Dog Brothers Public Forum

Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities => Politics & Religion => Topic started by: buzwardo on December 10, 2004, 09:27:43 AM

Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: buzwardo on December 10, 2004, 09:27:43 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:

Wrong Answer


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.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 10, 2004, 04:48:33 PM
Geopolitical Intelligence Report: Russia: After Ukraine

Coming Soon ...

Stratfor's Decade Forecast - being offered for the first time ever to the
public - is coming in early January. The decade forecast, featuring key
predictions and focused insight for 2005-2015, is an invaluable tool for your
strategy and planning decisions.  Get a first look at global trends region by region with Stratfor's unparalleled analysis and predictions regarding the shape of geopolitical events to come.

Visit to pre-order your copy today! FREE with Premium subscription.



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.
Title: Big hope for outsourcing in Russia after slow start
Post by: buzwardo on December 15, 2004, 01:07:44 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."
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 06, 2005, 02:11:49 PM
Ralph Peters

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.
Title: US Military to Balkan Bases?
Post by: buzwardo on January 14, 2005, 09:36:06 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.

Changed environment

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.

Emergency force

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."

Foreign investment

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
Title: CIA gives grim warning on European prospects
Post by: buzwardo on January 16, 2005, 08:53:12 AM

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.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 16, 2005, 06:12:35 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
several weeks.

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.
Title: US sees a spy in China's Lenovo
Post by: buzwardo on January 24, 2005, 07:04:36 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.
Title: Soylent Green, Not
Post by: buzwardo on February 03, 2005, 11:53:12 AM
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.

New demographics

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.

New economics?

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.

New eugenics?

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.

New choices

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.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 03, 2005, 11:02:04 PM
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?
Title: VDH on the Mideast End Game
Post by: buzwardo on February 18, 2005, 04:02:52 PM
Unsung Victories
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
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 19, 2005, 06:54:27 PM
From Barron's:
World of Worry

Problems abound around the globe, but Stratfor thinks we fret over the wrong ones

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.
Title: Fools' Fuel
Post by: buzwardo on March 11, 2005, 10:08:35 PM
Perhaps this could be better filed elsewhere, but Hitchens' thesis speaks to the way many geopolitical matters are covered.

Burned Out
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.
Title: NRO on Bolton
Post by: buzwardo on March 12, 2005, 01:20:56 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
Title: Taipei Times' Take on Sino/Russian Wargames
Post by: buzwardo on March 19, 2005, 08:43:51 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.
Title: Fascism Rising in Russia?
Post by: buzwardo on March 29, 2005, 07:28:13 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.
Title: Head in the Sand Inteligence Education
Post by: buzwardo on March 31, 2005, 10:37:10 AM
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
Stanley Kurtz

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?

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 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.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: French Cat on April 01, 2005, 08:14:09 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.
Title: China's Latin American Foray
Post by: buzwardo on April 09, 2005, 09:31:03 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.
Title: Trilateral Alliance?
Post by: buzwardo on May 05, 2005, 10:15:45 AM
A long way from happening but worth keeping an eye on, IMO.

Trilateral Alliance
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.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 05, 2005, 01:53:47 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.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 05, 2005, 08:58:41 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.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 06, 2005, 08:46:44 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.
Title: The Kicker
Post by: buzwardo on May 09, 2005, 03:27:54 PM
Crafty writes:

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.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 09, 2005, 10:07:05 PM

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.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 13, 2005, 09:15:58 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.
Title: Knee Jerk Marketing
Post by: buzwardo on May 23, 2005, 09:11:03 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,  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.
It's pathetic.

Thanks are extended to reader Bill Ellet for his editorial suggestion.
Title: Space Arms Race?
Post by: buzwardo on May 26, 2005, 08:51:14 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.
Title: Hanging the Last Capatalist
Post by: buzwardo on May 31, 2005, 09:18:06 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.
Title: Excellent read...
Post by: SB_Mig on June 02, 2005, 08:26:38 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."
Title: Shaking the Sword in the Sheath
Post by: buzwardo on June 07, 2005, 06:59:52 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:
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 10, 2005, 05:20:40 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
geopolitical chips.
Title: If Gitmo is a Gulag what do we Call North Korea?
Post by: buzwardo on June 15, 2005, 02:28:44 PM
Why North Korea Deported Me
By Norbert Vollertsen | 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.
Title: Future Force Projection
Post by: buzwardo on June 17, 2005, 11:46:34 AM
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


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.

UCAV arena

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.

European requirements

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."
Title: East Asian Tango
Post by: buzwardo on June 20, 2005, 01:28:15 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.
Title: Sleeping Dragon Stirs
Post by: buzwardo on July 20, 2005, 10:25:09 AM
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

Date: 20/7/2005
Source: Sify


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".
Title: Attack Infrastructure against India
Post by: buzwardo on August 06, 2005, 12:47:51 PM
Unprecidented Chinese military build up against India

Date: 6/8/2005
Source: NewsInsight

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.
Title: Chinese Perspective on American Hegemony
Post by: buzwardo on August 06, 2005, 04:59:48 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.


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.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 10, 2005, 07:05:48 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.
Title: Central Asian Chess
Post by: buzwardo on August 17, 2005, 11:04:07 AM
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
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 17, 2005, 03:02:13 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
Title: Joint Exercise Cheerleading
Post by: buzwardo on August 23, 2005, 09:12:44 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 2005-08-24 07:27:27

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.
Title: Warm Water NATO Port
Post by: buzwardo on August 29, 2005, 09:31:58 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.
Title: Geopolitical Prize
Post by: buzwardo on September 02, 2005, 11:19:19 AM
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.
Title: Taliban Primer
Post by: buzwardo on September 04, 2005, 03:42:08 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:
Title: The Coming Collapse of Arab Civilization?
Post by: buzwardo on September 04, 2005, 11:21:40 PM
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.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 09, 2005, 05:16:07 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.
Title: This Dude ain't no Doughboy
Post by: buzwardo on September 11, 2005, 12:58:14 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.
Title: Military Pirates
Post by: buzwardo on September 22, 2005, 04:04:24 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.
Title: A Survey of Realism
Post by: buzwardo on September 27, 2005, 09:50:09 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.

September 2005

Bush and the Realists

Gary Rosen

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.
Title: Russia Provides Syria w/ Ammo, Training
Post by: buzwardo on September 29, 2005, 10:35:28 AM
Hmm, given the current context this is an interesting tidbit.

Russia to supply Syria with ammunition, train officers
17:47   |   29/ 09/ 2005
MOSCOW, September 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will provide Syria with small arms ammunition and allow more Syrian students to study at Russian defense ministry universities, a ministry spokesman said Thursday.

Syrian Chief of Staff General Ali Habib, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, and Chief of Staff Yury Baluyevsky reached this agreement during talks in Moscow September 27-28, the source said.

"[The parties] agreed on small supplies of ammunition for small arms to Syria and doubling the number of Syrian students in Russian higher education institutions under the Ministry of Defense. There are about 30 Syrian officers studying in Russia now," the spokesman said.

The source also said the parties had not signed any high-level agreements during the talks.

While in Russia, the Syrian general visited the Instrument Production Design Bureau in Tula (about 200 km south of Moscow), which has developed and produced 130 types of arms and military equipment for the Russian armed forces.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: prentice crawford on October 02, 2005, 11:20:06 AM
The World Health Organization reports that the H5N1 avian influenza could bloom into a pandemic that would be more lethal than the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed as many as 100 million pepole worldwide. This was in a world one third as populated as today. The chaos attending such a disaster would shake mankind like no other disaster in history.
   At this tme only bird to human infection has occurred. Epidemiologist from W.H.O. predict the virus will mutate in the near future and result in human to human transferance. H5N1 HAS A 50% death rate at this time.
                             Woof P.C.
Title: Democracy Activist Beaten in China
Post by: buzwardo on October 10, 2005, 12:32:38 PM
'They beat him until he was lifeless'
How democracy activist in China's new frontline was left for dead after a brutal attack by a uniformed mob

Benjamin Joffe-Walt in Taishi, southern China
Monday October 10, 2005

The last time I saw Lu Banglie, he was lying in a ditch on the side of the street - placid, numb and lifeless - the spit, snot and urine of about 20 men mixing with his blood, and running all over his body.
I had only met him that day. He was to show me the way to Taishi, the hotspot of the growing rural uprisings in China. It felt like heading into a war. Taishi is under siege, I was warned. The day I arrived a French radio journalist and a Hong Kong print journalist were rumoured to have been beaten somewhere around Taishi.

The Taishi election had also been scheduled for that very day, and news of a hunger strike by one of the two most famous figures in Taishi had just come out.

Mr Lu was a very soft-spoken man, one of those skinny guys who looked like he might start tearing at any moment. Born as a peasant in Baoyuesi village of Bailizhou town in Zhijiang city in Hubei province, he was a people's representative and had been in the village of Taishi since the start of a democratic movement in the area.

That movement, deeply unpopular with the local authorities, has come to be seen as a weather vane for China's tentative steps toward a more representative society. It has led to beatings and mass arrests among its population as well as for observers who ventured into its environs.

Mr Lu was at the forefront of this maelstrom. And yesterday this was where the problem lay. We had hired a taxi. Mr Lu got in the car to put us on the right road. As we got closer, I asked him to get out. He refused. "If you go, I go," he insisted. I told him he would be endangering himself, the driver and maybe us. He was unfazed, not even listening. I repeated for a third time that I wanted him to get out of the car. It didn't work. The translator was annoyed and asked me to leave it. Mr Lu knew the risks better than us, he reasoned. So I dropped it, and it was this appeasement that determined Mr Lu's fate.

We arrived on the outskirts of Taishi, just as the dirt roads start. There were 30 to 50 men - angry, inebriated, bored men. Most looked like thugs. Some wore military camouflage uniform. Some wore blue uniforms with badges on the shoulders, and one guy had a greyish-mauve uniform with a walkie-talkie. Our taxi driver, who we had hired randomly in a neighbouring village, was called out by the thugs. They screamed at him: "What the fuck are you doing here?"

He knew nothing. He came back in and screamed at us. "Fuck all of you, look now you've gotten me into trouble."

We told him to reverse but by that time it was already too late, the car was encircled. "Don't go out!," I screamed, telling everyone to lock their doors. I called a colleague on my mobile, asked him to stay on the phone with me.

The men outside shouted among themselves and those in uniform suddenly left. Those remaining started pushing on the car, screaming at us to get out. They pointed flashlights at us, and when the light hit Mr Lu's face, it was as if a bomb had gone off. They completely lost it. They pulled him out and bashed him to the ground, kicked him, pulverised him, stomped on his head over and over again. The beating was loud, like the crack of a wooden board, and he was unconscious within 30 seconds.

They continued for 10 minutes. The body of this skinny little man turned to putty between the kicking legs of the rancorous men. This was not about teaching a man a lesson, about scaring me, about preventing access to the village; this was about vengeance - retribution for teaching villagers their legal rights, for agitating, for daring to hide.

They slowed down but never stopped. He lay there - his eye out of its socket, his tongue cut, a stream of blood dropping from his mouth, his body limp, twisted. The ligaments in his neck were broken, so his head lay sideways as if connected to the rest of his body by a rubber band.

We were probably in the car another five to eight minutes. The front windows were open and various men were reaching in to unlock my door. I held my hand tight to the lock. They punched me, twisted my wrist, tried everything possible with a quick grab to get me out. But I wouldn't let go, and I defended myself while watching Mr Lu get beaten through the window.

Eventually, my translator got out. I followed. They opened my pen, searched my pockets, underwear and socks, asked my translator if his watch could record anything. They asked what we were doing in Taishi. They found my Chinese press pass. "You foreigners you are ruining Taishi," they screamed. "You write write write so much about what's happened here that all these businesses have fled the new industrial zone."

My head was spinning. I was in a mixed state of shock at what had happened to Mr Lu and utter fear for my life.

I shamelessly begged. I prayed. I offered them money. I tried to smile at them. Random people came up to Mr Lu and kicked him in the head, clearing their nose of snot on his body, spitting on him, peeing on him, showing off for each other. I had no idea what to do.

I stood there, sweating, my hands ripping my hair out, just staring at the blood all over the man who had risked his life to help me.

An ambulance came. The medic got out, checked his pulse and left. Then it hit me: I'd done absolutely nothing to save Mr Lu. I stood there watching. I'm trained as a medic, and I did nothing to save Mr Lu. Absolutely nothing. They put us in a car, told us we were being taken for interrogation. On the way the men joked, laughed and we shook.

Mr Lu spent his adult life working to empower villagers and to get the attention of Beijing and the world. He was beaten up many times, had scars all over his body. This, he thought, was part of his work.

Once at the township, they put us at a conference table with flowers and spring water. About 15 officials sat round it and politely questioned us, videotaping the interaction as if it were a TV show. "Why did you come to Taishi? Why did you meet Lu Banglie? How did you meet him?" they asked.

"We are not interested in the reception of media interviews of any kind at this juncture in time," one official explained.

His superior arrived: Ms Qi Hong, associate director of the government news office in Guangzhou. "China is open to foreigners," she said. "We welcome any journalists in Guangzhou, but if you don't follow the proper procedures how can we guarantee your safety?"

The initiator of Mr Lu's beating sat at the table, eyes bloodshot, arms crossed at an angle, his elbow jutting into the air as if to show his extreme disinterest in us.

They said we had broken the law by coming here without permission. We apologised. That is all, that is how the night ended. We walked out of the government building, still being filmed, across the lawn, past the Chinese flag at high mast, and into the car.

They waved and smiled, filming us as we drove off. And this is all I can say about the story of Mr Lu because I never saw Taishi from the inside and cannot tell you how it looks, what the people say, how the air feels.

What I can tell you is that what's going on in Taishi is perhaps the most significant grassroots social movement China has seen since the Cultural Revolution, a rural revolt against corruption, against deterioration of healthcare, against the illegal sale of farmland, and broadly against urban capitalism that has reaped no benefits for these farmers.

The Guardian has been unable to confirm what happened to Mr Lu.

Police said they had received reports that he had been taken to hospital, but that he had been released and was "fine". The three nearest hospitals said that no one had been admitted yesterday.

The last words of Mr Lu I wrote down were: "The police cover their arses. They employ all these thugs whose lives mean nothing to them to kill you. That's why once we are in this we can't go out.",7369,1588595,00.html
Title: Venona Code Breaking Effort
Post by: buzwardo on October 15, 2005, 09:23:19 PM
Very long and dense recitation of a National Security Agency effort to break Soviet codes. Next time you hear about the communist witch hunts of the 1950s, you'd do well to review the particulars of Venona.
Title: Littoral Line in the Sand
Post by: buzwardo on October 22, 2005, 11:06:02 AM
Interesting piece about the evolution of costal naval warfare with more than a few implications. The original piece is well annotated with links and can be found at:

The Far Line of Sand
The Belmont Club | October 21, 2005 | Wretchard

The USS Maine, a 6682-ton second-class battleship built in 1895, spent her active career operating along the U.S. east coast and the Caribbean area. In 1898 she was sent to Cuba, to protect U.S. interests during a time of local insurrection and civil disturbances, where she famously blew up. Contemporary images of the Maine, available from the link above, show a vessel with guns down low along sides that sloped inward from her waterline to her deck, the so-called "tumblehome" hull form. It was an image of the classic gunboat of the type which Joseph Conrad described in the Heart of Darkness.

"I left in a French steamer, and she called in every blamed port they have out there, for, as far as I could see, the sole purpose of landing soldiers and custom-house officers. I watched the coast. Watching a coast as it slips by the ship is like thinking about an enigma. There it is before you-- smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and always mute with an air of whispering, Come and find out. This one was almost featureless, as if still in the making, with an aspect of monotonous grimness. The edge of a colossal jungle, so dark-green as to be almost black, fringed with white surf, ran straight, like a ruled line, far, far away along a blue sea whose glitter was blurred by a creeping mist. ...  Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast. There wasn't even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush. It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts. Her ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles of the long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy, slimy swell swung her up lazily and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech--and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives--he called them enemies!--hidden out of sight somewhere."

These types of gunboat operations ended in the first decades of the 20th century as "sea mines, surface and submarine torpedo-attack craft, long-range rifled guns ... and ... aircraft meant that the traditional form of blockade ... could no longer be sustained ...  maritime blockade evolved into long-range operations". Naval warfare became a thing of fleets grapping with rival fleets for control of the blue water. But things have changed again. The decay of the Soviet fleets and the rise of terrorism has shifted emphasis to the coasts once more. As Roger Barnett put it:

After 9/11 the central security problem, for the United States at least, became how to ensure that no weapons of mass destruction could be used by nonstate entities against American citizens in the homeland.  ... It is far better to seek to control shipping or the shipment of contraband at the source rather than at the destination. ... In today?s context, contraband WMD can be shipped from states, nonstate entities, or individuals, or consigned to any of the three. The form of blockade operations, accordingly, has changed dramatically from close blockade through distant blockade and blockade zones, to prevention of movement of specific items at, or as close as possible to, their source.

Many of today's critical naval tasks require operations close inshore; including keeping choke points open, preventing piracy in strategic waterways, ensuring harbor security and blockade. Unfortunately, open ocean warships are at their most vulnerable in restricted waters. The US Navy, invincible in the blue water, suffered its worst losses since Korea in the littoral. The FFG-7 class USS Stark was nearly sunk by two Exocet missiles in the Persian Gulf in 1987. During Desert Storm in 1991, Aegis class cruiser USS Princeton and Iwo-Jima class LPH USS Tripoli suffered extensive mine damage.  One of the most powerful surface combatants in the world, the Burke class destroyer USS Cole, was nearly destroyed in 2000 by an explosive-laden small boat while in port at Aden.

In consequence, the USN has been recreating the capability lost since British failed to force the Dardanelles in the face of mines and coastal artillery; to be able say as Nelson once did that 'the enemy's coast is our frontier'. Apart from changes to doctrine, new classes of USN warships now coming online will make this possible. The former Ohio-class USS Georgia SSBN is now being converted to an SSGN "Tactical Trident" SpecOps Sub and may be followed by the USS Ohio (SSBN 726), USS Michigan (SSBN 727), USS Florida (SSBN 728). These vessels can transport the ASDS minisub, designed to operate as an offshore "underwater hotel" for SEALs landing on an enemy coast.

A wholly new class of warships called the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), able to transit open oceans at half-helicopter speeds is being fielded in considerable numbers. These ships can act as small amphibious landing ships or platforms for unmanned aerial and waterborne unmanned vehicles. Depending on their configuration, they can land forces or deploy robotic vehicles to find enemy mines or submarines. Up to 60 LCS vessels are planned.

But if anything visually represents how things have come full circle, it is the Navy's planned new destroyer class, the DD(X). It's weapons will be deployed along the rim of the hull. And it will have, shades of the Maine, a tumblehome hull form.  The accompanying image in the DD(X) link shows a vessel firing into a continent at a camp of enemies 'hidden out of sight somewhere'.

(Speculation alert) If form follows function the shape of the 21st century US Navy suggests that the "dark-green ... almost black" coastlines of the Third World will again become a theater of operations with this fundamental difference: areas that 19th century Europeans once sought to penetrate are now localities that need to be contained. No longer are arms being landed on those whispering coasts in hopes of conquest. The flows now go the other way. Today they must be blockaded against the outflow of weapons, armed gangs and multitudes of desperate people bent on escape from their misery. The USN by restructuring itself in response to the logical implications of terrorism,  is anticipating a crisis that, to use Thomas Barnett's terminology, the "Core" governments have yet to face: how to bring freedom, prosperity and functionality to the "Non-Integrating Gap". The system of World Courts, multilateral institutions and development agencies which had their genesis in the 1950s and 60s will not be enough. Fund raising rock concerts will not be enough. The task requires the spread of functioning democratic institutions and market systems assisted where necessary by peacekeeping and relief operations. One day even the UN and the EU will realize that need and on that day America will be ready with some of the means.


The Joseph Conrad quote above was chosen with the awareness of its historical context. The Heart of Darkness was written as a moral examination of human behavior using the example of the Congo. Conrad's Congo was the plaything of King Leopold II of Belgium, who turned it into his private concentration camp. From it he extracted billions of dollars in rubber and ivory from slave labor under the mantle of extending European civilization. In the process he killed ten million people. Better yet, his crimes, which bear comparison with Hitler's, have been largely forgotten by history. In 1914 England would go to war to preserve the neutrality of poor defenseless Belgium. Conrad's work serves even today as an allegory for crime committed in the guise of virtue.

The Heart of Darkness has the potential to make many sorts of people uncomfortable. It is a cautionary tale for those who would remake the Third World by force, but it is also comes uncomfortably close to characterizing the virtuous enterprise of "international" organizations whose rich livelihoods depend on a steady stream of human misery; who leave disease and oppression unaddressed in order to remain true to the banners under which they march. There's a rich vein of unmined irony in the high-minded posturing of countries (where is Brussels?) who only a century ago were dividing the map of the world into private fiefdoms with colored pencils; from whose actions in part derive the mess which must now be cleaned up, though not by them after their retirement from history.

In any case the reflux from European colonialism, with further impetus from non-European forces of expansionism such as Islam, have now burst upon a world too small to ignore it. I was struck by boldness of the USN's decision to re-invent itself as a force capable of fighting in the littoral, creating capability in advance of policy. It bore historical similarities to the initiatives of Major Earl H. Ellis, who in the years between the World Wars, foresaw the need for amphibious warfare long before Pearl Harbor made it necessary.
Title: Poland's New President & Moscow
Post by: buzwardo on October 26, 2005, 03:01:14 PM
Hmm, some interesting dynamics emerging in the wake of Poland's presidential election.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005. Page 1.

Kaczynski Knows Moscow's Pressure Points

By Anatoly Medetsky
Staff Writer
Alik Keplicz / AP
Lech Kaczynski on Monday

Lech Kaczynski has scorned the Red Army's actions in World War II, bristled over a Russian-German pipeline project and renamed a traffic roundabout after a slain Chechen rebel.

Then on Monday, when he was declared Poland's president, he said President Vladimir Putin had to come to Warsaw before he would go to Moscow.

The ascension of the tough-talking Warsaw mayor to the presidency is raising the specter that Russian-Polish ties will sink to all-time lows. In a sign that Putin is less than thrilled with his victory, he has yet to congratulate Kaczynski for winning -- even though European leaders, including outgoing German Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der, have sent their best wishes.

"It's clear that Moscow won't hurry with its congratulations," said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of journal Russia in Global Affairs. "He's not a person with whom Moscow would like to establish relations."

Kaczynski said Monday that Poland wanted good relations with Russia and that the country hoped Putin would visit Warsaw "as soon as possible."

But he was careful to say that Putin must come to Poland before he would go to Russia. Kaczynski has accused outgoing Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski of giving Russia the upper hand by visiting Moscow more often than Putin went to Warsaw.

As Warsaw mayor, Kaczynski earlier this year irritated Moscow by agreeing to name a traffic roundabout after Dzhokhar Dudayev, a Chechen separatist leader who was killed by federal forces in 1996.

During the presidential campaign, Kaczynski criticized a Russian-German plan to build a natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea that would bypass Poland. His remarks reflected domestic fears that the two countries were plotting behind Poland's back.

Kaczynski also stirred grievances inflicted by the Soviet Union during World War II. He reminded Poles in August that Stalin had refused to send troops to help an anti-Nazi uprising in Warsaw in 1944. He also demanded that Russia pay compensation for a 1940 massacre of thousands of Polish officers in Katyn. Soviet troops had captured the officers during a short war with Poland.

Last year, a Russian government commission angered Poland by concluding that the massacre was not a crime against humanity or a war crime but an ordinary criminal act.

Russian-Polish relations have grown increasingly tense. A major irritant for the Kremlin was the active support that Poland gave to Ukraine during the Orange Revolution last year. Poland has also encouraged the opposition in Belarus, a close ally of Russia.

In a move indicative of the countries' poor relations, Putin personally denounced the beating and mugging of several children of Russian diplomats in a Warsaw park in August. Two Polish Embassy employees and a Polish journalist were beaten in Moscow a few days later in what appeared to be retaliatory attacks.

Kaczynski, a member of the conservative Law and Justice Party, won 54 percent of the vote in Sunday's runoff election, beating pro-business lawmaker Donald Tusk, who received 46 percent. He is to be inaugurated Dec. 23.

Lukyanov said Kaczynski's suggestion that Putin visit Warsaw first would irritate Moscow and boded ill for future relations. "It's clear that Putin won't go there and [Kaczynski] won't come here," he said.

Moreover, Polish conservatives are typically sensitive toward history, which "is the most explosive and unpleasant issue in the Russian-Polish relations," Lukyanov said.

Kaczynski may also seek to take advantage of Poland's status as a member of the European Union to help formulate the EU's policy toward Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Poland joined the EU in 2004.

Kaczynski, however, has designated the United States as Poland's main foreign partner, and that could undermine any attempt to direct EU policy. Kaczynski said during his campaign that as president he would travel to EU capital, Brussels, only after a visit to Washington.

"Europe will not close its eyes to that," Lukyanov said.

Kaczynski said Monday that he would go to Washington on Jan. 16.

Under Kaczynski, Poland, which now depends entirely on Gazprom for natural gas supplies, could resurrect a plan to build a pipeline to Norway, said Alexei Khaitun, director of the Center for Energy Policy at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Europe.

The EU could provide funding for the project to help Poland comply with a EU program to diversify energy supplies by 2015, he said. The program stipulates that a member state should receive no more than one-third of its coal, oil or natural gas from one source.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 29, 2005, 06:40:44 AM
SCO: A New Power Center Developing
October 28, 2005 21 47  GMT


The Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) summit in Moscow ended Oct. 27. Talk at the summit indicates that the organization is growing; soon, the SCO will deal with more than security-related matters, and its geographic scope will expand. As it grows, the SCO will become a more authoritative figure in Eurasian -- and global -- matters.


The prime minister-level Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit -- at which participants met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines -- concluded in Moscow on Oct. 27. The organization which Washington at first dismissed as a talk shop is now raising concerns for the Bush administration, especially after SCO member Uzbekistan heeded the organization's call and evicted a U.S. military base in July.

Some media outlets already call the SCO "NATO of the East." In reality, the organization is neither a talk shop nor a NATO equivalent, in the sense that it is not a military bloc. Extensive talks with officials from the SCO's full members (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) and observer-members (India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia) -- along with observations of the SCO summit -- give insight into where this key Eurasian organization is going.

The summit showed that the SCO is developing in two strategic directions. First, it is growing from a security-only organization into a multi-functional group that includes political and economic collaboration; second, the SCO is expanding from a Central Asia-based organization to include Eurasia. The more the SCO expands in these directions, the more authority it will gain in Eurasian and global affairs. If the SCO continues developing in terms of joint economic projects and security initiatives, it could become a new collective power center.

The SCO was founded by Moscow and Beijing on June 15, 2001, with the ultimate vision of gradually developing a new world power-center that would tend to Eurasian affairs without interference from outside powers. This goal runs contrary to the Bush administration's agenda for Eurasia; Washington considers Eurasia to be of paramount importance in the pursuit of U.S. geopolitical interests, and it is a cornerstone of the U.S. geopolitical strategy that Washington has a decisive role in Eurasian geopolitics. Thus, it is against Washington's interest for major Eurasian states to form alliances, because if those states join together they could successfully challenge the United States, the world's only superpower.

If the SCO matures according to its founders' vision, the organization could become an alliance capable of taking care of Eurasian matters and, thus, capable of challenging Washington's interests there. However, this would take years. SCO leaders fully understand this and strive to keep Washington from seeing the organization as anti-U.S. The SCO is not explicitly anti-U.S., though butting heads with Washington is inevitable as the United States fights to maintain a presence in Eurasia. Rather, its members are focused on getting their neighbors' and their own houses in order while trying to develop them internally. China is about to launch a major internal social and economic redistribution campaign and does not want to be seen as forming any bloc to counter U.S. security interests. Russia is busy trying to revive its economy and find friends abroad who are willing to help it regain some of its former prominence and unwilling to follow U.S. policies. Furthermore, Putin still wants to Westernize the country, which implies at least some cooperation with the United States. India is building itself up as a future global power and wants to benefit from U.S. nuclear technology know-how. The list goes on.

The SCO's growth and strength potential come from a key geopolitical fact: Its members -- current and potential -- have many common problems, and many of these problems can be resolved only if the countries work together. In practice, this involves forming Eurasian transportation corridors, shaping energy routes to benefit the countries' growing and energy-hungry economies, making sure the countries' economies complement each other to remain or become competitive in a global economy, and so on. SCO members' shared and important agenda of making themselves stronger by working together will give the organization an internal strength that is necessary if it is to thrive and become geopolitically significant.

Realizing this, the SCO has worked to complement its security cooperation with major joint economic development plans. At the summit in Moscow, SCO members agreed to fulfill a program of multilateral trade and economic cooperation by 2020. The program includes jointly constructing hydroelectric plants, upgrading highways, laying out fiber-optic communications networks, hydrocarbons exploration and pipeline construction -- a total of 127 joint projects. To finance the first projects, China offered to issue Central Asian nations a low-interest line of credit for $900 million, to be paid off in 20 years. China will also train 1,500 Central Asian engineers and other specialists. Trying to make sure its role in the SCO is not minor compared to Beijing's, Moscow proposed that investments in SCO projects should be joint ventures. This will amount to almost all investment coming from stronger nations, such as Russia and China -- both of which are willing and apparently able to do it.

Another important outcome of the SCO summit is that its leaders, including the observer-members' heads of state, agreed that the organization will deal only with major issues and on a strategic level, leaving it to member nations to sort out details. This could help the SCO move forward with Eurasian security and economic affairs without getting bogged down in the details of local issues and differences. For instance, the SCO joint security drive likely will have a negative impact on Islamist militancy, an issue which all SCO nations have to tackle.

It is telling that current SCO members have had to put a damper on observer-members' enthusiasm to join immediately, in order to keep the SCO from getting overwhelmed by its own rapid growth. Beijing and Moscow first want to make sure the SCO's shop is in order before expanding, ensuring that the first economic projects and security initiatives work for the full member states. They also want to make sure that including countries with diverse agendas will not turn the SCO into a useless group. However, expansion seems to be inevitable, given that both Moscow and Beijing are eager to see more countries join.

The SCO is an organization intended to bear fruit for years to come, though its members will start seeing progress as each year passes. If the current trend -- eagerness to cooperate and a desire to put aside differences -- continues among member nations through the next few years, the SCO could take shape as a new power center in Eurasia -- something for other powers, including Washington, to reckon with.
Title: How to Inspire Underclass Riots
Post by: buzwardo on November 05, 2005, 01:48:01 PM
A lengthy, amazingly prescient piece about the conditions leading to the current riots in France. US parallels are well worth contemplating.

City Journal
The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris
Surrounding the City of Light are threatening Cities of Darkness.
Theodore Dalrymple
Autumn 2002

Everyone knows la douce France: the France of wonderful food and wine, beautiful landscapes, splendid ch?teaux and cathedrals. More tourists (60 million a year) visit France than any country in the world by far. Indeed, the Germans have a saying, not altogether reassuring for the French: ?to live as God in France.? Half a million Britons have bought second homes there; many of them bore their friends back home with how they order these things better in France.

But there is another growing, and much less reassuring, side to France. I go to Paris about four times a year and thus have a sense of the evolving preoccupations of the French middle classes. A few years ago it was schools: the much vaunted French educational system was falling apart; illiteracy was rising; children were leaving school as ignorant as they entered, and much worse-behaved. For the last couple of years, though, it has been crime: l?ins?curit?, les violences urbaines, les incivilit?s. Everyone has a tale to tell, and no dinner party is complete without a horrifying story. Every crime, one senses, means a vote for Le Pen or whoever replaces him.

I first saw l?ins?curit? for myself about eight months ago. It was just off the Boulevard Saint-Germain, in a neighborhood where a tolerably spacious apartment would cost $1 million. Three youths?Rumanians?were attempting quite openly to break into a parking meter with large screwdrivers to steal the coins. It was four o?clock in the afternoon; the sidewalks were crowded, and the nearby caf?s were full. The youths behaved as if they were simply pursuing a normal and legitimate activity, with nothing to fear.

Eventually, two women in their sixties told them to stop. The youths, laughing until then, turned murderously angry, insulted the women, and brandished their screwdrivers. The women retreated, and the youths resumed their ?work.?

A man of about 70 then told them to stop. They berated him still more threateningly, one of them holding a screwdriver as if to stab him in the stomach. I moved forward to help the man, but the youths, still shouting abuse and genuinely outraged at being interrupted in the pursuit of their livelihood, decided to run off. But it all could have ended very differently.

Several things struck me about the incident: the youths? sense of invulnerability in broad daylight; the indifference to their behavior of large numbers of people who would never dream of behaving in the same way; that only the elderly tried to do anything about the situation, though physically least suited to do so. Could it be that only they had a view of right and wrong clear enough to wish to intervene? That everyone younger than they thought something like: ?Refugees . . . hard life . . . very poor . . . too young to know right from wrong and anyway never taught . . . no choice for them . . . punishment cruel and useless?? The real criminals, indeed, were the drivers whose coins filled the parking meters: were they not polluting the world with their cars?

Another motive for inaction was that, had the youths been arrested, nothing would have happened to them. They would have been back on the streets within the hour. Who would risk a screwdriver in the liver to safeguard the parking meters of Paris for an hour?

The laxisme of the French criminal justice system is now notorious. Judges often make remarks indicating their sympathy for the criminals they are trying (based upon the usual generalizations about how society, not the criminal, is to blame); and the day before I witnessed the scene on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, 8,000 police had marched to protest the release from prison on bail of an infamous career armed robber and suspected murderer before his trial for yet another armed robbery, in the course of which he shot someone in the head. Out on bail before this trial, he then burgled a house. Surprised by the police, he and his accomplices shot two of them dead and seriously wounded a third. He was also under strong suspicion of having committed a quadruple murder a few days previously, in which a couple who owned a restaurant, and two of their employees, were shot dead in front of the owners? nine-year-old daughter.

The left-leaning Lib?ration, one of the two daily newspapers the French intelligentsia reads, dismissed the marchers, referring with disdainful sarca?m to la fi?vre flicardiaire?cop fever. The paper would no doubt have regarded the murder of a single journalist?that is to say, of a full human being?differently, let alone the murder of two journalists or six; and of course no one in the newspaper acknowledged that an effective police force is as vital a guarantee of personal freedom as a free press, and that the thin blue line that separates man from brutality is exactly that: thin. This is not a decent thing for an intellectual to say, however true it might be.

It is the private complaint of everyone, however, that the police have become impotent to suppress and detect crime. Horror stories abound. A Parisian acquaintance told me how one recent evening he had seen two criminals attack a car in which a woman was waiting for her husband. They smashed her side window and tried to grab her purse, but she resisted. My acquaintance went to her aid and managed to pin down one of the assailants, the other running off. Fortunately, some police passed by, but to my acquaintance?s dismay let the assailant go, giving him only a warning.

My acquaintance said to the police that he would make a complaint. The senior among them advised him against wasting his time. At that time of night, there would be no one to complain to in the local commissariat. He would have to go the following day and would have to wait on line for three hours. He would have to return several times, with a long wait each time. And in the end, nothing would be done.

As for the police, he added, they did not want to make an arrest in a case like this. There would be too much paperwork. And even if the case came to court, the judge would give no proper punishment. Moreover, such an arrest would retard their careers. The local police chiefs were paid by results?by the crime rates in their areas of jurisdiction. The last thing they wanted was for policemen to go around finding and recording crime.

Not long afterward, I heard of another case in which the police simply refused to record the occurrence of a burglary, much less try to catch the culprits.

Now crime and general disorder are making inroads into places where, not long ago, they were unheard of. At a peaceful and prosperous village near Fontainebleau that I visited?the home of retired high officials and of a former cabinet minister?criminality had made its first appearance only two weeks before. There had been a burglary and a ?rodeo??an impromptu race of youths in stolen cars around the village green, whose fence the car thieves had knocked over to gain access.

A villager called the police, who said they could not come at the moment, but who politely called back half an hour later to find out how things were going. Two hours later still, they finally appeared, but the rodeo had moved on, leaving behind only the remains of a burned-out car. The blackened patch on the road was still visible when I visited.

The official figures for this upsurge, doctored as they no doubt are, are sufficiently alarming. Reported crime in France has risen from 600,000 annually in 1959 to 4 million today, while the population has grown by less than 20 percent (and many think today?s crime number is an underestimate by at least a half). In 2000, one crime was reported for every sixth inhabitant of Paris, and the rate has increased by at least 10 percent a year for the last five years. Reported cases of arson in France have increased 2,500 percent in seven years, from 1,168 in 1993 to 29,192 in 2000; robbery with violence rose by 15.8 percent between 1999 and 2000, and 44.5 percent since 1996 (itself no golden age).

Where does the increase in crime come from? The geographical answer: from the public housing projects that encircle and increasingly besiege every French city or town of any size, Paris especially. In these housing projects lives an immigrant population numbering several million, from North and West Africa mostly, along with their French-born descendants and a smattering of the least successful members of the French working class. From these projects, the excellence of the French public transport system ensures that the most fashionable arrondissements are within easy reach of the most inveterate thief and vandal.

Architecturally, the housing projects sprang from the ideas of Le Corbusier, the Swiss totalitarian architect?and still the untouchable hero of architectural education in France?who believed that a house was a machine for living in, that areas of cities should be entirely separated from one another by their function, and that the straight line and the right angle held the key to wisdom, virtue, beauty, and efficiency. The mulish opposition that met his scheme to pull down the whole of the center of Paris and rebuild it according to his ?rational? and ?advanced? ideas baffled and frustrated him.

The inhuman, unadorned, hard-edged geometry of these vast housing projects in their unearthly plazas brings to mind Le Corbusier?s chilling and tyrannical words: ?The despot is not a man. It is the . . . correct, realistic, exact plan . . . that will provide your solution once the problem has been posed clearly. . . . This plan has been drawn up well away from . . . the cries of the electorate or the laments of society?s victims. It has been drawn up by serene and lucid minds.?

But what is the problem to which these housing projects, known as cit?s, are the solution, conceived by serene and lucid minds like Le Corbusier?s? It is the problem of providing an Habitation de Loyer Mod?r??a House at Moderate Rent, shortened to HLM?for the workers, largely immigrant, whom the factories needed during France?s great industrial expansion from the 1950s to the 1970s, when the unemployment rate was 2 percent and cheap labor was much in demand. By the late eighties, however, the demand had evaporated, but the people whose labor had satisfied it had not; and together with their descendants and a constant influx of new hopefuls, they made the provision of cheap housing more necessary than ever.

An apartment in this publicly owned housing is also known as a logement, a lodging, which aptly conveys the social status and degree of political influence of those expected to rent them. The cit?s are thus social marginalization made concrete: bureaucratically planned from their windows to their roofs, with no history of their own or organic connection to anything that previously existed on their sites, they convey the impression that, in the event of serious trouble, they could be cut off from the rest of the world by switching off the trains and by blockading with a tank or two the highways that pass through them, (usually with a concrete wall on either side), from the rest of France to the better parts of Paris. I recalled the words of an Afrikaner in South Africa, who explained to me the principle according to which only a single road connected black townships to the white cities: once it was sealed off by an armored car, ?the blacks can foul only their own nest.?

The average visitor gives not a moment?s thought to these Cit?s of Darkness as he speeds from the airport to the City of Light. But they are huge and important?and what the visitor would find there, if he bothered to go, would terrify him.

A kind of anti-society has grown up in them?a population that derives the meaning of its life from the hatred it bears for the other, ?official,? society in France. This alienation, this gulf of mistrust?greater than any I have encountered anywhere else in the world, including in the black townships of South Africa during the apartheid years?is written on the faces of the young men, most of them permanently unemployed, who hang out in the pocked and potholed open spaces between their logements. When you approach to speak to them, their immobile faces betray not a flicker of recognition of your shared humanity; they make no gesture to smooth social intercourse. If you are not one of them, you are against them.

Their hatred of official France manifests itself in many ways that scar everything around them. Young men risk life and limb to adorn the most inaccessible surfaces of concrete with graffiti?BAISE LA POLICE, fuck the police, being the favorite theme. The iconography of the cit?s is that of uncompromising hatred and aggression: a burned-out and destroyed community-meeting place in the Les Tarterets project, for example, has a picture of a science-fiction humanoid, his fist clenched as if to spring at the person who looks at him, while to his right is an admiring portrait of a huge slavering pit bull, a dog by temperament and training capable of tearing out a man?s throat?the only breed of dog I saw in the cit?s, paraded with menacing swagger by their owners.

There are burned-out and eviscerated carcasses of cars everywhere. Fire is now fashionable in the cit?s: in Les Tarterets, residents had torched and looted every store?with the exceptions of one government-subsidized supermarket and a pharmacy. The underground parking lot, charred and blackened by smoke like a vault in an urban hell, is permanently closed.

When agents of official France come to the cit?s, the residents attack them. The police are hated: one young Malian, who comfortingly believed that he was unemployable in France because of the color of his skin, described how the police invariably arrived like a raiding party, with batons swinging?ready to beat whoever came within reach, irrespective of who he was or of his innocence of any crime, before retreating to safety to their commissariat. The conduct of the police, he said, explained why residents threw Molotov cocktails at them from their windows. Who could tolerate such treatment at the hands of une police fasciste?

Molotov cocktails also greeted the president of the republic, Jacques Chirac, and his interior minister when they recently campaigned at two cit?s, Les Tarterets and Les Musiciens. The two dignitaries had to beat a swift and ignominious retreat, like foreign overlords visiting a barely held and hostile suzerainty: they came, they saw, they scuttled off.

Antagonism toward the police might appear understandable, but the conduct of the young inhabitants of the cit?s toward the firemen who come to rescue them from the fires that they have themselves started gives a dismaying glimpse into the depth of their hatred for mainstream society. They greet the admirable firemen (whose motto is Sauver ou p?rir, save or perish) with Molotov cocktails and hails of stones when they arrive on their mission of mercy, so that armored vehicles frequently have to protect the fire engines.

Benevolence inflames the anger of the young men of the cit?s as much as repression, because their rage is inseparable from their being. Ambulance men who take away a young man injured in an incident routinely find themselves surrounded by the man?s ?friends,? and jostled, jeered at, and threatened: behavior that, according to one doctor I met, continues right into the hospital, even as the friends demand that their associate should be treated at once, before others.

Of course, they also expect him to be treated as well as anyone else, and in this expectation they reveal the bad faith, or at least ambivalence, of their stance toward the society around them. They are certainly not poor, at least by the standards of all previously existing societies: they are not hungry; they have cell phones, cars, and many other appurtenances of modernity; they are dressed fashionably?according to their own fashion?with a uniform disdain of bourgeois propriety and with gold chains round their necks. They believe they have rights, and they know they will receive medical treatment, however they behave. They enjoy a far higher standard of living (or consumption) than they would in the countries of their parents? or grandparents? origin, even if they labored there 14 hours a day to the maximum of their capacity.

But this is not a cause of gratitude?on the contrary: they feel it as an insult or a wound, even as they take it for granted as their due. But like all human beings, they want the respect and approval of others, even?or rather especially?of the people who carelessly toss them the crumbs of Western prosperity. Emasculating dependence is never a happy state, and no dependence is more absolute, more total, than that of most of the inhabitants of the cit?s. They therefore come to believe in the malevolence of those who maintain them in their limbo: and they want to keep alive the belief in this perfect malevolence, for it gives meaning?the only possible meaning?to their stunted lives. It is better to be opposed by an enemy than to be adrift in meaninglessness, for the simulacrum of an enemy lends purpose to actions whose nihilism would otherwise be self-evident.

That is one of the reasons that, when I approached groups of young men in Les Musiciens, many of them were not just suspicious (though it was soon clear to them that I was no member of the enemy), but hostile. When a young man of African origin agreed to speak to me, his fellows kept interrupting menacingly. ?Don?t talk to him,? they commanded, and they told me, with fear in their eyes, to go away. The young man was nervous, too: he said he was afraid of being punished as a traitor. His associates feared that ?normal? contact with a person who was clearly not of the enemy, and yet not one of them either, would contaminate their minds and eventually break down the them-and-us worldview that stood between them and complete mental chaos. They needed to see themselves as warriors in a civil war, not mere ne?er-do-wells and criminals.

The ambivalence of the cit? dwellers matches ?official? France?s attitude toward them: over-control and interference, alternating with utter abandonment. Bureaucrats have planned every item in the physical environment, for example, and no matter how many times the inhabitants foul the nest (to use the Afrikaner?s expression), the state pays for renovation, hoping thereby to demonstrate its compassion and concern. To assure the immigrants that they and their offspring are potentially or already truly French, the streets are named for French cultural heroes: for painters in Les Tarterets (rue Gustave Courbet, for example) and for composers in Les Musiciens (rue Gabriel Faur?). Indeed, the only time I smiled in one of the cit?s was when I walked past two concrete bunkers with metal windows, the ?cole maternelle Charles Baudelaire and the ?cole maternelle Arthur Rimbaud. Fine as these two poets are, theirs are not names one would associate with kindergartens, let alone with concrete bunkers.

But the heroic French names point to a deeper official ambivalence. The French state is torn between two approaches: Courbet, Faur?, nos anc?tres, les gaullois, on the one hand, and the shibboleths of multiculturalism on the other. By compulsion of the ministry of education, the historiography that the schools purvey is that of the triumph of the unifying, rational, and benevolent French state through the ages, from Colbert onward, and Muslim girls are not allowed to wear headscarves in schools. After graduation, people who dress in ?ethnic? fashion will not find jobs with major employers. But at the same time, official France also pays a cowering lip service to multiculturalism?for example, to the ?culture? of the cit?s. Thus, French rap music is the subject of admiring articles in Lib?ration and Le Monde, as well as of pusillanimous expressions of approval from the last two ministers of culture.

One rap group, the Minist?re amer (Bitter Ministry), won special official praise. Its best-known lyric: ?Another woman takes her beating./ This time she?s called Brigitte./ She?s the wife of a cop./ The novices of vice piss on the police./ It?s not just a firework, scratch the clitoris./ Brigitte the cop?s wife likes niggers./ She?s hot, hot in her pants.? This vile rubbish receives accolades for its supposed authenticity: for in the multiculturalist?s mental world, in which the savages are forever noble, there is no criterion by which to distinguish high art from low trash. And if intellectuals, highly trained in the Western tradition, are prepared to praise such degraded and brutal pornography, it is hardly surprising that those who are not so trained come to the conclusion that there cannot be anything of value in that tradition. Cowardly multiculturalism thus makes itself the handmaiden of anti-Western extremism.

Whether or not rap lyrics are the authentic voice of the cit?s, they are certainly its authentic ear: you can observe many young men in the cit?s sitting around in their cars aimlessly, listening to it for hours on end, so loud that the pavement vibrates to it 100 yards away. The imprimatur of the intellectuals and of the French cultural bureaucracy no doubt encourages them to believe that they are doing something worthwhile. But when life begins to imitate art, and terrible gang-rapes occur with increasing frequency, the same official France becomes puzzled and alarmed. What should it make of the 18 young men and two young women currently being tried in Pontoise for allegedly abducting a girl of 15 and for four months raping her repeatedly in basements, stairwells, and squats? Many of the group seem not merely unrepentant or unashamed but proud.

Though most people in France have never visited a cit?, they dimly know that long-term unemployment among the young is so rife there that it is the normal state of being. Indeed, French youth unemployment is among the highest in Europe?and higher the further you descend the social scale, largely because high minimum wages, payroll taxes, and labor protection laws make employers loath to hire those whom they cannot easily fire, and whom they must pay beyond what their skills are worth.

Everyone acknowledges that unemployment, particularly of the permanent kind, is deeply destructive, and that the devil really does find work for idle hands; but the higher up the social scale you ascend, the more firmly fixed is the idea that the labor-market rigidities that encourage unemployment are essential both to distinguish France from the supposed savagery of the Anglo-Saxon neo-liberal model (one soon learns from reading the French newspapers what anglo-saxon connotes in this context), and to protect the downtrodden from exploitation. But the labor-market rigidities protect those who least need protection, while condemning the most vulnerable to utter hopelessness: and if sexual hypocrisy is the vice of the Anglo-Saxons, economic hypocrisy is the vice of the French.

It requires little imagination to see how, in the circumstances, the burden of unemployment should fall disproportionately on immigrants and their children: and why, already culturally distinct from the bulk of the population, they should feel themselves vilely discriminated against. Having been enclosed in a physical ghetto, they respond by building a cultural and psychological ghetto for themselves. They are of France, but not French.

The state, while concerning itself with the details of their housing, their education, their medical care, and the payment of subsidies for them to do nothing, abrogates its responsibility completely in the one area in which the state?s responsibility is absolutely inalienable: law and order. In order to placate, or at least not to inflame, disaffected youth, the ministry of the interior has instructed the police to tread softly (that is to say, virtually not at all, except by occasional raiding parties when inaction is impossible) in the more than 800 zones sensibles?sensitive areas?that surround French cities and that are known collectively as la Zone.

