Hearts, Minds and Wallets – China in Africa Interview

Posted 5 July, 2010 by africaanalysis
Categories: Africa, Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, History, Human Rights, World

This is an interview I gave last week for Eric Olander of the ‘China Talking Points’ website – http://www.chinatalkingpoints.com

With reference to my recent article, ‘Hearts, Minds and Wallets: Lessons from China’s Growing Relationship with Africa‘, Eric wanted to discuss the issues surrounding China’s expanding economic and political influence in Africa, and the hysteria demonstrated by Western commentators about this trend. My own perspective, while recognising potentially negative outcomes of Chinese involvement, is that Africa’s new relationship with China has great potential to spur development – far beyond what has been achieved through Western intervention – and that most commentators have historical amnesia with regards to the West’s activities on the continent.

China in Africa Podcast: Winning Hearts, Minds and Wallets by ChinaTalkingPoints

The ‘Military-Academic Complex’ and US Government Policy

Posted 29 June, 2010 by africaanalysis
Categories: Afghanistan, Americas, Iraq, Middle East, World

Michael Flynn, “The Surge of Ideas” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, June 24, 2010)

http://www.fpif.org/articles/the_surge_of_ideas

Michael Flynn from the Institute for Policy Studies writes this week about the influence of the ‘military-academic complex’, and how key American military officers have used independent think tanks to influence the US government’s policies on Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Flynn, “In recent years there has been a tendency for like-minded think tanks and military officers to jointly pursue policy objectives, sometimes in direct conflict with the stated preferences of the president and his advisers. According to some observers, this trend raises questions about the appropriate role of both military officers, who are part of a chain of command, and think tanks, which present themselves as ‘non-partisan’ appraisers of public policy”.

Flynn relates how earlier this year General David Petraeus, who will now head American operations in Afghanistan in place of General Stanley McChrystal, spoke about US involvement in the Middle East at an event in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Institute for the Study of War. At the event Petraeus praised the think tank for their contribution to a report entitled ‘Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq’, which he referred to as a “study and analysis that did indeed have a strategic impact unlike that of any other study or analysis that I can think of”. This report was central to building public support for America’s ‘surge’ of troops into Iraq in 2007, which increased the US military presence by 30,000 soldiers. Petraeus said the think tank had provided, “the rationale for the additional forces that were required [and] described how they might be used in Iraq … I think it played a very significant role in helping to shape the intellectual concepts and indeed, in helping to shape the ultimate policy decision that was made”.

While it is no surprise that the private academic world of think tanks can have a significant impact lobbying the government for certain policies, it may be of more concern that the US military plays an active role in assisting them. Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress points out that as the commander in Iraq, Petraeus supported the work of journalists like Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack with military-sponsored tours of the nation, hand-picking them because he knew they favoured the ‘surge’ policy. By giving these analysts unrivalled access to sites and personnel Petraeus turned them into media ‘experts’, in comparison to whom the critics of the surge policy appeared to be outsiders who could be ignored. As Foreign Policy blogger Laura Rozen wrote last year, Petraeus’ promotion of the Iraq surge was part of “the Petraeus team’s famous counterinsurgency doctrine: In the campaign to win hearts and minds, don’t forget the home front”.

The recently-removed Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed U.S. forces in Afghanistan until the recent controversy surrounding an article in Rolling Stone magazine, also waged a public relations campaign against the new Obama administration. During 2009 McChrystal manoeuvred to promote his preferred counter-insurgency plan despite resistance from President Obama, using a ‘strategic assessment’ team including: the Kagans from the Institute for the Study of War, Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and Jeremy Shapiro of the Brookings Institution. Flynn writes that “these civilian experts … began appearing on major media outlets promoting ideas largely in line with General McChrystal’s, defending his decision to publicly contradict the administration in a speech, or pushing an optimistic view of the Afghan situation”. They also ran a series of public events at which Petraeus and other high-ranking military officials could present their perspectives on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These ‘objective experts’ and ‘non-partisan forums’ were all part of a campaign by the military to influence public discussion, and ultimately put additional pressure on the country’s elected leadership to give-in to military demands.

Also part of this military-academic complex is the practice of policy groups recruiting retired officers to their advisory boards, many of whom simultaneously take up defence industry jobs (completing the military-industrial-academic complex triangle). “As the New York Times reported in 2008, some of these retired officers—like Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, a CSP advisor, and Gen. Barry McCaffery, a former board member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq—have developed reputations as ‘impartial’ experts, appearing on TV news programs while surreptitiously receiving talking points from the Pentagon”. As the Democratic Party have always struggled to be taken seriously on national security issues, some say that many Democrats have over-compensated by taking non-critical and even hawkish positions in regards to the military, thus even lessening the amount of government constraint over the military hierarchy.

While most would agree that a government should listen to what its military has to say, two points that should be clear are that: in the end the elected, civilian government is who should make the final decisions; and the military should not be able to collude with independent lobbyists in the public arena to deceptively influence discussions on government policy, and to even undermine a government’s electoral support. As there are also rumours that General Petraeus may be planning to run for the US presidency in the not too distant future, the degree to which his actions and decisions are already part of a long election campaign must be considered. The United States rails against regimes overseas in which the military is a dominant political force – perhaps this issue also requires greater attention at home.

India’s Rise as a Great Power

Posted 17 June, 2010 by africaanalysis
Categories: Afghanistan, Americas, Asia, History, Middle East, World

The Regional and Global Implications of India’s Rise as a Great Power.

David Robinson

Introduction:

Over the last decade there has been an increasing focus on India’s economic and military expansion, and its consequences for South Asia and the world. India is rapidly rising to become a great power, but its ascent depends on maintaining relative domestic stability, and carefully crafting its policies towards the United States and its neighbours Pakistan and China. All four states are nuclear powers, so the consequences of any conflict between them are potentially dire.[1] India has found the post-Cold War international environment amenable to expansion of its bilateral ties with all the major powers simultaneously, and has thus pursued a strategy of ‘poly-alignment’ – seeking to be a ‘bridging power’ between the sometimes competing poles of the United States, Russia, China, and the European Union.[2] This inverts India’s traditional non-alignment policy, allowing India to reap the benefits of closer economic and strategic ties while maintaining the same spirit of balanced international relations.[3] To a degree this arises from uncertainty about the shape of the emerging international order, and India’s own lack of a credible vision of its place in that environment.[4] Nonetheless, its growing wealth and population is now enabling India to build up its military might, and as “a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic democracy … India is being asked to shoulder global responsibilities in consonance with its rising global stature”.[5] This paper will consider India’s rise as a global power, and the likely regional and global implications, through a specific focus on its relations with its strategically significant neighbours Pakistan and China, and argue that fundamentally the balance of power between them will not change dramatically in the near future.

The Rise of India:

As Indian power increases it will inevitably challenge existing political, economic and military patterns, but as Harsh Pant argues,

“India continues to be ambivalent about power, it has failed to develop a strategic agenda commensurate with its growing economic and military capabilities … throughout history, India has failed to master the creation, deployment and use of its military instruments in support of its national objectives”.[6]

From independence in 1947 Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru pursued a strategy of non-alignment that sought to avoid participation in the Cold War, prioritising multilateral institutions and the Non-Aligned Movement. Indian policy was always opposed to the use of military force in international relations.[7] However, as India begins to assert itself as a regional power it is today moving to convert its ‘brown-water’ navy into a ‘blue-water’ navy and is expanding the reach of its air force, moving beyond border control and demonstrating greater concern for strategic issues, such as the protection of shipping lanes.[8] While maintaining constructive relations with the United States, India has also been involved in trilateral dialogue with China and Russia, increasingly sharing their vision of a multipolar world based on consensus among the major powers. India has also become a non-voting member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), through which China and Russia have sought to strategically counterbalance NATO advancement into the Middle East and Central Asia.[9] At the same time, it is China’s conventional and nuclear capabilities that many argue remain the primary military threat to India’s security and the key motivation for India’s own nuclear weapons program; while the United States, under the G.W. Bush administration, negotiated a substantial deal that would assist India’s ‘civilian’ nuclear development. India’s other major challenge comes from its unstable neighbour Pakistan, with which full-scale war and nuclear exchange have been avoided despite clashes in the Kargil region of Kashmir in 1999, and attacks on India by Pakistani-backed terrorists in 2001 and 2008.[10]

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the 1991 Gulf War confronted India with an unprecedented financial crisis, as India simultaneously lost access to Eastern European markets, global oil prices spiked, and over 100,000 Indians were repatriated from the Gulf region, thus precluding their remittances. These economic shocks forced a dramatic rethink of Indian economic and foreign policies. Under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao India steered towards greater economic liberalisation and diplomatic diversity. The Rao government sought greater engagement with the United States and China, as well as making overtures to Israel and seeking improved relations with Southeast Asia through a ‘Look East’ policy.[11] Since then India’s average GDP growth rate has hovered at around 7 percent, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has predicted that in spite of the global financial crisis, India’s growth should remain at 6.5 percent in 2010.[12] Not only has India maintained this amazing economic growth, but it is also envisaged that in the next two decades India’s population “will surpass China’s to make it the world’s most populous country, and its rapidly expanding middle class may constitute up to 60 percent of its 1.3 billion-plus people”.[13] Internationally the Indian diaspora now numbers over 20 million, and is relatively affluent, successful, and well-integrated – spreading India’s ‘soft’ cultural influence.[14] While the approximately 3.7 million Indian nationals now living in the six Gulf (GCC) states specifically remit around $8 billion annually.[15]

