated by the media, but the subsequent (and mostly unreported) butchery in Basra and Kurdistan most surely was ? and was brought on by the cessation of American bombs that allowed thousands of Iraqi killers to flee and then regroup to kill.
The failure to annihilate the doomed Taliban and al Qaeda in Tora Bora meant that many terrorists fled to Pakistan and are now shooting their way back into Afghanistan. The inability to blast through the Sunni Triangle from the north in the first days of the war meant that Baathists surrendered rather than were killed or defeated ? and now are shooting at soldiers of whom they would have been terrified a few months when the full array of American firepower might have been brought to bear.
This rule of postmodern war? Before the cameras, the auditors, and the UN converge, before terrified fleeing soldiers are reborn as emboldened terrorists, before embedded reporters leave and investigative journalists arrive, and before victorious and unapologetic soldiers are asked to be peacekeepers, sociologists, and humanitarians, the military must finish the destruction of enemy forces in the unforgiving minute. After all, a colonel who blows apart an Iraqi Baathist in April might win a medal, but if in October he shoots a round off near a terrorist suspect's head to save the lives of his men, he can expect a court martial.
Casualties. In the pre-battle hysteria over Iraq, the world deprecated America as afraid to accept casualties, a bully frightened by the "body-bag" syndrome. What a funny charge for a country that endured awful carnage from Gettysburg to Okinawa, and took thousands of casualties monthly in Vietnam! Instead, the truth is that an affluent and often wildly free America more than any other Western country can still accept battle losses ? if its citizenry feels that such sacrifices are worth it. The key is to ascertain what constitutes such a vague and seemingly amoral concept as "worth it"?
"National interest" and "a just cause," of course, are necessary to accept losses, but often even those nebulous terms are not immediately discernable either to troops in the field or to the citizenry at home. Just as important in short shooting wars is movement, a sense of advance, and knowledge that our soldiers are inflicting far more damage on their enemies than they are on us.
American captains from Sherman to Patton grasped that simple fact that Americans are an impulsive, restless people, at home with machines and motion, bored with stasis and apparent immobility. And with 500 channels, the Internet, and 50 flavors of coffee, we are far more restless in 2003 than in worlds of either 1864 or 1944.
Under the conditions of contemporary warfare, if Americans sense that for every suicide bombing we suffer, we take out dozens of Baathists in return, or are finally waging a terrible war against the killers in Tikrit, or are bombing infiltrators on the Iraq-Syria border, then we conclude that there is a beginning and an end to the conflict. In turn, the fighting is then seen as finite and worth the terrible sacrifice ? an assessment that is impossible when we are static targets of an insidious enemy that seems to have no home, no order of battle, and no clear distinction from civilians. We could deal with losses when Americans were fighting their way to Baghdad, but less so when they are living in Baghdad. Thus it is critical for our military to find ways in the chaotic climate of Iraq to reassure Americans that we are on the offensive, always moving, and always finding new ways to target our enemies.
Unpredictability. Conventional wisdom says that in fourth-dimensional, postmodern, asymmetrical warfare our overwhelming conventional power means little ? not when a cheap RPG and a few illiterate teenagers can take down a $2 million chopper piloted by captains with MA degrees. The fear is that a parasitic non-West can import our weapons but not our costly military skills ? and still obtain military parity of sorts, given our greater attention to human life, desire for peace, and disavowal of terrorism and other sordid tactics.
After all, we are wealthy and have much to live for; our enemies are poorer and have little to lose. Thus Israel ponders trading 300 incarcerated terrorists for the life of one Israeli businessman. The world accepts that none of the former will be abjectly murdered in custody, while the latter of course could and probably will be. American prisoners are raped and shot with impunity; their Iraqi Baathist counterparts cannot be so much as frightened. We cannot and should not change our values; nor can we do much about the fact that we use technology and education to protect our soldiers while our enemies use fundamentalism and ignorance to expend theirs.
But cultural fault lines do not mean that we cannot at times seem a little unhinged ourselves. If the citizens of Tikrit choose to murder, or condone killing, Americans, then perhaps electrical power from their proud city can be mysteriously diverted to Kurdistan and the south. If Syria sends in assassins to kill Americans, then perhaps our pilots can become confused about where its border with Iraq actually begins and ends. If France publicly castigates the United States, then perhaps recently purchased French rockets in Baathist depots can be used as backdrops at press conferences. If munitions are found in the houses of killers, then perhaps such houses can be cordoned off and, of course with due notification, blown to smithereens. The point is not to showcase our own unpredictability but rather, quietly and with genuine nonchalance, slowly to get the message out that a very humane and civilized military is, well, sometimes quite crazy itself. In this new war, the worst sin of a Western military is quite simply to be predictable.
Politics. Military operations are not merely an extension of politics, but themselves inseparable from politics ? from the moment the bombs fall to the final withdrawal of peacekeeping troops. For the foreseeable future, the narrow parameters in which the American military can operate without Pavlovian condemnation are becoming pretty clear. The cause, the conditions of battle, the nature of the enemy ? all these once-critical considerations are now not quite as critical as the particular party that conducts the war. Increasingly the Democrats seem to be self-proclaimed pacifists and neo-isolationists who profess an abhorrence of war ? and thus in turn are granted the legitimacy to conduct military operations (with purported reluctance).
Consider Operation Desert Fox of December 1999. While mired in an impeachment scandal, President Clinton ordered four days of bombing against supposed WMD facilities in Iraq. Few claimed that he had bombed to divert domestic attention from his own political troubles, much less that the absence of any proof of destroyed weapons facilities suggested there was none there to begin with. President Clinton was not pilloried for either preemption or unilateralism ? although he did not go to the Senate for approval; did not seek U.N. discussions; and he did not make the case that Saddam had first attacked us ? and of course he sought no multilateral resolution. Nor was NATO or Europe involved. General Zinni oversaw operations and in a press conference confessed that perhaps as many as 4,000 Iraqis could have been killed, including some civilians. There were no peace marches, no condemnatory European editorials, and very few Republican allegations that in a year before a national election the United States had unnecessarily and cynically aimed bombs at facilities that were neither proven to have made weapons nor later destroyed. No retired general accused General Zinni of unnecessary war making or inflicting collateral damage ? or called Clinton a "chicken-hawk."
The same scenario was played out over the 1970s and 1980s. Compare the invective that Reagan earned for going into Grenada, and the senior Bush for Panama and Kuwait, with the pass given to Carter for attempting to use guns to rescue the hostages in Tehran, and with Clinton's missile strikes in Africa and the weeks-long bombing of Serbia.
In the future, the American military must accept that if it is asked to go to war under a Republican administration, its public-relations problems will pose as much a dilemma as the campaign itself ? as the New York Times, National Public Radio, the campuses, the major networks, and the Europeans will almost immediately seek to oppose and caricature America's efforts. In contrast, in our contemporary therapeutic society that gives currency to lip-biting, publicly feeling pain, and professions of utopianism, Democrats can pretty much use the military as they wish ? secure they will always be seen as sober and judiciously using force only as a "last resort."
Such generalizations have little to do with history: In both World War I and World War II, Democrats were seen as engaged internationalists, Republicans as shrill isolationists. Nor are these fault lines necessarily permanent trends, given that there is nothing in Democratic ideology that inherently rules out the use of force in a necessary cause.
Nevertheless, the present public perceptions and political realities will likely persist, since recent popular ideologies like multiculturalism and utopianism have become embedded in the postwar Democratic party. Both notions tend to characterize the American military not as a force for good, but as an extension of American pathology that legitimizes if not promotes an oppressive globalism, racism, sexism, colonialism, and economic oppression.
If one finds that stereotype unfair, remember the pathetic scene of a Gen. Clark during the recent Democratic debate, who castigated the president of the United States at a time of war while deferring to the wisdom of Al Sharpton. Take out a mass murderer, free 26 million, and you will earn charges of incompetence if not treason; slander a DA, fabricate a crime, and fan the flames of riot and racial hatred, and you will win respect from a Democratic frontrunner. For Republicans who must resort to war, the primary challenge will not be the fighting itself, but rather the perception that the United States was inherently wrong to have fought in the first place.
? Victor Davis Hanson, an NRO contributing editor, is a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno. He is author, most recently, of Ripples of Battle.
China's Latin American Foray
Reply #18 on:
April 09, 2005, 11:31:03 PM »
This kind of stuff doesn't appear to be on the MSM's radar, but is well worth heeding IMO.
April 9, 2005
China's Foray Into Latin America
By Frederick W. Stakelbeck, Jr.
Over forty years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, America once again finds itself in the crosshairs of a determined, Cuban-based adversary possessing the capability to inflict incalculable damage to U.S. democracy efforts and regional stability. That adversary is China.
For two decades, Soviet defense, economic and intelligence assistance allowed Fidel Castro?s Cuba to project its own brand of Stalinist totalitarianism throughout Latin America infesting countries such as Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Chile. Castro?s dream of leading a new Latin American empire ended abruptly in the early 1990?s with the fall of the Soviet Union, sending the island nation into a catastrophic, decade-long economic freefall.
Recognizing an opportunity for a permanent base of influence and operations in the Western Hemisphere, China has stepped into the void caused by the Soviet collapse to embrace Castro, giving the Cuban leader a second chance to secure a place among the world?s communist immortals.
Castro?s fondness of China is well-known. In fact, Cuba was the first Latin American country to establish relations with China in 1961. Since that time, Cuba and China have attempted to balance domestic economic expansion with a strong, central control of the political process. As a result, natural synergies have emerged allowing the two countries to develop a mutually beneficial relationship in the areas of defense, finance, education, energy, intelligence, science, and telecommunications.
The bilateral relationship has grown in both its diversity and intensity recently, heightened by Cuba and China?s mutual disdain for what they see as America?s global hegemony and intrusiveness. Their joint, anti-democracy stance was further solidified in March when Cuba?s Foreign Ministry Office issued a statement supporting the ?one China? principle and the Chinese anti-secession law.
Recent diplomatic overtures and a renewed commitment to the Castro government make it clear that China views Cuba as a valuable ally moving forward. In November 2004, Chinese President Hu Jintao and 200 Chinese businesspersons took part in the China Investment and Trade Forum in Havana. As a result of this increased economic cooperation, China has become the island?s third largest trading partner behind only Venezuela and Spain. This, as Chinese President Hu Jintao reaffirmed his country?s commitment to Latin America by announcing an astounding $100 billion investment in the region in the next decade.
But China?s primary interest in Cuba is not related to commerce. Rather, the country is interested in fostering defense ties with the island and developing a state-of-the-art intelligence infrastructure to monitor US activities in the region. Intelligence and spying, not Cuban cigars and sugar cane, motivates Beijing.
Since the late 1990?s, independent Cuban journalists have reported an increasing number of Chinese diplomats, scientists, engineers, and military advisors arriving in Cuba. As a result, the Cuban Chinese community now makes up 1 percent of the island?s total population of 11.3 million people.
In the face of an increasing Chinese presence only 90 miles off the Florida coast, the question remains: Will Fidel Castro become a conduit for Chinese expansionist aspirations in the region setting the stage for another confrontation with the US? Given Cuba?s dismal economic condition, Castro?s deteriorating health, and a consensus within the Cuban government that China offers a formidable ally against American regional authority and control ? the answer is increasingly yes.
When considering the possibility of another confrontation with Cuba, it is important to remember that Fidel Castro is the same man who in 1962 pleaded with the Soviet Union to initiate a nuclear attack on the US He is directly responsible for a Latin American communist insurgency that has resulted in regional destabilization and illegal immigration over America?s southern border. After coming to power, he nationalized billions of dollars worth of American property without compensation to its owners. His clandestine support of Latin American drug smugglers and trafficking is well known.
In March, Cuba?s Deputy Foreign Minister Alberto Moreno took a page out of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez?s book of socialist paranoia by stating,
US officials are publicly speaking of regime change in Cuba. They were already attacking us as sponsors of terrorism. Now we are told we are an outpost of tyranny. We do not discount the possibility of military action.
These are merely diversionary comments designed to conceal illicit or subversive actions on the part of both China and Cuba.
Both countries are working together to penetrate US intelligence, collect classified information on US ports and navel assets, and secure information on the latest US science and technology. China and Cuba have increased their cooperation in the areas of cyber-terrorism, biological and chemical weapons research and development, and missile capabilities. In addition, China?s use of the Bejucal base in Cuba, as well as facilities in Wajay and Santiago de Cuba, pose a growing threat to US national security.
In the face of international pressure, comprehensive US legislative action such as the Cuban Democracy Act, which prohibits foreign-based subsidiaries of US companies from trading with Cuba, and the Helms-Burton Act, which denies certain visas and gives American citizens the right to sue foreign investors, should be continued and strengthened. In addition, a ?Cuban Contingency Plan? should be formulated to counter any increased defense and intelligence activities initiated by Cuba which may involve hostile, non-hemispheric foreign powers such as China.
Moreover, bulk carriers and transports offloading at Cuban ports should be closely monitored for offensive or intelligence-oriented contraband including: advanced satellite communications and jamming equipment, missiles and their components, mobile launch platforms, sophisticated military hardware, and tracking devices.
It is no coincidence that China is positioning itself in the Gulf of Mexico, Panamanian Peninsula, Canada?s British Columbia, and Venezuela. It is also no coincidence that the Chinese are spending billions of dollars to upgrade antiquated Soviet military facilities in Cuba. Not surprisingly, escalating Chinese economic involvement in Latin America since the 1990?s has brought with it a resurgence of socialist behavior and empathy.
Recent actions by the Chinese in the Western Hemisphere are designed to secure state-sponsored outposts at strategic ?choke? points that one day can be used by Beijing to place acute pressure on the US and its allies. In this regard, recent comments made by Chinese sympathizers such as Venezuela?s Hugo Chavez that a ?new geopolitical map of alliances is emerging? support a troubling trend of inflammatory comments by Latin leaders. Otto Reich, a Cuban-born US diplomat under the first President Bush stated in March.
The US needs a secure and prosperous hemisphere not only to ensure a peaceful neighborhood in which to live, but also to be able to project its power to the farthest reaches of the globe.
Fidel Castro is an increasingly isolated man frustrated by a communist strategy that has produced 40 years of suffering for the Cuban people. As his years as president wind down, he is seeking to solidify his socialist legacy. What better way to achieve this goal than by playing one final cruel joke on America by allowing communist China unrestricted access to the Western Hemisphere?
One final question for Washington. If an aggressive, Cold War-era Soviet Union made bilateral defense agreements with countries in Latin America; purchased large quantities of vital raw materials from Canada; obtained vast amounts of crude oil from Venezuela; and established ports in Cuba and Panama, would America have stood by and watched?
Frederick W. Stakelbeck, Jr. is a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia and a contributor to the The American Thinker.
Reply #19 on:
May 05, 2005, 12:15:45 PM »
A long way from happening but worth keeping an eye on, IMO.
Russia, China, and India may be on a collision course with the U.S.
By Ilan Berman
Back in the fall of 1998, Russian premier Yevgenni Primakov threw down a gauntlet at the Clinton administration?s feet when, during a visit to New Delhi, he proposed the formation of a ?strategic triangle? encompassing India, China, and Russia as a counterweight to the United States.
Back then, Primakov?s grand plans did not find much purchase: Russia was in the throes of a disastrous economic meltdown, while China and a newly nuclear India both rejected the idea of such an axis outright.
Six and a half years later, much has changed. Today, worrying signs suggest that Primakov?s idea for an anti-American coalition in Asia may be finding a new lease on life.
During his visit to New Delhi last month, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao took pains to stress the similarities between Russia, China, and India, and to urge ?coordination and cooperation? between the three countries as a means of promoting international ?peace and security.? Jiabao?s comments were notable, insofar as they represent the first public endorsement by a Chinese official of a trilateral alliance between Beijing, Moscow, and New Delhi.
But is such a construct possible? Many observers remain deeply skeptical. Earlier this year, Moscow?s Nezavisimaya Gazeta ridiculed the idea. ?China, Russia and India are not forming and will not be able to form such a conglomerate,? the opposition paper insisted in a January editorial, stressing the historically-rocky ties between Beijing and New Delhi and Moscow?s wariness over China?s expanding energy ambitions. Some Chinese scholars are likewise incredulous, citing competing priorities between China and India and the long-standing premium placed by the PRC on independent foreign policy decision-making.
Indeed, for the past decade, an Asian ?triple entente? has remained more rhetoric than reality, with Moscow, Beijing, and New Delhi all charting vastly different political trajectories. Now, however, a convergence of factors suggests that the historical impediments to such an alliance could be diminishing.
For one thing, Russia appears to be reverting to old habits. Over the past year and a half, through a series of electoral victories and not-so-subtle power grabs, President Vladimir Putin has succeeded in virtually monopolizing Russian foreign and security policy. More ominously, these successes have been matched by the return of an assertive, neo-imperial foreign policy ? one very much on display in the ?post-Soviet space? and, increasingly, well beyond it. As a result, Russia today is drifting away from cooperation with the United States, and toward a distinctly counterproductive stance on an array of issues of serious concern to the Bush administration ? from arms sales to Syria to continued nuclear assistance for Iran?s ayatollahs. And a Russian-Chinese-Indian triangle is increasingly part of these new priorities; during his December 2004 visit to India, Putin explicitly echoed Primakov?s vision of an anti-American axis in Asia when he declared that strategic cooperation between the three countries ?would make a great contribution to global security.?
An evolution is also increasingly visible in Sino-Indian ties. While rivalry over commercial and energy contracts with the Central Asian republics, as well as Beijing?s vibrant strategic partnership with Pakistan, remains the order of the day, recent weeks have seen competition begin to give way to cooperation. In early April, the two countries convened a landmark summit in New Delhi, at which they settled long-running border demarcation issues, agreed to significantly boost bilateral trade, and codified an array of cooperation agreements on civil aviation, finance, education, and technology exchanges ? laying the groundwork for what officials in both countries are already terming a ?strategic and cooperative partnership.?
To be sure, practical constraints are still present, chief among them India?s burgeoning partnership with the United States. Since September of 2004, as part of the new strategic framework between the Bush administration and the Indian government (dubbed ?Next Steps in Strategic Partnership?), Washington and New Delhi have drifted toward expanded cooperation on an array of military and security issues. This convergence was on display during secretary of state Condoleezza Rice?s recent tour of Asia ? a visit that included American offers of new defense and security incentives to India, including advanced fighter aircraft and U.S.-made theater missile defenses.
Nevertheless, for the first time, both Moscow and Beijing have formally articulated their support for an architecture expressly designed to diminish American influence in Asia. Policymakers in Washington would do well take notice. And, given the growing opposition to American policies now evident in Russia, as well as China?s increasingly aggressive, expansionist foreign-policy agenda, they would do even better to begin planning how to prevent such a construct from becoming a reality.
? Ilan Berman is vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C.
Geo Political matters
Reply #20 on:
May 05, 2005, 03:53:47 PM »
Mmm, not too impresed by this one Buz.
Stratfor thinks that the continued viability of Russia is in question. It sees the recent failure of Russia to control the election in the Ukraine (including its presumed role in the attempted hit on the man who is now the President of the Ukraine, as well as various consumated hits) as leaving Russia in a nearly untenable situation-- increased by other democratic revolutions/movements in the FSU and Russia's near abroad.
Strat predicts that Russia will do its best to be a pain in the ass elsewhere (Syria, Iran for example) in an attempt to cause us to back off in "its" sphere.
Wonder if its a coincidence that Bush chose Russian speaking Russian expert Condi Rice for Secy of State?
Also, as the piece gets around to noting, India and the US are growing closer in various ways.
Geo Political matters
Reply #21 on:
May 05, 2005, 10:58:41 PM »
Here's an example of Russia being a pain in the a$$ for the US in a region outside of its true concerns , , ,
The Specter of Russian-Made Fighter Jets in Venezuela
May 05, 2005 15 09 GMT
Venezuela reportedly is looking to purchase Su-27 Flanker fighters from Russia instead of the less-capable Mig-29SMT Fulcrums it previously considered. This development would constitute a provocative move by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- one that would have serious implications in Latin America and beyond.
Venezuela has expressed interest in acquiring two squadrons of Su-27 Flanker air-superiority fighters from Russia, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported May 4. The Venezuelans apparently are interested in the base model Su-27, which has been out of production in Russia since Sukhoi Corp. began producing the Su-30 variants for the export market. If a contract for the reported $250 million deal is signed, the aircraft -- 20 to 24 fighters -- would be transferred to the Venezuelan air force (FAV) from the Russian air force inventory.
Venezuela's interest in the Su-27 is significant in that acquiring the aircraft would make the FAV the most potent air force in South America and the Caribbean. The Flanker has a much longer range than the Mig-29SMT Fulcrum -- which Caracas also is considering purchasing from Russia -- meaning it can operate much further from Venezuelan air space. With a combat radius of nearly 1,000 miles, a Caracas-based Su-27 could participate in dogfights over Colombia, Cuba, most of Central America and the entire Caribbean Sea. Caracas' efforts to acquire advanced weaponry will alter the security environment in Latin America -- and give the United States more to ponder as it figures out how to deal with Venezuela.
Whether the FAV chooses the MiG-29s, the Su-27s or both, the new fighters will replace its aging F-16s, which the United States provided in the early 1980s. The F-16s, which the FAV deploys in two squadrons based at El Libertador air base in Maracay, spend most of their time on the ground because of low serviceability. The U.S. government stopped supplying the FAV with spare parts for its F-16s in 2001 after the Chavez government suspended military relations with Washington. Although the FAV has managed to keep some F-16s in the air despite maintenance difficulties resulting from the embargo -- a point of pride for the FAV -- the jets' long-term serviceability is in doubt.
In February, Caracas purchased 10 Mi-17 and Mi-26 helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles in a deal worth $120 million. Unlike these purchases, primarily intended to support border and internal security requirements, Su-27s would have implications far beyond Venezuela's borders.
The Su-27 is a long-range, advanced fighter capable of deploying powerful weapons. With even two squadrons of such jets, the FAV could dominate the air forces of neighboring countries. In other words, it would become the most powerful air force in Latin America, far surpassing the capabilities of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.
Colombia always has eyed Venezuela with suspicion, but bilateral relations have deteriorated since Chavez came to power. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez has struck a nonchalant pose publicly, claiming he is not worried about the regional security implications of Chavez's arms-buying spree. Colombian media, however, recently disclosed an internal Defense Ministry memorandum that confirms Uribe is quite concerned about the Venezuelan arms build up. The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush also has voiced its concerns repeatedly in Latin America, Madrid and Moscow.
Caracas initially had expressed interest in purchasing the MiG-29SMT Fulcrum, which has a range of 465 miles if external fuel tanks are not attached. The external tanks, which have a negative impact on the fighter's performance, also take up space on the aircraft that could be used for weapons. The Su-27's range on internal fuel alone is almost twice that of the MiG-29. With no need to carry cumbersome external tanks, the Flanker can participate in aerial combat with all of its external stores stations available for missiles.
Meanwhile, in even considering the sale, Russia has a "weapon" with which to exert geopolitical pressure on the United States. In response to recent U.S. inroads along Russia's periphery, Moscow might be deciding to muddy the waters elsewhere for the United States -- and Venezuela, as a sore spot for Washington already, is a good launching pad. Certainly, forcing the United States to channel its resources from Central Asia and the Caucasus in order to counter Russian-caused problems elsewhere would relieve Moscow of some U.S. pressure.
Russia had once hinted at supplying Tu-22M Backfire bombers to China, but later backed off the sale. More recently, Moscow agreed to supply Syria with the Strelets surface-to-air missile system, despite objections from the United States and Israel. Of course, the Su-27 deal could be called off, or scaled back like the Chinese Backfire deals have been, but the political implications of the sale of Su-27s to a regime that is openly hostile to Washington would keep Washington off balance without a fighter going to Venezuela.
Relations between Caracas and Washington have deteriorated markedly since Chavez came to power, especially as Venezuela moved closer to Cuba, aligning its military planning with Havana's. In fact, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently said she considers relations between Washington and Caracas beyond hope of improving. With the United States beginning to refocus its attention to issues outside the Middle East, Chavez believes his country could be targeted for U.S. intervention.
Long-range, heavily armed Su-27s in the FAV's possession, however, would complicate any U.S. military intervention in the region. Air superiority -- gaining and maintaining total control of the air over the battlefield -- is essential to U.S. military planning. In any U.S. operation against Venezuela, the formidable defensive obstacle presented by squadrons of Su-27s would have to be overcome before air superiority could be achieved. Moreover, the Su-27's long range would force U.S. air and naval units to operate further from Venezuelan skies.
If Chavez can acquire surplus Russian air force Su-27s for less than the cost of new MiG-29s, he certainly would get more bang for his buck, which would help ease the fiscal strain of his rearmament program. Combined with a huge militia reserve armed with new Kalashnikov and older FAL rifles, the Su-27 would provide another layer of defense between Chavez and Washington.
The specter of Chavez's air force operating the Su-27 would give Washington -- and its allies in the region -- plenty to think about.
Geo Political matters
Reply #22 on:
May 06, 2005, 10:46:44 AM »
And here's some key support for the notion about China and Russia getting together , , ,
Geopolitical Diary: Friday, May 6, 2005
The major unfolding geopolitical event at the moment is, of course, the
Russian celebration of V-E Day on May 9. Everybody who is anybody will be there, and there will be an enormous number of planned and impromptu summits. The most important visit will inevitably be George W. Bush's. Russian-American relations are strained, and this summit will be an opportunity to see which way the wind blows in their relationship. Russia's behavior toward other countries will be heavily influenced by Moscow's perception of its future relationship with Washington. Therefore, many of the participants at the side meetings will be keeping a careful eye on this relationship.
To a great extent, the relationship now depends on Bush's view of Russia.
The Russians are more than ever locked into a position that holds that the
United States is moving in Russia's "near abroad" in an operation designed to undermine what Moscow regards as fundamental interests in its sphere of influence. Over the past months, beginning in Ukraine, the United States has supported forces that Moscow regards as antithetical to its interests. Washington's argument -- that it is simply supporting the evolution of democracy -- is regarded as a cover for the constriction and destruction of Russia.
Bush's decision to visit Latvia and Georgia in the course of this trip has
particularly infuriated the Russians. The loss of its sphere of influence in
the Baltics and the Caucuses is of particular concern to Moscow, and these stops -- in the context of Russia's V-E Day celebrations -- are seen as a deliberate provocation. Putin has called the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical catastrophe in the 20th century. The geopolitical problem of the Soviet Union is characterized by these visits.
Leaders in Washington now must decide whether the United States can further constrict Russia or whether it should let up. Continuing to irritate Moscow simply generates further conviction that the United States is out to destroy Russia without actually doing it harm. In effect, the feeling that the fall of the Soviet Union was a catastrophe will be replaced by Russia's logical conclusion: the fall of the Soviet Union should be reversed. If the United States can render the Russians impotent, it doesn't matter how they react to Washington's moves. But if Russia is not impotent, it matters a great deal.
Russian leaders already have warned Bush not to come to Russia in order to condemn reversals on democracy. He also has been warned not to exploit the Soviet breakup to increase American influence further. Bush has gotten the message. Stories began to surface Thursday that Bush will warn the Georgians against provocations in South Ossetia, a region aligned with Russia. In addition, he will also tell the Latvians to work with the Russians.
Bush is pulling back, but only a bit. Warning the Georgians and Latvians
will neither restrain them nor convince Moscow that the United States is
not, in fact, seeking to surround Russia with enemies. A more fundamental issue is whether Tbilisi's demand that Russia withdraw its forces from Georgia -- and Moscow's counter, offering to do so in four years -- will be resolved. If the United States backs Georgia's demands, Moscow will not care what Bush says to the Georgians. The Russians will believe the American policy is continuing. If Washington forces Georgia to permit Russian troops to remain for a while, Moscow might be mollified.
The Russians have signaled clearly that they have reached their limit. Bush has not yet shown whether he will go for the kill or back off. If he will not back off, the most interesting meeting at the summit will be between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Prime Minister Hu Jintao. Neither country trusts U.S. intentions at the moment, and it won't take much to push them into each other's arms. If Russia collapses, that doesn't matter. If Russia doesn't collapse, it matters a great deal.
Reply #23 on:
May 09, 2005, 05:27:54 PM »
Also, as the piece gets around to noting, India and the US are growing closer in various ways.
The piece certainly glossed over US/India relations, though I guess the kicker for me is that I think we're only one major Indo/Pakistani border skirmish away from enmity out that way.
One of my pet peeves is that the American attention span is defined by the last and next election cycle, while that of other major players, notably China and India, and to a lesser degree Russia, can span a generation or more. I note in Russia for instance major attention is being paid to the end of the "Great Patriotic War," an anniversary that can barely find a stifled yawn out this way.
I guess the bottom line is I'm more forgiving when a piece slaps America upside its myopic head. Think future entanglements are being defined in places like India, China, Russia, and indeed Venezuela, though most American eyes are haphazardly fixed on Iraq and November 2006.
Geo Political matters
Reply #24 on:
May 10, 2005, 12:07:05 AM »
THE GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT
Debating Russia's Fate
May 09, 2005 23 13 GMT
It has been 60 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany. The leaders of the
nations that participated in that victory, along with those that didn't,
have gathered in Moscow to commemorate the anniversary. The gathering has a meaning that transcends the historical.
The question on the table is the future of Russia's relationship with the
West. The issue is simple: From Moscow's point of view, it is whether the
Russians squandered, over the past 15 years, the victory that was won at the cost of more than 20 million killed. From its erstwhile allies' point of
view, it is whether to take Russia seriously, not only as a global power,
but even as a regional power. How these questions are answered will
determine the shape of Eurasia for a generation.
From the Soviet point of view, World War II was simultaneously a catastrophe and a triumph. The catastrophe consisted of Josef Stalin's massive diplomatic and military miscalculations, which led to the occupation of vast parts of the Soviet Union by the Germans. The triumph was the fact that the Soviet Union not only won the war (along with its allies), it also emerged from the war as the dominant Eurasian power -- its borders effectively pushing into central Germany -- as well as a global power. It became the only challenger to the other great victor in World War II, the United States. Now the fruits of the victories of 1945 are gone.
Moscow's sphere of influence no longer extends to central Germany. In fact, it doesn't extend even through the former Soviet Union. The Baltics,
Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia are all slipping from its hands. It
is not even certain that the Kremlin can hold all of the Russian Federation.
From Moscow's point of view, the current generation has squandered the
victory and betrayed the sacrifices of its greatest generation.
The leadership of the Soviet and Russian recessional did not undertake this course out of indifference or confusion. Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and Russian President Vladimir Putin all pursued a calculated policy, dictated in their minds by irresistible reality. Following the analysis of Yuri Andropov, the head of the KGB in the 1960s and 1970s, they recognized that the Soviet Union was -- imperceptibly to many in the West -- slipping into economic and social catastrophe, caused by two things. First, the Soviet economy was inherently inefficient; geography and ideology combined to create a fundamentally flawed system. Second, the decision by the United States in the 1980s to directly attack this weakness by accelerating the arms race created a crisis of unsustainable proportions.
