Sunday, February 1, 2009

On BHO's executive orders on detainee treatment

Obama’s Torture Loopholes, by Prof. James Hill
Global Research, January 26, 2009

On January 22, 2009, President Obama signed a number of executive orders purporting to end the Bush administration’s abusive practices in dealing with treatment of terrorism suspects. Before Americans get too elated, however, they should look carefully at the inhumane interrogation practices these orders may still permit.

When first announced, the new president’s executive orders seemed cause for celebration, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to feature a link on its website encouraging visitors to email the president and “Send Him Thanks!”

The ACLU summarized the new orders:

President Obama . . . ordered the closure of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay within a year and the halting of its military commissions; the end of the use of torture; the shuttering of secret prisons around the world; and a review of the detention of the only U.S. resident being held indefinitely as a so-called “enemy combatant” on American soil. The detainee, Ali al-Marri, is the American Civil Liberties Union’s client in a case pending before the Supreme Court.

Like many reacting to the president’s orders, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero expressed unbridled enthusiasm:

These executive orders represent a giant step forward. Putting an end to Guantanamo, torture and secret prisons is a civil liberties trifecta, and President Obama should be highly commended for this bold and decisive action so early in his administration on an issue so critical to restoring an America we can be proud of again.[1]

Torture by US officials has long been illegal, but the president’s executive order entitled “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations” seems to clarify, to some extent, what activities are proscribed. Disappointingly, though, this order contains loopholes big enough to drive a FEMA camp train through them.

Loophole 1: Torture is prohibited only of persons detained in an “armed conflict.”

The executive order applies only to “armed conflicts,” not counterterrorism operations.

The order states in part:

Consistent with the requirements of the Federal torture statute, . . . the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, . . . the [United Nations] Convention Against Torture, [the Geneva Conventions] Common Article 3, and other laws regulating the treatment and interrogation of individuals detained in any armed conflict, such persons shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment), whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States [emphasis added].

This sounds salutary: America should not torture people detained in armed conflicts. But are such conflicts the only situations in which the US military, federal agencies, and private security companies can detain people today in the name of the war on terror?

Hardly. Many US and foreign citizens have been detained in counterterrorism operations, which another of Obama’s January 22 executive orders carefully differentiates from armed conflicts.

In that other executive order, entitled “Review of Detention Policy Options,” a special task force is commissioned to review procedures for detention suspects. This order clearly distinguishes between “armed conflicts” and “counterterrorism operations”:

The mission of the Special Task Force shall be to conduct a comprehensive review of the lawful options available to the Federal Government with respect to the apprehension, detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations, and to identify such options as are consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.

As the president has made this distinction, so should we.

To date, counterterrorism operations have resulted in hundreds of arrests of persons in America and abroad, having nothing whatever to do with any armed conflict. Does President Obama wish limits on what is done to these people when detained and interrogated? His executive order on torture is silent on the issue.

Moreover, we know that many Guantanamo detainees from Pakistan and Afghanistan were sold to US officials by bounty hunters paid up to $25,000 per detainee, regardless of innocence.[2] Are these persons to be considered “individuals detained in [an] armed conflict”? Or must they be arrested while fighting on the battlefield to fit this qualification? Put differently, are blameless, uneducated goat herders who were sold into detention by warlords and mercenaries exempted from the president’s clarified prohibition of torture, simply because they never stepped foot on a battlefield?

Another concern is the US military’s deployment in American cities, which began on October 1, 2008, according to the Army Times.[3] Perhaps this deployment is in preparation for social unrest in the event of an economic collapse. If martial law were declared in America , how would citizens be treated? What if they were detained in FEMA detention facilities? Could they be tortured under the umbrella of “counterterrorism operations” because that is different from “armed conflict”?

To Americans wishing to remain free of torture, a far greater threat than detention during armed conflict is that resulting from what the federal government labels as counterterrorism operations, conducted both on US soil and overseas. Unfortunately, President Obama has not yet clearly addressed torture in this category.

Loophole 2: Only the CIA must close detention centers.

President Obama has ordered the CIA to close detention centers, except those “used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis,” which can stay open indefinitely. Exactly how long a duration is “short-term” and “transitory” is unclear.

The executive order states:

The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future.

This sounds wonderful, but what about other federal agencies? Can the FBI, National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security, and Defense Intelligence Agency maintain detention facilities where torture may occur? Can private military contractors like Blackwater do so? Under one interpretation of Obama’s executive order on torture, those facilities may still operate and even expand, provided the CIA doesn’t control them. Is it cynical to suspect this could be window dressing?

Loophole 3: Officials may still hide some detainees and abusive practices from the Red Cross.

On the Red Cross’s monitoring of detainees, the executive order reads:

All departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall provide the International Committee of the Red Cross with notification of, and timely access to, any individual detained in any armed conflict in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States Government, consistent with Department of Defense regulations and policies.

Here again, if a detainee is not one captured on the battlefield by US soldiers in an armed conflict, Obama’s order provides no guidance as to his fate. Government and private thugs may evidently still brutalize detainees obtained in counterterrorism operations and hide them from the Red Cross, unless and until the president issues a further executive order, or Congress passes a law, closing this loophole.

Loophole 4: Abuses not labeled “torture” may continue.

Obama’s executive order on torture does not label any particular practice “torture,” but instead requires that future interrogation practices conform to those outlined in the Army Field Manual. This may be in deference to Bush administration officials who authorized procedures like waterboarding while simultaneously declaring, “ America does not torture.” Debate in some circles will doubtless continue, therefore, over whether waterboarding; deprivation of food, water, and sleep; humiliation; and infliction of severe bodily pain and injury indeed constitute torture.

The executive order imparts the following limitations:

Effective immediately, an individual in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, in any armed conflict, shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2-22.3 (Manual). Interrogation techniques, approaches, and treatments described in the Manual shall be implemented strictly in accord with the principles, processes, conditions, and limitations the Manual prescribes [emphasis added].

By this language, waterboarding and other harsh interrogation procedures are prohibited by implication because they are not authorized by the Army Field Manual. But like other parts of Obama’s order, this prohibition apparently applies only to persons detained in an armed conflict. As discussed above, we are left to wonder whether detainees grabbed in counterterrorism operations can continue being tortured.


