Archive for March, 2010


March 4, 2010

The Associated Press has reported on the recent memoir of Mosab Hassan Yousef (March 5, 2010), Son of Hamas. Yousef worked for a long time for Israeli security to unmask Hamas terrorists.

In the book the son of a Hamas founder tells how he worked for Shin Bet and was called the The Green Prince by the Israelis. According to Yousef the Palestinian Gaza organization lives in the Middle Ages.

On Islam he said in the AP interview:

It is not a religion of peace. The biggest terrorist is the God of the Quran. I know this is very dangerous and this will offend many people. The more you follow the steps of the prophet of Islam and the God of Islam, the more you get close to being a terrorist.
The agent started working with the Shin Bet after he was arrested. In prison he witnessed the brutality of Hamas. After release in 1997 he started working with the Israelis and has now converted to Christianity. His main object was to do some good and prevent the deaths of Israelis and Palestinians.

Yousef said Hamas has no idea how Shin Bet operates. Hamas is killing innocent people suspected of collaborating with Israel.

He worked for Shin Bet for ten years. As a result his father and his family have disowned him. Yousef blames his father’s decision on the Quran:

The God of Quran is trying to unskin Muslims from their humanity…Muslims are good people. But their God is absolutely bad.

Yousef said Hamas had no idea how to govern and he hoped the violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis would end. He also believes that not all readers of his book would trust him but that he had told the truth.


March 4, 2010

In a recent presentation Fox News (“The Future of Robot Drones”, March 5, 2010) shows how America is in the twentyfirst century fielding more drones for attack and recon. The Predator is one of the systems that carry weapons. The Reaper, the Hunter and the Global Hawk are others. Of all present systems the Reaper is providing the best combination of lethality and persistence.

The Phantom Ray is a prototype jet-powered flying wing has advanced UAV technologies, including electronic warfare tools like radar jamming, autonomous aerial refueling, air-missile defense and surveillance. The cruising speed of up to 610 mph will make this drone one of, the fastest UAVs on record.

The Vulture, by Lockheed Martin may be a replacement for small, geostationary satellites as it can stay aloft for five years. Its day-and-night cameras can scan a 600-mile area and send photos back to earth.

Faster, stronger and smarter drones or UAVs are increasingly part of US technology and warfare in Afghanistan and elsewhere like Pakistan. The 2009 budget for UAVs was $3.5 billion budget. Pentagon plans to have 65 unmanned aircraft flying at any one time by 2015.

In the Fox News report Lt. General David A. Deptula, the Deputy Chief of the USAF’s Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance said that:

The technology in drones has evolved quickly, says Lt. Gen. Deptula, who compares the technical innovation required to weaponize unmanned aircraft to the engineering accomplishments of people such as the Wright Brothers.

It was only after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that the US Congress directed the Air Force to order drones for testing and in 2010 there is a full fledged fleet of UAVs operating.

Drones are actually aircraft, but the technology that powers them has been advancing more like a rocket. Here’s a look at tomorrow’s drones, which are key to a modern military.

Other new drones mentioned by Fox News are the RQ-170 Sentinel by Lockheed Martin. It is sophisticated enough to be able to gather aerial intelligence over Iran without detection for example on the nuclear program of that country.

The Excalibur of Aurora Flight Sciences is designed for use in war zones. It can probably be deployed within five years. on land and sea, and may be deployed on the battlefield within five years. The Excalibur can be remotely operated from wherever it’s deployed. It will have 400 pounds of laser-guided munitions including Hellfire missiles and strike enemy targets up to 600 miles away from its base.

The Avenger of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is a stealthy, jet-powered drone packed with 3,000 pounds of surveillance equipment and lethal munitions. In its arsenal are laser-guided Hellfire missiles and 500-pound GBU-38 bombs. It will be far faster than the predecessors, the Predator and Reaper.

The HALE of Boeing is a 7 ton drone with a 250-foot wingspan. HALE (high-altitude long-endurance) flies at 65,000 feet above battlefields. There it will provide around the clock surveillance and data communications. This UAV will be able to fly for 10 days.
The Global Observer of Aerovironment has a 175-foot wingspan. This UAV can fly up to 65,000 feet above battlefields, disaster sites, borders that are in need of aerial surveillance or a wireless data link.

The Samarai of Lockheed Martin only weighs 150 grams with a 12-inch wingspan. The device has a miniature jet engine to provide thrust. If it can be reduced to three inches and 15 grams, the smal drone could be used to spy indoors.

