Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Burma Bottom Lines for America

From Tim Heinemann on Burma.  As most know he is heavily engaged in Burma activities.  Agree or disagree with him (and he certainly makes some controversial statements) he is at least offering come concrete actions.

I do like his final statement:

 Morality, Mass and Unity of Effort are the keys to American success.

David S. Maxwell
Associate Director
Center for Security Studies &
Security Studies Program
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
Georgetown University
Office: 202-687-3834
Cell: 703-300-8263
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Georgetown Security Studies Review:http://georgetownsecuritystudiesreview.org/

From: Heinemann Timothy <tsh5252@hotmail.com>
Date: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 5:29 PM
Subject: Corrected Copy // Burma Bottom Lines for America

Bottom line:  America absolutely cannot afford to mess up in Burma.  Get it wrong elsewhere, but not here, given Burma's primacy concerning strategic balance of power in the Indian Ocean.

Our track record in post-conflict regions since Vietnam indicates we have problems "finishing" in terms of consolidating and securing long-term gains.  Consider where we are now in:

· Vietnam -  Under China's shadow 
· El Salvador -  Dominated by gangs 
· Panama -  China expanding control here
· Somalia -   Lawless with Piracy 
· Balkans - No real allegiances here
· Iraq -  A mess 
· Vietnam - A nightmare

So where exactly are our big "Wins" then?  

What are the total costs and impacts for we have not accomplished?   

America's approach in Burma cannot afford to be a matter of a political agenda or partisan politics.   It must be a fully vetted and integrated American Agenda demonstrative of the enduring interests of the combined elements of national power.  Burma's permanent strategic criticality demands extraordinary measures be now considered, given how we have erred so badly in too many other places around the world.  Are we really on track here?  

It is easy to get ensnarled in all the intrigues and complexities of Burma, where “tribalism” abounds in the form of ethnicities, Burman power elites, politics, religions, war lords, organized crime, corporate capitalism, NGO communities of self-interest, nation state agendas and so on.  They will all try to prosper thusly with Burma as their favorite Cash Cow and new cause célèbre.  Given all we have learned to date in post-conflict regions around the world from Vietnam to Afghanistan, can we honestly say we now have it right in coming together as a full team today in Burma?  

What will it take organizationally for America to “get it right” in Burma?  

1.     US Government charters and empowers four separate oversight bodies to provide honest brokerage on how American elements of national power are integrated for the attainment of enduring strategic effects and for the good of all the diverse peoples of Burma.   A single government oversight body is corruptible and cannot likely succeed.   There should instead be one from Government, one from the For-profit sector, one from the Non-profit sector and one from Academia.    If this is not properly done, we are prone to neglect born of individual agendas that lack synergy.  We will miss accomplishing what matters most in the end, as has been the case for us in many regions.  

Integrating these four collaborative perspectives can help provide needed "rudder" to integrity guiding what we collectively attempt in Burma.  This is inherently an American way of "doing business" drawing openly and honestly from all sources and perspectives.   What all is at stake in not doing Quality Assurance in Strategy and Quality Control in Effects and Outcomes well?   Can we live with the consequences of getting this wrong?

2.       US Government incentivizes the American Private Sector to collaborate in the attainment of synergies linked to strategic end states.  The American Private Sector, if incentivized, can have enduring staying power to further US interests.   Incentives may be in the form of tax breaks, entitlements, special funding and so forth to compel broad collaboration between for-profits and non-profits with government that otherwise may not take place.   Consider what has and has not happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, in this regard.  There can also be disincentives that are punitive in nature - negative forcing functions to compel better collaboration.  Success here will be based on actually taking care of all of the diverse peoples of Burma and winning enduring allegiances.
Theme:   It is the “space in between” individual interests that deserves  protection, promotion and incentivization.   This takes extraordinary measures to compel this unnatural focus.  It is critical to orient on America's private sector’s enduring staying power in this region.  We must get this totally right for a change in helping harness Yankee Ingenuity’s full power in overcoming many disadvantages in this region.  This is best done in close “Whole-of-Nation” collaboration for integrated effects.  Our track record has proven this will not happen on its own.  Incentives are key to getting it righter / better than we have done to date.  