The loopholes in President Obama’s executive order on torture may permit cruel abuses of prisoners to continue, using a legal parlor trick. Labeling detainees the product of counterterrorism operations rather than of armed conflict, or holding detainees in detention facilities operated by entities other than the CIA, may allow government agents and private contractors conforming to the letter of the president’s order to continue practices most would consider torture. The president should close these loopholes or explain to Americans why he won’t.

James Hill is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, and a clinical assistant professor of radiology at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. The views expressed are solely his own.


[1] ACLU Press Release: President Obama Orders Guantánamo Closed And End To Torture; at
[2] See: Andy Worthington: The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 759 Detainees in America 's Illegal Prison. Pluto Press, 2007; and: Jeffery Rosen: Voices of Victims (a review of My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me, by Mahvish Rukhsana Khan). The New York Times, August 10, 2008, at
[3] Gina Cavallaro: Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1. Army Times, September 30, 2008, at http//

How "Child Safety" May Kill NYC Jobs

How "Child Safety" May Kill NYC Jobs. By Jeff Stier, Esq.
American Council on Science and Health, Wednesday, January 28, 2009

If Congress doesn't act quickly, tens of thousands of Americans will lose their jobs -- and several hundred New York businesses will get hit particularly hard.

The problem is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which Congress passed overwhelmingly last year because of fears about lead in toys from China. Bizarrely, the law threatens U.S.-based children's clothing makers as well as toy makers -- and even libraries. Its staggering, unintended consequences have prompted outrage from everyone from "mommy-bloggers" to some environmentalists.

In the name of safety, the law imposes absurd standards and insane testing requirements. These aren't based on science, but on political hysteria -- and they're a major burden on business. In this recession, they could close down countless companies whose products are perfectly safe.
One example: The law not only requires testing of components of children's clothing for tiny levels of lead, but also separate testing of each different style of clothes, even if made from the same materials.

What's worse, the Consumer Product Safety Commission interprets the law to apply to kid's clothing retroactively. So products already en route to stores -- even if they contain no lead -- will be illegal to sell after Feb. 10 if they haven't been tested.

Wal-Mart is telling its suppliers that everything it has in stock that hasn't already been tested must be out of stores by Feb. 1 -- even if that means sending the stuff back to suppliers.
This is creating chaos for everyone involved in making and selling children's items. Unless Congress acts now, tens of millions of dollars worth of safe children's clothing will be destroyed -- and that's from New York City clothing makers alone.

Dozens of small, family-owned New York businesses, already struggling, will shut down and/or lay off their workers. The city could lose a quarter to a half of its 8,000 garment-industry jobs within weeks. Cory Silverstein of Kids Headquarters on 34th Street fears he may have to lay off close to 100 of his 600 employees in the city.

Meanwhile, the test requirements will make children's clothing more expensive.

Opponents of this "safety" law include not just businesses but activists like Chicago writer and environmentalist Manda Aufochs Gillespie, a.k.a. "the Green Mama." She writes that it "has made things much harder than they need to be": Even products that already meet much-stricter organic-certification requirements, as well as European Union standards, are not exempt from the "safety" testing requirements.

Companies like Chapter One Organics are also angry -- because big business can absorb the costs and pass them along to consumers, while smaller companies will be forced out of business.
The law's onerous testing requirements may even apply to children's books. If so, until every single children's book is certified safe, libraries would be off-limits to children. So the American Library Association is lobbying for a quick fix to exempt libraries from the law.

But the law is so fundamentally flawed that it can't just be tweaked -- it must be repealed. Then, Congress can consider a more science-based approach to safety that protects children without destroying whole industries.

The immediate need, however, is for Congress to simply delay the law from taking effect. If it doesn't act now, thousands of small businesses will close and consumers will pay more for everything they buy their kids.

Jeff Stier is an associate director of the American Council on Science and Health.

Russia's Drive for Global Economic Power: A Challenge for the Obama Administration

Russia's Drive for Global Economic Power: A Challenge for the Obama Administration. By Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., and Lajos F. Szaszdi, Ph.D.
Heritage, January 30, 2009

Full text w/references here

Until the recent global financial crisis, Russia's eco­nomic revival during the presidency of Vladimir Putin had helped to restore the country's standing as a major player in the world arena. Yet, prosperity has come with some unintended consequences. Russia's inva­sion of Georgia was fueled by Russia's economic growth and newfound wealth.

This economic comeback is largely the result of Russia's oil and natural gas exports, coupled with the high prices that other Russian commodities have enjoyed in world markets. With the seventh-largest oil reserves and the largest gas reserves in the world, and as the leading exporter of oil and gas, the Kremlin is using its energy exports, revenue from arms and met­als sales, and investments abroad in the mining and energy sectors to extend Russia's influence worldwide.

The interruption of gas supply to Ukraine and the rest of Europe in January 2009 resulted in the worst energy crisis in Europe since the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, and once again raised questions about Russia's reliability as an energy supplier.[1] In the recent past, Russia has already prevented Caspian oil and gas sup­plies from flowing freely to the European markets; has threatened to disrupt oil exports that pass through Georgian territory when it invaded Georgia last August; has acquired, and is in the process of acquiring, major European energy companies, as well as pipelines, refin­eries, and other assets in more than a dozen countries. Moscow is also targeting the strategic Middle Eastern oil sector and is displacing Western energy companies operating in OPEC founding member Venezuela.

Beyond that, Russia has dominant global posi­tions in the strategic and precious metals sectors including titanium, platinum, and other precious metals used in aerospace industries, electronics, and military and automotive production. A major Krem­lin-connected oligarch owns the world's largest alu­minum company and has been accused of corrupt practices in the U.S., Germany, Nigeria, and Guinea, while the Russian banking sector is tied in with organized crime.

Moscow's expanding business interests have made Europe highly--and dangerously--dependent on Russian oil, gas, and raw materials. Russia currently supplies two-thirds of Europe's imported natural gas--42 percent of total European consumption; Central and Eastern European countries depend on Russian gas for more than 90 percent of their needs. By 2030, Europe will import 84 percent of its gas needs.[2] Europe has not developed alternative sources of gas, and has rejected nuclear power and coal. Since natural gas is supplied by pipelines controlled by Gaz­prom, the Russian state gas monopoly, these countries cannot easily turn to other suppliers. Thus, Europe has tied itself to dependence on a commodity supplier with a track record of geopolitical intimidation as opposed to a free-market relationship.

