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    Ukraine as an arms exporter

    Posted by onparkstreet on 2nd September 2014 (All posts by )

    From a comment I wrote at SWJ. The part about Churchill is not directed at anyone here, or toward any of the recent posts. It occurs in my comment because of the heated rhetoric used about Ukraine by some:

    “Ukraine a top small arms exporter?

    Ah, yes, I remember well Churchill’s fiery speeches on Ukrainian small arms exports….

    It’s almost like the majority of western foreign policy commentators, think tank analysts, the NYT, the Washington Post, every “fearful of being ostracized by the in-crowd” crony for the DC consensus, are completely and utterly full of it. (Well, not everybody, naturally):

    Ukraine, unlike many other successor states of the Soviet Union, inherited a large and sophisticated defense industry when the USSR fell apart. It exports $1.3 billion worth of arms annually and according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute was the ninth largest arms exporter in the world between 2008 and 2012.
    BREAK
    The military in Ukraine has suffered from the same neglect and mismanagement as the rest of the country. Ukrainian military personnel have taken part in coalition operations in the Balkans and in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ukrainian officers have attended professional military educational institutions in the United States and other NATO countries. Over the years, in meetings with Ukrainian officers, I have seen the beneficial impact on them from this experience. But the fact remains that the military, like many other Ukrainian institutions, has suffered at the hands of a crony capitalist state dominated by a corrupt elite with little interest in state- or nation-building, but plenty of interest in enriching itself.
    .
    Ukraine needs help, but the kind of help it needs cannot be reduced to shipments of military hardware. It needs to reform its armed forces and its law enforcement. The conflict with Russia remains a threat, but the bigger and immediate threat is the proliferation of militias, gangs and separatists in eastern Ukraine, where effective action by a competent police force loyal to the state and the nation could have prevented the tragedy that is unfolding there now. Many law enforcement personnel were cashiered en masse following the revolution. That has created a security vacuum and, one suspects, provided plenty of able recruits to help fill the separatists’ ranks.

    Link

    Bremer II and the disbanded Iraqi Army.

    The US/NATO and EU make a play for Ukraine–which has been going on for twenty years in a mixed up way with genuine desire to help the state–and has only enabled this process, hasn’t it? Just as in Afghanistan, so too in Ukraine.

    Perhaps official DC is simply embarrassed by its serial failures since the end of the Cold War and wanted a “win” at any cost? That the Russians were more realistic about their proxies doesn’t mean that the answer is now for the US to shovel more aid toward our proxies. The poor Ukrainian people, but, then again, this is what happens when corrupt elites (and well meaning internal and external modernizers) are encouraged by outsiders with fantasies of using the Ukrainian state for its own power plays and expansionism.

    In a multifactorial world, why can’t we talk about the multiple factors in Russia, Ukraine, and the US/EU/NATO that have all led toward this point? I suppose propagandizers can’t use real understanding to grandstand, so they simplify.”

    Posted in International Affairs, Military Affairs, Russia, War and Peace | 19 Comments »

    The Cosmopolitans

    Posted by onparkstreet on 29th August 2014 (All posts by )

    Twenty-four years after the release of his first feature, “Metropolitan,” and two years after the release of his fourth, “Damsels in Distress,” Whit Stillman—the cinema’s novelist of manners, who reveals deep and enduring patterns beneath the shimmer of apparent frivolities—has written, directed, and produced the twenty-six-minute pilot of a TV-like series, “The Cosmopolitans,” for Amazon (where it premières tomorrow). It has a classical setup—Americans and other foreigners, members of a self-anointed social whirl, tripping through Paris—that, from the start, Stillman makes entirely his own, rendering it both contemporary and anachronistic, of the moment and rooted in time.

    Link

    Posted in Announcements, Arts & Letters, Film, Video | 1 Comment »

    Rhetoric Versus Reality

    Posted by onparkstreet on 28th August 2014 (All posts by )

    ZAPORIZHIA, UKRAINE — Deep into a conflict that has sundered decades-old ties between Ukraine and Russia, Ukraine is still selling military gear over the border to its neighbor, Ukrainian defense industry officials say.

    Ukraine’s new leaders have vowed to stop the flow of these defense products, which include key parts for ship engines, advanced targeting technology for tanks and upkeep for Russia’s heaviest nuclear missiles. New laws passed this week bolster their powers to do so. Kiev says helping to arm Russia is tantamount to equipping an enemy during wartime when Moscow is sending support to separatist rebels, a charge the Kremlin has denied.

    Those factories have employees and employers, and, as in any country, might have different interests regarding neighbors compared to the west of the country.

    Link

    Raytheon, MSPO 2013
    June 30/14: Finalists. Poland’s MON announces the Wisla program’s finalists: Raytheon’s ‘PATRIOT with options’ offer, and EuroSAM’s SAMP/T Mamba system that uses the Aster-30.
    Poland won’t become part of the MEADS program, nor will it buy Israel’s David’s Sling. The 2-stage technical dialogue led Poland to conclude that they required an operational system that is deployed by NATO countries.

    NATO expansion insures that certain military suppliers will not only gain contracts, but that those contracts are more likely to go to certain countries given the nature of the political situation.

    Link

    Poland’s agriculture minister went on television to announce the country was taking action against Russia’s new import ban. “We believe Russia has broken international law in both its embargo against Poland and its embargo against the EU,” Marek Sawicki said.

    Greece also hard-hit

    Although about 70 percent of the Russian population approve of its sanctions, Pickett said the odds are good that the complex WTO mechanism will uphold Poland’s complaint.
    “In my view, war-like conditions must either prevail or be imminent. Russia argues that this is a matter of food safety. I doubt that will be legally sufficient.”

    Lithuania, Germany and Greece also benefit from trade with Russia: Last year, Germany exported agricultural products worth almost 600 million euros, while Lithuania sold more than 900 million euros of food to Russia. Greek farmers export large quantities of peaches and fish, especially during the summer months.

    According to the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” daily, if the WTO mechanisms do not work, or do not take effect quickly enough, this could mean a loss of 178 million euros for Greek vegetable and fruit farmers. Athens has therefore already begun to hold bilateral negotiations with Moscow.

    Russia is a threat, but apparently a threat with coffers to be filled by the very states asking for protection. Perhaps the world is more complicated than white hats versus black hats and requires a more careful understanding.

    PS: I have tried to change the formatting. I think the problem is copy and paste but when I go back and try and change it, it still doesn’t work. The main problem is lack of time, really. Sorry, Jonathan. I know you like to run a clean and tidy ship :)

    [Jonathan adds: No worries :)) ]

    Link

    Posted in Current Events, Russia, War and Peace | 13 Comments »

    The Borg

    Posted by onparkstreet on 6th August 2014 (All posts by )

    Its officials bided their time in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union, when “terrorism” had yet to claim the landscape and enemies were in short supply. In the post-9/11 era, in a phony “wartime” atmosphere, fed by trillions of taxpayer dollars, and under the banner of American “safety,” it has grown to unparalleled size and power. So much so that it sparked a building boom in and around the national capital (as well as elsewhere in the country). In their 2010 Washington Post series “Top Secret America,” Dana Priest and William Arkin offered this thumbnail summary of the extent of that boom for the U.S. Intelligence Community: “In Washington and the surrounding area,” they wrote, “33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings — about 17 million square feet of space.” And in 2014, the expansion is ongoing.
     
    In this century, a full-scale second “Defense Department,” the Department of Homeland Security, was created. Around it has grown up a mini-version of the military-industrial complex, with the usual set of consultants, K Street lobbyists, political contributions, and power relations: just the sort of edifice that President Eisenhower warned Americans about in his famed farewell address in 1961. In the meantime, the original military-industrial complex has only gained strength and influence.

