FM newswire for June 1, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis. If you find this useful, please pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. Recommended, a terrific graphic:  “The Long Tail – 60 Chinese Cities with a Population of Over 1 Million“, Chinfographics, 20 May 2010
  2. You’re in jail for life because we say you’re a bad guy (and we’re never wrong):  “Final Report of its Guantanamo Review Task Force“, 22 May 2010 (PDF, 32 pages) — 95% are terrorists, no proof required.
  3. Excellent graphics!  “Production, Proved Reserves and Drilling in the Ultra-Deepwater Gulf of Mexico“, Energy Information Administration, 26 May 2010
  4. Important:  NOAA attempts to damp down the hysteria with facts:  “Hurricanes and the Oil Spill“, NOAA’s Oil Spill Response, 27 May 2010 — “All of the sampling to date shows that except near the leaking well, the subsurface dispersed oil is in parts per million levels or less. The hurricane will mix the waters of the Gulf and disperse the oil even further.”
  5. Insights from one of Americas few gurus:  “Immigration – A Slightly Different Take“, Fred Reed, 28 May 2010
  6. Evidence that much of the loyal opposition is nuts:  “Just What is President Obama Supposed To Do About the Gusher in the Gulf?“, Daily Hurricane, 31 May 2010
  7. No, this is not intended as humor:  “U.S. believes it has killed al Qaeda’s No. 3 man“, Washington Times, 31 May 2010
  8. 15 months of rent-free living!    “Owners Stop Paying Mortgages, and Stop Fretting“, New York Times, 31 May 2010 — More “strategic defaults”, the last phase of the housing crisis
  9. August fun for BP (and us):  “BP Needs ‘Lottery Win’ to Seal Oil Leak at First Try “, Bloomberg, 1 June 2010
  10. Israeli Actions Are Stupid, But Legal, Information Dissemination, 1 June 2010

Today’s feature story:  clear speaking by Admiral Mullen (but not necessarily accurate)

Interview of Admiral Mullen (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) by Candy Crowley  on CNN’s State of the Union, 30 May 2010 — Excerpts about the Gulf crisis and operations in Afghanistan.

Clear speaking about militarizing the Deepwater Horizon crisis:

CROWLEY: I want to start first on the oil spill because whenever there is some big catastrophe, people want the military because they sort of see it as an efficient way to get things done. I know that you are there helping with the dispersant, getting that out and other activities. Do you see anything further that the military could do to be helpful?

MULLEN: We worked hard since this incident was initiated and had provided, right now, to 1,400 National Guard troops.  But we are really responding to their request. We are very much in a support role here.

You have seen Admiral Thad Allen, who I think has been terrific as the incident commander, the incident lead specifically and we are putting every capability that we have. We have brought thousands of feet of booms in terms of being able to try to contain this but it really is not for ours to lead right now because of the technical challenges, quite frankly. And as best I’ve been able to understand, the technical lead for this in our country really is the industry. You can see obviously the challenges that they are going through to try to figure out how to stop this.

CROWLEY: Is there anything obvious that you think, well, could do this if asked?

MULLEN: There is not anything obvious at all. We have participated in the meetings here in Washington and actually down on the scene. We are offering everything we can possibly do to try to help.

Clear but probably exaggerated or misleading words about Afghanistan (red emphasis added):

CROWLEY:  {Are you satisfied that the president, Hamid Karzai, really has done enough to stem the corruption that is within the government?}

MULLEN:  … He has taken some steps and my interaction, not just with him but his ministers, they know that things like the major crimes task force, which we have in place, they are participating in. They know they have got to set up the kind of rule of law and judicial proceedings and structure in order to deal with this over the long term. And so we are moving in that direction.   Clearly, a lot more needs to be done, but from my perspective, President Karzai knows what he needs to do, what he has to do, and we’re moving in that direction.

CROWLEY: Did the move on Marjah take longer than you thought it would, in the Helmand province?

MULLEN: Actually, the way Marjah was planned and executed was what we expected. Some of the governance piece of this, which is the piece you set up after you provide security, has been a bit more challenging, but I think realistically, this was going to take many months to get to a point where it was irreversible. And we are not there yet. Actually during the day, security is much improved. The bazaars are open. There are schools open that weren’t open before. And there are still challenges that the Taliban are creating in the — at night. And we understand that. This is pretty normal counterinsurgency. These are counterinsurgency responses, and so we see that, we know what we have to do to address it, and it’s going to take several more months for it to really settle out and so that it won’t be reversed from where it was.

CROWLEY:  Let me ask you about another hot spot in Afghanistan, Kandahar, really the stronghold of the Taliban. When will we know that the U.S. and allied forces have been successful in Kandahar?

MULLEN: Well, we have really started shaping this operation over the last several weeks. And it won’t be an operation that is a D-day kind of operation. Probably, the most critical part of Kandahar is going to be the setting of the governance. When I was there a few weeks ago, it was very clear in dealing with the elders that I spoke with at a shurah that they are anxious to have not just security, because that’s critical, but also that medical care, education, jobs, the standard things that citizens around the world expect from their government, they are anxious to see the governance and the government in Kandahar in the city and in the province itself provide for its people.  …

CROWLEY: Kandahar is the whole ball of wax, isn’t it? I mean, as Kandahar goes, so goes Afghanistan?

MULLEN:  I liken it to Baghdad during the surge. I think Kandahar, the focus on Kandahar, it is where the Pashtuns certainly are central. There is a very complex set of relationship between the tribes there that in fact make that place tick or don’t let it tick. I also think it is reflective of the entire country.

So what we’re doing in Kandahar, what we will do with our Afghan partners and in many cases with them in the lead and our coalition partners over the next several months will really be critical, and I think by the end of the year, we’ll certainly from a trend standpoint know whether this thing is headed in the right direction or not.


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