Gaza War, Benghazi, Latin America

Category: Gaza War, Benghazi, Latin America

NEW GAZA WAR
> Updates
> For those of you who want to follow the fighting in detail, I give you links to
> the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: Operation Pillar of > Defense-Update No. 2 and a minute-by-minute article in the Times of Israel. > Gaza and Sunni Islamism
> We also provide an essay by Jonathan Spyer from the Weekly Standard on the Gaza > war as it relates to the general wave of Sunni Islamism:
> “The crisis now under way in Gaza represents the moment when the wave of Sunni Islamism
> that has been achieving triumph after triumph in the region since early 2011 finally > crashes up against the Jewish state.
> “The form in which the crisis is playing out offers some useful early pointers regarding
> both the strengths and weaknesses of the emergent Sunni Islamist powers in the region.
> “From the historical perspective, it is now clear that the ‘Arab spring’-that is,
> the fall of decrepit Arab nationalist regimes and their replacement by Islamist
> ones-began not in Tunisia in early 2011, but in Gaza in the summer of 2007. The
> expulsion of Fatah and the PLO from the Gaza Strip, and their defeat at the hands
> of the Islamists of Hamas, set the prototype in miniature for what has followed > in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and Yemen.”
> BENGHAZI
> Because there’s a definite danger that all the administration nattering about Benghazi
> may tire the public out, we have to keep our focus. Accordingly, I give you two
> pieces today that make things a little clearer from analysts who know what they’re
> talking about. The first is a piece by Eli Lake from last week that deals with
> the question of whether outside military assistance was requested for Benghazi on
> September 11-12. Acting DCI Mike Morrell testified that neither the CIA nor the > State Department requested such assistance.
> The second piece, by Thomas Joscelyn writing on the Weekly Standard site, deals
> with the question of Susan Rice’s talking points. He quotes House Intelligence > Committee chairman Mike Rogers as saying
> “‘The intelligence community had it right, and they had it right early,’ Rogers
> said. ‘What happened was it worked its way up through the system of the so-called
> talking points, which everyone refers to, and then it went up to what’s called a
> deputies committee … that’s populated by appointees from the administration.’ > “‘That’s where the narrative changed,’ Rogers said.”
> As Joscelyn says
> “If Rogers is right, then the American public deserves to know who, exactly, decided
> to spin the terrorist attack in Benghazi. And we should also learn why, given the
> many intelligence failures since September 11, 2001, the intelligence community
> is still so dysfunctional that partisan appointees can rewrite assessments in such > a manner.”
> LATIN AMERICA
> “Argentina Runs Out of Other People’s Money”
> Today’s Digest contains two pieces on Cristina Kirchner’s Argentina, one by regular
> contributor Jaime Daremblum and the other by the Wall Street Journal’s Mary O’Grady.
> They both tell the same story regarding what the enormous protest in Buenos Aires
> on November 8 meant: i.e., that Argentinians have had it with Kirchner. O’Grady
> puts the situation thus: “Argentina Runs Out of Other People’s Money.” She says
> “To the extent it has succeeded, the Kirchner economic model has relied on the 2001
> default on $100 billion in debt and interest, a weak peso, protectionism, confiscation
> of private property, capital controls, broken contracts and high taxes. In other
> words, it has depended on other people’s money. Now, as Mrs. Thatcher warned, that > money is running out.”
> Daremblum blames not only Kirchner’s mismanagement of the economy but also her radical > leftism:
> “Argentines are mad about sky-high inflation. They’re mad about rising crime. They’re
> mad about corruption scandals. They’re mad about proposals to amend the constitution
> so that Kirchner can seek a third term. They’re mad about government efforts to > curb press freedom and weaken opposition media outlets.
> “In short, they’re mad that Kirchner has been governing like Hugo Chávez.” > Daremblum notes that
> “If not for Cuba and Venezuela, Argentina would be the lowest-ranked Latin American
> country in the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Economic Freedom. It ranks 158th
> overall (out of 179 countries or territories). By comparison, in 2003, the year
> Néstor Kirchner was elected president, Argentina ranked 68th (out of 156). The dramatic
> decline of economic freedom has chased away foreign investors and turned Argentina
> into a country where, as investor Sin-ming Shaw recently reported from Buenos Aires, > ‘supermarket shoppers are limited to one bottle of cooking oil per customer.'” > The PRI and the Drug Cartels
> RAND analyst Brian Michael Jenkins recent did a think-piece on whether or not Mexican
> president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto will continue the war on the country’s drug cartels.
> This will mean that the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) will have to > change its ways from the past:
> “The PRI, which dominated Mexico’s politics for decades following the Mexican Revolution,
> returns to power with a lot of baggage. Previous PRI administrations were seen as
> notoriously corrupt, more often partners than opponents of Mexico’s drug traffickers.
> The government allocated the smuggling routes. Drug lords made payoffs and bought > protection, but the deals kept the peace-for a while.
> “By 2000, the PRI had lost its absolute hold on political power and with it the
> government’s ability to act as a referee among the traffickers, whose own power
> was increasing. When Enrique Calderon assumed the presidency in 2006, government
> authority was being openly challenged by the wealthy and well-armed cartels. Violence,
> which had been on a gradual downward trajectory, was again on the rise. With a weak
> criminal-justice system, federal law enforcement institutions riddled with corruption,
> and local police outgunned and intimidated or in cahoots with the traffickers, Calderon > called in the army to take on the cartels.”
> The problem with the government’s struggle with the cartels is that, over the past
> five years, it has had only a marginal effect on drug trafficking, “while the removal
> of the top layer of cartel management has fractured organizations and increased > violence as successors fought one another for control.”
> Jenkins concludes that
> “To be sure, the cartels’ power derives from the immense profits of the drug traffic,
> which buy them the men and guns to wage war. This same cash flow can enable them
> to penetrate Mexico’s legitimate economy, fund local philanthropic projects, buy
> football teams and build stadiums, finance their own political parties, and create
> the mafia state that the United States fears. That gives Mexico City and Washington
> a powerful mutual interest in destroying the cartels. But that will require a real
> strategy-more than public gestures by Mexico’s new president, certainly more than > an addendum to Washington’s war on drugs, now in its fifth decade.” > Honduras Election
> Otto Reich, on the Fox News website, asks the time-honored question regarding why
> the United States pays so little attention to Latin America. His answer to it is
> a little different than those of others: how can anyone take a good number of the
> region’s heads of state seriously enough to do business with them? His particular
> concern at the moment is the candidacy of Yani Rosenthal Hidalgo for the presidency > of Honduras:
> “In Latin America the press is frequently afraid of reporting negative material
> about powerful people running for office (for good reason, since scores of honest > reporters have been and continue to be killed while investigating wrongdoing).
> “This well-founded media fear may result in the election of yet another candidate
> with a disturbing past: Yani Rosenthal Hidalgo, a candidate for President in the
> Liberal Party primaries in Honduras. Rosenthal was Minister of the Presidency (a
> kind of Super Cabinet Secretary and Presidential ‘fixer’) under a previous elected
> schemer, Mel Zelaya, who was removed from office in 2009 for violating the Constitution,
> by a unanimous vote of the Supreme Court of Honduras. Zelaya’s acolyte, Mr Rosenthal,
> apparently intends to take Zelaya’s place. If Mr. Rosenthal’s political background
> is insufficient to disqualify him from office, his illicit business activities should.
> “Mr. Rosenthal is the scion of what is alleged to be the richest family in Honduras.
> The family conglomerate, Grupo Continental, owns some of the leading companies in
> Honduras: banks, insurance, engineering and construction, newspapers, television,
> cable TV, cement alligator skins, coffee growing, free zone assembly plants, food
> packing, sugar, residential developments, bananas, cattle and sheep breeding and > cacao, among others.
> “The family, especially Yani, is the object of pending judicial charges and investigations > that run practically the entire gamut of their business activities.” > Reich goes on to list plenty of examples.
> Nicaragua Election
> Like Reich, Jaime Daremblum is worried about the future of political opposition
> in Nicaragua. Read his PJ Media analysis of what happened there in the November
> 4 elections. As others have asked, why did we bother to support the Contras when > we were going to allow the Sandanistas to take over anyway? > Brazil in Africa
> The Economist has produced a good piece on the increased presence of Brazil in Africa
> and its effect on the commodities sector. The following paragraphs characterize > the article:
> “IN THE sweaty heat of northern Mozambique, Vale, a Brazilian mining giant, is digging
> up coal at its mine near the village of Moatize. A 400,000-tonne mound sits ready
> to burn. The mine can churn out 4,000 tonnes an hour but the railways and ports
> cannot cope. Vale is working to improve a line through Malawi to take the coal for
> export. OAS Construtora, another Brazilian firm, has signed a deal with the miner
> to build part of a new port at Nacala, 1,000km (620 miles) to the north-east, to > do the same.
