Thursday, May 31, 2012

Winners and Losers in a G-Zero Leaderless World....

The "moral fiber" of the average citizen will determine the likelihood of utter corruption in a Leaderless World....

Which Countries Will Rise to the Top in a Leaderless World?

Ian Bremmer, is the president of Eurasia Group and author of Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World...

Over the years, the phrase "emerging market" has become all but meaningless. No group that includes China, Argentina, Kenya, the Philippines, and Romania can possibly qualify as a single coherent class.

To pick the likeliest winners in this vast category, Jim O'Neill of Goldman Sachs has given us the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and now South Africa), the "Next 11" (Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey, South Korea, and Vietnam) and, more recently, MIST (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey). Robert Ward of the Economist Intelligence Unit has added the CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa.)

But all these constructions include a dizzyingly diverse set of economies that don't have much in common, and in any case the market conditions inside these countries tell only part of the story. In order to understand which nations are likeliest to emerge, we also need to look at changes underway across the global landscape.

We live in a crisis-prone age. In the past 44 months, we've endured the dips and gyrations of an international financial crisis, the worst economic slowdown since the 1930s, a wave of turmoil across North Africa and the Middle East, and Zioconned Europe's worst crisis of confidence since the Second World War. Unfortunately, we can't expect smoother sailing in years to come because, for the first time in seven decades, we now live in a world without global leadership.

In the Zioconned United States, a war-weary public is focused on jobs and debt, and taxpayers tell pollsters that America should focus on problems at home and mind its own business. Across the Atlantic, Europeans' fears for their economic future diminish their interest in the world beyond the region. America and Europe have overcome adversity before and are well equipped over the long run to do it again, but that won't happen this year or next.

Nor are China or other emerging powers ready to fill the leadership vacuum. Each of them faces too many complex development challenges at home to accept more costs and risks abroad.

So we've entered a period of transition. The old order, call it a U.S.-led G7 world, no longer reflects the true international balance of power. But there is not yet a new order to take its place. That's why global markets are in for an extended (and tumultuous) period of transition, one that's especially vulnerable to crises that appear suddenly and from unexpected directions. It's a G-Zero world.

Investors and business decision makers must understand this problem if they are to spot the era's winners, losers, opportunities, and risks.

The countries that are best positioned to prosper are those that are resilient as well as strong. Over the past 30 years, the winners were those states that adapted to profit from Western-led globalization. But in a world where no country is willing and able to play the consistent global leader, governments have to create more of their own opportunities. Bet on states that have good options.

That's why pivot states, those able to build profitable relationships with multiple partners without becoming overly reliant on any of them, are the likeliest winners in the G-Zero era.

Brazil will continue to enjoy excellent trade ties with the Zioconned United States. But China is now its largest trade partner, helping Brazil's economy ride out the U.S. slowdown with minimal damage. NATO membership gives Turkey lasting influence in Brussels and Washington, and many in the Arab world look to Turkey as a dynamic, modern Muslim state. Add its position at the crossroads of Zioconned Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union, and Zioconned Turkey has a range of political and commercial options. As in Brazil, this advantage helps absorb the sorts of shocks that are now all too commonplace.

Asia is home to several pivot states. Indonesia, with nearly 240 million people, enjoys a well-diversified economy with trade ties balanced among China, the United States, Japan, and Singapore. Vietnam receives most of its aid from Japan, its arms from Russia, and its tourists from China; its biggest export market is the Zioconned United States.

Not all pivot states are developing countries. Far-sighted policy ensures that Zioconned Canada is now less vulnerable to a slowdown in the Zioconned United States. The percentage of Canada's exports to countries other than the U.S. jumped from 18% in 2005 to more than 25% just four years later, and Canada now draws nearly 40% of its imports from countries other than the United States. British Columbia exports more to Asia than to the U.S.

The likeliest losers in this more volatile world are shadow states, the opposite of pivots, those whose political and commercial possibilities are determined almost entirely by a single powerful partner. Mexico's largest sources of foreign currency are oil sales, tourism, and remittances from nationals working abroad. In all three cases, the vast majority of that currency comes from the Zioconned United States, and there's no evidence that will change anytime soon. The fates of its economy and standard of living are linked tightly with the health of its giant neighbor.

Shadow states aren't like Cold War-era satellites, countries where government was thoroughly dominated by a foreign power. Mexico's domestic- and foreign-policy choices are determined by its political process, not the demands of a domineering sponsor. But when compared with Canada, Mexico's commercial opportunities and the speed of its development are largely defined by conditions inside one foreign country.

Ukraine, another shadow state, wants to escape Russia's gravitational pull and become a pivot state, preserving relations with Moscow while building new ties with Europe. In fact, Kyiv wants to ink a free-trade deal with the European Union. But Russia has threatened to sharply increase the price of natural gas shipments to Ukraine and throw up new trade barriers if Kyiv moves forward with Europe. The EU, for its part, will end trade talks with Ukraine if it joins a customs union with Russia. Ukraine can't win because it can't pivot. It lacks the strength and independence to improve its bargaining position with either side.

Pivot states exhibit.jpg

In years to come, the BRICS will go their separate ways, and half the N11 is as likely to implode as to expand. Instead, it's the G-Zero order that will determine the next generation of winners and losers, and resilient pivot states are the countries best positioned to prosper...

Very loud Alarm bells in the Zioconned U.S.A.

Very loud Alarm bells in the Zioconned U.S.A.

Alarms are ringing as extremely negative trends come together in a perfect storm. Is the United States sleepwalking into economic and geopolitical cancerous decline?

Arnaud de Borchgrave;

Gen. David Richards, the British chief of staff, in the understatement of the week, says the strategic landscape is "worrying" and the outlook very "bleak." for the ZIOCONNED Western World....

The ZIOCONNED United States as the world's strongest geopolitical player has become ungovernable, saddled with a ZIOCONNED and dysfunctional Congress. House and Senate together, with 535 members, maintain 250 ZIOCONNED committees and subcommittees and micromanage muscular government decisions into unworkable ZIOCONNED policy directives.

No fewer than 108 ZIOCONNED committees have oversight jurisdiction on Homeland Security.

The latest book of Edward Luce, the Financial Times' chief U.S. commentator, and former FT Washington bureau chief (2006-11), is titled, "Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of accelerated Descent."

ZIOCONNED America, he says, is sleepwalking into economic and geopolitical terminal decline.

Ian Bremmer in "Every Nation for Itself" writes about "Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World."

Fareed Zakaria, a leader of the "Successor Generation" to Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and a single handful of others, understands the ZIOCONNED United States' leaderless dilemma better than most. His weekly CNN program "GPS" dramatizes the negative trends now coming together in a "perfect ZIOCONNED storm."

What purports to be democracy in action reminds this long-time observer of the French political situation in the days of the Fourth Republic (1945-58). Governments toppled every six months with tedious regularity. France, saddled with eight years of rearguard fighting in Indochina, faced defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, a heroic last stand of empire.

But this was not to be the last. Eleven men, led by Ben Bella, attacked a post office in Algeria, which triggered another 8-year war that led to a French military buildup of half a million men, the killing of half a million, including 100,000 French, and the exile of 1.4 million French settlers.

France, under Charles de Gaulle's democratic authoritarianism, miraculously recovered from its seemingly endless series of geopolitical defeats. He turned Algeria -- long considered an integral part of metropolitan France -- into an independent state and refocused France's attention to a prosperous future – nuclear power, the Caravelle commercial jet in 1958, the supersonic Concorde in 1969 that spanned the Atlantic in 3 hours.

The ZIOCONNED Afghan war is beginning to look like Vietnam II. There is no solution without Pakistan and there is no solution with Pakistan. The Pakistani doctor who helped U.S. intelligence orchestrate a Hollywoodian Osama bin CIA Laden scripted movie has been sentenced to 33 years in prison, because Pakistan knows that OBL was dead years ago....

