Globalisation https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/75/0 en Edwin Ardener: the life-force of ideas https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/edwin-ardener-life-force-ideas <p><em>The work of the social anthropologist Edwin Ardener (1927-87) remains a fertile source of insight and influence, says his former student and editor of a collection of his essays, Malcolm Chapman.</em></p><p>(This article was first published on 21 September 2007)</p><p> </p><p>Edwin Ardener was born eighty years ago today, on 21 September 1927. He studied social anthropology at the London School of Economics immediately after the second world war, coming into contact with a number of major figures in the subject - Edmund Leach, Raymond Firth, Darryl Forde, and Audrey Richards (as well as encountering the strong posthumous presence of Bronisław Malinowski). Ardener began a long fieldwork involvement with west Africa in 1949, which involved numerous long visits over the next twenty years. Ardener&#39;s published ethnographic and analytical work from this period is lengthy and extensive. This is a point worth stressing for those who (if they are aware of him at all) have been exposed only to his later work, a collection of which was published in 1989, under the title <a href=https://www.abebooks.co.uk/Voice-Prophecy-Essays-Edwin-Ardener-Blackwell/11795828064/bd><em><i>The Voice of Prophecy, and other essays,</i></em></a></p> <p>I had the privilege of editing and introducing this book. It had been in preparation before Ardener&#39;s sudden and unexpected death in 1987. He had always tried to retain &quot;urgent provisionality&quot; in his writings, and joked that the only way such urgent provisionality could properly be turned into a bound volume was as a posthumous work. We referred to the collection as &quot;posthumous&#39; even as we were working on it together, not realising how soon the joke would be delivered. This assemblage of writings has been republished in 2007 by <a href="http://www.berghahnbooks.com/">Berghahn Books</a>, with an insightful foreword by Harvard University's <a href=https://anthropology.fas.harvard.edu/people/michael-herzfeld>Michael Herzfeld</a>. [Editor's note: a second and expanded <a href=https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/ArdenerVoiceNew>edition</a> is published in October 2017]. It is a modest but real sign both of the lasting interest in and the intellectual fertility and contemporaneity of Ardener&#39;s anthropology.</p> <p><strong>Worlds and meanings</strong></p><p>Edwin Ardener&#39;s ethnographic writings covered many subjects. He developed his interests through intense attention to social and linguistic detail, in closely observed fieldwork contexts. He studied and published on life in village and plantation in Cameroon. He published on the relationship between divorce and fertility. He came to know the value, and the limitations too, of the positivist approach to numbers, counting and meaning. He had a deep appreciation of the virtues of empirical engagement with society.</p><p>He also, however, was coming to a refined appreciation of the limitations of positivism within social anthropology, at a time when something like positivism was very prevalent within social anthropology (and at a time when positivism was, as Ardener once remarked to me, &quot;the religion of the compulsorily educated masses&quot;; I do not know whether he would mind me repeating that or not). His writings, from the late 1960s onwards, were less concerned with empirical and fieldwork matters, and more with the twin meetings that he understood and expressed so well: the meeting of social anthropology with linguistics, and the meeting of society with language. It is this work that is represented in <em>The Voice of Prophecy</em>, and it is this work for which he is best known. </p> <p>It is difficult to convey any of the ideas simply, not because they were expressed in a complex manner, but because they were all wonderfully interrelated. When Ardener became a lecturer in social anthropology at the Institute of Social Anthropology (as it then was) in Oxford, he was invited to take up this post by the then professor of social anthropology, EE Evans-Pritchard. The latter had published a number of influential ethnographic accounts, where the interaction of people, meaning and things was discussed in intricate detail (for example, <a href=https://global.oup.com/ushe/product/witchcraft-oracles-and-magic-among-the-azande-9780198740292?cc=gb&lang=en&><em>Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande</em></a> [1937], <em>The Nuer</em> [1942], <em>Nuer Religion</em> [1956]). Ardener stepped into this tradition, along with a number of other young anthropologists. He also, however, brought to the mix a developing understanding of the emerging ideas of <a href=https://opendemocracy.net/article/claude-levi-strauss-at-100-echo-of-the-future>Claude Levi-Strauss</a>, and through him, of the seminal work of Ferdinand de Saussure. It was this meeting of detailed ethnographic knowledge, allied to a concern for meaning and interpretation, with the ideas coming through from Saussurean linguistics, that might be said to be the most important feature of Ardener&#39;s thought, and of its development from the 1960s through to the late 1980s. </p> <p>At this point, it is important to acknowledge the importance of Edwin&#39;s wife and fellow anthropologist, <a href=https://www.isca.ox.ac.uk/people/dr-shirley-ardener>Shirley Ardener.</a> They worked together in <a href="http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=ArdenerKingdom">Cameroon</a>, and were lifelong colleagues in the pursuit of the social life of the intellect, in all the forms that this took in their lives in Oxford and <a href="http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=ArdenerSwedish">Africa</a>. One of Edwin&#39;s most influential short essays was a piece entitled &quot;Belief and the Problem of Women&quot;, which popularised the idea of &quot;muted groups&quot;. The idea was first applied to women, but came to have a life in many other areas. &quot;Muted groups&quot; were defined by what Ardener called &quot;world structures&quot;: they were groups that for one reason or another were unable to express themselves through the dominant existing structures (of language, symbolism or action) in a society. The idea led, through the subsequent work of Shirley Ardener and her many collaborators, to a rich and sustained vein of <a href=https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/defining-females-9780854967278/>analysis</a> (beginning with the collection called <a href=https://philpapers.org/rec/ARDPW><em><i>Perceiving Women</i></em></a> [1975]) that continues to illuminate the role and position of women in many societies. </p> <p>Ardener expressed much of his thinking in terms of &quot;world structures&quot;. This was an attempt to express the idea that a society experienced the world through its own structures which it was the task of the analyst to grasp in their full complexity. The idea bore some resemblance to the notion of &quot;the social construction of reality&quot;, which was becoming popular at about the same time. Ardener&#39;s approach, however, never allowed ideas and materialities to drift apart, in the way that many &quot;social constructionists&quot; seemed to do. </p> <p>A world structure was, in part, about how materialities could be experienced, and about how events from the material environment could be incorporated into social understanding. A world structure was a form through which everything relevant could be &quot;englobed&quot; (another key Ardener concept); a world structure was totalising. This meant that even impoverished and ill-informed views nevertheless seemed &quot;total&quot; in their own terms - gave, that is, an account of the world where everything was accommodated. </p> <p>These ideas have found many forms, but some of the most fruitful, at least for me, have been in accounts of ethnicities, of self-classification and classification of others. To take the simplest example, a world structure which contains the idea of &quot;self&quot; (ourselves, us) and the idea of &quot;other&quot; (strangers, not us) is totalising - it contains everybody, according to locally relevant parameters. </p> <p><strong>Thought and influence </strong></p> <p>Edwin Ardener&#39;s work contained many refined discussions of social classification, deriving ideas from <a href=http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199766567/obo-9780199766567-0075.xml>Mary Douglas</a> as well as from Saussure and Evans-Pritchard. It subtly interwove ideas of classification, totalising structures, and anomaly, and in many different contexts - in the analysis of kin groups, of ethnicities, of academics and academic subjects, of genders. </p> <p>My own work has been particularly influenced by three quite short essays (all of them in <em>The Voice of Prophecy</em>) - &quot;Behaviour, a social anthropological criticism&quot;, &quot;Language, ethnicity and population&quot;, and &quot;Social anthropology and population&quot;. These essays led me, and others, to consideration of world structures wherein ethnic groups constructed and defined their present and their past, My own book <a href=https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9780333520888><em><i>The Celts: the construction of a myth</i></em></a> is developed out of these influences, as too are the works of <a href=http://waterworlds.ku.dk/team/hastrup/>Kirsten Hastrup</a>, <a href=https://www.socanth.cam.ac.uk/directory/dr-maryon-mcdonald>Maryon McDonald</a>, <a href=https://www.york.ac.uk/sociology/our-staff/academic/sharon-macdonald/>Sharon Macdonald</a>, and <a href=http://www.salisbury.anglican.org/whos-who/bishops/the-bishop-of-ramsbury>Edward Condry</a>, among others. The collection <a href=https://www.ebookmall.com/ebook/history-and-ethnicity/malcolm-k-chapman/9781138194700><em><i>History and Ethnicity</i></em></a>, from a conference of the same name, is another manifestation of this range of interests. </p> <p>The Ardeners invested a great deal of time and effort in the doctoral students who later became, in many cases, their colleagues, co-authors and friends. I was lucky to have a great deal of time invested in me. I did not realise until much later how unusual this was, and how lucky I had been. </p> <p>Ardener was probably at his best in oral delivery - in tutorial, seminar and lecture. His lectures in the 1970s were a kind of ongoing comedy adventure, of the deepest seriousness. The writings are what we now have to access this, and they are available once again. I now work in the general field of business studies, and find that ideas drawn from Ardener&#39;s writings and ideas are a constant source of challenge and novelty to the entire domain of business studies. They are my enduring intellectual capital, and I know that many people who passed close to Edwin Ardener feel the same. For those that have not experienced the invigorating life-force of his ideas, I humbly and seriously recommend an engagement with the essays in <a href=https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/ArdenerVoiceNew/recommend<em><i>The Voice of Prophecy</i></a>.</p> ======== <p>Malcolm Chapman is <a href=http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Malcolm-Chapman/163986066>senior lecturer</a> at Leeds University Business School. He is a social anthropologist by training, and the author of many <a href=https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Malcolm_Chapman&lt;<em>studies</a> of business management and culture in the perspective of anthropology</p> <p>Among his books are <a href=https://www.abebooks.co.uk/9780856647529/Gaelic-Vision-Scottish-Culture-Malcolm-0856647527/plpi><em><i>The Gaelic Vision in Scottish Culture</i></em></a> (Croom Helm, 1978) and <a href=http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9780333520888><em><i>The Celts: the construction of a myth</i></em></a> (Macmillan, 1992). He is the editor of a collection of Edwin Ardener's work, <a href=https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/ArdenerVoiceNew><em><i>The Voice of Prophecy, and other essays</i></em></a> (Berghahn, 2007; 2nd, expanded edition, October 2017)</p> visions & reflections people Globalisation Malcolm Chapman Original Copyright Wed, 20 Sep 2017 23:01:04 +0000 Malcolm Chapman 34604 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ripping back the veil: an interview with Arun Kundnani https://www.opendemocracy.net/arun-kundnani-phoebe-braithwaite/ripping-back-veil-interview-with-arun-kundnani <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Trump promises politics in its naked form: the seizure of power for his clan, and be damned with all the rest. As the centre ground collapses, we must not cling to it.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-29179096 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Trump mask production line, Japan. Eugene Hoshiko/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-29179096 (1).jpg" alt="Trump mask production line, Japan. Eugene Hoshiko/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Trump mask production line, Japan. Eugene Hoshiko/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="302" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Trump mask production line, Japan. Eugene Hoshiko/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>What are the roots and ramifications of Donald Trump’s election? As we reel from this seismic event, Arun Kundnani, political commentator and author of <em>The Muslims Are Coming! </em>(Verso, 2014), assesses its domestic and global significance for the innumerable communities on the frontline, with Trump set to inherit the vastest machineries for war and surveillance ever created. We must not accept this as normal, he argues, and we should match in extremity the coming administration’s rhetoric – while campaigning from the margins, with a genuine programme for change.</p><p><strong><strong>Phoebe Braithwaite: What part has racism played in the Trump campaign’s success?</strong></strong></p><p>Arun Kundnani: There are two prevailing ways that people have been looking at the Trump victory. One is focused on class and the other is focused on race. A lot of people are saying this is the revolt of the ‘losers’ in globalisation, focused on the white working class. Actually I don’t think the data supports that, because the most striking thing about the numbers is that support for Trump is not associated with poverty. It is correlated with race. Across all ages, every income category, and across men and women, more whites voted for Trump than Clinton and more non-whites voted for Clinton than Trump.</p><p>But the discussion on this has been limited so far because when people say, ‘Trump won because of his racism’ other people reply, ‘you’re saying that all Trump supporters are racist, but they’re not’. That assumes that racism is about individual attitudes of hate and ignorance. But racism is a system and it’s sustained not by barroom bigots but by a million daily complicities. It’s an inherent part of US society, which claims to be based on liberal values, but necessarily involves violence, oppression and exploitation. That’s why it’s possible for Trump to win on the back of racism without needing to imagine that half the country is in the Klan.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">"A liberal curtain will be pulled back, and then we’ll be dealing with politics in its authentic form – them and us."</p><p>Trump first came to prominence defending racist housing policies in the 1970s and calling for the death penalty for African-American and Hispanic teenagers in the 1980s. Then, through the Birther movement, he is connected to a conspiratorial tradition on the American right, which goes back to the John Birch Society. But today, it’s very much tied up with Islamophobia. The Birther movement was not only about saying that Obama was not American but also that he was secretly Muslim. The real energy of Trump’s campaign initially came from making the arguments about banning Muslims. His critique of Obama was that he was deliberately trying to obscure the nature of the enemy, and we need to be more honest and direct in naming the enemy.</p><p>This connects with the idea of stripping away the pieties of the elite, that if you strip away all of this political correctness, you will reveal politics for the power grab it really is. And what he’s saying is, ‘I will grab power for my people, for my race, for my nation,’ and we don’t need to bother with the pretence of politically correct rules, and so forth. I think that’s a very emotional aspect of his appeal, tied up with that sense that a liberal curtain will be pulled back, and then we’ll be dealing with politics in its authentic form – them and us. And the ‘us’ for him would be, implicitly and often explicitly, white Americans.</p><p>I think we should take absolutely seriously the racism and Islamophobia of it and not just see it as a rhetorical device to get elected. There were two main components to his pitch: racism and anti-elitism. Of course his anti-elitism is a fiction, in the sense that he’s a part of the elite and he stands for the elite and he embodies the elite. In office, he will compromise on his anti-elitism and, to compensate for that, he will go overboard on his racism. So, for example, he’s already said he will be making registration of Muslims in the United States compulsory. I think those aspects will be the immediate priority for us to defend ourselves against.</p><p><strong>PB: Are there appropriate comparisons for this period in history? Can we make parallels?</strong></p><p>AK: The temptation is to say that this looks like a re-run of the election of Nixon or Reagan. And I don’t think it is. Trump’s politics are obviously different in relation to free trade. He’s committed to withdrawing from NAFTA. Compare that with George W. Bush, who was trying to expand NAFTA to South America. NAFTA was a way of locking Mexico into neoliberalism, so it’s striking that Trump seems willing to undo that.&nbsp;</p><p>It’s too early to say how this will play out but is seems like a new paradigm is emerging here. Aspects of the orthodoxy of the last forty years might be getting reworked in quite fundamental ways. Free trade is a sacred value of the establishment. When you look at the different components of Trump’s politics, the particular sections of society it’s appealing to, the fact that racism is central to it, the fact that he wants to dispense with all kinds of liberal values, the fact that he wants centralised state power, you can see the resemblance to fascist ideology. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to describe this as a new kind of fascism, but it’s a very different kind of fascism from the early twentieth century fascism.</p><p>For one thing, the Italian and German fascisms were responses to leftist working-class revolutionary movements. They were trying to appropriate some of the forms of those mass movements but redirect those energies for the preservation of the capitalist system. Well, there isn’t a threat to the system from a labour insurgency today. But I think there is a sense among the Anglo-American business class that the system has stalled and that maybe there’s a need for some radical rewiring. And I think Trump embodies that possibility.</p><p>It is too early to say what that might look like, but a lot of people in the Trump camp are skeptical of the US playing the role of firefighter and police force for a global free-market system that they think has enriched East Asia and destabilised the Middle East more than it has helped the west. This is not the end of neoliberalism but perhaps a new kind of neoliberalism, in which the aim would be to anchor the power of free markets more in a sense of western cultural identity.</p><p><strong>PB: What role did identity politics play in this election?</strong></p><p>AK: Clintonism – Hillary and Bill’s politics – was about corporate multiculturalism, corporate feminism, saying that people of colour and women can be included in the elites of the neoliberal project that Reagan had advanced before them. There was always a contradiction between the multicultural feel-good vibe of that politics and the realities for actual people of colour and actual women in America who were on the receiving end of the intensifying racism in the criminal justice system, or the cutbacks to welfare, and so forth, that Bill Clinton’s administration was involved in. Again it was the contradiction between the liberal image and the actual brutalities of the system – that’s what Trump was able to exploit. What Trump is saying, in effect, is, ‘Let’s do away with the pretence that this is an inclusive society. It’s a much more brutal society than that and it’s a society based on power, and who can grab power, and I can grab power for you (white people).’&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-29130651.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Hillary Clinton. Andrew Harnik/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-29130651.jpg" alt="Hillary Clinton. Andrew Harnik/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Hillary Clinton. Andrew Harnik/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hillary Clinton. Andrew Harnik/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="mag-quote-left">"Racism is a system and it’s sustained not by barroom bigots but by a million daily complicities." </p><p>In terms of how we think about identity politics, I think it’s a complete mistake to frame things in such a way that there is an opposition between feminism or anti-racism or LGBT rights, on the one hand, and class issues on the other hand, as if Clinton stands for gay rights and minorities and women and Trump stands for the white working class. I think that’s a complete misreading of the situation and a bad formulation that unfortunately has become very prominent. Our starting point should be that the US is a class society and a race society and a gender society, and all these social relations are intertwined with each other. So the kind of politics we need is one that can incorporate all these elements. Hillary Clinton’s defeat was, in part, to do with her reliance on the idea that women would vote only as women; in fact, they also voted for their race and their class.</p><p><strong>PB: What should the left be doing differently?</strong></p><p>AK: I think the first thing is to refuse the normalisation of Trump. All that stuff about healing the divides doesn’t grasp what’s happened. We should understand that this is, I think, a break with the last forty years of political and economic orthodoxy – radical not in the genuine sense but in the sense of change from above. The old centre ground of politics is eroding and we should not cling to it.&nbsp;</p><p>I think we should understand that something new is going to have to come in the place of the centre-left and the centre-right, and so far the right has been better at figuring out what that might look like. Trump represents that, Brexit represents that. I think in the first instance it’s going to be a matter of defending communities from attack. I think we need to be building our own walls of resistance to what is going to be heading towards us. There are a lot of people in the crosshairs of this. Clearly, the whole national security apparatus is going to be powered up to recharge the batteries of the war on terror.&nbsp;</p><p>But it’s also about the mob. I think there’s going to be a permanent mobilisation, a Trump movement, that is going to be responsible for racist violence, for all kinds of attacks on minorities. There’s a need to organise self-defence – this is where the lessons of anti-fascism in the twentieth century will have some resonance.</p><p><strong>PB: Is it possible to make foreign policy predictions at this stage?</strong></p><p>AK: It’s hard but there are some certainties. One is that the Trump administration will be fully aligned with the Israeli far-right, and that means moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, criminalising the BDS movement, going after pro-Palestinian groups within the US, all of which is very bad news for the Palestinians and their allies. It looks as if there will also be a rapprochement with Assad in Syria, which is bad news for the Syrian opposition who will be crushed between Russia and the United States.</p><p>More generally, I think what is on the cards is the US playing a different role in the international system. The old assumption that guided much of the last half century of US foreign policy was that the more that free trade was promoted, the more that American-style democracy was promoted, the better that would be for America. Neoliberal globalisation was supposed to be in America’s interests. That looked very convincing in 1994 when NAFTA was passed. But now globalisation does not look like Americanisation – it looks more like a de-centering of the west. What this means is hard to say but it certainly seems like a new era of US foreign policy will emerge that is quite different from the past. Leaders who have ideological similarities to Trump, such as Putin and Modi, can expect to benefit.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>PB: And the rise of the right in Europe?</strong></p><p>AK: The fact that Trump has appointed Stephen K. Bannon as his chief strategist tells you that Trump’s politics is <em>Breitbart</em> politics. What was the <em>Breitbart</em> front page in the days after the election? It was Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen. Those connections exist between the far-right in Europe and Trump.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-29196996.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rutgers University students protest against Trump. Mel Evans/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-29196996.jpg" alt="Rutgers University students protest against Trump. Mel Evans/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Rutgers University students protest against Trump. Mel Evans/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rutgers University students protest against Trump. Mel Evans/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="mag-quote-right">"We must match in radicalism Trump’s own rhetoric but ground it in a genuine programme for moving beyond the failures of neoliberalism."</p><p>This is a time of polarisation. There will be, let’s hope, a stronger left mobilisation in the United States than we’ve seen in recent decades. And we shouldn’t forget that millions of Americans voted for Bernie Sanders, someone who uses the label of “socialist”, and that would have been unimaginable relatively recently. That constituency now needs to – and I think will – take to the streets and fight for a genuine radical politics, not the fake anti-elitism of Trump.</p><p><strong>PB: Do you think Sanders could have beaten Trump?</strong></p><p>AK: It’s impossible to know. Certainly Sanders would have done better in the rustbelt states that were crucial to Trump’s victory. But once you swap Sanders for Clinton, then you don’t know what else is going to change. I think that, irrespective of whether he would have won, he was certainly the right candidate, because this is not a time for the status quo. This is a time when the status quo is collapsing, and the left needs to be campaigning from the margins rather than from the centre.</p><p><strong>PB: What is especially to be feared now?</strong></p><p>AK: Trump will inherit this vast armoury from the war on terror, the largest system of surveillance ever created, the capacity to carry out extra-judicial killings anywhere in the world on demand. There is the possibility that he will use those technologies to turn the border with Mexico into a warzone, while making it impossible for undocumented migrants to function within the US. He will have people around him who wish to strip away the civil rights of Muslims in the US and go to war with Iran. The Supreme Court will become more conservative. Corporations will be even less regulated. White supremacy will be regenerated. </p><p>But the real danger is normalisation.&nbsp;Our response cannot be aimed at restoring America to a discredited centrist status quo. We must match in radicalism Trump’s own rhetoric but ground it in a genuine programme for moving beyond the failures of neoliberalism.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arun-kundnani-opendemocracy/violence-comes-home-interview-with-arun-kundnani">Violence comes home: an interview with Arun Kundnani</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-and-pentagon">Trump and the Pentagon</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/zoe-samudzi/donald-trump-is-not-uniquely-bigoted">Donald Trump is not uniquely bigoted. He&#039;s &#039;as American as apple pie&#039;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> United States Democracy and government International politics Globalisation democracy & terror 9/11 : the 'war on terror' democracy & power north america Understanding the rise of Trump Phoebe Braithwaite Arun Kundnani Sat, 19 Nov 2016 09:45:56 +0000 Arun Kundnani and Phoebe Braithwaite 106915 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A crisis of ends: Kees van der Pijl interviewed https://www.opendemocracy.net/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/crisis-of-ends-kees-van-der-pijl-interviewed <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In a wide-ranging discussion, Kees van der Pijl delves into the interplay of power and economics in an era of "authoritarian capitalism". </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>We would like to start with current and much-discussed events. What is the meaning of the recent wave of so-called terrorist attacks, in your view? Why now?</em><br /><br />My hunch is that we may be witnessing a repetition of the "strategy of tension" of the 1970s, at least in some key respects. Of course one has to build on scant information but every scrap counts here and it helps to have some sort of a framework. On the basis of my study of a series of these incidents, I would argue three things. First, in a really severe crisis as we are now experiencing, unorthodox and covert tactics are resorted to besides regular politics. Second, there are in every society fringe elements (both in the state apparatus and in opposition groups, including criminal) which have a capacity for violence. Third, when events happen in which such groups are obviously involved, one does well to interpret events, at least as a serious possibility, in the light of the first point. In other words, to consider the possibility that violent fringe groups have been allowed, by conscious negligence or actively, to strike.<br /><br />The Paris attacks were in my view suspicious. Too many details are fishy, like the very professional killers both leaving their identity-cards in the escape car, a third suspect being identified immediately but who happened to be at school, the killing of the suspects rather than disabling at least one of them to be interrogated and tried. The "crisis" consisted of France being too hesitant, whether in upholding the sanctions and confrontation policy against Russia, or in the matter of upholding austerity policies in the Eurozone and relatedly applying neoliberal reforms at home. In addition it had just recognised the Palestinian state. And then the mass theatre of all the leaders and the "<em>Je Suis Charlie</em>" roar whilst Muslim targets were being attacked left and right.<br /><br /><em>What are the responsibilities of the west (and its Gulf allies) in the rise of “Islamist terrorism”?</em><br />&nbsp;<br />When 9/11 happened, the UK's then Conservative party leader Michael Howard said that this was a crime, so it should be investigated as such. Instead we declared war, and in the absence of an identifiable attacker in international law terms, began invading one country after another. A little further back, there was the Yugoslav intervention after 1991. Paul Wolfowitz said at that time that United States would have a window of around ten years or so to clean out all the regimes that formely had depended on Soviet support, so Nato or the US alone would have to move aggressively against them sooner rather than later. Russia and China for different reasons were not able at the time to resist this transformation towards a militarised intervention campaign.<br /><br />Then there is the long history of US/UK support for Islamist groups of different stripe against nationalist or left-leaning regimes, and actually also against the Soviet Union both in Afghanistan and through incursions in the Soviet-era central Asian republics and the Caucasus. This created a shadow zone between groups supported and armed by the west, which also were anti-western at the same time. Al-Qaida is the obvious example, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is another. In the same way Israel supported Hamas to keep the PLO off-balance, and so on. It is from these shadow zones that recruits for a strategy of tension can be mobilised. Algeria is important in this respect as well, I’ve seen credible material about Algerian intelligence connections to the Paris shootings, but how and what exactly is not easy. It shows you how the "war on terror" and all its ramifications generate a vast reservoir of uncontrollable forces, and structural instability in the world.<br /><br />Then there is the long-term planning of a war on terror, which goes back to the 1980s and involved both Republican far-right figures like George Shultz, and Binyamin Netanyahu, who was then Israeli ambassador at the United Nations. Via the Bush family there are links between this project and Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There is a growing literature on these links, with Peter Dale Scott perhaps the most reliable, but also Jeremy Scahill, Steve Coll and others, which documents them in great detail. <br /><br /><em>In what ways is ISIL different from al-Qaida? What could be done to bring peace to the region?</em><br />&nbsp;<br />It would seem that ISIL is in part a full realisation of the al-Qaida project (including their backers in Saudi Arabia, who calculated that turning the radical Wahhabi element to the outside would avoid having to deal with them at home. Here, the Mecca incidents in 1979, when the Grand Mosque was seized, were a grave warning of what such radicalism could turn into if not channeled into foreign "<em>jihad</em>". But the other side is that these projects escape the control of even the most powerful patrons. Both the US and the Gulf Arab states have now lost control of the full-blown ISIL - or so it seems to me. It may also be a partial control, there may be just sections out of control, like now in Libya, whilst the core is sitting safely just astride the planned pipeline&nbsp; routes from Iran across Iraq and Syria. But that is speculative thinking. Somebody must be paying for all these new uniforms, the brand new SUVs they drive around in. Would it really be the oil they sell, to the European Union among others ? Let’s not forget that Mosul is the historic centre of Iraqi oil production, as far back as Ottoman times.<br /><br />To bring peace to the region has become a tall order. Israel wants the Middle East in turmoil and states undermined by internal strife. Lebanon and Iran will be well aware of that. The US and Britain, covering for the large fossil energy firms, and serving the largest arms market in the world (Saudi Arabia, notably), also have no interest in any stabilisation outside the fortresses they have signed up to protect.<br /><br />There will be no alternative but to open a channel of communication to all radical groups and to the <em>Sunni</em> groups behind them. I've read that ISIL weapons experts are veterans from Saddam’s army, that sort of thing. But maybe the time has come when only complete withdrawal of western influence is the precondition of the return to some sort of stability. <br /><br /><em>Moving to the former Soviet space, who is responsible for developments in Ukraine - the west, Russia, local oligarchs?</em><br /><br />The oligarchs stole Ukraine bare from day one. When I was in Kiev in 2008 for a few days to contribute to discussions about a viable future route for this troubled and fractured state, I saw demonstrations against poverty and corruption every day - a few hundred demonstrators here, a thousand there. <br /><br />The west has consistently pushed forward after 1991 to isolate Russia. Richard Sakwa's <em>Frontline Ukraine</em> is the best account told by a real specialist, my own assessments in "<a href="http://oorlogisgeenoplossing.blogspot.nl/">War Is No Solution</a>" may still add a few details. Again to concentrate on my own experience, when I was there I was told that US institutions like the Ford Foundation were willing to fund scholarly events only if they were either in Ukrainian or in English. So events in Russian, although the language of science for two centuries also in Ukraine, were not funded. <br /><br />The Russian government has simply drawn a line in the sand. If they hadn’t done that, the Sebastopol naval base would have come in the line of fire and a major war involving Russia directly might have ensued. How John Kerry can speak, talking of the Russians, of "a country invading another sovereign state" after Afghanistan, Iraq etc. etc. is really amazing. Would they believe their own words? <br /><em>&nbsp;<br />If we look at the bigger picture, we still see the US on top, even if China is fast closing the gap. Will the US remain the world’s "hegemonic" power in the decades to come?</em><br /><br />One reading is that the US is compensating for its loss of civilian clout in the world by using its military muscle. But then, has there been a single military success after Panama in 1989? I would think that if hegemony means consensual leadership and cultural attraction, we are really at a watershed juncture. Maybe the application of violence is already compensating for that, in the sense that high-risk proxy wars like in Ukraine, or the largely theatrical events around ISIL, serve to distract attention from the Snowden revelations, WikiLeaks, and so on. The mainstream media, all owned by the oligarchies in the respective countries, play along: the other day there was the revelation that NSA/GCHQ hacked into SIMcard manufacturing to install surveillance-ware into each phone, and it was carried as far as I saw as a small note somewhere in the back pages. <br /><br />As to China, it is supplying the US market at bottom wage levels, it finances the US deficit. It may be we have to wait for a further upsurge of class struggles in China itself to deflect from this course, because the oligarchy there will not voluntarily change.&nbsp; <br />&nbsp;<br /><em>What do you think about China? Will it keep a “contending” position, or will it be included into the “Lockean heartland” - to use your terminology?</em><br /><br />I now think this terminology helped me to look back on western supremacy for the last three hundred years, and bring structure to what otherwise would be an endless series of apparently random events - the "rise and fall of states" à la Paul Kennedy, that sort of thing. I’ve recently gained a better understanding of liberalism and Locke thanks to Domenico Losurdo's <em>Controstoria del liberalismo</em> (I am reading a French translation of 2013). Losurdo sees liberalism as self-rule by the propertied classes, and it basically excludes democracy in a more extensive sense. The <em>trente glorieuses</em> after 1945 were really the exception. I think we have now reached the stage where the achievements which in those thirty years seemed to have reached maturity as an enduring characteristic, are now being rolled back to such a degree that the spontaneous attraction the west might exert elsewhere is also rapidly diminishing. We are moving into the age of authoritarian capitalism (Frank Deppe’s term), a rolling back of democracy in any substantive, social sense, in combination with proliferating violence. The background of it all is the crisis of the biosphere, due to the world having entered the "anthropocene". <br /><em>&nbsp;<br />While China already has a “Hong Kong-Shanghai super-bourse”, Russia is financially lagging behind. Don’t you think Moscow should come closer to a more autonomous EU?</em><br /><br />Capitalism is unravelling and maintained by creating permanent tension and authoritarian control. When Nicolas Sarkozy became president in France on a neoliberal programme of privatisation and deregulation, it recalled the phrase "there are always people who arrive at a party when it’s almost over". The Russians have actually developed an interesting alternative with the Eurasian Union which has a technological project, but whether it will prove resistant to rampant corruption remains to be seen. <br />&nbsp;<br /><em>How do you see the EU? Will Mario Draghi’s quantitative easing programme at the European Central Bank help, and for how long?</em><br /><br />I can only say that in the US and the UK, QE helped create the sort of cash flow that an economy needs for wealth to percolate upwards. A little bit of "growth", a lot more inequality. I am involved in an initiative to demand that the extra money should be devoted to boosting lower incomes and public projects. I am watching events surrounding Greece versus the other Eurozone countries with some trepidation. It is obvious that the Syriza government is about to resign from its original, courageous stance but possibly they have no plan B which might give them a chance to change the rules of the game as currently played. The story that this is a sovereign debt crisis rather than a bank crisis is still being taken for granted by too many people to give the Greeks a chance.<br />&nbsp;<br /><em>Why is neoliberalism still the main economic policy, despite the tremendous crisis started in 2007?</em><br /><br />Because all alternatives have been sidelined; that is one aspect of the current authoritarian capitalist trend. <br /><br /><em>What would you say to a European in their early twenties? Where can they find “hope” - in political terms, not just as a slogan?</em><br /><br />They must study, understand what’s going on, and see that slowly but surely, the signs of a democratic upsurge are becoming visible. Not just in Greece, but in Latin America, in the US. If there is hope, it is that there are people "in their early twenties" who have the ability to begin to study the world beginning with what is really decisive, which is the state of our relationship to nature. Then with the structure of a society that is falling apart and the need for new social practices such as cooperative arrangements for insurance and the like, which I notice are going on on left and right.<br /><br />Never give in to the cynicism we are invited to embrace. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Kees van der Pijl is a leading <a href="http://sussex.academia.edu/KeesVanderPijl">scholar</a> in international relations and global political economy. After working at the University of Amsterdam, he became professor at the University of Sussex (2000-10), where he founded and directed the Centre for Global Political Economy</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/democracy-in-asian-century">Democracy in the &quot;Asian century&quot; </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/europe-freezes-eurasia-pivots">Europe freezes, Eurasia pivots</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/frankfurtmoscow-new-ostpolitik">Frankfurt-Moscow: a new Ostpolitik?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/new-eurasian-world-order">A new, Eurasian, world order</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/americas-chimerical-pivot">America&#039;s chimerical pivot </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/democracy-in-credit-new-agency-new-order">Democracy in credit: new agency, new order</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/western-democracy-decline-and">Western democracy: decline and...</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia International politics Globalisation Giovanni Biava Ernesto Gallo Mon, 09 Mar 2015 01:16:56 +0000 Ernesto Gallo and Giovanni Biava 91143 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Settling accounts: what happens after SwissLeaks? https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/koen-roovers/settling-accounts-what-happens-after-swissleaks <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The SwissLeaks scandal around the HSBC bank subsidiary there has highlighted how globalisation can facilitate tax-dodgers. Only a bright spotlight of information can deter them.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/hsbc.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/hsbc.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="290" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Shaded from exposure—the&nbsp;headquarters of the&nbsp;HSBC subsidiary in Zurich. Demotix /&nbsp;<a href="http://www.demotix.com/users/saso-domijan/profile">Saso Domijan</a>.&nbsp;All rights reserved.</p><p>A major leak of incriminating HSBC records last week resulted in print and television news coverage around the globe, trended on Twitter for several days and prompted several governments to start long-anticipated investigations. Through its Swiss entity, the British banking juggernaut helped customers from around the world to hide their money for tax evasion or other nefarious purposes without any questions asked. In fact, in several of the ‘scripts’ which accompany the accounts, banking personnel are seen to be very willing to accommodate dubious requests—from allowing <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b052sk1h">cash withdrawals worth millions of dollars</a> to setting up sham legal entities to obscure the ownership of the funds.</p> <p>The ‘Lagarde list’, as the files have come to be known, has been around for a couple of years and so many have been asking: ‘<a href="http://uncounted.org/2015/02/09/swissleaks-tax-transparency-accountability/">Why do we only see government action once a group of reporters put the spotlight on this?</a>’ Another frequent question has been <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b052sk1h">whether the bank has really (as it claims) cleaned up its act</a>.</p> <p>Relatively few commentators have asked: how do we prevent this in the first place?</p> <h2>Information exchange</h2> <p>Last year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)—a rich nations’ think tank—<a href="http://www.oecd.org/ctp/exchange-of-tax-information/48996146.pdf">proclaimed the death of banking secrecy</a> when it launched its new <a href="http://www.oecd.org/ctp/exchange-of-tax-information/automatic-exchange-financial-account-information-common-reporting-standard.pdf">‘Common Reporting Standard’</a>, a global system intended to enable automatic information exchange (AEoI) between governments on the deposits of residents, for tax purposes. <a href="http://www.trust.org/item/20140528110837-hrmnx/?source=search">The Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC) has been following this closely</a> and questions whether the plan, in its current shape, will prevent the next global tax-evasion scandal. &nbsp;<a href="http://www.uneca.org/sites/default/files/publications/iff_main_report_english.pdf">The poorest countries suffer most from tax evasion and other illicit financial flows</a>, and they may be left out of the plan.</p> <p>The idea behind AEoI is simple: financial institutions everywhere will determine which of their clients are foreign tax residents. Each institution will provide information about them to its ‘home government’, which will forward this ‘automatically’ at set intervals to the government whose citizens it concerns. Essentially, instead of governments relying on their own tax residents to disclose their foreign accounts, a tax resident’s foreign bank will let its government know about them. </p> <p>A good idea in principle, but the way it is intended to be put into practice is controversial. OECD members have made participation dependent on confidentiality standards yet to be defined. And some states—including Switzerland—have added further reservations, wanting to <a href="https://www.news.admin.ch/dokumentation/00002/00015/index.html?lang=en&amp;msg-id=53050">exchange only with countries with which they have political and economic ties</a>.</p> <p>To illustrate why such a requirement would be disingenuous, look at offshore holding around the world. <a href="http://www.oecd.org/tax/transparency/global-forum-AEOI-roadmap-for-developing-countries.pdf">Residents of Africa and Latin America are estimated to hold over a quarter of their assets offshore</a>, whereas the volume of offshore assets from other countries held in the poorest countries is negligible. Nigeria, with one of the most developed financial sectors in Africa, holds less than 1% of its bank assets in the UK, for example. In other words, wealthier states generally have little to gain economically from exchanging information with poorer countries, whereas the latter have a great deal to gain. If the criteria for exchange include whether wealthier countries obtain a substantial economic benefit, the intended global development benefits of the plan will be lost before the first bytes of data are exchanged.</p> <p>It is in everyone’s interest that automatic information exchange becomes a global standard, with all jurisdictions participating as soon as possible. But it is widely accepted that developing countries will face challenges in joining the AEoI system and fully benefiting. Both for OECD members and developing countries the stakes are high, as potential loopholes in the global system could be devastating. Creating a system where developing countries are effectively excluded risks the creation of new tax havens outside of the exchange, as well as depriving developing countries of the necessary information for them to enforce their tax systems effectively.</p> <h2>Significant challenge</h2> <p>Capacity in developing countries will need to be increased, so that any technical barriers to taking part in the global system can be overcome sooner rather than later. The scale of the challenge is significant: <a href="http://www.christianaid.org.uk/images/information-for-the-nations.pdf">the UK-based charity Christian Aid has estimated that sub-Saharan Africa would need around 650,000 more tax officials</a> to reach the world average. Inadequate information technology represents another barrier.</p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">A good idea in principle, but the way it is intended to be put into practice is controversial.</span></p><p><span></span>Through the G8, the G20 and the Global Forum—a platform hosted by the OECD with 125 participating governments—rich states have promised help to poor countries to build the capacity they need, but these commitments have yet to be honoured. Investing in AEoI is one of many pressing issues facing developing countries, so if and when they make a commitment to it they should be ensured that support will be there.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>Such technical assistance should engage developing-country tax authorities and investigative and prosecutorial personnel, to demonstrate how AEoI information can be mined for specific data or used to identify trends. For this to happen, developing countries need to be receiving data. The FTC strongly recommends a phased approach for the poorest countries (those with gross national income<em> per capita</em> of less than $4,125), to prepare them for full co-operation in a global system of information exchange.</p> <h2><strong>Identifying assets</strong></h2> <p>Meanwhile, potential benefits for developing countries can also be assessed by identifying the assets of their residents held overseas, for example using data collected by <a href="https://www.bis.org/">the Bank of International Settlements</a>. As sufficiently disaggregated data are not available publicly, only government-led research is currently possible here. Governments are encouraged to publish the volume of data being exchanged, the number of individuals involved and the extent of the assets concerned. </p> <p>These statistics would give citizens, journalists, politicians and organisations an idea about the potential impact of AEoI. Research on the deterrent effect—which may be the main impact—would very likely prompt countries to prioritise participation. And what, other than such a deterrent of tax evasion, would prevent the next big scandal?</p> <p>But even if all the loopholes in global information exchange are fixed, this is a solution to today's problems, not tomorrow's. Criminals and their enablers are creative, so the only way to prevent future scandals is to shed light on what criminals and tax dodgers are trying to hide. This is why online registers of assets for all legal persons and arrangements are necessary and should be publicly available. And law-enforcement bodies around the world should have access to information about other stores of wealth, such as gold and art held in freeports. </p> <p>If we turn a blind eye to these loopholes, economic development for all will continue to be undermined by illicit actors looking to exploit them.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/melanie-newman/vodafone-tax-under-spotlight">Vodafone: tax under the spotlight</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/stuart-weir/tax-havens-and-men-who-stole-world">Tax havens and the men who stole the world</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Switzerland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Switzerland Economics Equality Globalisation corporations: power & responsibility europe Koen Roovers International Law Organised crime Tue, 17 Feb 2015 16:04:37 +0000 Koen Roovers 90613 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Frankfurt-Moscow: a new Ostpolitik? https://www.opendemocracy.net/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/frankfurtmoscow-new-ostpolitik <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Europe and Russia share economic problems but also interests. A merged superbourse can be a giant step towards the future.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Russian economy is being hit hard by several trends. Oil prices are falling, with the Brent price arond $50 dollars per barrel and even lower; the rouble is depreciating, mainly because of western financial speculation; and trade sanctions are exerting further pressure. At the same time, Germany - both an important trading partner of Russia, and increasingly an adversary over Ukraine - is not in safe waters either. 