    Link

    The technocratic-elite is just as much a part of it, and the part of Eisenhower’s address that people often leave out. I’d include a certain connected gaggle of military “intellectuals” and think tank or “private” military analysts I was stupid enough to spend so much time reading. Most of what I learned was a waste of time.

    A total bunch of weirdos and it’s my fault for wasting my time.

    It seems strange to me that conservatives would assume that the American military or our alliances would remain immune from the complexities of the human heart and its varied motivations such as fear, pride, anger, greed, do-gooderism, meaning-wellism, and the rest of it.

    NATO today is a nation building exercise tied to an economic bloc, the EU, and to our own large economy. It is no longer a pristine defensive alliance, if it ever was that, it is an expansionary competitive bloc that strives not only to incorporate others but to use that incorporation to re-engineer societies. How is it conservative to ignore that aspect of it, now, today, in 2014?

    If one does think it is important as a defensive alliance, then this aspect needs to be understood because it is hollowing out real defensive capabilities (“a global NATO”, I am talking to you) and hollering about Putin or lack of funding for Ukraine doesn’t change the fact that the billions spent by the alliance, still, somehow, is not enough to do its job. Well, unless its job is to make money and increase the power and funding of bureaucrats and their agencies. Then, it’s doing a mighty fine job.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Europe, Military Affairs | 12 Comments »

    Revolving Doors

    Posted by onparkstreet on 5th August 2014 (All posts by )

    From Pat Lang’s blog, Sic Semper Tyrannis:

    “- DNI Clapper perjured himself before the US Senate and was allowed to apologize and stay on.

    – General Keith Alexander has gone into business in retirement for the purpose of selling cyberwarfare knowledge that rightly belongs to the American people.

    – John Brennan is now revealed as yet another liar. He told everyone who would listen that CIA had not hacked its way into computers belonging to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). Now the CIA IG has produced a report that states the opposite. Brennan has apologized to the senate. That is not enough. The SSCI’s role is oversight of the CIA. Under Brennan’s command CIA tried to escape that oversight.”

    Link

    The national security state is a bureaucracy that is rapacious, it grows and never slows in its growth; politicians, reporters, analysts, retired military, retired civilian bureaucrats, routinely trade on connections and insiderism and then go on television and basically say whatever comes to mind, precious little of it correlating with reality. But you have to look for it, you can’t assume that you know if you don’t look. I’m not saying I’m right, but I am saying that I’m tired of closing my eyes to the phenomenon.

    Posted in Human Behavior, International Affairs, Military Affairs | 10 Comments »

    Don’t Buy Any of It….

    Posted by onparkstreet on 3rd August 2014 (All posts by )

    From a comment I left at SWJ:

    “Thank you for writing a piece that is thoughtful, rational and calm. How difficult it has been to find a calm voice.
     
    The hysteria surrounding this tragic incident and the rush to politicize the incident by various stakeholders on all sides-Russian, Ukrainian, American, various militaries and NATO–is dishonest and dangerous.
     
    I met someone who was on the Lockerbie flight, if only briefly. A favorite novelist of mine once wrote that a character who had just lost a child was “living the curious aftermath of a life.” What pain for the families, what they must be suffering.
     
    Some days ago, I posted an article from June discussing the poor equipping and training of the Ukrainian border forces and how material was crossing the border. I had asked, “if this is a crisis of sovereignty, why is everyone so silent about this and discussing everything else?” And now I find this article:
     
    From May 7:

    The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine used Pentagon money to go shopping in Kiev for supplies, including concertina wire for Ukraine’s ill-equipped border guards, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
    The Defense Department funds also bought fuel pumps, car batteries, spare parts, binoculars and communications gear for the guards, who would be the first line of defense if the 40,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders invaded.
     
    Embassy personnel bought the goods locally in Kiev, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.
     
    Warren did not have an initial cost estimate for the supplies, but Evelyn Farkas, a deputy assistant defense secretary, told Congress that the Defense Department has given Ukraine’s military and border guards a total of $18 million in non-lethal aid to date.
     
    In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Farkas said that Ukraine’s requests for additional aid “vastly outstrips our abilities to meet them.”

     
    Link
     
    We spent how many BILLIONS on”democracy promotion” in Ukraine already? And now Americans struggling with a flat economy and uncertain economic prospects have to scrape together nickels and dimes for more when Ukraine is awash with wealthy oligarchs and Europe has a collective GDP that parallels the US?
     
    So this is the great crisis that requires a new Cold War? I don’t buy any of it.
     
    1. I don’t believe NATO – a bureaucracy fishing for funds and increased prominence after the Afghanistan drawdown.
    2. I don’t believe hawkish Senators that are grandstanding for votes or who have emotional problems with buckling down and doing the nation’s work and prefer strange pseudo-ideologic crusades.
    3. I don’t believe a President that is looking for a foreign policy win.
    4. I don’t believe a Pentagon–or an Army–still looking to milk the American people for their own needs. Missiles in Poland! Oh, please.
    5. I don’t believe ‘independent’ analysts–or their contractor and arms selling friends–bought and paid for.
    6. I don’t buy the Michael McFaul, retired military Cold Warriors that look at the world through ideological lenses and think the world is a playground for regime change and democracy promotion.
    7. I don’t buy the Special Forces hype that see everything as an unconventional war to be countered by training troops, regardless of the strategic wisdom of doing so.
    8. I don’t buy the British Chatham House crew, the Polish right, the American transatlanticists and the NATOists that are only concerned with harnessing American power for their own personal or national or ideological or money-making reasons.
    9. I don’t buy the middle aged nostalgics for the Cold War and the armchair warriors that view war as a game, an entertainment for boring everyday lives.
    10. I don’t buy the neoconservatives who are trying to derail an Iran deal with the Ukraine crisis.
    11. I don’t buy the State Department line. State has never gotten over the Cold War and thus its attitudes toward Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and Eastern European nations that it hasn’t helped on any level because they are still so dependent on outside funds.
     
    Elements within Russia, the US, Ukraine, the EU/NATO “axis” are all grandstanding and maneuvering for their own selfish interests.
     
    If anyone in the vaunted West really cared, the borders would have been the first thing worked on decades ago. And I don’t buy that it’s all just lack of funding. Oligarchs have money. They also like to bring in outside money from Russia and the West and pocket a bit of it and some people might not mind porous borders, if you get my drift. Which no one will because no one really cares.
     
    I don’t trust people that talk about unconventional warfare and can’t even be bothered to vet the experts they cite, experts like Michael McFaul or Anne Applebaum. I don’t know if people are stupid, dishonest, ideologues, unwilling to think new thoughts, or what. But I don’t have to buy any of it.
     
    Don’t start World War III, Washington Consensus, NATO, Russian hawks, and the rest of you. How will you be able to spend all those ill-gotten gains if you aren’t around for it to be spent?

    Posted in Current Events, National Security, Russia, War and Peace | 16 Comments »

    A crisis of Sovereignty

    Posted by onparkstreet on 30th July 2014 (All posts by )

    A comment I made elsewhere:

    If Ukraine is a crisis of sovereignty, then how did the conversation switch to Putin-as-devil? Taking land is the worst of it, arms from outside the second worst of it, but early on, did our advice help or hurt the Ukrainians in asserting their sovereignty and creating a healthy state?
     
    In the Council, a commenter from Estonia I believe, said something along the lines of, “we told them to control the borders and grab Russian passports.”
     
    Ukrainian border patrol asked for help early on. Did they get it? The oligarchs that are in control raided the state and isn’t that partly why the border control doesn’t have the resources it needs? How did this issue of border control–and including ethnic Russians into the larger state order–become all about the US/NATO/EU and its battles with Russia?
     