But human society, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and so authority of a kind, with its own set of values, occupies the space where law and order should be?the authority and brutal values of psychopathic criminals and drug dealers. The absence of a real economy and of law means, in practice, an economy and an informal legal system based on theft and drug-trafficking. In Les Tarterets, for example, I observed two dealers openly distributing drugs and collecting money while driving around in their highly conspicuous BMW convertible, clearly the monarchs of all they surveyed. Both of northwest African descent, one wore a scarlet baseball cap backward, while the other had dyed blond hair, contrasting dramatically with his complexion. Their faces were as immobile as those of potentates receiving tribute from conquered tribes. They drove everywhere at maximum speed in low gear and high noise: they could hardly have drawn more attention to themselves if they tried. They didn?t fear the law: rather, the law feared them.

I watched their proceedings in the company of old immigrants from Algeria and Morocco, who had come to France in the early 1960s. They too lived in Les Tarterets and had witnessed its descent into a state of low-level insurgency. They were so horrified by daily life that they were trying to leave, to escape their own children and grandchildren: but once having fallen into the clutches of the system of public housing, they were trapped. They wanted to transfer to a cit?, if such existed, where the new generation did not rule: but they were without leverage?or piston?in the giant system of patronage that is the French state. And so they had to stay put, puzzled, alarmed, incredulous, and bitter at what their own offspring had become, so very different from what they had hoped and expected. They were better Frenchmen than either their children or grandchildren: they would never have whistled and booed at the Marseillaise, as their descendants did before the soccer match between France and Algeria in 2001, alerting the rest of France to the terrible canker in its midst.

Whether France was wise to have permitted the mass immigration of people culturally very different from its own population to solve a temporary labor shortage and to assuage its own abstract liberal conscience is disputable: there are now an estimated 8 or 9 million people of North and West African origin in France, twice the number in 1975?and at least 5 million of them are Muslims. Demographic projections (though projections are not predictions) suggest that their descendants will number 35 million before this century is out, more than a third of the likely total population of France.

Indisputably, however, France has handled the resultant situation in the worst possible way. Unless it assimilates these millions successfully, its future will be grim. But it has separated and isolated immigrants and their descendants geographically into dehumanizing ghettos; it has pursued economic policies to promote unemployment and create dependence among them, with all the inevitable psychological consequences; it has flattered the repellent and worthless culture that they have developed; and it has withdrawn the protection of the law from them, allowing them to create their own lawless order.

No one should underestimate the danger that this failure poses, not only for France but also for the world. The inhabitants of the cit?s are exceptionally well armed. When the professional robbers among them raid a bank or an armored car delivering cash, they do so with bazookas and rocket launchers, and dress in paramilitary uniforms. From time to time, the police discover whole arsenals of Kalashnikovs in the cit?s. There is a vigorous informal trade between France and post-communist Eastern Europe: workshops in underground garages in the cit?s change the serial numbers of stolen luxury cars prior to export to the East, in exchange for sophisticated weaponry.

A profoundly alienated population is thus armed with serious firepower; and in conditions of violent social upheaval, such as France is in the habit of experiencing every few decades, it could prove difficult to control. The French state is caught in a dilemma between honoring its commitments to the more privileged section of the population, many of whom earn their livelihoods from administering the dirigiste economy, and freeing the labor market sufficiently to give the hope of a normal life to the inhabitants of the cit?s. Most likely, the state will solve the dilemma by attempts to buy off the disaffected with more benefits and rights, at the cost of higher taxes that will further stifle the job creation that would most help the cit? dwellers. If that fails, as in the long run it will, harsh repression will follow.

But among the third of the population of the cit?s that is of North African Muslim descent, there is an option that the French, and not only the French, fear. For imagine yourself a youth in Les Tarterets or Les Musiciens, intellectually alert but not well educated, believing yourself to be despised because of your origins by the larger society that you were born into, permanently condemned to unemployment by the system that contemptuously feeds and clothes you, and surrounded by a contemptible nihilistic culture of despair, violence, and crime. Is it not possible that you would seek a doctrine that would simultaneously explain your predicament, justify your wrath, point the way toward your revenge, and guarantee your salvation, especially if you were imprisoned? Would you not seek a ?worthwhile? direction for the energy, hatred, and violence seething within you, a direction that would enable you to do evil in the name of ultimate good? It would require only a relatively few of like mind to cause havoc. Islamist proselytism flourishes in the prisons of France (where 60 percent of the inmates are of immigrant origin), as it does in British prisons; and it takes only a handful of Zacharias Moussaouis to start a conflagration.

The French knew of this possibility well before September 11: in 1994, their special forces boarded a hijacked aircraft that landed in Marseilles and killed the hijackers?an unusual step for the French, who have traditionally preferred to negotiate with, or give in to, terrorists. But they had intelligence suggesting that, after refueling, the hijackers planned to fly the plane into the Eiffel Tower. In this case, no negotiation was possible.

A terrible chasm has opened up in French society, dramatically exemplified by a story that an acquaintance told me. He was driving along a six-lane highway with housing projects on both sides, when a man tried to dash across the road. My acquaintance hit him at high speed and killed him instantly.

According to French law, the participants in a fatal accident must stay as near as possible to the scene, until officials have elucidated all the circumstances. The police therefore took my informant to a kind of hotel nearby, where there was no staff, and the door could be opened only by inserting a credit card into an automatic billing terminal. Reaching his room, he discovered that all the furniture was of concrete, including the bed and washbasin, and attached either to the floor or walls.

The following morning, the police came to collect him, and he asked them what kind of place this was. Why was everything made of concrete?

?But don?t you know where you are, monsieur?? they asked. ?C?est la Zone, c?est la Zone.?

La Zone is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
Title: Revising the Bush Doctrine
Post by: buzwardo on November 10, 2005, 03:54:02 PM
Reconsidering the Bush Doctrine
By Arnold Kling    Published     11/08/2005

Recently, Commentary magazine put together a fascinating symposium on the Bush Doctrine, which includes the use of pre-emptive attacks and the strategy of bringing democracy to the Middle East. I strongly recommend reading the symposium, as well as other recent thoughtful pieces by Francis Fukuyama, Theodore Dalrymple, and others cited in the blogs Winds of Change and Belmont Club.
Commentary's editors kicked off the symposium with a number questions about the Bush Doctrine. Participants were asked to comment on the doctrine and its implementation to date.
I am skeptical of the Bush doctrine. However, I want to be clear from the outset that my purpose is not to endorse the main alternative, which is the Mush Doctrine. To proponents of the Mush Doctrine, phrases like
-- international community
-- multilateral
-- moral leadership
-- hearts and minds
-- treating root causes
are phrases that carry positive connotations. Such phrases make me want to spit. For more on the Mush Doctrine, see my essay on George Lakoff, the Berkeley linguistics professor influential in Democratic Party intellectual circles.
Speaking of linguistics, the conflict in which we are engaged has suffered from vagueness of definition. President Bush first described it as the "global war on terror." Since then, many people have argued that this formulation fails to face up to the role of Islam. For example, Newt Gingrich suggests that we call this the "Long War" against the "irreconcilable wing of Islam." That terminology will do. However, terrorism is important, because attacks on civilians are the modus operandi of Islam's irreconcilable wing.
The Three Theaters
In a complex global war, it can be useful to view the conflict as a combination of several theaters of operation. I think of this war as having three theaters: cultural, technological, and conventional military. Each theater provides a potential for victory or defeat.
The cultural theater is the contest between American values and the ideology of what Gingrich calls the irreconcilable wing of Islam. We could win in the cultural theater if Muslim moderates were to assert themselves strongly, so that the radical wing shrinks and loses viability. On the other hand, our society has its own internal divisions and weaknesses. We can lose in the cultural theater if our fighting spirit gives way to feckless appeasement. Another possibility would be for the majority of the world's Muslims to become radicalized, while the Western democracies coalesce in self-defense. That would set the stage for spectacular bloodshed.
The technological theater is one where each side has the potential to alter the balance of power in a dramatic way. We would win in the technological theater if we were to establish Surveillance Supremacy, meaning the ability to track with confidence the movement and threat potential of terrorists. We would lose in the technological theater if terrorists are able to deploy weapons of mass destruction on American soil.
The conventional military theater is the set of places where Americans and others in the "coalition of the willing" are fighting Islamic militants. In addition, Victor Davis Hanson identifies four countries -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Syria -- that are potentially in the conventional military theater, because their governments have an attitude toward terrorists that is ambivalent, to say the least. We can win in the conventional military theater if we kill a large proportion of terrorists and deny them access to funding, supplies, and training. We can lose in the conventional military theater if terrorists are able to carry out major operations routinely without effective disruption.
In the cultural theater, we are trying to change the attitudes and behaviors of Muslims around the world. The Bush Doctrine focuses on using democracy as the lever to achieve such change. Supporters of the Mush Doctrine believe that America can, by playing more nicely in the international schoolyard, achieve victory in the cultural theater.
My question about strategies focused on the cultural theater is this: Even assuming that we choose the best strategies and they work as well as one could possibly hope, when is the soonest that we could expect victory? 2040? 2050?
On the other hand, my guess is that within ten or fifteen years of today, weapons of mass destruction will be easier for terrorists to access. (The technology for surveillance also is advancing rapidly.) Given the increased risks of proliferation, unless we achieve surveillance supremacy or defeat the terrorists conventionally, we will have lost the war technologically long before the wave of radical Islam recedes. From this assessment, it follows that:
The war is likely to be decided in the technological theater.
Until the decision in the technological theater is reached, I think that our goal in the conventional military theater should be to apply as much pressure as possible. We should try to hold the line in the cultural theater, but it is futile to rely on a decision there.
Revisiting Iraq
We made a number of mistakes prior to the war in Iraq. One mistake was attempting to utilize the institutional forum of the United Nations.
We have many helpful allies. We ought to consult with them and involve them. However, our message to people in other countries should be that they can influence our policy constructively, not through obstruction and betrayal. Going to the UN undermines our standing with our friends, because it reduces their influence. Instead, it increases the influence of countries that are willing to vote against our interests.
Another problem with the UN, and with international elites in general, is their tendency to substitute empty gestures for real action. Economic sanctions are empty gestures, and they should be dispensed with. In the case of Iraq, they were worse than empty gestures -- they led to the "oil-for-food" program, which strengthened Saddam's regime both domestically and internationally.
What about the invasion itself? At various times, the invasion of Iraq has been alleged to offer benefits in all three theaters of the war against the irreconcilable wing of Islam. In the technology theater, it was supposed to address the threat of weapons of mass destruction. In the conventional military theater, there was a period when people spoke of a "flypaper" strategy, in which we would use Iraq as a killing field for terrorists. In the cultural theater, it was supposed to showcase the plan for democracy in the Middle East.
Concerning weapons of mass destruction, we made a big mistake by essentially promising to find WMD's. It would have been far better to go in saying the opposite -- that we did not necessarily expect to find WMD's, but we were going to war over the principle of unimpeded inspections. That is, in today's world, our alliance must be able to send teams of weapons inspectors anywhere that a potential WMD threat exists. Refusal to accept inspectors ought to be a legitimate grounds for war. Certainly, that is the message that one would have wanted to send to Iran and North Korea. It was the principle embodied in the UN resolution leading up to the war, a fact which the world's anti-American elites have conveniently chosen to forget.
The net result of transforming the WMD issue from a question of unimpeded inspections into a question about our intelligence estimates is that we are now more timid about enforcing an inspections regime going forward. By the same token, rogue nations are less timid about flouting the principle of nonproliferation. Overall, then, this has to be regarded as a setback in the technological theater.
Another rationale for the war is in the cultural theater, where we hope to gain by changing Iraq from a dictatorship to a democracy. In my view, the weakest pillar in the Bush Doctrine is the plan for democracy. As Fukuyama and others point out, it is difficult to execute. Moreover, as noted above, I believe that the conflict with the irreconcilable wing of Islam is likely to be decided, for better or worse, in the technology theater.
In post-war Iraq, the Bush Doctrine is bound to over-promise and under-deliver. Certainly, some ethnic group or sub-group is going to be justifiably bitter about the way that democracy plays out over the next several years. We should not have put ourselves in the position of taking responsibility for producing a successful democracy where everyone lives happily ever after.
If the Iraq war provided any benefits, those would have to be in the conventional military theater. Here, I have more questions than answers.
What alternative uses would have been made of the American troops?
Perhaps the American forces now occupied in Iraq would instead have been deployed to one of the other rogue nations, such as Pakistan or Iran. If that is the case, then one might argue that they were wasted in Iraq. I find it implausible that our troops would have been used in other countries, but this assumption is implicit in much of the scornful rhetoric used by some war critics.
What would the jihadists who came from other countries to fight in Iraq have done otherwise?
Another implicit assumption made by war critics is that the foreigners became jihadists spontaneously in response to our invasion. The extreme alternative hypothesis is that the Iraq invasion was a "flypaper strategy" that attracted existing militants from elsewhere. My guess is that the truth includes some of both. My guess is that there are somewhat fewer trained militants in Saudi Arabia and Europe today, because they were killed by our troops in Iraq.
Did the invasion help "tip" Saudi Arabia in the direction of cracking down on the irreconcilable wing of Islam?
George Friedman, in America's Secret War, argues that the Iraq war may have helped in this regard. In his view, the Saudis needed to see that America was willing and able to fight in the Middle East before they would take action against Al Qaeda.
Did the invasion help "tip" Iran in the opposite direction -- further radicalizing and emboldening that regime?
Friedman says that invasion of Iraq probably did have this adverse effect. If so, then this has to be counted as a point against the invasion policy.
Did removing Saddam reduce the number of countries that support terrorists?
Supporters of the war say that under Saddam, Iraq was involved in aiding terrorism. They also point to a change in Libya's policy. If Victor Davis Hanson is correct that we now have four countries to worry about, he might argue that prior to the invasion there were six. Other analysts would disagree.
Going Forward
Going forward, my recommendations for the Bush Doctrine would be to try to rejuvenate the pre-emption doctrine while lowering expectations for democratic transformation. In particular, I would recommend:
1. Build on the concept of a "coalition of the willing" by creating a formal alliance against the irreconcilable wing of Islam. Members of the alliance will be consulted on strategy and will enjoy the prestige that comes with active participation in the long war. If some countries prefer tacit support or neutrality to membership in the alliance, then so be it. A new war calls for a new alliance, which is not necessarily the same as the alliance that was left over from the Cold War.
2. We need a new institutional mechanism for determining when pre-emption is justified. The ex post effort to delegitimize the invasion of Iraq is terribly corrosive. At this point, it does not matter whether the problem is that Bush lied or that Democrats are airbrushing history. Either way, we are signaling to the rest of the world that we might never again muster the political will to engage in pre-emptive military action.
In the future, there may be a compelling need to use force against another country. If so, then we need a process that allows us to do so. I am thinking of some sort of independent, bipartisan intelligence review commission, whose job is to evaluate rogue nations on an ongoing basis and to advise Congress and the President when to go to war. There may even be a role on this commission for other countries in our alliance.
3. Finally, we need powerful internal audits of our key agencies, both for effectiveness and for conformity to Constitutional protections of individual rights. For example, Gingrich writes,
"The office of the DNI [Director of National Intelligence] could have an advisory board, functioning as a corporate board of directors, which would meet at least monthly to represent the President, the Congress and the American people, provide a review function and sound and practical guidance. These directors could include individuals with a national reputation as successful managers in government or the private sector. They might include a former mayor or state governor, a corporate CEO, or someone who has effectively run a governmental program in an area outside of intelligence."
I have thought along similar lines. A few months ago, I wrote, "What needs to be watched most closely? Our airports? Our rail systems? Our government buildings? Our borders? Radical Muslims? I think that the top security priority should be to set up a system to monitor the Department of Homeland Security. I am not kidding."
Overall, my sense is that we have reached a point where the Bush Doctrine no longer serves as a sufficient basis for addressing the long war against the irreconcilable wing of Islam. The three institutional changes listed above could bolster our ability to conduct the war in the future.
Title: Backfiring Bombings
Post by: buzwardo on November 14, 2005, 09:02:15 AM
November 14, 2005, 8:18 a.m.
Zarqawi?s Big Mistake
The Jordan attacks may hurt.
James S. Robbins

You know that a terrorist attack has backfired when the bad guys start blaming it on us. Rumors are spreading on the insurgent websites and chatrooms that last week's hotel bombings in Amman, Jordan, were part of a CIA plot, a Mossad intrigue, or a take-your-pick conspiracy. Since al Qaeda has already admitted the attack was theirs, this line will have a hard time playing, but it shows that at some level the terrorist sympathizers know that this was a bad move.

As angry Jordanians poured into the streets to denounce hometown zero Zarqawi, he rushed out a second statement seeking to justify the attacks. He explained that these hotels had been under observation for some time, and that they "had become favorite spots for intelligence activities, especially for the Americans, the Israelis, and some West European countries, where the hidden battle is fought in the so-called war against terrorism." In other words, they were not seeking to kill civilians, but aiming at a legitimate military target. I doubt this argument will sway the masses, since many of the victims were attending a wedding at the time. In p.r. terms it is probably the worst event a terrorist can bomb. Only the hard-core psychopaths will get a warm feeling from blowing up someone's nuptials.

Attacks like this are not only criminal, they are foolhardy. They rarely benefit the terrorists, and often harm their cause. Recent history makes the case. The 9/11 attacks unified and motivated our country to unleash incalculable harm on al Qaeda. The 2002 Bali bombing had the principle strategic effect of making the Australians their implacable foes. The 2005 London bombings rallied British public opinion against the continuing threat. The 3/11 bombings in Madrid may have helped influence the Spanish elections to bring in a government with a less cooperative Iraq policy, but in other areas of the War on Terrorism Spanish policies have if anything gotten tougher. In Jordan, a researcher found that since the bombing, nine of ten people he surveyed who had previously held a favorable view of al Qaeda had changed their minds. This is no way to run a revolution.

King Abdullah has rightfully taken umbrage at statements, particularly from myopic Western pundits, that Jordan was attacked primarily because of its relationship with the United States. Al Qaeda has plenty of reasons to attack Jordan that have nothing to do with the U.S. or the war in Iraq. Those rushing to link everything to Iraq (and, by implication, U.S. policies) should remember that Zarqawi was jailed in Jordan from 1993-1999, and there is no love lost between him and the Jordanian government. Furthermore, Jordan sentenced him to death in absentia for complicity in the murder of American diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman in 2002. Zarqawi would be killing people whether Coalition forces were in Iraq or not. It's his job, and he likes it.

Noteworthy in Zarqawi's second announcement was his list of intelligence services working with the U.S., which includes those from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority. The last is significant because lately al Qaeda has been seeking to raise its profile in the Palestinian community. Al Qaeda has never had a high opinion of the Fatah faction (Yasser Arafat's security forces opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators carrying pictures of bin Laden in October 2001) and as the government of the Palestinian Authority seeks to move towards a measure of respectability, al Qaeda is moving in to take over the market in violent resistance. They announced the formation of a franchise in Gaza and won praise from a local imam. Members of Hamas, frustrated at their organization's drift away from violence, are already starting to defect to the more motivated al Qaeda. This is a development well worth watching.

Another lesson learned for the terrorists is that multiple suicide attacks do not always go off as planned, and when they fail they leave behind living bombers who make excellent intelligence sources. For example: In the May 2003 Casablanca bombings (which Zarqawi was allegedly involved in as well), one of the cell leaders chose at the last minute not to detonate his bomb and collect a trip to paradise. Instead, he was arrested and helped bring down what was left of the organization in Morocco.

So too with the Amman bombing; 35-year-old Sajida Mubarak Atrous al Rishawi suffered a wardrobe malfunction and now has become an invaluable asset in understanding the means, motives and methods of the suicide cell. Al Qaeda actually helped investigators by rushing out information on the bombers not knowing that Sajida was still alive and trying to go to ground. Zarqawi's statement tipped off police that there was a woman involved, and she was the wife of one of the bombers. After quickly connecting some dots, she was in custody.

Early reports have it that Sajida is the sister of Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, said to be a Zarqawi lieutenant killed fighting Coalition forces in Fallujah. Her pseudonym for the operation was "Sajida Abdel Qader Latif," which could be an homage to Latif al-Rishawi, head of the Abu Risha (or Al Burayshah) tribe of al Anbar, who was killed in Ramadi in a clash with U.S. troops in February 2005. The previous tribal leader, Sheikh Khamis Futaikhan, was gunned down in November 2004 in Ramadi by unknown assailants. It's a tough gig. But if Zarqawi is sending members of the inner circle on suicide missions, you have to wonder how many people he has left.

Less is being reported about Sajida's husband, Ali al-Shamari, though someone by that name helped lead a mutiny of 200 Iraqi soldiers in April, 2004, when they were ordered into action against insurgents in Fallujah. This could be a coincidence of names, but if not it adds to the picture; it illustrates the insurgent technique of penetrating the Iraqi security forces in order to sow various forms of chaos. I guess he ran out of missions and wanted to go out with a big one.

Incidentally: Back on September 14, 2000, an Iraqi national named Adil al-Rishawi hijacked Qatar Airways flight 404 as it was heading for Amman, Jordan. He surrendered to Saudi authorities after the plane made a forced landing in Hail. At his trial in Doha, Qatar, he said he was trying to draw attention to the plight of Iraqis under U.N. sanctions. One report stated that al-Rishawi took over the plane armed with "a sharp tool." Sounds familiar. No word whether he ever visited Saddam's terrorist training camp at Salman Pak, but if he is still being held in Qatar maybe someone should go talk to him.

It will be interesting in coming days to see if Zarqawi keeps trying to explain the Jordan bombings, and how al Qaeda's limitless appetite for violence will affect public opinion in the Muslim world. People who think this attack is evidence of al Qaeda's strength or momentum have it backwards. This is a sign of weakness, of rashness, of desperation. It has hurt their legitimacy and damage their movement. As the old saying goes: In politics if you are explaining, you are losing, and Zarqawi has a lot more explaining to do.

? James S. Robbins is senior fellow in national-security affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council, a trustee for the Leaders for Liberty Foundation, and an NRO contributor.
Title: Where hava all the WMDs Gone?
Post by: buzwardo on November 16, 2005, 10:09:22 AM
Where the WMDs Went
By Jamie Glazov | November 16, 2005

Frontpage Interview?s guest today is Bill Tierney, a former military intelligence officer and Arabic speaker who worked at Guantanamo Bay in 2002 and as a counter-infiltration operator in Baghdad in 2004. He was also an inspector (1996-1998) for the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) for overseeing the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles in Iraq. He worked on the most intrusive inspections during this period and either participated in or planned inspections that led to four of the seventeen resolutions against Iraq.
FP: Mr. Tierney, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Tierney: Thanks for the opportunity.
FP: With the Democrats now so viciously and hypocritically attacking Bush about WMDs, I?d like to discuss your own knowledge and expertise on this issue in connection to Iraq. You have always held that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Why? Can you discuss some actual finds?
Tierney:  It was probably on my second inspection that I realized the Iraqis had no intention of ever cooperating.  They had very successfully turned The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections during the eighties into tea parties, and had expected UNSCOM to turn out the same way.  However, there was one fundamental difference between IAEA and UNSCOM that the Iraqis did not account for.  There was a disincentive in IAEA inspections to be aggressive and intrusive, since the same standards could then be applied to the members states of the inspectors.  IAEA had to consider the continued cooperation of all the member states.  UNSCOM, however, was focused on enforcing and verifying one specific Security Council Resolution, 687, and the level of intrusiveness would depend on the cooperation from Iraq.
I came into the inspection program as an interrogator and Arabic linguist, so I crossed over various fields and spotted various deception techniques that may not have been noticed in only one field, such as chemical or biological.  For instance, the Iraqis would ask in very reasonable tones that questionable documents be set aside until the end of the day, when a discussion would determine what was truly of interest to UNSCOM.  The chief inspector, not wanting to appear like a knuckle-dragging ogre, would agree.  Instead of setting the documents on a table in a stack, the Iraqis would set them side to side, filling the entire table top, and would place the most explosive documents on the edge of the table.  At some point they would flood the room with people, and in the confusion abscond with the revealing documents.  
This occurred at Tuwaitha Atomic Research Facility in 1996.  A car tried to blow through an UNSCOM vehicle checkpoint at the gate.  The car had a stack of documents about two feet high in the back seat.  In the middle of the stack, I found a document with a Revolutionary Command Council letterhead that discussed Atomic projects with four number designations that were previously unknown.  The Iraqis were extremely concerned. I turned the document over to the chief inspector, who then fell for the Iraqis? ?reasonable request? to lay it out on a table for later discussion.  The Iraqis later flooded the room, and the document disappeared.  Score one for the Iraqis.
On finds, the key word here is ?find.?  UNSCOM could pursue a lead and approach an inspection target from various angles to cut off an escape route, but at some point, the Iraqis would hold up their guns and keep us out.
A good example of this was the inspection of the 2nd Armored Battalion of the Special Republican Guards in June 1997.  We came in from three directions, because we knew the Iraqis had an operational center that tracked our movement and issued warnings.   The vehicle I was in arrived at the gate first.  There were two guards when we arrived, and over twenty within a minute, all extremely nervous.
The Iraqis had stopped the third group of our inspection team before it could close off the back of the installation.  A few minutes later, a soldier came from inside the installation, and all the other guards gathered around him.  He said something, there was a big laugh, and all the guards relaxed.  A few moments later there was a radio call from the team that had been stopped short.  They could here truck engines through the tall (10?) grass in that area.  When we were finally allowed in, our team went to the back gate.  The Iraqis claimed the gate hadn?t been opened in months, but there was freshly ground rust at the gate hinges.  There was a photo from overhead showing tractor trailers with missiles in the trailers leaving the facility.
When pressed, Tariq Aziz criticized the inspectors for not knowing the difference between a missile and a concrete guard tower.  He never produced the guard towers for verification.  It was during this period that Tariq Aziz pulled out his ?no smoking gun? line.  Tariq very cleverly changed the meaning of this phrase.  The smoking gun refers to an indicator of what you are really looking for - the bullet.   Tariq changed the meaning so smoking gun referred to the bullet, in this case the WMD, knowing that as long as there were armed guards between us and the weapons, we would never be able to ?find,? as in ?put our hands on,? the weapons of mass destruction.  The western press mindlessly took this up and became the Iraqis? tool.  I will let the reader decide whether this inspection constitutes a smoking gun.
FP: So can you tell us about some other ?smoking guns??
Tierney: Sure. Another smoking gun was the inspection of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Special Republican Guards.  After verifying source information related to biological weapons formerly stored at the National War College, we learned at another site that the unit responsible for guarding the biological weapons was stationed near the airport.  We immediately dashed over there before the Iraqis could react, and forced them to lock us out.  One of our vehicles took an elevated position where they could look inside the installation and see the Iraqis loading specialized containers on to trucks that matched the source description for the biological weapons containers.  The Iraqis claimed that we had inspected the facilities a year earlier, so we didn?t need to inspect it again.
Another smoking gun was the inspection of Jabal Makhul Presidential Site.  In June/July 1997 we inspected the 4th Special Republican Guards Battalion in Bayji, north of Tikrit.  This unit had been photographed taking equipment for the Electro-magnetic Isotope Separation (EMIS) method of uranium enrichment away from inspectors.  The Iraqis were extremely nervous as this site, and hid any information on personnel who may have been involved with moving the equipment.  This was also the site where the Iraqi official on the UNSCOM helicopter tried to grab the control and almost made the aircraft crash.
When I returned to the States, I learned that the Iraqis were extremely nervous that we were going to inspect an unspecified nearby site, and that they checked that certain code named items were in their proper place.  I knew from this information the Iraqis could only be referring to Jabal Makhul Presidential Site, a sprawling mountain retreat on the other side of the ridge from the 4th Battalion, assigned to guard the installation.  This explained why the Iraqis caused the problems with the helicopter, to keep it from flying to the other side of the mountain.
We inspected Jabal Makhul in September of 1997.  The Iraqis locked us out without a word of discussion.  This was the start of the Presidential Site imbroglio.  The Iraqis made great hay out of inspectors wanting to look under the president?s furniture, but this site, with its hundreds of acres, was the real target.
During the Presidential Site inspections in Spring of 1998, inspectors found an under-mountain storage area at Jabal Makhul.  When the inspectors arrived, it was filled with drums of water.  The Iraqis claimed that they used the storage area to store rainwater.  Jabal Makhul had the Tigris River flowing by at the bottom of the mountain, and a massive pump to send water to the top of the mountain, where it would cascade down in fountains and waterfalls in Saddam?s own little Shangri-la, but the Iraqi had to go to the effort of digging out an underground bunker akin to our Cheyenne Mountain headquarters, just so they could store rainwater.
A London Sunday Times article in 2001 by Gwynne Roberts quoted an Iraqi defector as stating Iraq had nuclear weapons in a heavily guarded installation in the Hamrin mountains.  Jabal Makhul is the most heavily guarded location in the Hamrin mountains.  With its under-mountain bunker, isolation, and central location, it is the perfect place to store a high-value asset like a nuclear weapon.
On nukes, some analysts wait until there is unambiguous proof before stating a country has nuclear weapons.  This may work in a courtroom, but intelligence is a different subject altogether.  I believe it is more prudent to determine what is axiomatic given a nation?s capabilities and intentions.  There was no question that Iraq had triggering mechanisms for a nuke, the question was whether they had enriched enough uranium.  Given Iraq?s intensive efforts to build a nuke prior to the Gulf War, their efforts to hide uranium enrichment material from inspectors, the fact that Israel had a nuke but no Arab state could claim the same, my first-hand knowledge of the limits of UNSCOM and IAEA capabilities, and Iraqi efforts to buy yellowcake uranium abroad (Joe Wilson tea parties notwithstanding), I believe the TWELVE years between 1991 and 2003 was more than enough time to produce sufficient weapons grade uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.  Maybe I have more respect for the Iraqis? capabilities than some.
FP: Tell us something you came up with while conducting counter-infiltration ops in Iraq.
Tierney: While I was engaged in these operations in Baghdad in 2004, one of the local translators freely stated in his security interview that he worked for the purchasing department of the nuclear weapons program prior to and during the First Gulf War.  He said that Saddam purchased such large quantities of precision machining equipment that he could give up some to inspections, or lose some to bombing, and still have enough for his weapons program.  This translator also stated that when Saddam took human shields and placed some at Tarmiya Nuclear Research Facility, he was sent there to act as a translator.  One of the security officers at Tarmiya told him that he had just recovered from a sickness he incurred while guarding technicians working in an underground facility nearby.  The security officer stated that the technicians left for a break every half hour, but he stayed in the underground chamber all day and got sick.  The security officer didn?t mention what they were doing, but I would say uranium enrichment is the most logical pick.
What, not enough smoke?  There was the missile inspection on Ma?moun Establishment.  I was teamed with two computer forensic specialists.  A local technician stood by while we opened a computer and found a flight simulation for a missile taking off from the Iraqi desert in the same area used during the First Gulf War and flying west towards Israel.  The warhead was only for 50 kilograms.  By the time we understood was this was, the poor technician was coming apart.  I will never forget meeting his eyes, and both of us realizing he was a dead man walking.  The Iraqis tried to say that the computer had just been transferred from another facility, and that the flight simulation had not been erased from before the war. The document?s placement in the file manager, and the technician?s reaction belied this story. UNSCOM?s original assessment was that this was for a biological warhead, but I have since seen reporting that make me think it was for a nuclear weapon.
These are only some of the observations of one inspector.  I know of other inspections where there were clear indicators the Iraqis were hiding weapons from the inspectors.
FP: Ok, so where did the WMDs go?  
Tierney: While working counter-infiltration in Baghdad, I noticed a pattern among infiltrators that their cover stories would start around Summer or Fall of 2002.  From this and other observations, I believe Saddam planned for a U.S. invasion after President Bush?s speech at West Point in 2002.   One of the steps taken was to prepare the younger generation of the security services with English so they could infiltrate our ranks, another was either to destroy or move WMDs to other countries, principally Syria.  Starting in the Summer of 2002, the Iraqis had months to purge their files and create cover stories, such as the letter from Hossam Amin, head of the Iraqi outfit that monitored the weapons inspectors, stating after Hussein Kamal?s defection that the weapons were all destroyed in 1991.  
I was on the inspections that follow-up on Hussein Kamal?s defection, and Hossam said at the time that Hussein Kamal had a secret cabal that kept the weapons without the knowledge of the Iraqi government.  It was pure pleasure disemboweling this cover story.  Yet the consensus at DIA is that Iraq got rid of its weapons in 1991.  This is truly scary.  If true, when and where did Saddam have a change of heart? This is the same man who crowed after 9/11, then went silent after news broke that Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence operative in Prague. Did Saddam spend a month with Mother Theresa, or go to a mountain top in the Himalaya?s? Those that say there were no weapons have to prove that Saddam had a change of heart.  I await their evidence with interest.
FP: So do you think the WMD is the central issue regarding Iraq?
Tierney:  No, and it never should have been an issue.  The First Gulf War -- and I use this term as a convention, since this is actually all the same war -- was a prime example of managing war instead of waging it.  Instead of telling Saddam to get out of Kuwait or we will push him out, we should have said to get out of Kuwait or we will remove him from power.  As it was, we were projecting our respect for human life on Saddam, when actually, from his point of view, we were doing him a favor by killing mostly Shi?ite military members who were a threat to his regime.  I realize that Saudi Arabia, our host, did not want a change in government in Iraq, and they had helped us bring down the Soviet Union with oil price manipulation, but we should have bent them to our will instead of vice versa.  Saddam would not have risked losing power to keep Kuwait, and we could have avoided this whole ordeal.  
We topped one mistake with another, expecting Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party, a criminal syndicate masquerading as a political party, to abide by any arms control agreement.  Gun control and Arms control both arise from the ?mankind is good? worldview.  If you control the environment, i.e. get rid of the guns, then man?s natural goodness will rise to the surface.  I hope it is evidence after more than a decade of Iraqi intransigence how foolish this position is.  The sobering fact is that if a nation feels it is in their best interest to have certain weapons, they are going to have them.  Chemical weapons were critical to warding off hoards of Iranian fighters, and the Iraqis knew they would always be in a position of weakness against Israel without nuclear weapons.  The United States kept nuclear weapons to deter the Soviet Union, but we would deny the same logic for Iraq?
There is also the practicality of weapons inspections/weapons hunts.   After seventeen resolutions pleading with the Iraqis to be nice, the light bulb still didn?t go off that the entire concept is fundamentally flawed.  Would you like to live in a city where the police chief sent out resolutions to criminals to play nice, instead of taking them off the streets?
As I said earlier, I knew the Iraqis would never cooperate, so the inspections became a matter of illustrating this non-cooperation for the Security Council and the rest of the world.  No manipulation or fabrication was necessary.  There was a sufficient percentage of defectors with accurate information to ensure that we would catch the Iraqis in the act. UNSCOM was very successfully at verifying the Iraqis? non-cooperation; the failure was in the cowardice at the Security Council.  Maybe cowardice is too strong a word.  Maybe the problem was giving a mission that entailed the possible use of force to an organization with the goal of eliminating the use of force.
On the post-war weapons hunt, the arrogance and hubris of the intelligence community is such that they can?t entertain the possibility that they just failed to find the weapons because the Iraqis did a good job cleaning up prior to their arrival.  This reminds me of the police chief who announced on television plans to raid a secret drug factor on the outskirts of town.  At the time appointed, the police, all twelve of them, lined up behind each other at the front door, knocked and waiting for the druggies to answer, as protocol required.  After ten minute of toilet flushing and back-door slamming, somebody came to the front door in a bathrobe and explained he had been in the shower.  The police took his story at face value, even though his was dry as a bone, then police proceeded to inspect the premises ensuring that the legal, moral , ethnic, human, and animal rights, and also the national dignity, of the druggies was preserved.   After a search, the police chief announced THERE WERE NO STOCKPILES of drugs at the inspected site.  Anyone care to move to this city?
FP: Let?s talk a little bit more about how the WMDs disappeared.
Tierney: In Iraq?s case, the lakes and rivers were the toilet, and Syria was the back door.  Even though there was imagery showing an inordinate amount of traffic into Syria prior to the inspections, and there were other indicators of government control of commercial trucking that could be used to ship the weapons to Syria, from the ICs point of view, if there is no positive evidence that the movement occurred, it never happened.  This conclusion is the consequence of confusing litigation with intelligence.  Litigation depends on evidence, intelligence depends on indicators.  Picture yourself as a German intelligence officer in Northern France in April 1944.  When asked where will the Allies land, you reply ?I would be happy to tell you when I have solid, legal proof, sir.  We will have to wait until they actually land.?  You won?t last very long.  That officer would have to take in all the indicators, factor in deception, and make an assessment (this is a fancy intelligence word for an educated guess).  
The Democrats understand the difference between the two concepts, but have no qualms about blurring the distinction for political gain.  This is despicable.  This has brought great harm to our nation?s credibility with our allies.  A perfect example is Senator Levin waving deception by one single source, al-Libi, to try and convince us that this is evidence there was no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, as though the entire argument rested on this one source.  Senator Levin, and his media servants, think the public can?t read through his duplicity.  He is plunging a dagger into the heart of his own country.
Could the assessments of Iraq?s weapons program been off?  I am sure there were some marginal details that were incorrect, but on the matter of whether Iraq had a program, the error was not with the pre-war assessment, the error was with the weapons hunt.
I could speak at length about the problems with the weapons hunt.  Mr. Hanson has an excellent article in ?The American Thinker,? and Judith Miller, one of the few bright lights at the New York Times, did an article on the problems with the weapons hunt that I can corroborate from other sources.  But if the Iraqi Survey Group had been manned by a thousand James Bonds, and every prop was where it should have been, I doubt the result would have been much different.  The whole concept of international arms inspections puts too much advantage with the inspected country.  Factor in the brutality used by the Baath Party, and it amounts to a winning combination for our opponents.
I was shocked to learn recently that members of the Iraqi Survey Group believed their Iraqi sources when they said they don?t fear a return of the Baath Party.  During my eight months of counterinfiltration duty, we had 50 local Iraqis working on our post who were murdered for collaborating.   Of the more than 150 local employees our team identified as security threats, the most sophisticated infiltrators came from the Baath Party. This was just one post, yet the DIA believes no one was afraid to talk, even though scientists who were cooperating with ISG were murdered.  You can add this to the Able Danger affair as another example of the deep rot inside the intelligence community.
I believe that once the pertinent sources have a sense of security, a whole lot of people are going to have egg on their face.  I believe the Iraqis had a WMD program, and I am not changing my story, no matter how many times Chris Matthews hyperventilates.
FP: Before we go, can you briefly touch on some of the prevailing attitudes in the U.S. military that may hurt us?
Tierney:  There is a prevailing attitude that the U.S. is too big and ponderous to lose, so individual officers don?t have to take the potentially career-threatening risks necessary to win.  I have heard it said that for every one true warrior in the military, there are two to three self-serving, career-worshipping bureaucrats.  We shouldn?t be surprised.  After all, the Army advertised ?Be all you can be!?  Or in other words, get a career at taxpayer expense.  
President Clinton changed the definition of the military from peace makers to peace keepers, and no senior officers resigned or objected.  President Clinton took a one star general who ran a humanitarian effort in Northern Iraq, Shalikashvilli, and made him Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The signal was out, warriors need not apply.  Shalikashvilli later spoke at a U.N. meeting and listed the roles for the military in the ?Revolution in Military Affairs.?   He included warm and fuzzy things like ?confidence building,? but failed to mention waging war.  In my five years at CENTCOM headquarters, I very rarely heard the words, ?war,? ?enemy,? or ?winning.? This was all absorbed into the wonderful term ?strike operations.?
Operation Desert Fox was a perfect example of the uselessness of strike operations. Iraqis have told me that the WMD destruction and movement started just after Operation Desert Fox, since after all, who would be so stupid as to start a bombing campaign and just stop.
It was only after Saddam realized that President Clinton lacked the nerve for anything more than a temper-tantrum demonstration that he knew the doors were wide open for him to continue his weapons program.   We didn?t break his will, we didn?t destroy his weapons making capability (The Iraqis simply moved most of the precision machinery out prior to the strikes, then rebuilt the buildings), but we did kill some Iraqi bystanders, just so President Clinton could say ?something must be done, so I did something.?
General Zinni, Commander of CENTCOM, and no other senior officer had any problem with this fecklessness.  They apparently bought into the notion that wars are meant to be managed and not waged.  The warriors coming into the military post 9/11 deserve true warriors at the top.  I believe the house cleaning among the senior military  leadership started by the Secretary of Defense should continue full force.  If not across the board, then definitely in the military intelligence field.
FP: Mr. Tierney it was a pleasure to speak with you today. Thank you for visiting Frontpage.
Tierney: Thank you Jamie for the opportunity to say there were weapons, and that we were right to invade Iraq.
Title: China's Economic Shell Game
Post by: buzwardo on January 07, 2006, 03:34:05 PM
Interesting libertarian blog out of the UK:

The following post is among the cogent pieces one can find there.

January 05, 2006
Thoughts on China's future
James Waterton (Perth, Australia)  Asian affairs ? Globalization/economics
I have been wandering through the fascinating nation of China of late, so I have not had much time to peruse the blogosphere - I guess this means that for a month I had a life. I was fortunate enough to spend a few days in the beautiful city of Lijiang in Yun'nan province. This mid-sized Chinese town is famed for its wonderfully restored 'old city', a cobbled and confusing maze of shops, traditional inns with gorgeous courtyards and a grid of small canals filled with luminous fish and gushing clean water. A beautiful place to while away a few days, but Lijiang is not really known for its nightlife. So on the evening of the 25th of December, I got trawling through some of the past articles on Samizdata. Reading through the comments section on this post, I noticed that an article I wrote early in 2005 got a mention. It was a pity I was not around a computer regularly, because a debate raged in the comments section that I would have very much liked to have been a part of. For all my appreciation of China, I am one of the few Sino sceptics.

I should explain. I am not a sceptic of the aspirations of the billions of Chinese people who sense greatness in the Chinese identity. After all, I'm mentioning a deeply rich culture backed up by a vast talent pool on the mainland and in the diaspora that has the capacity to change the world radically in the future. I am, however, deeply pessimistic about China in its current nominally Communist incarnation, for reasons I have outlined in a previous post. I will not go into specifics; if you're curious, please read my rationale here.

Some interesting developments have taken place between now and then, however. These merit further analysis. One or two of the commenters in the mentioned Samizdata piece stated that they were keeping abreast of banking developments in the Middle Kingdom. In 2002, Chinese officials admitted that 25% of the loans written by the state owned banks were non-performing. Standard and Poors and a number of others said it was closer to 50%, and possibly more. Within the space of four years, the Chinese administration has revised its estimation of the rate of non-performing loans down to an average of about 12%. How can this be done so fast? I'm not really sure. We are, of course, talking about the writing down or otherwise accounting for of many hundreds of billions of dollars of bad loans. I assume that it's due to the fact that most or all of the bad loans have been transferred to special "asset management" companies set up by the government. I suspect that the banks have been able to revise their non-performing loans (NPL) ratio down so quickly by performing a debt-to-equity swap with these holding companies. The article linked to immediately above believes the asset management companies have taken a chunk of the banks' loans and issued them with 10 year bonds in return.

This solution is clearly economic sophistry. At the end of the day, someone has to pay the tab - at some stage depositors are going to want their money. The equity in these holding companies is effectively (if not nominally for the time being) worthless - after all, their assets consist of a bunch of loans that will never be repaid. What is being done about the essentially state-owned industrial sector, which was - and most likely still is - the major recipient of these loans? There's a saying in China that goes something like "The mountains are high and the Emperor is far away". I have no doubt that this thinking pervades China's provincial administration and its state-owned industrial sector, and it explains the pervasive corruption that is, contrary to official publications, as rampant as ever. For every high-profile trial and execution of an apparently "senior" official on corruption charges, there are hundreds of thousands more who not only escape undetected, but are also politically untouchable into the bargain. Quite simply, the central government cannot be everywhere at once, and its reach is frequently limited by local powerbrokers. Consider this case in Guangdong, one of China's more prosperous provinces, where the central government could not exercise its will due to local political considerations, even though humiliating international media attention was beaming down. And who is to say that the central government is not as corrupt as its provincial counterparts? It is hardly unreasonable to say that corruption probes have a definite glass ceiling when it comes to the powers that be in Beijing.

I believe that the Chinese banking sector's dire straits constitute the gravest threat to global stability in the coming years. The Chinese government is always harping on about its "deepening" banking and state-owned industrial enterprise reforms, and this is a mantra is being repeated across the world. Unfortunately, the Chinese state is so opaque that it's impossible to verify the veracity of such claims, and the unrealistic numbers being thrown at us by the Communist party (like the drop of NPLs from 25% to 12% in less than five years) and the shonky juggling of bad debt from one insolvent bank to another woefully undercapitalised holding company do not inspire much confidence in the nature of the reforms. Frankly, I believe the banking sector is too far gone to reform without collapse. In international terms, the crisis in the Chinese banks and SOEs is an elephant that stands in the middle of the room, but everyone is either perceiving it as a mouse or trying to pass it off as a mouse. I believe the Australian government is in the latter category, as are a great many others around the world.

I speculate that governments like Australia's are acting as they are because they realise the Chinese state is very brittle and unlikely to withstand economic collapse. The massively stimulating US$50 billion or thereabouts annual injection of foreign direct investment is holding the Chinese state together for the time being. Thus, a number of states such as Australia have an interest in talking up Chinese economic reforms - and concealing the parlous nature of the Chinese economy - in the hope that investor confidence will not flag and the Chinese will trade and consume their way out of their problems. Our current economic health is due to huge demand in booming and resource-hungry China. Thus we see documents like this (pdf) that echo the "deepening reforms" mantra consistently spouted by the Chinese administration. Puff pieces like this create and sustain the irrational exuberance that swirls around the legend of the Chinese economic miracle, and inevitably amplifies economic pain when the collapse eventuates. The strategy of our governments may work, but it is an extremely high-risk gamble. The more investment in and commercial intertwinement with China increases, the more outsiders will suffer if the system unravels.

And perhaps the cracks are already becoming evident even to the man on the street. When I was in China in late 2005, ATMs were frequently out of order. I work in the banking sector in Australia, and when an ATM is out of order this nearly always means the machine has dispensed all its money. This was not a problem in late 2004 during my previous Chinese visit - ATM operations at that time were indiscernible to those in Australia. I am speculating here, because I'm not really an expert on this kind of money velocity issue, but perhaps the sudden patchiness of the ATM network is a sentinel of a solvency crisis.

And the collapse could come sooner than we think. In 2007, as per the agreement China entered into upon joining the WTO, it must open up its retail banking sector to foreign banks. This is a potential tripwire. Even if only a small number of Chinese are concerned about the health of their local banks (and thus their savings), when Citibank opens up next door the run on Chinese banks could easily spin out of control. I am assuming that the government is trying to spread the notion of confidence and stability in the retail banking sector. If the Chinese do not panic come 2007 or any time in the subsequent 20 years or so, the banks should be able to reduce their NPL rate to a "more manageable 5%". It wouldn't be the first time that people have left their money in a bank that is essentially insolvent because they believe the government will cover any losses incurred. This is a questionable assumption, however, and if I was Chinese I probably would not run the risk.

I am concerned by the consequences of a Chinese economic collapse, and these concerns reach far beyond any short to medium term economic pain. I fear a worldwide economic slump prompted by the collapse of China and its supposedly free market will provoke a popular backlash against globalisation and the liberal market reforms carried out in the 80s in the most successful economies of the West. Capitalism and liberalism will be blamed if people create a nexus between China's collapse, its market reforms and its intertwining with the greater world economy. There is no shortage of people who will quickly jump to the fallacious conclusion that the free market sunk China - those who protested in Hong Kong and other places would grab plenty of (misguided) ammunition from such a catastrophic event. Ask any one of those economic curmudgeons about post communist Russia's economy, and I will bet you penny to a pound that their standard response would be "capitalism failed Russia". This is about as sensible as saying that modesty failed Paris Hilton, for anyone who knows anything about post-Soviet "free market reforms" will know that they were in fact nothing of the sort. This type of thinking could very well gain traction because it makes sense prima facie. Policy reversals may follow and suddenly we're staring down the barrel of a neo-Keynesian revolution. Consider what the average person knows about China's economy. We're all told about China's free market reforms and its burgeoning capitalist class in the mainstream media - we're not told about the Chinese government's meddling in the economy and its mandating of compulsory totalitarian-style imposts on big private companies like internal "political cells", its retention of control over huge swathes of industry, its equity market (there is currently a ban on IPOs on Mainland bourses) which is stuffed with companies who are controlled by local governments and even the military, rather than shareholder, the board and a CEO. Most importantly, we're not told about the largely intractable problems with China's banking sector. Most people truly think China operates under a free market economic system. If the dog's breakfast that is China Inc fails with all the accompanying pain and fallout, there's a real danger that free market liberalism will be made the scapegoat internationally.