The Soviet Union was poor, but geopolitically and strategically powerful. In order to retain that strategic power, it had to devote an enormous amount of economic energy to sustaining its military forces and the economic sectors that underpinned them. The cost of strategic parity with the United States rose and threatened the rest of the economy with collapse. Very quickly, the Soviet Union would be both poorer and weaker.
Moscow made a fundamental strategic decision to preserve the Soviet Union by rebalancing the relationship between geopolitics and economics. Gorbachev attempted to implement this policy by effectively ending the Cold War in return for technology transfers and investments from the West. He lost control of the situation for two reasons. First, regardless of the level of Western investment and aid, the economic sclerosis of the Soviet Union was so extensive that Moscow could not effectively utilize the Western funds in any politically meaningful timeframe. Second, the United States was not going to allow the Soviets to recover from their weakness.
Washington pressed home its advantage. First, it made alliances, covert and overt, in Eastern Europe that essentially pried the region out of the
weakening Soviet grip. Second, the loss of its Eastern European empire
created a dynamic that led to Gorbachev's fall and the rise of Yeltsin --
and the collapse of the Soviet Union itself. Retreat fed on itself, until
Moscow lost not only what it won in World War II, but also much more.
Yeltsin essentially extended Gorbachev's policies and deepened them. He
assumed that the economic benefits that Andropov had been searching for would materialize more quickly if Russia were not also responsible for
economic conditions in Soviet republics that lagged generations behind
Russia itself. In effect, Yeltsin continued to trade geopolitics for
economic relations with the West -- having abandoned the drag imposed by, for example, Central Asia.
Russians hoped for a massive improvement in their lives. While there was
substantial economic activity, wealth was not dispersed. The lives of
Russians outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as the elderly and
others who were not among the Westernized elites, went from difficult to
extraordinarily harsh. The reasons are complex, but they boil down to this: Capitalism is extremely rewarding, but it demands huge social sacrifices up front -- and Russia, having already paid the price of communism, had nothing more to offer. By this, we don't simply mean money; we mean the social dynamism that capitalism requires. Russia was exhausted by communism. Its social, political and legal structure could not change to accommodate the requirements of capitalism. Theft replaced production as a means of becoming wealthy.
Yeltsin could not have done anything about this had he wanted to. It was
hardwired into the system. As a result, there was no economic payoff in
return for Russia's geopolitical decline. Before the collapse of communism, Russia had been poor but enormously powerful. Afterward, Russia was even poorer and pathetically weak. Moscow had to struggle to hold on to Russia itself.
Geopolitics is not a sentimental game, and the United States is not a
sentimental country. It did precisely what the Russians had done in the past and would have done had the situation been reversed: It pressed its
advantage. Using a variety of mechanisms, such as NATO expansion, the United States first spread its influence into Eastern Europe, then into the former Soviet Union itself, in the Baltics. Washington has increased its influence in the Caucasus via its relationship with Georgia and others.The Americans moved into Central Asia -- first, through the development of energy resources there; then, as a side effect of Sept. 11, through the deployment of U.S. troops and intelligence services throughout the region.
Russian weakness had created a vacuum. The United States inexorably moved into it. Putin came to power in the wake of the Kosovo conflict, in which the United States had treated Russian interests with indifference and even contempt. He did not wish to reverse the Andropov doctrine, but intended only to refine it. He expected there never to be a repeat of Kosovo, in which the United States attacked Serbia -- a nation regarded by the Russians as friendly -- without ever taking Russian interests into account. Putin also intended to reverse the consequences of the economic chaos of the 1990s. But he did not intend to create any fundamental change.
In other words, Putin wanted to have his cake and eat it too. He did not
want to change the foundation of U.S.-Russian relations; he simply wanted to rebalance it. The two goals contradicted each other. The relationship could not be rebalanced: It was built around the reality that Russian leaders had been dealing with for a generation with declining success. Russia didn't have the weight to rebalance the relationship. Economically, it remained crippled. Militarily, it was impotent. The geopolitical consequence - decline -- could not be stopped. For the past six years, Putin has been searching for the Holy Grail: a no-cost, no-risk solution to Russia's problems.
The United States has followed a consistent policy from Ronald Reagan,
through the administrations of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and now
George W. Bush as well. It has sought to prevent, under any circumstances, the re-emergence of Russia as a regional hegemon and potential global challenger. This has been a truly bipartisan policy. Clinton and George W. Bush have sought to systematically increase American influence in what the Russians call their "near abroad" while at the same time allowing the natural process of economic dysfunction to continue. More precisely, they have allowed Russia's weaknesses to create vacuums into which American power could move.
The breakpoint came in Ukraine. Washington took advantage of pro-Western forces there to create a situation in which it, rather than Moscow, was the most influential foreign force in Kiev -- including raising pointed
discussions about whether to include Ukraine in NATO. Ukraine lies on Russia's southern frontier; if it becomes a NATO country, Russia becomes
indefensible. This, coupled with growing U.S. power in Central Asia,
threatens Russia's position in the Caucasus. The situation quickly becomes hopeless for Moscow.
This explains why Putin recently referred to the collapse of the Soviet
Union as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe in the 21st century. Western leaders expressed shock at the statement, but Putin was simply expressing the obvious. President Bush's travel itinerary surrounding Russia's V-E Day celebrations -- making his first stop in the Baltics and leaving by way of Georgia -- is intended to drive the point home. Discussion of internal Russian affairs -- the status of democracy there -- similarly drives home the inequality of the relationship. So, too, does the attempt to equate the Soviet occupation of the Baltics with the Nazi occupation, with Bush administration leaders saying that the fall of Adolf Hitler did not end oppression. All of this is designed rhetorically to put Russia on the defensive, just as it has been put on the defensive geopolitically.
The Russian decline and the U.S. exploitation of the situation have taken us to the breakpoint. If Ukraine is lost to Moscow, if Georgia becomes the
dominant power in the Caucasus, if events in Kyrgyzstan are extended to the rest of Central Asia -- all of which are very easy to imagine -- it will be difficult to imagine the survival of the Russian Federation. We will see a
second devolution in which parts of the Federation peel off. Russia, as we
know it today, will be finished.
It is not clear that the Russians have the will to recover. Putin seems to
be struggling with internal and external demons, and his heir is not
apparent. However, if Russia is going to make an attempt to recover, now is the time when it will have to happen. Another year and there might not be any chance. It might already be too late, but the Russians have little to
lose. It is really a case of now or never.
Russia will never have a vibrant economy. In the long run, centralized
command economies don't work. But neither does capitalism in Russia. A
centralized economy can do remarkable things in the short run, however.
Russia is particularly noted for short-term, unbalanced spurts -- sometimes with the government using terror as a tool, sometimes not.
It must always be remembered how quickly military power can be recovered. Germany went from a collapsed military in 1932 to Great Power status in five or six years. Economic authoritarianism, coupled with a pre-existing skilled officer class, transformed Germany's strategic position. It is not wise, therefore, to assume that Russia cannot recover significant military force if it has the will to do so. It might not become a superpower, but Great Power status -- even with an impoverished population -- is not beyond its capabilities. We have seen Russia achieve this in the past.
It therefore makes sense that the United States has been consolidating and extending its position in the former Soviet Union during the past few
months. Russia can recover, but only if given time. The United States,
having no desire to see Russia recover, doesn't intend to give it time.
Washington intends to present Moscow with a reality that is so unfavorable that it cannot be reversed. Russia is close to that situation right now, but in our opinion, not yet there. A window is open that will close shortly.
The question is simple: Will the Russians grab what might be a last chance, or are they just too tired to care?
(c) 2005 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
Geo Political matters
Reply #25 on:
May 13, 2005, 11:15:58 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Friday, May 13, 2005
Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Federal Security service, claimed
Thursday that foreign intelligence services were planning further
"uprisings," along the lines of Ukraine's Orange Revolution, in order to
undermine Russian influence in the former Soviet Union. Patrushev
specifically charged that the foreign services included U.S., British,
Kuwaiti and Saudi agents.
"Foreign secret services are ever more actively using non-traditional
methods for their work and with the help of different NGOs' educational
programs are propagandizing their interests, particularly in the former
Soviet Union," Patrushev said before the state Duma. "Our opponents are
purposefully and step-by-step trying to weaken Russian influence in the
former Soviet Union and the international arena as a whole. The latest
events in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan unanimously confirm this."
According to Patrushev, the next target will be Belarus' head of
intelligence, Viktor Veger, who also said that the attempts were being kept suppressed.
In a sense, there is nothing controversial in this view. The United States
has made it clear that it supports democratic movements in Eurasia, and that it is prepared to support these movements financially. The Russians have long charged that the Saudis were interfering in Muslim Central Asia,
supporting what they call Wahhabi movements. The inclusion of Kuwait in
Patrushev's statement is interesting, but only to a limited extent. This is
an old story.
In part, this is about a difference in perspectives. The United States
claims that it is simply supporting democratic movements. Moscow's view is that this is an internal affair for these countries, that the United States
is interfering with its sphere of influence and that the U.S. love of
democracy is simply a useful justification for power politics. All of this
is not, as we have been saying, particularly new.
What is new -- and extremely important -- is that the head of the FSB said
this in Russia's Duma. He undoubtedly said this with the knowledge and
approval of President Vladimir Putin, and he effectively linked Russian
interests to those of Belarus -- the state that has evolved the least since
the fall of the Soviet Union. It is also Russia's buffer with NATO and is of
vital strategic importance.
But most important is that the charge was made. It is now official that
Russia views the United States and others as conspiring against its
interests, and that the various democratic non-governmental organizations are actually operating as agents of the CIA. Put differently, the democratic movement in the former Soviet Union is perceived as a plot by Western intelligence to destroy Russia.
Now, if that is the Russian view, obviously some consequences follow. If
these NGOs are in fact CIA fronts, then their suppression is not only
permissible, but imperative. But more important still is the fact that if
these charges are believed, the Russian government must believe that the United States in particular is its enemy. Given what was said and who said it, it is hard to draw any conclusion other than that the Kremlin believes that the United States is plotting to destroy Russia -- and that Russia is going to resist.
We call that a cold war. It may not look and feel like the big one, but if
the Russians believe the charges they are making (and they do) and the
Americans won't back off (and they won't), that will pit the covert forces
of the United States against the covert forces of Russia. Caught in the
middle will be political forces in third countries from Belarus to Central
Asia, as well as, logically, liberal forces inside of Russia. Moreover, if
this speech is to be taken seriously, the counter-action by the Russians
should start quickly, since delay would be irresponsible.
It will be interesting in the extreme as to whether any senior Russian
official reinterprets these statements to give them a more limited or benign spin, or whether they will simply let them stand. The former would indicate that Patrushev simply got carried away; the latter, that this is a
calculated declaration of clandestine warfare, with NGOs caught in the
This situation is getting very serious, very fast. At the least, we know
that President George W. Bush must have really convinced Putin that he is
gunning for Russia.
Knee Jerk Marketing
Reply #26 on:
May 23, 2005, 11:11:03 AM »
More silliness originating in Venuzuela and now passing through the knee-jerk ranks.
Shilling for Citgo
May 19th, 2005
In the U.S., it's come like a wave. All of a sudden, far-left media outlets are shilling, embarrassingly enough, for a dreaded Giant Corporation (an oil company!), Citgo, the refining and gasoline retailer once known as Cities Service. Formerly best-known for a massive neon advertising sign over Boston's Kendall Square, easily visible in nightime panoramas of the Back Bay skyline, Citgo was acquired by the Venezuelan government oil company a number of years ago.
This left wing apostacy from the doctrine of corporate original sin is ridiculous. It has happened in the last two days like a coordinated effort from some central planning authority in Venezuela. And given the out-of-the blue quality to it, that might be what it is. Common Dreams, Pacifica Radio, Indybay, Democrats.com and others are suddenly hawking Citgo gas to American consumers like a 1960s-era advertising campaign, the same era giving birth to the Boston neon extravaganza, which once had preservationists urging Boston to declare it a landmark. The current left-wing shilling for Citgo is a landmark of sorts, marking a willingness to alter doctrine to suit craven considerations unseen since the the day the American Communist Party switched from urging peace with Hitler to clamoring for war, when Germany turned on its former Soviet ally.
The move comes, ironically, a couple months after Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez declared Citgo an evil organization that gave no benefit to Venezuela because (get this!) he found out that each Citgo gas station was independently owned. Anathema!
Chavez was so angry at Citgo for this that he threatened to sell the chain last February. Someone apparently whispered to him the insanity of it: getting rid of a huge refining and marketing network in the world's largest consumer market would be lunacy. Venezuela produces a heavy high-sulfur grade crude oil, the hardest kind to sell when oil prices drop because of its higher cost of refining into gasoline. The idea was quietly dropped.
But it's true that Citgo doesn't make as much money as it should in an era of sky-high oil prices. There are at least three reasons for it. One is the squeeze all U.S. gasoline retailers are feeling with prices at the pump going sky-high. Consumers are buying less gasoline, so sales volume is down. Another reason is that the company is not public, but owned by the inefficient state oil company. Last March, Miguel Octavio proposed the idea of making Citgo a publicly traded company, which would bring needed capital into the company at a time of high oil prices. That lucrative opportunity's out of the question with market-phobic Chavez at the helm.
A third reason is in the atrocious way Citgo is being run. The New York Times, of all papers, published a devastating article in April about mismanagement at Citgo now that Chavez's cronies have taken control. It wasn't hard for the Times to find U.S. sources who'd quit Citgo, appalled at the pit of corruption and thuggery it was becoming. It definitely looked like Chavez's men were running it.
The turmoil at Citgo, though, doesn't begin to touch on the depth of destruction Chavez has wrought on PDVSA, the once mighty Venezuelan state oil company. The state oil company is bankrupt and falling apart, its production far lower than anyone imagined. Against the leftwing flackery urging U.S. consumers to buy Citgo gas in the fringe presses, Venezuela is awash in news stories about the corruption, mismanagement, and declining production at Venezuela's state oil company. It's unbelievable. Daniel in Yaracuy has a good rundown of the recent news stories exposing the extent of the decline. One important detail from all this: Chavez himself is extremely upset about the stories, and last Sunday railed away about the news on his personal television show in Venezuela.
The oil-company story that upset Chavez the most was in El Universal, by Roberto Giusti. He wrote an article citing $120 billion (with a b) in state oil revenue that's done nothing to benefit Venezuela, and much of which seems to be unaccounted for. He built it around the recent essays of Gustavo Coronel (an American Thinker contributor), who's done more than anyone to show how badly Venezuela has fallen as an oil power, citing his work. Daniel has a great photo of the enraged Chavez pointing to the news article close to where Gustavo's Coronel's name appears in the paper.
With Citgo and its parent company on the skids, it's no surprise that word from on high in Caracas would come down to urge consumers to buy Citgo gas. But it's a losers' effort, rather like newspapers believing their revenues would go up if they bash internet bloggers. A simple ad campaign would likely be more effective than this ridiculous "grassroots" effort.
But there is no doubt Venezuela is in trouble, because its oil earnings are neither matching what they could be if this was run like an ordinary oil company, nor high enough for the amount of waste and fraud its leaders feel entitled to. There just isn't enough money to go around for all the corruption they'd like. So, they are calling out their best troops, scattered sandalista shills in the U.S., to bring in the bacon for them.
Thanks are extended to reader Bill Ellet for his editorial suggestion.
Space Arms Race?
Reply #27 on:
May 26, 2005, 10:51:14 AM »
Several articles of China's developing space program and possible points of conflict with the US can be found at:
China?s Future in Space: Implications for U.S. Security
By Phillip C. Saunders
China?s October 2003 manned space flight highlighted its dramatic achievements in space technology. Although Chinese space technology is not state-of-the-art, China differs from other developing countries by having a space program that spans the full range of capabilities from satellite design to launch services. China builds satellites on its own, and is involved in international commercial and scientific collaborations with Europe, Russia and Brazil. The People's Republic of China has a robust commercial satellite launch industry capable of launching payloads into geosynchronous and polar orbits. Its space program is also notable for the movement of personnel and technology between the civilian and military sectors.
Beijing?s space aspirations pose significant security concerns for Washington. Most of China?s space programs have commercial or scientific purposes, but improved space technology could significantly improve Chinese military capabilities. China may also seek to offset U.S. military superiority by targeting U.S. space assets. This article reviews Chinese efforts to exploit space for military purposes, explores the potential for China to attack U.S. military use of space, and considers whether a Sino-American space race can be averted.
Leveraging Space for Military Operations
China already employs space to support military operations in the areas of satellite communications, intelligence and navigation, albeit at a relatively basic level. Chinese space capabilities will improve in the coming decades, producing significant boosts in People?s Liberation Army (PLA) military capabilities. The potential for Washington to restrict access to commercial satellite imagery or satellite navigation systems during a crisis is an important rationale for China to develop independent capabilities.
Secure, redundant communications are critical if the PLA is to achieve its stated objective of winning local wars under "informationalized" conditions. China employs satellites for both civilian and military communications; many satellites carry both types of signals. Satellite signals permit mobile communications and are harder to intercept or locate compared to radio communications. Commercial communications satellite programs will enhance military communications, but will not provide access to military-specific technologies such as jamming resistance and spread-spectrum transmission.
China uses satellites for the collection of photographic and electronic intelligence. China?s imagery satellites use film canisters that are dropped back to earth for processing--a first-generation technology that does not provide near-real time intelligence. But the Sino-Brazilian Earth Resources Satellite program incorporates digital sensors that transmit images electronically. Low resolution limits the satellite?s intelligence potential, but China is developing systems with high-resolution sensors that will provide near-real time imagery. China almost certainly exploits commercial high-resolution imagery for intelligence purposes. Chinese scientists are also exploring synthetic aperture radar technologies to provide radar imagery. China?s capabilities will improve significantly as advanced technologies developed indigenously, and acquired through collaborative scientific programs, are incorporated into reconnaissance satellites.
China currently uses the U.S. global-positioning system (GPS) and the Russian Glonass system and will participate in Galileo, a European satellite navigation system. China also operates its own two-satellite Beidou system, a less sophisticated system with significant limitations for military applications. These satellites provide PLA units and weapons systems with navigation and location data that can potentially be used to improve ballistic and cruise missile accuracy and to convert "dumb bombs" into precision-guided munitions. Chinese scientists have explored using GPS signals to improve missile accuracy, but it is unclear whether current missiles employ this technology.
China?s Ability to Deny U.S. Military Use of Space
The U.S. military also makes extensive use of space for intelligence, communications, meteorology and precision targeting. Chinese analysts note that that the United States employed more than 50 military-specific satellites plus numerous commercial satellites in the 2003 Iraq war. They also highlight the extensive U.S. reliance on GPS to support precision-guided munitions. The United States? space dependence will deepen as transformation and network-centric warfare increase the importance of rapid collection and dissemination of information down to tactical units and individual soldiers. Satellites also play a crucial role in U.S. missile defenses.
As U.S. dependence on space increases, concerns have grown about the potential for adversaries to attack U.S. space assets. According to current Department of Defense (DOD) doctrine, "The United States must be able to protect its space assets ? and deny the use of space assets by its adversaries. Commanders must anticipate hostile actions that attempt to deny friendly forces access to or use of space capabilities." The 2001 Rumsfeld Commission report warned of a potential "space Pearl Harbor" if adversaries attack U.S. satellites. Underpinning these concerns is the possibility that China might target U.S. space assets in a future conflict.
Chinese strategists view U.S. dependence on space as an asymmetric vulnerability that could be exploited. As one defense analyst wrote: "for countries that can never win a war with the United States by using the method of tanks and planes, attacking the U.S. space system may be an irresistible and most tempting choice." Chinese strategists have explored ways of limiting U.S. use of space, including anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, jamming, employing lasers to blind reconnaissance satellites, and even using electro-magnetic pulses produced by a nuclear weapon to destroy satellites. A recent article highlighted Iraq?s efforts to use GPS jammers to defeat U.S. precision-guided munitions.
Chinese scientists have conducted theoretical research relevant to ASAT weapons, including the use of lasers to blind satellite sensors, kinetic kill vehicles, computations for intercepting satellites in orbit, and maneuvering small satellites into close formation. Efforts to develop high-powered lasers and mobile small-satellite launch capabilities involve technologies with both commercial and ASAT applications. China probably already has sufficient tracking and space surveillance systems to identify and track most U.S. military satellites. The extent to which interest in exploiting U.S. space dependence has translated into actual ASAT development programs remains unclear. Some reports claim that Beijing is developing microsatellites or direct-ascent weapons for ASAT purposes, but the open source literature does not provide definitive proof. However, based on Chinese strategic writings, scientific research and dual-use space activities, it is logical to assume China is pursuing an ASAT capability.
Is a Sino-American Space Race Ahead?
Efforts to exploit space for military purposes, and strategic incentives to target U.S. space assets, have put China on a collision course with a U.S. doctrine that emphasizes protecting U.S. space assets and denying the use of space by adversaries. Whether a Sino-American space race can be avoided will depend on strategic decisions by both sides and the priority placed on space control versus commercial, scientific and other military applications of space.
A key question is whether the United States can prevent potential adversaries from using space for military purposes without making its own space assets more vulnerable. United States doctrine envisions using a range of diplomatic, legal, economic and military measures to limit an adversary?s access to space. However China will almost certainly be able to use indigenous development and foreign technology to upgrade its space capabilities. Non-military means may limit Chinese access to some advanced technologies, but they will not prevent the PLA from using space.
Despite U.S. economic and technological advantages, an unrestrained space race would impose significant costs and produce few lasting strategic advantages unless the United States can dominate both offensively, by destroying an adversary?s space assets, and defensively, by protecting U.S. space assets. Otherwise, the likely result would be mutual (albeit asymmetrical) deterrence, with China building just enough ASATs to threaten U.S. space capabilities. This outcome would also legitimize anti-satellite weapons.
There are some incentives to avoid confrontation. Proliferation of space weapons would inhibit scientific cooperation and raise costs of commercial satellites. (The global trend in both sectors is towards international collaboration to reduce costs.) Actual use of anti-satellite weapons could create space debris that might damage expensive commercial satellites. Commercial users of space are therefore likely to resist efforts to deploy counter-space capabilities.
Beijing?s strategic incentives may also change over time. Mindful of the Soviet Union?s demise due to excessive military spending, Chinese leaders are wary of entering into an open-ended space race with the United States. Moreover, as Chinese military space capabilities improve and are integrated into PLA operations, the negative impact of losing Chinese space assets may eventually outweigh the potential advantages of attacking U.S. space capabilities.
Despite incentives to avoid a space race, arms control solutions face significant obstacles. China has long advocated a treaty to prevent an arms race in outer space. The joint Sino-Russian U.N. working paper, tabled in May 2002, called for a ban on weapons in orbit and on any use of force against outer space objects. The United States has been skeptical about the utility of such a treaty, believing verification would be difficult and that it might limit future missile defense options. A ban on ASAT weapons would be one means of protecting U.S. satellites, but a verifiable ban would be hard to negotiate.
U.S. policymakers must address a number of difficult questions. Is space domination an achievable, affordable and sustainable objective? Will efforts to dissuade Beijing from developing ASAT weapons require tolerating significant improvements in Chinese military space capabilities? Can arms control protect U.S. space assets? The United States has legitimate security concerns about China?s improving space capabilities, but will face tough choices in deciding on its best response.
Dr. Phillip C. Saunders is a senior research professor at the National Defense University?s Institute for National Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. government.
Hanging the Last Capatalist
Reply #28 on:
May 31, 2005, 11:18:06 AM »
I've some qualms about this piece--I'm not sure the US-China trade parity advocated here makes much sense, for instance--but I do think I'll keep an eye out for this book as I've read other positive reviews.
Renowned Strategist Warns of Dire Threat from China
William R. Hawkins
Friday, May 27, 2005
The new book China: The Gathering Threat by the late Constantine Menges deserves to become a best seller. Menges first presents a well documented history of the last half-century of U.S.-China relations, showing how Beijing has expanded its ambitions as its economy has grown, until it now plans to dominate not just Asia, but events globally.
Dr. Menges then turns his attention to the situation in Russia, where out of national weakness and anger over the collapse of the Soviet Union, President Vladimir Putin has aligned with Beijing, even though China poses a major threat to Russian interests in both Central Asia and the Far East. Finally, Menges proposes a comprehensive strategy to contain China until internal democratic forces can change the regime into one that can be trusted.
Constantine Menges devoted his entire life to the service of the United States. His untimely death in 2004 left a void among that small cadre of strategic thinkers who are also experienced activists on the world stage. Menges was born September 1, 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland to start World War II in Europe. He was born in Turkey, to which his parents had fled because of their outspoken opposition to Adolf Hitler, and came to America at age four. Menges would spend his career fighting against the spread of tyranny.
As a student in Prague when the Berlin Wall was being built, he smuggled refugees out of East Germany. Menges earned his doctorate from Columbia University, then went to the Rand Corporation where he wrote papers that anticipated the Reagan Doctrine, which brought down the Soviet Empire. He argued that ?communist regimes are very vulnerable to a democratic national revolution that is conducted with skill and determination.? He served the Nixon and Ford administrations in the field of civil rights, having worked for voting rights in Mississippi and marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Menges warned President Jimmy Carter in 1977 that the friendly government in Iran might be overthrown and replaced by a radical Islamic state. In 1979 this happened, imposing one of the greatest strategic defeats on U.S. policy of the post-war era ? one that still haunts us today as the Tehran mullahs develop nuclear weapons.
When President Ronald Reagan took office, Menges worked for the CIA and then on the National Security Council. He played a vital role in fighting the spread of Communism in Central America and drew up the plan for the 1983 invasion of Grenada, which toppled a pro-Castro tyrant. Menges warned President George H. W. Bush of the rising tide of terrorism and drew up a plan to combat it (Menges never talked of a threat without providing a counter-plan), but the incoming Clinton administration had no interest in the subject.
During the Clinton interregnum, Menges moved from government to academia as a professor of international relations at George Washington University. He was active as an advisor to many members of Congress, which is where I met him while working for Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA). Under the joint sponsorship of Hunter?s office and Menges? ?Transitions to Democracy? project, we hosted discussion sessions among Congressional staff members who dealt with national defense, foreign policy and international economics.
I had read several of Menges? books before I met him. His memoir of the Reagan years, Inside the National Security Council, made my blood boil. It exposed the ways in which the State Department ?career? bureaucracy had tried to sabotage the president?s foreign policy. This is a problem that plagues President George W. Bush today.
I was thus honored to be asked to appear on a panel at the Hudson Institute to promote China: The Gathering Threat. My role was to discuss China?s economy and Menges? concern that U.S. trade policy was helping to give Beijing the resources needed to challenge American security interests around the world. Menges advocates an immediate end to trade deficits with China to bolster American industry and to aid democratic allies whose economies are also being ravaged in competition with Chinese exports. The gains from trade should be shared between countries who have compatible interests and values, not used to increase the capabilities of rivals.
Such a change in U.S. trade policy would also dramatically slow the Chinese economy and discredit the Beijing dictatorship, opening the door for democratic reformers to make their case that China can only progress if it adopts a liberating system of popular government. Menges does not want to fight a war with China, but to promote change in Beijing before the regime thinks it is powerful enough to risk a war.
Rapid economic growth under a dictatorship that views the United States as its ?main enemy? poses a threat even more potent than the Soviets. The USSR eventually imploded because of the inherent flaws in the Marxist model. China has sought to avoid the same fate by ?opening? to capitalism. Many in the West have naively hoped that this alone would bring about political reform and an eventual move towards democracy. But what has actually transpired is the movement of Beijing from communism to fascism ? the use of capitalist energy to fuel the ambitions of a tyrannical government.
The Cold War strategy of containment was based on cutting Moscow off from outside sources of capital, technology, and trade until the system collapsed. In stark contrast, China has benefitted from a flood of outside support. Since 1993, the United States alone has given China some $800 billion in hard currency from its expanding trade deficit. The 2005 deficit will likely give Beijing over $200 billion more, putting the cumulative total of wealth transferred from America to China at over a trillion dollars. Add to that the surpluses China has run with Europe and Japan, plus foreign investment, cheap credit, and technology transfers, and it is clear that transnational corporations and banks are primarily responsible for the rise of Beijing?s power.
And here is where democracy cuts both ways. Corporate lobbyists work very hard to prevent the U.S. government from taking action to contain or deter Beijing. Chinese strategists assume, writes Menges, ?that all private businessmen are self-interested and self-seeking and that they do not consider or care about the broader national or geopolitical consequences of their actions? and that the transnational corporations ?will continue to help China accomplish its purposes in the years ahead.? It is imperative that in Washington ?government officials, not businessmen, decide what is in the broader national interest of the United States.? But weaning politicians from corporate influence (and money) is not an easy task.
Exactly a week before the Hudson Institute event, the annual Fortune Global Forum opened May 16 in Beijing. The Global Forum was an invitation-only event ?limited to chairmen, CEOs, and presidents of major multinational corporations? according to its website, though Chinese government officials (including President Hu Jintao) were more than welcome. The description of the event stated, ?As the world's economic center of gravity shifts to Asia, the dynamics of the global economy are changing dramatically. Already a dominant force in trade, China will overtake the US to become the world's largest economy by mid-century.... The focus of the 2005 Forum will be how multinationals can tap into the enormous potential of China. Among the featured speakers were presidents and CEOs from General Motors, Motorola, Wal-Mart, and Goldman-Sachs, which has put together the financing for many major Chinese projects.
President Bill Clinton?s Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, had been a co-chairman of Goldman Sachs. He recently told the Associated Press, ?China is likely to be the largest economy in the world and a tough-minded geopolitical power equal to any other geopolitical power on the globe.? So the business execs can?t say they don?t know what they?re doing. Menges is right, they just don?t care.
It is the duty of those in government, however, to care about the trends that threatened to shift the balance of power in the world against the United States. They must be willing to act against the entrenched special interests who have decided they can profit from building China into the next Great Power. To do this in a democracy, U.S. government leaders need the active support of the American people. The work of patriots like Constantine Menges are vital to inform the views of both officials and voters. That is why the appearance of China: The Gathering Threat is so timely and important; and why Menges poured his last energies into completing this book before his death. Everyone should be concerned about the rise of a China still ruled by a communist-fascist dictatorship; and anyone so concerned should read Menges? book, which lays out the situation in encyclopedic detail (the book runs 565 pages) while providing bold, but realistic, scenarios for meeting the threat.
William R. Hawkins is Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the U.S. Business and Industry Council.
Reply #29 on:
June 02, 2005, 10:26:38 AM »
Here is an excerpt from an excellent article by Stephen Biddle, Associate Professor of National Security Studies at the US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.
The full text is available at:
"Terrorism, after all, is a tactic, not an enemy. Taken literally, a "war on terrorism" is closer to a "war on strategic bombing" or a "war on amphibious assault" than it is to orthodox war aims or wartime grand strategies; one normally makes war on an enemy, not a method. Nor can one simply assume that anyone who uses terrorist tactics is to be the target of American war making. "Terrorism" is a diverse tactic, used by many groups in many ways to serve many different political agendas. Many of these groups and agendas pose no immediate threat to Americans. In fact, prior to 2001, it was rare for Americans to be killed by international terrorists. The most lethal terrorist groups of 1960-97, for example were Aum Shinrikyo, the Tamil Tigers, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and Islamic Jihad - none of which deliberately targeted Americans. A war that encompassed literally any group using terrorist tactics would be impssibly broad, engulfing a wide ride of gropus posing no meaningful threat to America."
Shaking the Sword in the Sheath
Reply #30 on:
June 07, 2005, 08:59:52 PM »
Hmm. . . .
Think it's safe to say a strike North Korean nuclear assets is implicit. Not likely, but it certainly complicates NK's calculus.
U.S. stealth fighters arrive in South Korea
Jun 6, 2005, 12:34
Some of the 15 radar-evading stealth fighters which the United States is deploying to South Korea have arrived there, a U.S. military spokesman said on Monday.
North Korea has bitterly denounced the deployment of the F-117A Nighthawks in its official media, saying it is part of U.S. plans for an invasion of the reclusive country.
The U.S. Air Force has said the planes, from Holloman Air Force base in New Mexico, are being deployed for training in the region for four months.
But it not clear whether the planes are in addition to the two dozen stealth fighters which the Air Force sent to Kunsan Air Base in South Korea last summer or are part of a regular rotation.
"The deployment has begun but it has not been completed," a U.S. Forces Korea spokesman said.
He did not say when the first batch of planes arrived or when the deployment would be completed.
The deployment comes as tensions are running high with North Korea, which said in February it had nuclear weapons and was boycotting six-party talks aimed at ending its nuclear programs.
The Air Force has said there is no relation between the current turmoil over the North Korean nuclear issue and the deployment of the stealth fighters.
URL of this article:
Geo Political matters
Reply #31 on:
June 10, 2005, 07:20:40 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Friday, June 10, 2005
The European crisis rolls on. The focus has shifted away from France to
Germany, where rumors abounded earlier in the week that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder would resign prior to the September elections. His personal popularity, which had been the mainstay of his government, has now slumped, and he appears to be a political liability. Members of the left wing of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) would like him to move on so they could take control of the party. In their view, if they are to lose the election, they will be in a far stronger position in opposition if they abandon the market reforms that Schroeder introduced under Agenda 2010, his blueprint for economic and social change in Germany.
Schroeder said Thursday that he would not resign, repeating his intentions
to move for a confidence vote on his government July 1. The vote would not be tied to any particular piece of legislation, but would be a general vote on the government itself. This would prevent the SPD left from voting against him on the pretext of simply opposing a piece of legislation. To vote against him, the left would now have to confront him directly.
Schroeder calculates that that would be much tougher to do. In other words, he is giving every indication that he intends to lead the SPD in the next election. That means that he will be caught between opposition from his own left and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) toward his policies. Schroeder is in a tough spot, and it is hard to see how he will survive.
The CDU is led by Angela Merkel. The way things currently shape up, she is likely to be the next chancellor of Germany. Merkel, who comes from the former East Germany, differs with Schroeder and the SPD in one critical respect: She is probably the most pro-American major politician in Germany. Shaped by her experiences under the communists, her perspective on the United States is more like that of Central European countries than with the German left. She viewed the United States as the main counter to the Soviet Union and continues to view Washington through that lens rather than through the lens of the Schroeder-Chirac axis. To the contrary, she has serious doubts about the wisdom of Gaullism. Merkel does not believe that Germany's primary relationship must be with France, but rather in having a broader set of relationships in which the United States constitutes a main pillar, deeply involved in Europe.
In other words, Merkel does not want to play Chirac's game of unifying
Europe with a Paris-Berlin axis at the center, and using that unified Europe as a vehicle for challenging the United States. If the vote in France
represented a blow against the concept of a European federation, the
election of Merkel would be a blow against the idea that Europe should
counterbalance the United States. Or, put simply, if Merkel wins, the
geopolitics of Gaullism will be smashed.
A Merkel victory would preserve a Europe in which the EU is primarily an
economic framework, foreign policy is carried out by individual states, and defense policy is formulated in the context of a NATO led by the United States. This would be precisely the outcome the United States would want. Washington does not want to see European economic integration halt, but does not want to see it lead to political integration either. It is comfortable in bilateral relations with Europe but wants to see NATO as a means of dominating European defense policy. Merkel is Washington's candidate.
It's a long way to the election, but unless someone finds a serious skeleton in Merkel's closet -- and everyone has already looked -- or Schroeder pulls out a miracle, by October Europe will look exactly like Jacques Chirac didn't want it to look and exactly like George W. Bush did. Bush did little to achieve this, of course. It was mostly Chirac's hard work that led to this situation. But ironies aside, it is time to think about a world in which there is no talk of "Europe" but lots of talk about European economics and NATO defense policies -- and lots of bilateral visits between Berlin and Washington.
It is interesting to wonder what Beijing and Moscow are thinking right now. The United States keeps improving its position. It really isn't that Chirac is dumb -- he isn't. It is that he played the best hand he could and, in the end, because of Europe's economy and history, it simply wasn't good enough. The center of gravity of the idea of Europe -- the Paris-Berlin axis -- is collapsing because of the weakness of its own foundations.
And if this happens, the United States -- once again -- scoops up the
If Gitmo is a Gulag what do we Call North Korea?
Reply #32 on:
June 15, 2005, 04:28:44 PM »
Why North Korea Deported Me
By Norbert Vollertsen
AEI.org | June 15, 2005
The authors in the current issue of The American Enterprise magazine paint a sometimes terrifying picture of North Korea. Kim Jong Il?s mad regime has never formally renounced its pledge to swallow up the southern half of the Korean peninsula, even if it takes a devastating conventional war to do it. And its recent nuclear announcements have given citizens of Tokyo?possibly even Los Angeles?cause for serious concern.
It?s clear the United States and the world have to do something to end, or at least control, this potential nuclear nightmare. But the real problem of North Korea goes beyond the crazy bluster of its leaders, the appeasement of the South Koreans, the lack of cooperation from China, and the other subjects discussed in this TAE issue. There?s a human element that sometimes gets lost in the Washington debates. Very few Westerners understand what life is really like for the average North Korean, because the country?s dictatorship keeps all conduits of information and trade sealed as tight as a drum.
I know, because I?ve witnessed the stunning reality of daily existence in the North.
In July 1999, I traveled to North Korea as a member of a German medical aid organization offering humanitarian medical assistance.I remained in North Korea for 18 months, and worked in ten different hospitals around the country.
Early on during my stay, I was summoned to treat a factory worker who had been badly burned by molten iron. A colleague and I volunteered to donate our own skin tissue for a skin graft?in order to help the patient, and also as a gesture of friendship with ordinary North Koreans. For this action, we were nationally acclaimed by the state-run media and awarded the Friendship Medal, making us the only two Westerners ever to receive this high honor. Along with this recognition came two fringe benefits that would later prove very valuable: a ?VIP? passport, and a driver?s license. These allowed me to travel to many areas of North Korea inaccessible to foreigners, and even to its ordinary citizens.
In my role as an emergency doctor, I also visited a number of other medical institutions besides the ten hospitals and three orphanages to which I was assigned. In every locale, I witnessed horrific conditions. There were no bandages, no scalpels, no antibiotics, no operating rooms?only ramshackle wooden beds supporting starving children waiting to die. Doctors used empty beer bottles as vessels for intravenous dripping. Safety razors were used as scalpels. I even witnessed an appendectomy performed without anesthesia. Meanwhile I found out, through my own investigations, about government storehouses and diplomatic shops carrying large stocks of bandages and other medical supplies for privileged classes.
There are two worlds in North Korea: One is the world of senior military officers, Communist Party members, and the country?s ruling elite. They enjoy a lavish lifestyle, fancy restaurants, diplomatic shops with European foods, nightclubs, even a casino.
The world for ordinary people in North Korea is completely different. In their world, one can see young children, undersized, undernourished, mute, with sunken eyes and skin stretched tight across their faces, wearing uniform blue-and-white-striped pajamas. Anyone who?s seen pictures of Dachau or Auschwitz would find the scene distressingly familiar.
Most of the patients in the hospitals suffer from psychosomatic illnesses. They?re worn out by compulsory drills, innumerable parades, mandatory assemblies beginning at the crack of dawn, and constant, droning propaganda. They are tired and at the end of their tether. Clinical depression is rampant. Alcoholism is common. Young adults have no hope, no future. Everywhere you look, people are beset by anxiety.
Everyday workers and farmers are starving and dying. Unwarranted arrest and detention are common, and one can only imagine what the conditions are like in the so-called ?reform institutions,? where entire families are imprisoned when any member does or says something to offend the regime. These camps are closed to all foreigners, even to stringently non-confrontational organizations like the International Red Cross. If the main ?medical? diagnosis of North Korea?s sick society is fear and depression brought about by a horrendous government, what is the cure?
The only way to rescue the people of North Korea from obscene poverty and hardship is to let the world know the real state of this country. In the fall of 2000, using the unprecedented freedom granted me when I was awarded the Friendship Medal, I guided a group of journalists around Pyongyang who had arrived to accompany Madeleine Albright, then Secretary of State. While traveling on a highway north of the capital, we came across a soldier lying dead in the middle of the road. Over the objections of my government minder, we stopped to investigate. The signs that the soldier had been tortured were obvious.
In response, I handed over a statement of humanitarian principles to the North Korean government. My government minder at that time?who had been given the responsibility of controlling my activities closely?was abruptly exchanged. I never saw him or his family again.
My behavior offended the party leaders, who of course prevented me from attending at any more hospitals. My car was sabotaged, and finally I was forced to leave the country. Against the wishes of the North Korean authorities, I went directly to Seoul instead of going home to Germany, where I spoke to international journalists.
I interviewed hundreds of North Korean defectors at the Chinese-North Korean border and elsewhere, in order to learn more about the cruel realities of life in their home country. Former prisoners of North Korean concentration camps told me about mass executions, torture, rape, murder, and other crimes against humanity?all performed as punishment for ?anti-state criminal acts.?
The international community, working closely with the media, must put serious pressure on the North Korean regime to open up to the outside world and save the lives of their ordinary citizens. As a German born after World War II, I know all too well the guilt of my grandparents? generation for remaining silent while the Nazis committed indescribable crimes. I believe it is my duty as a human being to expose the crimes and tyranny of the North Korean regime.
I have visited the United States, Japan, and Europe with my findings, and I will continue to travel the world for the express purpose of exposing the criminality of the secret state of North Korea. My hope is that someday soon I will have much company, and that a resulting wave of international pressure will lead to the reform of this depraved and mad corner of humanity.
Future Force Projection
Reply #33 on:
June 17, 2005, 01:46:34 PM »
This is a lot to wade through, but it certainly provides its share of tidbits to mull. Think the hypersonic and unmanned stuff is particularly worth noting.
Soaring ambitions - Future of Offensive Air Syetems
JANE'S DEFENCE WEEKLY | 15 Jun 05 | Nick Cook
Posted on 06/17/2005 3:01:20 AM PDT by Dundee
SPECIAL REPORT: Soaring ambitions - FUTURE OF OFFENSIVE AIR SYSTEMS
Companies are developing technology that will lead to revolutionaryadvances in the way long-range targets are identified and hit. Nick Cook reports
? USAF requirements for a long-range global strike system look set to drive an 'interim' capability with an in-service date in the 2015-20 timeframe
? Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman are working up solutions, both manned and unmanned, for mid- and far-term US strike needs
? European firms are endeavouring to catch the US lead in unmanned combat air vehicles with a range of programmes, some developed in secrecy
The war on terror, the lessons of recent conflicts and continuing efforts by so-called 'rogue states' to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons capabilities have revitalised interest on both sides of the Atlantic in missiles and platforms - manned and unmanned - that can penetrate enemy airspace many thousands of miles from 'base' to attack high-value targets, static and mobile, with pinpoint precision.
Leading the way, after an initial trend-setting example by the UK's Future Offensive Air Systems (FOAS) programme, is the US, where the emergence of a capability gap in the long-range bomber force has begun to crystallise. Last year, the US Air Force (USAF) issued a request for information (RfI) for an interim global long-range strike (LRS) capability with a nominal in-service entry in the 2015-20 timeframe, pending the development of a more advanced capability a decade or so later.
With studies continuing inside the Pentagon on the kind of capability that may or may not be affordable in today's severely constrained budget environment, the final shape of the LRS requirement is still unclear. However, companies with technology solutions to offer are reacting to a developing willingness on the part of the customer community - primarily the USAF and the US Navy (USN), their efforts guided by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and service research laboratories - to mature technology that within the next two decades could lead to a revolutionary advance in the way long-range targets are identified and struck. In the meantime, they are investing time, energy and money in the development of 'affordable' solutions to an increasingly pressing set of operational needs in the short and mid-term.
The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works/Advanced Development Programs (ADP) organisation, which has a long and distinguished pedigree in fast-supersonic flight and covert strike programmes, submitted four concepts in response to the USAF's RfI in 2004. ADP's ambitions in the long-range strike arena extend much further, however, as company concepts - briefed exclusively to JDW - reveal.
John Perrigo, senior manager for Combat Air Systems, Business Strategy and Development at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, Texas, points out that the Skunk Works co-operates closely with other company business units to help develop 'front end' solutions to requirements like global long-range strike (GLRS). In response to the RfI for the 'interim' solution, the Skunk Works and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics outlined proposals based on an intermediate-range bomber version of the F/A-22, the FB-22; a bomber variant of the BMACK modular aircraft concept; the small launch vehicle (SLV)/Common Aero Vehicle (CAV), a two-stage rocket and near-space manoeuvring strike platform; and the C-130J Arsenal Ship, a cruise missile-carrying version of the Lockheed Martin airlifter.
"We've been working on derivations of the F/A-22 for a number of years and how to crack that nut in a cost-effective manner," said Perrigo. An early version of the FB-22, known as the FB-22-2, which was first briefed to the air force leadership three-and-a-half years ago, promised to be an extremely capable platform. However, this would have necessitated the company 'cracking' the F/A-22's fuselage to add space for additional fuel and weapons bays, which turned out to be prohibitively expensive.
Electing to leave the fuselage alone, the company has now devised two further FB-22 designs - the -3 and the -4 - which, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics believes, will provide the kind of capability the air force requires for the price of some "relatively inexpensive" changes to the wings. Each wing has an external weapons bay to hold up to 5,000 lb (2,270 kg) of munitions and a 'stealthy' pylon outboard for a cruise missile. The wing bay is capable of carrying a wide range of munitions, as are the two modified fuselage bays. Altogether the aircraft can accommodate up to 30,000 lb of ordnance. The design also features an extended forward fuselage to accommodate a two-seat cockpit.
"Everyone we've talked to whose first name was 'general' told us that they had to have two seats," Perrigo said. "We didn't have two seats in it to start with. We view the second seat as either a 'remote' or an 'R2D2-type' operation - a virtual second-seater, because manpower and (operation and support) costs are an important factor in the air force figuring out what they can afford." Another vital task was to preserve the F/A-22's extremely low radar cross-section - something, Perrigo says, that the stealth pylons have accomplished. Carrying a low observable weapon, such as an AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM), means that the FB-22 can remain stealthy even while it is carrying external ordnance.
While senior air force leaders have expressed their support for Lockheed Martin's company-funded activities on the FB-22 so far, the proposal has been placed in jeopardy by recent calls to slash F/A-22 production. If F/A-22 production ends before the FB-22 comes on line, the per unit cost of the bomber would increase.
The BMACK concept, Perrigo says, has been "gathering a lot of traction" in the US since the idea was unveiled a couple of years ago. Realising efficiencies through a modular programme spanning multiple mission types could prove an attractive option as the need to meet those capabilities matures. Potential roles for BMACK span emerging requirements for an M-X replacement for special operations MC-130s, an A-X next-generation gunship, a C-X tactical airlifter and a K-X tanker in addition to a B-X bomber.
What these large, subsonic platforms all share is an emphasis on survivability in high-threat environments: a requirement that will throw the spotlight on stealth, one of the hallmarks of Skunk Works/ADP innovation. Evidence that the modular approach may be the right one emerged following the recent endorsement of the requirement for the M-X Advanced Special Operations Forces Air Mobility Platform. The next step will be to put M-X through a senior-level Department of Defense (DoD) review to allow the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) to solicit industry teams to begin early development activities.
The B-X would be a stealthy bomb-truck - a far cry from the C-130J Arsenal Ship, which would be the cheapest interim option of the various Lockheed Martin aircraft on offer. The concept envisages a C-130J that loiters outside threat airspace, which is loaded with palletised cruise missiles. After it has ejected the weapons, they then fly on to their high-value point targets. A command-and-control/battlespace awareness module in the back of the aircraft would co-ordinate the launch sequence - eight AGM-86C conventional air-launched cruise missiles could be carried or more JASSMs - and provide updates by datalink to the cruise missiles in response to shifting priorities designated by intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets.
"It's not a stealthy aircraft, it can't penetrate, but it does carry a significant amount of reach-out-and-touch-somebody-type ordnance for a serious scenario that might allow others to penetrate," said Perrigo . It is a concept that is also being evaluated by the UK for the FOAS programme. The fourth and, in its ultimate form, most ambitious of the Lockheed Martin interim solutions is the SLV/CAV submission. SLV/CAV forms part of a DARPA programme called FALCON - Force Application and Launch from CONUS (Continental US). FALCON programme objectives, according to DARPA, "are to develop and demonstrate hypersonic technologies that will enable the capability to execute prompt global reach missions".
Barriers to hypersonic capability
Hypersonic flight - sustained speeds in excess of M5.0 - has long been a dream of the advanced development programmes community. There are a number of reasons to believe that the US has demonstrated a hypersonic capability of one form or another under classified auspices - indeed, a natural home for the development of such a capability would be at the Skunk Works/ADP.
However, the challenges underpinning such an effort are substantial, particularly in the areas of materials technology - materials able to withstand the blistering temperatures generated on the airframe of a hypersonic vehicle - and propulsion. These challenges were enough to defeat the only aircraft-sized, single-stage-to-orbit hypersonic demonstrator to have gained serious backing in the non-classified world: the X-30 NASA/DoD/industry National Aero-Space Plane (NASP). NASP, which would have required a combined-cycle engine - part gas turbine, part supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) - to enable it to access space, was cancelled a decade ago. A major flaw of the NASP effort was an insistence on making it rely on an air-breathing propulsion system, as opposed to a rocket, all the way to low earth orbit. This required NASP to fly a depressed M25.0 trajectory through the atmosphere to achieve escape velocity, creating huge heat load and drag problems - problems that eventually defeated the project. By contrast, contemporary efforts - FALCON included - tend to set an upper speed limit of around M10.0 to M12.0.
FALCON emerged out of a DARPA programme called HyperSoar, which postulated the development of a hypersonic, re-usable aircraft that would skip along the upper atmosphere to deliver its weapons load anywhere on earth within two hours of launch. The HyperSoar term and concept was originated within the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and postulated an aircraft that would take off conventionally from a 3,050 m runway, accelerating to M10.0 at an altitude of 130,000 ft. The vehicle's rocket-based combined-cycle engines would then shut down, allowing the aircraft to coast and skip off the upper atmosphere in 400 km 'jumps'.
DARPA's HyperSoar, which took over from where the LLNL project left off, envisaged an aircraft around 65.5 m long and 24.3 m at its widest point that would cruise at M10.0 at altitudes of 115,000 ft to 200,000 ft. In order to approach the tough design goals set under HyperSoar, FALCON will employ a series of hypersonic technology vehicles to 'incrementally demonstrate' technologies that will ultimately be integrated into a re-usable Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle (HCV). The DARPA specification for this vehicle is to carry 12,000 lb of payload over a distance of 9,000 n miles from the CONUS. Launched from either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, this would give an operational derivative of the FALCON HCV its global reach.
Lockheed Martin's Perrigo reveals that the Skunk Works/ADP vision of the FALCON HCV is subtly different. This aircraft would have a gross weight of 208, 600 kg, would carry a payload of 16,000 lb and would take just 90 minutes to cover the 9,000 n mile mandated range. Fuel options at this point are either hydrogen-based or hydrocarbon-based - the latter more challenging technologically, but preferable from a logistics point of view. "The important thing to notice is that this is not something you launch every two weeks," Perrigo said. "We see this technology as being able to reach out and do things two to three times a day." Such an HCV would probably be unmanned.
This operational concept is at least 20 years away, but to get there DARPA is developing an aggressive technology acquisition effort as part of its 'incremental demonstration' approach. "In order to implement this flight test programme in an affordable manner," the agency says, "FALCON will develop a low-cost, responsive SLV that can be launched for $5 million or less." The SLV will be used to launch the CAV, an expendable, manoeuvring, glider-like re-entry vehicle that could be used to deliver one or more conventional munitions globally. Unlike a ballistic missile, the CAV would be able to receive updates in flight, allowing it to manoeuvre around defences or fly to new targets within the limits of its glide envelope.
FALCON calls for a near-term SLV/CAV capability in 2010. Beyond that, however, plans call for an Evolved CAV (ECAV) that would provide the vehicle with greater manoeuvring capability - 3,000 n miles off its re-entry trajectory against 800 n miles for the baseline CAV. The payload could comprise either a 1,000 lb unitary munition for attacking hard and deeply buried targets or a number of GPS-guided small diameter bombs (SDBs).
The SLV will also be able to launch small satellites into orbit at low cost. A memorandum of understanding signed with NASA in October 2004 gives DARPA access to NASA hypersonic data, gleaned from programmes like the X-43A, which achieved hypersonic flight successfully for the first time in March 2004. Lockheed Martin is one of a number of companies involved in the multiphase SLV/CAV/HCV concept exploration and demonstration programme.
Guided by the National Aerospace Initiative (NAI), a partnership launched in 2004 between the DoD and NASA that is designed to sustain US aerospace leadership in three critical areas - hypersonics, space access and space technology - hypersonic research and technology demonstration is experiencing a surge of activity in the US. FALCON is leveraging technology off the Hypersonics Flight (HyFly) programme - contracted to Boeing and managed by DARPA and the USN - whose ultimate goal is to demonstrate a scramjet-powered missile capable of a sustained cruise speed in excess of M6.0 over a 600 n mile range. Plans over the next two to three years call for a series of fully powered flights to demonstrate flight worthiness.
The Office of Naval Research is also funding a programme called the Revolutionary Approach To Time-critical Long Range Strike (RATTLRS) and in 2004 awarded the Skunk Works/ADP a five-year contract to develop high-speed turbine engine technologies that could be applied to future missiles or aircraft. The contract requires the demonstration vehicles to be capable of sustaining a M4.0 cruise speed for 15 minutes. Demonstration flights are planned to begin in 2007-08. Lockheed Martin is teamed with the Rolls-Royce Allison Advanced Development Company, which has developed the YJ102R turbojet engine for the project. The YJ102R combines high supersonic cruise capability in a form that is essentially expendable. The technology may well be scalable, however, to include aircraft applications, manned or unmanned.
Perrigo says that Skunk Works/ADP sees the future of its core business in technologies that enable platforms to loiter at 'low speed and high efficiency' to those that permit high supersonic and hypersonic flight. The company continues to expend time and energy on 'next-generation' LRS platform designs, based on where it believes requirements may be heading in the long term. "We remain committed to doing research and design work on what we think might be the next generation of long-range strike platforms," said Perrigo.
Designs currently on the table include a M2.0 bomber, manned or unmanned, 43 m long with advanced stealth features and capable of carrying a 20,000 lb weapons load. If the air force wants greater speed, a M3.0 design, reminiscent in shape of the SR-71 Blackbird but with the benefit of more than four decades' worth of stealth knowledge, is also realisable, Perrigo says. This aircraft would be capable of a sustained cruise speed of M3.5, have a 133,800 kg gross take-off weight and could carry a 20,000 lb weapons load over 3,000 n miles. A third option is an 'unmanned persistent striker' with variable sweep-wing technology that would allow it to loiter outside the threat area and to undertake high dash speeds of M1.5 to attack time-critical targets.
Interest in GLRS has ebbed and flowed over recent years as priorities and budgets have shifted. At Boeing, officials have been so encouraged by the current surge of interest in the GLRS concept that the company has established a new entity, Global Strike Solutions, part of Boeing's Air Force Systems business group, to co-ordinate the company's efforts in the field. In 2004, following the release of the USAF RfI, Boeing submitted six basic ideas as both interim and longer-term solutions: a long-range unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV); a conventional inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability; a very long-range cruise missile; a next-generation long-range strike bomber; a re-engined version of the B-1B, known as the B-1R (for Regional); and the Arsenal aircraft, based on company designs for a blended wing body (BWB) aircraft.
"We're waiting to see how it plays out, but right now it appears that the preference is for an interim capability followed much later - possibly around 2030 - by a supersonic or hypersonic capability," said Mike Heinz, the recently retired vice president and deputy general manager of Boeing Integrated Defense Advanced Systems (IDeAs) and Unmanned Systems.
The BWB, Boeing studies show, would be capable of carrying more than 500 SDBs or 90 cruise missiles. Boeing is keen to find a military application for its BWB concept and, to mitigate risk associated with this futuristic-looking design, has contracted Cranfield Aerospace of the UK to develop two subscale BWB prototype vehicles. The first of the prototypes will start flying in a little over a year's time. The emphasis is on determining the BWB's low-speed handling characteristics and issues associated with building a 'flat aircraft' compared to a conventional 'tube and wing' design. With a BWB, the fuel is carried in the wings, leaving the centre section free for cargo and weapons payload. Because a BWB generates lift over its entire body, indications are that it will be at least 20 per cent more aerodynamically efficient than a conventional aircraft. Unrefuelled ranges in excess of 12,000 n miles should be achievable, Boeing officials say. While USAF interest in BWB remains strong - like the BMACK, it is a candidate for AFSOC's M-X survivable SOF transport aircraft - it has not drawn a favourable response thus far from the strike community. According to Boeing officials, in the feedback that the company has received from the air force to date it is the long-range UCAV, the conventional ICBM and the next-generation bomber that have elicited the most interest.
As Boeing is already a dominant player in the UCAV arena - its X-45C design is under construction and will be evaluated alongside the Northrop Grumman X-47B under the DARPA-led Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) programme - company officials are confident that they have access to technology that will enable them to meet the 9,000 n mile range requirement imposed on a globally ranging bomber. Under the J-UCAS Capability Demonstration Programme (CDP), Boeing will build and demonstrate three X-45C vehicles. The first X-45C will be completed in 2006, with flight-testing scheduled to start in 2007. An operational assessment will begin that same year that will focus on the X-45's ability to conduct suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD); intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and strike missions. The two companies must also develop a Common Operating System that will allow the vehicles' systems and sensors to patch into the network-centric infrastructure in which fielded versions must eventually operate. Boeing's X-45C is optimised towards USAF SEAD, electronic attack and strike requirements, while Northrop Grumman's design caters primarily to USN needs for an ISR-optimised platform with strike capability that is able to take off and land from a carrier.
The past year has seen the US unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and UCAV sector embroiled in a background turf war over who should act as executive agency for this emerging and growing capability - a struggle that the air force appears to be winning. Late in 2004, the DoD re-assigned development of J-UCAS from DARPA to the air force, a responsibility that will formally take effect in October. In the meantime, Boeing continues to press ahead with its UCAV development work. Three out of four software release blocks have been completed for the X-45A programme, which has been flying under a two-vehicle demonstration programme since May 2002. The last software block trials, which will test the vehicles' ability to attack targets and autonomously react to dynamic changes in the threat environment, started on 13 May and will be completed later in 2005. Both X-45As have demonstrated near-flawless handling qualities, as well as the robustness of their command and control and communications and navigation systems. They have also demonstrated their ability to perform 'co-operative, adaptive, autonomous' missions - that is to say both vehicles have proven their ability to fly in formation with minimum input from a ground operator, reacting where appropriate to the shifting dynamics of the battlespace. As well as dropping munitions, and performing simulated combat missions, singly and in pairs, the two UCAVs have demonstrated '4-D' navigation - the ability to co-ordinate precise attacks with other platforms, arriving over designated target co-ordinates in concert with manned aircraft.
Developing the tactical, missionised X-45C from the X-45A has seen a 9,000 kg increase in the vehicle's gross weight and integration of low observables technology into the airframe. To meet the USAF's demand for a globally ranging vehicle, however, Boeing recognises that even the 16,326 kg gross weight of the X-45C would need to be reworked into an even larger air vehicle, which is why the company has been talking up a D-model variant for the role. Some analysts have postulated that the requirements predicate a size of aircraft with similar dimensions to the B-2A. However, with analysis of alternatives work within the DoD in progress, Boeing continues to develop technologies that parallel the shifting nature of GLRS studies. Heinz reveals that Boeing is looking to gain entry to the strategic high-altitude long endurance (HALE) UAV sector with vehicles that would eclipse the capabilities of the current air force HALE UAV, the Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Global Hawk, by a significant order of magnitude - from hours, in the case of Global Hawk, to weeks.
According to George Muellner, head of Boeing Air Force Systems, the technology to achieve this is a hydrogen-powered engine that will allow such a vehicle to cruise at 80,000 ft for 14 days. The technology, which is being developed under a NASA contract, is primarily applicable to an ISR-type platform or a vehicle dedicated to the communications relay role, but it gives an indication of what may be achievable. The ICBM concept, Muellner says, involves the integration of a Boeing-designed CAV, similar to that being developed by Lockheed Martin, with the ICBM launch vehicle. Boeing's CAV, which has undergone wind-tunnel testing, is said to be more manoeuvrable than the Lockheed Martin vehicle in its cross-range capability. Among the more advanced concepts that Boeing is studying for GLRS is a world ranging hypersonic platform that one company official describes as a "scaled-up version of the X-43".
In addition to offering upgrades that will keep the B-2A flying for decades to come, Northrop Grumman has gone a long way towards defining the kind of capability required of a GLRS system for both the mid- and long-term solutions. For the USAF's mid-term solution, much of what it is offering is based on lessons learned since the B-2A's development began in the early 1980s and how it has matured operationally since entering service. When the B-2 was designed, it featured a number of highly sophisticated and costly technologies to enable it to survive at low altitudes (terrain avoidance/terrain following radar and gust-load alleviation modes, for example), as well as medium and high altitudes, against a highly integrated Soviet air-defence system.