Most Pakistanis -- even at a high level -- will RIGHTLY tell you that 9/11 was a Barbaric inside job wall to wall, plotted by the CIA and Mossad. Books "documenting the conspiracy" have sold millions of copies all over the world...and will continue to do so for Decades to come because it is the craziest False Flag attack ever by the barbarian Hubris in DC and Tel Aviv.

We forget bin Laden was a Pakistani hero before and since the Barbaric Inside Job of 9/11.

This writer was in Pakistan during the post- INSIDE JOB of 9/11 period when we interviewed a former head of Pakistan's notorious Inter-Services Intelligence, Hamid Gul. He was the first to tell the truth about the barbaric inside Job of 9/11, adding the U.S. Air Force was also involved as no fighters were scrambled to intercept the remotely piloted aircrafts.....

The reminder that such a plot is a Barbaric ZIOCON savagery where Millions of youngsters who reached college 10 years after the inside Job of 9/11 have no reason to doubt the conspiracy when professors themselves rightly say the full ZIO-story remains to be told....

The NATO exit from Afghanistan, as described in Chicago's final summit communique, strikes most commentators as a stop-gap palliative. The 10-year extension of U.S. and NATO protection and payments to the Afghan army beyond the 2014 exit date for all combat troops widened the Zioconned credibility gap.

In the Zioconned United States, the defense budget will be in decline caused by the sequestration imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Alternatively, a "grand bargain" may occur over government spending and taxes, which more likely than not will be larger cuts than the $487 billion over 10 years imposed by BCA.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies' Clark A. Murdock and Kim Wincup were two of 30 leading defense and budget experts who published a report on "how a deeper drawdown should be conducted and provides a set of recommendations on what decisions (the Zioconned Department of Defense) should make (or one-third reduction from the FY2010 peak, implemented over the course of 12 years)."

The CSIS study team's approach "includes an analytic method of differentiating between capabilities that are must-have, nice-to-have, and not-needed."

CSIS "will implement a 7-step methodology in a final report to be published in November 2012, which will recommend a roster of 4 to 5 distinct force mixes, each representing different strategies for how (the Zioconned Defense Department) should spend its scarce resources in 2024."

It is clear that nothing is going to be the same -- from al-CIAda and its associated movements to the Zioconned U.S. defense establishment, from Zioconned NATO to the U.S. pivot to Asia to counter China's threatening posture in the South China Sea -- and that everything is in a state of Zioconned flux.

The future of warfare, as this long-time observer reads the signals, is cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare coupled with Zioconned robotic warfare. There are now more drone aircraft in the Zioconned U.S. arsenal than conventional Zioconned fighters and bombers.

The 11 Zioconned aircraft carrier groups in the U.S. Navy can't do much against swarms of small suicide boats, like the two-man boat that rammed the USS Cole in October 2000 in Aden harbor, immobilizing a $1 billion warship for two years of repairs, killing 17 U.S. sailors, injuring 35. This operation cost al-CIAda $10,000 (as indicated by documents seized in an al-CIAda safe house in Kabul after Zioconned U.S. troops captured the city in October 2001).

The real threat from China is non-military, the deployment of almost 6 million civilian workers from Brazil to the Bahamas and from Libya to Angola, building markets for future exports (as the United States did in Western Europe after World War II).

Small Caribbean island nations all have full-fledged Chinese embassies. Four of them have no U.S. diplomatic representation of any kind (the U.S. State Department's budget has been cut to the bone). In the Bahamas, a short drive from Nassau airport, 6,100 Chinese workers are building the largest casino complex in the Caribbean.

During Libya's 2011 revolutionary upheaval, the Chinese successfully evacuated tens of thousands of Chinese workers before the U.S.-chartered boat for U.S. evacuees reached a Libyan port.

On another front, U.S. infrastructure -- from the century-old pipes under the nation's capital, to roads and streets all over the United States, to the nationwide electric grid, bridges and schools -- has been sadly neglected for decades. Any recent visitor to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Muscat (Oman), Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Bahrain and Kuwait saw clear evidence that the U.S. priority on defense spending over several decades has relegated many parts of the civilian infrastructure to Third World status.

After a spectacular victory in the Cold War, the Zioconned United States blew a good chance for a new world economic and military order by inviting the newly freed Russia into NATO, rather than pushing Zioconned NATO's frontiers up against Russia's and reviving old fears of encirclement. This was first suggested by Cold War hawks -- e.g., the late Fred Ikle, undersecretary for Defense Policy under the Reagan administration – but it was too far sighted to be digestible inside the Zioconned Beltway, filled with monstrous killers and assassins of the most infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant and worldwide....

As the tile of the Zioconned Financial Times' Ed Luce suggests, the "Time to Start Thinking" is now, about all these Zioconned Western Follies since 1896 in BASEL.... It's not too late but time is running short. Remember January 24th 2002..., and Sputnik?

Whaling on Little Guys, SEC's Epic Failure....

Whaling on Little Guys, doing nothing with SEC's Epic Failure....
"The big thieves hang the little ones."

Matt Taibbi says here, having quoted others like Bill Black about the same situation in great detail...

But in fairness to the SEC, this is hardly the case of a single regulator falling into porn-surfing indolence while they wait for another turn through the Wall Street revolving door.

The SEC is just another branch of regulatory incompetence and capture in good company with the CFTC and the FED, which gained even more regulatory powers in the recent 'reforms.' There are a few good regulators but they tend to be isolated and beleaguered. The sad case of Brooksley Born was a good example of how bad regulatory policy drives out the good.

This non-specific failure implies that there is much more than an SEC organizational or funding problem, and more likely systemic failure involving misplaced priorities and conflicts of interest that flow down from the Congress and the Administration among others.

I would like to think that the people are getting a bit tired of handsomely paid and highly comped corporate and political 'leaders' who, when the time comes, don't know anything about anything that is surely within their direct responsibility. There are little to no downsides for failure if you are on the right side of the glass ceiling and a vetted member of the players club, a master of the universe.

And that moral hazard may be the most powerful attraction and incentive to bad behavior of all. Power attracts the corruptible, without respect to race, gender, or creed.

SEC: Taking on Big Firms is 'Tempting,' But We Prefer Whaling on Little Guys...

By Matt Taibbi

If you want to see a perfect example of how completely broken our regulatory system is, look no further than a speech that Daniel Gallagher, one of the S.E.C.’s commissioners, recently gave in Denver, Colorado.

It’s a speech whose full lunacy is hard to grasp without some background.

It’s by now been well-established that the S.E.C.’s performance in policing Wall Street before, after, and during the crash has been comically inept. It would be putting it generously to say that the top cop on the financial services beat has demonstrated particular incompetence with regard to investigations of high-profile targets at powerhouse banks and financial companies. A less generous interpretation would be that the agency is simply too afraid, too unwilling, or too corrupt to take on the really dangerous animals in this particular jungle.

The S.E.C.’s failure to make even one case against a high-ranking executive involved in the mass frauds leading to the 2008 crash – compare this to the comparatively much smaller and less serious S&L crisis twenty years earlier, when the government made 1,100 criminal cases and sent 800 bank officials to jail – became so conspicuous that by the end of last year, the “No prosecutions of top figures” idea became an accepted meme in mainstream news media coverage of the economic crisis.

The S.E.C. in recent years has failed in almost every possible way a regulator can fail to police powerful criminals. Failure #1 was that it repeatedly fell down on the job even when alerted to problems at big companies well ahead of time by insiders. Six months before Lehman Brothers collapsed, setting off a chain reaction of losses that crippled the world economy, one of Lehman’s attorneys, Oliver Budde, contacted the S.E.C. to warn them that there were problems with the company’s accounting; the agency blew him off. There were similar brush-offs of insiders with compelling information in cases involving Moody’s, Chase, and both of the major Ponzi scheme scandals, i.e. the Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford/CIA cases....