> “The continent is an important part of Vale’s future, enthuses Ricardo Saad, the
> firm’s Africa boss. He is not alone in his excitement about Brazil’s prospects.
> Relations with Africa flourished during the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
> He travelled there a dozen times and African leaders flocked to Brazil. His zeal
> was in part ideological: he devoted much of his diplomacy to ‘south-south’ relations-at
> the cost, critics say, of neglecting more powerful (and richer) trade partners, > such as the United States.
> “Lula stressed his country’s ‘historic debt’ to Africa, a reference to the 3.5m
> Africans shipped to Brazil as slaves. Outside Nigeria, Brazil has the world’s biggest
> black population. Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s current president, is continuing those
> policies-though with more emphasis on how the relationship benefits Brazil. There
> are many ways that it can. Africa needs infrastructure and Brazil has lots of construction
> firms. Africa sits on oil and minerals in abundance; Brazil has the firms to get
> them out. Its agribusiness giants are also eyeing up Africa. If the continent’s
> economy continues to grow as it has in recent years, it will produce millions of > customers much like Brazil’s new middle class.”
> CONTENTS
> NEW GAZA WAR
> ITEM 1: Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: Operation Pillar > of Defense-Update No. 2
> http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20426/E_231_12_357842802.pdf
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.lfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.terrorism-info.org.il%2FData%2Farticles%2FArt_20426%2FE_231_12_357842802.pdf] > ITEM 2: TIMES OF ISRAEL: Mashaal nixes possibility of truce
> http://www.timesofisrael.com/all-eyes-on-cairo-ahead-of-gaza-ground-incursion/ [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.nfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.timesofisrael.com%2Fall-eyes-on-cairo-ahead-of-gaza-ground-incursion%2F] > ITEM 3: Jonathan Spyer: Hamas’s Miscalculation
> http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/hamas-s-miscalculation_663620.html?nopager=1
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.pfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.weeklystandard.com%2Fblogs%2Fhamas-s-miscalculation_663620.html%3Fnopager%3D1] > BENGHAZI
> ITEM 4: Thomas Joscelyn: Who Politicized Intelligence on Benghazi?
> http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/who-politicized-intelligence-benghazi_663655.html?nopager=1
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.sfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.weeklystandard.com%2Fblogs%2Fwho-politicized-intelligence-benghazi_663655.html%3Fnopager%3D1] > ITEM 5: Eli Lake: CIA: We Didn’t Ask for Help During Benghazi Attack
> http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/15/cia-we-didn-t-ask-for-help-during-benghazi-attack.html
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.ufoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thedailybeast.com%2Farticles%2F2012%2F11%2F15%2Fcia-we-didn-t-ask-for-help-during-benghazi-attack.html] > LATIN AMERICA
> ITEM 6: Jaime Daremblum: Radical Leftism Fails in Argentina
> http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/radical-leftism-fails-argentina_663648.html
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.vfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.weeklystandard.com%2Fblogs%2Fradical-leftism-fails-argentina_663648.html]
> ITEM 7: Mary O’Grady: Argentina Runs Out of Other People’s Money. The demonstration
> in Buenos Aires this month was the largest since Argentines restored democracy in > 1983.
> http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323551004578118980029057450.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_BelowLEFTSecond
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.xfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424127887323551004578118980029057450.html%3Fmod%3DWSJ_Opinion_BelowLEFTSecond]
> ITEM 8: Brian Michael Jenkins: Will Mexico’s New President Continue the War on the > Cartels?
> http://www.rand.org/blog/2012/11/will-mexicos-new-president-continue-the-war-on-the.html
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.zfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rand.org%2Fblog%2F2012%2F11%2Fwill-mexicos-new-president-continue-the-war-on-the.html]
> ITEM 9: Otto Reich: Corruption and Abuse of Power Infest Honduras Presidential Race
> http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/opinion/2012/11/15/otto-reich-corruption-and-abuse-power-infest-honduras-presidential-race/
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.9foiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Flatino.foxnews.com%2Flatino%2Fopinion%2F2012%2F11%2F15%2Fotto-reich-corruption-and-abuse-power-infest-honduras-presidential-race%2F] > ITEM 10: ECONOMIST: Brazil in Africa: A new Atlantic alliance > Brazilian companies are heading for Africa, laden with capital and expertise
> http://www.economist.com/news/business/21566019-brazilian-companies-are-heading-africa-laden-capital-and-expertise-new-atlantic
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.8foiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.economist.com%2Fnews%2Fbusiness%2F21566019-brazilian-companies-are-heading-africa-laden-capital-and-expertise-new-atlantic]
> ITEM 11: Jaime Daremblum: Consolidating a Dictatorship in Central America. Nicaraguan > democracy is being snuffed out.
> http://pjmedia.com/blog/consolidating-a-dictatorship-in-central-america/ [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.7foiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fpjmedia.com%2Fblog%2Fconsolidating-a-dictatorship-in-central-america%2F] > FULL TEXTS
> ITEM 1a: Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: Operation Pillar
> of Defense-Update No. 2 http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20426/E_231_12_357842802.pdf
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.lfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.terrorism-info.org.il%2FData%2Farticles%2FArt_20426%2FE_231_12_357842802.pdf] > [See the pdf. KDMJ]
> ITEM 2a: TIMES OF ISRAEL: Mashaal nixes possibility of truce http://www.timesofisrael.com/all-eyes-on-cairo-ahead-of-gaza-ground-incursion/
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.nfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.timesofisrael.com%2Fall-eyes-on-cairo-ahead-of-gaza-ground-incursion%2F] > November 19, 2012, 1:20 pm Updated: November 19, 2012, 4:11 pm
> Mashaal nixes possibility of truce; heavy rocket fire on southIslamic Jihad terrorists
> said killed in strike on media building; Al Arabiya reports that ceasefire is close;
> barrage of roughly 15 rockets fired on southern cities; vacant school suffers third > hit in past decade
> [See the URL.]
> ITEM 3a: Jonathan Spyer: Hamas’s Miscalculation http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/hamas-s-miscalculation_663620.html?nopager=1
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.pfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.weeklystandard.com%2Fblogs%2Fhamas-s-miscalculation_663620.html%3Fnopager%3D1] > 1:31 PM, NOV 18, 2012
> Jerusalem
> The crisis now under way in Gaza represents the moment when the wave of Sunni Islamism
> that has been achieving triumph after triumph in the region since early 2011 finally > crashes up against the Jewish state.
> The form in which the crisis is playing out offers some useful early pointers regarding
> both the strengths and weaknesses of the emergent Sunni Islamist powers in the region.
> From the historical perspective, it is now clear that the “Arab spring”-that is,
> the fall of decrepit Arab nationalist regimes and their replacement by Islamist
> ones-began not in Tunisia in early 2011, but in Gaza in the summer of 2007. The
> expulsion of Fatah and the PLO from the Gaza Strip, and their defeat at the hands
> of the Islamists of Hamas, set the prototype in miniature for what has followed > in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and Yemen.
> The Hamas rulers of Gaza understand this point well. They regard themselves as part
> of an historic process of an Islamist advance. The swift and stunning rise to power
> of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in particular led to a sharp change in the movement’s
> assessment of the balances of forces and what was possible at this moment in its > long struggle against Israel.
> This change at the level of strategic perspective led in recent months to changes
> in tactics. In the first years after Operation Cast Lead, Hamas made some efforts
> to prevent Islamic Jihad and the smaller Salafi organizations from firing at Israel
> and bringing down retribution. The movement focused on rearming and improving its > capabilities. Hamas’s own fighters were rarely responsible for the rockets.
> In the course of 2012, this changed. Believing it had its fellow Muslim Brothers
> in Egypt at its back, Hamas began to allow freer rein to the smaller groups, and > to participate in actions against Israel along the border.
> The Kornet missile attack on an IDF jeep patrolling the Israeli side of the border
> on November 10 was the sharpest expression yet of Hamas’s attempt to take advantage
> of what it saw as an altered balance. This action triggered the current crisis.
> Hamas has miscalculated. Apparently, the movement assumed that Israel shared its
> perspective on the changed balance of forces and would acquiesce to Hamas’s allowing > and participating in terror attacks on Israel’s south.