2014 ended with the economy <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/01/15/uk-germany-economy-gdp-idUKKBN0KO0KH20150115">growing</a> at a modest 1.5%, while 2015 bagan with the European Central Bank’s announcement on 22 January of a new <a href="http://pwc.blogs.com/northern-ireland/2015/01/qantitative-easing-what-is-it-and-how-does-it-work.html">tranche</a> of quantitative easing (QE) which German financial authorities have tenaciously <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21640487-germans-are-still-uncomfortable-thought-unconventional-monetary-policy-qe-phobia">opposed</a>. </p><p>The fact that the European Central Bank (<a href="https://www.ecb.europa.eu/ecb/10ann/html/index.en.html">ECB</a>) has withstood German scepticism about QE is a sign of an emerging weakness in Berlin’s international position. This is not hard to understand. After all, how can Germany be expected to thrive in a struggling eurozone - which faces even more strains after the election <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/25/us-greece-election-idUSKBN0KY00520150125">victory</a> of Syriza in Greece - and in the context of sanctions to one of its main trading associates? In the longer run, how can Germany prosper without the financial instruments now possessed by both the United States and east Asia? </p><p><strong>Looking east</strong></p><p>The west's financial markets are <a href="http://www.world-stock-exchanges.net/">dominated</a> by Wall Street and London, while in east Asia the establishment in November 2014 of the “Connect” <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-10/shanghai-hong-kong-stock-exchange-link-will-start-in-one-week.html">system</a> between Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges lays the ground for the equivalent of Wall Street in the Asia-Pacific. There are other stock markets boasting a long tradition, such as <a href="http://asia.nikkei.com/Markets/Equities/Tokyo-Stock-Exchange-ranked-third-in-Asia-in-2014">Tokyo</a>, or a powerfully rising presence, for example Sydney, Toronto, and Mumbai. Among the world’s largest economies, only the eurozone and Russia seem to be lagging behind. </p><p>The Frankfurt stock exchange (the <a href="http://deutsche-boerse.com/dbg/dispatch/en/kir/dbg_nav/about_us"><em>Deutsche Börse</em></a>, or DB) has a market capitalisation of slightly more than $1.7 billion, which is comparable to Shenzhen (China’s third largest stock market) or Mumbai (which has two major bourses). This is much less than might be expected of an institution located at the heart of the eurozone, and in the city which should represent its financial core (Frankfurt is also the <a href="https://www.ecb.europa.eu/ecb/premises/html/index.en.html">seat</a> of the ECB’s headquarters). </p><p>Since the early 2000s, Frankfurt has made several attempts to <a href="http://www.dw.de/frankfurt-new-york-stock-exchanges-mull-mega-merger/a-14833223">merge</a> with other major western exchanges (Paris’s Euronext, London’s LSE, and eventually New York). They all failed, and Germany’s main equity market was left far behind (in comparison with the size of exchanges like Euronext). The latter - comprising the bourses of Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Lisbon - is twice as big as <em>Deutsche Börse</em>, yet its former chairman <a href="http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/01/euronext-is-too-small-for-dutch-multinationals-says-former-boss.php">complaine</a>d on 5 January about its own lack of competitiveness in the global environment.</p><p>Moscow's stock exchange (<a href="http://dvcap.com/Private_Equity_en/Portfolio/Case%20Studies/RTS/">MICEX</a>) had a market capitalisation of just over $500 million before the present crisis, far too little for a country with aspirations to be a great power. In the context of the newborn Eurasian Economic Union (<a href="http://thediplomat.com/2015/01/eurasian-economic-union-dead-on-arrival/">EEU</a>), there has been talk about promoting Kazakhstan's former capital Almaty, rather than Moscow, as the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/new-eurasian-world-order">bloc’s</a> financial hub. <br />Taken together, the relative weakness of the German and Russian stock markets suggests that an alliance - or even a merger - of the two would benefit both. Could Frankfurt look east instead of west?</p><p>Financial cooperation between Germany and Russia is not a new idea. Before the outbreak of the global crisis, on 21 December 2006, DB and MICEX actually signed a "<a href="http://deutsche-boerse.com/dbg/dispatch/en/listcontent/gdb_navigation/press/10_Latest_Press_Releases/Content_Files/13_press/December_2006/pm_news_211206_MICEX.htm?newstitle=micexanddeutscheboersesigncoop&amp;location=press">cooperation agreement</a>". Their cooperation gained momentum over the years, and benefited from the relatively smooth relations between the west and Russia in the early 2010s; the two exchanges signed a <a href="http://deutsche-boerse.com/dbg/dispatch/en/notescontent/dbg_nav/press/10_Latest_Press_Releases/20_Deutsche_Boerse/INTEGRATE/mr_pressreleases?notesDoc=7DED726CF15D342EC1257AB800568EA5&amp;newstitle=moscowexchangeanddeutscheboers&amp;location=press">"letter of intent</a>" on 16 November 2012 in the presence of Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin.</p><p>In those years, Russia saw Germany as a reliable player with which to deepen a strategic partnership and penetrate western markets, while Germany was interested in the opportunities of a country in full, if tumultuous, economic expansion. The outbreak of conflict in Ukraine then sealed off any further cooperation. DB spent much of 2014 seeking to expand in east Asia (where it is small by comparison with Shanghai-Hong Kong, Tokyo, and even Sydney and Shenzhen) and Africa (where countries such as China have an edge). In this financial environment a German-Russian capital market would make sense. A merger or alliance between the two stock exchanges might even be a stepping-stone towards reconciliation between the two European powers and, in a broader sense, between the European Union and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/new-eurasian-world-order">Eurasia</a>. </p><p><strong>A new start</strong></p><p>Some German politicians and leaders, including the ex-chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder) have called for a more conciliatory approach towards Russia. They cite the fact that economic <a href="http://europa.eu/newsroom/highlights/special-coverage/eu_sanctions/index_en.htm">sanctions</a> on Russia are also hurting Germany, several central European member-states (Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia), and by extension the EU as a whole. <br />Germany’s foreign secretary, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), has consistently supported <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/20/world/europe/frank-walter-steinmeier-germanys-foreign-minister-a-man-in-the-middle.html?_r=0">dialogue</a> and compromise with Russia. In an <a href="http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/__pr/P__Wash/2014/12/23-Steinmeier-Spiegel.html">interview</a> with <em>Der Spiegel</em> on 23 December 2014, he said: "We need to make a new start at some stage. I have already suggested that we explore the option of a dialogue between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. That would allow us to talk both about economic synergies and about how we deal with conflicts of interest.” </p><p>In the views of such figures, the new start would mean not giving in to Putin’s requests but promoting a kind of new <em>Ostpolitik</em> - referring to the <a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/49450/gordon-a-craig/did-ostpolitik-work">opening</a> to the Soviet bloc pursued by the West German government of Willy Brandt in the 1970s - in which firmness and realism go hand-in-hand with deep understanding of Russia’s politics and history.</p><p>&nbsp;A new start is indeed badly <a href="http://eng.globalaffairs.ru/redcol/2015-Promises-Bad-News-for-Russia-17267">needed</a>. Russian and German fragilities on their own make a fresh rapprochement between Moscow and Berlin desirable. On a wider stage, the EU and Russia have at some point to <a href="http://www.dw.de/berlin-cajoles-moscow-with-trade-incentives-report/a-18210703">restart</a> cooperation across a range of shared interests - security, diplomacy, business, culture, and education. A recharge would also boost the EU’s self-confidence and independence from decisions which are often taken in Washington and enjoy little European support. The creation of a common financial hub would be an opportunity to become more independent from American and Chinese dominance in global exchanges. Will European and Russian leaders take note? </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.linkiesta.it/blogs/giovine-europa-now"><em>Giovine Europa Now</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/new-eurasian-world-order">A new, Eurasian, world order</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/democracy-in-credit-new-agency-new-order">Democracy in credit: new agency, new order</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/western-democracy-decline-and">Western democracy: decline and...</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/americas-chimerical-pivot">America&#039;s chimerical pivot </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> International politics Globalisation Giovanni Biava Ernesto Gallo Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:18:03 +0000 Ernesto Gallo and Giovanni Biava 90002 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A war of new connections https://www.opendemocracy.net/open-security/paul-rogers/war-of-new-connections <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The close links between American surveillance of Africa and military facilities in England are revealed by campaigners working for non-violent social change. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in April 2014 by the Boko Haram movement in the town of Chibok, northeast Nigeria produced a strong reaction in the western media. Since that incident, and despite the lack of progress in recovering the girls, interest in their fate and the wider Boko Haram campaign has subsided. This withering of coverage, however, gives a misleading impression of the status of the Islamist movement. </p><p>The city of Maiduguri remains at the centre of an <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2014/04/17/world/africa/boko-haram-explainer/">insurgency</a> that has proved impossible to control, though there have been many violent and costly attempts by the Nigerian security forces to do so. On 19 December, another 185 people were <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/c2c261a539d94ce6b3b3c520b0798aeb/suspected-islamic-extremists-kidnap-185-northeast-nigeria">kidnapped</a> and thirty-five killed&nbsp;&nbsp; This is but one incident that is spreading alarm among the security elites of the United States, France and Britain about the growth of Islamist paramilitaries both in northern Nigeria and the wider Sahel region. Across a range of countries - Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia and Kenya - Islamist <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-multiform-idea">movements</a> are on the rise.</p><p>Even the rare glimmers of light amid a cloudy deteriorating security situation can be double-edged. The <a href="http://www.janes.com/article/46631/china-sends-19th-naval-escort-piracy-task-force-to-somalia">arrival</a> of China’s nineteenth naval-escort task-force near the Gulf of Aden to join the international anti-piracy action is an example. China has played a role in the joint naval operations for more than a year, a welcome instance of state cooperation at a time when many anti-piracy forces are operated by private-maritime security companies (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/gunship-archipelago">The gunship archipelago</a>", 17 December 2014). Yet China’s contribution can also be seen as an opportunity to increase still further its own <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/08/04/u-s-china-compete-to-woo-africa/">influence</a> in sub-Saharan Africa, in a way that adds to the west's worries. </p><p><strong>A persistent campaign</strong></p><p>Both immediate threats (such as Islamist movements) and longer-term <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/13/china-and-the-united-states-are-preparing-for-war/">rivalries</a> (such as with China) lead the United States's security agencies in particular to the same conclusion: the need to expand their military <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/05/21/map-the-u-s-currently-has-troops-in-these-african-countries/">involvement</a> in the continent. As a priority this means more wide-ranging and effective intelligence-gathering, with an emphasis on signals intelligence that can soak up <a href="https://www.eff.org/nsa-spying">immense</a> amounts of data.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/the-nsa-files">revelations</a> of Edward Snowden have drawn attention to the extraordinary level of surveillance possible right across civil society. The latest African developments reveal an extra twist, namely a very substantial increase in activity by US intelligence agencies in Britain. The main focus will not be the established base at <a href="http://www.raf.mod.uk/organisation/rafmenwithhill.cfm">RAF Menwith Hill</a> in north Yorkshire, but - after a rapid expansion - RAF Croughton, close to the M40 motorway a few miles north of Oxford.</p><p>Menwith Hill first came to prominence in 1984 with the publication of Duncan Campbell’s <a href="http://www.duncancampbell.org/content/unsinkable-aircraft-carrier-american-military-power-britain"><em>The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier.</em></a>&nbsp; More recently, a great deal of new information has emerged thanks to the remarkable persistence of a small group of peace campaigners in the <a href="http://www.caab.org.uk/">Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases</a>. Note the title - this is primarily about accountability, a concern that stems from the profound <a href="http://www.stripes.com/news/mysterious-menwith-hill-nothing-to-see-here-1.235153">secrecy</a> that for so long surrounded the activities of Menwith Hill and other sites, some of which actually increased rather than diminished in size after the end of the cold war.</p><p>CAAB has proved to be a remarkably resilient movement. Its activities have been widely covered both in <a href="http://peacenews.info/taxonomy/term/1454"><em>Peace News</em></a>&nbsp; and on Its own website, which is a real mine of information. Much of its persistence has been exemplified by Lindis Percy and, as long as her health allowed, Anni Rainbow; over more than twenty years their determination, along with others', has been exceptional.&nbsp; </p><p>CAAB's work in non-violent social change is given its due in a marvellously revealing account by Margaret Nunnerley - <a href="http://www.ypdbooks.com/history/1073-surveillance-secrecy-and-sovereignty-how-a-peace-campaign-challenged-the-activities-of-a-us-base-in-britain-YPD01004.html "><em>Surveillance, Secrecy and Sovereignty</em></a>. Its <a href="expansion of US intelligence facilities in Britain">publisher</a> notes that the book:</p><p>“explores the range of issues raised by the campaign, which are of particular relevance today. In particular it examines the use of the base for US military Intelligence gathering and the lack of effective parliamentary oversight of its functions, with the subsequent deficit in democratic accountability. It also examines in detail the important challenges through the courts employed by the campaigners, what they revealed about the methods used by police and courts in responding to peaceful, lawful protest, and the implications for civil liberties in Britain today.”</p><p>Since the book was published in spring 2014, much of CAAB’s concern has been with the developments at Croughton, long known to be linked to Menwith Hill but now in line for a building programme that could see it match the latter's size. In its present form it is clearly visible from the busy A43, with the usual radomes and assorted aerials, although far smaller than the more remote Menwith Hill base in the Yorkshire Dales.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>That is now set to change as <a href="http://www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil/pls/psgprod/f?p=132:CONTENT:0::NO::P4_INST_ID,P4_INST_TYPE:8,INSTALLATION">Croughton</a> benefits from a construction budget of over $181 million ($93 million in fiscal year 2015, already underway), and from the upgrading of a satellite station at RAF Barford St John. The latter, seven miles to the west of Croughton and currently marked on ordnance-survey maps as a “wireless station”, will see its many odd-shaped aerials (reported to be obsolete) replaced by state-of-the-art equipment.</p><p><strong>A single field</strong></p><p>There is real connection to Africa in these developments, in that the expansion of US intelligence facilities in Britain (much of it barely reported) is part of a process of upgrading capabilities to meet the perceived threat to western interests in Africa.&nbsp; CAAB’s website currently shows this by providing a link to the US airforce’s "justification data" submitted to the US Congress earlier in 2014 in support of its military-construction <a href="http://www.saffm.hq.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-140310-043.pdf ">programme</a> for FY 2015,&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The data says, on page 107: </p><p>"This project is required to provide a purpose-built Joint Intelligence Analysis and Production Complex which recapitalizes and consolidates all RAF Molesworth (RAFM) Intelligence operations and missions in support of USEUCOM and US African Command (USAFRICOM)."</p><p>If the finance is not forthcoming, the justification data, on page 108, states:</p><p>"Severe facility shortfalls and dispersion will continue to constrain USEUCOM JAC and USAFRICOM J2-M ability to provide responsive and agile intelligence in support of their respective Combatant Commanders."</p><p>A rare <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/washington-spends-200m-creating-intelligence-hub-in-britain-9391406.html ">report</a> in the UK media says the current Croughton expansion will eventually cost well over $300 million. Many people will have little problem with this because of the perceived threat from terrorism, but the points that the CAAB campaigners constantly make are the lack of transparency and public accountability. Without the persistence of Lindis Percy and the small CAAB community, very little would have entered the public domain. The deaths and counter-effects from the use of armed drones, let alone the recent revelations over rendition and torture, show just how unhealthy and damaging secrecy can be.</p><p>This makes <a href="http://www.ypdbooks.com/466_margaret-nunnerley">Margaret Nunnerley’s</a> book so timely.&nbsp; When it was published I wrote:</p><p>“Since CAAB was established twenty years ago we have seen...a remarkably increased capacity for those in authority to monitor the activities of civil society, not least of campaigners. At anytime this thoughtful and carefully researched book would have been a very valuable contribution but that last aspect makes it especially salient.” </p><p>The expansion now imminent at Croughton, and its relationship to one of the main new phases of the protracted war on terror, makes the point even more salient. The war is connecting dots across the world's map and bringing them closer to each other than ever before.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a></p><p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></p><p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php">Paul Rogers, </a><em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.caab.org.uk/">Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases</a></p><p>Margaret Nunnerley - <a href="http://www.ypdbooks.com/history/1073-surveillance-secrecy-and-sovereignty-how-a-peace-campaign-challenged-the-activities-of-a-us-base-in-britain-YPD01004.html"><em>Surveillance, Secrecy and Sovereignty: How a Peace Campaign Challenged the Activities of a US Base in Britain</em></a> (YPD Books, 2014) </p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/gunship-archipelago">The gunship archipelago</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain-in-bahrain-eyes-wide-shut">Britain in Bahrain: eyes wide shut </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/tale-of-useful-bulldozer">The tale of the useful bulldozer</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistaniraq-back-to-future">Afghanistan-Iraq: back to the future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/red-poppies-and-arms-trade">Red poppies and the arms trade</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-vs-its-far-enemy">Islamic State vs its far enemy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-light-on-new-war">Remote control: light on new war </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/james-oconnell-and-peace-studies">James O&#039;Connell and peace studies</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">The thirty-year war, continued</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/non-violence-past-present-future">Non-violence: past, present, future </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/alternatives_3405.jsp">There are alternatives</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> openSecurity digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia uk Conflict Democracy and government Globalisation global security democracy & power Snooping on the innocent Paul Rogers Closely observed citizens Wed, 24 Dec 2014 19:36:34 +0000 Paul Rogers 89180 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Tunisia: the Arab exception's test https://www.opendemocracy.net/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/tunisia-arab-exception%27s-test <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The probable election victory of Béji Caid Essebsi is a vital moment in the pioneer country of the Arab revolts. It also reveals the scale of Tunisia's economic challenges.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Arab revolts which started four years ago ushered in a period of change in the Middle East and north Africa which has been more violent and chaotic that most observers foresaw at the time. Syria is self-destructing. Egypt has reverted to military rule. The brutal Islamic State has emerged, leading to growing sectarian division and threatening a region-wide conflagration.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /><br />Amid the gloom, Tunisia - where the Arab revolts began in December 2010 - stands out as the one glimmer of real hope. Islamists won the general elections there in October 2011 but lost them two years later. A coalition of lay parties, <em>Nidaa Tounes</em>, led by the veteran politician Béji Caid Essebsi, won a plurality of votes in the elections in the country of October 2014. Essebsi is now set to become Tunisia’s fourth president, taking over from the erratic Moncef Marzouki (who is known in Tunis as <em>tartour</em> - the puppet, in his case of the Islamists. Essebsi maybe be 87 but his long career as ministerial colleague of the founder of modern Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba, suggests he will restore much needed dignity to the office of president.<br /><br />The run-up to the election on 21 December 2014 has <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-30569318">polarised</a> Tunisian politics. This is above all because many in both main sides - supporters of the incumbent president and his opponent, as well as foreign observers - regard their confrontation as an extension of the regional clash between revolutionary forces, including Islamists and counter-revolutionary forces. The pattern of voting certainly underlines the chasm between the two camps, which divides social classes and pits the elites of the coast against parts of the south and east. <br /><br />The risk of reviving political conflicts which have roots in the years of independence from France in the early 1950s is real. But the reality on the ground in Tunisia is also more nuanced than the "revolutionary vs counter-revolutionary" paradigm would suggest. The new president will have to reconcile Tunisians and show the region that Tunisia is exceptional in its capacity to forge a new dialogue, a new consensus. The three years of Moncef Marzouki’s presidency have in the end diminished the stature of this former opponent of Bourguiba's authoritarian successor, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Will Béji Caid Essebsi, whom early results suggest has indeed <a href="http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/12/21/Tunisians-vote-in-historic-presidential-run-off.html">won</a> the election, do better? <br /><br /><strong>The Bourguiba legacy</strong><br /><br />Habib Bourguiba had his faults, not least his incapacity to choose a successor by proper means when he was ailing in the 1980s. But the architect of Tunisia's independence did put in place some of the essential foundations a modern state. He benefited in turn from reformist predecessors who, well before the French invasion of 1881, had enacted bold constitutional reforms - a paid civil service, the beginnings of a modern army, the Saddiki College in Tunis (modelled on the French <em>lycée</em>), and a certain separation between the state and religion. <br /><br />Bourguiba gave Tunisian women equal rights in 1956 and family planning in 1961. These two major reforms explain the role women and the broader middle class play in the country today, and these two groups' resistance to the Islamists’ attempt to use identity politics and&nbsp; turn the clock back on women’s rights. They are key supporters of Béji Caid Essebsi (who is widely known as "Si Béji"). The early election results indicate that a majority of women voted for Béji, and that regional variations were also substantial: Béji got most votes in the poor eastern region of El Kef and the phosphate mining area of Gafsa in the south, while Marzouki did well in the south-central region of Kasserine and the south-east near the Libyan frontier. <br /><br />When he was Bourguiba's minister - in the prominent departments of foreign affairs, interior and defence - Essebsi acquired an experience in world affairs that should prove very useful today. He understands both the region and the wider world, has always enjoyed good relations with Tunisia’s powerful neighbour to the west, Algeria. This innate grasp will be key at a time when both armies are cooperating in the fight against terrorism, which affects the long border between the two countries. <br /><br />Political trust is a prerequisite to deeper economic cooperation. Algeria gave Tunisia more money than the European Union when Si Béji was prime minister in 2011, and acts as the <em>de facto</em> guarantor of Tunisian stability (with the discreet blessing of the United States). The continuing and dangerous turmoil in Libya reinforces the likelihood that the new president will have the strong support of many countries in the region and beyond. At 88, Si Béji is no budding dictator, and he is in any case fully committed to the rule of law. If Tunisia is to grow deeper democratic roots, making the state more accountable is essential. This especially applies to the judicial system and police.<br /><br />The prime minister he appoints will not necessarily be drawn from the ranks of <em>Nidaa Tounes</em>, the rather ramshackle party he has created and led since 2012, but it will have to be someone of stature. The mix of ministers - some political, some more technocratic - will send a vital signal to the population that the country is back in business. <em>Nidaa Tounes</em> is a coalition of personalities and groups and, in view of Si Béji’s age, a competent government led by a strong prime minister is necessary. New and younger talent should be brought to the fore - and it is available, as it is worth noting that the country’s elite did not flee after the fall of Ben Ali in January 2011. Indeed, thousands of educated Tunisians have come home, hoping to build a beacon of progress in north Africa.<br /><br />The economic platform of <em>Nidaa Tounes</em> is predicated on international financial support to the tune of $5bn annually for the next three years. This comes at a time of intense debate about the economic, demographic and regional challenges Tunisia faces. Pessimists fear the country might be heading for a train-wreck but seasoned observers - particularly those who know Si Béji - remain cautiously optimistic that democracy is putting down healthy roots. <br /><br />On a personal note, I have known him for forty years, and can confirm the impression of an <em>honnête homme</em> given in his fascinating 515-page memoirs - <em>Habib Bourguiba, le bon grain et l'ivraie: m</em><em><span class="st"><em>é</em></span>moires de Béji Caiïd Essebsi</em> (Sud Editions<em>,</em> Tunis, 2009). The memoirs are relatively candid for one who served in high office, and show Béji as usually siding with those who wished to reform the ruling Neo-Destour Party in Bourguiba's time. <br /><br /><strong>The Ben Ali distortion</strong><br /><br />One of the main obstacles to democratisation in the Middle East and north Africa is the opposition of Arab states to any such trend. This has not been the case in Tunisia, but its two neighbours present very contrasting situations. Libya is fast becoming a failed state, while uncertainty over Algeria makes it hard to predict the future course of this pivotal country.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /><br />The relative benevolence of foreign powers towards Tunisia is explained by the fact that the old Tunisian elites are still in control. North Africa’s smallest country has witnessed a change <em>in</em> the regime but not a change <em>of</em> regime. Algeria’s attitude is shared by the US, the two countries which in 1987 were apprised of the military officer Ben Ali’s intention to oust an ailing President Habib Bourguiba. In 2011 as in 1987, France was keen to maintain the status quo at any cost and did not believe the president’s fall was imminent. The US recognised the legitimacy of the protesters in Tunisia for three reasons which are not found in other Arab countries. The uprising’s lack of political direction was reassuring; it was not exploited by the Islamists; and, last but not least, Tunisia is not strategic in the way that Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are. <br /><br />That the protesters were not supported by a foreign country gave their movement credibility and independence. They came from the poorer classes. Many were young people with little hope of regular employment, even when they had university degrees and especially if they lived in the underdeveloped hinterland. They felt crushed, deeply resented their humiliation, and had nothing to lose. By contrast the middle classes and the trades unions (organised in the UGTT) did have something to lose, yet nevertheless they played an important role in organising the second phase of the riots, along with other professional organisations such as the lawyers' federation and the Tunisia League of Human Rights. The army played a decisive role by not intervening; its refusal to fire on demonstrators contrasted with the response of militaries in other Arab states. It has played a key role in helping maintain the peace during the past four turbulent years. <br /><br />In the decade before the uprising, the Ben Ali regime had evolved into a mafia-style system. This kept the middle classes and the many genuine private-sector entrepreneurs at arms' length. Yet contrary to a commonly held view, the existence of a strong middle class in Tunisia did not translate into a process of democratisation. Its members were too dependent on the state and too bureaucratic. A feature of the economy which escaped most outside observers was the growing wealth disparities between the capital and the coast, and the increasingly poor western uplands and south of the country. Tunisians who live in the more affluent regions often hold their less educated and solvent compatriots in contempt. They forget that the profits from the phosphates mined for more than a century in the Gafsa region have never been reinvested there - all the value-added industries based on phosphate rock were built in the ports of Gabès and Sfax. Today, those poorer Tunisians are clamouring for their share of the wealth they created and which they have never enjoyed.<br /><br /><strong>The World Bank illusion</strong><br /><br />Tunisia in the Ben Ali years was held up as the poster-child for Arab economic success. An evaluation on the website of the World Bank on 27 October 2010 gushed with enthusiasm for the country’s economic performance:<br /><br />“Through a range of development loan programs with IRBD, Tunisia has boosted its global competitiveness and seen exports double over a little more than 10 years. The best illustration of Tunisia’s improved competitiveness is it total factor productivity growth, which often drives investment…..While productivity growth in 2000-2006 remained below South Korea’s and Malaysia’s, it represented one of the best performances in the Middle East and North Africa…..Tunisia ranked as Africa’s most competitive country’s in Davos’ 2009 Global Competitiveness Report.”<br /><br />The contrast with the report the World Bank published in September 2014 is stark This states that “although the perception in Tunisia is that the economy is open and relatively well integrated, in fact compared to benchmark countries Tunisia remains less open (as measured by the share of exports and imports to GDP) and quite protected. Beyond the shiny façade presented by the former regime (the economy) was clearly a system asphyxiated by its own corruption.” For the World Bank to eat humble pie is unusual, but its views were shared by the IMF, the European Investment Bank, the Davos Forum and many western governments. <br /><br />Neither of these reports addresses two vital issues, however. The first is the demographic profile of Tunisia. The average young Tunisian woman grew up in a family of seven children but will only bear one or two herself. Her mother was illiterate but her better educated daughter has neither the inclination nor the income to raise a large family. By 2000, Tunisia’s fertility rate had already fallen below replacement and is likely to fall further. One out of ten Tunisians is today an elderly dependant and, as the present generation ages, the ration will rise to about the same level as in western Europe. Even for wealthy western Europe, caring for this army of pensioners will strain resources to the limit. A poor country simply has no way to manage, and Tunisia has not provisioned for its rising number of older people.<br /><br />The second concern is the low level of much university education in Tunisia: roughly one third of secondary school graduates go on to university, but the diplomas they obtain are largely worthless. Diploma mills here as in most Arab and other developing countries deliver paper degrees without merit to half-trained graduates. Any self-respecting middle-class family strives to get its children into French universities. The children of the poorer hinterland, who only started getting into Tunisian universities in recent years, find the sacrifices their parents made in the hope of getting better jobs dashed. Often there simply are no jobs.&nbsp; <br /><br />Elite schools in China and India produce engineering graduates which meet world standards, but Turkey is the only Muslim country in the Middle East which can claim to do the same. Tunisia attracts a modest amount of foreign investment; but outsourcing by foreign companies adds only around 2,000 jobs a year, or one for every 180 university students. Although Tunisian engineers will work for a fifth of the cost of their European counterparts, there are simply not enough good engineers (let alone high-paying jobs even for the best ones). The most qualified university graduates seek greener pastures overseas. This is true not only of Tunisia but of all other Arab countries.<br /><br /><strong>The economic fulcrum</strong><br /><br />Three question remained unanswered when the revolt in Tunisia got underway:<br /><br />* To what degree would an uprising motivated by economic hardship make the very hardships which sparked it more severe as political and social turmoil led to a fall in output and a rise in unemployment? <br /><br />* How would private investors, be they domestic or foreign, react to a deterioration in the political, social and security environment in which they operated? <br /><br />* Would Tunisia’s key economic partners be&nbsp; reluctant to give the financial support that might help underpin more democratic politics and better economic governance? <br /><br />It was of course not Islam or poverty themselves that provoked the uprisings; it was the crushing humiliation that had deprived the majority of Tunisians who are under the age of thirty of the right to assert control over their own lives.<br /><br />In principle, political and economic reform should ideally be conducted concurrently and in an integrated fashion, lest worsening economic conditions and rising unemployment derail political revolutions. But this is usually not possible. The challenges Tunisia has faced over the past four years remain. Economic conditions have deteriorated. Unofficial unemployment has<em> de facto</em> risen. Food staples are much more expensive. Tens of thousands of Tunisians have been added to the state payroll without proper qualification or justification in having such a job. <br /><br />During the two years they governed Tunisia in 2012-13, the Islamists demonstrated their lack of interest, or inability, in addressing the economic and social problems of a modernising society. The Islamists favour free-wheeling - nay, crony - capitalism as do all authoritarian Arab regimes. Even more damming was their failure to control the hardline Salafi Islamists who not only resorted to violence in Tunisia but sent an estimated 3,000 of their number to Syria to join the war there. Such insecurity does little to attract domestic or foreign investment.<br /><br />When the Islamists reluctantly relinquished power in late 2013, the morale of what was arguably one of the best qualified civil services in the Middle East and north Africa had sunk very low. Many of the country’s frontiers were no longer under state control. Regional gangs of traders in illicit goods and guns paraded as Islamists, or vice versa, fuelling a huge growth in the informal sector. The consequences were dire. Cheap imported goods flooded the country and forced the closure of local manufacturing, while the state lost a large chunk of the tax take, thus forcing to it borrow more, notably abroad. This problem must be set in a broader context. Tunisian leaders have long viewed aid from overseas as something they are due. It is about time they faced up to harder options. Why not offer conditions which would attract the Tunisian diaspora to invest in Tunisia? Why not use some the tens of billions of domestic savings invested abroad to develop the country?<br /><br />The technocratic government which took over a year ago delivered a message as brutal as the bare statistics. GDP growth had averaged 2.3% annually since the fall of Ben Ali, 0.8% if government wages are subtracted (100,000 new recruits joined the civil service and state companies - many of the latter post huge deficits). That is the price paid for political expediency. Wages overall have grown by 40%, productivity by 0.2%. The cost of state subsidies to oil and gas products has rocketed by 270% over three years, and amounts to 6% of GDP. They essentially benefit well-off Tunisians. The budget deficit rose in 2013 to 6.5% of GDP, as against 5.7% in 2012, but would have risen much further had it not been for the very strong pressure from the IMF. The current-account deficit reached 9%, essentially the reflection of a deteriorating trade balance. Foreign debt, meanwhile, has increased by over a third to over 50% of GDP. Such figures are unsustainable. <br /><br />Strikes have proliferated as the UGTT, which brokered the Islamists' departure from government, continue to flex its muscles. Regional UGTT barons seem to think that nationalising or renationalising loss-making industries will save the country, and the union’s leadership in Tunis has difficulty in controlling its regional offshoots. The technocratic government led by Mehdi Jomaa did make some timid reforms in the run-up to the latest elections, and took important measures to re-establish security which had deteriorated during the years of Islamist government. But it lacked a clear political mandate. Growth over the past three years has been driven essentially by private consumption. The government started cutting subsidies, notably on fuel. But the aim of the fiscal reform it enacted was limited to increasing tax proceeds rather than making the system more investment-friendly.<br /><br />The latest World Bank report has provoked controversy in Tunis. Former ministers of Ben Ali have argued that the situation in 2010 was not as dire as the report makes out, which invites the retort that they were probably responsible for feeding statistics which were too optimistic and hiding other less savoury aspects of the regime. Not that this lets the World Bank of the hook: whether its mistaken diagnosis was the result of pusillanimity, political pressure in Washington or plain incompetence is hard to tell. To accept blame, however, is all to its credit. This will help redeem its image in Tunisia and allow an increase in loans if and when the new government - which will be appointed after the new president is inaugurated - chooses to seek help. By admitting that corruption was widespread in Tunisia, the report also opens a Pandora's box: is it not widespread in other countries of the region and why does the World Bank not say so? In other words, does the old order need to be overturned and more democratic politics to prevail before the World Bank tells the truth about its other Middle Eastern and North African clients? <br /><br /><strong>The strategic matrix</strong><br /><br />The success or failure of economic reforms in Tunisia will depend on how pragmatic the new government and president chose to be. Few politicians share the pessimistic view that the country’s economy might be facing a slow collapse; that poorer Tunisians will press for their share of the cake more forcefully than hitherto; that if the secular parties fail, the Islamists will get another chance to take the reins of government. The politicians have not convinced many among the under 30s who confronted Ben Ali’s security forces four years ago to vote: 3m Tunisians who are entitled to vote out of a total of 10m are not registered. They are, if anything, less hopeful of getting a job than in 2010.&nbsp; In the first round of presidential elections, younger Tunisian abstained massively. Only half of those entitled to vote cast their ballot. <br /><br />The economic priorities of the new government will have to include building major infrastructure with a view to integrating the poorer western and southern hinterlands into the country’s economy; reforming the bureaucratic manner in which the country is governed, getting rid of the myriad authorisations and rules which hand far too much power to bureaucrats (159 infrastructure projects worth <span class="st">€</span>8.8bn are in abeyance since the end of 2010); and encouraging young people to set up small companies, but at the same time backing those large companies which export goods with real added value. Crony capitalism and helping insiders must be curbed, a cardinal sin in a capital where so many families are related to one another. <br /><br />Aiming state subsidies at those who need them and making the middle classes pay the full price for the foodstuffs and the fuel they consume, and cutting state support for the oil and gas which serves as feedstock for industry, are other requirements. The government could do worse than give much greater support to <em>Enda Inter-Arabe</em>, an ONG founded in 1990 which supports micro-entrepreneurs by providing financial (micro-credit) and non-financial services (training, coaching, trade fairs); 40% of its branches are located in rural areas. A recent visit to their offices, and some beneficiaries in Menzel Temime in the rural Cap Bon area north east of Tunis shows how far a credit of 500 or 1,000 Tunisian <em>dinars</em> (<span class="st">€</span>500 or (<span class="st">€</span>1,000) can go in the hands of determined, modest people. <em>Enda Inter-Arabe</em> certainly puts the <em>Banque Nationale de l’Agriculture</em>, which only lends to wealthy farmers, to shame. <br /><br />But first the governmrnt must bring the informal sector under control and ensure that the state does not lose an estimated half of the tax income it is owed by its citizens. Mopping up the huge amount of informal money washing around Tunisia is essential to get the economy back working and to weaken the criminal networks which have flourished amid the corrosion of state authority. Being transparent, daring to debate publicly - the age of social networks and the internet has smashed censorship - and keeping the powerful trades union UGTT engaged: all this will require high political skills. A new social compact between the government, the unions and the employers' federation UTICA is a must. The economy has proved more resilient than might have been expected; the country’s central bank, buffeted as it has been by strong political and security ill-winds, has played its regulatory role with poise. That role should be reinforced. Meanwhile, the security impact from the chaos in Libya is worrying, though in fact has been rather beneficial in economic terms. <br /><br />The immediate aims of the new government will be twofold. First, to get a budget for 2015 approved by the national assembly. The draft submitted to parliament before the October elections was not even debated by deputies. The UGTT fully agrees that this needs to be passed. Beyond this, bold reforms are unlikely to be enacted quickly. Second, to offer a fresh policy to rekindle foreign interest in exploring for oil and gas (energy accounts for 7.5% of Tunisia's GDP). Agreements need to be concluded with Italy and Algeria concerning the buying and selling of electricity; to build a legal framework which encourages the production of renewable energy and shale gas; and to simply existing rules, which are too many and too complex. Getting the right mix of energy policies is all the more pressing because Tunisia risks losing part of its manufacturing offshore sector to eastern Europe because of rising costs. International aid should be conditioned, to a degree, on the next government enacting a long-term energy policy worthy of what the sector could contribute to Tunisia’s economic recovery.<br /><br />The new Tunisian leaders will also need western countries to put their money where their mouths are. The authoritarian regime of President Ben Ali was not merely an internal affair, but one bolstered by the United States, France and international organisations such as the IRBD. If the Middle East is to be managed for its resource rents or the ability of certain countries to stay stable, then outside powers will have to do much of the management. Lecturing Tunisia, of all countries, on economic reform is almost risible. Tunisia’s resource rents were manipulated and shared by international interests playing their own game. By 2010, the recent IRBD report notes, firms belonging to Ben Ali’s extended family accounted for “a striking 21.3% of all net private sector profits” - which amounts to 0.5% of GDP. <br /><br />The Tunisian people are unlikely to recover the billions worth of property, shares and gold that the Ben Ali clan secreted in France, Switzerland, the US and elsewhere. Would it not be timely for the US, France and the European Union to support the new Tunisian government with a mixture of loans and investment guarantees? Debt write-offs might be superficially attractive, but their net effect would be to damage the country’s signature. A mix of loans and guarantees will help to stabilise the country and prove that democracy delivers - surely a wise investment in the medium term. The great lesson Tunisia has yet to learn is how to mobilise the talent and resources of its diaspora. The Chinese are an example worth examining here; but no Arab country, to date, seems to notice or care.<br /><br /></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-tunisian-odyssey">North African diversities: a Tunisian odyssey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-personal-odyssey">North African diversities: a personal odyssey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/algeria-football-and-france%27s-black-box">Algeria, football, and France&#039;s &quot;black box&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-moroccan-odyssey">North African diversities: a Moroccan odyssey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-algeria-in-flux">North African diversities: Algeria in flux</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-algerian-odyssey">North African diversities: an Algerian odyssey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-algerian-tales-maghrebi-dreams">North African diversities: Algerian tales, Maghrebi dreams</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/tunisia-from-hope-to-delivery">Tunisia, from hope to delivery</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tunisia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Tunisia Democracy and government International politics Globalisation democracy & power middle east Francis Ghilès Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:53:09 +0000 Francis Ghilès 89100 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Islamic State: power of belief https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-power-of-belief <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The strength of the new<em> jihadi </em>movement is to link ideology and combat experience. The failures of its western enemy add fuel to its cause.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>After thirteen years, the west is giving the appearance of winding down its military presence in Afghanistan. Britain's combat-operations ended on 26 October 2014, while Nato's are due to finish by 31 December. Behind the scenes, however, a less overt effort is underway to ensure a continued presence. </p><p>The United States military, for example, will still deploy up to 10,000 individuals in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-state-of-insecurity">Afghanistan</a>, most likely including many special forces and others supporting <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creepinghttps://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">drone-operations</a>. There will in addition be many thousands of people employed by private-security companies. In both cases the precise roles are often less than clear. </p><p>The British military's involvement will be channelled through the new <a href="http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_113694.htm"><em>Resolute Support</em></a> training-mission, which will have around 500 UK personnel. Here too there are surrogate <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/the-case-for-islamic-surrogate-forces/article/2555444">groups</a> whose function is unknown, though hundreds of Gurkhas, perhaps up to 1,000, will it seems help protect British diplomats and other civilians.</p><p>The UK is also <a href="http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/politics/uk-stepping-up-troops-in-iraq-1.665445">increasing</a> the numbers of troops deployed to train, mentor and assist Iraqi army soldiers. The ministry of defence insists they are trainers rather than combat-troops. This is no doubt true in a strict sense in that they will not go out on offensive patrols; but individuals are well nigh certain to be armed and to have dedicated close protection. At present the contingent may number in the low hundreds, but could be increased.</p><p>The leading western powers are thus repositioning their military <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">involvement</a> in the main theatres of the "war on terror". It is useful to see what is happening on the other <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27838034">side</a> in similar terms. For adaptation is also the key to understanding the Islamic State, and the wider movement it is part of - with the added element that this movement has a long-term outlook shaped both by <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=0300113064">ideology</a> and generations of combat experience.</p><p><strong>The context </strong></p><p>The starting-point here is opposition to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the early and mid-1980s. The <em>mujahideen</em> were strongly supported by the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (<a href="http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/isi-terrorism-behind-accusations/p11644">ISI</a>) and the CIA but by the middle of the <a href="http://www.coldwar.org/articles/70s/afghan_war.asp">decade</a> substantial numbers of the <em>mujahideen</em> were motivated by religious belief in addition to, and even instead of, more nationalist motives. This was even more the case with the foreign fighters travelling from across the Middle East and beyond to join the <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/asia-july-dec06-soviet_10-10/">struggle</a> for an Islamic state against the perfidious Soviet occupiers.</p><p>By 1989 the Soviets had been defeated and were <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674058668&amp;content=reviews">gone</a>. Osama bin Laden, <a href="https://news.siteintelgroup.com/Jihadist-News/al-qaeda-announces-establishment-of-qaedat-al-jihad-in-the-indian-subcontinent.html">Ayman al-Zawahiri</a> and the combat-trained al-Qaida cohorts dispersed; many went to Saudi Arabia, then to Sudan and then finally back to Afghanistan, where they supported the Islamist <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/antonio-giustozzi/taliban-and-afghanistan%E2%80%99s-war">Taliban</a> as it sought to defeat the Northern Alliance warlords. Many of the Taliban themselves had fought against the Soviets. By the end of the 1990s, with the civil war almost won, there was a solid generation of combat-trained Islamists in Afghanistan, many with worldwide connections.</p><p>After 9/11 most of the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-multiform-idea">al-Qaida</a> elements survived and scattered once more. In 2003 a new war <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-war-iraq%27s-echo">erupted</a> with the western occupation of Iraq, once again attracting young men from across the region and beyond. The 2004-08 <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/iraq-puts-2004-08-death-toll-at-over-85-000-1.776305">period</a>, in particular, gave rise to yet another generation of hardened Islamist paramilitaries. This time, though, there were two important differences. </p><p>First, many of these fighters had substantial combat experience but also technical competence in such areas as improvised explosive devices, and the other was that they were fighting highly trained and very well-equipped western military in urban environments, a very different and much tougher environment than the <a href="http://www.kansaspress.ku.edu/grasovpreface.html">fight</a> against Soviet conscripts in rural Afghanistan two decades earlier.</p><p>Second, in Iraq large numbers of paramilitaries ended up engaging the best trained and equipped elite US and UK <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/books/2011/09/08/America-s-most-secretive-secret-the-Joint-Special-Operations-Command/stories/201109080300">forces</a> of Task Force 145 - SAS troopers, Rangers, SEAL-Team 6 and Delta Force - in the bitter shadow war that peaked with <em>Operation Arcadia</em> in 2006. Many thousands of them were killed or detained. The latter spent years in huge prisons like Camp Bucca near Basra, which at times <a href="http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Was-US-prison-in-Iraq-birthplace-of-ISIS/articleshow/45053605.cms">contained</a> 20,000 detainees; one of those held was <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27801676">Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi</a>, the “Caliph” of Islamic State.