Despite India’s meteoric economic development, it can be said India has both the best of the First World and the worst of the Third World within its borders, and faces unprecedented human security challenges.[16] India now has 410 million people living below the U.N. poverty line – 37.2 percent of its population and actually 100 million more people than in 2004 – and millions of India’s rural poor are faced with food price inflation of up to 17 percent.[17] 60 percent of Indian labour is still agricultural, and the integration of hundreds of millions of peasants into a modern economy may be an extremely painful process.[18] And while Indian infrastructure such as roads, civil aviation, ports, and telecommunications have experienced noticeable improvements in recent years, electricity, railways, and irrigation all still need significant investment; and India continues to lag in social infrastructure, such as education and healthcare.[19] These social inequalities have fuelled the widespread ‘Naxalite’ Maoist insurgency affecting vast areas throughout eastern and central India, and whose 20,000 insurgents current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh identified as the “greatest internal security threat” facing the nation.[20] These internal issues pose the first challenge to India’s rise as a great power, as external projection must be based on a firm foundation of domestic stability. The requirements for domestic stability also shape India’s international needs. Pant asserts that,

“The biggest challenge for India remains that of continuing to achieve the rates of economic growth that it has enjoyed in recent years. Everything else is of secondary importance. … Unless India can sustain this momentum, its larger foreign policy ambitions cannot be realized”.[21]

The political stability of India (and similarly its neighbour China) “is absolutely dependent on continued economic dynamism, which is in turn dependent on energy and resources which must be imported”[22], thus the process of diversifying and securing access to international energy sources is a vital element in avoiding domestic social and political turbulence.[23]

In this context Indian oil and gas companies have been encouraged to invest abroad, and have the long-term aim of producing tens of millions of tons of oil a year overseas by 2025. India has thus been developing strategic relationships with the major oil-producing Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, Central Asian states such as Turkmenistan, and increasingly Iran, as potential sources of energy. Multinational oil and gas pipeline projects have been high on India’s agenda for over a decade, though poor relations with its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar have prevented such a scheme; while the United States has used its significant leverage to insist India chooses between pipeline projects or a US-supported nuclear energy programme.[24]

The United States has been particularly concerned by India’s relations with Iran, which the international community has worked to isolate for some time. In this case the US is battling the logic of supply and demand as Iran has the world’s third largest reserve of oil, is nearby to India, and India is a resource-hungry customer. But India and Iran also have a convergence of other economic and strategic interests. The ‘Road Map to Strategic Cooperation’ signed by Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Iranian leader Mohammad Khatami in 2003 also mapped out cooperation for increased bilateral trade, and developments like Iran’s Chahbahar port complex, the Chahbahar-Fahranj-Bam railway link, and a Marine Oil Tanking Terminal.[25] The broader aim of these facilities is a North-South Transport Corridor with Russia that would help facilitate the flow of goods across Central Asia, taking cargo from Iran’s ports of Bandar Abbas or Chahbahar via rail to the Caspian Sea and on to Russia’s Caspian ports. This route would significantly reduce travel time and transport costs for exporters like India.[26] India and Iran also share concerns about Sunni Islamist power in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and there are reports of a strategic deal allowing Indian access to Iranian military bases and equipment in the event of war with Pakistan.[27] Politically, Iran has recognised Kashmir as a legitimate part of India; while India is thought to have transferred sensitive nuclear and rocket technology to Tehran, with direct security consequences for Europe and the United States.[28]

So, with energy pipelines still far from reality, and only a nascent civilian nuclear programme, India remains highly dependence on energy imports and increasingly seeks to secure sea shipping lanes for the transportation of oil, from nations like Iran and Myanmar, to as far abroad as Sudan and Nigeria.[29] Nearly half of global seaborne trade passes through the Indian Ocean, around 40 percent of offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean, and 65 percent of the world’s oil and 35 percent of its gas reserves are found in the littoral states of the Ocean. This makes the region generally strategically significant. With India’s ever-growing reliance on imported energy, any disruptions in the Indian Ocean (which are particularly feasible at ‘choke points’ such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca) can lead to serious consequences for the Indian economy. While a key danger is interruption of supply during a time of war, today non-state actors, such as organised criminals, pirates or terrorists, are also an increasing threat.[30] As India increasingly sees itself as a great power, and defines its security in terms of the entire Indian Ocean basin, its strategic frontiers will stretch from the African coast, to the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea, and potentially southwards as far as Antarctica. Continentally, India already looks to the economic and strategic importance of Central Asia, and has made moves to consolidate its strategic footing, including two airbases in Tajikistan.[31]

The US government’s recent National Intelligence Council ‘Global Trends 2025’ report projects that, “Maritime security concerns are providing a rationale for naval buildups and modernization efforts, such as China’s and India’s development of blue-water naval capabilities”.[32] Indeed India spent $10.5 billion between 2004 and 2007 on creating the world’s fourth-largest military[33], and is projected to spend more than $45 billion on arms purchases between 2009 and 2013.[34] These will include long-range aircraft, aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines that are intended to make India a formidable force in the Indian Ocean.[35] The Indian Navy is planning over the next decade to create a fleet of 130-140 vessels comprising three aircraft carrier battle groups, and has created a Far Eastern Naval Command, headquartered on the Andaman Islands – 190 nautical miles from Chinese facilities at Great Coco Island.[36] Meanwhile, India’s longer-term plans involve constructing a fleet capable of projecting power into the South China Sea.[37] There is also much speculation around India’s production of the new ‘Surya’ ICBM, which may use technology from India’s civilian space programme. India’s Agni medium-range ballistic missile programme currently consists of missiles with ranges of upwards of 700kms, 2,000kms, and 3,000kms. The Surya project will result in missiles with ranges of 5,000 kms, which can hit Chinese targets; 8,000-12,000 kms, which can reach the United States and Europe; and 20,000 kms, which will have a global reach. These will have the option of a nuclear payload, and potentially multiple warheads.[38] The reported 12,000km-range Surya-2 in particular is tailor-made to target the United States.[39] This expansion of India’s missile capacity may create increased tensions with China, and may hinder cooperation with Europe and the United States.[40]

Today the United States remains the key external actor in the Indian Ocean, with its military presence stretching from north and east Africa to the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, east to Singapore, and southwards to Diego Garcia. “America’s raw power in the region has made it imperative that New Delhi court the United States”.[41] From the time of Indian independence some American analysts already saw the potential for India to compete for influence with Communist China, but as India took its non-aligned path the US found a willing ally in Pakistan, which provided military bases in exchange for economic and military aid.[42] The US relationship with Pakistan led to them taking financial and political actions against India following the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistani wars, despite Pakistan being the aggressor. Eventually President Reagan made moves to close the diplomatic gap with India in an effort to wean New Delhi away from dependence on Moscow, thus the 1982-1991 period witnessed a gradual warming of US-Indian relations. The collapse of superpower competition in 1991 then allowed the United States to move away from its Pakistani ally and engage with India.[43] By March 2000 President Clinton made this new relationship clear while visiting India, stating that, “we are convinced that it is time to chart a new and purposeful direction in our relationship”.[44] This was enacted through the ‘Next Steps in Strategic Partnership’ agreement of January 2004, which announced expanded cooperation in civilian nuclear activities and space programs, as well as missile defence. A senior official made the strategic design of this relationship clear, announcing that America’s, “goal is to help India become a major world power in the 21st century … We understand fully the implications, including military implications, of that statement”.[45]

As part of this emerging relationship the United States has subsequently held joint military operations with India, encouraging them to actively patrol the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, and President G.W. Bush sponsored agreements facilitating the development of India’s nuclear program.[46] President Bush signed the US-India Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Bill into law in December 2006, which will result in up to $40 billion in trade with India in defence and energy products.[47] Contrary to non-proliferation goals, the deal leaves India free to develop its military nuclear capabilities and increases its ability to access uranium and nuclear technologies.[48] Supporters of the deal see it as President Bush’s,

“greatest foreign policy achievement. This success, if sustained through wise policies and skilful diplomacy by future administrations, will portend enormous consequences for the future balance of power in Asia and globally to the advantage of the United States”.[49]

Subsequently, under the Obama administration, the Indian government signed a $2.1 billion contract with the US for eight long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, capable of anti-submarine and anti-surface naval warfare.[50] Despite India’s advocacy of a non-polar world, Indian policymakers recognise the benefits of American sponsorship; and both nations agree that it serves neither American nor Indian interests for a powerful authoritarian China to dominate the Asian landmass, or for radical Islamic to wage wars that threaten the security of both states.[51] Thus, as the United States perceives strategic advantage from assisting India’s rise to great power status, and India is receiving tangible military and economic benefits from this relationship, for the foreseeable future India’s continued ascendance will be supported by the global hegemon.