What are the enduring consequences if we don’t do this well?

3.      US Government must link Security Sector Reform to Balanced Economic Empowerment of Ethnics otherwise there will be endless conflict and instability.   This can be attempted by focusing Burmans and Non-Burmans on Special Development Zones whereby all sides prosper in common cause. This provides opportunity for America to demonstrate leadership in enabling success in these zones.   Proving what “Right, Righter or Better looks like” here is a manageable mission in scope and scale.  This can prevent us from scattering our fire at the wood line by, instead, concentrating our fire with full mass, precision and persistence.  Otherwise we will likely waste effort with dispersed American power as we so often seem to do.   
Theme:   Aim small and deliver best quality results.   These will infect others by providing models well worth emulating.  We will not accomplish this if we allow power, passion and purpose to be dispersed.   The future of Burma is all about "Control of Land and of the Fruits of the Land" in this country which has the potential to become the economic powerhouse in Southeast Asia.  This potential all hangs on balanced security between Burmans and Non-Burman ethnics. 

Are peace and stability possible at all if this is not squarely faced as top priority?

4.    US Government in collaboration with American private sector wages a strategic communications campaign to promote America’s engagement and development “good news” stories.    It is not enough to do good things / smart things.  It is all about waging and winning the War of Messages about what right, righter, better look like.   Future Super Power stature is at issue here.  If we get dribbled around by China, then we should watch for signs following.  This is a moral showdown.  We need to draw a line in the sand in Myanmar as center stage for how America's model of responsible development trumps China's exploitative model.  

This is an "In your face" strategic posturing of American Power at its best, if that is, in fact, what we are truly focused on and organized to deliver.  Best to integrate what we can offer, which will put us mid-field, and then tell the story in order to score.    If we had done this stellarly elsewhere, then this would not be an issue now.

What are the broader global implications of not demonstrating the best that America has to offer in Burma?  Can we afford to miss this opportunity in the critically important Indian Ocean region?

Comment:  In the process of all this, primacy should be placed on overcoming decades of disadvantage forced upon brutalized Non-Burman ethnic minorities by both past totalitarian regimes and present repressive practices ongoing openly and quietly in the shadows around Burma.  Burman elites in power are now leveraging international resources to accomplish the incremental dominance and "Burmanization" of ethnics once and for all in the name of "Progress".   Decades of Burman crimes against humanity perpetrated against ethnics are being white washed.    

Is America to become part of this invisible genocide?   Where is American honest brokerage for what is happening?  

Ethnics by virtue of population size, ancestral land rights, land dominance in natural resources and international trade routes, by their proven solidarity as battlefield champions for the Pro-Democracy Movement in Burma for decades, and by their present armed capacity, merit respect, equal stature and equitable balance of power.   

No good can possibly come from taking anything less than full and complete measures to assure this unfair imbalance is corrected.  If morality and honor matter, there should be a "Zero Tolerance" imperative by both US Government and by American private sector leaders in terms of taking anything other than personal ownership of this matter and delivering results.  This is best done in one coherent American team effort for a change.

Peace and stability in this region depends on this.  The validity of America's Super Power stature stands or fails on the world's stage in Burma.   

Opportunity is at hand today in Burma.   Morality, Mass and Unity of Effort are the keys to American success.

Tim Heinemann
Worldwide Impact Now (WIN)
A 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization

Monday, December 30, 2013

This is it: North Korea’s hidden power system

It is very unusual to see an article devoted to the Organization and Guidance Department.  Most of the pundits do not discuss it because they do not have the depth of understanding.  It is rarely mentioned in the mainstream media.  The Korean experts who have and continue to mentor me have always stressed the importance of this organization.  Kim Jong-il was put in charge of this organization in 1973 and used it to consolidate his power for 21 years until the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994.  As Kim Jong-il's health declined one of the key indicators we were looking for was if he would put one of his sons in charge of the OGD but as far as I can recall we never received any confirmation of who succeeded Kim Jong-il.

