Anglosphere columnist James C. Bennett believes failure to control nuclear proliferation will lead to a shattering of the international order.
Ironically, many of those who profess to hate war, empire and poverty, and who strive for a just international order, accuse Bush and Blair of promoting those things. In reality, a failure of the Bush-Blair coalition would sooner or later (probably sooner) give rise to a world in which a number of regional tyrannies who gradually, under the cover of their weapons of mass destruction, would annex first the states that are sovereign by convention, such as Kuwait, and eventually many that have been sovereign by circumstance.
The existence of such states would force other nations in the region to calculate that their own sovereignty depended on their acquisition of nuclear weapons. Given that most nuclear tyrannies would be happy to sell weapons to out-of-area states with ready cash, such proliferation could proceed more rapidly than many imagine.
Most people overestimate the stability of the current international system. Force holds it together. The United Nations has no power of its own and states routinely ignore its resolutions. Should more states get nuclear weapons then they will become immune to attempts to restrain their most savage actions. Widespread nuclear proliferation would cause such a huge shift in the relative ability of states to exercise force that many buried ambitions would become manifest in bold power grabs.
In ways that are deeply reminiscent of the conditions before WWI and WWII few are aware that the international system stands at a precipice and its foundation is weak and easily shattered.
What should one think about European popular sentiment opposing the war against Iraq? How accurate an indicator is popular sentiment as a guide in foreign policy? Jim Miller quotes historian A.J.P. Taylor on the widespread popularity of the Munich Agreement which Neville Chamberlain negotiated with Hitler.
Nor is it true that the "appeasers" were a narrow circle, widely opposed at the time. To judge by what is said now, one would suppose that practically all Conservatives were for strenuous resistance to Germany in alliance with Soviet Russia and that all the Labour party were clamouring for great armaments. On the contrary, few causes have been more popular. Every newspaper in the country applauded it with the exception of Reynolds' News. Yet so powerful are the legends that even when I write this sentence I can hardly believe it. (p. 292, The Origins of the Second World War, 2nd edition)
Miller argues that the beliefs of the majority are not always an accurate guide to the wisest course of action.
There is a general lesson in the reaction to Munich. Among the logical fallacies so common as to have acquired a Latin name is "ad populum", an appeal to popular sentiment. It is illogical to conclude that a policy is correct just because it is popular.
Any political order is maintained by force. By failing to use force ourselves we do not eliminate the use of force. We just allow its use to shift to those with other intentions for its use.
There are smaller countries in more dangerous regions of the world whose leaders can not afford to make foreign policy decisions based on a sentimental appraisal about the nature of the world order. Martin Walker, in a Walker's World column entitled "Watch what they do" reports on the gap between the public statements sometimes made by Malaysia's leaders and the reality of Malaysia's strong military relations with America.
At the Butterworth Air Force Base outside Penang, the integrated air defense commander is an Australian, under the five-power agreement among Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore. U.S. Special Forces troops train at the Malaysian Army's Jungle Warfare school (founded by the British). "Our military-to-military links with the U.S. are excellent, the pillar of our bilateral relations," says the defense minister, whose status as deputy leader of the ruling UMNO party and a son of a former prime minister gives him unusual political influence.
Walker points out that the leaders of Malaysia realize that maintaining a high level of security for their country is essential to ensure Western corporations will be comfortable with making large capital investments in Malaysia.
In a column describing what he thinks a real empire would look like James C. Bennett argues for prevention of the development of the threat of nuclear terrorism because the failure to prevent nuclear terrorism will set in motion a series of events that will lead to a real American empire.
To look at such empire both tells us how far America still is from yet being one, and what the stakes are in preventing the kind of stresses on America's existing civil society than would bring on such an emergency state. The alternative to strong action by a constitutional, democratic state against nuclear-armed terrorism is not life as before; it is something most people who grew up with today's America wouldn't care for.
See previous posts on the need for a containment strategy and the threat of proliferation.
Update: Also see James C. Bennett's article Anglosphere: What a real empire is like
Many people would be surprised by the liberal and progressive nature of the empire's domestic policy. Multiculturalism would be retained and enhanced, and the country would probably be declared officially bilingual in English and Spanish, the better to annex Latin American states. Again, the more divided the citizenry, the easier it is for a strong executive to manipulate them. Surprisingly to some, the neo-Confederate movement in the South would be quietly encouraged as a cultural movement, within limits, again to divide sentiments.
One problem with Mexican illegal aliens who come to the United States and commit crimes is that if they can manage to escape back to Mexico it is very unlikely that they will be sent back to the US for criminal trial. (bold emphasis mine)
Crime. Dealing with Mexicans who commit crimes in the US has long been difficult. The US deported 150,000 Mexicans in FY00, including 56,000 criminals. Mexicans are 80-85 percent of all foreigners deported. Most are returned to Mexico by bus. However, some Mexicans commit crimes in the US and flee to Mexico. When the US seeks their extradition, Mexican suspects often challenge their extradition on the grounds that they face the death penalty, which does not exist in Mexico.
Until 1996, the Mexican government did not extradite any of its nationals. Beginning in 1996, Mexico began to extradite those wanted for committing crimes in the US, often after US prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty, but the number of Mexicans extradited was two or three a year in the late 1990s. The number rose to six in 2001, when the Mexican Supreme Court placed restrictions on extraditing Mexicans who face life imprisonment in the US, an alternative to the death penalty. In FY00, there were almost 4,000 open extradition requests.
This is an outrage. Yet, in the face of the Mexican government attitude toward the US that these numbers demonstrate the Bush White House actively looks for ways to do favors for Mexican President Vicente Fox.
Back in December the US government was negotiating an agreement to allow Mexicans who have worked in the US to become eligible to collect US Social Security retirement payments.
White House and Mexican government officials say discussions on an agreement to align the Social Security systems of the two countries are informal and preliminary. But excerpts from an internal Social Security Administration memo obtained this month say the agreement "is expected to move forward at an accelerated pace," with the support of both governments, and could be in force by next October.
The National Review discovered details of the agreement and learned it would be incredibly expensive.
By contrast, the Mexican deal could cost, according to National Review, $345 billion over the next 20 years. Congressional experts say Mexico would burden Social Security with 162,000 new beneficiaries in the next five years.
Most of that $345 billion would go to illegal aliens. One proxy for how much the Social Security Administration gets in taxes paid by illegal aliens is the figure for money collected that can't be tracked to potential beneficiaries. That figure of $21 billion is a small fraction of the projected $345 billion cost.
Mexico would also like the US to allow workers employed under false Social Security numbers to obtain credit for their US earnings. Over $21 billion in Social Security payments have not been tracked to potential beneficiaries, most likely because they were paid under a false Social Security number.
Joel Mowbray reports that the White House wasn't aware of the scope of the agreement the State Department was negotiating.
When White House officials learned the scope of the Totalization Agreement ("totalization" is government-speak for combining or "totalizing" the Social Security taxes paid by individuals into the U.S.'s and a foreign country's respective systems to create a single, harmonized retirement payment), the eye-popping price tag caught many off guard. Explains one senior GOP congressional staffer: "The White House thought this was a low-cost favor to get in Vicente Fox's good graces." According to people familiar with the negotiations, officials at State knew illegal aliens would be covered by the deal — and they also knew that the White House didn't know. Which brings us to "character," which State's mission statement defines as "Maintenance of high ethical standards and integrity."
Libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) is opposed.
Furthermore, Congress needs to ensure that Social Security benefits are paid to American citizens only. In December, the national press reported on a deal looming between the administration and the Mexican government that would allow Mexican citizens who worked in the U.S.- even illegally- to qualify for Social Security benefits. A so-called “totalization” system would permit Mexican workers to add years worked in Mexico to those in the U.S. when qualifying for benefits. Unless Congress acts, the administration will begin using Social Security dollars to fund a global welfare system!
Paul Weyrich agrees with Ron Paul that this is a bad idea.
Give credit to Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) for his willingness to take on totalization by introducing the "Social Security for American Citizens Only Act." Paul is a congressman with Libertarian views whom I respect for his willingness to stand on principle even though, over the years, there have been times we have been at odds over one thing or another.
The Social Security system is already projected to start running a deficit in the next 20 years as the ratio of retirees to workers steadily rises. Social Security taxes will inevitably rise even as benefits are reduced. Under the circumstances it would be the height of folly to extend Social Security benefits to large numbers of illegal aliens.
If the draft treaty becomes law, it will dismantle the chief provision of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, a law which has saved U.S. taxpayers $72 billion since inception, because it will give Social Security payments to illegal aliens and legal aliens who have not paid into our payroll tax system for the requisite 10 years.
Update II: The Center for Immigration Studies finds a high cost for Mexican immigraton. (bold emphases added)
This report has found that Mexican immigration creates significant challenges for the United States. It has added significantly to the size of the poor and uninsured U.S. populations, as well as substantially added to the welfare caseload in the United States. For example, while Mexican immigrants and their young children comprise 4.2 percent of the nation’s total population, they comprise 10.2 percent of all persons in poverty. They also comprise 12.5 percent of those without health insurance. Perhaps most troubling, the findings show that the welfare use, income, and other measures of socio-economic status of legal Mexican immigrants do not converge with natives over time. Legal Mexican immigrants who have lived in the United States for many years do not enjoy a standard of living similar to that of natives. Their low incomes coupled with high use of means-tested programs create very significant fiscal costs for the country as well. Based on research by the National Academy of Sciences, the lifetime net fiscal drain (taxes paid minus services used) on public coffers created by the average adult Mexican immigrant is estimated to be more than $55,000. While employers may want increased access to unskilled Mexican labor, this cheap labor comes with a very high cost.
The primary reason why Mexican immigrants have not faired well is that a very large share have little formal education at time when the U.S. labor market increasingly rewards skilled workers, while offering very limited opportunities to the unskilled. The heavy concentration of Mexican immigrants at the bottom of the labor market also is likely to have a significant negative effect on wages for unskilled natives who are in direct competition with them. Mexican immigrants now comprise 22 percent of all the high school dropouts in the work force, while they comprise 1.5 percent of all workers with more than a high school education. Therefore, it is only the lowest-skilled workers who are adversely affected by Mexican immigration.
Because the vast majority of natives have completed high school and are employed in higher-skilled occupations, most natives do not face significant job competition from Mexican immigrants. However, there are more than 10 million adult native-born workers who lack a high school education in the U.S. workforce. Consistent with previous research, the results in this study indicate that these less-educated natives face significant job competition from Mexican immigrants. And those native-born workers adversely affected by Mexican immigration are among the poorest in the United States and are also disproportionately native-born minorities. Moreover, it is difficult to justify reducing the wages of unskilled workers since their wages, unlike those for other workers, actually declined in the 1990s, indicating that there is no shortage of high school dropouts in the United States.
The problem is that low income Mexican immigrants pay less in taxes and receive more in benefits.
So far, this report has generally concentrated on public service use by Mexican immigrants; however, this is only half of the fiscal equation. Immigrants also pay taxes to federal, state, and local governments. The CPS contains estimated federal income tax liabilities for those in the sample. These estimates are based on adjusted gross income, number of dependents, and other tax characteristics. These estimates are useful because they can provide some insight into the likely tax payments made by immigrants and natives. Because of their much lower incomes and their larger family size, Mexican immigrants pay dramatically less in federal income taxes than do natives. The March 2000 CPS indicates that in 1999, the average federal income tax payment by households headed by Mexican immigrants was $2,156, less than one third of the $7,255 average tax contribution made by native households. By design, the federal income tax system is supposed to tax those with higher income and fewer dependents at higher rates than those with lower income and more dependents. So the much lower income tax contributions of Mexican immigrants simply reflect the tax code and not some systematic attempt by Mexican immigrants to avoid paying taxes.
In 1999, 74 percent of households headed by natives had to pay at least some federal income tax, compared to only 59 percent of Mexican immigrant households. Even if one confines the analysis to legal Mexican immigrants, the gap between their tax contributions and those of natives remains large. Using the same method as before to distinguish legal and illegal Mexican immigrant households, the estimated federal income liability of households headed by legal Mexican immigrants in 1999 was $2,538. Thus, the very low tax contribution of Mexican immigrants is not simply or even mostly a function of legal status, but rather reflects their much lower incomes and larger average family size.
The much lower tax payments made by Mexican immigrants point to a fundamental problem associated with unskilled immigration that seems unavoidable. Even if Mexican Immigrants’ use of public services were roughly equal to natives, there would still be a significant drain on public coffers because their average tax payments would be much lower. While much of the fiscal concern centers on use of means-tested programs, clearly tax payments matter at least as much when evaluating the fiscal impact of Mexican immigration. Changing welfare eligibility or other efforts designed to reduce immigrant use of public services will not change the fact that Mexican immigrants pay significantly less in taxes than natives.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform reports on the total cost of all immigration.
Current levels of immigration are not beneficial to our country’s economy, its fiscal well-being, or the health of our labor market. In fact, immigration is a drain on the economy; the net annual cost of immigration has been estimated at between $67 and $87 billion a year.1 The National Academy of Sciences found that the net fiscal drain on American taxpayers is between $166 and $226 a year per native household. Even studies claiming some modest overall gain for the economy from immigration ($1 to $10 billion a year) have found that it is outweighed by the fiscal cost ($15 to $20 billion a year) to native taxpayers.2 In short, the average native taxpayer is paying for immigration so that large companies can profit by employing immigrants in low-wage positions.
Obviously there are categories of immigrants (e.g. engineers and scientists) who provide a large net benefit to the US taxpayers and economy. But the current mix of immigrants is far too heavily skewed toward the least skilled. This is happening in an era when the demand for unskilled labor is declining and the demand for highly skilled labor is rising. Current US immigration policy is in need of drastic revision to produce an outcome that is a net benefit to the nation.
Richard Cohen examines arguments being made by anti-war Left in the United States and finds a blatant disregard for the truth.
Because something truly awful has happened. The looming war has already become deeply and biliously ideological. By that I mean that the extremes on both sides -- but particularly the war's opponents -- no longer feel compelled to prove a case or stick to the facts. As with Vietnam, this is becoming an emotional battle between ideologues who, as usual, don't give a damn about the truth.
What is remakable about the article is to find Cohen essentially agreeing with the likes of Richard Perle that a Democratic Congressman and other ideologues are making arguments against the war that are outright lies.
The Guardian in the UK, hostile to the coming war, quotes a former cabinet minister approvingly that "the evidence is not yet compelling".
The nub of yesterday's exchanges came when Mr Smith told Mr Blair that, as a candid friend, Britain must tell the US that "the evidence is not yet compelling, that the work of the inspectors is not yet done, and the moral case for war, with all its consequences, has not yet been made."
The "case hasn't been made" argument has as its purpose to say that a war should never be fought. The people who make this argument believe there is no set of facts that could be found about Iraq that would make a case for war. Weapons found? That shows inspections are working. Weapons not found? That shows there are no weapons to be found. But of course the weapons are there and well hidden. There is no way short of war to achieve a level of control of the country sufficient to compel the hiders of the weapons and the weapons labs to reveal where they are hidden. This was true before the UN sent in inspectors. It is true now. It will be true months from now if an attack is not conducted. Inspectors lack sufficient investigative power to find the weapons and weapons labs.
Arguing about the coming war (and it is quite inevitable that the war will be fought) seems tiresome at this point. Most of the loudest political opponents are ideologues who have little interest in the truth about Iraqi weapons programs or potential ways that those weapons programs can contribute to a threat to the rest of the world. Claims that the inspections need to be given more time to work are not sincere. Most who make those claims either do not want the inspections to work or are indifferent to the efficacy of the inspections.
The Iraq war debate is mostly still about whether we should have a war and why. The "why" inevitably leads to the question of how the war will affect the governance of Iraq once Saddam is gone.
There are opponents whose reason for opposition are at least intellectually serious. One serious reason to oppose the war is the argument that it will be very difficult to reform Iraqi society afterwards. There are aspects of Arab culture that make the introduction of Western style democracy (replete with free press, free speech, and limts to corruption) very difficult. Many war hawks are so intent upon discrediting all arguments against the war that they do not take seriously the difficulty of reforming Iraqi society afterward. My own view is that we have such a compelling need to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that we need to invade solely for that reason even if we can not install a sustainable democratic and free political system afterward. Furthermore, in the aftermath we need to make a serious effort to try to establish a liberal democracy in order to demonstrate our good will toward the Arab societies as a whole.
Among the hawks those who argue for creating a democracy in Iraq after the war writers like David Pryce-Jones argue that of course Arabs are able to enjoy freedom.
It is shocking to discover how deep lies the prejudice against Arabs being able to enjoy freedom. It is to be found in some surprising places other than the demonstration in Hyde Park: the CIA, for example, and the US State Department have long taken the view that Iraq is so tribal and retrograde a country that only a brutal dictator like Saddam could control it.
It is cheap and easy to strike a moral pose about one's own greater concern for the cause of freedom in Arab lands. But the question is not whether the Arabs are capable of enjoying freedom. The question is whether they have the set of beliefs needed to support a secular liberal democracy. A free society does not just depend on each individual being willing to do whatever they want to do for themself. It also depends on the willingness of people to make serious efforts to protect the rights of others in one's own society to also be free. Different cultures do not all equally embrace the values that make secular liberal democracy possible. This has to be acknowledged or we will not even begin to try to address the magnitude of the task inherent in any attempt to make Iraq compatible with secular liberal democracy.
In an interview with Nicholas Lemann current Bush Administration Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith relates the Bush Administration position that the Arab countries do not face any particular incompatibility between either their religion or their culture and democracy.
"Then, you have the phenomenon that this greater freedom that came to Latin America, that came to various parts of Asia, largely missed the Middle East. And there is all kinds of writing on the subject, on whether there is anything inherently incompatible between either Muslim culture, or Arab culture, and this kind of freer government. This Administration does not believe there is an inherent incompatibility. And if Iraq had a government like that, and if that government could create some of those institutions of democracy, that might be inspirational for people throughout the Middle East to try to increase the amount of freedom that they have, and they would benefit both politically and economically by doing so."
The problem with this kind of rhetoric is that it discourages the Administration from looking seriously at the elements in Islam and in Arab society that have retarded the development of liberal democracy in the Middle East. This rhetoric sounds so nice to those who embrace the language of multiculturalism. It allows the speakers of such rhetoric to strike a high moral pose. But in reality its intellectually bankrupt.
Feith's reference to the spread of democracy in Latin America leaves one with the impression that he thinks democracy in Latin America is a success story. Yet the events unfolding in Venezuela are not a democratic success story. Also, the problem is not limited to Venezuela. Limits on freedom of the press and freedom of speech and other forms of freedom are still widespread in Latin America. See the UN Human Development Report 2002 (warning 2.7 Megabyte PDF file) starting on page 38. The UN uses a whole series of indexes where lower is better including Civil Liberties (7 to 1), Political Rights (7 to 1), and Press Freedom (100 to 0). On these Mexico scores 3, 2, and 46 respectively. That's a pretty bad press freedom score. But it is better than Colombia (4, 4, 60), better than Peru (3, 3, 54) and better and worse than Venezuela (5, 3, 34).
To get an accurate picture of how democracy is faring the world over we have to look at details that go beyond the simple question of whether countries hold elections with competing candidates. We need to ask whether they have managed to develop secular liberal democracies in the Western style with restraints on government, firm protection and popular respect for freedoms of press and speech, effective control of corruption (which more than anything depends on the values civil servants bring to the job), provide widespread access to the legal system for protecting property rights (see Hernando de Soto's writings on the importance of accessibility of property rights legal systems), and rule of law for all then the picture in many parts of the world suddenly becomes much worse. Much of the discussion going on about how to transform Iraqi political culture and society as Germany and Japan were transformed after WWII is enormously naive about history and about the details of what is required to succeed in creating a successful secular liberal democracy.
While some writers have expressed the hope that Westernized Iraqis will return home to Iraq to settle and form a new elite with more enlightened attitudes Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is pitching to Iraqi residents in the US that service with the US occupation force could be a fast track to US citizenship.
"As a reservist you would be mobilised to serve in Iraq but would return to civilian status in the US," he said.
"You may be eligible for accelerated US citizenship if you are not a citizen already, and your civilian job would be protected while you are mobilised," he said.
Some argue that the US military administration should quickly give way to an Iraqi civilian administration.
Mr. Chalabi raised the alarm again last week, with an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Telegraph warning that “the proposed U.S. occupation and military administration of Iraq is unworkable and unwise,” and asserting, “the liberation of our country and its reintegration into the world community is ultimately a task that we Iraqis must shoulder.”
Others argue that a UN administration should quickly take over.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman says appointing an American to oversee Iraq after President Saddam Hussein is removed from power would be a serious mistake.
The Democratic senator, in a speech prepared for Wednesday delivery to the Council on Foreign Relations, calls on the Bush administration to work with the United Nations to name an international administrator to oversee reconstruction.