The Problem of Pakistan:

India’s geographically closest and most frequently problematic relationship is with its neighbour and prodigal twin Pakistan. India’s rise as a great power will most immediately impact the extremely dangerous stalemate between these two states. Many security concerns converge in Pakistan, which has been a key supporter of the Taliban in Afghanistan, factions of which the Pakistani Army is now fighting in a de facto civil war; elements within the state support Islamic terrorist organisations that periodically attack India, provoking regional crises; and, the Pakistani Army has a growing nuclear arsenal, which could be vulnerable to misuse by malicious elements within the state.[52] India and Pakistan engaged in wars in 1965 and 1971, with crises surrounding continuing Pakistani support for an indigenous insurgency in the disputed Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir erupting periodically, and threatening war in 1990.[53] Following Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests in May 1998, Pakistani incursions across the Line of Control in the Kargil region of Kashmir led to another limited war, and the veiled nuclear threat by Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed, “We will not hesitate to use any weapon in our arsenal to defend our territorial integrity”.[54] Major terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir on 1 October 2001, and in the Indian capital Delhi on 13 December 2001, again threatened war though merely resulted in major military manoeuvres by India – code-named Operation Parakram.[55] The lack of military retaliation by India despite grave provocation seems to suggest that India is successfully deterred by Pakistan’s nuclear capability, and this in turn only fuels the eagerness of elements within Pakistan to provoke them.[56] Pakistan has adopted an ‘asymmetric nuclear escalation posture’, which has deterred Indian conventional military power and thus enabled Pakistan’s “aggressive strategy of bleeding India by a ‘thousand cuts’ with little fear of significant retaliation”.[57]

India is four times larger and seven times more populated than Pakistan, and as Pakistan averages only 300 miles in width it is susceptible to a central assault that would spilt the country in two. A number of important Pakistani cities also lie close to the international border in the Indus River basin.[58] As Pakistan is thus extremely vulnerable to conventional attack by India’s larger military, it defines such an attack as an existential threat to the Pakistani state. Pakistani Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai thus outlined that Pakistan would use its nuclear weapons if India attacks Pakistan and conquers a large part of its territory; India destroys a large part of Pakistan’s land or air forces; India blockades Pakistan in an effort to strangle it economically; or India pushes Pakistan into a state of political destabilisation.[59] This asymmetric escalation posture is designed for a rapid first use of nuclear weapons against conventional attacks, thus leaving India without the ability to punish terrorist attacks through conventional retaliation.[60] As elements within Pakistan continue to provoke India, this creates an extremely dangerous imbalance reliant on India’s restraint to maintain peace.

Vipin Narang notes that, “Scholars who study the South Asian nuclear balance have argued that if a limited clash between India and Pakistan were to expand into a full-scale conventional war, escalation to the nuclear level would likely result”.[61] And most of the ‘war-game’ scenarios played out by the US military also foresee any conventional conflict between India and Pakistan escalating to the use of nuclear weapons within the first 12 days.[62] New analyses of this eventuality reveal that a conflict be­tween India and Pakistan, in which 100 nuclear bombs were dropped on cities and industrial areas within the two countries, would kill more than 20 million people from the blasts, fires and radioactivity. However, in addition, the explosions could produce enough smoke to cripple global agriculture. Smoke generated by burning cities could create a climatic response that immediately reduces sunlight, cools the planet, and reduces precipitation worldwide. This ‘nuclear winter’ would reduce or eliminate agricultur­al production over vast areas, simultaneously decreasing crop yields nearly everywhere at once. Approximately one billion people worldwide today live on marginal food supplies and would be directly threatened with starvation.[63] While some analysts maintain that nuclear weapons would only be used in a measured way, the chaos, fear and interruption of communications that would follow nuclear war’s commencement leads some to doubt that attacks would be limited in any rational manner.[64] Additionally, Pakistan could face a decision to use its entire nuclear arsenal quickly or lose it to Indian forces which seize its military bases.[65] Thus unrestrained nuclear war in South Asia potentially has cataclysmic regional and global consequences.

Following the terrorist attack by Kashmiri militants in December 2001 and the subsequent military standoff with Pakistan in Operation Parakram, the Indian Army announced a new limited war policy in April 2004 called the Cold Start doctrine, which aims to allow conventional retaliation without posing an existential threat to Pakistan.[66] Under Cold Start the Indian army would avoid delivering a catastrophic blow to Pakistan, and instead deliberately only make shallow territorial gains, 50–80kms deep, that could be used in post-conflict negotiations. This doctrine aims to deny Pakistan the justification of ‘regime survival’ for employing nuclear weapons in response to a conventional Indian attack.[67] However, Walter C. Ladwig foresees that, “An operational Cold Start capability could lead Pakistan to lower its nuclear red line, put its nuclear weapons on a higher state of readiness, develop tactical nuclear weapons, or undertake some equally destabilizing course of action”.[68] The danger of escalation is further compounded by the relatively immature ‘command and control’ and early warning systems of both India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals.[69] Scott Sagan also points out the danger of nuclear accident as, if one of the nations accidentally blows up a nuclear warhead on one of its own military bases, it probably will not have adequate surveillance intelligence to know it has not been attacked by its enemy, and thus may falsely ‘retaliate’ against the other country.[70]

Meanwhile, in the context of the continuing conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan believes the United States will intervene to prevent war, as it relies on Pakistani troops along the Afghan border, and supplies for American forces are transported through Pakistan. Thus Pakistan believes the only potential military action available to India is air-strikes against Islamist training camps, which itself is not a serious problem, and may actually help Islamabad by killing destabilising jihadists while generating massive support among Pakistanis for their government.[71] The dual problems of nuclear escalation and American reliance on Pakistan for counter-insurgency meant that following terrorist attacks in Mumbai by Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba on 26 November 2008, which killed 163 people, India was unable to respond with conventional military strikes.[72] Any attack by India might either destabilise the Pakistani government, or escalate the conflict to nuclear exchange. In the event of state disintegration, Pakistani nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of militant elements who would attempt to use those weapons against India or the West.[73]

Unfortunately, there is no easy path to stabilising reform within Pakistan. Pakistan essentially has a feudal political establishment, run by a civilian aristocracy of wealthy agricultural landowners and industrialists, and the Army.[74] The civilian political parties primarily function as patronage networks, without deep-seated ideological differences, and merely struggle to control state resources. As a key aim of the agricultural and industrial elites is to avoiding paying income taxes, the Pakistani government is also chronically in debt.[75] The Army is seen by most Pakistanis as the primary defender of the nation and the ultimate guarantor of domestic stability. The ever-present threat of India is used to justify the Army’s disproportionate share of national resources, and the Army itself also owns and manages a large agricultural and industrial empire. Domestically, the Army is the ultimate power-broker between the political parties, and has acted on several occasions to remove the party in power.[76] As successive governments have received bailouts from international financial institutions, neither the civilian political elites nor the Army have felt any real incentive to institute fundamental change.[77]

For the time-being the Army is objectively the most stable and responsible force to control the country. The Pakistani military is the only state institution that works effectively, and without it Pakistan would probably have disintegrated long ago.[78] The dire alternative is the representatives of the rising wave of radical Islam who arose from the madrassas under the patronage of General Zia-Ul-Huq, and gained their training in the US-backed mujahadeen struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.[79] These elements, and more recent jihadist recruits, are currently involved in the Kashmiri terrorist organisations like Jaysh-e-Mohammad (JeM), and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), as well as in the Afghani and Pakistani Taliban who occupy Pakistan’s border provinces.[80] While the Pakistani Army and intelligence services (ISI) are often unwilling to directly challenge these forces (and indeed currently cultivate relations with the Kashmiri groups and the Afghani Taliban), and external (and particularly American) attempts to deploy foreign forces in Pakistani territory would almost certainly make things worse, this unstable situation is likely to continue.[81]

As India’s power increases, so will its ability to strategically encircle Pakistan, through relations with Iran and Afghanistan, and via naval power. At the same time India’s patience for Pakistan’s continuing terrorist provocations will probably lessen. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s deterrent capabilities remain, as either unsuccessful or successful attacks on the Pakistani state are likely to result in either nuclear exchange or widespread chaos and bloodshed. However, if India continues restraint, and reaches out to more moderate elements within the military and civilian political parties, it could leverage its growing economic strength to gradually help a more moderate Pakistani state develop.

The Challenge of China:

On a grander strategic level, relations between India and China will be highly significant as India emerges as a great power. There is a growing interdependence between the two Asian giants, as China is now India’s number-one trading partner, with more than $52 billion in bilateral trade, and estimates are that China-India trade will surpass US-China trade by 2020. China’s powerful manufacturing sector complements India’s combination of a raw materials and cutting-edge technology economy.[82] Strategically, a strong and influential India helps create a more multipolar world, consistent with Chinese interests, however China increasingly regards India as its main Asian rival.[83] China is thus involved in a complex game of encirclement with India. China has armed Pakistan with nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology, and has built “strong military-to-military ties with Burma, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka as part of what Indians see as a strategy to tie India down, Gulliver-like, in its region”.[84] China is also developing deep-water ports throughout the Indian Ocean to support its projected blue-water naval capacity.