If Jang's purge/execution may very well be explained by a power struggle within the OGD.  If that is the case and the OGD is not fully controlled by Kim Jong-un now then we are very, very likely to see further friction within the regime and it may not turn out well as it could very well lead to a rapid regime collapse.  On the other hand, if Kim Jong-un does control the OGD then he is very likely to be able to consolidate power and possibly stabilize his rule and the regime.  There are of course a lot of variables but if there is a center of gravity in the Kim Family Regime it is the OGD.

This is it: North Korea’s hidden power system

December 31, 2013 by  1 Comment
For Kim Jong Un to take control of the Organisation and Guidance Department of the Korean Workers’ Party (the OGD is the key to real, as opposed to symbolic, dictatorial power in North Korea), he would need OGD experience and alliances, and he has neither. There is no indication that he has begun to take the reins of the OGD; on the contrary, there are overwhelming signs that he has not.
The OGD in its present form was built by Kim Jong Il in order to usurp power from his father Kim Il Sung and his supporters. The entity was painstakingly modified to vest all possible chain-of-command powers in Kim Jong Il’s person. The “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il worked as an OGD departmental supervisor, then as OGD departmental director and finally, became the OGD party secretary. Kim Jong Il’s power grew with that of the OGD.
While the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Korean Workers’ Party legitimized the hereditary succession of the Kim family through the cult of Kim Il Sung, the OGD routed policy and executive functions to Kim Jong Il.
In his son Kim Jong Un’s case, succession was authorized by the Politburo, and then his appointment to a role in the National Defence Committee. Both are merely symbolic structures, with no real powers or chain of command.
Even the transfer of symbolic power was coordinated by the OGD: all propaganda outlets nationwide remain under its grip. The OGD needs Kim Jong Un as the head of state, because the symbolic aspect of Kim family power is crucial in sustaining the legitimacy of the North Korean state.
The argument that generational power change has been taking place, and that Kim Jong Un is building his own power base, has depended on observations such as the fact that all of Kim Jong Il’s pallbearers have been purged. Yet not one of them was an OGD man.
Not only do Kim Jong Il’s OGD enforcers remain well and unharmed, they are even appearing with Kim Jong Un in public – North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun just reported the presence of Kim Kyong Ok and Hwang Byong So, two of the leading OGD figures.
After Kim Jong Il’s death, the OGD power structure remained untouched and unchanged, yet it was headless: Kim Jong Un did not inherit command of the OGD from Kim Jong Il.
Why didn’t Kim Jong Il give OGD control to his successor? Was this not possible or not accomplished? All we can say for now is that Kim Jong Il exercised all real powers as the OGD party secretary, with entities such as the military, political institutions and the secret police all answering to him through the OGD structure. This is the position that was not handed to Kim Jong Un by Kim Jong Il before his death.
The problem of Jang Song Thaek also remained – after Kim Jong Il handed over the OGD Administration Department to him in 2007, this remained the only enforceable power base outside the OGD chain of command. This tension manifested itself in the ‘factional’ battles to claim the “legacy of Kim Jong Il” and involved several purges.
This is the context of power struggles over clams, coal and everything else.
The toxic history of suspicion and violent feuds arising from the OGD’s activation of Jang Song Thaek side-branch restrictions and his subsequent revenges was encouraged by Kim Jong Il:
Jang Song Thaek’s brutal 1997 purge of Moon Sung Sul, general secretary of the Central KWP HQ; the suicide of Kim Yong Ryong, First Vice Director of the Ministry of State Security (the premier surveillance and purging arm of the OGD) as a result of a campaign led by Jang Song Thaek in 1998; OGD First Vice Director Ri Je Gang dying in mysterious circumstances in the aftermath of Kim Jong Il’s stroke in 2009; and after Kim Jong Il’s death, Vice Director Ryu Gyong of the Ministry of State Security being accused of espionage and executed; more recently, Wu Dong Cheuk, First Vice Director of the Ministry of State Security purged by Jang Song Thaek’s Ministry of People’s Security.
While the OGD restricted Jang Song Thaek through his side-branch designation, Jang Song Thaek himself was encouraged to prune elements of the OGD who were proving too powerful for Kim Jong Il’s liking.
With no one to authorize the checking of OGD powers as, for example, Kim Jong Il had done in 1997-2000 by giving Jang Song Thaek command over a nationwide Ministry of Social Security (the earlier incarnation of the Ministry of People’s Security) campaign of purges that hacked away at the surveillance rights of the OGD’s Ministry of State Security; or Kim Jong Il’s removal of the Administration Department from the OGD in 2007 to give control of it to Jang Song Thaek, there was no way Jang Song Thaek could survive without establishing his power base outside the OGD through personal diplomatic and economic initiatives.
This, in turn, further complicated the co-existence of Jang Song Thaek with the OGD.
After the OGD lost its military man (General Political Bureau head Ri Young Ho) to Jang Song Thaek’s Kim Jong Il-blessed proxy Choe Ryong Hae, who then turned against Jang Song Thaek, the balance of power was finally tipped against him.
The OGD power structure that has remained untouched and unchanged since Kim Jong Il’s death has reclaimed its head: the symbolic authority of the Kim cult, as manifested through Kim Jong Un’s ‘dictatorial’ power.