As I speculated above and in my previous article, Chinese economic collapse will probably preface political revolution. This is in itself an interesting, though disturbing proposition. What would post-communist China look like? Firstly, I should mention that a democratic revolution seems fanciful at best. There is no ANC-type shadow opposition waiting in the wings. The Party is the State, and the Party brooks no opposition. Here are what I consider to be the two most likely outcomes:

1) The military will overthrow the Party. If the banking sector collapses, so too will large chunks of the state-owned industrial sector that are afloat solely due to loans from the state-owned banks. Millions upon millions will be out of work - millions more will lose their pensions and benefits. Many tens - perhaps hundreds - of millions of people will pour onto the street to vigorously and violently protest their loss of savings and/or employment. In its death throes, the Communist Party will order a brutal military crackdown. Trouble is, a military is made up by people with aspirations, families, hopes etc. People who would have lost their savings, too. People whose parents, family and friends are suddenly out of work and without benefits. Most of the officers and soldiers will have no end of sympathy for their countrymen under such circumstances, and it's difficult to imagine the chain of command will survive under such conditions. The Communist top brass will lose control of the military, which will regroup under a new command. The old political order will be drawn and quartered, Mao will be evicted from his mausoleum and his portrait ripped down from the gate of the Forbidden City. There is no democratic tradition in China, however the country is steeped in a history of rule-by-decree. Expect this for many years to come. Perhaps the best outcome would be highly imperfect democratic elections in several years time.

2) The country breaks up along the lines of regional powerbrokers. Along with rule-by-decree, China also has a long history of warlordism and disunity. Due to the lack of any credible and widespread opposition movement in China, the possibility of a complete breakdown of central control is high if the Communists depart the scene and the military doesn't fill the vacuum. Hong Kong would almost certainly go its own way. Those provinces with large populations of non-Han citizens like Tibet and Xinjiang may declare their independence - perhaps bloodily ejecting the old order. Inner Mongolia may reunite with Mongolia. There is scope for large-scale dismemberment of the modern Chinese state. That left over will be fractured and ruled perhaps by the old regional party bosses reincarnated as warlords or whoever is able to wrest power from them and maintain it.

Some mention Taiwan as a wildcard that could be used as a distraction by the Central government. I think this unlikely. If the economy collapses, a war with Taiwan is not likely to distract anyone from their sudden poverty. Militarily, it seems unrealistic, too. The military will be stretched to breaking point in an attempt to reign in the chaos on the Mainland, so a massive invasion or attack on Taiwan looks unfeasible.

I truly hope that I am wrong about my bleak assessment, mainly due to the turmoil and potentially massive loss of life that would undoubtedly accompany such an event. I am also deeply concerned about the potential illiberal and protectionist measures that may be enacted in the West and elsewhere in the wake of a Chinese meltdown. The world has made a grave error of judgement in heavily backing an economy designed, constructed and administered by a group of ostensibly reformed Communists. This fact alone should have cooled the foreigners' ardour. As it stands, the potential for unprecedented economic losses from Chinese investments is enormous. I think we could be facing a very painful depression, which may very well be "cured" with a protectionist, welfarist New Deal-like solution. Scary times ahead.
Title: Shaignhai Housing Bust
Post by: buzwardo on January 08, 2006, 02:09:33 PM
Hmm, wonder if this piece and the one posted above are indicitive of an emerging pattern.

From the Los Angeles Times
A Home Boom Busts
Shanghai's hot housing market has fizzled after a run-up fed by speculators, threatening a significant part of China's economy.
By Don Lee
Times Staff Writer

January 8, 2006

SHANGHAI ? American homeowners wondering what follows a housing bubble can look to China's largest city.

Once one of the hottest markets in the world, sales of homes have virtually halted in some areas of Shanghai, prompting developers to slash prices and real estate brokerages to shutter thousands of offices.

For the first time, homeowners here are learning what it means to have an upside-down mortgage ? when the value of a home falls below the amount of debt on the property. Recent home buyers are suing to get their money back. Banks are fretting about a wave of default loans.

"The entire industry is scaling back," said Mu Wijie, a regional manager at Century 21 China, who estimated that 3,000 brokerage offices had closed since spring. Real estate agents, whose phones wouldn't stop ringing a year ago, say their incomes have plunged by two-thirds.

Shanghai's housing slump is only going to worsen and imperil a significant part of the Chinese economy, says Andy Xie, Morgan Stanley's chief Asia economist in Hong Kong.

Although the city's 20 million residents represent less than 2% of China's population of 1.3 billion, Xie says, Shanghai accounts for an astounding 20% of the country's property value. About 1 million homes in Shanghai alone ? about half the number of housing starts for the entire United States in 2004 ? are under construction.

"They'll remain empty for years," Xie said, adding that a jolting comedown also was in store for other Chinese cities with building booms ? including Beijing, Chongqing and Chengdu ? though other analysts say the problem is largely confined to Shanghai.

Shanghai's housing bust comes after a doubling of prices in the previous three years, a run-up fueled by massive speculation. With China's economy booming and Shanghai at the center of worldwide attention, investors from Hong Kong, Taiwan and elsewhere were buying as fast as buildings were going up. At least 30% to 40% of homes sold were bought by speculators, says Zhang Zhijie, a real estate analyst at Academy, a research group in Shanghai.

"Ordinary people had no option but to follow the trend," Zhang said. "Worrying that prices would be even more unaffordable tomorrow, many of them borrowed from relatives and banks to buy as soon as possible."

The Shanghai government only pushed the market higher, he added. "Many of the officials said Shanghai's property market was healthy and wouldn't drop before the World Expo" in 2010.

For Wang Suxian, the tale of two lines illustrates how the bubble has burst.

When home prices were at the tail end of the boom in March, Wang hired two migrant workers to stand in line for a chance to buy units in what the developer said was modeled after an apartment community on New York's Park Avenue.

The workers waited 72 hours, including cold nights, but the 35-year-old was thrilled to come away with two apartments, one for $110,000, about the average price for a new home in Shanghai, and another for $170,000. They were among Wang's four investment properties.

And for a short period, Wang believed she was raking in hundreds of dollars a day for doing nothing, as property prices in the city kept soaring.

But today, prices at the complex have fallen by a third, and the lines of frenzied buyers are gone. Wang is among dozens who are fighting the developer to take the apartments back.

On a recent frosty morning, she stood in a line herself with about 40 other buyers outside the builder's headquarters, demanding that it negotiate a deal to return their money. "This is ridiculous," Wang huffed.

The company, Da Hua Group, invited Wang and other homeowners inside, served them hot tea, then told them to forget it.

"I think it'll take at least three years before the property market becomes healthy again," said Zhu Delin, a finance professor at Shanghai University and former head of the Shanghai Banking Assn.

The typical home being built is in a high-rise complex, with two bedrooms and about 850 square feet of living space.

Developers say many of Shanghai's homes are valued at about $70,000 or less, and price drops haven't been as steep for those units.

Some still see promise in the Shanghai market. Incomes are rising and droves of people are relocating from the inner city to outlying areas, said Richard David, managing director at Macquarie Property Investment Banking China in Shanghai.

What's more, he says, the Shanghai government ? which owns all the land ? has auctioned off few lots in the last two years, which will limit the number of housing units in the future.

But that's little solace for homeowners who have seen inventories rise even as buyers show no hurry to come back into the market.

In Shanghai, people blame the popping of the housing bubble on the central government, which has applied one measure after another in the last year to quash excessive speculation and price increases.

Banks were ordered to raise their best rate on home loans to 5.5% from 5%. Home buyers were required to make down payments of at least 30%, up from 20%. A 5.5% capital gains tax on home sellers' profits was imposed. Beijing also levied a 5% tax on the sale price of homes sold before two years of ownership.

"It's killed the speculators," said David Pitcher, a Shanghai developer and former head of CB Richard Ellis' office here.

Before the market swooned, buses would bring investors from the southeastern coastal city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province on home-buying missions here. They no longer come.

Wang, the woman battling Da Hua, is one of tens of thousands of Shanghai home buyers from Wenzhou, known for its wealth and business prowess.

But it's not just speculators who have bailed out of the market. A lot of potential Shanghai buyers have been scared off by numerous reports of sinking home prices and desperate action by some owners.

Internet chat rooms recently were abuzz with a story that a Taiwanese man had jumped from the 33rd floor of an apartment tower about 15 miles northeast of downtown. Many people suspect that he killed himself because he was drowning in debt after his home investments went sour.

Managers at the complex refused to comment, but brokers indicated that the price of some units there have plummeted by more than 50% since March, when a home fetched as much as $250 a square foot, similar to housing prices in some Southern California communities.

Zhang Wei, an editor at Imagine China, a photography agency in Shanghai, was close to buying an apartment in the new Pudong development area last year.

The 25-year-old planned to use his $1,250 in savings, and his parents ? a policeman and a doctor ? agreed to contribute about $30,000. The family of three currently lives in a 550-square-foot apartment in an industrial district that was provided by his father's employer, the Police Bureau.

Zhang walked away from the deal after the central government stepped up its campaign to cool Shanghai's market. He noticed prices beginning to drop. "When two of the four real estate agencies near our home finally closed, I decided not to buy for at least two years," he said. "Even a 1% drop in prices is a lot of money for us."

For Shanghai, prolonged weakness in the housing market could be very painful. Like Los Angeles, Shanghai relies heavily on real estate to drive its economy. Morgan Stanley's Xie calculates that property sales directly accounted for about half of $31 billion of the growth in Shanghai's annual economic output from 2001 to 2004.

Construction cranes still fill the skyline of Shanghai, an area of about 2,200 square miles ? a little more than half the size of Los Angeles County. But there's sparse development in the center of the city, where strong sales of high-end homes and luxury office suites, in large part by foreigners, belie the losses around it.

Shanghai's government is relocating inner-city residents to new suburban areas, where entire towns are going up as part of a plan to build distinct industries that ring the city.

It's unclear how many of these new homes are sitting empty. Sales and inventory figures aren't provided by the government. But analysts say they can see the surplus of housing when they drive past housing complexes and there are few lights on at night.

Few analysts are betting on a quick turnaround. Yin Zhongli, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, says a housing crash takes time to clean up. He worries that the financial sector will be crippled by the real estate fallout. Last year, he said, 76% of all bank loans in Shanghai were in real estate.

"Now is the time to swallow a bitter pill," Yin said.

That's what Huang Xiaolei is doing. The 25-year-old Shanghai native nabbed a 1,700-square-foot apartment from Da Hua during the heady times last spring. The unit wouldn't be completed until the end of the year, but as is customary in China, Huang had to secure a loan and make the down payment right away.

She and her parents pooled their life savings of about $80,000 and put 30% down on the $270,000 home. In April, they began making monthly mortgage payments of $1,100 on a 30-year loan with a 5.5% interest rate.

In November, Huang decided to stop the monthly payment, and this month she filed a lawsuit against Da Hua, claiming her contract allowed her to rescind the purchase before the house was completed under special circumstances, with a 3% fee.

"We have over 40 cases like this at our firm," said Du Yuping, Huang's lawyer.

Huang regrets that she got caught up in the frenzied market, and says that even if she wins the lawsuit, she'll suffer a hard financial loss.

"I was cheated," she said.
Title: Chinese Miracle Workers Needed
Post by: buzwardo on January 11, 2006, 02:28:33 PM
More from Stratfor on Chinese economic woes.

Dissecting the 'Chinese Miracle'

By Peter Zeihan

The "Chinese miracle" has been a leading economic story for several years now. The headlines are familiar: "China's GDP Growth Fastest in Asia." "China Overtakes United Kingdom as Fourth-Largest Economy." "China Becomes World's Second-Largest Energy Consumer." "China Revises GDP Growth Rates Upward -- Again." Everywhere, one can find news articles about China, rising like a phoenix from the economic debris of its Maoist system to change and challenge the world in every way imaginable.

But just like the phoenix, the idea of an inevitable Chinese juggernaut is a myth.

Moreover, Western markets have been at least subconsciously aware of this for a decade. More than half of the $1.1 trillion in foreign direct investment that has flowed into China since 1995 has not been foreign at all, but money recirculated through tax havens by various local businessmen and governing officials looking to avoid taxation. Of the remainder, Western investment into China has remained startlingly constant at about $7 billion annually. Only Asian investors whose systems are often plagued (like Japan's) by similar problems of profitability or (like Indonesia's) outright collapse have been increasing their exposure in China.

Once the numbers are broken down, it's clear that the reality of China does not live up to the hype. While it is true that growth rates have been extremely strong, growth does not necessarily equal health. China's core problem, the inability to allocate capital efficiently, is embedded in its development model. The goals of that model -- rapid urbanization, mass employment and maximization of capital flow -- have been met, but to the detriment of profitability and return on capital. In time, China is likely to find itself undone not only by its failures, but also by its successes.

The Chinese Model

Until very recently, China's economic system operated in this way:

State-owned banks held a monopoly on deposits in the country, allowing them to take advantage of Asians' legendary savings rate and thus ensuring a massive pool of capital. The state banks then lent to state-owned enterprises (SOEs). This served two purposes. First, it kept the money in the family and assisted Beijing in maintaining control of the broader economic and political system. Second, because loans were disbursed frequently and at subsidized rates -- and banks did not insist upon strict repayment -- the state was able to guarantee ongoing employment to the Chinese masses.

This last point was -- and remains -- of critical importance to the Chinese Politburo: they know what can happen when the proletariat rises in anger. That is, after all, how they became the Politburo in the first place.

The cost of keeping the money circulating in this way, of course, is that China's state firms are now so indebted as to make their balance sheets a joke, and the banks are swimming in bad debts -- independent estimates peg the amount at around 35-50 percent of the country's GDP. Yet so long as the economic system remains closed, the process can be kept up ad infinitum: After all, what does it matter if the banks are broke if they are state-backed and shielded from competition and enjoy exclusive access to all of the country's depositors?

This system, initiated under Deng Xiaoping in 1979, served China well for years. It yielded unrestricted growth and rapid urbanization, and helped China emerge as a major economic power. And so long as China kept its financial system under wraps, it would remain invulnerable.

But the dawning problem is that China is not in its own little world: It is now a World Trade Organization member, and nearly half of its GDP is locked up in international trade. Its WTO commitments dictate that by December, Beijing must allow any interested foreign companies to compete in the Chinese banking market without restriction. But without some fairly severe adjustments, this shift would swiftly suck the capital out of the Chinese banking system. After all, if you are a Chinese depositor, who would you put your money with -- a foreign bank offering 2 percent interest and a passbook that means something, or a local state bank that can (probably) be counted on to give your money back (without interest)?

The Chinese are well aware of their problems, and perhaps their greatest asset at this point is that -- unlike the Soviets before them -- they are hiding neither the nature nor the size of the problem. Chinese state media have been reporting on the bad loan issue for the better part of two years, and state officials regularly consult each other as well as academics and businesspeople on what precisely they should do to avert a catastrophe.

The result has been a series of stopgap measures to buy time. Among these, the most far-reaching initiative has been a partial reform of the financial sector. The government has founded a series of asset-management companies to take over the bad loans from the state banks, thus scrubbing them free of most of the nonperforming loans. The scrubbed banks are then opened up so that interested foreign investors can purchase shares.

So far as it goes, this is a win-win scenario: Foreign banks get access to assets in-country before the December jump-in date, and the state banks avoid meltdown. In addition, a measure of foreign management expertise is injected into the system that hopefully will teach the state banks how to lend appropriately and -- if all goes well -- lead to the formation of a healthy financial sector. At the same time, the deep-pocketed foreign companies come away with a vested interest in keeping their new partners -- and by extension, the Chinese government -- fully afloat.

The only downside is that central government, through its asset-management firms, assumes responsibility for financially supporting all of China's loss-making state-owned enterprises.

But this rather ingenious banking shell game addresses only the immediate problem of a looming financial catastrophe. Left completely untouched is the existence of a few hundred billion dollars in dud loans -- linked to tens of thousands of dud firms for which the central government is now directly responsible.

Which still leaves for China the unsettled question: "Now what do we do?"

Two Opposing "Solutions"

As can be expected from a country that just underwent a leadership change, there are two competing solutions.

The first solution belongs to the generation of leadership personified by Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, and could be summed up as a philosophy of "Grow faster and it will all work out." It could be said that during Jiang's presidency, while the leadership certainly perceived China's debt problem, they -- like their counterparts in Japan -- felt that attacking the problem at its source -- the banking system -- would lead to an economic collapse (not to mention infuriate political supporters who benefited greatly from the system of cheap credit).

Jiang's recommendation was that everyone should build everything imaginable in hopes that the resulting massive growth and development would help catapult China to "developed country" status -- or, at the very least, raise overall wealth levels sufficiently that the population would not turn rebellious. In the minds of Jiang and his generation of leaders, the belief was that only rapid economic growth -- defined as that in excess of 8 percent annually -- could contain growing unemployment and urbanization pressures and thus hold social instability at bay.

The second solution comes from the current generation of leadership, represented by President Hu Jintao. This solution calls for rationalizing both development goals and credit allocation. The leadership wants to eliminate the "growth for its own sake" philosophy, consolidate inefficient producers and upgrade everything with a liberal dose of technology. Key to this strategy is a centrally planned effort to focus economic development on the inland areas that need it most -- and this entails tighter control over credit. Hu wants loans to go only to enterprises that will use money efficiently or to projects that serve specific national development goals -- narrowing the rich-poor, urban-rural and coastal-interior gaps in particular.

There are massive drawbacks to either solution.

Regional and local governors enthusiastically seized upon Jiang's program to massively expand their own personal fiefdoms. And as corporate empires of these local leaders grew, so too did Chinese demand for every conceivable industrial commodity. One result was the massive increases in commodity prices of 2003 and 2004, but the results for the Chinese economy were negligible. China consumes 12 percent of global energy, 25 percent of aluminum, 28 percent of steel and 42 percent of cement -- but is responsible for only 4.3 percent of total global economic output. Ultimately, while "solution" espoused by Jiang's generation did forestall a civil breakdown, it also saddled China with thousands of new non-competitive projects, even more bad debt, and a culture of corruption so deep that cases of applied capital punishment for graft and embezzlement have soared into the thousands.

Yet the potential drawbacks of the solution offered by Hu's generation are even worse. In attempting to consolidate, modernize and rationalize Jiang's legacy, Hu's government is butting heads with nearly all of the country's local and regional leaderships. These people did quite well for themselves under Jiang and are not letting go of their wealth easily. Such resistance has forced the Hu government to reform by a thousand pinpricks, needling specific local leaders on specific projects while using control of the asset management firms as a financial hammer. After all, since the central government relieved the state banks of their bad loan burden, it now has the perfect tool to strip power from those local leaders who prove less-than-enthusiastic about the changes in government policy.

Or at least that is how it is supposed to work. Local government officials have become so entrenched in their economic and political fiefdoms that they are, at best, simply ignoring the central government or, at worst, actively impeding central government edicts.

Hu's team is indeed making progress, but with the problem mammoth and the resistance both entrenched and stubborn, they can move only so fast for fear of risking a broader collapse or rebellion. And this does not take into consideration Beijing's efforts to strengthen the Chinese interior -- where the poorest Chinese actually live. Complicating matters even more, Hu's strategy relies upon the central government's ability to wring money out of the wealthy coastal regions to pay for the reconstruction of the interior.

That has made the coastal leaders even more disgruntled. However, they have come upon a fresh source of funding, replacing the traditional sources of capital that now are drying up as a result of the personnel changes in Beijing: the underground lending system, which was spurred by the official government monopoly over banks in years past. The central government now estimates that the underground banking sector is worth 800 billion yuan, or some 28 percent of the value of all loans granted in country.

Dealing with Failure -- And Success

The question in our mind is which strategy will fail -- or even succeed -- first. If Jiang's system prevails, then growth will continue, along with the attendant rise in commodity prices -- but at the cost of growing income disparity and environmental degradation. The likely outcome of such "success" would be a broad rebellion by the country's interior regions as money becomes increasingly concentrated in the coastal regions long favored by Jiang. And that is assuming the financial system does not collapse first under its own weight.

Local rebellions in China's rural regions have already become common, but two of are particular note.

In March, the villagers of Huaxi in the Zhejiang region protested against a local official who had used his connections to build a chemical plant on the outskirts of town. When rumors of police brutality surfaced, some 20,000 villagers quite literally seized control of the town from 3,000 security personnel. Before all was said and done, the villagers invited regional press agencies in to chronicle events in the town that had told the Politburo to go to hell, and started burning police property and parading riot control equipment before anyone who would watch. They actually sold tickets to their rebellion. Huaxi marked the first time local officials actually lost control of a town.

Then, in December, protests erupted against a local official in Shanwei, who had similarly lined his pockets with the money that was supposed to have been made available to farmers displaced by his expanding wind-power farm. The local governor figured that since he was investing not just in an energy-generating project in energy-starved China, but a green energy project, that he would have carte blanche to run events as he saw fit. He was right. When the protests turned violent, government forces opened fire -- the first authorized use of force by government troops against protesters since the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989.

Such events are, in part, evidence of a degree of success for the strategy espoused by Jiang's generation. The grow-grow-grow policy results in massive demand for labor by tens of thousands of economically questionable -- and typically state-owned -- corporations. This, in turn, draws workers from the rural regions to the rapidly expanding urban centers by the tens of millions. The dominant sense among those who are left behind -- or those who find their urban experiences less-than-savory -- is that they have been exploited. This is particularly true in places like Shanwei, on the outskirts of urban regions, when urban governors begin confiscating agricultural land for their pet projects.

But for all the complications created by Jiang's solution to China's economic challenges, it is Hu's counter-solution that could truly shatter the system. In addition to dealing with all the corrupt flotsam and high-priced jetsam of Jiang's policies, Hu must rip down what Jiang set out to accomplish: thousands of fresh enterprises that are unencumbered by profit concerns. A steady culling of China's non-competitive industry is perhaps a good idea from the central government's point of view -- and essential for the transformation of the Chinese economy into one that would actually be viable in the long term -- but not if you happen to be one of the local officials who personally benefited from Jiang's policies.

The approach of Hu's generation is nothing less than an attempt to recast the country in a mold that is loosely based on Western economics and finance. Even in the best-case scenario, the central government not only needs to put thousands of mewling firms to the sword and deal with the massive unemployment that will result, it also needs to eliminate the businessmen and governing officials who did well under the previous system (which did not even begin to loosen its grip until 2003). And the only way Beijing can pay for its efforts to develop the interior is to tax the coast dry at the same time it is being gutted politically and economically.

The challenge is to keep this undeclared war at a tolerable level, even while ratcheting up pressure on the coastal lords in terms of both taxation and rationalization. But just as Jiang's "solution" faces the doomsday possibility of a long rural march to rebellion, Hu's strategy well might trigger a coastal revolution. As the central government gradually increases its pressure on the assets and power of China's coastal lords, there is a danger that those in the coastal regions will do what anyone would in such a situation: reach out for whatever allies -- economic and political -- might become available. And if China's history is any guide, they will not stop reaching simply because they reach the ocean.

The last time China's coastal provinces rebelled, they achieved de facto independence -- by helping foreign powers secure spheres of influence -- during the Boxer Rebellion. This resulted, among things, in a near-total breakdown of central authority.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 16, 2006, 06:09:32 AM
The origins of the Great War of 2007 - and how it could have been prevented
By Niall Ferguson
(Filed: 15/01/2006)
Are we living through the origins of the next world war? Certainly, it is easy to imagine how a future historian might deal with the next phase of events in the Middle East:

With every passing year after the turn of the century, the instability of the Gulf region grew. By the beginning of 2006, nearly all the combustible ingredients for a conflict - far bigger in its scale and scope than the wars of 1991 or 2003 - were in place.
The first underlying cause of the war was the increase in the region's relative importance as a source of petroleum. On the one hand, the rest of the world's oil reserves were being rapidly exhausted. On the other, the breakneck growth of the Asian economies had caused a huge surge in global demand for energy. It is hard to believe today, but for most of the 1990s the price of oil had averaged less than $20 a barrel.
A second precondition of war was demographic. While European fertility had fallen below the natural replacement rate in the 1970s, the decline in the Islamic world had been much slower. By the late 1990s the fertility rate in the eight Muslim countries to the south and east of the European Union was two and half times higher than the European figure.
This tendency was especially pronounced in Iran, where the social conservatism of the 1979 Revolution - which had lowered the age of marriage and prohibited contraception - combined with the high mortality of the Iran-Iraq War and the subsequent baby boom to produce, by the first decade of the new century, a quite extraordinary surplus of young men. More than two fifths of the population of Iran in 1995 had been aged 14 or younger. This was the generation that was ready to fight in 2007.
This not only gave Islamic societies a youthful energy that contrasted markedly with the slothful senescence of Europe. It also signified a profound shift in the balance of world population. In 1950, there had three times as many people in Britain as in Iran. By 1995, the population of Iran had overtaken that of Britain and was forecast to be 50 per cent higher by 2050.
Yet people in the West struggled to grasp the implications of this shift. Subliminally, they still thought of the Middle East as a region they could lord it over, as they had in the mid-20th century.
The third and perhaps most important precondition for war was cultural. Since 1979, not just Iran but the greater part of the Muslim world had been swept by a wave of religious fervour, the very opposite of the process of secularisation that was emptying Europe's churches.
Although few countries followed Iran down the road to full-blown theocracy, there was a transformation in politics everywhere. From Morocco to Pakistan, the feudal dynasties or military strongmen who had dominated Islamic politics since the 1950s came under intense pressure from religious radicals.
The ideological cocktail that produced 'Islamism' was as potent as either of the extreme ideologies the West had produced in the previous century, communism and fascism. Islamism was anti-Western, anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic. A seminal moment was the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's intemperate attack on Israel in December 2005, when he called the Holocaust a 'myth'. The state of Israel was a 'disgraceful blot', he had previously declared, to be wiped 'off the map'.
Prior to 2007, the Islamists had seen no alternative but to wage war against their enemies by means of terrorism. From the Gaza to Manhattan, the hero of 2001 was the suicide bomber. Yet Ahmadinejad, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, craved a more serious weapon than strapped-on explosives. His decision to accelerate Iran's nuclear weapons programme was intended to give Iran the kind of power North Korea already wielded in East Asia: the power to defy the United States; the power to obliterate America's closest regional ally.
Under different circumstances, it would not have been difficult to thwart Ahmadinejad's ambitions. The Israelis had shown themselves capable of pre-emptive air strikes against Iraq's nuclear facilities in 1981. Similar strikes against Iran's were urged on President Bush by neo-conservative commentators throughout 2006. The United States, they argued, was perfectly placed to carry out such strikes. It had the bases in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan. It had the intelligence proving Iran's contravention of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
But the President was advised by his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to opt instead for diplomacy. Not just European opinion but American opinion was strongly opposed to an attack on Iran. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 had been discredited by the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein had supposedly possessed and by the failure of the US-led coalition to quell a bloody insurgency.
Americans did not want to increase their military commitments overseas; they wanted to reduce them. Europeans did not want to hear that Iran was about to build its own WMD. Even if Ahmad-inejad had broadcast a nuclear test live on CNN, liberals would have said it was a CIA con-trick.
So history repeated itself. As in the 1930s, an anti-Semitic demagogue broke his country's treaty obligations and armed for war. Having first tried appeasement, offering the Iranians economic incentives to desist, the West appealed to international agencies - the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Security Council. Thanks to China's veto, however, the UN produced nothing but empty resolutions and ineffectual sanctions, like the exclusion of Iran from the 2006 World Cup finals.
Only one man might have stiffened President Bush's resolve in the crisis: not Tony Blair, he had wrecked his domestic credibility over Iraq and was in any case on the point of retirement - Ariel Sharon. Yet he had been struck down by a stroke as the Iranian crisis came to a head. With Israel leaderless, Ahmadinejad had a free hand.
As in the 1930s, too, the West fell back on wishful thinking. Perhaps, some said, Ahmadinejad was only sabre-rattling because his domestic position was so weak. Perhaps his political rivals in the Iranian clergy were on the point of getting rid of him. In that case, the last thing the West should do was to take a tough line; that would only bolster Ahmadinejad by inflaming Iranian popular feeling. So in Washington and in London people crossed their fingers, hoping for the deus ex machina of a home-grown regime change in Teheran.
This gave the Iranians all the time they needed to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium at Natanz. The dream of nuclear non-proliferation, already interrupted by Israel, Pakistan and India, was definitively shattered. Now Teheran had a nuclear missile pointed at Tel-Aviv. And the new Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu had a missile pointed right back at Teheran.
The optimists argued that the Cuban Missile Crisis would replay itself in the Middle East. Both sides would threaten war - and then both sides would blink. That was Secretary Rice's hope - indeed, her prayer - as she shuttled between the capitals. But it was not to be.
The devastating nuclear exchange of August 2007 represented not only the failure of diplomacy, it marked the end of the oil age. Some even said it marked the twilight of the West. Certainly, that was one way of interpreting the subsequent spread of the conflict as Iraq's Shi'ite population overran the remaining American bases in their country and the Chinese threatened to intervene on the side of Teheran.
Yet the historian is bound to ask whether or not the true significance of the 2007-2011 war was to vindicate the Bush administration's original principle of pre-emption. For, if that principle had been adhered to in 2006, Iran's nuclear bid might have been thwarted at minimal cost. And the Great Gulf War might never have happened.
? Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University
? Niall Ferguson, 2006 ''
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 16, 2006, 06:36:18 AM
That's some deeply scary stuff.  Here's two more:

December 2004

Will Iran Be Next?

Soldiers, spies, and diplomats conduct a classic Pentagon war game?with sobering results

by James Fallows


Throughout this summer and fall, barely mentioned in America's presidential campaign, Iran moved steadily closer to a showdown with the United States (and other countries) over its nuclear plans.

In June the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran had not been forthcoming about the extent of its nuclear programs. In July, Iran indicated that it would not ratify a protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty giving inspectors greater liberty within its borders. In August the Iranian Defense Minister warned that if Iran suspected a foreign power?specifically the United States or Israel?of preparing to strike its emerging nuclear facilities, it might launch a pre-emptive strike of its own, of which one target could be the U.S. forces next door in Iraq. In September, Iran announced that it was preparing thirty-seven tons of uranium for enrichment, supposedly for power plants, and it took an even tougher line against the IAEA. In October it announced that it had missiles capable of hitting targets 1,250 miles away?as far as southeastern Europe to the west and India to the east. Also, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected a proposal by Senator John Kerry that if the United States promised to supply all the nuclear fuel Iran needed for peaceful power-generating purposes, Iran would stop developing enrichment facilities (which could also help it build weapons). Meanwhile, the government of Israel kept sending subtle and not-so-subtle warnings that if Iran went too far with its plans, Israel would act first to protect itself, as it had in 1981 by bombing the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak.

Preoccupied as they were with Iraq (and with refighting Vietnam), the presidential candidates did not spend much time on Iran. But after the election the winner will have no choice. The decisions that a President will have to make about Iran are like those that involve Iraq?but harder. A regime at odds with the United States, and suspected of encouraging Islamic terrorists, is believed to be developing very destructive weapons. In Iran's case, however, the governmental hostility to the United States is longer-standing (the United States implicitly backed Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s), the ties to terrorist groups are clearer, and the evidence of an ongoing nuclear-weapons program is stronger. Iran is bigger, more powerful, and richer than Iraq, and it enjoys more international legitimacy than Iraq ever did under Saddam Hussein. The motives and goals of Iran's mullah government have been even harder for U.S. intelligence agencies to understand and predict than Saddam Hussein's were. And Iran is deeply involved in America's ongoing predicament in Iraq. Shiites in Iran maintain close cultural and financial contacts with Iraqi Shiite communities on the other side of the nearly 1,000-mile border between the countries. So far Iraq's Shiites have generally been less resistant to the U.S. occupation than its Sunnis. Most American experts believe that if it wanted to, Iran could incite Iraqi Shiites to join the insurgency in far greater numbers.

Is a preview of the problems Iran will pose for the next American President, and of the ways in which that President might respond, The Atlantic conducted a war game this fall, simulating preparations for a U.S. assault on Iran.

"War game" is a catchall term used by the military to cover a wide range of exercises. Some games run for weeks and involve real troops maneuvering across oceans or terrain against others playing the role of the enemy force. Some are computerized simulations of aerial, maritime, or land warfare. Others are purely talking-and-thinking processes, in which a group of people in a room try to work out the best solution to a hypothetical crisis. Sometimes participants are told to stay "in role"?to say and do only what a Secretary of State or an Army brigade commander or an enemy strategist would most likely say and do in a given situation. Other times they are told to express their own personal views. What the exercises have in common is the attempt to simulate many aspects of conflict?operational, strategic, diplomatic, emotional, and psychological?without the cost, carnage, and irreversibility of real war. The point of a war game is to learn from simulated mistakes in order to avoid making them if conflict actually occurs.

Our exercise was stripped down to the essentials. It took place in one room, it ran for three hours, and it dealt strictly with how an American President might respond, militarily or otherwise, to Iran's rapid progress toward developing nuclear weapons. It wasn't meant to explore every twist or repercussion of past U.S. actions and future U.S. approaches to Iran. Reports of that nature are proliferating more rapidly than weapons.

Rather, we were looking for what Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, has called the "clarifying effect" of intense immersion in simulated decision-making. Such simulations are Gardiner's specialty. For more than two decades he has conducted war games at the National War College and many other military institutions. Starting in 1989, two years before the Gulf War and fourteen years before Operation Iraqi Freedom, he created and ran at least fifty exercises involving an attack on Iraq. The light-force strategy that General Tommy Franks used to take Baghdad last year first surfaced in a war game Gardiner designed in the 1980s. In 2002, as the real invasion of Iraq drew near, Gardiner worked as a private citizen to develop nonclassified simulations of the situation that would follow the fall of Baghdad. These had little effect on U.S. policy, but proved to be prescient about the main challenges in restoring order to Iraq.

Gardiner told me that the war games he has run as a military instructor frequently accomplish as much as several standard lectures or panel discussions do in helping participants think through the implications of their decisions and beliefs. For our purposes he designed an exercise to force attention on the three or four main issues the next President will have to face about Iran, without purporting to answer all the questions the exercise raised.

The scenario he set was an imagined meeting of the "Principals Committee"?that is, the most senior national-security officials of the next Administration. The meeting would occur as soon as either Administration was ready to deal with Iran, but after a November meeting of the IAEA. In the real world the IAEA is in fact meeting in November, and has set a deadline for Iran to satisfy its demands by the time of the meeting. For the purposes of the simulation Iran is assumed to have defied the deadline. That is a safe bet in the real world as well.

And so our group of principals gathered, to provide their best judgment to the President. Each of them had direct experience in making similar decisions. In the role of CIA director was David Kay, who after the Gulf War went to Iraq as the chief nuclear-weapons inspector for the IAEA and the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), and went back in June of 2003 to lead the search for weapons of mass destruction. Kay resigned that post in January of this year, after concluding that there had been no weapons stockpiles at the time of the war.

Playing Secretary of State were Kenneth Pollack, of the Brookings Institution, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, of the American Enterprise Institute. Although neither is active in partisan politics (nor is anyone else who served on the panel), the views they expressed about Iran in our discussion were fairly distinct, with Gerecht playing a more Republican role in the discussions, and Pollack a more Democratic one. (This was the war game's one attempt to allow for different outcomes in the election.)

Both Pollack and Gerecht are veterans of the CIA. Pollack was a CIA Iran-Iraq analyst for seven years, and later served as the National Security Council's director for Persian Gulf affairs during the last two years of the Clinton Administration. In 2002 his book The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq was highly influential in warning about the long-term weapons threat posed by Saddam Hussein. (Last January, in this magazine, Pollack examined how pre-war intelligence had gone wrong.) His book about U.S.-Iranian tensions, The Persian Puzzle, has just been published. Gerecht worked for nine years in the CIA's Directorate of Operations, where he recruited agents in the Middle East. In 1997, under the pseudonym Edward Shirley, he published Know Thine Enemy: A Spy's Journey Into Revolutionary Iran, which described a clandestine trip. He has written frequently about Iran, Afghanistan, and the craft of intelligence for this and other publications.

The simulated White House chief of staff was Kenneth Bacon, the chief Pentagon spokesman during much of the Clinton Administration, who is now the head of Refugees International. Before the invasion Bacon was closely involved in preparing for postwar humanitarian needs in Iraq.

Finally, the Secretary of Defense was Michael Mazarr, a professor of national-security strategy at the National War College, who has written about preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran, among other countries, and has collaborated with Gardiner on previous war games.

This war game was loose about requiring players to stay "in role." Sometimes the participants expressed their institutions' views; other times they stepped out of role and spoke for themselves. Gardiner usually sat at the conference table with the five others and served as National Security Adviser, pushing his panel to resolve their disagreements and decide on recommendations for the President. Occasionally he stepped into other roles at a briefing podium. For instance, as the general in charge of Central Command (centcom)?the equivalent of Tommy Franks before the Iraq War and John Abizaid now?he explained detailed military plans.

Over the years Gardiner has concluded that role-playing exercises usually work best if the participants feel they are onstage, being observed; this makes them take everything more seriously and try harder to perform. So the exercise was videotaped, and several people were invited to watch and comment on it. One was Graham Allison, of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a leading scholar of presidential decision-making, who served as a Pentagon official in the first Clinton Administration, specializing in nuclear-arms control. His Essence of Decision, a study of how the Kennedy Administration handled the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, is the classic work in its field; his latest book, which includes a discussion of Iran, is Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe. Two other observers were active-duty officers: Marine Corps Colonel Thomas X. Hammes, who has specialized in counterinsurgency and whose book about dealing with Iran (and many other challenges), The Sling and the Stone, was published this summer; and Army Major Donald Vandergriff, whose most recent book, about reforming the internal culture of the Army, is The Path to Victory (2002). The fourth observer was Herbert Striner, formerly of the Brookings Institution, who as a young analyst at an Army think-tank, Operations Research Organization, led a team devising limited-war plans for Iran?back in the 1950s. Striner's team developed scenarios for one other regional war as well: in French Indochina, later known as Vietnam.

Promptly at nine o'clock one Friday morning in September, Gardiner called his group of advisers to order. In his role as National Security Adviser he said that over the next three hours they needed to agree on options and recommendations to send to the President in the face of Iran's latest refusal to meet demands and the latest evidence of its progress toward nuclear weaponry. Gardiner had already decided what questions not to ask. One was whether the United States could tolerate Iran's emergence as a nuclear power. That is, should Iran be likened to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, in whose possession nuclear weapons would pose an unacceptable threat, or to Pakistan, India, or even North Korea, whose nuclear ambitions the United States regrets but has decided to live with for now? If that discussion were to begin, it would leave time for nothing else.

Gardiner also chose to avoid posing directly the main question the game was supposed to illuminate: whether and when the United States should seriously consider military action against Iran. If he started with that question, Gardiner said, any experienced group of officials would tell him to first be sure he had exhausted the diplomatic options. So in order to force discussion about what, exactly, a military "solution" would mean, Gardiner structured the game to determine how the panel assessed evidence of the threat from Iran; whether it was willing to recommend steps that would keep the option of military action open, and what that action might look like; and how it would make the case for a potential military strike to an audience in the United States and around the world.

Before the game began, Gardiner emphasized one other point about his approach, the importance of which would become clear when the discussions were over. He had taken pains to make the material he would present as accurate, realistic, and true to standard national-security practice as possible. None of it was classified, but all of it reflected the most plausible current nonclassified information he could obtain. The detailed plans for an assault on Iran had also been carefully devised. They reflected the present state of Pentagon thinking about the importance of technology, information networks, and Special Forces operations. Afterward participants who had sat through real briefings of this sort said that Gardiner's version was authentic.

His commitment to realism extended to presenting all his information in a series of PowerPoint slides, on which U.S. military planners are so dependent that it is hard to imagine how Dwight Eisenhower pulled off D-Day without them. PowerPoint's imperfections as a deliberative tool are well known. Its formulaic outline structure can overemphasize some ideas or options and conceal others, and the amateurish graphic presentation of data often impedes understanding. But any simulation of a modern military exercise would be unconvincing without it. Gardiner's presentation used PowerPoint for its explanatory function and as a spine for discussion, its best use; several of the slides have been reproduced for this article.

In his first trip to the podium Gardiner introduced himself as the director of central intelligence. (That was David Kay's role too, but during this phase he just sat and listened.) His assignment was to explain what U.S. intelligence knew and didn't know about Iran's progress toward nuclear weapons, and what it thought about possible impediments to that progress?notably Israel's potential to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear sites.

"As DCI, I've got to talk about uncertainty," Gardiner began?the way future intelligence officers presumably will after the Iraq-WMD experience, when George Tenet, as CIA director, claimed that the case for Iraq's having weapons was a "slam-dunk." "It's an important part of this problem. The [intelligence] community believes that Iran could have a nuclear weapon in three years." He let that sink in and then added ominously, "Unless they have something we don't know about, or unless someone has given them or sold them something we don't know about"?or unless, on top of these "known unknowns," some "unknown unknowns" were speeding the pace of Iran's program.

One response to imperfect data about an adversary is to assume the worst and prepare for it, so that any other outcome is a happy surprise. That was the recommendation of Reuel Gerecht, playing the conservative Secretary of State. "We should assume Iran will move as fast as possible," he said several times. "It would be negligent of any American strategic planners to assume a slower pace." But that was not necessarily what the DCI was driving at in underscoring the limits of outside knowledge about Iran. Mainly he meant to emphasize a complication the United States would face in making its decisions. Given Iran's clear intent to build a bomb, and given the progress it has already made, sometime in the next two or three years it will cross a series of "red lines," after which the program will be much harder for outsiders to stop. Gardiner illustrated with a slide (figure 1).

Iran will cross one of the red lines when it produces enough enriched uranium for a bomb, and another when it has weapons in enough places that it would be impossible to remove them in one strike. "Here's the intelligence dilemma," Gardiner said. "We are facing a future in which this is probably Iran's primary national priority. And we have these red lines in front of us, and we"?meaning the intelligence agencies?"won't be able to tell you when they cross them." Hazy knowledge about Iran's nuclear progress doesn't dictate assuming the worst, Gardiner said. But it does mean that time is not on America's side. At some point, relatively soon, Iran will have an arsenal that no outsiders can destroy, and America will not know in advance when that point has arrived.

Then the threat assessment moved to two wild-card factors: Iran's current involvement in Iraq, and Israel's potential involvement with Iran. Both complicate and constrain the options open to the United States, Gardiner said. Iran's influence on the Shiite areas of Iraq is broad, deep, and obviously based on a vastly greater knowledge of the people and customs than the United States can bring to bear. So far Iran has seemed to share America's interest in calming the Shiite areas, rather than have them erupt on its border. But if it needs a way to make trouble for the United States, one is at hand.

As for Israel, no one can be sure what it will do if threatened. Yet from the U.S. perspective, it looks as if a successful pre-emptive raid might be impossible?or at least so risky as to give the most determined Israeli planners pause. Partly this is because of the same lack of knowledge that handicaps the United States. When Menachem Begin dispatched Israeli fighter planes to destroy Iraq's Osirak plant, he knew there was only one target, and that if it was eliminated, Iraq's nuclear program would be set back for many years. In our scenario as in real life, the Americans thought Ariel Sharon and his successors could not be sure how many important targets were in Iran, or exactly where all of them were, or whether Israel could destroy enough of them to make the raid worth the international outrage and the likely counterattack. Plus, operationally it would be hard.

But for the purposes of our scenario, Israel kept up its threats to take unilateral action. It was time again for PowerPoint. Figure 2 shows the known targets that might be involved in some way in Iran's nuclear program. And figure 3 shows the route Israeli warplanes would have to take to get to them. Osirak, near Baghdad, was by comparison practically next door, and the Israeli planes made the round trip without refueling. To get to Iran, Israeli planes would have to fly over Saudi Arabia and Jordan, probably a casus belli in itself given current political conditions; or over Turkey, also a problem; or over American-controlled Iraq, which would require (and signal) U.S. approval of the mission.

With this the DCI left the podium?and Sam Gardiner, now sitting at the table as National Security Adviser, asked what initial assessments the principals made of the Iranian threat.

In one point there was concord. Despite Gardiner's emphasis on the tentative nature of the intelligence, the principals said it was sufficient to demonstrate the gravity of the threat. David Kay, a real-life nuclear inspector who was now the DCI at the table, said that comparisons with Iraq were important?and underscored how difficult the Iranian problem would be. "It needs to be emphasized," he said, "that the bases for conclusions about Iran are different, and we think stronger than they were with regard to Iraq." He explained that international inspectors withdrew from Iraq in 1998, so outsiders had suspicions rather than hard knowledge about what was happening. In Iran inspectors had been present throughout, and had seen evidence of the "clandestine and very difficult-to-penetrate nature of the program," which "leaves no doubt that it is designed for a nuclear-weapons program." What is worse, he said, "this is a lot more dangerous than the Iraqi program, in that the Iranians have proven, demonstrated connections with very vicious international terrorist regimes who have shown their willingness to use any weapons they acquire" against the United States and its allies. Others spoke in the same vein.

The real debate concerned Israel. The less America worried about reaction from Europe and the Muslim world, the more likely it was to encourage or condone Israeli action, in the hope that Israel could solve the problem on its own. The more it worried about long-term relations with the Arab world, the more determined it would be to discourage the Israelis from acting.

Most of the principals thought the Israelis were bluffing, and that their real goal was to put pressure on the United States to act. "It's hard to fault them for making this threat," said Pollack, as the Democratic Secretary of State, "because in the absence of Israeli pressure how seriously would the United States be considering this option? Based on my discussions with the Israelis, I think they know they don't have the technical expertise to deal with this problem. I think they know they just don't have the planes to get there?setting aside every other problem."

"They might be able to get there?the problem would be getting home," retorted Gerecht, who had the most positive view on the usefulness of an Israeli strike.

Bacon, as White House chief of staff, said, "Unless they can take out every single Iranian missile, they know they will get a relatively swift counterattack, perhaps with chemical weapons. So the threat they want to eliminate won't be eliminated." Both he and Pollack recommended that the Administration ask the Israelis to pipe down.

"There are two things we've got to remember with regard to the Israelis," Kay said. "First of all, if we tell them anything, they are certain to play it back through their network that we are 'bringing pressure to bear' on them. That has been a traditional Israeli response. It's the nature of a free democracy that they will do that. The second thing we've got to be careful of and might talk to the Israelis about: our intelligence estimate that we have three years to operate could change if the Iranians thought the Israelis might pre-empt sooner. We'd like to have that full three years, if not more. So when we're talking with the Israelis, toning down their rhetoric can be described as a means of dealing with the threat."

Woven in and out of this discussion was a parallel consideration of Iraq: whether, and how, Iran might undermine America's interests there or target its troops. Pollack said this was of great concern. "We have an enormous commitment to Iraq, and we can't afford to allow Iraq to fail," he said. "One of the interesting things that I'm going to ask the CentCom commander when we hear his presentation is, Can he maintain even the current level of security in Iraq, which of course is absolutely dismal, and still have the troops available for anything in Iran?" As it happened, the question never came up in just this form in the stage of the game that featured a simulated centcom commander. But Pollack's concern about the strain on U.S. military resources was shared by the other panelists. "The second side of the problem," Pollack continued, "is that one of the things we have going for us in Iraq, if I can use that term, is that the Iranians really have not made a major effort to thwart us ? If they wanted to make our lives rough in Iraq, they could make Iraq hell." Provoking Iran in any way, therefore, could mean even fewer troops to handle Iraq?and even worse problems for them to deal with.

Kay agreed. "They may decide that a bloody defeat for the United States, even if it means chaos in Iraq, is something they actually would prefer. Iranians are a terribly strategic political culture ? They might well accelerate their destabilization operation, in the belief that their best reply to us is to ensure that we have to go to helicopters and evacuate the Green Zone."

More views were heard?Gerecht commented, for example, on the impossibility of knowing the real intentions of the Iranian government?before Gardiner called a halt to this first phase of the exercise. He asked for a vote on one specific recommendation to the President: Should the United States encourage or discourage Israel in its threat to strike? The Secretary of Defense, the DCI, the White House chief of staff, and Secretary of State Pollack urged strong pressure on Israel to back off. "The threat of Israeli military action both harms us and harms our ability to get others to take courses of action that might indeed affect the Iranians," Kay said. "Every time a European hears that the Israelis are planning an Osirak-type action, it makes it harder to get their cooperation." Secretary of State Gerecht thought a successful attack was probably beyond Israel's technical capability, but that the United States should not publicly criticize or disagree with its best ally in the Middle East.

Sam Gardiner took the podium again. Now he was four-star General Gardiner, commander of CentCom. The President wanted to understand the options he actually had for a military approach to Iran. The general and his staff had prepared plans for three escalating levels of involvement: a punitive raid against key Revolutionary Guard units, to retaliate for Iranian actions elsewhere, most likely in Iraq; a pre-emptive air strike on possible nuclear facilities; and a "regime change" operation, involving the forcible removal of the mullahs' government in Tehran. Either of the first two could be done on its own, but the third would require the first two as preparatory steps. In the real world the second option?a pre-emptive air strike against Iranian nuclear sites?is the one most often discussed. Gardiner said that in his briefing as war-game leader he would present versions of all three plans based as closely as possible on current military thinking. He would then ask the principals to recommend not that an attack be launched but that the President authorize the preparatory steps to make all three possible.

