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World Affairs Councils of America - Alabama World Affairs Council

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Alabama World Affairs Council's Archive:

Notes, 2007-08

These notes by Jeremy Lewis do not represent the views of AWAC, its Board, or other members.

Bret Stephens, key points of speech to AWAC, YouTube, 3'
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revised 8 May '08 with new speaker notes by Jeremy Lewis.

11 September, 2007. Major General USA (Ret) William L. Nash, “The Implications of 9/11 for US Foreign Policy.” Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention at the Council on Foreign Relations.

16 October, 2007. Arthur Herman,“Why Iran Acts the Way it Does.” Author, Coordinator of the Smithsonian's Western Heritage Program.

20 November, 2007. John Pomfret, "The New China." Los Angeles bureau chief for the Washington Post.

15 January 2008, Amb. Chas. Freeman, "The Middle East: U.S. Policy, Oil and Water," President, Middle East Policy Council and Co-Chair of U.S. China Policy Foundation, former Asst. Secretary of Defense for international affairs, and then US ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf war.

8 April 2008. Peter Zeihan,"Iraq: From Beginning to End". Director of Global Analysis, Strategic Forecasting, Inc., or Stratfor, a private intelligence agency.

6 May, 2008. Four Air War College senior instructors report on their trips to visit various hotspots around the world as part of the AWC Regional Studies Program.

11 September, 2007. Major General USA (Ret) William L. Nash, “The Implications of 9/11 for US Foreign Policy.”  Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention at the Council on Foreign Relations. A West Point graduate, he has a distinguished combat record in two wars and peacekeeping experience in Bosnia and Kosovo.  General Nash is a former armored division commander and brigade commander in Desert Storm. After his retirement from the Army, he became the United Nations regional administrator in northern Kosovo.

  • Maps index | Maps of Middle East | Maps of Asia
  • Introduction:
  • service in Vietnam, Bosnia, Kosovo, Princeton U., Senior Fellow of military affairs, Georgetown U.
  • On occasion of Sixth anniversary of 9/11 attacks.
  • Was in Gen. John Vessey chair at Council on Foreign Relations.
  • Prepared Remarks
  • Full spectrum Conflict Management needs to be considered more in US.
  • Before, during & after war.
  • Help countries to recover after wars.
  • Prevention, mitigation and recovery should be central to US foreign policy.
  • Afghan & Iraq.
  • Gen. Petraeus testimony to Congress today, facing tougher questions in Senate than in House, challenged that larger issues obviate his plans.
  • Timetable for withdrawals of troops essentially set by limited resources.
  • Divisions of Shia, Sunni and Kurds.
  • In Kosovo, finding a way for Bosniacs, Serbs to get along, was very difficult progress.
  • Iraqis have had four years of zero sum game, no tradition of compromise.
  • Tactics vs strategy.  Strategy requires sense of objectives.