Many people making arguments about post-war Iraq seem more obsessed by the outward forms of government. What they lack is an appreciation of what is the biggest reconstruction task: to create the kind of society that will actively support and defend a secular liberal democracy. It is foolish to think that our major problem is to choose the right guy to put in charge, draw up the forms of a government with a written constitution, work quickly toward having elections, and that then all will be well. Whether a US general, a UN administrator or an appointed Iraqi civilian becomes ruler is really besides the point. Unless the populace goes thru such a transformation in values and beliefs that it feels less loyalty to extended familiy and tribe and more loyalty to the values of a liberal democratic society it does not matter who is placed in charge. What we should be discussing is what a post-war administration should try in order to help develop the beliefs that will sustain a positive change in Iraqi culture.
For those who like to keep up on what Fouad Ajami has written recently here is a collection of links. If you haven't read him before I recommend it.
Cross hairs. There can be no reasoning with this kind of willful self-pity. The mufti of Saudi Arabia, its highest judge, spoke recently to the throngs that had come from across the Islamic world for the annual pilgrimage. A dark conspiracy, the jurist said, encircles and stalks the world of Islam. "The Islamic nation is in the cross hairs, threatened by its enemies in its morals and values." The "forces of evil," he added darkly, are at work, and the principal struggle is "at once economic and religious." A deep rot has settled on Arab lands while a "freedom deficit" leaves their inhabitants in the throes of authoritarian rule and their children prey to the recruiters of terror. About such troubles the jurist has nothing to offer--nothing save a dark message of enemies bent on Islam's ruin.
“Do you think he doesn’t realize that the Americans are coming after him no matter what he does or says? No matter which British lefties he invites to Baghdad?” Simon asked Ajami. “I think this man still believes that he could probably just plea bargain his way out of trouble, and dodge another bullet. He may think that this peace camp in the world may prevent the onset of war,” Ajami says.
A recurring theme in Ajami's writing is the extent to which the Arabs use fantasy interpretations of the world to escape from confronting their predicament. In an excerpt from his book Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation's Odyssey Ajami looks at the rationalizations of supporters of Saddam in Gulf War I.
Those who fell for Kuwait's conqueror were free to claim that they had been misunderstood, that they were only patriots responding to the coming to the Arab world of yet another Western army, that they had only wanted to be heard because there had been no place for them in the "New World Order" the foreigner came to uphold. This was a world with endless escapes. The defeat of the Iraqi predator provided no guarantee that the political sensibilities which had sustained him were vanquished once and for all.
As Iran battles its own demons, we needn't let our obsession with the power of the Iranian revolution that paralyzed American power after Desert Storm do so again in Iraq. Our fear of Iran was a factor of no small consequence in our walking away from the Shia and Kurdish rebellions that erupted against Saddam. America didn't know that world, and it was easy to see the Shiites of Iraq as followers of the Iranian clerical regime, a potential "sister republic" in Iran's image. But the Shiites of Iraq are Iraqis and Arabs through and through. The Arabic literary tradition is their pride, the Arab tribal norms their defining culture. They are their country's majority, and thus eager to maintain its independence.
Also see this previous post Fouad Ajami on the Importance of the Next Iraq War
Also, Ajami wrote brief article right after 9/11 that is worth a read if you missed it then. It is about anti-Americanism as an alibi.
The anti-Americanism blows at will–an alibi for socioeconomic ills with deep roots, a simplifying answer for populations drawn to a civilization they can neither master nor reject. Preachers, the wholesalers of terror, make of this country a demon. The U.S. Navy monitors the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the eastern Mediterranean, protecting the flow of oil. Raging on those shores, though, is an unyielding hatred of America. Places once remote have been hurled into an uneven modernity.
Resentment and jealousy of those who are more powerful or more successful are natural human reactions. Americans may not spend much time thinking of themselves in comparison to the rest of the world but for those in failed societies a reason for their failure that doesn't reflect poorly on them and which instead shifts the blame elsewhere is can be very appealing. It appears to be especially appealing for Islamic societies that are accustomed to believing that God meant for them to rule all others.
The major players with strong interests in whether the North Korean regime develops nuclear weapons and missile systems to deliver nukes are China, South Korea, Japan, and the United States. Lets review how these players are reacting to North Korea's plans to develop nuclear weapons. The US position is that North Korea has so violated the 1994 Agreed Framework that the agreement is dead. The US view is that North Korea could become a Nuclear KMart selling nuclear weapons to anyone with the cash. The US would like help from other nations to make North Korea stop developing nuclear weapons.
While China has not yet taken a firm public stance against North Korean efforts to do WMD development some of China's national security intellectuals see reasons why North Korea should be prevented from developing nuclear weapons. The biggest motive that China has to restrain North Korea from doing nuclear weapons development is that China fears any changes in East Asia security conditions that would prompt Japan to militarize and to more closely align with the United States.
HONG KONG - While much remains unsaid, the strategic defense community in China is closely watching the morphing of the US-Japan relationship in light of how Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which renounces war, is interpreted. This process has been going on for at least a year.
In August 2001, former prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa affirmed in San Francisco that Japan should lift its self-imposed ban on exercising its right to collective self-defense in the interests of a more effective Japan-US alliance. He spoke of the need for Japan to adapt to changing global realities.
A Japan that feels insecure is a Japan that is going to become more militaristic. Also, a Japan that feels insecure is going to move closer to the United States on security matters. China would like to avoid both of these outcomes.
In response to a nuclear ballistic missile threat from North Korea Japan could rapidly build nuclear weapons and increase its cooperation with the United States to build a missile-defense system.
There is also a fast-growing body of opinion in Japan saying that that's precisely what the country should do. Latest on that is a December "Nuclear Declaration for Japan" by influential Kyoto University international-relations Professor Terumasa Nakanishi (co-author with Fred Charles Ikle, undersecretary of defense for policy in the Ronald Reagan administration, of a widely noted Foreign Affairs article "Japan's grand strategy") and literary critic Kazuya Fukuda calling on the Japanese not to cave in to the North Korean nuclear threat: "The best way for Japan to avoid being the target of North Korean nuclear missiles is for the prime minister to declare without delay that Japan will arm itself with nuclear weapons." They also want Japan to get on with construction of a missile-defense system, post haste.
The threat of this possibility conceivably might prod the strategic thinkers in Beijing to threaten North Korea with aid cut-off if North Korea doesn't stop all nuclear weapons development, turn over all nuclear weapons materials, nuclear weapons manufacturing equipment, and nuclear bombs as well as open all of its weapons development facilities to inspection by Japanese, American, and Chinese inspectors. However, the problem with the inspections approach is that it is easy for a government to hide things. Japan is going to feel threatened because it knows North Korea has ballistic missiles and has to fear that North Korea may manage to build nukes even while subjected to an inspections regime. Japan's security would be enhanced much more if the North Korean regime was overthrown and replaced by rule of North Korea by the South Korean government.
"There is increasing recognition here that if North Korea is finally armed with nuclear weapons, it will be a big threat to China," said Zhu Feng, director of the international security program at Beijing University's School of International Studies. "I have a strong sense at this crucial moment, my government will change its mind to resort to another approach rather than just, say, use the veto right to block any U.N.-imposed sanctions against North Korea."
Keep in mind that the academic policy specialists are not speaking for the Chinese government. The Chinese government has yet to provide any public indication of resolve on this issue.
Asian Times writer Francesco Sisci thinks its conceivable that China could back a US preemptive strike against North Korea.
But time is running out. North Korea could well have just a month to stop its nuclear program before US ally Japan feels itself backed into a corner.
Within a month, with the first nuclear weapon about to be completed, China could consider the possibility of backing a US preemptive strike against North Korea atomic facilities, the one thing that could reassure Japan.
This seems unlikely. Even if the Chinese were willing the problem with such a move is that North Korea could retaliate by raining artillery shells (possibly carrying biological or chemical weapons) on Seoul's northern suburbs. The North has thousands of artillery pieces dug into caves (i.e. very hard for US air power to knock out) that are in range of highly populated areas of South Korea and North Korean artillery could very quickly (within hours) could cause tens or even hundreds of thousands of South Korean casualties. South Korea's current government can therefore be expected to oppose such a plan.
Some in the Bush Administration, the US military, and the US Congress argue for US military withdrawal away from the DMZ that separates North and South Korea followed eventually by a withdrawal from South Korea entirely.
"It's a no-lose proposition," noted one conservative congressional staffer. "If we get our troops out of range of the North's guns, our freedom of action for acting against the North is greater. And if Roh gets worried about being left to the tender mercies of [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il, that gives us more influence."
Such a withdrawal would fulfill a long-term ambition of North Korea to get the United States out of South Korea. The North Korean regime thinks it could then finally invade and unite the Korean Peninsula under Northern rule thus assuring the survival of the Northern regime. While the regime probably would lose in a conventional war against the South it might be able to win if it has nuclear weapons or if it can first convince the South to reduce the size of its military. The North Korean regime believes the existence of two separate governments on the Peninsula is not sustainable. Its view is basically that it has to win the unification struggle or the regime will cease to exist.
Just because North Korea would welcome US withdrawal that is not necessarily a reason to rule it out. If the US withdrew and the North then attacked this would provide the opportunity for the US to finally unleash its full military might against the North. One risk of that approach is that the North might by then have ICBMs with nuclear warheads capable of striking the US. Hence North Korea might be able to deter the US from coming to the aid of the South. The decision to withdraw has uncertain benefits and uncertain costs.
A recent opinion poll conducted by Korea Gallup found that 54 percent of South Koreans surveyed disliked the United States, up from 15 percent in 1994. The new president, Roh Moo-hyun, takes office Feb. 25, and some Bush administration officials expect him to ask the United States to reduce its troop presence.
The older South Koreans who directly experienced the Korean War are going die off. The animosity toward the US and the lesser fear of the North are characteristic of the younger generations and therefore both sentiments are likely to grow. A lot of Americans are worried about where anti-Americanism comes from. Are we to blame? Well, in some cases such as in South Korea the government has made a conscious choice to direct blame toward the US.
To emphasize the building of trust, the Kim government in the South has invested heavily in the North. It has also kept negative news and a steady series of embarrassing brushoffs by the North out of the South Korean media - a policy that continues.
"For five years now, the KDJ government has successfully changed public opinion toward North Korea and the US," says Kim Tae-hyo, a professor at the Institute for Foreign Affairs and National Security in Seoul. "The North is no longer regarded as an enemy. The North's nuclear program, the West Sea incident [where the North killed sailors], missile tests, the kidnapping of hundreds of South Koreans - it doesn't matter to ordinary people anymore. At the same time, you hear the US blamed more often."
This South Korean government strategy to cast North Korea in a more favorable light while also casting the United States in a less favorable light is being done in order to increase domestic support for Kim Dae Jung's "sunshine" policy of warming relations with North Korea. It is important to note that this attempt to cast North Korea in a favorable light was done because Kim Dae Jung views North Korea as so dangerous and unstable that South Korea needs to have more contact with it in order to reduce the paranoia and hostility in the North Korean regime. Martin Sieff reports on his own conversations with South Korean intelligence officials where they reveal Kim Dae-jung's motive for detente with North Korea is to placate the paranoid and dangerous North Korean leadership.
First, senior South Korean intelligence officials and close advisers to President Kim Dae-jung have repeatedly told UPI Analysis that former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung and his innermost circle are truly ignorant of the nature of democratic societies in the wider world. Even worse, these top South Korean officials say, North Korea's Kim and his advisers are also still in a very much of a state of paranoid fear about everyone outside their own tightly policed borders.
That is why South Korea's Kim made his "Sunshine" policy of very cautious détente with North Korea the centerpiece of his nation's national security policies.
Consider the logic of the South Korean policy. KDJ thinks North Korea is so incredibly dangerous that it is essential to develop warmer relations with it. Because the North Korean regime is so dangerous the South Korean government works to convince the South Korean people that the North Korean regime is not that dangerous. Essentially, in order to build support for the "Sunshine" policy the South Korean government decided that South Korean people have to be deceived for their own good. This seems like folly to me.
The advocates of the "Sunshine" policy claim that George W. Bush's rhetoric is undermining what would otherwise be a successful policy. The problem with this point of view is that it is now clear that North Korea never stopped working on nuclear weapons development after the 1994 agreement. From an American perspective of wanting to stop WMD proliferation and the sale of WMD technology by North Korea to others the "Sunshine" policy is useless. Also, North Korean possession of a large arsenal of nuclear wewapons would lead to bolder North Korean attempts to blackmail South Korea, Japan and the United States.
In spite of the failure of the "Sunshine" policy to change the nature of the North Korean regime Kim Dae Jung's strategy has been so successful in changing domestic South Korean public opinion that it is causing the South Korean people to underestimate the size of the threat that North Korea poses. North Korea is escalating its threats against the US and it is moving to manufacture many nuclear weapons and yet the United States is being blamed for the behavior of the North Korean regime. The problem this poses for the United States is that the changes in South Korean popular opinion lessen South Korean popular support for policies that would apply pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
The real flaw of the "Sunshine" policy is that it misses the reason for the paranoia of the top North Korean leadership. Yes, they are isolated and ignorant about some aspects of the rest of the world. But their paranoia is motivated by an entirely rational understanding that outside influences, if allowed to reach the North Korean populace, would undermine the support that their populace gives to their continued rule. The North Korean leadership understands that increasing exposure of North Koreans to conditions and ideas from South Korea and elsewhere will eventually lead to the overthrow of the North Korean regime. Quite simply, the North Korean leadership is going to work very hard to prevent the sorts of influences from seeping in that Kim Dae Jung hopes the "Sunshine" policy will bring.
Decreased South Korean support for a tough position against North Korea has a number of consequences for the United States. First off, it increases the need for the United States to try to convnce China to pressure the North Korean regime. It makes US strategists consider total US troop withdrawal from South Korea for a number of reasons. One reason is the argument that the US shouldn't have troops where they are not wanted. Another is that the US is unlikely to use South Korea as a base from which to attack North Korea. Hence US withdrawal from South Korea would put the US in a position to argue that what it says and does via other means can't be used to blame the US if the North Korean regime attacks South Korea.
A U.S. intelligence source says a Washington-led embargo against Pyongyang would take time to loosen the regime's grip on power, since Kim has already shown that he's "willing to let a lot of people die off." But eventually sanctions might take their toll, as even top government officials and members of the security services began to feel the pinch. "If the regime can no longer maintain the lifestyles of [those] people," says the source, "it could be in serious trouble."
It would be far more effective if China joined in. If China simply doesn't increase its aid to North Korea (which already gets half of China's foreign aid) then an embargo by the rest of the world would do increasing damage to the North Korean economy. But an embargo by the US and its allies could be undermined if China stepped up its aid to compensate.
Thinking in the governments of United States and Japan appears to be moving in a similar direction with regard to North Korea. An embargo strategy might be able to be agreed to by the United States and Japan. South Korea's government is moving in an opposing direction. The position that China will take over the use of aid cut-off against Noth Korea is as yet unknown. Therefore it is not clear whether aid cut-off and sanctions can contribute to the collapse of the North Korean regime. It is very much worth it for US diplomats and foreign policy thinkers to address arguments to the Chinese as to why it is in China's best interests to work for either the collapse of the North Korean regime or to increase effective control of North Korea by China in order to stop and undo its WMD development efforts. As part of the US attempt to get the Chinese actively working to change the North Korean regime the US could make clear to the Chinese that unless they step up to the plate and solve the North Korean WMD problem that the US will have to solve it and will do so in a way that produces an outcome that is less satisfactory for the Chinese government.
Another card the US could play would be US withdrawal from South Korea. Such a withdrawal would satisfy a long term North Korean goal. But if in response the North Korean regime overplayed its hand and attacked South Korea then this would provide the United States with the opportunity to take out the North Korean regime. The full weight of US air power could be brought to bear. However, the North Korean regime might instead respond to a US withdrawal by deciding to pursue an attempt to extort steadily increasing amounts of aid from South Korea while also pressuring South Korea to disarm. While a significant portion of South Koreans would essentially be getting something they brought on themselves this course of events would allow the North Koreans to continue to do WMD development and manufacture and eventually to sell nuclear weapons on the world market. Its not clear that a US withdrawal from South Korea by itself makes sense unless it is combined with some other strategy to bring down the North Korean regime.
The third major strategy that the United States could pursue as a method to bring down the North Korean regime would be to make a major effort to infiltrate information about the rest of the world into North Korea. The North Korean people are probably the most informationally isolated of any people on the planet. As I've argued in the comments section of a previous post I do not see signs that the US is pursuing the information infiltration strategy on a scale that is commensurate with the size of the problem inherent in attempts to break the North Korean regime's monopoly on the information that most North Koreans receive.
We can not know what might be getting said in secret discussions between the principal concerned governments. Therefore it is difficult to judge whether the US is exerting sufficient effort diplomatically. However, it seems easier to judge how hard the US is trying to break the North Korean regime's information monopoly. I'd welcome evidence to the contrary but at this point it doesn't appear that the US is trying hard enough on that front.
The United States faces a serious problem on the Korean Peninsula. Each potential solution has drawbacks that would be either extremely costly in lives and money, risky, or uncertain to be successful or more than one of the above. The information infiltration strategy is basically a propaganda campaign in which the propaganda could all be true. It makes sense to pursue that strategy in parallel with attempts to bring the Chinese leadership around to the view that North Korea's WMD development efforts have to be stopped entirely. If neither strategy can work quickly enough then military strategies may become necessary. But the downsides and costs of military options are so great that those downsides are compelling arguments for first making much greater efforts to stop the North Korean regime in other ways.
Update: If you want to read more about the problem of North Korea read my Axis of Evil category archive. Also, be sure to read my exchange with Tom Holsinger and Trent Telenko in the comments section of the post Why Military Option Against North Korea Unattractive.
John O'Sullivan makes a very curious argument: some supporters of the UN are really supporters of international anarchy.
It is the United States that, having failed to solve these problems within the approved United Nations structures, now proposes to enforce the international rules on violators through its own leadership and alliances. And that alarms not only the Saddams of the international system but other less obvious groups--notably, both those powers that benefit from international anarchy and those international bodies and nongovernmental organizations that want to replace international anarchy with their own "governance."
The argument has a lot of appeal. The UN is unwilling to see many of its Security Council resolutions enforced. In spite of that, a large assortment of groups support the UN with almost religious zeal. Why is that? Because they do not really want to see rules enforced at an international level. They want anarchy. Some want anarchy because chaos has emotional appeal. Others want it because they see ways to use the conditions of chaos to their own advantage.
Many of the UN's supporters who oppose Security Council approval of action against Iraq are in the position of not wanting the US to enforce Security Council resolutions. This means they really do not mind what Saddam's regime might do or has done. They are not opposed to seeing brutes kill their own people or threaten others. If that is the case then they really do not favor international rules for the purpose of restraining or overthrowing bad regimes.
In a June 2000 paper entitled "North Korea's Strategy" Stephen Bradner explains why North Korea develops missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
The Pyongyang regime appears to consider its WMD and long-range missiles as fundamental to survival and too important to give up. Four points would seem to be clear.
First, these capabilities enable the regime to bargain and blackmail for what it needs rather than having to beg.
Second, while WMD and missile programs are important in this regard, it would be a mistake to imagine that is all they are, and to underestimate the importance attached to the programs per se and the regime's determination to pursue them. Such programs do not spring into existence overnight. Recruitment of nuclear specialists began in the 1950s. North Korea began assigning specialists to Yongbyon in the 1960s.26 All of this occurred long before North Korea had cause to anticipate economic failure or the need for a negotiating "card" to cope with the consequences of such failure.
Third, WMD and long-range missiles appear integral to Kim Jong Il's notion of making North Korea a "great and powerful state." Simply, he thinks great powers have such capabilities while weak states do not. In this respect, he will almost certainly consider these capabilities central to his own historic mission and, therefore to his notion of his own identity. He and his regime have always been bent on achieving these capabilities. It will hardly be easy to force them to "revert" to a posture that strips them of these capabilities, a posture that has never been theirs.
Fourth, these capabilities should be seen against the background of what has been happening all across Asia, from Syria and Israel, to the subcontinent, to China, and to North Korea itself, as second- and third-tier states develop asymmetric counters to western conventional military superiority. All of this is cogently captured in Paul Bracken's Fire in the East, in which he argues that as we transition not into the post-cold war era but into the post-Vasco da Gama era, Asian states are for the first time in five hundred years developing capabilities that will enable them to strike back at western states which try to impose their will by state-of-the-art military technology.27 These new capabilities will enable North Korea, among others, to hit our bases in the Pacific and, ultimately to strike at the homeland, raising the costs and hazards of our interference to dictate outcomes of our choosing far from home. As Bracken points out, Asian states are pursuing these new weapons, especially enhanced missile range and accuracy, not just to create random mass destruction, but rather to exert leverage, by force and threats of force, toward specific political objectives. If one asks what Pyongyang's specific political objective is vis-à-vis the U.S., the answer is not long in coming. They have been telling us week in and week out for decades about the need to get USFK off the Korean peninsula.