The first option was straightforward and, according to Gardiner, low-risk. The United States knew where the Revolutionary Guard units were, and it knew how to attack them. "We will use Stealth airplanes, U.S.-based B-2 bombers, and cruise missiles to attack," Gardiner said. "We could do this in one night." These strikes on military units would not in themselves do anything about Iran's nuclear program. Gardiner mentioned them because they would be a necessary first step in laying the groundwork for the ultimate scenario of forced regime change, and because they would offer the United States a "measured" retaliatory option if Iran were proved to be encouraging disorder in Iraq.

The pre-emptive air strike was the same one that had been deemed too demanding for the Israelis. The general's staff had identified 300 "aim points" in Iran. Some 125 of them were sites thought to be involved in producing nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. The rest were part of Iran's air-defense or command system. "I call this a low-risk option also," Gardiner said, speaking for CentCom. "I'm not doing that as political risk?that's your job. I mean it's a low-risk military option." Gardiner said this plan would start with an attack on air-defense sites and would take five days in all.

Then there was option No. 3. Gardiner called this plan "moderate risk," but said the best judgment of the military was that it would succeed. To explain it he spent thirty minutes presenting the very sorts of slides most likely to impress civilians: those with sweeping arrows indicating the rapid movement of men across terrain. (When the exercise was over, I told David Kay that an observer who had not often seen such charts remarked on how "cool" they looked. "Yes, and the longer you've been around, the more you learn to be skeptical of the 'cool' factor in PowerPoint," Kay said. "I don't think the President had seen many charts like that before," he added, referring to President Bush as he reviewed war plans for Iraq.)

The overall plan of attack was this: a "deception" effort from the south, to distract Iranian troops; a main-force assault across the long border with Iraq; airborne and Special Forces attacks from Afghanistan and Azerbaijan; and cruise missiles from ships at sea. Gardiner presented more-detailed possibilities for the deployment. A relatively light assault, like the one on Afghanistan, is depicted in figure 4. A "heavier" assault would involve more troops and machines attacking across two main fronts (figure 5).

In all their variety, these and other regime-change plans he described had two factors in common. One is that they minimized "stability" efforts?everything that would happen after the capital fell. "We want to take out of this operation what has caused us problems in Iraq," Gardiner of CentCom said, referring to the postwar morass. "The idea is to give the President an option that he can execute that will involve about twenty days of buildup that will probably not be seen by the world. Thirty days of operation to regime change and taking down the nuclear system, and little or no stability operations. Our objective is to be on the outskirts of Tehran in about two weeks. The notion is we will not have a Battle of Tehran; we don't want to do that. We want to have a battle around the city. We want to bring our combat power to the vicinity of Tehran and use Special Operations to take the targets inside the capital. We have no intention of getting bogged down in stability operations in Iran afterwards. Go in quickly, change the regime, find a replacement, and get out quickly after having destroyed?rendered inoperative?the nuclear facilities." How could the military dare suggest such a plan, after the disastrous consequences of ignoring "stability" responsibilities in Iraq? Even now, Gardiner said after the war game, the military sees post-conflict operations as peripheral to its duties. If these jobs need to be done, someone else must take responsibility for them.

The other common factor was the need for troops, machinery, and weapons to be nearby and ready to move. Positioning troops would not be that big a problem. When one unit was replacing another in Iraq, for a while both units would be in place, and the attack could happen then. But getting enough machinery into place was more complicated, because airfields in nearby Georgia and Azerbaijan are too small to handle a large flow of military cargo planes (figure 6).

As centcom commander, Gardiner cautioned that any of the measures against Iran would carry strategic risks. The two major dangers were that Iran would use its influence to inflame anti-American violence in Iraq, and that it would use its leverage to jack up oil prices, hurting America's economy and the world's. In this sense option No. 2?the pre-emptive air raid?would pose as much risk as the full assault, he said. In either case the Iranian regime would conclude that America was bent on its destruction, and it would have no reason to hold back on any tool of retaliation it could find. "The region is like a mobile," he said. "Once an element is set in motion, it is impossible to say where the whole thing will come to rest." But the President had asked for a full range of military options, and unless his closest advisers were willing to go to him empty-handed, they needed to approve the steps that would keep all the possibilities alive. That meant authorizing the Department of Defense to begin expanding airfields, mainly in Azerbaijan, and to dedicate $700 million to that purpose. (As it happens, this is the same amount Tommy Franks requested in July of 2002, to keep open the possibility of war in Iraq.) "This is not about executing the plan," Gardiner of centcom said. "We're preparing options for the President; the whole issue of execution is separate. We need some money to build facilities."

Gardiner remained at the podium to answer questions as the CentCom commander, and the discussion began. The panelists skipped immediately to the regime-change option, and about it there was unanimity: the plan had been modeled carefully on the real assault on Iraq, and all five advisers were appalled by it.

"You need to take this back to Tampa," David Kay said, to open the discussion. Tampa, of course, is the headquarters for CentCom units operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Or put it someplace else I'd suggest, but we're in public." What was remarkable about the briefing, he said, was all the charts that were not there. "What were the countermoves?" he asked. "The military countermoves?not the political ones you offloaded to my Secretaries of State but the obvious military countermoves that the Iranians have? A very easy military counter is to raise the cost of your military operation inside Iraq. Are you prepared to do that?"

The deeper problem, Kay said, lay with the request for money to "keep options open." "That, quite frankly, is a bunch of bullshit," he said. "Approval of the further planning process forecloses a number of options immediately. I would love to see a strategic communications plan that would allow us to continue diplomatic and other options immediately with our European allies when this leaks; inevitably this will leak."

The next twenty minutes of discussion was to the same effect. Who, exactly, would succeed the mullahs in command? How on earth would U.S. troops get out as quickly as they had come in? "Speaking as the President's chief of staff, I think you are doing the President an enormous disservice," Kenneth Bacon said. "One, it will leak. Two, it will be politically and diplomatically disastrous when it leaks ? I think your invasion plan is a dangerous plan even to have on the table in the position of being leaked ? I would throw it in Tampa Bay and hope the sharks would eat it."

"This is a paranoid regime," Kenneth Pollack said of Iran. "Even if the development of the Caucasus airfields ? even if it weren't about them, they would assume it was about them. So that in and of itself will likely provoke a response. The Iranians are not inert targets! If they started to think we were moving in the direction of a military move against them, they would start fighting us right away."

Michael Mazarr, as Secretary of Defense, said he did not want the authority that was on offer to his department. "Tell the President my personal judgment would be the only circumstances in which we could possibly consider launching any significant operation in Iran would be the most extreme provocation, the most imminent threat," he said.

Even the hardest-liner, Reuel Gerecht, was critical. "I would agree that our problems with the Islamic republic will not be over until the regime is changed," he said. If the United States could launch a genuine surprise attack?suddenly, from aircraft carriers, rather than after a months-long buildup of surrounding airfields?he would look at it favorably. But on practical grounds, he said, "I would vote against the regime-change options displayed here."

Further unhappy back-and-forth ensued, with the CentCom commander defending the importance of keeping all options open, and the principals warning of trouble when news of the plan got out. When Gardiner called an end to this segment, there was little objection to the most modest of the military proposals?being ready, if need be, for a punitive strike on the Revolutionary Guards. The participants touched only briefly on the Osirak-style strike during the war game, but afterward most of them expressed doubt about its feasibility. The United States simply knew too little about which nuclear projects were under way and where they could be destroyed with confidence. If it launched an attack and removed some unknown proportion of the facilities, the United States might retard Iran's progress by an unknown number of months or years?at the cost of inviting all-out Iranian retaliation. "Pre-emption is only a tactic that puts off the nuclear development," Gardiner said after the exercise. "It cannot make it go away. Since our intelligence is so limited, we won't even know what we achieved after an attack. If we set it back a year, what do we do a year later? A pre-emptive strike would carry low military risk but high strategic risk."

During the war game the regime-change plan got five nays. But it was clear to all that several other big issues lay on the table, unresolved. How could the President effectively negotiate with the Iranians if his own advisers concluded that he had no good military option to use as a threat? How could the world's most powerful and sophisticated military lack the ability to take an opponent by surprise? How could leaders of that military imagine, after Iraq, that they could ever again propose a "quick in-and-out" battle plan? Why was it so hard to develop plans that allowed for the possibility that an adversary would be clever and ruthless? Why was it so hard for the United States to predict the actions and vulnerabilities of a regime it had opposed for twenty-five years?

At noon the war game ended. As a simulation it had produced recommendations that the President send a go-slow signal to the Israelis and that he not authorize any work on airfields in Central Asia. His advisers recommended that he not even be shown Centcom's plans for invading Iran.

The three hours of this exercise were obviously not enough time for the panel of advisers to decide on all aspects of a new policy toward Iran. But the intended purpose of the exercise was to highlight the real options a real President might consider. What did it reveal? Gardiner called for a wrap-up from participants and observers immediately after the event. From their comments, plus interviews with the participants in the following week, three big themes emerged: the exercise demonstrated something about Iraq, something about the way governments make decisions, and something about Iran.

Iraq was a foreground topic throughout the game, since it was where a threatened Iran might most easily retaliate. It was even more powerful in its background role. Every aspect of discussion about Iran was colored by knowledge of how similar decisions had played out in Iraq. What the United States knew and didn't know about secret weapons projects. What could go wrong with its military plans. How much difficulty it might face in even a medium-size country. "Compared with Iraq, Iran has three times the population, four times the land area, and five times the problems," Kenneth Pollack said during the war game. A similar calculation could be heard in almost every discussion among the principals, including those who had strongly supported the war in Iraq. This was most obvious in the dismissal of the full-scale regime-change plan?which, Gardiner emphasized, was a reflection of real-life military thinking, not a straw man. "I have been working on these options for almost eighteen months," he said later. "I tried them in class with my military students. They were the best I could do. I was looking for a concept that would limit our involvement in stability operations. We just don't have the forces to do that in Iran. The two lesser concepts"?punitive raids on the Revolutionary Guard and pre-emptive air strikes?"were really quite good from a military perspective." And of course the sweeping third concept, in the very similar form of Tommy Franks's plan, had been approved by a real President without the cautionary example of Iraq to learn from.

Exactly what learning from Iraq will mean is important but impossible to say. "Iraq" could become shorthand for a comprehensive disaster?one of intention, execution, and effect. "Usually we don't make the same mistakes immediately," Graham Allison said. "We make different mistakes." In an attempt to avoid "another Iraq," in Iran or elsewhere, a different Administration would no doubt make new mistakes. If George Bush is re-elected, the lessons of Iraq in his second term will depend crucially on who is there to heed them. All second-term Presidents have the same problem, "which is that the top guys are tired out and leave?or tired out and stay," Kay said. "You get the second-best and the second-brightest, it's really true." "There will be new people, and even the old ones will behave differently," Gardiner said. "The CIA will not make unequivocal statements. There will be more effort by everyone to question plans." But Kay said that the signal traits of the George W. Bush Administration?a small group of key decision-makers, no fundamental challenge of prevailing views?would most likely persist. "I have come to the conclusion that it is a function of the way the President thinks, operates, declares his policy ahead of time," Kay said. "It is inherent in the nature of George Bush, and therefore inherent in the system."

What went wrong in Iraq, according to our participants, can in almost all cases be traced back to the way the Administration made decisions. "Most people with detailed knowledge of Iraq, from the CIA to the State Department to the Brits, thought it was a crazy quilt held together in an artificial state," Allison said. Because no such people were involved in the decision to go to war, the Administration expected a much easier reception than it met?with ruinous consequences. There was no strong institutional system for reconciling differences between the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA, and other institutions, and the person who theoretically might have done this, Condoleezza Rice, was weak. "If you don't have a deliberate process in which the National Security Adviser is playing a strong role, clarifying contrary views, and hammering out points of difference, you have the situation you did," Allison said. "There was no analytic memo that all the parties looked at that said, 'Here's how we see the shape of this problem; here is the logic that leads to targeting Iraq rather than North Korea.'"

"Process" sounds dull, and even worse is "government decision-making," but these topics provoked the most impassioned comments from panelists and observers when they were interviewed after the war game. All were alarmed about the way governments now make life-and-death decisions; this was, after Iraq, the second big message of the exercise.

"Companies deciding which kind of toothpaste to market have much more rigorous, established decision-making processes to refer to than the most senior officials of the U.S. government deciding whether or not to go to war," Michael Mazarr said. "On average, the national-security apparatus of the United States makes decisions far less rigorously than it ought to, and is capable of. The Bush Administration is more instinctual, more small-group-driven, less concerned about being sure they have covered every assumption, than other recent Administrations, particularly that of George H. W. Bush. But the problem is bigger than one Administration or set of decision-makers."

Gardiner pointed out how rare it is for political leaders to ask, "And what comes after that? And then?" Thomas Hammes, the Marine expert in counterinsurgency, said that presentations by military planners feed this weakness in their civilian superiors, by assuming that the adversary will cooperate. "We never 'red-celled' the enemy in this exercise" (that is, let him have the first move), Hammes said after the Iran war game. "What if they try to pre-empt us? What if we threaten them, and the next day we find mines in Baltimore Harbor and the Golden Gate, with a warning that there will be more? Do we want to start this game?" Such a failure of imagination?which Hammes said is common in military-run war games?has a profound effect, because it leads to war plans like the ones from Gardiner's CentCom, or from Tommy Franks, which in turn lull Presidents into false confidence. "There is no such thing as a quick, clean war," he said. "War will always take you in directions different from what you intended. The only guy in recent history who started a war and got what he intended was Bismarck," who achieved the unification of Germany after several European wars.

Gardiner pointed out that none of the principals had even bothered to ask whether Congress would play a part in the decision to go to war. "This game was consistent with a pattern I have been seeing in games for the past ten years," he said. "It is not the fault of the military, but they have learned to move faster than democracy was meant to move."

And what did the exercise show about Iran? In the week after the war game I interviewed the partici- pants about the views they had expressed "in role" and about their personal recommendations for the next President's approach. From these conversations, and from the participants' other writings and statements about Iran, the following themes emerged.

About Iran's intentions there is no disagreement. Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and unless its policy is changed by the incentives it is offered or the warnings it receives, it will succeed.

About America's military options there is almost as clear a view. In circumstances of all-out war the United States could mount an invasion of Iran if it had to. If sufficiently provoked?by evidence that Iran was involved in a terrorist incident, for example, or that it was fomenting violence in Iraq?the United States could probably be effective with a punitive bomb-and-missile attack on Revolutionary Guard units.

But for the purposes most likely to interest the next American President?that is, as a tool to slow or stop Iran's progress toward nuclear weaponry?the available military options are likely to fail in the long term. A full-scale "regime change" operation has both obvious and hidden risks. The obvious ones are that the United States lacks enough manpower and equipment to take on Iran while still tied down in Iraq, and that domestic and international objections would be enormous. The most important hidden problem, exposed in the war-game discussions, was that a full assault would require such drawn-out preparations that the Iranian government would know months in advance what was coming. Its leaders would have every incentive to strike pre-emptively in their own defense. Unlike Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a threatened Iran would have many ways to harm America and its interests. Apart from cross-border disruptions in Iraq, it might form an outright alliance with al-Qaeda to support major new attacks within the United States. It could work with other oil producers to punish America economically. It could, as Hammes warned, apply the logic of "asymmetric," or "fourth-generation," warfare, in which a superficially weak adversary avoids a direct challenge to U.S. military power and instead strikes the most vulnerable points in American civilian society, as al-Qaeda did on 9/11. If it thought that the U.S. goal was to install a wholly new regime rather than to change the current regime's behavior, it would have no incentive for restraint.

What about a pre-emptive strike of our own, like the Osirak raid? The problem is that Iran's nuclear program is now much more advanced than Iraq's was at the time of the raid. Already the U.S. government has no way of knowing exactly how many sites Iran has, or how many it would be able to destroy, or how much time it would buy in doing so. Worse, it would have no way of predicting the long-term strategic impact of such a strike. A strike might delay by three years Iran's attainment of its goal?but at the cost of further embittering the regime and its people. Iran's intentions when it did get the bomb would be all the more hostile.

Here the United States faces what the military refers to as a "branches and sequels" decision?that is, an assessment of best and second-best outcomes. It would prefer that Iran never obtain nuclear weapons. But if Iran does, America would like Iran to see itself more or less as India does?as a regional power whose nuclear status symbolizes its strength relative to regional rivals, but whose very attainment of this position makes it more committed to defending the status quo. The United States would prefer, of course, that Iran not reach a new level of power with a vendetta against America. One of our panelists thought that a strike would help the United States, simply by buying time. The rest disagreed. Iran would rebuild after a strike, and from that point on it would be much more reluctant to be talked or bargained out of pursuing its goals?and it would have far more reason, once armed, to use nuclear weapons to America's detriment.

Most of our panelists felt that the case against a U.S. strike was all the more powerful against an Israeli strike. With its much smaller air force and much more limited freedom to use airspace, Israel would probably do even less "helpful" damage to Iranian sites. The hostile reaction?against both Israel and the United States?would be potentially more lethal to both Israel and its strongest backer.

A realistic awareness of these constraints will put the next President in an awkward position. In the end, according to our panelists, he should understand that he cannot prudently order an attack on Iran. But his chances of negotiating his way out of the situation will be greater if the Iranians don't know that. He will have to brandish the threat of a possible attack while offering the incentive of economic and diplomatic favors should Iran abandon its plans. "If you say there is no acceptable military option, then you end any possibility that there will be a non-nuclear Iran," David Kay said after the war game. "If the Iranians believe they will not suffer any harm, they will go right ahead." Hammes agreed: "The threat is always an important part of the negotiating process. But you want to fool the enemy, not fool yourself. You can't delude yourself into thinking you can do something you can't." Is it therefore irresponsible to say in public, as our participants did and we do here, that the United States has no military solution to the Iran problem? Hammes said no. Iran could not be sure that an American President, seeing what he considered to be clear provocation, would not strike. "You can never assume that just because a government knows something is unviable, it won't go ahead and do it. The Iraqis knew it was not viable to invade Iran, but they still did it. History shows that countries make very serious mistakes."

So this is how the war game turned out: with a finding that the next American President must, through bluff and patience, change the actions of a government whose motives he does not understand well, and over which his influence is limited. "After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers," Sam Gardiner said of his exercise. "You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work."


James Fallows, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, has written three recent cover stories on U.S. foreign policy and Iraq: "Bush's Lost Year" (October), "Blind Into Baghdad" (January/February), and "The Fifty-first State?" (November 2002).


From the Guardian.  Seems to suggest that Ahmadinejad is a religious nut
who believes the end is near.  Now, if Bush held these beliefs, the world
would demand his dismissal.  With Ahmadinejad, the world quakes and

'Divine mission' driving Iran's new leader
By Anton La Guardia
(Filed: 14/01/2006)

As Iran rushes towards confrontation with the world over its nuclear
programme, the question uppermost in the mind of western leaders is "What is
moving its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to such recklessness?"

Political analysts point to the fact that Iran feels strong because of high
oil prices, while America has been weakened by the insurgency in Iraq.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

But listen carefully to the utterances of Mr Ahmadinejad - recently
described by President George W Bush as an "odd man" - and there is another
dimension, a religious messianism that, some suspect, is giving the Iranian
leader a dangerous sense of divine mission.

In November, the country was startled by a video showing Mr Ahmadinejad
telling a cleric that he had felt the hand of God entrancing world leaders
as he delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly last September.

When an aircraft crashed in Teheran last month, killing 108 people, Mr
Ahmadinejad promised an investigation. But he also thanked the dead, saying:
"What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we
must follow."

The most remarkable aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's piety is his devotion to the
Hidden Imam, the Messiah-like figure of Shia Islam, and the president's
belief that his government must prepare the country for his return.

One of the first acts of Mr Ahmadinejad's government was to donate about ?10
million to the Jamkaran mosque, a popular pilgrimage site where the pious
come to drop messages to the Hidden Imam into a holy well.

All streams of Islam believe in a divine saviour, known as the Mahdi, who
will appear at the End of Days. A common rumour - denied by the government
but widely believed - is that Mr Ahmadinejad and his cabinet have signed a
"contract" pledging themselves to work for the return of the Mahdi and sent
it to Jamkaran.

Iran's dominant "Twelver" sect believes this will be Mohammed ibn Hasan,
regarded as the 12th Imam, or righteous descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.

He is said to have gone into "occlusion" in the ninth century, at the age of
five. His return will be preceded by cosmic chaos, war and bloodshed. After
a cataclysmic confrontation with evil and darkness, the Mahdi will lead the
world to an era of universal peace.

This is similar to the Christian vision of the Apocalypse. Indeed, the
Hidden Imam is expected to return in the company of Jesus.

Mr Ahmadinejad appears to believe that these events are close at hand and
that ordinary mortals can influence the divine timetable.

The prospect of such a man obtaining nuclear weapons is worrying. The
unspoken question is this: is Mr Ahmadinejad now tempting a clash with the
West because he feels safe in the belief of the imminent return of the
Hidden Imam? Worse, might he be trying to provoke chaos in the hope of
hastening his reappearance?

The 49-year-old Mr Ahmadinejad, a former top engineering student, member of
the Revolutionary Guards and mayor of Teheran, overturned Iranian politics
after unexpectedly winning last June's presidential elections.

The main rift is no longer between "reformists" and "hardliners", but
between the clerical establishment and Mr Ahmadinejad's brand of
revolutionary populism and superstition.

Its most remarkable manifestation came with Mr Ahmadinejad's international
debut, his speech to the United Nations.

World leaders had expected a conciliatory proposal to defuse the nuclear
crisis after Teheran had restarted another part of its nuclear programme in

Instead, they heard the president speak in apocalyptic terms of Iran
struggling against an evil West that sought to promote "state terrorism",
impose "the logic of the dark ages" and divide the world into "light and
dark countries".

The speech ended with the messianic appeal to God to "hasten the emergence
of your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human
being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace".

In a video distributed by an Iranian web site in November, Mr Ahmadinejad
described how one of his Iranian colleagues had claimed to have seen a glow
of light around the president as he began his speech to the UN.

"I felt it myself too," Mr Ahmadinejad recounts. "I felt that all of a
sudden the atmosphere changed there. And for 27-28 minutes all the leaders
did not blink.It's not an exaggeration, because I was looking.

"They were astonished, as if a hand held them there and made them sit. It
had opened their eyes and ears for the message of the Islamic Republic."

Western officials said the real reason for any open-eyed stares from
delegates was that "they couldn't believe what they were hearing from

Their sneaking suspicion is that Iran's president actually relishes a clash
with the West in the conviction that it would rekindle the spirit of the
Islamic revolution and - who knows - speed up the arrival of the Hidden
Title: Re: Will Iran Be Next? PowerPoint on Parade
Post by: buzwardo on January 16, 2006, 10:33:00 AM
"I don't think the President had seen many charts like that before," he added, referring to President Bush as he reviewed war plans for Iraq.

Hah! Always amusing when someone slips in a telling comment like that.
Title: A Little Light Reading
Post by: buzwardo on January 17, 2006, 06:18:24 PM
Anyone seeking a little light reading (300+ page .pdf) can find it in an Army War College publication titled "GETTING READY FOR A NUCLEAR-READY IRAN."

A synopsis can be found at:

Scary stuff. Always fun to watch American politicians posture for the next election cycle while our islamicist foe positions itself for the long haul.
Title: The Djinni Half Way Out the Bottle
Post by: buzwardo on January 19, 2006, 10:36:18 AM
More on looming Chinese social problems and cash crunch.

SPIEGEL ONLINE - January 18, 2006, 11:40 AM
Putting on the Brakes
Fearing Social Unrest, China Tries to Rein in Unbridled Capitalism

With a fast-graying population, increasing pollution and environmental damage and the absence of a real social system, Beijing is now seeking to check unbridled capitalism and quell flaring social tensions.

Not so long ago, nouveau-riche Chinese could be seen standing in lines several hundred yards long. They were registering to purchase luxury condos in Shanghai -- such was the demand. Hoping that prices would continue to rise -- as they have over the past four years, by a full 74 percent -- many were even buying third or fourth apartments in China's bastion of business. Speculation fever had broken out.

Meanwhile, however, the heat is off. Under massive pressure from Beijing, Shanghai's city fathers have levied a new tax on properties that are resold within a year of purchase.

Central government planners are worried. They want to steady the economy in the bellwether city at all costs -- for fear of an impending crash. Such a meltdown could spark unforeseen consequences, and deal a crushing blow to state banks that have amassed billions in distressed debt.

To ward off the apocalypse, Beijing has been curbing loans for steel, cement and, of course, real estate during the past twelve months. According to Cao Yushu, a spokesperson for China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the escalating investments are a "tumor in China's economic body." The economy has nonetheless continued at a rolling boil, growing by more than 9 percent. Provincial officials and managers customarily ignore edicts issued by the planners in Beijing.

So China continues to boom, using a quarter of the world's cement and steel, and almost a third of its coal. The country has long succeeded Japan as the world's second-largest consumer of oil.

Available for purchase online now at the SPIEGEL Shop.
And maintaining growth remains its only option. Compared with industrialized countries, private consumer spending comprises a relatively low share of its GDP -- arguably too low to cushion a major slump. Although Beijing's new investment rules have led to a decline in imports, exports have increased all the more. China's export surplus could break $100 billion in 2005, triple the previous year's figure.

China's boom is stoking the world economy. It has become a focus for investment goods, and offers multinationals a cost-effective production base. But how long can China sustain the rampant growth?

The state banks' distressed debts present as incalculable a risk as the country's flimsy infrastructure. Many companies are now powered by private generators, giving them increased independence from national utility providers. Projecting dramatic shortages through the winter, twenty Chinese provinces opted to ration electricity in early 2005.

Immeasurable environmental damage through air and water pollution are fanning the problems, the economic costs of which remain unclear for China and, indeed, the world. Yue Pan, Deputy Minister for the Environment, is already predicting the end of the economic miracle: "To produce goods worth $10,000, we need seven times the resources used by Japan, almost six times the resources used by the U.S. and -- a particular source of embarrassment -- almost three times the resources used by India."

The challenges are threatening to spiral out of control, as Beijing seeks to check unbridled capitalism and quell flaring social tensions.

China urgently needs a social security system. Some 134 million people over the age of 60 already live in the world's most populous country. By 2050, this age group will account for 25 percent of its inhabitants. But there's nobody to pay into their pension funds. As a result of the one-child family policy -- the Communist Party program, launched in the 1980s, to defuse the population explosion -- social welfare contributions have plummeted.

In the old days, China's state-owned companies provided for the sick and aged. Because these have been converted into joint-stock companies, Beijing is now seeking to establish a hybrid system combining basic state pensions with private retirement plans. But only a small portion of the population in urban coastal regions receives social security. The roughly 800 million Chinese in the rural regions are still dependent on more traditional forms of support: their families. Western economists are already warning: "China will grow old before it grows rich."
Title: Damascus Domino makes Tehran Teeter
Post by: buzwardo on January 23, 2006, 12:38:33 PM
January 23, 2006, 12:46 p.m.
The Road to Tehran...
Assad?s fall will have a domino effect
Michael Ledeen

The Syrian-Iranian terror alliance goes back a long time, at least to the mid-1980s, when Hezbollah was created to wage terror war against American and French forces in Lebanon. There was a neat division of labor: Syria controlled the territory, and Iran ran the organization. Hezbollah's murderous successes are legendary, from the suicide bombings against the French and American Marine barracks to a similar operation against the American embassy, all in Beirut, to massive bombings of Jewish targets in Argentina. That alliance remains intact, and provides the base of the terror war in Iraq today.

So it should not have surprised anyone that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew to Damascus last Thursday to meet with Bashar Assad, nor was it surprising that among his entourage were key Iranian officials in charge of Hezbollah, probably including the operational leader, Imad Mughniyah. And in case our Middle East analysts were in doubt about the mission of the Iran-Syria partnership, a suicide bomber struck in Tel Aviv at about the same time Ahmadinejad and Assad were meeting.

A Weakening Grip
Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian blogger presently in the United States, summed up the intent of the two leaders as follows:
And so it happened just like we knew it would. Iranian President Ahmadinejad has just announced the formation of new alliance including Syria, Iran, rejectionist Palestinian groups, and Shia factions in Lebanon (in other words: Hezbollah).
The die seems to have finally been cast. The Shia Crescent has just been formalized and reconfigured into a living and breathing entity, with its own network of supports from among the secular nationalist movements and extremist Sunni groups, which simply have no other means of support at this stage.

The Iranians are concerned at signs of cracks in the edifice of the Assad regime, and are at pains to remind the Syrians that the destinies of the two tyrannical regimes are closely linked, and they must continue to make a common front against the destabilizing revolutionary forces unleashed on the region by the United States. Assad is now famously under pressure from unexpectedly honest U.N. investigations into the assassination of Rafik Hariri in Lebanon, and that pressure has intensified after the defection of former Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam, now openly calling for regime change in Damascus. Things are also a bit dicey for Assad in Lebanon, where there have been many calls for disarming Hezbollah.

Assad had been hinting that he would be willing to cooperate with investigators, provided he and his family were given immunity, but the Bush administration has rejected any such deals, as Vice President Dick Cheney emphasized on his recent sortie to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, both of whom had given signs of willingness to compromise. But following the Cheney trip, both governments took a tough line, and even Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League and a man who has given new meaning to the concept of appeasement of tyrants, said there would be no leniency with the murderers of Hariri. To add an exclamation point to this welcome show of American seriousness, the Treasury froze the bank accounts of the head of Syrian military intelligence, Bashar's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat.

In short, the Assad family's grip on Syria is weakening, and this is welcome news indeed, both for the long-suffering Syrian people and for us. The Iranians are obviously desperate to keep Assad in power, and Hezbollah armed to the teeth. Should things go the other way, Iran would lose its principal ally in the war against us in Iraq. As is their wont, the Iranians have been paying others to do much of their dirtiest work, and they have awarded Assad tens of millions of dollars' worth of oil, as well as cash subsidies, to cover the costs of recruiting, training and transporting young jihadis, who move from Syria into the Iraqi battle space (and, according to Jane's, a serious publication, the Iranians have also sent some of their WMDs to Assad for safekeeping). That deadly flow has been considerably reduced in recent months, thanks to an extended campaign waged by U.S. and Iraqi forces in Anbar Province, and further along the Iraq/Syria border. The Syrians have accordingly sent radical Islamists into Lebanon, perhaps to link up with Hezbollah in a new jihad against Israel.

Should the jihadist traffic into Iraq and Lebanon cease, we and the Iraqis would be free to concentrate our attention on the Iranian border, especially in the oil-rich south, where Revolutionary Guards forces are very active, both to contain the anti-regime rage of the Ahwaz Arabs on the Iranian side of the border, and to infiltrate the Iraqi side, both in support of Zarqawi's terror network, and to agitate for an Islamic republic in the Shiite region around Basra. The Iranians have been hyperactive in that area ever since the fall of Saddam, and it would be a very good thing to start to turn the tables on them. For, just as many Iraqi oil fields, and millions of Iraqi Shiites, are vulnerable to Iranian maneuver, the reverse is also true: the bulk of the Iranian oil fields, and millions of Iranians, are vulnerable. And the strategic balance is definitely in our favor.

The population of the Iranian oil region is largely Arab, and they have been brutally oppressed and ethnically cleansed by the mullahs. Tehran has gobbled up thousands of square kilometers of land on the pretext of building industrial parks or expanding military facilities, and the locals have been protesting on and off for many months. As I wrote last week, the regime is so nervous about disorder in the spinal cord of the Iranian economy that they sent Lebanese Hezbollahis and members of the Badr Corps (Shiites of Iraqi origin trained in Iran for the past two decades and then sent into Iraq to fight the Coalition).

In short, the Iranians have a lot to worry about, regardless of whether or not they have atomic bombs. Indeed, as I have long argued, the mullahs have made an enormous strategic miscalculation by going all-out for nukes, because it has made regime change in Iran an absolute imperative for the West. The closer they get to their first nuclear test, the closer the mullahs approach judgement day, and not in the way the fanatics around Khamenei and Ahmadinejad believe. They will not face the 12th Imam, but the harsh condemnation of their own people.

The mullahs have long seen this threat, and indeed the elevation of Ahmadinejad was a desperate throw of the dice to quash any and all revolutionary forces in the country. In recent weeks, Tehran forced the government of Dubai to cancel all live satellite TV broadcasts in the Persian language. Just a year ago, the mullahs had similarly intimidated the Dutch government, even though parliament in the Hague had appropriated funds for the project. In a little noted sequence of events, the Dutch won some big contracts in Iran shortly thereafter, and the Bush administration fined Dutch banks to the tune of eighty million euros for embargo-busting (do you ever wonder, as I do, that this tasty information has to be gleaned from Rooz Online?).

This is the usual practice of insecure tyrants (whose sense of doom is demonstrated by the ongoing exodus of money and talent from the country). They cannot risk the consequences of honest news reaching their people, and they run around like little mad hatters, sticking their thumbs in every crack in their ideological dykes. They are now shutting down NGOs, which, according to the hard-line publication Qods, the interior ministry accuses of planning to overthrow the regime. The mullahs want Islamic organizations, not independent ones, which might support civil liberties or elementary human rights. They want a total monopoly on the flow of information inside the Islamic republic.

Power to the People
This situation is tailor-made for the Bush administration, if only it will support the Iranian people against the mullahs, and the Syrian people against the Assads. The Iranian people see the desperation of their rulers, and honest broadcasts into Iran will be welcome indeed. Support for the Ahwaz Arabs ? provided we take care to stress that we have no interest in any separatist impulses, but seek to support all Iranians who wish to exercise their human rights ? would also have considerable impact, as would support for the bus drivers' organization, recently savaged by the regime, which has thus far received moral support only from Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa. Perhaps the Labor Department might say a few words about the suppression of workers' organizations in Iran? And, for those millions of Iranians who do not fear the consequences of seeking the truth, we should be providing the tools of modern communications: phones, servers, laptops, phone cards, and so forth,

Meanwhile, we must increase our support for freedom in Syria. There are several new political organizations calling for Syrian freedom. Predictably, most of the organizers live outside the shadow of Assad's thumb, but they have held recent meetings in Europe with a surprising number of Syrian citizens, they are beginning to broadcast into the country, and many entrails and tea leaves suggest far more support for democratic revolution than the cynical old guys at State and CIA had believed possible. The administration should embrace all such organizations ? it is not for us to pick Bashar's successor, that is the kind of old-Europe tactics best left to the futile Cartesian scheming of the Quai D'Orsay ? and press hard for pulling the military fangs of Hezbollah, the sooner the better.

You can be sure that, as Assad collapses, the reverberations will reach Baghdad and Tehran. The Iraqis will gain the security they desperately need in order to advance their brave democratic project. And the Iranians, turbaned and bare-headed alike, will see the hour of their own freedom draw ever closer.

It sure beats drawing up a list of bombing targets, doesn't it?

? Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute
Title: China's Caribbean Adventure
Post by: buzwardo on February 14, 2006, 11:30:33 AM
February 14, 2006, 8:10 a.m.
Red China on the March
The People?s Republic moves onto Grenada.

By Steven W. Mosher

In January 2005, Grenada established diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China, breaking off its longstanding relationship with Taiwan in the process. The sudden move followed a hotly contested election in which the ruling party won by the smallest of margins. The PRC has opened a substantial embassy in the tiny island nation ? Ambassador Shen Hongshun and entourage arrived in April ? and is rebuilding, at considerable expense, the national soccer stadium that was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Other aid has been promised, including funds for scholarships in China and the renovation of the main hospital.

China's move into Grenada clones a pattern it has followed elsewhere in the eastern Caribbean. Exactly the same scenario was played out last year in the neighboring island of Dominique, and some years ago in St. Lucia. Each of these island republics now has a full-scale Chinese embassy, a completed or promised national soccer stadium, and is receiving continuing aid. Dominica, for example, is slated to receive a staggering U.S.$112 million in aid, which works out to $1,600 for each of the island's 70,000 inhabitants. Some of this aid was cash, ostensibly to ease the government's cash flow problems. Coincidently, Chinese construction battalions have landed a number of government-funded infrastructural projects in the region, such as a contract to build a storm drainage system in Castries, the capital of St. Lucia.

Chinese immigration to the region is picking up, and a cultural offensive is underway. The relationships between China and the islands' ruling parties are increasingly cozy, with leading politicians regularly being invited to China for all-expenses-paid "familiarization" tours. Those not important enough for the "foreign guest" treatment receive their dose of propaganda in their own homes. Shows touting China's history, culture, and peaceful intentions are broadcast for hours on the islands' state-owned television channels ? all paid for by Beijing, of course. Let a hundred flowers boom, one might say.

But Chinese moneybags-diplomacy is not cheap, and Beijing's rulers are not known for their largess ? unless, that is, it serves their strategic interests. So what does Beijing hope to gain from its investments?

The immediate target is Taiwan, of course. By causing those few nations which still recognize the island-democracy to break off ties, Beijing hopes to undermine Taiwan's de facto independence and hasten the day of reunification ? on its terms. The PRC is fighting the Chinese civil war even in the Caribbean. Look for St. Vincent and the Grenadines to break ties with Taiwan in the next year or two.

But this alone does not explain China's continuing aggressive and expensive efforts to bring these small nations ? Grenada has less than 100,000 people ? under its sway. With staffs ranging from five to ten people, these embassies are able to hold regular meetings and informal dinners with leading political figures, and to monitor the eastern Caribbean's political and economic environment on a daily basis. By way of contrast, the U.S. doesn't even maintain a single diplomat in any of these countries. Instead, the U.S. ambassador to Barbados is jointly accredited to the other island nations in the Eastern Caribbean and is a complete stranger to most eastern Caribbean figures in the public and private sector.

These islands are right in our backyard (the Caribbean has been called the soft and vulnerable underbelly of the United States), and China's actions in the West Indies are of a piece with their well known activities in Cuba and Panama. While none of these islands have any great military potential for electronic eavesdropping, and none sits aside a maritime choke point, it would be foolish to forget the lessons of the Cuban missile crisis of the early 1960s. Dealing with an expansive China in the Far East will be complicated enough without having a dozen aggressively pro-Chinese nations sitting in and around the Caribbean basin.

For now, however, it seems that China has a different purpose in mind. Recall that each of these independent nations is a member of countless international bodies, chief among them the general assembly of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. In some of these organizations, their representatives hold considerable rank. The ambassador from St. Lucia to the U.N. actually presided over the general assembly during its 2004 session. If the nations of the Caribbean could be induced to vote consistently with China in either of these bodies, this PRC-led bloc could become a force to be reckoned with. It would prove especially useful to Beijing in the event of a future confrontation with the U.S. over Taiwan, for instance, or over trade.

China is widely believed to be flaunting WTO rules, in part by keeping its currency significantly undervalued. (The recent 2.1 percent revaluation of the yuan was insignificant.) Suppose that an unfair trade case were brought against China by the U.S. government in the WTO. Such cases are resolved, ultimately, by a vote, with WTO rules requiring a supermajority of 62 percent of the member states. Who knows if the governments of Grenada, Dominica, and St. Lucia, having been the beneficiaries of significant amounts of PRC largess, would vote with the U.S. or with China?

What should we do to counter China's moves in the Caribbean? First, we must stop taking the region for granted, reacting only after the fact, as we did after a communist coup in Grenada in 1983. That crisis, it is well to recall, would have been much worse if other Caribbean nations had not taken a firm stand against the Russian and Cuban-supported coup, and voted in favor of U.S. intervention. Would the new crop of politicians, so assiduously courted by China, come down on our side in the event of a similar problem?

To put it another way, can we allow China, an up-and-coming superpower, to replace the U.S. as the predominant political influence in the region? Opening embassies in each of these states, so that we are in a position to make America's case directly to local government officials, is essential. Thwarting China's efforts to buy friends and influence governments requires not just foreign aid ? although this should be increased ? but private investment as well. Increasingly, foreign investment is coming from everywhere but the United States. A Free Trade Zone for the West Indies would be a good first step toward fixing this.

China has a long history of establishing tributary relationships between it and lesser states, supporting local tyrants in return for their allegiance. While we work to bring transparency and openness to China, we don't want China to bring corruption and deception to existing democracies and international organizations. The Caribbean can't wait.

? Steven W. Mosher is the president of the Population Research Institute and the author of Hegemon: China's Plan to Dominate Asia and the World.

Title: Ultra Sound Begets Ultra Nationalism?
Post by: buzwardo on March 02, 2006, 10:22:10 PM
The Geopolitics of Sexual Frustration

By Martin Walker
March/April 2006
Asia has too many boys. They can?t find wives, but they just might find extreme nationalism instead. It?s a dangerous imbalance for a region already on edge.

The lost boys of Prof. Albert Macovski are upon us. Twenty years ago, the ultrasound scanning machine came into widespread use in Asia. The invention of Macovski, a Stanford University researcher, the device quickly gave pregnant women a cheap and readily available means to determine the sex of their unborn children. The results, by the million, are now coming to maturity in Bangladesh, China, India, and Taiwan. By choosing to give birth to males?and to abort females?millions of Asian parents have propelled the region into an extraordinary experiment in the social effects of gender imbalance.

Back in 1990, Nobel Prize-winning Indian economist Amartya Sen was one of the first to call attention to the phenomenon of an estimated 100 million ?missing women? in Asia. Nearly everywhere else, women outnumber men, in Europe by 7 percent, and in North America by 3.4 percent. Concern now is shifting to the boys for whom these missing females might have provided mates as they reach the age that Shakespeare described as nothing but stealing and fighting and ?getting of wenches with child.?

Now there are too few wenches. Thanks in large part to the introduction of the ultrasound machine, Mother Nature?s usual preference for about 105 males to 100 females has grown to around 120 male births for every 100 female births in China. The imbalance is even higher in some locales?136 males to 100 females on the island of Hainan, an increasingly prosperous tourist resort, and 135 males to 100 females in central China?s Hubei Province. Similar patterns can be found in Taiwan, with 119 boys to 100 girls; Singapore, 118 boys to 100 girls; South Korea, 112 boys to 100 girls; and parts of India, 120 boys to 100 girls.

China, India, and other nations have outlawed the use of prenatal diagnostic techniques to select the sex of an unborn child. But bribery and human ingenuity have made it easy for prospective parents to skirt the law; a suitably compensated ultrasound technician need only smile or frown at the expectant mother.

Many of the excess boys will be poor and rootless, a lumpenproletariat without the consolations of sexual partners and family. Prostitution, sex tourism, and homosexuality may ease their immediate urges, but Asian societies are witnessing far more dramatic solutions. Women now risk being kidnapped and forced not only into prostitution but wedlock. Chinese police statistics recorded 65,236 arrests for female trafficking in 1990?91 alone. Updated numbers are hard to come by, but it?s apparent that the problem remains severe. In September 2002, a Guangxi farmer was executed for abducting and selling more than 100 women for $120 to $360 each. Mass sexual frustration is thus adding a potent ingredient to an increasingly volatile regional cocktail of problems that include surging economic growth, urbanization, drug abuse, and environmental degradation.

Understanding the effect of the testosterone overload may be most important in China, the rising Asian superpower. Prompted by expert warnings, the Chinese authorities are already groping for answers. In 2004, President Hu Jintao asked 250 of the country?s senior demographers to study whether the country?s one-child policy?which sharply accentuates the preference for males?should be revised. Beijing expects that it may have as many as 40 million frustrated bachelors by 2020. The regime, always nervous about social control, fears that they might generate social and political instability.

Brigham Young University political scientist Valerie Hudson?the leading scholar on the phenomenon of male overpopulation in Asia?sees historical evidence for these concerns. In 19th-century northern China, drought, famine, and locust invasions apparently provoked a rash of female infanticide. According to Hudson, the region reached a ratio of 129 men to every 100 women. Roving young men organized themselves into bandit gangs, built forts, and eventually came to rule an area of some 6 million people in what was known as the Nien Rebellion. No modern-day rebellion appears to be on the horizon, but China watchers are already seeing signs of growing criminality.

The state?s response to crime and social unrest could prove to be a defining factor for China?s political future. The CIA asked Hudson to discuss her dramatic suggestion that ?in 2020 it may seem to China that it would be worth it to have a very bloody battle in which a lot of their young men could die in some glorious cause.? Other experts aren?t so alarmed. Military observers point out that China is moving from a conscription army to a leaner, professional military. And other scholars contend that China?s population is now aging so fast that the elderly may well balance the surge of frustrated young males to form a calmer and more peaceful nation.

It would be reassuring to assume that China?s economic growth will itself solve the problem, as prosperity removes the traditional economic incentives for poor peasants to have sons who can work the land rather than daughters who might require costly dowries. But the numbers don?t support that theory. Indeed, the steepest imbalance between male and female infants is found in more prosperous regions, such as Hainan Island. And census data from India suggest that slum-dwellers and the very poor tend to raise a higher proportion of female children than more prosperous families.

The long-term implications of the gender imbalance are largely guesswork because there is no real precedent for imbalances on such a scale. Some Chinese experts speculate, off the record, that there might be a connection between the shortage of women and the spread of open gay life since 2001, when homosexuality was deleted from the official Classification of Mental Disorders. It is possible to dream up all kinds of scenarios: Mumbai and Shanghai may soon rival San Francisco as gay capitals. A Beijing power struggle between cautious old technocrats and aggressive young nationalists may be decided by mobs of rootless young men, demanding uniforms, rifles, and a chance to liberate Taiwan. More likely, the organized crime networks that traffic in women will shift their deliveries toward Asia and build a brothel culture large enough to satisfy millions of sexually frustrated young men.

Whatever the outcome, the consequences of Albert Macovski?s useful invention will be with us for some time. When they called him ?the most inventive person at Stanford,? they didn?t know the half of it.

Martin Walker is editor of United Press International, and senior fellow of the World Policy Institute at the New School University in New York.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 06, 2006, 02:17:53 PM
Babies Win Wars

March 6, 2006

Dying nations are usually defined as those with fertility rates of 1.5 or lower. By that measure, 30 European countries are either dying today or -- like France -- seeing their cultures and populations transformed by growing ethnic and religious minorities.

Europe is shrinking just as the population in Islamic, African and Asian countries is exploding. In 2020, there will be one billion "fighting-age" men (ages 15-29) world-wide; only 65 million will be Europeans. At the same time, the Muslim world will have 300 million males, often with limited opportunities at home.

Little can be done to reverse Europe's demographic fate. Germany's 80 million inhabitants would need 750,000 skilled immigrants every year up to 2050 to offset the declining fertility rate that started in 1975. Even if such an unrealistic immigration level could somehow be achieved (only 10,000 skilled immigrants a year are arriving now), Germany's median age would still jump to 52 from 42 while ethnic Germans would become a minority in their own country.

This isn't the first time Europe has found itself tottering on the edge of extinction. Throughout the 1400s, outbreaks of bubonic plague and pressure from conquering Muslim armies reduced Europe's population to 40 million from 70 million. In 1484 Pope Innocent VIII responded to the crisis by decreeing the death penalty for "persons of both sexes who by accursed charms and crafts, enormities and horrid offenses, slay infants yet in the mother's womb (or who) hinder women from conceiving." Midwives, who were also experts in birth control and abortion, were prosecuted and killed.

The results were immediate, producing fertility rates as high as in Gaza or Niger today. By 1510, the number of male births in England had almost doubled. After 1500 and right up to 1914, West European women raised on average about six children, twice as many as during the Middle Ages.

The European economy couldn't keep up. Because a father's land went to his oldest son, the younger brothers were often left to fend for themselves. They quickly found an outlet. In the 16th century, Spain called its young conquistadors "Secundones," second sons, those who don't inherit. Starting with Columbus' second voyage (1493), Europe's surplus males (representing about 10% of the world's fighting-age males at the time) began the conquest of the world. And despite their wars around the globe and the 80 million who died in Europe's domestic wars and genocides, their population rose tenfold to 400 million. The original population bomb was a weapon made in Europe. Over the next few centuries, Europeans took control of 90% of the globe.

Who was to be master in Europe? In the early 1800s, France, West Europe's most populous nation for 800 years, made its last bid. At the time of Waterloo, France was able to draw on 5% of the world's males of fighting age. It took an alliance of Great Britain (10 million people) and Prussia (also 10 million) to prevail over France's 27 million. After 1861, Germany passed France's population and shortly afterwards defeated its neighbor across the Rhine. At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe's share of fighting age males had grown to 35%, with 10% belonging to the empires of Berlin and Vienna alone. In 1914 these two behemoths used their population advantage to make a bid for world supremacy. But their campaign to capture Eurasia's land mass failed to take account of a newcomer to the world stage. Though separated by an ocean, the U.S. commanded about the same demographic and industrial potential.

