Sunday, October 24, 2010

The impact of U.S.-Arab arms deal: Balancing competing interests - ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’

by M. Ulric Killion

McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F-15 Eagle Air Superiority Fighter. DESCRIPTION: Forseeing the need to replace its fleet of F-4 Phantoms, the US Air Force issued the FX requirement for a long-range air superiority fighter in 1965. Performance requirements called for beyond visual range air-to-air capability, close-in dogfighting capability, twin engines, an internal gun, sufficient ferry range to deploy to Europe without refueling, and a maximum speed of Mach 2.5. McDonnell Douglas was selected over rivals North American and Fairchild Republic to build what would become the F-15 Eagle. . . . 

Although the Air Force had originally intended to order some 730 F-15A single-seat fighters and F-15B two-seat combat-capable trainers, only about 410 were built before production switched to the more capable F-15C/D models. . . .  Later F-15C/D models also received more powerful F100-220 engines plus the faster APG-70 radar with better resolution and greater memory when compared to the earlier APG-63. Older F-15A/B and F-15C/D models have also been progressively upgraded through an ambitious Mid-Service Improvement Program (MSIP). . . . The potential of the basic F-15 airframe has been further exploited through the development of the two-seat F-15E strike model that adds a potent surface attack capability. Older F-15A/C vehicles will begin to be replaced by the F-22 by about 2010. . . . ( Museum – F-15 Eagle).

Arab states transition from defensive to offensive capability

On October 20, 2010, the Obama administration gave notice to the U.S. Congress of its “plans for a multiyear, multibillion-dollar weapons deal with Saudi Arabia.” By doing so the Obama administration, according to Andrew Shapiro (U.S. State Department) intends to further “align the Saudi military relationship with the United States and allow the kingdom to better protect its security and oil structure, which is critical to our economic interests.”

The proposed arms deal is estimated to be worth up to $60 billion over a 20 year period, which is a deal that also includes the sale of “F-15 fighter aircraft and almost 200 helicopters, and the upgrading of 70 older-model F-15s” (Adam Levine, US plans $60 billion, 20-year arms deal with Saudi Arabia, CNN, October 20, 2010). Notwithstanding Congress exercising its right to raise objections within 30 days, the Obama administration will likely succeed in pushing its plan through Congress.

Additionally, the plan also includes “trainers, simulators, generators, spare and repair parts, and other related elements of program support, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the Pentagon unit charged with executing the program and processing the transaction. Some of the prime contractors involved are Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Electric, according to DSCA Public Affairs Officer Charles Taylor.”

Members of the U.S. Congress presently appear divided on this issue. The concerns are many and vary. For instance, some members of Congress are prioritizing the issue of Israel maintaining military superiority in the region, other members of Congress are emphasizing the possibility of sparking an arms race in the region (i.e., raising the level of military technology), and then other members are flatly against arms sales. This is because of Saudi Arabia’s alleged history of financing terrorism (See; letter of objection by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), the lead author of the letter, and other members of Congress; Hilary Leila Krieger, Some Congressmen come out against US-Saudi arms deal, The Jerusalem Post, September 17, 2010).

In support of Krieger’s position, the United States 9/11 Commission report did earlier find that, “Saudi Arabia has been a problematic ally in combating Islamic extremism” (Cade Wallace, Record breaking U.S.-Saudi Arms Sale Likely to happen, deal likely to Happen, September 15, 2010). There is also the concern about oil and/or access to oil, securing sea-lanes for oil transport, or simply, the geopolitics of oil. Then there is the added benefit of the arms sales creating an additional 75,000 U.S.-jobs (Wallace, 2010).

The U.S. intends to rearm its Arab allies in the Persian gulf. Photo/Deutsche Welle/Oct. 21, 2010.

Arms sales to Saudi Arabia, however, constitute only a part of the total arms sales package. This is because the arms deal as struck is actually between the U.S., Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, and Kuwait.

The total arms deal is estimated at up to $122.88 billion (88.4 billion euros) over the next four years and will be among the largest rearmament exercises the Persian Gulf has ever seen if and when it is approved by the U.S. Congress.

For instance, notwithstanding arms sales to Saudi Arabia, though the largest component of the proposed Gulf deal at an estimated $60 to $67 billion, the UAE will spend up to $40 billion on Lockheed Martin’s THAAD high-altitude missile defense system and join Kuwait in upgrading its existing Patriot missile batteries.