North Korea's WMD development effort is not a recent response to its economic problems. North Korea's deteriorating economic condition and South Korea's growing economy together strengthen the motive for the North Korean regime to do WMD develpment. But the regime already had compelling reasons to do so.
Containment is not a viable long-term option for the US strategy toward North Korea because North Korean missile and WMD development programs will only make it an increasing threat both from a growing potential to launch direct WMD attacks on the US and its allies and also thru its ability to sell WMD technologies and even actual weapons to other governments.
US attempts to organize a total cut-off of aid to the North Korean regime may fail because China may be willing to continue to prop it up. If sufficient economic pressure can not be brought to bear due to Chinese reluctance then an alternative strategy becomes urgent. The best strategy is to develop ways to get information about the outside world into the hands of the North Korean people. The pursuit of this strategy should be pursued with enormous vigor. Methods should be developed to smuggle large quantities of books and small radios into North Korea. It is essential to break the isolation of the North Korean people.
Update: If you want to read more about the problem of North Korea read my Axis of Evil category archive.
The US Patriot Act allowed intelligence agency information to be used against al-Arian.
The criminal case against al-Arian was made possible by the USA Patriot Act, an anti-terrorist law about a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, officials said. That law removed long-standing legal barriers to bringing information gathered in classified national security investigations into criminal courts.
Al-Arian is accused of being the leader of the US branch of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Authorities arrested the three men Tampa-area defendants and a fourth in Illinois, but the other four remain at large in foreign countries. If convicted, the men face up to life in prison.
The indictment describes Kuwaiti-born al-Arian, 45, as the Islamic Jihad's U.S. leader, head of a terrorist cell in Tampa and secretary of the group's worldwide council. Al-Arian is in the United States as a legal resident alien.
Some Tampa Florida area Muslims believe Sami al-Arian is being persecuted.
"This used to be the land of freedom and democracy," said Lubaba Aldaker, a worker at a Middle Eastern bakery in a strip mall that also has an Arabian grocery and cafe. "Not anymore."
"There is no justice," added Gheyas Swar, a fellow worker at Bonsoir Bakery. "We don't see any evidence. Where is the evidence? They have to show somebody the evidence to arrest him."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is not happy about al-Arian's arrest.
"We are very concerned that the government would bring charges after investigating an individual for many years without offering any evidence of criminal activity," said CAIR board chairman Omar Ahmad in a statement. "This action could leave the impression that Al Arian's arrest is based on political considerations, not legitimate national security concerns."
You might think that al-Arian and other Muslims in America just have a lot of animosity toward Israel and that leaving aside attacks against Israel they otherwise might be opposed to terrorism. Prominent American Muslim organisations are not just soft on terrorists who attack Israel though. For instance, American Muslim Council executive director Eric Ervan Vickers wouldn't even denounce Al Qaeda.
The night before Mueller addressed the AMC, guest host Mike Barnicle on CNBC's Hardball asked Vickers to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah. Vickers would not. Barnicle followed, "How about al-Qaeda?" According to the transcript, Vickers' only response was, "They are involved in a resistance movement."
David Tell has written extensively on Sami al-Arian's activities.
Not so many years ago, for instance, he founded a "think tank" at USF called the World Islam Studies Enterprise and installed a man named Ramadan Abdullah Shallah as its director. There the two men engaged in what Al-Arian calls "intellectual-type activity." Ramadan Abdullah Shallah has since moved on to another-type activity. He is currently head of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. A second Al-Arian-created outfit in Florida, the Islamic Committee for Palestine, once employed a fellow named Tarik Hamdi. Hamdi is personally acquainted with Osama bin Laden and is known to have provided him a battery for the cell phone used to organize the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
Professor Al-Arian has hosted public pep rallies for Islamic Jihad founder Abdel Aziz-Odeh and Sheikh Abdul Rahman, mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing. Film exists of Al-Arian at one of these rallies shouting "Jihad is our path! Victory to Islam! Death to Israel! Revolution! Revolution until victory! Rolling into Jerusalem!"
Al-Arian's animosity is obviously not reserved just for Israel. A supporter of Abdul Rahman is not someone who is only fighting for Palestinians.
US policies on granting visas, permanent residency, and even US citizenship are dangerously naive in dealing with people who embrace religious and political beliefs that are incompatible with a liberal secular free society.
Back in 1994, I produced and reported "Jihad in America," a PBS documentary that exposed the secret Islamic Jihad cell that Al-Arian ran from Tampa. I interviewed Al-Arian - who, of course, denied any terrorist affiliation. But the documentary also revealed statements by Al-Arian championing terrorism, the existence of Islamic Jihad publications distributed from his office, the use of his academic institute as a cover for Islamic Jihad and actual videos of Islamic Jihad terrorist conferences he organized in the United States.
Virtually every national Islamic "civil rights" group - created with the same guile that fostered the success of Al-Arian's organization - responded by claiming that we were "attacking Islam" and that we were stereotyping all Muslims. That pattern of obeisance to terrorism was repeated yesterday following issuance of the indictment.
Emerson says the Islamist groups in America managed to protect themselves pre-9/11 from serious law enforcement attention by arguing that any investigation of their activities would amount to "racial profiling". What is striking about the prosecution of Al-Arian is that it is happening 17 months after the 9/11 attacks and a full 8 years after Emerson first identified Al-Arian as a terrorist leader. Emerson, working with none of the power of a law enforcement officer, was able to ascertain what Al-Arian was up to 8 years ago. But even once the US Patriot Act was passed and federal prosecutors went after Al-Arian in earnest it took months before charges could be filed.
The Al-Arian case illustrates the inadequacy of conventional law enforcement as a tool for stopping terrorists. It can only work if used in conjunction with better methods of gathering evidence and with much greater control over who is allowed to enter, live in, and get citizenship in Western nations in the first place.
Update II: The New York Times has a good story on why it has taken so long to bring charges against Al-Arian.
But according to former officials and experts intimately familiar with the effort to indict Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders in the United States, the investigation suffered from a lack of resources, such as insufficient Arabic translators, and fierce bureaucratic turf battles between the F.B.I. and the Customs Service over control of the investigation.
Update III: A legal ruling that allowed the use of intercepts collected during intelligence operations paved the way for the prosecution of Al-Arian and the others charged with him.
Prosecutors' biggest breakthrough came in November, when a special federal appeals court ruled that the Justice Department had broad new powers to use wiretaps obtained for intelligence operations to prosecute terrorists.
''The case was ready at this point for indictment because it was jump-started three months ago when we examined declassified, intercepted faxes and telephone calls for the first time,'' Perez said Friday.
Islamic Jihad is angry over Al-Arian's arrest but they are trying to hide it. Iran suports IJ and Iran knows that after the US dispatches with Saddam's regime that the US will be in a position and motivated to put pressure on Iran and therefore Iran is telling IJ to not threaten the United States.
``They (Islamic Jihad leaders) know that Iran is today cautious in its policies ... because they know the United States will pressure Iran very hard after Iraq,'' he said, referring to a possible U.S. offensive against Baghdad. ``I don't think Iran will permit the Palestinian Islamic Jihad at this moment to do anything against the United States.''
The US will have more leverage against both Saudi Arabia and Iran after the US controls Iraq.
Update IV: You can read the 50 page indictment against al-Arian as a PDF file.
Someone obviously forgot to tell the Pentagon that they are supposed to be too distracted by the run-up to the war on Iraq to do anything else.
Plans call for U.S. military assessment teams to begin arriving on the island of Jolo in the southern Sulu Archipelago "within days," the spokesman said, with the rest of the American force likely to follow in about a month. The U.S. contingent will consist of about 350 Special Operations forces in the Sulu area and about 400 support personnel in Zamboanga on the island of Mindanao, where the Philippine military maintains a regional headquarters.
In addition, two U.S. amphibious assault ships with 1,300 sailors and 1,000 Marines armed with Cobra attack helicopters and Harrier AV-8B planes will sail from Japan to the waters around Jolo to provide aviation support, logistical assistance and medical help and also serve as a "quick reaction" back-up force.
The Filipino government is billing this as a training mission. But they will be training where the Abu Sayyaf are most active. Also, its obvious the Cobra helicopters and Harriers are not being sent there for training.
The Abu Sayyaf group are considered to act as terrorists.
"The Philippines have a terrorist problem, and we have offered our assistance," a senior Pentagon official said. "Over time, that assistance takes different shapes and forms. The Philippines have invited us to expand our role with them."
The current governor of Sulu province is obviously a Muslim but a portion of the Filipino Muslim population has long opposed rule by non-Muslim governments.
Interviewed over the phone, Sulu Gov Yusof Jikiri, who just arrived from pilgrimage in Mecca, said, "he was not consulted in the holding of the Balikatan exercise in Sulu." But Jikiri said he would talk to his local leaders about it. He expressed hope that the exercise would bring development to the province.
The United States first started fighting Muslim rebels in the Philippines about a century ago.
Update: The Filipino government officially continues to deny a direct combat role for US troops while US officials off-the-record say US troops will directly engage Abu Sayyaf fighters.
...the American and Philippine governments agreed to place U.S. troops alongside Philippine soldiers in direct combat, defense officials said Thursday. They spoke on condition of anonymity.
The death rate from terrorism has fallen too low to justify continued vigilance checking people entering the country.
"INS managers have reverted back to pre-9/11 attitudes," said Ignatius Gentile, president of the National Immigration and Naturalization Service Council, the union of INS workers. "Managers are demanding faster passenger processing rates, instructing employees to cut corners."
The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, signed by President Bush on May 14, 2002, lifted the 45-minute limit for INS inspectors to process passengers entering the U.S. from incoming international flights.
My forecast: increasing laxness until the next big terrorist attack.
The UK Independent reports American and British military and intelligence services are tracking the movement of 3 cargo ships that have been cruising around the Indian Ocean which may be carrying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
American and British military forces are believed to be reluctant to stop and search the vessels for fear that any intervention might result in them being scuttled. If they were carrying chemical and biological weapons, or fissile nuclear material, and they were to be sunk at sea, the environmental damage could be catastrophic.
Are these ships hiding weapons from the inspectors?
John Eldridge, editor of Jane's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence, said Saddam Hussein would have been "extremely sensible" to hide weapons at sea.
This doesn't seem likely. Iraq is a big place. Saddam has plenty of places to hide weapons in Iraq. Maybe the ships are weapons development labs. Or perhaps they are carrying weapons that are to be used to strike the US and its allies if Iraq is attacked.
Heather Mac Donald takes the US Senate to task for voting to shut down the DARPA Total Information Awareness computer project to detect signs of terrorist activity in electronic data. Mac Donald says the ban is so far-reaching that it will leave the FBI and Department of Homeland Security frozen in time using woefully inadequate computer tools to identify and track terrorists in the United States.
The breadth of the Senate's overreaction is stunning. Until now, the government has been allowed to search its own databases and even--heaven forbid!--try to improve the efficiency of those searches. No more. The Senate bill, sponsored by Oregon's Ron Wyden, freezes government intelligence analysis in its current abysmal state. Under Wyden's ban, only anti-terror investigations conducted wholly overseas or wholly against foreigners may use TIA's ground-breaking technologies to search government intelligence more productively. This means that while the CIA or National Security Agency may adopt cutting-edge software to wade through the intelligence glut more effectively, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security will be stuck with the same grossly inadequate tools that led to 9/11. But remember that terror attacks on American soil are almost by definition rehearsed and executed, if not also planned, domestically. It is domestic law enforcement that will be the front line of defense against the next attack.
The hypocrisy of the Senate's leading Democrats is no less stunning. Many--including Hillary Clinton and presidential hopefuls John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and John Edwards--have lambasted the Bush administration for not doing enough to protect the country against future al Qaeda assaults. Yet when it comes to applying America's greatest military advantage--the information technology expertise that could preempt terrorists' evil plans--the administration's critics would keep the country's defenses in a primitive state.
See also Mac Donald's previous article on the subject "Total Misrepresentation".
Every element of TIA is now legal and already in effect. The government already has access to private databases for investigatory purposes, but searching them is extremely cumbersome for lack of decent software. Likewise, the government can legally search its own computers, but that capacity, too, is constrained by primitive technology. TIA's enemies have not called for ending intelligence access to private or public databases, so their gripe ultimately boils down to the possibility that the government might do what it is already doing more efficiently. The rule appears to be of Luddite origin: The terrorists can expertly exploit our technology against us, but we must fight back with outdated, inadequate tools.
Terrorism is essentially asymmetric warfare conducted within civil society. Terrorists do not wear uniforms. They do not fight in clearly circumscribed battle zones. They hide by living among and acting like civilians. They do so in an attempt to destroy civil society.
Some terrorists will be detected using conventional police work combined with intelligence work that utilizes information that is collected abroad. But it would be naive to suppose that all or even most will be caught that way. Most Al Qaeda terrorists have not been captured. The identity of most of them is not even known in spite of the intense efforts of a large number of national intelligence agencies around the world to identify them. Figuring out which people are terrorists is an extremely hard thing to do.
We can't find terrorists using a simple straightforward approach such as peering over a battlefield at night with infrared goggles to look for soldiers that are not our own. Terrorists look very much and act very much like people who are not terrorists. It is difficult to notice patterns of behavior that differentiate between terrorists and non-terrorists. Many terrorists can be identified only by looking for patterns in data about the activities of a large number of people.
The US Senate is saying in effect that they do not want to make the United States a battleground in the battle against terrorism. The problem with this decision is that it is not theirs to make.
Here's yet another reason to avoid being a middle manager. The top guys are too powerful to be held accountable. In an article entitled "The Logic of Israel's Targeted Killing" Gal Luft explains why the Israelis kill middle managers instead.
To assess the real impact of targeted killing on the infrastructure of terrorist groups, one needs to understand their organizational culture, psychology, and behavior. The operational branches of organizations such as Hamas or the PIJ consist of three layers: political-military command, intermediate level, and what can be referred to as the "ground troops." The political-military command echelon—most of which is in the Gaza Strip—consists of a small group, no more than a dozen activists, responsible for funding, political and spiritual guidance, and direction of the organization's strategy. They maintain regular contact with the headquarters of terrorist groups throughout the Arab world as well as with senior leaders of the PA and chiefs of its security forces.
The intermediate level of command is a group slightly larger in size, a few dozens in each Palestinian city. Its members are involved in planning operations, and recruiting, training, arming, and dispatching terrorists. The different cells are loosely connected, and their members do not usually operate outside their area of jurisdiction. Members of this group, especially those living in Gaza, meet frequently with the senior leadership and receive daily orders and funds to finance their operations. Unlike members of the first group, intermediate-level activists are not so familiar to the public, and their killing does not evoke the same rage as does the targeting of senior leaders. For this reason, Israel has so far preferred to target as few senior leaders as possible and focus on members of the second group.
Its not an exact analogy but it reminds of how top corporate executives can more easily hire the best lawyers and even to sell out their underlings in exchange for immunity. People with high status are more protected in any number of circumstances.
Lee Harris, in an interesting essay entitled "Taking the Terror Cult Seriously", examines the assumptions of classical liberalism and argues that terrorists and ancient Spartans both demonstrated the falsity of a key assumption of liberalism.
Hobbes was the first man to argue that it was possible, in principle at least, to create a stable and peaceful social order exclusively on the basis of the enlightened self-interest of the individual members of that social order. Each man would see that it was to his advantage to renounce violence as an instrument for his own self-aggrandizement and to permit a monopoly of violence in the hands of a single authority.
This is the foundation of all forms of liberalism, both classical and modern, and is equally the presupposition of both Ayn Rand and John Rawls; though none of the later formulations of liberalism achieves the same clarity in respect to this core belief as Hobbes achieved in his political philosophy. For the great indispensable faith of all liberalism, as Hobbes understood, is the tenet that all men have the exact same proportionate fear of violent death, and that because such a fear is equally distributed, men all have the exact same motive to renounce violence, namely their equal fear of violent death at the hands of their neighbors.
As career criminals, corrupt officials, and terrorists demonstrate daily, people do not all have equal levels of motive to respect the rights of others. Also, and even more ominously, people do not even have equal desires to keep themselves alive. Oriana Fallaci understands this difference:
"Listen," she said, wagging a finger. "Those who do not follow what people like me say are unrealistic, are really masochistic, because they don’t see the reality …. Muslims have passion, and we have lost the passion. People like me who have passion are derided: ‘Ha ha ha! She’s hysterical!’ ‘She’s very passionate!’ Listen how the Americans speak about me: ‘A very passionate Italian.'
"Americans," she said, repeating for me something she told the American Enterprise Institute, "you have taught me this stupid word: cool. Cool, cool, cool! Coolness, coolness, you’ve got to be cool. Coolness! When I speak like I speak now, with passion, you smile and laugh at me! I’ve got passion. They’ve got passion. They have such passion and such guts that they are ready to die for it."
Too many modern liberals (and I include leftist liberals, libertarian liberals and even some neoconservative liberals) have so internalized the need for everyone to accept the existence of everyone else that they have a hard time accepting the consequences of the fact that others do not share their beliefs.
All ideologies are simplifications of reality. Liberalism is no exception. Simplifications can seem to work for a time and over some range of conditions as long as those conditions do not vary too far outside of the conditions that an ideology assumes to always be true. The problem for classical liberalism today is that technological advances are making it easier to create conditions in Western societies that are outside the range of allowable conditions needed for a liberal society to survive.
Technology creates challenges to classical liberalism in a few ways that all strengthen each other. First of all, technology increases the amount of damage that non-state actors can do. Common elements of modern industrial society can be used to wreak havoc on that society. Another consequence of advances in technology is the great increase in contact between liberal and illiberal civilizations (the idea of civilizations used here in the same sense as used by Samuel P. Huntington). People who in the past had very limited access to information about the West and who would have had a hard time travelling to liberal Western societies can now learn about and travel to and even live in Western societies rather easily.
The increase in contact across cultures certainly is spreading ideas in both directions. So the various cultures are changing in response to contact with other cultures. However, this is also causing increased hostility in some cases as some people in each culture learn things about other cultures that they find deeply objectionable.
Another change being wrought by technology is happening within illiberal civilizations. Simply put, the various distant parts of a given civilization are finding themselves in greater contact with each other. This greater contact is causing increasing homogenization of thought within those civilizations as geographically separate peoples are increasingly able to hear the exact same arguments and read the same writings. Within Islamic Civilization this is helping to spread fundamentalist Islam from the Arabian peninsula and Egypt (e.g. see this Canadian Muslim web site's enthusiastic description of the influence of Egyptian fundamentalist Sayyid Qutb) to destinations as far away as Indonesia, Malaysia, and even mosques in America. Local varieties of religious belief are dying off in ways that are roughly analogous to how chain stores outcompete local stores.
A reduction in the cost of transportation combined with an environment that allows in large numbers of legal and illegal imimgrants challenges classical conceptions of citizenship. Some people who come to dwell in liberal societies not only do not embrace the liberal ideals but also actively work against those ideals. One method by which people work against the ideals of the larger society is to isolate their children from it and to arrange to have their children taught a conflicting set of values. Others work against the larger society by committing or supporting acts of violence against the society.
Some argue that globalization obsolesces the concept of citizenship. Wall Street Journal editorial writer Robert Bartley thinks our borders should be open to all comers.
Back in the immigration debate of 1984, we proposed a five-word Constitutional amendment: There shall be open borders.... Someone who believes in the free trade in goods and free movements of capital will quite naturally believe in free movement of labor, another factor of production. In terms of men, what could be more fundamental than the freedom to move your person? Perhaps the most important freedom of all is that of emigration....
Bartley sums up in closing:
America’s uniqueness, its special advantage celebrated tomorrow, is that it is a nation rooted not in an ethnic heritage given by birth, but a set of ideals any immigrant can share.
Note that Bartley said America is a nation with "a set of ideals any immigrant can share". He didn't say "will share". He didn't say "must share". In fact, as J.P. Zmirak discovered when he had a conversation about immigration with a pair of Wall Street Journal editorial writers, these advocates of an extremely open immigration policy do not believe that all native born Americans share the ideals that define a real American.
And then the émigré leaned forward, brow knitted, to confide a new insight. “They’re not real Americans,” he said in a thick Slavic accent. The people who show up wanting to work, who aren’t afraid of 12 hour days, who set up shops in Chinatown and put their whole families to work from childhood on—people who put their faith in capitalism, those were the real Americans. “Not those resentful parasites. Just because they happen to live here, that doesn’t make them Americans.”