In the operational missions it has flown since its combat debut over Serbia in 1999, the B-2 has operated exclusively at upper altitudes - a reflection of how air conflict has developed in the post-Cold War security environment. Combine the operational advantages of the B-2A as it is now being employed to technological advances in lean production, the way in particular in which large composite structures are manufactured and improvements in through-life supportability, with lessons learned in the unmanned systems arena - in which Northrop Grumman has vast experience thanks to Global Hawk, the X-47 and other UAV programmes - and "a class of system that's the lowest risk, lowest cost option to augment the nation's long-range strike force" becomes achievable, says Charles Boccadoro, director of future strike systems for Northrop Grumman.
What emerges for the mid-term 2018 solution, he says, is an unmanned 'half-size' version of the B-2 that retains the payload/range advantages of the Stealth bomber, but adds the persistent range and loitering benefits that come from removing the crew from the aircraft. "Our studies show a tripling of effectiveness of a single platform, so you can hold three times an area at risk with the same number of assets, or you can do more with less." The 'half-size B-2' would be twin-engined, as opposed to four-engined, would carry a 20,000 lb payload in comparison to a 40,000 lb payload, would probably have a 4,000 n mile range compared to the 6,000 n mile range of the B-2, would feature one weapons bay instead of two and would employ a more simplified planform - the complex saw-tooth trailing edge of the B-2A having been driven by aero-elastic issues and loads associated with lower altitude flight. Northrop continues to work with the USAF on the concept, basing its cost studies on 50, 100 and 200 unit production runs. Such an aircraft, Boccadoro says, would plug the capability gap that exists in the ability to strike beyond the 'shallow battlefield', 500 n miles deep.
"Beyond 500 miles, there are only 16 combat-coded B-2s in our arsenal. So when we look to solve the capability gap that's where we've been focused - systems that will enable so-called sustained deep dynamic strike in those access-constrained environments."
Another offering from Northrop Grumman adds speed to the equation. This solution is based on the YF-23 demonstration/validation prototype that Northrop submitted against Lockheed Martin for the USAF's Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) contest in the late 1980s - a contest that Lockheed won with what is now the F/A-22. Northrop Grumman has lengthened the body, increased the fuel carriage and the size of the weapons bay and upped the sustained cruise speed to M1.6, allowing the Rapid Theater Attack System (RTAS), as it is called, to fly for 2,500 nm with a 10,000 lb payload. "Just as unmanned enables the warfighter to do more with less, we see the same with speed: the ability to project the same amount of lethality with fewer assets, particularly as you have to transverse [cover] long distances," said Boccadoro. The irony of this development is that this evolved variant of the YF-23 will be pitted against the FB-22 regional bomber adaptation of its old ATF rival.
Work that Northrop Grumman is carrying out with DARPA on aircraft shapes to help reduce sonic booms has also been instructive. However, unlike Lockheed Martin and Boeing, Northrop is not a believer in hypersonic technologies, even for the far-term solution of 2030. "When we look in our crystal ball, we think the challenges associated with re-usable hypersonics could be beyond even the 2030 timescale," said Boccadoro. "So our focus has been more on the M2.0-M4.0 regime even out through 2030. We think hypersonics is more suited - at least in that timeframe - to an expendable, missile kind of system, not the day-in, day-out warfighting-supportable, affordable platforms that our nation is going to need." This view may have much to do with the fact that Northrop's hypersonic work is not as advanced as the hypersonic capabilities that have evolved at Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
In Europe, work on LRS systems is nowhere near as advanced - this is despite the fact that the UK initiated a next-generation Future Offensive Aircraft (FOA) requirement more than a decade ago. FOA, which was established to replace the Royal Air Force's (RAF's) Tornado GR.4 strike aircraft, has since become the FOAS programme, which is nominally geared towards establishing a 'force mix' of offensive cruise missiles, UCAVs and new-generation strike aircraft to meet the UK's deep strike capability gap in the next decade. FOAS is due to enter service in 2018, but funding constraints and difficulties in plotting a programme roadmap mean that the capability is now likely to be met by platforms and weapon systems that are already in the acquisition cycle, the exception being the UCAV element, which is under evaluation. Delays in the acquisition of the Eurofighter Typhoon and the acquisition of its air-to-surface weapons capability, coupled to delays on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which the UK selected almost four years ago, mean that the Tornado GR.4 may now have to have its service life extended well into the 2020s.
The latest 'refocusing' of the FOAS programme is now centred on a UK MoD evaluation of technologies that can enhance the aircraft (manned and unmanned) and cruise missile elements of the force-mix 'in the medium-to long-term'. The UK Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) adds: "If we decide to take any new systems forward as a result of this work, it will be as a number of discrete programmes. Several potential acquisition routes, including international collaboration, remain possible."
In March, the UK MoD and DARPA announced a co-operative programme to determine the military benefit of UCAVs for future coalition operations. The FOAS integrated product team, working with the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and DARPA's J-UCAS office, will "develop appropriate coalition concepts of operation, assess interoperability issues and risks, and determine measures of effectiveness" via analysis of the X-45C and X-47B. It will be completed in 2009.
In the meantime, the UK, in concert with France and Italy, is implementing a technology demonstration strategy to strengthen the effectiveness of its air-launched cruise missile capability. The MBDA Storm Shadow entered RAF service on the eve of the 2003 Iraq war and is now in service in France as the Scalp EG. Italy is also procuring the weapon and is on board as a development partner. The weapon has been repackaged for submarine- and ship-launched applications and, as Scalp Naval, is expected to enter formal development in 2006-07 for entry into service on French FREMM multi-mission frigates and Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarines in 2011. Scalp Naval is believed to be capable of three or four times the range of its air-launched variant.
While Storm Shadow/Scalp EG, which has a published range of 250 km-plus, is effective in the face of current threats, the three development nations, together with MBDA, have devised a three-stage improvement pathway known as 'Epochs 1, 2 and 3' that will see the Storm Shadow/Scalp EG capability evolve over the next 20 years. Epoch 1 improvements are already under way. Designed to enter service in modified missiles in around 2010, budgets withstanding, and currently in the technology demonstration phase, Epoch 1 evaluates the addition of a one-way datalink to the basic missile for bomb damage intelligence (BDI). Just before the weapon impacts, it transmits a sequence of frames of the target, acquired by the terminal imaging infra-red seeker, to a command headquarters where the images can be analysed to determine if the target has been destroyed. Although the French MoD is funding initial activity, the UK is leading the Epoch 1 enhancements. France, Italy and the UK are remarkably agreed, according to MBDA officials, on the growth path for Storm Shadow/Scalp EG and are expected to formalise this in a 'roadmap' agreement in the next three months.
Epoch 2 will see added emphasis on the weapon's ability to operate in a network-enabled environment as well as navigation improvements and anti-jamming capability. Options include the addition of 'anti-spoofing' modes to the GPS navigation suite as well as integration into the European Galileo satellite navigation architecture - a controversial development given the UK government's firm opposition to military applications of the Galileo network. Further Epoch 2 improvements include enhancements to the penetration capabilities of the BROACH warhead as well as the development of new high-heat warheads for neutralising storage facilities for chemical and biological agents. While basic feasibility work has been continuing at government laboratories in the UK and France, industry is shortly expected to become involved in this work. France has also taken its first step toward developing a 'non-lethal' warhead package for Scalp EG and Scalp Naval by commissioning feasibility studies into the development of a variant that showers carbon-fibre filaments on to power stations and electricity lines, causing them to short out. A directed-energy warhead that could deliver a high-power microwave pulse (or pulses) against electrical circuits and computing devices embedded in ground systems ranging from radars to command-and-control computer networks is further off, according to French industry officials. The UK is known to have worked on such a capability and may be close to deploying a high-power microwave weapon for limited operational use.
Epoch 2 also addresses the integration of Storm Shadow/Scalp EG with the Typhoon and the F-35. In a further development, it could even see the integration of the weapon with a 'large non-penetrating aircraft' (NPA). As part of the FOAS programme, MBDA has carried out a feasibility study to determine whether a palletised cruise missile could be launched out of the back of a C-130J or Airbus A400M acting as the NPA. MBDA's preference would be to palletise Scalp Naval for the role due to its improved range performance and analysis that it would adapt better to the complex aerodynamic regime in the slipstream of the NPA. UK work on the feasibility of NPA/cruise missile integration was halted in July 2004 when the MoD decided to postpone the NPA component of the FOAS force-mix.
Epoch 3 is a long-term implementation effort that, starting in the next year or two, will begin to evaluate the optimum mix of weapon systems and platforms for a future European deep strike capability. Similar in scope to the work undertaken for the UK's FOAS effort, it will weigh the operational utility of long-range loitering cruise missiles - smaller in all likelihood than Storm Shadow/Scalp, but able to remain in the vicinity of a target area for up to 24 hours - against armed UAVs and dedicated UCAVs.
Armed UAVs, similar to 'hunter-killer' designs pioneered by General Atomics with the MQ-1/MQ-9 Predator family and the Model 395 unveiled by Northrop Grumman in 2004, are particularly suited to 'stalking' terrorist-type targets - road vehicles and personnel - deep inside anti-access territory: countries that harbour such elements, wittingly or otherwise.
France's defence procurement authority is expected soon to direct MBDA, Thales and Dassault to evaluate the pros and cons of a loitering cruise missile, armed UAV and dedicated UCAV force-mix. The baseline UCAV is expected to be defined by analysis arising from the Neuron demonstrator programme that was officially unveiled at the Paris Air Show in 2003. A contract to formally launch the development of Neuron, a stealthy design similar to the X-45A and X-47A, is expected to be signed during the 2005 Le Bourget air show in Paris.
Neuron, which is led by Dassault Aviation and the French government, has already attracted participation from other nations, including Germany, Greece, Spain and Sweden. It could become bound into the European Technology Acquisition Programme (ETAP): a collaborative effort between France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK to develop new technologies for future European combat aircraft, manned or unmanned. The UK is proposing, "where appropriate and cost-effective", according to the DPA, to undertake certain UCAV work under the auspices of ETAP, although not the most interesting and sensitive technology - low observables or stealth - due to exclusive, and highly secret, bilateral arrangements with Washington. BAE Systems, which has maintained a conspicuous silence on the whole subject of UCAV development, has almost certainly tested a UAV/UCAV platform of its own in secret. This programme, which places a heavy emphasis on low observables research, began almost 15 years ago and is centred on the company's Warton facility in northwestern England.
The first flight of the Neuron should occur in 2010. The objective of the programme, according to Dassault, is "to provide European design offices with a project that will allow them to develop competencies and to maintain capabilities in the coming years". The programme will not only test Europe's ability to design, manufacture and test a UCAV, but to evaluate how it will operate in a network-centric environment as well. Control of the vehicle will be carried out under test by operators in ground-stations and from the rear seat of combat aircraft like the Dassault Rafale. Neuron will be stealthy in both radar and infra-red wavelengths and will demonstrate an ability to deliver air-to-surface munitions from an internal weapons bay.
It is not, however, representative of the finished article that will ultimately be procured by Europe - as is happening with J-UCAS, operational requirements will drive the design of a considerably larger air vehicle. Dassault - unrealistically in the view of some - believes that the necessity to field an operational derivative of Neuron will not emerge until 2030, when Typhoons, Rafales and Saab Gripens start to retire. By then, the first generation of US UCAVs is likely to have been in service for more than 15 years.
The situation is complicated by what is happening in Germany, where EADS' Military Aircraft division is working on its own UCAV demonstrator in secret. Company sources told JDW that the UCAV would make its maiden flight within the next few months. The secrecy relates primarily to sensitivities surrounding the UCAV's role, but there are commercial implications too. While the EADS demonstrator will validate concepts for an unmanned reconnaissance air vehicle, it will also demonstrate the offensive capabilities of the platform - always a sensitive subject in German political circles. Over the years, EADS Germany has quietly amassed considerable capability in a number of discrete technology areas associated with UAVs and UCAVs. These include stealth materials, datalink technology, the wherewithal to safely fly UAVs in controlled airspace and sensor payloads.
In 2004, EADS joined Dassault as a partner on Neuron: a move that now appears distinctly at odds with its own in-house development efforts. However, with companies in Europe jockeying for position in the race to lead what may be the biggest - perhaps only - combat aircraft programme in Europe in the post-Gripen/Rafale/ Typhoon era, EADS does not want to get left behind, especially if the effort is merged into ETAP. Two-and-a-half years ago, when JDW revealed the existence of the EADS URAV/ UCAV project, a company officially spelled out what was at stake: "Companies want a good position for themselves in ETAP and they also want to be competitive internationally. We must be ready to go our own way too."
East Asian Tango
Reply #34 on:
June 20, 2005, 03:28:15 PM »
Japan's response to China's rise will make for a very interesting dance. One of the subtexts here is how Japan is skirting the constitutional prohibitions against developing offensive capabilities put in place in the wake of their defeat in WW II.
Japan shows some muscle
By Axel Berkofsky
Japan's defense planners are clearly on a roll. Initiatives, alone or with the US, to boost Japan's security policy profile and capabilities have been so numerous that commentators and analysts are beginning to have trouble seeing the forest for the trees. But let's give it a shot anyway.
The country's defense planners and hawks have put in a lot of overtime since last December, when Japan's revised National Defense Program Outline was implemented. The new guidelines, greeted at the time with only very limited enthusiasm in China and South Korea, replace Japan's 1995 defense guidelines, ease its decade-long ban to export weapons and weapons technology, and, among others, authorize Japan's military to fight a "potential terrorist threat" inside and outside the country. They also call for an increase of Japanese contributions to international peacekeeping missions and speedy progress developing a US-Japan missile defense system protecting Japan from North Korean ballistic missile attacks.
As expected, the part of the guidelines that called China a "potential threat" to Japan's security infuriated Beijing, which for its part instantly urged the Japanese government to publish the defense guidelines minus the "China threat" section. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of course did no such thing and decided to hold talks with the US on joint strategies to care for security in the Taiwan Strait instead.
And there is more. The December 2004 defense guidelines also called for a review of the US-Japan defense guidelines and, through them, for the strengthening of bilateral military cooperation in East Asia to fight regional and global evil-doers.
Tokyo and Washington got down to business without further ado and formally announced in May they would revise their so-called US-Japan Guidelines for Defense Cooperation, implemented in 1997.
Whereas the current bilateral defense guidelines do not explicitly mention the Taiwan Strait as a playground for US-Japan bilateral military cooperation, the revised guidelines are expected to do just that. So far, the geographical scope of possible US-Japan military cooperation in Asia has been referred to as "areas surrounding Japan even if all interested parties, including China, agreed a long time [ago] that Taiwan and the Taiwan Straits are very much part of that vague geographical concept".
There is still little clarity, however, on when exactly Washington and Tokyo will put their plans to upgrade their alliance on paper. Although both countries are optimistic that a joint statement elaborating on details for the revision of the guidelines could still be published by the end of June, it now seems likely that the hawks in both Washington and Tokyo might have to hold back for a few additional months.
Already there is talk about postponing the joint statement until this autumn, even if the US seems keen on getting a Japanese commitment in writing to help keep China and its growing military influence in check sooner rather than later.
That the US has asked Japan to become militarily (even) more assertive right now seems to show that the Pentagon and controversial Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have rediscovered China as a military threat. Rumsfeld and his associates have over the last several weeks voiced their "concerns" on numerous occasions about China's growing military expenditures, its saber-rattling tactics toward Taiwan and Beijing's plans to shop for European high-tech military equipment once the European Union lifts its weapons embargo imposed after the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. (Although no final decision has been made, the EU is eager to lift its 15-year-old arms embargo on China, much to the displeasure of the US.)
Japan, too, worries about its increasingly assertive neighbor but seems to want more from the upgrade of the alliance with the US than scaring China.
The upgraded alliance, Tokyo hopes, will also be accompanied by a reduction ("realignment" in diplomatic lingo) of US troops stationed in Japan. That, however, is pretty much off the agenda as far as the US is concerned, at least judging by the rhetoric coming out of the Pentagon. The 47,000 US troops in Japan are there to stay and will only be reduced when we say so, has been the message coming from the Pentagon over recent months.
Tokyo as it turns out this time will not cave in that easily and thinks it has another trump card up its sleeve. Last month the government also announced plans to shorten the duration of bilateral agreements with the US on sharing the costs of hosting US forces in Japan. Whereas currently Japan and the US negotiate a new pact every five years, Tokyo wants to reduce the term to two years, possibly allowing Japan to negotiate cuts in financial support every two years.
The current Special Measures Agreement between Tokyo and Washington will expire in March 2006 and the US has already indicated that Japan might be asked to come up with even more cash after the planned realignment of US forces in Japan. The agreement covers Japanese government support for labor, utilities and training relocation costs incurred by US forces in Japan. Bottom line: shortening the bilateral agreement and further reducing the cash flow from Japan are non-starters as far as Washington is concerned. The US$5 billion Tokyo spends yearly on US forces protecting Japanese citizens from North Korea and international terrorists is money well spent, according to Washington.
The US is also keen to boost "interoperability" between US and Japanese armed forces when it revises the bilateral defense guidelines. Japan, however, is slightly less enthusiastic about interoperability as it could go along with joint US-Japan commando structures in the case of a regional contingency. "Joint commando", Tokyo fears, will be a synonym for "US commando", authorizing trigger-happy US generals to order Japanese military to join the fighting in the Taiwan Strait or elsewhere.
Political realities and Japan's infamously slow decision-making process aside, the revision of the guidelines, Washington and Tokyo hope, will be in place by the end of 2006. Drawing up revised contingency plans (one for North Korea, one for the Taiwan Strait and probably several others for the rest of the region), however, can easily take another couple of years.
And then there are Japan's plans to shoot down incoming North Korean missiles. The country's Defense Agency appears to be in a rush and plans to install a new sensor system to detect, track (and eventually) shoot down ballistic missiles in no time. The so-called Advanced Infrared Ballistic Missile Optical Sensor System will be installed on aircraft later this month to monitor missile launches 24 hours a day, seven days a week with high altitude, unmanned reconnaissance planes equipped with the flashy new system.
But "monitoring" only will not be good enough forever, Japan's Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono has said. Japan, the outspoken Ono announced recently, will enter joint development of a state-of-the-art missile defense system the with the US as early as fiscal 2006. And even now Japan only wants the best to defend itself from incoming rogue missiles (North Korean).
Tokyo has only recently agreed to buy a US-made missile defense system (the sea-based Standard Missile 3, SM3) with a defense capability of several hundreds of kilometers. The system to be jointly developed with the Pentagon would have about double that range defense agency officials cheer. To avoid legal problems (read: to make legal what is illegal under Japan's constitution) the government last December issued a statement that placed joint development and production of missile defense systems outside of Japan's long-standing ban to export weapons and weapons technology.
Both governments, reportedly in preparation for the development of the missile defense system, are also planning to establish a joint operations center at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. Through US early-warning satellites, Japan's armed forces will receive information on "suspicious" activities at North Korean missiles sites at the same time as the US military, and not 10 minutes later. This is especially helpful for the defense of Japanese territory as it takes less than 10 minutes for North Korean missiles to reach Tokyo.
Back on planet Earth in the meantime, Tokyo and Washington have agreed to carry out their first joint interception test for a sea-based missile shield next March in Hawaii. If things go well, an interceptor missile will shoot down a mock target over paradise island. To create the legal basis in Japan for intercepting the real thing, Japan's House of Representatives recently passed a bill to revise Japan's Self-Defense Forces Law in order to authorize the armed forces to intercept incoming missiles with a missile defense system.
The bill, however, still needs to pass parliament's Upper House to become law, thereby authorizing the military to deploy Standard Missile 3 interceptors on vessels and ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability 2 interceptors. The military, of course, is eager and warns that North Korea has deployed up to 200 Rodong missiles capable of reaching Japanese territory in less than 10 minutes. China, too, the conservative newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun and other alarmist commentators warn continuously, has already deployed more than 100 intermediate-range missiles capable of reaching Japan and everywhere else in Asia.
"Threatened" by a US-Japan missile defense system, China for its part will probably feel once again "obliged" to increase the number of missiles it has targeted at Taiwan, even if Tokyo and Washington point out in parrot-style that the system is purely defensive.
All the action on Japan's defense and security front is music to the ears of the country's defense hawks. They have long believed Japan needs to arm itself as much as possible to be able to turn to credible saber-rattling tactics should North Korea (or anybody else) in the region decide to launch a few rogue missiles toward downtown Tokyo.
Japan's recent far-away-from-home missions in the Indian Ocean and Iraq, helping the US to fight an ill-fated war against terrorism, have freed Japan's armed forces from its long-standing "laughingstock image" for good, the military has said.
And sure enough, China isn't laughing either.
Dr Axel Berkofsky is senior policy analyst at the Brussels-based European Policy Center (EPC). The views expressed here are his own.
Sleeping Dragon Stirs
Reply #35 on:
July 20, 2005, 12:25:09 PM »
The second strike capability and air defence projection noted here are well worth keeping an eye on.
China military build-up a threat to India, Japan, Russia and USA: Pentagon
The US Government says that the Chinese military build-up poses a direct threat to India. According to the assessment by the Pentagon appearing in Wednesday's Washington Post, the Chinese military build-up is not only targeted at India, but also at Taiwan, Japan and Russia.
Avoiding inflammatory rhetoric, the 45-page factual report based on American intelligence inputs, warns that Beijing could use its new advanced nuclear missile arsenal to "strike India, Russia and virtually all of the United States" at any given time in the future.
It further warns that China's defence spending could go up to 90 billion dollars in 2005, three times more than what it has officially projected, making it the world's third largest military budget after the US and Russia, and the largest in Asia.
According to Evan Medeiros, an expert on Chinese military affairs at the Rand Corporation, the Chinese military build-up also represents a growing threat to the United States, though the Pentagon report says that Beijing's emergence as a "conventional military power remains limited".
China has been busy "qualitatively and quantitatively" improving its nuclear missile force, which is capable of "targeting most of the world," the Pentagon report says. Elaborating further, it says that in 2004, Beijing positioned more CSS-6 and CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles on its coast facing Taiwan, raising it from 500 to between 650 and 730. China, the report says, can fly over 700 aircraft to Taiwan without refuelling.
General Wen Zongren, the Political Commissar of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Science, however, is quoted in the report as saying that Beijing's focus on Taiwan could prove an obstacle to it showcasing its military prowess elsewhere.
General Zongren suggests that China's obsession with Taiwan has allowed for the creation of an international armed blockade against Chinese maritime security.
"Only when we break this blockade, shall we be able to talk about China's rise. To rise suddenly, China must pass through oceans and go out of oceans in its future development," the Pentagon report quotes General Zongren, as saying.
American military analysts are most concerned over China developing new mobile DF-31 and DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missiles, most of which are expected to become operational by 2007.
Analysts like Roger Cliff of the Rand Corporation believe that these missiles will give Beijing "second strike capability against the United States. This, coupled with China expanding its naval, ground-to-ground and ground-to-air missiles appears to be aimed at "countering US ability to operate near its borders," says the report.
Without sounding alarmed, the report matter-of-factly says that China's new S-300PMU2 surface-to-air missile, with a range of at least 100 miles, can engage aircraft over Taiwan, including American aircraft aiding Taiwan during a possible confrontation.
The report concludes by quoting former US Pacific Command chief, Admiral Dennis Blair, as saying that China's nuclear advances have been revealed to possibly "scare off potential adversaries with the "tacit approval of China's leaders".
Attack Infrastructure against India
Reply #36 on:
August 06, 2005, 02:47:51 PM »
Unprecidented Chinese military build up against India
1 August 2005: China is rapidly setting up a massive road and rail network in the Tibetan plateau, a listening post in occupied Aksai Chin, and repositioning likely nuclear missiles against India, in moves not only aimed at overwhelming India militarily, but to enable Chinese coercive diplomacy in respect of the border dispute.
Using the plea of socio-economic development, China has commissioned the construction of a $3.5-billion western highway network linking Lhasa with Urumqi in Xinjiang province that is infested with Islamic separatists, terrorists and fundamentalist groups.
The fully metallic highway will be extended to Kasghar bordering Central Asia and Hotan, and it will be capable of carrying loaded battle tanks and heavy armoured carriers, while selective commercial activity will be allowed on it to flood neighbouring countries, including India, with cheap Chinese products.
Besides the highway, China will operate the 1,236-kilometre Golmund-Lhasa-Quinghai-Tibet Railway (QTR) network next year, even after Swiss mountain tunnel experts gave up the project as unviable. In the next twenty years, the QTR network will reach the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
QTR will bring Tibet under China?s iron grip but simultaneously triple the PLA?s offensive power against India, with reinforcements reaching from the Beijing and Shanghai military regions in eighteen instead of the earlier eighty hours. Besides, the PLA?s Rapid Response Group could be deployed in less than twelve hours to carry out surprise raids on Indian territory from Gansu and Shannxi provinces.
The Indian response is to upgrade the Daulat Beg Oldi outpost in Ladakh with advanced communication systems, but this won?t match the PLA?s military responses, which, on the strength of the QTR network and western highway, will deploy two divisions of troops complete with support systems.
In addition to the troops and rapid deployment strengths, China also plans to resettle five lakh mainly Han nationals in Tibet, both to increase social and commercial activities, and to counter Uighur separatism in Xinjiang and keep down Tibetan uprisings. The Xinjiang region saw three-hundred-and-sixty incidents of anti-Chinese activities last year alone mainly spearheaded by East Turkistan groups. China is reorganising its military responses in Tibet in case the situation goes out of control.
In addition to the road and rail networks, China is building a listening facility in occupied Aksai Chin, under the cover of two massive helipads that can station four helicopter squadrons. Sources say the listening stations will monitor Indian deployments in the region, eavesdrop on forward and intelligence communications of the army, and even intercept US radio traffic in anti-terror operations in Afghanistan and Russian border reconnaissance in the Central Asian republics.
But the helipads on their own will give extraordinary heli-mobility to the PLA, and the PLA airforce already bolstered with four big airstrips is getting two more. ?The infrastructure and force build up to neutralise India?s military preparedness is enormous,? said a Western military specialist.
To cap it all, China is relocating its missile bases in Tibet, and a South Korean company under the cover of providing technical assistance is setting up new command and control posts. Already, sources say, China has deployed twenty MRBMs and sixty short-range surface-to-surface missiles targeting Srinagar, Chandigarh, Shimla, Ambala, and Jalandhar, apart from vital military installations in the region.
While the short-range missiles are likely to be conventional warheads, Western sources are not willing to bet on the MRBMs, which might be nuclear-capable. ?Otherwise, it does not make sense to deploy them in Tibet against India,? said a Western military expert.
Chinese Perspective on American Hegemony
Reply #37 on:
August 06, 2005, 06:59:48 PM »
Very long, very interesting insight into how the powers that be in China view the US.
This document is a translation of a paper written by a prominent Chinese political/academic leader. It was translated for the Commission?s review because it is vital that Commissioners be informed of the views and opinions of influential Chinese leaders, particularly views and opinions of the United States, its government, and its political system or pertaining to the nine areas of work and study in the Commission?s statutory mandate under P.L. 106-398 and P.L. 108-7. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this document are neither endorsed nor advocated by the Commission or any individual Commissioner. This document is posted to the Commission?s website in order to promote greater public understanding of China and its government, and the issues addressed by the Commission.
THE LOGIC OF THE AMERICAN HEGEMONY
By Wang Jisi
[Director, Institute of the American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences]
The Study Times (xuexi shibao), 10 December 2003
The Expansion of Democracy Leads to Escalation of Hegemonic Thinking
The development and changes of America?s domestic democracy have strengthened the status of the United States as a hegemon, and have also enriched its hegemonic thoughts. Historically, democracy of the United States was mainly a democracy for white males. In the early years, white racism ran rampant among America?s politicians. The prejudice against the blacks held by Thomas Jefferson, one of its Founding Fathers, has been well known to all of us. Even Abraham Lincoln, famous for his emancipation of the black slaves, said there was an enormous gap determined by innate human nature between the whites and the blacks, which might forever prevent them from living together completely equally. America?s early ideology and hegemony were characterized mainly by its racism. As pointed out by the American historian Michael Hunt, ?the (past) American policy-makers measured other nations and states by a system of racial ladders. They displayed a hostile attitude toward those revolutions, especially those leftist revolutions, which deviated from the American model of revolution.? The racist element in American foreign policy was fully exposed in its attitude toward revolutions in Southeastern Asia, especially in China, and during the Vietnam War. In addition, America?s racial prejudice at home and ruthless violation of human rights, including McCarthyism of the 1950s, have all greatly reduced the appeal of the American democracy to the outside world.
During World War II, the colored people and ethnic minorities played a monumental role in defending the United States, which led to the beginning of racism?s self-destruction. During the Cold War, out of the necessity for national security and ideology, the Truman Administration repealed the system of racial segregation within the armed forces. In the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr. cited the human rights principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and proved that the principle of ?all men are created equal? applied equally to white people and black people. After that, the American society has witnessed changes, especially during the 1980s and 1990s when floods of new immigrants came to the United States, exerting a far-reaching impact upon American democracy?s format and its political cohesiveness. Although in reality racism is far from being completely eradicated, it has become a hideously notorious thing in American politics. Racial equality and gender equality have become the principles of ?political correctness? by which the society must abide.
What is the root of the ?American people??a people that is in the thicket of globalization, a people that is receiving a great number of new immigrants, and a people that lacks a common culture, common race and common religion? What does it use to pull people together? The American historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. explains this way: the United States needs values such as democracy, freedom and human rights now more than any period in its history to keep the country together. From this perspective, the U.S. foreign policy also has to accordingly reflect these ?American ideals,? because after all, diplomacy simply serves domestic politics. Thus, to display more American ideology and ?pursuit of democracy? in U.S. foreign policy has meant a more robust display of American hegemony in its diplomacy.
The diversification tendency in an American democracy has clearly been revealed in the U.S. foreign policies. To certain extent, it was America?s hegemonic policy against Cuba that created the fleeing of Cuban refugees, making it possible for the Cuban-American population to dramatically increase to today?s more than 1.3 million. In the meantime, these Cuban-Americans have exerted great influence upon local politics in states such as Florida, and upon the U.S. policy toward Cuba, thus intensifying the hostility of the U.S. government toward the Cuban government under the leadership of Castro. One of the consequences of the Vietnam War was the influx of large numbers of Vietnamese into the U.S. from southern Vietnam after the unification of Vietnam. The current Vietnamese population in the United States has reached over one million. The total number of Asian Americans nowadays has reached over 12.5 million. Within the U.S. diplomatic community, military community, intelligence community, and multinationals community, the percentage of ethnic minorities and non-white people is far higher than that of their races relative to the entire nation?s population. These communities dealing with foreign nations have employed Asian Americans to work in positions that interact with Asian countries; they have employed immigrants from Latin America to enhance contacts with Latin American countries; they have employed Iranian Americans, Arab Americans to gather intelligence on the Middle East, to engage in anti-terrorism campaigns; they have also used those American soldiers stationed in South Korea who have Korean blood to interact with the Koreans, etc. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is rarely concerned that these minority Americans might be used by nations that have ethnic ties with them to do harm to the United States. This is an important advantage in psychology and methodology in the U.S. diplomacy, i.e., the U.S. is able to use talented people regardless of race and ethnicity. Representing such advantage are Henry Kissinger, who is a Jew born in Germany; Zbignew Brzezinski, who was born in Poland; Madeleine Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia, and is the woman who has held the highest government office; and Colin Powell, whose parents came from Jamaica, who was born in the black slum of New York City?all of whom are testament to America?s diversified diplomacy. Giving important positions to these people has not only strengthened America?s hegemony internationally but also provided force to enhance nationalistic loyalty of the ethnic minorities at home.