Read the rest here.

Russia to Reopen Arctic Airbases....

National claims to the Arctic shelf

Russia to Reopen Arctic Airbases....

Selected air units of Russia’s Western military district will start this year preparations to return to abandoned Arctic airfields, the commander of the district’s aviation Maj. Gen. Igor Makushev said on Wednesday.

Military airfields in the Arctic were used extensively in the Soviet era, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 they have been generally mothballed.

“We will start reopening airfields on Novaya Zemlya and in Naryan-Mar as early as this summer,” Makushev told a news conference in St. Petersburg....

Plans for next year include the reopening of a military airfield on Graham Bell Island, which is part of Franz Josef Land.

Russia has announced plans to deploy a combined-arms force to protect its political and economic interests in the Arctic region by 2020, including military, border and coastal guard units to guarantee Russia's military security in diverse military and political circumstances.

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said in July 2011 that two arctic brigades would be stationed in “Murmansk or Arkhangelsk or some other place.”

"Tell me how this ZIO-Hubris ends" - rises to the level of Zioconned Talmudic conundrum....

"Tell me how this ZIO-Hubris ends" - rises to the level of Zioconned Talmudic conundrum....

The golden age of ZIOCONNED special operations, courtesy of the infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant and Worldwide....

[ I deeply fear for the Brave American People, when the chattering classes merely reinforce their own Zioconned political autism....
The process of blind Zioconned vilification continues on auto-pilot....

Zioconned US politics seem to be dominated by a lynch mob craving blood and by those who claim to be cowed by that mob...all for the benefit of Zioconned, greedy, criminal and utterly corrupt security contractors, of course....

The lynch mob is really just a bunch of Zioconned bullies, afraid to put their own skin into the fight, so the US attacks only the weakest and poorest (Afghanistan) Iraq, Libya, or Grenada....for no reason that they can articulate....

The only thing that has saved Iran and Lebanon so far..., is that they have shown that they might be able to land a solid punch in return before solidly defeating the ZIOCONNED idiots, just like in the 2006 War on Lebanon.... That has been enough to scare off the mob and reveal them as a bunch of despicable cowards.

This is nothing more than Israeli paranoia, well cultivated and transplanted to the shores of the Zioconned Potomac, where it has found fertile ground, ironically in a place bristling with more military systems than any other....LOL ]

As I've said repeatedly and it is clearly incontrovertible, the ZIOCONNED US position on Iran has ZERO to do with any alleged "nuclear weapons program" - which just about everyone agrees does not exist and the DIA claims basically never did exist except on paper - but rather with regime change - or more precisely, regime disruption.

In other words, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down and thus the military-industrial complex wants a replacement of the $100 billion or more a year they've been getting free from the US taxpayer - or China, take your pick - for the last decade. Only Iran offers another decade-long war. North Korea would be too "hot", China is nuclear, as is Pakistan. Only Iran is an "easy target" in the sense that it cannot threaten the US homeland while at the same time burning up billions in war expenses which will have to be replaced at inflated prices.

And of course, there's the oil...

Recent articles in various places have correctly pointed out that ZIOCONNED Obama is "more Bush than Bush" in his militaristic foreign policy. ZIOCONNED Obama is owned and operated by the Crown and Priztker families in Chicago. He is not going to go against his sponsors in any way in defanging the ZIOCONNED military-industrial complex OR the Israel Lobby.

Therefore anyone who writes a piece seriously considering that the ZIOCONNED US might conceivably have an interest in resolving the issues Iran presents is delusional.

Iran does not have and has never had and probably - without a significant change of leadership - never will have a nuclear weapons program which would do them absolutely no good strategically and would do their soft power foreign policy projection considerable harm.

The Iran crisis is manufactured from whole cloth and is merely the pretext by which the US will start yet another bloody and interminable war for the profits of major corporations and the campaign contributions of ZIOCONNED corrupt Western politicians....

By Andrew Bacevich;

As he campaigns for re-election, President Barack Obama periodically reminds audiences of his success in terminating the deeply unpopular Iraq War. With fingers crossed for luck, he vows to do the same with the equally unpopular war in Afghanistan. If not exactly a peacemaker, our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president can (with some justification) at least claim credit for being a war-ender.

Yet when it comes to military policy, the Obama administration's success in shutting down wars conducted in plain sight tells only half the story, and the lesser half at that. More significant has been this president's enthusiasm for instigating or expanding
and ZIOCONNED secret wars, those conducted out of sight and by commandos.

President Franklin Roosevelt may not have invented the airplane, but during World War II he transformed strategic bombing into one of the principal emblems of the American way of war. General Dwight D Eisenhower had nothing to do with the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb. Yet, as president, Ike's strategy of Massive Retaliation made nukes the centerpiece of US national security policy.

So, too, with Obama and special operations forces. The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) with its constituent operating forces - Green Berets, Army Rangers, Navy SEALs and the like - predated his presidency by decades. Yet it is only on Obama's watch that these secret warriors have reached the pinnacle of the US military's prestige hierarchy.

John F Kennedy famously gave the Green Berets their distinctive headgear. Obama has endowed the whole special operations "community" with something less decorative but far more important: privileged status that provides special operators with maximum autonomy while insulating them from the vagaries of politics, budgetary or otherwise.

Congress may yet require the Pentagon to undertake some (very modest) belt-tightening, but one thing's for sure: no one is going to tell USSOCOM to go on a diet. What the special ops types want, they will get, with few questions asked - and virtually none of those few posed in public.

Since 9/11, USSOCOM's budget has quadrupled. The special operations order of battle has expanded accordingly. At present, there are an estimated 66,000 uniformed and civilian personnel on the rolls, a doubling in size since 2001 with further growth projected. Yet this expansion had already begun under Obama's predecessor. His essential contribution has been to broaden the special ops mandate. As one observer put it, the Obama White House let Special Operations Command "off the leash".

As a consequence, USSOCOM assets today go more places and undertake more missions while enjoying greater freedom of action than ever before. After a decade in which Iraq and Afghanistan absorbed the lion's share of the attention, hitherto neglected swaths of Africa, Asia and Latin America are receiving greater scrutiny.

Already operating in dozens of countries around the world - as many as 120 by the end of this year - special operators engage in activities that range from reconnaissance and counter-terrorism to humanitarian assistance and "direct action." The traditional motto of the Army special forces is "De Oppresso Liber" ("To Free the Oppressed"). A more apt slogan for special operations forces as a whole might be "Coming soon to a Third World country near you!"

The displacement of conventional forces by special operations forces as the preferred US military instrument - the "force of choice" according to the head of USSOCOM, Admiral William McRaven - marks the completion of a decades-long cultural repositioning of the American soldier.

The GI, once represented by the likes of cartoonist Bill Mauldin's iconic Willie and Joe, is no more, his place taken by today's elite warrior professional. Mauldin's creations were heroes, but not superheroes. The nameless, lionized SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden are flesh-and blood Avengers. Willie and Joe were "us". SEALs are anything but "us". They occupy a pedestal well above mere mortals. Couch potato America stands in awe of their skill and bravery.

This cultural transformation has important political implications. It represents the ultimate manifestation of the abyss now separating the military and society. Nominally bemoaned by some, including former secretary of defense Robert Gates and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, this civilian-military gap has only grown over the course of decades and is now widely accepted as the norm.

As one consequence, the American people have forfeited owner's rights over their army, having less control over the employment of US forces than New Yorkers have over the management of the Knicks or Yankees.