Severe repercussions for Europe's national secu­rity dependence on Russian energy are widely rec­ognized by the European Union and individual countries. Europe has now "stepped up its attempts to reduce its exposure to potential Russian blackmail over energy supplies," reports Ian Traynor in The Guardian. The European Commission unveiled "an ambitious strategy aimed at weakening Russian giant Gazprom's domination of Europe's gas imports." "We must not sleepwalk into Europe's energy dependence crisis," said Jose Manuel Barroso, EU Commission President.[3] Russia is trying to replicate this model in other areas as well, such as electricity and raw-materials exports by state-owned corporations, as demonstrated below.

Russia also aims to become a major energy sup­plier and provider of raw materials to countries of the Asia-Pacific region, including China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Such a goal, if accomplished, will greatly enhance Russian lever­age in the Pacific Rim.

Controlling Eurasia

Russia's war with Georgia was as much about Moscow's plans to annex South Ossetia and Abkha­zia as it was to reassert economic domination of the Caucasus by force and prevent additional oil and gas pipelines from being built outside Russian con­trol. Russia sent the signal by temporarily control­ling the cargo port of Poti and Georgia's main highway and railway line and by threatening the safety--and thus the viability--of current and future oil and gas pipelines that bypass Russia.

The Russian invasion and partial occupation had the intended effect of persuading Kazakhstan to drop its investment plans for Georgia. The Kazakh state oil and gas company KazMunaiGas announced in September that it would abandon its plan to build an oil refinery in the Georgian port of Batumi, and not long before that, the Kazakh gov­ernment also announced it would not build a grain-export terminal in the port of Poti. This ter­minal would have enabled Kazakhstan to export part of its grain production through an alternative route, bypassing Russia.[4]

For years, Russian energy policy was a crafty tool of power projection in Eurasia. Russian state-con­trolled entities like Gazprom used mysterious, eco­nomically useless affiliates to ensnare local political leaders in corruption, thus co-opting them. Exam­ples include Rosukrenergo (with Ukraine) as well as Gazprom-Zeromax in Uzbekistan. Energy deals are used to entangle the local regimes, ensuring their political dependence on Moscow.

Moscow has not only used its resources and eco­nomic prowess to exert its influence in the former Soviet states of Eurasia. Russia's neo-corporatist state[5] is also pursuing an anti-American agenda and challenging the existing global economic system. It seeks control or influence of sectors that are of par­amount importance to American and European security, such as special materials like platinum, titanium, and other rare metals; defense technolo­gies, such as the European aircraft manufacturer EADS; and energy resources and infrastructure, such as U.S. Getty, Spain's Repsol, Germany's Ruhr­gas, refineries, and a slew of companies in Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, and elsewhere. Russia seeks to establish platforms from which it can more easily conduct industrial and classic espionage, money laundering, and other covert activities, and increase political dependency through corruption. Moscow is also seeking influ­ence in the developing world, as well as challenging the independence and security of Europe, including major powers like Germany and Italy, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, in which the United States has national security interests.

The Tools for Global Cooperation

The U.S. should cooperate with its friends and allies on combating excessive dependency (beyond 25-30 percent) on Russian strategic raw materials and energy exports, such as oil, gas, coal, and elec­tricity. What is needed is a global security system for tracking investment activities by Russia and other anti-Western governments in industries and sectors with defense and security implications.

One of those tools is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). CFIUS is an inter-agency committee of the United States government that reviews the national security implications of foreign investments in U.S. compa­nies or operations. Chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury, CFIUS coordinates representatives from nine U.S. agencies including the Departments of Defense, State, Commerce, and Homeland Security.

The U.S. Treasury recently published final rules to strengthen security reviews of foreign invest­ments in U.S. businesses. As the former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson put it, the final regulations are intended to "strengthen the CFIUS process in a manner that reaffirms America's longstanding policy of openness to investment, consistent with the pro­tection of our national security."[6] The regulations clarify that transactions in which a foreign entity acquires less than a 10 percent stake in a U.S. busi­ness are not automatically exempt from a CFIUS review. Under the new procedures, a foreign inves­tor in a U.S. business considered "critical infrastruc­ture" is encouraged to consult with the CFIUS panel before filing a formal notice. This is a wise step in improving oversight of investments in critical infra­structure, resources, and financial systems on which our nation and our alliances depend.

The U.S. should also increase cooperative effortsamong the international intelligence and law enforcement agencies and independent experts to keep track of how the Russian state and oligarchs may be laundering money and engaging in corrup­tion and unfair competition. The Obama Adminis­tration should encourage, without dictating investment decisions,U.S. and other multinational companies to compete with Russian companies like Gazprom for pipeline and energy projects, as well as promote alternative market-based sources of energy and unconventional sources of fuels worldwide to counter any over-dependency on energy from coun­tries such as Russia, Iran and Venezuela, which overtly seek to counter the West's economic and military strength.

Russia's Economic March

The geo-economic and geopolitical implications of Russia's economic power projection abroad can­not be overstated: As the Russian state's main source of revenues, and as a foreign policy arm, it enables the Kremlin to extend Russia's influence on a global scale. Moscow exercises economic--and political-- influence over countries that depend on its resources. Russian exports and investment projects are an instrument for establishing and developing strategic relationships through the export of com­modities, arms, and nuclear technology.[7]

Since Vladimir Putin became president in spring of 2000, the Kremlin has backed the formation of "national champions" of the economy, state- or pub­licly owned corporate giants that are subservient to the government. Initially, the amalgamation of com­panies into big conglomerates was intended to help Russian companies compete successfully at home and abroad. But the massive corporations favored by the Kremlin soon became instruments of the Russian state's policy to dominate the national econ­omy and to project its power abroad through a trade-based foreign economic policy.