The disproportionate increases of ethnic minorities in numbers, percentage and political clout have posed challenges to social cohesion and traditional white culture on the one hand, they have also raised the level of attention the United States pays to the outside world on the other. The new immigrants that went to the United States in the last several decades, especially those political activists, have augmented America?s motivational impetus to conduct foreign expansion and ?human rights intervention.? Those who have decided to settle in the U.S. and those new immigrants who are political activists are usually dissents in their countries of origin, many of whom have used their persecutions in their native countries to push their ?new motherland? to reach their objectives which they would have otherwise been unable to realize in their native lands, and to make every effort to stay permanently in the United States and make an impact. For various reasons, they are more enthusiastic than the native-born Americans about demanding a more robust gesture in foreign interventions. We can safely say that interference with foreign countries? internal affairs meets the ?quest for democracy? voiced by these foreign-born American citizens.
In the post-Cold War world politics, ethnic and religious problems are remarkably obvious, which has considerably challenged the increasingly diversified American society. In his 1993 inaugural address, Clinton stressed that ?the line between domestic and foreign matters can no longer be clearly defined.? This point is particularly poignant when it comes to ethnic and religious problems. A stern warning from the 9/11 incident is that if unchecked, the world-wide ethnic and religious problems, especially the radical Islamic thoughts and forces, will have grave impact on America?s domestic stability and unity. The 9/11 incident has further extended the world-wide ?clash of civilizations? to the domestic arena of the United States, aggravated the contradictions between the political mainstream and various ethnicities, religions and cultural diversity, the contradictions between social control and citizens? rights, and the contradictions between an open immigration policy and anti-foreign sentiment. One of the measures to downgrade these contradictions is to strike, in the name of anti-terrorism, the international Islamic radical forces and the ?evil states,? in order to strengthen America?s world hegemony.
This subtle relationship between anti-terrorism efforts outside the U.S. and efforts to alleviate internal contradictions at home can only be understood but never be talked about by the American ruling group. After the 9/11 incident, the leaders of the United States have repeatedly emphasized that the terrorist attacks are not related to the Middle East policies of the United States, nor are they related to the ?clash of civilizations.? Their interpretation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been that because the United States represents liberty, democracy, human rights and tolerance, it is hated by international terrorist organizations and their sympathizers (the ?evil states). The latter represents tyranny, prejudice and hatred, sneering at human dignity, liberty and life. The Americans universally accept the proposition that the attacks on September 11 2001 are attacks on America?s democratic system and democratic ideals. In the speech given on the same day the attacks took place, President Bush stated that ? America is under attack, because we are the brightest lighthouse representing the liberty and opportunity in the world.? Two months after the attacks, Bush spoke on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, sending ?warmest greetings? to Muslims in the United States and the world, praising the Islamic religion for its ?teaching people kindness, compassion and peace,? and noted that Islam ?has been one of the fastest growing religions in the United States, with a current followers of several millions.? In the same speech, Bush also praised America?s efforts in reconstructing Afghanistan through humanitarian aid. On 13 December 2001, Bush again sent holiday greetings to Muslims on the occasion of Islamic New Year. These gestures sought to demonstrate America?s ?tolerance, inclusiveness? and ?kindness,? and attempted to put global resentment against and opposition to American hegemony into the category of ?anti-liberty, anti-democracy?, thus enhancing America?s domestic cohesiveness.
In historical perspective, we can see an immutable American tenet, i.e., the deep belief in the idea that ?a nation?s greatness depends on a world made safe for freedom.? As the society changes in the United States, especially as ethnic, religious and cultural diversity and democracy expand, the social and religious foundations for America?s hegemony has gradually shifted from white racism and Protestant ?Manifest Destiny? to ?universal values? such as freedom, democracy and human rights. President Bush?s speech at the 2002 Independence Day ceremony states that in today?s United States, ?there is no American race; there is only an American creed.? If America?s ideology based upon the core belief in liberty has provided American hegemony the spiritual foundation, democracy has provided the American hegemony institutional base, thus enabling the Americans to be united under the national flag. It is obvious that the enlargement of America?s hegemonic ambition since World War II coincides with the gradual enlargement of the American democracy and the growth of diversity in the United States. The two trends in turn complement each other. As Professor Wang Xi of the Indiana University of Pennsylvanian has analyzed, under the influence of America?s political culture, ?government is no longer viewed only as an imposing and oppressive power mechanism, but more often viewed as a type of ideology, a value system, a system of extraction and distribution of economic interests. When government becomes the absolute basis for public interest, to safeguard the interest of the government thus becomes the desire and obligations of the public.?
Nationalism and International Behavior Pattern Based on Domestic Experience
Nationalism within any country includes certain irrational elements. For example, nationalism normally implies such an idea that one?s own nation is the lovely, strong, peace-loving, generous one, and that the strengthening of one?s own nation is a bless for the entire mankind; and that certain other nations are ugly, small-minded, innately aggressive, and selfish, and that their rise is a disaster to the entire mankind. If we go beyond such nationalism, we will see that such belief is narrowed minded and lacking in persuasiveness, without historical, anthropological and sociological bases. But if we speak from our own nation?s perspective, such a belief is natural, and is rationalized by our own nation?s historical and cultural narratives. America?s nationalism is covered in beautiful clothes of freedom, democracy and market economy, thus disguising the irrational side to its public.
America?s nationalism evolved around the formation of the Americans as a nation. Because the Americans have come from different races, cultures or religions, to develop a common political value system, that is to say an ideology, has been the main ingredient of the American nationalism. The Chinese American scholar Pei Minxing has pointed out in an article that the primary characteristic of the American nationalism is founded on its political ideals, not on its cultural or racial ideals. Pei?s article also reveals other features of the American nationalism, such as that the American nationalist prides comes from America?s material power, scientific achievement and its global influence; that the American patriotism is promoted by spontaneous societal forces rather than by the government; and that the American nationalism seeks triumphs, and it is forward looking, contrary to most other nations in the world that stress national tragedies, looking back into history, thus gaining little sympathy from the Americans who adore winners and victories. These are insightful conclusions.
The pride of the Americans is manifested not only in their praise and defense of their nation, but also in their criticism of it. The level of relentlessness and profundity of criticisms launched against America?s historical events, racism, and other social illnesses by some Americans thinkers and scholars has even surpassed that by foreigners. Many of America?s literary writings, television and film programs have portrayed Congressmen, even the president, as bad guys. But contemporary Americans almost never regard any foreign country as a good example to emulate, or even think American?s ugly and evil behaviors have surpassed anybody else?s ugly and evil behaviors. In other words, they have seen the evil of the United States, but they have not found any country that is better than the United States. They will not be on the side of America?s enemy because they have criticized America. The renowned Leftist thinker Norman Chomsky has since 1971 strongly criticized America?s own terrorist acts, but he has also pointed out in the meantime that ?these people (such as Osama bin Laden) have in the past twenty years brutally hurt the poor and oppressed peoples in their countries. Terrorists never care about the people.? An American scholar who paid a visit to China before the Iraq war was vehemently opposed to the war, but he also opined that once the war broke out, he would hope the U.S. could finish it off quickly, minimizing the casualty of the U.S. troops. Chalmers Johnson, who has sharply lambasted the ?American imperial diplomacy,? writes that during the Cold War, the Soviet Union established satellite countries in Eastern Europe while the United States also did the similar thing Asia; that now ?the U.S. officials and media have always described countries such as Iraq and North Korea as ?rogue nations,? but we must ask ourselves if we ourselves have become a rogue superpower.? Nevertheless, Johnson has failed to say, and he will never say, that the behaviors of the United States are worse that those of the Soviet Union, Iraq and North Korea.
The American nationalism is indeed promoted by spontaneous societal forces rather than by the government, and there is rarely any form of official media or ?government-employed literati.? The Americans are proud of this fact. If the American media want the public to doubt the accuracy of foreign (especially those deemed dictatorial nations) reports, all they have to do is to say ?this is according to this nation?s official media.? This is a primary reason why the American public finds it difficult to understand or have sympathy with other countries? nationalism and anti-Americanism. In addition, compared to people in places like Europe, the percentage of the Americans who travel abroad and live abroad is very low. Social elite in today?s United States were mostly born after the Second World War, having been basking in an environment where domestic stability and affluence are the rule (having ?freedoms from fear and want?). It is said that a man with a full stomach can not understand the man with an empty one. In a similar vein, it is very difficult for the Americans to imagine, let alone accept, the thinking and life style of other nations, especially other poor nations.
The Americans are an extravert nation. They do not avoid self interest, and regard self interest and public interest as non-contradictory. The Americans seldom hide their purpose of seeking self-interest and their arrogance in diplomacy. In 1998, the then Secretary of State Albright defended the U.S. action to launch cruise missiles against Iraq by saying that ?if we are forced to use arms, that?s because we are the United States. We are an indispensable nation. We stand tall, and see far out.? In a few words, Albright fully displayed an American mindset that embodies this logic: the United States is like a corporation in a free market economy, it provides the world certain public products (stability, economic growth, etc). The motive of a corporation is to seek profit for itself, but it also pays taxes, giving out products for the public, thus collaterally benefiting the society. By the same token, the motive of the United States is of course selfish, but other nations all need the United States, therefore it is providing products for the benefit of the public; the more the United States does for itself, the more it contributes to the world, thus America?s self interest is public interest as well. Regarding the relationship between corporations and society, Justin Dart, a businessman and one of President Ronald Reagan?s close friends and advisors once said that ?I have never sought to build a corporation for the benefit of humanity. I feel if a corporation employs many people, has made lot of money, it is in fact beneficial to humanity. Everything we do involves greed, I don?t think there is anything wrong with it.? The words of Albright and Dart represent America?s understanding of corporate interest and national interest. They have candidly revealed their self interest without feeling any moral defect. Why is it that the Americans cannot apply their domestic mechanisms which are marked by democratic, equal and moderate characteristics to maintain their international interest, thus avoiding frequently resorting to use of power politics or even force? The answer to this question can be found in the American way of thinking and behavior patterns.
Individualism is the foundation of America?s free and democratic ideals. From childhood onward, every American is indoctrinated with individualism. They worship individual struggle to triumph among fierce and ruthless social competitions, to achieve a sense of security and satisfy desires for accomplishments, thus becoming pioneers and leaders in their own professions. Compared with developed countries in Europe and with Japan, the American style free-wheeling economic ideal stresses individuals and corporate self-reliance, rather than dependence on government and social welfare. It emphasizes the point that individual interest is the motivating force behind social progress and economic growth; that people should let out their natural instinct to compete freely, to find the perfect balance of manpower and material power. In schools, American children are encouraged to behavior differently from the crowd, to develop leadership qualities. These social customs and way of thinking are diametrically opposite to the Chinese way of social behavior whereby reliance on family, groups and organizations is the key to solving individuals? problems, whereby all individual achievements belong to the collective whole, to the group?s leaders. The Americans are proud of having developed leadership qualities, and there are competitions everywhere. Therefore, in the international arena, Americans naturally seek a ?leadership position? in a ?if not me, who else?? manner. The Americans will not behave like someone in a Confucian society where the rule is ?the first bird that sticks its head out gets shot.?
In the early history of the United States, the rule of law was not complete, frontiers were vast and wide. In such an environment, the society encouraged the role of ?lone heroes? who typically embodied the spirit of defiance against the privileged and the powerful, the worship of force and masculinity, and the readiness to help others for a just cause. When this Western cowboy spirit is applied to the current international arena where lack of authority and rule of law, fierce competition and anarchy reign, we naturally have an American style bullying and greedy desire for leadership positions. An American sociologist pointed out during the Cold War, ?an American spends his entire life to pursue a certain sense of security, but his firm clinging to individualism in turns makes the sense of security always steps away from him. The American nation is like an American individual, behaving self-destructively in material, social and moral aspects to acquire a certain sense of security that will never be reached, because America is not willing to get security through equality and cooperation but through achieving superiority and imposing its own will upon other regions in the world.? If these words are true, then today?s unilateralism in American diplomacy, and stubborn insistence on absolute military superiority are the natural manifestations in the international arena of the deep mentality that worships heroes and American style individualism.
Regarding the American tradition of achieving individual dreams through wars, another American scholar Robertson writes, ?The American nation today is often regarded as an individual in capital letters. An individual?s character, his virtues and ideals belong to the nation. The Americans still are talking about the stories of the American nation, still believing in the solidarity, great goals and ultimate destiny of the American nation. These stories share themes that involve large scale organized actions, often revealing nationalism and reflecting the wars for the ideal of liberty. The Americans? wars are revolutions, civil wars on the global scale. The goals of these wars are liberty, the destruction of slavery in all forms and shapes, and the independence of individuals and nations. In the mythology of America, wars reveal the ideals that as long as the nation is united, organized and willing to sacrifice all manpower and material power to achieve desired goals, the Americans can achieve whatever they want to achieve, can build many nations or reconstruct many societies, can speed up progress, and bring freedom and democracy to the world.?
These words by Robertson were written in 1986. Since then, the Americans have the Gulf War and the Iraq War, continuing to write its war mythology with the models, rationality, objectives and way of domestic mobilization exactly as described by Robertson, i.e., America?s wars are all one about ?justice overcoming evil,? demanding the enemy?s unconstitutional surrender. As the American sociologist Seymour Lipset has stated, ?Unlike other countries, we seldom believe we are only defending our own national interest. Because every war is a struggle between good and evil, the only acceptable outcome is the enemy?s unconditional surrender.?
Then, in the political, social and cultural tradition of America, has there been a tendency to support violence in order to sustain its hegemonic behavior? The answer to this question must be provided carefully, because every culture, every nation embodies the dual traditions of peace and violence. It is hard to say that the American nation is more of a worshipper of violence than others. But, in the past several decades, the United States has frequently waged wars overseas, while in the meantime has constantly claimed that the United States has been more peace-loving than others, which is quite ironic, no matter how you look at it. When interpreting why American diplomacy has been successful, the American scholar Walter Russell Meade analyzes America?s ?warlike disposition.? He states that ?people often say the American people are more religious than its allies in Western Europe. Equally true is that they are also more militaristic.? About the tradition of violence in American society, the American historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. makes an insightful point, ?We always think ourselves as a moderate, tolerant and kind nation, a nation ruled by laws rather than by monarchs?But this is never the only disposition in our tradition, because we have always been a nation that worships violence. Failing to see this, we will not be able to face the reality of our nation. We must admit that we have certain destructive desires inside our body. It comes from the darkness and tension of our social systems in history. After all, we started with slaughtering the Indians and enslaving the blacks. There is no doubt that we did these things in the past by holding the Bible and prayers, but nobody can be so aware of our mission as we are. In its deepest place, in its tradition, in its social institutions, in its conditioned reflections and its soul buries a tendency for violence?We cannot escape such accusation that we are indeed a terrifying nation, because within this decade we killed three outstanding leaders that had represented American ideals to the world (author?s note: the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King). We are a terrifying nation because in the past three years we have been engaging in a war on the other side of the globe with a weak nation, a war that has no relation with our national security and interest. (author?s note: the Vietnam War) We are a terrifying nation because many in the world are questioning the inner connection between us and the conclusions drawn by America?s most honest friend and scholar Dennis Brogan (a British scholar) that ?a nation that is innately blood thirsty domestically happens to be the world?s first and only nation that has ever dropped atomic weapons. Are we sure this is just a coincidence?? We are a terrifying nation because our various violent actions, domestic and abroad, have not awakened the conscience of our politicians, or weakened our transcendental conviction about the absolute accuracy of our moral uprightness.?
Domestic Restrictions on the U.S. Hegemonic Behavior
It is hard to imagine in countries other than the United States to have somebody such as Schlesinger who is a famous scholar, with experience of being a special advisor to President Kennedy, to so severely and harshly criticize his own nation?s ugly characteristics, even calling his own nation the ?most terrifying one.? Among politicians, extraordinarily outstanding is Kenney and Johnson?s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. Facing all kinds of criticisms and ridicules, he bravely disclosed the unspeakable secrets of American policy makers during the Vietnam War, and published a memoir refuting his own earlier words and actions. Furthermore, by learning lessons from the Vietnam War, he sharply criticized America?s post-Cold War foreign and defense policies. Many American thinkers, critics mentioned in this article have written reflective works critical of the United States. Although, due to their limited experiences and political views, their criticisms are not yet good enough, it is sufficient to prove that the Americans are willing to self examining themselves and are good at it. As an elite group, these critics are very active in America?s universities and colleges, research institutes and think tanks that have influence over government policies. In addition to pursuing scholarship and social conscience, many of them have their own political ambitions and self-interest on their minds. In the game of political competition and career positioning for bureaucratic appointments, political advisors seek to keep certain distance from the current policies, become critical of the prevailing societal pathologies, carrying out criticisms that are designed to help by a little bit of constructive criticism. This practice sometimes can be good for a person?s future. No matter what motivates them, and no matter how effective they are, the intellectual elite?s criticisms and questioning of the government have served to somewhat curb America?s hegemonic thinking and actions.
Mechanisms within American politics such as checks and balances, supervision by public opinion, and popular participation have also set several limitations for America?s behaviors abroad and America?s policy options. The first of these limitations is the restriction on power and authority. Although the president enjoys so-called ?king?s power? in foreign relations, he is still restricted by forces from the Congress, the National Security Council, the State Department , the Defense Department, and other executive organizations when it comes to issues such as waging large scaled wars, defense budget, military strategy, and major foreign policy initiatives, thus making it impossible for him to proceed at will, to take actions entirely according to his individual desires and political interest. As a whole, America?s foreign policy serves its long-term national interest, unlike Nazi Germany under Hitler or Iraq under Saddam Hussein whose foreign policies went to the fanatic extreme, and became short-sighted and irrational.
The latter stage of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s marks the zenith in history of American foreign policy?s fanaticism, short-sightedness and irrationality. At least over one million Vietnamese and over fifty thousand Americans died directly as a result of this war. The Americans were forced to withdraw from Vietnam in 1973, ultimately leading to a defeat that has brought tremendous shame and humiliation to the American nation. The end of the Vietnam War was primarily a consequence of international factors, but the anti-war movement in the backdrop of the civil-rights movement was also a major reason why President Johnson declined to run for re-election and why the Nixon Administration decided to withdraw the U.S. forces from Vietnam. Nixon once helplessly remarked, ?The Vietnam War was not lost in the battle fields in Vietnam, but in the halls of the Congress, in the offices of major newspapers and television editors, and in the classrooms of outstanding universities and colleges.? Indeed, at the time when Nixon made these remarks, he still had power to continue this war, but he had lost the political basis and moral authority for doing so.
Secondly, there are the procedural restrictions. Compared to other hegemonic powers in history, the level of transparency in America?s foreign policy making is higher, so is its predictability. In September 2002, the U.S. National Security Strategy Report announced the ?preemptive strike? strategy, causing strong criticisms from many countries. But if the U.S. decides to launch a preemptive strike against another country, it has to issue a public military threat to that country before the actual strike takes place, only then will the U.S. take advantage of the crisis, setting the bottom lines of concessions, creating waves of propaganda domestically and abroad, and consulting its allies. The U.S. will not launch blitzkriegs as did during the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, Japan?s attacks on Pearl Harbor, the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Yet this does not by any means demonstrate the ?good will? of the American hegemony. Instead, it tells us that the complexity of the U.S. decision-making process provides our countries with opportunities to figure out responses to the crisis, and to find out ways to influence the U.S. decision-making process lest the situation gets totally out of control.
The third is the moral restriction. Due to the diversity in politics, culture, and religion, the U.S. government has no way of monopolizing moral resources. It cannot proclaim itself as the ultimate judge of justice. As the outcome of the Vietnam War shows, the extreme unjust action of hegemony will eventually lose more support within the United States. When America?s diplomatic isolation, the persistence and cruelty of the war, the death toll, the incompetence of the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese government, and the military attacks by the brave and heroic Vietnamese people all became undeniable reality to the American public, any defense and mobilization for the war became futile. Since then, all of the U.S. military interventions overseas have been overshadowed by the Vietnam War, forcing the government to set a threshold for the duration of military operations, sustainable casualty level, adversary?s civilian deaths etc.
The fourth is the restriction by information dissemination. Although the U.S. government has done its best to control news media during the post-Cold War overseas military operations, especially since the 9/11 attacks the U.S. media has become more homogenized in its editorial opinions, information will not be blocked after all in the global information age. The global challenges before or after the Iraq war, anti-American public opinions and anti-American demonstrations have caused considerable shocks in the American media, think tanks and opinion polls. In 1970, 4.7% of the American population was foreign born. By 2000, the number reached 10.4%, i.e., 28.379 million Americans were foreign born, about half of the French population, almost close to the entire Canadian population. Therefore, although compared with other developed countries, Americans with experience of traveling abroad are not as numerous, resources for the Americans to understand foreign countries are extraordinarily rich, and the information on international affairs is also highly developed.
In sum, the American ideology based upon the individual right to freedom constitutes the conceptual foundation for the American hegemonism. Domestic democracy constitutes the institutional foundation for this simplistic value system, while expansion of democracy as a result of the development of social diversity makes this value system more adaptable to a wider area, thus forming a ?tyranny of the majority? in concept. This value system has gradually gone beyond white racism and the Protestant ?manifest destiny,? manifesting itself in foreign affairs as a special form of American nationalism, causing the ballooning of hegemonic thinking. Experience in domestic social development has made the Americans rarely mindful of morality while pursuing their national self interest, and made them full of self-righteous desire for world leadership positions. In the meantime, there are still some restrictions to American hegemonism, preventing it from going to fanaticism and short-sightedness, as demonstrated in the self-restraining and self-examining factors embedded in America?s checks and balances system, decision making procedures, social structure and cultural traditions.
To study the ideological foundation of America?s hegemonism does not contradict with digging into American hegemonism?s economic motivation, strategic interest incentives and domestic political rationalities. In fact, they complement each other. What needs to be stressed is that the simple logic that ?economics is the foundation of politics, and politics is the focal expression of economics? cannot provide complete interpretation for America?s international actions. The important feature of the American hegemonism is the American nation?s irrational impulse, the intensity of which is almost religious. The strength of America?s material power and the progress in sciences and technologies has partially come from this impulse. This irrational impulse has also caused America?s global expansionism, and subsequently the outside world?s resistance, repulsion and confusion. We can partially interpret America?s 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War from the perspective of economic factors such as oil. But such interpretation is anemic when it comes to the Kosovo War. The war in Afghanistan, the Vietnam War, the Korea War, etc, are all inseparable with certain geopolitical considerations, but are all unconnected with economic motivations. But all the wars mentioned above are related to America?s value system, without any exception.
Lastly, let us go back to the beginning when we discuss the differences among hegemonic status, hegemonic thinking, and hegemonic behavior. Since the Cold War gradually came to a close, people have been expecting the decline of the American hegemonism and the arrival of the age of multipolarity. Yet the reality is that the American hegemony all over the world has become gradually transparent, while our own expression for multipolarity has evolved from ?accelerated development? [of multipolarity] to ?development [of multipolarity] through detours.? The course of history has proven that specific forms of international patterns can only be met but not be acquired. The rapid disintegration and disappearance of the Soviet Union has been quite unexpected, and the rise of America?s hegemonic status has also been against people?s wishes. America?s hegemony will never be an eternal situation, but we have to wait to see when history will show us the rapid decline of the United States.
It is unrealistic for now to drag the U.S. from the position of hegemony and to promote other power centers to a higher level, because it is beyond the ability of any nation or group of nations at the current stage. But the outside world can exert influence upon America?s hegemonic policies and actions, analyze and criticize America?s hegemonic thinking. The 9/11 attacks have been strong shocks to the American hegemony, yet these shocks have not further divided the American society (the organizer of the attacks were not necessarily pre-disposed to have this goal in mind). On the contrary, the attacks have strengthened America?s domestic cohesiveness, further stimulated America?s conservatism, nationalism and xenophobia, thus in reality leading to the formation of a U.S.-led international anti-terror front, and further consolidated America?s hegemonic status. It is thus clear now that to use terrorist acts to struggle against America?s hegemony can only reach the opposite goal. Meanwhile, it is not cost-effective and worthwhile to get into an arms race and military confrontation with the United States. To effectively impede America?s hegemonic behaviors, in addition to diplomatic dealings in the international arena, we must more deeply understand the politics, economics, society and culture of the United States, so that we can fully take advantage of those factors within the American society that serve to restrain America?s state hegemonic behaviors.
In this analysis, we can see that the domestic roots of America?s hegemonism are deep and solid. Before the U.S. falls from its hegemonic height, in order to shake its hegemonic thinking, we must eradicate America?s unitary ideology of freedom, change America?s nationalism and conceptual framework, make them believe that there are social systems and life styles in the world that are more admirable than America?s. When hearing foreigners? criticism of America?s intervention everywhere, Americans often smugly quip, ?of course, people all over the world are shouting ?Yankees, Go home!? but they always add, ?bring me with you.? This is the logic of the American hegemony! We can therefore conclude that only when there are no more boisterous assemblies of immigration and visa applicants in front of various American embassies overseas, and only when an outgoing emigration occurs in the United States, will the American hegemonic mentality be extinguished, will the age of multipolarity arrive.
Geo Political matters
Reply #38 on:
August 10, 2005, 09:05:48 PM »
Poland: Warsaw, Washington's Point Man
Azerbaijan accused Poland on Aug. 10 of training opposition youth groups to engage in "color revolution" activities aimed at unseating the government of President Ilham Aliyev, a charge Warsaw denies. Poland is now effectively the forward operating base for Washington's geopolitical offensive into the former Soviet Union, with Warsaw a very willing participant. The consequences of this for the region, however, could turn out to be more than Poland is bargaining for.
Azerbaijan accused Poland on Aug. 10 of training an Azerbaijani youth opposition group to engage in "color revolution" activities designed to bring an end to the rule of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his New Azerbaijan party.
Belarus has leveled similar charges against Warsaw of late, leading to a severe deterioration in already chilled bilateral relations that have seen a series of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions. Poland denies the Azerbaijani charges, but the latest accusations from Baku provide another indication that Warsaw has in fact volunteered to be Washington's forward base in its continuing political offensive into the former Soviet Union (FSU).
Government sources in multiple FSU countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, say opposition parties from their countries are receiving training in Poland, largely funded by U.S. and Western European nongovernmental organizations. The training is said to consist of the how-to of organizing protests and popular "revolutions," handling crowds and motivating them to be as aggressive as possible without provoking violent security-force responses, waging information campaigns, training young opposition leaders and fundraising. Though these strategies are not new, warehousing them in a third country on the border of the FSU is, and the eventual response to this from targeted FSU states could be more than both Warsaw and Brussels are prepared for.
From Washington's perspective, Poland represents the perfect candidate to fill this kind of role. It is a large European country that always constituted the Achilles' heel of Moscow's control over Central Europe during the Soviet period, and centuries of competition with -- not to mention occupation by -- Russia have left the country strongly anti-Russian. As Warsaw can today be fairly confident that it faces no threat from its other historical foe, Germany, Moscow is left as Poland's greatest source of geopolitical concern. Poland cannot feel secure as long as Russia has the potential to be a superpower.
Like Warsaw, Washington shares Russia as a geopolitical concern, though Washington sees Russia as a threat to its supremacy while Poland sees Russia as a threat to its survival. Warsaw and Washington therefore constitute ideal partners, with the superpower backing a regional power sharing the common goal of bringing Moscow to its knees both inside and beyond Russia's borders.
Poland's -- as well as and Europe's -- relative weakness compared to the United States, however, means the FSU countries can retaliate against the EU nations more cheaply than they think they could act against Washington, and the first evidence of this is now beginning to appear.
The Polish government does little to discourage anti-Russian sentiment in Poland, where it flourishes. It is no surprise, therefore, when attacks occur such as those on July 31, when the teenage children of three Russian diplomats were beaten in Warsaw by Polish youths. It also is no surprise that two Polish diplomats have been beaten in central Moscow in recent days -- both in broad daylight near the Polish Embassy -- these were retaliatory attacks. If such an attack were perpetrated against American officials, the Kremlin would go on a rampage. The Poles, however, command no such clout, and having dealt with Poland's anti-Russian sentiments for centuries, the Kremlin will not extend the same patience to Warsaw that it might to Washington.
Though in recent years Russia and its allies have more or less stood by while the United States and Europe whittled away Russian influence and increased their influence over governments in the FSU, this has begun to change. Moscow has begun to realize that it is now fighting Washington for its geopolitical survival, and it is rallying its resources in the FSU with other governments that face a similar fate at the hands of the U.S. geopolitical offensive in the region. In other words, Moscow cannot be expected to stand idly by while Poland tries to force it to its knees.
This highlights the risks of Poland's decision to play the part it has assumed in Washington's broader geopolitical game. Poland is making enemies across the FSU, yet its proximity to the region means its actions make a backlash inevitable. While the majority of Poland's trade has been reoriented westwards, it still has certain economic dependencies to its east.
These include a near-total dependence on Russian energy supplies, and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues from both transit fees on gas traveling from Russia westwards across Polish territory and the luggage trade involving FSU countries to the east that brings hard currency to the country. Both of these could be affected by a protracted dispute.
While Russia is not about to shoot its own foot by cutting off gas supplies not only to Poland, but to Western Europe as well, political concerns about Poland are creating strong support in Moscow for the underwater Northern European gas line that would connect Russia directly to Germany through the Baltic Sea, thus bypassing Poland. Russian state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom has little interest in paying for the pipeline, but if Warsaw were to cause enough trouble, Moscow could potentially decide to bite the bullet for the sake of cutting Poland out of the equation.
Poland's involvement could have repercussions beyond Poland as well. Warsaw is giving encouragement to the likes of Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Georgia -- all countries now with virulently anti-Russian governments -- to help it in the pursuit of Moscow's demise. This kind of coalition could lead to a drawing of lines in Central and Eastern Europe between the two sides that would considerably raise tensions in the region.
Going one step further, as Warsaw is now a full-fledged member of the European Union, Brussels is bound to get involved in the struggle if Poland maintains it current course of action. Moscow and its allies will demand that Brussels step in to restrain Warsaw, and though Brussels is not interested in being as proactive as Washington in weakening Russia, it is also perfectly happy to watch Washington go to work on Russia. This is particularly true now that the European Union includes most of the countries that were once part of the Warsaw Pact, none of which has feelings of goodwill toward Moscow.