</p><p>At the heart of IS is a <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/04/uk-mideast-crisis-is-penpix-idUKKCN0HT04O20141004">cohort</a> of highly experienced and determined men, mainly Iraqis, who come from that background and <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_global_security_briefings/islamic_state_and_its_potential">represent</a> a new generation of Islamist paramilitaries with clear links to their predecessors. The cycle of paramilitary connectivity stretches over more three decades from the early 1980s to (so far) the mid-2010s.</p><p><strong>The struggle</strong></p><p>In this light, Islamic State can be seen as part of a wider trend which preceded it and will long outlast this particular movement. The eschatological dimension of the original al-Qaida <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-idea-in-motion">idea</a> - which goes way beyond an earthly life that might think in terms of mere decades - means that the current wave is, in the view of ideologues, just one phase in an enduring struggle. </p><p>The phase began with the campaign in Afghanistan against the <a href="http://global.oup.com/academic/product/afgantsy-9780199322480;jsessionid=8BEA6D9B532D7C9C0DF57D95D154C916?cc=gb&amp;lang=en&amp;">Soviets</a> in the 1980s, then the tussle with the Northern Alliance in the 1990s, then against two huge western coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. Now, thirty years later, the main effort is against the west once more, in Iraq and Syria - though Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and (perhaps more loosely) Nigeria cannot be forgotten. In due course, who knows where <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/11/al_qaeda_in_the_indi_2.php">else</a>.</p><p>A process it is and a process it will remain, at least as long as the “far enemy” in the west <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creepingand-islamic-state-mission-creeping">sees</a> it as a military operation. For the al-Qaida idea, in whatever form it may take, now and in the future, “bring it on” is a fundamental impulse. Long may the west seek to regain control, is its belief, for in that case the outcome is certain.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://costsofwar.org/article/afghan-civilians">Costs of War</a></p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.everycasualty.org/">Every Casualty</a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415419383/" target="_blank"><span><span>Global Security and the War on Terror: Elite Power and the Illusion of Control</span></span></a></em> (Routledge, 2007)</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State: from the inside</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-light-on-new-war">Remote control: light on new war </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/letter-from-raqqa">A letter from Raqqa</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front">Islamic State, Iraq, America: a new front</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-war-iraq%27s-echo">The Islamic State war: Iraq&#039;s echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">The thirty-year war, continued</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-state-of-insecurity">Afghanistan: state of insecurity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Conflict Democracy and government Globalisation global security middle east Paul Rogers Religion and human rights Thu, 06 Nov 2014 06:20:28 +0000 Paul Rogers 87526 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rana Plaza: the bottom-up route to workers’ safety https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/henrik-maihack/rana-plaza-bottomup-route-to-workers%E2%80%99-safety <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The wellbeing of outsourced workers in emerging countries is often linked to western ethical consumption but the aftermath of Rana Plaza has shown that union power at source is key.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/rana plaza victim_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/rana plaza victim_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Flashback to a man-made human tragedy: a victim of Rana Plaza is carried from the building.&nbsp;Demotix / Bayazid Akter. All rights reserved.</p><p><span></span><span>On the morning of 24 April 2013 in Dhaka, the nine-storey Rana Plaza building collapsed, killing 1,137 and injuring more than 2,500 workers. The images flashed around the world and when the dust settled it became clear that this was an international and not just a Bangladeshi tragedy: 29 fashion brands sourced garments from the various factories in the faulty building. Rana Plaza was depicted in international media as a “wake-up call”, an “eye-opener”, the end of “business as usual” in the global garment supply chain—and a signal that there would be change in the way clothes are produced.</span></p> <p>Shortly after, promising steps were taken. The government of Bangladesh amended the labour law and started hiring additional factory inspectors. The minimum wage was increased. The owner of the building was arrested and he awaits trial. </p> <p>But actions didn’t stop at the national level. Only a month after Rana Plaza, the legally binding <a href="http://bangladeshaccord.org/">Accord on Fire and Building Safety</a> was agreed among international and Bangladeshi trade unions, the brands and retailers, with several NGOs as witnesses and the International Labour Organisation in the chair.</p> <h2>Milestone</h2> <p>Involving unions representing workers on the shop floor as equal partners, the accord is a milestone in ensuring safer working conditions at the bottom of the supply chain. More than 1,000 factories have been inspected by the international engineering team under the accord, with more to follow. After every inspection the team develops as necessary specific, transparent remediation plans, simultaneously communicated to factory owners and unions. The international brands must financially support remediation.</p> <p>The accord has achieved what years of voluntary “corporate social responsibility” measures or social-audit initiatives launched by brands have not. It has improved safety in garment factories in Bangladesh and has done so with accountability, demonstrating what can be achieved when brands and unions work together in a legally binding framework. </p> <p>The accord is good for business too: In October 2014 the garment employers’ association, BGMEA, admitted that factories inspected under it had gained orders from international brands, having convinced the latter&nbsp;that they were safe. With improved safety, garment exports from Bangladesh have increased to $24.5 billion. The growing ready-made garments (RMG) industry employs more than 4m workers—one of the factors behind the reduction of poverty in Bangladesh and other socio-economic achievements. </p> <h2>Role of workers</h2> <p>While fires and building collapses in Bangladesh have become less likely, thanks in large part to the accord, what else needs to happen to prevent such tragedies in the future?</p> <p>There is often a misconception in the West that changing working conditions in countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia or Pakistan is solely dependent on enlightened consumers and the goodwill of brands who feel their pressure. Yet while consumer pressure, rather than boycotting, is important—as are instruments such as the accord—these are only part of the solution. Even more important is the role of workers in&nbsp;changing the conditions that need to be changed, and having influence on decisions which directly affect them.</p> <p>Fast fashion, catering to accelerating changes in the tastes of mostly Western consumers, means tight deadlines. In getting clothes from the factory floor to the retail shelf, the burden ultimately falls on the workers under pressure from factory owners, they in turn being pressed by the brands to deliver orders. This can be unrealistic and lead to dangerous decisions. </p> <p>The day before Rana Plaza collapsed, the structural integrity of the building had already been questioned by workers and engineers, as cracks in the wall were discovered. Workers who didn’t want to enter the building because of safety concerns were confronted by factory management with the choice of coming into work or losing their jobs. There was no collective voice for the workers to refuse entry into an unsound workplace. Not a single worker killed or injured was a member of a trade union. </p> <p>Unions have the power to represent the concerns of workers, who in turn can take collective action on decisions which affect their safety. Sustainable change can’t be achieved by well-meaning consumers trying to figure out where and what to buy, nor by brands who make their goodwill to workers a selling point. Better working conditions can only be achieved when workers at the beginning of the supply chain have a bigger say in the conditions which they deem acceptably safe for work. Bottom-up, not top-down, is the way to go. </p> <p>This requires solidarity. There is good news coming out of Bangladesh that workers are making use of the amended labour law and are organising to advocate more effectively for better working conditions. Trade-union registrations in the textile sector have been growing and more and more workers are becoming union members. </p> <h2>Social partnership</h2> <p>While representative unions offer one of the best early-warning systems to prevent catastrophes like Rana Plaza, they also help to avoid conflict, often violent, on the streets in front of Bangladesh’s garment factories, through mediating among workers, employers and police. Unions and factory management can jointly identify and address grievances before skirmishes happen outside the gates. An atmosphere of social partnership for peaceful industrial relations, which allows of dialogue and compromise, is ultimately good for workers and the RMG industry. There is only one area where no compromise is possible: that is workers’ safety and dignity.</p> <p>Despite the initial successes, still fewer than 5% of workers in the industry are organised. The window of opportunity after Rana Plaza is closing and, for membership to grow, established unions in the country must prove to workers that they can represent the interests of members, supported by the international movement. At the same time, employers need to change their attitude: many factory owners in Bangladesh perceive unions as a threat to their businesses and measures are sometimes taken to block them.</p> <p>Brands can also make a difference if they remind the factories from which they source of the importance of upholding international labour standards and encourage engagement with workers’ representatives. They can place more orders at factories with independent, free trade unions and withdraw them from factories in which union rights are undermined by management. </p> <h2><strong>Accountability</strong></h2> <p>If brands truly want to contribute, such a gesture should not be voluntary. Governments in host countries could look into better ways of demanding accountability from the brands for what happens down the supply chain. The globalisation of trade has to be accompanied by a globalisation of accountability. Why for example, is it not possible to take a brand to court in Germany or the UK when workers are injured because of unsafe workplaces in a south Asian outsourcing factory?</p> <p>Responsibility ultimately lies where the profit is appropriated. Workers in the producing countries have little negotiating power compared with&nbsp;decision-makers in the headquarters of international brands, who have immense influence over working conditions in the source countries. Unions in Bangladesh are limited to negotiating with local factory owners, who control only a small margin of the profit on a garment.</p> <p>The accord shows how unions in Bangladesh can become equal partners along the international supply chain but this agreement will end in four years. Similar international agreements could be developed covering additional sectors and countries or existing agreements and conventions could be built on to incorporate the emerging issues of a complex, global supply chain. </p> <p>While things have changed in Bangladesh’s RMG sector, more needs to be done. And the best starting point is where garments begin to be produced—with the workers on the factory floor.</p> <p><em>This article is part of the </em><em><a href="http://www.social-europe.eu/hot-topics/rana-plaza/">After Rana Plaza</a> </em><em>project run by the </em><a href="http://www.social-europe.eu/">Social Europe Journal</a><em> and the&nbsp;&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.fes-asia.org/" target="_blank"><em>Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Dhaka office</em></a><em>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/rosa-crawford/rana-plaza-struggle-continues">Rana Plaza: the struggle continues</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bangladesh </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Dhaka </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Dhaka Bangladesh rule of law Globalisation economics Henrik Maihack Structural Insecurity Wed, 05 Nov 2014 18:59:45 +0000 Henrik Maihack 87513 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Westphalia to Southphalia https://www.opendemocracy.net/juan-gabriel-tokatlian/westphalia-to-southphalia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Does the rise of non-western states such as China, India, South Africa, and Brazil threaten the dominant model of international politics? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 ended Europe's thirty-year war. It was also, in essence, a diplomatic-institutional agreement that sought to <a href="http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199743292/obo-9780199743292-0073.xml">organise</a> the continent's political life on new principles: of national sovereignty and non-intervention, of a country's right to self-defence, of international law moulded by the logic of a balance of power. Over the centuries this European-state-centred dynamic became universal, as - in the wake of European colonial expansion - <a href="http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/westphal.asp">Westphalia</a> irradiated institutions, rules, practices and concepts that the various peripheries gradually assimilated. <br /><br />This centuries-long development both expressed and exacerbated deep disparities between the world's "have" and "have-not" nations. More recently, in the last three decades, new powers from the global south have risen within Westphalian parameters - including China, India, South Africa, and Brazil. These countries have accordingly <a href="http://europesworld.org/2013/02/01/why-the-world-must-listen-more-carefully-to-asias-rising-powers/#.VFpbaslrtuA">enhanced</a> their world status, but in ways very different from earlier experiences. <br /><br />During the cold war, most successful middle-level regional powers - such as Canada, Sweden, Australia, and Japan - were western and/or pro-western. They were democratic, stable, and satisfied; had low internal inequality; acted moderately on the international stage; and sought to bridge the gap between global north and south and defuse tensions between west and east. In general, their initiatives in foreign policy strengthened the Westphalian system in terms of its core norms, procedures and values. <br /><br />Today's equivalent powers are from the periphery; their political regimes differ; their houses are not completely stable; their economic <a href="http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/emerging-powers-in-a-comparative-perspective-9781441119865/">position</a> is variable; they are dissatisfied with the current world order; they have high levels of domestic inequality; and their behaviour, in response to the west's demands for more international responsibility, is often unorthodox and <a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/westphalia-chinese-characteristics-10947">challenging</a>. In short, these emerging powers have benefited from Westphalia yet in practice also <a href="http://www.postwesternworld.com/">criticise</a> the prevailing system. <br /><br /><strong>Five issues at stake</strong><br /><br />This raises the question: are these countries in effect creating a new model for organising global politics, which could be called "Southphalia"? A way to evaluate this is by reference to several key aspects of the respective models. Here are five, each of which deserves more detailed scrutiny.<br /><br />First, there is the issue of values. The emerging countries of the south complain about the unjust distribution of global power - but they seem to be concerned mainly with expanding their own influence and voice in world affairs. That is, they look more interested in joining the club of the powerful than in empowering their peers from the periphery.&nbsp; <br /><br />Second, there is the issue of policies. Westphalia was marked by the pro-status quo attitude of major powers and their partners. Southphalia acts like a soft reformist, trying to <a href="http://global.oup.com/academic/product/no-ones-world-9780199739394;jsessionid=BDC72557E91E9D4A2B44F3B45043BE6D?cc=gb&amp;lang=en&amp;#">constrain</a> the choices of the powerful and to increase its own autonomy. Its language can sound tough and confrontational, but the most relevant emerging powers are - at least until now, and probably for the near future - less revisionist than dissatisfied actors. They are playing <a href="http://opencanada.org/features/the-think-tank/comments/the-wests-enduring-importance/">within</a>, not against, the rules of the game. <br /><br />Third, there is the issue of institutional development. Westphalia built a network of international regimes that ultimately legitimised the predominance of the most powerful and influential. Southphalia uses the existing institutional architecture, but adds its willingness to amend and transform it. Just as the principal actors of Westphalia combine multilateralism (for example, the United Nations) and minilateralism (for example, the <a href="http://www.european-council.europa.eu/g7brussels">G7</a>) so does Southphalia: <a href="http://www.ibsa-trilateral.org/">IBSA</a> (India, Brazil, and South Africa) and the <a href="http://www.brics5.co.za/about-brics/">BRICS</a> (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are two southern cases of the multilateralism of small numbers. <br /><br />Southphalia does offer a noticeable institutional innovation, however. This is the impulse to construct regional initiatives such as the <a href="http://www.sectsco.org/EN123/">Shanghai Cooperation Organisation</a> (sponsored by China) and the <a href="http://laht.com/article.asp?CategoryId=12394&amp;ArticleId=329400">South American Defence Council</a> (advanced by Brazil). Their benefits include acting as buffer mechanisms, enabling their members to avoid western involvement in crucial diplomatic and military areas. <br /><br />Fourth, there is the issue of ideas. Westphalia established foundational principles that remain the cornerstone of inter-state relations. Now, major actors within the emerging world are voicing new Southphalian concepts. China has <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/william-callahan/china%E2%80%99s-grand-strategy-in-post-western-world">proclaimed</a> the virtues of "<em>hexie shijie</em>" (harmonious world) as a <a href="http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2007/10/harmonious-society-and-harmonious-world-chinas-policy-discourse-under-hu-jintao-zheng-yongnian-eeee%E2%88%9E%E2%88%8Fa%CF%80%C2%A5-and-sow-keat-tok/">guide</a> for global affairs. India has promoted Gandhi’s <a href="http://www.i-genius.org/eprofiles/global-gandhian-trusteeship-corporate-responsibility-foundation-suresh-kr-pramar">notion</a> of "trusteeship" as an expression of the search for collective spiritual development and a more <a href="http://inequality.org/">egalitarian</a> order. Brazil, since the fiasco in Libya in 2011, has been <a href="http://www.postwesternworld.com/2013/08/01/brazils-enigmatic-retreat-the-case-of-the-responsibility-while-protecting-rwp/">calling</a> for “responsibility while protecting” as an alternative to western manipulation and mismanagement of the “responsibility-to-protect” principle. Thus, the south is introducing fresh ideas that contest the west's dominant (but <a href="http://www.postwesternworld.com/">weakening</a>) assumptions. In short, Southphalia is attempting to reconfigure the logic of politics, law and morality by which power, legality, and ethics are intertwined and reinforced.<br /><br />Fifth, there is the issue of leadership. Westphalia has been based on the deliberation of the few and the conventional style of <a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67730/g-john-ikenberry/the-future-of-the-liberal-world-order">leadership</a> of the most powerful. Hegemony by a single power or bloc has been its prevailing mode. Here there is no innovation from the south: Southphalia is not investing in more participatory and pluralistic forms of deliberation, nor stimulating different modes of concerted, joint, collaborative and/or distributive leadership. <br /><br />To sum up, Southphalia shows some elements of continuity and change from Westphalia.&nbsp; Will the coming years see Southphalia's extension, not without resistance from the west, or its assimilation by a Westphalian system displaying a persistent capacity to adjust? </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199743292/obo-9780199743292-0073.xml">Peace of Westphalia, 1648</a></p><p><a href="http://www.postwesternworld.com/">Post-Western World</a></p><p><a href="http://www.worldpolicy.org/">World Policy Institute</a></p><p>Dries Lesage &amp; Thijs Van de Graaf eds., <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/rising-powers-and-multilateral-institutions-/?K=9781137397591"><em>Rising Powers and Multilateral Institutions</em></a> (Palgrave, 2015)</p><p>Charles A Kupchan, <a href="http://global.oup.com/academic/product/no-ones-world-9780199739394;jsessionid=BDC72557E91E9D4A2B44F3B45043BE6D?cc=gb&amp;lang=en&amp;#"><em>No One's World The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn</em></a> (Oxford University Press, 2012)</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> International politics Democracy and government institutions & government Globalisation democracy & power Juan Gabriel Tokatlian Wed, 05 Nov 2014 13:27:04 +0000 Juan Gabriel Tokatlian 87499 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fair taxation: paths to progress https://www.opendemocracy.net/sol-picciotto/fair-taxation-paths-to-progress <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>World leaders say they are tackling multinational tax avoidance. If so, they must expand and deepen current reforms. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>World leaders meeting at the <a href="https://www.g20.org/community_information/brisbane_locals/faqs">G20</a> in Brisbane on 15-16 November 2014 are expected to approve initial steps toward reform of the global tax system. A tranche of proposals put forward by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (<a href="http://www.oecd.org/ctp/tax-policy/">OECD</a>) aims to ensure that multinational companies should no longer be able to reduce their tax bills by shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions. A major step in this direction is a template for multinationals to report their economic activities and profits on a country-by-country basis. Mandatory disclosure will also include information to tax authorities about internal financial activities, including details of transfers within corporate groups - also known as <a href="http://www.taxjustice.net/topics/corporate-tax/transfer-pricing/">transfer pricing</a>.</p><p>The current world tax framework consists of about 3,000 treaties that have evolved over decades, based on a model drawn up in 1928. Multinationals are able to exploit this legal patchwork by identifying loopholes (or mismatches) between any two countries, enabling them to game the system. Transferring profits to a subsidiary in a low-tax or no-tax location has become a key technique, giving multinationals competitive advantages over national firms. </p><p>At the same time, economic activity in the digital economy is becoming increasingly intangible, as technology replaces the distribution of physical products with online services. This trend further extends firms’ abilities to make profits in countries without themselves having a significant physical presence, and to restructure corporate groups in ways that allow for profit shifting to jurisdictions where they will be lightly taxed. The OECD will continue to address this big <a href="http://www.oecd.org/ctp/beps.htm">agenda</a>, and plans to submit further reports to the <a href="https://www.g20.org/about_G20">G20</a> in 2015 on tax-treaty reform and special <a href="http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/article/oecd-presents-building-blocks-international-tax-reform/564070">issues</a> relating to the digital economy. </p><p>Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, governments are competing hard for inward investment and new jobs. Many countries are trying to entice investors with special tax advantages, or by offering low-tax deals to stave off relocation threats. These harmful tax practices cost significant sums in lost revenue, while simultaneously creating a global race to the bottom in corporate taxation. The UK’s "patent box" - a tax <a href="http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ct/forms-rates/claims/patent-box.htm">incentive</a> for companies such as large pharmaceuticals to relocate ownership of their patents to Britain, by giving them a low tax rate on income attributable to a patent - costs taxpayers an estimated £1.1 billion a year. A dozen European states now have such provisions, and Ireland and Switzerland have said they will follow. Yet opposition from Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK has blocked a proposal which would limit such tax breaks.</p><p>The OECD’s reforms, taken together, represent a historic and welcome <a href="https://bepsmonitoringgroup.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/oecd-beps-scorecard.pdf">step</a> in the right direction. But they amount to running repairs at a time when the system requires a fundamental overhaul. Current proposals are further weakened by the domination of rich countries, at the expense of the world’s poor. Developing countries need a much greater say, and country-by-country <a href="http://www.taxjustice.net/topics/corporate-tax/country-by-country/">reporting</a> must eventually be made public. </p><p>Over the long term, true progress towards fair taxation depends on scrapping the treatment of national entities within each corporate group as if they were independent of each other, whereas in reality they operate as an integrated whole under central direction. The G20 <a href="http://www.oecd.org/tax/beps-2014-deliverables-explanatory-statement.pdf">asked</a> for reforms that would ensure that multinationals would be taxed “where economic activities take place and value is created”. This requires a new principle that recognises multinationals as unitary firms, and apportions their tax base according to their presence in each country.</p><p>The G20’s decision to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21481932">reform</a> international tax rules was essentially a political move, following public outrage at the scale of multinational tax avoidance. Yet this has now become a highly technical process that makes it hard for the public to follow. Will these measures represent the first step in a longer journey towards a more coherent international tax system, or a patch-up job that will allow the world’s richest countries to proclaim support for reform, while they continue to pursue harmful tax practices like patent boxes? In any event, the fundamental challenges will remain after Brisbane: aligning taxation with economic activity and value creation, and restoring public confidence in fair taxation. <br /><br /></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://www.g20.org/community_information/brisbane_locals/faqs">G20, Brisbane (15-16 November 2014)</a></p><p><a href="http://www.taxjustice.net/about/who-we-are/goals/">Tax Justice Network</a></p><p><a href="http://bepsmonitoringgroup.wordpress.com/">BEPS Monitoring Group</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Sol Picciotto is senior adviser to the <a href="http://www.taxjustice.net/">Tax Justice Network</a> and coordinator of the <a href="http://bepsmonitoringgroup.wordpress.com/">BEPS Monitoring Group</a></p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> International politics Democracy and government Globalisation Sol Picciotto Tue, 04 Nov 2014 06:27:31 +0000 Sol Picciotto 87456 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Remote control: light on new war https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-control-light-on-new-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Armed drones, special forces, privatisation and secrecy are the preferred tools of military campaigns from Iraq-Syria to the Sahel. Now, researchers are mapping this landscape in the public interest. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The United States-led operation against the Islamic State is already faltering. The media focus on the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/kurds-resist-islamic-states-renewed-push-for-kobani-1413379615">fight</a> for Kobani, on the border between Syria and Turkey, has meant neglect of the important advances being made by IS across Iraq's Anbar province. There, two months of airstrikes have so far had little effect, as the paramilitaries quickly <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/13/iraqi-military-training-camp-falls-to-isis-as-airstrikes-fail-to-stop-militants-advance/">adapt</a> to the challenge. </p><p>In itself this ability to respond to air power is hardly surprising. Much of the Islamic State's leadership is drawn from militias that survived the western occupation of Iraq from 2003-10, in the process gaining more experience of the impact of air-assaults than just about any other group since the <em>mujahideen</em> that fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">The thirty-year war, continued</a>", 11 September 2014).</p><p><a href="http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/jihadis-return/">Patrick Cockburn</a>, one of the best-informed western journalists, reports that the IS has <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29606089">taken</a> over many towns and villages along the Euphrates west of Baghdad, saying they “fell in a few days, often after little resistance by the Iraqi Army which showed itself to be as dysfunctional as in the past, even when backed by US air strikes” (see Patrick Cockburn, "<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/war-against-isis-us-strategy-in-tatters-as-militants-march-on-9789230.html">War against Isis: US air strategy in tatters as militants march on</a>", <em>Independent on Sunday</em>, 12 October 2014). Several other despatches elaborate on further problems: the <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/10/iraq-army-withdraws-from-last-base-hit-20141013105557467561.html">flight</a> of army personnel from the city of Heet, in Anbar; the depserate siege of army units at Iraq's largest <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20141013/NEWS08/310130042/Iraqi-army-continues-struggle-fight-against-Islamic-State">oil-refinery</a>; even the prospect that the entire province is <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/islamic-state-fighters-are-threatening-to-overrun-iraqs-anbar-province/2014/10/09/34b302f0-84e4-4d73-b220-2d91161363e5_story.html ">at risk</a>.</p><p>Among many <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2014/10/14/Report-ISIS-Surrounds-One-of-the-Biggest-Bases-in-Anbar-Province">setbacks</a> for the new Iraqi government, particularly damaging was the assassination on 12 October of Anbar province's police commander, Major-General Ahmen Saddag, when two roadside-bombs hit his heavily protected convoy (see Kirk Semple, “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/13/world/middleeast/police-chief-of-embattled-province-killed-in-iraq.html?_r=0">Bomb attack kills police chief in strategic Iraqi province</a>", <em>New York Times</em>, 13 October 2014). The same day, three suicide-bombers attacked a security centre in Qara Taba district north-east of Baghdad, killing thirty people and injuring 140; the previous day, multiple bomb-attacks <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-baghdad-mood-20141013-story.html#page=1">around</a> Baghdad had taken more than lives and injured nearly a hundred.</p><p><strong>A strategic shift</strong></p><p>Barack Obama's stated <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/09/10/president-obama-we-will-degrade-and-ultimately-destroy-isil">aim</a> is to use air-power to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State. The creeping failure of the objective is already having an effect in Washington; the former presidential contender John McCain <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/220517-mccain-isis-is-winning ">argues</a> that “the United States should be sending targeted Special Forces troops and forward air-controllers…”</p><p>McCain may be speaking more as a politician rather than the military figure he once was, but he represents a view that is increasingly common <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/10/america-needs-a-more-aggressive-strategy-against-isilnow-111821.html#ixzz3Fzn2uAQq">inside</a> the beltway, The implication is that the Obama administration now has to consider how to defeat the Islamic State without the incremental committment of tens of thousands of troops. What is virtually certain is that the US will move in the direction of “r<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">emote control</a>”: that is, far greater use of air power, especially armed-drones, supplemented by a rapid expansion of the deployment of special forces. The latter would draw directly on the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">experience</a> of the "shadow war" of 2004-07 fought mainly in Anbar province and the greater Baghdad area.&nbsp; </p><p>The combination - <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-warfare-cost-and-challenge">armed-drones</a>, stand-off weapons, low-profile special forces - is initially attractive. At best, it guarantees little media coverage in the west, few of our boys getting killed, and useful results on the ground. After all, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was terminated in late 2001 using special forces, air-power and proxy ground-troops (the Northern Alliance), and the rebellion in Iraq was curbed, in part, by Task Force 145.</p><p><strong>A way around secrecy</strong></p><p>It seems simple - but it isn’t. The tools to make an informed judgment are increasingly available from a range of studies and projects now underway. This week, for example, sees the timely appearance of one of the first fruits of the <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a>, an initiative of the <a href="http://www.thenetworkforsocialchange.org.uk/ ">Network for Social Change</a>. The project, started in late 2013, is in turn hosted by <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/ ">Oxford Research Group</a>.</p><p>This publication is all the more valuable as detailed research on "remote control" warfare is still in its early stages. In this case the group has sought out academics and think-tank experts to commission a very interesting range of work, about half of which has already been made available. The material so far is summarised in a handy digest <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Remote-Control-Digest.pd">released</a> on 13 October; it includes reports on the use of <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Vertic-Report.pdf">cyberwarfare</a>, summaries of regular monthly reports on diverse remote-control developments from <a href="http://www.openbriefing.org/">Open Briefing</a>, and a series of studies with intriguing results. There is much more to come.</p><p>Many investigators are concerned that independent research in this area is made so difficult by the high levels of secrecy and singular lack of transparency that surround it. The <a href="http://www.everycasualty.org/">Every Casualty</a> group, for example, finds it extremely difficult to get accurate information on civilian casualties <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/EC-RC-Losing-Sight.pdf">caused</a> by drone-strikes. It is especially hard to get accurate information on the use of special forces. </p><p>Three individual studies give a flavour of the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/dronecasualtylawcivic-nexus">work</a> being done, often by getting round the obstacles of official secrecy.</p><p>First, <a href="http://www.reprieve.org.uk/croftonblack/">Crofton Black</a> does some lateral <a href="//remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/CroftonBlack_USSOCOM-Contracting-Report_NE.pdf">research</a> - data-mining publicly available information on US defence-budget contracts to private companies hired by the US special-operations command (USSOCOM). What he discovered was the very high level of privatisation, involving billions of dollars, and the range of activities contracted out, even including psychological operations and interrogation. From a security perspective, such privatisation may provide an extra layer of secrecy; but it also means far less public transparency and debate over what is being done.</p><p>Second, <a href="http://www.bath.ac.uk/polis/staff/wali-aslam/">Wali Aslam</a> of the University of Bath, in another report, <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Wali-Report.pdf">examines</a> some of the side-effects of large-scale armed-drone operations in north-west Pakistan. One of his results, hardly surprising to anyone with common sense, was that leading <em>jihadists </em>likely to be subject to targeted killing simply relocated, often to cities where they could remain highly active if largely hidden from view&nbsp; </p><p>Third, a <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Sahel-Sahara-report.pdf ">report</a> on recent developments in the Sahel, particularly Mali and Niger offers insight into areas which have largely disappeared from the western media. In perhaps one of the most interesting pieces of research, the report uncovers a very quiet but speedy escalation in the US military presence, joining with reinforced French forces. In some ways the Sahel region is becoming a <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mali-and-remote-control-war">model</a> for the new style of warfare - even a clear example of “liddism”, that is, keeping the lid on conflicts rather than going for the roots of the problems (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security ">Beyond 'liddism': toward real global security</a>", 1 April 2010). This approach makes it necessary to work with some of the most autocratic regimes in the region, but always with the minimum of publicity.</p><p><strong>A new direction</strong></p><p>A common feature of much of this research is the conclusion that the various <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/americas-global-shift-drone-wars-base-politics">forms</a> of remote warfare are leading to an increase in radicalisation and extreme actions, rather than the decrease they seek. This is part of a wider and uncomfortable conclusion that so much of the “war on terror” has not just failed but has made matters worse. Around 2010-12, especially after the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13257330">killing</a> of Osama bin Laden, a widespread view among western politicians and analysts was that al-Qaida and similar movements were way past their peak. Today, as in the military <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/14/us-mideast-crisis-military-obama-idUSKCN0I30BC20141014">conference</a> in Washington on 14 October, Barack Obama talks of a war lasting years.</p><p>An overall perspective suggests it is no longer possible to argue convincingly that drones, special forces and other forms of remote control are the answer to radical movements. The proper direction is to look much more deeply at the conditions which have encouraged these groups to develop. Otherwise, the idea of a war lasting years may be superseded by one lasting decades.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://costsofwar.org/article/afghan-civilians">Costs of War</a></p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.everycasualty.org/">Every Casualty</a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415419383/" target="_blank"><span><span>Global Security and the War on Terror: Elite Power and the Illusion of Control</span></span></a></em> (Routledge, 2007)</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><a href="http://thenetworkforsocialchange.org.uk/">Network for Social Change</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/projects/recording_casualties_armed_conflict"><span><span>Recording Casualties in Armed Conflict </span></span></a>(RCAC)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">Remote control, a new way of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-global-shift-drone-wars-base-politics">America&#039;s global shift: drone wars, base politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/drone-wars">Drone wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/asymmetrical-drone-war">An asymmetrical drone war </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-warfare-global-danger">Drone warfare: a global danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/every-casualty-human-face-of-war">Every casualty: the human face of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-warfare-cost-and-challenge">Drone warfare: cost and challenge</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-global-shift-drone-wars-base-politics">America&#039;s global shift: drone wars, base politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">Drone wars: the Afghan model</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-new-blowback">Drone wars: the new blowback </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/road-to-endless-war">The road to endless war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-new-wars-and-militarised-diplomacy">America&#039;s new wars, and militarised diplomacy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/dronecasualtylawcivic-nexus">The drone-casualty-law-civic nexus </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-and-remote-control-war">Mali, and remote-control war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Conflict International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power Paul Rogers Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:14:33 +0000 Paul Rogers 86843 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A war going according to plan - but which plan? https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-going-according-to-plan-but-which-plan <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A letter from Raqqa, in the heart of territory controlled by the Islamic State.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>United States military publications are full of analyses of the "third Gulf war", one of the most common views being that airstrikes may not be enough. The Washington administration, including the Pentagon, is warning of a long war that will stretch over some years. But there is satisfaction at the extent of the international coalition and at some elements of progress, especially the manner in which some Islamic State advances have been halted, not least near Irbil and around the Mosul and Haditha dams. This is not to suggest that the war is going according to plan, but in the current circumstances it at least makes sense to see it from another perspective. Why not that of a young Iraqi engaged in communicating an unvarnished view to the IS leadership? Perhaps not as neutral as those SWISH consultants - but IS does not feel it needs to consult them, at least not yet.</em></p><p>-----&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Raqqa, 9 October 2014</p><p>When I came to Raqqa two years ago my brother had been here for more than a year and was already a platoon leader. He had fought the American special forces in Anbar for three years until captured and tortured late in 2006, so he had even survived Operation Arcadia.&nbsp;&nbsp; After four years in Bucca camp - a singularly formative educational experience where he learnt much about US military attitudes - he was finally released. He had, though, lost two uncles and three cousins to American and British attacks, with our father, two aunts and four cousins killed in airstrikes and two more cousins maimed for life. It was hardly surprising that he joined up with the Baghdadi group at the first opportunity, nor that I should follow him not long afterwards.</p><p>So where are we now? First, let’s just remember that we have more than one aim and a thorough mix of motives. Behind it all is the desire to be part of the historic mission to restore the Caliphate, bringing true rule to the world even if it takes centuries, but there is more to it than that.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Inevitably we have hugely bitter feelings towards the Shi’a in Iraq and do not see Haider al-Abadi as any different to Nouri al-Maliki. We are passionately opposed to Bashar al-Assad and his Alawi clan but also hate the utterly unacceptable <em>Sunni </em>regimes dominating our region, most of all the appalling House of Saud and its preposterous claim to be Guardian of the Two Holy Places. Beyond that lies the American-Israeli nexus, its occupation of the Third Holy Place, with the Zionist massacres of our Palestinian friends a continuing atrocity.</p><p>I have only been here a couple of years and much of my work is analysing western attitudes, but I simply cannot understand the reaction to our killing of hostages, Iraqi soldiers and police and other opponents. Is it really worse to be beheaded, a near instant death, or to die slowly from hideous burns, from being shredded by hundreds of sub-munitions or crushed slowly to death under a collapsed building? Sure we make an example of captured soldiers and police, but that scares off others and makes our task easier. It is no different to innumerable attacks done by the Americans over the past ten years, including those which they themselves characterised as punitive.</p><p>Yes, we dress hostages in orange jump-suits and maybe that makes a few in the west think, but how many know there are still more than a hundred in Guantánamo, many there for more than a decade and likely to be kept in prison for the rest of their lives - a slow living death with no hope of an end to it, not quick and merciful.</p><p>But I’m getting away from myself when I really wanted to write down where we are now, perhaps the start of an occasional diary but I will keep this first entry brief.</p><p>The Americans started their airstrikes exactly two months ago, more or less when we expected them to do so, and so we had dispersed most of our assets in good time.&nbsp; They did have some effect here and there and halted a couple of advances, but much of the equipment they hit was surplus to our requirements and was mostly their own stuff anyway.</p><p>They’ve done 388 raids so far, the majority in Iraq, and they are now having trouble trying to identify suitable targets. Yes, they do have British, French, Belgian, Danish, Australian and Canadian aircraft either here or on their way, as well as some from a few local states, although the latter are almost entirely incompetent.</p><p>They still say they will not put “boots on the ground” but the numbers of special forces are creeping up and the Pentagon is currently moving a army brigade HQ to Iraq, a sure sign that more is planned.</p><p>The only operation that took us by surprise was the first big raid on Syria, but it was not their attacks on us that caught us out. Apart from a few unlucky supporters killed at a roadblock outside the city we had long since evacuated everyone and had also dispersed almost all our weapons and kit.</p><p>No, the surprise was the effort they put into trying to damage the Khorasan group over in the west. We have nothing to do with them and their weird insistence in plotting attacks abroad, but they certainly scared the Americans. In the event, it kept the pressure off us so Khorasan actually did us a service.</p><p>I also find it weird how the western press seems to pick on just one happening - the Mosul dam attack or, just now, the fighting around Kobane - not getting even a remote understanding of the wider picture. What that picture shows is that we are making progress on many fronts, especially but not only in Anbar province. Even in Syria, Assad’s crowd still see us as an asset and long may that last, while the Turks are so conflicted on the Kurdish question that we see little threat from them apart from a possible symbolic action.</p><p>Our progress across northern Iraq three months ago was no surprise to us - after all we had been preparing for it for more than a year, and we are not seriously affected by the air attacks. We are therefore in a good position to consolidate our territorial control as we prepare for the long war. Indeed, our morale after two months of attacks has never been higher, born from the pleasure that we are now engaged in combat with a serious enemy not joke forces like the Iraqi army.</p><p>We are also doing amazingly well with all our international communications. The sophistication of the media operations is a joy to behold and is way ahead of anything the enemy can muster, especially in reaching out to young believers and drawing them to the cause. I understand that the leadership has some worries about the force with which mosque leaders are condemning us in some countries such as Britain, but these are small setbacks in an otherwise positive environment.</p><p>There is much else I could discuss but perhaps I might end on one big issue - where next and what do we most want our enemies to do? I am not close enough to the leadership to be sure, but the city is a hotbed of gossip and what I try to do is to listen to those sources that have been accurate in the past.</p><p>The word there is that what is most wanted is serious numbers of western boots on the ground. There are scores, if not hundreds, of men who fought Task Force 145 - a Rangers battalion, SEAL Team 6 and an SAS squadron - especially in that crucial 2005-06 period, and they seriously want revenge for the wholesale slaughter and torture of their friends and relatives.</p><p>Indeed, many of them live in eager anticipation of the opportunity to capture western troops and then dress them up in the orange suits, waterboard them, and execute them, all on video for worldwide distribution. Revenge will be sweet and for quite a few of them revenge is a far stronger motive than seeking the new Caliphate. It is just as well that the Americans and British have no understanding of this, making it all the more likely that they will blunder into yet another trap.</p><p>How will this trap be sprung? Difficult to say, but I know one of the senior people close to Baghdadi is obsessed with the Tet offensive nearly half a century ago, sure that this time it will make the Americans increase their forces rather than withdraw. Where will it be sprung? Again, I can’t be sure but there is one pointer. The western media is making quite a lot of our recent advance between Fallujah and Baghdad, including this week’s success in and around Abu Ghraib. </p><p>What they all seem to be missing is that we already have highly effective yet dispersed forces well ensconced in the western districts of Baghdad itself. Take a look at the area around Baghdad international airport, not doing much on the civil side but an absolute hive of military activity as the American forces pour in (Bing is far better than Google for this - much clearer maps). Then look to the west and east of the airport complex. Westwards is Abu Ghraib, barely ten miles away with lots of farms, irrigation ditches and villages between it and the airport - quite decent paramilitary country and easy to disperse. Then look to the east and within five miles are the crowded Baghdad suburbs of Saidya, Khadra, Ameria and, of course, the appropriately-named Jihad. None of them is openly under our control but we are everywhere.&nbsp; </p><p>I may be wrong, but this is one bit of gossip I take seriously. Watch this space as we do our very best to wreak havoc and then get the Americans really involved, and this time on our terms.</p><p>That’s all for now, more in a couple of months.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007)</p> <p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.jihadica.com/"><em>Jihadica</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><em><span><span><a href="http://jihadology.net/category/islamic-state-of-iraq-and-al-sham/">Jihadology</a><br /></span></span></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-war-iraq%27s-echo">The Islamic State war: Iraq&#039;s echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/into-third-iraq-war">Into the third Iraq war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">The thirty-year war, continued</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/through-fog-of-peace">Through the fog of peace</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State: from the inside</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/paul-rogers/paul-rogers-timeline-on-middle-east-2001present-from-mustread-opendemocra">Paul Rogers&#039; timeline on the Middle East, 2001-present: from the must-read openDemocracy column</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front">Islamic State, Iraq, America: a new front</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-state-of-insecurity">Afghanistan: state of insecurity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger">Iraq, days of danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security middle east Meteoric rise of the Islamic State Paul Rogers Thu, 09 Oct 2014 04:12:25 +0000 Paul Rogers 86647 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brazil's election surprise https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil%27s-election-surprise <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An unexpected result in the first round leaves the presidential election open. It also hints at Brazil's underlying political dynamics.