    I worry about the Ukrainians–look what internationalizing the issue did to the Kashmiris. Just because outsiders want to help, doesn’t mean that their help will actually work.
     
    And how much of the NATO stuff is various constituencies using the crisis to get particular things, increasing budgets, directing the course of the EU. Some Eastern European nations are going to get big subsidies. What does this do to sovereignty and the ability to resist outside interference?

    I’ve been looking up articles on Border control and its hard because after a certain time period it’s all either US/NATO/EU propaganda, Russian propaganda, or Ukrainian propaganda fed to journalists that seem to dutifully pass it on….

    Posted in Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Russia | 2 Comments »

    2008 statement on NATO expansion from then Senator Clinton:

    Posted by onparkstreet on 30th April 2014 (All posts by )

    I enthusiastically welcome the January 11 letter from Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, and Verkhovna Rada Chairman Arsenii Yatsenyuk to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, which outlines Ukraine’s desire for a closer relationship with NATO, including a Membership Action Plan. Like Ukraine’s leaders, I hope that important steps toward reaching these goals will be made at the NATO summit in Bucharest in early April. I applaud the fact that Ukraine aspires to anchor itself firmly in the trans-Atlantic community through membership in NATO and look forward to working with Ukrainians and Ukrainian-Americans to reach that goal.
     
    Since the earliest days of Ukrainian independence, the strategy of the United States has always been to respect and support the Ukrainian people’s democratic choices in shaping their future. Ukraine has been and remains an extremely important partner for the United States, and I take great pride in Ukraine’s contributions to our common goal of building a Europe that is whole and free, peaceful and prosperous.
     
    When I traveled to Ukraine in 1997, I visited a memorial to the victims of Communist repression in Lviv, and made a commitment to the Ukrainian people on behalf of the United States: “In your fight for freedom, your fight for democracy, the American people will stand with you.” In recalling that commitment more than ten years later I applaud the immense contributions that Ukrainian-Americans have made to our country and the indispensable role they have played in broadening and deepening the bonds between the United States and Ukraine. I have been greatly impressed by the courage of the Ukrainian people as they emerged from decades of Soviet oppression and as they have experienced both victories and struggles on the path to democracy and freedom.
     
    I have worked for more than 15 years to strengthen the U.S.-Ukraine relationship and help improve the lives of Ukrainians. Even before my first visit to Kyiv in 1995, I supported health care programs for Ukraine, including partnerships between hospitals in the United States and Ukraine and airlifts of critical pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies. After hearing pleas from Ukrainian women in 1997 to help combat human trafficking, which had become a growing problem in Ukraine, I helped initiate an international effort to combat trafficking, including several programs specifically to help Ukraine. In 1996, I organized a 10th anniversary White House commemoration of the Chornobyl disaster and, as honorary chair of Chornobyl Challenge ’96, committed to continuing support for humanitarian efforts on behalf of those who suffer severe health consequences from the tragedy. I was honored to receive the Children of Chornobyl’s Relief Fund Lifetime Humanitarian Achievement Award in 1999 for my work in helping to improve the health of women and children in Ukraine. As Senator I traveled to Ukraine in 2005 and met with President Yushchenko and offered the U.S. government’s support for reform efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s democracy.
     
    The United States has always favored the closest possible ties between NATO and Ukraine, including the creation of the NATO-Ukraine Council. We have always insisted on an open door policy for European democracies that want to join the Alliance. The enlargement of NATO is not directed against any state; NATO does not see any nation as its enemy. I pledge to support Ukraine’s efforts to meet the criteria for MAP and eventual membership. The United States should actively encourage our NATO Allies to deepen their own ties with Ukraine, a country that has broken with an authoritarian past and pursues good relations with all its neighbors. Ukraine deserves a chance to pursue its aspirations for a wider role in the Euro-Atlantic community. In the same spirit, I call on the Bush Administration to give Ukraine all the support it needs to complete its accession to the World Trade Organization.
     
    As President, I will ensure that the United States does everything necessary to help Ukraine realize these important and achievable goals.

    – Hillary Clinton

    Statement from Senator Hillary Clinton on Ukrainian Membership in NATO
    January 28, 2008 (From The American Presidency Project)

    Posted in Americas, International Affairs | 15 Comments »

    NATO expansion and ’90s era analysis

    Posted by onparkstreet on 23rd April 2014 (All posts by )

    I found the following on NATO expansion at Fas.org:

    Russia is the main opponent to this expansion, because it interprets this as an increasing military presence on its borders. There is also a concern over old territorial claims to parts of Russia’s new neighbors that Moscow may try to pursue subsequently. For example, one vague scenario is of Russian intervention in the Eastern Ukraine to “protect the lives and property of Russian citizens”. Despite this, there has been a detectable thaw in Moscow’s opposition to NATO expansion as its leadership recognizes that the alliance no longer poses a threat to Russia, and this should be a manageable concern. For example, Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov recently stated the following: “I have become convinced NATO is not a threat to Russia, but I have millions to convince in Russia who are still worried that it is a threat.”(2)

    United States Marine Corps
    Command and Staff College
    Marine Corps University
    2076 South Street
    Marine Corps Combat Development Command
    Quantico, Virginia 22134-5068
    MASTER OF MILITARY STUDIES
    SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
    OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR
    THE DEGREE OF
    MASTER OF MILITARY STUDIES
    Author:
    Captain Gyula Bene, Hungarian Army
    AY: 1996-97

    If NATO expansion had occurred in a different way, one without the stripping of the Russian economy, aggressive democracy promotion as regime change, Iraq and Libya and a “global” NATO diluting its capabilities, what then?

    Update: Great comments by all. In case it wasn’t clear from my series of posts, I agree with commenter dearieme: “But what would be the point of expanding NATO? It’s job was done. Declare victory and dissolve it: replace it by some low-key organisation that doesn’t worry the bear. And, above all, don’t, don’t, don’t interfere in places like Georgia.” In this post I was trying to point out that even if one thought NATO necessary, the nature of its expansion hollowed it out. But I think the US has to start thinking in a very different way about our security. We are not well-served by our foreign policy elite.

    Posted in International Affairs | 14 Comments »

    Letter to the Editor from 2008 (Monday, May 12, The Washington Post)

    Posted by onparkstreet on 21st April 2014 (All posts by )


    I didn’t find Robert Kagan persuasive when he said that what Vladimir Putin, now Russian’s prime minister, has to fear from NATO expansion into Ukraine and Georgia is only democracy, not a military threat [“Ideology’s Rude Return,” op-ed, May 2]. Mr. Kagan echoed President Bush on the subject in writing, “NATO is less provocative and threatening toward Moscow today than it was in [Mikhail] Gorbachev’s time.”
     
    Both columnist and president are wrong. Mr. Putin sees the world around his immediate frontiers in a strategic sense of military options. NATO forces are in his face from Murmansk to the Baltic states, Romania and Turkey. Kyrgyzstan, while not in NATO, is certainly an American client with its large U.S. military airfield and staging area at Manas, near the capital. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have pledged to the U.S. various forms of direct military cooperation.
     
    Think about Mr. Putin’s reduced military options in backing up Russian policy if Ukraine and Georgia join NATO. Mr. Putin could not be clearer on this point: Russia will not tolerate further NATO expansion eastward. He has stated that to any media outlet that will listen. He has shown his seriousness on this point with stepped-up Cold War-style flights by his Tu-95 Bear bombers over our ships at sea and near Alaska and Great Britain.
     
    We risk a major confrontation by disregarding Mr. Putin’s “red line” on this subject.