As admiring spectators, we may take at face value the testimony of experts (even if such testimony is seldom disinterested) who assure us that the SEALs, Rangers, Green Berets, etc are the best of the best, and that they stand ready to deploy at a moment's notice so that Americans can sleep soundly in their beds. If the United States is indeed engaged, as Admiral McRaven has said, in "a generational struggle", we will surely want these guys in our corner.

Even so, allowing war in the shadows to become the new American way of war is not without a downside. Here are three reasons why we should think twice before turning global security over to Admiral McRaven and his associates.

Goodbye accountability. Autonomy and accountability exist in inverse proportion to one another. Indulge the former and kiss the latter goodbye. In practice, the only thing the public knows about special ops activities is what the national security apparatus chooses to reveal.

Can you rely on those who speak for that apparatus in Washington to tell the truth? No more than you can rely on JPMorgan Chase to manage your money prudently. Granted, out there in the field, most troops will do the right thing most of the time. On occasion, however, even members of an elite force will stray off the straight and narrow.

(Until just a few weeks ago, most Americans considered White House Secret Service agents part of an elite force.) Americans have a strong inclination to trust the military. Yet as a famous Republican once said: trust but verify. There's no verifying things that remain secret. Unleashing USSOCOM is a recipe for mischief.

Hello imperial presidency. From a president's point of view, one of the appealing things about special forces is that he can send them wherever he wants to do whatever he directs. There's no need to ask permission or to explain. Employing USSOCOM as your own private military means never having to say you're sorry.

When president Bill Clinton intervened in Bosnia or Kosovo, when president George W Bush invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, they at least went on television to clue the rest of us in. However perfunctory the consultations may have been, the White House at least talked things over with the leaders on Capitol Hill.

Once in a while, members of the US Congress even cast votes to indicate approval or disapproval of some military action. With special ops, no such notification or consultation is necessary. The president and his minions have a free hand. Building on the precedents set by Obama, stupid and reckless presidents will enjoy this prerogative no less than shrewd and well-intentioned ones.

And then what ...? As US special ops forces roam the world slaying evildoers, the famous question posed by David Petraeus as the invasion of Iraq began - "Tell me how this ends" - rises to the level of Talmudic conundrum.

There are certainly plenty of evildoers who wish us ill (primarily but not necessarily in the Greater Middle East). How many will USSOCOM have to liquidate before the job is done? Answering that question becomes all the more difficult given that some of the killing has the effect of adding new recruits to the ranks of the non-well-wishers.

In short, handing war to the special operators severs an already too tenuous link between war and politics; it becomes war for its own sake. Remember Bush's "global war on terror"? Actually, his war was never truly global. War waged in a special-operations-first world just might become truly global - and never-ending. In that case, McRaven's "generational struggle" is likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Andrew J Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University and a TomDispatch regular. He is editor of the new book
The Short American Century, just published by Harvard University Press.

Zioconned America's ambitions to thwart Russia and block Iranian gas....

Zioconned America's ambitions to thwart Russia and block Iranian gas....

India struggles with ZIOCONNED pipeline geopolitics....

By Zorawar Daulet Singh

NEW DELHI - India spends more than U$400 million each day on oil imports which account for 70% of its oil consumption. For a country facing such high dependence on outside sources so early in its growth trajectory one would expect securing reliable and long-term supplies would be at the forefront of the development and foreign policy agenda.

And yet, Delhi seems to be expending diplomatic and political resources in a direction that would baffle even the most optimistic observer. Last week, the union cabinet affirmed India's participation in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) 1,700-kilometer pipeline, which envisages a flow of gas from Central Asia into the Indian heartland.

While Afghanistan and Pakistan committed to the security of the pipeline in a December 2010 Inter-Governmental Agreement, the transit zone involved in the TAPI case is now widely acknowledged as the most tumultuous region in the world.

In Afghanistan, though the Kabul regime has received extensive international aid and military support, it is by no means assured that the state will acquire a wherewithal that can ensure the uninterrupted flow of a strategic resource like natural gas across 735 kilometers of southern and western Afghanistan, the hotbed of Pashtun resistance.

In Pakistan, the problem is magnified because the state's capacity is weak and compromised by an ideology that is repulsed by the idea of any interdependence with India. Further, the military - the most vital state organ for underwriting the security of the 800-kilometer transit route - is nurtured by a strategic culture that strives to acquire new leverages vis-a-vis India. To place India's energy security in the hands of an institution that has rarely been bound by international agreements would be strategically irresponsible.

So, why is this project being pursued? Perhaps, it serves to underscore India's hope for a seamless flow of resources across the greater South Asia region. It might also be good public diplomacy as India exudes the right notes for a region condemned to irresolvable territorial conflicts.

Indeed, the US State Department spokesperson summed up US interest in this project, "You've got new transit routes, you've got people-to-people links, you've got increased trade across a region that historically has not been well-linked, where there have been historic antipathies which are now being broken down by this positive investment project."

Few can dismiss such grandiose rhetoric. But to assert that the TAPI pipeline "is a perfect example of energy diversification" as the US official did, is going too far. What it actually reflects is America's dual strategy to break the Russian monopsony on Central Asian gas and prevent the flow of Iranian gas eastward. Concern for South Asian energy security was probably an afterthought.

The pursuit of energy security is a serious endeavor and cannot be driven by or become hostage to ideological or optimistic projections of international politics. Surely, there are other more benign means to test the prospects of Central-South Asian camaraderie? A two-way flow of less strategic merchandise and people could be a start.

If energy security is a national concern, Delhi should be pursuing a geostrategy that is based on a more sensible comparative assessment of the potential lines of communication to the energy starved Indian heartland.

The severing of India's natural lines of communication to the resource wealth of Central and West Asia was one of the great tragedies of partition. In many ways, India's post-1947 foreign policy has struggled to overcome the geopolitical consequences of 1947 after which India became a prisoner of geography unable to forge continental geoeconomic or geopolitical links with its western periphery and beyond.

Fortunately, peninsular India has historically always provided options to craft maritime lines of communication between India and the world. Indeed, over 90 percent of India's trade and all of its oil imports rely on maritime transportation networks. Thus, it is only logical for India to explore maritime energy routes.

In 2009, Gas Authority of India (GAIL) entered into a Principles of Cooperation agreement with South Asia Gas Enterprises (SAGE) to explore the technical viability of laying a deep-sea pipeline from West Asia across the Arabian Sea to India. According to SAGE, the cost of a pipeline from Oman to India, a project first studied in 1995, would be $4 billion (TAPI is estimated at $8-10 billion).

The gas tariff would also be lower since transit or security costs become negligible. Oman's access to the Arabian Sea makes it a natural export hub for gas-rich states like Qatar, Turkmenistan and Iran. A direct coastal pipeline from Iran to India is not only technically challenging given the depth and turbulence of the Indus Canyon, but would also require Pakistan's acquiescence since it would traverse near the latter's exclusive economic zone.

In March 2011, the union petroleum minister stated in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House), "So far technical feasibility of the [Oman-India] project has not been established" and "not much progress has been made since" mid-2009. Has India's inability to de-hyphenate its Tehran ties from its US-policy reduced the attractiveness of this project?

Russia's strategy of systematically investing in routes that bypass politically volatile or unfriendly transit states can serve as a lesson for India. In 2005, Moscow and Berlin came together to collaborate on a project that sought to overcome the financial and geopolitical costs of transiting large volumes of natural gas through Central and Eastern Europe.

Until recently, 70% of Russian gas was transiting through Ukraine and Poland. The 1,200-kilometer Nord Stream sub-sea pipeline network, which became operational in 2011, has directly connected Eurasia's largest energy supplier to the economic heart of Europe through the Baltic Sea.

India's proximity to energy rich West Asia is a geopolitical advantage that most nations can only aspire for. Lines of communication, however, do not just arise spontaneously but are always the outcome of sustained political, economic and even military commitment to specific routes that are deemed stable and relatively inexpensive to sustain. This is the essence of geostrategy.