The open immigration crowd are trying to have it both ways by supporting a position that is obviously contradictory. On one hand they are totally in favor of free immigation. On the other hand, they advance a definition of real American citizens based on personal convictions and work habits and admit that not all legal native born Americans meet their definition for real Americans. Therefore in their eyes some native born lack legitimacy as citizens.
This brings us to an interesting consequence of their attitude. It is obvious that tens of millions of Americans do not fully believe, live, and vote in accordance with the ideals that the Wall Street Journal editorial writers think define real Americans. Anyone who votes for politicians who fund the welfare state is voting in a way that the Wall Street Journal editorial writers would surely hold to be anti-American. Wouldn't it be logical for these editorial writers to therefore argue that voters who vote for support of the welfare state fail the WSJ ideological litmus test and should be stripped of their citizenships and deported? Should people who apply for welfare benefits similarly be deported? After all, if the proponents of the European social welfare state become too numerous won't the Wall Street Journal's America of open markets die from election wins that will send into office anti-Americans who will vote for a bigger welfare state and trade protectionism?
Of course the Wall Street Journal isn't gong to argue for a system of ideological belief tests for citizenship and deportation of non-believers (non-believers of the WSJ global capitalistic utopian faith that is). Such criteria would have to be applied to immigrants and doing that would cut down on the inflow of immigrants. While the WSJ folks surely must understand that somehow what people believe affect whether they are good citizens the WSJ editorial writers are opposed to any potential obstacles to immigration. Why is this? The reason is that even though they loudly proclaim their support for a rather encompassing political and economic ideology they ultimately are motivated by a desire to increase the size of the labour market. How new arrivals will vote or behave as citizens is less important to them than that the new arrivals will be available for hire and to start new companies. Whether new arrivals will be willing to serve on juries, come forth to bear witness to crimes, refrain from using government jobs to enrich family, vote for politicians that respect individual rights (e.g. the right of young women to date the men of their choosing without getting killed by dad or her brothers), join the military, and refrain from acts of terrorism all are less important to the Wall Street Journal than whether the bulk of the new arrivals will be available to eagerly work long hours with smiles on their faces.
By advocating open borders the Wall Street Journal is arguing for something that is analogous to the Tragedy of the Commons but in a political dimension rather than an economic one. The Journal writers take for granted the liberal society that undergirds a market economy. They even take for granted the continued existence and current popular level of support for a market economy. They have done so as a consequence of their embrace of a utopian ideological faith of a strongly libertarian character. This libertarian faith assumes that government is the biggest obstacle to a capitalistic utopian society. But this faith ignores the connection in a democracy between the nature of the voters and the nature of the government. It also ignores the connection between the nature of a nation's citizens and the behavior of its civil servants. The different cultures in the world have different capacities to support uncorrupt government and free societies. The cultural and religious beliefs and family structures of the people who live in a society all profoundly affect the kind of society it will be and the kind of government it will have.
Technology makes it easier for people to travel and communicate across national borders. However, technology does not obsolesce patriotism or the liberal nation-state. The reason for this is simple in the extreme: we still need the state to protect us from would-be rights violators both internal and external. In order to have a functional and effective nation-state (and yes anarcho-libertarians, we really do need one) we need a population that feels strongly loyal to the nation-state, to the kind of society that a given nation-state protects, and to their fellow citizens. Absent that loyalty we can not have an effective military or a government that is sufficiently uncorrupt to function well. A political Tragedy of the Commons will occur when people feel no sense of proprietorship toward their nation. This is the risk we are already running with our current immigration policy. That risk will become an inevitability if we adopt a policy of totally open borders.
John F. Burns has an excellent story on Iraqis living in Jordan who want the United States to overthrow Saddam even though they have very hostile feelings toward the United States. Its entitled "When the Enemy Is a Liberator"
The men refused to accept that their image of the United States might be distorted by the rigidly controlled Iraqi news media, which offer as unreal a picture of America as they do of Iraq. But when it was suggested that they could hardly wish to be liberated by a country they distrusted so much — that they might prefer President Bush to extend the United Nations weapons inspections and stand down the armada he has massed on Iraq's frontiers — they erupted in dismay.
"No, no, no!" one man said excitedly, and he seemed to speak for all. Iraqis, they said, wanted their freedom, and wanted it now. The message for Mr. Bush, they said, was that he should press ahead with war, but on conditions that spared ordinary Iraqis.
The US is going to have a hard time managing post-war Iraq. Creation of a stable, non-corrupt, liberal democracy will be extremely difficult. The population will not trust the US and the warm feelings that the initial liberation will generate will not last for long.
Burns says many Arab leaders secretly hope that in the aftermath of the liberation and when the full extent of Saddam's barbarity can be plainly seen that the populace of their countries will swing away from their deep hostility toward the United States. But until that time comes leaders of such countries as Egypt will side with their populaces in their public statements about the coming war.
Update: If you haven't already, be sure to read Stanley Kurtz on the problems in Arab and Muslim societies and his views on the problem of what to do with Iraq after the war. Also, read Fouad Ajami on the potential of a conquered Iraq.
Update II: Lee Harris says its very important how a society attributes blame for failure. A society that blames itself and criticises itself is going to be far more successful than one that blames others for its failures. Harris argues that the Arab myths tend to shift blame toward others.
In fact, they hate us because we are the bad guys in the black hats that the Arab world so desperately needs to comfort themselves for their own failures and defeats.
Only the Story Line that the Arab is employing is not drawn from novels of Scott or the Fairly Tales of the Brothers Grimm, but from the enchanted world of The Thousand and One Nights. And, according to this Story Line, America is cast not simply as a bad guy, but as an all powerful evil genie that the virtuous Aladdin of the Arab world must destroy.
"The army wanted to make a real land contribution to the operation in Iraq, as they did in Afghanistan," he said.
"But the government's never been very comfortable with what the PPCLI did in Kandahar.... It put the army in the public eye and gave them a lot of positive publicity. The government didn't like that."
The Canadian government has decided to send a couple thousand Canadian soldiers to Kabul to function as police. By sending those soldiers to Kabul the Canadian government puts itself in a position where it will not have enough soldiers to also send troops to take part in the attack on Iraq. Yes, you heard that right. The Canadian military does not have the ability to send more than a few thousand soldiers into a combat zone. Canada, population 32 million people and with about a $900 billion (in US dollars) economy is militarily tapped out after sending a couple of thousand soldiers into a combat zone.
Lets put that into perspective. In World War II 5,500 Canadian soldiers were awarded the Burma Star for serving in the Burma campaign. Sound like a lot? 91,000 Canadians were awarded the Italy Star for serving in the Italy campaign. 12,800 Canadians were awarded the Air Crew Europe Star for serving in Europe in air crews. 43,500 Canadians were awarded the Atlantic Star for air and sea service in the Battle for the Atlantic. In World Wars I and II a total of 110,214 Canadian soldiers gave their lives fighting for King and Country (the total figure is probably higher since some deaths can't be traced to individual names; there are additional civilian losses too). But today a wealthier and larger populace elect a government that chooses not to spend the money needed to put more than a few thousand soldiers into the field. Hey, that certainly puts a cap on military casualties.
But the really curious aspect of all this is the desire of the Canadian government to prevent their soldiers from doing anything brave or gallant or daring. It is obvious that in the minds of Canada's ruling elite a judgement has been made that Canadians shouldn't be exposed to anything that might awaken a spirt of martial ardour. This suggests that lurking under those pleasant smiles and maple leaf hats lurks a warrior race which is being kept placid only by careful stage management of their environment by their benign and wise rulers.
What is next for Canada's elites as they strive to create a post-militaristic utopian society? I probably shouldn't be giving the Orwellian speech controllers of Canada (whose hate speech laws are thoroughly illiberal) any ideas but its too much fun to resist. Greece points the way forward. If Greece can ban the use of electronic games lest anyone use them to gamble (yes, really, I'm not making this up; though they eventually backed off for private use) then certainly the Canadian government could at least ban violent action games, war movies, action movies (Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger should probably be prevented from entering the country), army soldier toys, and all things that might give the young and impressionable encouragement to pursue a life of martial valour.
But wait, they can't stop there. What's the biggest source of exposure to violence in Canada? Ice hockey! It has to be banned. You might be objecting at this point. You might want to argue that playing ice hockey is an innately Canadian thing to do. Sorry, not any more. Any sport that conditions youth to be brutally competitive can't be allowed. A person could get hurt getting slammed against the walls or into the ice or by getting punched or whacked with a hockey stick (perhaps the sticks should be coated in soft foam as an early step toward the abolition of the game?). We can't have that. In the New Canada (which is almost a contradiction since the very idea of nationalism must be stomped out) sports should be about everyone working together to make harmonious patterns. Groups shouldn''t be pitted against each other in physical competition that inevitably leads to injury and even violence on the ice. I grew up watching the Philadelphia Flyers treating hockey as gladiator battle and so perhaps my limited knowledge of hockey has distorted my view of the sport. But the tendency to violence is inherent in the sport. Ice hockey is patriarchal and masculine. It is more dangerous that electronic games. It must be brought to an end along with the Canadian military.
Some criticise the Bush Administration for preparing to invade Iraq in the face of North Korean moves to develop nuclear weapons. The argument made by many critics is that since North Korea is the greater threat it should be dealt with first. These criticisms are unconvincing for a very basic reason: there is little that would be prudent for the United States to do about North Korea that war preparations and diplomatic efforts against Iraq are preventing.
Lets consider what the US might do to deal with the growing threat from North Korea. Lets start with military options. One could claim that if only the US didn't have so many military assets tied down preparing to invade Iraq that the US could instead be building up military forces near North Korea. In order for a build-up of military force to be credible as a source of pressure to bring against the North Korean regime the US has to really be willing to use it. How many of the critics of the coming attack on Iraq are prepared to instead support an attack against North Korea that would be, compared to the coming Iraq war, much more risky, economically costly, and result in enormously higher casualties? Precious few is my guess.
Another option would be to try to do covert operations to bring down the North Korean regime. Such operations wouldn't necessarily have to be for the short term goal of organizing a coup. Economic and propaganda tools could be used to gradually weaken the regime (and one can only hope that the CIA is running such operations). Surely the CIA is big enough to run operations against Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime while also running operations against North Korea to smuggle in information for propaganda purposes and to bribe well-placed North Koreans for information and to get influence in North Korea. It is hard to see why dealing with Iraq is as big of a problem for the CIA as watching and attacking Al Qaeda. Therefore if the CIA is distracted away from North Korea by anything it is far more likely to be by Al Qaeda than by Iraq. It seems dubious to argue that US intelligence agencies are strained by Iraq and therefore can't deal with North Korea.
If military options against North Korea are not a good idea at this point (and I don't think they are yet) and if intelligence resources aren't being overly strained by the run-up to the Iraq war (again, if they are strained over anything its Al Qaeda) then in what other way might the US be getting distracted by Iraq? One could argue that at the top level of civilian leadership and in the diplomatic corps US officials just don't have enough mental time to think about North Korea properly because they have to spend so much time thinking about Iraq. This argument at least seems possible. Still, it implies a rather low regard for the capacity of diplomats and top national security types to deal with more than one big international issue at a time. My guess is that they can handle multiple big issues at once and that when the National Security Council meets to hash things out in the White House that North Korea gets more attention than the White House gives it in public pronouncements.
An argument that the US is paying too much attention to Iraq and not enough to North Korea ought to be looked at in light of just what exactly the US ought to do to deal with North Korea. Think about whether the Bush Administration tactics toward North Korea make sense. We know that the Bush Administration does not want to get into a direct two-party negotiation with North Korea. Why? First of all, if an agreement could even be reached the North Koreans wouldn't honor any agreement that might come out of such a negotiation. Also, the rest of the world would complain to the US about any outcome from such negotiations (unilateral cowboys that we supposedly are). Negotiating with the North Koreans is a no-win game for the US. We also know that North Korea is trying to escalate the crisis in order to get the US to make concessions. The North Koreans want the direct negotiations for the same reasons that the Bush folks want to avoid them. Democrats in the US who are calling for such negotiations are playing into Kim Jong-il's hands.
Knowing that the US doesn't have enough leverage with the North Koreans, the Bush folks want China to apply pressure to North Korea. China doesn't want to do that and so China is recommending direct talks between the US and North Korea. The most important diplomatic game over North Korea is between the US and China. Bush wants China to accept that it has a responsibility to discipline its client North Korea. China wants North Korea to be free to continue to make problems for the US.
There is one additional card that Bush has set into motion which is the most important reason why North Korea and China are so eager to see the US directly negotiate with North Korea: The US has cut off aid to North Korea and some other countries have done so as well. The North Korean regime is going to feel under increasing economic pressure as a result of this. China may need to step in to help. Given the reduction in foreign aid and current trends North Korea's economic problems are going to get worse.
In public pronouncements Colin Powell, George Bush, Ari Fleischer and other officials say that the US is pursuing the diplomatic route with North Korea. For understandable reasons this is an incomplete and misleading description of what is going on. The US doesn't want to admit that it is probably doing covert operations against the North Korean regime and that the intelligence agencies of some other governments (e.g. Japan, South Korea) are doing likewise. The US doesn't want to dwell on the fact that the aid cut-off is going to help make poor North Koreans even poorer. The US is definitely applying economic pressure (e.g. the cut-off of oil shipments) and trying to convince other countries to apply economic pressure as well.
The most important argument going on at the diplomatic level is surely that between the US and China. The US is trying to convince the Chinese leaders that it is in their interest to prevent North Korea from becoming a serious nuclear power. South Korea and Japan are also surely making the same argument to China. There are compelling arguments that can be made for why it is in China's interest to restrain North Korea. Most notable is that a nuclear North Korea might lead to a nuclear Japan and to Japan joining much more vigorously to help the US develop missile defense systems. Another argument is that if North Korea sells nukes and some cities get vaporized as a result fingers of blame are going to be pointed at China for its failure to control its client. It is by no means certain that the Chinese leaders can be convinced by these arguments. But it is worth it for the US and its local allies to make the argument.
China is in the position of wanting the US, South Korea, and Japan to pay to prop up a regime that is the source of increasing security threats to all of them but China. This has worked for China up until recently. But North Korea's actions and statements combined with a more hawkish US president are making China's expectations of outside help for North Korea increasingly unrealistic. The Bush Administration has to have the patience to wait for China to accept that it has reached crunch time over North Korea. China has to decide whether it wants to step in and spend the money to replace the aid that North Korea used to receive from other countries. China also has to face the anger and possible subtle forms of economic and diplomatic retaliation that a decision to prop up the North Korean regime would provoke from both the US and Japan.
Update: On Fox News on Sunday Colin Powell mentioned some reasons why China holds many cards in dealing with North Korea.
Take China, for example. China has said that it is their policy that the Korean Peninsula not be nuclearized -- in fact, be denuclearized. Well, therefore, China should play an active role in making sure that that is the case. They have considerable influence with North Korea. Half their foreign aid goes to North Korea. Eighty percent of North Korea's wherewithal, with respect to energy and economic activity, comes from China. China has a role to play, and I hope China will play that role.
There is a limit to the amount of economic pressure that the US can bring to bear on North Korea as long as China is funding the continuing existence of the North Korean regime.
Update II: China's San Francisco consulate Deputy Consul-General Qiu Xuejun claims China is trying to get North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons development.
"China has been going through its own channels to convince North Korea to change its (nuclear) stance," said Qiu, admitting it hasn't had much luck.
"North Korea is an independent country. Of course, we can pass along messages to them, but China's influence on North Korea is ... well, they make their own decisions," Qiu said.
It is unlikely that China has reached the point of threatening to cut off aid if North Korea doesn't comply. China's leadership is not yet demonstrating firm conviction that North Korea must be stopped.
Update III: If you want to read more about the problem of North Korea read my Axis of Evil category archive.
Some US Air Force officers are upset that the targetting list approved by General Tommy Franks will spare so much infrastructure that ground soldiers will be at greater risk.
The officers said the plan, as of a few weeks ago, would largely spare infrastructure targets, such as bridges, and most, if not all, telephone communications.
I wonder whether it would be possible to do things to the infrastructure that wouldn't cause major damage but which would render it unusable for days or weeks. The infrastructure doesn't have to be wiped out entirely. It just has to be put into a state that is hard to fix in a short period of time.
For instance, electric power plants are useless without power cables to deliver the electricity. Could a low flying aircraft dangling a long cable make passes over power lines and rip them up? Or could thin cabling be designed that would flutter down onto power cables and short them into the high tension line towers that keep them off the ground? Or could a bomb release a highly electrically conductive chemical that would coat the insulators in order to short out the cables?
Similarly, imagine a slippery chemical that could be used to coat the surface of a bridge to make it impassable. Or how about metal spikes that could be dropped to partially embed into the asphalt so that the spikes would rip up tires that passed over them.
Oh, the irony. China and the EU want the United States to pursue a unilateral course with North Korea while the United States wants a diplomatic negotiation process that involves many interested nations sitting down with North Korea at the same time. Jim Hoagland reports that China and the EU want direct US-North Korean talks.
China's foreign ministry on Tuesday publicly endorsed Pyongyang's demand for talks only with the United States. Astonishingly, Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy spokesman and a genuine advocate of strong transatlantic ties, chimed in during the same Beijing news conference to say that "the most important thing at this point is direct dialogue" between Washington and Pyongyang.
Hoagland says that South Korea and China both misread US intentions on North Korea. I'm skeptical on that point. Hoagland doesn't specify what South Korea and China think the US intentions are. A more likely possibility is that both South Korea and China understand US intentions and are opposed to them.
China and the United States have conflicting interests on North Korea. China is not afraid that North Korea might attack China and hence has no fear of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development efforts). At the same time China wants North Korea as a buffer between it and South Korea. Plus, the Beijing regime doesn't want a popular revolt in North Korea giving Chinese people any ideas about doing the same.
South Korea and the United States also have conflicting interests on North Korea. South Korea just wants to buy off North Korea so that South Korea won't have to suffer hundreds of thousands of casualties fighting it (which is certainly understandable). South Korea's interests are parochial and encompass just the Korean peninsula. Of course South Korea's leaders might be misjudging the North Korean regime. It may well be that once North Korea has a large number of nuclear weapons and plenty of missile delivery vehicles that at that point it will greatly up its extortion demands or even demand that South Korea disarm and submit itself to the North Korean regime's political will. But the South Korean leaders do not seem to think this is a likely possibility.
By contrast, the national security thinkers in the United States take a much larger view of the threat from North Korea. The US is worried about the specter of Nuclear KMart and the global risks posed by North Korea. North Korea has so far demonstrated a willingness to sell any military technology it can make and to anyone who has the money to pay. The US is also concerned that once North Korea can deliver nuclear weapons via ICBMs to strike the US that the US will face a greater set of extortion demands from North Korea. Plus, there is the fear that North Korean regime, being so isolated and paranoid, could miscalculate and fire off missiles at the United States. Therefore what we have is a conflict of interests between China, the United States, and South Korea over what to do about North Korea.
US concerns are certainly well justified by the rhetoric that comes from North Korea. North Korea's leaders do not speak calm tones and don't shrink from threatening to wreak havoc on other nations. North Korea is not bashful about threatening to attack the United States.
"Wherever they are we can attack them," Foreign Ministry official Ri Kwang Hyok told France's Agence France-Presse news agency in an interview in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
"There's no limit to our attack ability. The strike force of the Korean People's Army will take on the enemy wherever he is," Ri was quoted as saying.
Out of the three regional neighbors of North Korea the one that most closely shares US concerns is Japan. Japan fears a nuclear armed North Korea could attack Japan.
TOKYO: Japan would launch a military strike against North Korea if Tokyo had firm evidence that the Stalinist state was ready to attack with ballistic missiles, Japanese Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba said yesterday.
"It is too late if (a missile) flies towards Japan," Ishiba told Reuters in an interview.
In another blow to multilateral world government and the fantasy regime of international law as guarantor of security and peace China doesn't want the UN involved with North Korea.
China has warned the UN Security Council against getting involved in the North Korean nuclear crisis.
"The UN Security Council's involvement at this stage might not necessarily contribute to the settlement of the issue," said China's ambassador to the UN, Zhang Yan.
COIA directory George Tenet suggests North Korea wants it all: US acceptance of its existence, more aid, its own nukes, freedom to be a WMD arms dealer.
"Kim Jong Il's attempts to parlay the North's nuclear program into political leverage suggest he is trying to negotiate a fundamentally different relationship with Washington, one that implicitly tolerates the North's nuclear weapons program," Mr. Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Update: If you want to read more about the problem of North Korea read my Axis of Evil category archive.
Aren't you caricaturing the Muslim world, writing off all the moderate Muslims in pro-Western countries like Egypt, Morocco and Turkey?
You want me to be optimistic. I am not. The day the Islamic world will start criticizing itself, the day it will give birth to some Luther or Calvin, then you call me and say, ''Fallaci, you were wrong.'' I will then admit that the Western culture and Islamic culture can coexist.