A broader dispute between FSU countries and the European Union could have troubling ramifications for both sides. The FSU countries want economic ties with the EU to promote economic growth, and Brussels could easily restrict their access to EU markets. For its part, the European Union is dependent on FSU -- and particularly Russian -- energy supplies. Gazprom recently announced it would raise prices for the Baltic states, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine -- all FSU states with anti-Russian governments -- along with a one-third price hike for the European Union. The move will bruise all of these countries economically to varying degrees.
The sizeable price hike, a sudden jolt following years of increases of 5 percent or less, is an indication both of already rising political tensions between Russia and Europe and of the extent to which Russia can hold Europe hostage when it comes to energy supplies. These countries have no choice but to pay Russia's price.
Even with strong U.S. backing, Poland is playing a high-stakes game of considerable regional significance in taking on the FSU countries. With both sides playing for keeps, more trouble likely lies ahead.
Central Asian Chess
Reply #39 on:
August 17, 2005, 01:04:07 PM »
An old geostrategic chess game is being waged again, with some new players
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- When Sergei Pashevich looks at the map of central Asia, he sees a chessboard on which a replay of the Great Game is unfolding, with oil, trade and the war on terrorism as the big global issues at stake.
The Great Game, a term invented to define the imperial rivalries and ambitions of 19th century Russia and Britain, now applies, in Pashevich's view, to a new, post-9/11 struggle for influence that is pitting Russia and China against the United States.
"Right now the whole Central Asian region is a field for geopolitical games," he says.
The stocky, square-shouldered Kazakh was decorated for bravery in the Soviet war against U.S.-backed Muslim rebels in Afghanistan. Now he is one of several big-picture analysts in Almaty, the main city of Kazakhstan in the heart of Central Asia, who are poring over this new political and diplomatic battlefield.
Another is Venera Galyamova, a short, intense-eyed woman with a deep knowledge of Central Asia and its neighbors.
A researcher at the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies, she sees Central Asia becoming "the arena for the battle between the United States on one side and China and Russia on the other side. For China, influence in the region also means asserting itself as a global power to rival the United States."
China's exploding economy thirsts for oil, and within two decades Kazakhstan is expected to be a leading oil exporter. Russia has plenty of oil, but its clout in the region has diminished. It lost control of Kazakhstan and the other Central Asian republics when the Soviet Union collapsed, and it has suffered further losses of influence lately in Georgia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan's neighbor, Kyrgyzstan.
The United States, meanwhile, has an interest in the oil as well as the bases it runs in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to back up its operations in Afghanistan to the south.
Here are some of the signs the analysts in Almaty are paying attention to:
_ In July, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, made up of China, Russia and nearly all the central Asian states, asked the United States to set a deadline for quitting the bases.
* This month, Russia and China, former military and ideological enemies, have put their armies together for the first time in military exercises on the Shandong peninsula, in the Yellow Sea about 440 kilometers southeast of Beijing.
* On May 25, China gave a red-carpet welcome to the president of another Central Asian state, Uzbekistan, just days after his bloody crackdown on protesters killed hundreds and raised serious questions about the human rights record of a valued Washington ally. China congratulated President Islam Karimov on his handling of the riot.
The future of the U.S. base in Uzbekistan is finite while in Kyrgyzstan it remains cloudy, given to contradictory statements by the hosts. But the Shanghai group's resolution, at a meeting in Astana, the Kazakh capital, caught the United States by surprise.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the bases were still needed for the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, and speculated that the smaller central Asian countries signed on to the resolution at the behest of their larger neighbors, Russia and China.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was more blunt, telling a reporter: "Looks to me like two very large countries were trying to bully some smaller countries." Moscow protested the remark.
Washington wouldn't give a deadline for withdrawing, so at the end of last month Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov set his own -- 180 days.
"It was China that wanted the deadline," said Galyamova, of the government-run Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies.
"Beijing believes that the bases are to be used not only for fighting terror but also for the purposes of reining in an expansionist and politically ambitious China," she said.
Dosym Satpayev, who heads the privately run Assessment Risk Group in Almaty and has written a book on Chinese-Kazakh relations, says Washington's presence has been a disappointment to the post-Soviet strongmen ruling the Central Asian republics. Having initially welcomed the Americans, they now see Washington's preoccupation with human rights and democracy as a threat to their survival, and find China's policy of non-interference appealing, he said.
"The Kazakhstan government really worries that U.S. influence will bring political change to our country," Galyamova said. It has seen the color-coded people's revolutions spread from Georgia to Ukraine to Kyrgyzstan, believes these have "coincided with U.S. interests in the region, and believes it has resulted from U.S. help to the opposition politicians."
Meanwhile, China offers sympathy and hefty trade. In Beijing, Uzbekistan's Karimov signed 15 accords covering everything from tourism to telecommunications, topped by an agreement on a petroleum joint venture worth US$600 million.
The deals more than make up for the financial losses that would be incurred by closing the U.S. base 300 kilometers from Tashkent, Pashevich said.
Kyrgyzstan's new president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was swept into power after a street revolt in March, has also sent out mixed signals about the U.S. base near Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital.
On July 11, he said the situation in Afghanistan seemed to have stabilized, "so now we may begin discussing the necessity of U.S. military forces' presence." Two weeks later, however, Kyrgyz officials assured Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld there was no immediate deadline.
In Kazakhstan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev is thought capable of winning a fair presidential election, expected to be held in December, but he is a nervous ruler. He recently approved laws that punish Kazakhs who participate in unregistered political or religious organizations. They also punish foreign organizations that help them _ a move aimed at Western groups working to spread democracy.
Last month, Nazarbayev and Chinese President Hu Jintao formally affirmed their "strategic partnership," signed several trade deals and agreed to study building a railroad from Kazakhstan's portion of the oil-rich Caspian Sea to western China. A 988-kilometer pipeline to carry Kazakh oil to China is due for completion in December. Kazakh-Chinese trade, totaling $4.5 billion last year, is growing.
China's inroads into this country four times the size of Texas take many forms, says Rashid Dyusembaev, editor-in-chief of Kazakh Monitor, an independent English-language newspaper.
For instance, he said, Chinese farmers are taking long-term leases on farmland. Also, he said, "China has the headwaters of the two main rivers that supply water to Kazakhstan and has been diverting the water channel and can hold the water hostage."
China's interest in Central Asia isn't just economic. It has its own restive Muslim population, the Uighurs, in its far west, bordering on Central Asia. Beijing claims Uighur militants are part of an international Islamic terrorist network.
So with China facing a separatist threat, the U.S. running bases in two Central Asian countries and Russia maintaining forces in two Central Asian states, the superpowers have "military forces cheek by jowl in a sensitive region of the world," the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2005-06 country profile of China observes.
Pashevich and Galyamova said China has embarked on anti-terrorist border training programs with its Central Asian neighbors. "There are new special action and cooperation teams operating in the Central Asian states to respond if there is a problem along the borders," Pashevich said.
"It is clear that China has taken a page from the American method of influence. First comes the investment, next comes the influence and next comes the soldiers," said Satpayev.
Kazakhstan and China have increased military cooperation this year, Galyamova said. "Fortunately or unfortunately for our country, China is gaining influence."
Although China looks strongest on the chessboard, Russia also has leverage.
Kazakhstan gets US$115 million a year to play host to the Russian space program, gets its oil to market via pipeline to Russia, and is joining a free trade zone with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
Russia and China have a strategic agreement to coordinate their moves internationally. In the 1960s Russia and China fought border skirmishes; last year they signed an accord declaring they have no more border disputes.
Russia is building a pipeline that will deliver oil to China, and China is a big market for Russian weaponry and space technology.
"The great game as I see it won't be fought militarily," says Pashevich, the ex-soldier. "It will be fought economically and it is there that China can win. We know that in Kazakhstan, and we are worried about China." (AP)
August 17, 2005
Geo Political matters
Reply #40 on:
August 17, 2005, 05:02:13 PM »
Interesting Buz-- here's this:
The Gaza Withdrawal and Israel's Permanent Dilemma
By George Friedman
Israel has begun its withdrawal from Gaza. As with all other territorial withdrawals by Israel, such as that from the Sinai or from Lebanon, the decision is controversial within the Jewish state. It represents the second withdrawal from land occupied in the 1967 war, and the second from land that houses significant numbers of anti-Israeli fighters. Since these fighters will not be placated by the Israeli withdrawal -- given that there is no obvious agreement of land for an enforceable peace -- the decision by the Israelis to withdraw from Gaza would appear odd.
In order to understand what is driving Israeli policy, it is necessary to consider Israeli geopolitical reality in some detail.
Israel's founders, taken together, had four motives for founding the state.
1. To protect the Jews from a hostile world by creating a Jewish homeland.
2. To create a socialist (not communist) Jewish state.
3. To resurrect the Jewish nation in order to re-assert Jewish identity in history.
4. To create a nation based on Jewish religiosity and law rather than Jewish nationality alone.
The idea of safety, socialism, identity and religiosity overlapped to some extent and were mutually exclusive in other ways. But each of these tendencies became a fault line in Israeli life. Did Israel exist simply so that Jews would be safe -- was Israel simply another nation among many? Was Israel to be a socialist nation, as the Labor Party once envisioned? Was it to be a vehicle for resurrecting Jewish identity, as the Revisionists wanted? Was it to be a land governed by the Rabbinate? It could not be all of these things. Thus, these were ultimately contradictory visions tied together by a single certainty: none of these visions were possible without a Jewish state. All arguments in Israel devolve to these principles, but all share a common reality -- the need for the physical protection of Israel.
In order for there to be a Jewish state, it must be governed by Jews. If it is also to be a democratic state, as was envisioned by all but a few of the fourth (religiosity) strand of logic, then it must be a state that is demographically Jewish.
This poses the first geopolitical dilemma for Israel: Whatever the historical, moral or religious arguments, the fact was that at the beginning of the 20th century, the land identified as the Jewish homeland -- Palestine -- was inhabited overwhelmingly by Arabs. A Jewish and democratic state could be achieved only by a demographic transformation. Either more Jews would have to come to Palestine, or Arabs would have to leave, or a combination of the two would have to occur. The Holocaust caused Jews who otherwise would have stayed in Europe to come to Palestine. The subsequent creation of the state of Israel caused Arabs to leave, and Jews living in Arab countries to come to Israel.
However, this demographic shift was incomplete, leaving Israel with two strategic problems. First, a large number of Arabs, albeit a minority, continued to live in Israel. Second, the Arab states surrounding Israel -- which perceived the state as an alien entity thrust into their midst -- viewed themselves as being in a state of war with Israel. Ultimately, Israel's problem was that dealing with the external threat inevitably compounded the internal threat.
Israel's Strategic Disadvantage
Israel was at a tremendous strategic disadvantage. First, it was vastly outnumbered in the simplest sense: There were many more Arabs who regarded themselves as being in a state of war with Israel than there were Jews in Israel. Second, Israel had extremely long borders that were difficult to protect. Third, the Israelis lacked strategic depth. If all of their neighbors -- Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon -- were joined by the forces of more distant Arab and Islamic states, Israel would find it difficult to resist. And if all of these forces attacked simultaneously in a coordinated strike, Israel would find it impossible to resist.
Even if the Arabs did not carry out a brilliant stroke, cutting Israel in half on a Jerusalem-Tel Aviv line (a distance of perhaps 20 miles), Israel would still lose an extended war with the Arabs. If the Arabs could force a war of attrition on Israel, in which they could impose an attrition rate of perhaps 1 percent per day of forces on the forward edge of the battle area, Israel would not be able to hold for more than a few months at best. In the 20th century, an attrition rate of that level, in a battle space the size of Israel, would be modest. Israel's effective forces rarely numbered more than 250,000 men -- the other 250,000 were older reserves with inferior equipment. Extended attritional warfare was not an option for Israel.
Thus, in order for Israel to survive, three conditions were necessary:
1. The Arabs must never unite into a single, effective force.
2. Israel must choose the time, place and sequence of any war.
3. Israel must never face both a war and an internal uprising of Arabs simultaneously.
Israel's strategy was to use diplomacy to prevent the three main adversaries -- Egypt, Jordan and Syria -- from simultaneously choosing to launch a war. From its founding, Israel always maintained a policy of splitting the front-line states. This was not particularly difficult, given the deep animosities among the Arabs. For example, Israel always maintained a special relationship with Jordan, which had unsatisfactory relations with its own neighbors. Early on, Israel worked to serve as the guarantor of the Jordanian regime's survival. Later, after the Camp David Accords split Egypt off from the Arab coalition, Israel had neutralized two out of three of its potential adversaries. The dynamics of Arab geopolitics and the skill of Israeli diplomacy achieved an outcome that is rarely appreciated. From its founding, Israel managed to prevent simultaneous warfare with its neighbors except at a time and place of its own choosing. It had to maintain a military force capable of taking the initiative in order to have a diplomatic strategy.
But throughout most of its history, Israel had a fundamental challenge in achieving this preeminence.
Israel's Geopolitical Problem
The state's military preeminence had to be measured against the possibility of diplomatic failure. Israel had to assume that all front-line states would become hostile to it, and that it would have to launch a preemptive strike against them all. If this were the case, Israel had this dilemma: Its national industrial base was insufficient to provide it with the technological wherewithal to maintain its military superiority. It was not simply a question of money --all the money in the world could not change the demographics -- but also that Israel lacked the manpower to produce all of the weapons it needed to have and also to field an army. Therefore, Israel could survive only if it had a patron that possessed such an industrial base. Israel had to make itself useful to another country.
Israel's first patron was the Soviet Union, through its European satellites. Its second patron was France, which saw Israel as an ally during a time when Paris was trying to hold onto its interests in an increasingly hostile Arab world. Its third patron -- but not until 1967 -- was the United States, which saw Israel as a counterweight to pro-Soviet Egypt and Syria, as well as a useful base of operations in the eastern Mediterranean.
In 1967, Israel -- fearing a coordinated strike by the Arabs and also seeking to rationalize its defensive lines and create strategic depth -- launched an air and land attack against its neighbors. Rather than risk a coordinated attack, Israel launched a sequential attack -- first against Egypt, then Jordan, then Syria.
The success of the 1967 war gave rise to Israel's current geopolitical crisis.
Following the war, Israel had to balance three interests:
1. It now occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which contained large, hostile populations of Arabs. A full, peripheral war combined with an uprising in these regions would cut Israeli lines of supply and communication and risk Israel's defeat.
2. Israel was now dependent on the United States for its industrial base. But American interests and Israeli interests were not identical. The United States had interests in the Arab world, and had no interest in Israel crushing Palestinian opposition or expelling Palestinians from Israel. Retaining the industrial base and ruthlessly dealing with the Palestinians became incompatible needs.
3. Israel had to continue manipulating the balance of power among Arab states in order to prevent a full peripheral war. That, in turn, meant that it was further constrained in dealing with the Palestinian question by force.
Israeli geopolitics created the worst condition of all: Given the second and third considerations, Israel could not crush the Palestinians; but given its need for strategic depth and coherent borders, it could not abandon the occupied territories. It therefore had to continually constrain the Palestinians without any possibility of final victory. It had to be ruthless, which would enflame the Palestinians, but it could never be ruthless enough to effectively suppress them.
The Impermanence of Diplomacy
Israel has managed to maintain the diplomatic game it began in 1948: The Arabs remain deeply split. It has managed to retain its relationship with the United States, even with the end of the Cold War. Given the decline of the conventional threat, Israel's dependency on the United States has actually dwindled. For the moment, the situation is contained.
However -- and this is the key problem for Israel -- the diplomatic solution is inherently impermanent. It requires constant manipulation, and the possibility of failure is built in. For example, an Islamist rising in Egypt could rapidly generate shifts that Israel could not contain. Moreover, political changes in the United States could end American patronage, without the certainty of another patron emerging. These things are not likely to occur, but they are not inconceivable. Given enough time, anything is possible.
Israel's advantage is diplomatic and cultural. Its ability to split the Arabs, a diplomatic force, is coupled with its technological superiority, a cultural force. But both of these can change. The Arabs might unite, and they might accelerate their technological and military sophistication. Israel's superiority can change, but its inferiority is fixed: Geography and demography put it in an unchangeably vulnerable position relative to the Arabs.
The potential threats to Israel are:
1. A united and effective anti-Israeli coalition among the Arabs.
2. The loss of its technological superiority and, therefore, the loss of military initiative.
3. The need to fight a full peripheral war while dealing with an intifada within its borders.
4. The loss of the United States as patron and the failure to find an alternative.
5. A sudden, unexpected nuclear strike on its populated heartland.
Therefore, it follows that Israel has three options.
The first is to hope for the best. This has been Israel's position since 1967. The second is to move from conventional deterrence to nuclear deterrence. Israel already possesses this capability, but the value of nuclear weapons is in their deterrent capability, not in their employment. You can't deal with an intifada or with close-in conventional war with nuclear weapons -- not given the short distances involved in Israel. The third option is to reduce the possibility of disaster as far as possible by increasing the tensions in the Arab world, reducing the incentive for cultural change among the Arabs, eliminating the threat of intifada in time of war, and reducing the probability that the United States will find it in its interests to break with Israel
Hence, the withdrawal from Gaza. As a base for terrorism, Gaza poses a security threat to Israel. But the true threat from Gaza, and even more the West Bank, lies in the fact that they create a dynamic that decreases Israel's diplomatic effectiveness, risks creating Arab unity, increases the impetus for military modernization and places stress on Israel's relationship with the United States. The terrorist threat is painful. The alternative risks long-term catastrophe.
Some of the original reasons for Israel's founding, such as the desire for a socialist state, are now irrelevant to Israeli politics. And revisionism, like socialism, is a movement of the past. Modern Israel is divided into three camps:
1. Those who believe that the survival of Israel depends on disengaging from a process that enrages without crushing the Palestinians, even if it opens the door to terrorism.
2. Those who regard the threat of terrorism as real and immediate, and regard the longer-term strategic threats as theoretical and abstract.
3. Those who have a religious commitment to holding all territories.
The second and third factions are in alliance but, at the moment, it is the first faction that appears to be the majority. It is not surprising that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is leading this faction. As a military man, Sharon has a clear understanding of Israel's vulnerabilities. It is clearly his judgment that the long-term threat to Israel comes from the collapse of its strategic position, rather than from terrorism. He has clearly decided to accept the reality of terrorist attacks, within limits, in order to pursue a broader strategic initiative.
Israel has managed to balance the occupation of a hostile population with splitting Arab nation states since 1967. Sharon's judgment is that, given the current dynamics of the Muslim world, pursuing the same strategy for another generation would be both too costly and too risky. The position of his critics is that the immediate risks of disengagement increase the immediate danger to Israel without solving the long-term problem. If Sharon is right, then there is room for maneuver. But if his critics, including Benjamin Netanyahu, are right, Israel is locked down to an insoluble problem.
That is the real debate.
Send questions or comments
Joint Exercise Cheerleading
Reply #41 on:
August 23, 2005, 11:12:44 PM »
China's official news agency's take on a Sino/Russian exercise. Though I snivel about the MSM singing from the same hymnal, it takes a state run news agency to demonstrate just how good we got it.
China, Russia conduct maritime blockade drill
QINGDAO, Aug. 23 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese and Russian troops participating in a joint military exercise carried out a maritime blockade drill in the sea area to the southeast of the Shandong Peninsula Tuesday.
A few minutes after 11:00 a.m., Chinese battle planes provided air-cover for a formation of Chinese and Russian warships, and then a Chinese and Russian air force an echelon fought a fierce battle with enemy fighters in the air.
Chinese fighters blocked enemy battle planes with air-to-air missiles and took the air domination above the sea area. Meanwhile, the joint naval formation sank enemy submarines with deck-landing anti-submarine helicopters and depth bombs.
At 11:20, Chinese and Russian early warning planes and patrol planes guided the joint fleet to attack and destroy enemy warships. A Russian destroyer launched precision attacks on enemy targets, while Chinese warships fired missiles to destroy the enemy targets, using data and information transmitted by the patrol planes.
With the help the early warning system, the joint naval formation attacked enemy planes and missiles with ship-to-air missiles and quick-fire guns. They also interfered with enemy missiles of different types using infrared, photoelectric and platinic devices.
Participating in Tuesday's exercise were Russia's "Marshal Shaposhnikov" anti-submarine destroyer, a missile destroyer, and shipboard helicopters and A-50 early warning planes from the Russian Pacific Fleet. The Chinese contingent included three destroyers, three frigates, two submarines and 20 aircraft.
Warm Water NATO Port
Reply #42 on:
August 29, 2005, 11:31:58 PM »
If true, Russia won't like this:
Romania says drafting U.S. Black Sea base deal
Thu Aug 25,12:14 PM ET
Romania is drafting a deal with Washington to set up U.S. military bases on the Black Sea, Romanian Defense Minister Teodor Atanasiu said on Thursday.
The United States wants to shift its European strategic focus eastwards, and new NATO members Romania and Bulgaria have been promoting airfields and bases as potential new hubs for U.S. forces as Washington pulls 70,000 troops out of central Europe and Asia in the next decade.
State news agency Rompres quoted Atanasiu as saying a memorandum, now being discussed by diplomats, would lay down the terms for American deployment in the Balkan country's territory.
"The talks are underway ... The commitment for setting up these bases somewhere in the Black Sea area will be achieved through a political memorandum," Atanasiu told Rompres.
Washington's realignment plans are expected to involve a shift to small, flexible military bases in the former eastern bloc as it reduces its presence in Germany, a Cold War legacy.
The bases are seen as important in Romania's drive to secure more foreign investment to close the enormous wealth gap separating it from the European Union, which it hopes to join as early as 2007.
Romanian military officials said the country had offered a location at Kogalniceanu near the Black Sea and also a shooting range at Babadag, 30 km (18 miles) south of Kogalniceanu.
U.S. soldiers used the Kogalniceanu airbase in southeastern Romania as a hub to send equipment and 7,000 combat troops into Iraq during the early stages of the 2003 Iraq War, and temporarily kept up to 3,500 American troops there.
The U.S. embassy was not immediately available for comment.
Reply #43 on:
September 02, 2005, 01:19:19 PM »
Timely analysis from Stratfor.
New Orleans: A Geopolitical Prize
By George Friedman
September 01, 2005 22 30 GMT -- The American political system was founded in Philadelphia, but the American nation was built on the vast farmlands that stretch from the Alleghenies to the Rockies. That farmland produced the wealth that funded American industrialization: It permitted the formation of a class of small landholders who, amazingly, could produce more than they could consume. They could sell their excess crops in the east and in Europe and save that money, which eventually became the founding capital of American industry.
But it was not the extraordinary land nor the farmers and ranchers who alone set the process in motion. Rather, it was geography -- the extraordinary system of rivers that flowed through the Midwest and allowed them to ship their surplus to the rest of the world. All of the rivers flowed into one -- the Mississippi -- and the Mississippi flowed to the ports in and around one city: New Orleans. It was in New Orleans that the barges from upstream were unloaded and their cargos stored, sold and reloaded on ocean-going vessels. Until last Sunday, New Orleans was, in many ways, the pivot of the American economy.
For that reason, the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815 was a key moment in American history. Even though the battle occurred after the War of 1812 was over, had the British taken New Orleans, we suspect they wouldn't have given it back. Without New Orleans, the entire Louisiana Purchase would have been valueless to the United States. Or, to state it more precisely, the British would control the region because, at the end of the day, the value of the Purchase was the land and the rivers - which all converged on the Mississippi and the ultimate port of New Orleans. The hero of the battle was Andrew Jackson, and when he became president, his obsession with Texas had much to do with keeping the Mexicans away from New Orleans.
During the Cold War, a macabre topic of discussion among bored graduate students who studied such things was this: If the Soviets could destroy one city with a large nuclear device, which would it be? The usual answers were Washington or New York. For me, the answer was simple: New Orleans. If the Mississippi River was shut to traffic, then the foundations of the economy would be shattered. The industrial minerals needed in the factories wouldn't come in, and the agricultural wealth wouldn't flow out. Alternative routes really weren't available. The Germans knew it too: A U-boat campaign occurred near the mouth of the Mississippi during World War II. Both the Germans and Stratfor have stood with Andy Jackson: New Orleans was the prize.
Last Sunday, nature took out New Orleans almost as surely as a nuclear strike. Hurricane Katrina's geopolitical effect was not, in many ways, distinguishable from a mushroom cloud. The key exit from North America was closed. The petrochemical industry, which has become an added value to the region since Jackson's days, was at risk. The navigability of the Mississippi south of New Orleans was a question mark. New Orleans as a city and as a port complex had ceased to exist, and it was not clear that it could recover.
The ports of South Louisiana and New Orleans, which run north and south of the city, are as important today as at any point during the history of the republic. On its own merit, the Port of South Louisiana is the largest port in the United States by tonnage and the fifth-largest in the world. It exports more than 52 million tons a year, of which more than half are agricultural products -- corn, soybeans and so on. A larger proportion of U.S. agriculture flows out of the port. Almost as much cargo, nearly 57 million tons, comes in through the port -- including not only crude oil, but chemicals and fertilizers, coal, concrete and so on.
A simple way to think about the New Orleans port complex is that it is where the bulk commodities of agriculture go out to the world and the bulk commodities of industrialism come in. The commodity chain of the global food industry starts here, as does that of American industrialism. If these facilities are gone, more than the price of goods shifts: The very physical structure of the global economy would have to be reshaped. Consider the impact to the U.S. auto industry if steel doesn't come up the river, or the effect on global food supplies if U.S. corn and soybeans don't get to the markets.
The problem is that there are no good shipping alternatives. River transport is cheap, and most of the commodities we are discussing have low value-to-weight ratios. The U.S. transport system was built on the assumption that these commodities would travel to and from New Orleans by barge, where they would be loaded on ships or offloaded. Apart from port capacity elsewhere in the United States, there aren't enough trucks or rail cars to handle the long-distance hauling of these enormous quantities -- assuming for the moment that the economics could be managed, which they can't be.
The focus in the media has been on the oil industry in Louisiana and Mississippi. This is not a trivial question, but in a certain sense, it is dwarfed by the shipping issue. First, Louisiana is the source of about 15 percent of U.S.-produced petroleum, much of it from the Gulf. The local refineries are critical to American infrastructure. Were all of these facilities to be lost, the effect on the price of oil worldwide would be extraordinarily painful. If the river itself became unnavigable or if the ports are no longer functioning, however, the impact to the wider economy would be significantly more severe. In a sense, there is more flexibility in oil than in the physical transport of these other commodities.
There is clearly good news as information comes in. By all accounts, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which services supertankers in the Gulf, is intact. Port Fourchon, which is the center of extraction operations in the Gulf, has sustained damage but is recoverable. The status of the oil platforms is unclear and it is not known what the underwater systems look like, but on the surface, the damage - though not trivial -- is manageable.
The news on the river is also far better than would have been expected on Sunday. The river has not changed its course. No major levees containing the river have burst. The Mississippi apparently has not silted up to such an extent that massive dredging would be required to render it navigable. Even the port facilities, although apparently damaged in many places and destroyed in few, are still there. The river, as transport corridor, has not been lost.
What has been lost is the city of New Orleans and many of the residential suburban areas around it. The population has fled, leaving behind a relatively small number of people in desperate straits. Some are dead, others are dying, and the magnitude of the situation dwarfs the resources required to ameliorate their condition. But it is not the population that is trapped in New Orleans that is of geopolitical significance: It is the population that has left and has nowhere to return to.
The oil fields, pipelines and ports required a skilled workforce in order to operate. That workforce requires homes. They require stores to buy food and other supplies. Hospitals and doctors. Schools for their children. In other words, in order to operate the facilities critical to the United States, you need a workforce to do it -- and that workforce is gone. Unlike in other disasters, that workforce cannot return to the region because they have no place to live. New Orleans is gone, and the metropolitan area surrounding New Orleans is either gone or so badly damaged that it will not be inhabitable for a long time.
It is possible to jury-rig around this problem for a short time. But the fact is that those who have left the area have gone to live with relatives and friends. Those who had the ability to leave also had networks of relationships and resources to manage their exile. But those resources are not infinite -- and as it becomes apparent that these people will not be returning to New Orleans any time soon, they will be enrolling their children in new schools, finding new jobs, finding new accommodations. If they have any insurance money coming, they will collect it. If they have none, then -- whatever emotional connections they may have to their home -- their economic connection to it has been severed. In a very short time, these people will be making decisions that will start to reshape population and workforce patterns in the region.
A city is a complex and ongoing process - one that requires physical infrastructure to support the people who live in it and people to operate that physical infrastructure. We don't simply mean power plants or sewage treatment facilities, although they are critical. Someone has to be able to sell a bottle of milk or a new shirt. Someone has to be able to repair a car or do surgery. And the people who do those things, along with the infrastructure that supports them, are gone -- and they are not coming back anytime soon.
It is in this sense, then, that it seems almost as if a nuclear weapon went off in New Orleans. The people mostly have fled rather than died, but they are gone. Not all of the facilities are destroyed, but most are. It appears to us that New Orleans and its environs have passed the point of recoverability. The area can recover, to be sure, but only with the commitment of massive resources from outside -- and those resources would always be at risk to another Katrina.
The displacement of population is the crisis that New Orleans faces. It is also a national crisis, because the largest port in the United States cannot function without a city around it. The physical and business processes of a port cannot occur in a ghost town, and right now, that is what New Orleans is. It is not about the facilities, and it is not about the oil. It is about the loss of a city's population and the paralysis of the largest port in the United States.
Let's go back to the beginning. The United States historically has depended on the Mississippi and its tributaries for transport. Barges navigate the river. Ships go on the ocean. The barges must offload to the ships and vice versa. There must be a facility to empower this exchange. It is also the facility where goods are stored in transit. Without this port, the river can't be used. Protecting that port has been, from the time of the Louisiana Purchase, a fundamental national security issue for the United States.
Katrina has taken out the port -- not by destroying the facilities, but by rendering the area uninhabited and potentially uninhabitable. That means that even if the Mississippi remains navigable, the absence of a port near the mouth of the river makes the Mississippi enormously less useful than it was. For these reasons, the United States has lost not only its biggest port complex, but also the utility of its river transport system -- the foundation of the entire American transport system. There are some substitutes, but none with sufficient capacity to solve the problem.
It follows from this that the port will have to be revived and, one would assume, the city as well. The ports around New Orleans are located as far north as they can be and still be accessed by ocean-going vessels. The need for ships to be able to pass each other in the waterways, which narrow to the north, adds to the problem. Besides, the Highway 190 bridge in Baton Rouge blocks the river going north. New Orleans is where it is for a reason: The United States needs a city right there.