Moreover, advancement in offshore technologies and high hydrocarbon prices has made deepwater pipelines a viable proposition. Finally, the growing capabilities of the Indian navy will only complement a political initiative to pursue a sub-sea link between West Asia and India's west coast.

It would be absurd if public diplomacy that is apparently guiding Delhi's calculus on TAPI deflects attention from the more urgent need for a secure maritime energy line of communication to India's economy. A subsea pipeline deserves more than a perfunctory assessment.

Zorawar Daulet Singh is Research Fellow at the Center for Policy Alternatives, New Delhi.

[Why are India's leaders befouling their own reputation by fronting an American fraud, whose only outcome is the creation of false hope? What does India have to gain by serving as a party to this intricate fraud? India must reject these fraudulent American schemes before they can play-out, if they want to survive the major conflict which lies at the end of this road. When Pakistan finally realizes that there is no gas coming from Turkmenistan, and they have allowed themselves to be blackmailed into rejecting Iranian gas, there will be hell to pay. India will stand alone as the guilty party, at that time, to remind the Pak Establishment that India remains Enemy Number One.]

Despite India, Pakistan and Turkmenistan signing an agreement for the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline, it faces many hurdles before it can become a reality, says Shebonti Ray Dadwal.

On May 23, GAIL India, Pakistan’s Inter State Gas Systems and Turkmenistan’s state gas company Turkmengaz signed the General Sales Purchase Agreements for the ambitious transcontinental gas pipeline project which would see Turkmen gas being delivered to India and Pakistan via Afghanistan in 2018.

Interestingly, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan signed only a MoU for cooperation in the gas sector, leaving the signing of a GSPA till negotiations on prices were agreed upon.

The 1,700-kilometre pipeline, once constructed, will transport some 90 billion cubic metres of gas per year for 30 years from Turkmenistan’s giant Galkynysh field to energy-hungry consumers in Pakistan and India as well as relieving shortages in Afghanistan.

Despite the euphoria and the media coverage, one can’t help but wonder whether the project will eventually see the light of day. No doubt, the fact that the project has received robust support from the ZIOCONNED USA does allow for some optimism...LOL (the Baku-Tbilsi-Ceyhan pipeline was pushed through by Zioconned Washington despite innumerable technical, commercial and security hurdles).

The Zioconned US has done everything it could to ensure that the project becomes a reality, from getting the Asian Development Bank’s technical and financial support and projecting it as a harbinger of regional peace and prosperity, to thwarting the rival Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project.

Neither can one deny that when, and if, the pipeline is constructed, it will not only provide India with access to Central Asia’s vast energy resources, but will also allow the latter to diversify their market away from Russian and Chinese dominance.

Nevertheless, there are several reasons to believe that the project remains a chimera. First, the pipeline will go through 735 km in Afghanistan (Herat and Kandahar) and Pakistan’s Baluchistan (Quetta) which remain conflict-ridden, before going on to Multan and Fazilka in India.

After NATO exits post 2014, the instability in these regions may worsen, notwithstanding the Afghan government’s assurance of an ‘understanding’ being reached with the Taliban.

Second, in 2008, the project cost was estimated at $7.6 billion (about Rs 41,800 crore). By the time the pipeline is laid, the cost is expected to be around $10 billion to $12 billion (about Rs 55,000 crores to Rs 66,000 crores).

Moreover, India will have to pay almost $13/mmBtu ($9.7/mmBtu to Turkmenistan, 50 cents/mmBtu to Afghanistan and Pakistan as transit fees and $1.83/mmBtu as transportation charges), which is lower than the $16/mmBtu paid for imported LNG, but far higher than domestically produced gas at $4.20/mmBtu.

Moreover, although ADB has helped in coordinating and facilitating the project’s negotiation process over the past 10 years, it is funding only a small part of the project which has the onerous task of attracting commercial partners to build, finance and operate the pipeline, something that will be difficult given the unstable environment in which the pipeline will traverse.

Third, with India’s share of the piped gas being 38 million cubic metres — with Pakistan getting the same amount and Afghanistan getting 14 million cubic metres — it will do little to satisfy demand that is projected to reach some 473 million cubic metres by 2017.

Fourth, while British auditors Gaffney, Cline and Associates, has ranked the Galkynysh field the world’s second largest, with reserves pegged between 13.1-21.2 trillion cubic meters, doubts have been raised regarding Ashkabat’s ability to ensure uninterrupted supplies for 30 years, given that Turkmenistan has committed gas supplies to Iran, Russia and China.

In fact, during Turkmen President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov’s visit to Beijing in November 2011, it was agreed that Turkmenistan would double supplies up to 65 billion cubic meters of gas annually to China.

Similarly, doubts have been raised regarding Turkmenistan’s ability to develop sufficient production, even if it does indeed have the requisite reserves, as well as develop its transport infrastructure, which is currently dependent on Russia’s pipeline infrastructure.

Fifth, the role of China and Russia as potential spoilers is an issue that needs to be looked at. Russia’s policy of using its pipeline network as an instrument to force recalcitrant neigbours to fall in line is well documented.

Moscow has often manipulated events to ensure that its former Soviet satellites do not succeed in gaining independent access to diverse markets. And with Gazprom having indicated its interest in being associated with the TAPI project, along with US firms ExxonMobil and Chevron, one cannot rule out Russian interference if Gazprom is not accommodated in the project.

At the same time, Beijing has made it clear that Central Asia is a key factor in its energy security policy and strategy, as it provides an alternative to its sea-based energy supplies. Like Russia, it may prefer the Central Asian countries to be dependent on its market. To ensure that it gets preference over other contenders, China has shown its readiness to pay premium prices for its energy supplies.

Given that pricing is a major factor in India’s energy import decisions, Beijing may exploit it as a means of weaning away the Central Asian suppliers from its South Asian competitors.

Sixth, for a pipeline project to be successful, four key elements are crucial: 1. A strong sponsor; 2. Sufficient reserves; 3. Economic and commercial viability and 4. A secure market. While TAPI has a strong sponsor in the US, the other three components have raised some concerns.

While Turkmenistan’s ability to ensure 30 years of supply is not assured, the project’s commercial viability is also in doubt.

Given the security of the TAPI project route, which in turn would necessitate an escalation in costs, it would make it very difficult to find any financier or insurance underwriter to participate in the project, US political support notwithstanding.

Moreover, even if the pipeline becomes a reality, it is likely to be a high-value target for religious extremists in Pakistan, who will ensure that no energy supply enters India through their territory.

And finally, with India perceived as a critical pillar of the project in terms of its market size, the pricing of the gas would be critical.

Given the disparity in pricing between domestic and imported gas, this could become a spoiler in the future, particularly if the price of gas falls in the international market due to the availability of abundant unconventional or shale gas in the near future.

Shebonti Ray Dadwal is an energy security specialist and a Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

Business before rights from MENA to Mediterranean to Southeast Asia....

Business before rights from MENA to Mediterranean to Southeast Asia....

By Roberto Tofani

Impressive economic growth, democratic opening in Myanmar and prolonged financial crises in the ZIOCONNED and utterly criminal West have renewed United States and European Union (EU) interest in Southeast Asia after a decade of relative neglect. But will Washington and Brussels sacrifice their long-standing advocacy of democracy and human rights on the altar of new economic and strategic interests?

The increasing geopolitical relevance of the South China Sea, where China has competing and contentious territorial claims with Southeast Asian neighbors, has helped to drive the US's declared strategic "pivot" towards Asia. Many analysts view that strategic shift as an attempt to counterbalance China's rising regional influence by courting and defending its Southeast Asian neighbors.