These state and private corporate players are subject to the instructions of the government in both business and geopolitical priorities. So impor­tant are such strategic sectors like oil and gas or the military-industrial complex that, together with the big corporations that dominate these sectors-- Gazprom, Rosneft, LUKoil, and Rostekhnologii (Russian Technologies)--they constitute one of the pillars of the Russian state, along with the other pil­lars of power: the military, the intelligence services, the police and law-enforcement agencies, and the government bureaucracy.

Indeed, the Kremlin has been using energy exports as a tool of its foreign policy. The most noto­rious example of this practice is cutting off or threat­ening to cut off oil and gas exports to any country that adopts policies that go against Russia's national interests. A recent example was the September 1, 2008, announcement to reduce the flow of gas to the European Union, reportedly announced by the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom soon after the 27 EU member countries agreed to halt negotiations with Russia for a new partnership agreement. The EU measure came in response to Russia's war against Georgia in August.

In another example of the use of energy exports as a tool of foreign policy, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in a veiled threat to Europe, urged on the eve of the same EU meeting that the construction work on the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipe­line, destined to export crude to the Asia-Pacific region markets, be accelerated.[8] The message was clear: If Europe does not want to buy Russian oil, Moscow can sell it to China, South Korea, and Japan. Currently, Europe imports from Russia a third of the oil and 40 percent of the natural gas it consumes.[9]

This is no coincidence, since Russia's global pos­ture is directed by now-Prime Minister Putin and his associates--KGB veterans. As Putin's former economic adviser Andrey Illarionov described it, the Russian Federation is being run as a corpora­tion.[10] Today, this "Russia Inc." operates essentially with a hierarchical structure in which Prime Minis­ter Putin is the equivalent of the CEO and chairman of the board, with President Dmitry Medvedev as a member and chief operating officer. While Presi­dent Medvedev is a civilian, Putin and many of his close allies are alumni of the Russian intelligence community. In a study conducted in 2006 by the Center for the Study of Elites at the Russian Acad­emy of Sciences,of 1,016 senior government offi­cials and elected members of Parliament, 26 percent belonged to the KGB or the post-Soviet intelligence agencies. That proportion grew to 78 percent when individuals with "unexplained gaps in résumés, unlikely career paths or service in organizations affiliated with the KGB" were included.[11]

More than five years ago it was suggested that up to 6,000 active duty and reserve members of the Russian intelligence community occupied positions of influence in the state.[12] It can be concluded that the alumni of the Russian intelligence apparatus control the state by controlling the government's civilian bureaucracy, the military, and the country's main economic sectors. As Daniel Treisman, profes­sor of political science at the University of Califor­nia, Los Angeles, pointed out, in Russia "the security forces' takeover of corporate boardrooms is coming to define Putin's regime,"[13] during his pres­idency and premierships.

Moscow business insider Oleg Shvartsman sug­gested that the goal of the members of the Russian intelligence services who occupy senior positions in the corporate world is to gain wealth for them­selves in addition to global power for Russia through business expansion abroad. There have been revelations by a businessman managing the assets of members of the Presidential Administra­tion from the so-called "siloviki" (men of power). These are officials with links to the FSB (the Federal Security Service and the main successor to the KGB) and SVR (the Foreign Intelligence Service, formerly the KGB's First Main Directorate) through the obscure Finansgroup company which claims assets worth around $3.2 billion.[14] Thus, huge amounts of money in the hands of the former members of the Russian intelligence apparatus could be employed for personal use, while vast state revenues can be directed to fund clandestine operations and other state activities.

Massive money laundering operations through the Bank of New York[15] and Republic Bank of New York are well documented and were the subject of congressional hearings.[16] According to publications in the Russian media, the Austrian Raiffeisen bank is reportedly involved in suspicious activities in the Russian gas sector and other questionable business transactions with ties to intelligence services.[17] Back in 2004, Czech counterintelligence sources revealed that the SVR invested "huge sums in local real estate, hotels, casinos, and entertainment com­plexes" in the Czech Republic, probably in order to obtain front companies for intelligence operations, to strengthen the SVR's (and the Russian state's) influence in the country, and possibly as alternative sources of funding outside of the regular control of the Russian leadership.[18]

It is little wonder that earlier last year U.S. Attor­ney General Michael Mukasey cited Russia and other Eurasian nations as places where "organized crimi­nals control significant positions in the global energy and strategic-materials markets. They are expanding their holdings in those sectors, which corrupts the normal functioning of these markets and may have a destabilizing effect on U.S. geopolitical interests."[19]He revealed that the U.S. government has re-assem­bled its Organized Crime Council to combat a new "hybrid criminal problem" involving alliances between foreign intelligence agencies and criminal groups. Mr. Mukasey said law-enforcement officials have "grave concern" about "so-called "iron triangles' of corrupt business leaders, corrupt government officials and organized criminals."[20]

Beyond Personal Wealth

The Russian leadership's ambition surpassed the drive for self-enrichment a long time ago. Putin and then-Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov meant every word when they set the goal for Rus­sia to become a world energy superpower. In 2006, Vladislav Surkov, Deputy Head of the Pres­idential Administration, aide to President Putin and ideological chief of Putin's regime, declared that "the idea of Russia as an energy superpower is…fully consistent" with the country becoming competitive economically.[21] Yet, ever cautious, at that year's Valdai Club meeting, President Putin rejected the idea that Russia wanted to become an "energy superpower," assuring the audience that his government wanted instead to provide stable energy supplies to world markets.[22]

A key instrument in the dream of Russia as an energy superpower is Gazprom, the world's largest gas company and Russia's state-owned gas monop­oly. Gazprom was the Kremlin's principal tool in the two gas supply interruptions to Europe, which were triggered by the gas prices disputes between Mos­cow and Kyiv.[23] Gazprom is rated as the company with the highest capitalization in Russia.[24] It is intended to become the core of a gas counterpart to OPEC, and its close energy ties with Iran, which has the second-largest gas reserves on earth, threaten market access and competitiveness, especially in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector, and as a result, stability of the world economy.