Meanwhile, on the Indo-Tibetan border China continues to press its claims to vast tracts of Indian territory.[85] Over the past year increased friction in the border area between India and China has led to incursions by Chinese troops, the wounding of several Indian border police, and a build-up of military forces on both sides, as Beijing has been uncharacteristically assertive in its claims to sections of India’s Arunachal Pradesh state. The Indians responded by moving 30,000 troops and its latest warplanes into the area, leading some analysts to predict a China-India war within five years.[86]

China rejects the McMahon Line that forms the border between it and India, and places the traditional Sino-Indian border at the base of the Himalayan foothills.[87] For China, control of Tibet is strategically important, providing a barrier with its populous and economically and militarily-advancing neighbour. The high mountain passes of Tibet provide virtually impenetrable terrain which is easy to militarily protect. Along the frontier directly south of this border in India is one of the largest population concentrations in the world. Beijing fears that if China were to withdraw from Tibet this population could migrate into the Himalayas and Tibet could gradually turn into a beachhead for Indian power, which would directly abut Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in central China. The Chinese thus see control of Tibet as a matter of fundamental national security.[88] They also see the 1959 decision by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to give asylum to the Dalai Lama, and the continuing support for the Tibetan government-in-exile, as perpetuating this threat.[89] Thus, “Beijing’s price for a border settlement and for normalisation of ties with India, appears to be that India dismantle the Tibetan settlement in Dharamshala and request the Dalai Lama take up residence in another country”.[90]

Meanwhile, on a broader front, 80 percent of China’s oil and gas supplies transit the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, so the Chinese navy is increasingly making its presence felt in the area in order to secure its lines of supply.[91] Like India, for China the steady flow of imported resources is not just an issue of economic growth, but also of the longevity of the Chinese Communist Party’s rule. Chinese leaders increasingly fear that adversaries could blockade sea lanes and strategic bottlenecks such as the Strait of Malacca, and are thus moving to an offshore defence policy that will include ‘distant ocean defence’. However, China’s actions may impinge upon India’s interests and destabilise relations.[92]

Following ‘defensive realist’ strategies, the nations will attempt to gain power for self-preservation, and each nation will see this move by the other as a strategic threat, thus decreasing collective security.[93] As part of this competition China has been developing a ‘string-of-pearls’ strategy, expanding influence into ports in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. According to a report by US defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH), “China is building strategic relationships along the sea lanes from the Middle East to the South China Sea in a way that suggests defensive and offensive positioning to protect China’s energy interests”.[94] China emerged as the biggest military spender in the Asia-Pacific in 2006, and now has the fourth-largest defence expenditure in the world.[95] Meanwhile, China’s navy is considered the third-largest in the world behind only the US and Russia, and it is superior to the Indian navy.[96] In this context, India perceives Chinese actions as power maximisation, and fears that China’s forward-basing strategy will be used to contain India and rapidly achieve hegemony in the Indian Ocean.[97]

Meanwhile, China and India have adopted nuclear ‘assured retaliation’ postures (what they sometimes refer to as “credible minimum deterrence”), which rely on small but secure and survivable nuclear forces that assure a retaliatory strike against their primary opponent’s targets.[98] In many ways this seems like the most stable aspect of the competition between India and China, though it is yet to be seen what reaction a new generation of Indian Surya missiles might provoke. Meanwhile, many analysts expect that China will follow a consistent but non-provocative build-up of its military capabilities and diplomatic alliances over the long-term, aiming to gradually edge the United States out of a hegemonic position.[99] India is likely to mirror this build-up, so tension and possible low-level confrontation may result on the India-China border and in the Indian Ocean region.

Conclusion:

India’s rise to great power status is inevitable and will occur quickly over the coming decades, especially as the United States believes this will assist it in maintaining a global strategic balance. This will lead to a greater exertion of India’s power outside of its borders, and especially into the Indian Ocean region, which it sees as being essentially for its economic and social stability. The two states that India’s ascent will have the greatest strategic impact on will be its neighbours Pakistan and China, however, for contrasting reasons, this impact may not change the fundamental power balance that exists today. Pakistan is already overwhelmed by the military strength of India, and thus its primary defences are the threat of nuclear exchange, or state disintegration – neither of which will definitely be undermined by rising Indian power. In contrast, China and India will have increasingly complex and intertwined relations, but the economic and strategic issues that bind them, and the evenly-matched nature of their conventional and nuclear forces, are likely to maintain relative peace and strategic stability. India sees itself as an emerging great power in a multi-power world, which will maintain a strategy of poly-alignment. With the balance of forces developing as they are, that projection is likely to become a reality.

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[2] Pant, Harsh V. “A Rising India’s Search for a Foreign Policy”, Orbis, Vol 53, No 2, 2009, p264.

[3] Hedrick, Brian K. India’s Strategic Defense Transformation: Expanding Global Relationships, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, November 2009, pp42-43.

[4] Pant, Harsh V. “Indian Foreign and Security Policy: Beyond Nuclear Weapons”, Brown Journal of World Affairs, Vol 25, No 2, Spring/Summer 2009, p236.

[5] Pant, “A Rising India”, p252.

[6] Pant, “A Rising India”, pp252-255.

[7] Ganguly, Sumit and Manjeet S. Pardesi, “Explaining Sixty Years of India’s Foreign Policy”, India Review, Vol 8, No 1, January–March 2009, pp5-6.

[8] Hedrick, “India’s Strategic”, p46.

[9] Tarique Niazi, “Pushback to Unilateralism: the China-India-Russia Alliance”, Foreign Policy In Focus, Washington, DC, 20 December 2007.

[10] Ganguly and Pardesi, “Explaining Sixty Years”, p15.

[11] Ganguly and Pardesi, “Explaining Sixty Years”, pp10-14.

[12] Hong, Zhao. “An Energy Comparison of the Asian Giants: China and India”, Asian Affairs, Vol 15, No 3, November 2009, p377.

[13] Twining, Daniel. “Diplomatic Negligence: The Obama administration fumbles relations with India”, The Weekly Standard, Vol 15, No 32, 10 May 2010, http://weeklystandard.com/articles/diplomatic-negligence

[14] Varma, Pavan K. “Citizen India: The Many Are One”, World Policy Journal, Spring 2009, p51.

[15] Berlin, Donald L. “India in the Indian Ocean”, Naval War College Review, Spring 2006, Vol 59, No 2, p71.

[16] Sung Won Kim, David P. Fidler, and Sumit Ganguly, “Eastphalia Rising? Asian Influence and the Fate of Human Security”, World Policy Journal, Summer 2009, p64.

[17] “100 million more Indians now living in poverty”, The Economic Times, 18 Apr 2010, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/100-million-more-Indians-now-living-in-poverty/articleshow/5829267.cms

[18] Bardhan, Pranab. “Crouching Tiger, Lumbering Elephant? The Rise of China and India in a Comparative Economic Perspective”, Brown Journal of World Affairs, Fall/Winter 2006, Vol 13, No 1, p51.

[19] Bardhan, “Crouching Tiger”, p52.

[20] Pant, “Indian Foreign and Security Policy”, p231.

[21] Pant, “Indian Foreign and Security Policy”, p226.

[22] Copley, Gregory R. “The Global Energy Framework: A New Conceptual Matrix”, in Gregory R. Copley, Andrew Pickford and Kenneth Chern (eds), Energy Security in the IndoPacific Basins: Looking at the Broader Context in a Time of Change, (FDI Occasional Paper 3), Perth, Western Australia: Future Directions International, 2008, p5.

[23] Hong, “An Energy Comparison”, p379.

[24] Hong, “An Energy Comparison”, pp384-387.

[25] Fair, C. Christine. “India-Iran Security Ties: Thicker Than Oil”, in Henry Sokolski (ed), Gauging U.S.-Indian Strategic Cooperation, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, March 2007, p271.

[26] Fair, “India-Iran Security Ties”, p273.

[27] Fair, “India-Iran Security Ties”, p276.

[28] Sokolski, Henry. “Negotiating the Obstacles to U.S.-Indian Strategic Cooperation”, in Henry Sokolski (ed), Gauging U.S.-Indian Strategic Cooperation, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, March 2007, p4.

[29] Blazevic, Jason J. “Defensive Realism in the Indian Ocean: Oil, Sea Lanes and the Security Dilemma”, China Security, Vol 5 No 3, 2009, p65.

[30] Pant, Harsh V. “India in the Indian Ocean: Growing Mismatch Between Ambitions and Capabilities”, Pacific Affairs, Vol 82, No 2 Summer 2009, pp280-284.

[31] Fair, “India-Iran Security Ties”,, p265.

[32] Erickson, Andrew S. and Gabriel B. Collins, “China’s Oil Security Pipe Dream: The Reality, and Strategic Consequences, of Seaborne Imports”, Naval War College Review, Spring 2010, Vol 63, No 2, p89.

[33] Srivastava, Siddharth. “Indian arms spree on the fast track”, Asia Times, 4 June 2009, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KF04Df01.html

[34] Pant, “Indian Foreign and Security Policy”, p226.

[35] Pant, “India in the Indian Ocean”, p284.

[36] Blazevic, “Defensive Realism”, p65.

[37] Hallinan, Conn. “U.S. and India–A Dangerous Alliance”, Foreign Policy In Focus, Washington, DC.  6 May 2003, http://www.fpif.org/articles/us_and_india-a_dangerous_alliance

[38] Speier, Richard. “U.S. Satellite Space Launch Cooperation and India’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Program”, in Henry Sokolski (ed), Gauging U.S.-Indian Strategic Cooperation, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, March 2007, pp189-190.

[39] Speier, “U.S. Satellite Space Launch”, p192.

[40] Speier, “U.S. Satellite Space Launch”, p199.

[41] Berlin, “India in the Indian Ocean”, p66.

[42] Mian, Zia. “A Story of Leaders, Partners, and Clients”, Foreign Policy In Focus, Washington, DC, 27 September 2005, http://www.fpif.org/articles/a_story_of_leaders_partners_and_clients

[43] Tellis, Ashley J. “What Should We Expect from India as a Strategic Partner?”, in Henry Sokolski (ed), Gauging U.S.-Indian Strategic Cooperation, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, March 2007, pp233-234.