  • Tony Cordesman, examining the assessment.  Sectarian cleansing not prevented from top of Iraqi govt.
  • Past failures of Iraqi security forces imply difficult task to develop them.
  • Four years make it appropriate to assess the progress.
  • Progress not always visible through media: e.g.
  • During sandstorm in Iraqi invasion, press did not realize there was not a pause – artillery and aviation were pounding enemy during the lull on the ground.
  • Nash told BBC then that needed to assume victory and prepare for the peace.
  • George Marshall example: 90 days after Pearl Harbor he was already preparing for consequences of future victory.
  • Must change the conversation about American foreign policy: US must be seen as a force for justice and development.
  • OBL is talking about global warming and mortgage rates, AIDS – and gathers more support.
  • US politicians are good at that domestically, but not in foreign policy.
  • Building permanent bases while talking about temporary surge.  Appears locally to be hypocritical.
  • We still tend to define problems in military terms instead of political, economic and social.  (US, “DIME”)
  • Question Time:
  • Is even 130,000 troops unsustainable for US army?
  • At best on the margin, because 30,000 only just home, need at least 12 month turn around.
  • There will be 100,000 troops there even on election day 2008.
  • When did Nash change his view of Iraq?
  • Feb. 2003 on CNNI said (even then believing WMD existed) did not see justification for invasion over WMD, or connection to terrorism or 9/11 with Iraq.  [i.e. questioned administration’s casus belli].
  • US is at a strategic disadvantage because of the attack on Iraq.
  • How to stop flow of weapons across Iraqi border?
  • In Bosnia, IDEAM: Isolate, Dominate problem.
  • In Iraq, need to use technology to isolate the problem from outside forces.
  • Distances are vast, British & US zones, Syria on other side.
  • Relations with Iran?  Broaden focus.
  • Clarity of objectives, intentions, towards Iran.  Permanent bases cloud this.
  • What would Nash do today?
  • We will leave Iraq in a deliberate, planned way, down to zero.
  • Any forces remaining would have to be negotiated by agreement with Iraq.
  • Must make progress in other areas as even handed, honest broker in Israel and Palestine.
  • Open up dialog to chop out the knees of OBL.
  • At present the envoy speaking to Iran is the amb. To Iraq – not a high level engagement.
  • How have we handled post conflict in Iraq & Afghan, generally?
  • In Afghan: never committed sufficient forces.
  • Politics come first, security forces only there to support political process.
  • Is it a mistake to arm Anbar’s tribes currently?
  • Sunni tribes only committed against AQ, and does leave potential for conflict with central government.
  • One state with three nations.
  • Tribes run on consensus, hence not an unknown art in arab world.
  • In Saudi, battalions trained from tribes for national army.
  • Iran: Ahmadinejad is a trouble maker but also a flake; we should not bolster his support.
  • AQ in Anbar province, Iraq overplayed their hand with [brutal] enforcement of shariat.