The recent agreement between Russia, Iran, and Qatar to form a "Gas Troika" (in the works for at least a year and a half) that would meet several times a year, could lead to unfair business practices, such as "the exchange of information about prices, devel­opment schedules and investment plans."[25] Russia, Iran, and Qatar hold 56 percent of global gas reserves, and the Iranian oil minister declared in October of last year that the three countries have reached an agreement on the formation of a "gas OPEC."[26] Less than a week later, Alexei Miller, Gaz­prom's deputy chairman of the board of directors and chairman of the management committee, said that the Gas Troika could become a formal organi­zation in November of 2008.[27] Later, Anatoly Yanovsky, deputy energy minister, disclosed that at a December 23 summit in Moscow, 16 gas-produc­ing countries, including the host nation, plan to sign a charter establishing an "organization of gas exporting countries."[28]

A Perfect Storm.

The international financial cri­sis has seemingly put a stop to Russia's dynamic efforts to expand its economic interests worldwide. Prime Minister Putin wrongly blamed the U.S. exclusively for the meltdown, which since May has affected Russia's stock exchanges, the RTS and the MICEX, with Russia's indexes losing thus far as much as 70 percent of their value.[29]

Several observers pointed out that the Russian invasion of Georgia made the financial problem worse, triggering a further outflow of capital out of fear of instability. Other problems have combined to create a perfect financial storm against Russia: Inter­national banks called loans of powerful oligarchs who before the crisis and their loss in value used their company shares as collateral for foreign loans; and oil prices and those of other commodities fell, including metals, causing grave financial damage to Russian state financing.[30]

Russia's financial benefits accruing from foreign trade are altering its international behavior. In early August 2008, the Russian government's Reserve Fund and National Welfare Fund held the equiva­lent of $162 billion, while its hard currency and gold reserves summed their highest point on August 8--the day Russian forces invaded Geor­gia--with more than $597 billion, the third-largestreserves in the world after China and Japan.[31] By December 5, Russia's hard currency and gold reserves were down to $437 billion, yet they lost $31 billion in one week from October 17 to 24, and $17.9 billion in the week of December 5.[32] These reserves are expected to continue to decline as the Russian government uses them to rescue the national economy from the effects of the interna­tional financial crisis, and if oil prices remain below $70 a barrel.[33]

The effects of the financial crisis in Russia have left many Russian companies and banks unable to repay their foreign loans without state intervention. Thus, the Russian Central Bank has provided liquidity to Russia's state development bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB): $50 billion to help enterprises in financial trouble pay their foreign creditors. This situation is allowing the Russian gov­ernment to take over failing banks and acquire stakes in struggling companies, strengthening the power and influence of the state.[34]

The crisis has also caused Russia's most powerful billionaire businessmen, with close links to the Kremlin, to incur combined losses of up to $230 billion. The one with the highest losses according to Forbes is Oleg Deripaska, who, until the crisis, was the wealthiest man in Russia and who had lost more than $16 billion by early October of an esti­mated $28 billion fortune before the crisis. Deri­paska is the owner of RUSAL, the largest aluminum and alumina producer in the world.[35] Other exam­ples include Roman Abramovich, who by the third week of October lost over $20 billion after his shares in steelmaker Evraz plummeted. The owner of steel producer Novolipetsk Steel (NLMK), Vladimir Lisin, lost $22 billion by early October, and the fortune of Severstal's Alexei Mordashov went down from $21.2 billion by March 2008 to $5.3 billion by early October.[36] LUKoil's owner Vagit Alekperov's value of his 20 percent stake in the oil company fell from $19.5 billion to $7.2 bil­lion by early October.[37]

All these private-sector companies with close Kremlin ties are involved in international trade and investment activities, serving as sources of tax reve­nues and hard currency for the Russian state, and as tools of the Kremlin to expand Russia's influence worldwide. The Kremlin might use this opportunity as well to try to gain controlling stakes of private companies that are in financial trouble, thus expand­ing the state's commanding role in the national econ­omy and in the long term give it further resources and power, enabling foreign adventurism.

Despite the fact that it will be cancelling plans for more drilling and oil refining, private oil company LUKoil still intends to buy a 30 percent stake in Repsol, the Spanish national oil company, as well as a refinery in Sicily, and is putting together a $1 bil­lion loan for that purpose.[38] It seems that the national corporate champions, such as LUKoil or Gazprom might see their expanding investment plans at home or abroad shelved due to lower oil prices, yet this is likely to be a temporary setback, depending on how quickly the international finan­cial markets in general and foreign investor confi­dence in Russia in particular recover.

Yet, Russian businesses are feeling the brunt of the crisis. The abysmal loss of value of Russian banks and companies' shares has led Bloomberg to declare the stocks of Russian companies as the cheapest in the world. Indeed, there seem to be fears in Russian nationalist circles that the low value of Russian com­panies' stakes could lead to free-for-all acquisitions of Russian stocks by Western financial interests. To avoid this outcome, the Russian state, through its banks like VEB and institutions like the Deposit Insurance Agency, is providing the loans and guar­antees needed by Russian banks and companies in distress. It is also using them to take control of failed banks.[39] But even the Russian state itself could go broke if the price of oil continues to fall.

Budgetary Woes

This petroleum windfall is also being used to win the loyalty of some European politicians. Such arrangements benefit Russian energy interests, as in Germany with regard to the Nord Stream gas pipe­line consortium chaired by former chancellor Ger­hard Schroeder for an annual compensation of 1,000,000 euros (about $1,270,000 in U.S. dol­lars).[40] Nord Stream also hired the Finnish prime minister as a consultant, triggering concerns in Europe about spreading corruption.[41] An extremely expensive project, the Nord Stream pipeline would reach from Russia along the Baltic Sea bottom to Germany, bypassing the Baltic states and Poland and denying them transit revenue, with spurs to the Netherlands and France. In Bulgaria, Hungary, Ser­bia, and Austria, the planned--and even more expensive--South Stream gas pipeline would stop the EU- and U.S.-backed Nabucco gas pipeline, which bypasses Russia. The cooperation of Schroeder and Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany is key in implementing Russian projects that undermine Europe's security of energy supply.