The structure of the Organisation and Guidance Department

When you analyse power in North Korea, the only proper way to see it is according to the OGD-enforced hierarchy. The current North Korean system was built to be a totalitarian state by Kim Jong Il’s OGD: all the procedures and processes of power work through the OGD.
This applies to diplomatic and business postings abroad, trading rights, powers of enforcement, and everything else.
How does the OGD work in practice? The OGD has five main spheres of influence:

1 – Monopoly over human resources.
I.e. the exclusive right to allocate positions among the elite. Most cadres are appointed by the Central Party Cadre Section, but any cadre of Director level and above in the central institutions is appointed by the OGD.
In the military, all generals above the level of regimental commander nationwide are directly appointed by the OGD.
Here is a breakdown of the OGD’s personnel appointment structure:
  • Sections 1 and 2 for central cadres
  • Section 3 for provincial cadres
  • Section 4 for military appointments
  • Section 5 for Guards Command (protection of Kim family)
  • Section 6 for Ministry of State Security
  • Section 7 for Ministry of People’s Security
  • Section 8 for the judiciary
  • Section 9 for government
  • Section 11 for inter-Korean related personnel
In this way, every single appointment that matters is routed through the OGD.

2 – Absolute ‘guidance’ rights.
This is the right to intervene in every administrative task carried out at any level. All North Korean cadres and workers’ criticism sessions and political indoctrination meetings that take place daily or weekly is at the capillary level of the OGD’s ‘guidance’ chain of command.
The guidance section is divided into central and provincial concerns. The Central Party arm of the Guidance Department has unchallengeable authority over every institution and entity in Pyongyang. The provincial Party Guidance Department controls every provincial Party branch. Its powers are absolute.
For example, the power of OGD Section 13, in charge of military guidance, is such that the head of the KPA General Political Bureau may be summoned to grovel and be humiliated.

3 – Absolute ‘surveillance’ rights.
I.e. to monitor, purge and expel anyone. It is separated into central, provincial and institutional sections, and in this way, the rule by fear is both extremely compartmentalised and centralised.
In particular, Section 4 of the OGD ‘surveillance’ chain of command specializes in the highest-ranking cadres, wielding a guillotine that can come down on the head of any of them.

4 – Absolute policy sanction rights.
Every institution in North Korea had to route its proposals through the OGD ‘reporting section’ for an authorization from Kim Jong Il before it became valid.
The absolute centralization of policy proposals and policy approvals was emblematic of a totalitarian rule sanctioned by the sole authority of Kim Jong-il’s person.

