Tuesday, December 25, 2012

US army to send teams to Africa to fight extremists - The National

WASHINGTON // A US Army brigade will begin sending small teams into as many as 35 African nations early next year, part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists and give the US a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the US military emerge.
The teams will be limited to training and equipping efforts, and will not be permitted to conduct military operations without specific, additional approvals from the secretary of defence.
The sharper focus on Africa by the US comes against a backdrop of widespread insurgent violence across North Africa, and as the African Union and other nations discuss military intervention in northern Mali.
The terror threat from Al Qaeda-linked groups in Africa has been growing steadily, particularly with the rise of the extremist Islamist sect Boko Haram in Nigeria. Officials also believe that the September 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, which killed the ambassador and three other Americans, may have been carried out by those who had ties to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
This first-of-its-kind brigade assignment - involving teams from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division - will target countries such as Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger, where Al Qaeda-linked groups have been active. It also will assist nations like Kenya and Uganda that have been battling Al Shabab militants on the front lines in Somalia.
Gen. Carter Ham, the top US commander in Africa, noted that the brigade has a small drone capability that could be useful in Africa. But he also acknowledged that he would need special permission to tap it for that kind of mission.
"If they want them for (military) operations, the brigade is our first sourcing solution because they're prepared," said Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of US Army Forces Command. "But that has to go back to the secretary of defence to get an execute order."
Already the US military has plans for nearly 100 different exercises, training programs and other activities across the widely diverse continent. But the new program faces significant cultural and language challenges, as well as nagging questions about how many of the lower-level enlisted members of the brigade, based in Fort Riley, Kan., will participate, since the teams would largely be made up of more senior enlisted troops and officers. A full brigade numbers about 3,500, but the teams could range from just a few people to a company of about 200. In rare cases for certain exercises, it could be a battalion, which would number about 800.
To bridge the cultural gaps with the African militaries, the Army is reaching out across the services, the embassies and a network of professional organizations to find troops and experts that are from some of the African countries. The experts can be used during training, and the troops can both advise or travel with the teams as they begin the program.
"In a very short time frame we can only teach basic phrases," said Col. Matthew McKenna, commander of the 162nd Infantry Brigade that will begin training the Fort Riley soldiers in March for their African deployment. "We focus on culture and the cultural impact - how it impacts the African countries' military and their operations."
Thomas Dempsey, a professor with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said the biggest challenge will be the level of cultural, language and historical diversity across the far-flung continent.
"How do you train for that in a way that would be applicable wherever they go?" said Dempsey, a retired Army colonel. He said he's not sure using a combat brigade is the right answer, but added, "I'm not sure what the answer is. The security challenges differ so dramatically that, to be honest, I really don't think it's feasible to have a continental training package."

The Pentagon's effort in Africa, including the creation of US Africa Command in 2007, has been carefully calibrated, largely due to broad misgivings across the continent that it could spawn American bases or create the perception of an undue US military influence there. As a result, the command has been based in Stuttgart, Germany, rather than on the African continent.
At the same time, many African nations are eager for US training or support, as they work to build their militaries, battle pirates along the coast and shut down drug trafficking, kidnapping and other insurgent activities.
McKenna acknowledged the challenge, but said the military has to tap its conventional fighting forces for this task because there aren't enough special operations forces to meet the global training needs. He said there will be as many as a dozen different training segments between February and September, each designed to provide tailored instruction for the particular teams.
The mission for the 2nd Brigade - known as the "Dagger Brigade" - will begin in the spring and will pave the way for Army brigades to be assigned next to US Pacific Command and then to US European Command over the next year. The brigade is receiving its regular combat training first, and then will move on to the more specific instruction needed for the deployments, such as language skills, cultural information and other data about the African nations.
Dagger Brigade commander Col. Jeff Broadwater said the language and culture training will be different than what most soldiers have had in recent years, since they have focused on Pashtun and Farsi, languages used mostly in Afghanistan and Iran. He said he expects the soldiers to learn French, Swahili, Arabic or other languages, as well as the local cultures.
"What's really exciting is we get to focus on a different part of the world and maintain our core combat skills," Broadwater said, adding that the soldiers know what to expect. "You see those threats (in Africa) in the news all the time."
The brigade will be carved up into different teams designed to meet the specific needs of each African nation. As the year goes on, the teams will travel from Fort Riley to those nations - all while trying to avoid any appearance of a large US military footprint.
"The challenge we have is to always understand the system in their country," said Rodriguez, who has been nominated to be the next head of Africa Command. "We're not there to show them our system, we're there to make their system work. Here is what their army looks like, and here is what we need to prepare them to do."
Rodriguez said the nearly 100 assignments so far requested by Ham will be carried out with "a very small footprint to get the high payoff".

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Is China good or bad for Africa? – Global Public Square - CNN.com Blogs

Is China good or bad for Africa?
October 29th, 2012
05:14 PM ET

Is China good or bad for Africa?