Update: Also see this FrontPage article on Fallaci.
The crisis over NATO approval to shift missiles into Turkey in the run-up to the attack on Iraq brings another multinational organization into the diplomatic fight over the fate of Iraq. The outcome promises to make both the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization distinctly less important.
British Foreign Minister Jack Straw is warning France and Germany over Nato.
Britain bluntly warned France and Germany yesterday that their attempt to halt preparations for war in Iraq would doom the United Nations and undermine the credibility of Nato.
During a Senate Budget Committee hearing, Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, asked the secretary whether it was worth breaking up Washington's alliances "just to get" Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"Who is breaking up the alliance?" Mr. Powell replied. "Not the United States. The alliance is breaking itself up because it will not meet its responsibilities."
Die Zeit editor Josef Joffe says that in provoking a crisis within NATO Germany and France are not working toward an achievable goal.
Such are the insights that even the most basic course in diplomacy teaches to young foreign ministry acolytes, but then, neither Bismarck nor Talleyrand is running foreign policy in Berlin or Paris these days. These wily manipulators of men and nations would have asked a more fundamental question: "Are we willing to sacrifice Nato to our attempt to tie down the 'hyperpower'?"
On closer inspection, they would have answered "Nein" and "Non". They would have reasoned thus. First, if we want to take on Mr Big in earnest, we had better make sure that we can stay in the game after the first few moves. Since we don't have the chips, we must add to our smallish pile by recruiting reliable allies. Belgium? Scratch that, for we need heavier munitions than those pricey chocolates concocted by Neuhaus and Godiva. Let's see, is there anybody else?
Joffe assumes the NATO veto over missiles to defend Turkey is being wielded in order to hold back the United States. But is he correct? Might its exercise be for some other reason? Another possible motive would be to intentionally undermine NATO in order to remove an obstacle for further European military and foreign policy integration. In other words, the Germans and French may want a weakened or even dissolved NATO as an outcome. Yet another possibility is that they are indifferent to the fate of NATO because they do not see any threats for which they need NATO's help. Therefore in pursuit of other goals they are willing to block NATO action even though doing so defeats the purpose of NATO.
If the French and German goal is to undermine NATO in order to make room to expand the EU's diplomatic and military power then their plan might backfire. Other countries in the EU may respond to the diplomatic fight over Iraq by concluding that they do not want the EU to adopt a new constitution that transfers more foreign policy control to Brussels. This crisis may especially convince Eastern European governments that they do not want to give up too much power to Brussels on defense and foreign policy matters.
Will NATO formally break up? A more likely outcome is that it will continue to exist but that its decision-making mechanisms will be ignored. The United States will shift its forces in Europe into countries that it feels it can more consistently rely upon. Then the US will put together ad hoc alliances of European nations as the need arises.
At the least, the political rift is likely to accelerate NATO's pace of structural change. Five years from now the remaining US heavy forces in Germany may be greatly reduced, with some units scattered to new bases in Eastern and Southern Europe, and others returned to North America.
The NATO fight over missiles to defend Turkey ought to raise alarms in Washington DC about increased EU integration. Any proposed constitutional changes that would reduce the ability of individual EU members to have their own foreign policies on security and defense matters would reduce the ability of countries friendly toward the US to cooperate with the US.
Update: Steve Den Beste argues cross-cultural misunderstanding of the signals being sent between Europe and America may be to blame. He's right that one should always consider stupidity as an explanation before attributing a behavior to malice. However, I think an article he links to in the Washington Post about anti-American sentiment in Europe suggests another explanation.
While some observers here have attributed the popularity of "The Big Lie" to France's obsession with conspiracy theories, others see it as one barometer of just how far anti-Americanism has spread into the mainstream. Guillaume Dasquie, a French journalist who co-wrote a book, "The Horrifying Lie," that dismantled Meyssan's claims page by page, said he has seen a marketing study indicating that many of those who purchased Meyssan's book are newcomers to book buying.
"The idea of Americans as victims was too unsettling for many ordinary people," said Francois d'Alancon, chief foreign correspondent for La Croix, a Catholic newspaper. "It contradicted their normal view of the world. But with Meyssan's theory, the Americans are the villains again. They become the ones responsible for these terrible events. It's much more acceptable."
Western Europeans lived under American military protection for many decades. American decisions had the potential to have enormous impact on their lives. The Cold War was the occasion for debates in Europe about the deployment of such weapons as neutron bombs and intermediate range nuclear missiles and detente. It was natural under those conditions that Europeans would develop an exaggerated sense of the efficacy of American power. As a consequence one big dividing line between Americans and Europeans is ironically over the extent of America's ability to work its will on the world. Europeans attribute so much to American power that when things go wrong in the world they assume that America must be the cause. This leads many French and other Europeans to believe delusional conspiracy theories about 9/11 and other events.
The key difference between Americans and Europeans at this point is that Europeans think that American power is so great that the United States doesn't need to make special exertions to defend itself. The European view is that America's margin of safety for its security is so large and its ability to defend itself so great that when the United States takes action abroad it must be doing so for reasons other than a real concern for its own security. By contrast, Americans do not see themselves as anywhere near as secure as the Europeans imagine us to be. During the Cold War we worried about the threat of an unstoppable massive nuclear strike. Now we worry about terrorist attacks and the threat that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists pose to the American people. We think we are much more likely to be the targets of a large scale terrorist strike than any European country. We look at the world and see shadowy groups hiding out in chaotic countries and plotting attacks against us.
There is a tendency for the human mind to seek out single simple causes of events. Also, at the same time humans see themselves as existing in hierarchies and humans naturally form hierarchies. These tendencies are so strong that they must be genetically coded into our nature. As the most militarily and economically powerful country America has come to be seen as the prime mover of the world. People think its at the top of the hierarchy sending orders out to cause events to unfold according to its will. European support for the UN should therefore be viewed as an attempt to move America off the top of this imaginary hierarchy.
It is not clear what the US can do about European attitudes (aside: not all Europeans hold the majority European view and not all Americans hold the majority American view). There is an internal logic to both the European and American views. If another terrorist attack happens in the US then the European view will be that will be in reaction to things that the US did and that the US could have avoided the attack by not doing the things that provoked the terrorists (America being prime mover after all). But the US reaction will be that this just proves we are vulnerable and need to intervene more to protect ourselves.
I think the "prime mover" view is fundamentally flawed because it ignores the extent to which we are each autonomous beings. No one is in control. It is not possible for any one country to have so much power that it can orchestrate all political developments of the world and, by wise actions, to prevent all unfavorable threatening trends. Before technological developments increased the interactions between the parts of the world there were plenty of sufficiently developed existing cultures and belief systems that were destined to react with hostility to the US and the West no matter how we treated the rest of the world. As technology has advanced the ability of previously remote groups to do damage to each other has risen apace. Technology is enabling the development of distributed networks that can't be controlled by some central hierarchy. Technology is also bringing more people into contact with each other in more ways. This inevitably creates unpredictable and mostly uncontrollable cross-cultural reactions. The world is a chaotic place and its becoming a more dangerous place.
Theodore Dalrymple has written an excellent essay on the phenomenon of contempt masquerading as compassion.
There’s nothing British academics like more than a good academic boycott. It makes them feel they are at the center of things, important cogs in the motor of history—and virtuous into the bargain: for virtue these days is more a matter of making the right gestures and expressing the “right” opinions than of conforming one’s behavior to inconvenient ethical standards. It allows one to be a libertine on a Neronian scale and yet detect the odor of sanctity emanating powerfully from oneself.
Dalrymple argues that one reason academics do not boycott Syria and other countries with worse human rights efforts is they expect more from the Jews than from the Arabs. Why? Because they really believe that the Arabs are not capable of better behavior but that the Jews are. So this boycott is a compliment to the Jews because it views them as having a greater capacity than the Arabs to live up to Western moral standards (though that brings us to the separate question of whether the academics really believe those moral standards should be the ideal that all should live by).
This argument reminds me very much of an argument that Steve Sailer has made about why liberal whites like to accuse other whites of racism: it gives them someone to feel better than.
And this is typical, in my experience: whites who proclaim their anti-white feelings don't really care much about blacks or other minorities, pro or con. What they care about is achieving social superiority over other whites by demonstrating their exquisite racial sensitivity and their aristocratic insouciance about any competitive threats posed by racial preferences.
For the British academics (and some American academics as well) Israel provides a group that is enough like them that they can point at the Israelis, draw a distinction, and say "see, we are better than those folks". Their protest is motivated by a desire for more status. It also becomes a way of proclaiming solidarity and membership within one's group: "Oh, of course I support the boycott. You know how I feel about colonialist oppressors and fascists".
Israel is a great place to boycott or condemn because what happens there attracts so much press attention. Its rather more easy to get attention for one's views about Israel than about, say, Tibet (the "Free Tibet" bumperstickers I see on the occasional Volvo in an upscale community are definitely much quieter statements of moral superiority - though great for showing up in a museum parking lot and having acquaintances see it when they arrive at the same time). Also, since the uber-capitalistic United States (colonial oppressor, ya da ya da) is Israel's chief supporter a boycott of Israel is also a way to boost one's status (at least in the group that the academics imagine themselves to be a part of - and its status within one's group that matters most) by looking down on the United States. This is double bonus points.
When someone is proclaiming membership in a protest movement or identification with a cause it is always important to ask why. For a lot of young men in college and afterward involvement in environmental and other politically correct protest activities is a great way to meet young women and impress the women with their principled compassion. For academics (who after all could just as easily be protesting much larger scale violence and killing in Africa) protest is mainly a way to demonstrate the correctness of one's moral beliefs to one's peers. In far too many cases the prevention or ending of an injustice is not the main goal of protest and workable solutions are not offered.
Update: My original quote from Steve was apparently from an earlier draft and the URL had a slightly later version. The quote now represents what the URL points to.
Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel says his country will again block NATO military planners from drawing up measures to protect Turkey against potential attacks from Iraq.
In a Belgian television interview, Mr. Michel said he expects the veto to be supported by France and Germany.
Think about it. Germany and France (and probably Belgium) are keen to create a European Army. The biggest obstacle in their way is NATO. Preventing NATO from defending a member nation against attacks launched from a non-member is a way to make people think that NATO is obsolete and useless.
The French and Germans might even be hoping that they will so infuriate the Turks that the Turks will not want to join the EU. That outcome would be double bonus points from their perspective. They can't oppose Turkish membership in the EU without being called anti-Muslim (even though Islam poses a real problem and even though its compatibility with Western political and cultural norms is questionable). The war in Iraq may be seen as an opportunity to undermine NATO.
France wants to leverage its position in the EU by any means possible. If Turkey was to come in it would eventually displace Germany as the most populace EU member. France is looking to bind ever tighter to Germany in order to allow Germany and France as a pair to dominate the European Union.
If evidence was still needed that the revitalised Franco-German motor is roaring along once again, it emerged when a proposal for dual citizenship between the two powers was unveiled.
The revolutionary initiative - part of a program to intensify bilateral relations - would allow German and French citizens resident in each other's countries to hold the passports of both states.
The plan was to be officially declared yesterday when 577 French MPs and 603 German MPs came together in Versailles for their first joint session of parliament to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Franco-German co-operation.
Then we come to the attitude of the French toward Britain. It has to have occurred to the French that if Britain was to exit the EU that this would eliminate the largest source of resistance within the EU toward French ambitions for the EU's future. The Anglo-American model of capitalism is a threat to the way that France is run. The EU economy as a whole will likely go one way or the other. From a French elite perspective an end to NATO and both Britain and Turkey permanently outside of the EU would put them in a position to steer the economic and political development of the European Union in a direction much more preferable to them. Therefore it will be worth watching to look for signs that the French are trying to get Britain out of the EU as well.
Update: Does anyone think I'm being extreme in my speculations? If so, see this BBC analysis. (my emphasis added)
If a veto is lodged on Monday, Turkey could respond by invoking Article Four of Nato's founding treaty, which calls on the alliance to consult whenever a member state feels its territory is threatened.
Correspondents say the move would be unprecedented.
Correspondents say Turkey could also by-pass Nato as a body and seek the support of individual members. Diplomats say this would spell the collapse of the alliance.
France and Germany see a big win here in terms of undermining NATO as a way to create space for the formation of an EU military.
Colin Powell is going to stay baffled unless he comes to understand that Germany and France do not mind damaging NATO.
Echoing Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's comments in Germany over the weekend, Mr. Powell said on "Fox News Sunday" that it was "inexcusable" for France, Germany and Belgium to block the request, coming as it did from a fellow NATO member.
An administration official said Struck told Rumsfeld: "We're talking about it with the French, but we're not ready to talk to you about it." If the official's account is accurate, the exchange is about as coarse as U.S.-German government discourse has been since World War II.. Rumsfeld has irritated the Germans with recent remarks that lumped them in with Libya and Cuba because of their opposition to war.
Anne Applebaum says Germany is the country which has most shifted its position.
But listen hard to what Germany says, for it is Germany, not Europe or France, that has been behaving unusually, even peculiarly. Since the 1950s, Germany has seen itself not (like France) as a counterweight to America but as the essential bit of glue that stuck America to the European continent.
US policy makers need to wake up and figure out what they are going to do about the EU. Germany, France and Belgium would like to make the EU into a counterweight that can block the United States on many issues.
John O'Sullivan argues for offering European countries an alternative to the EU in the form of a Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.
With TAFTA and an a la carte Europe, Britain would then be at the heart of an Atlantic civilization, politically stable but economically vibrant, guaranteed by and supporting U.S. power, in which the Franco-German bloc with its old-fashioned regulatory interventionism and structurally high unemployment would constitute the 'slow lane.'
Robert Coram has recently written a book entitled Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. Boyd was a USAF fighter pilot who has had a huge effect on aircraft fighter design, pilot training, and more broadly how the US military fights wars. His is a classical story of someone who made many enemies while battling resistance by narrow-minded bureaucrats, higher level officers wedded to older doctrines, and contractors trying to peddle flawed weapons systems.
On C-Span's Booknotes Brian Lamb interviewed Robert Coram about John Boyd.
LAMB: ... show you a little bit of that later, when he does talk about Mike Wiley (ph). He`s sitting next to Gary Hart, and there are also some others in the room at that particular hearing. You also mention in this book his connections to Senator Grassley, Senator Kassebaum`s top aide, Senator Gary Hart`s top aide, the Reform Caucus in the House of Representatives, and the vice president of the United States, now -- then secretary of defense, Dick Cheney. What -- how did that work?
CORAM: Boyd met all of the above when he was the leader, the spiritual leader, if you will, of the reform movement. Dick Cheney, then a young congressman from Wyoming, heard his briefing, then had a number of one-on-one sessions with Boyd. When Cheney became secretary of defense, he was rare in that he knew more about strategy than most of his generals did. He called Boyd out of retirement in the early days of the Gulf war, and from him got an updating, if you will. And it was Boyd`s strategy, not Schwarzkopf`s, that led to our swift and decisive victory in the Gulf war.
The vice president, Cheney, gave me about 30 minutes to talk about Boyd. And on television, he seems very reserved and controlled, but when he talked to me about John Boyd, he was enthusiastic, and I could tell he had great respect for this man.
LAMB: What part of the Gulf war in 1991 plan did John Boyd have some responsibility for?
CORAM: All of it. The multiple thrust, the feints, the ambiguity, the Marine feint, the...
LAMB: You mean the landing in Kuwait, the early landing?
CORAM: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: That was his idea?
CORAM: It was his idea. He was behind every bit of it.
The saga demonstrates that radical change is possible, even in the world's most notoriously hidebound institution, but suggests it must bubble up from deep within the ranks.
``Rumsfeld is trying . . . to impose change from the top down,'' complained Franklin ``Chuck'' Spinney, one of the few members of the Fighter Mafia still working in the Pentagon. ``And what that means is that they have to have an answer they're trying to impose. . . . The problem is, they haven't done the research to see if that answer is actually workable.''
In contrast, Boyd, the Mafia's godfather and the central figure in the broader military reform movement it spawned, was a cigar-chomping, free-cursing dynamo, notorious for challenging convention and questioning authority at every level. He was endlessly revising projects he'd spent years developing.
Some of Boyd's Mafia also worry that Rumsfeld's vision of transformation relies too heavily on gadgets and not enough on human intellect.
DCMilitary.com has an excellent review of Coram's book written by Bill Swanson.
Boyd's major contribution to military theory is what he called "the OODA Loop," a.k.a. the Boyd cycle. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, and despite its apparent simplicity it turns out to be a fairly complex analysis of military decision-making before and during battle. It is revolutionary because for the first time it introduced the concept of time, and it has moral and psychological dimensions. Rather than being a book, paper, report or manual, the OODA Loop exists in its main form as a 185-slide Pentagon-style briefing, and depending on the level of audience participation and question-and-answer, it can take a full day or two just to explain. The crux of it is that the side that proceeds through the cycle fastest is the winner. If you can figure out what your enemy's cycle is likely to be (in other words, if you can figure out what he's going to do), you have "gotten inside his decision cycle." You don't want him inside yours, and that's what happened on 9/11.
An essay by Major Jeffrey L. Cowan, U.S. Air Force on John Boyd's influence on US Marines warfighting doctrine.
What finally turned years of struggle into something concrete was General Gray's publication of FMFM (Fleet Marine Force Manual)-1, Warfighting, a document that would be the cornerstone for all other Marine Corps doctrinal publications. A small group, including retired Colonel Boyd, was instrumental in producing this seminal publication. For many, it offered a radical departure from the ideas of attrition. FMFM-1, now MCDP-1, offered all Marines a common purpose and direction. "Maneuver warfare is a warfighting philosophy that seeks to shatter the enemy's cohesion through a variety of rapid, focused, and unexpected actions which create a turbulent and rapidly deteriorating situation with which the enemy cannot cope."24
Colonel Boyd should be considered one of the most important military theorists of the United States. Though his ideas permeate disparate disciplines such as business and the military art, only a few now know his name. He would want it that way. His ideas had no proprietorship. This dedication to ideas—from publishing Aerial Attack Study, to inventing Energy Maneuverability Theory, to being a Pentagon reformer, to, finally, writing The Green Book—was the thread of his life.
A longer version of Cowan's article can be found here.
According to Boyd, "Patterns of Conflict represents a compendium of ideas and actions for winning and losing in a highly competitive world." This statement suggests why Boyd's work has equal applicability in warfare as it does in business and inter-personal relationships. Boyd's first work on conflict and warfare was wholly derived from both historical research and his combat experiences in Korea. In a generalization of his work, on page four, Boyd states: "[We] need a fighter that can both lose energy and gain energy more quickly while out-turning an adversary. In other words, suggest a fighter that can pick and choose engagement opportunities-yet has fast transients ('button hook') characteristics that can be used to either force an overshoot by an attacker or stay inside a hard turning defender." Boyd further derives this need into what has become the enduring classic, the OODA Loop. "Idea of fast transients suggests that, in order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries-or, better yet, get inside the adversary's Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action time cycle or loop." This is the first mention of the OODA Loop in the discourse.
The OODA Loop has been used to describe the very human process of decision-making and can run the gamut from business negotiations to combat. Aside from its humble beginnings in air-to-air combat, it has been used to describe or quantify the minute differences in tempo that can be discerned between two adversaries in any endeavor. However, it is particularly germane to warfare. Why is there a concern with operating at a tempo faster than an adversary? As Boyd commented, "Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries-since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns they are competing against."
Future generations will learn that John Boyd, a legendary fighter pilot, was America's greatest military thinker. He's remembered now by all those he touched over the last 52 years of service to our country as not only the original Top Gun, but as one smart hombre who always had the guts to stand tall and to tell it like it is.
He didn't just drive Chinese fighter pilots nuts while flying his F-86 over the Yalu River during the Korean War, he spent decades causing the top brass to climb the walls and the cost-plus defense contractor racketeers to run for cover.
A collection of his works is available for download mostly in PDF format. His presentation Destruction and Creation can be read in HTML with a link to Chuck Spinney's commentary. The Belisarius.com site has writings of Boyd and focuses on their application to business. Belisarius has a collection of links to articles about Robert Coram's book on Boyd.
Grant Tedrick Hammond has also written a biography of John Boyd entitled The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security. Lt Col Eric Ash, USAF says Hammond's book is an examination of Boyd's thought processes.
But how Boyd went about all this both led to his success and became his tragic flaw. He was the quintessential intellectual maverick—a man who thrived on bending the rules and violating the regulations. Whether stealing computer time, jumping the chain of command, or risking his reputation and career, he did what he thought was necessary, regardless of who or what got in the way. Such proclivities made Boyd both famous and infamous. He was loved or hated, revered as a genius or despised as a loose cannon. In a way, he lacked common sense but at the same time had uncommon sense—which made him the ideal subject for Hammond, who has a passion for challenging orthodoxy. True to form, Hammond uses this biography to upbraid the Air Force for not granting Boyd the recognition he deserved and to criticize the service’s systemic detractors who reward company people over critical thinkers. Very likely, this biography would have pleased Boyd.