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Brazil's presidential election campaign, already marked by tragedy, continues with high drama after the first-round results on 5 October 2014. The incumbent Dilma Rousseff received the most votes (41.5%). But her main rival was Aécio Neves (33.7%) rather than Marina Silva (21.4%), who had for weeks been competing for first place in the opinion polls. This was a major surprise that has <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21622767-president-dilma-rousseff-enters-election-day-handsome-lead-battle-second-place-too">turned</a> many political calculations upside down. It remains now to be seen what the run-off on 26 October will bring. </p><p>A major influence in the electoral <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29370759">dynamics</a> was the death of the candidate Eduardo Campos in an aviation accident, which pushed his running-mate Marina Silva into the forefront of the campaign. In retrospect, this stage has for me been a lesson in "the power of the status quo" in Brazil. In a little more than one month, Marina's candidacy was completely destroyed by the two leading parties, the Workers' Party (PT) and the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) - especially by Dilma's PT, when polls were <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/marina-silvas-unlikely-climb-in-brazils-presidential-race/article20129868/">predicting</a> Marina's victory in the second round after Campos's death. The attacks were heavy and <a href="http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/advocates/members/marina-silva.shtml">Marina</a> showed no strength in dealing with them. Instead, she positioned herself as a victim and was unable to give answers to the questions posed by her adversaries. In the end, could not answer important questions: about her more than twenty years with the PT and her current criticism of the party, her ever-changing positions on issues such as abortion and economics, and her inexperience as an administrator.</p><p>In this context, the fashionable idea of a "new politics" revealed an unexpected fragility. Instead, this election turned yet again into a dispute between the PT and PSDB - as had those in 1994, 2002, 2006, and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil%E2%80%99s-big-election-dilma-vs-jos%C3%A9">2010</a>. The only recent exception was 1998, when Fernando Henrique Cardoso won in the first round after the constitution had been changed to allow him to serve another term.</p><p>However, the change of mood in the two or three weeks before the 6 October vote was the product not only of the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/04/world/americas/brazil-rainforest-amazon-conservation-election-rousseff-silva.html?_r=0">weakness</a> of Marina's "new politics" but also of the obstinacy of Aécio Neves. Before then, Marina had seemed to be the only person who could defeat Dilma, and because of that she was taking a lot of votes from Aécio himself. There had even been rumours that Aécio would resign his candidacy. But as it became clear that the "new politics" was more shadow than substance - and exposed as such by both the PT and PSDB campaigns - votes trickled back to Aécio Neves. </p><p>In addition, Aécio did very well in the TV <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29473973">debates</a>, against both Dilma and Marina. When the polls measured a growth in Aécio's support, but also that Dilma would defeat Marina in a second round, Aécio seized the moment and projected himself as the figure who could beat Dilma. The question then became whether he would have time to pass Marina and go to the second round. This proved to be the case, in the end with a very impressive 33.7% (and in São Paulo, <a href="http://www.aboutbrasil.com/modules/brazil-brasil/Quick_facts_About_Brasil_Brazil.php?hoofd=9&amp;sub=50&amp;art=534">Brazil's</a> biggest electoral state and a PSDB <a href="http://politica.estadao.com.br/noticias/eleicoes,pmdb-mantem-maior-bancada-no-senado-e-pode-crescer-em-governadores,1571965">stronghold</a>, almost 45% -with 10,152,688 votes against Dilma's 5,927,503).</p><p><strong>A historic choice</strong></p><p>The second round will thus be a classic <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/surprising-brazil-election-zigging-zagging-25984727">dispute</a> between the PT and PSDB. Aécio seems to have the full support of his party, especially in São Paulo, In the governorship elections in this state, the incumbent Geraldo Alckmin won in the first round - thus, by the end of his four-year term, the PSDB will have ruled the state continuously for twenty-four years. The PT is very worried about São Paulo: its candidate for governor, the former health minister Alexandre Padilha, did very <a href="http://en.mercopress.com/2014/10/06/sao-paulo-state-brazil-s-largest-electoral-district-delivers-solid-win-for-neves-party">badly</a>, even with support from Lula, the former president. </p><p>Aécio's vote is based in the rich states of the Brazil's south and southeast, whereas the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil-democracy-vs-poverty">poorer</a> - but also less populous - north and northeast regions are backing Dilma. The president also has solid support in Rio; and she polled well in Aécio's own state of Minas Gerais, with the two candidates almost equal in the first round. </p><p>The PSDB candidate will therefore try to <a href="http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/brazil-election-faces-rousseff-neves-runoff-1.1953402">take</a> votes from Dilma in Minas Gerais, as well as gaining more support in the northeast. There is a lot to play for in the latter: in Eduardo Campos's state of Pernambuco, for example, Marina won with 48% of the votes, against Dilma's 44% and Aécio's 5.9%! In this respect, Marina's <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/candidate-in-brazil-silva-weighs-backing-rival-neves-to-defeat-president-1412707868">indication</a> on 7 October of qualified backing for Aécio in the second round - if he agrees to end re-election (which seems to be a consensus) and to pursue an <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/04/world/americas/brazil-rainforest-amazon-conservation-election-rousseff-silva.html?_r=0">environmental</a> agenda - may help Aécio, especially in the northeast and the big cities. Some analysts had predicted that decision, partly because the PT campaign against her was very hard. In the end, she changed her stance from 2010 when she <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil%27s-vote-marina-silva%27s-chance">refused</a> to support the challenger Jos<span class="st"><em>é</em></span> Serra in the second round after herself running against Dilma, and was greatly criticised for it. </p><p>Aécio will also try to use corruption <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/an-oil-scandal-in-brazil-complicates-the-race-for-incumbent-president-on-eve-of-election/2014/10/01/f2df5d90-c279-11e3-b574-f8748871856a_story.html">scandals</a>, especially those within Petrobrás, against Dilma. And he will try to attack the PT and Dilma over economic issues and inefficiencies (such as the allocation of public benefits and infrastructure). With that, he will probably also receive support from conservatives (including evangelicals), who oppose abortion and same-sex marriage. But if he does go to the right - a move that Dilma and the PT will encourage - there is a risk of losing much of Marina's vote. His challenge is to keep the votes of those on both right and left who are tired with the PT. A large portion of the <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/major-parties-lose-ground-brazils-congress-election-174649843.html">electorate</a> already sees the PSDB as a right-wing party, and is also too left-wing for the PT; many in this category voted for Marina and the PSOL's <a href="http://www.eleicoes2014.com.br/luciana-genro/">Luciana Genro</a> in the first round, and will probably opt for Dilma in the second.</p><p>In fact Dilma remains a strong candidate. Her vote may have fallen from previous elections (she received 46.9% in 2010, and her PT predecessor Lula 48.6% in 2006 and 46.4% in 2002) but she has a huge bank of support among the poor and in poor regions. She will <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/07/uk-brazil-election-rousseff-analysis-idUKKCN0HW1SP20141007">emphasise</a> the PT's social programmes in the second round.The president also has improved her campaigning skills, and is in a much better shape as a candidate than in 2010, when she won largely thanks to Lula's huge popularity. </p><p>If the PT succeeds in pushing the PSDB to the right, it will be difficult for Dilma to lose. For its part, the PSDB will try to form a major alliance against a PT that has been in power for twelve years. If <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29509998">Aécio</a> can evade the trap and form a strong alliance against Dilma, he may win. Aécio is in a good moment; he has political capital. Yet the PSDB's recent history is still against him: Serra won 32.61% in the first round in 2010, Alckmin 41.64% in 2006, Serra 23.19% in 2002. Neither became president; not since 1998, and <a href="http://www.ifhc.org.br/en/fhc/vida/">Fernando Henrique Cardoso</a>, has the PSDB climbed above 50% of the vote. </p><p><strong>A deeper lesson</strong></p><p>Either way, there are two important signs about the Brazilian political system coming out from this election<strong>. </strong>The first is the power of the status quo. A little more than a year after the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil-crisis-of-representation">protests</a> in 2013, these results show the amazing resilience and power of political institutions and traditional parties - as well as older political thinking. In a sense this is a very good sign for Brazilian democracy. Despite all the complaints about them, the major political parties still rule Brazil's democratic regime. It seems that Brazil has reached the point where democratic dynamics are <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil-in-2013-historic-adventure">both</a> criticised and loved.</p><p>Second, the first-round results consolidated the idea of a "long social-democratic period" that started in 1994 with the election of Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the PSDB. Differences between the PSDB and the current PT exist, but they are ones of detail, not radical or systemic. The PSDB is a little less statist, the PT a little more. In the real world beyond the campaign, there are no big differences in policy over economic management and social programmes. </p><p>This is what some are calling the long social-democratic period. It is very stable and positive for the country. The idea is: if Aécio wins, there will be no big change. This is also the sense of an <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil-after-lula-left-vs-left">article</a> I wrote on openDemocracy in 2010, of a "left vs left" choice in Brazil. I think this is still the case after the results of this first round. The PSDB is centre-left a little more to the right; the PT is centre-left, a little more to the left. There will be more continuity than change under the next government.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Arthur Ituassu &amp; Rodrigo de Almeida eds., <a href="http://www.zahar.com.br/catalogo_detalhe.asp?id=1174"><em><span><span>O Brasil tem jeito?</span></span></em></a> (Jorge Zahar, 2006)</p> <p>Thomas E Skidmore, <a href="http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryWorld/LatinAmerican/?view=usa&amp;ci=9780195063165"><em><span><span>The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964-1985</span></span></em></a> (Oxford University Press, 1990)</p> <div><a href="http://www.brazilpoliticalcomment.com.br/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/lang,en/"><span><span>Brazil Political and Business Comment</span></span></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.brazil.ox.ac.uk/"><span><span>Centre for Brazilian Studies, University of Oxford</span></span></a></p> <p>Leslie Bethell, <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521395243&amp;ss=fro"><em><span><span>Cambridge History of Latin Ameria - Vol 9, Brazil since 1930</span></span></em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2008)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil%27s-vote-marina-silva%27s-chance">Brazil&#039;s vote, Marina Silva&#039;s chance</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-protest-and-world-cup">Brazil, protest and the World Cup</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/dilma-rousseff-and-brazil-signs-of-change">Dilma Rousseff and Brazil: signs of change</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-in-2013-historic-adventure">Brazil in 2013: a historic adventure</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/incredible-dilma-rousseff">The incredible Dilma Rousseff</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-womans-work-vs-mens-mess">Brazil: woman&#039;s work vs men&#039;s mess</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-crisis-of-representation">Brazil, a crisis of representation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazilian-politics-s%C3%A3o-paulo-microcosm">Brazilian politics: the São Paulo microcosm</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-after-lula-left-vs-left">Brazil after Lula: left vs left</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/brazil-democracy-as-balance">Brazil: democracy as balance</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Brazil Democracy and government International politics Globalisation democracy & power latin america Arthur Ituassu Tue, 07 Oct 2014 17:01:23 +0000 Arthur Ituassu 86612 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The SWISH Report (25) https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/swish-report-25 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What should United Kingdom's defence policy be? A government department has commissioned advice from the noted SWISH management consultancy. This is an exclusive copy of its just completed report.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>UK defence spending after the 2014 election: a report from the South Waziristan Institute for Strategic Hermeneutics to the Post-Election Financial Planning Unit, HM Treasury, London, UK</em></p><p><strong>Introduction</strong></p><p>Thank you for inviting us to deliver this report. We understand that it is designed to aid your departmental thinking concerning one significant part of the UK’s post-election expenditure planning - defence. </p><p>In seeking our views you recognise that our main work in the field of international security over the past decade has been a series of consultancies for the Strategic Planning Cell of the al-Qaida movement but that we have also undertaken work for your prime minister’s office and the United States state department. We further understand that you have recognised that our past work for all three bodies has proved consistently prescient and properly detached and that you therefore believe it will be useful for us to contribute to this work.</p><p>As you know, while our main offices were originally in Wana in South Waziristan, we now keep only a small team there, having found it valuable to focus expansion of the consultancy in a number of other centres. This report does utilise the much-valued “global south” view of our colleagues in Wana; but it also draws on our expertise currently located at Dupont and Old Street, the London office being the main facility for the preparation of this report.</p><p>Forgive us for this long introduction but we understand that some of those to whom this will be distributed might otherwise be surprised to receive consultancy from a source such as ourselves.</p><p><strong>Terms of reference</strong></p><p>We understand that you are undertaking a series of assessments on the basis that, whatever the constitution of the government after the UK's election in May 2015, it will most likely be socially and politically impossible to place the majority of required expenditure cuts on the poorer sectors of the population, as has been recent practice. The problem you face is that the richer sectors, especially the top decile, have such influence that any spending cuts or tax increases directed there would also be exceptionally difficult to implement.</p><p>You are therefore undertaking a series of studies aimed at achieving cuts of the order of £25 billion per annum from current governmental expenditure. Within this analysis you are interested in our assessing the possibility of taking the UK defence budget from approximately 2.2% of GDP per annum down to the European Nato states' average of approximately 1.8%.&nbsp; </p><p>While not requiring financial details you do wish us to take a broad external look at the defence posture and its global relevance. You further wish us to work on the basis that most of the saving will be used directly for deficit reduction - but that part be used for what might broadly be termed "promoting UK standing in a changing world".&nbsp; </p><p>We understand that your reasoning is as follows: since there is a deeply-embedded element of British culture that still sees military power as an indicator of status, and that such status is electorally important, it would be politically advisable to find other ways of enhancing such status. The focus should be on ways that are appropriate to the likely direction of international-security challenges over the next decade and beyond.</p><p>In broad terms, you are looking for a defence posture that costs 35% less than the current budget, releasing approximately £11 billion per annum. This should be fully achievable within the lifetime of the next parliament (2015-20); it should also begin to deliver a perception of increased international standing for the UK that would aid the re-election of the government five years hence.&nbsp; </p><p>Finally, this report is, at your request, an initial summary of our thinking.&nbsp; You will then decide whether to commission a full study.</p><p><strong>The British problem</strong></p><p>The fundamental problem with UK defence policy is that it is predicated on the idea that the UK still retains an element of great-power status and that this stems largely from its military posture. In other words, Britain is still a member of the “big boys’ club”. Apart from the innate yet odd masculinity of this view, we would note that this is a problem common to the French also - indeed one of our Paris associates commented that both states still suffer from “delusions of post-imperial grandeur”. </p><p>This is nearly sixty years after Suez, a quite remarkable delusion for two economies that are smaller than Germany and Japan and tiny compared with China and the United States. Interestingly, Russia has a similar delusion but that at least relates to the much more recent past. To an outside analyst the UK posture is nothing short of incredible but we have to assess it as it has evolved, not how it more rationally should have evolved.</p><p>Furthermore, there has been little attempt to face up to the two massive failures of recent military operations. UK involvement in Afghanistan has lasted close to thirteen years and has been part of a coalition that has singularly failed to defeat the Taliban and other armed opposition groups or to control opium production. Indeed the province in which the UK forces have mostly operated (Helmand) is currently at the centre or the Taliban revival and is also recording particularly high levels of opium poppy cultivation.</p><p>Britain may be withdrawing its combat forces but will inevitably retain a military presence of some kind, given that the United States has agreed to maintain the equivalent of two brigades in the country until 2024. Britain’s involvement is expected to be a significant part of the planned contribution of Nato states other than the US (namely 5,000 troops); in a highly unstable country, that is also likely to last another decade.</p><p>British involvement in Iraq is similarly disastrous, having started in 2003 and continued for eight years. It has now recommenced. We have no doubt that the Islamic State welcomes the current western involvement and is already experiencing increased transnational support and recruitment to its cause.</p><p>We do note, however, that the UK military, especially the army, remains popular among the general public even though the wars they have fought are not. We also note your ministry’s determined efforts to maintain this support, not least through its expanded programme of links with schools and the increased frequency of military parades in major cities. From a national perspective this is certainly interesting and, you may feel, welcome, but it should not be taken to mean that the UK defence posture is sustainable.</p><p><strong>Cutting the cloth</strong></p><p>Elements of the excessive military structure include the maintenance of a very costly if powerful nuclear force as well as a surface navy that is currently being consolidated almost entirely around the ability to deploy a single Carrier Battle Group (CBG) with potential for global reach. The CBG will deploy the US F-35 strike-aircraft, as will the RAF - both at exorbitant cost, if indeed the planes can ever be made to work.</p><p>We should add that Britain also has a particularly incestuous military-industrial complex, with an entrenched “revolving door” militating against control of expenditure. The failure of the Nimrod MRA4 project after £3.6 billion of expenditure is one of many examples. It is extraordinary that the UK, a quintessentially maritime state, still has no long-range maritime reconnaissance capability.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Some attempts have been made to address this generic problem, but they have a long way to go in the face of what we consider to be a military-industrial-academic-bureaucratic complex that lacks any capacity for independent analysis (this consultancy excepted).</p><p>The position of the Royal Navy is perhaps the best illustration of the absurdity of the current posture. When the carriers are completed, Britain will be able to deploy a CBG and a ballistic-missile submarine but little else apart from an occasional destroyer or frigate and maybe an increasingly obsolete amphibious warship. It will essentially be the world’s first Two-Ship Navy.</p><p>Perhaps a missile submarine might be considered an indication of status but we are not convinced that the ability to destroy forty cities in a matter of minutes is a true sign of a civilised state worthy of worldwide respect.</p><p>We would propose that you recommend to the incoming government that they take immediate and radical action in the first month of taking office:</p><p>* Cancel the Trident replacement and withdraw the existing fleet from service, using the Atomic Weapons Establishments at Aldermaston and Burghfield as a test bed for verifiable dismantling of the nuclear force</p><p>* Cancel the two carriers and the F-35 order. You may want to try and sell the carriers, but your only option might be to sell one to China in the expectation that India would then buy the other. The arms industry aims to sell to both sides in a confrontation and this would be a spectacular example</p><p>* Limit the RAF’s fast-jet inventory to no more than the equivalent of the current Typhoon fleet. You should investigate new versions of the Swedish Saab Gripen in place of the F-35 and the Typhoon, which has hardly been the most conspicuous and relevant RAF acquisition of the past ninety-five years</p><p>* Expand the RAF’s heavy-lift capacity with further C-17s and a larger A400M purchase</p><p>* Reduce army personnel numbers by one-fifth on currently planned figures</p><p>* Withdraw all forces from Germany and scale down or withdraw entirely from other overseas commitments including, of course, the Falklands.</p><p><strong>An appropriate defence posture</strong></p><p>Instead of a CBG with global reach backed up by a nuclear force, the naval posture should move in the direction of a versatile multi-purpose force with an enhanced capability to support many different operations, especially United Nations missions. Indeed, the UK should take the lead in making the commitment to a standing UN force, along the lines of the long-discussed but never implemented UN Emergency Peace Service. It should also develop a much-enhanced capability for disaster relief, especially as climate disruption increases the severity of extreme weather events. The RAF should substantially expand its long-range heavy-lift capabilities with this in mind. The army should seek higher educational levels for its reduced intake in order to promote serious multi-tasking capabilities.</p><p>In the absence of a CBG capability, the Royal Navy should retain its single helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean, using its next refit to adapt it specifically towards multi-purpose capabilities. In the longer term, the UK should develop and build two further vessels of broadly similar displacement, designed from the start with such capabilities in mind. As an interim measure it would make good sense to lease the two French Mistral-class amphibious vessels originally intended for sale to Russia, and make necessary adaptations.</p><p>In the longer term, HMG may wish to consider using facilities on Diego Garcia to base one task group there for UN operations, including naval and air assets. This would follow US withdrawal and could also enable HMG to commit to Ilois resettlement.</p><p>The overall aim, within five years, would be to see the UK well on the way to a very different military posture - smaller than current levels, internationalist in outlook, and serving as a model for other states to follow. It would be far more relevant to the problems likely to arise from an increasingly constrained and divided world, although addressing the more fundamental problems of environmental limitations and socio-economic divisions would be beyond its specific remit.</p><p><strong>Resource allocation in a global context</strong></p><p>You have asked us to advise on the practicality of using a minority of the cost savings for purposes designed to enhance international standing, with the majority going directly into deficit reduction. We would like to suggest that you reconsider this.From our perspective the UK has the potential to play a leadership role in one of the greatest of current challenges - enabling the global south to develop radical low-carbon and fully sustainable economies as an essential (if remarkably under-recognised) element of a low-carbon world economy to which we must all move. We would argue forcefully that climate disruption will not be achieved without this, and that a deeply constrained and unstable world will not be amenable to elite control and enforced stability no matter how many carrier-battle groups and missile submarines might be available.</p><p>Britain is not the leader in radical energy technologies, either in research or installation, but it has considerable potential. We would recommend a large-scale multi-year programme to aid the development and take-up of technologies appropriate to vigorous developing economies. The main emphasis would be direct assistance to states seeking to embrace such technologies, with some emphasis on a range of Commonwealth states that can serve as models for the global south as a whole. Mauritius, Ghana, Tanzania and Barbados are examples.</p><p>This would be backed up by a substantial increase in R&amp;D in universities, research institutes and industry (where there are already some good examples). We would also advocate a substantial increase in R&amp;D spending on climate and oceanographic sciences. In relation to the latter we would point to the marine and oceanographic work at Southampton, Plymouth and Dunstaffnage. Regarding climate change,&nbsp; we would point to the Universities of Reading, East Anglia and Exeter among others, and for radical energy technologies to Loughborough and (again) Reading Universities, as well of course the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth.&nbsp; </p><p>You might also look at Bradford University’s remarkable remaking of its campus incorporating some of the world’s most energy-efficiency new-builds along with the systematic upgrading of its 1960s-era “heat sieve” building legacy. To adapt an old saying once applied to Manchester: <em>what Bradford does today, the world will need to do tomorrow</em>.</p><p>We would emphasise that in all of this work the new element is that there should be heavy investment in links with universities, industries and governments in the global south -&nbsp; starting with countries such as those listed above, but including many others. This should link with the valuable connections already made between a number of other European Union states and such countries.</p><p>We would also suggest that your colleagues in HM Treasury and their Bank of England associates pay far more attention to the work of the New Economics Foundation, especially its Great Transition Project. Your ministry of defence colleagues might also look more closely at the Oxford Research Group’s work on sustainable security.</p><p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p><p>You did not ask us to be specific as to financial elements but rather to point to appropriate directions of policy travel. This is what we have done and we have sought to achieve two results. The first is to cut military spending to a level appropriate to a relatively small but still interesting country. The second is to suggest a direction in which that country will play a globally relevant role and thereby retain a self-perception of status, an element that we recognise has a political necessity if any implementing government wants to have a prospect of a second term.</p><p>In short, the UK is in a position, should it so decide, to play a major role in moving the international community towards the recognition that old ideas of security are simply irrelevant in the face of the common global predicament of severe environmental constraints. Its links with Europe, north America and the Commonwealth place it in a peculiarly appropriate (if not unique) position, especially if it gives much greater prominence to the reform of the UN, especially the Security Council.</p><p><strong>Addendum</strong></p><p>May we conclude with two further points? One is that you may be surprised that we have said little about your current Middle East operations against the Islamic State. This is simply because they are so misplaced that it would take a separate report to explain why. Indeed your capacity to repeat mistakes exceeds belief (we are, of course, ready to accept a further consultancy).</p><p>The other is that we welcome this particular consultancy but we recognise that it is highly unlikely that any political circumstance might arise in which our recommendations are implemented. The Labour Party might see the need for the kind of defence posture we advocate, given its more internationalist outlook, but it is too scared to cut defence spending for fear of being deemed unpatriotic. The Conservative Party has no problem with cutting defence spending but is addicted to great-power status and does not believe in climate change. Even so, we urge you to persist with your work - after all, politics is a strange profession and we can at least draw solace from the fact that these are your problems, not ours.</p><p><em>SWISH Consultants<br />London, Washington and Wana<br />2 October 2014</em></p><p>----------------------------------</p><p>This is the twenty-fifth report <strong>openDemocracy</strong> has published from the South Waziristan Institute of Strategic Hermeneutics (SWISH). Twenty have advised al-Qaida, two the British governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, one the United States state department, and one the incoming Barack Obama administration:</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/conflict/article_2005.jsp"><span><span>The SWISH Report</span></span></a>" (14 July 2004) – to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"The immediate requirement…is therefore to aid, in any way within the framework of your core values, the survival of the Bush administration."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/conflict/article_2306.jsp"><span><span>The SWISH Report (2)</span></span></a>" (13 January 2005) - to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"You are… in the early stages of a decades-long confrontation, and early ‘success' should not in any way cause you to underestimate the problems that lie ahead."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/conflict/swish_2523.jsp"><span><span>The SWISH Report (3)</span></span></a>" (19 May 2005) – to the British government:</p> <p>"We believe that disengagement from Iraq, more emphasis on post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan, and vigorous diplomacy in support of a two-state Israel/Palestine solution offer you the best short-term hope of avoiding further damage to your government's credibility in relation to the United States-led war on terror."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/conflict/policy_report_2795.jsp"><span><span>The SWISH Report (4)</span></span></a>" (1 September 2005) – to the United States state department:</p> <p>"What we find quite extraordinary is the manner in which the full extent of your predicament in Iraq is still not appreciated by your political leadership."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/conflict/swish_3234.jsp"><span><span>The SWISH Report (5)</span></span></a>" (2 February 2006) – to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"The greatest risk to your movement is that the opinions of some of the sharper analysts on both sides of the Atlantic begin to transcend those of the political and religious fundamentalists that currently dominate the scene. If that were to happen, then you could be in serious trouble within two or three years."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/conflict/swish6_3883.jsp"><span><span>The SWISH Report (6)</span></span></a>" (7 September 2006) – to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"(The) influence of your movement and your leader is considerable, but you are not in control of your own strategy; rather, you form just one part of a wider process that is as diffuse and unpredictable as it is potent. You could point to the United States failure to control its global war on terror and you would be correct to do so. You could then claim that it is your own movement that is setting the pace - but you would be wrong. The truly revealing development of recent months is that we have reached a point, five years after 9/11 where no one, but no one, is in control."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/conflict/swish7_4162.jsp"><span><span>The SWISH Report (7)</span></span></a>" (7 December 2006) – to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"In Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as across the wider middle east, it is the power and influence of the United States that is in crisis. Your movement may not be entirely coherent and the overall circumstances may be more complex than a few months ago, but it probably has greater potential for enhancement and further development than at any time in the past five years." </p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/conflict-global_security/swish_report_4626.jsp"><span><span>The SWISH Report (8)</span></span></a>" (16 May 2007) - to the British government:</p> <p>"Radical changes in your policies in relation to Iraq and Israel are essential, together with a review of policy options for Afghanistan. More generally, you must start the process of reorientating political and security thinking towards the real long-term global challenges."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/article/global_security/swish_report_9"><span><span>The SWISH Report (9)</span></span></a>" (29 November 2007) - to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"Our broad conclusions are that your prospects are good. Developments in Iraq should not worry you; events in Afghanistan and Pakistan are markedly positive for you; and the work of your associates elsewhere, including north Africa, are a bonus.</p> <p>We do have to confess to one concern that may surprise you...In a number of western countries the issue of global climate change is rising rapidly up the political agenda and one of the effects of this is to begin to make some analysts and opinion-formers question the western addiction to oil." </p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/article/conflicts/global_security/swish_report_10"><span><span>The SWISH Report (10)</span></span></a>" (29 February 2008) - to al-Qaida</p> <p>"It is said that revolutions change merely the accents of the elites, and we fear that such would be the consequence of your movement coming to power. A lack of flexibility would lead to unbending pursuit of a false purity that would decay rapidly into a bitter autocracy, leading quite possibly to a counter-revolution.</p> <p>If you really want to succeed then you have to engage in thinking that goes far beyond what appear to be the limits and flaws of your current analysis. We would be happy to assist, but we doubt that your leadership will be willing to allow us to do so. We therefore submit this as possibly our last report."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/article/the-swish-report-11"><span><span>The SWISH Report (11)</span></span></a>" (11 September 2008) - to al-Qaida</p> <p>"In any case, whatever his actual policies, we most certainly would expect under an Obama presidency a marked change in style towards a more listening, cooperative and multilaterally - engaged America. That must be of deep concern to you. A more ‘acceptable’ America in global terms is the last thing you want"</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/article/the-swish-report-12"><span><span>The SWISH Report (12)</span></span></a>" (6 November 2008) - to al-Qaida</p> <p>"If the far enemy began to lose interest in your core region, then your movement really would be in trouble. We will explore this further in a later report; but at this stage, we would suggest that this could emerge as the most potent threat to your movement."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/article/the-swish-report-13-part-one"><span><span>The SWISH Report (13.1)</span></span></a>" (8 December 2008) &amp; "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/article/the-swish-report-13-part-two"><span><span>The SWISH Report (13.2)</span></span></a>" (15 December 2008) - to the Obama Transition Team:</p> <p>"(The) standing of the United States across the middle east and southwest Asia is much diminished and its military forces are mired in a dangerous and long-term conflict in Afghanistan that is exacerbated by major problems in Pakistan. We do not believe that victory has been achieved (or will soon be achieved) in Iraq; and we hold that the al-Qaida movement has been dispersed into a loose network that is and will remain extremely difficult to counter.</p> <p>We are aware that our advice in three of the four major aspects covered in this report - Israel-Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan - is considerably more radical than anything you currently propose; but you have requested our advice and we have given it. We acknowledge that to accept it is much to ask of you, perhaps especially because it represents a very different outlook not just from the neo-conservative vision of a 'new American century' but from some of the assertive realists that you have already invited into your administration."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/article/the-swish-report-14"><span><span>The SWISH Report (14)</span></span></a>" (9 April 2009) - to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"(The) conflict in Iraq has enabled thousands of young paramilitaries to travel to Iraq to get combat experience against highly trained and well-armed US troops in an urban environment. This has proved a far better training-ground than was available to these fighters' predecessors who were engaged in fighting low-morale Soviet conscripts in rural Afghanistan in the 1980s. The impact and effectiveness of this new generation of paramilitaries on the future of your mission is difficult to predict, but our Washington office informs us that this outcome is clearly understood among thoughtful military analysts and is causing considerable concern."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/article/the-swish-report-15"><span><span>The SWISH Report (15)</span></span></a>" (11 June 2009) - to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"How, then, might you be viewed by, say, 2060? On present trends we anticipate that the international-security context will then be one of massive inequalities of wealth in an environmentally constrained global system in which transnational elites endeavour to maintain control in the face of desperate anti-elite movements and insurgencies. These will be diverse, both in their origins and in their ideologies and belief systems. </p> <p>Some may well be modelled on your movement. In that event, your final destiny might prove to be seen as an early symptom of a global trend that goes far beyond one religious tradition, rather than a phenomenon of great note in its own right. Your movement will be a footnote to rather than the substance of history."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/paul-rogers/swish-report-16"><span><span>The SWISH Report (16)</span></span></a>" (21 January 2010) - to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"We conclude by drawing a lesson from the experience of recent years: that you cannot achieve your ultimate aim of a radical caliphate founded on your particular understanding of Islam’s distant past, but that you will continue with the conflict even so. Your enemy, for now at least, will pursue its strategy in a manner that delivers real value to you. We suspect, though, that this enemy may be more intelligent than you believe. For you, hubris may turn out to be the greater threat."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/swish-report-17"><span><span>The SWISH Report (17)</span></span></a>" (1 January 2011) - to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"This combination of the movement’s inner character and the media-public impact of western policy means that in the coming years we expect to see many more attacks - notwithstanding that their often brutal nature can be counterproductive. Your movement will thus retain a decentred and dispersed vitality that arises primarily from the continuing effects of what your far enemy is doing."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/swish-report-18"><span><span>The SWISH Report (18)</span></span></a>" (17 February 2011) - to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"You are failing to lead or inspire a rapidly escalating revolutionary process, and as a result risk being seen as irrelevant. Even worse, as the regimes fall or shake you are in danger of losing a vital pillar of support for your cause: namely, the idea that people’s hatred of these regimes could only be channelled effectively by embracing your version of Islam. The revolts demonstrate that you are clearly <em>not the only alternative</em> - and this is very bad news indeed."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/swish-report-19">The SWISH Report (19)</a>" (30 June 2011) - to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"We repeat that we do not believe you can succeed in your overall aims. Even so, our analysis forces us to conclude that you have more potential for transnational action and deeper regional involvement than at any time in the past five years.&nbsp;That may be a surprising judgment. In any event, it is based on developments that western states are conspicuously failing to recognise - which can be accounted as a vital fifth advantage for your movement."</p> <p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/swish-report-19">The SWISH Report (20)</a>" (5 January 2012) - to al-Qaida:</p> <p>"We recognise that we are entering very uncertain times across the region, not least with the Arab awakening and the possibility of a war with Iran. But our remit is specifically concerned with your prospects. In this respect we would argue that the most useful action for you is to seek to affect the US presidential-election campaign in any way that makes a Republican-controlled White House more likely."</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/swish-report-21">The SWISH Report" (21)</a>" (26 July 2012) - to al-Qaida:</p><p>"We do hold to our view that your movement has no chance of achieving your truly radical aims. Even so, we judge that we are in the midst of a very fluid situation, not least in the middle east and west Africa. This leads us to disagree with the argument of many western analysts, namely that al-Qaida is finished. As an organisation your movement is a shadow of its former self; yet as an idea, it may have rather more of a future than we had anticipated."</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/swish-report-22">The SWISH Report (22)</a>" (6 February 2013)</p><p>"We do not believe your aim of a rigorous and purified new caliphate can be achieved. But you have your aims, and our function as a consultancy is to advise you in pursuit of those aims. What we see now is a metamorphosis from the reasonably distinct movement of a decade ago with a semi-structured leadership (the al-Qaida nucleus), into a pervasive yet dispersed idea that has taken root in many parts of the middle east, Africa and south Asia. The problem for you is that most elements of this entity are focused primarily on their immediate environment, and have too little perception of their transnational relevance and significance."</p><p>"<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/swish-report-23">The SWISH Report (23)</a>" (25 October 2013)</p><p>"In a broad perspective, we see Nigeria, Syria and to an extent Iraq as major centres of development. Yet none of these involves associates of your movement seeing themselves primarily as part of a globally orientated vanguard that is charting a route to a worldwide caliphate. Instead, your legacy may simply be the further development of your movement into what is essentially no more than an idea, leaving unrealised the larger aim of a caliphate. It may, nonetheless, prove to be a singularly potent idea with a persistent appeal; and it may be greatly enhanced if the Arab awakening fails to develop further."</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/swish-report-23">The SWISH Report" (24)</a> - 17 May 2014</p><p>"In a broad perspective, we see Nigeria, Syria and to an extent Iraq as major centres of development. Yet none of these involves associates of your movement seeing themselves primarily as part of a globally orientated vanguard that is charting a route to a worldwide caliphate. Instead, your legacy may simply be the further development of your movement into what is essentially no more than an idea, leaving unrealised the larger aim of a caliphate. It may, nonetheless, prove to be a singularly potent idea with a persistent appeal; and it may be greatly enhanced if the Arab awakening fails to develop further."</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security Paul Rogers Thu, 02 Oct 2014 04:29:56 +0000 Paul Rogers 86455 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Islamic State war: Iraq's echo https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-war-iraq%27s-echo <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A major new war has begun in the Middle East. But the Islamic State movement is prepared, and the precedents are bleak.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>George W Bush, the United States president, was unequivocal in his response to the 9/11 attacks. Al-Qaida was a threat to the world and must be destroyed; the Taliban regime in Afghanistan would be terminated; western states should give strong support to the US in its immediate military assaults. </p><p>At the time, a handful of analysts in think-tanks such as <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/"><em>Oxford Research Group</em></a> and <a href="http://focusweb.org/"><em>Focus on the Global South</em></a> warned against such instant responses. They argued that al-Qaida sought confrontation and that 9/11 had been a provocation with this aim in mind. After all, one superpower had already been <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2014/08/the-soviet-war-in-afghanistan-1979-1989/100786/">humbled</a> in Afghanistan during the 1980s; here was a chance to repeat the action against another, however long it might take.</p><p>The regime in Kabul was indeed terminated in a matter of weeks, and in January 2002 - two months after the Taliban had gone - Bush delivered his first state-of-the-union address as president. He <a href="http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html">extended</a> the war against al-Qaida to a much broader conflict against an “axis of evil”, the immediate enemy being the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Saddam Hussein</a> regime in Iraq. This received rapturous applause.</p><p>As war loomed a year later, the rhetoric escalated. The Baghdad regime was declared a threat to the world, in part on account of its <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_489.jsp">alleged</a> possession of missiles loaded with weapons of mass destruction that could be launched in forty-five minutes. Saddam was overthrown within three weeks in March-April 2003; the following month, Bush made his “mission accomplished” <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzrJwzYBUkU ">speech</a> to great acclaim.</p><p>In the event, the war in Afghanistan was to last thirteen years before the US withdrew most of its troops. There may be much more insecurity yet to come (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-state-of-insecurity">Afghanistan: state of insecurity</a>", 31 July 2014). Iraq developed into a bitter eight-year war that cost well over 100,000 lives and is now leading on to a third major confrontation. Al-Qaida may be a shadow of its former self but as an idea it is gaining more <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">potency</a> and fresh recruits. There are evolving movements fired by the idea in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, Libya and many other countries; a determined and brutal offshoot, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State</a> (IS), controls substantial territory in Syria and Iraq.</p><p>George W Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, insists that Islamic State must be degraded and ultimately destroyed. The war started in earnest with major <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/world/middleeast/us-and-allies-hit-isis-targets-in-syria.html?_r=0">bombardments</a> on 22-23 September 2014. The one big difference between now and 2001 or 2003 may be that senior military in Washington are saying from the start that this will be a long war stretching over years (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">The thirty-year war, continued</a>", 11 September 2014).</p><p>Even so, in spite of presumed war weariness, majority opinion in the US is moving in favour of war. In Britain, prime minister David Cameron is <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29357116">seeking</a> and will likely get cross-party support for UK strike aircraft to join in. Most of the public in the UK was recently assessed as being opposed to direct involvement, but that may change in the face of repeated claims of immediate threat.</p><p><strong>The Islamic State view</strong></p><p>The air-raids earlier this week were much more substantial than reported in established media outlets. Most were <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20140923/NEWS/309230058/Attacks-Syria-beginning-sustained-war-Pentagon-says ">undertaken</a> by the United States, using cruise-missiles, drones, the F-22 stealth-aircraft and other systems from the airforce, navy and marines, with five Arab states <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/arab-backing-to-us-led-airstrikes-in-syria-widens-front-against-islamic-state/2014/09/23/85664a44-430c-11e4-b437-1a7368204804_story.html">playing</a> more of a symbolic support role. </p><p>The operations, far more intense than the seven weeks of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front">bombing</a> IS targets in Iraq, hit twenty-two sites in three broad areas across northern Syria. One of the best-informed US journals, <em>Military Times</em>, reports: </p><p>“Monday night’s attacks involved about 200 munitions, a defense official said, making it far more intense than the air campaign over Iraq that began Aug. 8, which have rarely targeted more than one or two sites at a time.”</p><p>The intensity of the assaults may suggest that IS will be rapidly crippled, but this is very far from the truth. The previous column in this <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/paul-rogers/paul-rogers-timeline-on-middle-east-2001present-from-mustread-opendemocra">series </a>pointed to the limited impact of the US attacks in Iraq so far (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/into-third-iraq-war">Into the third Iraq war</a>", 18 September 2014). There are also numerous reports that, days before being attacked, IS paramilitaries in Raqqa and elsewhere had already dispersed from their bases into the city. Thus, the buildings <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20140923/NEWS08/309230071 ">targeted</a> were largely empty. </p><p>In a further revealing analysis, <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/"><em>Military Times</em></a> assesses the impact of the raids in Iraq:</p><p>“So far, the strikes have not targeted large urban areas such as Mosul, Fallujah and Tikrit, where breaking the extremists’ grip is harder and the risk of civilian casualties is higher. In a sign of their confidence, Islamic State group fighters paraded 30 captured Iraqi soldiers in pickup trucks through the streets of Fallujah on Tuesday, only hours after the coalition strikes across the border in Syria.”</p><p>This should not <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/9/24/6833655/why-al-qaeda-might-be-the-big-winner-in-americas-syria-bombing">come</a> as a surprise. The core of the Islamic State is formed of determined paramilitaries, many of them combat-trained young men who survived the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-war-foretold">ugly</a> war fought by US and UK special forces against Iraqi <em>Sunni</em> insurgents <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">during</a> the Iraq war after 2003.</p><p>As this new war <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/06/12/world/middleeast/the-iraq-isis-conflict-in-maps-photos-and-video.html">accelerates</a>, it is wise to assume that Islamic State is not only ready for this but <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">welcomes</a> it. The movement will be particularly pleased that the Pentagon is preparing to deploy an army division headquarters to Iraq, a strong indication that many more troops will be <a href="http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140923/NEWS08/309230066/Army-chief-Division-headquarters-will-deploy-soon-Iraq ">moved</a> there in the coming weeks. The possibility of capturing US military personnel is particularly attractive (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping.">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a>", 21 August 2014).