By Peter Eigen, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Peter Eigen is a member of the Africa Progress Panel, chaired by Kofi Annan. He is the founder and chair of the Advisory Council, Transparency International, and chairman of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The views expressed are the author’s own.
China’s growing presence in Africa is one of the region’s biggest stories, but even seasoned analysts cannot decide whether this booming relationship is good or bad for Africa.
Critics say Chinese strategy is entirely self-promotional, aimed at maintaining access to Africa’s precious mineral resources even when that means propping up odious governments. China’s supporters say the Asian superpower is strictly neutral and business-oriented, preferring to generate economic growth not a dangerous dependency on aid.
China has certainly been contributing to Africa’s economic growth, both in terms of trade and with building infrastructure. All over the continent, it has built roads, railways, ports, airports, and more, filling a critical gap that western donors have been shy to provide and unblocking major bottlenecks to growth.
The rehabilitated 840-mile Benguela railway line, for example, now connects Angola’s Atlantic coast with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. And Chinese-financed roads have cut journey times from Ethiopia’s hinterland to the strategic port of Djibouti, facilitating livestock exports.
Meanwhile, bilateral trade between Africa and China continues to grow at an extraordinary pace, reaching $160 billion in 2011 from just $ 9 billion in 2000.
But some 90 percent of Sino-African trade is still based around natural resources – oil, ores, and minerals. And exports of natural resources by themselves do not help Africa to develop as we can see from the examples of Nigeria and Angola, Sub-Saharan Africa’s two largest oil exporters.
First, oil and mining are not labor intensive industries. So while natural resources may create impressive headline growth figures, they do not necessarily translate into widespread job creation.
Second, as we saw in the Netherlands in the 1960s and Norway today, large oil and mineral reserves can distort the local currency, pushing up prices of other exports, such as agricultural products, and making them much harder to sell overseas.
Third, without careful management, oil and mineral revenues have often fuelled corruption which has a severely negative impact on a country’s development. It’s notable, for example, that China is not yet one of the supporting countries for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an initiative to promote transparency and accountability in the governance of natural resources.
Away from the oil and mining industries, critics of China say they don’t see much evidence of China advocating for Africa on global issues either.
Climate change and better access to overseas markets are two such issues. But at the Africa Progress Panel we see little evidence of China pushing hard for improved market access for African products in non-African markets. Indeed, South African and other manufacturers have frequently complained about the crushing competition from Chinese textiles. Nor do we see China pushing for any meaningful breakthroughs in climate negotiations that would favor African nations.
More heavily publicized, Chinese use of its veto in the U.N. Security Council to inhibit international action on Darfur has made a mockery of China’s supposedly “neutral” stance.
So what else could Africa and China do so that Africa benefits more from its growing relationship with China?
For a start, African countries could diversify their economies as much as possible away from supplying unprocessed natural resources to China. This will make them less dependent on the vagaries of both the Chinese economy and the ups and downs of global commodity prices. Trade with China may have helped insulate Africa from the full impact of the 2008 financial crisis, but Africa still looks vulnerable to China’s economic slowdown. Meanwhile, African nations should also prepare for the day when they no longer have natural resources to sell. At the Africa Progress Panel, we talk about transforming natural resource wealth into human capital, by investing revenues into health and education.
Second, African countries need to encourage Chinese investment into more labor intensive sectors. Africa’s population is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, and job creation is a top priority. If Africa cannot create jobs to keep up with the growth of its workforce, then we can expect to see a large and growing population of frustrated, jobless youth.
As China’s relationship with Africa shifts from being essentially government-to-government to business-to-business, some analysts see enormous potential in the manufacturing industry, especially for clothing and textiles. Rising Chinese wages in this sector may lead Chinese manufacturers to export jobs to African countries where labor prices are lower.
One example of how this might work is Zambia, where some 300 Chinese companies now employ around 25,000 people. Ethiopia’s shoemaking sector has also benefitted from Chinese investment that has created jobs and exports.
For the most part, however, and despite the scale of investment, linkages between Chinese investment and local economies remains weak.
Third, African countries could negotiate better terms with Chinese investors, including quality control and better linkages with local economies. African governments could urge China to improve market access for African goods overseas, for example in trade fora such as the World Trade Organization. The IMF estimates the average import tariff faced by low-income countries in Africa in the BRICS at 13 percent – around three times the level in the United States and the European Union (which also operate a range of non-tariff barriers).
On quality, observers describe shoddy workmanship in a range of Chinese investments from crumbling walls in a Chinese-built hospital in Angola, enormous potholes in Ghanaian and Zambian roads, and a leaking roof in the African Union’s new $ 200 million headquarters opened in January.
Fairly or unfairly, many in Africa complain that Chinese projects do not employ enough Africans or do enough to transfer skills and technology. The reality is that this will vary from project to project. When a country is emerging from a decade or two of civil war, its labor force may not have sufficient capacity to work on technical projects. But at the Africa Progress Panel we view job creation as a priority issue for Africa’s development. Skills development has a major role to play in this respect.
And when Africans are employed, working conditions are sometimes substandard. Human Rights Watch reports dangerous work conditions in Zambian mines. And pay disputes at a copper mine also in Zambia led to two Chinese managers shooting at miners in 2010, then the death of a Chinese manager this August.
Fifth, Africa could keep working to make itself as attractive a business environment as possible. At the Africa Progress Panel, we consider further regional economic integration to be a priority. Africa’s population will one day represent the world’s largest consumer market. If they can get increased market access by investing in a single country, Chinese businesses will want to invest much more.
Analysts see more Chinese businesses coming to Africa, meaning that the Africa-China relationship is diversifying away from simply government-to-government relationships. This makes it harder to characterize the relationship as either good or bad. However we view it, China’s growing presence in Africa is part of a rapidly changing reality that presents enormous opportunity.
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Topics: Africa • China

