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Applying pattern detection to the unsolved murder and abuse of Mexican women in Juarez



[The] extreme end of a continuum of anti female terror that includes a wide variety of verbal and physical abuse, such as rape, torture, sexual slavery (particularly in prostitution), incestuous and extrafamilial child sexual abuse, physical and emotional battery, sexual harassment (on the phone, in the streets, at the office, and in the classroom), genital mutilation (clitoridectomies, excision, infibulations), unnecessary gynecological operations (gratuitous hysterectomies), forced heterosexuality, forced sterilization, forced motherhood (by criminalizing contraception and abortion), psychosurgery, denial of food to women in some cultures, cosmetic surgery, and other mutilations in the name of beautification. Whenever these forms of terrorism result in death, they become femicides.


Early feminist analysts of another form of sexist violence - rape -- asserted that it is not, as common mythology insists, a crime of frustrated attraction, victim provocation, or uncontrollable biological urges. Nor is rape perpetrated only by an aberrant fringe. Rather, rape is a direct expression of sexual politics, an act of conformity to masculinist sexual norms, [and] a form of terrorism that serves to preserve the gender status quo.


Like rape, most murders of women by husbands, lovers, fathers, acquaintances and strangers are not the products of some nexplicable deviance. They are femicides, the most extreme form of sexist terrorism, motivated by hatred, contempt, pleasure, or a sense of ownership of women. Femicide includes mutilation murder, rape murder, battery that escalates into murder, the mmolation of witches in Western Europe and of brides and widows n India, and crimes of honor in some Latin and Middle Eastern countries, where women believed to have lost their virginity are killed by their male relatives. Calling misogynist killings femicide removes the obscuring veil of non gendered terms such as homicide and murder.

I have long maintained that if women could find a third sex that they would take it sight unseen, and that was long before femicide entered my vocabulary. With the relative exception of the outposts of the Scottish Enlightenment, a woman’s due is oppression, violence and assault. And yet they abide and provide. I am constantly astounding that they do not more often play Judith to Holofernes.

In revisiting my 2007 Mexico destabilization forecast, I was struck by both the societal (rage) and organized (premeditated) violence against women in the Americas. Efforts such as Ciudad de la Muerte and On The Edge (En El Borde) paint a harrowing, unsolved, onslaught.


Ciudad de la Muerte’s concept of role reversal and subsequent emasculation has resonance for me. I have seen precisely that reversal on two occasions in Africa, and once in India (where caste amplified gender). In the instances with which I am familiar, the backlash was largely spontaneous, delivered by an enraged husband/male or a group of similarly enraged husbands/men bent on punishing one or more women en mass.


The Guatemala Human Rights Commission usefully described the position of women in a traditional, Catholic culture:

Women are recognized in Guatemala (and many other cultures) as the givers of life, the transmitters of culture and the pillars of the community. Raping, torturing, and killing a woman is a way to destroy not only the individual woman, but to dishonor her family, her community, and her national and ethnic identity. Her honor is destroyed (as well as her emotional, physical, and mental integrity) thus destroying the collective identity and spirit of her family, community, and ethnic group.

I find it interesting that the contributing social factors to Guatemala’s culture of violence mimic those of Mexico: 

The suffering endured by women during the internal armed conflict did not end with the signing of the peace accords. Organized crime, gangs, drug trafficking, and human trafficking are part of daily life not only in the capital city, but also throughout the countryside.


Four factors have had a particular influence on women:

  • Violence perpetrated by drug trafficking;
  • Gang activity;
  • A culture of machismo or misogyny that targets women as victims and continues the brutal sexual violence against women;
  • A lack of rule of law, including corruption, gender bias and impunity in law enforcement, investigations and the legal system.

Keeping the primary pattern in mind

Perhaps consequentially, general violence against women remains high across the Americas. Molloy's A perspective on the murders of human beings (women, men & children of both genders) in Ciudad Juárez does a good job of stripping out received wisdom to define rational measure of deaths of both men and women through the decade in Mexico:

[At] the time the killings of women [young... many of them factory workers or students, murdered and in some cases tortured and sexually abused] were occurring in Juárez in the 1990s and beyond, and during the same time period that these murders began to be noticed and reported in the local and later in the international media…during the same time period, nearly 10 times that number of men were murdered. And the killings of these men were treated with the same impunity as the killings of women. These numbers are not mysterious. They are available from both official and media sources and I’ve posted a bare outline of them below. Basically, for all the years between 1993 and 2007, the total number of murders in Juárez hovered between 200 and 300.  And during those years, the percentage of those victims who were women ranged from 8% to 16% and averaged 12% percent of the total over the course of those 14 years.


Those in the press and academia who have written extensively about the murders of women, those who coined the term “femicide” to define the killing of women as a product of their gender, seldom acknowledge the actual numbers of victims of violence in Juárez  and the fact that the killings of women are a small percentage of the total. And that this gender ratio in murder statistics is not uncommon, not in Mexico, not elsewhere. In fact, the numbers of female victims as a percentage of the total victims in the Juárez data is low in comparison to data on U.S. murder victims.  I checked an accepted and reliable source, the FBI Uniform Crime Reports [online:] for three years: 2006, 2007 and 2008...


[IPS] compared the numbers of killings of women in Juárez [in 2006] with those elsewhere in Mexico and Central America, [stating] that “an average of 1000 women a year were murdered in Mexico, a country of 103 million, between 1995 and 2005…” and that the highest numbers of female victims occurred in cities in Central Mexico, not in Juárez...


Back to Juárez. Beginning in 2008, when the number of homicides exploded, the number of women killed exploded also, but as a percentage of the total, it decreased to between 5 and 8 percent. From January 2008-July 31, 2010, the total number of female homicides (390) accounts for 6.4% of the total of 6,078 murders in that period. Added to the 427 cases of female murder victims from 1993-2007, a total of 817 women have been murdered in Juárez since 1993...

Any predictions or additional pattern proposals must keep Molloy's analysis in mind as she maintains the most rigorous open source statistics.

Molloy also manages a a committed collector group, Frontera List, that monitors US-Mexico border issues with a focus on Juarez. It offers insight unlike that rising from the high street press, provides border news that would otherwise require monitoring of local secondary US papers, captures pertinent Mexican sources with translation and commentary, and compares US-Mexican reporting by topic. Recommended.


The 'work detail' murders

Within Molloy's primary pattern, and there are those on the Frontera List that believe that hers is the only pattern in play on the border, others see another pattern.

Unlike murder and/or rape by rage or war, the series of murder-violations outlined by Balli reflect an organized intermediary, a middle man -- the anti-coyote and his supply chain -- that deliver women unto death with “Are you looking for work?”


The duration of these murder-violations show evidence of sustaining structure in the Juarez deaths equal to any white slavery ring, but with a different cost structure. In white slavery the victim is resold numerous times. There is rudimentary care extended to the victim is order to prolong her value. In these ‘work detail’  abductions these Mexican women are presumably sold once, suffer greatly and then die.


While not for sex, I was familiar with prisoner markets in Afghanistan that involved filmed killings of purchased prisoners. From Virally infected suicide terrorists: return of a reoccurring theme that finds our defenses lax, 2006:


[P]risoners of varying nationalities were sold for sport during the Russian and post-Russian incursion periods -- the closest thing in our lexicon would be a souvenir photo. It was a local affair, a personal memento to take home, rather than an external fund raising event. A video tape was made of the proud owner generally slitting the throat or shooting the purchased prisoner, but the preponderance was the throat. One has to understand the Afghan sense of humor to make any sense of this.


ECCO and Grup Pionero work-related killings


Seemingly similar work-related killings have occured in Mexico. Given the cursory research for this note, I am unable to link them beyond the presence of work or the offering of work:

A two-year resident of Nuevo Laredo who worked in a stationary shop, Olga Lidia Osorio was studying computer technology at the Nuevo Laredo branch of Grupo Premier, a privately-owned national chain with schools in several Mexican cities. Esmeralda Juarez also studied computer programs, in her instance at a Cd. Juárez branch of Grupo Pionero, commonly known as ECCO, another private national chain with a widespread presence in the Mexican Republic. Esmeralda was the seventh young woman from Cd. Juárez who had some kind of contact with ECCO to disappear or end up sexually assaulted and murdered during the last three years.


Francisco Moreno Villafuerte, director of the Cd. Juárez ECCO branch where Esmeralda Juárez attended, says ECCO is concerned about reports tying the school to murdered and disappeared women.


Moreno insists that ECCO is a serious institution that provides a safe environment for its students, and to the best of his knowledge, no school personnel are under suspicion...


Bearing different names, the ECCO and Grupo Premier chains are nevertheless alike in many ways. Both target young working-class women and men for enrollment, and locate their schools in busy downtown areas of Mexican cities where bus lines whisk passengers to and from working-class districts. The computer schools have a large student turn-over, feature flexible enrollment and charge fees on a weekly basis. In both instances, company philosophy is based on almost identical tenants. Even their names are similar: in Spanish, “Pionero” and “Premier” imply first or best.


Grupo Pionero’s and Grupo Premier’s schools are almost always situated very close to shoe stores like Tres Hermanos which attract a steady clientele of young women. Many of the shoe retailers constantly advertise for new, young female workers. Since 1995, at least 7 women who have worked at or visited Tres Hermanos outlets and another shoe store, Zapaterias Paris, have been disappeared or been murdered in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City. In Ciudad Juarez, an ECCO branch is situated within one block of two stores belonging to the Manualidades de Estrella chain, where two other apparent victims worked: Gloria Rivas Martínez, who disappeared last year and was later supposedly found murdered close to the place where Esmeralda Juárez’s body was recovered, and Maria Isabel Mejía Sapien, who is still officially listed as missing.


It is also very worth noting that near the two ECCO branches in downtown Cd. Juárez is a private school, Prepatoria Ignacio Allende, where both Laura Berenice Ramos and recent murder victim Violeta Mabel Alvídrez attended. Ramos was originally identified by Chihuahua State Police as one of the 8 serial killer victims found in a field in November 2001 across the street from the offices of the maquiladora trade industry association in Cd. Juárez, but subsequent DNA tests failed to establish a physical link between the body identified as Ramos’ and her relatives.

Terminal domination


The emasculation of Ciudad de la Muerte’s victims reminds me of pornography, notably so as rape appears a staple in these killings, which too often has more to do with subjugation and domination than it does sex. The extension of this theme is the snuff film in which the sexual victim is ultimately killed on camera after the sex act(s), in effect, is sacrificed.


Snuff films have been the stuff more of legend than fact in the US, but there could be emulation of the cartel YouTube videos showing prisoners being tortured and killed. The data line is troubling here, however, as if memory serves, the women started disappearing well before the cartels adopted social media.


Strangling is also the garrote: quiet, adjustable – accelerated then relaxed, prolonged at will, all the while demonstrating the perp’s complete domination of the victim. The garrote is often used in cartel interrogation and torture, and could have been easily adopted for these murders well before the technique flowed into video.


A market, in whole or in part, dedicated to death?


Questions rise as the available pattern wanes:


Are there employed survivors among the respondents to “Are you looking for work?” In other words, is this a valid labor market that legitimately fills an unskilled labor need in Juarez, a fraction of which is culled for killing? Or do the entire proceeds of “Are you looking for work?” result in death?


If there are living women hired in this fashion, did they at any point see any of the women that died? I admit this last question may be theoretical as the living would unlikely be willing to comment or testify. There are a few survivors of rape and assault - the Ants, but they do not appear to be escapees of our death market. Still, any answer to these questions could illuminate the structure of this labor market.


Takeout versus Dine out


Where does this structured organization end, i.e., how does it complete the transaction between buyer and seller? How far does it go?


Is the woman fetched or is she delivered? Does the perp put in a request, if so how and to whom? Does he make a down payment on a future delivery? Does he select from captives on offer?


Are there one or more safe houses where the women are housed and that the perps frequent? If so, then the house can dispose of the bodies. Safe houses, rarely compromised, abound in and around Juarez for traditional criminal enterprises.


If the perp removes the woman, I assume that her transport, completion of the act and disposal are straight forward, no different from any number of disappearances in Mexico. The process only requires that the perp does not run afoul of narcos disposing of their handiwork.


Who and how many?


Why doesn’t this leak out, yielding pointers to a possible suspect group, if not the perps themselves? How many perps are involved? My reflex answer is that the great power of a few, as opposed to the powerless many, precludes leaking. As opposed to a powerful few, do the killers comprise, or are they among, a clan, organization or extended crime family whose group loyalty binds silence?


What nationality, Mexican or Anglo, or both? My reflex answer is Mexican as I feel that Anglos would be too visible. This affair strikes me more as a family affair, so to speak.


If the death market exists as a distinct pattern, there are no countervailing actions that would act to diminish it. We do see that the overall violence is increasing and has diversified through Mexico.

2010 going forward

The Trans-Border Institute’s mid-year national forecast reinforces Molloy’s overall figures and trends:


The most observable trends [in 2010] regarding drug related violence in Mexico were (a) an absolute growth and a relative increase in the number of drug related homicides, (b) increase in the rate of drug related violence, and (c) a greater dispersion of violence throughout Mexico. The first half of 2010 has emerged with the highest rate of drug related homicides in Mexico to date... drug violence related deaths in 2010 are on track to exceed any previous year, perhaps even doubling the number of such homicides in 2009.


In relative terms, the proportion of homicides that can be linked to Mexican drug trafficking operations has elevated from 25.7% in 2007, to 36.8% in 2008, and to 42.7% in 2009. Three years ago, only about a quarter of all homicides appeared to be connected to drug trafficking organizations but during the first half of 2010, this proportion grew to the equivalent of more than two-thirds of all officially registered homicides. The first half of this year has also seen the fastest growth rate in drug related violence to date; from the first week of 2010 to the first week of July, drug related homicides tripled in quantity, increasing from 100 per week to 300 per week. Furthermore, drug related violence was distributed among more Mexican states, and it was not just concentrated in border and drug production states, as had previously been the trend from at least 2008 onward. The overall number of drug related killings has increased primarily due to the sharp increase in drug related violence in Chihuahua and Sinaloa, and the dispersion of violence to Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Guerrero, and Mexico State. Other notable increases were seen in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca; although they still represent a very small proportion of national drug related deaths.


Along with these dramatic increases in drug related violence, there has been a worrying tendency to target high profile victims, drug rehabilitation centers, and private parties... Although it is difficult to interpret these acts as signs of a growing trend, they illustrate the tremendous variety of violence Mexico is experiencing, and the diversification of strategies and perhaps a change in the scale of organized crime groups...

Updated 13 August 2010


2010 Mid-Year Report on Drug Violence in Mexico

By Angelica Duran-Martinez, Gayle Hazard, and Viridiana Rios


Trans-Border Institute

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies

University of San Diego

August 2010

A perspective on the murders of human beings (women, men & children of both genders) in Ciudad Juárez 

By Molly Molloy

Frontera List

May 11, 2010

Updated August 2, 2010


Mexico drug cartels use gory videos to spread fear

By Mica Rosenberg Mica Rosenberg


Aug 4, 2010 12:54 pm ET


On The Edge (En El Borde)

A new documentary by Steev Hise about the femicide in Ciudad Juárez.

Second pressing April 2010



Mexican Cartels Adopt YouTube

Borderland Reporter Buggs

Borderland Beat

November 27, 2009


Mexican Maquila Worker Femicide Back in Spotlight

By Kari Lydersen

Working In These Times

September 25, 2009

6:06 pm


Guatemala’s Femicide Law: Progress Against Impunity?

The Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA

Summer 2009


Former nun helps Mexico 'femicide' victims recover

Linabel Sarlat runs a support center to help bring economic and spiritual renewal to the women of Anapra, Mexico.

'The Ants': Linabel Sarlat runs a center to help women victims of violence in Anapra, Mexico.

By Sara Miller Llana


June 6, 2008

The Issue of Femicide in Guatemala




Femicide On the Rise in Latin America

Kent Paterson

Global Politician


Ten Years of Border Femicide

La Prensa San Diego

Posted: Mar 05, 2003

MIRROR New American Media


The Snuff Film: The Making of an Urban Legend

Scott Aaron Stine


Volume 23.3, May/June 1999


Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing

Jill Radford and Diana E.H. Russell

Twayne Publishers, NY 1992



Jane Caputi and Diana E. H. Russell

Longer version of the article written for Ms. magazine, "Femicide: Speaking the Unspeakable" (September/October 1990), that was published in Jill Radford and Diana E. H. Russell, Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992). by Jane Caputi, and Diana E. H. Russell.


Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Infrastructure Defense Public  Risk Containment and Pricing Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  


  discuss this article

Beyond Colombianization, Mexico is the Iraq, the Afghanistan, on our southern border



PREDICTIONS: In 2007 I penned Trends point towards Mexico's destabilization and How will you deal with the assassination of Calderon?: A working example of all-source risk analysis that flagged a series of progressively scaled attacks on government by cartels and corrupt police and military working on the cartels behalf.