Japan, Italy and Germany became the last great powers that tried -- and failed -- to take territories away from other leading powers. After 1945 Europe lost every war it fought, from Indochina, to Algeria to Timor. Euphemisms such as "emancipation of the colonies" hide the true causes behind this chain of defeats. If Europeans had continued to multiply like in its imperialistic prime, the world would still tremble before their armies. In just 100 years, Muslim countries have duplicated the tenfold growth that Europe experienced between 1500-1900. In the last century, the Muslim population skyrocketed to 1.4 billion from 140 million.

If Europe had merely matched the fourfold increase of the United States (to 300 million from 75 million between 1900-2006), the continent's 1.6 billion would still dwarf China (1.3 billion) and India (1.1 billion). Yet, Europe's share of the world's fighting-age males, which stood at 27% in 1914, is lower today (9%) than it was in 1500 (11%). Thus, the new clothes of European "pacifism" and "soft power" conceal its naked weakness.

With a fertility rate at the 2.1 replacement level, the U.S. is still defendable. But how many times can America send out their only sons to prevent all those second, third or fourth sons from engaging in acts of violence abroad? In some ways, the faster Europe collapses the better it will be for the U.S., whose chances of defeating global terrorism would improve by a panic-driven influx of the Old World's best, brightest and bravest ready to strengthen it economically and militarily.

The alternative to the terrorism of the Islamist secundones will not be peace but -- as it was for their "Christianist" predecessors in Peru, Mexico and India -- conquest. Terror is merely conquest's little brother.

Mr. Heinsohn is professor of sociology at Bremen University and founder and president of the Raphael-Lemkin-Institut.
Title: Saddam's Filipino Jihad Connection
Post by: buzwardo on March 19, 2006, 10:05:14 AM
Saddam's Philippines
Terror Connection
And other revelations from the Iraqi regime files.
by Stephen F. Hayes
03/27/2006, Volume 011, Issue 26

SADDAM HUSSEIN'S REGIME PROVIDED FINANCIAL support to Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-linked jihadist group founded by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law in the Philippines in the late 1990s, according to documents captured in postwar Iraq. An eight-page fax dated June 6, 2001, and sent from the Iraqi ambassador in Manila to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, provides an update on Abu Sayyaf kidnappings and indicates that the Iraqi regime was providing the group with money to purchase weapons. The Iraqi regime suspended its support--temporarily, it seems--after high-profile kidnappings, including of Americans, focused international attention on the terrorist group.

The fax comes from the vast collection of documents recovered in postwar Afghanistan and Iraq. Up to this point, those materials have been kept from the American public. Now the proverbial dam has broken. On March 16, the U.S. government posted on the web 9 documents captured in Iraq, as well as 28 al Qaeda documents that had been released in February. Earlier last week, Foreign Affairs magazine published a lengthy article based on a review of 700 Iraqi documents by analysts with the Institute for Defense Analysis and the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia. Plans for the release of many more documents have been announced. And if the contents of the recently released materials and other documents obtained by The Weekly Standard are any indication, the discussion of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq is about to get more interesting.

Several months ago, The Weekly Standard received a set of English-language documents from a senior U.S. government official. The official represented this material as U.S. government translations of three captured Iraqi documents. According to this source, the documents had been examined by the U.S. intelligence community and judged "consistent with authentic documents"--the professionals' way of saying that these items cannot definitively be certified but seem to be the real thing.

The Weekly Standard checked its English-language documents with officials serving elsewhere in the federal government to make sure they were consistent with the versions these officials had seen. With what one person characterized as "minor discrepancies," they are. One of the three documents has been posted in the original Arabic on the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. A subsequent translation of that document is nearly identical to the English-language text that we were given.

These documents add to the growing body of evidence confirming the Iraqi regime's longtime support for terrorism abroad. The first of them, a series of memos from the spring of 2001, shows that the Iraqi Intelligence Service funded Abu Sayyaf, despite the reservations of some IIS officials. The second, an internal Iraqi Intelligence memo on the relationships between the IIS and Saudi opposition groups, records that Osama bin Laden requested Iraqi cooperation on terrorism and propaganda and that in January 1997 the Iraqi regime was eager to continue its relationship with bin Laden. The third, a September 15, 2001, report from an Iraqi Intelligence source in Afghanistan, contains speculation about the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda and the likely U.S. response to it.

ON JUNE 6, 2001, the Iraqi ambassador to the Philippines sent an eight-page fax to Baghdad. Ambassador Salah Samarmad's dispatch to the Secondary Policy Directorate of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry concerned an Abu Sayyaf kidnapping a week earlier that had garnered international attention. Twenty civilians--including three Americans--had been taken from Dos Palmas Resort on Palawan Island in the southern Philippines. There had been fighting between the kidnappers and the Filipino military, Samarmad reported. Several hostages had escaped, and others were released.

"After the release of nine of the hostages, an announcement from the FBI appeared in newspapers announcing their desire to interview the escaped Filipinos in order to make a decision on the status of the three American hostages," the Iraqi ambassador wrote to his superiors in Baghdad. "The embassy stated what was mentioned above. The three American hostages were a missionary husband and wife who had lived in the Philippines for a while, Martin and Gracia Burnham, from Kansas City, and Guillermo Sobrero, from California. They are still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers from a total of 20 people who were kidnapped from (Dos Palmas) resort on Palawan Island." (Except where noted, parentheses, brackets, and ellipses appear in the documents quoted.)

The report notes that the Iraqis were now trying to be seen as helpful and keep a safe distance from Abu Sayyaf. "We have all cooperated in the field of intelligence information with some of our friends to encourage the tourists and the investors in the Philippines." But Samarmad's report seems to confirm that this is a change. "The kidnappers were formerly (from the previous year) receiving money and purchasing combat weapons. From now on we (IIS) are not giving them this opportunity and are not on speaking terms with them."

Samarmad's dispatch appears to be the final installment in a series of internal Iraqi regime memos from March through June 2001. (The U.S. government translated some of these documents in full and summarized others.) The memos contain a lengthy discussion among Iraqi officials--from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Iraqi Intelligence Service--about the wisdom of using a Libyan intelligence front as a way to channel Iraqi support for Abu Sayyaf without the risks of dealing directly with the group. (The Libyan regime had intervened in an Abu Sayyaf kidnapping in 2000, securing the release of several hostages by paying several million dollars in ransom. Some observers saw this as an effort by Muammar Qaddafi to improve his image; others saw it as an effort to provide support to Abu Sayyaf by paying the ransom demanded by the group. Both were probably right.)

One Iraqi memo, from the "Republican Presidency, Intelligence Apparatus" to someone identified only as D4/4, makes the case for supporting the work of the Qaddafi Charity Establishment to help Abu Sayyaf. The memo is dated March 18, 2001.

1. There are connections between the Qaddafi Charity Establishment and the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines; meanwhile, this establishment is providing material support to them.
2. This establishment is one of the Libyan Intelligence fronts.
3. The Tripoli post has indicated that there is a possibility to form what connections are available with this establishment as it can offer the premise of providing food supplies to [Ed: word missing] in the scope of the agreement statement.
Please review . . . it appears of intelligence value to proceed into connections with this establishment and its intelligence investments in the Abu Sayyaf group.
The short response, two days later:

Mr. Dept. 3:
Study this idea, the pros and the cons, the relative reactions, and any other remarks regarding this.
That exchange above was fully translated by U.S. government translators. The two pages of correspondence that follow it in the Iraqi files were not, but a summary of those pages informs readers that the Iraqi response "discourages the supporting of connections with the Abu Sayyaf group, as the group works against the Philippine government and relies on several methods for material gain, such as kidnapping foreigners, demanding ransoms, as well as being accused by the Philippine government of terrorist acts and drug smuggling."

These accusations were, of course, well founded. On June 12, 2001, six days after Samarmad's dispatch, authorities found the beheaded body of Guillermo Sobrero near the Abu Sayyaf camp. Martin Burnham was killed a year later during the rescue attempt that freed his wife.

A thorough understanding of the relationship between Iraq and Abu Sayyaf (the name, honoring Afghan jihadi Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, means "Father of the Sword") will not come from an analysis of three months' correspondence between Manila and Baghdad in 2001. While it is certainly significant to read in internal Iraqi documents that the regime was at one time funding Abu Sayyaf, we do not now have a complete picture of that relationship. Why did the Iraqis begin funding Abu Sayyaf, which had long been considered a regional terrorist group concerned mainly with making money? Why did they suspend their support in 2001? And why did the Iraqis resume this relationship and, according to the congressional testimony of one State Department regional specialist, intensify it?

ON MARCH 26, 2003, as war raged in Iraq, the State Department's Matthew Daley testified before Congress. Daley, the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told a subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee that he was worried about Abu Sayyaf.

"We're concerned that they have what I would call operational links to Iraqi intelligence services. And they're a danger, they're an enemy of the Philippines, they're an enemy of the United States, and we want very much to help the government in Manila deal with this challenge," Daley told the panel. Responding to a question, Daley elaborated. "There is good reason to believe that a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group who has been involved in terrorist activities was in direct contact with an IIS officer in the Iraqi Embassy in Manila. This individual was subsequently expelled from the Philippines for engaging in activities that were incompatible with his diplomatic status."

This individual was Hisham Hussein, the second secretary of the Iraqi Embassy in Manila. And Daley was right to be concerned.

Eighteen months before his testimony, a young Filipino man rode his Honda motorcycle up a dusty road to a shanty strip mall just outside Camp Enrile Malagutay in Zamboanga City, Philippines. The camp was host to American troops stationed in the south of the country to train with Filipino soldiers fighting terrorists. The man parked his bike and began to examine its gas tank. Seconds later, the tank exploded, sending nails in all directions and killing the rider almost instantly.

The blast damaged six nearby stores and ripped the front off of a caf? that doubled as a karaoke bar. The caf? was popular with American soldiers. And on this day, October 2, 2002, SFC Mark Wayne Jackson was killed there and a fellow soldier was severely wounded. Eyewitnesses almost immediately identified the bomber as an Abu Sayyaf terrorist.

One week before the attack, Abu Sayyaf leaders had promised a campaign of terror directed at the "enemies of Islam"--Westerners and the non-Muslim Filipino majority. And one week after the attack, Abu Sayyaf attempted to strike again, this time with a bomb placed on the playground of the San Roque Elementary School. It did not detonate. Authorities recovered the cell phone that was to have set it off and analyzed incoming and outgoing calls.

As they might have expected, they discovered several calls to and from Abu Sayyaf leaders. But another call got their attention. Seventeen hours after the attack that took the life of SFC Jackson, the cell phone was used to place a call to the second secretary of the Iraqi embassy in Manila, Hisham Hussein. It was not Hussein's only contact with Abu Sayyaf.

"He was surveilled, and we found out he was in contact with Abu Sayyaf and also pro-Iraqi demonstrators," says a Philippine government source, who continued, "[Philippine intelligence] was able to monitor their cell phone calls. [Abu Sayyaf leaders] called him right after the bombing. They were always talking."

An analysis of Iraqi embassy phone records by Philippine authorities showed that Hussein had been in regular contact with Abu Sayyaf leaders both before and after the attack that killed SFC Jackson. Andrea Domingo, immigration commissioner for the Philippines, said Hussein ran an "established network" of terrorists in the country. Hussein had also met with members of the New People's Army, a Communist opposition group on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist groups, in his office at the embassy. According to a Philippine government official, the Philippine National Police uncovered documents in a New People's Army compound that indicate the Iraqi embassy had provided funding for the group. Hisham Hussein and two other Iraqi embassy employees were ordered out of the Philippines on February 14, 2003.

Interestingly, an Abu Sayyaf leader named Hamsiraji Sali at least twice publicly boasted that his group received funding from Iraq. For instance, on March 2, 2003, he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the Iraqi regime had provided the terrorist group with 1million pesos--about $20,000--each year since 2000.

ANOTHER ITEM from the Iraq-Philippines files is a "security report" prepared by the Iraqi embassy's third secretary, Ahmad Mahmud Ghalib, and sent to Baghdad by Ambassador Samarmad. The report provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Iraqi Intelligence operation in the Philippines. A cover memo from the ambassador, dated April 12, 2001, gives an overview: "The report contain a variety of issues including intelligence issues and how the Philippines, American and Zionist intelligence operate in the Philippines, especially the movements of the American intelligence in their efforts to fight terrorism and recruiting a variety of nationalities, particularly Arabs."

Ghalib's report is a rambling account of a phone conversation he had with an Iraqi intelligence informer named Muhammad al-Zanki, an Iraqi citizen living in the Philippines, who is referred to throughout the document as Abu Ahmad. The embassy official is looking for information on a third person, an informer named Omar Ghazal, and believes that Abu Ahmad might have some. (To review: Salah Samarmad is the Iraqi ambassador; Ahmad Mahmud Ghalib is the embassy's third secretary, most likely an Iraqi intelligence officer and author of the "security report"; Abu Ahmad is an Iraqi intelligence informer; and Omar Ghazal is another Iraqi intelligence informer.)

As the conversation begins, Abu Ahmad tells his embassy contact that he doesn't know where Omar Ghazal is and would have told the embassy if he did. He then tells the embassy contact that when he called Omar Ghazal's aunt to check on his whereabouts, she used a word in Tagalog--walana--which means "not here." But Abu Ahmad says its connotations are not good. "That word is used when you target one of the personnel who are assigned to complete everything (full mission). Then they announce that he is traveling and so on, and that's what I'm afraid of." The Iraqi embassy contact asks him to elaborate. "I have been exposed to that same phrase before, when I asked about an individual, and later on I found out that he was physically eliminated and no one knows anything about him."

The embassy official assures Abu Ahmad that Iraqi intelligence has also lost track of Ghazal, and became alarmed when he abruptly stopped attending soccer practice at a local college. Abu Ahmad fears the worst. "I'm afraid they might have killed him and I'm very worried about him," he says, according to the report. "The method that those people use is terrible and that's why I refuse to work with them."

The Iraqi embassy official interrupts Abu Ahmad. "Who are they? I would like to know who they are."

"Didn't I tell you before who they are?"


"The office group," says Abu Ahmad.

"Which office?" asks his Iraqi embassy handler.

"A long time ago the American FBI opened up an office in the Philippines, under American supervision and that there are Philippine Intelligence groups that work there. The goal of the office is to fight international terrorism (in the Philippines of course) and they have employees from various nationalities that speak of peace and international terrorism and how important it is to put an end to terrorism. The office also has other espionage affairs involving Arab citizens to work with them in order to provide them with information on the Arabs who are living in the Philippines and also for other spying purposes."

Abu Ahmad continues: "They also monitor diplomacy, and after I tried to lessen my amount of office work, I became aware that the office group was trying to get in contact with the person who is in charge of temporary work, Malik al-Athir, when he was alone."

Abu Ahmad tells his Iraqi embassy contact, Ghalib, that "the office" was trying to recruit an Arab to monitor Arab citizens in the Philippines. The Iraqi embassy contact suggests that Abu Ahmad volunteer for the job. Abu Ahmad says he had other plans. "I am leaving after I finish selling my house and properties and will move to Peshawar [Pakistan]. There I will be supplied with materials, weapons, explosives, and get married and then move to America. Do you know that there are more than one thousand Iraqi extremists who perform heroism jobs?" The speaker presumably means martyrdom operations.

The Iraqi embassy contact asks Abu Ahmad how he knows that those people are not "Saudis, Kuwaitis, Iranians."

Abu Ahmad replies: "They are bin Laden's people and all of them are extremists and they are heroes. Do you want me to give you their names?"

"Why not? Yes, I want them," says the Iraqi embassy contact.

"I will supply you with the names very soon. I will write some for you because I am in touch with them," says Abu Ahmad.

This report raises more questions than it answers. Who is Omar Ghazal and why did he disappear? What is the "office group" and how is it connected to Americans? What happened to Abu Ahmad? Were his stated plans--moving to Peshawar to obtain weapons and explosives and then moving to the United States--just bluster to impress his Iraqi embassy handler? A way to discontinue his work for the Iraqi regime? Or was he serious? Is he here now?

A SECOND internal Iraqi file obtained by The Weekly Standard concerns relations between Iraqi Intelligence and Saudi opposition groups. The document was apparently compiled at some point after January 1997, judging by the most recent date in the text, and discusses four Saudi opposition groups: the Committee for Defense of Legitimate Rights, the Reform and Advice Committee (Osama bin Laden), People of al Jazeera Union Organization, and the Saudi Hezbollah.

The New York Times first reported on the existence of this file on June 25, 2004. "American officials described the document as an internal report by the Iraqi intelligence service detailing efforts to seek cooperation with several Saudi opposition groups, including Mr. bin Laden's organization, before al Qaeda had become a full-fledged terrorist organization." According to the Times, a Pentagon task force "concluded that the document 'appeared authentic,' and that it 'corroborates and expands on previous reporting' about contacts between Iraqi intelligence and Mr. bin Laden in Sudan, according to the task force's analysis."

The most provocative aspect of the document is the discussion of efforts to seek cooperation between Iraqi Intelligence and the Saudi opposition group run by bin Laden, known to the Iraqis as the "Reform and Advice Committee." The translation of that section appears below.

We moved towards the committee by doing the following:
A. During the visit of the Sudanese Dr. Ibrahim al-Sanusi to Iraq and his meeting with Mr. Uday Saddam Hussein, on December 13, 1994, in the presence of the respectable, Mr. Director of the Intelligence Service, he [Dr. al-Sanusi] pointed out that the opposing Osama bin Laden, residing in Sudan, is reserved and afraid to be depicted by his enemies as an agent of Iraq. We prepared to meet him in Sudan (The Honorable Presidency was informed of the results of the meeting in our letter 782 on December 17, 1994).
B. An approval to meet with opposer Osama bin Laden by the Intelligence Services was given by the Honorable Presidency in its letter 138, dated January 11, 1995 (attachment 6). He [bin Laden] was met by the previous general director of M4 in Sudan and in the presence of the Sudanese, Ibrahim al-Sanusi, on February 19, 1995. We discussed with him his organization. He requested the broadcast of the speeches of Sheikh Sulayman al-Uda (who has influence within Saudi Arabia and outside due to being a well known religious and influential personality) and to designate a program for them through the broadcast directed inside Iraq, and to perform joint operations against the foreign forces in the land of Hijaz. (The Honorable Presidency was informed of the details of the meeting in our letter 370 on March 4, 1995, attachment 7.)
C. The approval was received from the Leader, Mr. President, may God keep him, to designate a program for them through the directed broadcast. We were left to develop the relationship and the cooperation between the two sides to see what other doors of cooperation and agreement open up. The Sudanese side was informed of the Honorable Presidency's agreement above, through the representative of the Respectable Director of Intelligence Services, our Ambassador in Khartoum.
D. Due to the recent situation of Sudan and being accused of supporting and embracing of terrorism, an agreement with the opposing Saudi Osama bin Laden was reached. The agreement required him to leave Sudan to another area. He left Khartoum in July 1996. The information we have indicates that he is currently in Afghanistan. The relationship with him is ongoing through the Sudanese side. Currently we are working to invigorate this relationship through a new channel in light of his present location.
(It should be noted that the documents given to The Weekly Standard did not include the attachments, letters to and from Saddam Hussein about the status of the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship. And the last sentence differs slightly from the version provided to the New York Times. In the Weekly Standard document, Iraq is seeking to "invigorate" its relationship with al Qaeda; in the Times translation, Iraq is seeking to "continue" that relationship.)

Another passage of the Iraq-Saudi opposition memo details the relationship between the Iraqi regime and the Committee for Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR), founded by Dr. Muhammad Abdallah al-Massari. Once again, Dr. Ibrahim al-Sanusi, the senior Sudanese government official, was a key liaison between the two sides. Al-Massari is widely regarded as an ideological mouthpiece for al Qaeda, a designation he does little to dispute. His radio station broadcasts al Qaeda propaganda, and his website features the rantings of prominent jihadists. He has lived in London for more than a decade. The Iraqi Intelligence memo recounts two meetings involving Dr. al-Sanusi and CDLR representatives in 1994 and reports that al-Massari requested assistance from the Iraqi regime for a trip to Iraq.

In 1995, the Iraqis turned to another Saudi to facilitate their relationship with al-Massari. According to the Iraqi memo, Ahmid Khudir al-Zahrani was a diplomat at the Saudi embassy in Washington who applied for political asylum in the United States. His application was denied, and al-Zahrani contacted the Iraqi embassy in London, seeking asylum in Iraq. His timing was good. Al-Zahrani's request came just as Iraqis were stepping up efforts to establish better relations with the Saudi opposition. According to the Iraqi Intelligence memo:

A complete plan was put in place to bring the aforementioned [al-Zahrani] to Iraq in coordination with the Foreign Ministry and our [intelligence] station in Khartoum [Sudan]. He and his family were issued Iraqi passports with pseudonyms by our embassy in Khartoum. He arrived to Iraq on April 21, 1995, and multiple meetings were held with him to obtain information about the Saudi opposition.
These contacts were not, contrary to the speculation of some Middle East experts, simply an effort to keep tabs on an enemy. The memo continues, summarizing Iraqi Intelligence activities:

We are in the process of following up on the subject, to try and establish a nucleus of Saudi opposition in Iraq, and use our relationship with [al-Massari] to serve our intelligence goals.
The final document provided to The Weekly Standard is a translation of a memo from the "Republican Command, Intelligence Division," dated September 15, 2001. It is addressed to "Mr. M.A.M.5."

Our Afghani source number 11002 (his biographic information in attachment #1) has provided us information that the Afghani consul Ahmed Dahestani (his biographic information attachment #2) has talked in front of him about the following:
1. That Osama bin Laden and the Taliban group in Afghanistan are in communication with Iraq and that previously a group of Taliban and Osama bin Laden have visited Iraq.
2. That America has evidence that the Iraqi government and the group of Osama bin Laden have cooperated to attack targets inside America.
3. In the event that it has been proven that the group of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban planning such operations, it is possible that America will attack Iraq and Afghanistan.
4. That the Afghani consul heard of the relation between Iraq and the group of Osama bin Laden while he was in Iran.
5. In the light of what has been presented, we suggest to write to the committee of information.
This document is speculative in parts, and the information it contains is third-hand at best. Its value depends on the credibility of "source number 11002" and of Ahmed Dahestani and of the sources Dahestani relied on, all of which are unknown.

We are left, then, with three small pieces to add to a large and elaborate puzzle. We will never have a complete picture of the Iraqi regime's support for global terrorism, but the coming release of a flood of captured documents should get us closer.

A new and highly illuminating article in Foreign Affairs draws on hundreds of Iraqi documents to provide a look at the Iraq war from the Iraqi perspective. The picture that emerges is that of an Iraqi regime built on a foundation of paranoia and lies and eager to attack its perceived enemies, internal and external. This paragraph is notable:

The Saddam Fedayeen also took part in the regime's domestic terrorism operations and planned for attacks throughout Europe and the Middle East. In a document dated May 1999, Saddam's older son, Uday, ordered preparations for "special operations, assassinations, and bombings, for the centers and traitor symbols in London, Iran and the self-ruled areas [Kurdistan]." Preparations for "Blessed July," a regime-directed wave of "martyrdom" operations against targets in the West, were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.
Think about that last sentence.
Title: The Rise of China's Military
Post by: buzwardo on April 17, 2006, 07:52:32 PM
Hedging Against China
by John J. Tkacik, Jr.
April 17, 2006
Backgrounder #1925

According to the Central Intelligence Agency, China is the world?s second largest economy.[1] Sec retary of State Condoleezza Rice has observed that China is becoming a ?military superpower,?[2] and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte has testified before Congress that China ?may become a peer competitor to the United States? in the Asia?Pacific region.[3]

By itself, the rise of a new power in Asia need not be alarming, but a new superpower that works against the interests of freedom, free trade, and glo bal stability is now becoming a reality. On the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao?s visit, it is time for America to reexamine its China strategy and its stake in the Pacific.

The Bush Administration, to its credit, seems ready to face the challenge of a rising China. The recent National Security Strategy of the United States specifies that America?s new ?strategy seeks to encourage China to make the right strategic choices for its people, while we hedge against other possibilities.?[4] Significantly, the Pentagon?s Quadrennial Defense Review, issued on February 6, 2006, also warns that the U.S. must ?hedge against the possibility that a major or emerging power could choose a hostile path in the future,?[5] undoubtedly referring to China.

While hedging against China as a new super power is a prudent choice, the Administration?s task now is to develop and implement sound pol icies that protect and advance American interests.

The New Strategic Environment in Asia

China is the new superpower in Asia, distrustful of the Pacific?s status quo power, the United States. For example, at the Chinese Communist Party?s 16th Congress in November 2002, Party leaders not only reiterated that they ?oppose hegemonism and power politics? (i.e., the United States) and will ?boost world multipolarization? (i.e., oppose America?s role as the sole superpower), but also compared ?terrorism? and American ?hege monism? as equal threats.[6] However, China?s strat egy is not solely to balance American power in Asia. China?s leaders seek to reclaim China?s ancient place as the preeminent power in Asia, replacing the United States.

While Beijing has prudently avoided head-on collisions with U.S. policies, an examination of China?s strategic unhelpfulness at virtually every level of engagement with the United States?from the war on terrorism to the proliferation of weap ons of mass destruction (WMD) to even the traffic in counterfeit currency?is unsettling.

Nothing in China?s strategic behavior is more unsettling than its military buildup.Since 1992, Chinese defense spending has grown at an annual double-digit rate. The Pentagon estimates that total defense-related expenditures were between $50 billion and $70 billion in 2004 and as high as $90 billion in 2005, placing China third in defense spending (in nominal dollars) after the United States and Russia.[7] On March 6, 2006, China announced another 15 percent increase in military spending, on top of 13 percent in 2005,[8] giving China the world?s fastest growing peacetime defense budget. This led Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to muse, ?Since no nation threat ens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment??[9]

However, budgets do not tell the whole story. For example, Beijing?s military is rapidly increasing its ballistic missile capability. Short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) production has doubled from 50 per year in 2002 to over 100 per year by 2006.[10] In addition, China is fielding growing numbers of medium-range and intercontinental-range missiles, such as the DF-21 and DF-31 and the submarine-launched Julang-1. Chinese media reports indicate that a new DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of 10,000 kilometers (km) and an improved Julang-2 SLBM with a range of 8,000 km will enter service in four years.[11]

Moreover, the fact that China?s first-ever military exercises with Russia last summer included drills with the Russian SS-N-22 Moskit supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, which are specifically designed to sink American aircraft carriers,[12] calls into ques tion Beijing?s peaceful intentions in the region.

Perhaps the most unsettling facet of China?s mil itary buildup is its naval modernization. In addi?tion to four advanced Russian Sovremenny-class destroyers that the Chinese navy will have this year, China has been deploying a new series of Type 051 and Type 052 missile destroyers since 1996.[13]

China?s submarine fleet is also growing prodi giously. The Chinese navy has already deployed four super-quiet Russian Kilo-class diesel subma rines. Eight more Kilos are on order from Russian yards, and China has increased production of the new, formidable Song-class diesel/electric subma rine to 2.5 boats per year. It is also testing a new diesel submarine that the defense intelligence com munity has designated the Yuan. The Yuan is heavily inspired by Russian designs, including sound-absorbing tile coatings and a super-quiet seven-blade screw.

The addition of ?air-independent propulsion,? which permits a submarine to operate underwater for up to 30 days on battery power, will make the Song-class and Yuan-class submarines virtually inaudible to existing U.S. surveillance networks, including U.S. nuclear subs. By 2025, Chinese attack submarines could easily outnumber U.S. submarines on station in the Pacific by a five to one ratio, and several Chinese nuclear ballistic missile submarines will be capable of patrolling America?s west coast.[14]

American intelligence analysts and academic researchers are unanimous in their assessment that China?s submarine strategy is aimed at neutralizing America?s carrier-centered naval strength in the Pacific.[15]

Beyond the U.S., what else might China intend for its military buildup? Taiwan is certainly a near-term target of China?s military modernization, but some analysts see China?s forced ?unification? with Taiwan not as an end in itself, but as key to China?s ability to project power well into the Pacific. They cite a senior Chinese military theorist:

[Taiwan is of] far reaching significance to breaking international forces? blockade against China?s maritime security?. Only when we break this blockade shall we be able to talk about China?s rise?. [T]o rise suddenly, China must pass through oceans and go out of the oceans in its future development.[16]

A Responsible Stakeholder?

In a September 2005 speech, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick asked, ?For the United States and the world, the essential question is? how will China use its influence?? To answer that question, he said, ?we need to urge China to become a responsible stakeholder in that sys tem.?[17] While Zoellick?s speech ?Whither China: From Membership to Responsibility?? was designed to express concern about Chinese policies that run counter to international norms and stan dards, Beijing?s proliferation record has to be among the most troubling of these policies.

Serial Proliferator. For several decades, Beijing has pursued an insouciant approach to the prolifer ation of weapons of mass destruction and WMD technologies, components, and materials.[18] As then-Under Secretary of State John Bolton described the problem in 2005, the Chinese government displays a deliberate lack of attention to ?the continuing problem of business-as-usual proliferation by Chi nese companies.?[19] The U.S. Department of State considers China a ?serial proliferator? and has sanc tioned Chinese companies 80 times (out of a total 115 sanctions actions) for proliferation-related ship ments between 2001 and 2005.[20]

Iran. Chinese exports of nuclear technology, chemical weapons precursors, and guided missiles to Iran have caused American proliferation officials the most heartburn. For example, in 2003, the Central Intelligence Agency reported that ?Chinese entities are continuing work on a zirconium pro duction facility at Esfahan that will enable Iran to produce cladding for reactor fuel.? Although Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and is required to accept International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on its production of zirconium fuel cladding, it has made no moves to do so, and China has exerted no influence to this end.[21] Indeed, China tacitly supports Iran?s nuclear power program by ignoring overwhelming evi dence that has persuaded the U.S., Germany, France, Britain, and others of Iran?s intentions to produce nuclear weapons.

On January 10, 2006, Iran finally removed seals from the last nuclear enrichment laboratories that remained under IAEA safeguards. The day before, the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister met with the Chinese Foreign Minister in Beijing to brief him ?about the views and considerations of the Iranian side.? As one Washington commentator put it, ?in other words, Tehran cleared its action with Beijing.?[22] This might explain why China managed to water down subsequent IAEA language censur ing Iran. One Western official dryly observed that ?technically, China is being difficult.?[23]

On January 31, China?s representative in the IAEA relented in a vote to ?report? Iran?s nuclear violations to the U.N. Security Council, provided that no action would be taken until March. On March 20, after the Security Council failed to reach agreement on a formal statement ordering Iran to stop its uranium-enrichment program, China?s U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, suggested that no action be taken for ?four or six weeks? until the IAEA issues yet another report on whether Iran has ceased its objectionable activities?effectively delaying the matter at least until June when the 35-nation IAEA governing board meets again.

Accordingly, on March 29, the Security Council requested the IAEA governor to report, yet again, in ?30 days? on Iran?s progress in complying with IAEA request, thereby ensuring that the issue would not come up inconveniently during Hu Jin tao?s April visit to the United States.[24] China?s assumption of the Security Council presidency in April also placed it in a stronger position to stymie efforts to slow Iran?s weapons program.

In addition, China appears to have persuaded Russia to oppose any Security Council action beyond a reprimand calling on Iran to cease ura nium enrichment, and it is likely that China will threaten to veto any U.N. sanctions on Iran. With out sanctions, Iran will have no incentive to nego tiate the dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program.

Beijing?s policies appear grounded in a strategic calculation. In April 2002, shortly after President George W. Bush labeled Iran a member of the ?Axis of Evil,? Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Teheran and conveyed a message that China and Iran hope to ?prevent domination of a superpower on the entire world,? according to the Iranian press.[25] Jiang also declared that China?s policy was ?to oppose American deployments in Central Asia and the Middle East.? He pledged that ?one of China?s most important diplomatic missions is to strengthen unity and cooperation with developing countries and to avoid having developing countries become the targets of American military attacks.?[26]

North Korea. Washington should not be sur prised by China?s lack of interest in deterring the Iranian nuclear weapons program; its behavior mirrors Beijing?s policies toward North Korea.

Washington policymakers must ask themselves why, despite North Korea?s absolute economic and security dependence on China, China?s three years of involvement in multiparty talks on North Korea?s nuclear ambitions have resulted in no progress. Indeed, the situation has worsened.

Since 2002, the United States has sanctioned Chinese companies for providing North Korea with tributyl phosphate, an acid solvent used to extract uranium and plutonium salts from nuclear reactor effluents. The most recent sanction action was in April 2004?incongruously, just one month before the State Department recommended that China be admitted to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an infor mal international nonproliferation organization.[27] In 2003, China interdicted one such shipment at U.S. insistence,[28] but there is no indication that China has made any other effort to enforce its export controls on North Korea.

In the opinion of arms control experts at the U.S. State Department, China enforces its rules ?only under the imminent threat, or in response to the actual imposition, of sanctions,? and China?s failure to respond represents more an ?unwillingness? than an ?inability? to enforce its export regulations.[29]

Pyongyang removed irradiated fuel cores from its Yongbyon reactor in February 2005 and thus far has apparently fashioned fissile plutonium cores for six to 10 nuclear weapons.[30]

China?s support of the Iranian and Pakistani nuclear programs, both of which have been con?nected to Pyongyang?s nuclear program, could be grounded in Beijing?s calculation that a nuclear-armed North Korea is in China?s interests. A nuclear-armed North Korea complicates U.S. stra tegic planning, especially in scenarios involving conflict in the Taiwan Strait or island territorial dis putes with Japan.

This may explain why, when North Korea admit ted on February 10, 2005, that it already had nuclear weapons, China?s reaction was a shrug of the shoulders. ?We are still researching the situa tion,? it announced, and China continues to say that it is uncertain whether Pyongyang has a nuclear device. Moreover, China?s steadfast insis tence that the six-party talks are the only way to address the situation may mean that North Korea will keep its nuclear weapons indefinitely.

Clearly, Beijing?s involvement with North Korean, Pakistani, and Iranian nuclear programs belies the idea that China has become a responsible stakeholder on weapons proliferation.

Obstructionism in the War on Terrorism.China has attempted, with varying degrees of success, to hinder U.S. coalition forces support ing operations in Afghanistan. In June 2005, China pressured its Central Asian allies in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to demand that the U.S. set a timetable for withdrawal from U.S. bases. Within weeks, American officials accused China of ?bullying? Uzbekistan to remove U.S. bases and cajoling neighboring Kyr?gystan to agitate for increased U.S. funding to retain bases there.[31] Subsequently, American bases were closed in Uzbekistan and nearly shut tered in Kyrgyzstan.

A number of U.S. officials have remarked about China?s lack of enthusiasm for the global war on terrorism.[32] One reason for China?s disinterest is ideological. Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin has cautioned against ?unreserved support for the war on terror? lest it aid the United States in its quest for hegemony.[33]

Support for Oppression. Another reason to hedge against China is its support for illiberal regimes, insulating them against criticism on human rights from the United States and other Western democracies. The Beijing regime views constant harassment from the West on human rights issues as undermining its own legitimacy. To the extent that it can defend despots around the world?such as the leaders of Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Burma?as only ?exploring a road to develop ment suited to their national conditions,?[34] it can claim that its own lack of civil and political rights is suited to China?s national conditions.

Despite international concern about human rights in China, the post-Tiananmen Beijing regime remains and will probably continue to be a coun terliberal force, encouraging despotism and under mining democracy at home as well as in Asia and around the globe.

What the Administration and Congress Should Do

Hedging against China as a new military super power is a prudent posture, but hedging must become an active strategy as opposed to a mere slo gan. The Administration?s task now is to insist that its national security bureaucracy act on the urgency of the China challenge as it makes Asia policy. Spe cifically, the U.S. should:

Advance reform in China. Change in Chinese policies will not evolve naturally. Reforms must be undertaken, but they will come only with strong international pressure. U.S. policy must include a vocal public diplomacy campaign to discredit the abysmal political and human rights record of the Beijing regime.

Strengthen ties with Japan and India. Japan and India, two of the world?s most populous democracies and among the leading economic powers in Asia, are natural partners of the United States in managing China?s rise. New Delhi, Tokyo, and Washington should expand their strategic discussions on China.

Protect Asia?s democracies. Public diplomacy in the form of presidential and Cabinet-level speeches that reassert America?s intention to remain an Asia?Pacific power is a strategic imperative. Reaffirming America?s commitment to Asian democracies would buttress relations in the region. While slogans are not a substitute for policy, authoritative speeches help give coherence to policy.

Deepen the strategic dialogue with Europe. Formal regular strategic consultations with America?s European allies on China will help to address the challenges of Chinese security threats, proliferation, and support for oppres sive regimes.

Downgrade the strategic dialogue with China. While the State Department had downgraded the strategic dialogues with Japan and Australia to the under-secretary level, it launched a new deputy-level ?senior dialogue? with China in 2005. This senior dialogue has proven fruit less.[35] It should be downgraded or terminated until the Chinese begin to show evidence of becoming a responsible stakeholder.

Support Taiwan?s democracy. To counter Beijing?s campaign to isolate Taiwan, the U.S. should support Taiwan?s meaningful participa tion in international organizations such as the World Health Organization and informal coun terproliferation regimes such as the Australia Group, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Was senaar Arrangement, and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Opening talks with Taiwan on a free trade agreement would also serve America?s strategic aims in this regard.

Confront Beijing?s subtle but substantial sup port for the North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons programs. Public statements of disap pointment over China?s support for North Korea?s and Iran?s nuclear weapons ambitions would help both to clear the air and to deny China international public opinion leverage. As long as the U.S. pretends that China is helping, China can claim to be an honest broker between the U.S. and the nuclear pariahs. Washington should publicly express anger at Beijing?s eternal temporizing on Iranian and North Korean nuclear proliferation.

Maintain military pre-eminence in the Pacific. The Department of Defense is already increas ing U.S. naval and air presence in the Western Pacific, despite the pressures on U.S. ground forces in the Middle East and Central Asia. To support this effort, Congress must appropriate additional resources to bolster America?s ability to project power in the Western Pacific, espe cially for the submarine force.


Beijing?s behavior in the international arena has moved too far in the wrong direction for anyone to say that China will ever act as a responsible stake holder without considerable pressure. Unless Chi nese leaders believe that their policies will bring serious consequences, they will have no incentive to moderate them.

That American leaders now openly talk of ?hedg ing? China should give their Chinese counterparts pause, but unless the talk of hedging is accompa nied by action, China will dismiss it as just more bluff and bluster. If China successfully calls Ameri can bluff and bluster, its power and influence in Asia will only strengthen, and America?s will dimin ish. The predictable result will be a 21st century Asia under China?s sway and Asian democracy sub ject to China?s gentle protection.

John J. Tkacik, Jr., is Senior Research Fellow in China, Taiwan, and Mongolia Policy in the Asian Stud ies Center at The Heritage Foundation.

[1]China is listed as the second largest national economy behind the United States in ?purchasing power parity? terms (a quanti tative measure of equivalent goods and services rather than nominal dollar values at official exchange rates). Central Intelli gence Agency, The World Factbook 2005, updated March 29, 2006, at
rankorder/2001rank.html (April 11, 2006). In nominal dollar terms, China was the world?s fifth largest economy at the end of 2005, after the U.S., Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom. James T. Areddy and Jason Dean, ?China?s GDP Exceeds Italy, Nudges France,? The Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2005, p. A12. Data for 2006 indicate that China now has the world?s fourth larg est economy (after the U.S., Japan, and Germany) if new revised figures for China?s service sector and Hong Kong?s GDP are included. Joe McDonald, ?China Says Economy Much Bigger Than Thought,? Associated Press, December 20, 2005.

[2]Neil King, Jr., ?Rice Wants U.S. to Help China Be Positive Force,? The Wall Street Journal,June 29, 2005, p. A13.

[3]Negroponte testified that ?China is a rapidly rising power with steadily expanding global reach that may become a peer com petitor to the United States at some point.? Bill Gertz, ?China?s Emergence as Military Power Splits Strategists on Threat to U.S.,? The Washington Times, February 7, 2006, p. A3, at (April 11, 2006).

[4]The White House, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, March 22, 2006, p. 42, at (April 11, 2006).

[5]U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, February 6, 2005, p. 40, at (April 11, 2006).

[6]Jiang Zemin cautioned the 16th Party Congress that ?the scourge of terrorism is more acutely felt. Hegemonism and power politics have new manifestations.? Jiang Zemin, ?Build a Well-Off Society in an All-Round Way and Create a New Situation in Building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,? report to 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, November 8, 2002. Jiang?s message of equating ?terrorism? and American ?hegemonism? is explicated in Liu Jianfei, ?Ren qing Fankong yu fanbade guanxi? (Grasp the Relationship Between Antiterrorism and Anti-Hegemonism), Liaowang (Beijing), February 24, 2003, pp. 54?56.

[7]Richard P. Lawless, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, testimony before the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, April 26, 2004, at
LawlessTestimony040422.pdf (April 11, 2006), and U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, The Military Power of the People?s Republic of China, July 18, 2005, at (April 11, 2006), p. 22.

[8]Shai Oster, ?China Plans 15% Boost in Military Spending; Leaders Cite Price of Oil, Soldiers? Pay; Neighbors Are Wary,? The Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2006, p. A8.

[9]Donald H. Rumsfeld, remarks at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, June 4, 2005, at (April 11, 2006).

[10]SRBMs were deployed against Taiwan at a pace of 50 per year between 1996 and 2002. Bill Gertz, ?Missiles Bolstered Oppo site Taiwan,? The Washington Times, April 29, 2002, p. A12. By the end of 2005, new SRBM deployments had reached a rate of at least 100 per year. Foster Klug, ?Pentagon Official Warns of Chinese Buildup,? Associated Press, March 16, 2006.

[11]For a comprehensive look at China?s missile industry, see Evan S. Medeiros, Roger Cliff, Keith Crane, and James C. Mul venon, A New Direction for China?s Defense Industry (Santa Monica, Cal.: RAND Corporation, 2005), pp. 51?108, at (April 11, 2006).

[12]Agence France?Presse, ?Chinese, Russian Defense Chiefs Assess Joint Exercises,? Defense News, August 24, 2005, at (April 11, 2006).

[13]Including the Type 051C Shenyang class, Type 052C Lanzhou class, Type 052B Guangzhou class, and Type 051B Luhai class. For details on these ships and their weapons systems, see ?Navy,? China Defence Today, at (April 11, 2006).

[14]For a discussion of this, see John J. Tkacik, Jr., ?China?s Submarine Challenge,? Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 1001, March 1, 2006, at

[15]See U.S. Department of Defense, The Military Power of the People?s Republic of China; U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, pp. 29?30; and Lyle Goldstein and William Murray, ?Undersea Dragons: China?s Maturing Submarine Force,? International Security, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Spring 2004), pp. 161?196

[16]U.S. Department of Defense, The Military Power of the People?s Republic of China, p. 12.

[17]Robert B. Zoellick, ?Whither China: From Membership to Responsibility?? remarks to National Committee on U.S.?China Relations, New York City, September 21, 2005, at (April 11, 2006).

[18]For example, the U.S. has complained about China?s assistance to Pakistan?s nuclear weapons program since the mid-1980s, and China supplied medium-range ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia in 1988. For a list of current U.S. sanctions on China for proliferation behavior dating from 1990, see U.S.?China Economic and Security Review Commission, 2004 Report to Congress, June 2004, Appendix A, pp. 136?140.

[19]John R. Bolton, ?Coordinating Allied Approaches to China,? remarks to the Tokyo American Center and the Japan Institute for International Affairs, Tokyo, February 7, 2005, at (April 11, 2006).

[20]Bruce Odessey, ?Weapons Proliferation Threat a Major U.S. Concern: United States Sanctions China?s Repeat Offenders for Controlled Export Lapses,? U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, May 2, 2005, at (April 13, 2006).

[21]Central Intelligence Agency, ?Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January Through 30 June 2002,? posted November 2004, at
report_july_dec2003.pdf (April 11, 2006).

[22]William R. Hawkins, ?China Collusion with Iran?Walking into a Trap?? The Washington Times, February 13, 2006, p. A18.

[23]Sue Pleming, ?Tehran Told to Cease Fuel Research,? Reuters, January 10, 2006.

[24]See last paragraph of ?Statement by the President of the Security Council,? United Nations Security Council document S/PRST/ 2006/15, March 29, 2005, at
290/88/PDF/N0629088.pdf. See also ?Foreign Affairs Envoys Try to Break Iran Impasse,? Reuters, March 20, 2006, at

[25]See ?Iran Radio Commentary Says China Ties Can Reduce Dependence on West,? Tehran Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio, April 19, 2002, transcribed by Foreign Broadcast Information Service, FBIS-NES-2002-0419.

[26]Iran National Broadcast Service, ?Jiang fang Yilang, Fandui Mei zhujun Dongya Zhongdong? (Jiang visit to Iran, opposes U.S. troops in East Asia, Middle East), China Times (Taipei), April 22, 2002, p. 2.

[27]In May 2004, Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf told a congressional committee that the U.S. still supported China?s membership in the NSG: ?Let me be clear on the April cases?. [T]he Iran Non-Proliferation Act covers all of the export con trol regimes, not just the Nuclear Suppliers Group list. And most of the sanctions that were imposed on Chinese entities related to things that were non-nuclear.? He then noted, ?We have not seen the kinds of activity that worried us several years ago. That does not mean that it is not taking place. It is only that we have not seen it.? Hearing, Should China Join the Nuclear Suppliers Group? Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, 108th Cong., 2nd Sess., May 18, 2004, pp. 16?17; emphasis added.

[28]See Colin L. Powell, ?Remarks at Conference on China?U.S. Relations,? Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, November 5, 2003, at
powell/remarks/2003/25950.htm (April 11, 2006). A RAND Corporation researcher sees the Chinese action as a sign of cooperation. Evan S. Medeiros, Chasing the Dragon: Assessing China?s System of Export Controls for WMD-Related Goods and Technologies (Santa Monica, Cal.: RAND Corporation, 2005), p. 90, at (April 11, 2006). However, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher refused to make a judgment on whether China is helping North Korea?s nuclear program ?without having to base it on intelligence sources,? which he could not do. Intelligence officials ?told The Washington Times that a Chinese company in Dalian sent 20 tons of tributyl phosphate to North Korea earlier this month. The chemical is believed to be for North Korea?s program to turn spent reactor fuel into weapons-grade material.? Nicholas Kralev, ?Kremlin Divided on How to Disarm Pyongyang,? The Washington Times, December 18, 2002, at (April 11, 2006).

[29]Paula A. DeSutter in hearing, China?s Proliferation Practices and the North Korean Nuclear Crisis, U.S.?China Economic and Security Review Commission, 108th Cong., 1st Sess., July 24, 2003, pp. 7?31, esp. p. 26, at
03_07_24tran.pdf (April 11, 2006).

[30]Private conversations with former Bush Administration officials.

[31]Ann Scott Tyson, ?Russia and China Bullying Central Asia, U.S. Says: Pentagon Pressured to Pull Out of Uzbek, Kyrgyz Bases,? The Washington Post, July 15, 2005, A19, at
(April 11, 2006).

[32]For an extended discussion of this problem, see John J. Tkacik, Jr., ?Time for Washington to Take a Realistic Look at China Policy,? Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1717, December 22, 2003, at

[33]Liu Jianfei, ?Renqing Fankong yu fanbade guanxi.?

[34]China has praised North Korea for following a development model suited to its national conditions. See Luo Hui, ?Jin Rich eng hui Li Changchun: Chaozhong Renmin Chuantong Youyi Bu Ke Po? (Kim Jong Il sees Li Changchun: The traditional friendship between the peoples of the DPRK and China is unbreakable), Xinhua News Agency, September 12, 2004, at (April 11, 2006). China uses similar phraseology to support dictator ships in Africa. See Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ?China?s African Policy,? January 12, 2006, at (April 11, 2006).

[35]William C. Mann, ?U.S., China End Talks Agreeing to Disagree,? Associated Press, December 8, 2005. See also Glenn Kessler, ?Zoellick Details Discussions with China on Future of the Korean Peninsula,? The Washington Post, September 7, 2005, p. A22, at (April 11, 2006). After 20 hours of discussions with his Chinese counterpart at the August 2005 ?senior dialogue,? Zoellick admitted that he still ?did not know if the Chinese deals being struck with countries the United States considers problematic were driven by indi?vidual bureaucracies seeking market openings or part of a ?strategic plan.??
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: pretty_kitty on April 17, 2006, 10:04:34 PM
Another reason to send the UN packing
Iran Elected to UN Disarmament Commission
By Julie Stahl Jerusalem Bureau Chief
April 17, 2006

Jerusalem ( - Under threat of United Nations Security Council sanctions for its own nuclear program, Iran has been elected to a vice-chair position on the U.N. Disarmament Commission, whose mission includes preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

The commission's deliberations began last Monday and are scheduled to continue until April 28. On the first day of the commission meeting, Iran along with Uruguay and Chile was elected as one of three vice-chairs.

It happened on the same day that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised his people "good news" about the country's nuclear program.