  • Top of Page

    16 October, 2007. Arthur Herman,“Why Iran Acts the Way it Does” coordinator of the Smithsonian's Western Heritage Program. Successful author, college professor, and conservative commentator on current issues. Books include "How the Scots Invented the Western World."
  • Maps of Middle East
  • Introduction

  • Prepared Remarks: (Outlined by Chanley Rainey) “Why Iran Acts the Way it Does”
    The Three Themes
    I. Imperial Destiny – Iran sees itself as the “Middle Empire”
    - 5th century BCE Great Persian Prince Kuzra I ruled over vast empire
    - Throne room had 3 empty chairs below it in – 1 for Emperor of China, 1 for Controller of the Golden Horde (Mongol army), and 1 for Emperor of Rome – in case these “vassals” came to pay tribute
    - Empire vast, even larger under predecessors (Xerces & Darius)
    II. Constant Struggle – deeply rooted sense of being on the “good” side of a constant cosmic battle b/w good & evil
    - Problem w/ imperial destiny is that Iran has been constantly thwarted
  • Kuzra’s son saw empire collapse, later taken by Arab invaders
  • 1st conquered by Byzantine Empire (Iraq), then Arabs (who assimilated them into Muslim culture)
  • Later, dominated by Turks, Mongols, Russia, Europeans
  • We are the latest in a long list of “foreign oppressors”
  • - Envision a great foreign conspiracy that must be opposed vigilantly
    - Cast in terms of Zoroastrian concepts of constant struggle between forces of good & evil
    - The tendency to perceive history in the terms of this cosmic battle is the reason Iran is drawn to Shi’a Islam
  • Shiites were oppressed by Sunni; Sunni was religion of Arab invaders
  • Shi’a sect claims to follow original, true Islam
  • Saffarid Dynasty made Shi’a state religion
  • III. The Shah v Clergy – both claim sacred authority/duty to be sole ruler of Iran
    - These internal struggles contributed to Iranian vulnerability
    - Also rooted in the cosmic struggle of Zoroastrianism, the Shah (often considered secular) constantly vies with the Faqi (leader of the Olima, the clerics)
    - Both consider themselves divinely sanctioned; debate is over legitimacy, not secular or sacred
    - Clerics & Faqi
  • Claim a Mandate from Heaven to lead & direct the Shi’a community to defeat the enemies of good (which includes the Shah)
  • - Shah
  • An actual title of the Shah is “Shadow of God on Earth”
  • Leader must be 1 man strong enough to suppress internal factions & to fight foreign oppressors
  • “How’d We Get in this Mess?”
    • 18th & 19th century imperialism brought European powers into Middle East
    • Iran was a mess – few roads, 1 in 4 Iranians was a nomad in 1890
    • Afraid that the weak state would be taken over by one of them, Europeans agreed to share power over Iran but to leave it ostensibly independent
    • 1906 – group of Iranians stuck an alliance w/ clergy to force the Shah to summon a constitutional assembly
    o Purpose was to address internal problems & foreign encroachment
    o Created the Majlis – the 1st representative democracy of the Middle East
    • 1908 – Australian William Knox Darcy struck oil in Southern Iran
    o Ignored Shah, dealing directly w/ local chiefs from the beginning
    o Brought in large numbers of foreign investors
    o Iranian population got fed up
    • The Majlis contacted US for help b/c they saw us as neutral & not imperial
    o Under Taft Administration, Morgan Schuster was sent to take over the Iranian Treasury
    o reformed regressive tax laws, opened land ownership to poor
    o revoked special tax privileges of British & Russian citizens; cancelled oil agreements
    • Britain pulled support for Schuster; Russia sent in army (seized parliament & killed Faqi
    • 1911 – Schuster sent back to US
    1921 – Mohamed Reza becomes shah
    o mistake of getting too friendly w/ Adolf Hitler
    o British find out & have him removed in 1941
    o Britain replaced him with his son, seen as puppet
    1953 – US deposed Prime Minister Mosadegh and replaced him w/ new Shah
    o British convinced US that he was a dangerous Soviet ally b/c of their oil interests