At the time of these presentations, the Mexican consul gamely defended his state and said all was safe for Mexican investment. Three years on, events on the ground continue to deteriorate and my predictions remain ‘on the glideslope’.


In 2009 I predicted that the hyperviolent gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) will transit an arc akin to that of the Zetas, and in time, La Linea, in which they exceed their subsidiary enforcement and distribution roles to challenge their former partners. (Witness the falling out between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel.)


In 2010 I see it plausible for Mexican criminal elements (cartels, corrupt police and military) to morph into a hybrid war group along the lines of Hezbollah, the Tamil Tigers and like groups.


I disagree that Mexico is on a path to Colombianization. Rather the inverse, Mexico has surpassed Columbia in its delivery of violence, narco terrorism and criminal control over state and private assets to the point that I predict that we shall apply the term ‘Mexicanization’ to emerging hyperviolent narco-corruption zones and states.


The majority of northern states bordering the US are no longer under legitimate state control. These states are effectively Temporary Autonomous Zones under narco control.


If you do not already closely follow street narcotics or do not read Charles Bowden you do not understand the problem


While this note has a substantial bibliography, you will not grasp its visceral threat unless you have a supple understanding of its impact on the Mexican street, and by extension, to your street. There is no better person to deliver that message than Charles Bowden.


Bowden came to a decade plus study of the Mexican drug trade by virtue of his job as a reporter and an interest in Southwestern fauna and flora. Scientists he knew "had been going into the Sierra Madres in certain areas, collecting plants, started coming back with reports that they couldn’t get into villages because suddenly there were men there with machine guns. Everybody was growing drugs.” Bowden is able to weave kindness and humanity into what is an inhuman exercise - the Killing Fields on our border that we pretend does not exist.


If you do not read these three short items, you should stop altogether as what follows will read like a list of vegetables in Urdu:

While You Were Sleeping

In Juarez, Mexico, photographers expose the violent realities of free trade

December 1996


The sicario: A Juárez hit man speaks

May 2009


NOTE: While often cited, Sicario is rarely read as the original sits behind a subscription wall. This text-only rendering is an automatically generated Google html cache copy that Google makes when it indexes the article PDF. To my knowledge this is the only non-infringing copy beyond the original.


"We Bring Fear"

A reporter flees the biggest cartel of all—the Mexican Army.

July 2009

If the scales have now fallen from before your eyes, you should listen to Bowden in this interview on WHYY Philadelphia:

Author Charles Bowden calls Ciudad Juarez 'Murder City'

April 22, 2010

There are more Bowden items in the bibliography, but I would next suggest the Totally Wasted: Just who is winning the War on Drugs? series of short items to widen your vision.


What the stats say


Trigger Agents for lawless areas are politics and economics: 

“Political insurgents” generally morph into “Commercial insurgencies” that “engage in for-profit organized crime without a predominant political agenda... To maximize income from illegal activities, these groups tend to interact with the public sector. At first, they corrupt select officers or bureaucrats; then they gradually undermine the entire system...


Both political and commercial insurgencies require lawless areas in which to operate... The search for sanctuaries in neighboring countries... opens the way for a spillover or “regionalization” of local civil wars... “Narco-guerillas” carve out the enclaves from which terrorists and organized crime syndicates can operate as well. In other cases, lawless areas spring from organized crime and venal officers and bureaucrats. Such spaces are buttressed by lax borders and regulatory systems, the corruption of local authorities, and satisfactory telecommunications. In marked contrast to the political insurgent, the economic insurgent does not seek to destroy the political power, but merely to bend it to his needs. Nevertheless, the corruption lever inexorably weakens and crumbles the host state from within...

The 2009 National Drug Threat Assessment significantly elevated the threat posed by Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs): 

DTOs rapidly adapt to law enforcement and policy initiatives that disrupt their drug trafficking operations. Law enforcement and intelligence reporting revealed several strategic shifts by DTOs in drug production and trafficking in 2007 and early 2008, attributed in part to the success of counterdrug agencies in disrupting the operations of DTOs. Many of these shifts represent immediate new challenges for policymakers and resource planners. The National Drug Threat Assessment 2009 outlines the progress and emerging counterdrug challenges in detailed strategic findings, including the following:

• Mexican DTOs represent the greatest organized crime threat to the United States. The influence of Mexican DTOs over domestic drug trafficking is unrivaled. In fact, intelligence estimates indicate a vast majority of the cocaine available in U.S. drug markets is smuggled by Mexican DTOs across the U.S.–Mexico border. Mexican DTOs control drug distribution in most U.S. cities, and they are gaining strength in markets that they do not yet control.

• Violent urban gangs control most retail-level drug distribution nationally, and some have relocated from inner cities to suburban and rural areas. Moreover, gangs are increasing their involvement in wholesale-level drug distribution, aided by their connections with Mexican and Asian DTOs.

• Cocaine is the leading drug threat to society. Methamphetamine is the second leading drug threat, followed by marijuana, heroin, pharmaceutical drugs, and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as ecstasy) respectively.

The 2010 National Drug Threat Assessment retains that elevated threat posed by Mexican DTOs. The UNODC’s World Drug Report 2010 reports that of the cocaine rising from the Andean region in 2008, North America consumes 41% with the principal volume transiting through Mexico and a far lesser amount through Caribbean and Florida.


If this level of violence, corruption and decay on our border, delivering its toxic payload to our citizens, is not an existential threat (“a risk that is both global (affects all of humanity) and terminal (destroys or irreversibly cripples the target),” I would hate to live on the difference to what is.


Mexico is to the US as the DPRK is to China


Those who cannot fathom why China tolerates the egregious excesses of Pyongyang, need only follow Bowden's breadcrumbs of a struggle not of government against cartels but of cartels against corrupt police against corrupt army assets. The honest rump of government and innocent citizens are mere bystanders: 

[The DEA broke up a large drug ring, taking] down 21 tons of cocaine in a warehouse in California in 1989, and after they did that, the price of cocaine did not go up. It had no effect on the market, so much was coming in. That was the first time that DEA really understood the magnitude of the drug use in this country, because it’s very hard to track. People don’t report how much coke they use every week...


There’s a peaceful coexistence between the U.S. and Mexico in terms of drugs coming into the United States, except for occasional busts... 'Drugs] don’t have very much value until they get to the United States. Then they explode in value. The real profits are made here...


The United States wants a stable Mexico. Mexico is economically dependent on narco dollars to survive. If you could actually shut down the border and stop the importation of drugs into this country, Mexico would collapse...


Mexico makes more money from drugs than they do from oil, tourism, and the remittances sent back by illegal Mexicans working here. They earn at least $50 billion a year now from selling drugs. They simply can’t live without it. You have to understand the Mexican economy is 4% the size of the United States' economy. Fifty billion dollars is big money in an economy of that size...


[If the US] really cracked down on drugs in Mexico, the economy and the Mexican government would collapse. Millions of people would stream north to survive. Given that choice, successive American presidents have put on a kind of theatrical war on drugs, but let the business continue because the consequences of ending the business are worse than letting the business continue. Mexico needs the money.


The Mexican Army is in the drug business. The movie "Traffic" was not a complete fiction. [Synopsis for Traffic]


This isn’t some ugly conspiracy by corrupt American presidents. This is what’s called realpolitik. Tolerating the existence of a narco-state in Mexico is preferable to having an economic collapse in Mexico. Successive presidents have looked at the facts and made the same decision. So this is not the result of some evil leadership in our country. It’s simply confronting reality.

Security was not the driving Mexican business threat as late as January 2010


Even the nominally legitimate Mexican business sector sees itself being destabilized. Deloitte México has issued a quarterly Business Barometer (Barometro de empresas) since April 2007, covering executive expectations, trends and current event impacts. (All reports are in Spanish, with some in English.)


The current, July 2010, Business Barometer 14 and prior, April 2010, Barometro de empresas 13, issues reflect markedly different concerns by business from the prior two quarters.


As late as January 2010, security was seen as a secondary, even moderate, threat:


October 2009, Business Barometer 11, based upon “Current situation compared with one previous year”. “political discord” was greatest among the “Threats to the Mexican economy within the incoming months,” followed by the “US economic downturn.”


January 2010, Business Barometer 12, ranked political discord (desacuerdos politicos) and US economic slowdown (desaceleración norteamericana) highest among the threats.


The change comes by April 2010 and further spikes in July 2010:

  • April 2010, Barometro de empresas 13, shows failing security emerging as a greater threat than a lapsed US economy.
  • July 2010, Business Barometer 14, shows a spiking increase in industry fears of failing security over the previous quarter.

See charts on pages 4, 5 and 11 of Business Barometer 14:

  • CURRENT CHART, page 4: All indicators are up except for “seguridad” which sinks.
  • FUTURE CHART, page 5: All indicators remain up except for “seguridad” which stays in the cellar.
  • FACTORS THREATENING THE ECONOMY CHART, page 11: Inseguridad (insecurity) goes off the chart. Conversely, issues such as corruption and social conflicts (and there are many, especially in Southern Mexico) are near zero, i.e., they are baked in the Mexican operating outlook.

It is going to get worse


Mexico demands what is called situational awareness of its citizens and visitors. While the violence in the border towns is reaching epidemic proportions, Monterrey and Acapulco (aka Narcopulco) now increasingly have what amounts to squad level firefights in the central business/tourist district.


Criminal co-optition will accelerate as groups jocky for product, plaza control, security and supremacy.


These negative events are paralleling Mexico’s betterment of the China Price, and may well deprive Mexico of added legitimate revenue and infrastructure build-out.


By early 2008 the Gulf Cartel had “begun acquiring more military-grade weapons, including FN Herstal P90 submachine guns, FN Herstal 5.7 x 28mm pistols, M72 LAW (light anti-tank weapon) rocket launchers, AT4 anti-tank rockets, RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, MGL 37mm grenade launchers and fragmentation grenades.”


The use of Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) has started and I would expect that to accelerate with even more paralysis of Mexican judicial and police asset that US forces suffer in Afghanistan.


Missing from this first effort: Secondary and tertiary detonations, often waves of parallel ignitions, against massed first responders and receiving hospitals. The Chechens and Iraqis have perfected this progression, but for the foreseeable future these secondary detonations will be IEDs and VBIEDs and not suicide vests. As time progresses: Multiple targets, simultaneous attacks, multiple vehicles per target and armed assault/breaching cadres to clear security personnel and gain access to the primary target.


The Bolivian “Coca-Coup” delivered a nation state into criminal hands in July 1980 along with its oversight of narcotics interdiction. Guatemala only recently escaped falling under narco control and is by no means free from a return of that threat. Mexico is similarly vulnerable.




Frontera List

Frontera-List contains articles posted daily on U.S.- Mexico border issues, with a special focus on Ciudad Juarez

by Molly Molloy


Comando caught with explosives in Chihuahua

From: Susan <>

Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2010 20:01:11 -0500

Local: Fri, Jul 23 2010 9:01 pm


Ciudad Juarez car bomb shows new sophistication in Mexican drug cartels' tactics

By William Booth

Washington Post

July 22, 2010; A10


Mexico Retail Sales Rise 5% as Violence Damps Demand


July 21, 2010, 12:36 PM EDT


Texas Tribune: Outgoing Juárez Mayor talks about the city's future

By Julian Aguilar

Texas Tribune

07/21/2010 08:27:01 AM MDT


Mexico Businesses See Drug Violence As Bigger Threat Than U.S. Downturn

By Adriana Lopez Caraveo and Jonathan J. Levin


Jul 20, 2010


How Guatemala's fragile democracy nearly went `narco'

Earlier this year, Guatemala nearly came under mobsters' control -- but an outspoken former Spanish judge yanked the nation from the precipice.


McClatchy News Service

Monday, 07.19.10


Mexico birthday party massacre bears resemblance to Juarez killings

By Sara Miller Llana Sara Miller Llana


Jul 19, 1:10 pm ET


US official: Mexican car bomb likely used Tovex



updated 7/19/2010 11:38:32 PM ET


Mexico car bomb: 'Colombianization' of Mexico nearly complete

Last week's Mexico car bomb in the border town of Cuidad Juarez killed three. It is the first known use of a car bomb against authorities and marks a troubling new level of violence in the country's brutal drug war.

By Sara Miller Llana


July 18, 2010


Government Says Bolivian Clans Linked to Mexico’s Zetas Cartel

Latin American Herald Tribune (LAHT)

July 18,2010


Experts: Car bomb in Juárez mimics Middle East terrorist tactics

Car bombing was trap

By Ramon Bracamontes

El Paso Times

07/17/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT


Car bomb in Mexican drug war changes ground rules



updated 7/17/2010 11:04:40 AM ET


Mexico blames drug cartel for deadly car bomb

By Julian Cardona


Jul 16, 2010 8:58pm EDT


7 circles of Juarez: teenage assassins


Jul 14, 2010 10:51 EDT


Mexican Troops Capture High-Level Zetas Cartel Member

Latin American Herald Tribune (LAHT)

July 9,2010


Barometro de empresas 14

[Business Barometer 14]

Deloitte México

July 2010

COMPLETE SERIES from April 2007


Cancun police find 12 decomposing inside caverns

By Gabriel Alcocer

Associated Press

Jun 18, 11:31 pm ET


In Mexico, Transactions With Dollars Face Scrutiny


Published: June 15, 2010


Workers At Pemex Installations Abducted--Pemex Officials

By David Luhnow and Nicholas Casey



Jun 11, 2010


RPT-US-born "Barbie" drug lord takes on Mexican army

By Anahi Rama


Jun 11, 2010 8:00am EDT


Mexico arrests Los Zetas gang 'leader' in Monterrey


Page last updated at 08:20 GMT, 10 June 2010 09:20 UK


Mexican Cops Find Tracking Chip Removed from Kidnapped Politician

Latin American Herald Tribune

June 10,2010

Auto Thefts Up 15.8% in Mexico

Latin American Herald Tribune

June 9,2010


U.S. Delays Release of Report Tying Meth to Mexico


June 8, 2010


Mexico police arrest 13 in fuel theft tunnel case

Police allege they were trying to steal fuel from oil company pipelines

Associated Press

updated 1:44 p.m. ET, Tues., June 8, 2010


Networks of Power: Diego, the "Colombianization" has arrived

By: Alejandro Ramos


18/05/2010 10:52


Barbie's Bad Break-up: The Fight for Mexico's Heartland

Violence threatens more than just Mexico's north. Special Report

May-12-2010 00:11


Mexican Drug Wars: When Media Silenced, Twitter Alerts Citizens

In Reynosa, Mexico, Citizens Spread Information on Twitter, YouTube, When Journalists Silenced


ABC News

May 10, 2010


Mexican traffickers get help from US prison gangs

By Christopher Sherman

Associated Press

May 2, 2:21 pm ET 2010


Getaway for Mexican elite now cartel battleground

By Olga R. Rodriguez

Associated Press

Apr 28, 2010 3:47 pm ET


'Murder City,' by Charles Bowden

By Oscar Villalon, Special to The Chronicle


April 25, 2010


Author Charles Bowden calls Ciudad Juarez 'Murder City'

Hour 2

Radio Times/WHYY

April 22, 2010


Military Capabilities for Hybrid War

Insights from the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon and Gaza

David E. Johnson

ISBN 978-0-8330-4926-1

RAND 2010


Tucson author Charles Bowden on 'Murder City'

by Kerry Lengel

The Arizona Republic

Apr. 9, 2010 02:12 PM


Mexico Failing on Purpose?

Nat Wilson Turner

The Agonist

April 6, 2010


Journalist Chronicles 'Killing Fields' Of Juarez

Morning Edition

by NPR Staff

Interview with Charles Bowden

April 1, 2010


Barometro de empresas 13

[Business Barometer 13]

Deloitte México

April 2010


You Can't Understand Drug War Bloodbath in Mexico Unless You're Living It

"Living on the border can cripple a person's emotional range. I grow more numb with each passing day."

By Charles Bowden

High Country News, AlterNet

March 26, 2010


National Drug Threat Assessment 2010

National Drug Intelligence Center

US Department of Justice

Document ID: 2010-Q0317-001

February 2010

Updated 25 March 2010


Charles Bowden Chronicles the 'Murder City': Juarez, Mexico

The Takeaway

Tuesday, March 23, 2010



Mexico killings spotlight Juarez as Mexico's worst drug war city

The Mexico killings of a US consulate employee, her American husband, and a Mexican citizen affiliated with the consulate in Ciudad Juarez show just how dangerous Mexico's drug war and the border city have become.

By Sara Miller Llana


March 15, 2010


Authorities: Gulf Cartel, Zetas gang up on each other as arrangement dies

Jeremy Roebuck

The Monitor

March 10, 2010 12:55 AM


AlixPartners U.S. Manufacturing-Outsourcing Cost Index™ Overview & Highlights

February 2010




AlixPartnersLLP 2010 China Auto Outlook_April 2010_HIGHLIGHTS



Alix Outsourcing 2010


Mexico Continues to Lead as Best-cost Country for U.S. Outsourcing; Vietnam, Russia and Romania, making huge strides, also edge out China.