The following day, Iran announced that it had managed to enrich uranium, a key ingredient in the production of a nuclear bomb.

On Monday, former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said that his country would continue to enrich uranium, and dismissed the idea that the U.S. might attack nuclear facilities in Iran.

"We are certain that Americans will not attack Iran because the consequences would be too dangerous," Rafasanjani was quoted as telling the Kuwaiti parliament.

Dr. Dore Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. said that electing Iran to aleadership position on the UN Disarmament Commission was like asking the "cat to guard the milk."

"Clearly the Iranians have an interest in establishing disarmament rules that protect their clandestine nuclear weapons program," said Gold, author of Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos.

"For the last decade and a half, Iran has appointed a very large diplomatic mission to the U.N. and has sought to obtain appointments to as many U.N. bodies as possible," said Gold in a telephone interview.

It is not a surprise, therefore, that Iran would find a place at the table of even the most sensitive committees, he said.

According to Gold, the various commissions at the U.N. establish the "background noise" and "international norms" that are adopted for dealing with problems worldwide.

"They have a way of penetrating the judgments of the U.N. secretariat and other U.N. bodies," he said.

The Disarmament Commission's new chairman, Joon Oh from South Korea, said prior to the group's meeting that it was not intended to be an isolated event but should be considered an integral part of worldwide disarmament efforts.

According to a release on the Disarmament Commission's website, the agenda items include recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and "practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons."

The commission was established by a U.N. General Assembly resolution in 1952 to pursue "effective international control of atomic energy" and make sure that atomic energy was used only for peaceful purposes.

While Iran's election to the commission is not a "decisive development," Gold said, it is "one link" in the chain that helps Iran use multi-lateral organizations to serve its interests.

Prof. Anne Bayefsky, who edits the Eye on the U.N. website, quoted U.N.
Undersecretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Nobuaki Tanaka, as saying that the commission "played a unique role" with "the advantage of being a fully universal deliberative body."

"This is the U.N. fiction, which brings us close to nuclear war with each passing day," Bayefsky said. "The allusion is to universal democracy, though the majority of voters is non-democratic and include thugs, racists and war-mongers."

As tensions grow over the situation in Iran, Washington has not ruled out the idea of a military option in dealing with Iran, though it has downplayed the idea.

The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, recently referred Iran to the Security Council, where the U.S. is pushing for sanctions to be leveled against the Islamic Republic.

But Gold said that if the U.N.'s dealings with Iraq set a precedent for its dealings elsewhere in the world, then it is not likely that the U.N. would be an effective body in dealing with Iran.

"The U.N. has long ago forfeited its role as an international body safeguarding international peace and security and this is just the latest proof of why the U.N. doesn't work," Gold said of Iran's election to vice chair the Disarmament Commission.

Iran says its nuclear development is for a civilian energy program but the U.S., Israel and other Western nations believe Iran is really developing nuclear weapons.

The Institute for Science and International Security, a U.S. think tank, released satellite images on Sunday showing that Iran had expanded its uranium enrichment site at Isfahan and has reinforced its underground site at Natanz.

London's Sunday Times quoted unnamed Iranian officials as saying that Iran had recruited and trained 40,000 suicide bombers, who were ready to attack American and British targets.

"We are ready to attack American and British sensitive points if they attack Iran's nuclear facilities," said Dr. Hassan Abbasi, head of the Center for Doctrinal Strategic Studies in the Revolutionary Guards.

Subscribe to the free daily E-Brief
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 23, 2006, 10:53:55 AM
New Glory
By Jamie Glazov | September 7, 2005

Frontpage Interview?s guest today is Ralph Peters, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who served in infantry and intelligence units before becoming a Foreign Area Officer and a global strategic scout for the Pentagon. He has published three books on strategy and military affairs, as well as hundreds of columns for the New York Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and other publications. He is the author of the new book New Glory: Expanding America's Global Supremacy.

FP: Ralph Peters, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Peters: I'm honored by the chance to reach your audience. Thanks.

FP: What inspired you to write New Glory?

Peters: New Glory is a book that literally took me a lifetime to write--in the sense that it contains decades of first-hand experience and observation in more than sixty countries. While I've written essays and columns over the years, I just sensed that the time was right to put it all together, to lay out as forthrightly and honestly as I could where I think the world is going--to offer a fresh vision of the world as it is and as it's going to matter who might be offended by my views.

And, frankly, I was fed up with the countless "experts" all over the media who had never been anywhere or done anything, but who had an opinion on everything. You can't understand this complex world without going out to see it firsthand. The book's conclusions about where we've been and where we need to go strategically will surprise many readers, but they're based upon direct experience, not faculty-lounge chitchat. This book had been cooking inside me for a long time--and I'm glad I waited to write it. I needed all those years of getting dirty overseas to mature my thinking--and to escape Washington group-think.

FP: Tell us why the battle for Fallujah epitomized how we must fight -- and win -- the terror war.

Peters: Well, the First Battle of Fallujah, in the spring of 2004, was an example of how to get it as wrong as you possibly can. We bragged that we were going to "clean up Dodge." And the Marines went in, tough and capable as ever. Then, just when the Marines were on the cusp of victory, they were called off, thanks to a brilliant, insidious and unscrupulous disinformation campaign waged by al-Jazeera. I was in Iraq at the time, and the lies about American "atrocities" were stunning. But the lies worked and the Bush administration, to my shock and dismay, backed down.

Let's be honest: The terrorists won First Fallujah. And for six months thereafter Fallujah was the world capital of terror--a terrorist city-state. It was evident to all of us who had served that we'd have to go back into Fallujah, but the administration--which I support--made the further error of waiting until after the presidential election to avoid casualties or embarrassments during the campaign. Well, fortunately, in the Second Battle of Fallujah the Army and Marines realized they had to do it fast, before the media won again and the politicians caved in again. The military had been burned once and they were determined not to get burned again. And they did a stunning job--Second Fallujah was a model of how to take down a medium-size city. Great credit to the troops, mixed reviews for the politicos.

The bottom line is this: If you have to fight, fight to win, don't postpone what's necessary, and be prepared for the media's anti-American onslaught. Today, the media--with some noteworthy exceptions--are stooges of Islamist terrorists who, if they actually won, would butcher the journalists defending them.

We should never go to war lightly, but if we must fight, we have to give it everything we've got and damn the global criticism. There's a straightforward maxim that applies: In warfare, if you're unwilling to pay the butcher's bill up front, you will pay it with compound interest in the end.

FP: You note that terror of female sexuality underlies Islamic terror. You also make the point that a culture that hates and fears woman is incompatible with modernity and democracy. Can you illuminate these phenomena for us please?

Peters: No brainer on this one. Any society that refuses to exploit the talents and potential contributions of half of its population can't remotely hope to compete with the USA or the West in general. Worse, the virtual enslavement of women is as much a symptom of other ailments as it is a problem in and of itself. Where women are tormented by bitter old men in religious robes, there's never a meritocracy for males, either. And such societies are consistently racially and religiously bigoted. Take Pakistan: While the USA is operating at a phenomenal level of human efficiency in the 21st century, say 85%, Pakistan would likely measure in at 12 to 15%. They just keep falling comparatively farther and farther behind, they hate it, and, of course, they blame us. We're dealing with the abject and utter failure of the entire civilization of Middle Eastern Islam--not competitive in a single sphere (not even terror, since these days we're terrorizing the terrorists). It's historically unprecedented--and unspeakably dangerous.

As far as the inhuman, inhumane--and stupid--treatment of women in the Middle East, yep, Islam is scared of the girls. I wish Freud were alive--he'd really get a look at a civilization's discontents. If you're not terrified of female sexuality, you don't lock women up, insist on covering them up from scalp to toenail and stone them to death for their "sins." Every single Muslim culture in the greater Middle East is sexually infantile--to use the Freudian term. For all their macho posturing, the men are terrified of their feared inadequacy. It's like one big junior high school dance, with the boys on one side of the gym and the girls on the other--except the boys have Kalashnikovs.

Now, I realize this isn't the sort of thing most people consider as a strategic factor, but I am thoroughly convinced that the one foolproof test for whether or not a society has any hope of making it in the 21st century is its treatment of women. Where women are partners, societies take off--as ours has done for this reason and others. Where women are property, there's simply no hope of a competitive performance.

In the collective culture of the Middle East, we're dealing with a deeply neurotic, if not outright psychotic civilization. I wish I could be more positive. But the average Middle Eastern male just has snakes in his head. And, by the way, the place isn't much fun, either. A mega-mall or two does not make a civilization.

FP: You make the observation that ?Islam produced a strain of violent homoeroticism that reaches into al-Qaeda and beyond.? Please expand on this reality a bit for us.

Peters: Another issue "sober" Washington wouldn't consider as a strategic concern, but this ties in with the fear of and disdain for women. If you read the notes and papers they left behind, it's evident that the hijackers of 9/11 were a boy's club with strong homoerotic tendencies. Read Mohammed Atta's lunatic note describing how women must be kept away from his funeral to avoid polluting his grave. Does that sound like a guy with a happy dating history? Of course, sex between men and boys is a long tradition from North Africa through Afghanistan (fear of women always leads to an excessive fixation on female virginity--so she won't know her husband's inadequate--as well as homoerotic undercurrents).

They don't talk about it, of course--it's supposed to be anathema--but very few Middle Eastern mothers would trust their good-looking young sons around many adult males. This has deep roots, right back to the celebrations of the Emperor Babur's fixation on a pretty boy in the Baburnama. And the related dread of the female as literal femme fatale, as vixen, as betrayer, appears in much of the major literature--especially the "Thousand and One Arabian Nights," which, in its unabridged, unexpurgated version, is one long chronicle of supposed female wantonness and insatiability (the men are always innocent victims of Eve).

Pretty hard for the president to work this into a State of the Union message, but I'm convinced that sexual dysfunction is at the core of the Middle East's sickness--and it's certainly sick. Nothing about our civilization so threatens the males of the Middle East as the North American career woman making her own money and her own decisions. We don't think of it this way, but from one perspective the best symbols of the War on Terror would be the Islamic veil versus the two-piece woman's business suit.

There is no abyss more unbridgeable between our civilizations than that created by our respect for women and the Islamic disdain for the female. There are many aspects of our magnificent civilization that threaten traditional, backward societies, but nothing worries them so much as the independence of the Western woman--not that they approve of freedom of any kind.

FP: You write that the developments in Iran pose a great danger to the Islamists and great hope for the West. Tell us what the possibilities are. Perhaps a domino theory? (i.e, if the Iranians overthrow their religious despots, the rest of the Islamic world might do the same?)

Peters: No matter what the outcome in Iraq, the Middle East isn't going to change overnight. This is a very long process. But if you want an irrefutable indicator of how important Iraq's future is, just consider how many resources our enemies are willing to spend to stop the emergence of an even partially functional rule-of-law democracy in Iraq. The terrorists are throwing in everything they've got. Surely, that should tell us something.

Despite all the yelling and jumping up and down in the "Arab Street" (where someone needs to pick up the litter, by the way), the truth is that Arabs, especially, are afraid they can't do it, that they can't build a modern, let alone a postmodern, market democracy. The Arabs desperately need a win--they've been losing on every front for so long. If Iraq is even a deeply flawed success, it will be success enough to spark change across the region. But we must not expect overnight results. This is all very hard. We're not just trying to change a country--we're asking a civilization to change, to revive itself.

Iraq matters immensely. But no matter the outcome, it will be a long time before we see the rewards. It's an agonizingly slow process--which is tough for our society, which expects quick results.

And if Iraq should fail, despite our best efforts, it won't really be an American (or Anglo-American) failure. The consequences will be severe, but we'll work it off at the strategic gym. A failed Iraq will be another tragic Arab failure.

This is our best shot, but it's their last chance.

FP: You observe that Islamist terror sprouts from the failure of Arab and Islamic civilization, that they are humiliated, envious and seek to destroy the reminder of everything we have done right. Please illustrate this picture for us.

Peters: Back to our disdain for new strategic factors: Certainly economic statistics and demographics, hydrology and terms of trade all matter. But the number one deadly and galvanizing strategic impulse in the world today is jealousy. And it's jealousy of the West in general, but specifically of the United States. Jealousy is a natural, deep human emotion, which afflicts us all in our personal lives--to some degree. But when it afflicts an entire civilization, it's tragic. The failed civilization of the Middle East--where not one of the treasured local values is functional in the globalized world--is morbidly jealous of us. They've succumbed to a culture of--and addiction to--blame. Instead of facing up to the need to change and rolling up their sleeves, they want the world to conform to their terms. Ain't going to happen, Mustapha.

I've been out there. And while anti-Americanism is really much exaggerated, where it does exist among the terrorists and their supporters, jealousy is a prime motivating factor. You've heard it before, but it's all too true: They do hate us for our success.

The populations of the Middle East blew it. They've failed. Thirteen hundred years of effort came down to an entire civilization that can't design and build an automobile. And thanks to the wonders of the media age, it's daily rubbed in their faces how badly they've failed.

Oil wealth? A tragedy for the Arabs, since it gave the wealth to the most backward. The Middle East still does not have a single world-class university outside of Israel. Not one. The oil money has been thrown away--it's been a drug, not a tool.

The terrorists don't want progress. They want revenge. At the risk of punning on the title of the book, they don't want new glory--they want their old (largely imagined) glory back. They want to turn back the clock to an imagined world. The terrorists are the deadly siblings of Westerners who believe in Atlantis.

FP: It is clear you are not very fond of France and Germany. How come?

Peters: Actually, I love France and Germany. They're two of my favorite museums. And what's not to like about two grotesquely hypocritical societies who are, between them, responsible for the worst savagery in and beyond Europe over the past several centuries?

Anybody who really wants to see how I take "Old Europe" apart will just have to read the book. Too much to say to get it down here. But the next time the continent that perfected genocide and ethnic cleansing plays the moral superiority card, let's remind them that no German soldier ever liberated anybody--and the most notable achievement of the French military in the past century and a half has been the slaughter of unarmed black Africans.

And just watch their brutal treatment of their Islamic residents. Old Europe--France and Germany--is just the Middle East-lite.

FP: Explain why you believe there are great benefits to America reaching out to India.

Peters: Human capital. Trade. Healthy competition. Strategic position. Common interests. Brilliant, hard-working people. Great food. That enough?

FP: Are there grounds to have hope about Africa?

Peters: Yes. There are plentiful reasons to be hopeful about parts--parts--of Africa. But much of the continent is every bit as disastrous as the popular image has it. My complaint is that we treat that vast, various continent as one big, failed commune. Well, Congo or Sierra Leone certainly aren't inspiring...but in the course of several, recent, lengthy trips to Africa, I was just astonished at the vigor, vision and strategic potential of South Africa. South Africa is well on the way to becoming the first true sub-Saharan great power--and it's another natural ally for us. Oh, the old revolutionary, slogan-spouting generation and their prot?g?s have to die off--and they will. But, in the long-term, I expect great things from South Africa, that they'll control (economically and culturally) southern Africa at least as far north as the Rovuma River. The one qualifier is this: Their next presidential election will be the turning point, either way. If they elect a demagogue, South Africa could still turn into another failing African state. But if they elect a technocrat, get out of the way, because the South Africans are coming.

I explain much of this far better in the book than I can here. Suffice to say that, for all the continent's horrid misery, there are islands of genuine hope. And, of course, there's plenty of wreckage...and AIDS, civil wars, corruption (the greatest bane of all for the developing world). I'm not a Pollyanna. But over the years I've gotten pretty good at spotting both potential crises and potential successes--and South Africa, for all its problems, is a land of stunning opportunities with neo-imperial potential.

FP: Overall, as a former military man, tell us what the United States has to stop doing, and has to start doing, to win this terror war.

Peters: Knock off the bluster and fight like we mean it. To a disheartening degree, the War on Terror has been a war of (ineptly chosen) words. Look, this is a death struggle, a strategic knife fight to the bone. I wish our civilian leaders would stop beating their chests and saying that we're going to get this terrorists or that one--because when we fail to make good on our promises, the terrorists wins by default. More deeds, fewer words.

Above all, we need to think clearly, to cast off the last century's campus-born excuses for the Islamic world of the Middle East. We need to be honest about the threat, in all its dimensions. "Public diplomacy" isn't going to convert the terrorists who were recruited and developed while we looked away from the problem for thirty years. In the end, only deeds convince. And not just military deeds, of course, although those remain indispensable.

Most Americans still do not realize the intensity or the dimensions of the struggle with Islamist terror. Despite 9-11, they just don't have a sense that we're at war. And I'm afraid I have to fault the Bush administration on that count: Good Lord, we're at war with the most implacable enemies we've ever faced (men who regard death as a promotion), and what was our president's priority this year? The reform of Social Security. While I continue to support the administration's overall intent and efforts in Iraq and around the world, I believe the president has failed us badly by not driving home to the people that we're at war.

The Bush administration has done great and necessary things--but all too often they've done those things badly. And only the valor and blood of our troops has redeemed the situation, time after time, from Fallujah to the struggles of the future.

FP: Ralph Peters thank you for joining us today.

Peters: My pleasure, and my thanks. And allow me to say a special thanks to all your readers in uniform, those troops defending the values of our civilization and human decency in distant, discouraging places. Freedom truly isn't free.

"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...
...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Teddy Roosevelt  
  Posts: 1786 | Location: USA | Registered: August 29, 2005  
G M   Posted April 23, 2006 06:28 AM  
The Counterrevolution in Military Affairs
Fashionable thinking about defense ignores the great threats of our time.
by Ralph Peters
02/06/2006, Volume 011, Issue 20

REVOLUTIONS NOTORIOUSLY IMPRISON THEIR MOST committed supporters. Intellectually, influential elements within our military are locked inside the cells of the Revolution in Military Affairs--the doctrinal cult of the past decade that preaches that technological leaps will transcend millennia-old realities of warfare. Our current conflicts have freed the Pentagon from at least some of the nonsensical theories of techno-war, but too many of our military and civilian leaders remain captivated by the notion that machines can replace human beings on the battlefield. Chained to their 20th-century successes, they cannot face the new reality: Wars of flesh, faith, and cities. Meanwhile, our enemies, immediate and potential, appear to grasp the contours of future war far better than we do.

From Iraq's Sunni Triangle to China's military high command, the counterrevolution in military affairs is well underway. We are seduced by what we can do; our enemies focus on what they must do. We have fallen so deeply in love with the means we have devised for waging conceptual wars that we are blind to their marginal relevance in actual wars. Terrorists, for one lethal example, do not fear "network-centric warfare" because they have already mastered it for a tiny fraction of one cent on the dollar, achieving greater relative effects with the Internet, cell phones, and cheap airline tickets than all of our military technologies have delivered. Our prime weapon in our struggles with terrorists, insurgents, and warriors of every patchwork sort remains the soldier or Marine; yet, confronted with reality's bloody evidence, we simply pretend that other, future, hypothetical wars will justify the systems we adore--purchased at the expense of the assets we need.

Stubbornly, we continue to fantasize that a wondrous enemy will appear who will fight us on our own terms, as a masked knight might have materialized at a stately tournament in a novel by Sir Walter Scott. Yet, not even China--the threat beloved of major defense contractors and their advocates--would play by our rules if folly ignited war. Against terrorists, we have found technology alone incompetent to master men of soaring will--our own flesh and blood provide the only effective counter. At the other extreme, a war with China, which our war gamers blithely assume would be brief, would reveal the quantitative incompetence of our forces. An assault on a continent-spanning power would swiftly drain our stocks of precision weapons, ready pilots, and aircraft. Quality, no matter how great, is not a reliable substitute for a robust force in being and deep reserves that can be mobilized rapidly.

There is, in short, not a single enemy in existence or on the horizon willing to play the victim to the military we continue to build. Faced with men of iron belief wielding bombs built in sheds and basements, our revolution in military affairs appears more an indulgence than an investment. In the end, our enemies will not outfight us. We'll muster the will to do what must be done--after paying a needlessly high price in the lives of our troops and damage to our domestic infrastructure. We will not be beaten, but we may be shamed and embarrassed on a needlessly long road to victory.

Not a single item in our trillion-dollar arsenal can compare with the genius of the suicide bomber--the breakthrough weapon of our time. Our intelligence systems cannot locate him, our arsenal cannot deter him, and, all too often, our soldiers cannot stop him before it is too late. A man of invincible conviction--call it delusion, if you will--armed with explosives stolen or purchased for a handful of soiled bills can have a strategic impact that staggers governments. Abetted by the global media, the suicide bomber is the wonder weapon of the age.

The suicide bomber's willingness to discard civilization's cherished rules for warfare gives him enormous strength. In the Cain-and-Abel conflicts of the 21st century, ruthlessness trumps technology. We refuse to comprehend the suicide bomber's soul--even though today's wars are contests of souls, and belief is our enemy's ultimate order of battle. We write off the suicide bomber as a criminal, a wanton butcher, a terrorist. Yet, within his spiritual universe, he's more heroic than the American soldier who throws himself atop a grenade to spare his comrades: He isn't merely protecting other men, but defending his god. The suicide bomber can justify any level of carnage because he's doing his god's will. We agonize over a prisoner's slapped face, while our enemies are lauded as heroes for killing innocent masses (even of fellow believers). We continue to narrow our view of warfare's acceptable parameters even as our enemies amplify the concept of total war.

Islamist terrorists, to cite the immediate example, would do anything to win. Our enemies act on ecstatic revelations from their god. We act on the advice of lawyers. It is astonishing that we have managed to hold the line as well as we have.

The ultimate precision weapon, the suicide bomber simultaneously redefines the scope of "legitimate" targets. Delighted to kill our troops, this implacable enemy who regards death as a promotion is equally ready to slaughter men, women, and children of unknown identity who have done him no harm. His force of will towers over our own. He cannot win wars on the traditional battlefields we cherish, but his commitment and actions transcend such tidy limits. In the moment of his deed, the suicide bomber is truly larger than life. The world's a stage, and every suicide bomber is, at least briefly, a star.

We will develop the means to defeat the majority of, if not all, improvised explosive devices. But the suicide bomber--the living, thinking assassin determined to die--may prove impossible to stop. Even if we discover a means to identify him at a distance from our troops, he has only to turn to easier targets. Virtually anything the suicide bomber attacks brings value to his cause--destruction of any variety is a victory. The paradox is that his act of self-destruction is also an undeniable assertion that "I am," as he becomes the voice from below that the mighty cannot ignore. We are trained to think in terms of cause and effect--but the suicide bomber merges the two. The gesture and the result are inseparable from and integral to his message. Self-destruction and murder join to become the ultimate act of self-assertion.

And his deed is heralded, while even our most virtuous acts are condemned around the world. Even in the days before mass media, assassins terrorized civilizations. Today, their deeds are amplified by a toxic, breathtakingly irresponsible communications culture that spans the globe. Photogenic violence is no longer a local affair--if a terrorist gives the media picturesque devastation, he reaches the entire planet. We cannot measure the psychological magnification, although we grasp it vaguely. And the media's liturgical repetition of the suicide bomber's act creates an atmosphere of sacrament. On a primal level, the suicide bomber impresses even his enemies with his conviction. We hasten to dismiss his deed as a perversion, yet it resounds as a vivid act of faith. Within his own cultural context, people may hate what the suicide bomber does, yet revere his sacrifice (and, too often, they do not hate what he does).

We may refuse to accept it, but suicide bombing operates powerfully on practical, emotional, and spiritual levels--and it generates dirt-cheap propaganda. To the Muslim world, the suicide bomber's act is a proof of faith that ensnares the mind with a suspicion of his righteousness. He is a nearly irresistible champion of the powerless, the Middle East's longed-for superhero, the next best thing to the Mahdi or the Twelfth Imam.

We praise Nathan Hale's willingness to die for his cause. Now imagine thousands of men anxious to die for theirs. The suicide bomber may be savage, brutal, callous, heartless, naive, psychotic, and, to us, despicable, but within his milieu he is also heroic.

The hallmark of our age is the failure of belief systems and a subsequent flight back to primitive fundamentalism--and the phenomenon isn't limited to the Middle East. Faith revived is running roughshod over science and civilization. Secular societies appear increasingly fragmented, if not fragile. The angry gods are back. And they will not be defeated with cruise missiles or computer codes.

A paradox of our time is that the overwhelmingly secular global media--a collection of natural-born religion-haters--have become the crucial accomplices of the suicide bomber fueled by rabid faith. Mass murderers are lionized as freedom fighters, while our own troops are attacked by the press they protect for the least waywardness or error. One begins to wonder if the bomber's suicidal impulse isn't matched by a deep death wish affecting the West's cultural froth. (What if Darwin was right conceptually, but failed to grasp that homo sapiens' most powerful evolutionary strategy is faith?) Both the suicide bomber and the "world intellectual" with his reflexive hatred of America exist in emotional realms that our rational models of analysis cannot explain. The modern age's methods for interpreting humanity are played out.

We live in a new age of superstition and bloodthirsty gods, of collective madness. Its icons are the suicide bomber, the veil, and the video camera.

One of the most consistently disheartening experiences an adult can have today is to listen to the endless attempts by our intellectuals and intelligence professionals to explain religious terrorism in clinical terms, assigning rational motives to men who have moved irrevocably beyond reason. We suffer under layers of intellectual asymmetries that hinder us from an intuitive recognition of our enemies. Our rear-guard rationalists range from those convinced that every security problem has a technological solution, if only it can be found, to those who insist that members of al Qaeda and its affiliates are motivated by finite, comprehensible, and logical ambitions that, if satisfied, would make our problems disappear.

Living in unprecedented safety within our borders and lacking firsthand knowledge of the decay beyond, honorable men and women have convinced themselves that Osama bin Laden's professed goals of driving the United States from the Middle East and removing corrupt regional governments are what global terror is all about. They gloss over his ambition of reestablishing the caliphate and his calls for the destruction of Israel as rhetorical effects--when they address them at all. Yet, Islamist fanatics are more deeply committed to their maximalist goals than to their lesser ones--and their unspoken ambitions soar beyond logic's realm. Religious terrorists are committed to an apocalypse they sense within striking distance. Their longing for union with god is inseparable from their impulse toward annihilation. They seek their god in carnage, and will go on slaughtering until he appears to pat them on the back.

A dangerous asymmetry exists in the type of minds working the problem of Islamist terrorism in our government and society. On average, the "experts" to whom we are conditioned to listen have a secular mentality (even if they go to church or synagogue from habit). And it is a very rare secular mind that can comprehend religious passion--it's like asking a blind man to describe the colors of fire. One suspects that our own fiercest believers are best equipped to penetrate the mentality--the souls--of our Islamist enemies, although those believers may not be as articulate as the secular intellectuals who anxiously dismiss all possibilities that lie outside their theoretical constructs.

Those who feel no vital faith cannot comprehend faith's power. A man or woman who has never been intoxicated by belief will default to mirror-imaging when asked to describe terror's roots. He who has never experienced a soul-shaking glimpse of the divine inevitably explains religion-driven suicide bombers in terms of a lack of economic opportunity or social humiliation. But the enemies we face are burning with belief, on fire with their vision of an immanent, angry god. Our intelligentsia is less equipped to understand such men than our satellites are to find them.

All of our technologies and comforting theories are confounded by the strength of the soul ablaze with faith. Our struggle with Islamist terror (other religious terrors may haunt our descendants) has almost nothing to do with our actions in the Middle East. It's about a failing civilization's embrace of a furious god.

We are not (yet) at war with Islam, but the extreme believers within Islam are convinced that they are soldiers in a religious war against us. Despite their rhetoric, they are the crusaders. Even our conceptions of the struggle are asymmetrical. Despite the horrors we have witnessed, we have yet to take religious terrorists seriously on their own self-evident terms. We invaded a succession of their tormented countries, but haven't come close to penetrating their souls. The hermetic universe of the Islamist terrorist is immune to our reality (if not to our bullets), but our intellectuals appear equally incapable of accepting the religious extremist's reality.

We have no tools of persuasion effective against a millenarian belief. What logic can we wield against the soul fortified by faith and barricaded beyond argument? Even if we understood every nuance of our enemy's culture, the suicide bomber's intense faith and the terror chieftain's visions have burned through native cultural restraints. We are told, rather smugly, that the Koran forbids suicide. But our enemies are not concerned with how we read their faith. Religions are living things, and ultra-extremists are improvising a new and savage cult within Islam--even as they proclaim their return to a purified faith.

Security-wise, we have placed our faith in things, in bright (and expensive) material objects. But the counterrevolution in military affairs is based on the brilliant intuition that our military can be sidestepped often enough to challenge its potency. Certainly, we inflict casualties on our enemies--and gain real advantages from doing so--but we not only face an enemy who, as observed above, views death as a promotion, but also one who believes he has won even when he loses. If the suicide bomber completes his mission, he has won. But even if he is killed or dies short of his target, he has conquered a place in paradise. Which well-intentioned information operation of ours can compete with the conviction that a martyr's death leads to eternal joy?

Again, our intelligentsia falls woefully short. The most secularized element of our society--educated to avoid faith (or, at the very least, to shun enthusiastic, vigorous, proud, and public faith)--our professional thinkers have lost any sense of a literal paradise beyond the grave. But our enemies enjoy a faith as vivid as did our ancestors, for whom devils lurked in the undergrowth and paradise was an idealized representation of that which mortals knew. We are taught that we should never underestimate our enemies--yet, we underestimate the power of his faith, his most potent weapon.

Nor should we assume that Islamist extremists will remain the only god-haunted terrorists attacking established orders. This century may prove to be one of multi-sided struggles over the interpretation of god's will, between believers and unbelievers, between the varieties of the faithful, between monotheists and polytheists, between master faiths and secessionist movements, between the hollow worshippers of science and those swollen with the ecstasy of belief.

Naturally, we view the cardinal struggle as between the West and extremists within the Islamic world; yet, the bloodiest religious warfare of the coming decades may be between Sunni and Shia Muslims, or between African Muslims and the new, sub-Saharan Church Militant. Hindu extremists gnaw inward from the epidermis of Indian society, while even Buddhist monks have engaged in organized violence in favor of their ostensibly peaceable faith. In a bewildering world where every traditional society is under assault from the forces of global change, only religion seems to provide a reliable refuge. And each god seems increasingly a jealous god.

Faith is the great strategic factor that unbelieving faculties and bureaucracies ignore. It may be the crucial issue of this century. And we cannot even speak about it honestly. Give me a warrior drunk with faith, and I will show you a weapon beyond the dreams of any laboratory. Our guided bombs may kill individual terrorists, but the terrorist knows that our weapons can't kill his god.

Even in preparing for "big wars," we refuse to take the enemy into account. Increasingly, our military is designed for breathtaking sprints, yet a war with China--were one forced upon us by events--would be a miserable, long march. For all the rhetoric expended and the innumerable wargames played, the best metaphor for a serious struggle with Beijing--perhaps of Homeric length--comes from that inexhaustible little book, Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness, with its pathetic image of a Western gunboat lobbing shells uselessly into a continent.

Given the comprehensive commitment and devastation required to defeat strategically and structurally weaker enemies such as Japan and Germany, how dare we pretend that we could drive China to sue for peace by fighting a well-mannered war with a small military whose shallow stocks of ammunition would be drained swiftly and could not be replaced in meaningful quantities? Would we try Shock and Awe, Part II, over Beijing, hoping to convince China's leaders to surrender at the sight of our special effects? Or would our quantitative incompetence soon force us onto the defensive?

We must be realistic about the military requirements of a war with China, but we also need to grasp that, for such an enemy, the military sphere would be only one field of warfare--and not the decisive one. What would it take to create an atmosphere of defeat in a sprawling nation of over one billion people? A ruthless economic blockade, on the seas, in the air, and on land, would be an essential component of any serious war plan, but the Chinese capability for sheer endurance might surprise us. Could we win against China without inflicting extensive devastation on Chinese cities? Would even that be enough? Without mirror-imaging again, can we identify any incentive China's leaders would have to surrender?

The Chinese version of the counterrevolution in military affairs puts less stress on a head-to-head military confrontation (although that matters, of course) and more on defeating the nation behind our military. Despite the importance Beijing attaches to a strong military, China won't fall into the trap that snared the Soviets--the attempt to compete with our military expenditures. Why fight battles you'll lose, when you can wage war directly against the American population by attacking its digital and physical infrastructure, its confidence and morale? In a war of mutual suffering, which population would be better equipped, practically and psychologically, to endure massive power outages, food-chain disruptions, the obliteration of databases, and even epidemic disease?

Plenty of Americans are tougher than we're credited with being, but what about the now-decisive intelligentsia? What about those conditioned to levels of comfort unimaginable to the generation that fought World War II (or even Vietnam)? Would 21st-century suburban Americans accept rationing without protests? Whenever I encounter Chinese abroad I am astonished by their chauvinism. Their confidence is reminiscent of Americans' a half century ago. Should we pretend that Chinese opinion-makers, such as they are, would feel inclined to attack their government as our journalists attack Washington? A war with China would be a massive contest of wills, and China might need to break the will of only a tiny fraction of our population. It only takes a few hundred men and women in Washington to decide that a war is lost.

As for our military technologies, how, exactly, would an F/A-22 destroy the Chinese will to endure and prevail? How would it counteract a hostile media? If we should worry about any strategic differences with China, they are the greater simplicity and robustness of China's less developed (hence, less fragile) infrastructure, and a greater will to win in Beijing. No matter how well our military might perform, sufficient pain inflicted on the American people could lead a weak national leadership to a capitulation thinly disguised as a compromise. Addicted to trade with China, many in America's business community would push for a rapid end to any conflict, no matter the cost to our nation as a whole. (When Chinese fighters forced down a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft on Hainan Island several years ago, American-business lobbyists rushed to Capitol Hill to plead for patience with China--they had no interest in our aircrew or our national good.)

The Chinese know they cannot defeat our military. So they intend to circumvent it, as surely as Islamist terrorists seek to do, if in more complex ways. For example, China's navy cannot guarantee its merchant vessels access to sea lanes in the Indian Ocean--routes that carry the oil on which modern China runs. So Beijing is working to build a web of formal and informal client relationships in the region that would deny the U.S. Navy port facilities, challenge the United States in global and regional forums, and secure alternate routes and sources of supply. China's next great strategic initiative is going to be an attempt to woo India, the region's key power, away from a closer relationship with the United States. Beijing may fail, but its strategists are thinking in terms of the out-years, while our horizon barely reaches from one Quadrennial Defense Review to the next.

Even in Latin America, China labors to develop capabilities to frustrate American purposes, weaken hemispheric ties, and divert our strategic resources during a Sino-American crisis. We dream of knock-out blows, while Beijing prepares the death of a thousand cuts. The Chinese are the ultimate heirs of B.H. Liddell Hart and his indirect approach: They would have difficulty conquering Taiwan militarily, but believe they could push us into an asymmetrical defeat through economic, diplomatic, and media campaigns in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Latin America--while crippling the lifestyle of America's citizens.

It's become another clich? to observe how much of our manufacturing capability has moved to China while we tolerate, at our own business community's behest, Beijing's cynical undervaluation of its currency. If you don't think this matters, try to go a single week without buying or using a product made in China. A conflict with Beijing might be lost on the empty shelves of Wal-Mart. Indeed, Beijing's most effective international allies are American corporations. In the Second World War we famously converted our consumer industries into producers of wartime materiel. Will a future president find himself trapped by our defense industry's inability to produce consumer goods in wartime?

A war with China would be a total war, waged in spheres where our military is legally forbidden to engage, from data banks to shopping malls. How many readers of this magazine have participated in a wargame that addressed crippling consumer shortages as a conflict with China dragged on for years? Instead, we obsess about the fate of a pair of aircraft carriers. For that matter, how about a scenario that realistically portrayed the global media as siding overwhelmingly with China? The metastasizing power of the media is a true strategic revolution of our time--one to which our narrow revolution in military affairs has no reply.

Oh, by the way: Could we win a war with China without killing hundreds of millions of Chinese?

Many of us have struggled to grasp the unreasonable, even fanatical anti-Americanism in the global media--including the hostility in many news outlets and entertainment forums here at home. How can educated men and women, whether they speak Arabic, Spanish, French, or English, condemn America's every move, while glossing over the abuses of dictators and the savagery of terrorists? Why is America blamed even when American involvement is minimal or even nonexistent? How has the most beneficial great power in history been transformed by the international media into a villain of relentless malevolence?

There's a straightforward answer: In their secular way, the world's media elites are as unable to accept the reality confronting them as are Islamist fundamentalists. They hate the world in which they are forced to live, and America has shaped that world.

It isn't that the American-wrought world is so very bad for the global intelligentsia: The freedom they exploit to condemn the United States has been won, preserved, and expanded by American sacrifices and America's example. The problem is that they wanted a different world, the utopia promised by socialist and Marxist theorists, an impossible heaven on earth that captured their imagination as surely as visions of paradise enrapture suicide bombers.

The global media may skew secular, but that doesn't protect them against alternative forms of faith. Europeans, for example, have discarded a belief in God as beneath their sophistication--yet they still need a Satan to explain their own failures, just as their ancestors required devils to explain why the milk soured or the herd sickened. Today, America has replaced the horned, cloven-footed Lucifer of Europe's past; behind their smug assumption of superiority, contemporary Europeans are as superstitious and irrational as any of their ancestors: They simply believe in other demons.

One of the most perverse aspects of anti-Americanism in the global media and among the international intelligentsia is that it's presented as a progressive, liberal movement, when it's bitterly reactionary, a spiteful, elitist revolt against the empowerment of the common man and woman (the core ethos of the United States). Despite their outward differences, intellectuals are the logical allies of Islamist extremists--who are equally opposed to social progress and mass freedom. Of course, the terrorists have the comfort of religious faith, while the global intelligentsia, faced with the death of Marxism and the triumph of capitalism, has only its rage.

Human beings are hard-wired for faith. Deprived of a god, they seek an alternative creed. For a time, nationalism, socialism, Marxism, and a number of other-isms appeared to have a chance of working--as long as secular intellectuals rejected the evidence of Stalin's crimes or Mao's savagery (much as they overlook the brutalities of Islamist terrorists today). The intellectuals who staff the global media experienced the American-made destruction of their secular belief systems, slowly during the Cold War, then jarringly from 1989 to 1991. The experience has been as disorienting and infuriating to them as if we had proved to Muslim fanatics that their god does not exist.

America's triumph shames the Middle East and Europe alike, and has long dented the pride of Latin America. But the brotherhood of Islamist terrorists and the tribe of global intellectuals who dominate the media are the two groups who feel the most fury toward America. The terrorists dream of a paradise beyond the grave; intellectuals fantasized about utopias on earth. Neither can stomach the practical success of the American way of life, with its insistence on individual performance and its resistance to unearned privilege. For the Islamists, America's power threatens the promises of their faith. For world-intellectuals, America is the murderer of their most precious fantasies.

Is it any wonder that these two superficially different groups have drifted into collusion?

The suicide bomber may be the weapon of genius of our time, but the crucial new strategic factor is the rise of a global information culture that pretends to reflect reality, but in fact creates it. Iraq is only the most flagrant example of the disconnect between empirical reality and the redesigned, politically inflected alternative reality delivered by the media. This phenomenon matters far more than the profiteers of the revolution in military affairs can accept--the global information sphere is now a decisive battleground. Image and idea are as powerful as the finest military technologies.

We have reached the point (as evidenced by the first battle of Falluja) where the global media can overturn the verdict of the battlefield. We will not be defeated by suicide bombers in Iraq, but a chance remains that the international media may defeat us. Engaged with enemies to our front, we try to ignore the enemies at our back--enemies at whom we cannot return fire. Indeed, if anything must be profoundly reevaluated, it's our handling of the media in wartime. We have no obligation to open our accounts to proven enemies, yet we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by platitudes.

This doesn't mean that all of the media are evil or dishonest. It means we need to have the common sense and courage to discriminate between media outlets that attempt to report fairly (and don't compromise wartime secrets) and those whose track records demonstrate their hostility to our national purposes or their outright support for terrorists.

We got it right in World War II, but today we cannot count on patriotism among journalists, let alone their acceptance of censorship boards. Our own reporters pretend to be "citizens of the world" with "higher loyalties," and many view patriotism as decidedly down-market. Obsessed with defending their privileges, they refuse to accept that they also have responsibilities as citizens. But after journalistic irresponsibility kills a sufficient number of Americans, reality will force us to question the media's claim that "the public has a right to know" every secret our government holds in wartime.

The media may constitute the decisive element in the global counterrevolution in military affairs, and the video camera--that insatiable accomplice of the terrorist--the cheap negation of our military technology. (And beware the growing capability of digital technology to create American "atrocities" from scratch.) We are proud of our ability to put steel precisely on target anywhere in the world, but guided bombs don't work against faith or an unchallenged flood of lies. We have fallen in love with wind-up dolls and forgotten the preeminence of the soul.

We need to break the mental chains that bind us to a technology-?ber-alles dream of warfare--a fantasy as absurd and dated as the Marxist dreams of Europe's intellectuals. Certainly, military technologies have their place and can provide our troops with useful tools. But technologies are not paramount. In warfare, flesh and blood are still the supreme currency. And strength of will remains the ultimate weapon. Welcome to the counterrevolution.

Ralph Peters, a retired Army officer, is the author of 21 books, including New Glory: Expanding America's Global Supremacy and the forthcoming Never Quit the Fight.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 05, 2006, 05:42:49 AM
The Enemy at the Gates
// Dick Cheney practically gives a new Fulton Speech
At the ?Common Vision for a Common Neighborhood? conference in Vilnius yesterday, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney gave a programmatic speech on relations between the West and Russia. He criticized the Kremlin's domestic policy ad accused Moscow of ?blackmail,? ?intimidation,? ?undermining the territorial integrity of its neighbors? and ?interference in democratic processes.? As the G8 summit in St. Petersburg approaches, Russia is being given the choice between ?returning to democracy? and ?becoming an enemy.?
Until yesterday, the White House preferred to criticize Kremlin policies only through press secretaries. U.S. President George W. Bush and politicians close to him spoke of Russia as a reliable partner in the fight against international terrorism, even while admitting to certain disagreements. Cheney's Vilnius speech has broken that tradition and was the most pointed declaration by an American leader since the end of the Cold War.

The theme of the Cold War ran throughout Cheney's speech. That phrase, first spoken exactly 60 years ago by Winston Churchill at Fulton, was used by Cheney three times. He named the heroes of the Cold War who, in his opinion, made the greatest contributions to democracy: Andrey Sakharov, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Pope John Paul II, Natan Sharansky and Ronald Reagan. He mixed interspersed that list with the names of the ?heroes of our time?: Mikhail Saakashvili, Viktor Yushchenko and Alexander Milinkevich, the Belarusian opposition leader who is now jailed in Minsk. Cheney's words practically point to a renewal of the Cold War, only now the ?front line? has changed. ?The spread of democracy is irreversible. It is to the benefit of al and poses a threat to no one. The system that has provided hope on the shores of the Baltic Sea can bring hope to the shores of the Black Sea and even farther,? Cheney said. ?That which is applicable to Vilnius is applicable to Tbilisi and to Kiev, and it is applicable to Minsk and Moscow as well.?

Mentioning Moscow and Minsk in this context, Cheney identified them as powers opposing democratic states. He then criticized Russian and Belarusian authorities. He spoke shortly but mercilessly about Belarus, saying the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has earned the title of ?last dictator of Europe.? ?There is no place in Europe for that kind of regime. The people of Belarus deserve better,? the U.S. vice president said before turning his attention to Russia.

Cheney briefly listed the charges accumulated against Russia. First, the victories of recent decades are being scaled back as the authorities limit civil rights and the rights of the media, nongovernmental organizations and political parties. Cheney continued that Russia's policies are detrimental not only within the country but beyond it as well. ?No one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor, or interfere with democratic movements. No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation,? Cheney said.

Cheney's speech culminated in the assertion that Russia faces the choice of ?returning to democracy? or ?becoming an enemy.? ?There is no question that a return to democratic reform in Russia will generate further success for its people and greater respect among fellow nations,? Cheney said. ?None of us believes that Russia is fated to become an enemy.? But it can be concluded from that statement that the likelihood of that happening is high.

The Baltic and Black Sea region leaders assembled at the conference applauded the U.S. vice president. The leaders of Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia were present in Vilnius. Cheney's address to then practically identifies their countries as the ?defensive wall? that separates the democratic West from potential hostile Russia. Cheney's speech was full of praise for the ?new democracies.? He thanked the ?brave leaders? of the color revolutions for proposing the summit and noted the success of the Baltic states ?one the provinces of an empire, ancient nations whose sovereignty was stolen? that were able to throw off imperial dictatorship and the command economy. He gave a rather lengthy description of democratic value, hinting that democracy is now being threatened, although without stating directly where that threat was coming from. ?I don't think I have to mention what the alternative is [to democracy]. You have all seen it and lived through it.? He went one to list centralized control, intimidation of political opponents, merciless corruption, ever-present violence, national decline, economic stagnation ?that no rational person could want.?

Cheney ended his speech by mentioning the July G8 summit in St. Petersburg. The leading developed countries will make it clear to Russia there that it has nothing to fear and can only win if there will be a ?strong democratic state? within its borders. In other words, an answer is expected from Russia at the G8 summit about which of the two relationships with the West it has chosen. That is bad news for the Kremlin, which has grandiose political and propagandistic plans of its own for the summit.

by  Mikhail Zygar
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 05, 2006, 03:14:45 PM
More on this:

China, Russia, U.S.: Washington's Strategic Insults

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at a conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, on May 4, delivering a critical message toward Russia that raised Cold War imagery and urged Moscow and its allies to pursue democracy. The speech followed hard on the heels of "accidental" insults Washington dealt to Chinese President Hu Jintao on his recent White House visit. The incidents' timing suggests Washington is signaling its two largest competitors that though it may be preoccupied with domestic challenges and foreign entanglements, they had best not imagine they have free rein globally in the last years of the Bush administration.


U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at the Common Vision For a Common Neighborhood conference of Baltic and Black Sea states in Vilnius, Lithuania, on May 4, delivering a very clear and critical message toward Russia, raising Cold War imagery and individuals and urging Moscow and its allies to pursue the path toward democracy.

Though the official Kremlin reaction has been muted, Russian media, political analysts and politicians have been much more forthcoming in their response, denouncing Cheney's remarks. Russian online daily Kommersant said Cheney effectively asserted that "Russia faces the choice of 'returning to democracy' or 'becoming an enemy.'" An analyst cited by Interfax said the speech "eliminates the vestiges of strategic partnership between Russia and the United States." Others decried the tough U.S. stance, seen as a reversal of the relationship forged between Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While Moscow has tried to play down the speech, Cheney's remarks have clearly raised hackles. The U.S. vice president's speech, coming from a podium in Lithuania, a former Soviet republic turned EU and NATO member, simply poured salt on the wounds created by the sharp words.

Cheney's comments follow close on the heels of the White House's "accidental" humiliation of Chinese President Hu Jintao in Washington, D.C., which included both referring to mainland China by Taiwan's moniker, the Republic of China, and allowing a three-minute harangue from a Falun Gong activist on the White House grounds during Hu's welcome address. It seems that Washington has now opened up both barrels and is taking shots at Russia and China. Apparently, Washington is providing a reminder that though the Bush administration might be facing domestic political troubles, and though U.S. forces are still in Iraq, the United States is not too distracted to pay attention to global affairs.

As we noted in our annual forecast, 2006 will be defined by the confrontation between the United States and Russia and China. Russia is growing more assertive in its near abroad, seeking to reverse geopolitical losses incurred during the early stages of the U.S.-jihadist war with Washington's moves into Central Asia and the U.S.-inspired (if not instigated) "color revolutions" around the Russian periphery. China is seeking to balance internal economic instabilities and social unrest by positioning itself elsewhere in the world, seeking levers to use to keep Washington off balance, or at least keep the United States from taking advantage of internal Chinese weaknesses.

Both Russia and China have seen themselves as having a stronger position with the declining poll numbers for Bush, the internal political wrangling in the United States during the 2006 midterm election year and the continued U.S. military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iran issue has simply added one more distraction, as North Korea was before, leaving Beijing and Moscow more room to push their own international agendas without much U.S. resistance.

For its part, Washington has refrained from significant pushes against Russia and China, instead needling where the opportunity presented itself and offering places for cooperation -- in essence seeking to shape, rather than contain, the two Eurasian powers. But Washington has recently viewed Russian and Chinese actions as going perhaps a few steps too far.

Because Russia is a major energy supplier, it feels a certain amount of invincibility. Russia has reasserted its presence in the near abroad, seeking to protect its flanks. In Ukraine, turning off the natural gas this January was only one of the steps designed to bring the country back into the fold. After March 26 parliamentary elections, the pro-Russian Party of Regions won the most votes, proving that affinity for its neighbor is still strong.

Russia has made inroads into Central Asia as well -- Uzbekistan's recent expulsion of U.S. air bases and deals with Russian state-owned monopoly Gazprom are just some examples. Even the Kyrgyz government, installed after the "Tulip Revolution," has been careful to be on good terms with Moscow.