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Leadership And The geopolitics Of The Horn of Africa (Part-I) | IndepthAfrica

News Global development Famine Guardian Global Development Top UN official warns of continued risk of famine in Somalia Mark Bowden, who leads the UN relief efforts in Somalia, says many people remain in a precarious position and would need assistance on a regular basis reddit this Mark Tran guardian.co.uk, Monday 16 January 2012 13.15 GMT Article history MDG : Famine in Horn of Africa : IDP arriving in Mogasishu , Somalia. Displaced Somalis who had fled famine prepare to leave an IDP camp in Mogadishu last week to resettle back in their respective home regions. Photograph: Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images
Amanuel Hidrat
The biological clock (body clock) is always ticking. How fast it ticks depend on the combination of genetic and environment. Both our experience and behaviors influence the speed at which the clock ticks. By the same token political leaders have their own ticking clock designed to optimize the survival of their political agendas. I am talking about the giant clock of peaceful co-existence the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had set on his desk to remind his vision every time he came to his office. The clock that reminds him how far he went in that journey and all the projects and thoughts set to pave the way to peaceful co-existence. It was a journey for a new beginning and new history making. I hope the clock has a good durable battery with the new occupant of the seat. I started to collect up all the parts of his impressive steps of building relationships that no one have thought after the bloody war of 1998-2000.
For normal visionary leaders, searching solutions for intractable problems is anything, but routine. Tales of legendary leaders and coaches are filtered through the ticking clock in their offices as to how they manage their time of leadership – not only for fueling perceptions of comfortable fit as team players, but also to mange the efficacy of their selling point for their agendas. When a team of leadership speaks the same language and view through a shared lens to the political landscape they are in, they will find themselves in a familiar world, even under the most unusual circumstances; and that is to show the willingness to confront the major anxiety of their people.
Beyond the circumscribed saturated national politics and polemical purposes, Eritrean scholars and professionals must make an effort to escape from fictionalization endeavors and myth making that congeals sour view on the politics of the horn. Our views on the larger trajectory should embrace all competing supplementary or complementary visions to resolve the whole issue of the region, changing the national character to regional scale to facilitate the integration of regional policies for the purposes of peace and developments.
In this essay I will explore the idea of political heterodoxy – the concept of variety opinions that conjectures to light through analytical digression and expose the hypocrisies of popular opinions and the psychology of conformism, while searching political alternatives in the horn of Africa by shifting sets of conceptual and meta-theoretical debates. However, in the process we can exercise the discipline of science as to how systematically exclude implausible knowledge claimed within the boundaries of our arguments. Besides, we will see how narrow nationalism becomes a setback in the politics of “regional citizenship”.
Building Regional Citizenship
An even more daring approach involves our national and regional understanding through a sharp and bold open process with regional actors. Talking on the responsibilities of regional citizenship, leaders should have knowledge of public affairs with a sense of belonging, a concern of the whole and a morale bond among the communities of the region, whose fates are crowded in a vicious circular pattern.
The idea of regional citizenship is to better help the refugees and build sustainable solutions to the regional communities in our region. The existing regional citizenship in Western African countries is a good exemplary frame work for our region. The whole purpose of this idea is to facilitate economic integration and allowing refugees to find long term solutions being free to move and to cope with their political and economic hardships. In other words this coping strategy is a vehicle as well as precursor to freedom of movement and settlement rights – a pathway to eventual regional citizenship. This is a palatable truth – a barely palatable mixture to the olfactory nerves that gives appealing political and economic taste to our mind for those of us who have a space of true thinking – an association with reality and conscious awareness of the dynamic of global economic changes.
One has to get an exit strategy from the banality circuit of narrow nationalism and its courted preachers in this era of globalization to change the contours of our political discourse. It is my sincere believe that the Eritrean problem should be seen from the context of geopolitics of our region to find a recourse and collaboration with the sate-actors in the region and beyond, to remove the Eritrean regime that become the source of domestic and regional instabilities. How can we let the paralysis of our nation and the enslavement of our youth unabated? The people of the horn and the Eritrean people have a common enemy and common interest to overthrow the regime in Asmara. Despite this is a rough mountain to climb politically and diplomatically, with our collective survival instinct and assertive vision to our region will emerge triumphant. The strategy should be seen from being important to being life sustaining, both from the prospect of peace and stability to economic development. This is a high wire and one of the competing doses of advice to our resistance force.
In critical thinking, while knowledge refers to the ability to recall the information currently on evaluation, comprehension refers to the ability to demonstrate an understanding of the material or an issue at hand. Now, what kind of knowledge and comprehension do we have on the geopolitics of our region? For starters, like the genetic blue print, the United Nation have decoded and mapped the destabilizing activities of the Eritrean regime in Somalia and Ethiopia (refer to 416 pages UN Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea on July 18, 2011). We know also that Ethiopia was and is subjected to terrorist attack aimed at influencing the domestic political situation (refer to the assassination attempt of Hosni Mubarak in 1995 in Addis and the continuous attack by Al shabab from the south). The catalog of Isayas’s sponsoring terrorist organizations will be completed next year summer when UN Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea Issued its investigative report to the UN council for the third time.
Ethiopia is the anchor of stability in the region. Currently, the countries in the horn are molding into a shared of economic, political, and security interest to forge peace, stability, and development. The Late PM Meles and his peers in the EPRDF organization had a clear vision and strategy how to get peace and stabilities in the horn. First they win the war against terrorist in the region by forming an alliance with other African countries (Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti, and Burundi) and international power house to transform Somalia from a failed state to relatively stable.  The defeat of Al Shabab is strictly as a result of regional and international cooperation to reverse the two decades of state failure and anarchism in Somalia. Now Somalia is governed by popularly elected parliament and a President. Second, they start to build the Ethio-Eritrean relationship through people to people diplomacy to mitigate enmity, alienate and ensure the fall of the house of PFDJ. To effectuate this strategy, they saw the necessary components for regional citizenship – opening the freedom of movement and resettlement rights to the Eritrean refugees and allowing the young Eritreans to the institute of higher education (in the last two years about 2372 students are enrolled to various universities) to counteract the dilapidating  higher educational system in Eritrea. With the help of international actors Ethiopia and Kenya are now expanding their sphere of influence in the horn of Africa.