</p><p><strong>The longer term</strong></p><p>The fact that Washington is in <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/09/23/240828/obama-wins-praise-for-wooing-arab.html">coalition</a> with five <em>Sunni</em> Arab states is not so much irrelevant as to be expected by <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/24758587">IS</a>. After all, radical <em>jihadist</em> movements in the Middle East for at least two decades have been opposed to the “near enemy” of autocratic regimes just as much as to the “far enemy” of the United States, these regimes' consistent backer.</p><p>For now, Obama will have much domestic support, as will Cameron in the UK, Francois Hollande in France and not forgetting <a href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/terror/tony-abbott-utterly-unflinching-in-campaign-against-islamic-state/story-fnpdbcmu-1227069751013?nk=bac623d7b9a54b02eeff96bd31b0038b">Tony Abbott </a>in Australia. Furthermore, the intensive air assault that will develop in the coming weeks will most certainly give an impression of progress, with the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27838034">Islamic State</a> reported as being much diminished.</p><p>In the short term, though, even the positive spin might not ring true. It is uncertain how IS will react in the next few days, what will happen to the multiple hostages, or whether it will launch diversionary attacks (for example, on the US base that is rapidly building up at Baghdad international airport) or engineer some completely unexpected event.</p><p>In any case, it is the longer term that counts. It is all too likely that this war, a couple of years hence, will look every bit as misjudged and futile as the previous two.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007)</p> <p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://focusweb.org/">Focus on the Global South</a></p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><a href="http://sdi.sagepub.com/"><em>Security Dialogue</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/into-third-iraq-war">Into the third Iraq war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front">Islamic State, Iraq, America: a new front</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/through-fog-of-peace">Through the fog of peace</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State: from the inside</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">The thirty-year war, continued</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/paul-rogers/paul-rogers-timeline-on-middle-east-2001present-from-mustread-opendemocra">Paul Rogers&#039; timeline on the Middle East, 2001-present: from the must-read openDemocracy column</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Syria Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security middle east Paul Rogers Thu, 25 Sep 2014 13:19:40 +0000 Paul Rogers 86296 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Into the third Iraq war https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/into-third-iraq-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Washington's strategy to defeat the Islamic State has the same deep flaws that marked earlier phases of the "war on terror".</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Barack Obama's address on the threat from the Islamic State on 10 September 2014, the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, represents a major statement of strategic policy. The United States will, <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/obama-eyes-air-strikes-syria-201459376.html">said</a> the president, “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS with “a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy”. This, moreover, will extend to air operations over Syria. </p><p>There is some realisation in Washington about the enormity of this task, given that the core of the Islamic State includes many angry and deeply resentful paramilitaries who fought US and British special forces in the dirty <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-past-and-future-war">war</a> in Iraq that lasted for more than three years from late 2004 (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued ">The thirty-year war, continued</a>", 11 September 2014) </p><p>Yet the rapid and complex developments in the Middle East in the days since the speech also highlight the scale of what is being attempted. It has become clear, for example, that US forces in Iraq were already <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-11/u-s-flew-2-700-iraq-missions-before-obama-s-new-push.html">conducting</a> far greater operations than most observers realised (see "<a href="https://theconversation.com/boots-already-on-the-ground-as-us-mission-in-iraq-accelerates-31653">Boots already on the ground as US mission in Iraq accelerates</a>", <em>The Conversation</em>, 13 September 2014). By 14 September, another 475 US troops had been <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140911/DEFREG02/309110035/Pentagon-US-Troops-Advise-Iraqi-Units-Brigade-Level">committed</a> to Iraq, bringing the total to nearly 2,000, and an air-base was being established in the country's Kurdish-majority north-east, near Irbil. 2,749 sorties had been flown, including those providing 24/7 reconnaissance cover, and 156 airstrike had been carried out, directing 253 missiles and bombs at 212 targets. Obama was also reported to be <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-authorized-to-target-individual-islamic-state-leaders-officials-say/2014/09/11/fcf81e1c-39dd-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html">ready</a> to authorise targeted assassinations. </p><p><strong>The Damascus factor</strong></p><p>Syria as well as Iraq is at the centre of events. Here, Bashar al-Assad's <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/carsten-wieland/syria-decade-of-lost-chances">regime</a> is attempting to bend the conflict in its own interests in ways that have received less attention. The regime is increasing its <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/18/world/middleeast/assad-forces-attack-moderate-insurgents.html">efforts</a> to destroy any opposition group not directly under the influence of the Islamic State, while minimising attacks on IS itself. By this means it hopes to present itself as a necessary ally of the west in a situation where IS increasingly becomes the only serious opposition.&nbsp; </p><p>Damascus's recent actions include <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/09/bombardment-kills-dozens-homs-201491782119939402.html">sustained</a> air-attacks on the town of Talbiseh in Homs province, away from areas of Islamic State strength. These - <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29236341 ">aimed</a> mainly at a relatively secular opposition militia - killed nearly fifty people and injured <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/18/world/middleeast/assad-forces-attack-moderate-insurgents.html?ref=world&amp;_r=0 ">scores</a> more. In addition, the extraordinary bombing of an underground bunker on 9 September destroyed the entire leadership of one of the Islamist paramilitary <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/09/11/the-mysterious-explosion-that-could-change-the-syrian-war/">groups</a>, Ahrar Al-Sham. No one has claimed responsibility but the detonation of a single huge explosion <a href="http://mebriefing.com/?p=1074 ">points</a> to Syria's intelligence service.</p><p><strong>The Washington fracture</strong></p><p>The wider war is accelerating. Some US moves go well beyond protecting refugees and American personnel to <a href="http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/militants-face-growing-pressure-as-us-mulls-strategy">supporting</a> Iraqi troops in their own anti-IS operations south of Baghdad. There have been eighteen more US airstrikes since 10 September, and the Pentagon's delivery to the president of its military plans for an air-assault on IS in Syria is imminent. These are reported to go well beyond attacking paramilitary forces in the field to <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/defense/217826-hagel-us-finalizing-syria-strike-plans">include</a> command-and-control centres, logistics capabilities and infrastructure. This means sustained airstrikes over many weeks in additional to the escalation in Iraq.</p><p>Obama continues to insist that he will not commit US combat-forces to a new ground war, reiterating this in an <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29235083">address</a> to troops at the headquarters of US central command in Florida. But this conflicts directly with the testimony of the chair of the US joint chiefs-of-staff, General Martin Dempsey. In his remarks at a hearing of the Senate's armed-services committee the previous day, he said: “At this point, [Obama’s] stated policy is that we will not have U.S. ground troops in direct combat… but he has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis” (see "<a href="http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140916/NEWS05/309160061/Obama-will-consider-ground-troops-Iraq-case-by-case-basis-Dempsey-says">Obama will consider ground troops..</a>.", <em>Army Times</em>, 16 September 2014)&nbsp; </p><p>Dempsey's words point to an unstated but inevitable fact: that the very use of airpower over contested territory means that contingency plans and forces have to be continually <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front">available</a> for action. This is because it is critically important that US military personnel can in no circumstances be allowed to be captured by IS paramilitaries. The prospect of captured crew being paraded and then beheaded, with the images immediately distributed across the world through the new social media, would be a nightmare for the Obama administration. Indeed, Dempsey replied to a question about whether he was willing to conduct search-and-rescue operations for a downed American pilot in Iraq or Syria with an unequivocal: "Yes and yes" (see "<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/09/17/a-downed-u-s-aircraft-in-iraq-or-syria-could-mean-boots-on-the-ground/">A downed U.S. aircraft in Iraq or Syria could mean ‘boots on the ground’</a>", <em>Washington Post</em>, 18 September 2014) </p><p>More generally, military resources - helicopters, special forces and air cover - have to be continually available if anything goes wrong, whether in Iraq or Syria. They are already deployed in Iraq and the same will apply as the war extends into Syria. This is the hard reality of mission creep whatever Obama, the Pentagon or anyone else says (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a>", 21 August 2014). </p><p>This evolving proces also carries the risk that support for the Islamic State grows, with the FBI already reporting an upsurge in recruits travelling to Syria (including from <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/16/world/europe/turkey-is-a-steady-source-of-isis-recruits.html">Turkey</a>). The skills of IS propagandists in the field of new social media have a pronounced effect here (see "<a href="http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140917/DEFREG04/309170040/FBI-Islamic-State-Support-Rise-Since-US-Airstrikes">FBI: Islamic State Support on RIse Since US Airstrikes</a>", <em>Defense News</em>, 17 September 2014).</p><p><strong>The big picture</strong></p><p>Amid these fluid and fast-changing events, one significant element may come to transcend everything else. Several previous columns in this <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/paul-rogers/paul-rogers-timeline-on-middle-east-2001present-from-mustread-opendemocra">series</a> noted that during the second Iraq war from 2003, the US military - facing a rapidly developing insurgency - turned to Israel for help (see, for example, "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1655.jsp">After Saddam, no respite</a>", [19 December 2003]&nbsp; and "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1858.jsp">Between Fallujah and Palestine</a>" [22 April 2004]). It was quite reasonable, from a US perspective, to turn to Israeli experience; but for the Islamist propagandists a decade ago it was an utter gift. Here, after all, was proof of the “crusader-Zionist conspiracy" <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/gaza-the-israel-united-states-connection">against</a> Islam.</p><p>It is striking then that Washington is now following the same path, with news that a US-Israel bilateral accord has been agreed to support <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140916/DEFREG04/309160023/US-Israel-Accord-Support-Coordinated-Air-Ops-Syria">coordinated</a> use of Israeli and US air- power in Syria&nbsp;&nbsp; The well-informed Barbara Opall-Rome, correspondent of the <em><a href="http://www.defensenews.com/">Defense News</a> </em>in Tel Aviv, says the accord dates back "more than a year ago" and relates to possible action against the Assad regime’s chemical-weapons arsenal. She writes: “defense sources said the agreement codified coordination procedures for scenarios where US and Israeli aircraft may need to operate simultaneously in Syrian airspace” (see Barbara Opall-Rome, "<a href="http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140916/DEFREG04/309160023/US-Israel-Accord-Support-Coordinated-Air-Ops-Syria">US-Israel Accord to Support Coordinated Air Ops in Syria</a>", <em>Defense News</em>, 16 September 2014)&nbsp; </p><p>The accord was shelved after the chemical weapons were <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/removal-of-chemical-weapons-from-syria-is-completed-1403529356">removed</a> in a lengthy process of collation and transfer. But Opall-Rome, citing an Israeli defence source, reports that it now provides “a relevant mechanism” in the new circumstances of a US-led air war against the Islamic State in Syria. If this proves the case, Islamic State propagandists will portray this - citing the recent <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%27s-security-after-gaza">deaths</a> of well over 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza by what is seen in the region as a client state of Washington - as another “US/Israeli war against Islam”. It will, in short, be viewed with delight by the United States's most radical enemies (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State: from the inside</a>", 5 September 2014). </p><p>American air-strikes in Iraq are intensifying in frequency and involving many more targets,. War plans for Syria are about to go to the White House. Military chiefs are talking about the need to consider combat-forces on the ground. Special Forces are already in the field. Cooperation with Israel is as certain as can be. Yet this is barely six weeks into the third Iraq war. Many months, and no doubt years, are to come.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007)</p> <p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><a href="http://sdi.sagepub.com/"><em>Security Dialogue</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">The thirty-year war, continued</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/through-fog-of-peace">Through the fog of peace</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State: from the inside</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front">Islamic State, Iraq, America: a new front</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security Meteoric rise of the Islamic State Paul Rogers Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:42:56 +0000 Paul Rogers 86082 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Economic crisis and illicit drugs https://www.opendemocracy.net/juan-gabriel-tokatlian/economic-crisis-and-illicit-drugs <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The great recession since 2008-09 has reshaped international attitudes in ways that are influencing public policy on drugs. It is a process with echoes of the 1930s. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The century-old international drug regime is gradually losing legitimacy. Drug prohibition is still prevalent worldwide, but new regulatory alternatives are on the rise everywhere. Colorado and Washington’s marihuana <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/10/09/after-legalizing-marijuana-washington-and-colorado-are-starting-to-regulate-it/">legalisation</a>, as well as Uruguay’s <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-27265310">decision</a> to legalise pot, are good illustrations of a revealing and compelling tendency.</p><p>An indirect, but potentially significant, factor that may influence the evolution of the drug question is economic - in particular, the ongoing "great recession" that has affected many states (especially in the west) since 2008-09. Here, paradoxically, the critical economic situation may have positive effects upon the expanding and lively public <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/juan-gabriel-tokatlian/war-on-drugs-time-to-demilitarise">debate</a> on drugs. </p><p>There are three ways in which the influence of the great recession on the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/the_global_drug_war_beyond_prohibition">future</a> of drug policy, actual or potential, is visible. </p><p>The first relates to the impact of the economic crisis on the state. The recession has increased awareness of the need for action in several areas: <a href="http://www.qracao.com/index.php/component/content/article/37-overig-nieuws/10927-curacao-2013-international-narcotics-control-strategy-report">supervision</a> of offshore banking, tax-havens, and cash-smuggling, which are relevant both to legal and illicit flows; and increased transparency regarding banking secrecy, capital <a href="http://www.socialwatch.org/sites/default/files/statistics06/en/ImpossibleFinancialArchitecture/index_capital_flight.htm">flight</a>, and trade mispricing. All this will require reinstating the value of state intervention and the state's ability to impose stricter market regulations. Overall, an alternative drug-policy <a href="http://www.leap.cc/">approach</a> requires state capacity-and-control mechanisms able to ensure clear <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/9/8/world-leaders-callfordecriminalizationofalldrugs.html">regulation</a>. The foundation of the approach is an effective and vigorous state rather than narcotics prohibition under a free (and distorted) market.</p><p>The second relates to the effects of the economic crisis on public-policy funding and bureaucracy, which include a more thorough cost-benefit analysis of inequality (and in general greater <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/pikettys-inequality-story-in-six-charts">sensitivity</a> towards the subject). Governments, particularly in the developed north, came to realise that budget adjustment is inevitable and the waste of resources involved in ineffective policies untenable. So there is already a general shift towards re-evaluating existing programmes and plans, including those that involve anti-drug activities. Meanwhile, the damaging consequences of growing <a href="http://undesadspd.org/Home/tabid/40/news/394/Default.aspx">inequality</a> cause increasing alarm in the United States and Europe. Some studies highlight the connection between inequality, drug-addiction and drug-related deaths, adding a further layer of concern about the west's <a href="http://www.voxeu.org/article/great-recession-s-long-term-damage">enduring</a> economic downturn. </p><p>The third relates to the way the economic crisis has led to an adjustment of values. The 1990s and early 2000s was a period of lavish personal spending by the upper segments of the population, uncontrolled greed by financial speculators, unrestrained individualism, a high-risk-prone environment, and self-indulgent hedonism. This atmosphere extended from New York and London to Moscow and Bogotá; in all places the local drug barons, transnational <em>narcos</em>, and the global money-laundering tycoons were equally welcome, their lifestyles transforming both the rich and the poor. After the great recession, the uninhibited show of wealth and voracious acquisitveness by the powerful creates is less acceptable. This new <a href="https://nacla.org/article/turning-point-drug-policy">setting</a> may be important in helping to delegitimise illegal businesses such as drug-trafficking.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The indirect effect of the great recession on drug-prohibition in the west may be analogous to the relation between the <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/timeline/rails-timeline/">great depression</a> of the 1930s and the prohibition of alcohol in the United States. The depression created a broad framework to discuss and rethink key issues in a fresh way: among them labour productivity, employment needs, social ills, attitudes to the law, capacity at both national and state level to secure revenue via tax and other sources. One by-product of the process was that, four years after the Wall Street <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/introduction/crash-introduction/">crash</a> of 1929, the twenty-first amendment of the US constitution repealing alcohol prohibition was passed in 1933. </p><p>The link between the two examples should not be overestimated. But both cases - the 1930s and the 2010s, great depression and great recession, alcohol prohibition and drug prohibition - do reveal a single, vital truth: that major crisis may play a part, unplanned and positive as it may be, in reshaping attitudes and policy on illicit substance use.&nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.unodc.org/">United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC)</a></p><p><a href="http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/">Global Commission on Drug Policy</a></p><p><a href="http://www.leap.cc/">Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (Leap)</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rt/cbsi/">Caribbean Basin Security Initiative</a></p><p><a href="http://www.cfr.org/narcotics-control/fact-sheet-central-america-regional-security-initiative/p22782">Central American Regional Security Initiative</a></p><p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/editorial-tags/drug-policy-forum">Drug Policy Forum</a></p><p><a href="http://www.idpc.net/">International Drug Policy Consortium</a></p><p><a href="http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/commissions/CND/index.html">United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.issdp.org/vienna2009/register.htm">International Society for the Study of Drug Policy </a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/juan-gabriel-tokatlian/war-on-drugs-time-to-demilitarise">The war on drugs: time to demilitarise</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Civil society Democracy and government International politics Globalisation democracy & power latin america Juan Gabriel Tokatlian Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:01:08 +0000 Juan Gabriel Tokatlian 86000 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The thirty-year war, continued https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Barack Obama's new strategy against the Islamic State commits the United States to further long-term conflict. It involves a great forgetting of the recent war in Iraq.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Soon after the start of the Iraq war in March 2003, a column in this series spoke of the risk of a "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1127.jsp">thirty-year war</a>" in the Middle East. More than eleven years on - and after thirteen years of the “war on terror” - Barack Obama has now committed the United States to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State with “a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy”.&nbsp; </p><p>This will be a long-term project that goes way <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/10/347486634/obama-to-say-u-s-will-take-out-islamic-state-wherever-they-exist">beyond</a> Obama's own second term, and thus may be the most important speech of his presidency. Beyond that, it is likely to be the prelude to two more&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/past_present_future_3850.jsp">decades</a> of war - and perhaps even on to that thirty-year timescale.</p><p>The BBC <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29154481">summarises</a> the strategy as Obama outlined it:</p><p>* A systematic campaign of airstrikes against IS targets "wherever they are", including in Syria</p><p>* Increased support for allied ground forces fighting against IS - but not President Assad of Syria</p><p>* More counter-terrorism efforts to cut off the group's funding and help stem the flow of fighters into the Middle East</p><p>* Continuing humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the IS advance.</p><p>The Iraq element of this strategy has already been underway for a month, with over 150 airstrikes so far. &nbsp;An initial analysis of the targets attacked shows that the Islamic State paramilitaries are lightly armed, highly mobile and prone to use commercial vehicles for much of their mobility. They have acquired US weapons, not least from overrunning Iraqi army bases, but they use these sparingly. A <a href="http://breakingdefense.com/2014/09/isis-force-remains-low-tech-dod-data/"><em>Breaking Defense</em></a> analysis suggests that their capabilities would be limited against well-protected and well-armed defenders, but that their versatility would make it difficult for air-strikes to degrade and ultimately destroy them.</p><p>The United States intention is to work with <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/kerry-holds-talks-in-saudi-arabia-on-anti-islamic-state-campaign-1410445577">other</a> states, including the Iraqi government and the Iranian (though that is not admitted in public). Also it already has its own substantial <a href="http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=79760">forces</a> in the region, primarily air and naval power. The latter includes the <em>George H W Bush</em> carrier battle-group in the Persian Gulf and the <em>USS Cole</em> cruise-missile-armed destroyer in the eastern Mediterranean. The <em>USS Cole</em> itself was an early victim of an al-Qaida-linked operation when it was <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/uss-cole">bombed</a> in Aden harbour in October 2000, killing seventeen American sailors and injuring thirty-nine.</p><p>The US airforce has even stronger forces available: air-bases in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey as well as <a href="//www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/09/10/heres-how-the-u-s-military-could-carry-out-strikes-in-syria/">facilities</a> in Jordan. It could also utilise the large UK base at <em>RAF Akrotiri</em> in Cyprus. President Obama has stated that the US operations will differ greatly from the “boots-on-the-ground” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with their deploymernt of huge numbers of ground troops. More indicative of what is intended are the operations in Yemen and Somalia, with their heavy reliance on <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">armed-drones</a>, special forces, and aid to local militias.&nbsp; </p><p>In each of these examples, though, early successes have been <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/06/26/325614541/report-questions-u-s-policy-on-overseas-drone-strikes">followed</a> by regroupings of opponents. The Yemeni government is currently struggling to cope with a resurgent al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Shabaab in Somalia may have been excluded from some of the country's few large urban areas, but it has influence across swathes of countryside as well as regional <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/09/us_to_strategy_again.php ">abilities</a> through to Kenya and beyond.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>In any case, the US secretary of state John Kerry has acknowledged - in a revealing comment at a Baghdad press conference on 9 September - that in extreme circumstances, the United States might <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/09/10/239391_kerry-says-us-troops-might-deploy.html?sp=/99/117/&amp;rh=1 ">commit</a> combat-troops on the ground in Iraq. Indeed, several hundred more US troops are already heading for Iraq, albeit reportedly for defensive purposes only; but special-forces units are likely to be already in the country, many of them involved directly in combat (though again this would never be acknowledged officially).</p><p><strong>In the labyrinth</strong></p><p>All this raises the issue of why the Islamic State’s paramilitary capabilities have come to the fore so <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">rapidly</a> and lethally. It remains a central question. The answer will determine how deeply the US and its coalition partners gets immersed in a new war, and relates quite strikingly to how the United States <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/americas-wars-long-fallout">conducted</a> the previous war in Iraq before the withdrawal of most of its forces in 2011.</p><p>The well-informed <em>Guardian</em> journalist Martin Chulov <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/05/inside-isis-recruits-from-border-bootcamp-to-battle ">reports</a> that at the core of the Islamic State’s paramilitary force is a tightly-knit group around its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Many of them are Iraqis who fought the American and British special forces in perhaps the most vicious phase of that singularly dirty war, which lasted for three years from late 2004. </p><p>At that time, the US joint special-operations command (JSOC) under General Stanley McChrystal was facing a relentless and capable insurgency inflicting huge US casualties. In response it <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/events/2013/01/28-mcchrystal-zarqawi">developed</a> a new form of network-centric warfare focusing on mobile special-force groups that were highly autonomous yet connected in "real time" to a wide range of intelligence capabilities.&nbsp; </p><p>The operation reached its peak in 2005 in the <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/dod/tf-145.htm">form</a> of Task Force 145 (TF 145), comprising four groups working in four geographical locations around central Iraq. Three of the <a href="http://www.americanspecialops.com/">groups </a>were based on US forces - SEAL Team 6 from the navy, a Delta squadron and a Ranger battalion. The fourth, Task Force Black, was organised around a British SAS squadron.</p><p>The entire JSOC operation was centred on rapid night-raids that killed or captured insurgent suspects. Those captured would often be subject to intensive interrogation (aka torture) - the results immediately used, sometimes within hours, to prompt further raids. Steve Niva, in his remarkable academic paper “<a href="http://sdi.sagepub.com/content/44/3/185.short ">Disappearing violence: JSOC and the Pentagon’s new cartography of networked warfare</a>” in the journal <em>Security Dialogue </em>(June 2013) recounts: "By the summer of 2005, JSOC teams undertook an estimated 300 raids per month, hitting targets every night, eventually turning their focus to suspected local players and middle managers in insurgent networks”. A further valuable source is Mark Urban's book <em>Task Force Black</em> (2010).</p><p><strong>The learning game</strong></p><p>The full death-toll among the insurgents is not known but believed to be in the thousands. More significant in this context, however, is that many tens of thousands of insurgents were detained by JSOC units and others. Some of them were kept for years in squalid conditions in huge prison-camps such as Camp Bucca, south of Basra - which at its <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/02/01/iraq.prison/">peak</a> had 20,000 inmates. Some of the prisoner abuse came to light at <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2004/oct/07/abu-ghraib-the-hidden-story/">Abu Ghraib</a>, but other centres were <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/international/middleeast/19abuse.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0 ">engaged</a> as well in straightforward torture (one was the infamous “Black Room” at Camp Nana near Baghdad). </p><p>By 2009, Barack Obama had been elected president in the US and the war began to wind down. Most of the prisoners were released, including the current Islamic State <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27801676">leader</a>, <span class="st">Abu Bakr al-</span>Baghdadi, who may himself have been radicalised partly by his time in <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/was-camp-bucca-pressure-cooker-extremism">Camp Bucca</a>. Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq since 2006, was marginalising the <em>Sunni</em> minority. From the <em>Sunni</em> ranks arose a renewed extreme lslamist group in Iraq which developed into the Islamic State, linking increasingly from 2011 onwards with paramilitaries fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State</a> is thus part of a long-term evolution of a <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119029/isis-iraq-strategy-was-years-making-and-mao-influenced">process</a> that originated in Iraq in 2003, was badly knocked back by McChrystal’s JSOC forces by 2008, but has now re-emerged to provide the hardline core of a revived movement - veterans of urban conflict against well-trained and heavily-armed US troops, marines, and special forces.</p><p>These are people likely to have an intense hatred of the United States and its forces - coupled with a cold ability to avoid that hatred clouding their judgment. They will be people, <a href="http://wgntv.com/2014/09/10/next-the-invisibile-sheik-who-is-isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi/">including</a> <span class="st">Abu Bakr al-</span>Baghdadi himself, who will positively welcome US military action, especially when it extends to the greater use of special forces and the even more welcome <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">possibility</a> of regular troops. These are individuals who survived intense air-attacks and special-force operations for years in Iraq. They will be prepared for what now, following Obama’s <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-29152590">speech</a>, is likely to ensue: a new phase in a very <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/conflicts/global_security/the-thirty-year-war-revisited">long</a> war.</p><p>If I might end on a personal note, nine years ago I finished writing a book about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to which I planned to give a rather straightforward title <em>Lost Cause: Consequences of the War on Terror</em>. The marketing people at Polity changed this to <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em></a>. I thought it a bit over the top for an essentially analytical book but went along with them a little reluctantly. Nearly a decade later I have to agree with their judgment. Have we learned anything? </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007)</p> <p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><a href="http://sdi.sagepub.com/"><em>Security Dialogue</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/conflicts/global_security/the-thirty-year-war-revisited">The thirty-year war, revisited </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conflict/past_present_future_3850.jsp">The war on terror: past, present, future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/article_1127.jsp">A thirty-year war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-past-present-future">The thirty-year war: past, present, future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front">Islamic State, Iraq, America: a new front</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger">Iraq, days of danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State: from the inside</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Iraq Syria Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Paul Rogers Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:28:58 +0000 Paul Rogers 85900 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Through the fog of peace https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/through-fog-of-peace <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A new book by Gabrielle Rifkind and Gianni Picco highlights the urgent relevance of conflict resolution in addressing problems around the world, from Ukraine and Iran to the Islamic State. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In Afghanistan, thirteen years after 9/11 and the subsequent campaign to destroy the Taliban, the movement's resurgence <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-state-of-insecurity">continues</a>. A fierce offensive in one of the most contested provinces, Helmand, has killed more than 200 police and soldiers. The government in Kabul says little, but local officials admit that without substantial outside help much of the province will come under Taliban control. The governor of Musa Qala district said on 5 September: “The situation is deteriorating, and the Taliban are almost in the bazaar” (see Rod Norland &amp; Taimoor Shah, “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/world/asia/afghanistan.html?_r=0">Taliban offensive closes in on a strategic Afghan district</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 8 September 2014) </p><p>In Iraq, meanwhile, United States bombing raids are being conducted across the north of the country. President Obama is about to announce his strategy for responding to the Islamic State, a strategy which will probably set the course for many years (see Julie Hirschfeld Davis &amp; Helene Cooper, “<a href="http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article1877542.html">Obama is set to make case for offensive against ISIS</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 7 September 2014). This, is it worth recalling, comes a decade after an <strong>openDemocracy</strong> <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">column</a> was able to report that opposition to the western occupation of Iraq was accelerating (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_2046.jsp">Iraq between insurgency and uprising</a>", 12 August 2004).</p><p>In Syria, close to 200,000 people have died in more than three <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">years</a> of civil war. In Libya, intense conflict between rival militias and the government is crippling any hope of post-conflict stability. Then there is Nigeria, as well as Mali, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan, let alone Ukraine and now the border <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/06/world/europe/russia-detains-estonian-officer-raising-tensions.html">dispute</a> in Estonia.</p><p>Overall, this litany suggests that the current global period is one of deep <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">conflict</a>. Yet a longer-term view may see both signs of hope and the potential for major improvements in conflict prevention, mediation and post-conflict peace-building. After all, in 1994 much of the world was mired in conflicts: in Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka, in Chechnya's gathering tensions, in the destructive instabilities of parts of central America, in the Balkans with its ever more serious wars, in the appalling insecurities of the Great Lakes region of central Africa. Even South Africa was barely beginning to escape from the wounds of the apartheid era.&nbsp; </p><p>Not all of these conflicts are by any means resolved. Yet there has been progress in many areas, and here a neglected features of the past few decades deserves attention: the huge increase in experience of the processes of conflict resolution. This is highlighted by a remarkable new book by two specialists in the field: Gabrielle Rifkind and Gianni Picco's <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Interdisciplinary%20studies/Peace%20studies%20%20conflict%20resolution/The%20Fog%20of%20Peace%20The%20Human%20Face%20of%20Conflict%20Resolution.aspx?menuitem={5B19A9DA-BD43-4A73-B838-218E108AD653}"><em>The Fog of Peace: The Human Face of Conflict Resolution</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2014)<em>.</em></p><p>The authors between them have a wealth of practical understanding. <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/people/gabrielle_rifkind">Gabrielle Rifkind</a> runs Oxford Research Group’s <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/middle_east">Middle East programme</a>, which has worked over many years to bring <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-globaljustice/article_168.jsp">different</a> sides of the conflicts in the region together for informal yet often highly significant discussions. Much of what is done is scarcely known in public but includes some remarkable initiatives on the current differences between the United States and Iran. She is also a practising group analyst. <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/people/gianni_picco">Gianni Picco</a>, a United Nations undersecretary, has many years experience of more formal intergovernmental involvements, principally with the UN; over the past two decades he has focused principally on Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, and has a particular expertise in negotiating the release of detainees, including hostages.</p><p>The core argument of <em>The Fog of Peace</em> is straightforward: that the most important element in the conflict-resolution process - though it is often forgotten - is that antagonists understand their opponents as individuals; where they are coming from in terms of culture, history and experience; but also the ambitions and resentments that help condition their thinking. They quote the former US defence secretary <a href="http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/resources/mcnamara/">Robert McNamara</a> who oversaw some of the most devastating years of the Vietnam war but changed his <a href="http://www.errolmorris.com/film/fow.html">approach</a> to conflict greatly in later years: “We must put ourselves inside their skin and look at ourselves through their eyes, just to understand the thoughts that lie behind their decisions and their actions”.</p><p>All this may be essential if parties to a conflict are to have a hope of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/gabrielle-rifkind-gianni-picco/new-great-regional-game-saudi-arabia-and-iran">reconciling</a> their differences, especially in the aftermath of great violence. Yet if the parties need to see the conflict through other eyes, it is also necessary for the mediators themselves to recognise their own attitudes, preconceptions and cultural environment. The authors pose a pointed question of participants from western cultures, namely “whether it is possible for western governments to move away from their comfortable certainties in which there is a belief that they stand for universal good”.</p><p>Another requirement is awareness of the fact that the great majority of conflicts end in uncertain and possibly unstable outcomes, and that these may <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/gabrielle-rifkind/fog-of-war-it-is-hard-to-think-about-peace">involve</a> many years or even decades of work to cement a lasting peace based on truth, justice and reconciliation. Such work will most often be built be the communities themselves, but the latter can readily learn from the experience of others, especially if there is assistance available with an international dimension.</p><p>These insights reflect the particular value of Picco and Rifkind's combination of expertise as embodied in <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Interdisciplinary%20studies/Peace%20studies%20%20conflict%20resolution/The%20Fog%20of%20Peace%20The%20Human%20Face%20of%20Conflict%20Resolution.aspx?menuitem={5B19A9DA-BD43-4A73-B838-218E108AD653}"><em>The Fog of Peace</em></a>.&nbsp; Many attempts at transnational facilitation have come through the UN system, of which Gianni Picco has considerable experience, but NGOs have also had their role. In Britain alone, such groups as <a href="http://www.international-alert.org/">International Alert</a>, <a href="http://www.c-r.org/">Conciliation Resources</a>, <a href="http://www.peacedirect.org/uk/">Peace Direct</a> and most notably the <a href="http://www.quaker.org.uk/">Quakers</a> have acquired considerable experience, and Gabrielle Rifkind - not least through <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group’s</a> work - is thoroughly immersed in it.</p><p>The book itself ranges widely over many of the conflict episodes of recent years, drawing lessons of success from some and difficulties from others. They point out that it is an area of work where intergovernmental and non-government initiatives do not always work well together. They focus on enduring elements in conflict, such as the military-industrial complex with its pervasive and so often negative impacts; but also on new trends in warfare, not least war using armed-drones, privatised military companies, special forces and other elements of remote control.</p><p>If there is a single enduring theme in the book it is the need for empathy - which, the authors point out, is not appeasement. At times this might be incredibly difficult, witness the extraordinary problems in trying to understand the mindset of the Islamic State. Yet even that is necessary, for without it there will be little chance of <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/defense/216729-back-to-iraq-but-for-how-long">building</a> any peace in Iraq and Syria. </p><p><em>The Fog of Peace</em> was written before the Islamic State came to the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">fore</a> in June 2014, yet it has much to say if we are to come to terms with and meet the challenges of this new <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">embodiment</a> of the al-Qaida world vision. In this sense the book reaches back to the last few decades and forward to the next, providing an urgent toolkit of ideas that can help all sides move beyond conflict.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Gabrielle Rifkind &amp; Gianni Picco, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Interdisciplinary%20studies/Peace%20studies%20%20conflict%20resolution/The%20Fog%20of%20Peace%20The%20Human%20Face%20of%20Conflict%20Resolution.aspx?menuitem={5B19A9DA-BD43-4A73-B838-218E108AD653}"><em>The Fog of Peace</em>:<em> The Human Face of Conflict Resolution</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2014)&nbsp; </p><div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.international-alert.org/">International Alert</a></p><p><a href="http://www.c-r.org/">Conciliation Resources</a></p><p><a href="http://www.peacedirect.org/uk/">Peace Direct</a></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/gabrielle-rifkind/fog-of-war-it-is-hard-to-think-about-peace">The fog of war: it is hard to think about peace </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/alternatives_3405.jsp">There are alternatives</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State: from the inside</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/gabrielle-rifkind-giandomenico-picco/new-levant-possible-way-through-in-syrian-crisis">A New Levant: a possible way through in the Syrian crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/global-system-failure-risk-and-reform">A global system failure: risk and reform</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/james-oconnell-and-peace-studies">James O&#039;Connell and peace studies</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/climate-science-peace-studies-lesson">Climate science: a peace-studies lesson</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-globaljustice/article_168.jsp">Intimate enemies: the inner dynamics of peace</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iran </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Afghanistan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Afghanistan Iran Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power Paul Rogers Mon, 08 Sep 2014 12:07:17 +0000 Paul Rogers 85788 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Islamic State: from the inside https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The west must understand the Islamic State's worldview, and accept its own failings, if it is to meet the challenge.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the early months of 2014, there was little particular concern in the west about the movement then known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL), and now as the Islamic State (IS). That changed radically with the group's rapid advance through parts of Iraq, including the capture of the city of Mosul, in the first half of June. Now, even greater concern is raised by the gruesome killings - <a href="http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/After-James-Foley-ISIS-beheads-another-US-journalist-Steven-Sotloff/articleshow/41551162.cms" target="_blank">staged</a> for propaganda purposes - of two journalist hostages, James Foley and Steven Sotloff. </p><p>There is some caution over an immediate military response to the murders, amid recognition that this may be what Islamic State wants. Indeed, the murders may be a direct incitement to just such action (see "<a href="https://theconversation.com/second-execution-video-shows-that-islamic-state-has-a-grim-strategic-plan-31256" target="_blank">Second execution video shows that Islamic State has a grim strategic plan</a>", <em>The Conversation</em>, 3 September 2014). </p> <p>It's clear that the debate about how western states should <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping" target="_blank">respond</a> needs to be based on understanding the movement's current status and motivation. At least five elements are important here. First, IS is well organised and coherent in the running of the territory it now controls - an area about the size of the UK and with well over 4 million people under varying degrees of control.&nbsp;</p><p>Second, it works readily with other groups in a manner that might suit its purpose in the short term. These include Ba’athists and <em>Sunni</em> clans in Iraq that were strongly opposed to Nouri al-Maliki's government in Baghdad, which favoured Iraq's <em>Shi’a</em> majority. That may change now that al-Maliki has been replaced as prime minister by Haider al-Abadi, but perhaps not for many months.</p><p>Third, IS's paramilitary ability is enhanced by years of fighting in Syria and (even longer) in Iraq. In the latter case, moreover, its <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28116033" target="_blank">combat</a> was against American troops who were both well-armed and highly motivated by the need to respond to what they saw as a terrorist insurgency directly connected to the 9/11 attackers. A feature of the United States occupation of Iraq was the detention of tens of thousands of Iraqis without trial, often for years on end. The squalid and congested prisons were hot-houses for radicalisation, and many young men were more than willing to join the movement after their release.</p><p>Fourth, IS is sophisticated in the use of propaganda to <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119259/isis-history-islamic-states-new-caliphate-syria-and-iraq" target="_blank">target</a> potential supporters and recruits. Its presence on the new social media, and its holding of hostages as a counter in relation to western military action, are examples. </p><p>Fifth, and perhaps most important, is IS's underlying idea - the creation of a new caliphate - which has proved capable of striking a chord in the minds of disaffected Muslims, mainly young and male, and including those with little or no direct experience of the region.</p><p>This ambition draws on the historic desire to establish a unitary religious-political entity of a type known in the Islamic world over the past 1,400 years. The last caliphate was abolished as part of the fall of the Ottoman empire in the early 1920s, though the classic reference-point is more often the Abbasid caliphate which was <a href="http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/abba/hd_abba.htm" target="_blank">centred</a> on Baghdad from 750 CE and peaked around the mid-10th century.</p><p>That caliphate was powerful: it <a href="http://www.zonu.com/fullsize-en/2010-01-01-11553/The-Abbasid-Caliphate-7501258.html" target="_blank">stretched</a> across much of the modern day Middle East, was the world's most important centre of civilisation (with impressive achievements in astronomy, art, architecture, medicine and many other areas), and was relatively benign in political terms (with prominent Jewish and Christian communities in the larger cities).</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/The-Abbasid-Caliphate.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/The-Abbasid-Caliphate.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">The Abbasid Caliphate 750–1258. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/files/The-Abbasid-Caliphate.png">View larger image</a>. http://www.zonu.com/</span></span></p><p><span>Such an exemplar is quite unlike anything the extreme and puritanical IS envisages. But the movement's success in </span><a href="https://news.vice.com/topic/islamic-state" target="_blank">promoting</a><span> the idea of a new caliphate does exploit a deeply inbuilt perception&nbsp; that the Muslim world has been in retreat for hundreds of years in the face of western expansionism, and that this must be reversed. It seems a remarkable worldview when the typically western fear is that of a </span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front" target="_blank">rampant</a><span> Islamist entity challenging the west at every turn. There seems little possibility of any meeting of minds.</span></p> <p><strong>A time for reckoning</strong></p><p>This makes it even more advisable to delve a little further into how this narrative spreads, especially among some disenchanted and marginalised young men. There are two aspects to the process. The first is the repeated claim that the United States and its allies are rigidly determined to take over the entire Islamic world. This “<a href="http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/history/twentieth-century-regional-history/far-enemy-why-jihad-went-global" target="_blank">far enemy</a>”, the narrative goes, has been barbaric in its suppression of independent states; it has also specifically aided one state, Israel, in pursuing this aim even to the heart of the Islamic world (not least by controlling Islam's third holiest site, <a href="http://www.noblesanctuary.com/" target="_blank">Haram al-Sharif</a>). What is being argued here is that a crusader-Zionist plot threatens the integrity of Islam; the plot must be fought and defeated, however long this takes. </p><p>The second is that much of the action since 2001 can easily be represented as just this kind of assault. It includes regime termination in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya as well as many instances of barbaric behaviour such as the marines' reprisal air-raid on Fallujah early in 2004 (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1858.jsp" target="_blank">Between Fallujah and Palestine</a>", 22 April 2004). Furthermore, the crusader-Zionist element has received a substantial <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/why-israel-lost" target="_blank">boost</a> by the death and destruction in Gaza in July-August 2014, which were made <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%27s-security-after-gaza" target="_blank">possible</a> by billions of dollars of US military assistance to Israel - the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-israel-gaza-missiles-and-politics" target="_blank">fruit</a> of a cosy, decades-long relationship between the two countries (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1655.jsp" target="_blank">After Saddam, no respite</a>", 19 December 2003) </p> <p>The movement thus contains an eschatological dimension but also encompasses the traditional acquisition of power, thoroughly imbued with male control. Even if much of its worldview is gross exaggeration, it has enough truth to provide it with a dangerous air of authenticity and attract widespread support. </p><p>On this basis, the Islamic State seeks to establish an unyielding caliphate in response to a perceived western threat. If the west is ever to get to grips with the challenge, it will have to confront some of its own grievous mistakes and even worse behaviour. That will be very difficult, but it is essential if there is to be any way forward. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007)</p> <p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/"><em>Military Times</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Syria Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Meteoric rise of the Islamic State Paul Rogers Fri, 05 Sep 2014 15:17:11 +0000 Paul Rogers 85744 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brazil's vote, Marina Silva's chance https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil%27s-vote-marina-silva%27s-chance <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A charismatic environmentalist is now leading Brazil's presidential race. Can she win and create the new politics she promises?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The airplane crash on 13 August 2014 that killed the Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos transformed the context of the election to be held 5 October (with a second round run-off, if needed, on 18 October). The sense of tragedy was accentuated by the fact that Campos, whose grandfather was Miguel Arraes, a major left-wing politician from Brazil's northeast and a prominent opponent of the military </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://aws.cambridge.org/asia/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780511880148">regime</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> (1964-85), was only 49 years old and seemed to have a bright political future ahead.&nbsp;</span></p><p>Before the <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-14/death-of-brazil-s-presidential-candidate-resets-election.html">disaster</a>, the incumbent Dilma Rousseff was showing 35% at the polls, well ahead of both her rivals: A&eacute;cio Neves in the 20s, and Eduardo Campos himself at 10%. A second round thus looked almost certain, and again one that - as in 1994, 2002, 2006, and 2010 - would pit a representative of the Workers' Party (PT) against one from the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB). </p><p>Dilma's predecessor Luiz In&aacute;cio Lula da Silva (<a href="http://latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/thehistoryofbrazil/p/09lula.htm">Lula</a>) fought the first three of these election for the PT, winning in 2002 and then being re-elected in 2006, before Dilma herself - who had worked closely with Lula and was his favourite to succeed him - won against the PSDB's Jos&eacute; Serra in 2010. The exception to this recent pattern was 1998, when the PSDB's Fernando Henrique Cardoso won outright in the first round, a <a href="http://crab.rutgers.edu/~goertzel/fhc.htm">success</a> owed to the popularity of the dramatic currency reorganisation (<a href="http://thebrazilbusiness.com/article/plano-real-today"><em>Plano Real</em></a>) which annihilated the hyperinflation that since the end of the 1980s had inflicted huge debt and social pain on the country.</p> <p align="center"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/Marina_Silva2010.jpg" width="250" /><br /><span class="image-caption">Marina Silva. Flickr/Rede Brasil Atual. Some rights reserved</span></p> <p>Campos's death left his running-mate in the vice-presidential spot, Marina Silva, to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-28865958">inherit</a> his candidature. She is a charismatic environmentalist from the small state of Acre in the western Amazon forest, who is experienced in both politics and activism: she fought with the renowned campaigner for conservation of the forest and indigenous rights, <a href="http://moralheroes.org/chico-mendes">Chico Mendes</a>, became a senator of the Brazilian republic, stood as a presidential candidate in 2010, formed her own party (<em>Rede Sustent&aacute;vel</em>) which however failed to make a breakthrough, and then joined the Campos campaign under the banner of his <em>Partido Socialista Brasileiro</em> (PSB). </p><p><strong>The challenger</strong></p><p>The sadness over Campos thus soon mixed with the thrill over <a href="http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/advocates/members/marina-silva.shtml">Marina Silva</a>'s candidacy. The ex-senator had produced a tremendous performance in 2010, winning 18% of the vote (almost 20 million in total) in the first round, against Dilma Rousseff's 46% and Jos&eacute; Serra's 32% (Dilma went on to win in the second round with 56% to Serra's 43%). Indeed, one of Marina's most important mottoes is that Brazil should break the polarisation between the PSDB and PT, since she argues that this is <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil-crisis-of-representation">blocking</a> the country's progress. </p><p>Marina's profile was further raised by the popular protests of June 2013, which targeted political and social problems - such as a discredited status quo and poor public services - that she had highlighted for years. The overall condition of economic crisis, national commotion and political disenchantment revealed by the protests has <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/29/us-brazil-economy-idUSKBN0GT1FS20140829">continued</a> to weigh on Brazilians since the protests. In this situation, Marina's appearance at the head of a presidential ticket rocketed her up the poll <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/30/us-brazil-election-idUSKBN0GT2N420140830">ratings</a>: in the first survey after her formal endorsement by the PSB, on 14-15 August, she had 21% support against Dilma's 36% and A&eacute;cio's 20% (and in a putative second round, she would defeat Dilma by 47%-43%). Two weeks later, a <a href="http://datafolha.folha.uol.com.br/"><em>Datafolha</em></a> poll published in <em>Folha de S&atilde;o Paulo</em> gives her 34% - equal with Dilma, and far ahead of A&eacute;cio's 15% (this time, she was predicted to beat Dilma in the second round by 50%-40%). </p><p>But Marina now has to face new challenges. She will be the main political <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/brazil-incumbent-goes-offensive-presidential-debate-012518011.html">target</a> for the month until the first-round <a href="http://www.electionguide.org/countries/id/31/">vote</a>, and probably for more four weeks in the second-round. How she reacts to <a href="http://www.christianpost.com/news/devout-evangelical-christian-marina-silva-started-life-illiterate-in-the-amazon-now-shes-primed-to-become-brazils-first-black-president-125539/">criticism</a> (especially if something "dirty" comes up, which is always possible) will have an impact on her chances. Both the PSDB and (especially) the PT are strong and well established parties throughout the national <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/brazil.htm">territory</a>, far more so than the small PSB; and the main TV channels and (again, especially) newspapers may also come out strongly against her. In her favour, though is strong social-media support such as on Twitter and Facebook. </p><p>There are also worries over Marina's messianic character, her links to evangelicals, and her lack of formal political support in Brazil's congress, which could (some argue) make her a very weak president. In relation to the last argument in particular, Marina is saying or trying to show that she has changed: no longer the person who refused to make an alliance with Serra and the PSDB against Dilma in the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil%E2%80%99s-big-election-dilma-vs-jos%C3%A9">2010</a> second round, no longer radically opposed on environmental grounds to economic development and to Brazil's (very influential) agricultural sector. </p><p>Several policy moves have followed. She has recruited respected figures to her economic staff, such as Eduardo Giannetti and Andr&eacute; Lara Resende (a co-creator of the <em>Plano Real</em>), and promises to turn the central bank into an independent institution while keeping inflation close to the 4.5% target. She also proposes several reforms: on political institutions and taxation, two very ambitious projects whose importance is agreed but around which there is no consensus; introducing all-day public schools; assigning 10% of GDP to the public healthcare system and digital-democracy initiatives to enhance citizens' political participation and voice; and promoting alternative forms of generating energy rather than focusing on oil production and the Pr&eacute;-sal.</p><p>Marina Silva's <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2014/08/brazils-presidential-election-0">rise</a> poses questions to the other parties. The PSDB has been divided in recent elections, with great rivalries among leading figures such as A&eacute;cio Neves, Gerardo Alckmin and Jos&eacute; Serra. A&eacute;cio Neves, representing Minas Gerais - electorally the second biggest state in Brazil after S&atilde;o Paulo - refused to back the efforts of Alckmin in 2006 and Serra in 2010 to become the party's presidential candidate; Serra and Alckmin are now retaliating by denying A&eacute;cio the support of S&atilde;o Paulo (and Marina Silva's own vice-presidential candidate <a href="http://www.betoalbuquerque.com.br/">Beto Albuquerque</a> has even been pictured wearing a shirt with the name of Geraldo Alckmin on the back). Alckmin, the governor of S&atilde;o Paulo, is running for re-election there; he is currently above 50% in the polls, so he could win in the first round; A&eacute;cio has around 20%-25% support in the state as a presidential candidate. </p><p>A&eacute;cio is young, and can wait. My judgment is that getting into a government under a Silva presidency would be a way for him to become president in the future. Marina once said that <a href="http://www.joseserra.com.br/">Jos&eacute; Serra</a> is someone she would want to work with in her government - a signal to the PSDB that she may need this party (as well as the PSB) to support her. Some Brazilian analysts say that the PT will definitely go into opposition and will not be part of a Marina government. </p><p><strong>The changemaker</strong></p><p>Marina Silva is now the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-28947924">favourite</a> to win the Brazilian presidency. She is already a historic political figure, and she is attempting to break with a political status quo that has been dominant for twenty years. The latter is characterised by a dichotomy between the PT and PSDB, which in turn <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazilian-politics-s%C3%A3o-paulo-microcosm">expresses</a> the <em>paulista</em> class struggle (the PSDB was generated by S&atilde;o Paulo's elite, the PT by S&atilde;o Paulo's working class - S&atilde;o Paulo being Brazil's richest and most industrial state).</p><p>Both parties have been very important to the country in the last decades; the PSDB brought economic stability to the Brazilian market, the PT the social <a href="https://nacla.org/article/introduction-lula%E2%80%99s-legacy-brazil">programmes</a> that lifted millions out of severe poverty. But two important items on Brazil's political agenda remain precarious: the extremely cynical and sometimes very corrupt Brazilian political dynamics, and the outrageously bad services offered to the Brazilian citizen by the public sector (including in education, healthcare, public security and justice). These were central <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil-democracy-vs-poverty">themes</a> present in the demonstrations of June 2013. </p><p>In this light, a great test for a Marina government will be to build political support and a coalition without dirtying her hands, as she promises. Will that be possible in Brazil's current political context?</p><p>Marina Silva has the potential to be another big name in Brazil's political history, after Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Lula (whom she served as environment minister). If she does win the election she will have huge political capital in her hands, including internationally.&nbsp; </p><p>However, Marina is not Lula. Lula changed to win and govern; Marina is promising that she will change just to win, but will govern differently, denoting that she will not make alliances with the "old" corrupted politicians but instead promote a "new" politics. So the question is: will this messianic evangelical environmentalist woman change Brazilian politics forever?</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Arthur Ituassu &amp; Rodrigo de Almeida eds., <a href="http://www.zahar.com.br/catalogo_detalhe.asp?id=1174"><em><span><span>O Brasil tem jeito?</span></span></em></a> (Jorge Zahar, 2006)</p> <p>Thomas E Skidmore, <a href="http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryWorld/LatinAmerican/?view=usa&amp;ci=9780195063165"><em><span><span>The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964-1985</span></span></em></a> (Oxford University Press, 1990)</p> <div><a href="http://www.brazilpoliticalcomment.com.br/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/lang,en/"><span><span>Brazil Political and Business Comment</span></span></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.brazil.ox.ac.uk/"><span><span>Centre for Brazilian Studies, University of Oxford</span></span></a></p> <p>Leslie Bethell, <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521395243&amp;ss=fro"><em><span><span>Cambridge History of Latin Ameria - Vol 9, Brazil since 1930</span></span></em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2008)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Arthur Ituassu is a leading Brazilian scholar of social and political science. He is professor in the department of social communication at the <a href="http://www.puc-rio.br/"><em>Pontifícia Universidade Católica</em></a> in Rio de Janeiro, and researcher at the <span class="st"><a href="http://www.ceadd.com.br/"><em>Centro de Estudos Avançados em Democracia Digital</em></a> (</span><a href="http://www.ceadd.com.br/">Centre for Advanced Studies in Digital Democracy and E-government</a> (CEADD) in Salvador, Bahia. His website is <a href="http://www.ituassu.com.br/">here</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-protest-and-world-cup">Brazil, protest and the World Cup</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-in-2013-historic-adventure">Brazil in 2013: a historic adventure</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-crisis-of-representation">Brazil, a crisis of representation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/incredible-dilma-rousseff">The incredible Dilma Rousseff</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazilian-politics-s%C3%A3o-paulo-microcosm">Brazilian politics: the São Paulo microcosm</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/dilma-rousseff-and-brazil-signs-of-change">Dilma Rousseff and Brazil: signs of change</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-womans-work-vs-mens-mess">Brazil: woman&#039;s work vs men&#039;s mess</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Brazil Democracy and government International politics Globalisation democracy & power latin america Arthur Ituassu Tue, 02 Sep 2014 10:03:41 +0000 Arthur Ituassu 85648 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Israel's security after Gaza https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%27s-security-after-gaza <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Israel's military forces have embraced new tactics, weaponry and a network-centric strategy. But the latest conflict in Gaza leaves the country's security problems as intractable as ever.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Israel’s thirty-three day war with Hizbollah in July-August 2006 saw the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) experience multiple difficulties, especially in confronting paramilitaries on the ground in southern Lebanon. As the fighting continued, the Israeli airforce turned more and more to <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/war_israel_3793.jsp">striking</a> at Hizbollah’s infrastructure. But the latter was closely integrated into the Lebanese economy, with the result that considerable damage was inflicted on the country as a whole. The same pattern was seen in Israel’s <em>Cast Lead</em> <a href="http://www.btselem.org/gaza_strip/castlead_operation">operation</a> in Gaza in 2008-09 (this time lasting fifty days), though many fewer IDF personnel were killed than in 2006.</p><p>The IDF has studied these two operations, and adapted in three ways. The first is to put far more emphasis on training its regular soldiers in urban counterinsurgency operations against well-entrenched and determined opponents. This training - especially of elite units such as the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/elite-israeli-unit-loses-13-in-gaza-battles-1405912010">Golani brigade</a> - has been intense. It <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/gaza-the-israel-united-states-connection">includes</a> making use of the mock Arab town, Baladia, built for the IDF in the Negev by the US army corps of engineers (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/a_tale_of_two_towns">A tale of two towns</a>", 21 June 2007).</p><p>Ther second is a sustained programme to re-equip the army with weapons designed specifically for urban combat. The leading example is the <a href="http://www.israel-weapon.com/?catid={be33b6e6-080b-45b8-ad85-c4e1e40d0422}">Micro-Tavor TAR-21</a> assault-rifle developed and produced by <a href="http://www.israel-weapon.com/default.asp?catid={172FA0DF-0A2F-49CD-BE3A-BA92809A441A}">Israel Weapon Industries</a>. The TAR-21 is already deployed with special forces and elite brigades; by 2018 it will equip all army units, including reservists.</p><p>The third and far the most significant adaptation has been by spending billions of dollars on the <a href="http://www.israeldefense.com/?CategoryID=474&amp;ArticleID=539">Digital Army Program</a> (DAP): a complex initiative to provide comprehensive real-time integration of data between all branches of the armed forces and the intelligence, surveillance, coordination and command systems. Israel is hardly alone here, for several states seek to achieve the same result. The US has been doing it on a much larger scale, and shares much of its US experience with Israel. The DAP, which is centred on the Tzayad digital command-and-control <a href="http://www.army-technology.com/news/newselbit-receives-israeli-ground-simulators-operations-and-maintenance-contract-4172973">network</a>, relies heavily on US technology (see Barbara Opall-Rome, "<a href="http://www.defensenews.com/print/article/20140816/DEFREG04/308160016/Israel-Lauds-New-Capabilities-Gaza">Israel Lauds New Capabilities in Gaza</a>", 16 August 2014).</p><p>Behind all this effort is the belief that, if the IDF has to engage with groups such as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/hamas-after-the-gaza-war">Hamas</a> and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-hizbollah-project-last-war-next-war">Hizbollah</a>, it will be in a very much stronger position to do so than in Lebanon in 2006 or Gaza in 2008-09.&nbsp; </p><p><strong>A past reloaded</strong></p><p>What, then, of the past seven weeks of conflict, which <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28252155">ended</a> with a ceasefire on 26 August 2014?</p><p>The message from the IDF has been <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140816/DEFREG04/308160016/Israel-Lauds-New-Capabilities-Gaza">clear</a> - the new system has been a success, enabling the Israeli forces to be able repeatedly to counter Hamas actions. Such a view can be expected from the IDF and the Israeli government, but the reality is rather <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-gaza-conflict-2014/.premium-1.612437">different</a>. For even with some of the most sophisticated methods and technologies available anywhere in the world, the ground war in Gaza has been chastening for the IDF.</p><p>The IDF losses have been far higher than in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/gaza-the-israel-united-states-connection">2008-09</a>, with sixty-four killed and 450 wounded, many of the latter maimed for life. Throughout the ground offensive the IDF found it singularly difficult to counter the abilities of the Palestinian paramilitaries; one of the <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0728/Hamas-attacks-by-tunnel-rattle-Israelis-on-Gaza-border-video">incursions</a> into Israel through an infiltration tunnel led to the deaths of five young Israeli sergeants and the capture of one of the much-lauded TAV-21 assault-rifles (which then received prominent display by Hamas propagandists).</p><p>Indeed, it is probably a reasonable assessment that while the IDF has worked hard and spent substantial resources to redevelop its urban counterinsurgency abilities, Hamas has actually learned faster (see "<a href="https://theconversation.com/problems-ahead-for-israel-after-pyrrhic-victory-in-gaza-30575 ">Problems ahead for Gaza after Pyrrhic victory in Gaza</a>", <em>The Conversation</em>, 15 August 2014).</p><p>The results could be seen towards the end of the seven weeks of fighting, after the IDF's withdrawal from Gaza, when it <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/25/us-mideast-gaza-idUSKBN0GM11320140825">launched</a> further airforce attacks on what was described as Hamas infrastructure. These <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/08/28/magazine/on-the-ground-in-israel-gaza.html?_r=0">destroyed</a> six high-rise blocks, and hit numerous factories and warehouses as well as fuel-supply, electricity-generation and sewage-treatment facilities.</p><p>Many of the targets were connected to Hamas's organisation in Gaza, as well as contributing to the severe overall <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28688179">toll </a>of Palestinian <a href="http://www.everycasualty.org/">losses</a> (over 2,100 killed, 11,000 wounded, and nearly a third of the population displaced). The tactic is also similar to the final days of the war over <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/lebanon_war_3992.jsp">Lebanon</a> in 2006 and, earlier, the second <em>intifada</em> in the West Bank in the early 2000s. At that time, the IDF sought to cripple the Palestinian Authority's ability to govern the areas under its control by <a href="http://www.pitt.edu/~ttwiss/irtf/palestinlibsdmg.html">targeting</a> administrative headquarters and NGO offices. The ministries of local government and education, and even the Palestine statistical bureau, were among those ransacked and had their records destroyed (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_115.jsp">Israel's strategy: the impotence of arms</a>", 11 April, 2002).</p><p>Today, the tactic will have little effect as Hamas <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/aid-flows-gaza-israel-hamas-truce-172001454.html">acquires</a> the considerable resources needed to rebuild Gaza, almost certainly helped by Qatar and some other western Gulf states. Hamas will likely be rigorous in efforts to maintain control, as seen in the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/hamas-kills-18-alleged-collaborators-1408715295">execution </a>of men and women in Gaza deemed to have been collaborators with Israel in the war. At the same time, Hamas retains substantial support in Gaza and finds <a href="http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2014/08/08/palestinian-leader-mudar-zahran-hamas-gaining-popularity-in-the-west-bank/">increasing</a> sympathy in the West Bank, a source of great worry to the Palestinian Authority.</p><p><strong>A future foretold</strong></p><p>In Israel, the post-conflict position of Binyamin Netanyahu is different. The response to the announcement of a long-term ceasefire has been notably downbeat, with Netanyahu himself <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/27/us-mideast-gaza-idUSKBN0GM11320140827">condemned</a> for achieving little, if anything, to advance Israel's war aims. The prime minister's personal standing <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/after-gaza-cease-fire-netanyahu-in-tough-spot-at-home/2014/08/28/498ccf6a-2ec2-11e4-994d-202962a9150c_story.html">dropped</a> from 82% around 22 July (two weeks into the war) to 38% at its end.</p><p>The Israeli government's dilemma is that, without a full-scale and long-term military occupation of Gaza, it can neither stop the rockets nor <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/02/world/middleeast/an-old-playbook-leaves-israel-unready-for-hamass-tunnel-war-.html">prevent</a> more infiltration tunnels being constructed. The latest conflict shows that such an endeavour would be hugely costly to Israel's own forces, lead to further decline in its already diminishing international <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/khaled-hroub/israel-cost-of-arrogance">standing</a>, and result in thousands more Palestinians being killed (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/why-israel-lost">Why Israel lost</a>", 5 August 2014).</p><p>The conflict is deeply asymmetrical. Israel has far superior force that it can use to pummel Gaza, including now the <a href="http://www.idfblog.com/blog/2012/04/20/tzayad-idfs-digital-army-program/">practice</a> of network-centric warfare. Yet Israel now has more to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28950787">worry</a> about than its Hamas adversary. </p><p>The eventual consequence of the Yom Kippur/Ramadan <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/v3_ip_timeline/html/1973.stm">war</a> of October 1973 was to bring the hawkish Likud to power. In time, the war of 2014 may have an equally big effect on Israeli politics.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p> <p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.haaretz.com/"><em>Ha'aretz</em></a></p><p><a href="https://theconversation.com/uk"><em>The Conversation</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/why-israel-lost">Why Israel lost</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/israel_losing_3808.jsp">Why Israel is losing</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-israel-gaza-missiles-and-politics">America, Israel, Gaza: missiles and politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-vs-hamas-war-of-surprises">Israel vs Hamas, a war of surprises</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/gazairaq-connection">The Gaza-Iraq connection</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/after-gaza">After Gaza: Israel&#039;s last chance</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conflict/losing_control_3755.jsp">Israel: losing control</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/gaza-the-israel-united-states-connection">Gaza: the Israel-United States connection </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Palestine Israel Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Paul Rogers Fri, 29 Aug 2014 04:39:06 +0000 Paul Rogers 85528 at https://www.opendemocracy.net America and Islamic State: mission creeping? https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The United States is increasing support of its Iraqi and Kurdish allies and escalating attacks on its <em>jihadist</em> enemies. Islamic State's long-term plan, though, remains on track.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>When President Obama authorised the use of United States air-power against Islamic State (IS) forces on 7 August 2014, there were just two stated <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/08/world/middleeast/obama-weighs-military-strikes-to-aid-trapped-iraqis-officials-say.html">purposes</a>: to protect refugees, especially the Yazidi, and to counter any IS move towards the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil, the argument being that it was necessary to protect US personnel based in that city.</p><p>By that time there were reported to be around 1,000 US military deployed to Iraq because of the crisis. They joined US citizens already in the <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2014/06/map-isil-path-through-iraq-2014617135121336301.html">country</a> employed in diplomatic, military-training or private-security roles, though it is hard to estimate the exact number (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front">Islamic State, Iraq, America: a new front</a>", 14 August 2014).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>In the first few days of the air-strikes, few targets were hit, mainly IS artillery and logistics support that was considered too close to Irbil. There was some irony in this, since much of the IS equipment was American and had been <a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-weapons-growing-number-sophistication-soviet-balkan-american-mix-group-cant-use-all-1659176">seized</a> by IS from Iraqi army bases in and <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/iraq.htm">around</a> Mosul. It was, at least, good news for US defence companies, with their weapons being used by the US navy to destroy their weapons: a truly win-win situation, profit-wise.</p><p>Until mid-August, the US purpose seemed set. The function of the US forces would remain as originally stated, but it was expected that the operation would last many weeks (perhaps months). An important part of the plan was to allow Iraq's incoming <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28748366">prime ministe</a>r Haider al-Abadi time to construct a more inclusive government and thereby undermine <em>Sunni</em> support for IS.</p><p>This all changed on 15-17 August as US forces substantially increased the <a href="http://www.centcom.mil/en/news/articles/us-military-conducts-airstrikes-against-isil-near-irbil-the-mosul-dam">tempo</a> of their airstrikes, moving to aid Iraqi special forces and Kurdish troops to <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/15-us-airstrikes-northern-iraq-25023717">retake</a> the Mosul <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28772478">dam</a>, which IS had captured on 7 August. Over these three days, thirty-five out of thirty-eight airstrikes were intended to provide this support. US Central Command <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140818/DEFREG02/308180011/US-UK-Leadership-Warn-Iraq-Mission-Won-t-Quick-US-Escalates-Air-Offensive">announced</a> that the fifteen attacks by 18 August had “damaged or destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions; an ISIL checkpoint; six ISIL armed vehicles; an ISIL light armored vehicle; an ISIL vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft artillery gun, and an IED emplacement belt”. </p><p>Furthermore, US air-attacks are no longer provided by navy F/A-18s flying off the aircraft carrier USS <em>George H W Bush</em> in the Persian Gulf. They also <a href="http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/article/20140808/NEWS05/308080064/As-strikes-begin-Iraq-many-options-Pentagon">utilise</a> F-15E and F-16 strike-aircraft of the US airforce (USAF) operating from land bases in the region (probably in Qatar, such as the al-Udeid <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/12/world/middleeast/hagel-lifts-veil-on-major-military-center-in-qatar.html">air-base</a>) as well as from Predator <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-warfare-global-danger">armed-drones</a>. The details are sparse, not least because countries in the region do not want IS to know that they permit bases on their soil to be <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20140819/NEWS08/308190052/U-S-military-stops-identifying-planes-involved-Iraq-airstrikes">used</a> for US attacks against it. </p><p>Whether or not this can be described as “mission creep”, it is certainly the case that US military action has <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/08/us_airpower_supports.php?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LongWarJournal+%28The+Long+War+Journal%29">expanded</a> considerably in the past two weeks, especially in the past five days. There are also indications of a further planned expansion, at least from the <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20140819/NEWS05/308190061/U-S-mission-Iraq-could-expand-Pentagon-official-says">perspective</a> of the Pentagon<span>—</span><span>if not the White House.</span></p><p><strong>The IS calculation</strong></p><p>Into this state of flux has now been inserted another factor, the brutal killing of the US photojournalist <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/1321620/james-foley-died-doing-job-he-believed-in">James Foley</a>.&nbsp; </p><p>From the perspective of the Islamic State leadership, the murder <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2014/0820/Why-did-Islamic-State-militants-execute-James-Foley">serves</a> four functions. The first is to demonstrate to its own paramilitaries that it can retaliate for the many of its own men undoubtedly killed in the US airstrikes, especially those around the Mosul <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28772478">dam</a>.</p><p>The second is that the choice of a killer with an English accent will focus European and especially UK attention on what is happening<span>—</span><span>witness prime minister </span><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28873051">David Cameron’s</a><span> rapid return from holiday.</span></p><p>The third is that it will send a signal to the American public that it has supporters who come from a closely allied state, an uncomfortable element given the <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/blighty/2013/08/intervention-syria">refusal</a> of the UK parliament to endorse military action <span>on Syria in August 2013. Just how reliable is Britain?</span></p><p>The fourth and most important is a more subtle and potentially escalatory element, again no doubt deliberate. This is that the killing of James Foley sends a clear message of the fate any members of the US military captured by IS paramilitaries are likely to receive. </p><p>Even without this danger, US air operations in contested environments typically include a substantial "extraction back-up". Thus, if airstrikes are being conducted, standard operating procedure will be to have helicopter back-up available for retrieving downed aircrew. With this particular <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/how-islamic-state-fighters-pose-a-threat-to-the-world-a-986632.html">threat</a> from the Islamic State, it is certain that any such operation will have major <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/08/20/specialized-black-hawk-helicopters-used-in-another-sensitive-special-operations-raid/">support</a>: helicopters, airborne and within range at all times, with special forces and casevac personnel onboard, and with the helicopters themselves protected by helicopter-gunships and ground-attack aircraft.</p><p>All this takes serious resources. It should therefore be assumed US forces in Iraq are being (very quietly) expanded, principally at the base at Baghdad international airport but most probably in the Kurdish <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15467672">region</a> as well.</p><p>Indirectly, therefore, the appalling murder of James Foley will <a href="http://time.com/3137009/obamas-iraq-isis-mission-creep/">ensure</a> mission creep. And this is exactly what the Islamic State wants, for nothing would suit it more than for the US involvement in <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10906350/Iraq-crisis-map-how-the-Isis-front-line-has-shifted.html">Iraq</a> to expand rapidly. This may seem strange, given that US forces have successfully <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/18/us-iraq-security-idUSKBN0GH0JL20140818">enabled</a> Iraqi and Kurdish troops to retake the Mosul dam. But the Islamic State is not interested in the short term, and is willing to take casualties if these enable it to develop the narrative of the “far enemy” back in the Islamic world and doing its worst (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq, and intervention</a>", 16 June 2014).</p><p>Western analysts may see current developments as a path to subduing IS and creating space for an incoming government in Baghdad to develop more <a href="http://basnews.com/en/News/Details/Kurds-to-Participate-in-New-Baghdad-Government-with-Five-Ministers/31144">inclusive</a> governance. IS, though, is in this for the long term. Just as the murder of James Foley has been a great shock, so IS may seek to arrange attacks in countries supporting US military action. These would most likely include Qatar and Bahrain (which houses the base of the US navy’s <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140327/DEFREG02/303270026/Expansion-5th-Fleet-Base-Underscores-Long-Term-Gulf-Presence">fifth fleet</a>), and might also involve attacks in Baghdad.</p><p>From the perspective of Washington, the situation may be still be under control, with everything going more or less according to plan. A relevant question, however, is: whose plan?</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p> <p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/"><em>Military Times</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Paul Rogers is giving a talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival on 27 August at 5pm. "<a href="http://www.eif.co.uk/2014/century-edge-cold-war-hot-world-1945%E2%80%932045#.U-qzbxBAK25"><em>A Century on the Edge: From Cold War to Hot World, 1945–2045</em></a>" discusses human security from the post-1945 nuclear age to the era of climate disruption. For details, please click the above link or <a href="http://www.eif.co.uk/2014/century-edge-cold-war-hot-world-1945%E2%80%932045#.U-qzbxBAK25">here</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front">Islamic State, Iraq, America: a new front</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-past-and-future-war">Iraq, past and future war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">Al-Qaida, and a global revolt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Syria Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Meteoric rise of the Islamic State Paul Rogers Thu, 21 Aug 2014 04:07:47 +0000 Paul Rogers 85358 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Islamic State, Iraq, America: a new front https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A military escalation in Iraq depends on Washington's assessment of the Islamic State's power and intentions. But the <em>jihadis </em>are also thinking hard about their next target.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The crisis in Iraq is evolving rapidly, two months after the rapid advance of ISIL (now Islamic State) forces from across the border in Syria enabled them to capture the city of Mosul and link the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/06/12/world/middleeast/the-iraq-isis-conflict-in-maps-photos-and-video.html">territories</a> under their control. </p><p>Most current concern is with the displacement of religious minorities, especially the Yazidis, and the threat to the Kurdish capital of Irbil. The <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/iraq-humanitarian-crisis-highest-level-24967762">plight</a> of these displaced and vulnerable people has led voices on both sides of the Atlantic to call for more direct military intervention against the Islamic State (see Michelle Tan. “<a href="http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140807/NEWS08/308070078/Top-U-S-officer-Iraq-We-must-neutralize-enemy-">Top U.S. officer in Iraq: ‘We must neutralize this enemy</a>’”, <em>Army Times</em>, 7 August 2014). </p><p>So far, Barack Obama's administration is <a href="http://cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/not-combat-boots-ground-operation-says-hagel-announcing-130-more">reluctant </a>to commit to a larger campaign against the Islamic State (IS). Washington is influenced here by a lack of clarity about the power of the movement and whether it has the capability to break out of its northern stronghold. The IS move towards Irbil, for example, might have been intended not to take over the city but to tie down the Kurdish military (<em>Pershmerga</em>) <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0811/Kurdish-fighters-in-Iraq-take-fight-to-jihadis.-Can-it-last-video">forces</a> so that they could not interfere with the IS's consolidation of control over disputed areas) such as those around the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28772478">Mosul dam</a>).</p><p>Washington may continue to hold back unless IS makes <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger">further</a> advances towards Irbil. Overall, however, the big strategic change would be if US forces need to establish a forward-operating base in the Kurdish region. That would require wide-ranging support and base-protection, including many technical specialists. In that case the US forces could quickly expand to 10,000-15,000 troops (see Andrew Tilghman, "<a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20140808/NEWS08/308080084/Why-Obama-s-campaign-in-Iraq-could-require-15-000-troops">Why Obama's campaign in Iraq could require 15,000 troops</a>", <em>Military Times</em>, 8 August 2014).</p><p>The foundations of such a <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2014/0813/Obama-s-new-Iraq-plan-A-slippery-slope-to-combat-troops-video">level</a> of military involvement are already in place. The United States now has <a href="http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2014/08/mission-creep-us-has-nearly-1000-troops-iraq-now/91349/">nearly</a> 1,000 troops in Iraq and its planes are flying close to a hundred <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=newssearch&amp;cd=2&amp;ved=0CDAQ-AsoAzAB&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usnews.com%2Fnews%2Farticles%2F2014%2F08%2F08%2Fus-jets-bomb-militants-in-iraq-after-obama-ramps-up-military-involvement&amp;ei=TQ_sU5G_OsKM7Abrq4CABw&amp;usg=AFQjCNGoIYO6xD4MKh2KNPUbJK_OHvs9dg&amp;bvm=bv.72938740,d.d2k">sorties</a> a day, including strike operations, reconnaissance and support. In fact, the total may be well over that number, since it does not include special forces (whose presence the Pentagon rarely admits to). These, in the form of <a href="http://www.socom.mil/Pages/AboutUSSOCOM.aspx">US Special Operations Command</a>, have close to 70,000 personnel (nearly as large as the entire British army when the current round of cuts is completed), composed of diverse forces with multiple capabilities. Such a below-the-radar capability - a kind of war by "<a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">remote control</a>" - is part of the new means of conducting military operations that have become so significant since the failure of the “boots-on-the-ground” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.</p><p><strong>A movement's options</strong></p><p>The position of the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28116033">Islamic State</a> is key to the possibilities of escalating conflict in Iraq. The success of the movement since June 2014 is owed in part to the combat experience gained by its paramilitary units against Bashar al-Assad's <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/syria-exceptional-despotism">regime</a> in Syria, and in some cases against US forces in Iraq; both will have helped to develop their abilities in urban warfare. Even amid IS's campaign in Iraq it has continued to <a href="http://blogs.cfr.org/davidson/2014/08/12/in-iraqsyria-conflict-the-islamic-state-leverages-international-communitys-self-imposed-boundaries/">expand</a> the territories under its control in Syria, both by its own actions and by getting other<em> jihadists</em> to join it; the <a href="http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Aug-13/267052-isis-advances-in-aleppo-province.ashx#axzz3AGIHibCS ">seizure</a> of a number of villages north of Aleppo this week is an example.</p><p>In Iraq, the <a href="http://www.janes.com/article/40256/isil-displays-captured-weapons">capture</a> of huge amounts of US-supplied weapons, ammunition and vehicles from the collapsing Iraqi army is a great boon to the movement. <em>Sunni</em> resentment <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/04/28/what-we-left-behind?currentPage=all">against</a> Nouri al-Maliki's pro-<em>Shi'a</em> government has fuelled IS support. It has plenty of financial <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-26/looted-banks-fund-iraq-fighters-eyeing-wealth-al-qaeda-never-had.html">resources</a> from banks and foreign backers, and in Syria it is consolidating its hold over oil resources, power-generation and rich <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/13/us-iraq-security-islamicstate-wheat-idUSKBN0GD14720140813">farmland</a>. All in all, it seems in a strong position.</p><p>The broader picture, though, includes three other elements. First, many of the Islamic State's gains have been consolidated by working with other <em>Sunni</em> groups, both clans and militias, so much so that the latter undertake the routine organisation of captured towns. </p><p>Second, the foreign aid and weapons now <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0811/Kurdish-fighters-in-Iraq-take-fight-to-jihadis.-Can-it-last-video">flowing</a> into the Kurdish region mean that any IS attempt to take further territory and gain control of the substantial oil facilities on the Kirkuk-Mosul axis will be costly.</p><p>Third, and perhaps most significant, Nouri al-Maliki is highly <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/14/world/middleeast/iraq-prime-minister-nuri-maliki-parliament.html?_r=0">unlikely</a> to survive as Iraqi prime minister now that Iran has withdrawn support from him. The <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/08/13/uk-iraq-security-idUKKBN0G70L620140813">next</a> government in Baghdad is almost certain to be more inclusive, which could deprive the Islamic State of much of its support within a few months.</p><p>In turn this raises the question of how the IS might act in relation to its long-term aims, which revolve around developing the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/06/12/world/middleeast/the-iraq-isis-conflict-in-maps-photos-and-video.html">new</a> caliphate as the core of an expanding (rather than a static) entity. Thus it somehow has to galvanise potential support, especially among committed young men from across the region and beyond, as well as from existing and prospective funders.<br />Its success until now has aided that endeavour. But now that a more representative government in Baghdad is likely, it faces a new challenge. From the Islamic State’s perspective, it would <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">benefit</a> from sustained western military engagement - especially with boots on the ground. Its propagandists could readily represent this as a “war on Islam” conducted by a "crusader-Zionist” alliance, connecting it with United States <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-israel-gaza-missiles-and-politics">military aid</a> to Israel.</p><p>The IS has a problem, however: the annoyingly cautious Barack Obama. As long as he is in the White House, a really large-scale despatch of US troops is probable only after the staging of a major incitement. A "mass casualty" attack against US interests, probably in the Middle East, is one possibility. A likelier move - which may already be in preparation - is an attempt to take control of Baghdad, starting with an assault on the substantial US forces deployed at the city's airport.&nbsp; </p><p>Most of the attention in Washington, Paris and London at present is currently on Irbil. Much more, perhaps, should be on Baghdad.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p> <p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Paul Rogers is giving a talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival on 27 August at 5pm. "<a href="http://www.eif.co.uk/2014/century-edge-cold-war-hot-world-1945%E2%80%932045#.U-qzbxBAK25"><em>A Century on the Edge: From Cold War to Hot World, 1945–2045</em></a>" discusses human security from the post-1945 nuclear age to the era of climate disruption. For details, please click the above link or <a href="http://www.eif.co.uk/2014/century-edge-cold-war-hot-world-1945%E2%80%932045#.U-qzbxBAK25">here</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-past-and-future-war">Iraq, past and future war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">Al-Qaida, and a global revolt</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger">Iraq, days of danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Syria Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Meteoric rise of the Islamic State Paul Rogers Thu, 14 Aug 2014 04:44:20 +0000 Paul Rogers 85203 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why Israel lost https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/why-israel-lost <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After its four-week bombardment, a three-day ceasefire reveals that the ground has shifted under Israel.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>A new, seventy-two-hour ceasefire in Gaza began to take effect on the morning of 5 August 2014. Whether or not it lasts, both the Israeli government and the Hamas leadership will need to claim success <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28651610">after</a> twenty-eight days of bitter conflict that has left more than 1,800 Palestinians killed and thousands injured. Israeli politicians are saying that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have been able to withdraw from Gaza following the destruction of the infiltration tunnels, and that the air-force is still able to hit targets throughout the territory. The implication is that Israel has good cause to claim success.&nbsp; </p><p>A closer look suggests otherwise. Three incidents on particular days during the war indicate why.&nbsp; </p><p>The first was twelve days into the war, 20 July, when the IDF was moving ground-troops into Gaza, aiming partly to continue destroying rocket-launchers but also to uncover the tunnels. On that day alone, the elite Golani brigade lost thirteen men killed and well over fifty injured. The dead included a battalion deputy commander and the wounded the brigade’s commanding officer, Colonel Ghassan Alian (see “<a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/middle_east/gaza_context_and_consequences">Gaza: Context and Consequences</a>”, <em>Oxford Research Group</em>, 31 July 2014). The overall level of resistance, and especially the abilities of the Hamas paramilitaries, came as a shock to the IDF, even as it was coming to realise that the tunnels constituted a far more serious problem than expected (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel-vs-hamas-war-of-surprises">Israel vs Hamas, a war of surprises</a>", 24 July 2014).</p><p>The second incident, on 28 July, confirmed this. By then, large numbers of IDF personnel were in Gaza, the emphasis being very much on detecting and destroying the tunnels. Yet in the midst of this intensive operation a Hamas group was in an extraordinary way able to use an undetected tunnel, emerge on the Israeli side of the border, and <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.608095">attack</a> a border post (not civilians in a kibbutz, Nahal Oz, as was reported at an early stage). The group killed five young Israeli soldiers, all sergeants aged 18 to 21, who were on a leadership-training exercise.</p><p>The third incident, on 30 July, was the shelling of a United Nations school in the Jabaliya refugee <a href="http://www.unrwa.org/where-we-work/gaza-strip/camp-profiles?field=1">camp</a>, which killed twenty-one people, <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/07/gaza-un-school-hit-201473041918975321.html">including</a> children asleep at the time (it was 4.40 a.m.) and injuring scores. The attack is reported to have been carried out using long-range artillery, and to have been aimed at Hamas paramilitaries threatening an IDF unit attempting to destroy a tunnel entrance, within 320 metres of the school. A UN review found that ten shells were fired over approximately five minutes, three hitting the school and two more striking within fifty metres (see Ben Hubbard &amp; Jodi Rudoreren, “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/04/world/middleeast/international-scrutiny-after-israeli-barrage-strike-in-jabaliya-where-united-nations-school-shelters-palestinians-in-gaza.html?_r=0">Questions over deadly barrage on shelter</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 5 August 2014).</p><p>At the time the school was sheltering 3,220 people in a twenty-four-room complex, part of a much wider UN sheltering programme catering for 260,000 people in ninety schools and other facilities. It was one of six UN sites <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/08/israeli-bombardment-claims-lives-gaza-20148372122193560.html">hit </a>during the four-week war, provoking severe criticism that using inaccurate long-range artillery against targets in densely populated urban areas is (at least) highly questionable (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-israel-gaza-missiles-and-politics">America, Israel, Gaza: missiles and politics</a>", 19 July 2014).</p><p>The three incidents together highlight major difficulties for the Israeli government. The shelter attack, for example, is amplified by the new social media. Even since the last <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/after-gaza?1">major</a> ground-assault into Gaza - <em>Operation Cast Lead</em> in 2008-09 - there has been rapid development of instant smartphone video-recording and distribution techniques.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The effect is twofold: to spread directly and worldwide graphic images of the impact on civilians, and to make western media outlets more likely to show that same impact in greater detail. Support for the war inside Israel has remained strong throughout, but the country's reputation has suffered considerably across the world, and some major western news outlets that would normally be broadly supportive express huge doubts about the long-term consequences of Israel's assault (see ("<a href="http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21610312-pummelling-gaza-has-cost-israel-sympathy-not-just-europe-also-among-americans">Israel and the world: us and them</a>", <em>Economist</em>, 1 August 2014).