In his assessment of Boyd’s thinking process, Hammond engages in extensive psychoanalysis—perhaps to excess. But Boyd was a very deep thinker, and his cognitive process affected people just as profoundly as did the product of his mind. Certainly, the OODA loop is just such an example. Hammond’s study, therefore, is more a biographical case study of how someone thought than it is a chronology of a person’s life.
Robert Coram, writing to criticise a reviewer of Grant Hammond’s biography of Colonel John Boyd [The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security reveals a favorable view of Hammond's book.
Boyd is the reason the F-15 and F-16 have such maneuverability today (although “missionizing” the aircraft degraded their performance far below what it was originally). The Air Force was on the way to producing a ponderous aircraft with a variable-geometry wing—an updated F-111—that, in turn, Congress would almost surely have refused to authorize. Had Boyd not given America the F-15, the Air Force would have been forced to buy the Navy F-14.
Grant Hammond wrote a good, solid book, and it deserves more serious treatment than that afforded by Whiting.
David Goyne reviews Hammond's book on Boyd.
The Mind of War is above all else a story about a man of character--at times ‘a 24-karat pain in the ass’ [ 9], but always independent, worth listening to and all too often right. He was a man whose opinions were arrived at by a process of deep and wide ranging thought, and then tenaciously upheld against all without fear or favour and certainly regardless of rank. This single minded approach to doing what was right, not what was expedient in a large part contributed to the fact that Boyd left the USAF as a Colonel, but he lived it on the basis he wanted, one where he could retain his independence and self respect. Boyd’s attitude of doing the hard right, rather than the easy wrong, is best summed up by a quote from another of his disciples, USAF Colonel James Burton: ‘... you have to make a choice about what kind of person you are going to be. There are two career paths in front of you, and you have to choose which path you will follow. One path leads to promotion, titles and positions of distinction. To achieve success down that path, you have to conduct yourself a certain way. You must go along with the system and show that you are a better team player than your competitors. The other path leads to doing things that are truly significant for the Air Force, but the rewards will often be a kick in the stomach because you may have to cross swords with the party line on occasion. You can’t go down both paths, you have to choose. So, do you want to be a man of distinction or do you want to do things that really influence the shape of the Air Force? To be or to do, that is the question.’ [ 10]
Intellectual debates that occur within the defense establishment are too often ignored by political commentators and policy analysts who are outside those circles. This is partly due to a snobbery that holds that military men are by definition not intellectual. Yet the United States is pursuing strategies which are causing so much debate because of arguments by national security intellectuals that can be traced back to the 1970s.
This fused with a political analysis. As long as ago as the 1970s, Wolfowitz was warning (in a document still classified today) of the international threat posed by Saddam Hussein. He saw the Middle East as a crucible in which were commingled the hatred of America and Britain, the resentments of an Arab world whose politics prevented both democracy and economic progress, the loathing of Israel and the adaptation of Islam for extreme political ends.
The hawks - and remember that the hawk is a bird that can see things from a long way off - thought that the threat of "asymmetric warfare" (ie terrorism, often by "non-state actors") was serious. They thought that fast-growing Muslim populations, whose proportion of young men both in Europe and in the Arab world far outweighs that of European Christians, would be drawn towards extremists.
In the era between WWI and WWII Percy Hobart of the British Army was probably his era's military thinker equivalent of John Boyd.
Liddell Hart's "Mongolian" concept of strategic mobility became the focus of Hobart's considerable intellectual resources. Development of these concepts and their adjustment to the mechanical twentieth century dominated Hobart's life from the time they were put forward. His creative imagination had been fired by the military revolution he could visualize, but his creativity was combined with a rock-hard realism. "Wars cannot be fought with dream stuff," he used to say, as he poured his life's energies into the development of practical machines for armored warfare, and the effective methods of directing these new mobile weapons. His goal was to break military science out of the straitjacket of trench warfare by updating the Mongol methods.
Where the Mongols lived off the country through which they ranged, Hobart planned to carry sustaining rations in the tanks. Refueling would be from lightly-protected dumps in the enemy rear, where the far-ranging armored columns would penetrate and strike. He worked with relentless zeal to cut "the tail" of non-fighting service vehicles which hobbled and almost immobilized conventional army units. Tank forces of the future were to be self-contained for the maximum possible range.
Down-to-earth problems such as these did not prevent Hobart from taking a prescient look up at the sky. He planned for the time when the increasing power and versatility of aircraft would permit mobile armored columns to be completely supplied by airdrop. Standard practice today, this concept was in those times often the subject of mockery. Hobart planned to send his hard-hitting columns ripping into enemy supply lines and nerve centers in the rear, paralyzing command and demoralizing troops in the front lines. Less than twenty years later, America's General George S. Patton was to carry out these tactics on a vast scale and with historic success.
Resistance to these radical ideas began to stiffen. The old order found its neurotic and professional security threatened by the progress of strategic mobility. "Hobo," as he was affectionately called by his intimates, viewed the old order and its resistance to the new ways with direct and unconcealed contempt. "Why piddle about making porridge with artillery," he said, "and then send men to drown themselves in it for a hundred yards of No Man's Land? Tanks mean advances of miles at a time, not yards!'
Update: Be sure to follow Joe Katzman's links to writings about Fourth Generation warfare. 4th generation warfare (or more commonly 4GW) is a logical extension of John Boyd's ideas.
DOD weapons analyst Franklin Spinney argues we are not ready to fight 4th Generation Warfare against terrorist groups.
The inheritor of Boyd's mantle is a Pentagon weapons analyst named Franklin C. "Chuck" Spinney, who has spent the past two decades arguing that static thinking, poor financial oversight, weapons-procurement bloat, and a personnel system that accentuates careerism over training have undermined America's war-fighting readiness. (For anyone interested in these topics, Spinney's Web site, Defense and the National Interest is indispensable.) As Spinney sees it, the September 11 attacks call attention to something that a number of military reformers have been warning about for years: the advent of "fourth-generation warfare," and the fact that the U.S. military isn't ready for it. As Spinney observed on his Web site recently, the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center have "dispelled forever the notion that 4GW is just 'terrorism' or something that happens only in poverty-stricken Third World countries."
Spinney's web site has a lot of great relevant articles. Here's an article from the October 1989 Marines Corps Gazette by William S. Lind (an influential civilian defense theorist who worked with Boyd), Colonel Keith Nightengale (USA), Captain John F. Schmitt (USMC), Colonel Joseph W. Sutton (USA), and Lieutenant Colonel Gary I. Wilson (USMCR). Its entitled "The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation".
Some elements in terrorism appear to reflect the previously noted "carryovers" from third generation war fare. The more successful terrorists appear to operate on broad mission orders that carry down to the level of the individual terrorist. The 'battlefield" is highly dispersed and includes the whole of the enemy's society. The terrorist lives almost completely off the land and the enemy. Terrorism is very much a matter of maneuver: the terrorist's firepower is small, and where and when he applies it is critical.
Two additional carryovers must be noted as they may be useful "signposts" pointing toward the fourth generation. The first is a component of collapsing the enemy. It is a shift in focus from the enemy's front to his rear. Terrorism must seek to collapse the enemy from within as it has little capability (at least at present) to inflict widespread destruction. First generation warfare focused tactically and operationally (when operational art was practiced) on the enemy's front, his combat forces. Second generation warfare remained frontal tactically, but at least in Prussian practice it focused operationally on the enemy's rear through the emphasis on encirclement The third generation shifted the tactical as well as the operational focus to the enemy's rear. Terrorism takes this a major step further. It attempts to bypass the enemy's military entirely and strike directly at his homeland at civilian targets. Ideally, the enemy's military is simply irrelevant to the terrorist.
The second signpost is the way terrorism seeks to use the enemy's strength against him This "judo" concept of warfare begins to manifest itself in the second generation, in the campaign and battle of encirclement. The enemy's fortresses, such as Metz and Sedan, became fatal traps. It was pushed further in the third generation where, on the defensive, one side often tries to let the other penetrate so his own momentum makes him less able to turn and deal with a counterstroke.
Terrorists use a free society's freedom and openness, its greatest strengths, against it. They can move freely within our society while actively working to subvert it. They use our democratic rights not only to penetrate but also to defend themselves. If we treat them within our laws, they gain many protections; if we simply shoot them down, the television news can easily make them appear to be the victims. Terrorists can effectively wage their form of warfare while being protected by the society they are attacking. If we are forced to set aside our own system of legal protections to deal with terrorists, the terrorists win another sort of victory.
The 4th generation then is a logical extension of the 3rd generation with the fighting shifted so thoroughly to the enemy's rear that its in his own society and the combatants are blended into that society. Maneuver then consists of efforts to live among the enemy and move around unrecognized. The combatants can not easily be recognized as combatants and even their weapons are often components of the civilian society (e.g. hijacked aircraft). Conventional military firepower is useless against an enemy that may be living in an apartment building in one's own society. This is the great challenge of 4GW and why its often called asymmetric warfare. Technological trends are moving in a direction that will increase the power of small numbers of people to do enormous damage by launching attacks from within a society.
The problem is that even if the US military learns to use 3rd and 4th generation warfare tactics such proficiency is helpful for offensive warfare by our military but it doesn't address the question of how to fight 4th generation warfare on the homefront. The types of initiatives that the US military makes along the lines of home defense that might actually be effective (e.g. the proposed database project to look for data patterns to identify concealed terrorist warriors living among us) inevitably lead to objections from civil libertarians. But as Heather Mac Donald argues we need a way to find the hidden warriors living among us.
EVERY WEEK brings new evidence of al Qaeda's continuing plots against the United States and the West. Yet the 108th Congress may well shut down one of the most promising efforts to preempt future attacks, thanks to a media misinformation blitz playing to Americans' outsized Big Brother paranoia.
The Pentagon's prestigious research unit, the same Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that helped invent the Internet, is exploring whether computers could detect terrorist planning activity by searching government and commercial databases across the globe. The program, dubbed Total Information Awareness (TIA), embodies the recognition that before an attack can take place, certain critical activities--casing targets, rehearsing, and procuring financing, supplies, and weapons--must occur, and that those activities will leave computer signatures.
The Spinney web site Defense and the National Interest has a nice collection of links to 4GW articles.
"Fourth-generation warfare, the experts said, is a new type of war in which fighting will be mostly scattered. The battle will not be limited to destroying military targets and regular forces, but will include societies, and will [seek to] destroy popular support for the fighters within the enemy's society. In these wars, the experts stated in their article,(6) 'television news may become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions.' They also noted that [in forth-generation wars] 'the distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point…'"
"Other Western strategists(7) disagreed with these analyses, claiming that the new warfare would be strategically based on psychological influence and on the minds of the enemy's planners - not only on military means as in the past, but also on the use of all the media and information networks… in order to influence public opinion and, through it, the ruling elite. They claimed that the fourth-generation wars would, tactically, be small-scale, emerging in various regions across the planet against an enemy that, like a ghost, appears and disappears. The focus would be political, social, economic, and military. [It will be] international, national, tribal, and even organizations would participate (even though tactics and technology from previous generations would be used)."
The British government is attempting to stem the influx of asylum seekers into the UK.
The government hopes measures in new asylum legislation coming into effect, including securing the border with France, withdrawing benefits, increasing the number of deportations and extending the "white list" of safe countries from 10 to 17 states will rapidly bring the numbers down.
On Monday Mr Blair will also discuss his longer-term "safe havens" plan with Ruud Lubbers, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, under which most arrivals would be removed from Britain before they can claim asylum.
Last year Britain received 89,700 applications for asylum, up 53 percent over the previous year.
Swamped with more than 100,000 still unprocessed asylum applications, people who arrive here without visas often stay five years or more before there is a ruling. While they wait, many receive state benefits like welfare payments.
If Britain cut the number in half it would still be more than twice the number of asylum seekers it received in 1993.
There were 22,400 asylum seekers in Britain (excluding dependent relatives and children), five times the number who applied six years ago, but a drop of 2,200 from 1992.
Asylum seeking in Britain has grown by over an order of magnitude over the last 15 years. The British government is divided over proposals to reduce the influx. Home Secretary David Blunkett is unenthused about Blair's proposal and does not promise to achieve it. As it standads now the vast bulk of asylum applicants have their complaints rejected but very few of those are deported.
Only about 10,000 were granted asylum. Of the remainder, approximately 8,000 left or were deported, leaving another 82,000 whose claims were rejected, but who remain in Britain and whose whereabouts are unknown. This means that more than 200 rejected asylum seekers a day disappear.
There are now over 300,000 illegals still living in Britain after having their asylum applications rejected. The British government appears to be as inefficient in carrying out deportation orders as is the United States government.
Harriet Sergeant, who wrote a report on asylum for the right-wing think tank the Centre for Policy Studies, said Mr Blair would cut numbers by reclassifying refugees.
"We simply rename half our asylum seekers economic migrants, give them work permits and let them into this country," she said.
Suspected 'health tourists' - foreigners who come to Britain just to seek free NHS treatment - are to be barred from travelling to this country under a planned government clampdown.
Visas will be withheld from applicants with obvious signs of pre-existing medical conditions - such as heavily pregnant women - unless they show they can pay for their medical care while here.
The vast bulk of the asylum seekers are economic migrants looking for a higher living standard. Some come from politically repressive countries. Therefore human rights activists oppose their return. The human rights activists are taking an impractical position. If the British government let anyone stay who came from a politically repressive country then the rate of entry by asylum seekers would rise by one or two orders of magnitude. People would manage to gain entrance with tourist visas, fake identifications, and by smuggling. The economic incentives are so great that any Western country that is lax in its efforts to control asylum seekers will be deluged.
The police raided a North London mosque where the imams regularly order their followers to murder all British people, particularly Jews. The police discovered several asylum seekers, hundreds of false passports, stolen credit cards, a biological warfare protection suit and a small arsenal of weapons.
But the event that tipped the public mood right over the edge was the discovery that several Taliban fighters, who until recently were supporting Osama bin Laden in his quest to destroy the West and trying to kill British troops in Afghanistan, had successfully claimed asylum in Britain claiming persecution by the Western backed, democratic government.
Think about it. A nuclear armed nation controlling a key location on the continent of Europe has allied itself with a corrupt arms-proliferating regime in the Middle East. I realize that well-informed people can have honest differences about matters of grand strategy and I certainly respect Richard Perle's strategic acumen. But shouldn't we be talking about preemption instead of containment as the appropriate strategy to use against our enemy France?
France is no longer an ally of the United States and the NATO alliance "must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance" the head of the Pentagon's top advisory board said in Washington Tuesday.
Richard Perle has called France an erstwhile ally. This is confusing in itself. France used to be allied with the United States? When was this? Perhaps I'm not old enough to remember that era. But lets take Perle's word for it. This throws a whole nuther light on European politics. Great Britain and other countries in Europe have been pursuing a strategy of appeasement thru the facility of EU Common Agricultural Policy food aid to prop up the French regime. One can understand why frontline states are reluctant to take on the French militarily. The French are a nuclear power after all. But can we trust the French to refrain from exporting their weapons technology to our enemies? It seems doubtful.
We come then to the question of what is an appropriate policy for handling France. The UK has been trying a strategy of engagement with their sunshine policy. They have even gone as far as opening rail links to France so that East Asian goods can travel across Asian and Europe to Britain. The leader of the UK has summit meetings with his French counterpart and tries to maintain his composure in the face of numerous provocations. But what has this strategy bought him? Most recently one result has been a French-crafted proposal for a political union that would destroy the sovereign independence of his great nation.
Appeasement is not working. The French, demonstrating the strength of their paranoid internal system of indoctrination, straightfacedly blame the United States for all the political crises of the world. Not matter how hard Secretary of State Colin Powell has tried to placate them the French can't see beyond their ideological label of United States as a capitalistic hyperpower oppressor. Their doctrinaire hardline at the United Nations and in other fora demonstrates the intractability of the French regime. It is clear that only a strategy of preemption will work against it.
Its time we take the French threat seriously. Once the Iraqi regime falls we should begin to build up our forces in England in preparation for a lightning strike to take down the 5th so-called Republic.
Update: I finally recall what Perle must have been referring to: The United States were allied with France during the US Revolutionary War of Independence against the British colonial oppressors. So Perle was correct to speak of France as our erstwhile ally. Plus, we were allied with France briefly during WWI. So we've been allied with France twice. Of course, more recently we fought the French in North Africa. Since then we've been in a Cold War with them, France having outlasted the Soviet Union as a tenacious enemy. Therefore as an enemy France has more in common with Cuba and North Korea than with the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany.
Saddam is moving soldiers down to near the Iraqi border with Kuwait. These soldiers will be able to surrender much sooner than the rest of the Iraqi army.
UNIKOM officers who patrol the 9-mile-wide demilitarized zone, created after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and who travel in southern Iraq provided a firsthand independent look at war preparations and troop morale in the region.
"They are terrified," said one army captain, clad in a blue beret. "They won't surrender at the first shot. They will surrender when they hear the first American tank turn on its engine."
This leads to obvious questions: Have US special forces managed to negotiate in advance how these Iraqi soldiers will be able to surrender safely? Just how extensively have US forces managed to establish contact with regular Iraqi army officers in order to negotiate casualty-free surrenders?
Update: The Iraqi soldiers in the north of Iraq are also ready to surrender. An Iraqi soldier who recently defected and was taken into custody by Kurdish forces tells The Guardian the Iraqi soldiers have low morale.
Conditions back in the Iraqi trenches were not so good, he said. "We have two blankets for every soldier, but they are very thin and don't keep us warm. The officers beat us. And the food is disgusting. I'm only paid 50 dinars [about £3] a month."
Update II: Some Iraqi recently attempted to surrender in response to a British military live fire exercise in Kuwait.
The motley band of a dozen troops waved the white flag as British paratroopers tested their weapons during a routine exercise.
The stunned Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade were forced to tell the Iraqis they were not firing at them, and ordered them back to their home country telling them it was too early to surrender.
Keep in mind that Saddam does not intend to put up a strong fight on his borders. So the soldiers being sent to the border areas are probably his worst troops.
Unfortunately, not all of Saddam's troops will immediately surrender. Saddam intends to disguise some of his more loyal troops to look like American soldiers and then have them commit atrocities against his own people and try to blame Americans for it.
IRAQ is acquiring military uniforms "identical down to the last detail" to those worn by American and British forces and plans to use them to shift blame for atrocities, a senior US official has said.
If that previous link expires then also try this link.
Jeffrey Goldberg has written an excellent piece for The New Yorker on the nature of intelligence gathering and analysis. The focus is on Al Qaeda and other Middle Eastern terrorist groups and on Iraq. One challenge of intelligence is to avoid dismissing a possibility because by one's own view of the world it would not make sense for one's opponents to choose a particular course of action. It is difficult to appreciate just how differently one's enemies look at the world.
America's early assessment of bin Laden was similarly flawed. In the American mind, of course, the bin Laden of April, 1998, was not the bin Laden of September, 2001. But his intentions were no secret. Two months before the Richardson meeting, bin Laden had issued a fatwa, a religious ruling, in which he called on Muslims to kill Americans—civilians and military. Yet, among the group of Americans travelling with Richardson five years ago, the fatwa was a passing source of black humor; the threat seemed too outlandish to be taken seriously.
In the foreword to Roberta Wohlstetter's classic 1962 study, "Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision," the national-security expert Thomas Schelling wrote that America's ability to be surprised by the actions of its enemies is the result of a "poverty of expectations." He went on, "There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable. The contingency we have not considered seriously looks strange; what looks strange is thought improbable; what is improbable need not be considered seriously."
Wohlstetter's work revealed that Pearl Harbor was not much of a surprise at all. It showed that the American government's fatal mistake was not a failure to pick up signals—overheard conversations, decoded cables, unusual ship movements—but a failure to separate out signals from noise, to understand which signals were meaningful, and to imagine that the Japanese might do something as irrational as attacking the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific fleet. In other words, the Americans heard the signals but didn't listen to them.
The difficulty in understanding the numerous differences in how others see things is not just a problem for the intelligence community. It is a problem for policy makers, opinion leaders, and the public at large. Many types of threats are discounted because too many people just can't imagine that terrorists would, for instance, smuggle a nuclear bomb into a city and detonate it. Similarly, the idea that a government would sell nuclear weapons on the open market is another possibility that some have a difficult time taking seriously. One's own revulsion at the idea of performing a particular act cause many to discount the idea that someone else has values and beliefs that are sufficiently different to cause them to perform that act.
It is difficult to tell from George Tenet's statements in the article whether the CIA really is improving on its ability to understand the perspectives of our enemies. Can this ability be trained for? Or does it require the recruitment of people with different mindsets?
Goldberg discusses the nature of the relations between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The interrogation of captured Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan has strengthened the argument of a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The nature and extent of the links between Iraq and Al Qaeda will be known in much greater detail within 2 months. The capture of a great many Iraqi intelligence agents as part of the capture of Iraq will provide a treasure trove of valuable intelligence information for the United States and its allies.
Update: Joe Katzman makes some of the same points that Goldberg discusses about the limits of our ability to understand the intentions of others and the importance of all the things about our adversaries that we do not know. Quite a few arguments about why we don't need to worry about Kim Jong-il or Saddam Hussein amount to an argument that they would never launch a particular kind of attack against us or assist terrorist groups which would do so. Such lines of argument rest too much on what the arguers personally consider to be reasonable choices.
Update II: Also be sure to read Joe Katzman's long response to one poster in the comments section of hs post. One excellent point he makes is that we need to make assessments of intentions with a margin of error. We know we will years later discover both capabilities and intentions that are hidden from us now. We do not have a complete picture. Our picture has distortions and misconceptions. It is prudent to assume that there are hostile intentions and capabilities whose existence in some cases we can't prove and in other cases which we do not even suspect.
If the EU's proposed new constitution is enacted the European nation-states would cease to be sovereign nations.
Britain will lose control of foreign policy and defence and will be stripped of its sovereign power to legislate in almost all areas of national life, under the draft text of the European constitution released yesterday.
Sweeping aside British objections, the document establishes the European Union on a "federal basis", enjoying "primacy over the law of the member states".
The 16 articles unveiled at the European Parliament are the first piece of a constitutional text being drawn up for the Convention on the Future of Europe.
The constitution is a bigger threat to sovereignty than a common currency. While the British Labour Party has promised to hold a referendum on whether to join the Euro currency its not clear that the British public will be given a say on whether the UK ceases to be a sovereign nation.
Mr Blair now has a choice. He could veto the treaty, in which case Britain could face exclusion from full EU membership. Or he could put it to a referendum. The third possibility - that he might sign it, even in a diluted form - sounds unthinkable, yet it appears to be being thought. A prime minister who condemned his country to puppet status would be unworthy of his office.
The transfer of sovereignty to the EU is a problem for the United States because the central government of the EU will likely be more hostile toward the US than many of its nation-state members. Its a problem for the publics of the various European countries because the Brussels mandarins show every sign of being anti-democratic and will seek to maintain a degree of government control over life that will rob Europe of much of its vitality. The EU looks like it will be especially harmful for the Eastern European countries whose less developed economies will be saddled with labor laws and other business regulations that will slow growth and keep unemployment rates high.
The British Conservative Party ought to be loudly demanding every day that the proposed new EU constitution be voted on by the British public in a referendum.
A massive flight of refugees into China isn't going to bring down the North Korean regime if the Chinese government maintains its determination to keep North Koreans in North Korea.
The Chinese authorities have destroyed most of the underground networks of activists and sympathizers that kept the refugees alive.
"It's much more difficult for them now, because they don't have anyone to protect them or give them housing or food," said Chun Ki-won, a Christian missionary from South Korea who spent three years helping the refugees in China until he was imprisoned and deported by Chinese authorities last year.
He estimates the Chinese crackdown has disrupted and eliminated about 80 per cent of the underground networks that were supporting the refugees. Most of the missionaries and other underground activists have been forced to leave China, and about 30,000 refugees were arrested and forced back to North Korea last year.
As long as China maintains its support for the North Korean regime it will be very hard to bring that regime down.
China's top leaders see no reason to intervene with North Korea. China has stepped up efforts to cut off the flow of refugees from North Korea into China. China sees international terrorism as not its problem. The only hopeful sign from China so far is that some of its foreign policy thinkers are arguing that a nuclear North Korea would lead to a general nuclearisation that would shift the strategic balance away from China.
Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at People's University, argued in an essay published last week that China must reassess its strategic priorities. The problem, he said, is that even if the Americans negotiate in earnest, North Korea may have no incentive to abandon its development of nuclear weapons. It could develop an arsenal of warheads, possibly forcing Japan and South Korea to go nuclear, too. That would upend the strategic balance in Asia, which currently favors China.
Will this selfish reason for intervention gain much support in China's elite? If it doesn't then the US is either going to have to find some way to bring down the North Korean regime.
University of Nebraska political scientists John R. Hibbing and Elizabeth A. Theiss-Morse argue in a new book, Stealth Democracy: American's Beliefs about How Government Should Work that most Americans want democracy that will quietly work well and without much involvement on their part. Americans do not want leaders who have shrill public debates while expecting the rest of us to listen.
Based on the results of a national survey, the researchers concluded that nearly half of us would prefer that the government's most significant decisions were made by "experts" or "business leaders" rather than by politicians or -- heaven forbid -- the average citizen.
The two professors found that democracy alternately bores people silly or upsets them in a fingernails-across-the blackboard, cellophane-crinkling sort of way. "They want democracy -- they just don't want to see it," Hibbing said. "They don't want to see debate. They don't want to see compromise. They don't want to see multiple issues dealt with at the same time."
Paying attention to the government is like having another job. People want to escape working on political questions. Its not fun for most. Its not rewarding. They want unselfish wise experts to rationally figure things out and make wise decisions. "Don't bother me. I'm eating a really tasty hamburger."
Americans often complain about the operation of their government, but scholars have never developed a complete picture of people’s preferred type of government. In this provocative and timely book, Hibbing and Theiss-Morse, employing an original national survey and focus groups, report the governmental procedures Americans desire. Contrary to the prevailing view that people want greater involvement in politics, most citizens do not care about most policies and therefore are content to turn over decision-making authority to someone else. People’s wish for the political system is that decision makers be empathetic and, especially, non-self-interested, not that they be responsive and accountable to the people’s largely nonexistent policy preferences or, even worse, that the people be obligated to participate directly in decision making. Hibbing and Theiss-Morse conclude by cautioning communitarians, direct democrats, social capitalists, deliberation theorists, and all those who think that greater citizen involvement is the solution to society’s problems.
Examining how people want their democratic government to work, this study finds that Americans don't like many of the practices associated with democracy: the conflicts, the debates, the compromises. It finds that Americans don't want to have to see democracy in practice, nor do they want to be involved in politics. If American citizens had their way, political decisions would be made by unselfish decision-makers, lessening the need for monitoring government.
A paper Hibbing and Theiss-Morse delivered at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association "How Trustworthy Politicians Decrease Mass Political Participation." lays out some of the ideas that led to their latest book.
Two conflicting theories offer opposing explanations for people's participation in politics. The "reward" theory holds that people participate to reward government for its good behavior or do not participate when they are dissatisfied. The "repair" theory maintains that people participate more when they disapprove of government and believe politicians are self-serving. We test these two theories using a specially commissioned national survey and American National Election Studies data. We find that empirical evidence supports the repair theory more strongly than the reward theory. People who disapprove of the government and, especially, who believe politicians are self-serving are more likely to participate than those who think government and politicians are doing a good job. This relationship is strongest when we take into account people's belief that there participation can make a difference. These surprising findings can be explained by the fact that Americans do not want to participate in politics but feel compelled to when government is behaving badly.
North Korea is selling methamphetamine and opium in East Asia.
North Korea's rackets has doubled in the past four years, to as much as $500 million annually. Legitimate exports bring in only some $650 million.
That half billion per year works out to only about $23 per North Korean. Most of the money goes to a small portion of the population. The drug dealing isn't going to help the populace very much.
Several hundred North Korean agents are suspected of operating in Japan and a ship called Man Gyong Bong that sails regularly between Japan and North Korea is suspected of being used to control them. It also is suspected of being involved in drug smuggling and transporting materials for WMD manufacture.
The ship's official function is to transport North Korean residents in Japan to their country for visits to their relatives and for other lawful purposes. However, it has long been suspected that the ship is engaged in transporting massive amounts of money from Japan to North Korea, smuggling drugs into this country and infiltrating North Korean agents into the nation.
It appears highly likely that the Man Gyong Bong has been involved in illegally transporting to North Korea materials that could be used to make weapons of mass destruction and conveying orders to agents who played a role in kidnapping Japanese nationals to the communist nation.
Update: See Trent Telenko's Winds Of Change post on corruption in North Korea. Can the CIA use bribery to get large numbers of books and radios and even TV sets into North Korea? Is it actually doing so? Corrupt North Koreans should be bribed in order to facilitate any developments that will accelerate the decline of the regime.
Also see this report from October 4, 2001 from Human Rights Without Frontiers. The Chinese border is a source of cultural contamination and a window on the larger world.
Most typical border cities are Sinuiju and Hyesan. The former is not as beautiful and tidy as Pyongyang, but its citizens are more lively and richer. They harbor little of the inferiority complex to their capital counterparts. Thanks to their frequent contacts with Chinese across the Yalu River, their ways of thinking are much more liberal. Young couples speeding on motorcycles and ordinary citizens criticizing ranking party officials are often seen there. Many people who have quit their normal jobs are engaged in commerce earnestly, though thugs coming from the inland present disorderly scenes. Females follow the latest fashion so much that they are said to influence even Pyongyang women.
Evading surveillance by the authorities, some border area residents watch Chinese televisions. Watching the 1988 Seoul Olympics through Chinese televisions, they are said to have reshaped their understanding of South Korea. A perception prevails in the border area that "becoming Workers' Party members is of no use. Money is almighty." The economy-first way of life; to the extent of giving rise to an impression that "everyone is bent on commerce;" confronts the solid wall of politics in the North, say North Korea watchers. Such perceptions spread inland aboard trains to influence a shift in the consciousness of North Koreans.
In order to accelerate refugee flight as a way to bring down the regime its not just the Chinese that need to be convinced. South Korea needs to be convinced to take in more refugees.
Another senior official said that once South Korea elected a new president this month, Washington would press harder for Seoul to accept more refugees. Although the Constitution states that all North Koreans can become citizens of the South, Seoul has accepted only about 2,000 North Korean refugees since 1954, experts said.
Almost no North Koreans can escape across the heavily mined and militarized border with South Korea, which has also been ambivalent about the difficulties of assimilating such refugees and concerned that some are North Korean agents.
``The South Koreans have not been famously sympathetic,'' said Nicholas Eberstadt, at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
The problem with North Korea is that its leaders are much more brutal and ruthless than those of East Germany. Also, while East Germany was undermined by the willingness of Hungary and Czechoslovakia to allow passage of refugees into Austria and West Germany North Korea's does not have a passable border with a country that is willing to accept a large flow of refugees.
Update II: While searching for articles on smuggling and corruption in North Korea I can across an indication that portions of the North Korean elite do not know about the extent of the famine that has hit outside of the elite living areas.
Many of those who have fled across the border were part of the elite. One such is a North Korean professor who came to China last September to carry out a survey of North Korean refugees. Until then he had not known about the famine in his own country. He decided not to return home, despite leaving a wife and daughter there, after seeing China and learning about South Korea from videotapes and books. He now feels betrayed and is determined to work for the overthrow of Kim Jong Il.
If Blair can manage to stay as Prime Minister until the Iraqi regime is overthrown then the hard evidence will be available to justify the move. Will Bush put off the attack into March in order to let the UN second round play out long enough to give Blair the political cover he needs?
At one point Mr Blair said: "When people ask me why am I willing to risk everything on this politically, I do not want to be the prime minister when people point the finger back from history and say: 'You know those two threats were there and you did nothing about it'."
My guess is that the biggest factor weighing on Bush as a reason to delay the attack is a desire to help Tony Blair. Tony Blair has done so much to support the US on this matter that Bush feels he owes it to Blair to spend weeks arguing in the UN Security Council.
Josh Marshall of Talkings Points Memo has published the first part of his interview with Kenneth Pollack on Iraq.
I will say flat out [that] I was under the same impression: that we had a very good grip on their nuclear program and there really wasn't much of a nuclear program well into the 1990s. I was constantly being assured that by the IAEA and by the intelligence community. And then all of a sudden we had a slew of defectors come out in the mid- and late 1990s and what they told us was that everything that we had thought was wrong. You know Khidhir Hamza is the only one who's gone public. So he's the only one I can really talk about. But in 1994 we really thought the IAEA had eradicated their nuclear program. And the IAEA really thought that they'd eradicated their nuclear program. And they were telling us they'd eradicated their nuclear program. And Khidhir Hamza comes out and says 'No, the nuclear program in 1994 was bigger than it had ever been before.'
North Korea did not decide to reactivate its nuclear weapons development program as a reaction to George W. Bush's labelling it a member of the Axis of Evil. North Korea was actively working on nuclear weapons during the hey day of the Clinton and Kim Dae Jung attempts to engage North Korea on friendly terms.
A recent study by the Congressional Research Service noted that "North Korea's secret uranium enrichment program appears to date from 1995 when North Korean and Pakistan reportedly agreed to trade North Korean Nodong missile technology for Pakistan uranium enrichment technology."
"The Clinton Administration reportedly learned of it in 1998 or 1999, and a Department of Energy report of 1999 cited evidence of the program," the study added.
Also, at the National Defense University, a 1999 study group chaired by Richard L. Armitage, now deputy secretary of state, and including Paul D. Wolfowitz, now deputy defense secretary, concluded that the 1994 agreement had frozen "only a portion of [North Korea's] nuclear program" and that Pyongyang was "seeking to develop a covert nuclear weapons program."
In spite of that 1999 Dept. of Energy report a CIA report released in August of 2000 entitled Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 July Through 31 December 1999 made mention of attempts by North Korea to acquire technology useful for its nuclear program. The CIA report did not make it clear whether these technologies were useful for civilian purposes only or also for weapons development purposes. The term "its nuclear program" isn't defined with sufficient precision.
P’yongyang continues to acquire raw materials from out-of-country entities to produce WMD and ballistic missiles. During the reporting period, there were increased reflections of North Korean procurement of raw materials and components for its ballistic missile programs from various foreign sources, especially through firms in China. North Korea produces and is capable of using a wide variety of chemical and possibly biological agents, as well as their delivery means.
During the second half of 1999, Pyongyang sought to procure technology worldwide that could have applications in its nuclear program, but we do not know of any procurement directly linked to the nuclear weapons program. We assess that North Korea has produced enough plutonium for at least one, and possibly two, nuclear weapons. The United States and North Korea are nearing completion on the joint project of canning spent fuel from the Yongbyon complex for long-term storage and ultimate shipment out of the North in accordance with the 1994 Agreed Framework. That reactor fuel contains enough plutonium for several more weapons.
P’yongyang continues to seek conventional weapons via the gray market. In 1999, for example, North Korea acquired MiG-21 fighter aircraft from Kazakhstan.
This is not really new news. Lots of press reports in the late 1990s were reporting evidence of North Korean nuclear weapons development efforts. You can read a large collection of excerpts from late 1990s news reports on North Korean weapons development efforts. For instance:
Toronto Sun 2/7/99 Eric Margolis ".This column has steadily warned for the last five years of the growing threat from North Korea. In mid-January, I reported North Korea was fast acquiring capability to deliver nuclear warheads to North America by means of a new, long-range, three-stage missile. Two weeks later, on Feb. 2, CIA Director George Tenet testified before Congress that North Korea was on the verge of producing long-range missiles that could "deliver large payloads to the continental United States." Tenet said, "I can hardly overstate my concern about North Korea," adding, "the situation there is more volatile and unpredictable." Amen. This column does not have the CIA's $26 billion annual intelligence budget, but it came to the same conclusion, only five years before Langley. Other U.S. intelligence sources confirm North Korea has resumed secret production of nuclear weapons, adding to the two or three devices it already has. It is also improving and expanding delivery systems for its extensive arsenal of chemical and biological weapons..Tenet's dramatic testimony confirms the total failure of President Bill Clinton's Korea policy.
GlobalSecurity.org reports that Pakistan probably supplied North Korea with gas centrifuges for enriching uranium in the late 1990s.
The complex at Hagap was first identified in the press in 1998 citing a classified Defense Intelligence Agency report titled "Outyear Threat Report". The DIA was unable to identify the purpose of the Hagap facility but speculated that it could be used for nuclear production and/or storage. The facility, located three miles north of Hyangsan, P'yongan-Pukto Province, consists of three main areas. The operations area is said to have 30 buildings and 5 additional buildings that are under construction. The location is at the foot of the Myohyangsan mountains that has at least four tunnel entrances and 11 support buildings. Reports indicate that four tunnels connect to dozens of building. This facility is said to be unique as it is the only one of several potential nuclear facilities that has been built underground.
For a number of years, possibly back as far as 1999, there were reports that the US and the South Korean intelligence community had gotten indications that the DPRK was attempting to acquire equipment related to centrifuges, which could be used for uranium enrichment.
According to senior US officials, equipment Pakistan exported to North Korea may have included gas centrifuges used in creating weapons-grade uranium. The shipment took place as part of a barter deal between the two countries in the late 1990s. In return, North Korea provided Pakistan with medium-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Russia and China are also said to have supplied equipment for the North Korean secret nuclear weapons program. Pakistan's assistance to North Korea's covert nuclear weapons program may have continued through the summer of 2002. What was termed "highly suspicious shipping trade" indicated that Pakistan continued to trade nuclear technical knowledge, designs and possibly material in exchange for missile parts.
Some argue that if the US would just tone down its rhetoric and be willing to negotiate then North Korea could be convinced to stop developing nuclear weapons. The problem with that line of argument is that North Korea has probably been breaking that agreement since the day it was signed. The United States has never been successful it getting North Korea to entirely cease its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Diplomacy with North Korea holds no solution. The only country the United States should be bargaining with over North Korea is China.
To get a sense of how much North Korea is changing it helps to look back and see what it was like before it lost the support of the USSR. A Russian (then Soviet) exchange student named Andrei Lankov wrote up some of his experiences in North Korea in the mid 1980s. (another and probably original web page for the article can be found here).
However, glossy pictures do not show one important detail: most of this central quarter is surrounded by a high metal fence with gates guarded by stocky girls with AK rifles and in military uniform. These quarters are North Korea's Forbidden City, a place where the governing elite of North Korea lived. The impressive high-rise apartment complexes were built for these privileged few, luxurious Mercedes awaited them in the mornings, their children attended the exemplary 1st Secondary school, as well as the attendant exemplary kindergarten and nursery. In this closed quarter there were special shops and other establishments needed to provide the cadres with a comfortable life. As a foreigner, I was not allowed inside this quarter, and ordinary Koreans were never let in. However, the presence of affluence and power was often felt around the perimeters. It could manifest itself in the shape of a huge Mercedes passing by or by groups of teenagers, the offspring of the cadres, taking a lazy walk along the street. They wore imported clothes or suits a la Kim Chông Il. Their faces virtually radiated contempt for the poor and undernourished lesser orders. Even the compulsory badges of Kim Il Song were used as a "fashion statement": the golden youth wear the badges at the very tip of their lapels.
The communist utopia had a very well developed class system. Its private markets date back to the early 1980s and therefore are not a recent response to the economic crisis:
In the 1960s, when all private trade, as well as tending private plots of land, were forbidden, private markets also disappeared from the cities. Economic reality, however, turned out to be stronger than ideological constructs or administrative bans and semi-legal markets started to emerge again. Not without reluctance, the authorities were forced to relax the initial restrictions, and some time around 1980, the markets (and private kitchen gardens) began to make a gradual comeback.
However, in the mid-1980s markets were still seen as rather inappropriate for the capital of a "socialist paradise". They were as something to be shamed of, so they were pushed to the margins of the city, away from the official and highly symbolical space of central Pyongyang. Most markets were located in places more or less hidden from view, inside residential blocks or on small streets, while the main city market was set up under a huge viaduct at the easternmost part of Pyongyang, as far from the city centre as it was physically feasible. All markets were rather small, surrounded by high walls and always crowded with people. In some places, there would gather groups of suspicious-looking people. Obviously they were selling prohibited items. Often, these groups would consist solely of men: self-made spirits were also popular in Korea. On the whole, many items unavailable in shops could be easily found in these markets, however in comparison to the then Soviet markets with which the author was very familiar, the assortment of goods was not impressive, to put it mildly. It was also remarkable that there was not much food for sale -- just some apples, meat, ducks and chicken, soybeans, home-made sweets, occasionally -- fish and potatoes. There was neither rice or grain sold (at least, openly) in the markets. Prices were exorbitant: a kilo of pork in 1985 cost some 20 won, or about a third of an average monthly salary, and a chicken would cost 30-40 won. Obviously, food at such prices could be bought only by the few and only on special occasions. About two-thirds of the vendors were selling not food but all kinds of consumer goods: clothes, imported -- mostly Chinese -- medicines, tobacco and various consumption goods. More expensive goods, such as tape recorders and cameras, could also be bought here, but were not put on open display -- perhaps, their trade was prohibited.