Geopolitics And Quantitative Easing on Peace
Time is not shrinking the remission of casualties of the senseless wars waged by our despotic leader with more consequences even by those who misrepresent the raw materials of our past history as we try to sort out in to the history books. Since the Eritrean regime is mining on the data-base of the religious and regional differences, the real target of quantitative easing on peace in this edition of tebeges are the Eritrean elites and scholars in the opposition camp and independents in between, who are decrying for any engagement in the geopolitics of our region. Propagandas are not effective on your peers while our eyes are staring over the failed efforts and challenges of our nation in particular and our region in general in the last decade. What is needed is to evaluate our politics and find a mechanism of new arrangements with non-regional states to end the “crises of political legitimacy” in our region. The reality demands and deserves authentic leaders who understand the nature of politics of our region.
As the external and domestic drivers of conflict enmeshed together, problems will no longer contained within the boundaries of the states. Actually, it becomes difficult to have distinction between internal and external domains, exacerbating the danger of seedbeds for forces of instabilities. Now the powerful non-regional-state actors are looking for a new arrangement to tackle the existing security challenge of the region. The Horn of African countries are suffered from lack of governing capabilities and persistent crises of political legitimacy. Clearly domestic conflicts advanced to a new dimension of regional and trans-regional zone of instabilities, where a new assembly of agencies should emerge for collaborative and multi-lateral engagement to tackle the issue of the region holistically.
Our region is infested with destabilizing forces including Al Qaeda and other proxy organizations like Al-Shabab, Al Ittihad Al Islam (unity of islam) coalescing with some rogue regimes increasing the risk factors on the region and beyond. The Horn of African countries should create a frame work that brings regional security and stabilities to fight terrorist threats and their sponsors. The first order of business in their political engagement is to impose collective sanctions and to isolate rogue states within the region to bring peace and development in pulses and waves. IGAD’s action against the Isaias regime is in the right direction replicating and reifying regional equalities.
The impact of exogenous actors to enlighten the relationship of economic and political development will give a narrative to the new distinctive developmental trajectory in the horn. The buzzword used in every context is therefore to ensure the predictable and stable environment for globalization and development. Geopolitics and globalizations goes hand in hand in the contemporary transformation process of economical and political aspects of nations. As a result it is imperative to argue on these two concepts and its implications to the countries of the horn, as a way out to find their bearing in the new politico-economy drives.
“You can’t do today’s job with Yesterday’s method and be in business tomorrow” said Chris Kirube a Kenyan industrialist, arguing about the need of transformational process of economic and political aspects for Eastern African countries. Globalization and development is a process of integrating not only economy of nations but also their culture, technology, and governance; or generally the widening and spreading of world wide interconnectedness in all aspect of contemporary social life (David Held & Anthony Megrew, 1999).
Iconoclastic Leaders in Geo-politics
Promoting maxims and slogans which were effective in revolutionaries wars are not the general prescription of geo-politics. In contrast geo-politics is a systemic thinking that considers problems of a particular region, in terms of how the interactions of the parts and the parts with whole, and design a political process that create peace and stabilities. It requires knowledge and understanding to deal with the complexity and attempt to find an integrated solution to the whole.
Leaders in this field have social intelligence that overcome perceptions and fears by the bulk of their society and coax others to embrace the paradigm shift in the sphere of influence. They are values-drivers of their people and others for generational cultures and clusters that blend politics and economic development of their region. In fact they live by sight not by faith. They urge their people to think outside their boxes and think differently in their inner tubes of perception to float downstream with the new paradigm shift. Iconoclastic leaders do not attempt to go always against the tides rather they have the ability of coalescing with what others think and lead the way to change or evolve into a bright future. They are leaders who smile more on the days when everyone expect them frown and who looks lively on days when everyone would expect them to look tired. And yes they are the ones who swat away any negatives like hanging sliders. No wonder the late PM Meles was considered as the iconoclastic leader of the horn and beyond who proved in the international stage as a strong advocator of our continent.
Occasionally, events remind us the habit of hanging heretics of geopolitics within the state of Eritrea and its people, in which they seem to have learned nothing from the debacle of the war of 1998-2000. Evidently the regime in Asmara is feeling impotence and seems to have nothing in its plate to reverse the inevitable. Of course this is not my opinion; it is the opinion of some experts who understand the geopolitics of the horn of Africa. Talking about the geopolitics, if we want to measure the vast and possibly the politico-cultural divide between the Ethiopian and Eritrean regimes, there are plenty of metrics you could use for the purpose of comparing and contrasting. But one that defines and separates them starkly is that the Ethiopian regime cooperates with state-actors (regionally and internationally) while the Eritrean regime cooperates with the fringe non-state actors – a clear distinction with no contest. This is the cutting argument the oppositions have to make against the Eritrean regime that works with the unruled non-state actors.
The interstate cooperation within IGAD countries is crucial to constitute a standby force to combat rogue regimes of instabilities, while the fusion of pillar states in the region is undergoing to resolve the apparent puzzle and capabilities to handle the challenges of the region, by mapping out the security dynamics in the horn. Security is a relational phenomenon and we can not understand the security of individual state without understanding the international pattern of security interdependence in which it is embedded (Buzan, 1991 pp 187). Some examples must be in order to justify Buzan’s argument. Ethiopia can not afford not to become involved in the crises of Eritrea because it has direct bearing to Ethiopia itself in terms of refugee and its internal security. Kenya could not afford not to be involved in the crises of Somalia that has direct bearing to its internal security.
It is under such circumstances, that iconoclastic leaders are needed to lead the complex security challenges of our region, playing a significant role by accommodating the different state-actors in the region. We know the Horn of African countries are the most conflict ridden and poverty stricken in our continent. The relative political reforms to create spaces for political opposition in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda could help to regional responses and capacities – a regional response to the challenge.
To be continue……