    o Clerics didn’t support new shah; Faqi Kastani led opposition
    o Iran lost trust in US & event became a symbol of the struggle of the clergy against a puppet shah of conspiring democracies
    o US was really the puppet; the new Shah got away w/ a lot by threatening us with the idea that if not him, the Soviets
    • 1979 – Iranian Revolution
    o Shah abdicated to Ayatollah Khomeini (an admirer of Kastani)
    o Public opinion was that Khomeini would lead to a liberal democracy
    • Cleric Regime & Imperial Ambitions
    o Far more oppressive, totalitarian, & corrupt than the Shah had been
    o mafia state w/ Shi’a Islam as veneer
    o Moving toward imperial goals
  • push for nuclear weapons; a Shi’a Bomb (distinct from Pakistan’s Muslim Bomb)
  • turning Syria & Lebanon into client states
  • supporting insurgencies in Afghanistan & Pakistan
  • o attacking Israel
    • Iran hopes US will be defeated in Iraq
    o Iraq is the Sunni counterpart of Shia Iran
    o Iran has held itself up as the only hope for the oppressed Shi’a population of Iraq
    o If a democracy leads them to liberation, threatens imperial destiny
    “What to do About It?”
    Don’t do what we’ve been doing since Carter
    • Carter made 2 terrible mistakes
    o Carter went to Iran & toasted the Shah for the great job he was doing
  • Iranian public was outraged
  • Am. Politicians cannot be trusted to uphold their own ideals
  • o When Shah was facing the Revolution, Carter advised him to shoot protestors in the street
  • He wouldn’t do it without written approval from Carter
  • Carter backed down & we appeared hypocritical
  • • After Carter came Pacifism, the Hostage Crisis, and Rose Garden Diplomacy
    • Iran realized they were just a political issue in a political game
    o decided they too could play
    o Began to appear as what we wanted them to be when they saw an opportunity to have sanctions lifted, etc.
    In 1995 Clinton began putting huge pressure on Russia to stop aiding Iran’s nuclear development. Then Khatami came to power in 1997 and persuaded Clinton that he was trying to build a democracy. Clinton publicly apologized for supporting the Shah and for the incident in 1953 (blame for which should be at least shared w/ UK). He also lifted the pressure on Russia and shifted US scrutiny to Iraq.
    GW Bush has used the carrot & stick approach
    o US providing stick; Europe providing carrots
    o Europe is heavily dependent on oil from Iran though
    • Herman quoted lines from a poem he felt characterized the world’s stance toward Iran right now:
    “I met a man on the stair yesterday who wasn’t there. I met him there again today. I do hope he’ll go away.”
    Planning Ahead
    • Bombing campaign approach is ill-advised
    o Hard to find nuclear sites, don’t know how many there are
    o Limited solution, problematic regime still in place
    o Our military is overstretched as is
    • Use navy & air force
    o Model is Reagan’s Oil Tanker War:  destroyed Iran’s naval power (still no real navy) & ended Iran-Iraq War
    o navy to take control of Iranian oil operations in the Gulf to cripple regime
    o air force to destroy nuclear sites & others to cripple Revolutionary Guard
    Question Time
    1) What of Putin’s promise to support Iran if US takes action?
    - They don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons either
    - Russia can be persuaded if we can secure their oil interests (with the navy in the Gulf)
    2) What of Iran’s huge army? (possibly 600,000 strong)
    - Won’t go anywhere without gasoline; Iran has virtually no refining capability & therefore relies on imports & is in midst of a petroleum crisis
    3) Where does Shi’a Iran stand w/ Sunni al Qaeda?
    - Many are in both Sunni & Shi’a organizations
    - Line blurs when they have common enemy in US
    4) What of Diplomacy?
    - Only works when we have credibility; we have none because we keep shaking the stick instead of using it
    - Our goals are to make Iran give up its nuclear weapons and comply w/ UN
    - Sunni Middle East is our unspoken ally – they don’t want Shi’a uprisings backed by Iran & they really don’t want an Iran hegemony