[44] Mian, “A Story of Leaders”.

[45] Mian, “A Story of Leaders”.

[46] Hallinan, Conn. “China and India Battle Over Thin Air”, Foreign Policy In Focus, Washington, DC. 27 January 2010,  http://www.fpif.org/articles/china_and_india_battle_over_thin_air

[47] Kamdar, Mira. “The Real Prize in India-U.S. Relations”, World Policy Journal, Winter 2006/07, p60.

[48] Kamdar, “The Real Prize”, p61.

[49] Tellis, “What Should We Expect”, p231.

[50] Pandit, Rajat. “India inks largest-ever defence deal with US”, The Times of India, 5 Jan 2009, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India_inks_largest-ever_defence_deal_with_US/articleshow/3934357.cms

[51] Tellis, “What Should We Expect”, p244.

[52] Narang, Vipin. “Posturing for Peace? Pakistan’s Nuclear Postures and South Asian Stability”, International Security, Vol 34, No 3, Winter 2009/10, p40.

[53] Ganguly, Sumit. “Nuclear Stability in South Asia”, International Security, Vol 33, No 2, Fall 2008, p51.

[54] Ganguly, “Nuclear Stability”, pp55-56.

[55] Ganguly, “Nuclear Stability”, p60.

[56] Ganguly, “Nuclear Stability”, p66.

[57] Narang, “Posturing for Peace?”, p39.

[58] Ladwig III, Walter C. “A Cold Start for Hot Wars? The Indian Army’s New Limited War Doctrine”, International Security, Vol 32, No 3, Winter 2007/08, p174.

[59] Ladwig, “A Cold Start for Hot Wars?”, p168.

[60] Narang, “Posturing for Peace?”, p44.

[61] Ladwig, “A Cold Start for Hot Wars?”, p167.

[62] Ricks, Thomas E. “India-Pakistan Nuclear Rivalry”, The Wall Street Journal, 24 June 1998, http://www.defencejournal.com/aug98/indiapakrivalry.htm

[63] Robock, Alan and Owen Brian Toon, “Local Nuclear War, Global Suffering”, Scientific American Magazine, January 2010, p79.

[64] Robock and Toon, “Local Nuclear War”, p75.

[65] Robock and Toon, “Local Nuclear War”, p77.

[66] Ladwig, “A Cold Start for Hot Wars?”, p158.

[67] Ladwig, “A Cold Start for Hot Wars?”, p166.

[68] Ladwig, “A Cold Start for Hot Wars?”, p169.

[69] Ladwig, “A Cold Start for Hot Wars?”, p175.

[70] Ricks, “India-Pakistan Nuclear Rivalry”.

[71] Friedman, George. “Next Steps in the Indo-Pakistani Crisis”, Stratfor Geopolitical Weekly, 8 December 2008, http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20081208_next_steps_indo_pakistani_crisis

[72] Narang, “Posturing for Peace?”, p38.

[73] Friedman, “Next Steps in the Indo-Pakistani Crisis”.

[74] Schmidt, John R. “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, Survival, Vol 51, No 3, 2009, p29.

[75] Schmidt, “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, p30.

[76] Schmidt, “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, p31.

[77] Schmidt, “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, p32.

[78] Lieven, Anatol. “All Kayani’s Men”, National Interest Online, 30 April 2010,

http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=23214

[79] Schmidt, “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, p33.

[80] Schmidt, “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, p34.

[81] Schmidt, “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, p45.

[82] Hallinan, “China and India Battle”.

[83] Berlin, “India in the Indian Ocean”, p85.

[84] Twining, “Diplomatic Negligence”.

[85] Twining, “Diplomatic Negligence”.

[86] Hallinan, “China and India Battle”.

[87] Sperling, Elliot. “The Politics of History and the Indo-Tibetan Border (1987–88)”, India Review, Vol 7, No 3, July–September, 2008, pp223-224.

[88] Friedman, George. “Chinese Geopolitics and the Significance of Tibet”, Stratfor Geopolitical Weeky, 15 April 2008, http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/chinese_geopolitics_and_significance_tibet

[89] Nalapat, Madhav. “The History of Sino-India Tensions”, The Diplomat, 1 December 2009, http://the-diplomat.com/2009/12/01/the-history-of-sino-india-tensions/

[90] Nalapat, “The History of Sino-India Tensions”.

[91] Hallinan, “China and India Battle”.

[92] Blazevic, “Defensive Realism”, pp59-60.

[93] Blazevic, “Defensive Realism”, p61.

[94] Blazevic, “Defensive Realism”, p63.

[95] Pant, “India in the Indian Ocean”, p286.

[96] Pant, “India in the Indian Ocean”, p287.

[97] Blazevic, “Defensive Realism”, p64.

[98] Narang, “Posturing for Peace?”, p44.

[99] Walt, Stephen M. “China’s new strategy”, Foreign Policy, 26 April 2010,

http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/04/25/chinas_new_strategy

America’s War Costs Hit $1 Trillion

Posted 31 May, 2010 by africaanalysis
Categories: Afghanistan, Americas, Asia, Human Rights, Iraq, Middle East, World

A statement on America’s wars by the Congresswoman for Illinois, Rep. Jan Schakowsky.

“What Have we Bought for $1 Trillion?”

28 May 2010

Rep. Jan Schakowsky

Congresswoman from Illinois

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-jan-schakowsky/what-have-we-bought-for-1_b_594031.html

As of 10:06 on Sunday, May 30th, we will have spent $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A trillion dollars is a baffling amount of money. If you write it out, use twelve zeros. Even after serving in Congress for over a decade, I, like most Americans, still have a hard time wrapping my head around sums like this.

This month, we mark the seventh anniversary of President Bush’s declaration of “mission accomplished” in Iraq, yet five American soldiers have been killed there in May alone. Iraqis went to the polls nearly three months ago, but the political system remains so fractured that no party has been able to piece together a coalition. There are some indications that sectarian violence is again on the rise.

The only clear winner of the Iraq war is Iran. Their mortal enemy, Saddam Hussein, was taken out and fellow Shiites are in charge. Iran has been emboldened to the point of threatening the stability of the region and the world with its growing nuclear capability.

And then there’s Afghanistan, which, after nearly a decade of war, represents the longest continuous U.S. military engagement ever. Even the non-partisan Congressional Research Service recently declared the situation in Afghanistan as a “deteriorating security situation and no comprehensive political outcome yet in sight.” And the U.S. military just suffered its 1,000th casualty in Afghanistan on Friday.

So the real question is: What have we bought for $1 trillion? Are we safer? As our troops and treasure are still locked down in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorists are training, recruiting and organizing in Somalia, Yemen and dozens of other places around the globe. While it appears that we have made significant progress in weakening Al Qaeda’s network, we have increasing concerns about homegrown terrorists.

Isn’t it time to invest in a different strategy? I have been doing a lot of thinking about the nexus between the low status of women and the presence of instability, violence and terrorism. It is simply a fact that the countries in which women are least empowered are the most violent. Could it be that policy-makers and defense experts have overlooked a tool that is staring us right in the face? It’s in the eyes of women — sometimes masked by a burqa, sometimes scarred with acid, sometimes tear stained from the grief of losing a husband or child to war. It’s these women who are often fiercely determined to stop the killing and provide a secure environment for their families. Does it even make sense for half of the human race to play only a minor role in countries now plagued by war and violence?

The data indisputably prove the case that when investments are made in women, communities are more stable, healthier, and less violent. The principle tools, which just happen to be far less expensive than the weapons and manpower of war, are the education of girls and economic empowerment of women.

We already have some positive experience that we can build upon. Where the U.S. military and our NATO allies have made a conscious effort to reach out to local women in a culturally sensitive way, they have seen the benefits of utilizing the unique abilities of these women. A Canadian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar met regularly with local women leaders who notified NATO of local corruption and security threats and also conveyed their priorities for improving life in their communities. The U.S. marines have found that using Female Engagement Teams to establish dialogue and collaboration with Afghan women has helped to build rapport between Americans and Afghans, as well as providing critical intelligence that might otherwise have been missed.

On Sunday we hit the $1 trillion mark, but on Memorial Day we will honor all those men and women who gave their lives to fight for this country. This includes the over 5,000 men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Even in difficult economic times, this is by far the most devastating cost of all: the lives we have lost in these two conflicts.

This weekend, I hope all Americans will take the opportunity to consider the cost of ongoing war. We simply cannot afford to continue pouring American blood and treasure into conflicts that will never be solved by a total dependence on military force. We should look to the women to provide the cost-effective, powerful force for peace.

Russia, Poland, Germany and the Future of Europe

Posted 26 May, 2010 by africaanalysis
Categories: Americas, Europe, World

Unfortunately, life has been pretty hectic for me over the last month or so, thus my straight reposting of others’ writings.  This is the latest piece from one of my new favourite analysis sources, Stratfor, on the current political and economic turbulence in Europe.

George Friedman, “Germany After the EU and the Russian Scenario”

25 May 2010

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100524_germany_after_eu_russian_scenario

“This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

Discussions about Europe currently are focused on the Greek financial crisis and its potential effect on the future of the European Union. Discussions these days involving military matters and Europe appear insignificant and even anachronistic. Certainly, we would agree that the future of the European Union towers over all other considerations at the moment, but we would argue that scenarios for the future of the European Union exist in which military matters are far from archaic.