5 – Protection of and catering for Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
Even the most trivial concerns pertaining to the ruling Kim, as well as procurement of all luxury goods and all bodyguard protection rights (Kim’s personal guards number one hundred thousand), is operated by the OGD.

North Korea’s systemic reality

Of the 25,000 North Korean exiles in South Korea, there are only eight with genuine and verified first-hand knowledge of or contact with North Korea’s hidden power hierarchy.
They lived under the direct surveillance and monitoring of Kim Jong Il’s OGD, and among them are some who were once vetted by the OGD and permitted to exercise sanctioned powers, or granted immunity from prosecution and purging by Kim Jong Il himself.
Of these eight, the highest-ranked, according to North Korea’s symbolic hierarchy, is former KWP international secretary Hwang Jang Yop. He died in 2010. Another is in the last stages of cancer.
The remaining six at New Focus are determined that the opacity that sustains North Korea’s totalitarian power structure should be penetrated by means of an interpretative framework rooted in North Korea’s political reality rather than through its outward manifestations. We are supported by cadres still within the North Korean system who, at great personal risk, maintain contact with their former colleagues.
Jang Jin-sung

Friday, December 27, 2013

Vol 2, Issue 1 of Georgetown Security Studies Review

The latest issue (fourth) of the student run peer–reviewed Georgetown Security Studies Review can be downloaded at this link.  http://georgetownsecuritystudiesreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/GSSR-Vol-2-No-1-Dec_27_2013.pdf

The link to the web page with more resources and articles and all the back issues of the review is at this link. http://georgetownsecuritystudiesreview.org/

Kudos to the students of our Security Studies Program.


Table of Contents 

Opinion: Unsustainable Peace in Mali 5 
Whit Miller argues that regional pressures will break the ceasefire signed between the 
Malian government and the Tuareg rebels. 
Reevaluating U.S. Defense Conversion Assistance to Russia 9 
Lisa Bergstrom analyzes post-Cold War U.S. defense conversion assistance to Russia. 
The article shows that, while defense conversion has economic, political, and social 
benefits, and may even promote the peaceful resolutions of conflicts, the Department 
of Defense approach to conversion assistance was flawed and unsustainable. The article 
concludes that, if the United States provides defense conversion assistance to other 
overly militarized states, Washington should adopt a less centrally-managed approach. 
Morality in Intelligence Practice 19 
Natasia Kalajdziovski analyzes morality in domestic counterterrorism intelligence 
activities through a historical analysis of the moral questions encountered by the 
British intelligence services throughout the Troubles in Northern Ireland. This case 
study highlights three important considerations: the complexity of the threatscape as it 
emerged, the length of the conflict and its many phases, and the level of public scrutiny 
for the security establishment as the conflict protracted. The article concludes that, 
with proper oversight and review mechanisms, domestic intelligence requires a 
“different morality” than what exists in civilian life. 
Evolving Civil-Military Relations 29 
Faiqa Mahmood analyzes the role of the Egyptian military in politics and considers how 
civil-military relations may be improved. This article traces the historical development 
of civil-military relations in Egypt and then compares the situation in Egypt with those 
of Turkey and Pakistan. The analysis demonstrates that, while the militaries of neither 
Turkey nor Pakistan can boast the levels of civilian control present in some Western 
governments, Egypt can still draw lessons from the evolutionary paths of both 
Winning Minds: The Role of Education in Securing Afghanistan 45 
Elizabeth Royall questions the effectiveness of education in the counterinsurgency 
effort in Afghanistan. Both the Coalition and the Taliban claimed a correlation 
between Afghan education and their strategic goals. This article addresses whether 
Afghan education content and provision affect security. It reviews the history of 
education in Afghanistan, examines the Taliban’s evolving view of education, and 
analyzes existing metrics of security and education.