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New guidelines for 'fragile' states | Germany | DW.DE | 20.09.2012

Somali soldiers patrol the scene of an explosion in  Mogadishu
REUTERS/Omar Faruk


New guidelines for 'fragile' states

The German government has agreed new guidelines for dealing with troubled states. The new policy will coordinate the work of three ministries and show greater sensitivity to local conditions.
Somalia, Congo, Sudan, Chad, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, Iraq - the list of so-called fragile states is growing. A country is considered fragile if its state institutions function only rudimentarily and if security, welfare and rule of law are no longer guaranteed. The consequences are political tension, poverty and violent conflict.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle speaks of "a dangerous weakening of states that threatens collapse." Such a state of affairs, he said in Berlin on Wednesday (19.09.2012), has significant implications not only for the countries themselves and their regions, but also for international security. "If, for example, terrorism, crime or piracy arises from this, it is no longer a distant academic foreign policy issue, but an issue that also affects us directly in Germany."

More troubled regions worldwide

About half the countries to which the German government provides development assistance are considered fragile or affected by conflict, according to Minister for Economic Cooperation Dirk Niebel. And the number is increasing. Niebel said he is most concerned about a "belt of fragility" from Guinea-Bissau in West Africa across the Sahel to Somalia in East Africa. This belt is spreading farther south and provides fertile ground for terrorists and extremists.
Niebel, de Maiziere and Westerwelle at the press conference
Photo: Adam Berry/dapd
The three ministries will work more closely together in future
In an attempt to stop the trend, the German government has developed a new policy which crosses ministry boundaries and which has resulted in new guidelines, which were approved by the cabinet on Wednesday. The foreign ministry, the defense ministry and the ministry for economic cooperation will work together more closely in the future.

Only a combination of different political competencies will work if crises are to be prevented and countries to be stabilized in the long term, Westerwelle said. Cross-ministry task forces have long existed for Afghanistan and Somalia. Now they have also been established for Syria, Sudan and the Sahel.

Modesty and realism required

It's well-known that neither military force, classical diplomacy or development assistance is sufficient by itself to prevent conflict. Development policy has been the most effective weapon against extremism, said Niebel, as it offers the best opportunity to take away the environment in which extremists thrive, but "even with all this money, we cannot create security." To be able to work at all, development workers need a framework secured by the military.

The German policy towards fragile states should also change, Westerwelle said. Rather than reorient German foreign and security policy, it should be supplemented with a "practical action tool," he said. Conflict areas require realistic and pragmatic action, and more attention must be paid to local sensitivities. "We cannot provide stability in fragile states if we only look at the situation from our own perspective," Westerwelle said.

Expectations too high in Afghanistan
German soldiers patrol with Afghan soldiers in Kunduz
Photo: Maurizio Gambarini dpa
Afghanistan is not the best example of how to do it.
"We always do well when we take account of a region's cultural, political and historical understanding of itself," Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. But there are limits: "Although it's not about the export of our system of democracy, we must insist on fundamental respect for universal human rights." For too long, the stability of states had been confused with the stability of governments.

With this new concept, the German government is also drawing conclusions from the decade-long mission in Afghanistan. "In my view, the mission in Afghanistan was not a mistake, but the expectations were too high," de Maiziere said. Niebel is even more direct: "Afghanistan is an example of how it can go wrong, and not the best model of networked security."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

From Gadhafi to Benghazi | Stratfor

By George Friedman
Last week, four American diplomats were killed when armed men attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The attackers' apparent motivation was that someone, apparently American but with an uncertain identity, posted a video on YouTube several months ago that deliberately defamed the Prophet Mohammed. The attack in Benghazi was portrayed as retribution for the defamation, with the attackers holding all Americans equally guilty for the video, though it was likely a pretext for deeper grievances. The riots spread to other countries, including Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, although no American casualties were reported in the other riots. The unrest appears to have subsided over the weekend.