New Orleans is not optional for the United States' commercial infrastructure. It is a terrible place for a city to be located, but exactly the place where a city must exist. With that as a given, a city will return there because the alternatives are too devastating. The harvest is coming, and that means that the port will have to be opened soon. As in Iraq, premiums will be paid to people prepared to endure the hardships of working in New Orleans. But in the end, the city will return because it has to.
Geopolitics is the stuff of permanent geographical realities and the way they interact with political life. Geopolitics created New Orleans. Geopolitics caused American presidents to obsess over its safety. And geopolitics will force the city's resurrection, even if it is in the worst imaginable place.
Reply #44 on:
September 04, 2005, 05:42:08 PM »
A brief history of the Taliban
by Dr. Saleem Qureshi
Taliban is the plural of talib, literally meaning seeker, in context, a seeker of knowledge, i.e., talib-e-ilm, or a student. The Taliban were the children of Afghan refugees who fled their country in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that started on December 25, 1979. The refugees were housed on the Pakistan side of the frontier where relief and education were provided by religious organizations in Pakistan, funding and organizational facilities by Saudi Arabia and the CIA.
The schooling was provided by religious parties, particularly the Jamiat-ul-ulema-e-Islam, a fundamentalist part that espouses the most puritanical, restrictive and harsh interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence, variously called Deobandi (in India and Pakistan), Wahabi (in Saudi Arabia), and Hanbali (one of the recognized four schools of Sunni fiqh-jurisprudence). The Taliban thus represent the least progressive or moderate interpretation of Sunni Islam and along with Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan under Taliban rule was the only country to be so closed off from the rest of the world. Prior to the Taliban, the majority of Afghans, like the majority of Indian-Pakistani Muslims, Turks, Central Asians and Caucasians, belonged to the most tolerant and eclectic interpretation of Islamic Law, i.e., Hanafi.
Starting with the communist coup of April 20, 1978, and exacerbated by the Soviet invasion of December 25, 1979, the 'reforms' that were introduced so conflicted with the Afghan values that they were identified as anti-Islamic, making it incumbent on every Afghan to oppose those 'reforms' and the advocates of those 'reforms'--that is, the Afghan communist rulers and their patrons, the Soviets. The Americans, who saw the opportunity to humiliate the Soviets, enthusiastically encouraged the Islamic dimension of the Afghan nationalist war against foreign occupation, hence the rise of Jihad and the Mujahideen, who were then the darlings of the CIA. Osama bin Laden was a Mujahid who developed a mind of his own, independent of his CIA creators.
The Soviets departed in defeat but left Afghanistan in shambles. The Afghan society, which has always been tribalistic and historically held together by traditional loyalty to monarchy, had no acceptable symbol of legitimacy any more. Even during the insurgency and at the height of Jihad against the Soviets, no Afghan Khomeini emerged to unite the various tribal strands that were engaged in combat against the foreigner. Consequently, on the departure of the Soviets, and once their surrogate, Najibullah, had been dislodged, Afghanistan was faced with a political vacuum. This vacuum was made worse by the fighting between the contending forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Burhanuddin Rabbani, tribal leaders vying for exclusive control. Kabul suffered a great deal of damage as a result of bombardment and the rather cruel treatment of the population by the contending warlords.
In this environment of war entered the Taliban, supported by Pakistan, and promising peace and stability. By 1996, the Taliban succeeded in establishing themselves as the rulers of most of Afghanistan. Though harsh and very restrictive, the Taliban rule succeeded in providing peace and security to the Afghans under their control.
The Taliban are Pushtuns, who account for almost 48 percent of the Afghan population and their area is mainly the southern half of Afghanistan. To rule Afghanistan, the rulers have to have the support of the Pushtun; all the rulers of modern Afghanistan since its founding in 1747 have been Pushtuns.
Pushtunwali is the customary law of the Pushtuns, which has two major pillars: honour and hospitality. Honour lies in freedom, and an Afghan will not willingly tolerate to be ruled by a foreigner--as the British in the 19th century and the Soviets in the 20th century learned to their dismay. Hospitality means that an Afghan will never surrender a guest, especially to the enemies of the guest so long as even a single member of the host family is alive. No wonder those who know the Afghan culture know that you can coax an Afghan into hell, but you can't push him into heaven.
Dr. Saleem Qureshi is a professor emeritus of Middle East politics in the University of Alberta Department of Political Science.
Related links ? internal
Dr. Qureshi's U of A Web page:
The Coming Collapse of Arab Civilization?
Reply #45 on:
September 05, 2005, 01:21:40 AM »
The Impending Collapse of Arab Civilization
Lieutenant Colonel James G. Lacey, U.S. Army Reserve
Proceedings, September 2005
Slender minarets with muezzins calling the faithful to prayer symbolize the stability and timelessness of the Muslim world. This one in Rabi'ah, a small town on the Iraqi-Syrian border, is a classic?and the Muslim faith is flourishing. Arabs, however, most of whom are Muslims, are not.
If a country wants to be on the winning side of history it first and foremost must get its grand strategy right. With that done, it can make any number of operational mistakes and weather many a setback and still walk away a winner. In the Cold War, our grand strategy of containing the Soviet Union eventually won the day despite many tribulations over the fifty years it was in place. Diplomat George Kennan's famous "X Article," anonymously published in the journal Foreign Affairs in 1947, became the conceptual pillar of Cold War strategy and withstood a decades-long assault by critics until eventually vindicated by the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
Was the containment theory hurt by the vitriol of its critics? I would argue the opposite is true. Criticism forced the supporters of containment theory to examine and hone their arguments. In order to properly answer their critics, supporters of containment were forced to continually evaluate their strategic models under regularly changing conditions. The end result was a strategy that proved adaptable to shifting circumstances and able to garner the support of the bulk of public opinion. Today, however, more and more of our strategic judgments are being built upon the untested edifice of two books: Bernard Lewis' The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror and Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. While there have been a few critical reviews of both works, for the most part they have become the basic canon of 21st century strategic thought with very little serious negative commentary. In military publications and briefings these works are now cited repeatedly and uncritically as authoritative support for developing strategic concepts.
Both books paint a dismal global picture. Huntington argues that for centuries civilizations have been kept apart by distance and serious geographical obstacles. However, modern technologies are eroding these obstacles and as civilizations begin to interact on a more regular basis they will find each other so repugnant they will be unable to resist trying to slaughter one another. Bernard Lewis is not as pessimistic about the global environment. Rather, he focuses his dire warnings on just the Muslim world, which appears to him on an irreversible road to doom.
It amazes me that Huntington's theory of civilizational war ever gained the traction it did. I had always assumed that everyone would awake one day and discover Hindus were not planning the annihilation of the Mongols, that Africans were incapable of getting together to fight anyone, and that Europeans have lost the will to fight about anything. Maybe, just maybe, some Arabs would like to take on their neighbors. But let's assume for a moment that all twenty-two Arab nations put aside their considerable differences and raise a military force to take on the world, what would that force look like? Well, with a combined GDP a bit less than Spain's, it probably would not amount to much. The combined conventional military power of a united Arab world is not likely to keep Pentagon planners up at night. Lewis, on the other hand, makes a good argument for the collapse of the Islamic world. Unfortunately, by accepting his thesis the United States is put in the unenviable position of confronting a religion in what may be a prolonged conflict-prone situation. Do we really want to make war on a religion? The major flaw in Lewis's argument, though, is in the title of his book. Islam is not in fact in a crisis state. From a purely religious point of view things have not looked this good for the Muslim faith in hundreds of years. Mosques are full, new adherents are pouring in, and the cash coffers are being filled with donations. If this is a religious crisis it is one most of the world's other faiths would envy.
A more accurate understanding of events leads to the conclusion that Arab, not Muslim, civilization is in a state of collapse, and it just happens that most Arabs are Muslims. In this regard, the fall of the Western Roman Empire was a collapse of Western Europe and not a crisis of Christianity. The next question is, how could the world have missed an entire civilization collapsing before its eyes? The simple answer is that no one alive today has ever seen it happen before. Well within living memory we have seen empires collapse and nation-state failure has become a regular occurrence, but no one in the West has witnessed the collapse of a civilization since the Dark Ages. Civilizational collapses take a long time to unfold and are easy to miss in the welter of daily events.
Interestingly, on the Arab League's website there is a paper that details all of the contributions made by Arab civilization. It is a long and impressive list, which unfortunately marks 1406 as the last year a significant contribution was made. That makes next year the 600th anniversary of the beginning of a prolonged stagnation, which began a dive into the abyss with the end of the Ottoman Empire. Final collapse has been staved off only by the cash coming in from a sea of oil and because of a few bright spots of modernity that have resisted the general failure.
Statistics tell an ugly story about the state of Arab civilization. According to the U.N.'s Arab Human Development Report:
There are 18 computers per 1000 citizens compared to a global average of 78.3.
Only 1.6% of the population has Internet access.
Less than one book a year is translated into Arabic per million people, compared to over 1000 per million for developed countries.
Arabs publish only 1.1% of books globally, despite making up over 5% of global population, with religious books dominating the market.
Average R&D expenditures on a per capita basis is one-sixth of Cuba's and less than one-fifteenth of Japan's.
The Arab world is embarking upon the new century burdened by 60 million illiterate adults (the majority are women) and a declining education system, which is failing to properly prepare regional youth for the challenges of a globalized economy. Educational quality is also being eroded by the growing pervasiveness of religion at all levels of the system. In Saudi Arabia over a quarter of all university degrees are in Islamic studies. In many other nations primary education is accomplished through Saudi-financed madrassas, which have filled the void left by government's abdication of its duty to educate the young.
In economic terms we have already commented that the combined weight of the Arab states is less than that of Spain. Strip oil out of Mideast exports and the entire region exports less than Finland. According to the transnational Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), regional economic growth is burdened by declining rates of investment in fixed capital structure, an inability to attract substantial foreign direct investment, and declining productivity ? the economic trinity of disaster.
Economic stagnation coupled with rapid population growth is reducing living standards throughout the region, both comparatively and in real terms. In the heady days of the late 1970s oil boom, annual per-capita GDP growth of over 5% fueled high levels of expectations. GDP per-capita grew from $1,845 to $2,300. Today, after adjusting for inflation, it stands at $1,500, reflecting an overall decline in living standards over 30 years. Only sub-Saharan Africa has done worse. If oil wealth is subtracted from the calculations the economic picture for the mass of Arab citizens becomes dire.
Things are indeed bad in the Arab world and will get much worse.
This statement should not be read as mere opinion. While predictions of the future are usually fraught with peril, those based on demographics are, barring some unforeseen plague or truly catastrophic war, uncannily accurate. Using even the most optimistic assumption?that fertility rates drop by fifty percent in a generation?the respected Population Resource Center, based in Princeton, New Jersey, expects Arab populations to grow from 280 million to almost 460 million by 2020 and to over 600 million a generation later. On the face of it the Arab world is staring political and economic disaster in the face. Arab governments and institutions are already failing to meet basic human needs in many Arab countries. It is hard to imagine how they will cope with the stress of such a massive population increase.
The percentage of the population under age 15 is double that of Western Europe and those under age 24 make up 50% to 65% of Middle East countries?an astonishingly young population. This youth bulge is already beginning to rock the foundations of Islamic society. Upheaval and revolution are the likely results of a massive number of youth confronted by stagnating or collapsing economies as they enter adulthood.
A youth bulge has always correlated strongly with increased levels of violence within a society, from terrorism to war. Massive youth violence is predictably more likely when lack of economic opportunity stunts ambitions for a satisfying job, a good marriage, and a home. A 2004 study by The World Bank calls this combination of a youth bulge coupled with poor economic performance an "explosive combination." In socially and politically repressive societies, found throughout the Middle East, there are very few outlets for pent-up frustrations except for violence or immersion into religion?a combustible mixture. In the Middle East, it is evident that terrorism and especially suicide operations are a phenomenon closely associated with youth. Youthful involvement in terrorism can be viewed as the extreme end of a broader youthful attraction to violence more generally. Additionally, this attraction is being reinforced within a generation that is being radicalized by an environment featuring high levels of violence, radical religious ideology, and growing anti-Americanism.
One serious question that requires an answer is why youth are attracted to Islamic organizations, which to Western eyes appear to be extremely repressive to many of the aspirations and desires of typical young men and women? In a 2003 Brookings Institution paper, Graham Fuller, a senior resident consultant at the RAND Corporation, provides this answer:
. . . the religious activism of Islamism in the Muslim world is not politically conservative at all: it calls for change to the status quo that is broadly hated. Much of the youthful spirit of rebellion against the status quo can thus be readily harnessed by the Islamist movement, both violent and non-violent. They provide a channel for the expression of discontent, blessed and legitimized by powerful religious tradition that incorporates nationalist impulses as well. It is noteworthy that Islamism serves as a vehicle of protest everywhere except where it is in power, such as Iran and Sudan. It is the status quo that is the major target of anger. (Author's emphasis) A youth bulge is always destabilizing, but it can often be managed if a society is able to properly educate its youth and provide them with adequate economic opportunities at the end of the education process. Arab nations are failing in both areas.
As I see it, the overarching cause of civilizational collapse is that culture and institutions of that civilization can no longer adapt to external stresses. This assertion is grounded in my interpretation of the writings of Will Durant, Story of Civilization, John Roberts' The Rise of the West, and Fernand Braudel's A History of Civilizations. The tyrants and dictators who have long ruled the Arab world have proven unable to implement the changes required to reverse the trends of collapse. Unable to reverse economic and societal ills, and unresponsive to the mass of the Arab population, these rulers instituted polices of strong internal oppression, which further closed off Arab society from the adoption of new ideas and methods.
Populations that were unable to influence their governments found that some methods of expression were still allowed within the context of Islam. Working within this framework radicals found that they could shelter their activities within a religious infrastructure, while at the same time religious leaders realized that they were gaining enough strength to make a grasp for secular power. This was a struggle that went on in the West for a thousand years after the fall of Rome until finally won by secular authority during what is now called the Age of Reason.
Still, Islam is not the root cause of collapse. For instance, it has not stood in the way of economic advancement and societal adaptation in Asia. It is more accurate to say that fundamental failure of Arab culture is causing people to begin looking backwards at the golden age of their civilization. Two things ring out to them from those past centuries: Arabs were powerful when they were united and when their faith was new, vital, and fundamental.
A lot of the evidence that Huntington presents for his theory of civilizational war makes more sense when viewed through the prism of the collapse of Arab civilization. Global maneuvering that Huntington interprets as preparations for a new round of world conflict are in reality the spontaneous adjustments that other societies are making in reaction to the collapse of a neighboring civilization. By accepting that we are facing the collapse of Arab civilization we can, for the first time, create a grand strategic concept for success. We no longer have to engage in a war against terrorism, which is a method of fighting and not an enemy. Additionally, we now have a strategic explanation for what is going on that does not make Islam the culprit. Hence we do not have to fight a religious war to win.
The grand strategic concept that provides the best chance of success is the one that served us so well in the Cold War?containment. No matter what else we do we must position ourselves to contain the effects of the complete collapse of Arab civilization. Already 10 percent of the French population is from Muslim North Africa. Europe's ability to assimilate a larger flood of economic refugees is questionable. And mass migration is just one effect a total collapse will have. Containment will mean adopting and maintaining difficult policy choices, which include:
Working closely with the European nations to defend their southern border against the mass migration of tens of millions of destitute Arabs as well as armed confrontations with failing Arab states.
Renewing our close ties with Turkey and making that nation a bulwark against the effects of collapse.
Working to help modernize and integrate the Russian military into an enhanced European defense structure.
Ensuring China is a partner in this containment effort.
Propping up weak border states that are already dealing with the spillover effects of Arab collapse?such as Pakistan and the new Caucasus states. Assisting the Iranian popular will to establish a government not based on a religious oligarchy. The Persian people may form an eastern bulwark against collapse.
Plan for the security of critical resources even during possible upheavals and regional turmoil.
Spillover effects such as terrorist groups already evident in places like Indonesia and the Philippines must be eradicated or reversed. We need to be clear that this is not a failure of Islam. In this regard we must help Muslims outside of the Arab world find their own interpretations of their faith and not fall prey to those being espoused by the Arab world?Wahhabism.
None of the above policy prescriptions will be easy, nor can they be achieved overnight. Most of them require the support of other nations, which may be problematic. Many of these nations have not recognized the risks they face from Arab collapse and see no reason to take preemptive measures. It is easy to say that we need to work closely with Europe to secure its southern border. In reality, that task will be devilishly hard, not least because the Europeans appear very reluctant to take any measures to protect themselves that might give even a whiff of intolerance. Furthermore, American diplomacy, as of recent decades, has not shown it is up to accomplishing many of the recommended tasks. For instance, all attempts to engage Iran since the fall of the Shah have been a debacle. Unfortunately, as the Iranian nuclear crisis unfolds there is no indication we have gotten any better at it. Do we have the wherewithal to engender a democratic society in Iran and then to engage its support in our common interests? Can we deal with an increasingly autocratic and threatening Russia? Can we manage China's emergence as a superpower so that it can be peacefully integrated into the global political system? The answers to these questions are still unknown. However, because containment of a civilizational collapse cannot be done by the United States alone finding the right answers is critical.
By accepting that we need to contain the effects of a failing Arab civilization we are then free to adopt one of three basic approaches:
Attempt to accelerate the collapse and pick up the pieces, akin to letting an alcoholic hit bottom.
To contain the effects, but not to interfere with the fall for good or bad. Reverse the tide when and where we can.
For a number of ethical and practical reasons the third choice is the one that should and is most likely to be adopted, keeping in mind that resisting the macro-forces of historical change will not be easy.
By adopting the third option we can craft policies to improve economic conditions and help specific regions within the Arab world adapt to encroaching modernity. The United States must be able to spot shining lights in the Arab world and work to protect them even as we help to expand their influence. Discarding the theories of two men as eminent as Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis is not a matter to take lightly. History may even prove both men right and my analysis to be well off the mark. However, the almost blind acceptance now being given to these men's ideas is a dangerous trend. As military leaders build the strategic plans and policies that will guide our forces for a generation or more it is best to be skeptical of all underlying assumptions. This article is designed to strike at the foundation of the two most widely accepted arguments in the current forum of ideas. If they are correct and sturdy then my position will not topple them. In fact, like Kennan's X article they will be made stronger by having to defend themselves against criticism. If they are weak, then it is best to discard them now.
Lieutenant Colonel Lacey is a Washington-based writer focusing on defense and international affairs issues. He was embedded with the 101st Airborne Division during the war in Iraq. He served on active duty for a number of years and later edited journals on international finance.
Geo Political matters
Reply #46 on:
September 09, 2005, 07:16:07 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Friday, Sept. 9, 2005
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko fired his entire government, including Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and National Security and Defense Council head Pyotr Poroshenko, on Thursday, accusing them of corruption and gross mismanagement, and of waging an internal power struggle. The move signals not only a severe government crisis, but also the end of the broad coalition that came to power as a result of the pro-Western "Orange Revolution" last December. A new coalition must be formed by anyone seeking to obtain or retain power in Kiev -- and the future course of Ukraine has been thrown into question.
The collapse of the "Orange Revolution" coalition opens up a new round in the battle for influence being waged by Russia and the United States in Moscow's traditional sphere of control. Though officially it remains aloof, Moscow will be quietly encouraging Yushchenko to, first, cooperate with Russia in the near term and, second, to create a broad coalition of pro-Russian forces that would be capable of winning parliamentary elections next March. And Washington will attempt to form a new anti-Russian bloc around the incumbent before the elections are due.
Given what's at stake, a geopolitical clash over Ukraine is virtually unavoidable. From Moscow's viewpoint, Russia's very survival over the long term is on the table: If Ukraine -- nestled in its geographic underbelly and connected to it by numerous political and economic vessels -- is hostile, Russia in its current form could not long continue as a viable geopolitical entity. And Washington, which is conducting a broad offensive against Moscow and its allies in the former Soviet Union, needs Ukraine as a partner for the same reasons.
The destruction of the Orange Revolution coalition improves Moscow's odds of bringing Kiev back to its side. Russian officials certainly are mindful of their critical failure last winter, when -- with Ukraine bitterly divided between pro-Western and pro-Russian factions -- their own supercilious demeanor toward the former vassal state and clumsy PR efforts alienated millions of hesitant Ukrainian voters. While flying from Germany to Greece on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, Yushchenko, and appeared to give him tacit support -- saying later that Yushchenko controls the situation in Ukraine and that the crisis there is a private matter for Kiev.
Though Putin has his own reasons not to be seen as meddling in Ukraine's affairs, he has several motives in initiating a dialogue with Yushchenko -- not least of which is to gain his buy-in on forming a United Economic Space, consisting of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, the core former Soviert Union countries. Moscow very well might succeed in this effort, since many of the most quarrelsome Ukrainian officials have now been thrown out of the government and Yushchenko thus far has been careful not to challenge Russia openly. However, the very close relationship between Yushchenko and Washington is a potential spanner in the works.
That's why Moscow is pursuing a two-pronged strategy in Ukraine, with the parallel thrust of unifying all potentially pro-Russian factions that would be capable of winning in parliamentary elections next spring. The goal would be to form these forces into a coalition either prior to the elections, running as an identifiable bloc, or a parliamentary coalition formed afterward.
For its part, Washington will continue to support the incumbent, trying to form a new anti-Moscow bloc around him before the elections. In fact, according to sources in the Ukrainian government, it was only after discussing his move with the U.S. embassy in Kiev that Yushchenko dared to fire Prime Minister Timoshenko and her Cabinet -- something he had been longing to do for months, after Timoshenko launched a power struggle against him. If these sources are correct, it would signal that Washington saw Timoshenko's continued presence in government as a threat to Yushchenko, who the Bush administration strongly supports, and blessed her ouster.
Thus, Washington's support for Yushchenko is not in question -- but because he no longer commands a majority in Parliament or among the electorate, American diplomats and nongovernmental organizations will try to help him find new or recover old allies who would support his pro-U.S. agenda.
As for the future in Kiev -- it is a foregone conclusion that coalitions will form, since there are no political forces in Ukraine capable of winning an outright majority. The unsettling thing about such pre-election coalitions is that their members will not be particular about who they side with: the main point is to get into power. The jockeying will be all the more keen in the coming months because of a political reform taking effect: The Parliament elected next spring will be the main power in government, with the right to elect the president through its vote. Knowing this, Moscow and Washington will wage a particularly fierce competition of their own, seeking to draw Ukrainian heavyweights to their side.
All of which brings us to the question of one heavyweight in particular -- Yulia Timoshenko, the just-dismissed prime minister -- and the theatrics that can be expected on the road to Ukraine's elections.
Timoshenko is a colorful figure -- known by some as "unruly Yulia" and by others as "Mrs. 100 Million" (though we suspect she might be worth more). There is no love lost between her and either Washington or Moscow -- yet both the United States and Russia will be seeking her support for their candidates in the elections. Because of her populist statements and image as a decisive leader, Timoshenko remains popular among significant portions of the Ukrainian electorate.
And in this political environment, which in the last year has been rife with suspicious political "suicides" and even the dioxin poisoning of Yushchenko during his presidential campaign, there are absolutely no scenarios that can be ruled out as impossible. On the one hand, Timoshenko -- who, let us remind ourselves, has just been fired on allegations of conspiring against Yushchenko -- could join with him again under a pro-U.S. banner: Indeed, she has business ties to Boris Berezovsky, a staunchly anti-Putin oligarch living in exile in London. But on the other hand, Timoshenko could as easily join forces with pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine's former prime minister, who said Thursday he would invite her to join a pro-Moscow bloc.
There is yet a third possibility for Timoshenko: Unless we miss our guess, she might once again live up to her "unruly" reputation and choose an independent course in the elections, leaving both Moscow and Washington out in the cold.
This Dude ain't no Doughboy
Reply #47 on:
September 11, 2005, 02:58:14 PM »
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Taking the Chinese at their word
Michael Pillsbury, a scion of the Pillsbury family, has translated volumes of Chinese strategic thought, from ancient to modern. He is a key influencer behind recent moves to beef up the Pacific Command in order to deal with potential contingencies involving China:
Michael Pillsbury, influential Pentagon adviser and former China lover, believes most Americans have China all wrong. They think of the place as an inherently gentle country intent on economic prosperity.
In that camp he lumps the lower ranks of the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, most U.S. investors and the majority of American China scholars, whom he chides as "panda huggers." Mr. Pillsbury says his mission is to assure that the Defense Department doesn't fall into the same trap.
"Beijing sees the U.S. as an inevitable foe, and is planning accordingly," warns the 60-year-old China expert. "We'd be remiss not to take that into account."
Mr. Pillsbury's 35-year China odyssey, from fondness to suspicion, parallels Washington's own hot and cold relations with Beijing -- from the diplomatic warming of the 1970s, through the shock and disillusionment of the post-Tiananmen Square era, to today's growing economic and political tensions. That's hardly a coincidence: Whether in public or in the policy-making shadows, Mr. Pillsbury has been a persistent force in shaping official American perceptions of a nation increasingly seen as the world's fastest-rising power.
Washington these days is a welter of emotions on China, many of them heightened by the recent furor over Cnooc Ltd.'s failed bid to buy American oil company Unocal Corp. President Bush came to office calling China a "strategic competitor." He now calls relations with China "good" but "complex." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has lately taken a dimmer view of China than her predecessor, Colin Powell, saying it remains unclear whether China will play a positive role in the world.
Thanks in part to Mr. Pillsbury's nudging, the Pentagon has staked out a particularly wary view of Beijing's global intentions. "We must start with the acknowledgement, at least, that we are unprepared to understand Chinese thinking," Mr. Pillsbury says. "And then we must acknowledge that we are facing in China what may become the largest challenge in our nation's history."
A lanky patrician with bright blue eyes, combed-back gray hair and a ready laugh, Mr. Pillsbury is known around the Pentagon as the Sphinx. Independently wealthy, he spends most days working in his two-story brownstone near the Capitol. He appears on no public Defense Department roster, and top officials decline to speak on the record about his work, noting that he is merely one of hundreds of paid consultants.
Yet Mr. Pillsbury, a fluent Mandarin speaker and author of three esoteric books on Chinese military strategy, has become one of the Pentagon's most influential advisers on China, with a direct line to many of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's top aides.
After decades spent nurturing contacts within China's military, Mr. Pillsbury has amassed mounds of Chinese-language military texts and interviewed their authors to get a grip on China's long-term military aims. His conclusion has rattled many in Washington: China sees the U.S. as a military rival.
"Mike's core insight has been to plumb the subterranean anti-American feelings within China's military," says Daniel Blumenthal, a China specialist at the Defense Department until late last year and now a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "He takes the Chinese at their word, and that has given him real influence within the Pentagon."
Mr. Rumsfeld has sharpened his posture on China in recent months. In June, he ruffled feathers in Asia when he used an annual security forum in Singapore to charge that China's military buildup could upset the region's delicate security balance. The Pentagon then upped the ante with a report warning that the Chinese military nurtures ambitions well beyond defending its historical claim to Taiwan.
The report laid out five "pathways" that could lead China to develop "more assertive foreign and security policies" or even provoke small wars to secure its growing energy needs. U.S. China experts noted that these and other passages seemed lifted straight from Mr. Pillsbury's scholarly work.
The Chinese government disputes Mr. Pillsbury's assessments, as well as the Pentagon's assertion that Beijing is dramatically increasing its military spending. Asked to comment on Mr. Pillsbury, the Chinese Embassy in Washington said in a statement that "any words or actions that fabricate and drum up China's military threat are detrimental to regional peace and stability."
Mr. Pillsbury's numerous critics call him a charming but combative China hawk whose work has overblown the thoughts and writings of a small cadre of Chinese military officials. Even admirers note the intensity with which he defends his views. "Michael has played a singularly important role in surfacing Chinese attitudes toward the U.S.," says Kurt Campbell, the Pentagon's top Asia hand during the Clinton administration. "But as with all brilliance, there is also a touch of madness."
Chu Shulong, a leading scholar on U.S.-China relations at Tsinghua University's Institute of Strategic Studies in Beijing, questions Mr. Pillsbury's conclusions. "All these ideas of the rising power and inevitable conflict, I'm afraid, are very out of date," he says, asserting that China is above all intent on assuring its economic well-being.
Mr. Pillsbury, who has nurtured ties with the Chinese military since the early 1970s, insists he remains open-minded. "My core doctrine is that the Chinese think differently than we think they do and that it's imperative we understand what motivates them," he says.
Chinese writings, Mr. Pillsbury says, show a military establishment obsessed with the inevitable decline of the U.S. and China's commensurate rise. On the economic front, he cautions that Americans shouldn't be taken in by the profusion of fast-food restaurants in China or other signs that make China look like the West. Beneath the growing trade ties with U.S., he says, runs a nationalistic fervor that could take American investors by surprise.
Mr. Pillsbury got the China bug as an undergraduate in the early 1960s, and later spent two years in Taiwan while earning a doctorate in Chinese studies from Columbia University. In late 1972, just months after President Nixon's famous trip to China, Mr. Pillsbury joined Rand Corp. as a 27-year-old China scholar. At the think tank, he began to do classified work for the U.S. government.
By then, Mr. Pillsbury had already made his first contacts with the Chinese military through a friendship with a People's Liberation Army general, Zhang Wutang, who was posted at the United Nations. He used the contact to understand PLA aspirations, and then passed along his conclusions to the Pentagon and the CIA in a series of secret memos. "I was giddy with the Confucian classics and all the magnificence of Chinese culture," he says.
He earned his first acclaim -- and a handwritten letter from then California Gov. Ronald Reagan -- with a 1975 essay in Foreign Policy magazine urging the U.S. to deter Moscow by establishing military and intelligence ties with China. At the time, that idea was almost scandalous. Later, under Presidents Carter and Reagan, such liaisons became a standard part of U.S.-China relations.
Mr. Pillsbury came slowly to what he calls his epiphany on China. Through the Reagan and first Bush administrations, he hopped between jobs at the Pentagon and the Senate, working to enhance military and intelligence cooperation with Beijing. In the 1980s, the U.S. began selling China powerful new torpedoes, upgrades for its jet fighters and advanced electronics for artillery -- arms sales that officials say Mr. Pillsbury helped push.
Then in early May 1989, Mr. Pillsbury flew to Beijing for a low-key military mission, arriving just as the Tiananmen protests picked up steam. He was unsettled by the ruthless crackdown that ensued, and also by how Chinese authorities blamed the U.S. for helping foment the dissent. "I was stunned," he says. "Even some friends in the Chinese military that I'd known for years began to describe us as a mortal enemy, an evil force."
Following Tiananmen, Mr. Pillsbury's conclusions on China became notably darker. In one 1993 study, he noted: "China has the advantage that many experts on Chinese affairs...testify soothingly that China today is a satisfied power which deeply desires a peaceful environment in which to develop its economy. They put the burden of proof on others, defying pessimists to prove that China may ever become hypernationalistic or aggressive."