</p><p><strong>The war beneath</strong></p><p>Even so, it might at first sight seem to be stretching it to talk of Israel “losing” this war. A fuller analysis does however point in this <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%E2%80%99s-security-complex">direction</a>. Recall the stated initial aim, which was to suppress rocket fire. This has simply not happened, amid strong suspicions that Hamas and other militias may have expended less than half of their arsenals; the IDF itself estimates that Hamas still has 3,000 rockets available.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The second aim was to destroy the infiltration tunnels, and here too the operation is flawed. As of 3 August the IDF had uncovered forty tunnels, invariably with multiple access-points, far more than anticipated. Moreover, Hamas strategists will have <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/comment/the-hamas-trap-hidden-labyrinth-was-wired-for-war-20140803-zzznh.html">prepared</a> for just this kind of IDF operation. Building tunnels deep underground and completely back-filling the entry-points would make them difficult if not impossible to detect; with knowledge of the approximate location of the incomplete tunnels, they can be found, opened up and completed after the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28663576">withdrawal</a> of IDF forces.</p><p>It is not commonly realised just how remarkable are the tunnelling abilities that have been <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0728/Hamas-attacks-by-tunnel-rattle-Israelis-on-Gaza-border-video">acquired</a> in Gaza. A single infiltration tunnel ran for 2.4 kilometres, was twenty metres below ground level and utilised 350 tons of concrete in the lining (see Shane Harris, “<a href="http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/07/31/extensive_hamas_tunnel_network_points_to_israeli_intelligence_failure_harris">Extensive Hamas Tunnel Network Points to Israeli Intelligence Failure</a>”, <em>Foreign Policy</em>, 3 August 2014).&nbsp; <br />The explanation for this capability is in part the huge experience of building access tunnels for commercial transit under the border with Egypt over recent years. A <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2014/04/gaza-tunnels-201441772150756893.html">report</a> on Al-Jazeera says that over 500 of these tunnels have been constructed to connect Gaza with Egypt, with 7,000 Gazans employed in their building. Even if the IDF had destroyed all the Hamas infiltration tunnels, which is highly unlikely, constructing more would not take long. It is the knowledge and the <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0725/Why-Hamas-is-a-more-formidable-foe-in-Gaza-this-time">trained</a> workforce that count here.</p><p>In addition, perhaps the least recognised aspect of <em>Protective Edge</em> has been the level of Israeli <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/gaza-residents-see-growing-toll-in-israel-fight-1405758914">casualties</a>, which has far exceeded initial fears. (The Palestinian losses - over 1,800 killed and 9,000 injured, more than 68% of them civilians - are of course much greater). A comparison with <em>Cast Lead</em> in 2008-09 is instructive. In that operation the IDF killed 1,440 Palestinians over twenty-three days, and lost nine soldiers in combat, as well as four in a friendly-fire incident. This time the IDF has so far lost sixty-four soldiers in twenty-eight days. Military censorship has allowed reporting of deaths but very little information on injuries, but an informed Israeli <a href="http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Hamas-agrees-to-72-hour-truce-announced-by-the-US-and-UN-369675">source</a> puts these at over 400.</p><p>The Jewish population of Israel is about one-tenth of the population of the UK. This means that the proportional losses in twenty-eight days exceed the UK’s combined losses in six years' fighting in Iraq and twelve years in Afghanistan. In a revealing assessment, a retired United States army major-general, Robert H Scales, and a defence analyst, Douglas A Ollivant, put it this way:</p><p>“Gone are the loose and fleeting groups of fighters seen during Operation Cast Lead in 2008. In Gaza they have been fighting in well-organized, tightly bound teams under the authority of well-connected, well-informed commanders. Units stand and fight from building hideouts and tunnel entrances. They wait for the Israelis to pass them by before ambushing them from the rear” (see “T<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/terrorist-armies-are-fighting-smarter-and-deadlier-than-ever/2014/08/01/3998ae00-18db-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html">errorist armies fight smarter and deadlier than ever</a>”, <em>Washington Post</em>, 4 August 2014).</p><p>Extending their analysis to wider regional developments, including the Islamists in Iraq, they deliver a somewhat bombastic concluding paragraph that (given the source) is still worth <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/terrorist-armies-are-fighting-smarter-and-deadlier-than-ever/2014/08/01/3998ae00-18db-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html">quoting</a>:</p><p>“What we see in Gaza, Syria and Iraq should serve as a cautionary tale for any Beltway guru calling for a return of U.S. forces to Iraq. U.S. soldiers and Marines are still the global gold standard, but their comparative advantage has diminished. As terrorist groups turn into armies, pairing their fanatical dedication with newly acquired tactical skills, renewed intervention might generate casualties on a new scale - as the Israelis have been painfully learning.”</p><p>On 4 August, the Israelis first offered a short ceasefire and have now <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/child-killed-30-hurt-gaza-city-air-strike-092453112.html">agreed</a> a three-day pause. This contrasts markedly with prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s insistence - just a day earlier - on "completing the mission". Perhaps the sudden change stems from reports from Israeli ambassadors around the world, perhaps the Barack Obama administration finally exerted pressure. But perhaps it was the IDF commanders who had a much clearer vision than their political leaders and simply said they should declare victory and withdraw while they could. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Defence Weekly</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Paul Rogers is giving a talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival on 27 August at 5pm. "<a href="http://www.eif.co.uk/2014/century-edge-cold-war-hot-world-1945%E2%80%932045#.U-qzbxBAK25"><em>A Century on the Edge: From Cold War to Hot World, 1945–2045</em></a>" discusses human society in the post-1945 nuclear age that now, approaching its eighth decade, is met by the era of climate disruption. What lessons can be learned from the cold-war period about how we can live with our capacity both to destroy ourselves and to live within our worldwide limits?</p><p>For details, please click the above link or <a href="http://www.eif.co.uk/2014/century-edge-cold-war-hot-world-1945%E2%80%932045#.U-qzbxBAK25">here</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-israel-gaza-missiles-and-politics">America, Israel, Gaza: missiles and politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-state-of-insecurity">Afghanistan: state of insecurity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-vs-hamas-war-of-surprises">Israel vs Hamas, a war of surprises</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/gazairaq-connection">The Gaza-Iraq connection</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger">Iraq, days of danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-and-gaza-from-war-to-politics">Israel and Gaza: from war to politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel%E2%80%99s-security-complex">Israel’s security complex</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Palestine Israel Conflict Democracy and government International politics israel & palestine - old roads, new maps Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Paul Rogers Tue, 05 Aug 2014 17:05:22 +0000 Paul Rogers 84984 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Default or not default? That is the (Argentine) question... https://www.opendemocracy.net/celia-szusterman/default-or-not-default-that-is-argentine-question <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Argentina's president, Cristina Kirchner, refuses to accept that the country has defaulted on its debts. But her denial can only make things worse. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>D-Day in Argentina, 30 July 2014,&nbsp; came and went. And nothing has changed. The president, Cristina Kirchner, and her economy minister Axel Kicillof&nbsp; are not tired of repeating that life goes on. Indeed. Yet, is it true that nothing has changed - default or not default? </p><p>On 31 July, the day after entering (or not) into default, Mrs Kirchner&nbsp; broadcast to the nation: “They will have to invent another name. Because we have paid.” Once again, she seems to be in a state of denial. Instead of <a href="http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1716040-de-la-vuelta-de-obligado-a-los-buitres">recognising</a> reality, having a good analysis and devising a strategy to reach a solution, she offers - amid the usual sea of white-and-blue flags - an epic narrative.</p><p>This time the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/celia-szusterman/argentine-fable-cristina-kirchners-tall-stories">enemies</a> are not the farmers nor <em>Clarín</em>, the multimedia group, but the “vulture funds” (the ubiquitous name for the hated hedge funds). Buenos Aires had woken on the morning of 29 July with hoardings offering a stark option: “<em>Patria o Buitres</em>” (<em>Motherland or Vultures</em>). The chief of cabinet, Jorge Capitanich, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-28587653">blamed</a> not just the hedge funds but the United States, and threatened to <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/latin-american-business/argentina-skeptical-about-debt-default-court-hearing/article19886575/">take</a> the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/world/americas/the-influential-minister-behind-argentinas-economic-shift.html">Axel Kicillof</a> himself accused Judge Griesa of being at the service of the “vultures”, then accused the judge-appointed mediator, Dan Pollack, of incompetence. Even Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel economics laureate, <a href="http://www.telam.com.ar/english/notas/201407/2857-stiglitz-griesas-ruling-in-favor-of-the-vulture-funds-is-like-throwing-a-bomb-into-the-global-economic-system.html">reportedly</a> said that Griesa’s decision was paramount to throwing a bomb not just at Argentina but at the whole global financial system. </p><p>Amidst so much hyperbole, one fact remains. On 31 July, Argentina fell into a default - variously described in the rest of the world as “selective”, “partial” or “technical” (see, for example, the reaction of the rating agencies Standard &amp; Poor’s, Fitch, or China's <a href="http://en.dagongcredit.com/about/development.html">Dagong</a> Global Credit Rating, as well as the <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/216175818/Argentina-Debt-Restructuring-Prospectus-2010">advice</a> of Russ Dallen: “In this game, it is best to refer to the rulebook, which in this case is the <em>Prospectus for the 2005 and/or 2010 Restructured Bonds</em>). Until somebody comes up with a new word (“neo-defaultism”?) this is the reality. Yet for Kicillof, the use of the word default is an “atomic nonsense”. </p><p><strong>A medley of failure</strong></p><p>The sooner the situation is reversed, the sooner the default label will be removed.&nbsp; But if the Argentine government does not recognise the severity of the situation, what are the chances that it will be in a rush to negotiate a solution to a problem it regards as non-existent? Yet until it does, the reputational damage will continue unabated. The consequences will be grave: among them a lack of investment, a drop in economic activity, a rise in unemployment, inflation, and pressures on foreign-exchange reserves.&nbsp; </p><p>On 27 June, the economic analyst <a href="http://www.szewachnomics.com.ar/">Enrique Szewach</a> wrote that Argentina (or “the Republic” as it is referred to in Griesa’s judgment) had two alternatives: either to negotiate a long-term payment for “holdouts” and all other bondholders under litigation, or “blame Griesa, the US government, [and others] for ‘preventing us from paying’. It would then engage in a new epic battle in The Hague, and go into default”. Szewach concluded: “clearly, this second option is mere fantasy, since the consequences of a default would deepen the existing recession”. Guess which option Mrs Kirchner and her “genius” (her words) economy minister have chosen?</p><p>The explanations are to be found in a medley of words starting with “i”. They start with <em>incompetence</em>. Mrs Kirchner has known for at least two years - since Judge Griesa’s first verdict in favour of the “holdouts”and against the Republic - that there was a need for a "Plan B". At that point <em>ideology</em>, and the destructive capacity of populism, led her to choose the nationalist option. The “vultures” were “coming after our resources” - a repetition of the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/celia-szusterman/argentina-y-las-malvinas-in-search-of-reality">argument</a> against the UK in the case of the Falklands/Malvinas. In various assemblies, she tried to regionalise the latter conflict, saying that the UK was coming not just after Argentina’s resources, but those of the whole region. When the assets of the local subsidiary of the Spanish energy giant Repsol were <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/celia-szusterman/argentina%E2%80%99s-energy-politics-context-of-crisis">confiscated</a>, there was much talk of “recovering our natural resources”. Vladimir Putin, during his <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-28261746">visit</a> to Argentina in mid-July, expressed an interest in the shale <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/18/business/energy-environment/shale-investments-could-reshape-global-market.html">deposits</a> of Vaca Muerta. It is not clear why the country’s natural resources should be so much worse off in Spanish hands than in Russian.</p><p>Perhaps Mrs Kirchner was impressed by the adoration in which some Venezuelans still hold the late Hugo Chávez, proclaimed by his successor Nicol<span>á</span>s Maduro as the country's “eternal leader”. If the destruction of the Venezuelan economy has failed to dent the love of (some) Venezuelans, this may give Argentina's president hope for a similar <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/celia-szusterman/argentina-democracy-by-default-0">reward</a> after 2015 - in a battle framed as one of populism vs. the hedge funds (and vs. belief in the rule of law, free markets, and free societies). Of course these funds are “motivated by a desire to make money”. Surely only those who think making money is despicable can be surprised by this. </p><p>What Mrs Kirchner and Kicillof ignore is that the debt (“incurred by other governments, not ours”) is the result of excessive public spending. This <em>irresponsibility</em> has led her government since 2009 to “borrow” $40 billion from central-bank reserves, filling its vaults with “bits of paper”. The fiscal deficit has prevented the government from buying back from the central bank about $3-3.5 billion per year to restore its finances. The result is that the foreign debt, both old and new, is unpayable: it would mean allocating $10 billion per year to service the debt. Madness. Even without the default Argentina’s economy was facing meltdown (see <a href="http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1715079-un-discurso-delirante-que-nos-llevo-a-otra-crisis">Roberto Cachanosky</a> in <em>La Nación</em> [29 July 2014] and <em><a href="http://www.szewachnomics.com.ar/">Szewachnomics</a> </em>[31 July 2014]).</p><p>This explains the need to borrow from financial markets. To do so without being charged usury levels of interest, it was necessary to settle all outstanding debt: with Repsol (Kicillof said at the moment of confiscation that Repsol would have to pay billions to Argentina), with the <a href="http://www.clubdeparis.org/en/">Paris Club</a> (Argentina did not even try to negotiate a reduction in punitive back-interest payments), with the verdicts of the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (<a href="http://www.internationalarbitrationlaw.com/arbitral-institutions/icsid/">ICSID</a>), and with the “holdouts” which had refused the terms of the 2005 and 2010 restructurings. </p><p><strong>A president, alone</strong></p><p>Is there a way out of this (in Mrs Kirchner's <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/celia-szusterman/argentine-fable-cristina-kirchners-tall-stories">view</a>) victorious decade, which in fact can only be described - and that generously - as a wasted one? In contrast with other Latin American countries, Argentina since 2003 has <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/848c58ac-1ae9-11e4-a633-00144feabdc0.html">returned</a> to high levels of inflation, unsustainable debt, growing poverty and recession. Yet there is hope. A new government will be <a href="http://www.americasquarterly.org/content/argentinas-economy-and-2015-presidential-elections">elected</a> in October 2015. Mrs Kirchner is not allowed to run for a third term. Thus by 2016, if another “model” is put in place, fiscal equilibrium is achieved, the central bank is excused from financing the public deficit and trust is restored, a reasonable long-term agreement with creditors would mean that the debt, in the long run (and yes, when we are all dead) is payable. Lessons to be learned?&nbsp; Szewach has it right: the best way of coming out of default is…never to go into one.</p><p>As <a href="http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=318362&amp;CategoryId=13282">Russ Dallen</a> has written: “In the end, the worst thing about all of this is it could have been easily avoided”. If Argentina's private-banks' association ADEBA had just stepped up and<a href="http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/166157/banco-ciudad-backs-adeba%E2%80%99s-failed-plan-to-buy-%E2%80%98vultures%E2%80%99-bonds"> bought </a>the bonds, paying the $1.6 billion to NML and Aurelius, the problem could have dissolved and Argentina begun re-accessing international capital markets.&nbsp;A <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/argentina-banks-preparing-bid-to-help-argentina-avoid-default-1406692665?mod=mktw">deal</a> around those parameters is still being talked about and may even yet happen. (The first time Argentina defaulted, in 1828, it took the country twenty-nine years to start to <a href="http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2345115&amp;CategoryId=14093">cure</a> the default.)</p><p>The sad thing is that the last decade, which saw the recovery of economic activity after the 2001-02 crisis, produced unprecedented levels of fiscal income. Yet since 2007 the fiscal deficit has kept expanding. <em>Ignorance</em> of Economics 1.01? <em>Irresponsibility</em>? <em>Incompetence</em> of a president and an economy minister with little knowledge and less experience? <em>Ideology</em>?&nbsp; There is a further explanatory element. <em>Isolation</em> - mental, physical and geographical. Every weekend Mrs Kirchner flies 2,500 kilometres to Santa Cruz, where she is in the almost exclusive company of her son. When she is in Government House - usually four days a week, and never starting the day before noon - she does not <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/argentinas-broken-polity">hold</a> cabinet meetings (there have been none since 2003). She listens to no one, other than Kicillof. Her isolation is complete. When someone told one of her collaborators what the consequences of falling into default would be and asked that she be told, the reply was: “There is no way I can tell her that”.</p><p>Kicillof’s atomic nonsense may <a href="http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1716040-de-la-vuelta-de-obligado-a-los-buitres">turn out</a> to be an atomic irresponsibility. Default - technical, partial or selective - is default. In 2005 and 2010, first Néstor Kirchner and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/argentina_s_new_president_kirchner_after_kirchner">then</a> Cristina chose New York as the jurisdiction overseeing the new bonds in order to persuade bondholders to accept the new terms. Not to have anticipated the consequences of the whatever-you-want-to-call-it may well turn out to be an atomic idiocy.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.argentinaindependent.com/"><em><span><span>Argentina Independent</span></span></em></a></p><p>Luis Alberto Romero, "<a href="http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1716040-de-la-vuelta-de-obligado-a-los-buitres">Entre la Vuelta de Obligado y los buitres</a>" (<em>La Nacion</em>, 6 August 2014) </p><p>Michael Goebel, <a href="http://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/index.php?option=com_wrapper&amp;view=wrapper&amp;Itemid=11&amp;AS1=argentina%27s+partisan+past"><em>Argentina’s Partisan Past: Nationalism and the Politics of History</em></a> (Liverpool University Press, 2011)</p><p>Luis Alberto Romero, <a href="http://www.psupress.psu.edu/books/titles/0-271-02191-8.html"><em><span><span>A History of Argentina in the Twentieth Century</span></span></em></a> (Penn State University Press, 2002)</p> <p>Javier Auyero<em>, </em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521694117"><em><span><span>Routine Politics and Violence in Argentina: The Gray Zone of State Power</span></span></em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2007)</p> <p><a href="http://www.buenosairesherald.com/"><em><span><span>Buenos Aires Herald</span></span></em></a></p> <div> <div>David Rock, <a href="http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/6014.php"><em><span><span>Authoritarian Argentina: The Nationalist Movement, Its History and Its Impact</span></span></em></a> (California University Press, 1993)</div> <div> <p><a href="http://www.as-coa.org/"><span><span>Council of the Americas&nbsp;</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/argentina/"><span><span>Lanic - Argentina resources</span></span></a></p></div></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/celia-szusterman/argentine-fable-cristina-kirchners-tall-stories">An Argentine fable: Cristina Kirchner&#039;s tall stories</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/celia-szusterman/argentina%E2%80%99s-energy-politics-context-of-crisis">Argentina’s energy politics: context of crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/celia-szusterman/argentina-democracy-by-default-0">Argentina: democracy by default</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/celia-szusterman/argentina-y-las-malvinas-in-search-of-reality">Argentina y las Malvinas: in search of reality </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/argentinas-broken-polity">Argentina&#039;s broken polity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/kirchner_model_king_queen_penguin">The Kirchner model: king and queen penguin</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/argentina-celebrating-democracy">Argentina: celebrating democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Argentina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Argentina Democracy and government Economics International politics institutions & government Globalisation democracy & power latin america Celia Szusterman Tue, 05 Aug 2014 01:05:13 +0000 Celia Szusterman 84947 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Afghanistan: state of insecurity https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-state-of-insecurity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A revived Taliban insurgency and alarming military revelations cast a new shadow over United States strategy in Afghanistan.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>A cousin of Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, was hosting a celebration of the Eid al-Fitr festival at his home in Kandahar province on 29 July 2014.&nbsp; A smartly dressed man joined the celebrations, detonated an explosive vest and <a href="http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKBN0FY0L720140729">killed</a> himself and the cousin, Hashmat Karzai.</p><p>The other Mr Karzai was also a highly <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-28539591">influential</a> man, and not always in accord with the presiden. His most prominent recent role had been as an advisor to one of the two leading candidates in the presidential election (and likely next holder of the office), <a href="http://ps.ashrafghani.com/">Ashraf Ghani</a>.</p><p>The assassination of Hashmat Karzai is just one example of the targeted attacks that have often threatened the usually well-protected elites of Kabul. It is also an indication of how much seems to be going wrong across Afghanistan as the withdrawal of the great majority of foreign troops - <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/28/world/asia/us-to-complete-afghan-pullout-by-end-of-2016-obama-to-say.html">scheduled</a> for the end of 2014 - draws near.</p><p>Among the problems, two of a directly military character that bear on the crucial United States-Afghanistan relationship have come to the fore. The first, revealed by the well-connected US publication <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/"><em>Defense News</em></a>, is that a key component of the <a href="https://www.understandingwar.org/afghanistan-national-army-ana">Afghan army</a> may be unable to operate as planned. This is a large rapid-reaction force of seven <em>kandaks</em> (each roughly equivalent to a battalion in western army parlance. Overall, the <em>kandaks</em> have been <a href="http://www.afghanwarnews.info/army/combatservicesupportCSSKANA.htm">established</a> in two brigades based respectively in Kabul (containing four) and Kandahar (with three), amounting to 7,000 or so soldiers in all. The US has trained and equipped the force in order to counter, and meet the demands of, sudden upsurges in attacks against the army by the Taliban and other armed opposition groups (AOGs), </p><p>The crucial element in the <em>kandaks'</em> make-up is the provision of over 350 mobile strike-force vehicles (MSFVs), which are made by the US company Textron. The <a href="http://www.textronsystems.com/newsroom/press-release?ReleaseID=007c3194-3cd2-4a97-b78d-ca19cabb43f2">vehicles</a>, each costing more than $1 million, are well protected and more than adequately armed; but the entire programme has been <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/07/29/questions-raised-about-afghanistans-mobile-strike-force-vehicle-fleet/">bedevilled</a> with inadequate logistics support, so much so that there are doubts as to the viability of the whole force (see “<a href="http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140729/DEFREG04/307290027/Afghan-Quick-Reaction-Force-Slowed-by-Logistics-Failures">Afghan Quick Reaction Force Slowed by Logistics Failures</a>”, <em>Defense News</em>, 29 July 2014).</p><p>An indication of this is that the failure appears to involve more than any inefficiencies on the part of Textron. Army inspectors, quoted in the <em>Defense News</em> piece, state that “Textron, ‘through no fault of its own’ has been unable to ship spare parts in part because US forces have been unable to provide personnel to provide the security it was promised under its contract”.</p><p>The second problem is that the provision of American weapons and equipment to the Afghans has been riddled with mistakes and woefully inadequate <a href="http://www.wallstreetdaily.com/2014/07/30/u-s-weapons-missing-in-afghanistan/">oversight</a>, to a degree that the Pentagon's poor record-keeping - according to an official US report - could have allowed some 200,000 weapons supplied to the Afghan forces to go missing (see Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/07/28/afghanistan-may-have-lost-track-of-more-than-200000-weapons/">Afghanistan may have lost track of more than 200,000 weapons</a>”, <em>Washington Post</em>, 28 July 2014). This would be a worry at any time. Today, amid concerns that the Afghan armed forces may have been repeatedly <a href="http://www.wired.com/2013/05/turncoats/">penetrated</a> by Taliban and AOG sympathisers, there is real fear that forces opposed to the government in Kabul will have acquired and be able to use them.</p><p><strong>A long aftermath</strong></p><p>These two cases reflect a much wider dilemma for the Americans and their Afghan allies: namely, that the Taliban and other groups are making gains across much of the country, even the bulk of foreign troops withdraw (see Azam Ahmed, “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/world/asia/taliban-making-military-gains-in-afghanistan.html?_r=0">Taliban are scoring victories in Afghanistan</a>” (<em>New York Times</em>, 28 July 2014). The successes of the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/07/30/the-taliban-waiting-game-in-afghanistan-mapped-by-media-since-2009/">Taliban</a>, in particular, mean that they are extending their reach beyond their traditionally held areas in the south and south-east of the country, putting <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/world/asia/taliban-afghanistan.html">markers</a> down in two areas close to Kabul, and threatening important supply-lines.</p><p>In the process the Taliban are inflicting serious casualties on Afghan government forces, though (as the NYT <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/world/asia/taliban-making-military-gains-in-afghanistan.html?_r=0">report</a> says) "[their] advance has gone unreported because most American forces have left the field and officials in Kabul have largely refused to talk about it”. There was a surge in deaths among police and army personnel in 2013, eventually averaging more than a hundred a month.</p><p>Since then, it has become much more difficult to establish secure casualty figures, because the defence and interior ministries have simply stopped publishing them. United Nations <a href="http://www.unama.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=12254&amp;ctl=Details&amp;mid=15756&amp;ItemID=37692&amp;language=en-US">statistics</a> on the matter suggest a 24% rise in civilian casualties for the first six months of 2014 compared with a year ago. Furthermore, the highest number of casualties came from fighting between Taliban and government forces rather than from roadside bombs.</p><p>There is little doubt that the Taliban and other networks are now <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/07/analysis_mullah_omar.php">gaining</a> in power in Afghanistan. At the same time, there is evidence that they will not push this too far in what is colloquially termed the “fighting season”, for fear of provoking the Pentagon to delay or slow the withdrawal. Instead, they will <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/antonio-giustozzi/taliban-and-afghanistan%E2%80%99s-war">bide</a> their time until 2015.</p><p>If the anticipated escalation in armed activities does then happen, the remaining US troops are likely to concentrate on the use of special forces and armed-drones to maintain a semblance of control and help ensure the survival of whatever Afghan government is finally formed. Neither task will be easy and the former is likely to be <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/kajaki-saga-of-ruin">protracted</a>, stretching - like the conflict since late 2001 - over years not months.</p><p>Indeed, the events of 2014 show that US involvement in Afghanistan is nowhere near finished and may yet last many more years. Islamist paramilitary groups everywhere will take great satisfaction from that. Indeed, in the longer term Afghanistan's paramilitary curve may well become as significant as the ISIL <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">takeover</a> of parts of Syria and Iraq, with effects on the region comparable to events there and over <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/gazairaq-connection">Gaza</a>. Even as the latter conflicts dominate the news agenda, Afghanistan's own remains acute. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p><a href="http://www.defensenews.com/"><em>Defense News</em></a></p><p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/paul-rogers/paul-rogers-timeline-on-middle-east-2001present-from-mustread-opendemocra">Paul Rogers&#039; timeline on the Middle East, 2001-present: from the must-read openDemocracy column</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/gazairaq-connection">The Gaza-Iraq connection</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-vs-hamas-war-of-surprises">Israel vs Hamas, a war of surprises</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-israel-gaza-missiles-and-politics">America, Israel, Gaza: missiles and politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">Al-Qaida, and a global revolt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Palestine Israel Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Paul Rogers Thu, 31 Jul 2014 04:15:57 +0000 Paul Rogers 84845 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A new, Eurasian, world order https://www.opendemocracy.net/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/new-eurasian-world-order <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>China and Russia are at the heart of the world's shifting power-balance. But current cooperation between them is likely to give way to tension. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The evolving relationship between China and Russia is a strong indication of wider changes in the world's economy and geopolitics. Consider two recent events. After much talking and speculation, China and Russia finally signed a long-term gas-trading "mega-deal" in Beijing on 21 May 2014. The <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/22/world/asia/china-russia-gas-deal.html">agreement</a> is valid for thirty years and estimated to be worth some $400 billion. As yet, though, there are no official figures on the price of Russian gas exported to China. Then, on 29 May, Russia along with two of its regional allies, Kazakhstan and Belarus, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/05/introducing-eurasian-economic-union">founded</a> the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in Astana, Kazakhstan's capital. </p><p>These initiatives give a fresh <a href="http://www.bjreview.com.cn/print/txt/2014-05/19/content_619401.htm">boost</a> to the familiar question of whether a "new world order", both political and economic, is in the making - and whether China and Russia will "rule" it together, at least in Eurasia. In the shorter term, with China and Russia cooperating on many issues, this seems possible. In the long term, though, the two countries risk finding themselves at loggerheads. This emerges from a closer look at three aspects of their relationship.&nbsp; </p><p><strong>Energy and rivalry</strong></p><p>The first is <em>energy</em>, which is of course at the heart of that gas deal. Russia's own Energy Strategy 2030 makes clear that Moscow is increasingly <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27499883">looking</a> east, and aims at developing gas-and-oil fields in regions such as Siberia, the Arctic, and its far east. China for its part needs resources and transit ("new silk roads") to the Middle East and eastern Europe; it is already the major trading partner of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan, and has invested massively in the whole of central Asia, especially in the energy sector. </p><p>At the same time, Saudi Arabia is China’s top petroleum supplier, and the Gulf countries trade huge quantities of fuel with Beijing. Since the sea-transport routes from the Gulf to China must pass strategically sensitive <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/oil-chokepoints-suez-canal-2011-1?op=1">choke-points</a> (the Straits of Hormuz and Malacca),&nbsp; the importance of land connections via central Asia is increasing. This is where a clash with Russia becomes possible, and in the longer term even likely. Russia, after all, with some reason tends to consider central Asia part of its "near abroad". </p><p>Remittances from Russia account for almost half of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s economies. The two countries host Russian military bases and its <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/baikonur.html">Baikonur</a> cosmodrome, and a quarter of Kazakhstan's population are Russian native speakers. There are also significant Russian <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/report/20181/turkmenistan-focus-on-the-russian-minority">minorities</a> in resource-rich Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Moreover, Russia remains popular in central Asia, something not always the case with China. A Gallup survey <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/world.aspx">published</a> in 2011 found that Russia’s regional leadership would be approved by 94% in Tajikistan, 84% in Kyrgyzstan, 81% in Uzbekistan, and 73% in Kazakhstan. Thus, Russia has a strong presence in the region and will hardly concede any leadership role, political or economic, to China. </p><p><strong>Finance and politics</strong></p><p>The second aspect is <em>finance</em>. China’s slow but steadfast reforms has pushed the yuan to become the second most used currency in global trade and (in October 2013) the ninth most traded. Russia is financially weaker; even in the EEU, Almaty could become one of the new body's financial capitals. At the moment, Russia needs Beijing’s financial stability and might, and the two countries are working towards the establishment of a common <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/democracy-in-credit-new-agency-new-order">credit-ratings </a>agency, as well as a BRICS development bank. </p><p>In the longer term, however, Russia - most recently put under a further level of sanctions by the European Union following the shooting down of the MH-17 airliner - risks finding itself squeezed between the west and a large east Asian capital market, embodied in an Asia-Pacific <a href="http://www.docstoc.com/docs/153507438/An-Asian-super-bourse-Still-possibility-Loo-Partners-LLP"><em>superbourse</em></a> which is the likely outcome of stock-exchange <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/democracy-in-credit-new-agency-new-order">mergers</a> in the region. When China’s financial markets are more open and developed, their potential to give shape to an east Asian equivalent of Wall Street will fully unfold. This would be a problem for Moscow, which would remain marginalised. </p><p><strong>Security and economics</strong></p><p>The third aspect of the Russia-China relationship is <em>security</em>. Here too central Asia is at the heart. Moscow controls the region in direct and indirect ways (for instance, its intelligence services), while China has taken the lead in terms of trade and investments. This looks like a fair division of labour, but the balance could change if, for example, Chinese investments were threatened. In that case, China might be tempted to intervene.&nbsp; </p><p>China and Russia also <a href="http://thediplomat.com/2014/07/the-shanghai-cooperation-organization-and-central-asian-security/">meet</a> in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which <em>inter alia</em> targets extremism, separatism, and fundamentalism. After the Eurasian Economic Union is fully <a href="http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_06_21/Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan-to-ratify-Eurasian-Economic-Union-treaty-this-autumn-6009/">established</a> in January 2015, however - and probably enlarged to new countries - the SCO's future is less clear. The EEA's own role as an economic union may change. </p><p>The EEU began in 2010 as a customs union, but has already been transformed. There is a Eurasian Commission, <a href="http://www.eurasiancommission.org/en/nae/news/Pages/14-04-2014-1.aspx">headed</a> by Viktor Kristenko, a Eurasian Development Bank, and even rumours about a Eurasian currency (the so-called <em>alting</em>). Thus, the EEU reproduces the form of the European Union’s institutions, though in an authoritarian way (and ironic, since it began as an alternative to the EU). </p><p>Today, the EEU is becoming an instrument to compete globally and contain rising superpowers like China itself. Russia, in demographic and economic terms, risks being dwarfed by its giant to the southeast. It can regain global status only by joining forces with neighbouring countries, which at some point will have to choose between Russia and China. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, for instance, seem inclined to join the EEU, but the consequences of common tariffs on these still weak and poor states - which depend on <a href="http://www.cbr.ru/eng/statistics/print.aspx?file=CrossBorder/Personal%20Remittances_CIS_e.htm">remittances</a> from Russia and goods from China - may be severe. </p><p>Yet more states - perhaps Turkey, Vietnam or even India - might yet consider <a href="http://www.eureporter.co/world/2014/05/22/opinion-%D0%B5urasian-economic-union-new-horizons/">associating</a> with Vladimir Putin’s (and Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev’s) brainchild. Vietnam, experiencing renewed tensions with China, might prefer political closeness to Russia. The Kremlin’s diplomacy has been active and consistent; in his visit to south America in May 2014, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov <a href="http://www.acercandonaciones.com/en/diplomacia/cristina-recibio-al-canciller-ruso-sergey-lavrov.html">enlisted</a> Argentina to join the sixth BRICS summit, <a href="http://www.mea.gov.in/bilateral-documents.htm?dtl/23635/Sixth+BRICS+Summit++Fortaleza+Declaration">held</a> on 15 July in Fortaleza, Brazil. A "Eurasian Russia" seeks to become a truly global player. </p><p><strong>In search of balance</strong></p><p>China and Russia have many and good reasons to cooperate, but in the long term their relations might become strained, particularly if the overall economic gap keeps widening in China’s favour. A possible long-term source of trouble is the way the two countries interpret their foreign policies. China tends to emphasise trade and economic growth; Russia is keener on security and maintaining a sphere under its authority in most parts of the former Soviet Union (whose disintegration was <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/28/us-ukraine-crisis-eurasia-idUSKBN0E81HI20140528">dubbed</a> by Putin "a geopolitical catastrophe"). This diversity might be seen as a result of different historical trajectories - Beijing's momentous economic rise, Moscow's humiliation (in the 1990s) <em>vis-à-vis</em> the west. These differences could also put the countries at odds.&nbsp; </p><p>Will other states be able to step in and play a balancing role? Since Narendra Modi’s election, India is perceived as more assertive and has already made friendly moves towards both Moscow and Beijing. Iran might reap some benefit as well. The United States is coming to terms with its own errors in the "greater Middle East" and will probably stay out for some time, apart from Barack Obama's<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/americas-chimerical-pivot"> rhetoric</a> of the "Asia pivot’. The European Union looks more <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/europe-freezes-eurasia-pivots">uncertain</a> and divided than ever, and still looking for a new foreign-policy chief. Welcome to the new, and uncertain, world order. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.linkiesta.it/blogs/giovine-europa-now"><em>Giovine Europa Now</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.eastasiaforum.org/">East Asia Forum</a></p><p><a href="http://thebricspost.com/"><em>The Brics Post</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/node/68106">Eurasianet.org</a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.bilaterals.org/?-Asia-Pacific-">Bilaterals.org</a></em></p><p>Joseph E Schwartzberg, <a href="http://unu.edu/publications/books/transforming-the-united-nations-system-designs-for-a-workable-world.html#overview"><em>Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World</em></a> (United Nations University Press, 2013)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ernesto Gallo and <span>Giovanni Biava are </span>scholars of international relations and co-authors of many articles on the subject, many published on <a href="http://www.linkiesta.it/blogs/giovine-europa-now"><em>Giovine Europa Now</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/europe-freezes-eurasia-pivots">Europe freezes, Eurasia pivots</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/americas-chimerical-pivot">America&#039;s chimerical pivot </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/democracy-in-asian-century">Democracy in the &quot;Asian century&quot; </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/western-democracy-decline-and">Western democracy: decline and...</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/democracy-in-credit-new-agency-new-order">Democracy in credit: new agency, new order</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> <div class="field-item even"> Russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Russia China Democracy and government Economics International politics institutions & government Globalisation democracy & power russia & eurasia Giovanni Biava Ernesto Gallo Tue, 29 Jul 2014 02:26:23 +0000 Ernesto Gallo and Giovanni Biava 84797 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Israel vs Hamas, a war of surprises https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel-vs-hamas-war-of-surprises <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The shock to Israel's system from the intense conflict in Gaza is profound.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>By any conventional measure, Hamas should now be more than ready to agree a ceasefire in its bitter war with Israel. Since the bombardments started on 8 July 2014 , Israel has expanded its air-strikes on targets concentrated in heavily populated areas, leading inevitably to a gradual increase in <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28468526">casualties</a>, the vast majority of them civilians. After seventeen days more than 700 people had been recorded dead and around 5,000 injured in Gaza, including over 180 children and over 100 women and older men. The damage to infrastructure in an already weak economy adds to the <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0724/Under-fire-in-Gaza-and-not-a-drop-to-drink">misery</a> (see Jodi Rudoren &amp; Michael R Gordon, “<a href="http://www.ohio.com/news/break-news/israel-faces-increasing-pressure-to-halt-gaza-war-1.507019">Israel faces increasing pressure to halt Gaza war</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 23 July 2014)</p><p>Hamas has continued its rocket attacks on Israel, with more than 2,000 since the latest conflict began. Israel is intent on destroying Hamas's launchers and munitions-stores as well as its "infiltration tunnels". It has the means to do this, given time; its military capacity is huge, it is the most powerful state in the Middle East, and it enjoys both close cooperation and technical reliance on the United States's advanced weapons and radar systems (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-israel-gaza-missiles-and-politics">America, Israel, Gaza: missiles and politics</a>", 17 July 2014). </p><p>Hamas has little external support, at least at state level. It is adamantly <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/7/17/egypt-hamas-gaza.html">opposed</a> by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government in Egypt; Syria and Iran have also withdrawn much support because of Hamas's backing of Islamist movements. Qatar may remain an ally, but a more cautious one.</p><p>All this makes for a reasonable assumption that Hamas must be getting desperate and will shortly sue for peace, perhaps on terms falling far short of its <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/07/hamas-rejects-gaza-truce-unless-blockade-lift-2014723225048114622.html">aims</a>. There may well be a ceasefire in the coming days, but the assumption nonetheless has two deep flaws. These must be grasped if any search for a tolerably stable peace is to&nbsp; be grounded in reality.&nbsp; </p><p><strong>Israel's troubles</strong></p><p>The first is that Hamas, though facing great problems in Gaza, does not appear to be losing support among the population as a whole. There, Israel and of course the United States are being blamed for the destruction. There is also an upsurge in public <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-strip-casualties.html?_r=0">support</a> for Hamas across the region, enhanced by coverage of the war on Al-Jazeera and other TV channels and the many social-media outlets. These show the human <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/gaza-conflict-israeli-fire-hits-compound-housing-un-school-killing-15-1.2716414">suffering</a> and destruction in Gaza at a much starker level that the largely self-censoring western media.</p><p>The second is that aspects of the conflict are very <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.606903">troubling</a> to Binyamin Netanyahu's government in ways that are just becoming apparent. Israel's great projection of power, for example, is not stopping rockets from being fired; one even evaded the missile-screen to land in the Yehud suburb of Tel Aviv close to Ben Gurion airport. The airport was then <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0723/With-a-single-rocket-Hamas-rattles-its-enemy-video">closed </a>on safety grounds to some of the major carriers (including Delta, US Airways, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Air France). The government immediately <a href="http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Israel-opens-second-international-airport-near-Eilat-in-response-to-flight-cancellations-368568">opened</a> Uvda airport, north of the Red Sea resort of Eilat, to more international traffic. </p><p>Ben Gurion airport <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/israel-opens-alternative-airport-to-more-international-flights-1406123075">may</a> reopen to many foreign carriers, but the psychological <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Backchannels/2014/0722/The-importance-of-Ben-Gurion-airport-to-Israel-video">impact</a> of even a short closure is substantial, especially because many Israelis look much more to their contact with the world beyond the Middle East rather than the region in which they actually live. </p><p>The airport closure, as well as affecting national morale, will also <a href="http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/devastates-fragile-apartheid.html">damage</a> Israel's tourist industry. This is one of the country's main foreign-exchange earners, and <a href="https://www.yahoo.com/travel/israel-tourism-takes-a-hit-amidst-conflict-92563870177.html">losses</a> are already estimated at $200 million. Here is a powerful symbolism: an impoverished, densely populated and hugely constrained community with hardly any external support able to put together crude weapons that can affect the economics and psychology of a hugely more powerful country convinced that it can ensure its own security.</p><p><strong>The only winners</strong></p><p>Another particular worry for Israel in this war is Hamas's use of the infiltration <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28430298">tunnels</a> it has built. The early phase of Israel's <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0718/Israeli-ground-invasion-of-Gaza-ramps-up-stakes-of-conflict-with-Hamas">direct</a> military intervention has been a real shock to the army, for it has revealed a network of tunnels of astonishing complexity - far more wide-ranging than expected. In addition, the fact that Hamas paramilitaries could use a tunnel to penetrate Israeli territory at the height of the war is profoundly <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/7/23/gaza-undergroundhamastunnels.html">disturbing</a> for Israel's military and government. </p><p>Their concern is deepened by the level of casualties being inflicted as the army tries to find and destroy the tunnels. By 24 July, these had reached thirty-two killed and over 100 injured. Much of the impact has been on the elite <a href="https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&amp;_Culture/golani_brigade.html">Golani</a> brigade, one of Israel’s five regular army brigades, whose role dates from February 1948 and the war of independence. On a single day, 20 July, thirteen members of the Golani were killed, including a battalion deputy commander; the brigade’s commanding officer, Colonel Ghassan Alian, was<a href="http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Golani-Brigade-Commander-wounded-in-clashes-with-Hamas-to-return-to-the-battlefield-368431"> wounded</a>.</p><p>By late on 23 July, Israeli forces had identified twenty-eight tunnels with sixty-eight entry points, six of which had been demolished. But there are reported to be far <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/business/.premium-1.606658">more</a>, and it will not be hard for Hamas paramilitaries to utilise many of them in the event of an Israeli withdrawal. If demolition is the only option to prevent further attacks, it also means the risk of continued occupation and more casualties. </p><p>Israel is now facing considerable international pressure even as it intensifies the war. In a hard military sense this is not surprising: a force with overwhelming firepower facing entrenched urban paramilitaries will use that firepower rather than expose its soldiers.&nbsp; The result is almost certain to mean more civilian deaths and injuries, and greater international opprobrium. </p><p>Israel is also turning its attention to Hamas supporters elsewhere. That includes destroying their houses on the West Bank, enhancing its existing programme of demolitions (see Sudarsan Raghavan “<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-west-bank-israel-revives-home-demolitions-to-stop-hamas/2014/07/22/c8197236-1dd7-4874-a3eb-f9438065644f_story.html">In West Bank Israel revives punitive home demolitions in effort to deter Hamas</a>”, <em>Washington Post</em>, 23 July&nbsp; 2014). The result is more likely to increase than reduce backing for Hamas and hatred of Israel, even among Palestinians who would not normally be sympathetic to the movement.