Benghazi and the Fall of Gadhafi

In beginning to make sense of these attacks, one must observe that they took place in Benghazi, the city that had been most opposed to Moammar Gadhafi. Indeed, Gadhafi had promised to slaughter his opponents in Benghazi, and it was that threat that triggered the NATO intervention in Libya. Many conspiracy theories have been devised to explain the intervention, but, like Haiti and Kosovo before it, none of the theories holds up. The intervention occurred because it was believed that Gadhafi would carry out his threats in Benghazi and because it was assumed that he would quickly capitulate in the face of NATO air power, opening the door to democracy. 
That Gadhafi was capable of mass murder was certainly correct. The idea that Gadhafi would quickly fall proved incorrect. That a democracy would emerge as a result of the intervention proved the most dubious assumption of them all. What emerged in Libya is what you would expect when a foreign power overthrows an existing government, however thuggish, and does not impose its own imperial state: ongoing instability and chaos. 
The Libyan opposition was a chaotic collection of tribes, factions and ideologies sharing little beyond their opposition to Gadhafi. A handful of people wanted to create a Western-style democracy, but they were leaders only in the eyes of those who wanted to intervene. The rest of the opposition was composed of traditionalists, militarists in the Gadhafi tradition and Islamists. Gadhafi had held Libya together by simultaneously forming coalitions with various factions and brutally crushing any opposition. 
Opponents of tyranny assume that deposing a tyrant will improve the lives of his victims. This is sometimes true, but only occasionally. The czar of Russia was clearly a tyrant, but it is difficult to argue that the Leninist-Stalinist regime that ultimately replaced him was an improvement. Similarly, the Shah of Iran was repressive and brutal. It is difficult to argue that the regime that replaced him was an improvement.
There is no assurance that opponents of a tyrant will not abuse human rights just like the tyrant did. There is even less assurance that an opposition too weak and divided to overthrow a tyrant will coalesce into a government when an outside power destroys the tyrant. The outcome is more likely to be chaos, and the winner will likely be the most organized and well-armed faction with the most ruthless clarity about the future. There is no promise that it will constitute a majority or that it will be gentle with its critics.
The intervention in Libya, which I discussed in The Immaculate Intervention, was built around an assumption that has little to do with reality -- namely, that the elimination of tyranny will lead to liberty. It certainly can do so, but there is no assurance that it will. There are many reasons for this assumption, but the most important one is that Western advocates of human rights believe that, when freed from tyranny, any reasonable person would want to found a political order based on Western values. They might, but there is no obvious reason to believe they would.
The alternative to one thug may simply be another thug. This is a matter of power and will, not of political philosophy. Utter chaos, an ongoing struggle that leads nowhere but to misery, also could ensue. But the most important reason Western human rights activists might see their hopes dashed is due to a principled rejection of Western liberal democracy on the part of the newly liberated. To be more precise, the opposition might embrace the doctrine of national self-determination, and even of democracy, but go on to select a regime that is in principle seriously opposed to Western notions of individual rights and freedom.
While some tyrants simply seek power, other regimes that appear to Westerners to be tyrannies actually are rather carefully considered moral systems that see themselves as superior ways of life. There is a paradox in the principle of respect for foreign cultures followed by demands that foreigners adhere to basic Western principles. It is necessary to pick one approach or the other. At the same time, it is necessary to understand that someone can have very distinct moral principles, be respected, and yet be an enemy of liberal democracy. Respecting another moral system does not mean simply abdicating your own interests. The Japanese had a complex moral system that was very different from Western principles. The two did not have to be enemies, but circumstances caused them to collide. 
The NATO approach to Libya assumed that the removal of a tyrant would somehow inevitably lead to a liberal democracy. Indeed, this was the assumption about the Arab Spring in the West, where it was thought that that corrupt and tyrannical regimes would fall and that regimes that embraced Western principles would sprout up in their place. Implicit in this was a profound lack of understanding of the strength of the regimes, of the diversity of the opposition and of the likely forces that would emerge from it.