Defector trickle could become a flood: Chung

This brings up an important point on why we (the ROK in particular and in the lead  but the US as well as part of the ROK/US Alliance) need to prepare for north Korean instability and collapse.  The obvious preparation per this article is to be able to deal with a massive exodus of north Koreans.  On the surface this is a very complex problem in isolation and one that will severely challenge the ROK government.  But unfortunately this problem cannot be viewed or addressed in isolation.  If large numbers of north Koreans to include members of the elite begin an exodus we have to be concerned the fact that in order for this to occur there will have to be a severe breakdown of the security apparatus and/or the Kim Family Regime's ability to control the apparatus.  The implications are enormous and could lead to many scenarios occurring (and of course best laid out in Bob Collins' Seven Phases of Collapse).  It would have been nice to have been making the preparations (and not just plans)  for the last 17 years when they were first recommended but its still not too late too start (and fortunately some such as the north Korean defector organizations have been trying to prepare the north Korean people with their influence campaign but they could sure use some help).    

Defector trickle could become a flood: Chung

‘There are 25 million North Koreans. We have to ask whether we could accommodate a surge or not.’

Dec 28,2013
The purge and execution of Jang Song-thaek could set off a massive exodus of people from North Korea, according to Chung Ok-nim, the newly appointed President of the North Korean Refugees Foundation.

The second head of the three-year-old organization under the Ministry of Unification, which helps settle North Korean defectors in the South, said in an interview with Korea JoongAng Daily on Dec. 19 that the South Korean government should be prepared for a possible flood of North Koreans escaping to the South, including some members of the elite surrounding Jang and his nephew, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“The instability of Kim Jong-un’s rule could lead to a sudden political upheaval or an unnecessary provocation against South Korea,” Chung said. “So far, most of the people escaping North Korea were ordinary people, but if several members of the power elite begin seeking asylum, it could trigger an exodus.

“In that case, we should be prepared to settle a flood of defectors based on the know-how we have learned so far,” she said.

Whether South Korea could actually handle such an exodus is an open question, she said.

“An average of 1,500 to 1,800 North Koreans come to the South annually,” she said, “and we have a total of about 26,000 defectors. But there are 25 million people in North Korean territory. We should ask ourselves whether the current settlement system would still function in an emergency and whether we could accommodate such a surge of defectors or not.”

The 53-year-old former Saenuri Party lawmaker is also a specialist in North Korean affairs with experience as a visiting scholar to the Hoover Institute at the Stanford University. She worked as a member of the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee, where lawmakers could access information by the top spy agency about North Korea. In 2012, she was selected as a spokeswoman for President Park Geun-hye’s presidential campaign.

Chung was appointed president of the foundation in November, which has an annual budget of 26 billion won ($24.6 million) to help North Korean defectors settle in the South.

Asked if a rebellion or revolution of the masses was possible in North Korea, Chung answered cautiously.

“Although I am unable to say ‘never,’ the possibility of a rebellion from the bottom would be quite low,” she said. “Possibly, the inner-circle elite could plot a rebellion, but we can’t imagine a second Jasmine Revolution in North Korea at the moment.” (The Jasmine Revolution was the anti-autocracy rebellion in Tunisia that started the Arab Spring of democracy movements.)

“People can’t express their complaints about Kim Jong-un for fear of being executed, but there have to have been big changes in the country,” she said. “But in order for the regime to collapse, we need more factors.” 
(Continued at the link below)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Counterinsurgency, Local Militias, and Statebuilding in Afghanistan

After a quick read of this report one of the shortfalls is that it does not assess the early efforts conducted by Special Forces in 2002-2004 with local indigenous forces. For the most part the report focuses on 2008 and later.  Any think any comprehensive assessment of these programs should include what really came before and efforts were abandoned due to lack of support by higher HQ and lack of understanding of the potential impact of focus on the  local security challenges from the beginning rather than approaching the problem from a national level and one size fits all program.  I wonder of the whole ALP/VSO effort might be characterized as too much, too fast, and too late.  Too much because they tried to make the program bigger than it was capable of being, too fast because they tried to expand it too fast because for some it appeared to be the silver bullet, and too late because if there had been real support for sustained efforts in 2002-2004 perhaps Afghanistan would be in a little better place than it is today.  But of course that is a counterfactual but I think it is an idea that a study like this should address.  Maybe the idea will be debunked but I think it is worthy of study.

