Sunday, June 19, 2011

The gold-dinar, dollar and various theories on intervention in Libya....

It will be a huge mistake to take the present crisis of Libya at its face value. Muammar Gaddafi, the dictator of 42 years, who had only recently become “darling of the west” after renouncing terrorism and making himself vulnerable, has suddenly fallen from grace. Not only that, the entire democratic world is after his blood and his country and government are facing wrath of the US and NATO and attack of their combined military might. It is obviously not a human rights issue alone as similar violations are taking place elsewhere in the Muslim world with the tacit approval of the champions of democracy and freedom. Why has it become necessary to single out Libyan dictator and get rid of him?

There are so many theories and the first and foremost is that his recent economic initiatives in the oil-rich African world could directly threaten economic hegemony of the US and Europe. Irrespective of the fact that this third major war during the last 10 years waged by the civilized world on flimsy pretext will destroy their economies, the very initiative for launching a single gold-backed currency was another matter. The world could not allow any currency to endanger US dollar or the Euro. Observers say implementing that vision would change the world power equation and threaten Western hegemony. In response, the United States and its NATO partners have determined “Gaddafi must go,” and assumed the role of judge, jury and executioner.

Analysts say introducing the gold dinar as the new medium of exchange would destroy dependence on the U.S. dollar, the French franc and the British pound and threaten the Western world. It would “finally swing the global economic pendulum” that would break Western domination over Africa and other developing economies. Attacking Col. Gaddafi can be understood in the context of America and Europe fighting for their survival, which an economically independent Africa jeopardizes. These moves are also bad for France because when the African Monetary Fund and the African Central Bank in Nigeria starts printing gold-backed currency, it would “ring the death knell" for the CFA franc through which Paris was able to maintain its neocolonial grip on 14 former African colonies for the last 50 years.

“It is easy to understand the French wrath against Gaddafi,” said Prof. Jean-Paul Pougala of the Geneva School of Diplomacy.

“The idea, according to Gaddafi, was that African and Muslim nations would join together to create this new currency and would use it to purchase oil and other resources in exclusion of the dollar and other currencies,” said political analyst Anthony Wile in an editorial for The Daily Bell online.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Libya's Central Bank is 100 percent state-owned and estimates that the bank has nearly 144 tons of gold in its vaults. If Col. Gadhafi changed the purchasing terms of his oil and other Libyan commodities sold on the world market and only accepted gold as payment; a policy like that wouldn't be welcomed by the power elites who control the world's central banks. Furthermore, pricing oil in something other than the dollar would undercut the pedestal of US power in the world. Although in trouble, the dollar is the reserve currency based on a deal made with Saudi Arabia in 1971 in which the Saudis, as the world's largest oil producer, agreed to accept only dollars for oil. The Libyan affair has sparked a divide in the world community with the African Union and nations like Venezuela, China and Cuba—and until recently Russia—on one side as voices of reason, caution and respect for international law and honoring the UN mandate which set the parameters for engagement in Libya.

Blogosphere has another theory backed by classified cables unearthed by the Wikileaks. The leaked cable sounds the alarm of “growing evidence of Libyan resource nationalism” by the Gaddafi government. This was almost identical language employed by the U.S. and British governments against Iranian Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh when he nationalized Iran’s oil field in 1951. Mossadegh was overthrown by a 1953 CIA coup that restored the Shah to the throne. It allowed US and British oil companies to re-take ownership over Iran’s oil until the 1979 revolution.

According to the cable, the US government was furious that Gaddafi was moving to rein in and limit the power and profits of the western-owned oil giants that he permitted to come back into the country after George W. Bush in 2004 lifted economic sanctions against Libya. The same cable refers to an angry speech that Gaddafi made in 2006 which was interpreted as a virtual act of war by the oil companies and the U.S. and western governments.

Gaddafi's speech included these unacceptable words: “Oil companies are controlled by foreigners who have made millions from them—now, Libyans must take their place to profit from this money.” 

Libyan oil reserves are estimated to be the largest in Africa with 41.5 billion barrels.