Further, Kuwait will also replace and upgrade its warplanes and command and control systems to the tune of $7 billion, while Oman will spend $12 billion to do the same with 18 new F-16 jet fighters and upgrades for another 12 thrown in for good measure. (Nick Amies, US takes calculated risks with Arab arms deals in volatile Persian Gulf, Deutsche Welle, October 21, 2010).

Assessing the Impact of the Arab Arms Deal

The objections to the intended Arab arms deal or sales are many and problematically as couched have a tendency to over-simply the many issues that are actually at stake.

A short article recently authored by Anthony H. Cordesman, which is titled, U.S.-Saudi Security Cooperation and the Impact of U.S. Arms Sales (Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 14, 2010),  provides an excellent summary of these many issues, as well as the need to balance these many competing issues and attendant interests.

All of which, admittedly, can also be said to justify divergent opinions coming from the halls of the U.S. Congress on whether to approve or disapprove of the Arab arms sales.

An excerpt from Anthony H. Cordesman’s (2010) article follows.
U.S.-Saudi security cooperation is becoming steadily more important as Iran expands its capabilities for asymmetric warfare in the Gulf, increases its long-range missile forces, and moves toward a capability to build and deploy nuclear weapons. The same is true of the enduring threat from terrorism, dealing with Iraq’s weakness and uncertain political leadership, the problems of Yemen, and instability and piracy in the Red Sea area and Indian Ocean.
The United States needs all the friends it can find in the Gulf. It faces serious uncertainties in reshaping its security posture in the region as its forces depart from Iraq. These include Iraq’s uncertain future political stance and government, the inability to predict Iranian actions and alignments, the uncertain outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and uncertainties surrounding the success or failure of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. . . .
Meeting the Challenge of Iran
Large as these arms transfers may seem, it is important to understand that the weapons numbers involved are relatively limited, given the overall size of forces in the Gulf. Moreover, their actual cost and size will only become clear once firm contracts are signed, and major deliveries will occur over at least a five-year period. They meet key Saudi concerns in force expansion and modernization, provide the basis for full interoperability with U.S. forces in a crisis or conflict, and give Saudi Arabia a significant “edge” in air superiority against Iran. Moreover, they given the kingdom the ability to improve the overall protection of its borders and coasts, assist in countering any serious terrorist attacks, and deal with any attacks or challenges in Yemen and the Red Sea area.
From a U.S. viewpoint, these arms transfers are part of a new post–Iraq War security structure that can secure the flow of energy exports to the global economy. They reinforce the level of regional deterrence rather than threaten it; and they help reduce the size of forces the United States must deploy or be ready to project into the region. They also help ensure the U.S. strategic position in the region at time when other powers like China are becoming key players in global energy and when recycling “petrodollars” is even more important than in the past.
Hopefully, a combination of such U.S. and Saudi efforts will create an effective deterrent and not have to be used. The United States also can never take Saudi willingness to support U.S. military operations for granted, particularly after U.S. miscalculations in Iraq. The fact remains, however, that U.S.-Saudi ties are critical to both deterrence and defense, to any effective effort to check Iran’s expanding military capabilities, and to any hope that regional security structures can advance to the point where the United States can create a far more limited and “over-the-horizon” military presence and set of contingency capabilities. . . . (Source: U.S.-Saudi Security Cooperation and the Impact of U.S. Arms Sales | Center for Strategic and International Studies).
Conclusion: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’

What Cordesman’s insightful article reveals more than anything else is the inherent uncertainty of any actions taken by the U.S., other non-Middle East countries, or Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia. As Cordesman observed, “At the same time, neither the United States nor its Gulf allies have any reason to seek open confrontation with Iran. This is particularly true of the Gulf states. ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’ may not be an old Arab proverb, but Arab leaders have long practiced this with considerable success.”

Indeed, Cordesman’s prescription for addressing these issues – compelling needs and interests – is both intuitive and practical. In other words, as concerns peace and security in the Middle East, the new order of the day may well be many needs and interests and an ability to juggle these many competing needs and interests, while in the same instance avoiding an open confrontation with Iran.
Copyright © Protected - All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2010.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our favorite Russian spy Anna Chapman: modern Mata Hari or wannabe femme fatale

by M. Ulric Killion 
Our favorite Russian spy Anna Chapman.

Speaking of the modern Mata Hari, maybe she speaks Russian. 

As for Russia and their spies, there is also the infamous Russian spy ring recently arrested and deported. On June 29, 2010, it was reported by news media outlets that a ring of 11 Russian moles right out of a Cold War spy novel was smashed.  

“Even though the Russian spy ring that included Anna Chapman failed to do much of anything other than get caught, the Kremlin has bestowed the country’s highest honor on the agents who were deported from the United States nearly three months ago” (New York: CBS). 