Counterinsurgency, Local Militias, and Statebuilding in Afghanistan
December 18, 2013
Jonathan Goodhand and Aziz Hakimi

Arming local defense forces in Afghanistan has had mixed and often perverse effects on the security of local populations, according to this study on the role and impact of the Afghan Local Police in three provinces. These findings suggest that, as international forces draw down, the ALP will require stronger state oversight and absorption into the national police force.

  • International intervention in Afghanistan at the end of 2001 marked less the beginning of a war-to-peace transition and more a new phase of an ongoing conflict.
  • The fundamental contradiction has been attempting to build peace while fighting a war.
  • Post-2001 Afghanistan exemplifies the deleterious effects of exogenous, militarized statebuilding, which has undermined peacebuilding and statebuilding at many levels.
  • The paradox of counterinsurgency doctrine in Afghanistan is that its success depends on a high-capacity regime to put it into practice but that exogenous statebuilding prevents the emergence of such a regime in the first place.
  • The growth of the insurgency, the failures of top-down statebuilding, and the influence of counterinsurgency doctrine all help explain the proliferation of militias since the mid-2000s.
  • Militias are formed to engage in protective violence but often mete out predatory and abusive violence.
  • No necessary or straightforward connection exists between militia formation and state breakdown or collapse.
  • Preceded by several other militia programs, the Afghan Local Police (ALP) emerged as a U.S.-funded effort.
  • ALP militias are less a threat to national-level stability and more a danger that after 2014 an oversized and unevenly trained national armed force will fragment into numerous competing militias.
  • Outsourcing community protection and defense to the ALP—rather than extending state power and legitimacy—may have had the opposite effect.
  • The ALP will not go away, has already left a long-term legacy that Afghans will have to deal with, and is symptomatic of a wider deficiency of the post-2001 intervention.
  • The long-term future of the ALP program remains uncertain. If it continues, however, it should not be expanded. Stronger state oversight and support are needed, and plans should be developed to facilitate the absorption of the ALP into the Afghan National Police (ANP).
About the Report

Much international effort and funding have focused on building and bureaucratizing the means of violence in Afghanistan. At the same time, parallel government and NATO experiments have armed local defense forces, including local militias, under the Afghan Local Police (ALP) program to fight the insurgency and provide security at the local level. This report—which is based on a year’s research in Kabul and the provinces of Wardak, Baghlan, and Kunduz—seeks to understand the role and impact of the ALP on security and political dynamics in the context of ongoing counterinsurgency and stabilization operations and the projected drawdown of international troops in 2014 .

About the Authors

Jonathan Goodhand is a professor of conflict and development studies in the Development Studies department at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London. His research interests include the political economy of aid, conflict, and postwar reconstruction, with a particular focus on Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Aziz Hakimi is a PhD candidate at SOAS. His dissertation focuses on the ALP in relation to Afghan statebuilding.
December 18, 2013
Issue Areas: 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Kim Jong Un Just Got More Dangerous

I could not agree more with this statement.

A new U.S. policy needs to be comprehensive, not simply focused on ridding the world of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. That means working with China, recognizing that we share a common interest in peace, and that we need to be debating how to achieve long-term stability and not just next steps toward denuclearization. With the South Koreans, we need to step up planning for any number of scenarios, from surprising new provocations to a palace coup to the sudden collapse of the Kim Dynasty.
The stakes are enormous. The Obama administration can no longer relegate North Korea policy to the back burner. The end of the Kim Dynasty is approaching, and with it the demise of North Korea could quickly follow. If ever there were a time for daring, muscular multilateralism, this is it.