Russia and the Polish Patriots

For example, the Polish government recently announced that the United States would deploy a battery of Patriot missiles to Poland. The missiles arrived this week. When the United States canceled its land-based ballistic missile defense system under intense Russian pressure, the Obama administration appeared surprised at Poland’s intense displeasure with the decision. Washington responded by promising the Patriots instead, the technology the Poles had wanted all along. While the Patriot does not enhance America’s ability to protect itself against long-range ballistic missiles from, for example, Iran, it does give Poland some defense against shorter-ranged ballistic missiles and substantial defense against conventional air attack.

Russia is the only country capable of such attacks on Poland with even the most distant potential interest in doing so, and at this point, this is truly an abstract threat. In removing a system that was really not a threat to Russian interests — U.S. ballistic missile defense at most can handle only a score of missiles, meaning it would have a negligible impact on the Russian nuclear deterrent — the United States ironically has installed a system that could affect Russia. Under the current circumstances, this is not really significant. While much is being made of having a few U.S. boots on the ground east of Germany within 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) of the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, a few hundred technicians and guards are simply not an offensive threat.

Still, the Russians — with a long history of seeing improbable threats turning into very real ones — tend to take hypothetical limits on their power seriously. They also tend to take gestures seriously, knowing that gestures often germinate into strategic intent. The Russians obviously oppose this deployment, as the Patriots would allow Poland in league with NATO — and perhaps even by itself — to achieve local air superiority. There are many crosscurrents in Russian policy, however.

For the moment, the Russians are interested in encouraging better economic relations with the West, as they could use technology and investment that would make them more than a commodity exporter. Moreover, with the Europeans preoccupied with their economic crisis and the United States still bogged down in the Middle East and needing Russian support on Iran, Moscow has found little outside resistance to its efforts to increase its influence in the former Soviet Union. Moscow is not unhappy about the European crisis and wouldn’t want to do anything that might engender greater European solidarity. After all, a solid economic bloc turning into an increasingly powerful and integrated state would pose challenges to Russia in the long run that Moscow is happy to do without. The Patriot deployment is a current irritation and a hypothetical military problem, but the Russians are not inclined to create a crisis with Europe over it — though this doesn’t mean Moscow won’t make countermoves on the margins when it senses opportunities.

For its part, the Obama administration is not focused on Poland at present. It is obsessed with internal matters, South Asia and the Middle East. The Patriots were shipped based on a promise made months ago to calm Central European nerves over the Obama administration’s perceived lack of commitment to the region. In the U.S. State and Defense department sections charged with shipping Patriots to Poland, the delivery process was almost an afterthought; repeated delays in deploying the system highlighted Washington’s lack of strategic intent.

It is therefore tempting to dismiss the Patriots as of little importance, as merely the combination of a hangover from a Cold War mentality and a minor Obama administration misstep. Indeed, even a sophisticated observer of the international system might barely note it. But we would argue that it is more important than it appears precisely because of everything else going on.

Existential Crisis in the EU

The European Union is experiencing an existential crisis. This crisis is not about Greece, but rather, what it is that members of the European Union owe each other and what controls the European Union has over its members. The European Union did well during a generation of prosperity. As financial crisis struck, better-off members were called on to help worse-off members. Again, this is not just about Greece — the 2008 credit crisis in Central Europe was about the same thing. The wealthier countries, Germany in particular, are not happy at the prospect of spending taxpayer money to assist countries dealing with popped credit bubbles.

They really don’t want to do that, and if they do, they really want to have controls over the ways these other countries spend their money so this circumstance doesn’t arise again. Needless to say, Greece — and countries that might wind up like Greece — do not want foreign control over their finances.

If there are no mutual obligations among EU member nations, and the German and Greek publics don’t want to bail out or submit, respectively, then the profound question is raised of what Europe is going to be — beyond a mere free trade zone — after this crisis. This is not simply a question of the euro surviving, although that is no trivial matter.

The euro and the European Union will probably survive this crisis — although their mutual failure is not nearly as unthinkable as the Europeans would have thought even a few months ago — but this is not the only crisis Europe will experience. Something always will be going wrong, and Europe does not have institutions that could handle these problems. Events in the past few weeks indicate that European countries are not inclined to create such institutions, and that public opinion will limit European governments’ ability to create or participate in these institutions. Remember, building a super state requires one of two things: a war to determine who is in charge or political unanimity to forge a treaty. Europe is — vividly — demonstrating the limitations on the second strategy.

Whatever happens in the short run, it is difficult to envision any further integration of European institutions. And it is very easy to see how the European Union will devolve from its ambitious vision into an alliance of convenience built around economic benefits negotiated and renegotiated among the partners. It would thus devolve from a union to a treaty, with no interest beyond self-interest.

The German Question Revisited

We return to the question that has defined Europe since 1871, namely, the status of Germany in Europe. As we have seen during the current crisis, Germany is clearly the economic center of gravity in Europe, and this crisis has shown that the economic and the political issues are very much one and the same. Unless Germany agrees, nothing can be done, and if Germany so wishes, something will be done. Germany has tremendous power in Europe, even if it is confined largely to economic matters. But just as Germany is the blocker and enabler of Europe, over time that makes Germany the central problem of Europe.

If Germany is the key decision maker in Europe, then Germany defines whatever policies Europe as a whole undertakes. If Europe fragments, then Germany is the only country in Europe with the ability to create alternative coalitions that are both powerful and cohesive. That means that if the European Union weakens, Germany will have the greatest say in what Europe will become. Right now, the Germans are working assiduously to reformulate the European Union and the eurozone in a manner more to their liking. But as this requires many partners to offer sovereignty to German control — sovereignty they have jealously guarded throughout the European project — it is worth exploring alternatives to Germany in the European Union.

For that we first must understand Germany’s limits. The German problem is the same problem it has had since unification: It is enormously powerful, but it is far from omnipotent. Its very power makes it the focus of other powers, and together, these other powers can cripple Germany. Thus, Germany is indispensable for any decision within the European Union at present, and it will be the single center of power in Europe in the future — but Germany can’t just go it alone. Germany needs a coalition, meaning the long-term question is this: If the EU were to weaken or even fail, what alternative coalition would Germany seek?

The casual answer is France, as the two economies are somewhat similar and the countries are next-door neighbors. But historically, this similarity in structure and location has been a source not of collaboration and fondness but of competition and friction. Within the European Union, with its broad diversity, Germany and France have been able to put aside their frictions, finding a common interest in managing Europe to their mutual advantage. That co-management, of course, helped bring us to this current crisis. Moreover, the biggest thing that France has that Germany wants is its market; an ideal partner for Germany would offer more. By itself at least, France is not a foundation for long-term German economic strategy. The historic alternative for Germany has been Russia.

The Russian Option

A great deal of potential synergy exists between the German and Russian economies. Germany imports large amounts of energy and other resources from Russia. As mentioned, Russia needs sources of technology and capital to move it beyond its current position of mere resource exporter. Germany has a shrinking population and needs a source of labor — preferably a source that doesn’t actually want to move to Germany. Russia’s Soviet-era economy continues to de-industrialize, and while that has a plethora of negative impacts, there is one often-overlooked positive: Russia now has more labor than it can effectively metabolize in its economy given its capital structure. Germany doesn’t want more immigrants but needs access to labor. Russia wants factories in Russia to employ its surplus work force, and it wants technology. The logic of the German-Russian economic relationship is more obvious than the German-Greek or German-Spanish relationship. As for France, it can participate or not (and incidentally, the French are joining in on a number of ongoing German-Russian projects).

Therefore, if we simply focus on economics, and we assume that the European Union cannot survive as an integrated system (a logical but not yet proven outcome), and we further assume that Germany is both the leading power of Europe and incapable of operating outside of a coalition, then we would argue that a German coalition with Russia is the most logical outcome of an EU decline.

This would leave many countries extremely uneasy. The first is Poland, caught as it is between Russia and Germany. The second is the United States, since Washington would see a Russo-German economic bloc as a more significant challenger than the European Union ever was for two reasons. First, it would be a more coherent relationship — forging common policies among two states with broadly parallel interests is far simpler and faster than doing so among 27. Second, and more important, where the European Union could not develop a military dimension due to internal dissensions, the emergence of a politico-military dimension to a Russo-German economic bloc is far less difficult to imagine. It would be built around the fact that both Germans and Russians resent and fear American power and assertiveness, and that the Americans have for years been courting allies who lie between the two powers. Germany and Russia would both view themselves defending against American pressure.

And this brings us back to the Patriot missiles. Regardless of the bureaucratic backwater this transfer might have emerged out of, or the political disinterest that generated the plan, the Patriot stationing fits neatly into a slowly maturing military relationship between Poland and the United States. A few months ago, the Poles and Americans conducted military exercises in the Baltic states, an incredibly sensitive region for the Russians. The Polish air force now flies some of the most modern U.S.-built F-16s in the world; this, plus Patriots, could seriously challenge the Russians. A Polish general commands a sector in Afghanistan, something not lost upon the Russians. By a host of processes, a close U.S.-Polish relationship is emerging.

The current economic problems may lead to a fundamental weakening of the European Union. Germany is economically powerful but needs economic coalition partners that contribute to German well-being rather than merely draw on it. A Russian-German relationship could logically emerge from this. If it did, the Americans and Poles would logically have their own relationship. The former would begin as economic and edge toward military. The latter begins as military, and with the weakening of the European Union, edges toward economics. The Russian-German bloc would attempt to bring others into its coalition, as would the Polish-U.S. bloc. Both would compete in Central Europe — and for France. During this process, the politics of NATO would shift from humdrum to absolutely riveting.