The anti-competitive practices of Russian compa­nies are spreading in the West and are undermining the rule of law as well as sound economic practices and business ethics. Gazprom, Rosneft, and their subsidiaries negotiate and make energy deals with foreign energy companies.[42] Such opaque business partnerships are shrouded in secrecy, politicize the energy business, and are devoid of free and fair com­petition. Worse, the opaque nature of such agree­ments between state energy companies leaves an ample margin for corrupt practices that violate both the law and business ethics. One notorious example are the allegations made against the Austrian Raiffeisen bank, which has been accused by the Rus­sian press of participating in a money laundering scheme that sent capital out of Russia and that involved senior Russian government officials with links to oil companies and ties to the FSB.[43]

What Russia Wants: "New World System"

Russia needs its oil price to be at least $70 a bar­rel in 2009 to avoid falling into budget deficits.[44] Its recent talks with OPEC may be directed at coordi­nating efforts to reduce oil production and thus rais­ing the price of oil, a goal also pursued in earnest by OPEC members Iran and Venezuela, whose national budgets depend on $70 a barrel to balance their budgets.[45] The budget deficit may also constrain some foreign policy tools Russia uses.

Attending an OPEC meeting in Vienna in Septem­ber 2008, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, a friend of Putin's, said that "OPEC is one of Russia's key partners on the global oil market" and that "it is very important for us to create mechanisms of regular dialogue" with the oil exporting organization.[46]

With Russia and OPEC responsible for a combined total of 51 percent of the world's oil,[47] Moscow's cooperation with OPEC to coordinate oil prices and production quotas would be a requisite for the further expansion of Russia's influence in the world. Even though the idea of Russia joining OPEC has been rejected by Russian officials, one of LUKoil's vice pres­idents declared recently that Russian membership of OPEC "will be only good for Russia" for "the future of the Russian industry and [oil] price stability."[48] Coop­eration with OPEC and the formation of a gas cartel are consistent with one of the objectives enunciated in the recent Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Fed­eration, which announced that Russia "strengthens strategic partnership with the leading producers of energy resources."[49]

Russia aims to challenge the current interna­tional financial system dominated by the U.S. and Western industrialized countries. At the St. Peters­burg Economic Summit in 2007, President Putin called for a new world economic framework based on regional alliances, relegating Bretton Woods-era global institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to the sidelines. He demanded that the new system reflect the rising power of emerging market economies like Russia, China, India, and Brazil, as well as the decline of the established powers: the United States, Japan, and Western European countries.[50]

Moscow is establishing "favorable political con­ditions for diversifying Russia's presence in the world markets through expanding the export range and geography of foreign economic and investment links of Russia."[51] At the same time, the Kremlin is promoting a multilateral, state-driven approach to the international economic and financial system to regulate the free markets globally, and using the ruble as the dominant currency in the Common­wealth of Independent States.

Speaking at the recent conference on the interna­tional financial crisis in Evian, France, Russian Pres­ident Medvedev said that "the formation of new financial centers and strong regional currencies will act as new stability factors" in the face of the crisis. While suggesting that the current international U.S.-based "unipolar economic model" is inefficient, Medvedev alluded to the "multi-polar nature of the world and the complexity of globalization." Medvedev is proposing that "the global financial architecture be changed, the role of the current inter­national institutions be reviewed, and new ones cre­ated to guarantee stability."[52] "It will take years to shape a new world system," Medvedev said.[53]

Another goal seems to be replacing the dollar in Russia's international trade transactions. Putin has proposed this goal to his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao for bilateral trade between Russia and China, which was estimated to reach $50 billion in 2008.[54]

Russia is following a multilateral approach to challenge the current international financial and trading system, as part of its overall strategy of pur­suing a multilateral world system, through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,[55] OPEC, a new gas OPEC, or new international financial bod­ies that would include China, India, EU member states, and challengers of the established interna­tional order such as Iran and Venezuela.

Influencing the international prices of oil and gas would be key for the economic recovery of the country as well as for funding military and indus­trial modernization and economic development programs at home.

Before the international financial crisis hit Rus­sia, an increasing share of its resources had been directed at the rearming of the military with modern weapon systems, and at increases in funding of the Ministry of the Interior, and of the security and intelligence services, such as the FSB domestic secu­rity service, the SVR foreign intelligence service, the GRU military intelligence, and the Border Guards under FSB supervision. Before the crisis, the Krem­lin planned to raise defense spending by 50 percent over three years, deploy an army rapid reaction force at a high level of operational readiness, and construct new nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.[56] It remains to be seen if the govern­ment's financial stabilization efforts at home will reduce spending in defense as well as activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of Russian gov­ernment propaganda and information warfare.

Arms Exports Boost Russia's Power

Russia is also a major world weapons exporter. The Kremlin aims to forge long-lasting military rela­tions and strategic partnerships with foreign coun­tries through the export of arms. Russia's military exports extend to Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia (primarily India), the Far East (mainly China), Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. To further centralize government control over the production of the military-industrial complex, the Kremlin has created an industrial behemoth, Rostekhnologii (Russian Technologies), which agglomerates 426 state enterprises. These include the defense export enterprise Rosoboronex­port, the aircraft manufacturing, non-ferrous met­als, and shipbuilding conglomerates to name just a few. Russia's titanium exports corporation, VSMPO- Avisma, vital for Airbus and Boeing, is now con­trolled by Rostekhnologii, which is planning to develop it into one of the largest non-ferrous-metals companies in the world.[57] Rostekhnologii will cen­tralize the planning and production of the various enterprises under its umbrella. It could also attempt to marshal together its various resources and coor­dinate its efforts to become a formidable competitor in the international market for arms, metals, and aerospace technology.

What the Obama Administration Should Do

If Russia were a friendly Euro-Atlantic power, the United States would be no more concerned about its economic activity than about that of France. Rus­sia's use of state-dominated businesses to enhance its geopolitical posture and gain dominance over U.S. allies' energy supply, however, should raise deep concerns in the Obama Administration and in European capitals. Free-market competition is and should remain a fundamental principle of U.S. trade policy; but America and its allies have a duty to their citizens to monitor, and, where necessary, prevent, any country's anti-market, political, covert, or illicit efforts to undermine our markets or our security, which Russia increasingly is aiming to do.