Russia's near-complete domination of Belarus, however, has paid off in the re-election of President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Minsk will continue to faithfully follow Moscow, despite Gazprom's proposed rate hikes.

Anti-Russian sentiment remains strong in the first color revolution state, Georgia. Russian efforts to sabotage its territorial integrity by supporting secessionist enclaves have not yet produced results, and agricultural embargoes have only caused Tbilisi to strengthen its anti-Russian rhetoric.

For its part, China has been on a global quest for new energy resources, as well as other raw materials. Beijing has made strong inroads into Africa, is working with Latin America, and is increasing its ties throughout the Middle East. In Southeast Asia, China has largely overcome the earlier perception that it was too big a player, and cooperation with Southeast Asian states is emerging.

China's economic heft is growing rapidly, and while there are internal contradictions within the middle kingdom, China's absorption of raw materials and primary commodities, its ability to influence global commodity prices, and its widening trade imbalance with the United States continue to create rifts in its relationship with the United States. Beijing's conflicts with U.S.-ally Japan, and China's tightening ties with South Korea coming while it fails to bring North Korea back to the bargaining table, are threatening to begin reshaping the Northeast Asian security balance -- at least on the regional level.

Washington's twin rhetorical hits at Russia and China are a reminder to these two regional powers that the United States may seem distracted, but it is certainly well-aware of what is going on globally, and not afraid to pick a fight with either China or Russia -- apparently even simultaneously. This is essentially intended to get Moscow and Beijing to rethink their current strategic planning, to make sure China and Russia do not think they have a free run until the end of the Bush term in two years.

Both the diplomatic slap in Hu's face and Cheney's shot at Moscow have been brushed aside by Washington as insignificant; the Chinese affront being called a mistake and Cheney's speech simply a reaffirmation of the spread of democracy. Washington is withholding the more meaty levers, such as reinvesting money and planners in the color revolutions or stepping back and letting Congress slap a few tariffs on Chinese goods -- but the option of using stronger levers is obviously there.

Beijing and China have accepted these affronts fairly quietly, but internally they are contemplating whether Washington is serious or bluffing. Both can be expected to take steps -- both positive and negative -- to test this. And the first clash could come at the upcoming meeting of the G-8.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 08, 2006, 08:56:20 AM
TOTALLY ignores the issue of Iranian nukes and related matters, but full of interesting observations by an Indian diplomat:

Central Asia
     May 9, 2006  
 Cheney puts Moscow to the hardness test
By M K Bhadrakumar

Addressing a gathering of leaders from the Baltic states and eastern and southeastern Europe in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius last week, US Vice President Dick Cheney harshly criticized the Kremlin for rolling back human rights and backsliding on democracy as well as using energy as a weapon to browbeat Russia's neighbors.

"No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation," Cheney told the

gathering, in remarks intended to be heard in the Kremlin.

He alleged that the Russian government had "unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of her people" and had taken other actions that might adversely affect relations with other countries. "Russia has a choice to make," Cheney warned, "None of us believes that Russia is fated to become an enemy."

Such harsh public denunciation of Russia by a top US government official is unusual. The media speculation, therefore, was swift, characterizing Cheney's Vilnius speech as a modern-day version of Winston Churchill's famous "Iron Curtain" speech 60 years ago. Yet there was something contrived about Cheney's outburst.

Cheney, the ex-boss of Halliburton, the realist par excellence, does not usually lose sleep over lofty ideals of democracy and freedom. All roads, in his straightforward world view, lead inevitably to Mammon.

Moscow seems to have chosen to take Cheney's speech in its stride. When asked how Cheney would compare to Churchill, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was dismissive: "I would rather not compare these politicians or give this sort of ratings." A middle-level Kremlin functionary said Cheney's speech was "completely incomprehensible". [1]

Moscow apparently chose not to "revive the escalation mechanism", as the influential president of the Politika Fund, Vyacheslav Nikonov, put it. "Once this mechanism is set in motion, it's unclear how it can be stopped, and then the Cold War may start looming somewhere on the horizon," Nikonov said.

Cheney was putting Moscow to a "hardness test". To what extent will Moscow accommodate US business interests in the Russian energy sector? Will Moscow persevere, no matter what it takes, with efforts to be an influential player on the world stage? Will it persist in its present course of broadening and deepening its strategic partnership with Beijing? Will it continue establishing energy cooperation bilaterally with the European capitals as if the trans-Atlantic alliance didn't exist? Finally, what should be the limits of Russia's "Eurasian" options?

Cheney's speech exhibits a high degree of exasperation in Washington that Moscow has somehow outmaneuvered it in recent years. The central issue is certainly energy, a subject close to Cheney's heart. Some major decisions are in the pipeline, as it were. For the Bush administration with its close ties with the US oil industry, this is a truly defining moment.

The single most important issue awaiting a decision by Putin concerns the Shtokman gas fields in the Barents Sea. It will be by far Russia's biggest energy deal for a while. The gas fields hold 3.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, which is equivalent to about seven times the entire annual consumption of the European Union member countries and which is estimated to supply Russia's exports to the United States for 50 years.

The first phase of the project itself would cost US$12 billion to $14 billion. The gas from the deposit will be pumped through the North European Gas Pipeline to Europe, but Russia is prepared to supply liquefied gas to the US as well provided agreeable conditions can be negotiated. The Americans are extremely keen to get the gas.

Moscow is to award a minority stake to one or more foreign partners to be picked from a short list that includes Chevron and ConocoPhillips of the United States, Norsk Hydro and Statoil of Norway, and Total of France. The foreign companies are vying with one another to offer competitive terms to Moscow.

The Russian side is seeking reciprocal rights for Gazprom to expand into the foreign markets. The retail market for energy in the US or Europe can be highly lucrative. (According to a study undertaken by Goldman Sachs, the retail price for gas in France is 1.9 times that of the wholesale price. The corresponding ratio is 6.7 times in Denmark. On the average, European end users currently pay more than $500 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas for what costs their distributors about $230.)

The French and Norwegian bidders for Shtokman are inclined to offer reciprocal business for Gazprom. (German companies offered similar reciprocal deals for Russia in the North European Gas Pipeline project.)

Gazprom is seeking a similar reciprocal deal from Chevron. Russia maintains that "security of demand" is to be guaranteed on par with "security of supply" because the cost of energy production and transport is constantly escalating. The "asset swap" that Russia is offering to its energy customers in essence involves giving its European (and US) partners access to its upstream reserves in return for Russian companies participating in European downstream and power generation.

But the United States remains wary of granting any foothold to Russian companies in the US downstream market. (In any case, the US Congress would unlikely favor any such proposal.) Thus the US would rather like the EU to take a unified position - and has raised the supposed risk of "excessive" energy dependence on Russia. The European Commission has lately proposed a single EU-Russia framework agreement under which Gazprom would have to sell its gas at the EU border.

But this is easier said than done. Putin sarcastically referred to the paradigm when he said recently in Tomsk, "We keep hearing the danger of becoming dependent on Russia, and about the need to restrict the access of Russian companies ... When they [foreign companies such as Chevron] come here, it is called 'investment' and 'globalization', but when we plan to go somewhere, what is it? It is called 'expansion of Russian companies'. We need to agree on common rules of the game."

Washington is annoyed that Moscow has not caved in despite high-level US political intervention, and is holding back a decision on the Shtokman gas fields. Meanwhile, the recent agreements between Gazprom and its German partners and likely progress in the Russian moves to acquire energy assets in Italy, the Netherlands, Britain, Hungary and other countries in Europe are further strengthening Russia's negotiating hand.

Equally, Washington apprehends an incremental erosion of its trans-Atlantic leadership if Russia continues to firm up energy cooperation at the bilateral level with the European countries. This would have serious consequences for the United States' global domination. The Vilnius forum itself was a hasty attempt at establishing US leadership over an increasingly disparate, quarrelsome flock.

Not only that: at some point, European countries may actually begin to resent the United States' intrusive attitude on issues concerning their energy security. European opinion itself is far from consensual either. In an interview with Financial Times recently, Wulf Bernotat, the chief executive officer of Eon (Germany's largest gas and electricity company), pointed out, "Russia has a pipeline system geared entirely toward the West. They make their money exclusively from exports; they don't make any in Russia itself. So they need the exports to be profitable to be able to finance the investments needed to maintain such a high level of production ...

"They [Russia] have got the stuff we want and need. I find the Gazprom supply debate completely exaggerated and overblown. It is, to be frank, absolute nonsense."

A second concern of Washington's "energy dialogue" with Moscow involves Russia's growing cooperation with China. The March report of the Task Force of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the influential US think-tank, on the directions of US-Russian relations had an intriguing passage: "The future policy and development of Russia and China will determine whether the group of the leading world powers is divided into two blocs based on differences in political regime ... or even into two military blocs. So far it is still a long way to such a development of events, but there are certain aspects of Russian-Chinese relations that in the event of a rapid expansion of cooperation would bolster these tendencies."

The CFR report was so paranoid about Russia-China cooperation that it urged Washington to "point out to the Russian leadership the advantages of membership in a 'single club' of great powers, as well as the threats that would arise if it were divided".

The heart of the matter is that so long as China remains critically dependent on energy supplies from the Persian Gulf region, it will remain vulnerable to US pressures. Washington calculates that the long supply routes through the Strait of Malacca can be easily throttled, thus bringing China's economy to its heels if it chooses to do so at any given point.

In the overall US geostrategy, therefore, China must be prevented from obtaining oil bypassing the Malacca transit zone. China can break out of this extreme vulnerability to US blackmail only if it succeeds in lining up alternative sources of energy transiting through territories that are beyond the United States' reach.

Three such potential sources exist - Russia, Central Asian countries, and Iran. Washington had assumed that for a variety of reasons, there were insurmountable obstacles to any meaningful advancement of Sino-Russian cooperation. In retrospect, Washington grossly miscalculated by subscribing to its own propaganda about the inherent contradictions in a Sino-Russian rapprochement.

But there is a realization now, bordering on disquiet, in Washington that Russia and China have reached a level of mutual understanding on regional and international issues that may have already begun to work against US global domination.

This is particularly evident in the field of energy. Russia is keen to secure a toehold in the lucrative Chinese market, so much so that that its oil-pipeline company Transneft is considering forthwith supplying 1.3 million tons oil from West Siberia through Kazakhstan (the Atasu-Alanshankou pipeline) to China pending the construction of Russia's own Pacific oil pipeline. (The thesis of US strategic "experts" was all along that Russia and China would compete over energy.) Russia's No 1 oil company Rosneft is getting ready to enter the Chinese retail market.

China is rapidly expanding its energy cooperation in the Central Asian region - another energy source that lies far beyond the long arm of US geopolitical manipulation. Meanwhile, the Financial Times recently reported that Iran is also entering as a protagonist in the game. The FT report warned: "Analysts are concerned that an overall hardening of US policy towards Moscow could drive Russia and Iran, which together hold nearly half the world's gas reserves, into an energy-based alliance. A senior financier told the FT that Iran, which is competing with Gazprom to provide gas to the Caucasus, was considering a switch in policy by selling its gas to Russia through Central Asia because the US was blocking its access to Europe and India."

Now, that's just a step away from Iran linking up with the Chinese market via Central Asia. With the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline in the doldrums because of US pressure, Iran is at liberty to focus on China as its principal Asian market for natural gas.

If the US had not been foolish enough to torpedo the EU-3 (Britain, France and Germany) efforts aimed at striking an agreement on the Iran nuclear issue, that would have led to an improved energy dialogue between Europe and Iran - making Iran a rival to Russia on the European gas market. Today, on the other hand, Russia (and China) is likely to seize the initiative - though Iran's own preference would have been Western Europe. As Iran would see it, an agreement with Western Europe would have obtained for it a broad political and economic rehabilitation in the international community.

There was a time not too long ago when Gazprom wanted to enter Iran's gas fields, but Tehran balked, and began insisting that any Russian-Iranian cooperation should also include transit projects. Iran is an ambitious country. But the situation is radically different today because of shortsighted US policies toward Iran.

The specter that is now haunting the US is the likely admission of Iran as a full member in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Will that happen at the forthcoming SCO meeting on June 15? Possibly. The only counter that US would have is to go ahead and militarily occupy Iran.

The third big "happening" on the Russian energy front that Washington finds disconcerting is the expected $20 billion initial public offering of Rosneft, Russia's state-owned oil company, through the London Stock Exchange. The deal could turn out to be the biggest IPO in history.

The Wall Street Journal reported, "Advisers including Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan took Rosneft president Sergei Bogdanchikov to London in February for a presentation. So many fund managers and analysts turned up that some had to stand through lunch."

The Journal commented: "The offering, which could come as early as July, would be much more than a financial triumph for the Kremlin ... a resounding endorsement of the Kremlin's drive to retake control of the strategic energy sector in a country that is the world's top producer of natural gas and No 2 in oil. At a time of soaring oil prices, President Vladimir Putin sees Russia's energy wealth as a critical source of international influence.

"Less than a decade ago, Russia defaulted on tens of billions of dollars in foreign debt, decimating investors' holdings and leading many never to return. Now, the Russian stock market is one of the world's best performers."

Washington has gone ballistic. American billionaire-financier George Soros (who also funds "color revolutions") warned foreign investors to steer clear of the flotation. Buying the Rosneft stock, Soros warned, would legitimize Putin's "authoritarian regime" - and "cement" the West's growing energy dependence on Russia. The paradox is that Rosneft's IPO is a positive sign that Russia wants to integrate with the West. But the US does not want this sort of "integration" of Russia with the Western world.

Again, Morgan Stanley Investment Bank just reported that the cost of one share of Gazprom is due to touch $140. That means the total exchange capitalization of Gazprom will add up to $330 billion. This comes on the heels of the emergence of Gazprom as one of the three largest companies in the world - even ahead of Microsoft.

Meanwhile, Russia has offered to pay back the entire foreign debt of the old Soviet Union (amounting to $29 billion) to the Paris Club within this year by itself. According to the estimates of the Goldman Sachs Investment Bank, in the next 20 years Russia is sure to emerge as the economically most powerful country in Europe, with a gross national product of $3 trillion.

Clearly, Russia's "globalization" is proving successful on several fronts. Washington must feel vindicated. But it isn't the sort of "globalization" that the administration of US president Bill Clinton had in mind when it encouraged Boris Yeltsin's Russia to "globalize". When Washington said Russian economy must "globalize", it actually meant Russia must surrender its sovereignty over economic policies and allow "asset-stripping".

Why is the US so upset over the Rosneft IPO or Gazprom's success story? First and foremost, that has a crucial bearing on the legislation in the pipeline in Russia regarding foreign investment. Russia's critical need of investments in the oil and gas industry does not need reiteration. The US had expected that the need of foreign investment alone would eventually prompt Russia to transfer mineral resources to foreign partners to exploit - in effect, by abandoning Russia's sovereign rights. But Russia's oil and gas industry is increasingly finding itself in a position to mobilize investment capital on its own terms.

Second comes the issue of extraction. The growth in Russia's oil and gas extraction has slowed down considerably recently. For meeting the requirements of the growing domestic market as well as for fulfilling the export commitments to Europe (and Asia-Pacific), Russia simply has to concentrate on boosting extraction. This means active incorporation of deposits in East Siberia and the Far East - requiring huge inputs of capital.

A third aspect regards technology. Russia clearly needs Western partners in carrying out extraction involving high technology in difficult conditions. A fourth aspect concerns transport links. The old pipeline system of the Soviet era needs to be replaced, and new lines laid both toward Europe and toward the Pacific.

All these factors affecting the future growth and development of Russia's energy industry are interconnected, and a holistic approach toward them becomes possible only if the industry generates sufficient levels of surplus capital for making investments.

Thus, from the US perspective, its calculations of gaining control over Russia's energy reserves are proving to be a pipe dream. Washington puts the "blame" for this squarely on Putin. The slide began with Putin's crackdown on Yukos and the "oligarchs" - at a moment when US oil majors were hardly inches away from capturing the heights in Russia's energy industry.

Cheney's diatribe in Vilnius last week bears testimony to the degree of frustration in Washington that it has been badly outmaneuvered. Putin depended on Russia's intellectual reserves rather than resort to grandstanding, while steering Russia's transition to an influential and energetic state. The transition was hardly noticeable.

Yet Moscow continues to prevent manifestations of "anti-Americanism" in its policies. Washington, for its part, must somehow keep an extended (and increasingly unwieldy) Euro-Atlantic alliance afloat (under its leadership, of course) despite Moscow's point-blank refusal to lend itself to an enemy image.

1. The following is an official translation of comments by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov to the Russian electronic media regarding US Vice President Richard Cheney's remarks in Vilnius.
I think that a person who holds such a high government post [Cheney] should have the full amount of objective information, but everything indicates he was let down by his assistants or advisers. Thus, for example, we read that opponents of reform in Russia "are seeking to reverse the gains of the last decade". I think there is no need to explain to the Russian people in detail what kind of gains those were, when the country had actually found itself on the brink of disintegration. What the Russian leadership is doing now is to ensure that Russia is preserved as a unified, integral, strong state in the interests of its citizens.

Or take the statement that no legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail. We have heard such remarks from the lips of politicians lower in rank, but the US vice president surely has to have the information that over the last 40 years our country, either the USSR or the Russian Federation, has never breached any contract for the supply of oil and gas abroad. It is obvious that this information somehow failed to be conveyed to the vice president likewise.

As to the charges that Russia's government has taken actions that "undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor", what is there to say? In the early 1990s it was at the cost of Russian peacekeepers' lives that the bloodshed was halted both in Georgia and in Moldova, thus saving the territorial integrity of these states. Not to remember that is, I would say, sacrilegious.

Where I can agree with Mr Cheney is that he would like to see the world as a community of sovereign democracies. Russia wants to be and is becoming a sovereign, strong and stable democracy and expects that as such it will perceived in the world arena as an equal partner without whose involvement not one global problem can be solved today.

I think that such remarks will not undermine the efforts which we together with the US, together with Europe and together with other leading countries have been making in order to build a just world without conflicts where all countries will be able to develop in the conditions of stability and democracy; for democracy is needed not only within a state, but also on the international scene. Let us not forget about this.
M K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for more than 29 years, with postings as ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-98) and to Turkey (1998-2001).

(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)
Title: Sino-Saudi Symbiosis
Post by: buzwardo on May 16, 2006, 08:20:40 PM
Sino-Saudi Symbiosis

By Fred Stakelbeck : BIO| 17 May 2006

Chinese President Hu Jintao's first visit to Riyadh last month to meet with Saudi King Abdullah further strengthened what has become an increasingly dynamic bilateral relationship. "This [visit] will further strengthen the friendship between our two countries and our two peoples as well as expand strategic and friendly cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia," said President Hu. The president's visit comes only three months after King Abdullah's trip to China, the first by a Saudi leader since diplomatic relations were established in 1990.

Sino-Saudi cooperation in the areas of defense, trade, transportation and energy has grown dramatically over the past year, with bilateral trade reaching US$15 billion in 2005, up from US$10 billion in 2004. In the first two months of 2006 alone, bilateral trade reached $2.7 billion, up 43 percent from the same period in 2005.

The driving force behind improving Sino-Saudi relations is China's unrelenting need for energy to sustain its unprecedented 25-year economic expansion. "I think China's strategic interests in the Middle East are clear to all," said Wang Shijie, China's special envoy to the Middle East. According to the Oil and Gas Journal, a market intelligence magazine, Saudi Arabia holds approximately 262 billion barrels of proven oil reserves with crude production running slightly over 10 million barrels per day (bpd). The country also holds natural gas reserves of 235 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), ranking it fourth in the world after Russia, Iran and Qatar.

Saudi Arabia's combined oil and natural gas reserves make it an extremely attractive energy partner for China. China has quickly surpassed Asian rival Japan to become the world's second largest consumer of energy behind only the U.S., with year-to-year increases in oil demand averaging one million barrels per day. Consequently, Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has become an increasingly important energy provider for China, accounting for 17 percent of all Chinese oil imports in 2005, or approximately 440,000 barrels per day.

Several joint Sino-Saudi energy development and exploration projects are currently underway or under consideration. China's state-controlled energy conglomerate Sinopec won natural gas exploration rights in the Rub al-Khali Basin in 2004, while Saudi Arabia has agreed to help China upgrade its refinery capacity with the construction of a natural gas refinery in the country's Fujian Province. Discussions surrounding the creation of a strategic oil reserve in southeast China using Saudi crude and the construction of a US$9.3 billion refinery and petrochemical plant in northeastern China have already begun.

For Saudi Arabia, interest in Asia as an energy partner has accelerated over the past year. Asian countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and India already receive 60 percent of all Saudi crude exports and that figure is expected to increase in the future. As the largest potential energy market in Asia, China is an attractive market for Riyadh, as it looks for ways to diversify its customer base away from the U.S. and the EU. "We are opening new channels, we are heading east," Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal said last month.

China has also become an appealing energy partner for Saudi Arabia because of its "hands-off" approach to foreign policy which focuses more on economics and less on political ideology. Arab governments are progressively more wary of Washington's "strings attached" foreign policy that calls for measurable improvement in areas such as democratic reforms, human rights and legal system reform before aid is guaranteed. As a result, a growing number of Arab governments view Beijing as a legitimate option to U.S. control and oversight.

As Sino-Saudi relations have become closer, U.S.-Saudi relations have become more detached and strained. It is no secret that both countries disagree on a number of issues such as Iraq, Iran and Israel-Palestinian relations which continue to complicate the relationship. In addition, the recent UAE-based Dubai Ports World controversy has soured a number of Middle East governments on cooperative agreements with U.S.-based companies. As a result, Middle East countries are more likely now than ever before to entertain offers made by Chinese or other Asian business interests.

For the U.S., China's involvement in Saudi Arabia is an emerging national security concern. In particular, reports that arms agreements were signed by Beijing and Riyadh last month permitting the exchange of Chinese weapons and technology for greater access to Saudi crude are alarming. Moreover, the Saudis have reportedly expressed an interest in replacing their aging CSS2 intermediate-range missile force with more modern Chinese-designed missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The sale of missile technology and sophisticated weapons by Beijing to countries such as Iran, Syria, Libya and the Sudan is already a highly-charged issue for Washington; adding Saudi Arabia to the list of Chinese military clients will certainly elicit a strong response form the Bush administration as well. To counter China's growing influence in Saudi Arabia, Washington will likely arrange for high-level diplomatic meetings in the coming months to clarify existing strategic arrangements and identify areas for possible revision. Discussions covering new or accelerated U.S. defense sales aimed at modernizing the Saudi armed forces, expanded intelligence sharing capabilities, increased U.S. economic investment and trade incentives and greater cooperation in the areas of energy research and development are possible. Above all, the Bush administration will stress its own superior abilities to supply Riyadh with the necessary intelligence and military hardware to repel any prospective regional threat, namely, Iran.

Although both the U.S. and China are not engaged in open conflict, both countries' dependence on Middle East oil makes open confrontation possible. China has concluded that unobstructed access to Middle East oil and natural gas is integral for its continued economic expansion. This, coupled with the diminished prospects for greater U.S. energy diversification by the end of the decade, has resulted in an inevitable global race for precious resources. Tensions will slowly rise and competition will become more acute, as traditional strategic relationships are tested and reconfigured to meet existing challenges.

King Abdullah's close relationship with Beijing reflects a gradual movement by Riyadh away from the West towards the East. A general undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the Iraq War and U.S. foreign policy in general now saturates the Middle East. "We need to maintain links to America, but we are not a gas station," noted Khaled al-Maeena, editor of the Arab News daily. China's insatiable appetite for energy and Saudi Arabia's desire to explore new defense and energy partnerships will influence U.S. Middle East policy in the years ahead.

Fred Stakelbeck is an expert on bilateral and trilateral alliances as they relate to China foreign policy. His writings address the implications of China's emerging regional and global strategic influence and relationships upon U.S. national security. He can be reached at
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 24, 2006, 01:30:31 PM
Geopolitical Diary: The Pentagon's View of China

The U.S. Defense Department has released its annual report on China. The report is not so much a snapshot of Chinese military capabilities as a snapshot of U.S. perceptions of China's military. As such, it is an important document. If the United States believes the things the Defense Department says that China is doing, it will have to reconfigure its strategic posture to cope. And we do not regard this document as a Washington throwaway: It is a genuine representation of American views on Chinese strategy. The United States views China as threatening American control of sea lanes and as considering a first-use option for nuclear weapons. These strike at the core of American strategic interests.

According to the study, the Chinese remain focused on the Taiwan question. They have stationed almost 800 short-range missiles at garrisons opposite Taiwan. Beijing, however, understands that the main challenge to any Chinese attack on Taiwan remains the U.S. Navy. More important, so long as the U.S. Navy controls the waters near China, the country will remain vulnerable to a naval blockade. This did not matter to Maoist China, whose international trade was relatively unimportant. However, for a China that is deeply engaged in international trade, most of it by sea, U.S. naval capabilities present a serious potential challenge to its interests.

The Chinese, according to this report, are not responding by building a fleet capable of challenging the Americans -- something that would take too long and be too technologically daunting and expensive. Rather, the Chinese are deploying long-range missiles designed to attack U.S. surface vessels and submarines, as far out as Guam. According to the report, China "is engaged in a sustained effort to interdict, at long ranges, aircraft carrier and expeditionary strike groups that might deploy to the western Pacific." China reportedly is developing its own weaponry as well as buying Russian systems. According to Peter W. Rodman, assistant secretary of defense, the Chinese are developing these weapons for "contingencies other than Taiwan."

Rodman also said that while the United States believes China's pledge that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons, the Defense Department is concerned that as Chinese capabilities evolve and strategic realities shift, Beijing's doctrine might shift as well. The DoD view is that there is a major debate under way in China on the subject right now.

From the American point of view, therefore, China is threatening U.S. naval hegemony as well as threatening to become more dangerous with its nuclear force. Either of these views, if sincerely held, means that the United States must act to counter the threat. Obviously, a China capable of and prepared to engage in a first strike represents a crisis of the first order. However, even if that is saber-rattling, the threat that the Chinese are posing to U.S. control of sea lanes is of enormous geopolitical significance.

The United States has dominated the world's oceans since the end of World War II. This has been the foundation of American national security. The Soviets tried and failed to challenge American naval power. As a result, the United States projects its force outward. Others cannot project force inward upon the United States, except as terrorists or in a nuclear strike. But if the Chinese are able to neutralize the U.S. Navy to a distance of several thousand miles from China's coast, the regional balance obviously would be shifted. If the Chinese can increase that range and combine it with a first-strike capability, the entire balance of military power shifts: Nuclear parity plus an open contest for maritime hegemony would introduce an entirely new era.

What the DoD document has said is that the fundamental long-term threat to American interests and security is not the intermittent threat of terrorist strikes by Islamist militants, but the emerging threat to the global naval and nuclear balance that is posed by China. Put differently, if the Pentagon really believes this report, it is fighting the wrong war in the wrong place. The jihadists are a threat to American lives, but China threatens fundamental, global American interests.

Whether the Pentagon's view of the Chinese threat is accurate or not is not the key point right now. That this is the view of the Chinese threat means everything. If this is the view, then it follows that U.S. military expenditures should not go toward Iraq and Afghanistan, but toward securing U.S. control of the western Pacific sea lanes through increased technologies focused on naval and space power.

Obviously, DoD is not suddenly trying to back out of Iraq and Afghanistan. But Defense officials certainly are saying -- whether they know it or not -- that the time has come to close out the war with the jihadists and shift emphasis to containing Chinese power projection. Interestingly, that was the view that Donald Rumsfeld came into office with, before 9-11 happened. He seems to be saying --and we'd bet he reviewed and approved this document -- that it is time to return to those roots.

Not now, but over the next few years, this view will generate a completely different U.S. military posture.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: xtremekali on June 05, 2006, 05:58:40 AM
May 31, 2006:
Disarming Warlords a Test for Colombia's Uribe (back to list)    
International Analysis Alert Level: Elevated


Rafael says his life as a Colombian paramilitary fighter left him with nothing but dead friends and seven bullet scars. So a year ago he traded fighting for farming at a ranch near Bogota in a program set up by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to demobilize illegal armed groups and prepare them to return to civilian life. "We exchanged guns for shovels," said Rafael, 25, showing a bullet fragment lodged in his leg. "We've changed a lot of things, like the idea we can't live without the war." Full Story

TRC Analysis:
On May 28, 2006, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was reelected overwhelmingly to the presidency, securing a better than expected 62 percent of the popular vote. Pundits largely contribute this unprecedented victory to the substantial decrease in criminal and terrorist activity in Colombia (Country Profile) since 2002 and the reinvigoration of the Colombian economy?a feat largely attributable to record levels of US (Country Profile) military and economic assistance. However, a closer examination reveals a country in flux, alternating between civil war and democratic-capitalistic growth, with international observers not yet sure in which direction the state might head. What is determinable, however, is the awesome power Uribe has acquired in four years and his usage of such power to generate a "successful" conclusion to disarmament talks with Colombia's largest paramilitary group, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) (Group Profile). Granting the AUC a controversial de facto amnesty, Uribe's second term rests largely on the peaceful reintegration of AUC forces into the general populace, while curtailing their illicit narcotics enterprises.

Uribe, throughout the campaign, cited the demobilization of more than 30,000 paramilitary fighters as a key success in ameliorating the lives of Colombians. Local and international human rights groups, however, continue to wonder if demobilization came at far too great a price. Critics have condemned the agreed upon framework law as too lenient toward militia leaders accused of drug trafficking and civilian massacres (WAR Report). The framework law, as passed by the Colombian Congress, calls for AUC members found guilty of crimes against humanity to serve five- to eight-year prison terms, minus credits for good behavior and time spent negotiating. Imprisonment would likely be in some form of "house arrest" in a rural hacienda, similar to the house arrest of renowned drug lord Pablo Escobar. Additionally, disarmed paramilitary fighters would not be subject to extradition agreements with the United States (Country Profile), as membership in a paramilitary group was declared a "political crime" (see the May 17, 2006 Intel Report concerning the AUC disarmament framework).

The Colombian populace granted Uribe considerable leeway throughout the demobilization process, believing leniency was far better than a continued two front war. However, like Uribe and the Colombian Congress, Colombians believed AUC paramilitary personnel would reintegrate peacefully into the general populace, curtailing past nefarious activities. As recent events now indicate, however, factions within the AUC have chosen to continue their war against alleged leftist subversives.

As reported by Amnesty International, paramilitary groups have sent several death threats to prominent human rights organizations that work on issues relating to communities forcibly displaced by the armed conflict in Colombia. The group, Colombia Libre de Comunistas (Colombia Free of Communists), is thought to have the backing the Colombian military, not an unprecedented occurrence in Colombia, as paramilitary groups and the Colombian military have routinely worked in conjunction. The threat was sent via email to 20 organizations working in Colombia and warns "you are going to know something more about us now that we are to continue in power?along with the legitimate Colombian armed forces clearing our countryside and cities of grovellers like you." Human rights organizations are frequently labeled as guerrilla collaborators by paramilitary units and are targeted for assassination or forced disappearance.

Amnesty agreements are predicated on the belief that it is impossible to eliminate all terrorists, necessitating a means of enticing terrorists to terminate their connections to the group. Franco Ferracuti, professor of criminological medicine and of forensic psychiatry at the University of Rome, suggests the state must encourage dissent within the terrorist group and the defection from it, providing a way out. Ferracuti believes this is best achieved by providing a place within the country's political system for members of society with dissenting views. Unfortunately, Ferracuti's writing was referencing ideological terrorism in general and leftist terrorism in particular. The AUC is neither ideological per se nor leftist in nature. Although generally labeled as right wing, the AUC paramilitary has maturated into a narco-trafficking syndicate with certain limited elements remaining devoted to the elimination of leftist guerrillas but emphatically engaged in the pursuit of profit.

Ferracuti, referencing the Italian (Country Profile) government's success in alluring Red Brigade (Group Profile) members to defect, believed a lenient and flexible judicial system would facilitate this exit. However, such amnesties may not be so successful for the Colombian government, as the AUC has a historical role within Colombian politics, eliminating the allure of political participation. Rather than offering political participation, Uribe must allow for the possibility of extradition to the US if AUC members do not discontinue narcotics operations. By allowing for such possibilities, Uribe provides the incentive to abide by disarmament and reintegration agreements. Further, Uribe must adamantly inform AUC personnel that any rearmament or continuation of narco-operations will result in the elimination of the agreed upon framework law. Without such threats, AUC remobilization is likely occur in the near-term.

By Brent Heminger, TRC Staff

Primary Related Group:
Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC)  

Secondary Related Group:
Red Brigades (BR)  

Tertiary Related Group:
Title: Russia's Pride & Precedents
Post by: buzwardo on June 07, 2006, 04:00:49 PM
Russian Geopolitik
Stanford Review ^ | June 2, 2006 | Tucker Herbert and Diane Raub

Today?s Russia is a strange political animal. It emerged from decades-long Soviet isolation in 1991 with the prospect of beginning a new era. Many hoped that Russia would finally join the ranks of the G8 as a Western-style democracy. The yoke of authoritarianism, however, is not easily broken. Democracies are not created overnight, and the Russian Federation is no exception. Over the past fifteen years, both Boris Yeltsin and his successor Vladimir Putin have made a great show of some democratic reforms, and the world has seen Russia undergo considerable changes. But the Russia that is emerging is not a Western-style liberal democracy.

Russia under President Putin holds fundamentally different values from the U.S., and operates under different assumptions. Justice, liberty, and equality have entirely different meanings in Putin?s democracy. Regardless of arguments that Putin uses to claim that he governs a free society, Russia receives a Freedom House ranking of 168th of 192 countries in terms of political rights. The World Economic Forum places it 84th out of 102 countries in independence of the judicial system, and Transparency International places it 126th out of 169 countries in terms of corruption.

Just how serious is this divide between Russian and American political values? The short answer is very serious. The long answer can be found in a two-pronged analysis: first, an analysis of the handling of some salient international issues facing both the U.S. and Russia; and second, a glimpse into recent Russian domestic trends which offer insight into Russian motivations and values. The Russians may pose no immediate threat to U.S. interests?but they are still sitting on the opposite side of the chess board. Some day, an issue will arise which could induce Russia to start the game: and Russia has few qualms about exerting her power against U.S. democratic interests.

Foreign Policy

Russia?s foreign policy towards its neighbors is often characterized as domineering and brusque. There is little respect for democratically elected leaders. The Kremlin keeps no secret of their preferred victor in the elections of states which they consider within their sphere. When a former-Soviet ally elects pro-Western democratic leadership, the Kremlin claims the CIA must be involved. Russia tacitly supports break-away republics in both Georgia and Moldova. Most recently, Russia has barred exports of Georgian wines and bottled water because of ?health concerns? which Russian officials have failed to validate?again, Russia does not approve of Georgia?s democratically elected leader. They affirmed their endorsement of President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan following the massacre he ordered of hundreds of political demonstrators, despite swift condemnation from the U.S. and European Union. Putin is one of the only allies of the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

With regard to the Middle East, Russia is at times pragmatic while at other times blatantly opportunistic. Their reception of the newly-elected Hamas leadership of the Palestinian Territories was a calculated and measured response that sought to contrast the reactions of the United States and the European Union, while gaining favor in the eyes of other Arab states. Although Russia is making efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, Russia does not fear for the security of Israel in the same way that the West does. Russia?s proposed sale of truck-loaded missiles to Syria is just absurd. Russia will support America?s war on terrorism, so long as it fulfills its own ends. By labeling certain groups as terrorists, Putin has justified the use of intensive force against the Chechnyans. Russia?s participation in the War on Terror has served as validation of its military buildup.

Military Might

Russian defense officials are making a concerted effort to revamp the Russian military. Most recently, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced widespread cuts in the number of conscripts and officers as part of an effort to make the army more efficient and professional. Moscow is also pouring resources into making the remainder of the army more powerful. So far these resources have helped to deploy a strategic missile regiment of a quality ?unmatched by world rivals?; to develop a new nuclear-powered submarine armed with sea-launched ballistic missiles; and to significantly increase the number and level of large-scale military exercises. In a January letter to the Wall Street Journal, Ivanov outlines the motivations behind Russia?s ?profound and comprehensive modernization? of their armed forces. He emphasizes that Russia intends to use these new forces to thwart any political processes that carry the potential to ?change the geopolitical reality in a region of Russia?s strategic interest?. He condemns ?interference in Russia?s internal affairs by foreign states?either directly or through structures that they support? and specifies that ?our top concern is the internal situation in some members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the club of former Soviet republics, and the regions around them.? Although Ivanov insists that he is not ?saber-rattling,? his words are chillingly reminiscent of Cold War rhetoric. Russia has also contributed to military buildup in other regimes. Most notable is Hugo Chavez?s Venezuela, which has purchased $54 million worth of Russian assault rifles, ammunition, and other light weapons in the past year alone.

China and Russia

A strong Sino-Russo alliance has gradually emerged over the past ten years. Russia and China have made clear their joint desire to achieve a world order that does not orbit around the American superpower. Joint military exercises have demonstrated the possibility that such an order may be reached through means other than peace. Indeed, Russia and China seem to get along better now than they did during the Cold War when they were purportedly comrades allied against the capitalist bastards of the West. In 2005, Russia and China signed a pact ending 40 years of negotiations over centuries-old border disputes. Both nations are pursuing a military buildup in the name of defense of sovereignty; desire to limit U.S. intervention in their spheres of influence; and have established their willingness to support sketchy regimes.

Nevertheless, the two powers remain in competition economically, politically, and militarily. Much of Russia?s industrial sector has been replaced by more efficient Chinese manufacturers. China has gained entrance to the World Trade Organization, while Russia has been left in the cold. China may be moving closer to the West on UN security initiatives. The world seems more patient with China?s human rights abuses than with those of Russia. Relative to Russia, China places more emphasis on its economic dominance than its military might. China has devoted vast amounts of resources to investment in infrastructure and human capital, while remaining tight-lipped about their military developments and insisting upon the peaceful nature of their rise. The future of this Sino-Russian alliance remains to be seen. Judging from recent developments, however, the two neighbors are more than willing to put aside resource squabbles in favor of good old-fashioned anti-American ideology.

Oil Politics

Russia is the world?s largest exporter of natural gas and the second-largest international oil exporter. In the past year, Putin has demonstrated that he is not skittish of using Russia?s abundant resource exports as a tool of political manipulation. For a few days in early January, Russia cut off natural-gas deliveries to the Ukraine after a dispute over an extreme price hike. Many believe this was a form of punishment directed at Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko for his Westward orientation. Border explosions in gas pipelines running to similarly democratic Georgia have also raised suspicions. The E.U. draws 25% of its natural gas from Russia. E.U. member states are watching Russian oil politics with apprehension while scrambling to diversify their foreign suppliers.

The domestic structure of the Russian oil industry is another cause for concern. In recent years, Putin has cozied up to state-run energy giants, while building an environment increasingly less friendly to the private energy industry. Russia?s oil has played a significant role in fueling 6% growth rates since 1998. Oil wealth is a double-edged sword; if international oil prices fall once again they can drag Russia?s economy with them. But for now prices are high and Russia is reaping the benefits.

?Managed Democracy?

Though Putin has continued to lower taxes and increase pro-market incentives that encourage consumer spending, some of his policies look dangerously similar to state centralization. In December 2005, one of President Putin?s economic advisors resigned in protest over declining political and economic freedom; and the heads of pro-democracy Russian NGOs complain routinely of government harassment and efforts to silence them. The government has passed legislation that declares certain international NGOs illegal in Russia. The Duma has given Putin the authority to appoint regional governors. Corruption is such that bribes regularly determine the outcomes of court cases. The lack of freedom in the press stifles accountability and calls into question the legitimacy of this democracy.

Russia is no longer the rival superpower it used to be. In the past two decades, Russia has suffered considerable losses to its military clout and political influence. From a Russian perspective, Putin can be seen as a great leader who has restored Russian pride. The economy has rebounded and boomed since he took office in 1999. His economic reforms have coincided with increased investment and consumer confidence. Russia justifies its own interference in the surrounding region by citing cases of U.S. ?intervention,? despite the more democratically-inclined nature of the approach used by the United States. This belies the fact that the two states have fundamentally different political systems and values. The emerging Russia, in some ways, is as diametrically opposed to U.S. values as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War. Putin is playing a different game than his Soviet predecessors, but it is still a game which pits U.S. interests against Russian. Putin has made clear that he does not attach the same value to liberty, democracy, and peaceful rule that the U.S. does. The U.S. must beware of these differences and understand the Russian psyche when forming U.S. foreign policy.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: xtremekali on June 26, 2006, 09:38:59 AM
Order Code RS21968
Updated June 15, 2006

CRS Report for Congress

Received through the CRS Web

Iraq: Elections, Government, and Constitution
Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division


Elections in 2005 for a transition government (January 30, 2005), a permanent
constitution (October 15), and a permanent (four year) government (December 15)
were concluded despite insurgent violence, progressively attracting Sunni participation.
On May 20, a unity government was formed as U.S. officials had been urging, but it is
not clear that the new government will be able to reduce ongoing violence. (See CRS
Report RL31339, Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security, by Kenneth Katzman.)

After Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) deposed Saddam Hussein in April 2003, the
Bush Administration linked the end of U.S. military occupation to the adoption of a new
constitution and national elections, tasks expected to take two years. Prominent Iraqis
persuaded the Administration to accelerate the process, and sovereignty was given to an
appointed government on June 28, 2004, with a government and a permanent constitution
to be voted on thereafter, as stipulated in a Transitional Administrative Law (TAL, signed
March 8, 2004 []. Elections were held on
January 30, 2005, for a 275-seat transitional National Assembly; a provincial assembly
in each of Iraq?s 18 provinces (41 seats each; 51 for Baghdad); and a Kurdistan regional
assembly (111 seats). The Assembly chose a transitional ?presidency council? (a
president and two deputies), a prime minister with executive power, and a cabinet. The
transitional Assembly was to draft a constitution by August 15, 2005, to be put to a
referendum by October 15, 2005. The draft could be vetoed with a two-thirds majority
of the votes in any three provinces. A permanent government, elected by December 15,
2005, was to take office by December 31, 2005. If the constitution was defeated, the
December 15 elections would be for another transitional National Assembly (which
would re-draft a constitution).

January 30 Elections

The January 30, 2005, elections, run by the ?Independent Electoral Commission of
Iraq? (IECI), were conducted by proportional representation (closed list); voters chose
among ?political entities? (a party, a coalition of parties, or individuals). Seats in the
Assembly and the provincial assemblies were allocated in proportion to a slate?s showing;
any entity receiving at least 1/275 of the vote (about 31,000 votes) won a seat. A female

Congressional Research Service ? The Library of Congress


candidate occupied every third position on electoral lists in order to meet the TAL?s goal
for at least 25% female membership. A total of 111 entities were on the National
Assembly ballot: 9 multi-party coalitions, 75 single parties, and 27 individual persons.
The 111 entities contained over 7,000 candidates. About 9,000 candidates, organized into
party slates, ran in provincial and Kurdish elections.

In the January 30 (and December 15) elections, Iraqis abroad were eligible to vote.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) was tapped to run the ?out-of-country
voting? (OCV) program. OCV took place in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France,
Germany, Iran, Jordan, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, UAE, Britain, Netherlands, and the United
States. (See [].) About 275,000 Iraqi expatriates (dual citizens
and anyone whose father was Iraqi) registered, and about 90% of them voted (in January).

The Iraqi government budgeted about $250 million for the January elections, of
which $130 million was offset by international donors, including about $40 million from
the European Union. Out of $21 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds, the United States
provided $40 million to improve IECI capacity; $42.5 million for Iraqi monitoring; and
$40 million for political party development, through the International Republican Institute
and National Democratic Institute. OCV cost an additional $92 million, of which $11
million was for the U.S. component, but no U.S. funds were spent for OCV.

Violence was less than anticipated; insurgents conducted about 300 attacks, but no
polling stations were overrun. Polling centers were guarded by the 130,000 members of
Iraq?s security forces, with the 150,000 U.S. forces in Iraq available for backup. Two
days prior to election day, vehicle traffic was banned, Iraq?s borders were closed, and
polling locations were confirmed. Security measures were similar for the October 15 and
December 15 votes, although with more Iraqi troops and police trained (about 215,000)
than in January. Polling places were staffed by about 200,000 Iraqis in all three elections
in 2005. International monitoring was limited to 25 observers (in the January elections)
and some European parliament members and others (December elections).

Competition and Results. The Iraqi groups that took the most active interest in
the January elections were those best positioned: Shiite Islamist parties, the Kurds, and
established secular parties. The results of this and the December 2005 election are shown
in the table below. The most prominent slate was the Shiite Islamist ?United Iraqi
Alliance? (UIA), consisting of 228 candidates from 22 parties, primarily the Supreme
Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Da?wa Party. The first
candidate on this slate was SCIRI leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim; Da?wa leader Ibrahim
al-Jafari was number seven. Even though radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr
denounced the election as a U.S.-led process, 14 of his supporters were on the UIA slate;
eight of these won seats. The two main Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
(PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) offered a joint 165-candidate list.
Interim Prime Minister Iyad al-Allawi filed a six-party, 233-candidate ?Iraqi List? led by
his Iraqi National Accord (INA) party.1

Sunni Arabs (20% of the overall population), perceiving electoral defeat and
insurgent intimidation, mostly boycotted and won only 17 seats spread over several lists.

1 See CRS Report RL31339, Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security, by Kenneth Katzman.


The relatively moderate Sunni ?Iraqi Islamic Party? (IIP) filed a 275-seat slate, but it
withdrew in December 2004. The hard-line Iraqi Muslim Scholars Association (MSA),
said to be close to the insurgents, called for a Sunni boycott.

After the election, factional bargaining over governmental posts and disagreements
over Kurdish demands for substantial autonomy delayed formation of the government.
During April and May, the factions formed a government that U.S. officials said was not
sufficiently inclusive of Sunnis, even though it had a Sunni (Hajim al-Hassani) as
Assembly speaker; a Sunni deputy president (Ghazi al-Yawar); a Sunni deputy prime
minister (Abd al-Mutlak al-Jabburi); a Sunni Defense Minister (Sadoun Dulaymi); and
five other Sunni ministers. Most major positions were dominated by Shiites and Kurds,
such as PUK leader Jalal Talabani as president and Da?wa leader Ibrahim al-Jafari as
Prime Minister; SCIRI?s Adel Abd al-Mahdi was second deputy president. In provincial
elections, the Kurds won about 60% of the seats in Tamim (Kirkuk) province (26 out of
41 seats), strengthening the Kurds? efforts to gain control of the province.

Permanent Constitution and Referendum

The next step in the transition process was the drafting of a permanent constitution.
On May 10, the National Assembly appointed a 55-member drafting committee, chaired
by SCIRI activist Humam al-Hammoudi. The committee included only two Sunni Arabs,
prompting Sunni resentment, and 15 Sunnis (and one member of the small Sabian
community) were later added as full committee members, with 10 more as advisors.
Missing the August 15 deadline to produce a draft, the talks produced a document on
August 28 that included some compromises sought by Sunnis ? the Shiites and Kurds
declared it final. The Kurds achieved a major goal; Article 136 set December 31, 2007,
as a deadline for resettling Kurds in Kirkuk and holding a referendum on whether Kirkuk
will join the Kurdish region.

The draft (Article 2)2 designated Islam ?a main source? of legislation and said no
law can contradict the ?established? provisions of Islam. Article 39 implied that families
could choose which courts to use to adjudicate family issues such as divorce and
inheritance, and Article 34 made only primary education mandatory. These provisions
provoked opposition from women who fear that the males of their families will decide to
use Sharia (Islamic law) courts for family issues and limit girls? education. The 25%
electoral goal for women was retained (Article 47). Article 89 said that federal supreme
court will include experts in Islamic law, as well as judges and experts in civil law.

The remaining controversy centered on the draft?s provision allowing two or more
provinces together to form new autonomous ?regions.? Article 117 allowed each ?region?
to organize internal security forces, which would legitimize the fielding of sectarian
(presumably Shiite) militias, in addition to the Kurds? peshmerga (allowed by the TAL).
Article 109 requires the central government to distribute oil and gas revenues from
?current fields? in proportion to population, implying that the regions might ultimately
control revenues from new energy discoveries. These provisions raised Sunni alarms,
because their areas have few known oil or gas deposits. Sunni negotiators, including
chief negotiator Saleh al-Mutlak of the National Dialogue Council opposed the draft on

2 [].


these grounds. Article 62 establishes a ?Federation Council, a second chamber of a size
with powers to be determined, presumably to review legislation affecting regions.