    – Jack Broadbent

    I’ve been digging through Congressional testimony, op-eds, letters to the editors and so on from the ’90s to the present. The number of warnings is amazing. Everyone from Phyllis Schafly to the late Senator Wellstone.

    Note, recognizing the complicated multifactorial nature of the current Ukraine crisis is not the same as being an apologist. We have a form of unconventional warfare being practiced on the Ukraine by Russia; and we have a complicated form of political warfare being practiced in the Ukraine by the US, UK, EU and so on. The whole-of-it matters for understanding.

    Posted in International Affairs, Russia | 3 Comments »

    On the academic subject of Democracies, Diasporas and nation building attempts via international elite institutions and connections:

    Posted by onparkstreet on 10th April 2014 (All posts by )

    Again, in a hurry so a bunch of comments I posted on Small Wars Journal blog. Various wealthy Ukranian businessmen have deep connections with the democracy promotion foreign relations bureaucracy and leadership. I have also found a whole set of academic literature on the nature of the eastern European immigrant vote and its supposed importance in swing states. An interesting area of scholarship.

    Mr. Pinchuk, 53, is one of Ukraine’s only oligarchs to have deep ties to Washington. Many of the country’s richest businessmen are suspected of having links to organized crime and do not have visas to the United States, much less a relationship with a former and potentially future American president.
     
    Still, Mr. Pinchuk’s image is not without blemish: His father-in-law is Leonid Kuchma, who was president of Ukraine from 1994 to 2005 and led a government criticized for corruption, nepotism and the murder of dissident journalists. As president, Mr. Kuchma privatized a huge state steel factory and sold it to Mr. Pinchuk’s consortium for about $800 million, which competitors said was a laughably low price.
     
    Since 2006, Mr. Pinchuk has donated roughly $13.1 million to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Mr. Clinton attends Mr. Pinchuk’s annual conferences in the resort city of Yalta, Ukraine, and Mr. Pinchuk attended the former president’s 65th birthday party in Los Angeles.
     
    He was first introduced to Mr. Clinton in 2004 by Mr. Schoen, a New York-based pollster who has advised both Clintons. Mr. Pinchuk immediately began building a friendship with the former president and enthusiastically donating to Mr. Clinton’s causes, including an H.I.V. program that was later expanded into Ukraine.

    Trade Dispute Centers on Ukrainian Executive With Ties to Clintons

    So how and where do we start? Successfully linking military engagements within diplomatic realms means less books by George Patton and more by Henry Kissinger. Currently, you won’t find too many Kissinger books in military curricula. Conversely, you’ll find fewer books on special operations in diplomatic circles. A new operational art will require closing the cognitive gap between engagements and strategy within military and diplomatic practice and culture. This doesn’t require resources. It simply requires will.

    Peace, Art and … Special Operations by Brian S. Petit

    If one were to take unconventional warfare doctrine and look at in two ways (Russian toward Ukraine, and the US/EU toward Ukraine), what would one find and how could various narratives be developed, regardless of whether you support one or the other?

    The military doesn’t control policy but I am intrigued by the “First, Do Harm” attitudes of our foreign policy and how it affects military activity. It’s the strangest thing. It’s also strangely destabilizing and dangerous business and it seems our Western and American traditional bureaucracies are making a messy, multipolar situation worse, IMO. The creation of chaos and disorder in reality; nation building and stability on paper. Very Council on Foreign Relations.

    This “test of the West” must be met with “political and economic sanctions” if Russia proceeds in annexing Crimea, Mr. Durbin said. But he did not elaborate and did not hint at support for any U.S. military action.
     
    The trip is set to last just two days. Mr. Durbin is scheduled to be back in town by March 16, when he is set to meet with — who else? — local Ukrainian community leaders (and voters) here.
     
    It’s worth noting that Mr. Durbin has been a longtime backer of democracy movements in Ukraine and visited there in 2012. He also is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and serves on its Subcommittee on European Affairs.

    Dick Durbin heads to Ukraine

    Now, do the same for various constituencies in Russia and European countries, the UK, etc.

    What now is the context within which you would consider some of the military-centric discussion taking place? How well does a focus only on American capabilites reflect reality?

    Great power competition via proxy. If you keep meddling, you may provoke a response you don’t want. And the meddling is by ALL parties. All parties:

    There’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who seems to be on every other panel over the two-day event, and is accompanied by a youthful looking French woman, who sports thigh-high leather boots that match her (also leather) miniskirt perfectly. DSK’s date is not being paid by the hour, another conference attendee confides, she’s a high-level French TV executive.
     
    He speaks in a gentle, almost incomprehensible voice and calls upon political leaders to show some courage to reform governmental institutions. When one attendee asks which world politician might be able to do that, DSK looks around the room and shrugs his shoulders. It’s not attainable, he admits, but it doesn’t stop him from repeating that tired line and others.
     
    “Globalization is a war,” says the man who would now be president of France, if not for allegations that he attempted to rape a New York City hotel maid. “A new kind of war. One that very few parties, especially in the EU, are prepared to fight.” He’s a man of many deep thoughts.
     
    There’s also Gen. David Petraeus, the war hero and former CIA director, who tells me to bug off when I ask for an interview, and at a more gentle moment admits that he’s suffering from a hamstring injury that’s keeping him from running his morning miles. He, too, is hoping to say nothing worthy of being quoted. And he succeeds.
     
    Larry Summers is here, too, in his first public appearance since withdrawing from being considered by President Barack Obama to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. I move in to ask about his withdrawal—was he pushed out by Obama, or did he willingly remove himself from consideration for a job he badly wanted? “I said no,” he screams at the reporter beside me who beats me to the Fed question. “I said no. I said no. I said no. No.”

    Another Yalta Conference

    Posted in International Affairs, War and Peace | 12 Comments »

    What Reset?

    Posted by onparkstreet on 3rd April 2014 (All posts by )

    I’m in a bit of a hurry so I will post two comments here that I posted at Small Wars Journal. As time permits, I will add various links. The point is to start a discussion and analysis. I no longer consider myself as a member of one or the other party and don’t wish to discuss the partisan angle except in an outsider “analyst” way.

    I often talk about democracy and diasporas in the comments section and Small Wars Journal has more than one article on the subject.
     
    In this case, one interesting domestic factor to consider is the way in which NATO expansion has been presented to domestic constituencies such as Polish Americans from the 90s onwards. Some live in states like Illinois and Ohio and are swing voters in key areas. As Sec. State, Hillary Clinton spoke of the future of NATO as one of expansion and she did it in Chicago which has large Eastern European diasporan communities. The choice of venue and the talks given definitely fall into the nature of what some constituencies–immigrant and otherwise–have long been working toward. Couple this with Robert Kagan as a part her then Foreign Policy Council (I believe it was called this) and you have an example of an intellectual community embedding itself within institutions; in this case, the State Department.
     
    This is what I meant in another comment. Power, ideology, immigrant diasporas, political blocs–these matter because events have a multifactorial basis. Faceless Bureaucrat at Kings of War has a brilliant post on multifactorality. There is a lot of propaganda out there from ALL sides. Fascinating.
     
    And not a little scary given how things got in Kosovo when various militaries came up against each other.

    Is Robert Spalding a Military Fellow at Council on Foreign Relations? There is confusion in this piece, IMO, between offense and defense and in using correct examples.
     
    NATO was about Western Europe. Ukraine is not Germany. And nuclear weapons change things so that the other examples seem a bit odd to me.
     
    But what I really wanted to say is that the Council on Foreign Relations seems to have this long time confusion between NATO as a defensive military alliance and the EU as a long term project to create a zone of peaceful activity and a collective or community.
     
    The Ukraine as part of a US defense security perimeter within NATO confuses the various missions and mixes up defense with offense and democratization and markets with the nature of security perimeters and where the lines are drawn. Too close, and it is permanently unstable.
     