    Top of Page

    20 November, 2007. John Pomfret, "The New China." Currently the editor of the Outlook section of the Washington Post and the author of the acclaimed book, "Chinese Lessons."  Educated at Stanford University and Nanjing University, he was the chief of the Chinese Bureau of the Washington Post during the Tiananmen Square incident. He speaks Mandarin plus four other languages and is married to a Chinese entrepreneur.
  • Maps of Asia
  • Introduction
  • Top of Page

  • 15 January 2008, Amb. Chas Freeman,"The Middle East: U.S. Policy, Oil and Water," President, Middle East Policy Council and Co-Chair of U.S. China Policy Foundation, former Asst. Secretary of Defense for international affairs, and then US ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf war.  Amb. Freeman served in the U.S. State Department for 30 years, speaks Chinese, French, Spanish, and Arabic; has written two influential books; and received two Distinguished Public Service Awards.
  • Maps of Middle East
  • Introduction by Jim Nathan
  • Most able diplomat of the last three generations.
  • First meeting with Deng, he managed to get Pres. Taft’s railroad bonds paid off.
  • Excellent linguist and able to translate for presidents including Nixon abroad.
  • Paved way for allied forces into Saudi in Gulf war 1.
  • Marvellous dictionary of diplomacy, recreated from memory after disk was lost.
  • Prepared Remarks
  • Middle East, like China, is accumulating wealth and power at a huge rate, owing to higher oil prices.
  • More fun to talk about uplifting story of China, recovering its place in the world – whereas Middle East is confusing and depressing.
  • Arabs invariably polite to guests, and yet greeted President Bush recently with series of critical public policy comments on middle east, Iran and Afghanistan.  [Something is wrong].
  • German and Japanese forces in Afghan theatre, indicates transcendence of C20th.
  • What are American interests in region?  Back to basics.
  • What policies would you expect to advance those interests?
  • What policies being followed, what results expected, how to remedy mistakes?
  • When appointed to Middle East, was assured by Bush (41) nothing happened there [right before Gulf 1].
  • First US interest is energy, 60% of world’s is located in Middle East.
  • Energy is sold into global market, not a bilateral trade.
  • We actually don’t import much from Middle East, but still dependent on global supply.
  • 1. US needs stability and predictability in Middle East.
  • Carter doctrine, gulf war defended that stability.
  • Avoid introduction of radicalization of region, and conflict of ideologies, that like 1973 war, might lead to interruption of supply.
  • Burden sharing would be good policy, since energy is global trade.  China, Japan, Europe expected to contribute rather than taking a free ride.  Instead, acting unilaterally we are held accountable.
  • 2. Second interest in Middle East is securing Israel and its acceptance in region.
  • Israel is still seen as a scofflaw, colonial implant, threat to others in region.
  • US expected to help make peace, but not pursued vigorously in recent years.
  • Integrate Israel into Middle East, thereby helping democracies & human rights.
  • But Israel is not part of political process in Middle East, or economic system (except Jordan)
  • 3. Access to Asia is via Middle East – 30,000 overflights of Saudi by military to Asia in early 1990s, including those via Qatar.    6th fleet in Bahrain relies on Saudis also.
  • Access to holy places in Middle East, Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.  All three Abrahamic religions seek access.  Denial promotes conflict.
  • Access for commercial reasons – Saudi was 50% of trade between Europe and India – and they loved US large cars for many years.
  • Access for cultural reasons.
  • Dean Rusk to Congress, at any time 2/3 of world is awake and some are up to no good.
  • Need to avoid wars of religion.
  • Policies in reality.
  • Have given up on regional balance – unlike in Gulf War 1.
  • Instead now have direct US presence, the most expensive, fatiguing, and aggravating direction.
  • This also makes the US the logical target of blame.  We have not pursued burden sharing.
  • Have not made serious effort to make peace, but have supported Israeli effort – now Israeli efforts make Palestinian area a reservation (like US Indians) not a sovereign state.
  • Israel must choose between Jewish state and democracy for all.  Carter & Olmert have used term apartheid for this dilemma.  This was not envisaged by founders of Israel
  • US has not established rights of access in region, and talk of attacking Iran has led to refusals to cooperate by states in region.
  • Market share has plummeted, in rapidly growing market, raising doubts about the dollar as the currency of region and the currency of oil.  Exchange of students and travel is now a small fraction of level pre 2001.
  • The US is misperceived as conducting crusade against Islam, rather than a war against extremists who usurp Islam.
  • What can we do about it?
  • Next administration will inherit mess of poor relations -- from Iraq, Israel, Gaza, gulf Arabs, Palestinians, even Turks.