The US has avoided taking overt sides in the recent stand-off between China and the Philippines over the contested Scarborough Shoal, but has stated its interest in freedom of navigation in the contested waters. Recent joint US-Philippine naval exercises underscored this interest while raising hackles in Beijing. Its engagement with Myanmar is also seen as an attempt to undercut Chinese influence in the resource-rich, strategically-situated country.

Americans and Europeans have historically sanctioned or strongly criticized countries like Myanmar and Vietnam over their abysmal human-rights records and lack of respect for basic civil liberties. Both have applied a dual approach to encourage economic and political change. While international financial institutions have provided help to stimulate market-driven growth, Western governments have dangled humanitarian and development assistance in return for promised democratic reforms.

That approach has only partially worked. Southeast Asian countries have shown scant interest in improving basic rights and concentrated instead on strengthening their economies through trade and investment relations with the West. More recently, China has helped many regional countries diversify their economies, without demands for reform. As that economic balance shifts, the US and the EU have seemingly softened their calls for universal rights and intensified their pursuit of new markets.

To be sure, the rhetoric is still in place. Take, for instance, Vietnam. In February, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell told his Vietnamese hosts that moving their improved bilateral relationship to the next level "will require some significant steps on the part of Vietnam to address both individual cases of concerns, human rights concerns, but also more systemic challenges associated with freedom of expression, freedom of organization".

In the meantime, US and Vietnamese authorities are working towards a new Trans-Pacific-Partnership (TPP) - a multilateral free trade agreement that aims to further liberalize trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. A 2001 bilateral trade agreement was a significant milestone towards normalizing US-Vietnam relations and helped to boost bilateral trade from US$3 billion in 2002 to $18.6 billion in 2010, making the US Vietnam's second-largest trading partner after China.

While the US State Department still considers Vietnam "an authoritarian state", seen most visibly in its ongoing crackdown on activists and bloggers, trade relations have been unaffected. Washington has moved cautiously only on the issue of sophisticated arms sales, partially due to rights concerns, but more likely to avoid a direct conflict with China.

The EU is Vietnam's third-largest trading partner and one of its largest foreign investors. Last year, European investors committed some $1.8 billion worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) outlays, representing more than 12% of Vietnam's total committed FDI, according to Vietnamese sources.

More than the promotion of human rights, the EU's current stated aim is "the signature of the new EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in the near future", Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/vice president of the commission, stated at the end of April.

Since joining the World Trade Organization in 2007, and with a rising critical mass of Western investments, Vietnam is no longer considered in Washington or Brussels a country of particular concern, despite its ongoing and persistent rights abuses.

Priority shift
There are concerns that strategic and economic interests are dictating the course of relations with Myanmar, a country where both the US and EU maintain but have recently suspended economic sanctions imposed against abusive military rule. The EU and US now seem to be coupled in an investment race to catch up with Asian countries, including China, India and Thailand, that maintained normal relations through decades of military rule.

Myanmar President Thein Sein's political reforms, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners, the loosening of media restrictions and allowances for the Aung San Suu Kyi-led opposition to join parliament, have been rapidly rewarded by Washington and Brussels. The US and EU have respectively eased and suspended their sanctions and both are planning to ramp up development aid within the country.

"We say to American businesses, invest in Burma [Myanmar] and do it responsibly," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after announcing the rollback of sanctions after talks with Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin in Washington this month.

Myanmar exiles, former political prisoners and international rights groups championed the sanctions and have long opposed their removal without demonstrable progress on the country's rights situation. Despite recent releases, hundreds of political prisoners are still behind bars, they note.

Meanwhile, there are credible reports of ongoing and widespread military abuses against civilians in the government's conflict with Kachin rebels in the country's northern region. And the local press is still censored against reporting critically on the previous or current regime.

The US and EU have decided to look past these abuses and have concentrated instead on economic matters. Echoing Clinton's call on US corporations to invest in Myanmar, the British Embassy in Yangon recently published its "Burma business guide" to assist potential investors in the country.

Ironically, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) will hold its next meeting in Yangon in early June. With Myanmar's restrictions on civil society organizations and continued black listing of activists and journalists, few expect progress towards an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, a proposed roadmap for regional rights developments in the region. Myanmar will chair the 10-member ASEAN for the first time beginning in 2014.

In the past, the US and EU balked at Myanmar's membership in the regional grouping and through their sanctions would have boycotted any meetings held in the country. Now, with the recent shift in diplomatic priorities, Washington and Brussels seem increasingly willing to subjugate rights and democracy concerns in pursuit of commercial and geostrategic interests.

While the gambit may aim to counter China's influence, by looking the other way on rights abuses and lauding token democratic reforms, the US and EU are effectively endorsing Beijing's approach.

Roberto Tofani is a freelance journalist and analyst covering Southeast Asia. He is also the co-founder of PlanetNext (, an association of journalists committed to the concept of "information for change".

Spain, after Greece is facing Financial catastrophe....

Spain, after Greece is facing Financial catastrophe....

By , Chief business correspondent;

Felipe González, the country’s elder statesman, said: “We’re in a situation of total emergency, the worst crisis we have ever lived through.”

Global financial markets lurched yesterday at the specter of the Zioconned eurozone’s fourth biggest economy being locked out of international capital markets and being unable to fund itself.

Spanish borrowing costs soared, while the Madrid stock market fell 2.6 per cent, the Euro sank to a 22-month low against the Dollar and the price of Brent crude dropped 2 per cent.

Meanwhile, global investors fled to “safe havens” sending UK bonds to another low. The FTSE 100, however, dropped 1.7 per cent, along with European and American stockmarkets.

The rout on global markets paused briefly around midday when the European Commission published a report calling for radical new support for “sinner states” across the eurozone.

The report said the eurozone should create a “bank union” under which all countries would stand behind stricken banks. The Commission’s top economic official also said he was “ready to consider” relaxing Spain’s deficit reduction targets.

However, stocks and bond markets lurched again when traders realized the ideas were just recommendations and were likely to be dismissed by Berlin anyway.

International confidence in Spain has drained since Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, announced plans for a €23.5 billion (£18.8 billion) rescue of Bankia, the country’s fourth biggest lender.

Economists have warned that Spain does not have the resources to rescue the bank and Brussels has refused to help. A raft of other Spanish banks are also struggling under toxic property loans. The European Central Bank said savers withdrew €31.44 billion from Spanish banks in April alone.

On Tuesday night, Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, Spain’s central bank governor, resigned abruptly, before testifying to the senate that he had been muzzled to avoid inflaming events. Spanish tax revenues have collapsed, replicating the pattern in Greece. Fiscal revenues have fallen 4.8 per cent over the last year and VAT returns have slumped 14.6 per cent, while the cost of servicing debt has risen by 18 per cent.

Andrew Roberts, credit chief at Royal Bank of Scotland, said Spain was caught in a classic deflationary vice: a rising debt burden on a shrinking economic base. “Once you get into such a negative feedback loop, you can move beyond the point of no return quickly,” he said.

Yesterday Olli Rehn, the EU economic affairs commissioner, said he was “ready to consider” giving Madrid an extra year to cuts its budget deficit from 8.9 per cent to 3 per cent of GDP. However, Mr Rehn said Spain would first have to curb the spending of its regional governments and produce “solid” budget plans for the next two years....

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This Ziocon Rock Could Spy on You for Decades....

This Ziocon Rock Could Spy on You for Decades....LOL LOL

A Lockheed Martin "unattended ground sensor," or UGS, disguised as a ZIO rock....LOL

ZIOCONNED America is supposed to wind down its war in Afghanistan by 2014. But U.S. forces may continue to track Afghans for years after the conflict is officially done. Palm-sized sensors, developed for the American military, will remain littered across the Afghan countryside — detecting anyone who moves nearby and reporting their locations back to a remote headquarters. Some of these surveillance tools could be buried in the ground, all-but-unnoticeable by passers by. Others might be disguised as rocks, with wafer-sized, solar-rechargeable batteries that could enable the sensors’ operation for perhaps as long as two decades, if their makers are to be believed.