An inveterate free-lancer, Mr. Pillsbury has never had to worry about steady employment. He's a member of the Pillsbury flour family, and his wealth has allowed him to pursue his research despite a knack for championing unpopular causes and for landing in political scrapes. Once, while helping funnel weapons to anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan and Angola in the 1980s, he lost and regained his security clearance amid allegations of leaking secret information to the press.
Mr. Pillsbury has also avidly collected high-level protectors, counting Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and retired North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms among his patrons. His long-time mentor and current employer is the Pentagon's Andrew Marshall, a mercurial figure who at 83 still runs the department's long-term planning shop, the Office of Net Assessment.
In early 1995, Mr. Marshall sent Mr. Pillsbury to Beijing to gather Chinese military writings. The Pentagon by then was promoting a new generation of heavily computerized military hardware, and Mr. Marshall wanted to see what the Chinese made of this so-called revolution in military affairs.
Mr. Pillsbury interviewed dozens of authors, and returned after several trips with crates of books and journals, more than 500 volumes in all. The haul formed the core of his first two books, both published by the Pentagon's National Defense University.
Hardly light reading, the books got glowing reviews from several neoconservative thinkers, including Paul Wolfowitz, Mr. Rumsfeld's former top aide and now president of the World Bank.
In his 1997 "Chinese Views of Future Warfare," Mr. Pillsbury portrays a military hierarchy fascinated with information warfare and the need for weapons systems to deliver "acupuncture" strikes and take out satellites. A particular obsession: what he claims to be the Chinese pursuit of "shashoujian," or a secret "assassin's weapon" that China can use to surprise a more powerful opponent.
"Mike can make a good case that the Chinese are developing submarines to sink our aircraft carriers or missiles to take out our satellites," says James Lilly, a former CIA station chief who served as ambassador to China in the early 1990s. "His whole point is, 'Pay attention. Listen to what they are saying.'" China's long-term strategy, Mr. Pillsbury argues, is to amass its strengths while attracting as little attention as possible.
He is increasingly convinced that China's military thinkers and strategists derive much of their guidance and inspiration from China's Warring States period, an era of pre-unification strife about 2,300 years ago. This is the thesis of his latest book, "The Future of China's Ancient Strategy," which the Pentagon plans to publish this fall. Its core assertion is that China's history and culture posit the existence of a "hegemon" -- these days, the United States -- that must be defeated over time.
After President Bush took office in 2001, officials in the Defense Department were quick to embrace Mr. Pillsbury's warnings on China. His prominence became abundantly clear when China's then-vice president, Hu Jintao, stopped by the Pentagon in May 2002 to visit Secretary Rumsfeld.
The State Department had opposed the meeting, arguing that the Defense Department was not the proper place for the visit of a soon-to-be president of China. When Mr. Hu's party arrived, Mr. Rumsfeld dismissed the State Department interpreter and had Mr. Pillsbury do the job instead.
Defense Department officials, while declining to elaborate, say that Mr. Pillsbury is now being considered for a full-time post at the Pentagon.
Chinese officials are also keeping tabs on Mr. Pillsbury. In June, the Communist Party's People's Daily tagged the China expert as the main force behind the Pentagon's recent report on the Chinese military. "Mike Pillsbury always sits beside Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld," at policy sessions on China, the story said.
Reply #48 on:
September 22, 2005, 06:04:24 PM »
Perhaps misfiled here, but I can't help wondering what else the Russian military is into if it's keep itself afloat pirating DVDs.
Want a pirate DVD? Try the secret nuclear bunker
From Jeremy Page in Moscow
DURING the Cold War the West spent billions of dollars trying to spy on the military installations of the Soviet Union. Now Western governments are targeting secret Russian military facilities in a new conflict, this time over the piracy of music, films and software.
The Russian Interior Ministry has revealed that millions of pirated DVDs, CDs and CD-ROMs are being produced at factories on secret military facilities beyond the jurisdiction of the police. The ministry said: ?Some of the counterfeit production is being made in commercial structures installed in secret and top-secret facilities.?
Western companies have lobbied the Kremlin for years to shut down the factories that have made Russia, with China and Indonesia, one of the biggest producers of pirated DVDs, CDs and CD-Roms. President Putin has come under pressure this year because the inclusion of Russia on a US piracy watchlist is a key obstacle to its hopes of joining the World Trade Organisation.
Russian police have had little success in clamping down on the factories, which can churn out an estimated 250 million discs a year, of which 90 per cent are pirated. In a kiosk less than 500 metres from the Moscow office of The Times, Anatoly offered a pirate DVD copy of the Adam Sandler comedy The Longest Yard ? released in Britain on September 9 ? for only 150 roubles (?3). ?Tomorrow I?ll have Revolver,? he said, even though Guy Ritchie?s latest film had its premiere in London only this week.
Industry experts say that of the 42 factories known to be producing bootleg films, music and software at least 12 are on restricted government or military sites, many in or around Moscow. Konstantin Zem-chinkov, the director of the Russian Anti-Piracy Organisation (RAPO), said: ?They want to make it difficult for police to come in and raid them. The military knows about it and the Government knows about it.?
The problem, he said, was that much of Russia?s vast military industrial complex was moribund and desperate for cash. ?They have to have some money but the Government can?t supply it.?
It is hard to estimate the value of Russia?s pirate disc business, but with production costs of six roubles a disc it is undoubtedly huge. American businesses lost more that
$1.7 billion (?940 million) last year to copyright piracy in Russia, and more than $6 billion in the past five years, according to US officials. Shutting down such a lucrative business, therefore, has its risks. Last year Russian police working with the RAPO shut down Europe?s largest counterfeiting operation in a rented building on a military base in the city of Pushkino, near Moscow. The factory, which had been running for two years, housed equipment worth an estimated ?7 million including an ultramodern production line capable of producing 650,000 discs a month.
The pirates have threatened to retaliate against the RAPO and even tried to recover the confiscated machinery by using their connections in the Government. In June an anti- piracy activist in the far eastern region of Primorye was attacked by four men with baseball bats and rubber batons a day after he helped police to raid a pirate disc factory.
Even if the pirates are caught, they are rarely punished. Since the start of the year only 11 of 446 people found guilty of pirating offences have been given prison sentences, with the others receiving suspended sentences or having to pay fines.
A Survey of Realism
Reply #49 on:
September 27, 2005, 11:50:09 AM »
This lengthy piece exams current American policy through a realpolitik "realism" lens. Raising more questions than answers, the piece straddles one of my philosophical divides; on the one hand I think Machiavelli and Hobbes etc. had fairly accurate (and often grossly misunderstood) views on politics and the exercise of power. Flip side is that I think big ideas like "freedom," "democracy," and "self-determination" all hold a power the realists tend to overlook or at least minimize. A thought provoking piece, all in all.
Bush and the Realists
Foreign-policy ?realism? has never been an easy sell in America. Its emergence as a mature school of thought in the early years of the cold war is generally credited to Hans J. Morgenthau, a German-Jewish refugee whose self-assigned task was to cure his adopted country of its inveterate and, to his mind, reckless idealism. As Morgenthau argued in his classic Politics Among Nations (1948), the U.S. could no longer afford to indulge the ?crusading? mentality of Woodrow Wilson, especially when confronted by the no less dangerously universalistic claims of Soviet Communism. In dealing with the USSR, American resistance had to be tempered by compromise and engagement, by a concern for stability and order. Both superpowers had legitimate interests, the mutual recognition of which, Morgenthau insisted, was the only hope for survival in the nuclear age.
Realist prudence prevailed often enough during the long decades of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry, but, to Morgenthau?s dismay, it proved impossible to exorcise the ideological dimension of the conflict from American politics and discourse. In a nation persuaded of the world-historical significance of its own democratic principles, statesmen might practice realpolitik but would hesitate to avow it. Realism?s directives were what gifted advisers like Dean Acheson, George Kennan, and Henry Kissinger whispered to Presidents behind closed doors (or urged in their own writings), not the stuff of stump speeches and party platforms.
This is not to say that realism has lacked American constituencies. In the academic field of international relations, self-proclaimed ?neorealists? have flourished for decades, tracing their intellectual roots to Morgenthau and, more distantly, to the bleak, unforgiving analyses of Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. Being modern political scientists, they have tried to put their work on a properly scientific footing; ?rigor? and ?parsimony? are their tests of excellence. Where others see great variety in the motives of states, academic realists dwell on the unrelenting demands of power and survival. Scholars who share this approach have produced an enormous and (as any graduate student in the field can attest) ever-growing constellation of competing hypotheses, models, and case studies.
In the political sphere, realism was once a prominent element in the foreign-policy establishments of both parties, undergirding the cold-war doctrine of containment. Since the Vietnam war, however, it has had a decidedly mixed career. Realist thought has largely faded from view among Democrats, who for decades have tended either to shrink from the assertion of American power or to insist on its strict validation by international norms and institutions?positions difficult to reconcile with the unsentimental pursuit of the national interest. Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was Jimmy Carter?s national security adviser, is often mentioned as an exception to this rule, but he was controversial for his hawkishness even at the height of his influence, and remains a marginal figure among Democratic policy-makers.
Which leaves the Republican party, the contentious if usually accommodating home of realpolitik since the 1960?s. Though neoconservatives and other cold warriors never trusted Kissinger and his heirs, they tended to grant them at least a grudging respect. The realists who served in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and first Bush administrations (to say nothing of Nixon and Bush, Sr. themselves) may have been ?soft? on Communism, as their detractors on the Right often charged, but they shared certain fundamentals with the more ideological factions of the conservative camp. They recognized the nature of the Soviet threat, took seriously the balance of power, and knew that treaties and diplomacy, however useful, were no substitute for American military might and credibility.
Running for President in 2000, George W. Bush gave every indication that he would extend this Republican tradition. Though he struggled at times with the finer points of international relations, famously flubbing a reporter?s pop quiz, he was clear about his strategic priorities. A Bush administration would focus on major issues like trade and military readiness and on improving relations with major powers like China and Russia. Writing in Foreign Affairs in the lead-up to the election, then-campaign adviser Condoleezza Rice argued for ?a disciplined and consistent foreign policy,? one that, in contrast to the Clinton record, would separate ?the important from the trivial.? Her article was titled ?Promoting the National Interest,? a phrase that in itself spoke volumes.
But then came 9/11, and very soon thereafter the candidate who had mocked ?nation-building? and recommended an international posture of ?humble? strength emerged as a President of unapologetically neoconservative convictions. A similar conversion seems to have been experienced by Rice, his alter ego on foreign affairs. In the years since 9/11, this transformation has been noted?and lamented?in many quarters. But the shock of it has fallen hardest perhaps on realists, both inside and outside the Republican party, whose expectations have been rudely disappointed.
Indeed, the President has gone out of his way to signal that his own most controversial policies, particularly the decision to overthrow and replace the regime of Saddam Hussein, have sprung in part from a conscious repudiation of Morgenthau?s legacy. As he declared in June 2004 to the graduating class of the U.S. Air Force Academy,
Some who call themselves ?realists? question whether the spread of democracy in the Middle East should be any concern of ours. But the realists in this case have lost contact with a fundamental reality. America has always been less secure when freedom is in retreat. America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.
It is no surprise, then, that realists of various stripes have been among the administration?s most determined critics. Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to Ford and Bush p?re (and Rice?s one-time mentor), registered his discontent early on, arguing that Iraq would be a costly diversion from the war on terrorism. In the pages of the quarterly National Interest, the Nixon prot?g?s Robert F. Ellsworth and Dimitri K. Simes have objected strenuously to Bush?s unilateralism and aggressive promotion of democracy. So has Owen Harries, the journal?s distinguished former editor. On Capitol Hill, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a self-styled realist and likely contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, has voiced increasing skepticism about the war. Even usually quiescent realist scholars, including many of the biggest names in the field, have gotten into the act, speaking out against the invasion of Iraq and, in its wake, helping to form an anti-Bush advocacy group called the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy.
To top off this shift into opposition, the realist camp now has two new manifestos. Though both written by senior members of the guild, they are strikingly different books. Stephen M. Walt of Harvard, a leading international-relations theorist and a charter member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, has composed a blistering critique in the form of an academic treatise. Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a veteran of several Republican administrations (including the current one), has dispatched a polite but firm diplomatic protest, a plea for a new course. Walt is the naysayer, Haass the consensus-builder. One might think of them as the bad cop and the good cop of realist dissent.
Walt?s point of departure is neatly summed up by his title, Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy (W.W. Norton, 320 pp., $27.95). Since the end of the cold war, he writes, Americans have vigorously debated how best to use their country?s unsurpassed military, economic, and cultural might. But we have failed to consider how this behemoth looks to other nations. ?In a world of independent states,? Walt observes, ?the strongest is always a potential threat to the rest, if only because they cannot be entirely sure what it is going to do with the power at its command.? A state enjoying such primacy is especially threatening when filled with righteous indignation, as the U.S. has been since 9/11, and when led by a President like George W. Bush, whose indifference to international opinion is matched only by his ?smug overconfidence? in America?s ability to go it alone.
Yet, even in their relative weakness, other states are not without recourse against American primacy. Although ?balancing? in the classic realist sense?that is, by means of a grand countervailing alliance?has not occurred, ?softer? forms of balancing are not difficult to find. We have seen in recent years not just deepening strategic ties among China, Russia, and Europe, but also more cooperation among ?so-called rogue states? like Iran and North Korea. As for a ?nonstate group? like al Qaeda, its preferred balancing option has been the ?asymmetric strategy? of terrorism, which seeks to alter U.S. behavior ?by persuading it that its current policies are too expensive to sustain.?
Weaker states, especially allies, also have been able to accomplish their own ends through various tactics of accommodation. One of these is what Walt calls ?bonding,? typified by Tony Blair?s deft exploitation of the ?special relationship? between Great Britain and the U.S. Though derided by critics as Bush?s ?poodle,? the British prime minister has been able to use his influence to win a prominence for himself and his country that otherwise would not have been available. Still more impressive as a tool to sway American power is domestic political ?penetration.? Here Walt?s chief example?in fact, the book?s most extended case study?is the ?Israel lobby.? In a democracy, he emphasizes, such pressure is perfectly legitimate, but there is no denying its distorting influence. Since ?the objective [his emphasis] case for a close U.S.-Israel partnership is weaker today than it was in the past,? the explanation for the tight bond can lie only in ?Israel?s unmatched ability to manipulate the American political system.?
Resistance to U.S. primacy is inevitable, Walt believes, but its present-day intensity is not. By openly defying the interests and expectations of other nations, the Bush administration has made American power seem threatening in an unprecedented way. What sort of grand strategy, then, would better suit America?s extraordinary position of dominance?
Walt?s own blueprint entails a fundamental shift in America?s global posture, one that would ?reassure? friends and foes alike of our benign intentions. He labels it ?offshore balancing,? and its essence is simple: the U.S. would dramatically reduce the overall ?footprint? of its military power, especially in Europe and the Middle East, and directly intervene only in instances of ?overt aggression? against our ?vital interests,? leaving the maintenance of stability in key regions to ?local actors.? More important perhaps, the U.S. would stop ?telling the world what to do and how to live? and stop ?trying to impose democracy at the point of a gun,? as we have so disastrously attempted to do in Iraq. If Americans lack the ?wisdom and self-restraint? to pursue such a course, he warns, we may well awake one day soon to discover new international arrangements ?whose main purpose,? in a sad replay of our own cold-war strategy, ?is to contain us.?
Walt plainly intends Taming American Power as a provocation. He takes sharply contrarian positions on a range of difficult issues, from nuclear proliferation to the Arab-Israeli conflict, emphasizing in each instance just how wrong a turn he thinks the U.S. has taken under its benighted current leadership. Equal parts professor and polemicist, he is eager to demonstrate realism?s analytical virtues?its austerity, its clinical detachment, its focus on the fundamentals of interest and power.
What is refreshing about Walt?s brand of Bush-bashing is that, unlike many liberal critics, he is no earnest internationalist, looking expectantly toward the day when the world?s swords will be beaten into plowshares. He is unembarrassed by American primacy, and has no moral compunctions about the pursuit of American interests. His objection is not that U.S. policy under the Bush administration has been selfish but that it has been dangerously counterproductive, the source of a mounting international backlash.
It is a peculiar realist calculus, however, with which Walt tries to support this hyperbolic claim. As evidence of rising opposition to the United States, he begins by offering up the polling numbers that have become common exhibits in the foreign-policy debate: the U.S., he reminds us, has come to be seen in an increasingly unfavorable light by much of the rest of the world. Such news is troubling, to be sure, but it is difficult to see why it would figure in the reckonings of a hard-edged realist, particularly one who, like Walt, is so frankly distrustful of popular judgment in foreign affairs. Is not the crux of the issue how states behave?
Yet on this point he fails to produce the goods. By Walt?s own admission, U.S. power under Bush has not generated the countervailing alliance?the ?hard? balancing?that realist theory would predict. Other nations have resisted specific American policies and imposed real costs on U.S. action, but, as Walt concedes, they have not contemplated the sort of ?encircling coalitions that Wilhelmine Germany or the Soviet Union provoked.?
To explain this ?anomalous? situation, Walt recites a catalog of factors, only to note in passing that the U.S. is not seen as ?an especially aggressive country,? having never sought ?to conquer and dominate large sections of the globe.? Putting the point more explicitly, one might say instead that, in contrast to most other ascendant powers in the history of the world, the U.S. has not aspired to empire, and has lacked such ambitions largely because it is a liberal democracy whose own identity springs from a declared commitment to the right of self-government and to the independence of nations.
Orthodox ?neorealism? frowns on such ?unit-level analysis? (as it is known in the jargon of the field); the character of a particular state is not supposed to matter as compared with the quantum of raw power at its disposal. But America?s well-known aversion to dominion is the key to understanding how other nations gauge its intentions. As it happens, most countries, even those deeply unhappy with the Bush administration?s policies, do not appear to share Walt?s view that neoconservative Washington hopes ?to govern vast areas of the world by force.?
No grand alliance has formed against the U.S., one might also add, because the world increasingly shares the Bush administration?s urgency in fighting Islamist terrorism. Although Walt dismisses the American effort as a ?crusade,? it is one in which many countries now have a serious and growing stake. Trans-Atlantic cooperation on this front is already substantial and, in the wake of the London bombings, will surely intensify (to say nothing of such recent wonders as France?s active collaboration with the U.S. in confronting Syria). As for the Islamic world itself, the red-hot center of anti-American sentiment, barbarous assaults in Sharm el-Sheikh, Baghdad, Jakarta, Istanbul, and elsewhere have finally prompted second thoughts about the piety of the jihadists. In the fatwas of clerics and in Islamic public opinion, suicide attacks are starting to win condemnation. Even the UN is preparing, at long last, to call terrorism by its proper name. More of the world, in short, seems to be coming around to the view that the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, far from being (as Walt would have it) a ?strategy? for reversing hated policies, poses a nihilistic threat to any kind of civilized order.
It is also worth recalling that Americans themselves were familiar with Islamist terrorism well before 9/11. Indeed, for years they have watched the citizens of Israel, an ally and fellow democracy, endure the vicious onslaught of Muslim ?martyrs.? Without claiming to possess Walt?s ?objective? understanding of these matters, one might venture that this sense of shared trauma and threat has been a chief source of continued American-Israeli solidarity, even more significant than the influence of the Jewish advocacy groups and public officials in whom Walt takes an obsessive, almost unseemly, interest. In a similar vein, the best explanation for Tony Blair?s enthusiastic support of President Bush may lie not in the quid pro quos of ?bonding??after all, he has often returned home from Washington empty-handed?but in his endlessly and eloquently stated loathing for Baathist and Islamist totalitarianism. Such motives find no place in Walt?s reductive paradigms.
As for ?offshore balancing??Walt?s proposed solution to the international woes of the United States?it is a strategy of retreat, and would surely be interpreted as such by our enemies. Its toll on American credibility, even with our vast military and economic resources, would be incalculably high. As a response to anti-Americanism in the Middle East, it would likely backfire, drawing justifiable charges of hypocrisy and neglect. The people of the region may have mixed feelings about democracy-promotion by the U.S., but they certainly have had enough of the sheiks and strongmen on whom Walt, following the lead of too many American administrations, would rely for stability.
Are Stephen Walt?s views ?isolationist?? He bristles at the suggestion, and with some justice. But that is their unmistakable valence in today?s foreign-policy debate. For confirmation, one need look no further than the signed declarations of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, where ?realism? takes the form of denouncing America?s incipient ?empire? and where Walt and his academic fellow-travelers have found, among the nativist minions of Patrick J. Buchanan and the libertarian ideologues of the Cato Institute, their natural allies.
Richard Haass, it is safe to say, is no petition-signer or rhetorical bomb-thrower. The director of policy planning at the State Department under Colin Powell before leaving in 2003 to lead the Council on Foreign Relations, he is known to have clashed with the administration?s neoconservatives over Iraq and other big strategic questions. Like Brent Scowcroft, his boss at the National Security Council in the first Bush administration, Haass is the voice of the sober, moderate realist establishment. Though now very much on the outside looking in, he is someone who, in a future Republican administration, could easily wind up with a prominent job.
His book, The Opportunity: America?s Moment to Alter History?s Course (Public Affairs, 242 pp., $25.00), possesses none of the bite and theoretical pretension of Walt?s, but it takes aim at many of the same targets. Haass, too, laments the Bush administration?s unilateralism, fearing that it will stimulate a return to harsh balance-of-power politics. He has no taste for assertive democracy-promotion, arguing that the U.S. must concentrate instead on the external actions of other states. And he considers the war in Iraq both ?unwarranted??Saddam Hussein, he suggests, could have been contained by enhanced sanctions?and far too dear in terms of American resources and attention.
But rehearsing familiar criticisms is not Haass?s aim; he has an agenda of his own. Whatever his differences with recent U.S. policy?and despite the frightening new threats at large in the world?he believes that we live at a uniquely fortunate moment in global affairs, a moment (as his title proclaims) of profound ?opportunity.? The end of the cold war has left behind the past century?s great ideological divide. More countries than ever before are democratic and market-oriented. Most important of all,
For the first time in modern history, the major powers of the day?currently, the United States, Europe, China, Russia, Japan, possibly India?are not engaged in a classic struggle for domination at each other?s expense. There are few contests over territory. For the foreseeable future, war between or among them borders on the highly unlikely and, in some instances, the unthinkable.
The task for the United States, according to Haass, is to turn this still-nascent harmony into something more permanent, into ?rules, policies, and institutions? that will allow the world to manage the formidable goods and evils of globalization. To achieve such ?integration,? Americans will have to think more broadly, moving beyond their fixation on fighting terrorism, and they will have to check their impulse to act alone. Only ?effective multilateralism,? in which the U.S. accepts limits on its own actions and seeks consensus on the urgent issues of the day, can ensure the continued advance of peace and prosperity. Now as always in modern history, Haass writes, the balance between the ?forces of order and disorder? will be ?largely determined by the degree to which the major powers . . . can agree on rules of the road?and impose them on those who reject them.?
Although Haass cites the post-Napoleonic ?concert of Europe? as a precedent for such cooperation, what he has in mind is more far-reaching, and in many respects defies conventional realist thinking. It is up to the U.S., he argues, to persuade the world to accept a range of positive commitments that impinge on traditional notions of sovereignty. Where genocide threatens, the international community should accept ?a right and a duty to act to protect innocent life.? States that promote or even passively abet terrorism should be understood to be committing ?an act of war.? Regimes that engage in nuclear proliferation should face the strongest of sanctions, ?not to exclude attack and removal from power.?
In the economic realm, Haass would press nations rich and poor to trade ever more freely, subject to the liberalizing superintendence of the World Trade Organization (WTO). At the same time, the U.S. must attend to the abiding backwardness of whole regions of the world: ?We need to absorb the idea that the failure of other countries to provide political and economic opportunity to their citizens is not just a humanitarian or moral problem but a strategic one as well, as such societies all too often spawn radicals and terrorists.? The ?safest and best way? to deal with the worst of these international offenders, Haass believes, is to co-opt them with social and cultural advantages and with rising living standards: not regime change but regime ?evolution? should be our watchword.
If the U.S. is to accomplish even part of this agenda, Haass concludes, we must reacquaint ourselves with the etiquette of international leadership. Consultations with the other major powers need to be ?frequent and genuine,? particularly on issues of war and peace, and the American point of view cannot always prevail. We must play for the long run, not for transient victories. ?Diplomacy need not be a dirty word.?
Haass is hardly alone in wishing to change the tone set by American foreign policy in recent years. Indeed, the Bush administration itself appears to have come some way toward his view. For all the attention focused on the nomination of the ?undiplomatic? John Bolton?arguably, a perfect fit for the peculiar perversities of the UN?the administration has been impressively involved of late on the diplomatic front, not least in the frenetic globe-trotting of Condoleezza Rice, who since becoming Secretary of State has spent much of her time consulting, cajoling, and confronting world leaders.
In any case, Haass goes too far in what he expects the U.S. to cede in such powwows, describing if not a veto for other nations then certainly a substantial check, one that few American Presidents are likely to accept any time soon. Foreign policy is not an overseas popularity contest, and even our most sincere diplomatic overtures are unlikely to reverse the tide of anti-Americanism, which is a force in the world with a life very much of its own. That does not mean we should be unconcerned about the perceived ?legitimacy? of U.S. policy; as Haass rightly argues, the judgment of the rest of the world may not necessarily be sound, but the support of other countries can help us to shape the international climate to our own goals.
Unfortunately, Haass?s own version of those goals is at once overly ambitious and woefully shortsighted. There is, in the first place, a gross mismatch between the worthy ends that he proposes and the modest means available to achieve them. Reaching into his diplomatic pouch, he pulls out the familiar tools of realist statecraft: ?carrots and sticks,? interests and incentives, rules and institutions. Nowhere, however, does he suggest what, precisely, would induce the other major powers to accept the changes he envisions.
China and Russia, in particular, may be willing to give up some measure of their sovereignty in order to achieve the fullest benefits of trade under the WTO, but on the issues of security emphasized by Haass?genocide, terrorism, nuclear proliferation?it is hard to imagine circumstances in which they would endorse ?rules of the road? encouraging muscular action against offenders. For China and Russia alike, after all, sovereignty is what protects and bolsters their authoritarian regimes.
There is no obvious or easy solution to this problem, but Haass is reluctant to confront it at all. For him, the only option for the U.S. is to wait for ?integration,? especially of the economic sort, to work its magic on the Chinese dragon and the Russian bear, unleashing in due course the forces of political liberalization. In the meantime, we may issue, sotto voce, an occasional human-rights protest but must not consider real penalties in the form of privileges lost or sanctions imposed. Provoked though we may be, the U.S. must forgo any ?temptation to actively work against a fellow major power,? and taking a stand on democracy and human rights ?is rarely something that can be allowed to crowd out other objectives.?
The fact that this is standard-issue realism cannot hide its ugliness. While it is true that the U.S. needs the cooperation of Beijing and Moscow, the converse is also true, and can be made contingent to some degree on political progress (or at least on an absence of political regression). Pressing such issues is important not only for the sake of the reformers and dissidents to whose side the U.S. should rally. In the case of China in particular, it is incumbent upon us to recognize the looming tension there between dynamic economic and social change, on the one hand, and political stasis and oppression, on the other. To assume that China?s present course will ensure stability is to share the complacency of its Communist rulers.
Still more disappointing is Haass?s impulse to hedge his high-minded principles of integration even in areas that do not require confronting a ?fellow? major power. Among his stated priorities is ?taking on? Islamist terrorism, and he finds little merit in the argument, voiced by Walt among others, that such violence is an answer to particular American or Western transgressions. The aims of ?existential? terrorists are so far-reaching, Haass writes, ?that they could never be satisfied through policy give-and-take or compromise?; in this category he makes a point of including not just the adherents of al Qaeda but also ?those Palestinian terrorists who reject a Jewish state.?
And yet, in almost the next breath, Haass declares the need for high-level American pressure to bring about, as soon as possible, a Palestinian state, in order to improve ?perceptions of the United States? and our ?diplomatic prospects? in the Arab world. Whether this state would stand any real chance of eluding the grip of the Islamists does not appear to interest him; it is enough that the Palestinian Authority?s new leadership has ?disavowed? terrorism.
For establishing a Palestinian state, Haass?s time frame is tomorrow or sooner; for advancing democratic reform, it is eventually, if then. This patience is doubly regrettable with respect to the Arab world, where Haass plainly recognizes the nature of the threat we face and its origins in the region?s isolation and ferocious resistance to modernity. But he would deal with the problem in the mild, temporizing way that passes for assertiveness among realists:
[Our] public statements and private advice can create support for change and help launch debates. Economic resources can empower civil society. Exchanges that bring students and young professionals to the United States can introduce new ideas and provide valuable experience. Teacher and language training, translation of texts, the adoption of modern curricula?all can improve the quality of education. Radio, television, and the Internet can be used to . . .
And so forth, and so on. What is notable about this list is that, in one form or another, such initiatives have been under way for some time, certainly since well before the attacks of 9/11. Why, one might wonder, is it only now, as Haass himself notes, that we seem to be making progress in promoting reform among the Arabs?
The answer, of course, is the U.S. campaign in Iraq. Even by the testimony of some of the Middle East?s anti-American stalwarts, the emergence in Iraq of an embattled experiment in constitutional self-government has had an electrifying effect on the prospects for democratic change in the region. Popular expectations have shifted, and so too have political realities, from Lebanon and Syria to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In the careful ledger sheet that Haass uses to assess the war in Iraq, he records many debits, pointing to the undeniable costs of the American invasion. But he fails to record any credits (except for the fall of Saddam himself), and certainly none for the Middle East?s recent and unprecedented turn toward liberalization.
?Good motives give assurance against deliberately bad policies,? Hans J. Morgenthau cautioned, in an axiom cited by Haass, but ?they do not guarantee the moral goodness and political success of the policies they inspire.? One might go further and say, as Morgenthau himself did, that good motives can blind us to the requirements of successful policy, as they have sometimes done in Iraq. But Morgenthau?s prudential advice also has its limits.
It is true that good motives?by which he meant moral aims??guarantee? nothing. But the same can be said of every motive, even the clear-eyed pursuit of a starkly defined national interest. Indeed, if events of the past several years demonstrate anything, it is the na?vet? of confining American foreign policy to narrow questions of interest and to the maintenance of amicable relations among the major powers. Mere cooperation among states is no promise of peace and security when what goes on within states, large and small, has assumed such potentially lethal proportions. In this respect, as President Bush correctly observed in his June 2004 speech at the Air Force Academy, realism has proved a most unrealistic guide to foreign policy.
None of this makes it easier?or, in every instance, practical?to put freedom ?on the march,? in Bush?s phrase. But our predicament leaves few other options, and we will never discover the right combination of ?carrots and sticks? for the job if, for fear of offending our friends, we resign ourselves to a status quo that nurtures our enemies.
Gary Rosen is the managing editor of Commentary and the editor of The Right War? The Conservative Debate on Iraq, which has just been published by Cambridge University Press.
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