In Libya, NATO simply didn't understand or care about the whirlwind that it was unleashing. What took Gadhafi's place was ongoing warfare between clans, tribes and ideologies. From this chaos, Libyan Islamists of various stripes have emerged to exploit the power vacuum. Various Islamist groups have not become strong enough to simply impose their will, but they are engaged in actions that have resonated across the region. 
The desire to overthrow Gadhafi came from two impulses. The first was to rid the world of a tyrant, and the second was to give the Libyans the right to national self-determination. Not carefully considered were two other issues: whether simply overthrowing Gadhafi would yield the conditions for determining the national will, and whether the national will actually would mirror NATO's values and, one should add, interests.

Unintended Consequences

The events of last week represent unintended and indirect consequences of the removal of Gadhafi. Gadhafi was ruthless in suppressing radical Islamism, as he was in other matters. In the absence of his suppression, the radical Islamist faction appears to have carefully planned the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. The attack was timed for when the U.S. ambassador would be present. The mob was armed with a variety of weapons. The public justification was a little-known video on YouTube that sparked anti-American unrest throughout the Arab world.
For the Libyan jihadists, tapping into anger over the video was a brilliant stroke. Having been in decline, they reasserted themselves well beyond the boundaries of Libya. In Libya itself, they showed themselves as a force to be reckoned with -- at least to the extent that they could organize a successful attack on the Americans. The four Americans who were killed might have been killed in other circumstances, but they died in this one: Gadhafi was eliminated, no coherent regime took his place, no one suppressed the radical Islamists, and the Islamists could therefore act. How far their power will grow is not known, but certainly they acted effectively to achieve their ends. It is not clear what force there is to suppress them. It is also not clear what momentum this has created for jihadists in the region, but it will put NATO, and more precisely the United States, in the position either of engaging in another war in the Arab world at a time and place not of its choosing, or allowing the process to go forward and hoping for the best. 
As I have written, a distinction is frequently drawn between the idealist and realist position. Libya is a case in which the incoherence of the distinction can be seen. If the idealist position is concerned with outcomes that are moral from its point of view, then simply advocating the death of a tyrant is insufficient. To guarantee the outcome requires that the country be occupied and pacified, as was Germany or Japan. But the idealist would regard this act of imperialism as impermissible, violating the doctrine of national sovereignty. More to the point, the United States is not militarily in a position to occupy or pacify Libya, nor would this be a national priority justifying war. The unwillingness of the idealist to draw the logical conclusion from their position, which is that simply removing the tyrant is not the end but only the beginning, is compounded by the realist's willingness to undertake military action insufficient for the political end. Moral ends and military means must mesh.
Removing Gadhafi was morally defensible but not by itself. Having removed him, NATO had now adopted a responsibility that it shifted to a Libyan public unequipped to manage it. But more to the point, no allowance had been made for the possibility that what might emerge as the national will of Libya would be a movement that represented a threat to the principles and interests of the NATO members. The problem of Libya was not that it did not understand Western values, but that a significant part of its population rejected those values on moral grounds and a segment of the population with battle-hardened fighters regarded them as inferior to its own Islamic values. Somewhere between hatred of tyranny and national self-determination, NATO's commitment to liberty as it understood it became lost. 
This is not a matter simply confined to Libya. In many ways it played out throughout the Arab world as Western powers sought to come to terms with what was happening. There is a more immediate case: Syria. The assumption there is that the removal of another tyrant, in this case Bashar al Assad, will lead to an evolution that will transform Syria. It is said that the West must intervene to protect the Syrian opposition from the butchery of the al Assad regime. A case can be made for this, but not the simplistic case that absent al Assad, Syria would become democratic. For that to happen, much more must occur than the elimination of al Assad.

