Who cares about Kyrgyzstan? Both Moscow and Washington watched growing opposition protests against the government of President Askar Akaev closely. The Kyrgyz sought to emulate the velvet revolutions of Georgia and the Ukraine, and at least for the moment, they seem to have been successful. The larger issue, however, may turn out to be concern in Putin's administration over crumbling authority in Moscow's former sphere of influence.
DEFENDING MISSILE DEFENSE... The Bush Administration's anti-ballistic missile defense program is in the process of being deployed despite the fact that it has failed several critical tests, could cost trillions of dollars over the long haul, and is not intended to protect against a major missile attack by a powerful adversary like the former Soviet Union. Peter Huessy, president of GeoStrategic Analysis, argues forcefully in an OpEd in the Washington Times, that despite growing pains, the program is worth the cost. (Peter Huessy, Washington Times, March 22, 2005)
CENTER FOR DEFENSE INFORMATION: NOT EVERYONE AGREES
Up dating information on recent test failures (the last one cost taxpayers $85 million), CDI's researcher Victoria Samson pulls together an illuminating series of background notes and links to comments on where the program stands now. Arms control wonk and DefenseTech.org bear checking out. (CDI.org, March 21, 2005)
WHO HAS WHAT...
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers a map showing the ballistic missile arsenals now operational in the world, and the targets within range of each country. Twenty-three countries have missiles with a range of roughly 600 miles or less. Six countries (India, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, Israel and Saudi Arabia) have missiles that can reach considerably farther and are a cause for concern.
(CEIP, March 2005)
CARNEGIE'S LIST OF MISSILE DEFENSE RESOURCES
THREAT OF A NEW CIVIL WAR IN A FAR OFF PLACE AS KYRGYZSTAN'S PRESIDENT IS TOPPLED
The end came quicker than expected for Kyrgyzstan's president Askar Akayev. Akayev's decision to use force to put down opposition protests against corruption and election fraud, brought the country to the verge of civil war. After the experience of Georgia and the Ukraine, both Vladimir Putin and Washington adopted a low key approach. Akayev's sudden fall is likely to make other Central Asian strong men question whether experimenting with Western ideas can be a career hazard. Akayev had tried to modernize Kyrgyzstan's economy, but failed to follow up with political reforms. The BBC reports on late breaking developments, March 24, 2005)
HARDLINE INTERIOR MINISTER HAD THREATENED VIOLENCE
Foreign observers said they feared that the unrest was dangerously close to open conflict, especially if the government were to attempt to reassert control over the southern cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad, which the opposition has seized to protest alleged fraud in recent parliamentary elections criticized by the West as unfair."The government isn't even confident it has the ability to restore order in those cities, and if they did, nobody has confidence they'd be able to do so without bloodshed, which would open the Pandora's Box," a well-informed Western observer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. (Greg Walters, Moscow Times, March 24, 2005)
--The Dual Power scenario (EurasiaNet, March 22, 2005)
--The Collapse (with photos)
(EurasiaNet, March 24, 2005)WESTERNIZATION WITH OLD STYLE HARDLINE POLITICS
Michael Weinstein writes in the Power and Interest News Report on what happens when western market reforms are introduced into a fragile economy burdened with an outmoded change-resistant political structure, while Washington's attention is focused elsewhere. (Dr. Michael Weinstein, PINR, 19 January 2005)
--The Economist looks at the "ripple" effect
SECRET PLANS TO SEIZE IRAQ'S OIL WERE ON THE DRAWING BOARD BEFORE 9/11
Greg Palast reports on the BBC's News Night that neoconservatives in the Pentagon began drafting a plan to take over Iraq's oil months before Al Qaeda's attack on the World Trade Center. The idea was to force a coup d'etat in Baghdad, and then to quickly sell off Iraq's oil fields to break OPEC's hold on prices. The neocons eventually lost out in a political battle with oil industry advisors and the State Department, who opposed challenging OPEC. Palast interviews oil industry consultants, including Chalabi, who took part in the secret discussions. (Greg Palast, BBC News Night, March 17, 2005)
AL QAEDA PUBLISHES ITS STRATEGY ON LINE
The 113-page work ‘Management of Barbarism' aims to map out the progressive stages of establishing an Islamic state, from early beginnings in defined areas in the Arabian Peninsula, or Nigeria, Jordan, the Maghreb, Pakistan or Yemen, and its subsequent global expansion. By "Management of Barbarism" the author refers to the period just after the collapse of a superpower, the period of "savage chaos". Stephen Ulf analyzes the text for the Jamestown Foundation (March 18, 2005)
ANTHONY CORDESMAN ON THE CHANGING U.S. DEPENDENCE ON MIDDLE EASTERN OIL
New studies by the Department of Energy indicate that even if oil prices remain high, the U.S. will be increasingly dependent on Middle Eastern oil for the near future. Cordesman provides a country-by-country analysis.(Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 21, 2005, 40 pages, pdf)
HOW LONG CAN THE U.S. STAY ON TOP?