The present US drone campaign in the Middle East is effective in its use as a counterinsurgency weapon. The UAVs are presently used to strike both al Qaeda and the Taliban but these weapons can also be used against terrorists in Yemen and Somalia.

The problem is that the American administration has not provided enough legal support for the drones strikes. In The Weekly Standard Professor Kenneth Anderson (“Predators Over Pakistan”, March 8, 2010) makes the case for the legality of drone warfare.
Targeted killings of terrorists are a lawful practice.

Use of force against terrorists is justified anywhere they set up bases, including in states that cannot or will not prevent them.
The drone operations are covert but justifiable.

All of these operations fall with the right of self-defense in international law and “vital national security interests” in U.S. domestic law.

Anderson wants the US administration’s top lawyers to offer a public legal defense of its policies in this field to show that the strikes are not only effective but also lawful. There is an international campaign against targeted killings, drones and covert action. Casualties are emphasized but never the casualties that will result from realistic military alternatives including bombing and artillery fire. Other opponents of the counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan claim that drone attacks are a form of “extrajudicial execution” or even simple murder of people who are not even in uniform. It should be noted that not only the defenders of drone warfare are asking for legal defense. The U.N. special rapporteur on “extrajudicial execution”, Professor Philip Alston, demands that the United States justifies the legality of its targeted killing program. Legal justification matters and the Obama administration should justify the use of its drone warfare policy and other targeted killing practices. This is important to preserve the American government’s views and rights under law. It is necessary to claim what is binding law not only for the United States but for others as well.

International law should be grounded in reality and not only be a plaything of utopian experts and enthusiasts, argues Anderson in the TWS article.

In a speech at West Point President Barack Obama said that “we cannot tolerate a safe-haven for terrorists whose location is known, and whose intentions are clear.” They will not be protected by the location in a sovereign state. Intentions are enough for the United States to take a decision to strike. This is, however, policy and not formal law. Administration lawyers should confirm this policy in statements of law. American governments have made many statements of self-defense that go back decades. In on of these statements it was endorsed the legal “right of a State to strike terrorists within the territory of another State where the terrorists are using that territory as a location from which to launch terrorist attacks and where the State involved has failed to respond effectively to a demand that attacks be stopped.”

The strategic frame of the “global war on terror” offers a geostrategic frame, a global and prolonged struggle, like the Cold War. Legally the GWOT offers all the flexibility of self-defense and combatancy in armed conflict. If armed conflict is global combatants can be located and targeted anywhere.

Anderson finally concludes that:

Future administrations, long beyond the Obama administration, may one day have to confront non-state enemies that are not al Qaeda, have no relation whatever to 9/11, and are not jihadists but espouse some other violent cause against the United States. Future presidents will also have to respond with force, sometimes covert force, to such threats.


March 2, 2010

I en artikel i dagens DN (2 mars 2010) kräver fyra borgerliga riksdagsledamöter att Säpo skall släppa uppgifter om de svenskar som agerat för den östtyska underrättelsetjänsten Stasi. Det lär finnas omkring 50 namn.

Ulf Nilson i Expressen (”Reinfeldt borde tvinga Säpo att öppna arkiven”, 2 mars 2010) skriver att Stasi var den proportionellt största spioneri- och förtryckarorganisationen som existerat!:

Fredrik Reinfeldt borde lyfta telefonen och tvinga fram en öppning av Säpos arkiv. Den hemska sanningen är att svenska män och säkert också kvinnor tjänade en regim som, om Sverige fallit, skulle ha fängslat, torterat och mördat andra svenskar…Så öppna Säpo-arkiven!

De fyra riksdagsmännen i DN har sedan 2007 aktivt arbetat för att Säpo-arkiven skall öppnas om Stasi, KGB och andra kommunistiska underrättelsetjänster. Det finnsd fyra goda skäl för öppenhet:

De utpekade får möjlighet att försvara sig. Saker kan sättas in i sitt rätta sammanhang (påtryckningar, förvillelser etc.). Man kan åstadkomma försoning och ytterst har alltid sanningen företräde framför lögnen.

Genom Birgitta Almgrens i år utkomna bok om östtyskt agerande i Sverige har nu frågan om Stasi på nytt aktualiserats. Senast den var uppe 1999-2000 pågick en rad mål mot danska och norska Stasiagenter. Det är svårt att förstå varför Sverige behöver gömma sina Stasiakter. Lika svårt är det att förstå hur socialdemokratiska regeringar fram till 2006 kunde behandla kommunistiskt spioneri så släpphänt som skedde. Detta ledde till att en rad mål preskriberades. Denna eftergivenhet har fått alltför liten uppmärksamhet.