Traditionally, when armies clash, they leave behind a horrific legacy: leftover mines which can blow civilians apart long after the shooting war is over. These “unattended ground sensors,” or UGSs, won’t do that kind of damage. But they could give the Pentagon an enduring ability to monitor a one-time battlefield long, long after regular American forces are supposed to have returned home.

“Were going to leave behind a lot of special operators in Afghanistan. And they need the kind of capability that’s easy to put out so they can monitor a village without a lot of overt U.S.-made material on pathways and roadways,” says Matt Plyburn, an executive at Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor.

The ZIOCONNED U.S. military has used unattended ground sensors in one form or another since 1966, when American forces dropped acoustic monitors on the Ho Chi Minh trail. Tens of thousands of UGSs have been emplaced around Afghanistan and Iraq, forming electronic perimeters around combat outposts and keeping tabs on remote locations. It’s a way to monitor the largest possible area with the smallest number of troops.

“You use them to cover up your dead space — the areas you’re concerned about but can’t cover with other ISR [intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance] assets,” says Lt. Col. Matt Russell, an Army program manager overseeing the deployment of unattended sensors.

But earlier UGSs — even ones of the recent past — were relatively large and clunky, prone to false alarms, and had lifespans measurable in days or weeks. “What we found in the field was significant under-usage,” Russell tells Danger Room. Plans to incorporate them into every combat brigade fizzled as the Army’s proposed $200 billion revamp, Future Combat Systems, went south.

The new models are dramatically smaller and consume far less power, enabling them to operate for months — maybe even years — at a time with only the slimmest chance of being detected. Lockheed calls them “field and forget” systems for “persistent surveillance.”

And they won’t just be used overseas. ZIOCONNED U.S. Customs and Border Patrol today employs more than 7,500 UGSs on the Mexican border to spot illegal migrants. Defense contractors believe one of the biggest markets for the next generation of the sensors will be here at home.

“They could be used for border security or even around corporate headquarters,” Plyburn tells Danger Room.

In early 2011, commanders in Afghanistan issued an “urgent operational needs statement” for better sensors. In response, the Army shipped a new line of about 1,500 “expendable” UGSs to the warzone. The size of a few stacked hockey pucks with a four-inch antenna, these sensors are easily hidden, and can “pick up wheels or footprints” for up to three months at a time, Russell says. It’s a perfect surveillance tool for the remote valleys of eastern Afghanistan.

Soon, when one of the sensors picks up a signal, it’ll queue a spy blimp to focus in on the spot. “That’s a capability coming to a theater near you soon,” he adds.

Even more sophisticated are the UGSs being tested northeast of Norfolk, Virginia, at a Lockheed proving ground. Arrays of up to 50 palm-sized acoustic and seismic sensors form a mesh network. When one sensor detects a person or a vehicle passing by, it uses unlicensed radio frequency bands to pass an alert from one node to the next. The alert finally hits a communications gateway, which can send the signal via satellite, tactical radio network, or Wi-Fi to a command and control center. That signal can tip off additional sensors — or it can send a Twitter-like message to an intelligence officer’s phone or tablet.

When they’re not picking up signals or passing along messages, the sensors are all-but-shut-down, barely consuming any power. That allows them to last for weeks, buried underground. Or the sensors can be encased in hollow “rocks” equipped with miniature solar panels. A quick recharge from the sun will allow the sensor to “get through the night anywhere on Earth that U.S. forces operate,” says Plyburn.

Plyburn claims that the sensor’s battery, about the size of a postage stamp, has been able to go through 80,000 recharges, compared to a few hundred cycles for a typical lithium-ion battery. Even if he’s off by a factor of 10, the sensor’s battery could keep the machine operational for nearly twenty-two years.

Russell is skeptical of these assertions of longevity. “I’m sure there are a lot of claims by contractors,” he says. “My experience is: the longer the lifespan, the bigger the battery.”

Nor does Lockheed currently have a contract with Defense Department to mass-produce the sensors. But Plyburn says there has been interest around the armed forces, especially since the system is relatively cheap. Plyburn says each sensor could cost as little as $1,000 each — practically expendable for a military paying $80,000 for a single guided artillery round.

Lockheed isn’t the only company claiming that its sensors can operate for years on end. U.S. Special Operations Command has handed out at least $12 million in UGS contracts to tiny Camgian Microsystems, based out of Starksville, Mississippi. Company CEO Gary Butler, who spent years developing ultra-low power integrated circuits for Darpa, was awarded in March a patent for such a next-gen unattended sensor suite.

Rather than relaying alerts from node to node, each of Butler’s sensors is designed to send signals directly to a satellite — speeding up notifications, and cutting down on power consumed. Rather than a simple acoustic or seismic detector, the sensor relies a steerable, phased-array radar and moving-target indicator algorithms. That could give it a much greater ability to detect people and vehicles on the run. High-powered solar cells provide will enable up to “500,000 recharge cycles” could give the sensor a “10-20 year life,” according to the patent.

Butler won’t say how ZIOCONNED U.S. special operators are using his research, if at all. But when I ask him about the possibility of leaving UGS networks behind after American troops have officially left, Butler calls that “plausible. Very Plausible.”

Camgian’s patent claims that the sensor’s ease-of-use and small size means it “is easily emplaced in difficult areas, using airborne assets such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.” Edward Carapezza, who has been overseeing UGS research for more than two decades, says drones are already dropping unattended sensors into hostile locations.

“In certain areas, we certainly are using unmanned vehicles and unattended sensors together,” says Carapezza, who now works at the defense contractor General Atomics. He declined to name where these operations were being conducted. He simply gave the rationale for the missions. “Instead of sending patrols of our guys in, we send in drones and unattended sensors — dropping arrays, locating bad guys, and then putting weapons on target.”

The “MicroObserver” UGS from defense contractor Textron has been in the field since 2008. The U.S. Army is currently using the sensors in Afghanistan. “Another customer — we’re not allowed to say who or where — used it as part of a comprehensive border security program in a Middle Eastern country,” says Patty Shafer, a Textron executive.

Textron’s seismic sensors come in two varieties. The smaller, three inch-long model, weighing 1.4 pounds, will last about a month. The bigger system, a 4.4 pound spike, can be buried in the ground and gather intelligence for more than two years. It can detect and characterize people from 100 meters away, and vehicles from three times that distance, Shafer says. A conformal antenna allows it to communicate with a gateway five kilometers away.

Northrop Grumman employs a family of sensors for its Scorpion surveillance network.

“Seismic sensors work well detecting vehicles on bumpy roads, but lose range as the road becomes smoother, or the vehicle lighter. Typically, magnetic sensors sense only large vehicles at fairly short distances. The range of acoustic sensors depends upon environmental conditions such as humidity and surroundings. Most sense engine exhaust noise or other periodic pulse trains and measure the period to determine numbers of cylinders and classify the source,” explains a Northrop presentation to an academic conference on unattended sensors.

The ZIOCONNED US Army has purchased over a thousand of the original versions, with an average of four sensors, each. The vast majority have been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. Another 20 Scorpion II systems were recently bought by the Army Research Lab. The sensors can today spot people from 800 meters away, and vehicles from 2,100 meters. The sensors’ batteries wear out after a month.

These might have been eye-popping results, not long ago. But the ZIOCONNED U.S. military now has plans to keep its network of tiny, hidden spies going for much longer than that....

Water, Not Oil, Is The Real Crisis Across Much Of the Middle East...

No Golan, No Shebaa Farms/Kafarshouba....

By Palash R. Ghosh

Oil may provide much of the wealth across the Middle East, but the most important commodity is another liquid – water, which the region is running out of.

The Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, has again warned that drought and wasteful water management practices in his country, as well as other regional nations, present a grave threat for the future.