For example, Russian's growing control of Eur­asian energy resources and exports to Europe through non-market means is both strategically and economically burdensome, as well as dangerous. To better ensure that the U.S. and its allies have access to the energy that fuels their economies and their militaries, to prevent Russian domination in strate­gic sectors, and to counter corrupt and criminal activities of Russian corporations and tycoons, the Obama Administration should take early action to:

  • Ensure that CFIUS has the resources and sup­port it needs to conduct its investigations accord­ing to the law. The U.S. should urge its allies to develop similar institutions and processes to perform their own national security evaluations and screenings.
  • Increase cooperation among U.S. and allied intelligence services, law enforcement agencies, and independent experts to track Russian state and oligarch money laundering activities, cor­ruption, and unfair competition practices. The Obama Administration should make the collec­tion of actionable intelligence on questionable Russian activities by U.S. and allied law enforce­ment agencies a priority. Such intelligence is critical in gathering evidence necessary for achieving convictions in courts of law. Such intelligence includes, for instance, Russian banks providing credit card support for child pornography Web sites. The U.S. should exer­cise leadership in expanding international coop­eration among law enforcement agencies to prevent and stop complex trans-border crimes, such as money laundering, and those that involve current or former Russian government officials; oligarchs with close ties to Russia's political leaders; intelligence operatives; and persons with ties to organized crime. When U.S. laws--such as the Patriot Act (especially Section 312, proceeds of foreign corruption), the For­eign Investment and National Security Act of 2007 (FINSA), the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA), money laundering laws, the For­eign Corrupt Practices Act, G-8 anticorruption initiatives, and similar laws in allied jurisdic­tions--are violated by Russian entities, the U.S. and its allies should not hesitate to vigorously prosecute the offenders and confiscate, through appropriate court proceedings, illegally laun­dered funds and properties acquired with ille­gally procured funds, and aggressively deny visas to those government and business figures involved in the illicit activities.
  • Encourage U.S. and other multinational compa­nies to compete in economically viable energy and infrastructure projects overseas through free-trade, diplomatic and security support, and regulatory and tax policies that will enhance free competition without government-directed investment decisions. U.S. companies should be encouraged to compete for the Libyan and Trans-Saharan gas pipelines, Turkmenistan's gas fields, and other geopolitically significant ventures, which Russia is targeting in India, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
  • Promote market-viable alternative energy sources and unconventional sources of fuels worldwide to counter strategic dependency on Russian, Iranian, and Venezuelan oil. This should be accomplished through deregulation and trade and tax policies that encourage innovation and investment to develop, and through commercial­izing new sources of energy that best meet the needs of individual regions and nations. Western economies will be better off by expanding the supply of transportation fuels and reducing their Russian energy imports, thus reducing the influx of revenue into Kremlin coffers.
  • Expand security cooperation with Russia's energy-exporting neighbors and other countries that Russia is targeting for energy cooperation, including train-and-equip programs for military and security forces protecting pipelines, and officer corps education in U.S. military colleges. The U.S. should make use of NATO's Partnership for Peace program.

Conclusion: The Way Forward

Russia is being run as a corporation by the former senior members of the Russian intelligence community who strive to maximize profits and power, expanding global corporations for exports of raw materials and weapons. America's European allies and the newly independent states of Eurasia have already been subjected to Russia's heavy-handed policies and corrupt practices aimed at increasing their energy dependency, as well as a flurry of efforts to acquire critical infrastructure such as ports, pipelines, refineries, and energy dis­tribution networks.

The Kremlin has made clear that it intends to diminish America's standing as a world leader by promoting a "multipolar" world, and using its mili­tary, economic, and "soft" power to re-establish Rus­sia as America's near-peer competitor. The lower energy profits accruing to Moscow from the current global economic downturn can play a role in miti­gating Russia's anti-status quo foreign policy, and slow down the growth and modernization of its armed forces. But the U.S. should not rely on these developments. The U.S. should develop compre­hensive policies to handle Russia's economic power projection that is aimed at undermining American allies, power, and security interests, employing a mix of commercial, national security, intelligence, and diplomatic means.

Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Security and Lajos F. Szaszdi, Ph.D., was a Consultant in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

Afghanistan: major reduction in poppy cultivation in is now in reach

UN Secretary-General''s Special Representative for Afghanistan: major reduction in poppy cultivation in is now in reach
UN, New York, Feb 1 2009 11:10AM

Opium cultivation in Afghanistan is set to shrink this year, which could deal a major blow to the illicit drug industry, the top United Nations official to the war-torn country said today.

Since 2002, poppy production had increased every year until a small reduction last year, but a major reduction in is now in reach, the Secretary-General''s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, told journalists in Kabul.

At a press conference announcing the release of a new UN report, the Opium Rapid Assessment Survey, Mr. Eide said, "This year could be a turning point."

"There could be a reduction in each and every province in the country, and the number of poppy-free provinces could grow beyond 20 [of the country''s 34 provinces]," he added.

Similar to previous years, opium cultivation this year is expected to be virtually confined to the seven most unstable provinces in the south and south west of Afghanistan, where production has also been significantly reduced.

"Since this industry is so intimately linked to crime, corruption, and food insecurity, the effects could be wide-ranging, and very positive," said Mr. Eide.

In the south and south-west, the drop-off in opium cultivation is explained by high wheat prices, low opium prices and a lack of water in the face of severe drought, according to the report produced by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

In other parts of the country, the report attributes pressure from government authorities, food scarcity and effective pre-planting information campaigns for the decline in poppy cultivation.

Mr. Eide warned that "we could face a backlash instead of further progress" if the Government and donors do not take advantage of the window of opportunity presented by this year''s decrease in production.

"Governors need additional resources to enable them to demonstrate that reduction in poppy production leads to development today. They have huge responsibilities, but few resources," he said.

Highlighting the contribution made by the United States and the United Kingdom to the Good Performance Initiative, Mr. Eide urged other donors to support the effort.

The Special Representative called for other measures to break the country''s dependency on the illegal crop, including an increase in direct agricultural assistance to farmers and involving local community and religious leaders in the fight against poppy production.

"The survey shows that where such assistance was given, the communities tend to stoppoppy production.

As you are aware, agriculture has been a neglected sector. Both the government and donors must make sure that agriculture becomes a priority not only in rhetoric but in the allocation of resources.