After further negotiations, on September 19, 2005, the National Assembly approved
a ?final? draft, with some Sunni proposals, such as a statement that Iraq has always been
part of the Arab League. However, no major changes to the provisions on new regions
were made and Sunnis registered in large numbers (70%-85% in some Sunni cities) to try
to defeat the constitution. The United Nations printed and distributed 5 million copies.
The continued Sunni opposition prompted U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad
to mediate an agreement (October 11) between Kurdish and Shiite leaders and a major
Sunni party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, providing for (Article 137) a panel to convene after
the installation of a post-December 15 election government and, within four months,
propose a bloc of amendments. The amendments require a majority Assembly vote of
approval and, within another two months, would be put to a public referendum under the
same rules as the October 15, 2005 referendum. As of its seating on March 16, 2006, the
new parliament was expected to begin work on amending the constitution, as provided
in Article 137. It has not done so, to date, and might not do so until September 2006,
according to observers. Some believe that the Sunnis are not pressing the amendment
process because they fear that the UIA will not agree to major amendments, and the
Sunnis do not want to force a political confrontation.

The October 15 referendum was relatively peaceful. Results, released October 25,
were 78.6% in favor and 21.4% against, nationwide. The Sunni provinces of Anbar and
Salahuddin had a 97% and 82% ?no? vote, respectively. Mostly Sunni Nineveh province
voted 55% ?no,? and Diyala, believed mostly Sunni, had a 51% ?yes? vote. The draft
passed because only two provinces, not three, voted ?no? by a 2/3 majority. The
Administration praised the vote as evidence that Sunnis support the political process.

December 15, 2005, Elections

In the December 15 elections, under a formula designed to enhance Sunni
representation, each province contributed a pre-determined number of seats to the new
?Council of Representatives.? Of the 275-seat body, 230 seats were allocated this way,
and there were 45 ?compensatory? seats for entities that did not win provincial seats but
garnered votes nationwide, or which would have won additional seats had the election
constituency been the whole nation. A total of 361 political ?entities? registered: 19 of
them were coalition slates (comprising 125 different political parties), and 342 were other
?entities? (parties or individual persons). About 7,500 candidates spanned all entities.

Most notably for U.S. policy, major Sunni slates competed. Most prominent was
the three-party ?Iraqi Concord Front,? comprising the IIP, the National Dialogue
Council, and the Iraqi People?s General Council. The UIA slate formally included Sadr?s
faction as well as other hard line Shiite parties Fadila (Virtue) and Iraqi Hizballah.
Ahmad Chalabi?s Iraqi National Congress ran separately. Former Prime Minister Iyad
al-Allawi?s mostly secular 15-party ?Iraqi National? slate was broader than his January
list, incorporating not only his Iraq National Accord but also several smaller secular
parties. The Kurdish alliance slate was little changed from January.

Violence was minor (about 30 incidents) as Sunni insurgents, supporting greater
Sunni representation in parliament, facilitated the voting. However, results suggest that


voters chose lists representing their sects and regions, not secular lists. The table gives
results that were court-certified on February 10, 2006. According to the constitution:
within 15 days of certification (by February 25), the Council of Representatives was to
convene to select a speaker and two deputy speakers. The Council first convened on
March 16, but without selecting these or any other positions. After choosing a speaker
the Council was to select (no deadline specified, but a thirty-day deadline for the choice
after subsequent Council elections), a presidency council for Iraq (President and two
deputies). Those choices required a 2/3 vote of the Council. Within another 15 days, the
presidency council (by consensus of its three officials) was to designate the ?nominee of
the [Council] bloc with the largest number? as Prime Minister, the post that has executive
power. Within another 30 days, the prime minister designate was to name a cabinet for
approval by majority vote of the Council.

With 181 seats combined (nearly two thirds of the Council), the UIA and the Kurds
were well positioned to continue their governing alliance. However, their alliance frayed
when the Kurds, Sunnis, and Alawi block protested the UIA?s February 12 nomination
of Jafari to continue as Prime Minister. In March 2006, attempting to promote comity,
Iraqi leaders agreed to a U.S. proposal to form extra-constitutional economic and security
councils including all factions. On April 20, Jafari agreed to step aside, breaking the
logjam. On April 22, the Council of Representatives approved Talabani to continue as
president, Abd al-Mahdi to continue as a deputy president, and another deputy president,
Concord Front/IIP leader Tariq al-Hashimi. National Dialogue Front figure Mahmoud
Mashhadani was chosen Council speaker, with deputies Khalid al-Attiya (UIA/Shiite) and
Arif Tayfour, a KDP activist (continuing in that post). Senior Da?wa Party figure Jawad
al-Maliki was named Prime Minister. Maliki, who was in exile in Syria during Saddam?s
rule, is considered a Shiite hardliner, although he now professes non-sectarianism.

New Cabinet. Amid U.S. and other congratulations, Maliki named and won
approval of a 39 member cabinet (including deputy prime ministers) on May 20, one day
prior to his 30-day deadline. However, three key cabinet slots (Defense, Interior, and
National Security) were not filled permanently until June 8 because of factional
infighting. Many believe that Iran has substantial influence over the Iraqi government
because of the presence of several officials who belong to Shiite Islamist organizations
that have had close ties to Iran.

Of the 37 ministerial posts, a total of eight are Sunnis; seven are Kurds; twenty-one
are Shiites; and one is Christian. Kurdish official Barham Salih and Sunni Arab Salam
al-Zubaie are deputy prime ministers. Four ministers are women. KDP activist Hoshyar
Zebari remained Foreign Minister. The Defense Minister is Gen. Abdul Qadir
Mohammad Jasim al-Mifarji, a Sunni who had been expelled from the Iraqi military and
imprisoned for criticizing the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. More recently, he commanded
operations of the post-Saddam Iraqi Army in western Iraq. The Interior Minister is Jawad
al-Bulani, a Shiite who has been associated with a number of Shiite Islamist trends,
including Sadr?s faction, and the Fadila (Virtue) party that is prominent in Basra. The
Minister for National Security is Sherwan al-Waili, a Shiite who is from a different
faction of the Da?wa Party. He has served since 2003 as head of the provincial council
in the city of Nassiriyah and as adviser in the national security ministry. The Minister of
Trade and Minister of Education are from this Da?wa faction. Reflecting Shiite strength:


! Sadr followers are Ministers of Health, of Transportation, and of
Agriculture. Another is Minister of State for Tourism and Antiquities.

! From SCIRI, the most pro-Iranian party, Adel Abd al-Mahdi, is one of
two Vice Presidents. Bayan Jabr is Finance Minister, moving there from
Minister of Interior. The Minister of Municipalities and Public Works
is from the Badr Organization, SCIRI?s militia wing.

! Several officials in the new government are from other pro-Iranian Shiite
organizations. Deputy parliament speaker Khalid al-Attiyah spent time
in exile in Iran. The Minister of Civil Society Affairs is from the Islamic
Action Organization, a Shiite Islamist grouping based in Karbala. A
minister of state (no portfolio) is from Iraqi Hizbollah, which represents
former Shiite guerrilla fighters against Saddam?s regime based in the city
of Amarah. The Minister of Oil (Hussein Shahristani) is an aide to Shiite
leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The Minister of Electricity and the
Minister of Labor and Social Affairs are independent UIA Shiites.

Table 1. Election Results (January and December)

(Jan. 05)
(Dec. 05)
UIA (Shiite Islamist); Sadr formally joined list for Dec. vote
(Of the 128: SCIRI~30; Da?wa~28; Sadr~30; Fadila~15; others~25) 140 128
Kurdistan Alliance (PUK and KDP) 75 53
Iraqis List (secular, Allawi); added some mostly Sunni parties for Dec. vote 40 25
Iraq Concord Front (Sunni). Main Sunni bloc; not in Jan. vote ? 44
Dialogue National Iraqi Front (Sunni, Saleh al-Mutlak) Not in Jan. vote ? 11
Iraqi National Congress (Chalabi). Was part of UIA list in Jan. 05 vote ? 0
Iraqis Party (Yawar, Sunni); Part of Allawi list in Dec. vote 5 ?
Iraqi Turkomen Front (Turkomen, Kirkuk-based, pro-Turkey) 3 1
National Independent and Elites (Jan)/Risalyun (Mission, Dec) pro-Sadr 3 2
People?s Union (Communist, non-sectarian); on Allawi list in Dec. vote 2 ?
Kurdistan Islamic Group (Islamist Kurd) 2 5
Islamic Action (Shiite Islamist, Karbala) 2 0
National Democratic Alliance (non-sectarian, secular) 1 ?
Rafidain National List (Assyrian Christian) 1 1
Liberation and Reconciliation Gathering (Sunni, secular) 1 3
Ummah (Nation) Party. (Secular, Mithal al-Alusi, former INC activist) 0 1
Yazidi list (small Kurdish, heterodox religious minority in northern Iraq) ? 1

Number of polling places: January: 5,200; December: 6,200.
Eligible voters: 14 million in January election; 15 million in October referendum and December.
Turnout: January: 58% (8.5 million votes)/ October: 66% (10 million)/ December: 75% (12 million).

Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: xtremekali on July 07, 2006, 08:03:01 AM
Jailed Italy spy chief questioned over CIA kidnap By Emilio Parodi
 25 minutes ago

Prosecutors questioned the jailed deputy director of Italy's military spy agency on Friday, two days after arresting him on suspicion of involvement in the alleged CIA kidnapping of a terrorism suspect in 2003.

Marco Mancini, arrested on Wednesday, has said through his lawyer that he had nothing to do with the alleged "rendition" of Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar.

Prosecutors believe a CIA-led team grabbed Nasr off the street in Milan, bundled him into a van and drove him to a military base in northern Italy. He was then flown to Egypt and, Nasr says, tortured under questioning.

Twenty-six Americans, most believed to be CIA agents, also face arrest warrants for the abduction.

"I never kidnapped anyone and I never participated in the kidnapping of anyone. I'm at ease. I have faith in justice," he was quoted as saying by one of his lawyers before the questioning.

Another official from the Sismi military intelligence agency was placed under house arrest and is expected to be questioned by prosecutors next week.

Domestic spying allegations have also sprung up since the arrests. Italian media, without citing sources, reported that prosecutors believe Sismi was building secret archives on journalists, magistrates and even politicians.

That has prompted calls for a parliamentary inquiry and Italy's Interior Minister Giuliano Amato said this week that he was willing to discuss reforming the intelligence services.

The prosecutor's office in Milan declined comment.

Any proof of Italian involvement would confirm one of the chief accusations made by Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty in a report last month -- that European governments colluded with the United States in secret prisoner transfers.

"It seems difficult to me that an operation of this sort, which would involve top-level intelligence agents, happened without the political authorities knowing absolutely anything about it," Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said on Thursday.

In Strasbourg, the European Parliament backed up the Council of Europe's accusations in a resolution adopted on Thursday.

It said it was "implausible ... that certain European governments were not aware of the activities linked to extraordinary rendition taking place on their territory."

Nasr's lawyer said he planned to visit Italy within the next two weeks to sue Italy for 10 million euros ($12.73 million) for its alleged role in the kidnapping. He is being held in prison in Egypt without charge, his lawyer, Montasser el-Zayyat, said.

Nasr had political refugee status in Italy. But he faces a pending arrest warrant in Italy on suspicion of terrorist activity including recruiting militants for Iraq.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 11, 2006, 04:36:19 PM
North Korea: Missile Tests and Regional Impacts
By Rodger Baker

North Korea has done it again. A week after it tested seven missiles, including the long-range Taepodong-2, a resolution condemning its actions has stalled in the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), South Korea is criticizing Japan for hyping the launch, Japan is openly discussing changes to its constitutional military restrictions, and the United States is asking China to use its negotiating capabilities to bring some stability to the situation. If North Korea was largely marginalized leading into July, it is now once again the center of attention -- and controversy.

Defying repeated warnings from the United States, Japan, South Korea and even Russia and China, North Korea launched not one but seven missiles, early July 5 local time. Most were short- or medium-range Hwasong or Nodong missiles; the first launch was timed to coincide with the Independence Day launch of space shuttle Discovery in Florida. But it was the third missile, the long-range Taepodong-2 -- believed to be capable of striking Alaska or Hawaii -- that garnered the most attention.

Pyongyang accomplished quite a bit with the July 5 launches. First and foremost, it has shocked the world with multiple tests while managing to avoid a military confrontation with the United States. It has been able to gauge the effectiveness of improvements in its ballistic missile program -- particularly with the short- and medium-range models that pose a more significant threat to regional security than the Taepodong-2. And it has once again exposed and exploited rifts in Washington's Northeast Asian alliance structure.

Moreover, with disagreements stalling any actions against North Korea at the U.N. Security Council, it is China that appears poised to gain the most from Pyongyang's actions.

Taepodong Failure and U.S. Relief

North Korea had placed the Taepodong-2 on its launch platform more than a month prior to the test launch, as if posing it for U.S. spy satellites and reconnaissance aircraft. Several times, Japan or others announced that a launch was imminent, and each time there was a corresponding cry for restraint, and increasingly overt threats from the United States and Japan -- including calls to shoot the missile down in midflight or even strike it before it left the launchpad.

When the Taepodong-2 finally lifted off, at shortly after 5 a.m. local time, it produced more of a fizzle than a bang. The missile didn't fly over Japan. It didn't place a satellite into orbit. It didn't fulfill a bold, unofficial threat by Pyongyang and land off the coast of New York. In fact, it flew within parameters for just 40 seconds, before either breaking up or suffering engine troubles and veering off course. It landed in the waters between North Korea, Japan and Russia a few minutes later.

The failure was quickly labeled by international media, observers and U.S. officials as an embarrassment to the North Korean regime and a demonstration that Pyongyang lacks the wherewithal to pull off a successful test or to threaten the United States. The additional six missiles were written off as little more than upgraded, inaccurate, short-range SCUD missiles. The initial condescension towards North Korea's technical capabilities was coupled with condemnation of the tests and contradictory recommendations for follow-on actions.

But not all the details of the missile's flight path are clear. According to some reports, the missile performed normally for some 40-42 seconds, burned out and fell into the ocean. Other reports suggest a catastrophic failure, fragmentation of the rocket or a fire. Some estimates put the total flight time at around two minutes, while the South Koreans have said total flight time was seven minutes -- during which the missile traveled 499 kilometers from its launch facility.

Given the available information, it is very likely that the missile suffered system damage during the most critical and stressful part of the launch. This is certainly the picture the United States is projecting, and apparently with some relief. In the weeks leading up to the launch, Washington had touted the strengths of the U.S. missile defense system, moved tests forward on the calendar and warned that the option of shooting down the Taepodong-2 was clearly on the table. The failure of North Korea's missile, however, kept Washington from having to make the difficult decision of whether to carry through with that threat and shoot it down in flight.

There were real reservations about acting on those threats. First, while Washington has confidence in the missile defense system, that confidence is not 100 percent. If North Korea had fired its missile and a U.S. intercept failed, it would be the U.S. Defense Department and the Bush administration with pie on its face. More importantly, such a failure could undermine whatever psychological deterrent the missile defense system currently provides.

But perhaps even more troubling for Washington was the prospect that a strike against the North Korean missile would succeed. First, there is a question of where the intercept would take place -- and where the debris would fall. But the second question is how North Korea would respond. Pyongyang has one key consideration in its actions: ensuring regime survival. North Korea structures its defense force and projects a prickly personality in order to dissuade the United States or others from attacking. But Pyongyang knows that its capabilities are limited and that, in a war with the United States, it ultimately would lose.

Though it feels threatened by Washington, the North Korean leadership does not view launching an offensive war as a logical act. North Korea is outgunned and outclassed by the United States; launching an invasion of South Korea or an attack on Japan or the United States would be a surefire way to ensure regime change in Pyongyang. If Washington shot down its missile, however, the North Korean elite might view that as a guarantee of imminent U.S. military action -- and Pyongyang might strike out at its neighbors to inflict as much pain as possible, seeking to disrupt any U.S. invasion or attack plans.

But even barring such a reaction, allowing its missile to be shot out of the sky by the U.S. military would trigger significant stresses for North Korea -- both within the elite and from the broader military and society. The regime would question whether it could maintain cohesion and stability without retaliating. For Washington, then, either a failure or a success of the U.S. missile defense system could lead to open hostilities in Northeast Asia. The best thing Washington could have hoped for was that North Korea's missile would fail -- even before the button would have had to be pushed for the intercept.

And Pyongyang knew this as well.

A Scrubbed Launch?

There is some possibility that North Korea intentionally scrubbed the launch. On the one hand, simply putting the missile away after leaving it on the pad for more than a month would have been viewed as capitulation -- and that could have weakened the internal cohesion of the regime. A launch became necessary practically as soon as the missile was rolled out (unless Washington had given in to Pyongyang's calls for bilateral talks).

But on the other hand, while North Korea has always walked close to the line, it has been very careful not to cross it. A successful Taepodong-2 test could have shifted the strategic calculation of Japan or the United States toward North Korea. Tokyo already had warned that if any part of the Taepodong-2 fell on Japanese territory, it would be considered an act of war. And while Washington has been relatively lax toward North Korea, aside from rhetoric and the occasional economic lever, all bets would be off should North Korea demonstrate the ability to pose a concrete threat to the U.S. mainland.

For Pyongyang, a controlled launch failure presented a better outcome than risking an accident or simply putting away the long-range toy. A picture-perfect satellite launch would have been the best outcome, but it is questionable whether North Korea actually believed it would be able to pull one off. After all, few space programs have ever managed to develop new systems without many failures along the way.

Other Missiles and Regional Tensions

Whether Pyongyang failed to succeed or succeeded to fail, the Taepodong-2 was not the only missile launched that morning. There were many motives behind North Korea's additional launches. First, everyone was already expecting a Taepodong-2 launch; if Pyongyang had launched only that rocket, the psychological impact already would have been discounted. There would be little leverage. Second, if the North Koreans knew they would scrub the Taepodong-2 launch, they would want to demonstrate a variety of capabilities to cover for the failure.

Finally, and more significantly, North Korea is intending again to trade its missile launches for concessions from its neighbors and the United States. If a moratorium on missile tests is coming anyway, this launch represented a final chance to assess improvements to North Korea's missile systems, particularly as the country so rarely tests its ballistic missiles. Testing six short- and intermediate-range Hwasong and Nodong missiles -- the real bulk of North Korea's missile force -- would allow the country's military to learn more in a single day about their own capabilities and upgrades than they had in the entirety of the preceding decade.

It is these overlooked missiles that are the true face of North Korean missile technology. Pyongyang's Nodong missiles have the capability of reaching most of Japan, including U.S. bases in Okinawa. North Korea has more than 100 of these mobile missiles, making them an extremely valuable commodity. And its short-range Hwasong series can strike anywhere in South Korea and potentially parts of Japan.

The combination of short-, medium- and long-range missile tests helps to explain the political intent behind the July 5 launches. Dividing any coalition that forms against it has been a key aspect of North Korean foreign policy. The regime in Pyongyang has played skillfully on the differences in strategic thinking of trilateral allies Japan, South Korea and the United States. The current diplomatic spat between Tokyo and Seoul over the extent to which North Korea's missile tests should be dramatized is a key example of just how easily these rifts are exploited. The time and effort the United States is expending to convince the world that Washington and Seoul are on the same page is another.

Stalled at the Security Council

In the UNSC discussions, Russia is expected to abstain from any resolution to punish North Korea -- but China well might veto one, so Tokyo and Washington are delaying any vote on the issue. But though Moscow is not actively joining in attempts to have North Korea sanctioned, Russian authorities have found it difficult to conceal their frustration with Pyongyang. What is clear from initial statements, particularly about the safety of Russian ships and aircraft in the missile test zone, is that the North Koreans never bothered warning Russia before lobbing missiles off its coast.

Amid all of this, China appears to be the least fazed by the North Korean tests.

But China also may have had prior notice about the launches. Initial comments credited to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill suggest that China was notified about the tests before they occurred. Officials in Beijing have countered that they were told of the launches a few hours before North Korea formally announced them -- but still days after they actually had taken place. Either way, the Chinese once again have found the world turning to them for a solution.

Given the Security Council deadlock, China is the only viable path to negotiations with North Korea. In fact, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Richard Bolton has said the Security Council vote was delayed so that diplomacy through China could continue. Washington and Seoul both have called for Beijing to talk to Pyongyang, and the Chinese already had conveniently arranged for a relatively high-level delegation to visit North Korea.

For China, the missile launches have reinforced Beijing's importance to the United States and even Japan. Neither Washington nor Tokyo is prepared to strike back at North Korea militarily -- over either the missile tests or the ongoing nuclear crisis. Both have opted for sanctions and attempts to isolate North Korea, but these paths require the assistance and participation of South Korea and China. And even if Seoul were fully on board, China would remain as North Korea's primary lifeline. China can undermine any U.S. efforts to isolate or punish Pyongyang -- or it can facilitate dialogue.

In the weeks leading up to the missile tests, Beijing had proposed various ways to restart the stalled six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program -- talks from which both Washington and Pyongyang had basically walked away. As the primary coordinator and host of the talks, Beijing has leverage with all the participants -- but China found few takers (aside from South Korea) for its recent proposals. All of that changed, however, when North Korea actually tested the missiles. Washington sent envoys to Beijing and held out the possibility of bilateral talks with Pyongyang (which North Korea has demanded in order to discuss economic sanctions and frozen assets) on the sidelines of the six-party discussions.

While it is not certain that China facilitated the North Korean missile tests, it does seem that Pyongyang was certain the tests wouldn't trigger China to turn on it. If Beijing were truly upset, it could make that rather clear to North Korea in very painful ways. It hasn't. Rather, the Chinese have called on all parties to return to dialogue -- dialogue facilitated by and benefiting China. Meanwhile, North Korea is sitting back and studying the deadlock at the U.N. Security Council, the cracks in the U.S.-South Korea-Japan alliance, and the fact that the world's attention has again turned back toward Pyongyang.


North Korea considered its 1998 Taepodong-1 launch a brilliant success. Only two years later, Pyongyang had gone from being an international outcast and sidelined nation to the center of diplomatic activity -- with normalized relations across Europe and with Canada and Australia. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il hosted then-South Korean President Kim Dae Jung in Pyongyang for the first ever inter-Korean summit in 2000. North Korea gained economic and diplomatic ties and began to break past the constraints of a relationship that had been based primarily on U.S. pressure and Chinese handouts.

Pyongyang sees the same sorts of benefits in its future this time around. It has grown expert at creating artificial crises, from which it reaps economic and political benefits in exchange for merely maintaining the status quo.

In recent years, Washington has attempted to simply ignore North Korea rather than giving in to its temper fits. After all, if a kid in a toy store holds his breath while demanding that a parent buy a new toy, doing so only encourages the behavior -- whereas waiting for the kid to pass out and then start breathing again puts the kibosh on the temper fits. Or at least, that is the theory.

But North Korea always has an extra ace up its sleeve: geography. If the issue were only between North Korea and the United States, Pyongyang would have been ignored into submission years ago. But while its Taepodong-2 failed, its regional missiles proved quite effective. And neither Seoul nor Tokyo can feel as confident as Washington that North Korea really won't do something too crazy if left to stew in its own isolation. When Washington turns a deaf ear, Pyongyang pokes Tokyo and Seoul -- and when they cry out, the United States is drawn back in.

And until a new option is found to be effective, it seems that Beijing is destined to benefit -- as the only voice that can soothe the savage North Korea.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 28, 2006, 02:17:39 PM
Katyusha World
Surviving in the age of very short-range missiles.

Friday, July 28, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Melodramatic images of war are now televised all day long. The images out of Israel this week have produced something new for war-soaked living-room audiences. One might call it Katyusha World.

The all-too-visible reality for the inhabitants of Katyusha World is that there is no defense against incoming rocket barrages other than hiding and hoping. The Hezbollah militia has decided to use unguided artillery Katyusha rockets like bullets. They fired more than 1,500 of them this week at Israeli population centers. Hezbollah is believed to possess longer-range missiles made in Syria and Iran for which Israel also has no defense. They would simply land and explode.

It was only a few weeks ago that all of us were learning how to pronounce "Taepodong," a long-range ballistic missile that North Korea periodically lobs as a "test" in the direction of the unprotected population of Japan. After this week it is getting hard to pretend that the threat of missiles is something we don't have to think about.

Up to now Israel has regarded Iran's long-range guided missiles as the primary threat of this sort, and in the 1990s developed the Arrow ballistic missile-defense system. Uri Rubin, former head of the Arrow project, told me in an interview from Israel this week that the relatively poor accuracy of the cheap Katyushas has been an argument against investing in an expensive anti-Katyusha defense system. This cost-comparison calculus was one reason Israel shelved plans to deploy Northrop Grumman's THEL system, whose lasers routinely have shot down Katyushas at the Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Speaking this week about the earlier decision, Mr. Rubin said, "You also have to compare the cost of no defense"--for lives or infrastructure.

Mr. Rubin shared with me an unpublished paper he wrote with Dan Hazanovsky on "The Emerging Threat of Very Short-Range Ballistic Missiles," or VSBMs. In times past, the world worried about huge, Soviet-style missiles. Mr. Rubin says smaller, free-flying rockets are now evolving into relatively sophisticated and accurate ballistic missiles, "thanks to the steep decline in the cost of accuracy--the falling prices of onboard inertial and satellite navigation systems, the availability of cheap, commercial grade, high-speed computing power and low-cost control systems." That is, the same dynamic that makes cheap, fast electronic products available to consumers will do the same to electronic missile weaponry.

Very short-range missiles fall outside any existing export-control regime. China is a primary seller, or proliferator, of missiles and technology. At its International Aviation and Space Exhibition two years ago, China for the first time displayed its B611 short-range missile with a range of 95 miles.
Where would one use a VSBM? Richard Speier, a former Pentagon missile specialist, says Seoul "is a sitting duck for Frog-7s," a short-range missile with a three-minute flight time that North Korea successfully test-fired in May 2005. The Straits of Taiwan comes to mind, as do various border cities in Pakistan, India or Kuwait. These small missiles can carry chemical or biological agents. Uri Rubin calls them "ideal weapons for terrorizing population centers." It generally requires state power to manage and deploy such weapons, but that power is of course a goal of radical Islam.

Israel's population, with Katyushas raining down on them by the thousands, is a metaphor for the world ahead of commoditized missile weaponry. Not thinking about how to survive in that world is foolhardy. Hezbollah's Katyusha barrage, coming so soon after North Korea's aggressive, highly publicized Taepodong test, elevates all this as a political issue.

Historically the Democratic Party has committed itself to suppressing the development of anti-missile technologies. This opposition dates to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972. During the Cold War, when the enemy was the Soviet Union, opponents of missile defense opted for the policy known as mutual assured destruction, or MAD. Sens. Biden, Levin, Kerry and Kennedy all in recent times have spoken out against missile defense. The party's platform in 2000 opposed "an ill-conceived missile defense system that would plunge us into a new arms race." But closing off missile-defense technologies today means we default again to MAD, or a kind of MAD Jr.

This was made explicit last Jan. 19 when French President Jacques Chirac threatened a nuclear strike to deter terrorist attacks on France. "Against a regional power, our choice is not between inaction and destruction," he said. "All of our nuclear forces have been configured in this spirit." In a similar vein, it is generally believed that Japan could--and probably would if necessary--assemble several nuclear devices within 30 days. Whatever the argument in the Cold War years for protecting populations with a strategy of mutual assured destruction, it makes no sense now when negotiating partners such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il represent the antithesis of any known concept of good faith.

As Robert Kaplan pointed out in the Journal last week in his review of "Terrorists, Insurgents and Militias," the biggest strategic problem today isn't past notions of big-power miscalculation but new rogue regimes whose ideology means they "cannot be gratified through negotiations." Absent any in-place protection against the missiles described here, "defense" means either an Israel-type counteroffensive, nuclear retaliation or--the Democratic preference--open-ended diplomacy, cease-fires and negotiation. None of these suffice. Widely available tables showing the proliferation of missiles listed by nation boggle the mind. Put simply, in terms of post-launch, we are behind the curve.
We are heading toward two election cycles amid a world unsettled by missile threats--in the air or on the brink. To the specter of North Korea and Iran delivering WMD by long-range missiles, now add Katyusha-like strikes from very small rockets and missiles. Come 2008, we may see a Republican candidate who understands these issues running against a militarily ambivalent Democrat who has to learn them, like an unguided rocket, on the fly.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Fridays in the Journal and on
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Bowser on July 28, 2006, 08:43:21 PM
Mr cut and paste strikes again !  :roll:

 Is that how you fight. . . .  cut and paste moves. . .  or do you respond to the situation at hand using your own resources ?

 Just wondering

Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 28, 2006, 09:23:33 PM

One of the things I see as fit to do is post articles which in my opinion are of a level not commonly found elsewhere. The number of reads per post in the threads which seem to annoy you the most are amongst the highest of this forum-- so many people seem to find them interesting.  Regardless, my house, my rules.

I thoroughly "get" the point you have been making from the beginning.  Taken by itself, its not a bad point and actually shows some insight. That said, in you I simply have not sensed with whom I wish to engage in conversation.  With your posts this evening what communicates to me is you are the sort of person who demands attention whether others want to give it or not.

In my house I am Alpha and I do as I see fit.  I gave you clear guidance with the tone of your original posts and I see it hasn't worked.  The point is not your conclusions.  The point is one of respect and by your own words in other post tonight you do not have it for me.

Our Adventure will continue without you.  You're outta here.

Crafty Dog
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: xtremekali on July 31, 2006, 07:49:31 AM
China Freezes N. Korean Accounts

A case of North Korea's counterfeit U.S. bills at a bank in Seoul. (AP/Lee Jin-man)
July 26, 2006
Prepared by:  Esther Pan

Following a U.S.-led crackdown on North Korea?s money laundering, the Bank of China has frozen millions of dollars of North Korean assets (FT) held in its Macau branch. The newly revealed move is surprising, since China had been reluctant to support U.S. and Japanese efforts (McClatchy) to impose UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea after Pyongyang?s July 4 missile tests.

The U.S. efforts have focused on Macau, where the Banco Delta Asia was accused by Washington of laundering counterfeit dollars for North Korea and blacklisted in September 2005 (CNN).  

North Korea is reported to have perfected a highly sophisticated counterfeit $100 bill, known as the ?supernote,? which is nearly impossible to tell from its legitimate counterpart (NYT Magazine). In addition to U.S. banknotes, Washington says Pyongyang also peddles counterfeit cigarettes and pharmaceuticals and runs an international drug trafficking operation, all of which bring in between $500 million and $1 billion per year in hard currency?money that goes straight to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il. North Korea?s illegal financial activities are detailed in this Congressional Research Service report (PDF).

The sanctions are causing a bleak picture for Pyongyang on the money front. Japan is considering cutting cash remittances ( to North Korea from ethnic Koreans in Japan, a move that follows Tokyo?s leadership in pushing through UN Security Council resolution 1695 condemning the July 4 missile tests. Japan?s Yomiuri Shimbun calls for international unity on sanctions, saying the measures must have enough bite to prevent Pyongyang from launching further missile tests. But such unity may be difficult to muster. South Korea has refused to condemn the missile tests, instead criticizing Japan and the United States for ?overreacting? (Korea Times). Seoul has been diverging from U.S. interests on North Korea for a while; its attempts to take a more assertive regional role are explained in this Backgrounder. South Korea?s historically combative relationship with Japan has complicated attempts to confront the North.

Nuclear nonproliferation expert Paul Kerr writes in Arms Control Today that the United States, for its part, is extending sanctions to include international firms that do business with or support North Korea. This has led foreign banks and firms to limit their involvement with the Pyongyang regime even further; after the U.S. action against Banco Delta Asia in September 2005, there was a run on the bank as investors rushed to reclaim their deposits.

Pyongyang, reportedly seriously hurting from the U.S. measures, has said it will not return to six-party talks until the financial restrictions are lifted. James Hackett writes in the Washington Times that North Korea?s recent missile tests show U.S. pressure on the regime is working, and calls for that pressure to continue until the regime changes or collapses. But others say the pressure is having the opposite effect, and pushing North Korea to increasingly risky behavior. As this New York Times analysis points out, every time Kim Jong-Il feels his demands are not getting enough attention, he provokes a crisis.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: xtremekali on August 02, 2006, 01:19:55 PM
Back to Story - Help
Somali gov't struggles with resignations By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 55 minutes ago

Somali leaders struggled to regroup Wednesday after a week in which 29 ministers quit the government, with the defectors urging the virtually powerless administration to reconcile with Islamic militants who have seized the capital.

Eleven ministers stepped down Tuesday and Wednesday, adding to the 18 who resigned late last week.

For the time being, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi's government is secure, because he has the support of more than half the 42 remaining ministers. Of those who resigned only 11 were full ministers; the rest were deputy ministers.

Yet his already weak government ? isolated by the success of the hard-line Supreme Islamic Courts Union ? has been further incapacitated by the resignations. In previous months, five other ministers quit or were fired, though for reasons unrelated to the current crisis.

"The prime minister has failed to talk to the Islamic Union," said Hasaan Abshir Farah, who quit late Tuesday.

The group's leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, said in a radio broadcast that the former ministers were welcome in his group.

Others also urged the government to at least form contacts with the Islamic group, whose militia seized most of southern Somalia including the capital, Mogadishu. The U.N.-installed transitional government is located in Baidoa, one of the only places in the south not in the Islamic group's control.

In Mogadishu, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Eric Larouche, told journalists that the Somali capital's security had improved, but "there can be no full security unless there is dialogue between all sides in Mogadishu."

Larouche spoke after he and nine other U.N. officials met with top officials of the Islamic group. He said the United Nations wanted to help people displaced by months of fighting in Mogadishu, including providing tents for children to study under when school starts in September.

Abdirahman Janaqaw, the deputy leader of the Islamic courts' executive council, said the U.N. is welcome to reopen its offices in Mogadishu but did not say whether any agreement had been reached.

Somalia's government was formed two years ago with the support of the United Nations to help the Horn of Africa nation emerge from more than a decade of anarchy, but it has no power outside Baidoa, 150 miles from Mogadishu.

Infighting, including the wave of recent resignations, has further weakened the government.

On Wednesday, President Abdullahi Yusuf said a delegation was heading to Khartoum, Sudan, for peace talks with the militants. But the prime minister said the Arab League mediators had postponed the talks, and it was unclear whether the militants planned to show up.

"I don't know why this team is going to Khartoum or who they would represent," Gedi said.

The government has watched helplessly in recent months as Islamic militants seized the capital and much of southern Somalia, imposing strict religious courts and raising fears of an emerging Taliban-style regime. The United States accuses the group of harboring al-Qaida leaders responsible for deadly bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

On Tuesday, Yusuf told Baidoa residents they have a week to give up their weapons, after which "every single gun" will be seized by force. Somalia's government has no military, but relies on a militia loyal to Yusuf for security.

He did not say why his government had decided on the measure now, but two lawmakers have been shot in Baidoa over the past week, one of them killed.

Foreign ministers from eastern Africa met in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday to discuss the deteriorating situation in Somalia. The coalition of nations, known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development urged countries in the region to obey a U.N. arms embargo imposed in 1992. All sides in the Somali conflict have violated it.


Associated Press writers Salad Duhul and Mohamed Sheikh Nor in Mogadishu, and Elizabeth A. Kennedy in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.
Title: Geo Political matters
Post by: xtremekali on August 02, 2006, 01:24:10 PM
Daily News & Analysis
Friday, July 21, 2006 8:36:00 PM  
Permission to reprint or copy this article or photo must be obtained from DNA.
Somali Islamists declare jihad against Ethiopia
MOGADISHU: The leader of Somalia's Islamic courts union on Friday declared a "holy war" against neighbouring Ethiopia, whose troops have moved into the country to protect its weak transitional government.

"The Somali people have to fight against Ethiopia, this is a holy war in which we are defending our country," Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys said on local radio, speaking from his native Galgudud region in central Somalia.

"The Ethiopians have invaded our country and we must force them out of the country and this will be a holy war of Jihad."

Aweys' Islamists, who have taken control the capital Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia, have demanded the immediate withdrawal of Ethiopians who according to eyewitnesses sent more military vehicles into Baidoa, the seat of the transitional government, overnight.

In Baidoa, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of Mogadishu, residents said at least nine more large Ethiopian military vehicles carrying supplies, but no troops, moved into the town early on Friday.

These followed an initial convoy of more than 100 trucks with several hundred Ethiopian soldiers that witnesses said rolled into Baidoa and surrounding areas Thursday, after Islamist militia advanced on a nearby town.

Ethiopia has said it will defend the transitional government from any attack by the Islamists, who it and the US accuse of harboring extremists, including Al-Qaeda members wanted for attacks in east Africa.

Somalia has been wracked by lawlessness since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, which plunged the nation of about 10 million people into anarchic bloodletting.

Title: Re: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 13, 2006, 08:32:44 PM
Neo-con favorite declares World War III
By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - Two years before the 2008 presidential election, Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, is trying desperately to grab the national spotlight by declaring he'd be a lot tougher than George W Bush in prosecuting what he calls "World War III".

In the latest in a series of recent presentations and writings, Gingrich called this week in a speech at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for, among other things:

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to "clear out


any Taliban forces" in Waziristan if Pakistan fails to do so.

Washington to "take whatever steps are necessary" to force Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia to stop the flow of weapons, money and people into Iraq.

To help "organize every dissident group in Iran" with the goal of replacing the regime, failing which, "we certainly have to be prepared to use military force".

"End" the North Korean regime if it ships nuclear weapons or material anywhere.

Insist that Congress immediately pass legislation "that recognizes that we are entering World War III and serves notice that the US will use all its resources to defeat our enemies - not accommodate, understand or negotiate with them, but defeat them".

Gingrich's remarks, which significantly earned a rave review in the neo-conservative Weekly Standard, came in the context of early jockeying in the 2008 presidential race, whose leading - albeit unannounced - candidates besides Gingrich include Arizona Senator John McCain, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Virginia Senator George Allen, and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Of these, McCain, the neo-conservative favorite until his defeat by Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries, is the most popular, along with Giuliani, among the electorate as a whole. However, McCain's occasionally maverick ways - such as his support for reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions and his efforts to ban torture and other abuse against terrorist suspects - have created tensions with the right-wing core of the party.

According to the latest polls, Gingrich, who is widely credited with masterminding the stunning 1994 Republican landslide that gave the party control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, ranks third behind Giuliani and McCain and appears to be making steady progress among the Republican faithful, who have, according to pollster Frank Luntz, forgotten the many controversies he generated during his four-year tenure as Speaker.

After taking responsibility for Republican losses in Congress in 1998, Gingrich resigned as Speaker, but he has remained politically active as a senior fellow at the AEI, an advisory board member of the pro-Israel Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and a member of Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board (DPB).

In all of these capacities, he, along with fellow DPB members Richard Perle and James Woolsey, has been an outspoken champion of the hardline hawks within the Bush administration led by Vice President Dick Cheney and a constant critic of the State Department, which, from time to time, he has accused of disloyalty to the Bush agenda.

Indeed, in mid-April 2003, just one week after invading US forces had consolidated control of Baghdad, he gave a speech in which he charged that the department was undermining Washington's military victory by endorsing a high-level dialogue with Syria and the "Quartet's" roadmap for reviving peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

His remarks, which were also delivered at the AEI, were so extreme that they provoked blunt-speaking deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage to give USA Today one of the most memorable quotes of the Iraq war: "It's clear that Mr Gingrich is off his meds and out of therapy."

Although both more Churchillian and alarmist in tone, Gingrich's latest speech, titled "Lessons from the First Five Years of War: Where Do We Go from Here?", was very much in the same vein in that it included attacks on the State Department, the news media, and even Harvard University, whose recent hosting of "tyrants" such as former Iranian president Mohammed Khatami should, he said, be openly compared to hosting Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels or SS commander Heinrich Himmler in 1937.

While praising Bush for his "courage and determination" in pursuing his "war on terror", Gingrich implicitly criticized the president for failing to communicate the potentially cataclysmic threats posed by "an emerging anti-American coalition" consisting of al-Qaeda, Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia and doing more to counter them.

Bush's "strategies are not wrong, but they are failing", he said, in part because "they do not define the scale of the emerging World War III, between the West and the forces of Islam, and so they do not outline how difficult the challenge is and how big the effort will have to be".

"We have vastly more to do than we have even begun to imagine," he stressed, larding his text with quotes by Iranian officials, "Islamic fascists", and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatening the United States and Israel, and warning against "appeasement" and "utopian elites [at home who] suffer from ... denial of near-psychotic proportions".

Gingrich proposed a series of steps to counter the threat, beginning at home with gaining "absolute control of our borders" and "decisive port security", adopting a "one war" model in which everything in the country is "done in a coordinated, integrated manner with the same precision and drive in the civilian as in the military agencies" and major increases in the military and intelligence budgets, and developing a "strategic energy policy which is explicitly aimed at making the Persian Gulf and the dictatorships less wealthy and less important".

In Afghanistan, NATO should "clear out "any Taliban" in Pakistan if Islamabad cannot police the border areas and provide a major economic-aid program that would reduce the Afghan economy's dependence on heroin production and that would not be based on "hopelessly obsolete" State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) rules.

For Iraq, Gingrich called for "revitaliz[ing]" the economy by asking US corporations to buy "modest amounts of light manufacturing from Iraq" and creating a new US agency, other than USAID, capable of administering expanded public-works programs; improving security by doubling the size of the Iraqi military and police forces to get a "much larger forces-to-bad-guys ratio than we currently have planned"; and putting Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia "on notice" against any interference in Iraq.

In Iran, "a dictatorship dedicated to Islamic fascism and ... a mortal threat to our survival", Gingrich called for a regime-change strategy through support for all dissidents, diplomatic and economic sanctions, and military force, if necessary. "This strategy means no more visas for Iranian leaders" and United Nations sanctions against President Mahmud Ahmadinejad for "threatening to wipe Israel from the face of the Earth".

"If we do not stand up against a Holocaust-denying, genocide-proposing, publicly self-defined enemy of the United States, why should we expect anyone else to do so?" he asked.

Washington must also pursue regime change in Pyongyang, according to Gingrich, who called for militarily preempting any launch of a North Korean missile and the announcement that "any effort by North Korea to ship nuclear weapons or material anywhere will be a casus belli and will lead to the end of the regime".

It was "vintage Gingrich: brassy, confrontational, direct, polarizing, articulate, harsh, disarming, and charismatic", wrote the Standard's Matthew Continetti approvingly. "His rivals should take note. The first speech of the 2008 presidential campaign was delivered on the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001."

(Inter Press Service) 
Title: Re: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 17, 2006, 06:44:17 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The EU Scrambles for a Russia Policy

EU foreign ministers will meet Tuesday in an attempt to hammer out common positions on everything from Iran's nuclear program to their own expansion policy. There are not many areas that offer them easy solutions or compromises, yet the meeting is going to find a thread of connection among most of the problems currently vexing Europe. That thread is Russia. Some brief examples:

" The Europeans are concerned that Serbia is not cooperating with international war crimes tribunals, an issue that is hanging up the country's EU accession process. The state most likely to step in should Brussels' influence wane? Russia.

" European states are up to their necks in negotiations with Iran over Tehran's nuclear program. The state providing the bulk of that program's technology? Russia.

" European states want to secure their collective borders, both in economic and security terms, by pulling Ukraine into the EU's orbit. The country that has reacted most negatively to that effort? Russia.

" European governments are seeking to fight back against a wave of nationalism in energy-producing states the world over, in order to protect the outlays of their firms. The country currently threatening the most European energy investments? Russia.

" European states desperately want the United Nations not to look like a useless talk shop; they hope the North Korean nuclear test will finally allow the Security Council to shine. The country working most feverishly to use its diplomatic gravitas to minimize the role of the United Nations? Russia.

" The EU member states are desperately working to diversify their energy sources so that no one can use energy supplies against them as a political lever. The country with its hand already on the lever? Russia.

" European countries are attempting to find foreign policy ideals that they all agree on, in order to strengthen the (often faulty) idea that Europe actually can speak with a single voice. One of those few topics is the idea that the former Soviet republic of Georgia should be free to select its own policies. The country leaning on Georgia the hardest? Russia.

Russia, Russia, Russia. Sometimes it seems it is the only topic on Europe's collective mind. Of course, thinking of Europe as having a collective mind will only set one up for some massive misunderstandings; each EU member sees Russia through its own lens.

The former Warsaw Pact states see Russia as an enemy to be, at the very least, held off -- or, ideally, ground down. The French and Italians see Russia as a potential partner, but only so long as Moscow has no real influence in Europe. The Germans and the Dutch see Russia as a major energy supplier, albeit a politically problematic one. The Finns are beholden to and terror-struck by Russia in equal amounts, while the Danes hope they never again have to be the "cork in the Baltic bottle" and the British have discovered a passionate attachment to Norwegian natural gas so they do not have to deal with Russia at all. And none of these issues even addresses Russia-specific concerns such as the ongoing war in Chechnya, the general degradation of civil liberties in the country, or the recent killing of dissident journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Instead, all these clashing national views will likely be laid painfully bare on Friday at the informal summit of EU heads of state. Now, these informal summits are supposed to be places where the union's 25 leaders can rub shoulders and talk off-the-record about whatever is on their minds. This time, however, the summit's hosts -- the Finns -- have taken it upon themselves to ask none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop in for dinner. With 25 leaders bringing 25 different views on the Russian question, the summit is almost certain to become a cantankerous affair. Eurocrats in Brussels have unofficially and anonymously referred to the Finnish invitation as a mistake and are terrified that the summit will vividly demonstrate that the European Union is anything but unified.

It is all the more important, therefore, that the EU foreign ministers get their collective ducks in a row on Tuesday. Should they fail to do so, the upcoming summit will demonstrate the EU at its worst and give the Russians a perfect opportunity to divide and conquer.

Situation Reports

1153 GMT -- RUSSIA -- Russia agreed Oct. 17 to discuss further natural gas cooperation with South Korea, including holding discussions between Korea Gas Corp. and Russian gas producer Gazprom on gas exports to South Korea, South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy reported. South Korea could import 7 million tons of liquefied natural gas from Russia by 2012, the ministry added.

1149 GMT -- JAPAN -- Japan has information that North Korea could be planning a second nuclear test, Kyodo news agency reported Oct. 17, citing Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso. The United States and South Korea indicated Oct. 16 that they had intelligence that showed possible North Korean preparations for a second test.

1145 GMT -- CHINA, UNITED STATES -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to visit China on Oct. 20-21 to discuss the implementation of sanctions on North Korea, China's Foreign Ministry said Oct. 17.

1141 GMT -- CHINA, VIETNAM -- Vietnam and China plan to increase military cooperation and develop friendlier relations, Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan said Oct. 17 while meeting with Vietnam's director of the general political department of the Vietnam People's Army.

1134 GMT -- RUSSIA, JAPAN -- Russian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky said Oct. 17 he plans to meet with Japanese counterpart Adm. Takashi Saito to discuss joint counterterrorism exercises and military cooperation. Baluyevsky is on a visit to Tokyo until Oct. 20.

1128 GMT -- RUSSIA -- North Korea gave Russia no prior information that it was going to test a nuclear device, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said Oct. 17. Earlier press reports indicated that North Korea warned Russia of the test two hours before the explosion Oct. 9.

1121 GMT -- IRAQ -- U.S. forces Oct. 17 reportedly arrested Sheikh Mazen al-Saedi, the leader of Muqtada al-Sadr's Shiite movement in west Baghdad, prompting members of his group to promise protests and possible attacks in Baghdad.

1115 GMT -- PAKISTAN, INDIA -- Pakistan and India are holding back-channel negotiations on a new approach to the Kashmir problem, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said Oct. 16, Press Trust of India reported Oct. 17. Kasuri also said India and Pakistan will resume foreign secretary-level peace talks in New Delhi in mid-November.

1109 GMT -- ERITREA -- Fifteen tanks and 1,500 troops from Eritrea have moved into the demilitarized buffer zone along the Ethiopian border, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Oct. 17. Eritrea's Information Ministry said the troops are in place just to help harvest and protect food.
Title: Archduke Ferdinand?
Post by: buzwardo on October 17, 2006, 10:31:22 AM
Is it just me or is anyone else getting a 1910 Europe vibe? Various alliances flitting around behind the scenes attempting to ward off nasty scenarios via byzantine machinations. I can think of several tipping points out there that could bring the house of cards down.
Title: Re: Geo Political matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 17, 2006, 10:36:08 AM
Lets hear them Buz.
Title: Re: Geo Political matters
Post by: buzwardo on October 17, 2006, 03:29:09 PM
Lets hear them Buz.

There's the demographic bomb, but that's ticking slowly. The whole post-Soviet dance where elements of the former USSR are trying to ensure they won't be reabsorbed by forming alliances Russia frowns on strike me as a powder keg. Mixed in that is energy production/distribution politics that Russia is using with a heavy hand. Muslim enclaves scattered through the area and the -stans can and have produced Black Hand type organizations. Socialist policies of sundry European nations have produced stagnant economies that could go belly up with a push (putsch?). Nascent antisemitism in Europe could metastasise and fuel some pseudo-nationalist movement. Lotta fault lines in the European Union that could fracture and cascade in odd directions.

Bottom line is that there are numerous pressing issues that are being kicked down the line; at some point some combination of issues could coalesce into something scary.
Title: "Soft" War?
Post by: buzwardo on October 17, 2006, 04:21:44 PM
The Soft War in Europe's East
The Caucasus has become the new Balkans--a forgotten region where an old, hostile empire chafes against less powerful p