> Instead, the Israeli authorities have clearly understood Hamas’s intentions, and
> have responded with a large scale operation with a notably limited aim-namely,
> to restore ‘deterrence’; that is, to disabuse the Hamas rulers of Gaza of the notion > that the current situation makes possible aggression against Israel.
> But the greater Hamas miscalculation appears to have been regarding the nature and
> extent of the support they would receive from the Muslim Brotherhood government > in Egypt.
> Ideologically, of course, the Hamas rulers of Gaza and the Muslim Brotherhood rulers
> of Egypt are birds of a feather. This was graphically demonstrated during the visit
> of Egyptian prime minister Hisham Qandil to the Strip. Qandil’s statements, his > style, even his appearance were of a piece with his hosts.
> But ideology is not the only factor at work. The rulers of Egypt are presiding over
> a dysfunctional country of 80 million. They are entirely dependent on western aid
> to avoid the real prospect of hunger. Just prior to the current crisis in Gaza,
> Egypt had secured a commitment from the European Union for aid totaling $6.4 billion.
> A $4.5 billion loan is on the way from the IMF. The U.S. is committed to supplying > $2 billion a year to Egypt.
> But this money, of course, also buys influence. It means that the Egyptian Muslim > Brothers cannot simply follow their ideological inclinations.
> The result is that, as of now, the Egyptian authorities, along with Qatar and Turkey,
> are seeking to induce Hamas to agree to a renewed ceasefire. The Gaza leaders are > rejecting Egypt’s proposals.
> Hamas wants to come out with an achievement. They want a U.S.-supported guarantee
> that Israel will cease targeted killings, and the lifting of all economic restrictions > on Gaza.
> There is no chance that either Israel or the U.S. will agree to such demands. 75,000
> Israeli reservists have been called up. The Israeli air force is currently working
> its way down a long list of quality targets-both human and infrastructural-in Gaza.
> Collateral damage is largely being avoided. The Iron Dome system is performing well. > Israel is in no hurry.
> But the stance taken by Egypt indicates something important. The emergent Sunni
> Islamist powers in the region differ from the Iran-led Shia bloc, which is self-financing, > and which has placed itself on a collision course with the west and Israel.
> The Sunni Islamists in Cairo are required by reality to have a different type of
> relationship with the west. Hamas, in trying to impose new rules of engagement
> in the wake of the Sunni Islamist advance, failed to calculate this. The result
> is that the rulers of Gaza are now facing the unattractive alternatives of agreeing
> to a return to an improved version of the status quo ante, or facing the prospect > of a continued Israeli devastation of their capabilities in Gaza.
> ITEM 4a: Thomas Joscelyn: Who Politicized Intelligence on Benghazi? http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/who-politicized-intelligence-benghazi_663655.html?nopager=1
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.sfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.weeklystandard.com%2Fblogs%2Fwho-politicized-intelligence-benghazi_663655.html%3Fnopager%3D1] > 10:41 AM, NOV 19, 2012
> During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Congressman Mike Rogers,
> who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, accused political appointees
> in the intelligence community of spinning the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi.
> Rogers was asked about the talking points U.N. ambassador Susan Rice relied on five
> days after the assault on the U.S. consulate. Those talking points portrayed the
> terrorist attack that killed four Americans as a “spontaneous” episode of violence
> that grew out of a demonstration against an anti-Islam film. There never was any > demonstration in Benghazi, however, only a terrorist attack.
> Did the intelligence community simply give Rice the wrong information? No, Rogers > claimed.
> “The intelligence community had it right, and they had it right early,” Rogers said.
> “What happened was it worked its way up through the system of the so-called talking
> points, which everyone refers to, and then it went up to what’s called a deputies > committee … that’s populated by appointees from the administration.” > “That’s where the narrative changed,” Rogers said.
> The White House has denied that top Obama officials revised the talking points.
> And Senator Dianne Feinstein, who appeared alongside Rogers, was quick to defend > the White House. But her defense missed Rogers’s point.
> “Now, with the allegation that the White House changed those talking points, that
> is false,” Feinstein said. The senator continued: “There is only one thing that
> was changed, and I’ve checked into this. I believe it to be absolute fact. And
> that was the word consulate was changed to mission. That’s the only change that > anyone in the White House made, and I have checked this out.”
> Feinstein’s comments track closely with what Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security > adviser, has told the press.
> While emphasizing that he gets “along well” with Feinstein “on many, many issues,”
> Rogers disagreed with the senator’s explanation, and implicitly the White House’s > as well.
> The talking points, “in other words, the narrative of how we would call this event,
> went up to what’s called a deputies meeting,” Rogers said. And “no one in the professional > intelligence community could tell us who changed what.”
> That is the “disconnect,” Rogers claimed. “So the intelligence community said this > is– this was a terrorist act.”
> So, it wasn’t that the White House physically changed the wording of the talking
> points to downplay terrorism. Obama’s political appointees did, according to Rogers.
> It is natural to ask whether they were in contact with anyone in the White House > on the matter.
> If Rogers is right, then the American public deserves to know who, exactly, decided
> to spin the terrorist attack in Benghazi. And we should also learn why, given the
> many intelligence failures since September 11, 2001, the intelligence community
> is still so dysfunctional that partisan appointees can rewrite assessments in such > a manner.
> ITEM 5a: Eli Lake: CIA: We Didn’t Ask for Help During Benghazi Attack http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/15/cia-we-didn-t-ask-for-help-during-benghazi-attack.html
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.ufoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thedailybeast.com%2Farticles%2F2012%2F11%2F15%2Fcia-we-didn-t-ask-for-help-during-benghazi-attack.html] > Nov 15, 2012 4:45 AM EST
> The agency’s acting director will tell Congress today that agents on the ground
> the night Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed never requested military assistance, > Eli Lake reports.
> When the CIA’s acting director, Michael Morell, testifies Thursday before the Senate
> Select Committee on Intelligence, he is expected to say that the agency never requested
> Europe-based special operations teams, specialized Marine platoons, or armed drones
> on the night of the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, according to a senior U.S. > intelligence official.
> Acting CIA Director Michael Morell walks through the Capitol to attend a meeting
> with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), on November 13, 2012 in Washington,
> DC. Morell was called on to fill in as acting CIA Director after the resignation
> of David Petraeus last week in the wake of the revelation of an extramarital affair. > (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)
> The disclosure may put an end to one line of inquiry into the Benghazi affair about
> why reinforcements from the region were not sent on the night of the attack. “Assistance
> from the U.S. military was critical, and we got what we requested,” the senior U.S. > intelligence official said.
> According to a Pentagon timeline made public last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
> prepared multiple military responses from the region at around midnight Benghazi
> time, more than two hours after the initial assault began. Those orders included
> mobilizing two special Marine platoons known as Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team
> (FAST) from Rota, Spain, to deploy to Tripoli and Benghazi. Panetta also ordered
> a special operations force, training in central Europe, to deploy at the Signonella
> Airbase in Italy. Another special operations team based in the United States also > prepared to deploy to Libya.
> The CIA, however, requested none of that assistance. Neither did the State Department. > None of those teams ever arrived in Benghazi.
> On the evening of the attack, the military provided two kinds of support to the
> CIA security officers who tried to fend off an attack at the U.S. diplomatic mission
> and then later stood guard at a CIA base less than a mile away, which was hit in
> a second wave at about 5 a.m. (A U.S. military team working for the CIA was sent
> that evening from Tripoli, but that team did not arrive at the CIA annex until after > the U.S. diplomatic mission was overrun.)
> The military support included an unarmed predator drone that recorded the dramatic
> rescue of U.S. personnel from the diplomatic mission to the CIA base at about midnight.
> (Timelines differ between the Pentagon and the CIA.) The U.S. military also provided
> medevac support to survivors of the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens,
> State Department communications specialist Sean Smith, and two retired Navy SEALs, > Tyrone Woods and Glenn Doherty.
> Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee,
> said Wednesday that Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned Friday after acknowledging
> an extramarital affair, would testify about the matter this week. CNN reported > Wednesday evening that his testimony is now scheduled for Friday.
> Congress is particularly interested in what Petraeus learned about Benghazi on his > trip last month to Tripoli.
> Morrell also is likely to be asked about the broiling scandal involving the Petraeus
> resignation and whether the CIA is examining any potential unauthorized disclosure
> of classified information because of the retired general’s relationship with his > biographer, Paula Broadwell.
> A U.S. official familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast that Broadwell
> at this point is the main focus of the FBI investigation. The probe began in the
> spring after Jill Kelley, a Tampa woman who arranged parties for senior U.S. military
> officers at the MacDill Air Force Base, contacted a local FBI agent. She complained > about harassing emails that may have bordered on threats.
> The U.S. official said the emails in some cases claimed to know Kelley’s whereabouts.
> “It was something along the lines of, ‘I know this Friday where you are going to
> be,'” this official said. “Jill thought it spooked her, it was a threat. She wanted
> to check it out with law enforcement. It did not take long before there was some > reference to high-ranking government officials.”
> Congress is particularly interested in what Petraeus learned about Benghazi on his > trip last month to Tripoli.
> Two U.S. government officials told the Beast that the investigation at one point
> examined whether a foreign intelligence service may have been involved in the scandal,
> but that possibility was soon ruled this out. There remains, however, an investigation > into whether Broadwell mishandled classified information.
> Broadwell, a former military intelligence officer, at one point did hold high-level
> security clearances. On Monday, FBI agents went to her home and confiscated her
> computers. Already the bureau has found that some classified documents were in Broadwell’s > possession. Her security clearance has been suspended.
> Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long.
> Eli Lake is the senior national-security correspondent for Newsweek and the Daily
> Beast. He previously covered national security and intelligence for the Washington
> Times. Lake has also been a contributing editor at The New Republic since 2008 and
> covered diplomacy, intelligence, and the military for the late New York Sun. He
> has lived in Cairo and traveled to war zones in Sudan, Iraq, and Gaza. He is one
> of the few journalists to report from all three members of President Bush’s axis > of evil: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.
> ITEM 6a: Jaime Daremblum: Radical Leftism Fails in Argentina http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/radical-leftism-fails-argentina_663648.html
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.vfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.weeklystandard.com%2Fblogs%2Fradical-leftism-fails-argentina_663648.html] > 9:05 AM, NOV 19, 2012
> When Argentine president Cristina Kirchner nationalized the Spanish-owned YPF oil
> company this past April, Washington Post correspondent Juan Forero proclaimed her
> “the standard-bearer of populist nationalism in Latin America.” At the time, her
> decision played well at home: One poll found that 62 percent of Argentines supported
> it. Yet the YPF seizure was a desperate move by a desperate government trying to
> boost its domestic political standing and camouflage its economic failures. Seven
> months later, Kirchner’s approval rating is deep underwater, and her government > is facing enormous public protests.
> On November 8, an estimated 250,000 to 700,000 Argentines poured into the streets
> of Buenos Aires to express their grievances. The march lasted close to four hours,
> and the Guardian confirmed that it was “Argentina’s biggest and noisiest anti-government
> demonstration in a decade.” Other Argentine cities, such as Córdoba and Mendoza,
> witnessed their own protests, and the expatriate community held demonstrations
> outside Argentine embassies and consulates around the world: from Miami to Melbourne, > from Madrid to Montevideo, from Montreal to Munich.
> Argentines are mad about sky-high inflation. They’re mad about rising crime. They’re
> mad about corruption scandals. They’re mad about proposals to amend the constitution
> so that Kirchner can seek a third term. They’re mad about government efforts to > curb press freedom and weaken opposition media outlets.
> In short, they’re mad that Kirchner has been governing like Hugo Chávez.
> Consider her record over the past five years. Since 2007, when she succeeded her
> late husband, Néstor, as president, the Argentine government has nationalized private
> pensions and seized the country’s largest airline (Aerolíneas Argentinas). It has
> grabbed a majority stake in a foreign-owned oil company (YPF). It has used central
> bank reserves to repay public debt (although Argentina is still refusing to repay
> all of its defaulted debt from 2001, and it still owes roughly $9 billion to Paris
> Club member nations). It has imposed draconian currency controls and “the largest
> number of protectionist measures worldwide” (according to the Latin Business Chronicle).
> It has doctored inflation figures. It has doctored poverty figures. It has persecuted
> journalists and statisticians for reporting the real numbers. It has tolerated and
> encouraged corruption. It has launched aggressive, relentless attacks against Grupo > Clarín and other unfriendly media outfits.
> Hence the runaway inflation, and the food shortages, and the energy shortages, and
> the astounding capital flight, and the warnings from rating agencies, and the threats
> from the International Monetary Fund, and the condemnations from global press organizations.
> If not for Cuba and Venezuela, Argentina would be the lowest-ranked Latin American
> country in the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Economic Freedom. It ranks 158th
> overall (out of 179 countries or territories). By comparison, in 2003, the year
> Néstor Kirchner was elected president, Argentina ranked 68th (out of 156). The dramatic
> decline of economic freedom has chased away foreign investors and turned Argentina
> into a country where, as investor Sin-ming Shaw recently reported from Buenos Aires, > “supermarket shoppers are limited to one bottle of cooking oil per customer.”
> Of course, the Kirchner government continues to publish bogus inflation figures
> that downplay the extent of the crisis. But nobody takes those figures seriously,
> and the IMF has given Buenos Aires until December 17 to provide accurate numbers > or else face censure.
> Before Argentina’s IMF deadline arrives, Grupo Clarín will encounter a different
> deadline: It has until December 7 to unveil a plan for selling most of its broadcast
> licenses. Citing this deadline, the Global Editors Network (GEN) has declared a
> “press freedom crisis” in Argentina and warned that “independent journalism is facing
> a major threat.” On October 11, GEN board member Alejandro Miró Quesada said that
> “the attack on Clarín is symbolic of the political pressure which media are facing > throughout the region.”
> Not only has the Kirchner government attacked Grupo Clarín and other media companies,
> it has also attacked independent statisticians. On September 7, the American Statistical
> Association sent a letter to the U.S. State Department complaining about a “continuing
> pattern of harassment and human rights violations, including the repeated imposition
> of confiscatory fines and threats of criminal sanctions, carried out by the Government
> of Argentina against a group of statisticians and allied professionals for compiling
> and disseminating price statistics using methods not approved of by that government.”
> This is happening in a country with Latin America’s fourth-largest population and
> its third-largest economy; a country with great potential but a seemingly endless
> capacity for self-destruction. Kirchner is certainly not the first Argentine leader
> to pursue a disastrous form of left-wing populism. But her radical, 21st-century
> Peronism has squandered a commodity boom, destroyed an economy, and made Argentina
> a global pariah. Indeed, her stubborn refusal to honor debt obligations stemming
> from the 2001 default recently prompted Ghanaian authorities to detain an Argentine
> navy ship as collateral. Such are the humiliations that Argentines are now forced > to endure.
> Back in May, shortly after Kirchner nationalized YPF, Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian
> author Mario Vargas Llosa called the decision “totally demagogic and senseless.” > Those four words sum up her entire presidency.
> Jaime Daremblum, who served as Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States from
> 1998 to 2004, is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson > Institute.
> ITEM 7a: Mary O’Grady: Argentina Runs Out of Other People’s Money. The demonstration
> in Buenos Aires this month was the largest since Argentines restored democracy in
> 1983. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323551004578118980029057450.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_BelowLEFTSecond
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.xfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424127887323551004578118980029057450.html%3Fmod%3DWSJ_Opinion_BelowLEFTSecond] > November 18, 2012, 6:26 p.m. ET
> Eleven years after a debt and currency crisis that brought down the government of
> President Fernando de la Rúa, Argentina is again threatening to boil over in discontent.
> An estimated 700,000 porteños marched Nov. 8 in Buenos Aires (population 3.1 million),
> to express their opposition to President Cristina Kirchner. Even allowing for exaggeration > by proponents who provided the estimate, it was a big deal.
> Naturally, since privately owned or operated helicopters were not authorized to
> fly over the event (Hugo Chávez doesn’t allow them during protests in Venezuela
> either), it was difficult to measure crowd size. But the demonstration in Buenos
> Aires-as well as smaller marches held the same day in other cities-was significant.
> Mrs. Kirchner, who was elected to a second four-year term in October 2011 with 54%
> of the vote, appears to be in deep political trouble. To understand why, recall
> Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s 1976 warning that socialists “always run out > of other people’s money.”
> To the extent it has succeeded, the Kirchner economic model has relied on the 2001
> default on $100 billion in debt and interest, a weak peso, protectionism, confiscation
> of private property, capital controls, broken contracts and high taxes. In other
> words, it has depended on other people’s money. Now, as Mrs. Thatcher warned, that > money is running out.
> In the second quarter, the economy contracted by 1.4%. The Buenos Aires-based think
> tank Foundation for Latin American Economic Research (known by its Spanish initials
> FIEL) is forecasting 2012 GDP growth of only 1.5%. Inflation is estimated by independent
> economists at almost 25% annually. As salaries are adjusted upward to compensate
> for the loss of purchasing power, workers are being pushed into higher tax brackets.
> Argentines traveling abroad now have to explain their plans to government bureaucrats > if they want to buy hard currency.
> Add these pocketbook issues to the rising rate of violent crime, recurring corruption
> scandals, increasing antidemocratic efforts to silence independent media outlets
> and pronouncements from Mrs. Kirchner’s inner circle that it wants to amend the
> constitution to allow her to run for a third term. The Kirchner government has
> also angered labor leaders by letting it be known that it plans to shift union control > of hundreds of millions of dollars in health-care premiums to the government.
> Now the $64,000 question (405,000 in devalued Argentine pesos that only 11 years
> ago were on par with the dollar) is whether what looks like the national rejection
> of the ruling Argentine political class will turn out to be an inflection point > in the 10-year, leftward drift of the country’s economic policy.
> Let’s stipulate that the only thing that unites the protesters is their discontent
> with the status quo. Some Argentines have always understood the short-sightedness
> of Kirchner economics and its dangerous consolidation of power. But many others
> are angry simply because the welfare state is no longer able to deliver. The sorry
> truth is that few opposition leaders or grass-roots organizers favor a free economy, > and that means the nation remains far from any market revolution.
> The good news is that it now appears that Mrs. Kirchner’s bid to change the constitution
> to allow for a third term will be defeated in congress. And unless the economy rebounds
> sharply, her wing of the Peronist party could suffer significant losses in the midterm > congressional elections next year.
> Yet Mrs. Kirchner has been counted out before. In 2008, when the fallout from the
> U.S. financial crisis was sweeping the globe and trade financing had collapsed,
> she tried to raise export taxes on the agricultural sector to confiscatory levels.
> That provoked a rebellion among farmers who, joined by her urban opponents, managed > to block the measure. Her popularity sank to 20%.
> Economic growth slowed to 0.9% in 2009. Thanks to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s generous
> money creation, however, commodity prices boomed in 2010 and “la presidenta” again
> had the wind at her back. GDP growth that year was 9.2%. In 2011, when she ran for > re-election, it was 8.9%.
> A similar resurgence in economic activity or some other surprise might save Mrs.
> Kirchner. But for now she is making Mrs. Thatcher look downright prescient: The
> country’s risk profile is climbing and its reputation for honoring contracts sinking
> to new lows after the government seized control of the oil company YPF from Spanish > parent Repsol REP.MC +2.91% this year.
> There is little doubt that something happened on Nov. 8, notwithstanding the government’s
> estimate that only 70,000 turned out to protest. “What you should bear in mind is
> that this crowd was, by far, the largest seen since the democracy was recovered
> in our country in 1983,” Julio Saguier, president of the La Nación corporation,
> which publishes the daily of the same name, told me from Buenos Aires on Wednesday.
> Unfortunately the parallels between this government and the military dictatorship > that was finally defeated at that time do not end there.
> ITEM 8a: Brian Michael Jenkins: Will Mexico’s New President Continue the War on
> the Cartels? http://www.rand.org/blog/2012/11/will-mexicos-new-president-continue-the-war-on-the.html
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.zfoiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rand.org%2Fblog%2F2012%2F11%2Fwill-mexicos-new-president-continue-the-war-on-the.html] > November 16, 2012
> After being out of office for 12 years, Mexico’s once perpetually dominant Partido
> Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) will again take over the presidency next month.
> A question increasingly framed as a matter of national security north of the border
> is whether the new administration in Mexico City will continue the previous government’s > war on organized crime.
> Despite the global economic crisis, Mexico’s president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto,
> will inherit an enviable economic situation. Currently Latin America’s leading recipient
> of foreign direct investment, Mexico’s economy is growing faster than Brazil’s and
> could pass it to become Latin America’s largest economy. With labor costs now comparable
> to those in China, U.S. firms increasingly see Mexico as a preferred location for > production, although security concerns cause some hesitation.
> The economic miracle coexists with what some analysts have called a “criminal insurgency”
> of powerful criminal networks motivated by profit rather than ideology-and unafraid
> to directly challenge the government.[i] U.S. officials worry that, unchecked, the
> cartels will carve out an autonomous, drug-fueled, crime-ruled narco-state sharing
> a 2,000-mile border with the United States. This possibility adds to concerns that
> the horrendous violence that has characterized Mexico’s drug wars will spread into
> U.S. territory, especially as the cartels, already allied with U.S. street gangs,
> move to control downstream drug distribution, where profit margins are greater.
> Worst-case scenarios envision an escalating war against increasingly powerful Mexican
> crime lords, ready to retaliate for extraditions or increased U.S. involvement via
> terrorist attacks in the U.S. or against the large diaspora of U.S. citizens in > Mexico. Thus far, these scenarios have not occurred.
> Homeland Security officials worry that international terrorists, inspired by al
> Qaeda’s ideology or acting on orders from Iran or Hezbollah, will ally with Mexican
> cartels to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States. This has not occurred
> either, although the recent Iranian plot to obtain assistance from Mexico’s Zeta
> gang in assassinating the Saudi ambassador in Washington gives the idea plausibility.
> Fortunately, in this case, the Iranian’s Zeta contact turned out to be a U.S. undercover > agent. It is not clear whether the real Zetas would have gone for the deal.
> The PRI, which dominated Mexico’s politics for decades following the Mexican Revolution,
> returns to power with a lot of baggage. Previous PRI administrations were seen as
> notoriously corrupt, more often partners than opponents of Mexico’s drug traffickers.
> The government allocated the smuggling routes. Drug lords made payoffs and bought > protection, but the deals kept the peace-for a while.
> By 2000, the PRI had lost its absolute hold on political power and with it the government’s
> ability to act as a referee among the traffickers, whose own power was increasing.
> When Enrique Calderon assumed the presidency in 2006, government authority was being
> openly challenged by the wealthy and well-armed cartels. Violence, which had been
> on a gradual downward trajectory, was again on the rise. With a weak criminal-justice
> system, federal law enforcement institutions riddled with corruption, and local
> police outgunned and intimidated or in cahoots with the traffickers, Calderon called > in the army to take on the cartels.
> There is consensus that after more than five years, Calderon’s frontal assault on
> organized crime merits review. The war has achieved some success. It has decimated
> the top ranks of the cartels. Of the 37 men believed to be running drug gangs in
> 2007, 16 have been arrested by security forces and seven have been killed, while
> two others have been killed by rival gangs.[ii] Hundreds of other gang members have
> been killed or captured. Two of Mexico’s most powerful gangs, the “Gulf Cartel”
> and the “Beltran Leyva Group,” whose leader was killed three years ago, have been > almost entirely wiped out.
> But the state’s war on cartels appears to have had only a marginal effect on drug
> trafficking-the cartels’ chief source of income-while the removal of the top layer
> of cartel management has fractured organizations and increased violence as successors > fought one another for control.
> Overall, murders in Mexico increased nearly threefold between 2007 and 2010, while
> slayings related to the drug-cartel wars, which account for the majority of the > country’s homicides, increased more than fivefold.
> The statistics, however, can be misleading. True, the first five years of Calderon’s
> presidency, during which his war on the cartels was waged, saw an increase in the
> homicide rate. But at 14.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010, it was still
> marginally less than Mexico’s murder rate between 1982 and 2000 and less than half > of the rate in the 1940s and 1950s.[iii]
> As in the United States, Mexico’s violence is localized. Mexico’s “war zone” includes
> less than 4 percent of its municipalities, concentrated mainly along the U.S. border
> and in some states further south. More than 95 percent of Mexico’s municipalities
> are unaffected. At its current level, Mexico’s national murder rate is roughly equivalent
> to that of Oakland, California, and below that of St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and
> Baltimore. The rate is less than half that of New Orleans today, and less than one-fifth
> that of Washington, D.C., during the gang-led cocaine wars of the early 1990s, when > the city’s homicide rate ascended to 80 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
> Moreover, the violence in Mexico seems to have plateaued recently and could, some
> analysts believe, fall precipitately as the cartels are gradually brought under
> control. Others, however, believe that much of the recent increase in violent crime
> in Mexico is not caused by the cartels’ hired guns but rather is due to a second
> tier of gangs who have exploited the deterioration of law and order to engage in
> robbery, kidnapping, and extortion. Some of these crimes are committed in an effort
> to raise the capital to necessary to join the major-league drug traffickers. The
> violent second-tier gangsters pay rent to but are not directly controlled by the
> cartels. If the latter analysis is correct, Mexico’s violence may take longer to > subside.
> Perceptions of Mexico’s violence are shaped not merely by its volume but also by
> its gruesome nature. Torture, mass murders, crucifixions, beheadings, and dismemberments
> indicate a strategy of calculated savagery intended by Mexico’s criminals to instill
> terror and intimidate rival gangs, law enforcement, and troublesome journalists, > as well as future targets of extortion.
> During his campaign, Enrique Peña Nieto, the victorious PRI candidate, promised
> frightened and war-weary Mexicans a reduction in the violence, but since his election
> victory in July, he has sounded more and more bellicose. He has shelved the idea
> of a debate about drug legalization, saying that he personally does not favor the > idea. Mexico’s drug war will continue.
> During the presidential campaign, Peña Nieto called for the Mexican armed forces
> to return to their barracks and replaced them with a new professional gendarmerie.
> He also brought in a former director of Colombia’s National Police as an advisor.
> The government is seeking new, sophisticated surveillance technology. Building a
> highly professional, high-tech national police force will take time. Meanwhile, > Mexican army, marine, and other federal units will remain on the streets.
> Although the PRI traditionally has been prickly about its dealings with the colossus
> of the north, the incoming president has said that he would like to see more U.S.
> military instructors in Mexico. To soothe nationalist sensitivities, however, Peña
> Nieto has smartly put Mexico in the lead in expanding the U.S.-Mexico anti-drug
> initiative to the Central American countries. From a strategic standpoint, it makes
> sense, but it is also good politics, as it transforms Mexico from junior partner
> in a bilateral relationship with the United States to regional leader in a broader > international effort.
> The new president’s hard line may reflect a newfound conviction that continuing
> the offensive will crack the cartels, giving PRI the victory. Or it may turn out
> to be mere rhetoric calculated to reassure Washington. Beneath these carefully
> crafted public statements, the new president and his inner circle have only begun
> to hint at their strategy. This week Peña Nieto proposed putting the federal police > under control of the department responsible for domestic security.
> U.S. law enforcement officials remain wary, especially those whose personal memories
> go back to the bad old days under previous PRI administrations in the 1990s. They,
> along with some senior Mexican military officials speaking privately, fear that
> the gains against the cartels will be lost. At the political level, the PRI will
> claim full cooperation with the United States, but at the operational level, cooperation
> will depend not on defined policies but on individual decisions determined by political > calculations.
> The incoming president of Mexico inherits an office, not the levers of power. He
> officially takes charge of a nation, but he must impose his authority over his
> own political party. Some of Peña Nieto’s supporters see his elevation as not just
> a PRI victory over the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), but as a victory of the new
> generation of PRI reformers over PRI’s corrupt old dinosaurs. Others see the new
> president as a more photogenic cover for the old political dons. Even if reform-minded,
> Peña Nieto will have to work within the complex internal politics of PRI, maintaining
> the support of the reformers while avoiding needless quarrels with local PRI barons, > some of whom are close to the traffickers and ready to cut their own deals.
> Peña Nieto’s immediate challenge is the violence that terrorizes Mexico’s citizens,
> damages the country’s valuable tourism industry, and discourages foreign firms from
> moving production facilities to Mexico and thereby creating good jobs. But PRI’s
> promise to reduce violence, some U.S. officials fear, can be achieved in the near
> term only through accommodation. Confidential sources in Mexico report that, even
> before the election, PRI politicos were making deals with the traffickers to reduce > the violence when the party returned to power.
> Lowering the level of violence may prove difficult. The balance of power between
> the government and the cartels has changed since the 1990s. The cartels no longer
> see the necessity of submitting to government authority in return for reduced interference
> with their trafficking. A lot of guns have moved south. Despite the punishment inflicted
> upon the cartels over the past five years, we have little idea how Mexico’s crime
> lords assess their current situation. The surviving capos are bloodier-minded and
> have far less business acumen than their predecessors. They know only violence,
> seek no truce, and do not flinch at ordering action without calculating the adverse
> effects it may have on their bottom lines. They may not see the wisdom of a deal
> even when it might protect their business interests-in other words, there can be > no lasting accommodations.
> A strategy of selective accommodation can co-exist with a strategy of selective
> destruction. Instead of pursuing all of the cartels at the same time, some analysts
> suggest that the government focus its effort on destroying the most violent cartel,
> removing it while providing an example to encourage the others to lower the volume > of violence.[iv]
> The fact that much of the violence is the work of smaller gangs reduces the capability
> of the cartels to deliver peace, causing some to suggest that Mexico’s new president
> may launch a new offensive against Mexico’s smaller, local gangs.[v] There is the
> further problem that Mexico’s drug traffic reportedly now employs a half-million
> people. Some are chemists and truck drivers, but many are hardened criminals, products
> of a subculture in which violence is celebrated. They will not easily be absorbed > back into society.
> The uncertainties about the new Mexican government’s pursuit of the war on the cartels
> reflect fundamentally different perspectives about its objectives. North of the
> border, it is perceived as a war on the traffickers-essentially an extension of
> the U.S. war on drugs-aimed at disrupting the flow of illegal narcotics into the
> United States. South of the border, it is about governance. President Calderon
> declared war on the cartels not because he shared the Americans’ anti-drug zealotry > but because the cartels threatened the state.
> To be sure, the cartels’ power derives from the immense profits of the drug traffic,
> which buy them the men and guns to wage war. This same cash flow can enable them
> to penetrate Mexico’s legitimate economy, fund local philanthropic projects, buy
> football teams and build stadiums, finance their own political parties, and create
> the mafia state that the United States fears. That gives Mexico City and Washington
> a powerful mutual interest in destroying the cartels. But that will require a real
> strategy-more than public gestures by Mexico’s new president, certainly more than > an addendum to Washington’s war on drugs, now in its fifth decade.
> Brian Michael Jenkins is senior adviser to the president of the nonprofit, nonpartisan > RAND Corporation.
> [i] The term “criminal insurgency” was coined by John P. Sullivan. See John P. Sullivan
> and Adam Elkus, “State of Siege: Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency,” Small Wars Journal, > August 19, 2008.
> [ii] “Mexico’s Drug Lords Are Dropping Like Flied,” The Economist, InterAmerican > Security Watch, October 19, 2012.
> [iii] Diana Washington Valdez, “Special Report: Calderon years trail others for > Mexico homicides,” El Paso Times, January 26, 2012.
> [iv] Such a strategy is discussed in Eric L. Olson, Considering New Strategies for
> Confronting Organized Crime in Mexico, Washington D.C.: Mexico Institute, Woodrow > Wilson Center, March 2012.
> [v] Michael Weissenstein, “Mexico Drug War: Enrique Peña Nieto Could Target Small > Gangs,” July 5, 2012 Huffington Post.
> This commentary appeared on RAND.org on November 16, 2012.
> ITEM 9a: Otto Reich: Corruption and Abuse of Power Infest Honduras Presidential
> Race http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/opinion/2012/11/15/otto-reich-corruption-and-abuse-power-infest-honduras-presidential-race/
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.9foiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Flatino.foxnews.com%2Flatino%2Fopinion%2F2012%2F11%2F15%2Fotto-reich-corruption-and-abuse-power-infest-honduras-presidential-race%2F] > Published November 15, 2012
> During the recently concluded U.S. presidential campaign, many Latin American journalists
> and academics asked why Latin America was hardly mentioned. Although Gov. Romney
> did mention the region in each of the three debates, the question deserves a more
> complete answer. This region is far too important to the U.S. to be ignored so widely > by U.S. political leaders. Why is it?
> One of the many reasons is that Latin America does not present its best face to
> the world and is therefore not taken seriously. The image of these countries that
> Americans too often see is that of a caricature: that of a clownish demagogue, or
> a boisterous “caudillo” dressed in the combat fatigues he might have worn had he
> ever seen combat; or of an incessant talker in enamored with the sound of his or
> her voice; and in some cases someone who combines many of the above characteristics.
> Fearful voters do not always make the best choices. Sometimes they need a little > help from friends that live in countries with a free press.
> Seldom do serious, wise, or even honest faces symbolize the rich continent to our
> South. Is it any wonder then, that senior policy-makers in the U.S. Government have
> difficulty focusing on this region? It is especially hard when those policy-makers
> have access to information that documents the abuse of power, moral degradation > and illicit enrichment in which many foreign “leaders” engage.
> When U.S. audiences watch the occasional television report about this region, or
> read press accounts, which are the Latin American faces that stare back? Frequently,
> those of an emaciated Fidel Castro of Cuba; a garrulous Hugo Chavez of Venezuela;
> an eccentric Evo Morales of Bolivia; a rabid Rafael Correa of Ecuador; and a devious
> Cristina Kirchner of Argentina. Those come to mind, at least to the few observers > that even know what those characters look like.
> Besides being dishonest and dangerous (for example, all the above preside over rampantly
> corrupt governments and some have close ties with Iran, regional terrorist groups
> or organized crime) these rulers have something else in common: they were all originally
> elected in votes that were relatively free and fair. We must ask how is it possible
> that otherwise intelligent constituencies choose so poorly? One reason is that they
> lack in balanced information about their candidates and leaders. In Latin America
> the press is frequently afraid of reporting negative material about powerful people
> running for office (for good reason, since scores of honest reporters have been > and continue to be killed while investigating wrongdoing).
> This well-founded media fear may result in the election of yet another candidate
> with a disturbing past: Yani Rosenthal Hidalgo, a candidate for President in the
> Liberal Party primaries in Honduras. Rosenthal was Minister of the Presidency (a
> kind of Super Cabinet Secretary and Presidential “fixer”) under a previous elected
> schemer, Mel Zelaya, who was removed from office in 2009 for violating the Constitution,
> by a unanimous vote of the Supreme Court of Honduras. Zelaya’s acolyte, Mr Rosenthal,
> apparently intends to take Zelaya’s place. If Mr. Rosenthal’s political background
> is insufficient to disqualify him from office, his illicit business activities should.
> Mr. Rosenthal is the scion of what is alleged to be the richest family in Honduras.
> The family conglomerate, Grupo Continental, owns some of the leading companies in
> Honduras: banks, insurance, engineering and construction, newspapers, television,
> cable TV, cement alligator skins, coffee growing, free zone assembly plants, food
> packing, sugar, residential developments, bananas, cattle and sheep breeding and > cacao, among others.
> The family, especially Yani, is the object of pending judicial charges and investigations
> that run practically the entire gamut of their business activities. For example:
> Since 2007, the Rosenthal telecommunications firm Cable Color has been accused by
> Honduran and international authorities of illegal use of its telephone lines for
> “grey traffic.” Grey traffic is the false reporting of international long distance
> calls as domestic calls, thus avoiding additional charges associated with international
> calls, such as payment for the use of underwater cables, of international taxes
> paid to the foreign governments where the calls originate or terminate, etc. In
> Honduras, international traffic is controlled by the public telephone company, Hondutel,
> which is – or would be if were operated honestly and efficiently – the single largest > source of revenue to the state.
> In 2007 then-President Manuel (Mel) Zelaya, whom Yani Rosenthal was serving as Cabinet
> Minister at the time, appointed the First Lady’s nephew, Marcelo Chimirri, as General
> Manager of Hondutel. Chimirri so looted Hondutel’s treasury that he was indicted
> for corruption and abuse of power and eventually arrested (but only after his uncle > and protector Zelaya was removed from office, of course).
> Even in a country with a long history of high-level corruption, Chimirri and Zelaya’s
> avarice was unprecedented. In order to hide the plundering of Hondutel through the
> use of grey traffic by companies owned by their allies such as the Rosenthals, Chimirri
> and Zelaya designed a cynical smoke screen reminiscent of the famous order “round > up the usual suspects” in the movie Casablanca.
> To divert attention from the real culprits while making it appear that they were
> enforcing the law, Zelaya’s associates ordered Hondutel officials to raid the offices
> of over 50 small telecom companies that most often were not, and in some cases were,
> involved in grey traffic, confiscated their equipment and arbitrarily detained their
> executives. These firms had very few telephone lines, and none even approximated
> the hundreds of lines of Cable Color. Yet, Cable Color’s offices were never raided.
> The reason was obvious; Chimirri, Zelaya and Yani knew the real culprit in the diversion > of Hondutel profits was Yani’s own company, Cable Color.
> That company still owes Hondutel the local currency equivalent of $259,044 for the
> use of submarine telephone cables. This figure is a pittance, however, in relation
> to the $5 Million per month – half its earnings – that Hondutel’s income dropped > under Chimirri’s “management” because of the grey traffic scheme.
> There are many Rosenthal companies that owe the Honduran treasury for fines. For
> example, Cementos del Norte (cement) owes $1,770,269. The Rosenthal newspaper firm,
> Editorial Honduras, owes $4,046,330 that it “refuses to pay” to the government.
> A pending lawsuit accuses members of the Board of Banco Continental and members
> of the board of the Rosenthal newspaper Tiempo (Editorial Honduras) of the crime
> of “infidencia,” or using the newspaper to publish confidential information to
> the detriment of official investigations of the National Banking and Insurance Commission.
> Moreover, the newspaper’s labor union has complained that the Rosenthals refuse
> to pay their “labor obligations” (equivalent to employees benefits in the U.S.).
> Those are just some examples. A more comprehensive list of transgressions, corruption
> and abuse of power by the Rosenthal family, whose heir now seeks Honduras’ top office, > is too long for a newspaper article.
> The reason I am writing this article is because I was asked to do so by some honest
> persons I know in Honduras. When I inquired why they did not do so themselves, they
> frankly admitted that they are afraid. They point to cases such as a murder in 2007
> of a telephone company owner, Alejandro Laprade, that threatened to blow the whistle
> on the Hondutel grey traffic scheme, from which the Rosenthal family prospered,
> but which in turn focused the attention of the country on out-of-control Zelaya > corruption and led to his downfall.
> Fearful voters do not always make the best choices. Sometimes they need a little > help from friends that live in countries with a free press.
> Otto Reich is a former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, Assistant Secretary of State
> for Western Hemisphere Affairs and Senior Staff member of the National Security
> Council. He heads his own international government relations firm in Washington, > DC.
> ITEM 10a: ECONOMIST: Brazil in Africa: A new Atlantic alliance Brazilian companies > are heading for Africa, laden with capital and expertise
> http://www.economist.com/news/business/21566019-brazilian-companies-are-heading-africa-laden-capital-and-expertise-new-atlantic
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.8foiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.economist.com%2Fnews%2Fbusiness%2F21566019-brazilian-companies-are-heading-africa-laden-capital-and-expertise-new-atlantic] > Nov 10th 2012 | MOATIZE |
> IN THE sweaty heat of northern Mozambique, Vale, a Brazilian mining giant, is digging
> up coal at its mine near the village of Moatize. A 400,000-tonne mound sits ready
> to burn. The mine can churn out 4,000 tonnes an hour but the railways and ports
> cannot cope. Vale is working to improve a line through Malawi to take the coal for
> export. OAS Construtora, another Brazilian firm, has signed a deal with the miner
> to build part of a new port at Nacala, 1,000km (620 miles) to the north-east, to > do the same.
> The continent is an important part of Vale’s future, enthuses Ricardo Saad, the
> firm’s Africa boss. He is not alone in his excitement about Brazil’s prospects.
> Relations with Africa flourished during the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
> He travelled there a dozen times and African leaders flocked to Brazil. His zeal
> was in part ideological: he devoted much of his diplomacy to “south-south” relations-at
> the cost, critics say, of neglecting more powerful (and richer) trade partners, > such as the United States.
> Lula stressed his country’s “historic debt” to Africa, a reference to the 3.5m Africans
> shipped to Brazil as slaves. Outside Nigeria, Brazil has the world’s biggest black
> population. Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s current president, is continuing those policies-though
> with more emphasis on how the relationship benefits Brazil. There are many ways
> that it can. Africa needs infrastructure and Brazil has lots of construction firms.
> Africa sits on oil and minerals in abundance; Brazil has the firms to get them out.
> Its agribusiness giants are also eyeing up Africa. If the continent’s economy continues
> to grow as it has in recent years, it will produce millions of customers much like > Brazil’s new middle class.
> Brazilian businesses seem keen. In 2001 Brazil invested $69 billion in Africa. By
> 2009, the latest figures available, that had swelled to $214 billion. At first Brazilian
> firms focused their efforts on Lusophone Africa, Angola and Mozambique in particular,
> capitalising on linguistic and cultural affinity to gain a foothold. Now they are > spreading across the continent.
> So far a few large firms dominate. Vale’s coal mine in Mozambique is its biggest
> operation outside Brazil. Odebrecht has been building things in Africa since the
> 1980s. Early on it was involved in construction of the vast Capanda dam in Angola.
> It erected the country’s first shopping mall in the capital, Luanda. In Ghana, where
> demand for homes is so fierce that tenants have to pay up to two years’ rent in
> advance, OAS, a contractor of Camargo Corrêa, a big conglomerate, is putting up > social housing.
