Global Security Headlines

Thursday, February 25, 2010

EU Evaporating

The European Union is sinking.

The fabrication of a faux union of disparate nation states has been a total calamity. The main economic system - statism - is undermining governments from the United Kingdom to Greece.

Unionists poured into the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia on Monday to fiercely oppose the modest cuts in public spending to reduce Spain´s public deficit and move up the retirement age to 67.

In France on Wednesday, unionists hit the streets (Les retraités descendent dans la rue  - Retirees hit the streets) to demand higher retirement payments and maintaining the retirement age at 60. Fresh French unemployment figures from January confirm a total 2.6 million out of work.

Greece, the fulcrum of the current financial crisis threatening to unravel the entire EU, a national strike called by the "des grandes centrales syndicales" (largest unions) led to violent clashes with security forces. The S&P reports another downgrade of Greek debt is possible.

Spain, Greece, and Portugal are not the only three EU member states facing daunting economic problems and rising anger among their citizens.

More countries could violate the 3 per cent deficit limit of GDP imposed by the EU's Stability and Growth pact: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany - the EU's largest economy - Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia.

So, while the whole house of cards, aka European Union, continues to fall, the Brussels Euro-crats have now set sights on another successful American technology company - Google.

By the way, where is the EU's own Google? Just like the Microsoft case in the 1990s, where is the EU's answer to Microsoft? The answer is sending in the lawyers to litigate anti-trust suits. Euro-crats tear down, not build up.

More good news for the EU? Spain, the current EU president, announced a successful conclusion to the controversial and budget-busting  project for its A400M cargo plane. Billions of euros in cost overruns have saved or created probably 10,000 jobs, but at what a cost.

Industrial policy, part and parcel of statism,  is another reason the EU is in the death throes.

Once Greece exits from the euro monetary system, expect an acceleration of European Disunion.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Malvinas Tempest in Teapot

Two issues have thrust the Islas Malvinas back into the diplomatic spotlight: 1) Presidenta Christina Kirchner`s misrule in Argentina and 2) prospects of oil!

Murky History
Las Islas Malvinas, the name in Spanish for the English named Falkland Islands, the wind-swept archipelago inhabited by more seals than settlers in the extreme South Atlantic off the coast of Argentina, is again in the center of a row between Buenos Aires and London.

Las Malvinas originates from the French designation, îles Malouines, reflecting the complicated history of the sparsely populated islands that were the scene of a British victory in 1982 to repel an Argentine invasion by its military dictatorship headed by the late General Leopoldo Galtieri.

According to history of the island group in Spanish,
they "fueron descubiertas en 1520 por Esteban Gómez, tripulante de la nave San Antonio, uno de los barcos de la expedición de Magallanes... las islas pertenecían a España. [were discovered in 1520 by Esteban Gomez aboard the San Antonio, one of the ships part of Magellan`s expedition...the islands belonged to Spain.]" However Spain does not figure into the island dispute at all these days.

But, "navegantes ingleses, holandeses y franceses llegaron a las islas en diversas oportunidades" [English, Dutch, and French ships visited the island various times.] An American warship visited in a reprisal raid against Argentina in 1831 and in 1833 the British re-visited the island. Actually, since 1820, Britain has refused to entertain Argentine claims.

Desperate Distraction
The last card in the deck for the military dictatorship in 1982 and now Presidenta Kirchner is Las Malvinas in an attempt to deflect domestic disquiet.

She has proven less able to govern than her predecessor husband. "Los K," Argentina`s premier power couple for the last decade, have profited handsomly while the average Argentine continues to do with less in their daily lives. As Clarin, a Buenos Aires daily and main opposition newspaper reports, la Presidenta must govern "sin mayorias y sin plata" [ without majorities and without money] given her resounding defeat last July in congressional elections and the moribund Argentine economy under the Kirchnerismo statism.

After confiscating the people`s retirement accounts in 2008, and as the recent hanky panky in the Central Bank standoff shows, Argentina is broke and the governement despearately needs cash to survive.

Statism simply does not work.

Thus, plucking the heart strings of Argentine nationalism given the highly emotional issue of Las Malvinas, Argentina and Los K appear to be nearing their denouement. The political, economic, and social pots are boiling over because the cook has ruined the stew. It is clear la Presidenta does not have the recipe to allow Argentina to regain its vigor.

Despite strong protests from Buenos Aires, oil exploration is set for the waters around the islands.

The exploratoy consortium  project is composed of  Spain`s Repsol, Britain`s BP, and Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro.

Whether the deep waters will yield oil is another question. As the old maxim goes, follow the money. Argentina, in dire economic straits, could see oil money siphoned away from the waters off its coasts.

No War
At the end of the day despite heated press reports on both sides, war is clearly not an option.

Argentina cannot mount a military operation if it wanted.

The United Kingdom can, but the unpopular Brown government cannot countenance any more military moves given commitments in Afghanistan and an imminent election campaign.

The latest "crisis" is much ado about nothing.