Estrada y Asociados

Feb. 3, 2010


Accelerated migration of Japanese autoparts companies located in U.S.A. and Canada to Mexico

Mexico´s Secretary of Economy

Representative Office in Japan

Embassy of Mexico

Souce: Fourin Monthly Report on Global Automotive Insustry No.293, January 2010

*Translation from Japanese and update by the Representative Office in Japan of Mexico’s Ministry of Economy

January 2010


Gangs in Central America

Clare Ribando Seelke

Specialist in Latin American Affairs

Congressional Research Service


December 4, 2009


The Disappearing China Price - AlixPartners

By Brian Schwarz

Zhongnanhai blog

Published August 17, 2009

Opinion & Analysis


From East to West

Huntingdon County Business and Industry


Totally Wasted

Just who is winning the War on Drugs?

Mother Jones

Special Report

July/August 2009


"We Bring Fear"

A reporter flees the biggest cartel of all—the Mexican Army.

By Charles Bowden

Mother Jones

July/August 2009


The Cartels Next Door

Cartels used to neatly divide Mexico. But as they have fractured, the violence has intensified. And moved north.

By Jen Phillips

Mother Jones

July/August 2009


The Drug War in Six Acts

How right-wing posses started the crack trade, and other tales that will blow your mind.

By Ben Wallace-Wells

Mother Jones

July/August 2009


Will Corruption Cross the Line?

The cartels own Mexico's cops. American border agents could be next.

By Andrew Becker

Mother Jones

July/August 2009


Las Baladas Prohibidas

On the trail of narcocorridos, the drug ballads Mexicans love to hate.

By William T. Vollmann

Mother Jones

July/August 2009


US-Trained Death Squads?

How America's latest drug war initiative could aid the cartels and enrich military contractors.

By Frank Koughan

Mother Jones

July/August 2009


The Patriot's Guide to Legalization

Have you ever looked at our marijuana policy? I mean, really looked at it?

By Kevin Drum

Mother Jones

July/August 2009


High Sierras

The woods are lovely, dark, and...full of gun-toting narcofarmers.

By Josh Harkinson

Mother Jones

July/August 2009


The Drug War, By the Numbers

Where the money went.

By Celia Perry

Mother Jones

July/August 2009 Issue


Barometro de empresas 10

Deloitte México

Julio 2009


Download: AlixPartners 2009 Manufacturing-Outsourcing Cost Index HIGHLIGHTS_2

FiNETIK – Asia and Latin America – Market News Network

June 5, 2009 2:24 am


Mexico: Battling China on Price

FiNETIK – Asia and Latin America – Market News Network

May 23, 2009, 9:36 am


AlixPartners Introduces New Outsourcing Tool That Determines 'Best-Cost Countries'

Mexico Surpasses China and India in the Analysis; China's Total Costs Just 6% Below U.S.'s


May 18, 2009 09:00 ET


Mexico’s Narco-Insurgency and U.S. Counter-Drug Policy

Hal Brands

Strategic Studies Institute

ISBN 1-58487-388-4

May 2009


AlixPartners 2009 Manufacturing-Outsourcing Cost Index – Overview & Highlights


May 2009


Spanish translations of The Sicario are, however, available in the clear:

Sicario. Confesiones de un asesino de Ciudad Juárez

Charles Bowden

Traducción de César Blanco

Nexos en linea



The sicario: A Juárez hit man speaks

Google html cache image of May 2009 Harper’s article


Knowing that Google automatically generates html versions of documents as it crawls the web, I was able to find and capture a Google html cache copy from an index of the article PDFs from the Harper’s May 2009 issue.

The copy referenced on this site is the Google html version of the file
The blank spaces in the html copy are the illustrations in the pdf. Text itself is complete.


The sicario: A Juárez hit man speaks

By Charles Bowden


May 2009


China Loses Low-Cost Manufacturing Crown to India, Mexico

China's total manufacturing costs are now only 6% below those of American factories


May 21, 2009


Gomorrah and Mexican Cartel Violence: Is the Gomorra more violent than Mexican Drug Cartels?

James Creechan, Ph.D. (Toronto, Canada)


May 19, 2009


Mexico targets Death Saint popular with criminals


Associated Press

Apr 19 12:16 AM US/Eastern, 2009


Santa Muerte Laughs While U.S. Strains to Pour Money and Guns on the Fire

Nat Wilson Turner

The Agonist

April 6, 2009 - 1:49pm


Mexico: authorities crack down on "Santa Muerte" narco-cult

WW4 Report

Sat, 04/04/2009 - 23:19


Business Barometer Survey

The business pulse survey [9]

Deloitte México

April 2009


Mexico's Patron Saint of Crime, Criminals, and the Dispossessed is dispossessed: Santa Muerte alive in El Paso / Juarez

Times wire, staff reports

El Paso Times

03/29/2009 10:30:06 AM MDT


Video: 'Saint Death' alive in El Paso / Juarez

La Santa Muerte Alive in El Paso


Police: U.S. teens were hit men for Mexican cartel

By Ed Lavandera


March 13, 2009 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)


Mexico: The Third War

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart


February 18, 2009 1923 GMT


Countries in Crisis: Mexico


December 8, 2008 1613 GMT


National Drug Threat Assessment 2009

National Drug Intelligence Center

US Department of Justice

Document ID: 2008-Q0317-005

December 2008


Mexico Security Memo: Jan. 21, 2008


Jan. 21, 2008


GAO finds lax border procedures weaken security

Posted by Fran Harris at 11:29 AM

U.S. Border Control

January 20, 2008


Mexico: A Shift in Cartel Tactics?


January 15, 2008 1853 GMT


Mexico Security Memo: Jan. 14, 2008


January 14, 2008 2059 GMT


Threat Analysis: Organized Crime and Narco-Terrorism in Northern Mexico
By Gordon James Knowles, Ph.D.

Military Review
January-February 2008


We Were Caught Unprepared: The 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War

Matt M. Matthews

The Long War Series

Occasional Paper 26

U.S. Army Combined Arms Center

ISBN 978-0-16-079899-3



A Contemporary Challenge to State Sovereignty: Gangs and Other Illicit Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) in Central America, El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil.

Max G. Manwaring
Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
ISBN 1-58487-334-5
December 2007


The Maras: A Menace to the Americas

by Federico Breve, former Minister of Defense of Honduras

Military Review
July-August 2007


Border Patrol, lawmen outgunned by cartels

Homeland Security panel also says traffickers are forming ties with U.S.-based gangs

By Michelle Mittelstadt, as printed in the Houston Chronicle
Edits made per Franking Commission

October 17, 2006


Exodus: Border-Crossers Forge a New America

Coyotes, pollos, and the promised van.

By Charles Bowden

Mother Jones

September/October 2006


Born Into Cellblocks

In the penitentiary of Nuevo Laredo, children do time with their mothers—and the cartels.

By Charles Bowden

Mother Jones

May/June 2006


Charles Bowden, a Fly on the Wall Watching the Drug War that's 'Down by the River'

Interview Conducted by BuzzFlash Editor Mark Karlin.


March 2, 2006


Mexico Is Becoming the Next Colombia

by Ted Galen Carpenter

Foreign Policy Briefing, No. 87


November 15, 2005


The Most Dangerous Gang in America

They're a violent force in 33 states and counting. Inside the battle to police Mara Salvatrucha.

by Arian Campo-Flores


March 28, 2005


Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency

Max G. Manwaring

Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

ISBN 1-58487-191-1

March 2005


The Numbers Game: Let's All Guess the Size of the Illegal Drug Industry!

Francisco E. Thoumi

Journal Of Drug Issues

0022-0426/05/01, Volume 35, Number 1, January 1, 2005, pp 185-200




By Pete Engardio and Dexter Roberts With Brian Bremner in Beijing and bureau reports

Business Week
DECEMBER 6, 2004


Latin American Security Challenges

A Collaborative Inquiry from North and South

Newport Paper Twenty-one

Paul D. Taylor, Editor

U.S. Naval War College




Will the counter-insurgency plan in Iraq repeat the mistakes of Vietnam?

By Seymour M. Hersh

New Yorker

Issue of 2003-12-15 (December 15, 2003)



Potential Indicators of Threats Involving Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs)

Homeland Security Information Bulletin

May 15, 2003


The Impact of the Andean Cocain Trafficking: The Cases of Bolivia, Columbia and Mexico

Sayaka Fukumi

ECPR Workshops, Grenoble

6-11 April 2001



Media Awareness Project

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)

Pubdate: 17 Dec 2000

Chapters 1 through 36, dated 12 Nov 2000 to 17 Dec 2000


The Urban Threat: Guerrilla and Terrorist Organizations
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity study, 1999
Small Wars Journal



In Juarez, Mexico, photographers expose the violent realities of free trade

By Charles Bowden

From HARPER'S MAGAZINE, December 1996

MIRROR, Includes Jaime Bailleres’ image of the unknown dead girl


Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Infrastructure Defense Public  Risk Containment and Pricing Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  


  discuss this article

Stone Corporation, SERI and the brief window when China’s political and economic 'doors' were open



The Chinese research community and business sector are the focus of this 20th anniversary note on the events of May-June, 1989, culminating in the military’s expulsion and dispersal of demonstrators, later their parents and sympathizers, from Tiananmen Square on 4 June. As the Chinese place added importance to anniversaries at a multiple of five to the event, I hope to do justice to themes and outcomes now largely lost to western readers.


James Miles’ The Legacy of Tiananmen: China in Disarray is recommended for a traverse of the events leading to 4 June, as is Goldman’s The Twentieth Anniversary of the Democracy Wall MovementThe events of June 1989 can reasonably be said to rise from the Democracy Wall of 1978-1979: 

Beijing democracy activists [were] encouraged to criticise the Gang of Four and failed government policies. But the [Chinese Communist Party (CCP)] became dismayed as more and more posters began to call for a complete overhaul and even the abolishment of the CCP. As the current leadership and policies came under fire, a new wave of party intolerance at political dissent began.

One might think that this should have come as no surprise as: 

Most of the participants were ex-Red Guards and workers, who might have been students but for the suspension of their education from 1966 to 1976. They used the methods and strategies they had learned in the Cultural Revolution forming unofficial groups, putting up large-character posters, writing and printing pamphlets, and setting up their own networks to achieve their own political goals. In the Cultural Revolution, they had employed these practices initially to purge party officials and the intellectual establishment in response to Mao's summons to "rebel against authority."

Elements of this note rose from a discussion with colleagues who were involved in construction technology transfer to and through a series of joint ventures in China in the early 1980s. One was working with the founders of Stone Corporation of China prior to the May 1989 uprising. Stone Corp was highly regarded as the new symbol of Chinese capitalism before 1989, but condemned by Li Peng as “counter-revolutionists” days after suppression of the uprising and fall of Zhao Ziyang, then general secretary of the Communist Party.


As some of the early documents are not easily available in electronic text, I have tried to site enough for readers to pursue.


Never underestimate your enemies


From If you want food, find Ziyang"; If you want Ziyang, pierce the Golden Shield:

An administrator given to revisionist thinking or pragmatic solutions depending upon your political viewpoint, Zhao was tapped by Deng Xiaoping to revitalize the economy. Zhao created much of the 1980s economic package credited to Deng Xiaoping:

  • Coastal development with special economic zones, drawing investment and creating exports
  • Agriculture reform that disbanded communes, returning private plots to farmers while assigning production contracts to individual households.
  • Industrial reform that included expanded self-management for peasant farmers and some industries
  • Price reform allowing farmers and factories to set prices for their products

Zhao threaded the policy needle with a 1987 speech that declared China to be in a stable, "primary stage of socialism" that could afford to experiment with approaches to stimulate economic production. In a stroke, market economics appeared within the evolution of socialism.

Zhao's pragmatism led to his stepping on the third rail of political reform, thinking the "goal of Chinese political reform was to build up democracy and rule of law." Having acquired a legion of old school enemies, Zhao was said to have doomed himself by making public (to Mikhail Gorbachev, already a tainted reformer in communist eyes) that all major Central Committee decisions had to be approved by the nominally retired Deng, which implicitly showed Deng to be the stonewall of reform...

Without approval of conservative elements of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Zhao commenced to simultaneously open what would later be called the political and economic doors to a dissatisfied citizenry.


The nascent RAND: Beijing Social and Economic Sciences Research Institute (SERI)


Independent of government, Chen Ziming set up his first think tank, the China Political and Administrative Sciences Research Institute, to fulfill a “long cherished dream.” (Wang Juntao joined Chen's second think tank in the late 1980s the Beijing Social and Economic Sciences Research Institute (SERI) and was "deputy editor of SERI's newspaper, Economics Weekly, at the time of the 1989 demonstrations): 

“[Chen] said that he wanted to turn his organization into something like the U.S. Rand Corporation, doing consultancy work for government decision-making bodies, providing top-level advice and strategies for reform,"... Among the group's founding members was Wang Juntao. [Both Chen and Wang had activist histories dating preceding the Democracy Wall.] The two men quietly built up an organization of extraordinary sophistication, quite independent of party control. Unlike more conventional dissidents they did not seek out the Western media, preferring instead to cultivate good relations with radical reformers working for the government. Their groundbreaking efforts thus went almost entirely unremarked by the outside world. “The two men’s long-term aim was not to pursue scholarship... If they'd wanted to do that they could have done it in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Their aim was to change the socialist system." It was only after Tiananmen [that] most Western journalists and even many Chinese intellectuals learned their names.


[In 1987] Chen founded a new [group] called the Beijing Social and Economic Sciences Research Institute [SERI, whose] activities ranged from conducting public opinion surveys - a science then in its infancy in China - to publishing books on social and political issues. Within two years, the institute had nearly 50 employees and more than 100 associate researchers. It had office space consisting of 60 rooms. sophisticated computer equipment, and dozens of cars. By the time the Tiananmen Square protests erupted, it had launched nearly 40 research projects, organized 14 academic conferences, and published more than 100 books on the social sciences... Hardliners were deeply suspicious of the institute's activities, but thanks to the relative strength of reformist leaders at the time, the Chinese media gave the institute considerable encouragement by publishing some of the results of its surveys...

It is a testament to the strength of the reformers that the shock of hardliners could be restrained when Chen was publishing polls such as this 1987 item: 

[M]ore than 3,000 respondents answered questions about their attitude toward highly sensitive political issues. A book based on the results contained what for China were embarrassing revelations about people's political views. It said, for example, that more than a quarter of private entrepreneurs surveyed believed that it was right to rebel against the state “if the state caused you to lose hope.” More than 15 percent of peasants gave the same reply and nearly 10 percent of intellectuals and officials. Even asking such a question would have been unthinkable a few years earlier.


[F]ewer than 45 percent of peasants felt proud of living in a socialist country and only just over 50 percent of intellectuals. Officials showed the greatest enthusiasm for socialism, with more than 65 percent expressing pride in the system. Nonetheless, more than 10 percent of cadres replied that “there is nothing to be proud of.” Asked whether they trusted the government, nearly 40 percent of peasants surveyed replied “No.” Most respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the behavior of civil servants, including nearly 70 percent of officials themselves. A similar proportion agreed that “problems in the political system are the main reason why China is developing slowly.” Fewer than half expressed satisfaction with the amount of freedom of speech and belief they enjoyed...

 In retrospect, with such political explosives in hand it is a marvel that Chen and Wang were not silenced prior to being accused as the "black hands" behind the 1989 movement. The thirteen-year prison sentences imposed on both “probably had more to do with what they represented - the emergence of an organized, independent intellectual force - than with anything they actually did in 1989.” Wang’s wife said, “I cannot but respect the Communist Party's insight, their ability to see at a glance who are their real adversaries.” Think tanks and research institutions henceforth curtailed any social commentary not acceptable to CCP interests.


China’s 'first IBM'


Wan Runnan was the business equivalent to Chen Ziming and Wang Juntao in the research community:

Wan said his aim was to create China's answer to IBM [just as] Chen wanted his company [SERI] to become China's Rand Corporation... “When Wan established [Stone Corporation] with 20,000 yuan [$5,400] in a two-room office provided by a rural factory, nobody could imagine this humble 'Stone' would become a computer empire with 30 million yuan in fixed assets and a turnover last year of 300 million yuan," gushed Xinhua in 1988, when Wan was still a model entrepreneur lionized by the official media. “Some People call these new entrepreneurs China's 'red capitalists' of the 80's," the agency said.


Unlike Chen and Wang, Wan, who was in his mid-forties by the time Tiananmen erupted, was not a man with a long record of political activism on the wrong side of the party line. Wan was, in fact, a party member. But that did not stop him from sharing some of Chen and Wang's interests. When one of his employees proposed setting up a think tank, Wan readily agreed. In 1988 he established the small but influential Stone Social Development Research Institute, appointing the well-known political and legal scholar Cao Siyuan as its head. Cao, a former researcher in one of Zhao’s think tanks, had extensive contacts in the official world thanks to his role as the chief drafter of China's first law on bankruptcy, the most fiercely debated piece of legislation ever considered by China's normally docile parliament. The law was adopted in 1986 and went into effect two years later, providing a legal framework for the winding up of loss-making, state-owned industries that for decades had been propped up by massive state subsidies.