Det finns starka skäl för alliansregeringen att ändra på reglerna innan domstolarna har sagt sitt. Varför är det så svårt att redovisa hur Sovjet och andra regimer agerade med underrättelsetjänster i Sverige? Från egen erfarenhet vet jag att (s) under 1960-talet nära nog betraktade demokratin i Bonn och tyranniet i Östberlin på samma sätt. De som kritiserade Östtyskland utsattes för Säpos intresse och övervakning. Den svenska säkerhetspolisen åsiktsregistrerade antikommunister.

Nu är det dags att alliansregeringen bryter med den rödgröna politiken som går ut på att låta lögnen regera och undertrycka sanningen om hur de svenska kommunisternas regimvänner i öst agerade för att undergräva den svenska demokratin.

Allra helst borde akterna om de svenska Stasiagenterna bli en del av ett större forskningsprojekt om Sveriges förhållande till östaterna under det kalla kriget, något som tidigare tagits upp på denna blogg.


March 2, 2010

A common field of research in comparative civilizationism is the question of rise and fall of civilizations and the possibility of a cyclical development. In the 1980s Professor Paul Kennedy predicted that the United States would fall. This time it was overextension in foreign lands (“imperial overstretch”).

Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson has now taken up the thread. Some predictions claim that the GDP of China in 2027 will be larger than that of the United States. In a recent opinion piece in Los Angeles Times Ferguson (“America, the fragile empire”, February 28, 2010; a longer version of the article was published in the March/April issue of the journal Foreign Affairs) the English born professor admits that great powers are complex systems. They are in his view operating between order and disorder. The hegemons seem to be in balance but are in reality constantly adapting.

As mentioned in earlier contributions on this blog it is complicated to make civilizational predictions only by using historical data. This method does not take into account the so called “black swans”, sudden catastrophies.

A recent collapse of a great power was that of the Soviet Union. It seemed in the late 1970s that it was stronger than America. Its nuclear arsenal was the world’s largest and from Vietnam to Nicaragua the Third World was in favor of the Soviet system. Five years after Michael Gorbachev took power the Soviet empire fell apart.

Incorrectly Ferguson compares the United States to the Soviet empire. He even asks about the implications for America. Of course there is no comparison. USA is a well functioning free market democracy. Tyrannical systems like that of the Soviet Russia are bound to fail and collapse. So did Hitler’s Nazi empire and so will Communist China’s tyranny.

Also incorrectly Ferguson in his article claims that most falls of hegemons are associated with fiscal crises. There is because of the large US deficit of 11 percent of GDP a risk of fiscal crises. It should however be remembered that the US economy is otherwise healthy with a swiftly growing production and innovation. The deficit can be solved although it of course was a mistake to borrow from China. Ferguson admits that the fiscal figures alone cannot erode US power but could weaken the faith in the United States and its ability to withstand crises.

The crisis of 2008 is common occurance in the history of free markets. Like the depression in the 1930s it was a problem but the present market techniques are much more powerful than they were eight decades ago. Already in 2010 most of the problems are overcome.

As an Englishman Ferguson rightly fears battle in the mountains of the Hindu Kush. True, in the nineteenth century it was certainly a problem for imperial Britain. The present Iraq and Afghanistan wars are not imperial wars. They are counterinsurgencies to rid these countries of terrorists and guerrillas. Only a fraction of America’s military might has to be devoted to these two peripheral wars. Furthermore drone warfare in the twentyfirst century is changing counterinsurgency along with modern communications.

The final mistake made by Professor Ferguson is to believe that hegemons function in an equilibrium and then abruptly collapse. Like British born Professor Paul Kennedy another British born American professor is now on the wrong track in macro-history.

In 2009 the German scholar (Stanford University) and journalist Josef Joffe explained that predictions that bipolarity would be changed into multipolarity in the 1990s have been mistakes. Instead the great question after 2000 has been the unipolar United States. Three years after the Kennedy prediction Washington sent 600,000 men to fight the first Iraq war. No “overstretch” there.

In the 1990s “declinism” took a break. The Japanese threat ended in stagnation for the Asian island empire. The Soviet Union had collapsed and the United States moved into an extraordinary expansion of its power in the economic and military fields. It continued until 2008. The best country to compete in the new era of globalization is undoubtedly America.

Joel Kotkin of Forbes Magazine believes the United States is on the rise. The possibly greatest competitor, China, has a number of problems. Its population will be considerably older than that of America in 2050. It will not end well for the Chinese Politburo. The United States has a stronger position in demographic trends. The European Union is shrinking by 25 percent, Korea by 30 percent and Japan by as much as 44 percent.

Since the 1930s pundits have declared that America could not compete with Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Harvard’s John Kenneth Gailbraith in the 1980s believed that the Soviet model was so successful that the two systems would eventually “converge”. Nowadays the strongest competitors of state-socialism are Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela. Not very impressive.

Kotkin rightly asks: why are declinists on the rise in 2010? Certainly there are reasons for pessimism in the West: high US deficits and leakage to China and other developing countries. The world has experienced its phase of “Japan will take over the world”. Now it is fashionable to state that “China will take over the world”. There certainly is a risk that a strong and populous China will threaten the West in the future. It has a stronger potential than Japan but will have similar demographic problems in the future. More important China has massive internal problems. It is, unlike Japan, an unstable autocracy. Furthermore it will have a huge ill-educated peasant class still living in poverty. A more youthful, competitive and resourceful America will most likely maintain its hegemonic influence even if there is a shift towards Asia in the economic sphere.


March 1, 2010

In a recent article in the journal Foreign Affairs Dmitri Trenin wrote that Russia had more to gain by cooperating with the world’s prevailing powers than by opposing them. Its foreign policy should aim to establish relationships with the European Union, the United States, and others.

Today Russian geopolitics concentrates on making Russia once more a great power seeking equality with the United States, the European Union and China. At the same time it seeks to join the globalized market of the 21st century.

Russia has had plans for creating a geopolitical power center around Moscow. This has not been successful. The Central Asian countries are moving towards a more independent policy. In 2008 it looked as if the Kremlin was confident that Russia was on the rise as an economic and geopolitical powerhouse. The economic crisis seems to have changed that. Russia is becoming more and more dependent on oil and gas.

Ukraine, geopolitically very important as a transition belt between the European Union and Russia has also been hard hit. The new President of Ukraine is ruling a divided country and might well have a one-term presidency. He could also turn out not to be as beneficial to Russia as was expected.

Moscow has decided not to join the World Trade Organization and is now attempting to create a custom union of its own. This attempt (for the time being) seems to be a failure. It seems also that Russia’s plans for geopolitical energy dominance in Eurasia is failing.

At the same time unrest is growing in the North Caucasus within Russia’s own borders (Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia). Extremist jihadists could turn the area into a base for operations similar to those bases in Pakistan.

Russia is clearly seeking equality with the United States, the European Union and China. It does no longer accept the weak position created after the collapse of the Soviet Union. On the other hand there is no equality between the two first of these powers. A possibility for Russia in this situation would be to initiate a cooperation treaty with the European Union and accept membership in the union for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova. The struggle for influence in Ukraine is a loosing geopolitical game. Georgia is pro-Western. The Kremlin seems not to understand that the lack of infrastructure in the country, the size of the economy and population does not make it possible for Russia to compete as a global power. The demographic crisis of Russia is also contributing to a slow decline.

Although Russia is attempting to create closer links with India, Brazil, and China to join against the American hegemon and create a multipolar world, so far these links have not been very successful. There is no greater enthusiasm for revising the present global order in India and Brazil. China is a growing threat to Russia especially in Siberia. As China’s power is growing in Eurasia Russia needs to strengthen economy, infrastructure and its population in the east. A well balanced professional Russian army is needed to balance growing Chinese power in Eurasia. Modernization is another important aspect. In the future world it is important with a common European space where Russia can play an important role. There must to create this space be trust and confidence. Also NATO could be a partner to Russia.

The Pacific Rim’s importance is growing in the United States and to Russia the Far Eastern area with Vladivostok should also be a future project. It is near East Asia’s main cities like Tokyo, Seoul, and Hong Kong. Siberia and the Arctic zone are other areas that need focused development.

The new Russian policy should be seen as a background to a growing Chinese wish to be the strongest military in the world. This is expressed in a new Chinese book by Senior Colonel Liu Mingfu (The China Dream).

Mingfu writes:

China’s big goal in the 21st century is to become world number one, the top power…If China in the 21st century cannot become world number one, cannot become the top power, then inevitably it will become a straggler that is cast aside.

Liu is a professor at the elite National Defense University, which trains the country’s officers. Although Liu’s book is mainly directed at the United States no doubt Russia’s Far East could well also be a future target of Chinese aggressiveness. There is reason for Russia to look at China more as a future opponent than as a partner. Geostrategically, therefore, the West should be the future partner.