Global Security Headlines

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 6 Strategic Questions for 2010

Ancient Greek Plato´s teacher, Socrates, created a discipline based on asking the right questions.

For 2010, I pose the following 6 strategic questions concerning global security.

6 Strategic Questions for 2010

1. What will the international community do about Iran?
Iran´s rogue regime is nearing nuclear breakout (see Net Assessment:Iran) and tests ballistic missiles to deliver them at increasing greater ranges. The widespread public unrest over the burial of opposition leader, theGrand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, coincided with the Shia holiday of Ashoura and clashes with government security forces resulted in  many arrests and deaths. Notable is the student unrest, the country´s future. Just like the reaction in October to Mr. Ahmadinejad's fraud-tainted re-election as president, clearly the Iranian street is bubbling over with rage at the regime. The tyrants in Teheran represent a clear and present danger to Iran and the world.

2. Will radical Islamic terrorism wax or wane?
Is the so-called "Christmas Bomber" of Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit an opening shot in a wave of radical Islamic terrorism against Western interests around the world? Ungovernable Somalia and war-torn Yemen make the Horn of Africa region a hot zone haven for terrorists. Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Qaeda Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are active as well. The tyrants in Teheran also figure into the equation given the current regime is Terror, Inc. Radical Islamic terrorism is mostly organized by state sponsors and serves as a proxy to attack larger and more powerful states.

3.  What will China’s recent gains in diplomatic currency portend?
China has risen. The Middle Kingdom´s audacious diplomatic play at the so-called climate change conference in Copenhagen in early December by besting the overmatched US President Obama is more evidence (see "China Can Say No"). China surpassed Germany at the beginning of 2009 to become the third-largest economy in the world and will pass Japan to become the second in 2010. Beijing is claiming the diplomatic power equal to its economic power. Attendant military power and more muscular power projection continues. One weakness is its so-called "soft power" or cultural assertiveness. China offers an alternative to US preeminence and it does not shy away from it.

4.  Will the Nato mission fail in Afghanistan?
Nato is losing in Afghanistan. US President Obama's half-measure of 30,000 more combat troops plus another 5,000 (pledged) from Nato allies is unlikely to turn the tide. Together, the troop contingent is the bare minimum General McChrystal requested for his new strategy. An added worry: Pakistan may yet yield to Taliban and Al Qaeda pressures complicating any scenario for "victory."

5.   Does Castro, Inc. survive?
¿Fin de la Revolución?  Castro, Inc. celebrated the 40th anniversary of its violent overthrow of strongman Batista on January 1 this year. La revolución exchanged one corrupt blood-thirsty strongman for another corrupt blood-thirsty strongman, Fidel Castro. Forty years and absolute power allowed the Castro brothers to amass a vast wealth to the point billionaire Fidel ranked in Forbes list in 2006. This came despite the hated US embargo, el bloqueo (blockade) in Castro Spanish. After a fair wage for the boss, El Jefe, really, how much is left for the proletariat?

Hard times again have hit the regime. The Castro business survived the high drama of the October 1962 missile crisis sparked by Soviet missiles on the island in Mr. Castro´s hot-headed attempt to use Moscow to get revenge on Washington after Bay of Pigs. It muddled through the  período especial (special period) after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the sugar subsidy scheme evaporated.  Castro investments in tourism and sexual exploitation were attempts to earn more hard currency, as if drug smuggling is not enough.Then, El Jefe himself, reaching mortality, "temporarily" passed the baton to brother Raúl. The king stepped aside.

Will the deteriorating status quo hold? Whenever Fidel Castro dies, the pernicious disease of Castroism has been spread to others in the region, but at least the prisoners on the paradisaical island would win the freedom and full meal they deserve if the military moved to save la patría (country).

6. What is next for the European Union?
The EU-27, from the humble beginnings of the European Economic Community (EEC), now ranges from the Atlantic Ocean to the border with Russia. Spain, the "new sick man of Europe," becomes the president for the next six months on January 1. Presidente Zapatero states he hopes to superar la indiferencia de la ciudadanía respecto a Europa (overcome the indifference to Europe). The disconnect between European elites and the citizenry has plagued the EU from the start.

It is the economy, stupid. In the Eurobarometer 72 released this month, 54% of the EU-27 believe the "worse it yet to come" economically. Socialism does not work. That failed economic theory gnaws at the core of the EU´s troubles. Double digit unemployment afflicts the member states. The EU eked out 0.4% growth in the third quarter officially ending the recession on paper. At the close of 2009, Greece emerged as a threat to the euro. There still is no president of Europe. A shared history and the attendant lingering mutual suspicions, an aging population in rigid welfare states, weak military strength and hesitancy to fully support the Nato mission in Afghanistan, energy dependence on Russia and Iran, and a Tower of Babel in diplomacy, all detract from the "union" which appears more like a collection. Add fierce nationalism in the latest round of EU appointments and large nations pitted against smaller nations as even more evidence of disunion.

Happy 2010!
If you need research from open sources in Spanish, French, or Portuguese and presented in a stylish English language report or a translation of documents in said languages to English, please contact Professor Winn at by sending an email to for a prompt evaluation.

No comments: