Archive for the ‘elections’ Category


Jon Huntsman takes on the military.

Bring U.S. military in line with new reality – CNN.com
Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Jon Huntsman speaks to students at George Washington University in October.
Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Jon Huntsman speaks to students at George Washington University in October.
Editor’s note: Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China, is a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. (Republican presidential candidates take on national defense, the economy, international relations and terrorism issues in the CNN Republican National Security Debate in Washington, D.C.., moderated by Wolf Blitzer at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, November 22, on CNN, the CNN mobile apps and CNN.com/Live.)
(CNN) — A president’s most solemn duty is to protect America and her people — a responsibility that, in a time of evolving security threats and unsustainable debt, will only grow harder for the next administration.
In the aftermath of the failure of the super committee, we are facing cuts in defense. Yet there has still been little discussion about overall defense spending priorities and how we must transform our defense infrastructure for the 21st century.
Some of my opponents suggest maintaining the status quo, thus avoiding the tough decisions. Others advocate retrenchment and isolationism through draconian across-the-board cuts, which brings greater instability and risks.
Still others revert to the oft-repeated pledge to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse from the Pentagon — a worthy cause yet one of minimal consequence. Cutting wasteful spending alone amounts to only pennies o

These approaches miss the target in two respects. First, they let resources drive strategy, rather than using strategy to drive force structure and capabilities. Second, they fail to fundamentally alter our defense posture — so any short-term savings will be quickly erased.
In recognition of the growing asymmetrical threats we face and the evolving requirements of counterterrorism, we need a different set of capabilities. The world may have seen its last heavy armor battle between two nation-states. The relative importance of counterterrorism, intelligence, training and equipping foreign security forces, and special forces operations will continue to grow.
Our forces must be designed appropriately. This means a greater focus on intelligence gathering and more agile special forces units, which can respond swiftly and firmly to terrorist threats in any corner of the globe. We must be prepared to respond to threats — from al Qaeda and other terrorist cells — that emanate from a much more diverse geography, including Yemen, the Horn of Africa, Pakistan and the Asia-Pacific region.
We must also transform our orientation. By almost any objective measure — population, economic power, military might, energy use — the center of gravity of global human activity is moving toward the Asia-Pacific region. Embracing this reality may bring a dramatic change to the look of our military.
The Asia-Pacific region is a maritime theater whereas Europe was mostly a land theater. For the U.S., the Asia-Pacific features a collection of bilateral military alliances in contrast to our involvement with the multilateral NATO in Europe. We are a Pacific nation living in a Pacific Century, and our vital interests in that region cannot be compromised.
We can cut our base force and transition more responsibility for contingency operations to our National Guard and Reserve. In addition to being our most precious and valuable resource, our troops are also the most expensive part of our military.
If we simultaneously transform our capabilities and posture while enhancing our Guard and Reserve, our active duty army could be reduced to around 450,000 troops, from the approximately 565,000 we now have. Our Department of Defense civilian work force can also be cut by 5% to 7% of its current size.
At the same time, we should conduct a global posture review with the goal of closing at least 50 overseas military installations. The U.S. military maintains more than 700 installations outside the United States, the vast majority of which were opened during the Cold War. With a more mobile and flexible force, we simply don’t need as many facilities overseas.
We must risk American blood and treasure overseas only when there exists a vital national security interest. I have consistently called for our troops to return from Afghanistan as soon as possible. But I also believe President Barack Obama has been too quick to commit forces to other missions not core to our security interests.
Within the same week of announcing a troop drawdown in Iraq, the president announced a deployment of a small number of combat forces to Africa — an unnecessarily risky and costly mission.
America alone cannot police the world. We should increase burden-sharing for the protection of the global commons among countries that share our values and security objectives. Unfortunately, we are not the only democracy stuck in a Cold War mentality. It is time for countries such as Japan and India to play a greater role in regional security matters. We must also throw out the old map and forge new security arrangements with regional partners such as Vietnam and Brazil.
As we prepare to fight in the new battle spaces, we need to let go of old “sacred cows.” Our military and defense establishment must be effective in the cybersphere, dominant in space and able to handle the increasingly lethal and accurate ballistic and cruise missiles being acquired by many of our potential foes. This will likely mean trade-offs away from heavy armor units, fighter air wings and aircraft carriers toward a more advanced cyberwarfare infrastructure, more capable unmanned aerial vehicles and more flexible sea-based assets.
For America to remain a global force for good, we must maintain the world’s most capable military. And being the best is not simply a function of spending the most. Staying on top will increasingly depend on our willingness to adapt to the realities of the 21st century security environment.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jon Huntsman.


Ollanta wins in Peru

hope for the best, but prepare for the worst…

Who’s who on Humala’s economics team

1:55pm EDT
(Reuters) – Left-wing former army officer Ollanta Humala has claimed victory in Peru’s presidential election and sought to reassure investors he has shed his radical past and will adhere to responsible economic policies.
He has surrounded himself with experienced technocrats who are more moderate than his earlier advisers.
Still, critics say some of his advisers came of age in the 1970s and favor a strong state that rejects some tenets of a neoliberal model implemented in Peru in the 1990s, which emphasized deregulation, little or no public subsidies, privatizing state-run companies, and free trade.
Below is a rundown of some of his key advisers. Some of them may get named to top policy posts or Humala may try to generate a “shock of confidence” by picking someone with deep experience in banking and markets.
The timing of an announcement has not been made clear but appointments will be hugely important to signal to markets how Humala will manage the economy.
FELIX JIMENEZ
A professor at Lima’s Catholic University, Jimenez authored Humala’s campaign platform, which was later modified several times over criticism it was too radical. Jimenez has a doctorate in economics from the New School in New York, which is known as a contrarian department skeptical about the monetarism and neoliberalism taught at most major universities in the United States. A former director in the finance ministry’s debt department, Jimenez teaches courses on monetary policy.
OSCAR DANCOURT
Also a professor at Lima’s Catholic University, Dancourt has been a director and president of Peru’s central bank. He has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Julio Velarde as central bank chief. Velarde is widely viewed as Peru’s most successful central banker ever, having slain hyperinflation and averted deflation in two different mandates.
KURT BURNEO
An economics professor at the San Ignacio de Loyola University, Burneo has a doctorate in business administration. He has served as vice finance minister, a central bank director, and president of state-run Banco de la Nacion. He previously worked for the campaign of former President Alejandro Toledo. He has been mentioned as possibly being named the next finance minister.
DANIEL SCHYDLOWSKY
A former chief of Peru’s development bank Cofide and central bank director, Schydlowsky has a doctorate in economics from Harvard University. He was an aide to Toledo’s government.
SANTIAGO ROCA
A professor at the ESAN business school in Lima, Roca has a doctorate in economics from Cornell University. He was president of Indecopi, Peru’s anti-trust regulator, during the Toledo government.
(Reporting by Terry Wade, Teresa Cespedes, Patricia Velez and Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Andrew Hay)
© Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.

Factbox: Who’s who on Peru Humala’s economics team | Reuters

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Chavez’ Government asked the FARC to kill opposition leaders and carry out bombings




Today’s New York Times has an article by Simon Romero on the book with the internal FARC communications found in Raul Reyes‘ computers. Among the highlights:
“In some of the most revealing descriptions of FARC activity in Venezuela, the book explains how Venezuela’s main intelligence agency, formerly known by the acronym Disip and now called the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, sought to enlist the FARC in training state security forces and conducting terrorist attacks, including bombings, in Caracas in 2002 and 2003. “
and:
“The book also cites requests by Mr. Chávez’s government for the guerrillas to assassinate at least two of his opponents.
The FARC discussed one such request in 2006 from a security adviser for Alí Rodríguez Araque, a top official here. According to the archive, the adviser, Julio Chirino, asked the FARC to kill Henry López Sisco, who led the Disip at the time of a 1986 massacre of unarmed members of a subversive group.”

Let the denials begin…

And

May 10, 2011

Venezuela Asked Colombian Rebels to Kill Opposition Figures, Analysis Shows

CARACAS, Venezuela — Colombia’s main rebel group has an intricate history of collaboration with Venezuelan officials, who have asked it to provide urban guerrilla training to pro-government cells here and to assassinate political opponents of Venezuela’s president, according to a new analysis of the group’s internal communications.
The analysis contends that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was asked to serve as a shadow militia for Venezuela’s intelligence apparatus, although there is no evidence that President Hugo Chávez was aware of the assassination requests or that they were ever carried out.
The documents, found in the computer files of a senior FARC commander who was killed in a 2008 raid, also show that the relationship between the leftist rebels and Venezuela’s leftist government, while often cooperative, has been rocky and at times duplicitous.
The documents are part of a 240-page book on the rebel group, “The FARC Files: Venezuela, Ecuador and the Secret Archive of Raúl Reyes,” to be published Tuesday by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. While some of the documents have been quoted and cited previously, the release of a CD accompanying the book will be the first time such a large number of the documents have been made public since they were first seized.
The book comes at a delicate stage in the FARC’s ties with Venezuela’s government. Mr. Chávez acknowledged last month for the first time that some of his political allies had collaborated with Colombian rebels, but insisted they “went behind all our backs.”
The book contradicts this assertion, pointing to a long history of collaboration by Mr. Chávez and his top confidants. Venezuela’s government viewed the FARC as “an ally that would keep U.S. and Colombian military strength in the region tied down in counterinsurgency, helping to reduce perceived threats against Venezuela,” the book said.
The archive describes a covert meeting in Venezuela in September 2000 between Mr. Chávez and Mr. Reyes, the FARC commander whose computers, hard drives and memory sticks were the source of the files. At the meeting, Mr. Chávez agreed to lend the FARC hard currency for weapons purchases.
A spokesman for Mr. Chávez did not respond to requests for comment.
Venezuela’s government has contended that the Reyes files were fabrications. In 2008, Interpol dismissed the possibility that the archive, which includes documents going back to the early 1980s, had been doctored.
Moreover, data from the archive has led to the recovery of caches of uranium in Colombia and American dollars in Costa Rica, and has been the basis of actions by governments including Canada, Spain and the United States. Such uses constitute “de facto recognition” that the archive is authentic, the institute said.
“We haven’t begun the dossier with the words ‘J’accuse,’ ” said Nigel Inkster, one of the book’s editors. “Instead we tried to produce a sober analysis of the FARC since the late 1990s, when Venezuela became a central element of their survival strategy.”
Recently, Venezuela seems to have cooled toward the FARC, conforming to a pattern described in the book of ups and downs between Mr. Chávez and the rebels. In April, his government took the unusual step of detaining Joaquín Pérez, a suspected senior operative for the FARC who had been living in Sweden, and deporting him to Colombia.
This move came amid a rapprochement between Mr. Chávez and Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, as a response by Mr. Chávez to Colombia’s claims that the FARC was operating from Venezuelan soil.
The archive, which opens a window into bouts of tension and even loathing between the FARC and Mr. Chávez’s emissaries, shows that Mr. Chávez has sided with the Colombian government on other occasions, especially when he stood to gain politically.
In November 2002, the book reports, before a meeting between Álvaro Uribe, then Colombia’s president, and Mr. Chávez, the FARC asked the Venezuelan Army for permission to transport uniforms on a mule train through Venezuelan territory. The Venezuelan Army granted permission, then ambushed the convoy, seized eight FARC operatives and delivered them to Colombia, allowing Mr. Chávez to inform Mr. Uribe of the operation in person.
Such betrayals, as well as unfulfilled promises of large sums of money, generated considerable tension among the rebels over their relationship with Mr. Chávez.
A member of the FARC’s secretariat, Víctor Suárez Rojas, who used the nom de guerre Mono Jojoy, once called Mr. Chávez a “deceitful and divisive president who lacked the resolve to organize himself politically and militarily.”
Still, periods of tension tended to be the exception in a relationship that has given the rebel group a broad degree of cross-border sanctuary.
In some of the most revealing descriptions of FARC activity in Venezuela, the book explains how Venezuela’s main intelligence agency, formerly known by the acronym Disip and now called the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, sought to enlist the FARC in training state security forces and conducting terrorist attacks, including bombings, in Caracas in 2002 and 2003.
A meeting described in the book shows that Mr. Chávez was almost certainly unaware of the Disip’s decision to involve the FARC in state terrorism, but that Venezuelan intelligence officials still carried out such contacts with a large amount of autonomy.
Drawing from the FARC’s archive, the book also describes how the group trained various pro-Chávez organizations in Venezuela, including the Bolivarian Liberation Forces, a shadowy paramilitary group operating along the border with Colombia.
FARC communications also discussed providing training in urban terrorism methods for representatives of the Venezuelan Communist Party and several radical cells from 23 de Enero, a Caracas slum that has long been a hive of pro-Chávez activity.
The book also cites requests by Mr. Chávez’s government for the guerrillas to assassinate at least two of his opponents.
The FARC discussed one such request in 2006 from a security adviser for Alí Rodríguez Araque, a top official here. According to the archive, the adviser, Julio Chirino, asked the FARC to kill Henry López Sisco, who led the Disip at the time of a 1986 massacre of unarmed members of a subversive group.
“They ask that if possible we give it to this guy in the head,” said Mr. Reyes, the former FARC commander.
The book says there was no evidence that the FARC acted on the request before Mr. López Sisco left Venezuela in November 2006.
Less is known about another assassination request cited in the book, including whom the target was or whether it took place.
But the book makes it clear that the Colombian rebels sometimes found their Venezuelan hosts unscrupulous and deceitful.
In one example, Mono Jojoy, who was killed in a bombing raid last year, had harsh words for Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, a former Venezuelan naval officer who has served as a top liaison between Mr. Chávez and the FARC, calling him “the worst kind of bandit.”

Humala Victory Won’t Derail Colombia-Peru Exchanges Merger, Echeverry Says – Bloomberg

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