The most famous of the spies, of course, is fiery red-head Anna Chapman, who unlike her fellow spies, has chosen to embrace her new found popularity posing for various magazines and making public appearances. 

Her  most recent public appearance is in a scantly clad outfit in Maxim Magazine (俄美女间谍登上男性杂志封面-英语点津, October 20, 2010). 

The cover of Maxim. Russian spy Anna Chapman posed in the Russian version of Maxim magazine in the most provocative photographs yet to appear of the secret agent who was deported from the United States in July.
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Russian spy Anna Chapman posed in the Russian version of Maxim magazine in the most provocative photographs yet to appear of the secret agent who was deported from the United States in July. A photograph on shows red-haired Chapman dressed in nylon and lace and posing with a handgun. “Anna Chapman has done more to excite Russian patriotism than the Russian soccer team,” wrote Maxim. Nine other spies were deported from the United States with her. The Kremlin has seized on the Cold War aspects of the case to try to boost the prestige of its intelligence services and avert what has widely been seen as a major disgrace for Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), a successor to the KGB. . . .
(Read by Lee Hannon. Lee Hannon is a journalist at the China Daily Website.) (点击查看更多双语新闻) (Agencies).
. . . 俄罗斯美女间谍安娜•查普曼日前为男性时尚杂志《Maxim》(俄罗斯版)拍摄了一组极其性感撩人的照片。该期杂志尚未上架发售。美女间谍安娜今年7月被美国遣返回国。 网站刊登的一张照片显示,红发披肩的查普曼身穿吊带裤袜和蕾丝内衣,还举着把手枪。《Maxim》杂志写道:“在激起俄罗斯人的爱国精神方面,安娜•查普曼的贡献比俄罗斯足球队大得多。” 与她一同被美国遣返的还有另外九名间谍。克里姆林宫方面抓住了这起事件的冷战特性,试图以此提振情报部门的声望,避免该事件被普遍看作克格勃的后继者俄罗斯对外情报局的极大耻辱. . . . (俄美女间谍登上男性杂志封面-英语点津).


As for the original Mata Hari  (1876-1917), this was the namesake or the stage name of a Dutch exotic dancer and prostitute named Gertrud Margarete Zelle, who was shot by the French as a spy on October 15, 1917 ( 

One can reasonably assume that Mata Hara would have hardly found objectionable being asked to pose in a modern men’s magazine, or any other variety of magazines, though it is not meant to imply that Maxim Magazine is a smut rag.  

The association with the likes of a Mata Hari is also appropriately befitting her because intelligence gathering today, however, is not about people who clandestinely gather information and pass it along to spy masters. 

For example, the type of spying that occurred during the 18th century. or early days of the American Revolution, when many Philadelphia women passed key information along to General Washington at Valley Forge.


Then there is Rosie White’s recent book, Violent femmes: women as spies in popular culture (Routledge, 2007), which explores the role of female spies, especially Violent Femmes in popular culture (i.e., popular fiction, television and film), though Anna Chapman is arguably better described as a “wannabe” femme fatale, or simply, party girl, rather than Violent Femme (See book review). 

In the end, as for what to make of this Russian spy ring, especially Anna Chapman, it all reads like pulp fiction. It’s the kind of stuff that is too strange to have been made up.
Copyright © Protected - All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2010.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rousseau, Liberty, and Legality of Property

by M. Ulric Killion 

Rousseau’s “Social Contract” turned a political system on its head.

In his The Social Contract (Du Contrat Social ou Principes du Droit Politique, 1762), Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a citizen of Geneva, as he often fancied himself, did address, though indirectly, the right to property, when he was explicating his famous theory of the social compact. While Rousseau’s Émile (Émile, ou de l’éducation; Emile: or, on Education, 1762) serves as an exemplar or precursor to nineteenth century Romanticism and its rejection of reason as the sole criteria for truth and the exaltation of feelings, it is his Social Contract, more importantly, though man was happy in the state of nature, which addressed the critical seventeenth century and late-eighteenth century issues of improving the human condition. 

Rousseau always believed that things should not have turned out as bad as they did. This is because if with the establishment of government (i.e., a political organization), as Rousseau explained, men “ran headlong into chains,” it is due to man possessing the intuitive sense to recognize the advantages of political organizations, but lacking the good sense to foresee the dangers. In the opening sentence of Du Contrat, at Social. Chapitre Premier, Rousseau announced to the world, “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains” (L’Homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers). 