According to an article in The National Interest, every American president seems to start at least one war. George W. Bush initiated two conflicts. He was ill informed, impetuous, and foolish. The casualties and costs of his actions were catastrophic. But he addressed significant issues. Barack Obama is different in almost every way. Knowledgeable, cool and reasoned, he has one new war on his record. America’s casualties and costs in Libya are likely to remain minimal. Although an embarrassing example of geopolitical FUBAR, the conflict is of little consequence. Whatever happens, the world will quickly go back to normal.

According to this article, three of the Senate’s leading hawks, John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, spent a pleasant time in Tripoli two years ago supping with the dictator and discussing the possibility of providing military aid. Britain sold the Qaddafi regime crowd-control technologies. And everyone bought his oil. However, earlier this year allied governments noticed that Qaddafi was vulnerable. He faced domestic revolt and—the naïve fool, as the North Koreans triumphantly observed—had agreed to abandon terrorism, limit the range of his missiles and drop his nuclear program. The Western powers decided to get ahead of the curve with a little democracy promotion. Particularly insistent was France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, down in the polls with an election scheduled next year. Why President Obama joined in is anyone’s guess. Maybe he really believed his rhetoric. Yet the claim of incipient genocide was merely the humanitarian equivalent of Bush’s missing WMDs. 

According to an article in Foreign Policy Journal, Libya’s geographical location and terrain has the potential to play a key role in US-led operations in the region, as evident from the historic role of the Wheelus airbase during the Cold War. Libya’s vast desert expanses and good weather are ideal for setting up gunnery and target ranges. It has the largest southern Mediterranean coastline. The major highway runs in close proximity to the coast offering easy access to the sea. The Green Mountain overlooks Europe’s busy shipping lanes. The Mediterranean is home to the US’ Sixth Fleet, numerous US/NATO bases and important oil terminals. It is central to the US’ ‘Phased Adaptive Approach’ plan which involves deploying a land and sea based BMD (ballistic missile defense) shield of radars and interceptor missiles. The BMD system includes the SM-3 anti-ballistic missiles on board the USS Monterey and the Aegis class warships. Air and Naval bases can contribute in projecting power far beyond the Mediterranean shores, apart from the back-up to the sea-based assets. Ports in the Gulf of Sidra can provide fuelling and servicing facilities.

The articles says that the French and the British have their sights on lucrative oil contracts and big-ticket defense deals. The French government was outraged when Qaddafi din not opt for Dassault’s Rafale fighter jets and  Areva’s nuclear reactors. BP’s oil deal with Libya, approved by Qaddafi after the disputed release of Al Meghrahi, was mired in bureaucratic delays. Whitehall saw the unrest as an opportunity to pounce on Qaddafi for dilly-dallying on the project. Sarkozy’s hawkish advocacy for intervention in Libya was with the motive to renew his popularity for a re-election gambit, after he came under fire for France’s discredited diplomacy in Tunisia, Paris was furious over Tripoli for cutting mega arms deals with Ukraine and Russia. Then what held back Russia from vetoing the resolution on Libya? Moscow could not afford to derail the ‘reset’ with the US. The Libyan turmoil jacked up oil prices and that brought a windfall for Russian oil. It leaves the door open for Russia to ‘intervene’ in the conflict zones in its sphere of influence under the rubric of ‘humanitarian intervention’.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Fifth Generation warrior of the Fourth Generation Warfare….

Nobody ever heard of suicide bombings, terrorist attacks or targeted mass killing by veiled terrorists till the end of WWII. These were all products of cold-war era, particularly during Palestinian movement for a homeland of their own. They probably thought of these tactics, which were subsequently sanctioned by their mullahs, as the most effective way to keep the enemy terrified, make their voices heard and push for acceptance of their demands. Hijacking of airliners was another tactic which was employed by the Palestinians. Then there were insurgencies like Maoist movement in India, Tamil Tigers’ armed conflict with Sri Lankan government and sectarian killing in Pakistan. The latest and most deadly conflict is between foreign-funded insurgents and the state of Pakistan. All these armed conflicts were apparently between the state and non-state actors but as a matter of fact there was some state behind the non-state actors fighting its proxy war against the enemy state. For example, Sri Lankan insurgency and Taliban insurgency in Pakistan was fueled and funded by India, sectarian killing in Pakistan was a proxy war fought between and funded by orthodox Saudi Arabia and clergy-led Iran.