And thus, the Greek crisis and the Patriots might intersect, or in our view, will certainly in due course intersect. Though neither is of lasting importance in and of themselves, the two together point to a new logic in Europe. What appears impossible now in Europe might not be unthinkable in a few years. With Greece symbolizing the weakening of the European Union and the Patriots representing the remilitarization of at least part of Europe, ostensibly unconnected tendencies might well intersect.

Mercenary Leader’s Speech Revealed

Posted 5 May, 2010 by africaanalysis
Categories: Afghanistan, Americas, Human Rights, Iraq, Middle East, World

“Secret Erik Prince Tape Exposed”

Jeremy Scahill

May 3, 2010

http://www.thenation.com/blog/secret-erik-prince-tape-exposed

Erik Prince, the reclusive owner of the Blackwater empire, rarely gives public speeches and when he does he attempts to ban journalists from attending and forbids recording or videotaping of his remarks. On May 5, that is exactly what Prince is trying to do when he speaks at DeVos Fieldhouse as the keynote speaker for the “Tulip Time Festival” in his hometown of Holland, Michigan. He told the event’s organizers no news reporting could be done on his speech and they consented to the ban. Journalists and media associations in Michigan are protesting this attempt to bar reporting on his remarks.

Despite Prince’s attempts to shield his speeches from public scrutiny, The Nation magazine has obtained an audio recording of a recent, private speech delivered by Prince to a friendly audience. The speech, which Prince attempted to keep from public consumption, provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater. The people of the United States have a right to media coverage of events featuring the owner of a company that generates 90% of its revenue from the United States government.

In the speech, Prince proposed that the US government deploy armed private contractors to fight “terrorists” in Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, specifically to target Iranian influence. He expressed disdain for the Geneva Convention and described Blackwater’s secretive operations at four Forward Operating Bases he controls in Afghanistan. He called those fighting the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan “barbarians” who “crawled out of the sewer.” Prince also revealed details of a July 2009 operation he claims Blackwater forces coordinated in Afghanistan to take down a narcotrafficking facility, saying that Blackwater “call[ed] in multiple air strikes,” blowing up the facility. Prince boasted that his forces had carried out the “largest hashish bust in counter-narcotics history.” He characterized the work of some NATO countries’ forces in Afghanistan as ineffectual, suggesting that some coalition nations “should just pack it in and go home.” Prince spoke of Blackwater working in Pakistan, which appears to contradict the official, public Blackwater and US government line that Blackwater is not in Pakistan.

Prince also claimed that a Blackwater operative took down the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W Bush in Baghdad and criticized the Secret Service for being “flat-footed.” He bragged that Blackwater forces “beat the Louisiana National Guard to the scene” during Katrina and claimed that lawsuits, “tens of millions of dollars in lawyer bills” and political attacks prevented him from deploying a humanitarian ship that could have responded to the earthquake in Haiti or the tsunami that hit Indonesia.

Several times during the speech, Prince appeared to demean Afghans his company is training in Afghanistan, saying Blackwater had to teach them “Intro to Toilet Use” and to do jumping jacks. At the same time, he bragged that US generals told him the Afghans Blackwater trains “are the most effective fighting force in Afghanistan.” Prince also revealed that he is writing a book, scheduled to be released this fall.

The speech was delivered January 14 at the University of Michigan in front of an audience of entrepreneurs, ROTC commanders and cadets, businesspeople and military veterans. The speech was titled “Overcoming Adversity: Leadership at the Tip of the Spear” and was sponsored by the Young Presidents’ Association (YPO), a business networking association primarily made up of corporate executives. “Ripped from the headlines and described by Vanity Fair magazine, as a Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier and Spy, Erik Prince brings all that and more to our exclusive YPO speaking engagement,” read the event’s program, also obtained by The Nation. It proclaimed that Prince’s speech was an “amazing don’t miss opportunity from a man who has ‘been there and done that’ with a group of Cadets and Midshipmen who are months away from serving on the ‘tip of the spear.'” Here are some of the highlights from Erik Prince’s speech:

Read the whole article here at The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/blog/secret-erik-prince-tape-exposed

Borderlands: Mexico and Arizona’s Radically-Racist Immigration Laws

Posted 28 April, 2010 by africaanalysis
Categories: Americas, Human Rights, World

The US-Mexico Border is the thin line between the opulence of imperial America and the poverty of the global south. With increasing pressure on this border through immigration and narco-trafficking, the frontier is becoming highly militarised on both sides. The existence of these borderlands poses many questions about the structures of global society, and challenges mainstream Western complacency that has grown from material wealth and intellectual cloistering. But these challenges in the southern US states are increasingly leading to a right-wing backlash, as demonstrated by the state of Arizona’s radically-racist new immigration laws, that allow police to stop and search people on the basis of racial profile, and require even legal immigrants to carry documents proving their status at all times. Below are some links that examine different elements of the cross-border issues, and a strategic analysis of Mexico’s situation from ‘Stratfor’.

John Stewart Hammers Arizona Lawmakers

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/27/stewart-hammers-arizona-f_n_553157.html

Democracy Now: Arizona Laws All Out Assault on Latino Community

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/4/16/az

Australian Journalist Colm McNaughton on Mexican Drug Gangs

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/360/stories/2010/2844252.htm

Democracy Now – Charles Bowden on Murder City: Ciudad Juarez

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/4/14/charles_bowden_murder_city_ciudad_jurez

LA Times – Mexico Drug Deaths Higher than Reported

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/latinamerica/la-fg-mexico-toll14-2010apr14,0,5913166.story

Government Massacres in Chihuahua, Mexico:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEaA7cEZnmU

————–

“Mexico: The Struggle for Balance”

By Scott Stewart

April 8, 2010

“This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100407_mexico_struggle_balance?utm_source=SWeekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=100408&utm_content=readmore&elq=fe3820f63c874fdaaf38260545cb1920

This week’s Geopolitical Intelligence Report provided a high-level assessment of the economic forces that affect how the Mexican people and the Mexican government view the flow of narcotics through that country. Certainly at that macro level, there is a lot of money flowing into Mexico and a lot of people, from bankers and businessmen to political parties and politicians, are benefiting from the massive influx of cash. The lure of this lucre shapes how many Mexicans (particularly many of the Mexican elite) view narcotics trafficking. It is, frankly, a good time to be a banker, a real estate developer or a Rolex dealer in Mexico.

However, at the tactical level, there are a number of issues also shaping the opinions of many Mexicans regarding narcotics trafficking, including violence, corruption and rapidly rising domestic narcotics consumption. At this level, people are being terrorized by running gunbattles, mass beheadings and rampant kidnappings — the types of events that STRATFOR covers in our Mexico Security Memos.

Mexican elites have the money to buy armored cars and hire private security guards. But rampant corruption in the security forces means the common people seemingly have nowhere to turn for help at the local level (not an uncommon occurrence in the developing world). The violence is also having a heavy impact on Mexico’s tourist sector and on the willingness of foreign companies to invest in Mexico’s manufacturing sector. Many smaller business owners are being hit from two sides — they receive extortion demands from criminals while facing a decrease in revenue due to a drop in tourism because of the crime and violence. These citizens and businessmen are demanding help from Mexico City.

These two opposing forces — the inexorable flow of huge quantities of cash and the pervasive violence, corruption and fear — are placing a tremendous amount of pressure on the Calderon administration. And this pressure will only increase as Mexico moves closer to the 2012 presidential elections (President Felipe Calderon was the law-and-order candidate and was elected in 2006 in large part due to his pledge to end cartel violence). Faced by these forces, Calderon needs to find a way to strike a delicate balance, one that will reassert Mexican government authority, quell the violence and mollify the public while also allowing the river of illicit cash to continue flowing into Mexico.

An examination of the historical dynamics of the narcotics trade in Mexico reveals that in order for the violence to stop, there needs to be a balance among the various drug-trafficking organizations involved in the trade. New dynamics have begun to shape the narcotics business in Mexico, and they are causing that balance to be very elusive. For the Calderon administration, desperate times may have called for desperate measures.

The Balance

The laws of economics dictate that narcotics will continue to flow into the United States. The mission of the Mexican drug-trafficking organizations and the larger cartels they form is to attempt to control as much of that flow as they can. The people who run the Mexican drug-trafficking organizations are businessmen. Historically, their primary objective is to move their product (narcotics) without being caught and to make a lot of money in the process. The Mexican drug lords have traditionally attempted to conduct this business quietly, efficiently and with the least amount of friction.

When there is a kind of competitive business balance among these various organizations, a sort of detente prevails and there is relative peace. We say relative, because there has always been a level of tension and some level of violence among these organizations, but during times of balance the violence is kept in check for business reasons.

During times of balance, the territorial boundaries are well-established, the smuggling corridors are secure, the drugs flow and the people make money. When that balance is lost and an organization is weakened — especially an organization that controls one or more valuable smuggling corridors — a vicious fight can develop as other organizations move in and try to exert control over the territory and as the incumbent organization attempts to fight them off and retain control of its turf. Smuggling corridors are geographically significant places along the narcotics supply chain where the product is channeled — places such as ports, airstrips, significant highways and border crossings. Control of these significant channels (often referred to as “plazas” by the drug-trafficking organizations) is very important to an organization’s ability to move contraband. If it doesn’t control a corridor it wants to use, it must pay the organization that does control it.