    An example is a 1950’s book from Ben Tillman Moore, I believe, on the future of NATO. He speaks of a creating a community and this mixed-up nature of thought continues to the conversation today. I believe some of the California universities have this book on file in an open source format that can be accessed via internet.

    I think that from the right–or hawk angle– this issue has been “outflanked” by the former Secretary of State should she choose to run in a future Presidential election. I also believe this background to be one factor leading up to the crisis in the Ukraine today. A dangerous business given the presence of nuclear weapons.

    Posted in International Affairs | 6 Comments »

    Upcoming talk at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs: STRATEGY: FROM THE WAR ROOM TO THE BOARD ROOM Sir Lawrence Freedman

    Posted by onparkstreet on 12th October 2013 (All posts by )

    STRATEGY: FROM THE WAR ROOM TO
    THE BOARD ROOM

    Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies, and Vice-Principal, King’s College London

    What do modern military and corporate strategy have in common with Achilles, Sun Tzu, and primates? The answer is fluidity, flexibility, and pure unpredictability. Every day we make decisions that are built on our theory of what will give us the outcome we want. Sir Lawrence Freedman proposes that throughout history strategy has very rarely gone as planned, and that constant evaluation is necessary to achieve success—even today. Join The Chicago Council for a centuries-spanning discussion explaining how the world’s greatest minds navigate toward success.

    For interested parties. Sir Lawrence Freedman has quite a few talks posted on YouTube too. Worth checking out.

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Systems Analysis | 2 Comments »

    The Chicago Zine Fest 2012

    Posted by onparkstreet on 5th March 2012 (All posts by )

    The 2012 Chicago Zine Fest is fast approaching. March 9-10 is the weekend for small press, self-published, and independent publishers to show us their stuff. Quimby’s Bookstore, Silver Tongue, 826CHI, Renegade Handmade, and DIYCHI are sponsoring this year’s festival of readings, exhibitions, and workshops.
     
    Small press and self-publishing have become increasingly popular amongst authors of all kinds. Let’s face it: getting published by a large company isn’t exactly the easiest feat to achieve. Perhaps it’s rightfully so that writers and artists take matters into their own hands without the scary middle man. While large chains like Border’s and Barnes & Noble have been disappearing rapidly, the independent publishers and their creative authors have done a great service to our local bookstores who are very proud to carry their unique items on their shelves.

    Chicagoist

    I always have plans to do “arty” things around the city and then flake out at the last minute. Maybe I’ll make this one. Or maybe not. Or maybe I will. I swear, sometimes I’m like Polly in Along Came Polly. Truth be told, I am one-half Reuben Feffer, one-half Polly Prince.

    I haven’t been blogging much lately because it’s been a strange few weeks. Last week really took the cake. I had a credit card number lifted, a minor fender bender, and then got called in for a follow-up mammogram which turned out, thankfully, to be nothing. Awaiting the results while rain blurred the great glass panes of one wall of the waiting room, I thought, “maybe I should do more arty things around the city.” Enough with Reuben, it’s time to be a little Polly.

    Posted in Chicagoania, Diversions, Human Behavior, Personal Narrative | Comments Off on The Chicago Zine Fest 2012

    A Multipolar World

    Posted by onparkstreet on 22nd February 2012 (All posts by )

    CommodityOnline:

    India’s crude oil imports from Iran is facing a risk of potential disruption as increasing US and EU sanctions make it impossible for Indian ships to obtain insurance.

    Greg Scoblete, The Compass Blog (Real Clear World):

    I imagine if I were an Indian official, I’d be a bit peeved to learn that acting “responsibly” means privileging the interests of the United States over my own country. Nevertheless, Burns has a point. After all, India may rely on Iran for 12 percent of its oil imports, but look at what the United States has been willing to do for India:
     

    Presidents Obama and Bush have met India more than halfway in offering concrete and highly visible commitments on issues India cares about. On his state visit to India in November 2010, for example, President Obama committed the U.S. for the very first time to support India’s candidacy for permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council.

     
    I don’t know about you, but if the U.S. was asked to forgo 12 percent of its oil imports in exchange for another country’s endorsement for a seat on a multilateral forum, I’d make the trade. I mean, c’mon, 12 percent? The U.S. gets about that much from the Persian Gulf – and we barely pay that area any attention at all…

    Europa:

    “The EU-India free trade agreement will be the single biggest trade agreement in the world, benefiting 1.7 billion people,” said president Barroso. “It would mean new opportunities for both Indian and European companies. It would mean a key driver for sustainable growth, job creation and innovation in India and Europe.”
     
    The EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for about €86bn of trade in goods and services in 2010. Bilateral trade in goods rose by 20% between 2010 and 2011.”

    Asia Times Online:

    Last year Israel supplied India with $1.6 billion worth of military equipment and is India’s second-largest defense supplier after Russia. Sales are only going to rise. Indian defense procurements from Israel in the period 2002-07 have touched the $5 billion mark.

    And this doesn’t even get into the China-EU-US-Israel-Saudi Arabia wheels-within-wheels complications when it comes to arms deals, hoped for arms deals, trade deals, hoped for trade deals, energy politics, and the rest of it….

    It’s not 1985, now is it? The past is a different country, a Russian (Soviet)-oriented Cold War country used to thinking in terms of “Kissengerian” alliances and blocs. An intellectual adjustment may be needed. It’s like 3-D chess out there….

    Speaking of energy:

    “Was Saudi Arabia involved?” (Asia Times Online.) If it makes you feel better, let me point out that Saudi petrodollars continue to fund all sorts of interesting educational activities on the subcontinent, in Africa, and elsewhere, along with Iranian monies. So that’s nice.

    Posted in Business, China, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, India, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Markets and Trading, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, North America | 2 Comments »

    Graphic Novels on Health Care and other items….

    Posted by onparkstreet on 8th February 2012 (All posts by )

    -from SHOTS, NPR’s Health Care Blog:

    Health care reform is no laughing matter, but MIT economist Jonathan Gruber’s new comic book on the subject aims to communicate some pretty complicated policy details in a way that, if not exactly side-splitting, is at least engaging.
     
    In Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works, Gruber steps into the pages of a comic book to guide readers through many of the major elements of the law, including the individual mandate to buy insurance, the health insurance exchanges where people will be able to buy coverage starting in 2014 and how the law tackles controlling health care costs.

    I draw your attention to another graphic novel: The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation.

    While I was buying a copy of Persepolis from a real-life book store a few years ago, a young woman at the sales counter mentioned that there was a “great” graphic novel about North Korea that I might like. I’m not a graphic novel reader and I think Persepolis is it for me unless I decide to review the health care book, but it interested me that she seemed so enthusiastic about the topic of North Korea and graphic novels. I guess it makes sense given our “information overload” society. I don’t know. Why not look for clarity?

    PS: Linking is not endorsement and all that.

    PPS: What’s the “all that” about? Eh, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for the past week or so and my blogging has been pretty terrible because of it. I linked the health care graphic novel because it amused me, not because I am simpatico with the message. I think you all knew that already….

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Big Government, Bioethics, Book Notes, Business, Economics & Finance, Education, Media, Medicine, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, Politics, Science, Society | Comments Off on Graphic Novels on Health Care and other items….

    WBEZ: Chicago-area firms looking to veterans to help with NATO, G-8 security

    Posted by onparkstreet on 26th January 2012 (All posts by )

    Some private security firms around Chicago are looking to beef up their ranks with Iraq and Afghanistan war vets ahead of two world summits that are expected to bring multitudes of protesters to the city this spring.