How to Export an Awakening: Afghanistan, viewed from Iraq

How to Export an Awakening, by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Joshua D. Goodman
Afghanistan, viewed from Iraq.
The Weekly Standard, Feb 09, 2009, Volume 014, Issue 19

The United States needs a new military strategy in Afghanistan. In 2008, NATO casualties rose to an all-time annual high of 294, 155 of them U.S. soldiers. Roadside bombs and kidnappings doubled last year. Underscoring the gravity of the situation, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, warned the House Armed Services Committee in September, "I'm not convinced we're winning in Afghanistan."

In October, General David Petraeus--best known for revamping American strategy in Iraq--inherited responsibility for Afghanistan when he assumed command of CENTCOM (whose purview stretches from Egypt and the Horn of Africa all the way through Central Asia). None knows better than he that U.S. progress in Iraq over the past two years owes much to the rise of the "Awakening" movement, an alliance of Sunni tribesmen, Iraqi nationalists, ex-Baathists, and others united by the goal of driving al Qaeda from their country. Petraeus oversaw U.S. forces' work in partnering with, protecting, and spreading the Iraqi Awakening. Now he has presented a plan to U.S. allies to spur a similar movement among Afghans.

Despite some objections (notably from Canadian defense minister Peter MacKay), the United States will almost certainly try to replicate the Iraqi Awakening's achievements in Afghanistan in the coming year. How? In considering this question, there is no better place to start than a 47-page memorandum written by Sheikh Ahmad Abu Risha, the leader of Iraq's Awakening movement, and submitted to the American embassy in Kabul last spring.

Abu Risha prepared his memo at the request of Christopher Dell, the U.S. deputy chief of mission in Afghanistan. Though it is not publicly available (we obtained a copy from U.S. military sources) and has received little media attention beyond an account by Eli Lake in the now-defunct New York Sun, the plan it outlines is likely to take on greater importance over the coming year. The memo provides a cogent analysis of the situation in Afghanistan, as well as pertinent suggestions for replicating the Awakening's success there.

Abu Risha reviews several challenges in Afghanistan. The country is beset by warlords and their followers, who "are accustomed to living freely without the rule of law." There is great distrust of Hamid Karzai's government, which some Afghans believe is conspiring with the United States in "Americanizing and changing the identity of the Afghan people." This distrust is magnified by the country's living conditions: The economy is poor, with wages low and unemployment high. Despite improvements, the government has been unable to provide adequate education and health care.

These internal factors are compounded, in Abu Risha's view, by a military picture unfavorable to the United States. He argues that "military attacks by air against Taliban locations will cause the loss of many civilian lives," and so are likely to generate hostility to U.S. and NATO forces.

Abu Risha argues, nevertheless, that there are parallels between Afghanistan today and Iraq's Anbar Province in 2006 and 2007. Most important, al Qaeda and affiliated groups in Afghanistan have created a "climate of terror" similar to what they created in Anbar, where "they murdered anyone who opposed or criticized their actions and behavior." As in Anbar, he believes, an Awakening could help Afghanistan reverse its present deadly course.

Abu Risha outlines some preconditions for success. First and foremost is the need for a strong leader. In Anbar, this was the late Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi, Abu Risha's brother, assassinated in late 2007. Such a figure must have "charisma, outstanding leadership elements and courage," he should be "a man of honor, tolerant and persistent," and he should be "a center of trust" with "a political family background." Abu Risha emphasizes, however, that NATO should not try to establish new leadership in Afghanistan, but should work within the tribes' existing hierarchies. "This is a nation," he writes, "that does not accept changes or give up control easily without a fight."

Sterling Jensen, who participated as an Army contract linguist in the U.S. government's engagement with the Iraqi tribes as the Anbar Awakening was taking shape in the fall of 2006, agrees that Abdul Sattar's leadership was critical. "The Americans didn't make the Awakening," Jensen says. "They didn't make Sheikh Ahmed or Sheikh Abdul Sattar. You can influence some [local leaders'] thinking, but it's going to be the Americans recognizing these kinds of leaders, and supporting them."

Militarily, Abu Risha recommends giving Afghan leaders "the flexibility to develop and build military forces" similar to the Awakening and Sons of Iraq militias in Iraq. (The Sons of Iraq program, initiated and paid for by the U.S. military, consisted of the formation of paramilitary organizations in an effort to spread the Awakening beyond Anbar.) In his view, this can help Afghan fighters take the lead against religious militants, while NATO forces scale back their own activities. "Keep U.S. forces' and NATO forces' movement in Afghan cities limited," Abu Risha writes, "to only fight when needed, and control the Taliban insurgency and their expanded activities." He suggests that scaling back U.S. and NATO activity will diminish public hostility to their mission.

Abu Risha sees Pakistan as a second front as long as al Qaeda's senior leadership is ensconced in Pakistan's tribal areas. Islamic militants now routinely launch their attacks on Afghanistan from these tribal areas. Abu Risha encourages the United States to "help and support Pakistan in the fight against terrorism," and argues that an Afghan Awakening will depend in part on "strong and influential figures in Pakistan."

There are not only military but also political dimensions to Abu Risha's strategy. He recognizes Afghanistan's predominantly conservative religious practice and argues that "it is important not to infuriate influential public leaders, particularly the community religious leaders, mosques' preachers, mosques' imams, . . . and Islamic leaders in the tribal areas." Abu Risha favors active dialogue with religious leadership and institutions. He believes the influence religious figures and institutions have on Afghan tribal leaders warrants engagement with them.

Indeed, Abu Risha believes that an Afghan Awakening should be as politically inclusive as possible. He argues that, as a general rule, to do battle against Afghan parties "will cost the military more money than to include these political parties in the process." He recognizes, however, that there are limits to inclusion and writes that NATO forces should combat parties that "fight the American project."

To facilitate an Afghan Awakening, Abu Risha makes a concrete offer to U.S. and NATO forces. In his memorandum, he proposes sending a delegation of three to five Iraqi Awakening leaders to Afghanistan "to explain and clarify the essential requirements to implement and succeed in the experiment." He suggests having these Iraqis "participate in organizing different conferences in Afghanistan to share the ideology and the success" of Iraq's Awakening.

It will be interesting to see which of these ideas the United States pursues. While there are no guarantees that an Awakening strategy will work in Afghanistan, there are precious few alternatives.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is director, and Joshua D. Goodman is deputy director, of the Center for Terrorism Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.