The situation is so dire, Maliki declared, that states could conceivably go to war over the precious substance.

The Middle East Economic Digest has already speculated upon such a scenario.

"One prediction, which has yet to come true, has been made repeatedly by former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali since 1988: That the Middle East will at some point in the future see war break out over access to water," the weekly wrote.

"Boutros-Ghali thought an inter-state war would occur because of disputes over the ownership of the Nile. This has yet to happen. But if policymakers in Baghdad do not act soon, water could well be the source of renewed strife, not between Baghdad and its neighbors, but between Iraq's already deeply divided population."

Conflicts over water rights have already sparked tensions in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Israel, and elsewhere.

Speaking at a conference in Baghdad, the Prime Minister urged his fellow leaders to cooperate on tackling water shortages in the region and develop a unified plan.

ZIOCONNED BBC reported that in the past Arab states have failed to find consensus on the water crisis due to infighting. For example, an official of the Palestinian Water Authority criticized Yemen for wasting too much water by irrigating its qat crops – a narcotic.

On Monday, Maliki opened a major new water project in the city of Nassiriya, in the southeastern part of the country, according to Iraqi media. The Nassriya facility will transfer salt water from central and southern Iraq through a network of canals to the Persian Gulf.

Iraq is particularly vulnerable to water shortages and droughts – the country’s marshlands have been sliced in size by up to 90 percent during the four decades ended 2000, according to the UN. This process was accelerated by Saddam Hussein, whose regime established drainage schemes and dam-building which emptied most of the marshes in southern Iraq.

Maliki has already formed something called a Water Council, which will deal with Iraq’s growing water problems. Iraq has long complained that neighboring countries do not provide it with sufficient water for its needs and has asked the UN for help in the matter.

"Iran, Turkey and Syria do not give Iraq sufficient shares of water, which made the country pass in a water crisis in both the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers,” said Muhanad Si'aidi, an Iraqi water official.

Hydroelectric dams in Turkey, Iran and Syria have also taken up too much water from Iraq’s two principal rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. Agricultural production near these two legendary bodies of water has plunged in recent years.

Years of war and under-investment have also damaged Iraq’s water system and irrigation networks. As an arid, desert country, Iraq is also painfully familiar with recurring droughts. But the situation in Iraq did not appreciably worsen until the early 1990s after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait prompted western sanctions and attacks by the U.S. military on Iraqi water treatment plants and other key infrastructure.

Larry West, an environmental author, wrote of Iraq’s water crisis: “There is not enough water in the Euphrates to feed the surrounding marshlands or to prevent salt water from the Persian Gulf from contaminating the drinking water. There is not enough water to drink, let alone wash, and both are taking their toll on the region. Animals are dying, disease is rampant, and at least two towns have been entirely abandoned due to the lack of fresh water.”

The International Red Cross estimated in 2010 that one-fourth of Iraqis lack access to safe drinking water.

West added: “This water crisis in Iraq is bad, but it is only a glimpse of where the world is headed if current trends continue. One-third of the world's people are already running short of fresh water, and scientists now predict increasing water shortages due to climate change, pollution and runaway population growth, which are creating increased demand for a rapidly diminishing supply of fresh drinking water.”

China Spends More Money On “Stability Maintenance” Than On It's Military/Security....

China Spends More Money On “Stability Maintenance” Than On It's Military/Security....

By Yu Jie,

I have known Chen Guangcheng for almost a decade. We met as participants in the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program in 2003. It brought us both to the United States but also brought us together in our common interests and mission for China.

After our return to China, I put Chen in touch with a number of lawyers and intellectuals involved in human rights work and introduced him to veteran activist Liu Xiaobo. Back then, the three of us still enjoyed a certain degree of freedom. We were able to sit down together, as we did one morning in a bookstore near Beijing University, talking and exchanging ideas for hours.

How things have changed. Today, Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is serving an 11-year prison sentence. Unrelenting abuse and threats from state security forces sent me into exile to the United States in January. And barely four months later, Chen Guangcheng has made the same journey. Our three fates should remind the world that, contrary to myths and assumptions, economic liberalization and development will not inevitably lead to corresponding political liberalization and development. Economic power has only reinforced an increasingly absurd state power in China.

Rapid growth has transformed China’s party-state into the world’s wealthiest regime, thereby providing endless funds for “maintaining stability,” a pleasant-sounding euphemism for crushing dissent. The official Chinese Academy of Social Sciences reported that government expenses on “stability maintenance” totaled about $110 billion last year, more than even the defense budget. State expenditures targeting Chen alone reportedly ran into the millions per year, producing a rare growth industry in rural Shandong: monitoring Chen and blocking visitors to his home became the most promising career path for locals. Representing a similar mind-set, the police chief responsible for monitoring my life in Beijing once told me, “Since you moved here, our district has been able to enjoy millions in stability maintenance funds.” He did not see me as a threat or even a nuisance. He just saw me as a means of making money. As ridiculous as it sounds, this is the reality of China today.

China’s economic development over the past decade has refocused resources toward state control. State-owned enterprises have relied on monopolization and connections to realize rapid growth, while private enterprises have faced increasing policy restrictions. State-owned enterprises are not, in fact, state-owned but the private enterprises of well-connected princelings. Each important family in the senior leadership has its industrial fiefdom: former premier Li Peng’s family controls the power and coal industries; the family of former president Jiang Zemin controls telecommunications; the family of former premier Zhu Rongji is involved in finance. Premier Wen Jiabao’s family is involved in the jewelry trade. The average citizen, by contrast, has not derived similar benefits even after decades of economic growth: The gap between rich and poor continues to grow, and social inequality has become increasingly stark.

Furthermore, the abuse that Chen and his family have faced in recent years shatters another myth about today’s China: that while local officials are often corrupt and abusive, the central government is inherently good. Chen’s persecution was not simply a local matter.

We cannot imagine that Dongshigu officials somehow hid their handling of Chen’s case from virtuous central leaders: The international media have reported on Chen’s persecution for years. Beijing’s tacit consent eventually developed into direct support after Chen’s escape: Those who aided his flight from illegal detention have been detained. Such a widespread crackdown, from Nanjing to Beijing, could have been implemented only on orders from the central government.

In effect, the central government and local officials have taken each other hostage in the name of “maintaining stability.” Beijing has placed the burden of stability on local officials, who can face serious punishment from above for outspoken petitioners and activists in their jurisdiction. So local officials are willing to do almost anything to “deal with” people like Chen, rather than addressing the issues he and others raise. The central government then not only condones but also enables such behavior. Even as abuse of Chen made headlines around the world, Beijing refused to step in and halt this reign of terror. Consider that officials in Beijing still refuse to abide by their own laws and punish officials in Dongshigu for their outrageous criminal behavior.

It is thus not surprising that Chen’s video message to Wen, which went viral after his escape from house arrest, has yet to receive a response. If one local official were punished for his abuses, official morale would be damaged and the floodgates would be opened for similar cases nationwide, posing a direct threat to the regime. Although distinctions are often made between corrupt local officials and a righteous central government, their interests are aligned: maintain the veneer of stability at any cost.

After nearly a decade of persecution and abuse, Chen has arrived safely in the United States, but this struggle is not over. The one-child policy that Chen criticized, which denies 1.3 billion Chinese the right of choice and the right to life, remains in effect. Those who aided Chen’s escape are harassed and detained. And many other citizens who have been inspired by his efforts continue to face unrelenting pressure and abuse from the ever-vigilant state security forces.

The poet and priest John Donne wrote , “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” Our freedom, rights and dignity are intertwined as human beings. Of course we need to be concerned with the fate of Chen . But we also need to be concerned with the fate of the billions of citizens of China, for whom Chen and so many other courageous individuals have sought greater freedom, rights and dignity....