Wishful Thinking vs. Managing the Consequences

In 1958, a book called The Ugly American was published about a Southeast Asian country that had a brutal, pro-American dictator and a brutal, communist revolution. The novel had a character who was a nationalist in the true sense of the word and was committed to human rights. As a leader, he was not going to be simply an American tool, but he was the best hope the United States had. An actual case of such an ideal regime replacement was seen in 1963 in Vietnam, when Ngo Dinh Diem in Vietnam was killed in a coup. He had been a brutal pro-American dictator. The hope after his death was that a decent, nationalist liberal would replace him. There was a long search for such a figure; he never was found. 
Getting rid of a tyrant when you are as powerful as the United States and NATO are, by contrast, is the easy part. Saddam Hussein is as dead as Gadhafi. The problem is what comes next. Having a liberal democratic nationalist simply appear to take the helm may happen, but it is not the most likely outcome unless you are prepared for an occupation. And if you are prepared to occupy, you had better be prepared to fight against a nation that doesn't want you determining its future, no matter what your intentions are. 
I don't know what will come of Libya's jihadist movement, which has showed itself to be motivated and capable and whose actions resonated in the Arab world. I do know that Gadhafi was an evil brute who is better off dead. But it is simply not clear to me that removing a dictator automatically improves matters. What is clear to me is that if you wage war for moral ends, you are morally bound to manage the consequences.

Read more: From Gadhafi to Benghazi | Stratfor 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Attack of the Drones - People & Power - Al Jazeera English

As governments are increasingly relying on drones, what are the consequences for civil liberties and the future of war?
 Last Modified: 19 Jul 2012 05:01
The US government’s growing reliance on aerial drones to pursue its war on al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere is proving controversial – as evidenced by the international reaction to recent drone missile attacks along the border with Pakistan. But Barack Obama’s administration is undeterred, favouring the technology more and more because it reduces the need for American troops in those countries and the risk of politically unpalatable casualties.

“He probably thinks this is already a controversial war,” says Christ Klep, an international relations analysts at the University of Utrecht. “I’d better not endanger my pilots and my special forces, so what else do I have? Unmanned aerial vehicles? Deploy them.”

But the strategy is giving rise to anxieties that conflict is becoming just a big computer game, in which ‘desk pilots’ in air conditioned bunkers far from the battlefield can kill a few enemy fighters and then go home to their families, remote from the human consequences of their actions or the anguish of associated civilian casualties.

Nevertheless, Ko Colijn, a security expert at the prestigious Clingendael Institute, says that the technology is here to stay.
“In a way the Americans reached a turning point in 2009, 2010. They trained more screen pilots than pilots physically inside an aircraft. And they purchased more unmanned planes than manned ones, which is not surprising since they’re much cheaper,” he says.

However the Americans are not the only ones using drones. More than 40 countries are believed to be working with unmanned aircraft and even Iran claims to be developing its own version – perhaps based on a captured US spy drone it downed last year and then proudly displayed to the media.
Nor are the current crop of unmanned military aircraft the only manifestation of this disturbing new trend. Already in production are aerial drones that can independently acquire and attack targets or work together in swarms over hostile territory and earthbound battlefield drones that can either accompany ground troops or be sent alone into especially dangerous areas. Some commentators fear it all adds up to a new tech-driven arms race.

The use of drones is becoming more widespread in civilian circles too – not least as a key law and order tool in the fight against crime. In June this year, for example, police in the British city of Manchester used one to track down a suspected car thief; in the Netherlands an arsonist was caught after being identified on a drone camera. And in Zurich, Switzerland, scientists have been developing flying robots for use in the construction industry. In demonstrations they will happily show how a few small drones, working at impressive speed, can lift heavy concrete blocks into place on a complex tower structure – a process that would otherwise necessitate scaffolding and dozens of human workers.

But the technology also gives rise to worrying questions about snooping and invasion of privacy – and not merely because of the actions of government. With private companies in the US and Europe now developing cheap aerial drones that can be controlled with the kind of software used in smart phones, pilotless aircraft just a couple of feet across may soon be commercially available for a few hundred dollars. Imagine then, the images that a paparazzi photographer could obtain with a camera drone able to fly over high walls or hover outside windows set atop a multi-storey building.