Kim Jong Un Just Got More Dangerous

December 15, 2013
“The more you approach infinity,” the French novelist Gustave Flaubert wrote, “the deeper you penetrate terror.”

So it is with Kim Jong Un, already the most dangerous man in the most precarious nuclear state in the world. After the swift execution this week of his uncle-cum-regent, Jang Song Taek, he has become even more dangerous. Kim has boxed himself into a corner where it is hard to fathom a peaceful future for either his family dynasty or the country he rules.

The full implications of this bloody purge will reveal themselves over time as additional disturbing revelations seep out. But Kim’s murderous act leaves an indelible stain. Global risk is now heightened, as the slaughter at the top of Pyongyang’s pyramid locks Kim into a reign of terror, with consequences that threaten the security of the entire region.

There is little doubting Uncle Jang’s “acts of treachery.” To be sure, some of the myriad charges against Jang, listed in a remarkable North Korean news release, belong in the theater of the absurd (underselling his nephew’s stunning achievements, presumably a water park in East Pyongyang and a ski resort set to open at month’s end). But there was indeed skullduggery afoot. Clearly Jang was guilty of building his personal power, a threat to the 30-year-old Kim, whose bloodline entitles him, not the man who married his aunt, to claim the mantle of his father, the late “Dear Leader.”

The abrupt and brutal manner in which Kim dispatched his uncle highlights a disturbing degree of cruelty and erratic behavior. South Korean National Assembly Chairman of Information Seo Sang-gi said he was told that Jang and his subordinates were executed with machine guns and flamethrowers. Kim’s challengers may be silenced for now, but their ranks are undoubtedly on alert as to what must be done—a fact that can only add to the young tyrant’s paranoia.

Jang’s execution is alarming for reasons beyond what it says about Kim’s state of mind. He was not just Kim’s uncle; he was a powerful figure inside the regime, and many saw him as an advocate of gradual, Chinese-style reform. That made him a key interlocutor for Beijing, because what Chinese officials fear most about North Korea is not its nuclear weapons or its grandiose threats to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire,” but a collapse of the North Korean state that would send millions of starving refugees streaming across its border. China’s plan for a soft landing appeared to include a combination of personal cooption (Jang was reportedly deep into Chinese pockets) and hard infrastructure (investments in special economic zones and resource extraction). Now, that dream has died with Uncle Jang.

Indeed, a complete economic meltdown seems inevitable. Kim’s relentless determination to pursue nuclear weapons, coupled with his ruthless brand of authoritarianism, will deter foreign investment and accelerate North Korea’s decline. Despite hopes that his Swiss education would give him a more Western outlook, Kim has failed to follow through on any significant economic reforms. His concern for domestic enemies will ensure that yet more resources are poured into security and defense—a vicious downward spiral from which North Korea might never recover.

Sitting atop a failed economy and a closed society, maintaining order through terror and a police state, Kim is running out of moves. In the span of two years, his image has lurched from that of a youthful, reform-minded man of the people and caring father to the worst kind of medieval despot. It harkens back to Choson Korea, where killing competing royal family members was not uncommon. There is even an historical precedent in which a young 15th century ruler, King Danjong, was overthrown and eventually killed by his regent uncle. Five hundred years later, North Korea stands as a paean to pre-modern barbarity. Execution instills a sort of order and discipline, at least on the surface. But in the 21st century, it is a prelude to bitter demise. Morality aside, the reason despotism has fallen out of fashion is because there’s little future in it.

But North Korea, already the world’s most repressive state, could get much worse in the interim. As Kim fears for his absolute power and survival, he is apt to plunge his country into full totalitarian terror, with momentous consequences that won’t be easily contained. North Korea’s retrograde technology and its bizarre propaganda may make us laugh, but it is also a heavily armed nuclear state with a leader who is losing contact with reality. That ought to concentrate some minds in the White House.
(Continued at the link below)

10/24/2019 Korean News and Commentary

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