This is a new kind of warfare in which armies do not fight armies; the world’s top-class armies equipped with the most sophisticated weapons are engaged in a unique war with masked and unnamed soldiers. And the latest technology, put to test in this kind of warfare is proving helpless. The states have one major disadvantage; their armies are not trained for this kind of warfare. This is called Fourth Generation Warfare or 4GW. According to military thinkers, 4GW is an extremely effective method of warfare that the US and its allies will find very difficult to defeat (a slow burn, rather than complete eradication, may be the best possible outcome). 4GW can is generally defined as a method of warfare that aims at achieving a moral victory by undermines enemy strengths, exploiting enemy weaknesses, and using weapons and techniques that differ substantially from opponents or asymmetric operations.

Fourth generation warfare (4GW) has been correctly defined as a conflict characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, soldier and civilian.

According to experts, the rise of 4GW is both a product and a driver of loss of the nation-state's monopoly on violence, rise of cultural, ethnic, and religious conflict, and globalization via technological integration. The tactics employed by 4GW are rear area operations -- 4GW warriors do not confront a nation-state's military but rather its society through psychological operations – terror and ad-hoc innovation -- use of the enemy's strengths against itself.

First generation warfare includes wars of Napoleon and is characterized by conscription and firearms as a result of decline of mercenaries. Second generation warfare includes the US civil war and WW1, characterized by firepower and nation-state alignment of resources to warfare. Classical example of third generation warfare is WW2 and is characterized by maneuver and armored warfare. All these generations witnessed progressive development of technology in aid of the warring armies. Fourth generation warfare is characterized by ad-hoc warriors and moral conflict. In this warfare, it is not the army alone but the innocent civilian population, economic infrastructure and the ethics which are major targets.

4GW is characterized by globalization -- modern technologies and economic integration enable global operations; pervasiveness -- the decline of nation-state warfare has forced all open conflict into the 4GW mold; granularity-- extremely small viable groups and variety of reasons for conflict; vulnerability -- open societies and economies; technology -- new technologies have dramatically increased the productivity of small groups of 4GW warriors. In addition to these features which distinguishes 4GW from the conventional war, global media plays an effective and decisive role and can win you the war through an incredible level of manipulation. This type of war has the advantage of networking -- new organizational types made possible by improvements in technology are much better at learning, surviving, and acting.

In brief, 4GWs are complex and long term which use terrorism as tactic; have non-national or transnational base—highly decentralized and directly attack on the enemy's culture. This type of warfare is highly sophisticated psychological warfare, especially through media manipulation in which all available pressures are used - political, economic, social and military. The war occurs in low intensity conflict, involving actors from all networks. It uses insurgency and guerrilla tactics.

As the regular armies are only trained to fight regular armies, the conflict in 4GW results in higher casualties of and other losses inflicted on the regular state armies. In order to minimize human and material losses, modern states having the advantage of technology have developed multiple weapons; the latest weapon developed after losing to insurgents is called predator drone. We can also call it a Fifth Generation Soldier of the 4GW. The latest version is General Atomics MQ-1 Predator which is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used primarily by the United States Air Force (USAF) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Initially conceived in the early 1990s for reconnaissance and forward observation roles, the Predator carries cameras and other sensors but has been modified and upgraded to carry and fire two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or other munitions. The aircraft, in use since 1995, has seen combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. For technical, operational and historical details, click here.

Since June, 2004, the CIA has been operating the drones to attack militants in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Since May 2005 the MQ-1 Predator fitted with Hellfire missiles has been successfully used to kill a number of prominent al Qaeda operatives. The use of the Predator has also resulted in a number of civilian deaths which was attributed to faulty intelligence. The drones have also been used in Balkan states, Yemen, Iraq and Libya. Due to associated civilian casualties, the people of Pakistan have been protesting against its use terming it as violation of their sovereignty. But the number of casualties of terrorist high-command suggests that drones are the most effective and efficient way to target terrorists at the least human cost.

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