The citizen of Geneva recognized that humankind’s acceptance of the shackles of a governing political organization served as a defense against the dangers of a destructive anarchy. This recognition, however, presented the problematic of who shall decide what constraints shall apply to a governing political organization. Rousseau approached this problem by addressing the issue of what constitutes the false justifications of the concept of a state, such as the natural origin of the state in the physical sense. Rousseau’s approach to this problem challenged a philosophical tradition that associates with scientists, scholars, and philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, Hugo Grotius, and Aristotle, including those proponents remaining faithful to religious fundamentalism (Broome, 1963).       

Rousseau opined that might is not right, thereby challenging a thesis that would later associate with the German metaphysician Immanuel Kant. By advocating that might is not right, Rousseau was able to return to his earlier thesis in his Second Discourse (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, or Discours sur l'origine de l'inegalité or Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les homes, 1775), and thereby present his earlier distinction between power and authority. A distinction that is in grave contrast to later thoughts of Kant (i.e., I will what I please). Such as in Kant’s Groundwork (Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, 1785), and his depiction of a moral world where all good agents share a kingdom of ends (Reich der Zwecke). 


However, after avoiding the notion of the divine right of Kings and proclaiming that no man has natural authority over other men (i.e., might is not right), Rousseau was then able to advance his thesis that legitimate political authority (i.e., a legitimate governing political organization) has a conventional basis, which is contingent on his finding that one variant of the alleged contract is invalid, such as the classic argument against slavery, which is also an earlier classical defense (i.e., argument) made by Aristotle. 

Rousseau emphasized the freewill as an elemental characteristic of humankind, while also exalting the concept of liberty. However, the invocation of freewill and liberty required a social contract, which is the true social contract, thereby providing legitimacy for a governing political organization. The true contract allows individuals to accomplish what they could not do by acting in the singular rather than in cooperation with others. For the true contract they must organize, but do so in disregard of their self-interest and freedom. This is the price that must be paid when transitioning to the social state, because, and borrowing from the words of Denis Diderot, or his play, which is his Le Fils naturel (The natural son, 1757), “Only the bad man lives alone.” 

In contrast to the social contracts of John Locke and Hobbes, Rousseau distinguishably proclaimed, “l’ aliénation totale de chaque associé avec tous ses droits à toute la communauté.” This is Rousseau’s famous total and equal surrender of All to All, or the will of all (volonté de tous), which represents the sum of individuals. The surrender manifested the guarantee of justice, thereby, in theory, manifesting the same happiness as that of the state of nature (i.e., absence of evil), while also preserving liberty. This is due to the will of all not requiring any individual to surrender to another. A true society and a public person rather than public “thing” evolve from the resulting reciprocity of the requisite surrender, as there is now a new entity with a moral personality of its own.  

This new entity is what Rousseau characterizes as the General Will (volonté générale), which is the in realty sui generis (i.e., a unified whole), and all are required to submit to the General Will as members of the society. The General Will is distinguishable from other social contract theories. This is because all political authority and the entirety of the community possessing it or the Sovereign, reside within this General Will. It is the General Will that properly guides the decisions of a society, rather than the volonté de tous or the sum of their individual self-interests. 

For these reasons, Rousseau’s social compact addressed, though implicitly, both the right to property and the social status of individuals. This is because Rousseau, actually, addressed the social compact from both a moral and materialist perspective. Rousseau’s Second Discourse, admittedly, condemned property as a symbol of unrestrained selfishness. In The Social Contract, however, Rousseau allowed for the legal recognition of property. However, the legal recognition of property is subject to the General Will and the restrictions that the General Will may authorize. 

As for the legal recognition of property or the right to property, according to Broome (1963), “[T]he moral implications of the Contract are presented as so important as virtually to transform an animal into a man: that is, an intelligent being, who exchanges natural independence for moral liberty, and the restrictions of nature for the rule of reason.” As Rousseau wrote: “On pourrait, sur ce qui précède, ajouter à l’acquis de l’état civil la liberté morale, qui seule rend l’homme vraiment maître de lui; car l’impulsion du seul appétit est esclavage, et l’obéissance à la loi qu’on s’est prescrite est liberté. Mais je n’en ai déjà que trop dit sur cet article, et le sens philosophique du mot liberté n’est pas ici de mon sujet.”

Original version Rousseau, Liberty, and Legality posted at M. Ulric Killion’s Live Space, February 1, 2009.

emile_L25 J.-J. Rousseau, Émile, ou de l’éducation, 1762).

origine J.-J. Rousseau, Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les homes (1755), (Gérard Mairet, ed.) (LGF-Livre de Poche, 1996)
Copyright © Protected - All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2009.