One of Cao's jobs as director of the Stone think tank was to do consultancy work on the new law, But his activities also strayed into the more sensitive realm of politics. Cao had long been an outspoken advocate of giving the National People's Congress greater clout and removing overtly political jargon from the constitution. In March 1989, not long before the student protests erupted, Cao's institute organized a large-scale conference on constitutional reform attended by many of the country's radical intellectuals. Among the constitutional amendments Cao wanted to see were provisions that those brought to trial should be presumed innocent until proved guilty and that the secretive proceedings of the National People's Congress should be broadcast live and published in full. Cao wanted ordinary members of the public to be admitted to the Great Hall of the People to observe the meetings. His suggestions fell on deaf cars. The only part of the congress the government was prepared to broadcast live was the carefully scripted opening address by the prime minister. This was not a concession to Cao. Such broadcasts hid been introduced several years earlier. The government was not prepared to take even the remote risk of a dissident voice being heard by publishing a full record of debates, and it certainly did not want members of the public observing the sycophantic behavior of the “people's representatives” close up.


By the time of Tiananmen, Wan's Stone Corporation employed more than 700 people, many of whom eagerly joined the demonstrations. Unlike Chen and Wang, who preferred to stay in the background, Wan threw himself and his company into the movement, donating large sums of money to the students and organizing meetings of protest leaders. As the People’s Daily put it, -Wan Runnan picked up a big stone - 'the entire company' - and threw it at Beijing.” Cao Siyuan and his think tank helped Hu Jiwei, a liberal member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, collect the names of fellow members on a petition calling for an emergency session of the Standing Committee to discuss the unrest. The authorities later accused Hu and Stone of including the names of people who had not agreed to give their support and of plotting to use the Standing Committee to dismiss Li Peng and rescind martial law. Hu was stripped of his post and expelled from the party. Cao also lost his party membership and was imprisoned without trial for nearly a year.

The Chinese Communist Party’s clear and present danger


While the events of May-June 1989 have been assiduously scrubbed from Chinese media and contemporary histories by the CCP, they have also fallen from Western minds by the passage of time. To many, only the image of the Tank Man, stripped of context, remains in Western consciousness:

Tiananmen Square was a war zone [in June 1989]. An army 300,000 strong - that's almost twice the numbers we sent into Iraq - the People's Liberation Army, fought its way into Beijing from four directions, with orders to converge on the square. Unarmed citizens and students faced armored personnel carriers, tanks and soldiers armed with semi-automatic weapons. By 5:30 A.M. on June 4th, 1989, the army's mission had been accomplished...


The protests [had] begun five weeks earlier with a mass student demonstration, and in most Western media, continued to be treated as a student phenomenon... The students had touched a nerve, and soon everyone seemed to be out there protesting against hardship, government corruption and 40 years of repression. In Tiananmen Square and on the streets of Beijing, in cities right across China, there were tens of millions of Tank Men. Whole swathes of the country were in open revolt...


In Beijing, one in ten of the population was joining in, and that includes all the old people, all the little children. So it was massive... There were people in heavy earth-moving equipment. Honey bucket collectors and a tank truck came in. There were pilots. There were hotel workers... It was just a carnival of protest. All the groups were out there with their own banners, saying, "We are the Beijing journalists. We demand press freedom. We demand the right to tell the truth." ... You had doctors and nurses and scientists and army people demonstrating. The Chinese navy was demonstrating. And I thought, this is extraordinary because who's left? It's just the top leaders who aren't out there...


For the very first time, press and television were reporting freely and truthfully. The virus of freedom quickly spread... Uprisings occurred all over China, in at least 400 cities - we know this from the Chinese press and from their own military museum - all the way from Mongolia in the northwest down to the southeast near Hong Kong... And from these cities, hundreds of thousands of supporters converged on the capital. The students had started the protest, hoping to cleanse the party of graft and corruption and encourage free speech. They sought reform, not revolution. After all, they were, by and large, the children of the elite. But as their movement spread outwards to the middle classes and then to the workers and peasants, attitudes hardened...

It is instructive to revisit the threat perceived by conservative politburo members to the continued existence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP):

The move from student uprising, if you will, to a worker uprising is what really scared the Chinese government. They felt that they could deal with the students. After all, students had been involved in uprisings for many, many years. But where it became dangerous to the stability and to the survival of the Communist Party was when ordinary workers became involved...


After all, the Chinese Communist Party had originally used the workers' movement to gain power for itself. Now those in government were terrified that we'd take it back from them... In fact, the government was paralyzed by infighting between those who advocated peaceful negotiation and hard-liners who demanded a crackdown. On May the 19th, Zhou Ziyang, the reformist general secretary of the Communist Party, suddenly appeared in Tiananmen Square to appeal for compromise. It would be his last public appearance. That night, before an audience of party faithful, hard-line Premier Li Peng showed the way forward. "We must end the situation immediately. Otherwise, the future of the People's Republic will be in grave danger." He completed his address with a declaration of martial law. Troops would occupy the city and put an end to the protests in Tiananmen Square...


Never before in the 40-year history of communist rule had China put its citizens and its army in this situation... It was a massive display of force, 300,000 troops by most counts... all converging on the city... Four days after [this] attempted entry, the army withdrew to bases outside the city. Beijing was euphoric... But it also was an enormous humiliation for the leadership. They had been thwarted and they had lost face, and they weren't going to let it happen again... The party elders feared that the whole edifice of communism was going to collapse, like it was collapsing in the Soviet Union and in other parts of Eastern Europe. They needed to make a stand - and a bloody stand - to show their population, in effect, to cow their population back into submission... Over the next 10 days, Supreme Leader Deng Xiaoping hatched a new plan. Troops armed with semi-automatic weapons and backed by tanks were drawn from military districts across China [rural units with no attachments to the urban center]... On the night of June 3rd, a huge invasion force [came in again] from all directions but mostly from the west, this time with live ammunition, this time strict orders: the square must be cleared by dawn on June 4th...

The end of nascent political reform came quickly:

Angry citizens were everywhere. People just couldn't understand why this country and its army, the People's Army, would slaughter its own people, the Beijing citizens... People still pour into the streets... People were just so angry, so furious at what was happening in their city that they were not going to step back and let the army do what it was doing... Troops began to fire in all different directions... Everybody was frightened by this overwhelming use of force... What was amazing was that the army used battlefield weapons...


[It] was a one-sided pitched battle all the way from the western suburbs until [the PLA], about 1:30 AM, began to arrive at Tiananmen Square... [The] troops had orders to clear the square by dawn [of 4 June]. That was the deadline... And it was clear to everyone from that point on that we were absolutely trapped. You had the military coming in from the west with their tanks. We knew there were tanks coming in from the south of Tiananmen Gate. And now on both sides of the square, you had hundreds, if not thousands of soldiers... And then the firing started. Even at this late stage, many couldn't believe the army was using live ammunition, and they stood their ground... And there was this continual announcement of, "Under the martial law regulations, no one should be on the street. If you stay on the street, you will be responsible for what happens to you"...

Firing on civilians recommenced later in the morning as parents came to search for their children:

The tactics of overwhelming force that were used had a point. They were meant to shock, terrify and awe... No one knows for certain how many people died. The Chinese Red Cross initially reported 2,600 and immediately retracted under intense government pressure The official government figure is 241 dead, including 23 officers and soldiers, and 7,000 wounded... In the aftermath of the Beijing massacre, tens of thousands all across the country were arrested. Unknown numbers were executed. Some are still in prison today. China television portrayed these people as counter-revolutionaries, hooligans and agents of foreign powers...

By the close of 4 June, the People’s Liberation Army was again in complete control. Readers can now understand the velocity of retribution directed against firms such as Stone: 

SOLDIERS of the People's Liberation Army are occupying the offices of China's most successful independent computer company, the Beijing Stone Group. Wan Runnan, the software engineer who founded the company, is in hiding and officials have issued a warrant for his arrest as the government continues to crack down on supporters of democracy.


The authorities have pinpointed Stone as a symbol of the 'counter-revolution'. The company, founded five years ago, rapidly became the vanguard of China's computer industry and, in its management style, established itself as a model for economic reform...


Stone owed its success and its downfall to the prominent position it played in China's reform and to the associations it had forged with prominent politicians. Wan had been a confidant of Zhao Ziyang, the reformist general secretary of the Communist Party, and his supporters. But with Zhao's fall from grace, Stone lost its [influence and protection]...

Stone’s founder and president, Wan Runnan, had overplayed his hand, likely due to his having been a privileged child of the establishment: 

Because the government did not imprison leaders of the 1985-86 democracy protests, many of them became important figures in the 1989 movement. The voices of Fang Lizhi and Wang Ruowang were openly heard, and Liu Bin Yan became a key organizer. Other leaders emerged as spokesmen and organizers for the movement, most having privileged backgrounds and associations with their supposed enemies:


• Sun Hui, a Beijing University student, helped found the Autonomous Students’ Federation to organize the demonstrating students. Sun’s parents were Communist Party members, but his death at the Tiananmen massacre suggests that he may not have fully understood the dialectic he was a part of. Nevertheless, Sun’s ties to the regime made him vulnerable to manipulation.


• Wan Runnan has been married twice, both times to daughters of high Communist Party officials. According to one undisclosed source in the student democracy movement, Wan closely associated with members of the inner circle of control in the Communist Party of China. These connections helped him financially, since he was allowed to own and build the Stone Corporation, the largest private corporation in mainland China and its main producer of computers. Wan supplied public address systems, walkie-talkies, and other equipment to help the student leaders organize. Given his contacts, he probably knew Communist Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang rather well; Zhao was purged after the June massacre for supporting the democracy movement. Wan Runnan was quoted in a July 1990 Reason article as insisting that “we are not counterrevolutionaries.” After hinting that he supported free market reforms in addition to democracy, he qualified himself by noting, “The transformation must take place in stages… the communication, transportation, and energy sectors will remain in government hands.” Wan now heads the Paris-based Federation for a Democratic China, one of the two largest organizations in the currently exiled Chinese democracy movement…

Wan at least escaped the blade that befell many of his peers, ultimately making it to the US: 

Wan Runnan: former Chairman of FDC (the second and third Congress). He was the founder and Chairman of Stone Corporation which was the first private company in China. He was on the wanted list of CCP, because he had supported the democratic movement of 1989. After June 4th Massacre he escaped abroad and has settled in the USA.

Without this background it would be hard for Wan to think that he could get away with providing financial and logistic support to the democracy movement. With backing from hard liners, Li was happy to root out Wan and his counterparts as part of bringing the private sector to heel under party control:

Despite its importance, in a system that is still largely owned and controlled by the government, the role of the private sector is limited: Even today [2002], as management responsibilities have been passed on to managers and local officials, and as industrial output has shifted to the private sector, the government still owns about 70 percent of the industrial assets... Yet, this sector has played a significant role in encroaching upon state sovereignty in two ways. First, in times of crisis, this sector has played a role of outright resistance. During the Tiananmen movement, it was the private entrepreneurs of Beijing that provided the students with fax machines, radio equipment, televisions and other perishable goods that became a staple of the movement... The Stone Corporation was the largest and most famous of these behind-the-scenes participants, but there were many others. It would be a stretch to argue that private businesses in China are predisposed to resistance. However, it is the case that these organizations are structurally the ones that hold the greatest degree of independence from the state, and therefore have the greatest latitude in protesting when the opportunity presents itself.

Continuing the theme of lawful suppression of "counterrevolutionaries," the Communist Party staged an exhibition in September 1989 containing images of "burned out tanks and armored personnel carriers, photographs of soldiers who had been burned to death or hanged from overpasses, and photos of burning buses and clashes between students and police in riot gear." On the 5th anniversary, Li Peng announced "new security regulations defining political discussions outside the Party line as sabotage." On the 10th anniversary, the government released a lengthy documentary on the "counterrevolutionary rebellion."


Termination of modest entrepreneurial support for liberalism


Political dissidents placed too great a faith in private entrepreneurs to spur democracy. (Note: geti are individual entrepreneurs, often in consumer services, while siying are larger privately owned businesses or enterprises.): 

It is in the interest of entrepreneurs to cooperate with local cadres. Cooperation allows private-sector businesses to operate more smoothly, and sometimes just to get started in the first place... "Capitalist entrepreneurs see capitalist growth as possible because of, not in spite of, the involvement of officials." Rather than the larger siying enterprises being most autonomous, moreover, ties to officials matter tremendously for the development of the largest and most profitable enterprises. Even a large and innovative private enterprise like the Stone Corporation had to depend upon strong bureaucratic connections to succeed...


Some commentators have pointed to banners of support hung by geti entrepreneurs and to monetary and material donations made by entrepreneurs, such as managers of the Stone Corporation to demonstrators in 1989, as evidence for growing activism and political consciousness among entrepreneurs. But as a rule [members] of the business elite in the private sector have shown strong inclinations toward neither political activism nor the formation of strong horizontal ties. Stone's actions and supportive banners cannot be used to proclaim the existence of a politicized, much less democratizing, class. Donations by the Stone Corporation were not exceptional and, as noted previously, most entrepreneurs [did] not actively support the student demonstrators. More generally, entrepreneurs' participation in politics outside of state-sponsored organizations has been unusual, and has not been sustained...


The enthusiasm that reformers were expressing in the mid-1980s for the growth of "interest groups" and "social pluralism" was accompanied by the growth, immediately prior to and during the Tiananmen demonstrations, of what appeared to be an autonomous Chinese associational life. Examples of new organizations included the Beijing Autonomous Students' Union and the Capital Independent Workers' Union, which were founded during the 1989 protests. Similarly, the Beijing Institute for Research in the Social and Economic Sciences [founded] by Chen Ziming and Wang Juntao, both of whom had been active in the 1979 Democracy Wall movement and, later, the publication of Beijing Spring. These organizations were perceived by some to be harbingers of a second "golden age"... Yet these liberalizing trends of the mid-1980s, along with many others, were reined in by the 1989 Tiananmen protests. The autonomous organizations proved to be highly vulnerable and failed to become enduring features of post-Mao state-society relations. The [independent] unions were crushed by the government, while the Institute saw much of its autonomy undermined subsequent to the arrests of Chen and Wang for their role in the 1989 events.

Altering the education system to produce a new patriotic citizen


Beyond wounded national pride and primarily anti-US and anti-Japanese resentment:

Chinese nationalism in the 1990s was also constructed and enacted from the top by the Communist state. There were no major military threats to China's security after the end of the Cold War. Instead, the internal legitimacy crisis became a grave concern of the Chinese Communist regime because of the rapid decay of Communist ideology. In response, the Communist regime substituted performance legitimacy provided by surging economic development and nationalist legitimacy provided by invocation of the distinctive characteristics of Chinese culture in place of Marxist–Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. As one of the most important maneuvers to enact Chinese nationalism, the Communist government launched an extensive propaganda campaign of patriotic education after the Tiananmen Incident in 1989. The patriotic education campaign was well-engineered and appealed to nationalism in the name of patriotism to ensure loyalty in a population that was otherwise subject to many domestic discontents. The Communist regime, striving to maintain authoritarian control while Communist ideology was becoming obsolete in the post-Cold War era, warned of the existence of hostile international forces in the world perpetuating imperialist insult to Chinese pride. The patriotic education campaign was a state-led nationalist movement, which redefined the legitimacy of the post-Tiananmen leadership in a way that would permit the Communist Party's rule to continue on the basis of a non-Communist ideology. Patriotism was thus used to bolster CCP power in a country that was portrayed as besieged and embattled. The dependence on patriotism to build support for the government and the patriotic education campaign by the Communist propagandists were directly responsible for the nationalistic sentiment of the Chinese people in the mid-1990s.

From Beijing moves to preempt flash mob behavior for any purpose, be it civil, commercial, nationalistic or anti-state...:

The authorities are highly attentive to young nationalists known as fenqing, or the 'angry youth' among other translations:

"These people have been trained in an authoritarian system. They are at the same time victims of an authoritarian system, but they also behave in an authoritarian way towards others and are incredibly self-righteous... We should be more tolerant and respect the right of people to disagree with us but these people do not understand such values."

The definition of fenqing has morphed:


Cultural Revolution: urban-dwelling students who were sent to the countryside to toil with peasants and became embittered towards a society that had stolen their futures.

1980s: students and intellectuals who shaped the movement for greater social and political freedoms that ended when the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square

2000s: patriotic, xenophobic, nationalistic and, in some cases, violent in their defence of the motherland. This latest incarnation has partly emerged as the result of government policies implemented in reaction to the events of 1989, after which "patriotic" indoctrination became an even more important element of the education system.

Fenqing are tailor made to meet CCP needs for sustained legitimacy.


Closing the political door; expanding the economic door


From "If you want food, find Ziyang"... 

Confined to house arrest, Zhao remained "steadfast that his views are correct, and their views were wrong," and he remained a remembered, if unheard, symbol that demonstrations were not a "counter-revolutionary rebellion" and that Tiananmen must be reassessed. Even in death, Zhao is a lightning rod of accountability.


Whereas Zhao and his generation made enormous contributions to individual wellbeing and thus much gratitude, e.g., "If you want food, find Ziyang," he is said to be less well known to younger generations either focused on wealth generation on the coast, or cut off in rural isolation.

Deng reasserts himself:

What the Party has relied on to prevent [public] pressure from building up is to allow people to exercise all of their ambitions and urges to be able to advance themselves and to have lives on the economic side of the ledger. This was Deng Xiaoping's great moment of genius. After the massacre of 1989, he in effect said we will not stop economic reform; we will in effect halt political reform.


What he basically said to people was: "Folks, you are in a room. There are two doors. One door says 'Politics'; one door says 'Economics.' You open the economic door, you are on your own. You can go the full distance to basically whatever you want: get wealthy, help your family have a bright future, move forward into a glorious future. If you open the political door, you are going to run right into one obstruction after another, and you are going to run into the state." People logically being practical -- and Chinese are very practical -- opened the economic door. They wouldn't open the political door. It was foolish to do so.

Private companies and research groups proceeded to chose the economic door, avoiding the political:

In retrospect, it seems extraordinary that the leadership of such an authoritarian state should allow the emergence of large, wealthy, independent institutions such as those operated by Chen Ziming and Wan Runnan. It is particularly remarkable given that, at least in the case of Chen Ziming and Wang Juntao, the authorities had been keeping [both under surveillance]...

The leadership would almost undoubtedly have meted out similar punishment to the private businessman Wan Runnan [as they had to Chen and Wang] had [Wan] not fled the country after Tiananmen.

Wan Runnan wrote a reflective retrospective of the CCP, Why The Chinese Communists Are Not Doomed To Finish Yet, in 2006. Recommended. Idealism and compromise are now absent: 

During the 1989 democratic movement and the Russian/Eastern European changes, the Chinese Communist became even firmer in the will and determination to suppress the opposition... How did the Communist Party defeat the Nationalist Party to win the country? One point was the will and determination to sacrifice. By sacrifice, they mean sacrificing the lives of their warriors in large and systematic ways... The Communists won the nation by this rule and they governed the nation by this rule. What is political power? Lin Biao understood: Political power is the power to suppress. To maintain political power is to maintain the power to suppress... That was the will and determination to suppress that the Communists exhibited during the June 4th massacre...


Deng Xiaoping said: "Development is the only solid reason." This should actually read "Getting rich is the only solid reason." The reason is solid, but the words are soft. According to Comrade Zhang Chunqiao's critical opinion: "This is a capitulation to the national capitalist class." On this issue, I have the right to speak. I started the company Stone (四通), which had sales of over 1 billion RMB in 1988. I accounted for half of Zhongguan village. I was called by the western media as the "most outstanding result of the ten year flirtation between Deng Xiaoping and capitalism." At the time, a western reporter asked me: "Do you think that Deng Xiaoping is on your side?" I answered without hesitation: "Of course, because I am on his side." After the June 4th massacre, I could no longer be on his side and therefore I parted ways with the Communist Party.

Wan summarizes the CCP as follows:

  1. From the lessons of the former Soviet Russia and eastern Europe, the Communist Party is more firm and clear about suppressing the opposition;
  2. After forming alliances, the Communist Party has established a relatively stable international environment;
  3. The continuous economic development has provided adequate resources for improving their ability to govern;
  4. Under the pretext of "we won't argue," the Communist Party has actually totally abandoned their former ideology;
  5. The Communist Party has become a political party that represents wealthy people and the social elite.  This newly created middle class is the foundation of stability in Chinese society today;
  6. The confirmation of their model for power succession has eliminated the concerns about their ability to maintain government.

Keep this in mind when you read Drezner’s “wishful thinking” about the capacity of the pro-democracy petition Charter 08 to induce a new popular rebellion. Drezner’s piece is valuable solely for the reader comments that gently but firmly correct him. China will still grow at about 6% per annum; not enough to keep everyone happy but enough for the CCP to sacrifice what it must to keep the political door closed and the economic door open, at least for the privileged, cooperative business class.




Stone and SERI were part of a remarkable flowering that, along with far less adventuresome firms, quickly learned that in order to survive they had to work with the CCP and PLA as opposed to operating in relative independence.


In the same period, the PLA was disgorging its money losing firms onto provincial government and was expanding its overt and covert subsidiaries tasked with capturing needed foreign Intellectual Property (IP). When that network proved to be insufficient at capture an entrepreneurial bounty system was instituted by which Chinese firms otherwise unrelated to the PLA could capture IP and share it in return for various means of reward.


Americans continue to overlook the extremely high degree of nationalism among Chinese, a characteristic sharpened by post-1989 education reforms. (I do not impute anything negative to the Chinese; my point is that Jingoism is not purely an Occidental disease.) Had this flowering continued, Stone and its peers would have become technical powerhouses that would have become even more efficient at foreign IP collection as foreign firms flocked to partner with Stone et al.


Firms such as Stone were perfectly positioned to be both attractive to foreign government and corporate assets while being able to absorb and transmit the IP on offer into the Chinese economy. If Wan could have even remained an international democrat, there would have been many in the firm that would have supported IP diversion to Chinese national interests.


Thus this analyst is left to wonder if Li Peng’s retrenchment slowed rather than accelerated foreign IP collection. In other words, the crushing of this technical flowering may have slowed IP collection. It is interesting to consider the implications if Zhao had bested Li.


Exiled Tiananmen-era dissident detained in China

Associated Press

May 13, 2009, 11:13 pm ET


It's Just History: Patriotic Education in the PRC

By Julia Lovell

The China Beat



The war that changed China

Posted by: Benjamin Lim


February 17, 2009

In China, a Grass-Roots Rebellion

Rights Manifesto Slowly Gains Ground Despite Government Efforts to Quash It

By Ariana Eunjung Cha

Washington Post

January 29, 2009


China's Charter 08

Translated from the Chinese by Perry Link

New York Review of Books

Volume 56, Number 1 · January 15, 2009


What does Charter 08 tell us about China in 09?

Daniel W. Drezner

Foreign Policy

Mon, 01/05/2009 - 9:51am

NOTE: The post is wide of the mark; reader responses are on point


The United States and China

Bill Moyers Journal

August 22, 2008


Peking U. Draws Fire for Demolishing 'Democracy Wall'

Chronicle of Higher Education

November 5, 2007


Cross Cultural Dialogue on China’s Traditional Universalism

Thomas Bartlett

Response to Xiong Peiyun’s (熊培云) article “China’s Nationalism, and How Not to Deal with It”

Posted by Xiao Qiang

China Digital Times

May 11, 2008 7:37 PM


China’s Nationalism, and How Not to Deal with It

Posted by Michael Zhao

China Digital Times

May 10, 2008 10:02 PM


China’s angry youth vent their feelings

By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing


Published: May 2 2008 17:15 | Last updated: May 2 2008 17:15


Summary of Chinese History ruled by Chinese Communist Party

Contributed by Federation for a Democratic China, (FDC)

Monday, 10 December 2007

Last Updated Monday, 10 December 2007


Tiananmen Veteran Chen Ziming Talks to RFA

by rfaunplugged

RFA Unplugged (Radio Free Asia blog)

Posted on December 27, 2006


My Life After Tiananmen: Chen Ziming

Radio Free Asia

Original reporting in Mandarin by An Ni. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated, written and produced for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.



Why The Chinese Communists Are Not Doomed To Finish Yet

Wan Runnan





Written, produced and directed by Antony Thomas


Air date: April 11, 2006


Wang Juntao: "To Resign from the Communist Party is for the Future of China"

Voluntary Resignation from the Chinese Communist Party Sets the Standard for Morality and Justice

By Xin Fei

The Epoch Times

Apr 21, 2005


Annex 1 How is “Private” Defined in the People’s Republic of China?

The Development of Private Enterprise in the People's Republic of China

Asian Development Bank



Information Technology, Sovereignty, and Democratization in China

Doug Guthrie

New York University

Social Science Research Council



Problems of democratization in China

By Thomas Gong Lum

Edition: 2, illustrated

Taylor & Francis, 2000


The Twentieth Anniversary of the Democracy Wall Movement

By Merle Goldman

Harvard Asia Quarterly

Summer 1999

page last updated: March 22, 2001


DEMOCRACY WALL: A Sudden Explosion of Free Speech, 1979

Unorthodox Opinions Are Heard on the Street



SEPTEMBER 27, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 12


A state-led nationalism: The patriotic education campaign in post-Tiananmen China

Suisheng Zhao

Communist and Post-Communist Studies

Volume 31, Issue 3, September 1998, Pages 287-302


China's New Business Elite: The Political Consequences of Economic Reform

Margaret M. Pearson




The Legacy of Tiananmen: China in Disarray

by James A. R. Miles

University of Michigan Press



Beijing Revokes Parole, Returns Dissident to Jail

By Rone Tempest

LA Times

June 27, 1995


Free Chen Ziming and Wang Juntao

New York Times

February 13, 1992


How to Resist the Memory Hole

New York Times

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 1991

Playing the China Card

The New American

Jan. 1, 1991


Chinese troops turn on computer pioneers



Magazine issue 1671

01 July 1989


Democracy Wall



Democracy Wall

China’s Communist Revolution



Gordon Housworth

Cybersecurity Public  InfoT Public  Infrastructure Defense Public  Intellectual Property Theft Public  Risk Containment and Pricing Public  Strategic Risk Public  


  discuss this article

At first blush, LTTE’s Prabhakaran appeared to have been executed, not KIA



Many readers know that I follow the Tamil Tigers (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)) both for their perfection of suicide terrorism and their remarkable ingenious homemade (still photos, video) weapons and asymmetrical applications, notably their modest air force, the Air Tigers, which I have compared to the earlier Biafra Babies of the Biafran secession. See Asymmetrical air force symmetries: Biafra Babies and Air Tigers, part II, 3/6/2009.


The Sri Lankan Army completed its military campaign Monday, 18 May, against the LTTE. (After years of battering by the smaller LTTE forces, Colombo dispensed with years of large unit tactics and adopted the same long range, small unit interdiction strategy used by the LTTE).


The key high value target for the government was the LTTE commander, Velupillai Prabhakaran. (Also here). Originally said to have been caught up in a firefight while escaping with other cadres in an ambulance (itself a Geneva violation), the government revised its commentary to say that Prabhakaran died along with other cadres in a sharp firefight.


Possibly. This government article confirming Prabhakaran’s death has images which show an entry wound above and between the eyes. (See images here and here, and this video.) There are no other obvious wounds to the body, and a kerchief oddly covers the back of Prabhakaran’s head, which I assume is to shade exit path damage, which is usually extensive) Forensics, if they are permitted by the government, could indicate proximity by presence or absence of powder residues on the face.


I would have expected the LTTE Tamil diaspora to erupt over these indicators of execution but the closest that I have found is an item in the New Kerala (India) which notes:

Prabhakaran's body, placed on a stretcher, was in his trademark battle fatigues, the eyes wide open. Soldiers standing around him had placed a handkerchief on the head, seemingly to cover portions that appeared to have been blown away.

There is always the chance of a fortunate shot, but the early data says summary execution and not killed in action (KIA). The next question is killed by whom, the Sri Kanka Army or LTTE cadres?


While the news hole is filled with government exultation, Tamil shock and a potentially explosive IDP (Internally Displaced Person) problem, I see another story unfolding that has yet to gain press notice.


As three decades of war come to a close, one of the world's finest international arms procurement and smuggling operations will now be up for hire to other militant groups as it seeks revenue for another Tamil assault on the majority Sinhalese. That is a story in and of itself.


[This article an extension of a 19 March client note]


Sri Lanka: War-zone access becomes flash point

Despite the government's declaration of victory, the area remains off limits, raising concerns about human rights violations and getting aid to civilians.

By Anuj Chopra

Christian Science Monitor

May 19, 2009


Voices: Tamil diaspora in shock


Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 14:36 UK


War crime in the massacre of LTTE officials


Tuesday, 19 May 2009, 01:52 GMT


Tamil doubts over rebel leader's death

By Alastair Lawson

BBC News

Page last updated at 13:32 GMT, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 14:32 UK


Daya Master & Karuna Amman Confirm Prabhakaran’s Identity

Sri Lanka Army

Updated :: 2009-05-19 17:29:45 Hours


Dead or alive, Prabhakaran lingers on

By Col R Hariharan

Sri Lanka Guardian

May 19, 2009


Prabhakaran's body found, Rajapaksa says LTTE vanquished

New Kerala

May 19, 2009


Sri Lanka Army Video

Sri Lanka Army

[Prabhakaran’s body, identity documents, cyanide capsule]

May 19, 2009


World’s Most Ruthless Terrorist Leader Prabhakaran Confirmed Dead

Sri Lanka Army

Updated :: 2009-05-19 17:33:15 Hours


Obituary: Velupillai Prabhakaran


Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 10:38 UK


The enigma of Prabhakaran

By Alastair Lawson

BBC News

Page last updated at 06:53 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 07:53 UK


Sri Lanka civil war

The News (PK)

Monday, May 18, 2009


Bodies of Prabhakaran's son, six LTTE leaders found

(Source: IANS), Samay Live

Published: Mon, 18 May 2009 at 13:11 IST


Sri Lanka wins civil war, says kills rebel leader

By C. Bryson Hull and Ranga Sirilal


Mon May 18, 2009 3:23pm EDT


Bloody Sri Lanka


Published: May 14 2009 19:22 | Last updated: May 14 2009 19:22

Mirror As:

‘Tigers will regroup with a vengeance’ - FT

TamilNet, Saturday, 16 May 2009, 02:02 GMT


Prepare for the end!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Post #6, Army Finds Tamil Tiger Rebel Submarine Factory In Jungle

Military Photos.Net

02-01-2009, 10:00 AM


Army Finds Tamil Tiger Rebel Submarine Factory In Jungle [Video]


SRIN LANKA (January 31. 2009)


Breaching the Fortress Wall

Understanding Terrorist Efforts to Overcome Defensive Technologies

By: Brian A. Jackson, Peter Chalk, Kim Cragin, Bruce Newsome, John V. Parachini, William Rosenau, Erin M. Simpson, Melanie W. Sisson, Donald Temple




Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  


  discuss this article

Supposition: CIA voter fraud detection software turned on US systems, possibly as test, inadvertently discovering fraud



After reviewing all data in context, my supposition is that CIA voter fraud detection software assets were turned on US systems, possibly as a test. Inadvertently fraud was discovered; fraud which the agency has not reported, and/or cannot report through regular channels.


We now know that federal assets have committed widespread surveillance of US data, voice and email traffic without subpoenas. Why, in the same period of permissibility, would a well intentioned agency not surveil voter data, especially if it was under external assault.


If the agency did so, no reader should think that this analyst finds fault with such actions. Our various electronic voter mechanisms are fraught with obvious threat vectors that cry out for discovery, identification and resolution. One only has to read Stephen Spoonamore's comments in GOP cyber-security expert suggests Diebold tampered with 2002 election. Writing of this item in private email, I noted, "Spoonamore is an extremely capable fellow. I would accord his comments high validity, more so by virtue of his conservative leanings. Regardless of which side of the aisle you sit, it bears reading." See other items in the bibliography at end.


The flaws in US electronic voting are so great that the US needs a public Black Hat hacking conference that targets US voting systems, exposing their flaws, before exploitation by criminal or adversary state assets.


A helpful if tortured causal description


A certain Steven Stigall recently spoke before (as opposed to offered sworn testimony before) the Standards Board Meeting of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in Orlando, Florida. Never identifying his organization, his verbatims used verbiage such as "Where I come from...," "worked with others in my organization...," and "did my organization actually discover..." The EAC put paid to his efforts at anonymity by publishing his unclass resume:

Steve Stigall joined CIA in 1985...  His early analytic career focused on Soviet-era Russian strategic missile forces... Since 1995 he has specialized in foreign computer threats.  In 2000 Mr. Stigall was inducted into CIA’s Senior Analytic Service.  In 2002 and 2003 Mr. Stigall served in Afghanistan and was at the US Army’s Camp Doha, Kuwait for Operation Iraqi Freedom...

While Stigall was scrupulous in avoiding any commentary on specific voting machines or their manufacturers, and effectively precluded questions from EAC board members, one does wonder what, if any, hand the agency might have had in surfacing the many Diebold faults (here, here and here). (In pursuing these and other citations, readers should remember that Premier Elections Solutions is merely the renamed Diebold Election Systems, Inc. (DESI).)


Disclaimer and linkage


Modifying Stigall's testimony courtesy of the EAC, first the disclaimer:

[At CIA], we do not do vulnerability assessments of any U.S. systems.  We don’t look at U.S. systems.  What we do is we identify foreign threats to those systems and we relay that information via a variety of mechanisms to the owners and operators of those systems.  Typically, the owners and operators typically, but not always, are going to be the U.S. Government... 

Stigall then turns to a description that to this analyst demands some evaluation of US voter systems:

For several years, I’ve worked with others [at CIA] to try and identify foreign threats, emphasis on “foreign threats,” to important U.S. computer systems.  A few years ago it occurred to us that that should include potential foreign threats to the computers upon which our elections in this country are increasingly dependent. [The] first question in your mind is [did CIA] actually discover any foreign threats to the computers upon which our elections are increasingly dependent?  I’m just going to say this, we’re in an open, unclassified forum, rest assured that were we ever to discover specific and credible information about foreign threats to our critical U.S. election computers we would do in my organization what we’ve done since 1947; we would bring that attention to the most senior policymakers in the country and they would act accordingly.

Rendering political process into an IT regimen


Stigall again:

When I look at an election system, I see a computer system, because increasingly that’s what they are.  And to the extent that there are foreign hackers who have shown interest in developing unauthorized access into U.S. computer systems, that’s where I get interested in it...


[When] I look at a foreign election system I’m not probing it [for] vulnerabilities to attack it, I’m simply looking at it as a computer network to see what vulnerabilities other people might be trying to use to exploit it because that reveals potential vulnerabilities that may be applicable in this country.  Again, when we look at election systems overseas, to the extent that they even have computers, I look at them as a computer network and computer networks have all the vulnerabilities that any computer network has, whether it’s an election system or whatever.  The physical security of the machines has emerged as a big issue.  Long before Election Day who has access to them?  And who programs these machines?  And who has access to that programming?  Again, just old-fashioned physical security long before Election Day.  [There is a] sociological factor of decreasing transparency for some cultures as you introduce computers, I’m not going to presuppose that’s entirely relevant [in the US], but I add it for what it is worth.  [You] create problems for an attacker by encrypting data... 

After consulting with agency political analysts, Stigall designed a corresponding IT vulnerability model that starts “long before Election Day,” to “Election Day and afterwards”: 

I divide an election process in terms of the computer’s role in that process... These don’t all occur on Election Day... [As some ‘follow the money], I follow the vote, and wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer that is an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to get into the system and tamper with the vote count or make bad things happen.

Stigall’s unreleased two page presentation listed five “basic” steps.  After reading his transcript verbatim, I see their constituate components as:

  • Automation/manipulation of census rolls, tax roles, prior voter registration lists, if any
  • Accuracy of random auditing of voting machines
  • Voter registration data security in the run-up to voting matches voting machine security on election day
  • Potential to defeat the paper trail, elimination of paper to electronic comparison
  • Absence of physical or emotional duress to voters
  • Authentication of voter identification at polls
  • Ensuring/sustaining privacy of the vote
  • Denial of service attacks, both conventional IT and physical kinetic denial of service that kills power to voting machines and polling places
  • Voting machine network security; removal and transport of flash drives and dismountable media
  • Capacity to transmit, protect and gather voter data; encryption of data in transit and encryption of “data at rest”
  • Ability to manipulate or channel election night media coverage, incremental, moment by moment

Electronic voter fraud expands and shifts the threat


Stigall again: 

[In] a traditional voting scheme the greatest opportunity for fraud [is] at the local level.  When you introduce computers into the equation, you’re moving that fraud potential upstream and you’re allowing an electronic single point failure, meaning the potential for mischief, can occur higher up the food chain electronically much faster and affect a lot more people in terms of the vote count than would be the case of fraud at an individual level where again you’re talking about the classic scenario where ballot boxes get thrown in the river or fraudulent ballots get produced; here it’s electronic...


The first question that one asks about these voting machines is, are they password protected?  [Strong or weak passwords, security of storage before, during and after the election. Can] those machines can be interrogated electronically remotely on Election Day. [Are there paper ballot receipts; what is the] discrepancy at the end of the day between the machine count and the paper count...

The footprint and opportunity for voter fraud become enormous in electronic systems. Most current monitoring structures are unable to cope. "Monitoring" may well induce a false positive as it will be unable to be present through all the stages the Stigall defines.


Heroes: Churov for what he did, Stigall for what I hope he did


Stigall admiringly describes a Russian step that this analyst greatly hopes was done domestically. 

A few weeks ago the head of the Russian election commission [Vladimir Churov] made an interesting proposal.  He met with representatives of the Russian hacker community.  And I do not know the extent to which this was a representative cross section of Russian hackers, but it was sponsored by Russian magazine, Hacker magazine, which is an interesting publication they have over there. And -- well, Vladimir Churov is my new hero, because he had a very interesting proposal for these people.  He said, "In early March we're going to test a new Internet voting system in Russia.  We're going to test it in five areas and I want you people to come at us, give us your best shot.  We’re not interested in people who want to harm maliciously the system, but if you want to test our system trying to identify new vulnerabilities, you know, we’re going to reward you if you do this."

The US needs a public Black Hat hacking conference targeting US voting systems. There are flaws, that is certain. Better to find them before criminal or adversary state assets exploit them. Agency assets would be welcome, but it is unlikely that they would publicly disclose means and methods to states already, or contemplating, doctoring their voting processes.


Come home, Mr. Stigall, and bring your friends.


Most electronic voting isn't secure, CIA expert says

By Greg Gordon

McClatchy Newspapers

Posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Diebold Admits Audit Logs in ALL Versions of Their Software Fail to Record Ballot Deletions

Posted by Dan Gillmor


March 21, 2009 2:55 PM


KY Election Officials Arrested, Charged With 'Changing Votes at E-Voting Machines'

Blogged by Brad Friedman


3/19/2009 4:59PM


Standards Board Briefing Materials: Orlando, Florida

Standards Board Meeting, February 26-27, 2009

Doubletree at the Entrance to Universal Studios

Orlando, Florida


Standards Board Briefing Materials: Orlando, Florida

Meeting Transcripts

February 26, 2009

February 27, 2009


Standards Board of Election Assistance Commission in Re: (Computers And Elections: The Growing Potential For Cyber Vote Fraud)


DATE: February 27, 2009

PLACE: Double Tree Hotel

5780 Major Boulevard

Orlando, Florida 32819


Court Reporter

Notary Public, State of Florida at Large


SOME PRESENTATIONS, though not Stigall’s which is likely FOUO as the meeting did not appear to have classified briefings:


A Threat Analysis on UOCAVA Voting Systems Overview

Lynne S. Rosenthal

NIST Voting Program

National Institute of Standards and Technology


Computers and Elections: The Growing Potential for Cyber Vote Fraud


Stub for Stigall's presentation


Glitches, machine breakdowns hamper voting in five states

By Greg Gordon

McClatchy Newspapers

Posted on Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Computer expert denies knowledge of '04 vote rigging in Ohio

By Greg Gordon

McClatchy Newspapers

Posted on Monday, November 3, 2008


E-voting worries linger as Election Day nears

Posted by Declan McCullagh

November 3, 2008 4:00 AM PST


Warning on voting machines reveals oversight failure

By Greg Gordon

McClatchy Newspapers

Posted on Sunday, August 24, 2008


Did Washington waste millions on faulty voting machines?

By Greg Gordon

McClatchy Newspapers

Posted on August 15, 2008


GOP cyber-security expert suggests Diebold tampered with 2002 election

Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane

The Raw Story

Published: July 18, 2008


Diebold insider alleges company plagued by technical woes, Diebold defends 'sterling' record

Miriam Raftery

The Raw Story

Originally published on Tuesday December 6, 2005


Democratization and Globalization in Emerging Market Countries: An Econometric Study*

Jude C. Hays, John R. Freeman, Hans Nesseth

University of Michigan, University of Minnesota

International Studies Quarterly, Volume 47, Number 2, pp. 203228, June, 2003


Gordon Housworth

Cybersecurity Public  InfoT Public  Strategic Risk Public  


  discuss this article

A greased pig race: US cybersecurity architecture and organization



The nature of modern cyberwarfare makes a mockery of present legal boundaries that have heretofore usefully served the US and its citizens.


The similarities between asymmetric and cyberwarfare are striking, so much so that it is increasingly useful to interchange titles of one when reading materials about the other. It is already clear that cyberwar cannot be won with the equivalent of 'conventional forces':

  • State and nonstate actors coexist and cooperate, with nonstate actors offering useful plausible denial.
  • Attacks, botnets included, have both foreign and domestic computer and network components, many of which are unwitting accomplices.
  • Attacks are increasingly a swarm of blended attacks combining probing, intelligence gathering, phishing (including spear phishing), DDoS, interruption/disruption, spoofing/sensor overload and/or tampering, penetration.
  • Hostile C2 (command and control) nodes may rotate, either for security or operational needs.
  • Attacks can share cyber and electrical grid components, with attacks on one compromising the capacity of the other.
  • Only certain parts of the attack may be visible at any one time - and those visible parts viewed in isolation without confirming intelligence - may have severe jurisdictional and statute roadblocks.

Generally speaking, the ability of states - at least the OECD states - and their militaries to adapt to these asymmetrical challenges seems perpetually in doubt; bureaucratic and doctrinaire issues alone make established bureaucracies and armies vulnerable. We know that, "Systems fail at their boundaries, and that includes boundaries between components and clusters of components that act as subsystems." See: Structured IT risk remediation: Integrating security metrics and Design Basis Threat to overcome scenario spinning and fear mongering, 5/17/2007.


It is painful to watch someone so attentive to cyber issues as Defense Tech's Kevin Coleman as he attempts to parse cyber threat ownership in such a fluid, borderless environment. Without a wholistic analysis capacity of all active and passive threats, regardless of the jurisdiction of first observance, subtle signals of surveillance and attack patterns will be missed until it is too late.


Time to zero exploit is narrowing. Writing in 2004, Delta between worst-case and realistic cyberattacks narrow:

[cyberattacks come in] three categories: data, analysis of data, and control. Data is often of modest value, especially when data volumes are large and/or frequently changing, and time is short. Actionable information comes from the speedy analysis of data. Poor design, design driven by cost cutting, and design taking immediate advantage of newer technologies without thinking of security intrusion have conspired to create conditions in which data, analysis and control increasingly merge...


I submit that increasing systems interconnectivity and interdependence is narrowing the gap between loss of data and loss of life. Pursuing the analysis of data as opposed to raw data allows perps to obtain insight that allows them to attack a target either directly or gain an understanding of the means to attack its control systems. If the default shutdown conditions of a control system are poorly designed, interrupting the control system is tantamount to overtaking the system... If the perps can spot an asymmetrical weakness they will take that path of least resistance, least cost, and least exposure.

Quaint idea: The Forward Edge of the Battle Area


Neither cyberwars or contemporary battlefields have a well defined FEBA (Forward Edge of the Battle Area). In many instances they share little of conventional battle structure:

Substitute cyber warriors for asymmetricals in this item from a conference on complex systems, of which homeland security was one of over forty topics:

For insurgents to exploit their asymmetries, they must also negate the asymmetries that favour the conventional force. In particular, they must avoid direct, large scale confrontation against the better equipped, trained and synchronized conventional force. This can be understood using a multi-scale perspective: by generating and exploiting fine scale complexity, insurgents prevent the conventional force from acting at the scale they are organised for: large scale but limited complexity environments.


By dispersing into largely independent cells, insurgents can limit the amount of damage any single attack from the conventional force can inflict. This significantly reduces the threat of retaliation from acting as a deterrent, since the insurgents have negligible physical resources exposed to retaliatory attack. Insurgents that do not wear uniforms and blend into a civilian population cannot be readily identified or targeted until they attack, in a situation of their choice. There is no longer a forward edge of the battle line, meaning softer support units are vulnerable. The number of possible locations, times and direction of attack increases significantly compared to attrition warfare, increasing fine scale complexity. The heightened potential for collateral damage from mixing with civilian populations dramatically increases the task complexity for a conventional force that must minimise the deaths of innocent civilians for any hope of strategic victory.

US cyberdefense cannot be a perpetual 'greased pig race'


Having long struggled for an appropriate analogy to our dysfunctional cyber jurisdictional divisions between DHS, DoD, NSA, CIA and the FBI, I first chose baseball’s Pennant Race, then NASCAR’s Race to the Chase. But both pretend too much structure; I finally settled for old fashioned pig wresting or greased pig chases. It should be noted that the pig is a juvenile, merely evasive, not hostile. Were the pig an adult sow or boar, its pursuers would be greatly the worse for wear.


In yet another failed run at the pig, a recent director of the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), Rod Beckström, resigned "over what he said is the National Security Agency's (NSA) domination of the nation's cybersecurity efforts" and that "allowing the NSA to control national cybersecurity efforts is a "bad strategy on multiple grounds."


My observations:

  • "Homeland security" starts far beyond US borders; waiting till it arrives onshore to be discovered by DHS is too late.
  • DHS may be the traditional protector of civilian networks but they have done an miserable, execrable job of it, washing through one cyber-czar after another. (When even Dick Clarke departs, you know the situation is untennable, and there has been no effective improvement.)
  • Anyone who thought that a tiny appendage within DHS such as Rod Beckstom's National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) could perform a task that Clarke could not has no clue of how the federal bureaucracy functions, but then Beckstrom was the infinite outsider.
  • Only a group with the prestige, capability, scope and bureaucratic muscle of an NSA can mandate a Pax Cyberica.
  • NSA has the rigor and resources to work out standards of reasonably scalable response protection whereas no one in the commercial sector can come near.
  • Protecting civilian networks is herding cats UNLESS changes/upgrades are mandated to all parties lest one player think that another player is gaining a competitive advantage by skipping infrastructure upgrades. (This is exactly the same problem that is inhibiting protective improvements in the commercial power grid).
  • Yes, NSA has, in my opinion, made missteps but I extend the benefit of the doubt in saying that NSA was forward leaning in a very permissive, even cheerleading, environment coming on the heels of 11 September. Better to hold judgment until operation is reviewed under Obama’s rules.
  • I suggest that the "Beckstrom function" needs to exist, if nothing else, to deliver external news, needs and opinion back to NSA, but to do that it needs to be a group attached more to DCI and not DHS.

In a similar vein, an earlier head of DHS’s National Cyber Security Division, Amit Yoran, stated that while DHS had been demonstrably inept (demonstrated "inefficiency and leadership failure"), ceding the function to the one group that could reasonably work the problem, the intel community and NSA in particular, placed the nation in "grave peril." I submit the greater peril is to continuing to chase pigs while expecting different results.


The following snippets from Yoran carry my observations following COMMENT:

The government's national cybersecurity efforts would be in "grave peril" if they were dominated by the intelligence community

COMMENT: Possibly, by no means an absolutism. 

"One of the hard lessons learned from the Terrorist Surveillance Program is that such a limited review can lead to ineffective legal vetting of a program," Yoran said. "The cyber mission cannot be plagued by the same flaws as the TSP."

COMMENT: Agreed. TSP was dimly architected, archaic in responsiveness. In short, all manner of silliness that should not be repeated in any application.

Yoran said the intelligence community's mission -- to collect information on adversaries -- is at odds with the mission to secure networks. Faced with a network compromise, the intelligence community's focus would be on counterintelligence activities targeted at the offender rather than working with the public and private sector to secure the network. "Simply put, the intelligence community has always and will always prioritize its own collection efforts over the defensive and protection mission of our government's and nation's digital systems,"

COMMENT: The reflex is in that direction, but a charter can be established to achieve the mission, including all the standard career tracking for those involved so that it does not become a black hole. Also, staff must be selected, not subject to the "each dept give x people" as those people will be the most expendable.

"High levels of classification prevent the sharing of information necessary to adequately defend our systems... It also creates insurmountable hurdles when working with a broad range of government IT staffs that do not have appropriate clearances, let alone when trying to work with, communicate and partner with the private sector. Classification cannot be used effectively as a cyber-defensive technique, only one for avoiding responsibility and accountability."

COMMENT: Can be, but if standards are going to be mandated, they must be discussed for impact and rolled out to all. There can be no effective standards proliferation without sharing, negotiating, and defining both process and firmware changes.

Charney said that there was no question that the NSA was the government's center of technical expertise, but that to get the public "to trust that the networks are being secured well in a transparent fashion, the mission cannot reside in NSA."

COMMENT: The mantle of the new administration can wipe away much of that 'trust' issue. As to mechanics, see answer immediately above.

Instead, he recommended that the DHS retain its lead operational role over cybersecurity but work with the NSA in a way that utilizes the agency's technical expertise.

COMMENT: DHS has been copeless at worse, not architected to deliver or enforce at best. DHS is categorically not the center of excellence in IT hardening skills. Only NSA fullfills that role whereas DHS is seen, with good reason, as feckless.

Yoran said DHS had demonstrated "inefficiency and leadership failure" in its cyber efforts and that "administrative incompetence and political infighting" had squandered its efforts to secure the nation's infrastructure for years.

COMMENT: Correct, and if you believe this, you cannot possibly park the cyber effort within DHS.


The forgotten asset


It was widely recognized among the military collection assets, Army Security Agency (disbanded, assets rolled into INSCOM), Naval Security Group (now NIOC), and the Air Force Security Services (now Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (IRS), that they were regarded by NSA as "cheap hired help" in field collection and analysis.


Conversely, conventional force commanders of all services rarely understood what these three security services did and how conventional forces could reduce their electronic vulnerability. Career intelligence soldiers that did not command an infantry or armored unit, vessel or aircraft did not ascend the promotion ladder, often being transferred into non-technical billets.


It appears that matters are now worse as the need is ever more critical. Writing in Spring 2009 issue of the Information Assurance Technology Analysis Center (IATAC) newsletter, two serving officers, Conti and Surdu, state:

The Army, Navy, and Air Force all maintain cyberwarfare components, but these organizations exist as ill-fitting appendages that attempt to operate in inhospitable cultures where technical expertise is not recognized, cultivated, or completely understood. The services have developed effective systems to build traditional leadership and management skills. They are quite good at creating the best infantrymen, pilots, ship captains, tank commanders, and artillerymen, but they do little to recognize and develop technical expertise. As a result, the Army, Navy, and Air Force hemorrhage technical talent, leaving the Nation’s military forces and our country under-prepared for both the ongoing cyber cold war and the likelihood of major cyberwarfare in the future. One need only review the latest computer security report card, which gave the Federal Government an overall grade of C, and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, Treasury, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs a grade of D or lower, to understand our nation’s vulnerability.

Richard Bejtlich summarizes the issues and provides corroborating personal observations. The implications for a sustaining military cybersecurity asset are ugly and not easily resolved.



Microsoft Executive Tapped For Top DHS Cyber Post

By Brian Krebs

Security Fix

Posted at 6:53 PM ET on Mar 11, 2009


A Ship Without a Captain

Kevin Coleman

Defense Tech

March 10, 2009 07:49 AM


NSA Dominance of Cybersecurity Would Lead to 'Grave Peril', Ex-Cyber Chief Tells Congress

By Kim Zetter


March 10, 2009 | 6:24:42 PM


A Struggle Over U.S. Cybersecurity

By Brian Krebs

Washington Post

March 10, 2009


10 IT agenda items for the first U.S. CIO

Obama's appointment of Vivek Kundra marks an important first step for rectifying the nation's concerns about IT

By Paul Venezia

March 09, 2009


Federal cybersecurity director quits, complains of NSA role

Rod Beckstrom resigns from NSCS after less than a year, citing concerns over what he said is the NSA's domination of the nation's cybersecurity efforts

By Jaikumar Vijayan


March 09, 2009


Cybersecurity chief Beckstrom resigns


Sat Mar 7, 2009 6:19am EST


Cybersecurity Chief Resigns



MARCH 7, 2009


Cyber-Security Czar Quits Amid Fears of NSA Takeover

By Noah Shachtman


March 06, 2009 | 11:52:14 AM


New Cyber COCOM Likely

By Colin Clark Friday,


March 6, 2009 6:44 pm


NSA gains support for cyber security role

HS Daily Wire

Published 4 March 2009


NSA should beef up civil cybersecurity

Ian Grant

Computer Weekly

Posted: 17:39 26 Feb 2009







TIME: 9:00 A.M. ET



Statement for the Record

Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Dennis C. Blair

Director of National Intelligence

25 February 2009

Buck Surdu and Greg Conti Ask "Is It Time for a Cyberwarfare Branch?"

Posted by Richard Bejtlich


February 24, 2009


Army, Navy, Air Force, and Cyber—Is it Time for a Cyberwarfare Branch of Military?

by LTC Gregory Conti and COL John "Buck" Surdu

IA Newsletter (IATAC)

Volume 12 Number 1, pp 14-18, Spring 2009


Outsider to Run Cyber-Security Initiative



MARCH 20, 2008

About the bears and the bees: Adaptive responses to asymmetric warfare

Alex Ryan, DSTO, Australia

Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Complex Systems

Editors Ali Minai, Dan Braha, Yaneer Bar-Yam

June 25-30, 2006, Boston, MA


U.S. cybersecurity chief resigns

By Robert Lemos

Staff Writer, CNET News

October 1, 2004 2:52 PM PDT


Where is the Battle-line for Supply Contractors?

By Susan A. Davidson, Maj, U.S. Army

April 1999

Reprinted: Air Force Journal of Logistics, Vol 23, No 2, pp 12-19

Summer 1999

Published by DIANE Publishing

ISBN 1428990941, 9781428990944


FM 101-5-1/MCRP 5-2A

Operational Terms and Graphics

Headquarters, Department of the Army/U.S. Marine Corps

30 September 1997


Gordon Housworth

Cybersecurity Public  InfoT Public  Infrastructure Defense Public  Intellectual Property Theft Public  Risk Containment and Pricing Public  Strategic Risk Public  


  discuss this article

Asymmetrical air force symmetries: Biafra Babies and Air Tigers, part II



Part I: Asymmetrical air force opportunities in interstate and intrastate conflict


Thirty-nine years apart, the two great asymmetrical air forces, the Biafra Babies and LTTE Air Tigers, had remarkably similar aircraft performance criteria:

  • Single engine monoplane
  • Basic "two-place" or two-passenger trainer aircraft (stable responsive platform, easy to fly/control, at best forgiving)
  • Four-seat (2+2) monoplanes in trainer class offer increased ordnance carrying capacity
  • Modifiable to light-strike attack role
  • Forward and downward cockpit visibility (high wing or cockpit forward of low wing) for ground attack role
  • Short field, unimproved field take-off and landing
  • Low maintenance ("field maintainable") and broad parts availability, low operating costs
  • External hard points (presence of, or ability to retrofit, hard point releases to either fuselage and/or wings w/o compromise to aircraft cg or weight limits)
  • Mixed ordnance delivery (bombs, rockets, gun)
  • Weapons/ordnance carrying capacity
  • Operational range (with ordnance)
  • Survivability (combination of surprise, time over target, maneuverability, speed, enemy capabilities)
  • Transportable to operational area (ferry distance with additional fuel tanking or disassembly for covert delivery)
  • IFR capacity for night or low visibility conditions (surplus military aircraft already possess capability)
  • Modest acrobatic capacity (often possessed by surplus military aircraft, increasingly common to sport aircraft)

Aircraft meeting these criteria can perform in an environment where the:

  • Inferior force can operate in a Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ) of sufficient size and depth to camouflage its launch, recovery and logistics operations.
  • Superior force cannot exercise air dominance and persistent aerial surveillance.

Pertinent TAZ characteristics are: 

  • Areas beyond global nation state control
  • Staging grounds for operations against "controlled" areas
  • Sanctuaries created as needed in areas without global/state order

Both the Biafran and Tamil aircraft were dismantled, smuggled in and reassembled. In both cases, a substantial part of pilot training occurred outside the conflict area.


This writer has not seen any citations indicating that the Tamils studied and applied the lessons of the Biafran Air Force to Sri Lankan airspace, but I rate it a reasonable possibility for four reasons: 

  • Most observers have forgotten the Biafran experience - to the point that the LTTE Air Tigers have erroneously been called the 'first' asymmetrical air force.
  • An asymmetrical air force is well within the LTTE's capacity for inventive and creative military solutions.
  • Given the extensive propaganda campaign the LTTE waged to buoy its diaspora and its operational cadres, it is reasonable to assume that they would like to claim an air force as their own and not a copy.
  • Suppressing the intent to emulate the Biafra Babies continued to lull the SLAF into complacency.

The LTTE is certainly aware of the Biafran experiment as they have appropriated its image into their agitprop materials. At 1:59 into this LTTE propaganda video (which in typical fashion mixes LTTE and non-LTTE footage as well as stills from the 2001 LTTE commando raid on Colombo International Airport), there is a hold on a still illustration of the Biafran MFI-9 MiniCOIN aircraft attacking a Nigerian airfield.


The lessons of those two engagements have shown the optimum means of aerial interdiction to be:

  • Helicopter gunships, not conventional frontline jet aircraft. Helicopters have the speed range, maneuverability, armament and loiter capacity necessary to engage such light aircraft attack assets.
  • Military propeller-driven COIN (counterinsurgency) aircraft. Military COIN aircraft overlap the performance envelope of light aircraft attack assets while providing superior weapons and a more stable gun platform.

Conventional frontline jets could perform the role if they had the look down-shoot down firecontrol radars able to parse very cluttered background landscapes, but they are far more expensive to operate and more difficult to forward base in an emergency.


Operation Biafra Babies - Biafran Air Force


The Nigerian-Biafran War rose in an attempt to reverse the secession of Nigeria's southeastern provinces as the Republic of Biafra. The Biafrans were generally at a disadvantage in all respects, including fielding a substantive army and securing any form of air force. Carl Gustav von Rosen conceived and coined the MiniCOIN (Mini-Counter Insurrection) role: 

It had occurred to von Rosen that in a "low intensity conflict" small piston engine aircraft, even a featherweight like the MFI-9B, is quite capable of making a difference. This is especially true of operations under primitive conditions in rough terrain... The Nigerian civil war fit the bill perfectly. The Biafrans had exhausted all of the conventional sources in their search for aircraft and were desperate for any kind of an air capability. It was probably their desperation that overcame their initial skepticism when von Rosen approached them with his idea...


[Von Rosen's] choice fell upon the Malmö Flygindustri MFi-9B, a small two seat sports plane intended as a trainer (also called "kit-plane"). Being a trainer the aircraft had a good view forward and downwards, the platform were also stable and easy to fly/control. Von Rosen realized that with some simple modifications the MFI-9Bs could be used as light-strike attack planes. A total of nine MFI-9Bs were obtained in two different sets. The planes were obtained on the civilian market (in Sweden), then they were disassembled and smuggled into Biafra.


The MFI-9B had the advantage of being a low profile aircraft type. Although it had been militarized it was widely regarded as a sporting plane and was not likely to show up on the radar screens of international inspectors enforcing non intervention policies. Another advantage of the MFI-9B [was] its low price, the initial batch of 5 MFI-9B's plus a complete supply of spares, bought under cover provided by the Tanzanian government, cost the Biafrans only $60.000 2) which rose to $140.000 including refitting and initial payments to pilots and technicians. This still left the problem of obtaining armament and military avionics. The avionics problem was quickly solved by purchasing surplus reflector sights from decommissioned SAF J-22 fighters. This left the problem of armament.


[The] how and where the Biafran MFI-9B's acquired their armament [appears to be that] French technicians helped change the MFI-9B's electrical system from 24V to 12V, wired the aircraft up for weapons, designed attachment points for armaments and suggested the most sensible warheads for the rockets the MiniCOINs would fire. The armament chosen consisted of two small 68mm 3) six round Matra rocket pods, one fitted to a hard point under each wing. It was also decided to use primarily AP-rockets since it was presumed that the majority of targets would be vehicles and buildings.

The performance of the Biafra Babies was remarkable:

The MFI-9B's flew more than 300 combat missions in Biafra attacking Nigerian Air Force facilities and airplanes... The actual effectiveness is not known, since the Nigerian casualty reports are probably too low while the MFI-9B pilotes estimates are too high. Although the destruction of only one NAF MIG 17F can be positively confirmed, that single MIG 17 (serial, NAF 620) probably cost the NAF more money than the entire MFI-9B fleet cost the Biafran government. It is clear that the NAF escaped more serious damage in many BAF attacks because of the lack of experience of BAF pilots (including the von Rosen group) and the limited arsenal of the MiniCOIN. The effectiveness of the mini-COIN’s was much a psychological one, irritating the Nigerian Air Force and forcing them to be on the alert for attacks. Together with the confirmed destroyed MiG-17 there were several MiG’s and Il-28’s together with NAF facilities reported damaged during the raids.

The raid on Port Harcourt airfield of 22 May, 1969, changed the asymmetrical landscape, redefining the art-of-the-possible. Despite prodigious efforts by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), it scored only a sole victory in its effort to route the BAF MiniCOINs on 29 November, 1969: 

A MIG17 following a couple of MiniCOINs back after an attack on Nigerian army positions conducted a strafing attack on the Newly landed MiniCOINs. [Both pilots] escaped but one MiniCOIN exploded. The second MiniCOIN was damaged but later repaired.

The MiniCOIN aircraft "remained very active" through the final months before the collapse of Biafra. Some observations beyond the lack of BAF pilot training which tempered their motivation and risk taking: 

[The] MiniCOIN bases proved to be almost impossible to find... without a disproportionately large recconaisance effort... since the MiniCOINs could take off from any reasonably flat patch of minimally prepared ground and constantly changed bases... The Biafran MiniCOINs and their North American T-6 bretheren could be operated for long periods, in the deep bush, out of the back of a lorry... [Conversely, the NAF] MIG 17F fighters were tied to a hand full of high grade runways and sophisticated maintenance facilites which made them vulnerable...


The MiniCOINs also proved to be surprisingly immune to Ground fire and when they were hit it was usually 7.62mm or 12.7mm small-arms hits and the damage could usually be fixed with an aluminum patch and some glue. [Conversely, a] NAF MIG 17F or Il-28 damaged in a MiniCOIN attack could be out of commission for days and even weeks pending delivery of parts [from] the Soviet Union and arrival of specialist, military-jet qualified mechanics...

We will see these lessons reappear in the Tamil secession in Sri Lanka.


Vaanpuligal - Tamil Tiger Air Force


The LTTE began to employ modified Czech-built Zlin aircraft against the Sri Lankan state in 2007:

On March 26, at about 0045L, two light strike aircraft manned by dissidents of the previously unknown Air Force of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attacked Sri Lanka's international airport North of Colombo (CMB). They focused their attention on the Katunayake Air Force Base on the opposite side of the runway to the international terminal...


Tiger aircraft were able to come right up to Colombo's outskirts, bomb a supposedly well-protected military installation, and fly back to the safety of LTTE-controlled territory. They were not even close to being intercepted...


At least three airmen were killed and 17 others injured in the attack. Terrified passengers waiting for flights at the nearby international airport described panic and chaos as people ran for cover amid the sound of explosions. All flights into and out of CMB were suspended and passengers on aircraft were evacuated into the airport terminal building.


Cathay Pacific, which had one of its aircraft trapped on the ground full of passengers, has suspended all flights into Colombo until further notice. Two light aircraft dropped three bombs on the air base, but the bombs were directed at the barracks and did not hit the more valuable targets: the Israeli Kfir and Russian Mig 27 fighters and helicopter gun ships parked there.


The Tamil Tigers' last suicide attack on Bandaranaike International Airport was a ground assault on July 24, 2001, when sappers destroyed more than a dozen military aircraft plus two A330's, one A340 and one A320 at the civilian terminal. The greater damage was to the economy and tourism...

The Czech Zlin aircraft were modified to carry "four bombs mounted on a light series carrier that is attached in line with the wing's trailing-edge between the undercarriage struts." See photos here. Confounding the embarrassment of the Sri Lankan government, it is likely that the LTTE paved the runway under their nose: 

Careful examination of commercially available satellite imagery indicates clearing and laying of asphalt on an airstrip to the east of the Iranamadu reservoir in the LTTE dominated areas during the period 2003-2004. In January 2003, the Asian Development Bank embarked on a road development project [to] resurface and asphalt the A9 highway which runs through LTTE-dominated areas using the services of eight subcontractors. It is possible that construction material from the project may have been pilfered to asphalt the airstrip. The airstrip is believed to be 1250 meters long. A defence correspondent in Sri Lanka has reported that a Searcher UAV of the Sri Lanka Air Force, conducting a reconnaissance flight over LTTE dominated areas detected a light aircraft on the Iranamadu airstrip on 12 & 13 January 2005. On a subsequent night mission on 03 February, the infrared cameras of the UAV detected thermal images of a second light aircraft landing on the airstrip. The images which were shared with US intelligence, have confirmed one aircraft to be a Czech built Zlin Z-143.

The Sri Lankan government was willfully ignorant of the growing LTTE threat:

The Tigers have been trying to put together an air wing for more than two decades. In 1988, the Indian Peace Keeping Force then in the country found assembly parts of micro-light aircraft and instruction manuals in LTTE hideouts. In subsequent years, the Lankan armed forces have discovered LTTE workshops where attempts were being made to assemble aircraft. Aircraft spare parts too were found in these workshops.


Through the 1990s, intelligence and media reports indicated that Tigers in Europe and North America were purchasing technical manuals on aircraft and shopping around for light aircraft and parts. It appears that the Tigers managed to purchase a micro-light craft around the mid-1990s. They dismantled it and smuggled it into northern Sri Lanka by sea. In November 1998, the LTTE radio, the Voice of Tigers, reported that the LTTE used aircraft to shower petals on the graves of its fighters on the occasion of Martyrs Day.


Despite clear evidence that the LTTE's ambition of acquiring air power was rapidly taking wing, the government chose to deny this throughout the 1990s - it finally acknowledged the fact after 2004. In May 2005, Hagrup Haukland, head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), confirmed to journalists in Colombo that the LTTE had "air assets". He said he had seen an airstrip while flying in a helicopter over LTTE-controlled area, but the Tigers had denied the SLMM access to the runway...

The LTTE proceeds to put Sri Lanka in a state of panic by launching two more aerial attacks:

In what is regarded as the "Fourth Eelam War," at least three successful air raids have been carried out by the LTTE's Tamil Eelam air force (TAF) since 26 March, the date of the first such attack on the Sri Lankan air force (SLAF) base at Katunayake...