  • Needs organized forum of equal dialogue with Arabs, lack of this leads to problems at pump.
  • Iraqi groups look to US, not Maliki government, for solutions to local problems – colonial type problem even though we did not seek it.  We have gone from 4 ships permanently in Middle East – to hundreds of thousands of troops and contractors.  Will need to withdraw over horizon.
  • Time for Americans to ask ourselves what our interests in holy land are, and condition generous assistance to region, especially Israel, on benchmarks – rather than leaving Israel free to pursue course based on hubris rather than viable future for itself.  Focus on cooperation, not conflict, with Islam.  Religious wars are ugly, violent and peculiarly nasty.
  • Al Qaeda although on the run in Iraq, is growing elsewhere.  Has murdered far more Muslims than Christians or Jews.
  • Gitmo detention center is a blight on our country.
  • Should focus on building support against a common enemy of extremists who kill more muslims than others.  No-brainer -- but somehow unable to do this.
  • Reconsider garrison state in this country – do not exclude and humiliate at borders, prevent business people and students from coming, need balance of security with open society.
  • W. Bush administration needs to lay the basis for more constructive solutions.
  • Question Time
  • We learned how to conduct foreign policy in bipolar world on cold war, which we won without fighting.  Opted since then for diplomacy-free foreign policy, where use of force is first option rather than last resort.
  • In military sphere, do not even know what we spend, since elements are excluded even from large DOD budget: DOE has nuclear energy, intelligence budget, homeland security, health care for veterans, and interest.  Over $1Trillion per year is spent on total military effort, but only tens of billions on diplomatic effort.
  • Is Islam inherently against secular government, and dominated by austere movements now?  Some Christian dominionists in US also seek end to separation of church & state.  Nonetheless, Islam is now undergoing reformation -- and should remember Martin Luther was uncouth reactionary in his time – ideas became revolutionary to church in due course.  Some more intense Islamists remind one of Luther, we can still engage in dialogue – have had some with Pope.  Islam is misportrayed internationally and in US society – generally peaceable, crime free.  But Islam is reacting to many things – see Graham Fuller, current Foreign Policy magazine, what would world be like without Islam?  Reactions against US have more to do with invasions than with religion.
  • Cannot impose values on other people – can only work with those in foreign society to advance common ideas.  Democratization?  Met Iranian professor in Beirut forum with EU – every election in Middle East has turned to Iranian advance – a good idea and we will now pursue it.
  • Historic relation between India and region, well understood in Middle East, because British Raj had to pass through Middle East, now 7-8 million Indians working in region, remitting large sums to India.  Chinese are latecomers, their culture is irreligious, a disadvantage – and labeled communist.  Hard for Arabs to accept them.  Power of economics though is now involving Chinese -- and Dubai has Chinese mall with 4,000 Chinese companies with local representatives.  Russia historically has been excluded from region but now has found common interests with its oil production, especially military aircraft.
  • World is becoming more multipolar, regional forces directing events.  US has little influence outside military area, and events are being driven by Iran and Saudi.  Other powers are reacting to that.
  • Will there ever be a Palestine as pre-1967?  Olmert referred to this after Annapolis.  22% of land was available to Palestinians in 1967, much less today – but still not enough for a viable state.  Gaza is like the old Warsaw ghetto at present.  Some Arabs would prefer to remain in Israel if a secular state – but unlikely because settlers want a Jewish state.  The irony of Jewish settlements is that by successfully extending Israel, they have made the Jewish character of the state problematic.
  • Are there Presidential candidates with more constructive foreign policy?  No.  All are punting on the issue, like the administration of the day.  Noone is proposing a new course – they are vague on what change means.
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  • 8 April 2008. Peter Zeihan,"Iraq: From Beginning to End".  Director of Global Analysis, Strategic Forecasting, Inc., or Stratfor, a private intelligence agency that has been referred to as "a shadow CIA" and lists as its clients Fortune 500 companies and "Major governmental agencies."
  • Maps of Middle East
  • Introduction: Notes by Emily White, Global Leadership major, Huntingdon College, '08
  • Zeihan began work at Stratfor, a non-partisan, private intelligence agency, nine years ago when he found a website of political critiques.  He wrote in, corrected one of the authors, and then submitted his own article.  He was hired one month later.
  • Prepared Remarks