Small-scale trade was also conducted on the streets. In the early 1980s the old regulations were relaxed, and trade was not so strictly prohibited. In the mid-1980s, few signs heralded a dawn of the North Korean private trade. In the evenings, female vendors often could be encountered at the subway stations, squatting in a traditional Korean pose and selling home-made pins, combs or hairpins. There were few buyers, but, apparently, these women managed to make some profit from their modest businesses.
Upper class North Koreans spend their state transportation dollars on the finest in German and Swedish automotive luxury.
There were few buses in Pyongyang, with full timetables only on weekdays. At weekends there was a bus service in the mornings and the evenings only. The main reason was the constant shortage of petrol. The vast majority of the North Korean bus fleet consisted of old Czech Skodas from the 1950s, although sometimes a Hungarian Ikarus-260 could be seen (and their number grew by the late 1980s).
Besides old Soviet-made trucks, many Japanese vehicles could be seen in Pyongyang, though about half of all truck parks consisted of Soviet-designed vehicles built in North Korea: Sûngni (a carbon copy of the Soviet GAZ-51), Chajuho (Soviet KrAZ-256) and their later modifications. Most Koreans were not aware that these cars were built under licenses from the Soviet Union, since the official ideology of "self-reliance" did not approve of spreading such information. Among other automobiles, there were many Volvos and Mercedes, usually quite expensive, used by high level cadres as their chauffeured transport. Sometimes, Soviet-made cars could also be seen, however North Korean officials obviously preferred to spend the state money on Mercedes and Volvos rather than on the much cheaper but awkward Soviet-made Volgas and Moskvichs.
The class system in communist North Korea extends to train travel.
Railway carriages looked dirty and worn-out, often with broken windows. At night, they were very dimly lit, if at all. Not surprisingly, during our rare trips around the country, officials supervising us stopped any attempt to examine them closer, or even look into the windows. Nevertheless, it was possible to see something. Inside the carriage one could see hard wooden benches crowded with people. Many of them had to sit or lay on the floor, using old cloth or paper to provide a semblance of cleanliness. There were also carriages with soft seats but these were few and reserved for medium and high officials. Another type of carriage had sleeping compartments. However, these vehicles could only be used by foreigners and the high level cadres, while common folk could never purchase the tickets to ride in such opulence. These carriages were much similar to the Soviet ones: in each compartment there were 4 berths and a small table with a lamp. Perhaps, they were even produced in the USSR or under the Soviet license.
Most passengers travelled in the common-class carriages. Given that Korea is a fairly small country this might not seem such a huge problem. However, trains moved at a speed of about 20-30 km an hour and thus even a trip on a short trip would mean a whole night spent on a tough bench or simply on the floor.
Keep in mind that while people in Pyongyang had TV sets the rate of TV set ownership was much lower in the rest of the country (and surely still is). The highest living standards in North Korea are found in Pyongyang. What would be interesting to know is what percentage of the TV sets have the ability to switch to non-government channels. Kim Jong-il watches CNN. But how many other people in North Korea do? Hundreds? Thousands?
By the mid-1980s, most families in Pyongyang had TV sets which were made in Japan, the USSR, China, or North Korea (on Japanese or Rumanian licences). Imported TV sets often had a Korean inscription meaning that they were most probably made on special orders from the DPRK. In shops, a black-and-white TV set cost 700-900 won, yet, apart from money a special order was required to purchase a set. Such an order could be received at one's workplace but only after years of waiting. The most prosperous also had tape-recorders, either bought in hard-currency shops or on the black market, or brought back from abroad. Even at university, where mostly children of the elite of all ranks studied, very few people had tape-recorders, hardly more than one out of ten students. Fridges were practically unknown; one had to be a high cadre to own a fridge. Fridges, of course, could be seen in the windows of the First Department Store, but they could be bought only by coupons which were practically impossible to get even for a low level cadre, let alone commoner. Interestingly enough, in 1980, the delegates of the Sixth KWP Congress were presented with huge modern fridges, as "gifts from the Great Leader", with an inscription in big letters "Paektusan", after a politically symbolic mountain on the Sino-Korean border where, according to official mythology Kim Il Song spent his wartime years (in real life, he was in the USSR back then). Nevertheless, the more observant soon saw in an out-of-the-way place another inscription - "made in Japan", although this in no way lessened the value of the gift.
Since the 1980s the size of the private market has grown. This does not necessarily constitute a threat to the regime however. The regimes in China and Cuba have both allowed larger private sectors and yet have not been overthrown.
The oil crisis led to the number of cars shrinking even more. On the other hand, the tram made its appearance (or, rather, reappearance, since it had existed before the Korean War). People now dress with more variety than before and the time of service jackets and Mao suits has passed, although there are still compulsory badges with portraits of Kim Il Song, recently supplemented by that of Kim Chông Il. The famine which began in the countryside after 1995 had forced the authorities to weaken their control on the people's movement within the country and tolerate more private trade. Markets are much bigger now, and they keep growing, although the prices are still too expensive for many commoners. People are more engaged in money-making, and are subjected to slightly less indoctrination. However, the portraits of Kim Il Song are still present at every square where amplifiers transmit the dulcet tones of endless military marches...
In a few years North Korea potentially could become a supplier of nuclear weapons to any government or private group that can pay. At the same time, a direct preemptive military attack against North Korea would cost hundreds of thousands and perhaps even millions of casualties. Therefore one of the most important foreign policy questions currently faced by the United States and its allies is whether and how the North Korean regime can be brought down by means short of a military attack.
Is it reasonable to expect that the North Korean regime will collapse if North Korea experiences another famine? In the comments to a previous post Tom Holsinger argues that massive flight of the population in response to another famine could help bring down the North Korean regime. Go read his responses and think about the plausibility of his argument.
It isn't clear why a massive flight of even a million or two million people would bring down the regime. After all, massive famine killed a similar number of people and the regime survived. But conditions and attitudes of the populace are changing in North Korea. Portions of the population know more about the outside world than they did 10 years ago. Its hard to judge how many have learned how much about the outside world or how their attitudes have changed toward the regime. We can't conduct public opinion polls or hold focus group discussions to find out. We have to look at many clues and try to come up with an intuitive judgement. What follows is a series of links to articles that throw light on the current conditon of the regime, the mindset of the populace, and the obstacles faced by those who try to flee from North Korea.
Human Rights Watch has released an interesting report in November 2002 entitled The Invisible Exodus: North Koreans in the People's Republic of China. Hunger is just one of the motives for flight. Expulsion from Pyongyang with the accompanying loss of status has also played a motive for some that have fled. Others fled because they knew enough about the conditions of family members who already lived outside of North Korea and wanted to live in similar conditions. Frustration over lack of opportunities, political persecution due to family history, and other factors motivate a variety of refugees and make it hard to generalize about why people try to get out.
Over the years, the predominant motivation for North Koreans deciding to cross the border into China has fluctuated somewhat. A political reason, or often a severe personal crisis that may have had a political dimension, has long been common, given that leaving North Korea is considered tantamount to treason. Desperate hunger and extreme poverty became a prime motivation at the height of the food shortages of the mid- to late 1990's. In more recent years, as the routes and costs of leaving became more widely known, the decision to leave may have become more calculated, though still grounded in a complex mix of personal, economic and political factors. The experiences of North Koreans we interviewed reflect this mix.
One member of a military division decided in 1995 that if he could flee to South Korea, he would have the opportunity to clear his name of plotting to implicate his superiors in a theft.12 Two men we interviewed had fled directly from different administrative detention camps in 1998 where they had been held because they were related to people considered to be serious criminals.13
On the other hand, getting food was the simple motivation of a young man who left in 1997 after he had overheard people discussing the situation in China.14 A young woman decided to go to China with her uncle in 1998 in order to aid her father, who had fallen into serious debt after taking a loan to buy medicine for her dying mother.15
Often, economic motivations were intertwined with a background of political discrimination. Two different women fled to China to survive the famine, both in 1998, after each of their families had been expelled from Pyongyang for political reasons.16 One young man and his family left in 1999 because he could not enter medical school or a teaching college because of family background. This young man's family had relatives abroad, who they expected to help and who did help expedite their transit to South Korea.17 An older man, who left in 1998, sought economic help from his relatives in China. But his troubles began in 1977, when his family was exiled from Pyongyang and sent to live in an administrative camp for five years because of his father's perceived disloyalty.
The Chinese government cooperates with the North Korean government to make it hard for North Koreans to flee into China and beyond.
Once across the river, refugees are extremely vulnerable to forced return to North Korea. The Chinese government, pursuant to an agreement with North Korea on repatriation of migrants, arrests and deports North Koreans, and allows North Korean government agents to pursue migrants on Chinese territory. According to the South Korean Unification Ministry, a secret agreement was signed between China and North Korea in the early 1960s; in 1986, another bilateral agreement was signed calling for the return of North Koreans and laying out a protocol for security in the border area.24 It also strives to control migration by posting fines for Chinese residents who shelter North Koreans, and rewards for reporting such migrants to the authorities. North Koreans have no defense against exploitation by either officials or private citizens in China, and most of those we interviewed related to us a life in hiding, characterized by violation of their rights to physical integrity, freedom of movement, access to medical care, and recourse to the legal system.
The number of refugees living illegally in China is not known with any precision.
There are anywhere from 10,000 to 300,000 North Koreans living in hiding in China, mainly in the province of Jilin, along the border region with North Korea, mixed among Chinese citizens of Korean ethnicity. To reach China, they have defied their government's criminal prohibition on illegal exit and China's rigorous border controls. They are inaccessible except to a handful of intrepid journalists and activists, and barely acknowledged by China, whose policy is immediate expulsion in an effort to maintain good relations with neighboring North Korea and deter further migration. Occasionally, a handful of this largely invisible crowd erupts into world view when a family makes its way into a foreign embassy or office in Beijing, publicly seeking asylum. While China has allowed these diplomatic embarrassments to be resolved by the family's departure to third countries, it has also followed each incident with a renewed border crackdown, repatriating hundreds to deter the thousands waiting to cross.
Those who are in the less favored social classes are most likely to flee. People who have family pasts or personal pasts that mark them to be placed in lower classes in North Korea are most motivated to flee.
According to those interviewed by Human Rights Watch, family background is still a key determinant of life in North Korea.62 Those lucky enough to be considered as "core" supporters of the government, such as party members or families of war martyrs, are given preferences for educational and employment opportunities, allowed to live in better-off areas, and have greater access to food and other material goods. Those considered of ordinary or ambivalent political loyalty lead less entitled, more precarious lives, while those considered to be of a "hostile" or disloyal profile, such as relatives of people who collaborated with the Japanese during the Japanese occupation, landowners, or those who went south during the Korean War, suffer the most, often being assigned to the worst schools, jobs and localities, and sometimes winding up in labor camps.
As discussed in the cases described at pages 9-10, a number of those we interviewed described the events that led to flight from North Korea in terms of their social, and consequent economic, marginalization. In the year 2000, Good Friends conducted surveys with North Korean adults in China on social conditions in North Korea. In the second survey, involving 521 respondents, approximately one quarter said they had experienced discrimination because of their family background. Less educated people claimed to have experienced discrimination in significantly greater proportion than well-educated people.63 When asked to name the prerequisites for tertiary education, a "good" family background was cited by the highest percentage (56.5 percent), slightly more than high test scores or talent (53.8 percent). Young people and people assigned to agricultural work tended to cite family background as a determining factor more often than other groups.64
The importance that the regime places on family background gives North Korea what is essentially a class system. Note that even though the upper classes know the most about what the rest of the world is like those consigned to the lower classes are most likely to flee. Pyongyang is populated by those who are at the top of the North Korean class system. North Koreans can not live in Pyongyang unless they have the right family background and demonstrate intense loyalty to the regime. Therefore it is less likely that the populace in Pyongyang will abandon the regime. The center will hold.
China is a hostile environment for North Korean refugees. The Chinese authorities will send back anyone they capture. China chooses to do this instead of letting the people pass on to South Korea. Due to the illegal nature of the passage thru China the cost of getting thru China to South Korea is quite high and ranges from about $10,000 to $30,000. Unless China changes its treatment of refugees the number of people making it out of North Korea to South Korea via China is going to remain fairly small.
However, the several dozen North Koreans who have gained safe passage after dashing into diplomatic compounds represent only a tiny fraction of those who ultimately leave China. Others purchase false identity papers and passports and fly out, usually with relatives in the South coordinating their quiet transit and alerting the South Korean government. Yet others are guided by brokers out of China via two main routes: either over the Mongolian border, or to Yunnan and there over the border to the Mekong River, usually transiting Cambodia, Vietnam, or Laos and sometimes Burma to eventually reach Thailand and the South Korean embassy in Bangkok.
The cost of transiting through China safely and crossing into another country varies considerably, depending on whether the refugee depends on the largesse of missionary or church groups or whether he or she has relatives who can pay and privately broker the escape. The more recent North Korean asylum seekers we interviewed estimated the total cost of bribes, false papers, and payoffs for shelter and guides to run between U.S.$10,000 to U.S.$30,000, a large enough sum to keep the number of successful departures from China relatively small.
China's treatment of North Korean refugees and its attempts to capture and return North Koreans attempting to escape from North Korea demonstrates how China's attitude toward North Korea is essential in propping up the North Korean regime. China provides economic aid, technology for North Korea's weapons development programs, and prevents North Koreans from escaping in large numbers.
Because the DMZ separating North and South Korea is a heavily fortified line it is rare for refugees to escape by fleeing south. Large concentrations of North Korean soldiers, mines, and other physical obstacles along the DMZ effectively close off a more direct route into South Korea.
In the July 25, 2002 edition of the Christian Science Monitor staff writer Robert Marquand wrote an excellent report on the growth of doubt and resentment in North Korea toward the North Korean regime. But the system of repression and control is still intact and functioning.
"No one will criticize Kim openly," says defector Kim Hyuk, who left North Korea in 1993 and now counsels refugees in Seoul. "But someone might say to another on the street who seems unhappy, 'What kind of country is this?' Five years ago, no one would dare say it." Mr. Hyuk recalls a childhood in a small town in central North Korea spent reading novels his father had to smuggle from Russia.Still, few escapees believe a major social implosion is on the way. The binding cords of military and secret police, informers, and guards remain thickly interwoven, they say – inside apartment complexes, on the street, in factories. North Koreans still can't travel outside their home district except with passes whose numeric codes change every month
Keep in mind that refugees couldn't reveal their true views to others before they fled and they certainly couldn't ask others what they thought of the regime. Those who hold views critical to the regime have to keep those views to themselves. This makes it very difficult to judge the views of most of the North Korean population. Also, those who decided to become refugees were very likely on average more dissatisfied with the regime and more likely to act on their dissatisfactions than the people who stayed behind.
One reason the development of serious opposition to the North Korean regime still seems unlikely is that political opposition is provided with none of the space it needs to organise and communicate.
When nonviolent uprisings fail, it is often because the governments leave so little political space in which opposition activists can organize without being arrested or worse, says John Crist at the US Institute of Peace in Washington. "Nonviolent resistance campaigns work best in places where there is some access to democratic principles such as freedom of communications" he says.
While the trend in beliefs among North Koreans is moving in a favorable direction the effects of decades of propaganda are still strong.
To fight ideological contamination, North Korea's government for years taught citizens that goods from South Korea were laced with cyanide.
"North Koreans are brainwashed to believe that everything from the South has poison on it," Ms. Lee continued, admitting that this legend might prevent people from picking up radios or handbags left scattered over the countryside. But that taboo is wearing down with the influx of foreign aid and goods from China.
What is needed is to provide the North Koreans with more ways to learn about the outside world. Their isolation makes them much more gullible targets for the regime's propaganda.
From a January 15, 2003 AP report written by a South Korean journalist.
North Korea runs a museum south of Pyongyang where teachers take children to watch gory scenes of Korean villagers burned at stakes and other alleged American atrocities during the Korean War. Children emerge vowing to fight Americans, defectors say.
"Isolated as they are from the outside, they can't make independent judgments about what the state tells them," Cho says.
A December 16, 2002 report by a Japanese journalist provides indications that the indoctrination system in North Korea is still fairly strong.
Political indoctrination classes are required for all North Koreans, as are weekly "self-criticism" classes. All citizens are under the constant observation of "guardian-of-the-revolution" units that seek out "anti-socialist" elements. One must even be careful of what is said around family members. Unbending censorship via the official party line, steady brain-washing and ceaseless control is all the communist regime in Pyongyang has been able or willing to offer its citizens.
Here's a brief description from the KoreaScope site describing the pervasiveness of the ideological indoctrination in North Korea.
Under the catch phrase, "All the People Must be Remade into Juche-Oriented Communist Revolutionaries," North Korea has spurred citizens to undergo ideological indoctrination programs from the cradle to the grave. In the meantime, their lives as members of organizations, as well as their economic and social activities, have been under the strict control of the Party.
North Korean citizens are obliged to become members of relevant organizations from birth. Until age 6, children must attend nursery schools where they learn how to worship Kim Il- sung or Kim Jong-il, children ages 7 to 13 are members of the Juvenile Corps, from 14 to 30 they must be members of the Socialist Youth League, and from 31 to 65 they must join trade unions in relevant workshops, such as the Agricultural Union or the Democratic Women's Union.
Over the years I had read so much about the imminent fall of the DPRK empire, but after this brief visit, I'm not convinced the regime is anywhere near finished.
I say that because the entire population is swamped with Kim Il Sung propaganda from birth and on the surface at least, there doesn't appear to be any resistance.
The people have to feel life is better elsewhere if they are to demand change, and from what I heard, they really do believe that life in the North is as close to heaven on earth as they will get.
And with no foreign media polluting their minds, why would they ever believe otherwise?
Which makes the prospect of reunification with the South a tricky proposition.
From a UK government site this is entitled North Korea Bulletin 1/2002.
4.20. A major part of everyday surveillance is by the use of informants. They, along with all other secret police and espionage activities are organised by the State Security Agency, but specifically under the Counterintelligence Division. Informants are grouped into units of 50, with a security officer as handler. Each informant watches over 20 people. In total, there may be as many as 20,000 security officers and 1 million informants in North Korea. "About half of the entire North Korean population may have experienced working as an informant at one time or another." [7s]
US and allied intelligence services should find more avenues by which to get radios into North Korea. One approach would be to place rechargeable and rewindable radios in floating plastic bags off of North Korea's coasts. Another approach might be to try small balloons that could float the radios into North Korea. If corruption in the regime has advanced far enough it might be possible to bribe army officers and other members of the regime to smuggle radios in for distribution. Though it would be difficult to verify the proper distribution of the smuggled goods.
If you want to read more the North Korea's Tangled Web website specialises in linking to relevant articles about life in North Korea.
Update: Another reason that the Chinese border is where the bulk of refugees exit North Korea is the relative sizes of the border areas. From the CIA World Factbook on the lengths of North Korea's land boundaries:
border countries: China 1,416 km, South Korea 238 km, Russia 19 km
Update: There are important differences between East Germany in the 1980s and North Korea today. The biggest is historical. Before the Soviet Red Army overran the eastern part of Germany and set up an occupation the Germans were industrialized, highly literate, and had a lot of knowledge of other cultures. Located in Europe they were influenced by Christianity and classical Greek and Roman culture. They were worldly. Before the communist regime was established in North Korea the Japanese held Korea as a colonial possession. Their style of colonial rule did not (someone correct me if I'm wrong) encourage the development of literacy or the general intellectual development of the peoples they ruled. British rule in India was positively enlightened by comparison. The North Koreans do not have a memory of a more enlightened age that they could have learned from their parents and grandparents. Many cultural memes that might oppose communist doctrine are missing as compared to East Germany under communist rule. The North Koreans are historically and currently more isolated from the rest of the world than the East Germans ever were.
Journalist Julian Manyon managed get into North Korea by pretending to be a businessman. He didn't seem to manage to talk to many people there. But he did find signs of small amounts of market forces being allowed to operate.
Then in the gloaming it was on to the food market, an open-air huddle the size of a couple of tennis courts, where Mr Pak declared firmly, ‘No pictures. Watch out for pickpockets!’ On rows of rough-hewn tables sat local produce being hawked by sturdy female traders who are now permitted to engage in a primitive form of free enterprise. With eager determination they tried to interest their poorly dressed, shivering customers in shrivelled vegetables, piles of unwashed fish and boxes of dead crabs. Mr Pak claimed that the ‘difficult period’ — he meant the famine which killed thousands in the region two years ago — was now over and supplies were getting better. It was not clear how many people in La Jin could afford to buy market produce or what happens to those forced to rely on the seemingly empty government shops.
One interesting note is that prostitutes are offered to foreign visitors. But the same is true in Cuba and the Cuban regime seems quite stable.