</p><p><a href="http://knesset.gov.il/lexicon/eng/netanyahu_eng.htm">Binyamin Netanyahu</a> is now facing an unforeseen dilemma. He has both raised expectations of an end to the rockets and insisted that the tunnels must be destroyed; yet it's almost certain that his armed forces cannot achieve this without recourse to a long-term occupation of Gaza. Such a move, however, would increase casualties on both sides and invite further international condemnation. </p><p>In this situation, Israel may well accept something short of its own aims. John Kerry may therefore be in a stronger <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.606915">position</a> than supposed. That makes a ceasefire possible within the next week. But even if it is, the greatest beneficiaries of the conflict will be the extreme Islamist movements in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/gazairaq-connection">Iraq</a>, Syria and elsewhere. A continuation of the war would serve these movements' interests even more. Israel's actions, as so often, are aiding its worst enemies.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Defence Weekly</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-israel-gaza-missiles-and-politics">America, Israel, Gaza: missiles and politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-and-gaza-from-war-to-politics">Israel and Gaza: from war to politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-palestine-iran-fork">Israel, the Palestine-Iran fork </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/gaza-the-wider-war">Gaza: the wider war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel%E2%80%99s-security-complex">Israel’s security complex</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-tunnel-and-exit">Syria, tunnel and exit</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-turkey-united-states-gaza%E2%80%99s-global-moment">Israel-Turkey-United States: Gaza’s global moment </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger">Iraq, days of danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/gaza-the-israel-united-states-connection">Gaza: the Israel-United States connection </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Palestine Israel Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Israel Palestine: asymmetry Paul Rogers Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:40:34 +0000 Paul Rogers 84689 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Russia-Israel: domestic politics and serious blowback https://www.opendemocracy.net/martin-shaw/russiaisrael-domestic-politics-and-serious-blowback <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Ukraine and Gaza crises alike demonstrate the risks of aggressive policy based on short-term calculations. Vladimir Putin and Binyamin Netanyahu's war-as-politics invites damaging long-term consequences. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The slaughters in Ukraine and Gaza have one thing in common. Both result from governments authorising violence which is overwhelmingly motivated by domestic politics and appears almost gratuitous from a strategic point of view. Such policies promise short-term domestic popularity, but risk losing international credibility and producing serious blowback. <a href="http://eng.putin.kremlin.ru/bio">Vladimir Putin</a> is now finding this out. <a href="http://www.knesset.gov.il/elections/pm/ebio_pm_4.htm">Binyamin Netanyahu</a> should take note: the blowback for Israel could be far more serious.<br /><br /><strong>Putin’s nemesis</strong><br /><br />Putin began his capricious military <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/29/us-ukraine-crisis-putin-analysis-idUSKBN0FY1AC20140729?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=topNews">intervention</a> in Ukraine to offset the humiliation of the Maidan protestors’ overthrow of the kleptocratic president Viktor Yanukovych, the day after Russia had endorsed the European Union foreign ministers’ deal for a gradual transition. Putin’s initial intervention secured total control over Crimea with its Russian naval bases, though these (like Russian <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/multimedia/2014/3/map-russian-the-dominantlanguageincrimea.html">speakers</a> in Crimea) had never seriously been threatened. Putin, emboldened by a<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-27344029"> success</a> which played to the nationalist gallery, then promoted the transformation of eastern Ukrainians’ political opposition to the new Kiev regime into armed rebellion, and followed up by sending Russian officers and weapons and encouraging Russian as well as local activists.<br /><br />The strategy had the domestic effect of boosting Putin's popularity. But it imposed a high cost in life and disruption on the people he claimed to be helping, provoked great western hostility, and did not stop Kiev gradually reasserting some control. <br /><br />Now, however, the <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-23/mh17-likely-shot-down-by-accident-by-russian-separatists/5616748">shooting-down</a> on 17 July of a Malaysian Airways plane with 298 international travellers on board - to all appearances by pro-Russian separatists - raises the stakes to an entirely new level. This outrage can fairly be <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-officials-lay-out-case-against-russians-1406063846">painted</a> as the outcome of Putin’s adventure and is leading to worldwide condemnation of his regime. This could have serious consequences for Russia’s global economic as well political position. In the longer run it could certainly translate into domestic political costs for Putin.<br /><br /><strong>Netanyahu’s gamble</strong><br /><br />Where Binyamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government is concerned, it almost certainly knew that the three teenagers whose kidnap led to its army's rampage through the West Bank were already dead. More children were killed in the army operation, houses blown up and hundreds arrested (including many previously released Hamas supporters). The government definitely knew that, in response, Hamas would have every reason to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28554477">escalate</a> its rocket attacks. Partly to keep extreme right-wing, pro-settler elements within the governing coalition, Netanyahu calculated that Israel’s public, outraged by media hysteria over the murdered teenagers, would rally to whatever violence its military <a href="http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Report-Three-Palestinians-killed-in-West-Bank-violence-368926">inflicted</a>, not just on Hamas, but on Palestinian civilians.<br /><br />There are conventional military elements to Israel’s attack on Gaza, but it is difficult to dignify them as strategic. These amount to inflicting short-term damage on Hamas’s economic and political as well as military <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/israel-pounds-hamas-infrastructure-in-gaza-1406625853?mod=WSJ_GoogleNews">infrastructure</a>. However as the obscene euphemism "mowing the lawn" suggests, these gains are recognised as short-term. In any case the starting-point of this campaign, and its larger purpose as it continues, is surely to punish Palestinians as a whole for the delectation of an Israeli public opinion desensitised to dead bodies which are not their own. In this purpose, too, the gains can only be short-term, as once Gazans emerge from the <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.607937">rubble</a> they will surely be radicalised by the new outrage that Israel has committed on them. The <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/hamas-gains-popularity-in-west-bank-for-stand-against-israel/article19764573/">signs</a> of this are already apparent.<br /><br />Netanyahu’s blowback problem is not just Hamas: its political reinforcement is a predictable consequence of what he is doing, just as the continuing dominance of the aggressive Israeli right is a predictable consequence of Hamas’s rocket campaigns. The real problem is the extreme instability of the wider Middle East, with long-term wars raging in Syria and Iraq, in which the stability of Jordan - absolutely crucial to Israel’s own - is increasingly at risk. The gain to Israel of the brutal new, <a href="http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/as-israel-continues-to-bombard-gaza-el-sisi-struggles-to-define-egypts-role">anti-Hamas</a> Egyptian government is small in comparison.<br /><br />Israel could find itself, not too far ahead, facing an opposition far worse than Hamas, which cannot be contained by the quick-fix punitive expeditions that Israel has practised in Gaza and Lebanon in the last decade, and which are easily sold to a domestic public and tolerated by western governments. Indeed these assaults, which Israelis now think of as routine, could contribute to a radicalisation beyond Gaza, and beyond as well as within Israel-Palestine, which will genuinely threaten their security in a way in which Hamas can never do.<br /><br /><strong>Israeli adventurism: the real stakes</strong><br /><br />This is Netanyahu’s real gamble. For small, encircled Israel, dependent on United States and western support, the stakes of adventurism are far higher than they are for a great power like Russia, secure in its own borders and facing no real military threats. Israeli leaders, relentlessly focused on the short term (as their unstable electoral-coalition system dictates) could be making a historic blunder by ignoring the strategic advantages of a settlement with the existing Palestinian political forces - including Hamas. <br /><br />The outlines of a deal, overwhelmingly on Israel’s terms even if requiring some difficult concessions, have been on the table for a long time. Peaceful Israeli and Palestinian states alongside each other, with cooperative economic arrangements and even a fraction of the western aid now buttressing Israel’s military stance, would offer a bulwark of stability which military occupation and violent collective punishment can never provide. In ten or twenty years’ time, the world might ask how Israeli leaders could possibly have indulged this dangerous temptation of short-term military gratification at the cost of a political and strategic solution.<br /><br /><strong>The problem of war-as-politics</strong><br /><br />Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) famously <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/302.html">claimed</a> that war is the continuation of <em>Politik</em> by other means. The word is usually translated as "policy", but sometimes as "politics". In the 21st century, however, war is increasingly the continuation of domestic politics, with geopolitical policy and military strategy subordinated to domestic goals. <br /><br />Since Margaret Thatcher salvaged her deep domestic unpopularity by successfully <a href="http://en.mercopress.com/2013/04/08/falklands-war-a-turning-point-for-margaret-thatcher-s-image-and-political-fortunes">avenging</a> the Argentine invasion of the Falkland/Malvinas islands in 1982, governments have increasingly factored electoral calculations into military decisions. Western leaders over the last three decades - like Netanyahu today - have been tempted by quick-fix wars with minimal political risks, in which few of "our" soldiers are killed and the life-costs are mainly transferred to innocent civilians in the war-zone. (see <a href="http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745634111"><em>The New Western Way of War</em></a>, where I call this "risk-transfer war").<br /><br />Such wars have worked only for short periods. In an extreme but relevant case, George W Bush’s hubris in declaring "major combat over" in Iraq in 2003 was exposed by the unending, low-level genocidal civil war that continues to this day. Despite <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflicts/global_security/peace_crusader">Tony Blair’s</a> protests, this war did not just introduce "terrorism" and al-Qaida to Iraq, but has <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger">led</a> ultimately to ISIS and the new "Islamic State". Even electorally, although Bush may have scraped re-election, his presidency ended in ignominy and the defeat of his party, while Blair has of course become a pariah in Europe. <br /><br />Netanyahu should heed not only Putin’s, but also Bush’s nemesis. He may keep his show on the road for a while longer as a result of the latest assault, but the new, much more aggressive and unpredictable Islamists which Bush’s policies helped to unleash are not far from Jordan and even Israel itself. It is a mark of the extreme <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/1309523/no-peace-with-israeli-pms-short-term-tactics">short-termism</a> which characterises Israeli, like most governments’, policies that few are thinking of the dramatically different stakes that would arise if the Palestinian crisis should be connected to the wider instability, as the Iraqi crisis has been dramatically <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/06/23/wider-war">connected</a> to the Syrian war. <br /><br />The Gaza war is meant to be, like Israel’s and other western wars, a contained exercise. But what if Clausewitz’s law of escalation should assert itself in currently unforeseen ways?</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://martinshaw.org/">Martin Shaw</a></p><p>Martin Shaw, <a href="http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745634104"><em>The New Western Way of War: Risk-Transfer War and its Crisis in Iraq</em></a> (Polity, 2005)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/martin-shaw/syria-and-egypt-genocidal-violence-western-response">Syria and Egypt: genocidal violence, western response</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/martin-shaw/paths-to-change-peaceful-vs-violent">Paths to change: peaceful vs violent</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/israel-s-politics-of-war">Israel’s politics of war </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/martin-shaw/nigeria-and-politics-of-massacre">Nigeria and the politics of massacre</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/martin-shaw/libya-revolution-intervention-dynamic">Libya: the revolution-intervention dynamic</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/martin-shaw/holocaust-and-genocide-loose-talk-bad-action">The Holocaust and genocide: loose talk, bad action</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/martin-shaw/politics-of-genocide-rwanda-and-dr-congo">The politics of genocide: Rwanda &amp; DR Congo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/martin-shaw/sri-lanka-power-and-accountability">Sri Lanka: power and accountability</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/democratic-republic-of-the-congo/dr-congo-arc-of-war-map-of-responsibility-0">DR Congo: arc of war, map of responsibility</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/israeli-settlements-and-ethnic-cleansing">Israeli settlements and “ethnic cleansing” </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Russia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ukraine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Ukraine Russia Palestine Israel Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation democracy & power middle east Martin Shaw Mon, 21 Jul 2014 01:40:37 +0000 Martin Shaw 84590 at https://www.opendemocracy.net America, Israel, Gaza: missiles and politics https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-israel-gaza-missiles-and-politics <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Israel's conflict with Hamas highlights its close partnership with the United States over missile defence. But it also deepens Washington's regional worries over Syria, Iraq, Hizbollah, and Iran. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The unfolding events in Iraq and Syria are creating a single field of conflict. ISIL's rapid progress in Iraq in the first half of June 2014 is matched by its less reported advances in Syria, where the movement has been able to gain support from some other Islamist militias and seize territory previously controlled by more secular rebels. It is also now making gains in Kurdish districts of northern Syria, to the dismay of the large Kurdish population in Turkey as well as the government in Ankara (see Patrick Cockburn, "<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-conflict-isis-marches-further-into-syria-tipping-the-balance-of-power-in-the-civil-war-9608335.html">Isis marches further into Syria tipping the balance of power in the civil war</a>", <em>Independent</em>, 16 July 2014). All this confirms ISIL's place as the strongest opponent of Bashar al-Assad's regime on the ground.</p><p>ISIL's <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/isis-bombed-in-iraq-but-advances-in-syria/">success</a> in Syria is owed in part to the substantial <a href="http://www.news.com.au/world/iraqi-sunni-insurgents-seize-huge-cache-of-usmade-arms-and-equipment/story-fndir2ev-1226952811362">amounts</a> of equipment, weapons and ammunition it has taken from military bases in Iraq it overran in the lightning offensive of early June. The booty includes hundreds of Humvees (possibly over 1,000), though these fuel-thirsty vehicles and their <a href="http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/06/22/NGO-Syria-jihadists-now-using-Humvees-seized-in-Iraq-.html">use</a> may be limited until ISIL can control more oil production and refining. More important is the capture of more than fifty United States artillery-pieces - 155mm M198 howitzers with plenty of ammunition and GPS-assisted targeting. These can fire up to two rounds a minute over a range of more than 30 kilometres, with potentially devastating impact if used in urban areas (see Mitchell Prothero, “<a href="http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/07/14/5969751/iraqi-army-remains-on-defensive.html?rh=1">Iraqi army remains on the defensive as extent of June debacle becomes clearer</a>”, <em>McClatchy Washington Bureau</em>, 14 July 2014).</p><p>In Iraq, ISIL has consolidated its earlier gains, as attempts by Nouri al-Maliki's government to retrieve lost territory have - so far - failed. The most significant <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/18/4243140/islamic-state-overwhelms-iraqi.html">setback </a>is over the city of Tikrit, symbolically important as the heartland of Saddam Hussein's regime (see Mitchell Prothero, "<a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/18/4243140/islamic-state-overwhelms-iraqi.html ">Islamic State overwhelms Iraqi forces at Tikrit in major defeat</a>", <em>Miami Herald</em>, 18 July 2014).</p><p>These developments in Syria and Iraq, taken together, are giving the ISIL leadership greater confidence, which is no doubt reinforced by the region-wide anger at Israel's action in Gaza (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/gazairaq-connection">The Gaza-Iraq connection</a>", 10 July 2014).</p><p>The United States views ISIL's expansion of territory and power with great concern. The strong tendency of Barack Obama's administration is still to <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/obama-reaffirms-u-s-support-for-israel-s-gaza-incursion-1.2710788">support</a> Israel, yet the prospect that the Gaza conflict will give ISIL and other extreme Islamists a propaganda victory is a particular <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/obama-us-means-israel-cease-fire-24591845">worry</a> (one that will grow now that the Israelis have <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28359582">moved</a> troops into the territory). The five-hour "humanitarian" ceasefire agreed with the United Nations is a modest step. The earlier proposed suspension, mediated by Egypt, had little prospect of taking hold, given the antipathy of Egypt's president towards Hamas. But Washington will be working hard to promote other <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/diplomatic-divide-saps-u-s-push-for-mideast-cease-fire-1405723920">attempts</a>, possibly involving Turkey or Qatar and the United Nations.</p><p>John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has been intensely engaged with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Even amid the current outbreak he may rate his chances of <a href="http://www.voanews.com/media/video/1960874.html">acting</a> as an honest broker, and Washington certainly has plenty of levers to pull with Israel if it chooses to do so. At the same time, it has very little appreciation of how toxically the US-Israel connection is seen right across the Middle East; indeed, in the eyes of many, and not just of extremists, the two states are essentially a single entity.</p><p><strong>The rocket factor</strong></p><p>Several columns in this <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series </a>written in late 2003 and early 2004 - as the problems for the US in Iraq were multiplying by the week - pointed to the very close connection between the armed forces of the US and Israel (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1655.jsp">After Saddam, no respite</a>", 19 December 2003), and "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1858.jsp">Between Fallujah and Palestine</a>", 22 April 2004 ). A later column cited a remarkable example: the construction by the US army corps of engineers of a mock Arab city in the Negev desert, to be used to train Israeli and US troops in urban counterinsurgency (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/a_tale_of_two_towns">A tale of two towns</a>", 21 June 2007). The extension of these links in recent years has opened new possibilities in different areas, in some cases just as graphic. These are central to the current contest between Israel and Hamas, and may become even stronger in a future conflict with <a href="http://www.cfr.org/lebanon/hezbollah-k-hizbollah-hizbullah/p9155">Hizbollah</a>.</p><p>The new developments particularly relate to the rockets being fired into Israel. Most of the rockets are being intercepted by what tends to be termed “Israeli” missile-defences, and thus few cause damage, death or injury. They are, though, hugely unsettling for the Israelis living in their shadow, and a premium is thus put on defending against them. This attitude was hugely boosted in 2006, when the month-long war with Hizbollah saw missiles from southern Lebanon continuing to hit northern Israel even through an intense Israeli bombardment (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/gaza-the-israel-united-states-connection">Gaza: the Israel-United States connection</a>", 7 January 2009).</p><p>There is speculation that Hamas's supply of rockets might run out after the closure of most of Gaza's border with Egypt. But analysts have been surprised by the manner in which Hamas technicians have developed the capacity to build their own rockets within Gaza and from basic components. These have long included short-range Grad-type rockets of up to 20-km range, but the <a href="http://www.idfblog.com/">Israeli Defence Force</a> estimates that “about 40% of rockets that have a range of 20 km or more are now made in the Gaza Strip” (see Jeremy Binnie &amp; Mohammed Najib, “<a href="http://www.janes.com/article/40768/hamas-unveils-new-uav">Gaza militants unveil longer-range rockets</a>”, <em>Jane’s Defence Weekly</em>, 16 July 2014). Furthermore, both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) now claim to be able to make and fire rockets with a range of 80 kms.</p><p>In the face of these and other innovations, Israel has a layered defensive system designed to counter three different types of missile: the oft-cited <em>Iron Dome</em> <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/07/iron-domesavior-or-sales-job/374486/">batteries</a> (used against short-range rockets), <em>David’s Sling</em> (offering defence against longer-range tactical rockets when it is deployed in a few months), and the <em>Arrow</em> series of much longer-range <a href="http://aviationweek.com/awin/higher-altitude-arrow-design-show-its-potential">interceptors</a> (to be used against missiles fired by the likes of Iran).</p><p><strong>The joint enterprise</strong></p><p>The point about this is that all three systems are essentially joint Israel-US programmes - and have been just about since their inception, both in terms of funding and development. Where funding is concerned, the US's Consolidated Appropriations Act for the financial year 2014 <a href="https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/3547">provides</a> $3.1 billion for Israel military spending, but in addition $235 million specifically for <em>Iron Dome</em> (bringing total support for the project to almost $1bn, since the US has provided $704 million in previous years). Moreover, $15 million has recently been committed to help set up a new production-line for <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/business/.premium-1.605770"><em>Iron Dome</em></a> in the United States, with Raytheon the likely co-producer (see Jeremy M Sharp, “<a href="http://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf">U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel</a>”, <em>CRS Report to Congress</em>, Congressional Research Service, 11 April 2014).</p><p><em>David’s Sling</em> has been a joint US-Israeli <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/21/arms-israel-missiles-idUSL6N0O74PG20140521">programme</a> since it was announced in 2008, again with <a href="http://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/stunner/">Raytheon</a> the US partner. <em>Arrow</em> is much older: the development of a longer-range series of interceptors commenced in 1988, also as a joint programme, with the US providing close to half the annual development costs. If the planned US commitment in 2014 is included, Washington has provided $2.36 billion in funding for the Arrow programme.</p><p>Perhaps the most significant aspect of US-Israeli military cooperation is the advanced X-band radar missile-detection system produced by Raytheon which is now operational in Israel though under US military control. The recent <a href="http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/">Congressional Research Report</a> is worth <a href="http://www.cfr.org/israel/crs-us-foreign-aid-israel/p14816">quoting</a> in full:</p><p>“Not only is the X-band system reportedly far more capable of detecting incoming missiles than Israel’s natively produced radar system, but the United States also has linked the X-band to its global network of satellites in the U.S. Defence Support Programme (DSP) and to the global<a href="http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/usmissiledefense"> </a>U.S. Ballistic Missile Defence System (BMDS). The DSP is the principal component of the U.S. Satellite Early Warning System to detect missile launches. According to various media reports, the X-band system is now operational. It will remain U.S.-owned and is operated by U.S. troops and defence contractors - the first indefinite U.S. military presence to be established on Israeli soil. Reportedly, the system has been deployed to a classified location in the southern Negev Desert.”</p><p>This close relationship long predates the Obama administration but it means that the United States is directly and consistently involved in Israel’s efforts to counter the rockets launched from Gaza, with this even extending to US soldiers operating in Israel. It is also indirectly involved in the Israeli assault into Gaza, as many of the Israel troops will have got urban counterinsurgency training in Baladia, the mock Arab city <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/arab-prospects-al-qaida-hopes">built</a> by the US army (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel-and-gaza-from-war-to-politics ">Israel and Gaza: from war to politics</a>", 22 November 2012).</p><p>In one sense these very close military, financial and strategic links could give John Kerry major leverage over Israel. But they also have the distinct downside that, over across the whole Middle East, Washington is not seen as anything even vaguely approaching an honest broker. Again, both the connections and the perception of them, are a real gift to Islamist propagandists.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>This is <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2014/0718/As-Israel-Gaza-hostilities-deepen-US-mostly-stays-out-of-it.-A-mistake-video">difficult</a> for Obama. But if Israel goes much further in the Gaza conflict, killing many more civilians as the ground <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0718/Israeli-ground-invasion-of-Gaza-ramps-up-stakes-of-conflict-with-Hamas">assault </a>adds to the impact of the air-strikes, this United States president may yet become exasperated enough to give John Kerry the green light to insist that Israel calls a halt.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Defence Weekly</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/gaza-the-israel-united-states-connection">Gaza: the Israel-United States connection </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-turkey-united-states-gaza%E2%80%99s-global-moment">Israel-Turkey-United States: Gaza’s global moment </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-palestine-iran-fork">Israel, the Palestine-Iran fork </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/gaza-the-wider-war">Gaza: the wider war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-tunnel-and-exit">Syria, tunnel and exit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel%E2%80%99s-security-complex">Israel’s security complex</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger">Iraq, days of danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-and-gaza-from-war-to-politics">Israel and Gaza: from war to politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item even"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Iraq Syria Israel Palestine Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Paul Rogers Sat, 19 Jul 2014 04:45:39 +0000 Paul Rogers 84545 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Gaza-Iraq connection https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/gazairaq-connection <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>ISIL's planners are looking beyond the military stalemate in Iraq. In this context, Israel's attacks on Gaza are a gift to the movement.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>After a month of conflict, the ISIL paramilitaries in Iraq have gained control of substantial territory but have little prospect of making much further progress. A week ago there was a possibility that they would try to overrun Baghdad (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger">Iraq, days of danger</a>", 3 July 2014). Since then, however, three factors have come to the fore to counter this. </p><p>The first is that a number of determined Shi’a militias have organised themselves to oppose further ISIL advances (see “<a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/middle_east/iraq_crisis_part_iv_second_month">The Iraq Crisis Part IV): Into the Second Month</a>", Oxford Research Group, 9 July 2014).</p><p>The second is an increase in foreign military support for the Iraqi government. Russian Su-25 attack-aircraft have been <a href="http://www.janes.com/article/40398/foreign-combat-aircraft-pour-into-iraq">delivered</a> and further Su-25s from Iran have been operating&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/09/world/middleeast/iran-sends-3-attack-planes-to-iraqi-government.html">against</a> rebel forces, including some piloted by Iranians (one of whom was killed in combat).</p><p>The third factor is that the United States is quietly increasing its forces, which now include Apache helicopter-gunships and drones <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/us-troops-baghdad-fly-apache-helicopters-drones-222125739.html">operating</a> out of Baghdad international airport.&nbsp; In <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/iraq-turmoil/u-s-aircraft-carrier-ordered-persian-gulf-wake-iraq-unrest-n131256">addition</a> the US carrier <em>George H W Bush</em>, operating with its battle-group of a cruiser and five destroyers in the Gulf, has been <a href="http://news.usni.org/2014/07/08/uss-bataan-enters-persian-gulf-nine-u-s-ships-now-region">reinforced</a> by an entire Amphibious Ready Group led by the <em>USS Bataan</em> with a thousand marines of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit on board, and accompanied by two more amphibious-warfare shops, the <em>USS Gunston Hall</em> and the <em>USS Mesa Verde</em>. </p><p>These forces are designed to provide considerable resources should US diplomats and other civilians be threatened. But the presence of such a large combined force, including those now in Baghdad, means that if ISIL did put Baghdad at risk the US - along with the Iranians - would make it far more difficult for the group to advance into the city.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>The Iraqi balance</strong></p><p>In the areas of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/10/world/middleeast/iraq-samarra-shiite-militias-isis.html">conflict</a> in Iraq, three important strategic sites remain contested: the Haditha dam complex on the Euphrates, the Baiji oil-refinery and the huge Balad air-base with all its weapons and munitions. The Haditha complex <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/world/middleeast/isis-iraq.html?_r=0">remains</a> under government control, at least for now; ISIL controls the Baiji <a href="http://www.dw.de/isis-attacks-iraqs-baiji-oil-refinery/a-17716621">refinery</a>, though it may not be possible to operate it successfully with government forces nearby; ISIL has not overrun the Balad base, but is sufficiently close to prevent the Iraqi armed forces using it.&nbsp; </p><p>At first sight, then, ISIL is facing a stalemate in<a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-17/iraq-conflict-in-maps/5528992"> Iraq</a>. Yet it is becoming clear that the Iraqi government forces alone cannot regain ISIL-controlled territory. That view has been expressed by the chair of the US joint chiefs-of-staff, General Martin Dempsey, implying that the US aim is more modest: to ensure that ISIL is contained, not defeated (see Andrew Tilghman, “<a href="http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140703/NEWS05/307030063/Dempsey-Iraqi-military-can-t-regain-lost-territory-its-own">Dempsey: Iraqi military can’t regain lost territory on its own</a>”, <em>Military Times</em>, 3 July 2014).</p><p><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24179084">ISIL</a> is already adapting to the situation, not least because other rebel groups across the border are now joining it to oppose the Bashar al-Assad<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/syria-exceptional-despotism"> regime</a>. Yet it still faces major problems: the declaration of an Islamist caliphate cannot disguise the fact that it has only progressed so far in Iraq because of cooperation with more secular groups, <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/06/iraq-mosul-takeover-factions-isis-baath-party.html">including</a> Ba’athists.</p><p>It will now seek to plan and organise for the long term, attempting to set itself up as the natural leader of Islamist resistance to the (from its perspective) unacceptable non-Islamist regimes across the region, including Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.</p><p>This is no small task, and in the ordinary way would not have too much of a chance of progress. But it may be helped by the confluence of events in Israel and Palestine, especially Gaza.&nbsp; The reality is that what is now happening in Gaza is closely <a href="http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/palestinian-conflict-isis-crisis-in-iraq-bigger-threat-to-israel-than-iran_945419.html">connected</a> to ISIL’s future prospects - an aspect of the region that is very largely missed by western analysts.</p><p><strong>The Israeli factor</strong></p><p>The kidnapping of three young Israeli men in the occupied territories on 12 June 2014, who were subsequently <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/kidnapped-israelis-shot-10-times-silenced-gun-u-111453214.html">murdered</a>) led to extensive Israeli security sweeps across the West Bank, killing and injuring Palestinians. From these origins has developed a confrontation with Hamas in Gaza, leading to an Israel reaction that has involved air-attacks on 550 sites in Gaza in seventy-two hours, <a href="http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/IAF-targets-Hamas-naval-commander-Palestinians-say-4-killed-in-strike-361947">including</a> the homes of all the Hamas brigade commanders. Over fifty Palestinians have been killed and scores injured.</p><p>The assault has so far failed to stop the firing of scores of crude unguided rockets, some of which have the range to reach well beyond Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This is resulting in deep frustration among Israeli political leaders, who now face the unwelcome <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28214803">prospect</a> of having to order a full-scale ground invasion and possible temporary occupation of Gaza.</p><p>Israel can be described as being “impregnable in its insecurity” see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%E2%80%99s-security-complex">Israel's security complex</a>", 28 July 2011). In regional terms it is nothing less than a superpower - the only state with nuclear weapons and an advanced air-force that can strike at targets over 1,600 kilometres away. Yet it is facing opponents armed with crude <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/hamas-fires-dozens-rockets-israel-185106713.html">weapons</a> that nevertheless induce fear, and this fear is felt not just by people living very close to Gaza but <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0709/Hamas-unveils-bigger-better-rocket-arsenal-against-Israel-video">extending</a> to most of the country's population.</p><p>It is a thoroughly unpalatable situation for Binyamin Netanyahu's government, one highly likely to produce even greater Israeli force. This would be very welcome to ISIL communicators and, indeed, to Islamist propagandists right across the Middle East and beyond.&nbsp; </p><p>Western observers may see it as an issue that is primarily internal to Israel and Palestine, but this is not how it is viewed in the region. Much more common is the view that Israel is an <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_135.jsp">outpost</a> of the west, working intimately with a United States whose foreign military assistance <a href="http://www.dsca.mil/foreign-military-financing-fmf">programmes</a> bankroll Israel's military.</p><p>Indeed, when Apache gunships and F-16 strike-aircraft are used by the Israeli air-force in Gaza, they are readily seen as US weapons in the <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/09/us-israel-usa-defence-idUSBREA4807A20140509">hands</a> of what is merely a local surrogate - Israel.&nbsp; This may seem unfair, given that Barack Obama is being far more cautious than George W Bush, but it is the uncomfortable reality. The blunt truth is that ISIL's media operators, always with an eye to the long-term, will be earnestly hoping that Israel’s <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.604159"><em>Operation Protective Edge</em></a> in Gaza will exceed <em>Operation Cast Lead</em>, the three-week <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/after-gaza">conflict</a> in 2008-09 that killed well over 1,000 Palestinians and wounded 5,000.</p><p>Israel may calculate that it has no alternative to the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28241273">use</a> of considerable force in Gaza - and this may even extend to Lebanon if Hizbollah gets involved. The view from Jerusalem is that this is an eminently reasonable internal response to the actions of a terrorist organisation.&nbsp; The long-term consequences, though, may stretch well beyond Israel.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Defence Weekly</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger">Iraq, days of danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel%E2%80%99s-security-complex">Israel’s security complex</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-tunnel-and-exit">Syria, tunnel and exit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">Al-Qaida, and a global revolt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/israel-palestine-iran-fork">Israel, the Palestine-Iran fork </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Iraq Israel Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Israel Palestine: asymmetry Paul Rogers Thu, 10 Jul 2014 05:41:37 +0000 Paul Rogers 84353 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iraq, days of danger https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An unlikely alliance of four states is coalescing to oppose the ISIS advance in Iraq. But the group may not wait to be challenged. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The recharged war in Iraq that got underway in June 2014 is moving towards its second month. A remarkable feature of this phase is the formation of a largely unacknowledged coalition of four states opposed to the <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2014/06/map-isil-path-through-iraq-2014617135121336301.html">advance</a> of the extreme <em>Sunni</em> paramilitaries across much of northwestern Iraq. </p><p>Iran's involvement is clear enough: senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers are active in Baghdad, and Iranian reconnaissance-drones are being used to aid Iraq's troubled armed forces. Syria too is active, with Bashar al-Assad's air-force conducting intermittent (and perhaps largely symbolic) strikes against ISIL targets inside Iraq. </p><p>This reflects a shift in the Assad regime's position. As long as <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24179084">ISIL</a> could be considered little more than an irritant in Syria (even if occupying substantial ground), the group had a propaganda value for Damascus, which could project an image of being steadfast in the face of radical Islam and even secure tacit acceptance by western governments in the process.</p><p>Now that ISIL is getting <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">stronger</a> and more confident - symbolised in its <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/world/iraq-crisis-isil-militants-declare-caliphate-20140630-zsqcg.html">declaration</a> of an "Islamic State" in the territory it controls - the potential challenge to Damascus's as well as Baghdad's security is evident. Assad may therefore continue to encourage periodic cross-border air-raids, but he will also work harder to damage ISIL within Syria.</p><p><strong>The late shift</strong></p><p>The two other states in this extraordinary anti-ISIL confluence are the United States and Russia. </p><p>United States forces in the region are being steadily expanded, though it remains difficult to discern the full <a href="http://www.voanews.com/content/iraq-army-presses-tikirt-attack-extremists-declare-islamic-state/1947506.html">extent</a> of personnel deployment in Iraq. This is partly because several thousand Americans in Iraq were already in Iraq before the new war erupted -&nbsp; including diplomats, weapons-technicians and private military contractors. It is sure, however, that three further groups of military personnel are now entering Iraq.</p><p>The first is composed of security people (probably around 300 in total) <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/u-sends-300-more-troops-drones-helicopters-iraq-214138220.html">assigned</a> to guard diplomats and civilians; the second (at least 100) to safeguard Baghdad airport, among them probably specialist helicopter-crews available to retrieve aircrew (the potential need is highlighted by the US navy's <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/19/us-iraq-security-f18s-idUSKBN0EU1JT20140619">regular</a> F-18 reconnaissance sorties off the <em>USS George HW Bush</em> carrier in the Persian Gulf).</p><p>The third group is troops, mostly special-forces personnel, sent to Baghdad and elsewhere to boost Iraqi government forces in their operations. The key point here is that the overall authority, US Central Command, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/27/us-iraq-security-usa-intelligence-idUSKBN0F202Z20140627">calculates</a> that its operation is unlikely to yield results for several weeks (see Daniel Wasserbly, “<a href="http://www.janes.com/article/39989/us-begins-assessment-mission-in-iraq-mulls-military-options">US assesses mission in Iraq, considers military options</a>”, <em>Jane’s Defence Weekly</em>, 2 July 2014).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>US personnel may already be advising Iraqi army troops in their stalled attempt to retake the city of Tikrit, a political necessity for Nouri al-Maliki's government to demonstrate that it was seen to be doing something to <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/iraq-maliki-denounces-threat-to-region/25443006.html">address</a> a military disaster. But the US military is taking a longer-term view of its work in Iraq.</p><p>Russia completes this unlikely anti-ISIS coalition. Its main involvement so far is the <a href="http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/06/30/russias-military-bid-in-iraq">provision</a> of a number of Su-25 <em>Frogfoot </em>ground-attack aircraft. The <a href="http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/su25/">Su-25</a> is a robust if relatively slow-flying aircraft of the 1970s, roughly analogous to the US's <a href="http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/a-10/">A-10 <em>Warthog</em></a> (though less heavily armed). It was widely deployed by the Iraqi air-force in the <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/iran_iraq_war/iran_iraq_war1.php">war</a> with Iran (1980-88), and used by the Soviet air-force in the two Chechen wars (1994-96 and 1999-2002).</p><p>Few if any survived in Iraqi air-force service after the <a href="http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/wars_gulf1990.html">1991</a> war; so it is close to a quarter-century since any Iraqi pilots flew this aircraft - which like all ground-attack planes requires particular skills and much practice. The implication is that if Su-25s are <a href="http://www.iiss.org/en/militarybalanceblog/blogsections/2014-3bea/july-8d3b/iraqis-latest-su-25s-come-from-iran-889a">used</a> against ISIL and other militias in the coming weeks, it is near-certain that Russian pilots will fly them.</p><p>Thus, both US and Russian forces are preparing to aid the Maliki government at a quite significant level, and may even cooperate more closely than either Washington or Moscow will want to acknowledge. Indeed, that may already be happening: the hundred US troops inserted to help protect Baghdad's airport will be guarding the very same base from which Su-25s are already flying, no doubt with Russian pilots.</p><p><strong>The weeks ahead</strong></p><p>If the war is <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28053496">creating</a> strange alliances, a question of timescales may also become relevant as events unfold. Neither US and Russian support for Iraq, nor any from Iran, will have much effect on the situation until mid-July. This means that ISIL's <a href="http://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/Listedterroristorganisations/Pages/IslamicStateofIraqandtheLevant.aspx">planners</a> have a short window of opportunity to consolidate their recent gains. Several sources indicate that ISIL already has groups in place in western Baghdad to aid any assault on the city (see "<a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/middle_east/iraq_crisis_part_iii_baghdad_risk">The Iraq Crisis [Part 111]: Is Baghdad at Risk?</a>", 30 June 2014).</p><p>The next two weeks, then, are an acutely dangerous period (see Borzou Daragahi, "<a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/608425b6-0081-11e4-a3f2-00144feab7de.html#axzz36LLmIXMm">Iraqi capital nervously awaits Isis attack</a>", <em>Financial Times</em>, 1 July 2014). The aim of any ISIS attack will not be to take control of the whole city, for <em>Shi’a</em> militias in the eastern Baghdad districts are strong enough to contest that; instead it will be to damage and demoralise the regime to an extent that Baghdad can't prevent the Islamic State consolidating itself. </p><p>That outcome would give ISIS a further lease of life. It would also be welcomed by many in the region, not least Saudi Arabia. But it would also be no more than a temporary gain in a war which may yet have far more dreadful human consequences.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Defence Weekly</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">Syria-Iraq, and a regional war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-tunnel-and-exit">Syria, tunnel and exit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">Al-Qaida, and a global revolt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-past-and-future-war">Iraq, past and future war</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Syria Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Paul Rogers Thu, 03 Jul 2014 04:45:19 +0000 Paul Rogers 84189 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Argentina vs the international financial system https://www.opendemocracy.net/fabian-bosoer-federico-finchelstein/argentina-vs-international-financial-system <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The extended legal fallout of Argentina's default in 2001 is reaching a crucial stage, with realism now at a premium. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Argentines are used to the story. The country is threatened by familiar arch-enemies: American imperialism, international financiers, and “vulture funds” (or “holdouts” as they are called outside Argentina). The story also features domestic enemies - those accused of working in the service of international interests, or at least putting the latter <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-27967936">ahead</a> of the interests of Argentines.</p><p>This narrative sees the fate of the country as something <a href="http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/06/argentina-seeks-ward-paradoxical-default/">decided</a> abroad, specifically in the United States.&nbsp; The US supreme court has written the first chapter by mandating that Argentina is obliged to pay both the holdouts and the holders of restructured debt. The holdouts are those speculative hedge-funds that <a href="http://www.dw.de/vulture-bondholders-circle-argentine-debt/a-17733550">bought</a> Argentine bonds for pennies right after Argentina’s critical default in <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/articles/argentinatimeline.html">2001</a> (it defaulted on approximately $100 billion), then refused to enter debt restructuring and now <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/15c4c27e-fded-11e3-acf8-00144feab7de.html#axzz363hbkUOU">stand</a> to make millions. The holders are the large majority of creditors (92%) that agreed to be paid a fraction of the debt after the country’s default.</p><p>Now is the time for the second chapter of the story to be written, this time by <a href="http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov/judge/Griesa">Judge Thomas P Griesa</a> in New York City. In NYC itself Mr Griesa is almost wholly unknown, but in Argentine media his <a href="http://en.mercopress.com/2014/06/28/argentina-claims-judge-griesa-blocked-the-payment-to-bondholders">name</a> and face are everywhere - as much as those of the Argentine football team's captain and star player, Lionel Messi. But while Messi is often presented as a national saviour (which has so far been proved correct as far as soccer is concerned), Griesa represents the country’s impending doom. But why is Argentina <a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/06/the-argentine-bond-saga-made-simple/">facing</a> this situation?</p><p>Those embracing the longstanding traditions of Argentine <a href="http://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/index.php/?option=com_wrapper&amp;view=wrapper&amp;Itemid=54&amp;AS1=%209781846312380">nationalism</a> see Griesa as representing the new face of American imperialism. But this is not the only view in Argentina; and of course, the history of debt <a href="http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/international-debt-crisis-historical-perspective">crises</a> and their international implications (as opposed to the story made of them) is much more complicated. For example, several governments - France, Brazil and even the US, as well as the <a href="http://www.imf.org/external/country/ArG/index.htm">International Monetary Fund</a> - supported the Argentine position at the supreme court, while the Argentine administration of <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/celia-szusterman/argentine-fable-cristina-kirchners-tall-stories">Cristina Fern<span class="st">á</span>ndez de Kirchner</a> defined the court's rulings as an “extortion” and an example of imperialism at work (though more recently Argentine officialdom has recognised that Argentina needs to negotiate.) </p><p>This week representatives of the Argentina will be <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-23/argentina-bond-judge-picks-special-master-to-guide-negotiations.html">negotiating</a> with Griesa and the holdouts. As a whole, this is without doubt a bad situation for Argentina. By paying the holdouts, Argentina risks being ordered to pay the holders and thus considerably depleting its <a href="http://www.bcra.gov.ar/index_i.htm">central bank's</a> reserves. If it does not pay them, it will enter a technical <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-27/argentina-bond-fight-judge-says-he-will-nullify-bny-payment-1-.html">default</a>. To be sure, it is true that it sounds unfair to let the speculative funds “win”. But should Argentina engage in a lonely fight against the structural injustices of the international financial system; should Argentina become a scapegoat of those rulings that are putting at risk the future of sovereign-debt restructuring for the global south?</p><p>These are important questions. But Argentina should neither be providing the answers alone, nor using the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/celia-szusterman/argentina-y-las-malvinas-in-search-of-reality">arguments</a> of anti-imperialism and nationalism to quixotically reject their consequences. These arguments do not represent the most responsible way to defend the interests of an Argentine society that would be severely damaged by another default. The current context calls for a more realistic take that avoids the language of heroes and villains.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Federico Finchelstein, <a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199930241.do"><em>The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina</em></a> (Oxford University Press, 2014)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/federico-finchelstein-fabian-bosoer/argentina-militarism-vs-democracy">Argentina: militarism vs democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/fabian-bosoer-federico-finchelstein/venezuela-legacy-of-populist-revolution">Venezuela: legacy of populist revolution</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Argentina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Argentina Democracy and government Economics International politics Globalisation democracy & power latin america Federico Finchelstein Fabian Bosoer Sun, 29 Jun 2014 17:35:23 +0000 Fabian Bosoer and Federico Finchelstein 84093 at https://www.opendemocracy.net