  • I. Analysis of the United States
    • 20-Year Law:  What is true today will not be true twenty years from now!  What you know is not true.
    o Example- In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the US was the world’s only superpower.  It seemed like nothing could stop us.  Twenty years later, in the 1980’s, the US was convinced we would lose the Cold War.  It seemed like nothing could save us.
    • These things will NOT exist twenty years from today:
    o US-Jihad War
    o Iraq insurgency
    o Unified Europe
    • Cycles of History
    o 1500’s- first real international epoch; phases- Spain, England, Germany, Cold War
    o First international System- European rule
    o Sudden fall-aparts due to falling out among allies at the end of an era
    • Today- the Cold War era is over and the epoch of European domination is over.
    o This is the US’s time of domination.
    o “Mankind’s first interregnum interregnum”
    o Will probably not pass peacefully
    • Key country: United States
    o Rivers interconnect, oceanic barriers lead to isolation and trade, intrusions are rare and always seen out of context
    o Mexico is the only nation that is geographically matched with the US.  It has a lot of long-term potential.
    o Empire by accident
    o Result is a manic-depressive culture; we overreact and over compensate (Examples- Sputnik, Vietnam, Oil Shocks, Japanophobia, 1980’s recession, and September 11, 2001)
    o New Orleans is the key city.  Without New Orleans, the US would crumble.
    • What NOT to do if you want to peacefully coexist with the US (US’s source of power):
    o Secure control of North America
    o Secure strategic depth
    o Control sea approaches
    o Dominate the oceans
    o Keep Eurasia divided
    • Every US President over the past 200 years has done these things.  We are dictated but enabled by our geography.
    Analysis of Iraq
    • Al Qaeda- the US originally helped them form to thwart the Soviet Union
    o End goal- recreate the Islamic Caliphate
    o Method- massive uprising against all secular Middle Eastern powers
    o Trigger- outrage at American actions in the Middle East (because we promote secular powers)
    o Action- World Trade Center (1993), USS Cole, embassy bombings, September 11 attacks
    o Now aim is to provoke the US to work with secular governments in the Middle East so that the umma (Islamic community) will be angered enough to rise up in revolt
    • The Why of Iraq:  US
    o Proved US power is not limitless
    o Limits of hegemony- time delay
    o Chose to attack Iraq over Pakistan because of its location
    o Tora Bora decision- caves were used as hideouts, and President Bush chose not to use the necessary 12 nuclear bombs to possibly kill one man
    • US allies surrounding Iraq:
    o Saudi Arabia- money, recruits
    o Iranian blind eye
    o Parking in Baghdad scares them into turning on al Qaeda
    o Interrogated Arabs across the US; al Qaeda cuts off communications with members once they are caught; denied al Qaeda access to their own resources
    • Al Qaeda is no longer an international threat- has moved from September 11 to irrelevance
    o Now, its only power is in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
    o Most Middle Eastern countries are now on US’s side.
    • So why are we still there?
    o Blame Donald Rumsfeld:  No follow-up plan, military reorganization, Cold War is over and the new doctrine is power projection.
    o Fatal flaw- tried to dramatically increase military technology AND fight a war of occupation at the same time.
    o Bush Strategy:  Build off what we know, and let others do the heavy lifting.
    • Iraq’s “Wrinkle”
    o IRAN!
    o Iraq has always invaded Iran after it has become a unified power.
    o Iran is worried but has a massive army.
    o Iraq is 60% Shia.  Iran is mostly Shia as well.
    o It all comes down to expectations and terms.
    • The US’s Biggest Nightmare:
    o A (really) Persian Gulf and a divided Iraq
    • Iran’s Biggest Nightmare:
    o Return of Saddam and the US leaves their equipment with the Sunnis
    • The Iranian Tool Box
    o Shia religious links
    o Power/gas imports to US
    o Oil exports
    o Control of the Strait of Hormuz
    o Afghan links
    o Russian help
    • Iran’s best tool of all:  Sadr
    o Trades on his name
    o Has wide appeal
    o Extremely disruptive potential
    o Not a religious authority
    o Easy to bring back
    • Iran’s New Reality
    o Beyond Bush- there for the long haul because we have committed resources and alliances; Clinton and Obama have no choice
    o Reconsolidated West (France is an emergent leader)
    o Iran’s annoyance with the UN
    o Uncaring China and Japan
    o Israeli examples (eager to fight)
    o Palestineans are contained
    o US-Arab alliance because they are also threatened by al Qaeda
    o Opportunistic Russia who will only help Iran to a certain point; they are really just looking out for themselves
    • Sadr Problem
    o Power outside religious authority
    o Essentially a gang
    o Massive power in Basra
    o Overreaching Iranian control
    o Own power base
    • Sadr Solution
    o Send him back to school
    o Make the issue about law enforcement
    o Religious overhaul
    o Disband militia and enter “politics”
    • What’s Next? US-Iranian talks:
    o Will not be quickly accepted by public of either nation (Nation of Satan and the Axis of Evil)
    o Do it all before the Presidential election
    o Pray there’s not another Lebanon War
    o Finalize details of Iraq armed forces
    • The Bottom Line- We like the all-important underdog.  In the case of Iraq, they are a bunch of Shias surrounded by Sunnis.
  • Question Time
  • China has too much to worry about economically, that it is not a military threat to the US.  The US has close ties with too many of the countries that China gets its resources from.  The US could shut China down in a week by eliminating its access to the oil pipelines on which it so greatly depends.
  • Top of Page

    6 May, 2008. Four Air War College senior instructors will report on their trips to visit various hotspots around the world as part of the AWC Regional Studies Program.
    Maps index
    Presenters: Introduction to Dr. Gentleman, Latin America
  • Colombian tour was cut owing to last minute events on border.
  • Prepared Remarks
  • Argentina especially challenged.
  • Emphasis on recovery from financial meltdown 2000-01 and depression..
  • Nearly half population fell into poverty.
  • Political depression stemming from internal war from 1950s thru 1970s, between Peronists and military government.
  • Leading political actor is Peronist party, Justicialist party, in power since end of military dictatorship 1984.
  • President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.  Formerly powerful Senator, but succeeded husband.
  • Trying to build credible justice system, build defense sector despite trials ongoing from dirty war.  President had granted immunity to those on government side of dirty war, but Kirchners have revisited that decision.
  • Education used to be credible but now in tatters, creates considerable tension.
  • Relations with US C+, difficulty on both sides.
  • Argentina does business with Hugo Chavez – even though is not like Venezuela, does not respond to directives from Venezuela.
  • Energy shortfall, blackouts, not energy sufficiency, problem across Southern America except Brazil.
  • Inflation and food shortages recently.
  • China’s incredible demand for soy has turned farmers toward international market, led to catastrophic downturn in domestic food supply.
  • Using caps on prices now, but that destroys incentives.
  • Tariff on exports of soy now, to turn it back to domestic consumption.
  • Farmers have taken to streets in protest.
  • Chile, somewhat better news.
  • Adapted very well to global market, also a female president Michelle Bachelet.
  • Sustained economic growth, reduced poverty rate.
  • Bolivia refuses export of natural gas because since nineteenth century Chile has refused access to sea.
  • Water shortage from glacier melt.
  • 56% of exports are in copper, where price has been soaring.
  • Chile now uncompetitive as manufacturing center because wages have come up.
  • Macuche Indians now active with land claims, caused cabinet change in government.
  • Successfully reestablished democracy, and Bachelet has restored her approval ratings.
  • Chile also involved in peacekeeping operations -- the mainstay in Haiti, along with Argentina.
  • Joint peacekeeping brigade, contrast with war between C & A in 1978,  Rapid response unit for UN requests.
  • Introduction to Dr. Lassner, Central Europe
  • Central Europe had almost disappeared for 60 yrs till fall of wall.
  • Budapest to Krakow, Warsaw, Berlin.
  • All 3 countries are in NATO since 1999 and EU since 2004 – also Schengen [open borders] group includes Poland and Hungary, allows labor to move freely across EU.
  • This is of concern to France and Germany, because labor cheaper.
  • Prepared Remarks
  • Introduction to Dr. Conversino, The Ukraine and Russia
  • Ukraine and Russia: entry to Kiev, Moscow, train to St. Petersburg and Moscow.
  • Trains relatively comfortable in Russia, whereas flights take you “closer to God.”
  • Prepared Remarks
  • Ukraine:
  • Yevshenko’s wife is an American, and he was a victim of attempted homicide.
  • Yulia Timoshenko anti-Russian and they put her on Interpol wanted list!
  • Russifed E of country and Westernized W of country.
  • Political stalemates when nothing gets accomplished.
  • Ukraine takes part in peacekeeping with NATO and did have contingent in Iraq.
  • Ukrainians historically took opportunities to leave Russia.
  • Western agenda limited by dependency on Russia for energy, and Russia has cut off energy to them.
  • Russia
  • Largest country
  • Nuclear power #2
  • Major player in space
  • Major source of weapons to developing world
  • Vast oil and gas reserves, #1 producer of oil
  • Putin stepping down tomorrow for handpicked successor. Medvedev.
  • Putin has restored Russia as a great power.
  • Since 1998 GDP tripled, some inflation, paid off foreign debts, Ruble has greatly strengthened.
  • Voters for Medvedev (now President) say they are for Putin (now Premier).
  • Moscow [images] is now like Vegas without the strippers, flashing lights, cars, well stocked stores, well dressed people – but countryside lags behind, of some concern to Govt.
  • Warmly received in Min Def, but Russians presented talking points on missile defense and Kosovo – but if Ukraine into NATO catastrophic effect on relations with US.
  • Looking to be treated as a great power, and want to work with US as equals.
  • Downside to boom.
  • Population is collapsing, death rate 59 year male, 74 women.  Worse than Iraq, high suicide, 40% clinical alcoholics, smoking, TB, 143 M pop going down to 115M by 2050 says UN.
  • Russians feel in rough neighborhood, areas of which historically used to be Chinese -- and to Russian nationalists that is an issue of survival.  Only population increasing is Muslim minority.  47% of population lives in apartments, very expensive and small.
  • Environmental disaster zone, air does not meet any standards, need $200 BN modernization of water supply.
  • Oil and gas production have peaked and pipelines need repair.
  • Danger of becoming only a petroleum state, with declining resources.
  • Gov has retaken energy sector control.
  • Most Russians do not care about loss of freedom – but 3rd most dangerous country for a journalist after Iraq and Colombia.
  • Better for US to have strong and stable Russia – or unstable nuclear power with stockpiles?
  • Question Time

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