Writing in The National Interest, economist Peter Drucker notes that , like it or not, the U.S. will eventually be forced to operate in a pluralistic world. Drucker notes: "Eventually there may be six or seven blocs, of which the U.S.-dominated NAFTA is likely to be only one, coexisting and competing with the European Union (EU), MERCOSUR in Latin America, ASEAN in the Far East, and nation-states that are blocs by themselves, China and India. These blocs are neither "free trade" nor "protectionist", but both at the same time." (Peter Drucker in The National Interest, Spring issue, 2005)
TAKING A LOOK AT IRAN IN IRAQ
The International Crisis Group observes that "Iran has the potential to do great mischief in post-Saddam Iraq, but despite wide-spread allegations, actual evidence of attempts to destabilise the country is rare and evidence of achievement rarer still. Instead, Iran's priority has been to prevent Iraq from re-emerging as a threat to it, which means preventing both outright failure in Baghdad or clear success. " (ICG, March 21, 2005)
THE STATE OF JOURNALISM IN THE U.S.
The second annual report of the Pew-funded Project for Excellence in Journalism (affiliated with Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism) finds U.S. news media are at a crossroads of sorts. Broadcasting is entering a new era. News publications have shifted towards assertion in place of verification and actual reporting. (State of Journalism , March 22, 2005)
WAR OF WORDS WITH VENEZUELA
Mr Chávez, now entrenched as president after an unsuccessful referendum failed to oust him last year, continues to accuse the US of meddling in Venezuela politics, and has even suggested that Washington is plotting to kill him. US officials, for their part, have portrayed Mr Chávez as a rogue leader who is undermining democratic governments elsewhere in Latin America. While the war of words has yet to produce a change of policy on either side, the potential for escalation exists. (The Economist Intelligence Unit, March 18, 2005)
JORDAN'S KING ABDULLAH WARNS ISRAELIS TO EXPECT TERRORIST ATTACKS FROM HIZBOLLAH
Observers sitting in on the meeting were surprised at the vehemence of the King's warning. Abdullah appeared concerned that Israel might retaliate against the wrong party. Syria and Hizbollah are likely to attack, he reasoned, in order to divert attention from recent demands that Syria pull out of Lebanon. (Nathan Guttman reports in Haaretz, March 23, 2005)
Europeans seem prepared to swallow their doubts and accept Paul Wolfowitz as President Bush's choice to head the World Bank
WOLF AT THE DOOR
Paul Wolfowitz is an undeniably brilliant man who in the last few years has been wrong about nearly everything, wrong about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, wrong about thinking that starting a war in the Middle East would pacify the region, wrong in his efforts to reconstruct Iraq, which under the Pentagon's management has led to corruption and abuse which even manages to shock Middle Easterners. It is not hard to see why Europeans might question Wolfowitz' nomination to head the World Bank. But Wolfowitz has his defenders. Christopher Hitchens writes in Slate that most people do not realize where Wolfowitz stands on critical issues, partly because the neocons are already exhibiting ideological divisiveness.
--Christopher Hitchens in Slate, March 22, 2005)
A QUICK EFFORT AT IMAGE RECONSTRUCTION STILL LEAVES DOUBTS
The Washington Post's Paul Blustein notes that not everyone is buying the new Wolfowitz quite yet. "...Since the announcement Wednesday, Bush's choice of Wolfowitz has drawn opposition from many quarters, mostly focusing on the fear that the move marked a plan to use the World Bank's antipoverty aid to reward Washington's friends, punish its enemies and advance the Bush administration's ideological agenda, especially in the Middle East. The bank lends about $20 billion a year to developing countries for projects ranging from roads to schools to HIV/AIDS programs. "The world would view a bank directed by Mr. Wolfowitz as no more than an instrument of U.S. power and U.S. priorities," Britain's Financial Times wrote in an editorial, warning that the credibility of the bank's advice to poor countries would be undermined. With anti-globalization activists in an uproar over the nomination, predictions abounded that demonstrations against the bank, which have subsided in the past couple of years, would erupt anew. "We'll finally be able to use the word 'imperialism' about bank policy without raising eyebrows," chortled Soren Ambrose, an activist with the coalition 50 Years Is Enough Network, a critic of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. (Paul Blustein, Washington Post, March 21, 2005)
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