> Andrade Gutierrez, another construction firm, works on everything from ports to
> housing and sanitation projects in Angola, Algeria, Congo and Guinea. Petrobras,
> Brazil’s state-owned oil behemoth, is already pumping oil in Angola and Nigeria
> and is on the hunt for more in Benin, Gabon, Libya, Nigeria and Tanzania. Consumer
> companies are setting their sights on a growing market, too. O Boticário, a Brazilian > cosmetics firm, has been peddling its products in Angola since 2006. > Brazil v China
> Since Brazil cannot compete with the likes of China in the scale of its investment,
> it has to offer something extra: in particular, technical expertise. With similar
> climates, agriculture has been a fruitful field of collaboration. In 2008 Embrapa,
> a Brazilian agricultural-research institute, set up an office in Ghana. Through
> Embrapa, Brazil has provided technical assistance to the cotton industry in Benin,
> Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali. Brazilian companies that produce soya, sugar cane, > corn and cotton were sniffing out investments in Tanzania earlier this year.
> Brazilian firms hope that their reputation will ensure that opportunities keep coming.
> They are keen to distinguish themselves from competitors, especially the Chinese.
> They do not want to be seen as grabbing everything they can, says Rodrigo da Costa
> Fonseca, Andrade Gutierrez’s president in Africa. Whereas Chinese firms are lambasted
> for their working practices, their Brazilian counterparts emphasise that they play
> by the rules, are good employers and want to build enduring relationships by offering > development aid as well as private investment.
> In particular, Brazilians stress that in Africa they employ Africans (Chinese firms
> are often criticised for shipping in their own people). Around 90% of Odebrecht’s > employees in Angola are locals, as are 85% of Vale’s employees in Mozambique.
> The Brazilians have not managed to avoid all criticism. Vale has come under fire
> for its resettlement of over 1,000 families to make way for its coal mine. Most
> have been moved to a brand-new village at Cateme, 40km away from Moatize. Disgruntled
> villagers say the cost of living has soared because of the added expense of getting
> to Tete, the provincial capital. The ground is less fertile and water less plentiful
> at the new location, say inhabitants, and the houses provided by Vale are shoddily > built. In January angry villagers blocked a nearby railway line in protest.
> Vale says it is dealing with these problems-fixing the houses and putting on a bus
> into town. The company is paying the price for being first in, says Altiberto Brandão,
> who runs Vale’s mine at Moatize. Vale has a 35-year concession so it needs to keep > locals on its side: “we don’t want 35 years of problems,” Mr Brandão insists.
> Brazil is still enjoying its honeymoon in Africa, says Oliver Stuenkel of the Global
> Public Policy Institute, a think-tank. Still, Brazil should learn from the mistakes
> of others, he says. With its prominence in mining, there is always a danger that
> Brazil is seen as a new colonial power. Though its presence is growing, it is still
> paltry compared with China’s. Unlike China, Brazil does not need Africa’s resources
> but is more interested in diversifying its markets. There is no construction in
> Europe-there is nothing left to build there, laughs OAS’s Africa head, Leonardo > Calado de Brito. “Africa is the place to be.”
> ITEM 11a: Jaime Daremblum: Consolidating a Dictatorship in Central America. Nicaraguan
> democracy is being snuffed out. http://pjmedia.com/blog/consolidating-a-dictatorship-in-central-america/
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=m94kpilab.0.7foiqilab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fpjmedia.com%2Fblog%2Fconsolidating-a-dictatorship-in-central-america%2F] > November 15, 2012 – 12:00 am
> Two days before Americans gave Barack Obama another four years in the White House,
> Nicaraguans headed to the polls for local elections. The results were sadly predictable:
> Daniel Ortega’s ruling Sandinista Front won a large majority of the vote; the Nicaraguan
> opposition complained about massive fraud; and the U.S. State Department expressed > concern over “irregularities.”
> Here’s a portion of the statement released on November 5 by Foggy Bottom spokeswoman > Victoria Nuland:
> There have been widespread complaints about the partisan manner in which Nicaragua’s
> Supreme Electoral Council managed the process in the run-up to and on Election Day
> to the advantage of the ruling party. Irregularities observed on election day included
> citizens being denied the right to vote, a failure to respect the secrecy of citizens’
> votes, and reported cases of voters being allowed to vote multiple times. These > disturbing practices have marred multiple recent Nicaraguan elections.
> Indeed, similar “irregularities” tarnished the country’s 2011 national elections,
> which “constituted a deterioration in the democratic quality of Nicaraguan electoral
> processes, due to the lack of transparency and neutrality with which they were administered
> by the Supreme Electoral Council,” according to the final report issued by the European
> Union Election Observation Mission. The “irregularities” in Nicaragua’s 2008 local
> elections were so egregious that Western countries suspended economic aid as punishment.
> Four years ago, the Sandinistas won 109 mayoral races. This year, they won 134 out
> of 153, or nearly 88 percent of all contests. Citing estimates from the Institute
> for Development and Democracy, journalist Tim Rogers notes that more than one-fifth
> of all the Nicaraguans who attempted to cast ballots on November 4 were not listed
> on the official voter registries, and thus were turned away from the polls. Meanwhile, > it appears that at least some Sandinista backers voted twice.
> “We do not believe in the results given by a completely discredited Electoral Council,
> with no credibility and that plays on the side of (the Sandinistas), and that allows
> dead people to be listed as candidates,” Nicaraguan congressman Eliseo Núñez, a
> member of the Independent Liberal Party, told the Associated Press. “We participated
> because the people should have a choice. But we know that everything was rigged > and the Electoral Council did what Daniel Ortega ordered.”
> With each fraudulent or illegitimate election, Nicaragua moves closer to one-party
> autocracy. The rule of law has effectively been replaced by Sandinista thuggery.
> Just look at Ortega’s 2011 reelection. The Nicaraguan constitution is quite clear
> on term limits: No president is allowed to serve more than two terms overall, and
> no president is allowed to serve two consecutive terms. In 2009, Ortega was in the
> midst of his second presidential term, the first having come back in the 1980s.
> Therefore, according to the letter of the law, he was constitutionally prohibited > from seeking reelection.
> But no matter: In October of that year, the Sandinista members of the Supreme Court
> cooked up a scheme to give Ortega’s reelection bid a constitutional imprimatur.
> In a maneuver worthy of Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chávez, the Sandinista-controlled
> court held a meeting of its constitutional panel at which three pro-Sandinista “replacement”
> justices filled the spots normally held by three opposition justices. These six
> magistrates then issued a (technically illegal) ruling that let Ortega run for another > term in 2011.
> After the 2012 municipal elections, there is no way to sugarcoat it: The second-poorest
> country (after Haiti) in Latin America and the Caribbean is – once again – home > to an emerging Sandinista dictatorship.
> Indeed, the widely respected organization Freedom House no longer considers Nicaragua
> to be a true electoral democracy, largely because of the “irregularities” surrounding
> the 2011 presidential election. In its 2012 Freedom in the World report, Freedom
> House gives Nicaragua and Venezuela the same numerical rating in the category of
> political rights. (Each country receives a 5 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being
> the best rating and 7 the worst.) Between 2008 and 2012, Nicaragua’s aggregate score
> in the Freedom House survey fell by 13 points. Only four countries – Bahrain, Mauritania, > Madagascar, and Gambia – suffered a larger decline.
> And yet, Ortega has skillfully placated the Nicaraguan business community by maintaining
> reasonable economic policies, supporting the Central American Free Trade Agreement,
> and, perhaps most important, securing generous oil and financial subsidies from
> Venezuela. As journalist Mike McDonald has written: “Nicaragua’s state-owned petrol
> enterprise purchases discounted oil from Venezuela, sells it and delivers the profits
> to the privately owned joint Venezuelan-Nicaraguan oil company Albanisa.” (McDonald
> adds that “Ortega has allegedly used the funds to finance social programs, but critics
> have denounced the lack of transparency surrounding the deal and fear he could secretly
> be amassing billions.”) In addition, Venezuela is now receiving more than 12.5 percent
> of Nicaraguan exports, up from less than 1 percent in 2007. Venezuela has been purchasing > these exports “at a handsome markup,” observes The Economist.
> Without this Venezuelan assistance, Nicaragua’s economic situation would be much
> worse. After all, it is still a painfully impoverished country that does not have
> an especially attractive business climate. In the latest Ease of Doing Business
> Index put together by the World Bank, it ranks 119th, right behind Yemen and the
> Pacific-island nation of Kiribati. In the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Economic
> Freedom, Nicaragua places 101st, but it scores abysmally low for property rights,
> ranking behind every Latin American and Caribbean country apart from Bolivia, Cuba, > Haiti, and Venezuela.
> At some point, the Venezuelan subsidies will end, and Ortega will become significantly > less popular. But by then it may be too late to save Nicaraguan democracy.

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