Given the advent of oil exploration and perhaps heightened economic significance of the bitter cold islands, it is unlikely the diplomatic stalemate between Buenos Aires and London will be surmounted, certainly not to the satisfaction of the former.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Saudi Arabia - Sanctions on Iran Not Enough

US President Obama's pusillanimous policy toward Iran is bearing fruit.

Iran is steps away from its nuclear breakthrough. US allies on the frontline are more nervous than ever about the Teheran Tyranny.

It was not surprising to learn today, as maybe it was for US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, that Riyadh dismisses sanctions and calls for a muscular approach to the Persian menace across the Gulf.

The 1996 Iranian terror attack in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on the Khobar Towers, killing 19 US soldiers and Saudi civilians still is fresh in the kingdom´s memory. A nuclear Teheran is a nightmare not only for Riyadh, but its neighors throughout the region.

Like US foes, US allies like Saudi Arabia know the true measure of President Obama's mettle in international policy - brittle. He is a pacifist with a warped view of America's role in the world. His policies and actions to this point have only hastened the pronounced US decline in global affairs.

As argued in our Net Assessment:Iran, Teheran will become a nuclear state without Western opposition because of the absence of leadership namely from Washington.

The ghastly prospect of a  nuclear-capable Teheran Tyranny should worry not only Riyadh, but other foreign capitals outside the immediate Gulf region.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

NATO Desperately Seeks a Mission?

How NATO, one the world´s most successful military alliances, has seemingly gone awry.

The trouble in Afghanistan is very severe as underscored by the desperation expressed by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in the Munich Security Conference: NATO Says Russia, China Can Help in Afghanistan.

The SecGen´s news is just stunning. First, why would Russia want to wade back into Afghanistan? "Moscow´s Vietnam War" during the Soviet-era helped bring down the then Soviet Union. NATO does not have adequate helicopters to engage the enemy?

Russia wants to remain only as an observer in NATO now. Its fresh condemnation of US missiles in Romania is a curious development in this vain.

China? Sure, China is in the neighborhood. Yes, Beijing searches to expand the scope and range of its military reach. Does China want NATO to succeed?

Does Mr. Rassmussen believe both Russia and China view NATO benignly?

The Western military alliance which sat across the Fulda Gap between East and West Germany from 1949-1989 to halt a Soviet invasion which never came engaged in another mission far afield from Europe when the United States was attacked on 9/11.

Article 5 of the NATO Treaty states an attack on one is an attack on all. So NATO followed the United States into Afghanistan where it faces its gravest test in the history of the alliance.

Failure in a difficult scenario to secure a peace with a corrupt government and a determined enemy with safe border sanctuary - a la Vietnam - is not an option. The credibility of the alliance and its members governments, notably the United States, United Kingdom, and France are on the line.

 By Rassmussen´s account, NATO appears to be untethered and without a clearly defined mission as if fighting for freedom is not enough to sustain an alliance of democracies in a world generally hostile to this value.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Iranian Space Quest = Emerging EMP Threat ?

Nothing has changed our year-end Net Assessment:Iran. The Teheran Tyranny continues to march - unopposed - to nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to blast Israel and the United States.

However, while Iran´s ballistic missile program draws scrutiny in a recent Pentagon report, the possibility of an alternative use of its growing space launch capability is the mostly ignored threat deserving discussion - EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse). Earlier this month, Iran launched the Kavoshgar (Explorer) 3 rocket demonstrating the Teheran Tyranny´s space prowess and no doubt sending ripples through the global security community.

Our top Strategic Questions of 2010 dealt with Iran: 1. What will the international community do about Iran? 

The US Senate passed S.2799 earlier this month (the US House did a similar measure late last year) expanding the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (since it worked so well!) in the words of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to send "Iran an important message."

Another empty message piles upon the Teheran Tyranny´s foreign affairs desk while a clear objective of Iran´s space quest is firing an EMP weapon over the United States to shut down the electronic and computer-driven country. Coupled with the specter of this crippling blow, as a 2004 report examining the EMP threat stated:

Iran, may also be developing the capability to pose an EMP threat to the United States, and may also be unpredictable and difficult to deter.

Iran cannot be deterred, a central thread throughout GSM´s reporting on the Teheran Tyranny. The Teheran Tyranny must be confronted forcefully, the only message totalitarian regimes respect as demonstrated by world history.  More sanctions are an excuse for inaction by the frankly frightened Western powers.

Last February to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran´s foundation, the Teheran Tyranny launched the Omid (Hope) satellite, marking the first launch ever.

Now, to mark the 31th anniversary, Teheran Tyranny leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warns 'Iran will deliver telling blow to global powers on Feb. 11'. Mr. Ahmadinejad cannot be trusted, but given the negative regime´s technological advances and radical state behavior, his words cannot be idly dismissed either. 

So, what Mr. Ahmadinejad do you have in store for the "great powers" on February 11? Iran has already launched a satellite which was the traditional commemoration. 

How does the Teheran Tyranny top that? Stay tuned.