    The article states that the security firms are interested in hiring veterans because they are likely to show “better restraint” if the protests turn violent. Interesting.

    And I really hope any protests don’t turn violent.

    Update: Thanks to Carl Prine’s Line of Departure for highlighting the above article/ad and mentioning this blog-within-a-blog. Second City Cop has a post on the topic and lots on the upcoming summit, too. Just keep scrolling.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Announcements, Business, Chicagoania, Law, Law Enforcement, Military Affairs, National Security, North America | 3 Comments »

    Assorted Links, or, I wish I could think up a better title for this post….

    Posted by onparkstreet on 25th January 2012 (All posts by )

    The US could be almost self-sufficent for energy by 2030, while the EU will be the most vulnerable region for energy security, BP said on Wednesday.
     
    Growth in shale oil and gas production would mean the US needed few imports, while North America as a whole could be self-sufficient, BP forecast at its Global Energy Outlook 2030.
     
    BP forecast that Eurasia could also become self-sufficient, based on the prediction that Europe would being a net importer of energy, and the former Soviet Union countries net exporters by a similar amount.
     
    In practice, this would leave the EU the most vulnerable region for energy security.

    The Telegraph

    Friends, I have no particular knowledge of this subject. If you have anything to add in comments, I’d love to hear it.

    Ah, age. One of the most daring aspects of this novel is that Lively is concerned with the hearts and problems of older characters. Her major players are well past their youth, and a boyish up-and-coming historian (the snake in Lord Henry’s mansion) doesn’t become important until much of the novel has passed. “How much remains when youth is gone?” Lively seems to be asking. And the answer is, “An abundance.” Here middle and old age are times of blossoming identity and possibility, miraculous bursts of sunshine.

    – The New York Times reviews Penelope Lively’s novel, How it All Began.

    Even as a twenty-something, I was fascinated with literary representations of middle age. An odd one, that’s me.

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Britain, Business, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Environment, Europe, International Affairs, Middle East, National Security, North America, Predictions | 9 Comments »

    On “Leverages”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 11th January 2012 (All posts by )

    In a previous post, I asked a question about leverages in terms of foreign policy:

    A key–an essential–question on leverages at Abu Muqawama (Dr. Andrew Exum):

    Where things get tricky is when one tries to decide what to do about that. The principle problem is one that has been in my head watching more violent crackdowns in Bahrain and Egypt: the very source of U.S. leverage against the regimes in Bahrain and Egypt is that which links the United States to the abuses of the regime in the first place. So if you want to take a “moral” stand against the abuses of the regime in Bahrain and remove the Fifth Fleet, congratulations! You can feel good about yourself for about 24 hours — or until the time you realize that you have just lost the ability to schedule a same-day meeting with the Crown Prince to press him on the behavior of Bahrain’s security forces. Your leverage, such as it was, has just evaporated. The same is true in Egypt. It would feel good, amidst these violent clashes between the Army and protesters, to cut aid to the Egyptian Army. But in doing so, you also reduce your own leverage over the behavior of the Army itself.

    Okay, so we have leverage with an Army cracking down on its own people, an Army fattened on US military aid and training. I thought bilateral military training was supposed to mitigate the worst instincts of some armies? Isn’t that the theory? What does it mean to have leverage? To what end? To what purpose? I don’t know the answer and I don’t think anyone does, so Dr. Exum has a point. We have no strategy (link goes to Zen) within which to place “trade offs”. Well, if we do, I can’t see it.

    Greg Scoblete at The Compass (RealClearWorld) asks the question in a much better fashion (I enjoy reading that blog, whether I agree or disagree with specific points):

    But all of this begs an important question – leverage for what? The idea is that the U.S. invests in places like Bahrain and Egypt because it needs or wants something in return. During the Cold War, it was keeping these states out of the Soviet orbit. In the 1990s and beyond, it was ensuring these states remained friendly with Israel and accommodative to U.S. military power in the region. Today, what? What is it that U.S. policy requires from Egypt and Bahrain that necessitates supporting these regimes during these brutal crack downs?

    How should we view American policy toward the Middle East? What is the larger strategic framework within which we ought to view the various relationships? What is the optimal posture for the United States? Folks, I don’t know. I’d love to know your opinions on the subject.

    Posted in Blogging, History, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics, Russia, Society, Terrorism, United Nations, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    An Interesting Man, President Reagan.

    Posted by onparkstreet on 8th January 2012 (All posts by )

    – Hebert E. Meyer memorandum, Nov. 30, 1983 (via National Review Online).

    (We really should take up the President’s suggestion to begin planning for a post-Soviet world; the Soviet Union and its people won’t disappear from the planet, and we have not yet thought seriously about the sort of political and economic structure likely to emerge.)

    Reagan and India: ‘Dialog of Discovery’ (News India Times).

    If his sunny disposition and easy manner charmed the original “Iron Lady” during their first encounter in Mexico, his administration’s ingenious framework to strengthen bilateral relations laid the foundation on which today’s U.S.-India strategic partnership rests.
     
    In a clear departure from the preceding administrations – including the sympathetic Kennedy, Johnson and Carter administrations and the nearly hostile Nixon White House – President Reagan decided to engage India on areas where there was agreement and mutual interest instead of trying to resolve outstanding issues that were intractable.
    [break]
    The Reagan White House had to placate Islamabad – which was hell bent on gaining a military edge over India – without either weakening or hurting New Delhi, which was already furious at Washington’s move to arm Pakistan and cast a Nelson’s eye on its nuclear program.
     
    The Reagan administration accomplished this impossible balancing act by rejecting the notion that U.S. relations in South Asia were a zero-sum game. So, while it appeased Pakistan’s Zia-ul Haq with aid and arms, it upped the ante on political and business relations with India. The president went about it by establishing personal relations with Indian leaders, including lavishly hosting Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and, later Rajiv Gandh, at the White House.
     
    Unlike his predecessors, who regarded Indira Gandhi to be somewhat recalcitrant and obstinate and approached her warily, Reagan respected her forthrightness and strength.

    A far thinking man, too. Unfortunately, post 9-11, someone within our National Security Complex thought replaying the Reagan Islamabad playbook might be a good idea. Unwise, given that the Pakistani-supported Taliban turned out to be a bit problematic for us in more ways than one (to put it mildly). I still don’t understand Rick “Musharraf” Santorum’s thinking or what I sometimes jokingly refer to as the “Musharraf corner” of National Review’s online Corner? You know, the pundits that turn up periodically to remind us how the secular Pakistani military is our best hope? Post-Abbottabad, I have to wonder about the ability of some analysts and pundits to put 2 and 2 together and come up with 4. The non-state actor/jihadi project is a long-standing and detailed design of the GHQ. You can’t just “hire” one General to go after a few assets and expect the whole thing to reform itself. That isn’t logical. And as far as the Al Q we supposedly did scoop up (to date)? I wonder just how much of that intelligence has been independently verified and just how much comes via our complicated CIA-ISI liaison relationship? Who knows?

    Lest our progressive friends feel a bit “I told you so” about all of this: aid is fungible. Any money the US might spend on the civilian sector eventually gets into military hands one way or another so I wouldn’t feel too smug. Plus, the Taliban that the Obama administration is attempting to negotiate with have only to pretend to negotiate and then wait it out with Pakistani help (aided with our very own tax money).

    Anyway, regarding the original topic of this post, President Reagan had the absolute correct instincts and I think he got it right in terms of the big picture. He can’t be blamed for the decisions that came after the Soviet Union collapsed, and besides, if Steve Coll’s book “Ghost Wars” is correct, the danger of the jihad project was downplayed by CIA higher-ups and others in his administration – and administrations that came after his. A President can’t do everything by himself, after all. How does the CIA keep getting away with being so wrong, time and time again? Or am I being unfair?

    Ghost Wars II – if such a book is ever written – is going to be an interesting book….

    Update Aspects of Indira Gandhi’s tenure were, er, problematic (emergency rule, certain domestic policies) and I am not a fan of her governance. I am learning (being so poorly educated on these topics), however, that grand strategy and national statecraft are tough and you can’t afford to make an enemy out of every nation whose governance you don’t like. Note to self, really, as I think about optimal policies for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Obama administration wishes to “pivot” to Asia. How should we think about this in terms of American Strategy and what does pivoting mean?

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Biography, Conservatism, History, Human Behavior, India, International Affairs, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, Predictions, Quotations | 9 Comments »

    “You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 4th January 2012 (All posts by )

    Commenter Lynn Wheeler writes at zenpundit:

    “….Boyd would comment in the 80s that the approach was having significant downside on American corporations as former WW2 officers climbed the corporate ladder, creating similar massive, rigid, top-down command&control infrastructures (along with little agility to adapt to changing conditions, US auto industry being one such poster child).”

    Wheeler’s comment reminded me of the following post that I had meant to blog earlier:

    One occasion in particular in the late 1970s brought this home to me. McNamara had come to one of our staff meetings in the Western Africa Region of the World Bank, where I was a young manager, and he had said he would be ready to answer any questions.
     
    I felt fairly secure as an up-and-coming division chief and a risk-taking kind of guy. So I decided to ask McNamara the question that was on everyone’s lips in the corridors at the time, namely, whether he perceived any tension between his hard-driving policy of pushing out an ever-increasing volume of development loans and improving the quality of the projects that were being financed by the loans. In effect, was there a tension between quantity and quality?
     
    When the time came for questions, I spoke first at the meeting and posed the question.
     
    His reply to me was chilling.
     
    He said that people who asked that kind of question didn’t understand our obligation to do both—we had to do more loans and we had to have higher quality—there was no tension. People who didn’t see that didn’t belong in the World Bank.

    Steve Denning

    This too from a speech by Robert McNamara, “Security in the Contemporary World”:

    The rub comes in this: We do not always grasp the meaning of the word “security” in this context. In a modernizing society, security means development.
     

    Security is not military hardware, though it may include it. Security is not military force, though it may involve it. Security is not traditional military activity, though it may encompass it. Security is development. Without development, there can be no security. A developing nation that does not in fact develop simply cannot remain “secure.” It cannot remain secure for the intractable reason that its own citizenry cannot shed its human nature.
     

    If security implies anything, it implies a minimal measure of order and stability. Without internal development of at least a minimal degree, order and stability are simply not possible. They are not possible because human nature cannot be frustrated beyond intrinsic limits. It reacts because it must.
    [break]
    Development means economic, social, and political progress. It means a reasonable standard of living, and the word “reasonable” in this context requires continual redefinition. What is “reasonable” in an earlier stage of development will become “unreasonable” in a later stage.
     

    As development progresses, security progresses. And when the people of a nation have organized their own human and natural resources to provide themselves with what they need and expect out of life and have learned to compromise peacefully among competing demands in the larger national interest then their resistance to disorder and violence will be enormously increased.

    Think about this in terms of the “armed nation building” of the past decade or so and in terms of successive Clinton, Bush, and Obama administration policies. Really not that much difference if you look at it in terms of securing stability through development – armed or otherwise. Not a novel observation in any way, but bears in mind repeating as the 2012 Presidential campaign continues its “running in place” trajectory….

    Update:“Running in place” and “trajectory” don’t really go together, do they? Oh well. You all know what I mean….

    Posted in Academia, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Business, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, History, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Public Finance, Society, Speeches, Terrorism, United Nations, War and Peace | 24 Comments »

    Reading lots of books. Ignoring televised GOP debates. (Looking over the transcripts hurts enough.)

    Posted by onparkstreet on 14th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Strobe Talbott, Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb (2004):

    Joe Ralston had the awkward assignment of making sure that he was with General Karamat during the launch of the Tomahawks. That way, if the low-flying missiles showed up on Pakistani radar screens, Joe would be able to assure Karamat that they were not the first wave of an Indian sneak attack. Toward the end of a dinner at the VIP lounge at Islamabad airport, Ralston checked his watch and told Karamat that about sixty Tomahawks had just passed through Pakistani airspace en route to their targets in Afghanistan. Shortly after, he thanked his host for dinner, shook hands, and departed.
     
    Karamat felt humiliated and betrayed. The next day his anger grew more intense when it was learned that one of the cruise missiles had gone astray and come down in Pakistan. Those that found their mark killed a number of Pakistani intelligence officers and trainees at the Afghan camps. These casualties were further cause for outrage in Pakistan, but they also confirmed Indian charges that Pakistan was officially supporting terrorism and the U.S. administration’s need to keep the operation secret.
     
    The attack missed bin Laden by hours. Suspicions lingered for years afterward that even though the Pakistanis did not know exactly when the attack was coming, they may have known enough to tip off bin Laden.

    (Emphasis mine).

    General (Ret.) Hugh Shelton, Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior (2010):

    One might think that the obvious solution would have been to inform or coordinate with Pakistan up front and let them know the missiles would be ours. Under normal circumstances, that might have worked. In this case, Pakistan’s national intelligence agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), was so connected with al-Qaeda, there was no doubt that such a forewarning would go right back to UBL and his minions, and in ten minutes those camps would be more deserted than an old Western ghost town, leaving our missiles to pound sand on empty tents and vacant training facilities.

    At this point, what is there to say?

    PS: I deleted a bunch of stuff I wrote after “what is there to say,” because it was silly. I meant to save it and post it in the comments instead so as not to be accused of “scrubbing” this post but I didn’t. I’m sure it’s cached somewhere. It’s not really anything terrible, anyway. Here is what I wish I had posted instead:

    Lasch described the emergence of elites who “…control the international flow of money and information, preside over philanthropic foundations and institutions of higher learning, manage the instruments of cultural production and thus set the terms of public debate.” These elites would undermine American democracy in order to fulfill their insatiable desire for wealth and power and to perpetuate their social and political advantages. Middle-class values, Lasch warned, would be hollowed out by a value-neutral educational system preaching multiculturalism. Their replacement would be narcissistic values based on self-gratification and worshipful of fame and celebrity as the ultimate values in a world devoid of deeper meaning.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Book Notes, History, Human Behavior, India, Military Affairs, Politics, Quotations, Terrorism, War and Peace | 9 Comments »

    “Where Have You Been Whit Stillman?”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 23rd November 2011 (All posts by )

    After 13 years, acclaimed writer/director Whit Stillman returns to the big screen with Damsels in Distress, a “comedy of manners” that echoes his previous work in Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco. The Post’s Nathalie Atkinson convened this week’s TIFF-centric Culture Club to ask whether Whit’s wit has been missed.

    National Post

    Enough with my “regular” series of topics. I am becoming a bore on the subject, even to myself. (Especially to myself.) At any rate, Happy Thanksgiving! What a joy it is to share my thoughts with you from time to time. I like this corner of the internet.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Film | Comments Off on “Where Have You Been Whit Stillman?”

    On The Myth (and non-Myth) of Martial Races

    Posted by onparkstreet on 22nd November 2011 (All posts by )

    Pundita:

    One point I haven’t mentioned before is that the British Raj propounded the ‘martial races’ concept, which had a big impact on the Indian subcontinent, and which Pakistan continued to accept after independence. Technically the concept was abandoned in the 1970s within the Pakistan military but until just a couple years ago Pakistani society held the military as the highest ideal — and (alongside cricket stars) the ideal for the male. The fiercest of military men as the model for manhood followed the British colonizer’s dictum, which was dryly summarized by Dr. Jeffrey Greenhut:
     
    The Martial Race theory had an elegant symmetry. Indians who were intelligent and educated were defined as cowards, while those defined as brave were uneducated and backward.
     