In past decades, this turbulence was normally short lived. When there was a fight between the organizations or cartels, there would be a period of intense violence and then the balance between them would either be restored to the status quo ante or a new balance between the organizations would be reached. For example, when the Guadalajara cartel dissolved following the 1989 arrest of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, and the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) and the Sinaloa cartel emerged from the Guadalajara cartel to fill the power vacuum, there was a brief period of tension, but once balance was achieved, the violence ebbed — and business returned to normal. However, the old model of cartel conflicts has changed. The current round of inter- and intra-cartel violence has raged for nearly a decade and has intensified rather than abated; there appears to be no end in sight. In fact, death tolls are far higher today than they were five years ago.

This inability of the cartels to reach a state of balance is due to several factors. First is the change of products. Mexican drug cartels have long moved marijuana into the United States, but the increase in the amount of cocaine being moved through Mexico in the 1980s and 1990s changed the dynamic — cocaine is far more compact and far more lucrative than marijuana. Cocaine is also a “strategic narcotic,” one that has a transnational supply chain far longer than drugs like marijuana or methamphetamine, and that long supply chain is difficult to guard. Because of this, organizations involved in the cocaine trade tend to be more aggressive and violent than those that smuggle drugs with a shorter supply chain like marijuana and Mexican opium.

At first, Mexican cartels like the Guadalajara cartel only smuggled cocaine through their smuggling routes into the United States on behalf of the more powerful Colombian cartels, which were seeking alternate routes to replace the Caribbean smuggling routes that had been largely shut down by American air and sea interdiction efforts. Over time, however, these Mexican cartels grew richer and more powerful from the proceeds of the cocaine trade, and they began to take on an expanded role in cocaine trafficking. The efforts of the Colombian government to dismantle the large (and violent) organizations like the Medellin and Cali cartels also allowed the Mexicans to assume more control over the cocaine supply line. Today, Mexican cartels control much of the cocaine supply chain, with their influence reaching down into South America and up into the United States. This expanded control of the supply chain brought with it a larger slice of the profits for the Mexican cartels, so they have become even more rich and powerful.

Of course, this large quantity of illicit income also brings risk with it. The massive profits that can be made by controlling a smuggling corridor into the United States are a tempting lure to competitors (internal and external). This means that the cartels require enforcers to protect their personnel and operations. These enforcers and the escalation of violence they brought with them are a second factor that has hampered the ability of the cartels to reach a balance.

Initially, some of the cartel bosses served as their own muscle, but as time went by and the business need for violence increased, the cartels brought in hired help to carry out the enforcement function. The first cartel to do this on a large scale was the AFO (a very aggressive organization), which used active and current police officers and youth gangs (some of them actually from the U.S. side of the border) as enforcers. To counter the AFO’s innovation and strength, rival cartels soon hired their own muscle. The Juarez cartel created its own band of police called La Linea and the Gulf cartel took things yet another step and hired Los Zetas, a group of elite anti-drug paratroopers who deserted their federal Special Air Mobile Force Group in the late 1990s.

The Gulf cartel’s private special operations unit raised the bar yet another notch, and the Sinaloa cartel formed its own paramilitary unit called Los Negros to counter the strength of Los Zetas. With paramilitary forces comes military armament, and cartel enforcers graduated from using pistols and submachine guns to regularly employing fully automatic assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades. As we have previously noted, thugs with such weapons do pose a threat, but when those weapons are in the hands of highly-trained gunmen with the ability to operate as an integrated unit, the threat is far greater.

The life of a cartel enforcer can be brutish and short. In order to find additional personnel to beef up their ranks, the various cartel enforcer units formed outside alliances. Los Zetas worked with former Guatemalan special forces commandos called Kaibiles and with the Mara Salvatrucha street gang (MS-13). La Linea formed a close alliance with the American Barrio Azteca street gang and with Los Aztecas, the gang’s Mexican branch. Cartels also recruit heavily, and it is now common to see them place “help wanted” signs in which they offer soldiers and police officers big money if they will quit their jobs and join a cartel enforcer unit.

In times of intense combat, the warriors in a criminal organization can begin to eclipse the group’s businessmen in terms of importance, and over the past decade the enforcers within groups like the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels have become very powerful. In fact, groups like Los Zetas and Los Negros have become powerful enough to split from their parent organizations and, essentially, form their own independent drug-trafficking organizations. This inter-cartel struggle has proved quite deadly as seen in the struggle between AFO factions in Tijuana over the past year and in the more recent eruption of violence between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas in northeastern Mexico.

This weakening of the traditional cartels was part of the Calderon administration’s publicized plan to reduce the power of the drug traffickers and to deny any one organization or cartel the ability to become more powerful than the state. The plan appears to have worked to some extent, and the powerful Gulf and Sinaloa cartels have splintered, as has the AFO. The fruit of this policy, however, has been incredible spikes in violence and the proliferation of aggressive new drug-trafficking organizations that have made it very difficult for any type of equilibrium to be reached. So the Mexican government’s policies have also been a factor in destabilizing the balance.

Finding a Fulcrum

The current round of cartel fighting began when the balance of cartel power was thrown off by the death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes in 1997, which resulted in the weakening of the once powerful Juarez cartel. Shortly after the head of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka El Chapo, escaped from prison in 2001, he began a push to move in on the weakened Juarez cartel. Guzman initially succeeded and the Juarez cartel became part of the Sinaloa Federation until the two cartels had a falling out in 2004.

Then when the chief enforcer of the AFO, Ramon Arellano Felix, was killed in 2002, both the Sinaloa and the Gulf cartels attempted to wrest control of Tijuana from the AFO. Finally, when Gulf cartel kingpin Osiel Cardenas Guillen was captured in March 2003, the Sinaloa cartel sent Los Negros to attempt to take control of the Gulf cartel’s territory, and this sparked a series of violent clashes in Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas. The top enforcer of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO), Edgar Valdez Villarreal (aka La Barbie), led Los Negros into Nuevo Laredo.

These same basic turf wars are still active, meaning that there is still ongoing violence in Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, but as noted above, the actors are changing, with organizations like Los Zetas breaking out of the Gulf cartel and the BLO parting ways with the Sinaloa cartel. Indeed, the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels have joined forces with La Familia Michoacana (LFM) to form a new super cartel called the New Federation and are now allies in the struggle against Los Zetas and the BLO, which have teamed up with the Juarez cartel to fight against the New Federation. One constant in the violence of the past decade has been the aggressiveness of the Sinaloa cartel as it has sought to take territory from other cartels and organizations.

In the midst of the current cartel landscape, which has radically shifted over the past year, it is difficult for any type of balance to be found. There are also very few levers with which the Calderon government can apply pressure to help force the shifting pieces into alignment. In the near term, perhaps the only hope for striking a balance and reducing the violence is that the New Federation is strong enough to kill off organizations like Los Zetas, the BLO and the Juarez cartel and assert calm through sheer force. However, while the massed forces of the New Federation initially made some significant headway against Los Zetas, the former special operations personnel appear to have rallied, and Los Zetas’ tactical skills and arms make them unlikely to be defeated easily.

There have been many rumors that the New Federation, in its fight against Los Zetas, was being helped by the Mexican government. (Some of those rumors have come from the New Federation itself.) During the New Federation’s offensive against Los Zetas, federation enforcers have been seen driving around Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo in vehicles openly marked with signs indicating they belonged to the New Federation. While far from conclusive proof of government assistance, the well-marked vehicles certainly do seem to support the cartel’s assertion that, at the very least, the government did not want to interfere with the federation’s operation to destroy Los Zetas.

When pieced together with other observations gathered during the cartel wars, this also suggests that the Sinaloa cartel may have consistently benefited from the government’s actions. These actions would include taking out the BLO leadership after the Beltran Leyva brothers turned against Sinaloa and the government’s success against La Linea and Los Aztecas in Juarez. There are also occasional contraindications, such as the recent large-scale attacks against military bases in the northeast that appear to have been conducted by the New Federation.

Despite these contraindications, the cartels fighting the New Federation believe the government favors the group, and there have long been rumors that Calderon was somehow tied to El Chapo. The Juarez cartel may have recently taken some desperate steps to counter what it perceives to be a dire threat of government and New Federation cooperation. A local Juarez newspaper, El Diario, recently published an article discussing a Los Aztecas member who had been detained and interrogated by the Mexican military and federal police in connection with the murders of three U.S. Consulate employees in Juarez in March. During the interrogation, according to El Diario, the Los Aztecas member divulged that a decision was made by leaders in the Barrio Azteca gang and Juarez cartel to engage U.S. citizens in the Juarez area in an effort to force the U.S. government to intervene in Mexico and therefore act as a “neutral referee,” thereby helping to counter the Mexican government’s favoritism toward the New Federation.

Of course, it is highly possible that the Sinaloa cartel is just a superior cartel and is better at using the authorities as a weapon against its adversaries. On the other hand, perhaps the increasingly desperate government has decided to use Sinaloa and the New Federation as a fulcrum to restore balance to the narcotics trade and reduce the violence across Mexico.

In any case, we will be closely watching the activities of the New Federation and the Mexican government over the next several months to see if this hypothesis is correct. Much hangs in the balance for Calderon, the Mexican people and their American neighbors.