    The ‘high’ culture of the Bengalis in East Pakistan, which placed great emphasis on the arts and intellectual pursuits, was intolerable to West Pakistan’s military class — and this was partly the reason for the horrific atrocities they carried out against the Bengalis, both Hindu and Muslim.

    Amardeep Singh:

    The damning parallel between the groups that were loyal during the Mutiny and those who would be designated as “Martial Races” later seems hard to escape. Though I generally try and avoid paranoid speculation, the idea of “divide and rule” also seems to be relevant here: by keeping the various ethnic regiments of the Indian army divided along linguistic or ethnic lines, they prevented them from congealing along racial (as in, brown vs. white) ones.
     
    For better or worse, groups once designated by the British as “martial races” still tend to carry that badge with pride. But it’s a dubious source of honor, and also an extremely dubious way of asserting one’s manhood & masculinity. (How much violence against women has been perpetrated in the service of the myth of Jat or Pathan/Pashtun martial masculinity?)

    brownpundits:

    A quick glance at the composition of Indian Army Regiments shows that the Indian Army is still run on the “martial races” concept — in particular, the post-1857 interpretation. This designation was based on British perceptions of which communities were best able to bear arms and loyally serve the crown, and is related to their cultural stances on climate (hill-folk favored over the plains dwellers) as well as occupation (favoring sturdy independent peasants). Ultimately however, the British favored groups which stuck with them in the 1857 mutiny (Jats, Sikhs, Gurkhas) over those groups perceived to be disloyal (upper-castes, Bengalis, Tamils).
     
    Over a third of the recruits in the Indian Army are recruited from the Jats, Rajputs, Gujjars, and Dogras of Haryana, Punjab, and Himanchal Pradesh — though these states comprise just over 5% of the national population (given the caste identities, the Army is really drawn from an even smaller subset of that group). That is, roughly as many infantry as fielded by the entire US Army are recruited from a group of castes among a cluster of states totalling 50 million in population. Many of the rest are similarly drawn on a narrow regional/caste basis.

    “Ray,” Small Wars Journal:

    The Pakistan Army has always been psyched to believe that “one Pakistani is equal to ten Indians”.
     
    This has been repeatedly debunked in all the wars fought between India and Pakistan.
     
    While the outcome of wars is debatable, 1971 and 1965’s Battle of Assal Uttar (the physical graveyard of Patton tanks which were superior to anything India had) gave Pakistan no leeway to cover up their inadequacy at combat unlike the fact wherein Pakistan’s Operation Grand Slam is not discussed in history, military or otherwise or for that matter, any other debacle, not even the 1971 fiasco of their own making (except in general vague and defensive terms)!!
     
    That apart, Musharraf has a chip on his shoulder. He is a Mohajir and hence non martial as per the British classification. And yet he was the COAS. In addition, he pipped Khatak (a blue blooded Pathan and a martial race man) to the post of COAS. He also had a personal grievance to settle. Gen. Zia chose Gen. Musharraf (then a Brigadier) in 1987 to command a newly-raised Special Services Group (SSG) base at Khapalu in the Siachen area. To please Gen. Zia, Gen. Musharraf with his SSG commandos launched an attack on an Indian post at Bilfond La in September, 1987, and was beaten back.

    “Red Rat,” Small Wars Journal:

    Despite serving under the same basic TACOS as the Indian Battalions conditions of service were generally better in the British battalions and their take home pay was greater due to various allowances they received. Although poorly paid by British standards they were extremely well paid by Nepali standards.
     
    The various Gurkha welfare organisations launched a campaign, adopted by Joanna Lumley (UK media star) for parity in Gurkha TACOS with British soldiers and the right to abode in the UK. This campaign was successful and had the precise effect that the UK Army suspected it would have:
     
    Increased social problems in the UK as Gurkha families settle in the UK
    Lessening of the inflow of capital into Nepal as Gurkhas choose to bring families into the UK and retired Gurkhas move to the UK rather then take their pensions and settle in Nepal.
     
    Bringing Gurkha soldiers TACOS in line with UK soldiers has caused manning and career management issues leading to redundancies.
    At a time of a shrinking Army it is hard to justify maintaining Gurkha battalions when we are losing British battalions; Gurkhas are no longer the cheaper option.
     
    I have served with Gurkhas, they are great, but like all soldiers have their strengths and their weaknesses. I can amplify on any of the points above, but my feeling is that the change to the Gurkha system has severely threatened their long term viability in the British Army.

    I am largely an Anglophile, but I don’t romanticize the Raj. Or maybe I do. Who ever knows with me? One day I think one thing, the next day I think another. The oral history in my family regarding the time of the “britishers” is uncomfortable to recount. Half-whispered and half-remembered family mythology as oral history: “She never went into that town by herself, Madhu. No one knew why. She never wanted to be around them alone.” What does this mean? Is it true; is it exaggerated; was it a small incident or something too horrible to imagine? But no-one knows or dwells on it. It’s the past and the past is over. The general feeling is, “why think about it?”

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Anglosphere, History, India, Military Affairs | 6 Comments »

    On Special Relationships

    Posted by onparkstreet on 15th November 2011 (All posts by )

    Foreign Secretary William Hague on UK-Pakistan relations at the 60th Anniversary of the Pakistan Society:

    And my message to you all this evening is that Britain’s relationship with Pakistan is here to stay. What happens in Pakistan matters to Britain, and we will stand by Pakistan as it addresses the challenges it faces and build a durable relationship that we know will stand the test of time.
     
    We can be confident of doing so because ours is not a new relationship founded on a narrow set of interests.
     
    We enjoy a tremendous latticework of connections of history and shared experiences, embodied in one million people with close ties to Pakistan living in Britain today and the thousands of our citizens who travel back and forth each year to work, study and support projects or for simple enjoyment.

    Yahoo News India:

    The United States Defense Department has awarded a 42.3 million dollar contract to Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, to provide 10 upgrade kits for Pakistan’s F-16 A/B aircrafts.
     
    According to the Daily Times, the contract has been awarded under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme for Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s Block 15 F-16 A/B Aircraft Enhanced Modernization Program.

    Aviation Week blog:

    Given how opaque the Saudi government is, it is unclear what is prompting the latest bout of uncertainty. Among the top reasons government and industry officials cite is Riyadh’s unhappiness the U.S. did not support a Palestinian bid for UN membership. Another is that the recent turmoil in Saudi Arabia — with Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz named new defense minister after his predecessor died — has simply created too much uncertainty for the arms package to move forward.
     
    Boeing has a lot riding on the deal — especially since it would keep F-15 production alive past 2020 — and company officials recently indicated it was still on, without projecting timing. It is important for Boeing, financially, too, since it has already spent money to avoid a production gap.

    India and Britain – the new special relationship?RUSI

    Council on Foreign Relations:

    In this Vanity Fair adaptation of The Eleventh Day, by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, the authors explore connections between the Saudi royal family, the September 11th attacks, and the Bush administration’s suppression of critical evidence.
     
    For 10 years now, a major question about 9/11 has remained unresolved. It was, as 9/11-commission chairmen Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton recalled, “Had the hijackers received any support from foreign governments?” There was information that pointed to the answer, but the commissioners apparently deemed it too disquieting to share in full with the public.

    Clinton Cites Pakistan Anti-Terror Help in Bid to Avert Aid CutBloomberg

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Aviation, Britain, Business, Economics & Finance, International Affairs, Military Affairs | 4 Comments »