In the second successful air strike on 24 April, the TAF inflicted extensive damage to a Sri Lankan army engineering unit in the Palali military complex, leaving six soldiers dead and a dozen others wounded.


Once again the TAF returned to strike the Katunayake air base on 26 April, likely in commemoration of the one month anniversary of the first successful air strike. The 26 April attempt, however, failed.


Not deterred by the Sri Lankan air force's pledge to destroy the LTTE's air capability with the deployment of anti- aircraft artilleries, another air raid was carried out in the early hours of 29 April, when the TAF bombers targeted two oil storage facilities that cater to SLAF in Kolonnawa and Muththuraajawala areas.


In this pre-dawn swoop, fuel facilities belonging to Indian Oil and the Dutch Shell were targeted successively, only hours after the SLAF's air strike in the town of Kilinochchi - an LTTE stronghold.

The LTTE proceeded to launch sorties across the island, perhaps as many as ten, including the February 2009 attacks. It remains to be seen how many of the Zlin-143 aircraft remain in LTTE Air Tiger inventory:

[In 2007] It had been widely expected that the Tigers would use their air wing to carry out suicide attacks, using the craft as deadly flying bombs. Instead, they chose to herald their arrival as an air "power" not with a spectacular suicide operation but with a conventional bomb attack. This could have been a purely logistical decision as a suicide attack would also destroy the aircraft, and the Tigers do not have many in reserve...

In 2009, the LTTE is now being forced into a "use it or lose it" strategy as LTTE territory has been reduced to a "small area in the north-east of the island."


The Sri Lankan government was further embarrassed by a two-plane sortie on the night of 20 February, 2009. While it appears that the state "Air Defence System" was able to confirm the downing of at least one aircraft, after one dropped at least one bomb, the attack followed a state claim "to have destroyed all the rebels' hidden runways and put its small air force out of action": 

The city was put on full alert at about 2130 (1600 GMT) on Friday as electricity was cut and searchlights and tracer fire from anti-aircraft guns cut through the night sky. [Correspondents] heard firing of heavy anti-aircraft guns. Heavy shell fire. This lasted 20-25 minutes... then there was a massive explosion."

One plane was downed attempting to reach the civil and military assets at the adjoining International Airport and the SLAF base at Katunayaka. Despite the raid’s lack of significant damage, its propaganda value was enormous to the Tamil diaspora: 

The Tamil diaspora has in recent weeks been increasingly vocal in its condemnation of the war - almost at the same time as Friday's raid, about 14,000 people in Geneva rallied demanding independence for Tamil areas of Sri Lanka. Some of the Tamils in Europe, Canada, and Australia have provided the rebels with significant financial support over the last three decades and many will see this raid as a morale-boosting development in the face of recent setbacks.


"It is very significant that the rebels have carried out such an audacious attack when the government say that they are all but finished... It confirms what many of us already knew - the rebels may be experiencing reverses on the battle field but they are not simply just going to disappear."

Diasporas as funding and weapons procurement channels


Rebel groups must acquire “start-up finance” as: 

The survival condition imposes a minimum size on rebel forces below which they cannot be operational in resource predation. This implies that there are threshold start-up costs. Since rebellions may not be able to raise funding from conventional sources, they must look elsewhere... 

The three main sources of rebel revenue are primary commodity exports, diasporas and foreign powers, either or both great powers and regional states: 

An economic calculus of the costs and opportunities for the control of primary commodity exports appears to be the main systematic initial impetus to rebellion, with an additional effect from fear of domination by an ethnic majority. After peace has been restored, the legacy of conflict-induced grievance enables rebel movements to restart conflict by drawing on the support of their diasporas... 

Having no, or denied access to, primary commodity or foreign state funding, rebel groups must fall back on their diasporas (A rebel group fighting to overthrow then Congolese President Laurent Kabila took "their fight to the Internet in a bid to raise funds and publicize their cause" in 1998.): 

A further potentially important source of start-up finance for rebellion is a diaspora living in OECD countries. Such diasporas are usually much richer than the population in their country of origin. They are better-placed for collective action: emigrants have a cultural incentive to create diaspora organizations which can then discipline free-riding. They do not suffer the consequences of the conflicts they finance. As with grievance among the local population, in the greed-model grievance among the diaspora is assumed to be manufactured by the rebel organization rather than being an original cause of conflict. Hence, the diaspora increases the risks of conflict renewal, but not the initial risk of conflict...


A large diaspora considerably increases the risk of further conflict. [Comparing] the post-conflict society with the largest diaspora against that with the smallest [after] five years of peace the risk of renewed conflict is around six times greater.

Haiti is an example of a weak state subject to constant interference by its diaspora:

Following the resignation of former Haitian President Jena-Bertrand Aristide..., the Haitian diaspora representatives in the US have announced that their community was ready to get involved in the country’s reconstruction... The Haitian diaspora accounts for more than 1.5 million people, and 600.000 of them live in New York. This community is the result of successive waves of immigrants fleeing from poverty and political repression since the 1960’s... "The Haitian diaspora must play an important role this time. It is in our own interest, it is the United States’ interest and the international community’s. We have competent people and relevant means of action, but we have to be integrated, not left aside." [World Bank Press Review for Mar. 2, 2004. Scrolled off]

It is interesting that while diaspora groups initially manipulate and finance their in-country colleagues, once the rebel group gains critical mass or reaches nation state status, the in-country group reverses roles, manipulating and "milking" their diaspora. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka and the the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) in Eritrea are notable examples.


After exterminating rival groups that they could not absorb, the LTTE emerged as one of the deadliest, resourceful and commercially minded terrorist groups. (But readers should note that ethnic Tamil-Sinhalese turmoil significantly predates even the 1970s. A colleague who was living in Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, back in "the early fifties" told me that Tamils and Sinhalese "were fighting then." [private email]): 

Ethnic Tamils, who are largely Hindu and make up 18 percent of Sri Lanka's population of 20 million, began a largely nonviolent movement in the 1960s to champion more government recognition. But it was not until the early 1970s that the Tamils began forming several rebel groups. In 1976, Tamils gathered as the LTTE and for the first time called for the formation of a separate state of Tamil Ealam covering the northern and eastern provinces, where they are in the majority. The LTTE established itself as a major guerilla group in 1983, when a Tamil attack on an army patrol inflamed a series of violent clashes between Sinhalese mobs and Tamils that left thousands dead and produced several hundred thousand refugees. Violence has since escalated [including] an alarming list of political assassinations, including five Cabinet ministers, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa.

Beyond funding, the diaspora can involve itself in procuring weapons and war-fighting technology:

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is known to have an active presence in several informal sectors such as credit card cloning, money laundering and human smuggling in Europe and North America. However, the LTTE has emerged as a formidable force and influence within the informal arms market and such has attracted collaborative arrangements with other terrorist groups...


[While the] Bakaaraha arms market near Irtogte in South Mogadishu is [seen as a] central distribution point for the informal arms trade in the Horn of Africa... Eritrea has emerged as a major transshipment point and sanctuary for key players in the informal arms trade. The LTTE established a presence in Eritrea primarily to operate in the informal arms market. It is believed the LTTE maintains regular interactions with many armed groups including groups affiliated to the Al Qaeda operating in the Eritrean Network...


The links between the Islamist terrorist groups and the LTTE are not driven by ideological compatibility, but by the need to influence factors of pricing and convenience in the informal arms market. In most cases the LTTE has developed links with Islamist groups to organize consolidated purchasing opportunities. The LTTE with an annual budget of US$ 200-300 million, supported by an institutionalized procurement network, diaspora based technical expertise and a shipping fleet is a valued partner to other terrorist groups in negotiating procurement deals. The LTTE has the capacity to provide logistical support and facilitate training to partner entities. The LTTE has used its shipping fleet and technical expertise for the delivery of weapons and transfer of competencies most often driven by financial motives and lucrative commercial opportunities.



While the SLAF were unable to either search out and destroy LTTE air assets on the ground or interdict their sorties en route to target, they have demonstrated an improved capacity for point site defense, at least for a high value target as the environs of Colombo. Given the ongoing success of SLA ground assaults against LTTE positions and SLN interdictions of LTTE marine traffic, the continuance of LTTE air attacks is problematic.


The February 2009 sorties may have been the last 'use it or lose it' attacks by the LTTE. This writer expects future asymmetrical air forces to learn the lessons of the Biafran and Tamil experiments as they absorb UAVs and other R/C aircraft into their inventory in order to operate in more confined airspaces against more effective defensive measures, and even launch swarm attacks against the superior force.


In this operational envelope, it is all too easy to envision, say, an asymmetrical UAV swarm launched from protected areas in South Los Angeles against targets in the greater Los Angeles Basin.


Part III forthcoming: Asymmetrical air force intersection with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and drone warfare, part III


The aircraft - LTTE ZLIN Z-143 and Biafran MFI-9B:


ZLIN Z 143 L

Primary/Advanced Training, Touring and Business Flying Aircraft

Moravan Aeroplanes a.s., 765 81 Otrokovice, Czech Republic


MFI-9B Militrainer (1966-1968)

Malmö Flygindustri


Malmö MFI-9



Biafra Airforce (BAF) operations:


Fleas versus Falcons over Biafra

Historical and Current Conflicts Forum

December 4 2007 at 7:48 PM

Text mirror of parts I and II from Brushfire Wars


Operation Biafra Babies

Military aviation, Swedish and worldwide


General citations:


Soldiers, Martyrs, Traitors, and Exiles: Political Conflict in Eritrea and the Diaspora [with excerpt]

Tricia Redeker Hepner

University of Pennsylvania



Air Tigers were on ‘9/11 mission

Lanka Daily News

Feb 21st, 2009


Tigers call suicide air raids successful



Feb 21 2009 10:55


This is how last LTTE air craft came to Colombo and shot down


[Much more extensive SL Naval infrared camera footage]

February 21, 2009


Tamil Tigers Air Force crash near Columbo Sri Lanka 2009022


21 Feb, 2009


Black Air Tiger attack on Colombo's Air Force HQ, Air Base


February 21, 2009


LTTE Aircraft Had Explosives & Bombs Inside; Both Tiger Pilots Confirmed Dead          

Sri Lanka Army

2009-02-21 03:30:06

4th Update


Tamil Tiger planes raid Colombo

BBC News

Page last updated at 09:52 GMT, Saturday, 21 February 2009


S Lanka rebels attack despite losses

By Alastair Lawson

BBC News

Page last updated at 19:21 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009


LTTE: Black Air Tiger attack on Colombo's Air Force HQ, Air Base


20 February 2009, 22:55 GMT


Tiger aircraft bomb Colombo, 2 killed, 51 wounded


20 February 2009, 16:25 GMT



Tamil Eelam Song - Air Tigers


December 18, 2008

[At 1:59 into this LTTE propaganda video shows a still illustration of the Biafran MFI-9 MiniCOIN attack]


Transnational governance and the centralization of state power in Eritrea and exile

Tricia M. Redeker Hepner

First Published on: 03 August 2007

Ethnic and Racial Studies

Vol. 31 No. 3 March 2008 pp. 476-502

DOI: 10.1080/01419870701491986


Tamil Tiger Links with Islamist Terrorist Groups

Shanaka Jayasekara

Terrorism Researcher, Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism (PICT), Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT)



Ground attack aircraft questions

Aircraft of World War II - Warbird Forums

August 2007


Sri Lanka bombs Tigers, wants tattered truce reviewed
By Simon Gardner
(Updates with government, Norway comment)
07 May 2007 14:36:03 GMT


Fleas versus Falcons over Biafra

Short history and assessment of the MFI-9B "MiniCOIN" in Biafran air force service

Part I

Kristjan Runarsson 2002


June 28, 2007


Sri Lanka bombs Tigers, wants tattered truce reviewed

By Simon Gardner


(Updates with government, Norway comment)

07 May 2007 14:36:03 GMT


S.Lanka says rebels a threat to India nuclear sites


07 May 2007 14:58:31 GMT

Background Sri Lanka conflict


Gas shortage looming after LTTE air raid - paper

2ND LEAD (Correction)


06 May 2007, 14:27 GMT


Sri Lanka buying advanced fighter jets from Russia - paper


06 May 2007, 11:50 GMT


Tamil Tiger Air Attacks

Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)

South / Central Asia - Sri Lanka

3 May 2007


Sri Lanka: Rebels with an air force

Commentary by Animesh Roul

ISN Security Watch



Tamil Eelam air planes change war dynamics

Amal Jayasinghe

AFP/Tamil Guardian

01 May 2007


Flying Tigers Hold Sri Lanka To Ransom

by Amal Jayasinghe


May 01, 2007


LTTE planes launch third raid

Tamil Guardian

01 May 2007


Factoring in the Air Tigers

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

Asian Tribune

Published by World Institute for Asian Studies. Vol. 7 No. 001

April, 2007-04-30 04:56


Tigers air attack rattles Colombo

By Joe Leahy in Mumbai

Financial Times

Published: April 30 2007 23:19 | Last updated: April 30 2007 23:19


Tamil Tiger air raids hit capital's oil stores

Amal Jayasinghe in Colombo


April 30, 2007


Tiger planes bomb Palaly base

Tamil Guardian

25 April 2007


Sri Lanka says jets destroy Tamil Tiger naval HQ

By Ranga Sirilal


(Updates with India Foreign Minister comment)

04 Apr 2007 14:45:45 GMT


LTTE Air attack: Air Defence and Related Issues

Guest Column by Commodore RS Vasan IN (Retd)


Posted by Naxal Watch at 11:40 AM

April 03, 2007


Expecting The Unexpected

Terror Tactics Take A New Turn

Aviation Today/Air Safety Week

Monday, April 2, 2007


Air Tigers' Maiden Attack

Motives and Implications

N Manoharan

Senior Fellow, IPCS

Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies


NO 45

APRIL 2007





Tigers take their struggle to new heights

By Sudha Ramachandran

Asia Times

Mar 28, 2007


The Tamil Tiger's 26 Mar 2007 Colombo International Airport Strike [photographs of strike aircraft]

International Aviation Safety Association

March 2007


Revising Haitian Constitution Is Necessary

By Jean-Michel Voltaire, Esq

Caribbean Voice

March 10, 2007



by B.Raman



May 11, 2006


Sliding into War?

Ajit Kumar Singh

Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management


Weekly Assessments & Briefings

Volume 4, No. 41, April 24, 2006


A Culture of War and a Culture of Exile

Young Eritreans in Germany and their Relations to Eritrea

Bettina Conrad

Institute for Political Science, University of Hamburg



Operation Biafra Babies


09-15-2005, 05:05 PM


Terrorism and Civil Aviation Security: Problems and Trends

Jangir Arasly

Connections, The Quarterly Journal

Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes (PfP Consortium)

PfP Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

pp 75-89

Spring 2005


Tigers with Wings - Air Power of the LTTE

N Manoharan

Senior Fellow, IPCS

Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies

Article no. 1720

Date 28 April 2005


Air capabilities of global terror groups and non-formal States

By Shanaka Jayasekara

(Postgraduate Intern, Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St Andrews Scotland)

Sri Lanka News Updates with Discussions

Tuesday, 22 March 2005 - 2:34 AM SL Time


Govt. losing control of east

Situation Report

By Iqbal Athas

The Sunday Times (SL)

ISSN: 1391 - 0531

Vol. 39 - No 41

March 13, 2005


Black Tigers take to the skies


6 February 2005 - 3:05 AM SL Time


MFI-9B's used as mini-COIN's in Biafra




Fleas versus Falcons over Biafra, Part I

Short history and assessment of the MFI-9B "MiniCOIN" in Biafran air force service

Part I

Kristjan Runarsson

Brushfire Wars


SITE currently yielding "The site is being renovated, please come back later."


Fleas versus Falcons over Biafra, Part II

Short history and assessment of the MFI-9B "MiniCOIN" in Biafran air force service

Part II

Kristjan Runarsson

Brushfire Wars


SITE currently yielding "The site is being renovated, please come back later."


Operation Biafra Babies

The Swedish military aviation page

Text last updated 1993 OCT 27


In the Spotlight: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
Center for Defense Information (CDI)
April 26, 2002


Tigers stick to their guns

By Sudha Ramachandran

Asia Times

December 4, 2001


Intelligence failures exposed by Tamil Tiger airport attack

Jane's Security

3 September 2001   


The Global Reach of Tamil Militancy: Sri Lanka's Security Predicament

P. K. Rao

Strategic Affairs

No. 0025/ Issue: August 1, 2001


Greed and grievance in civil war, Volume 1
Paul Collier, Anke Hoeffler
Policy, Research working paper WPS 2355
World Bank Development Research Group
May 31, 2000


Forward visibility

Don’t Leave Home Without It

Vans Air Force Net



Innehållsförteckning till SFFs publikationer från 1962

Uppdaterad 2009-03-05



30 år sedan op. Biafra Babies, 5/1999

Operation Biafra Babies II, 6/1999


International and Regional Implications of the Sri Lankan Tamil Insurgency

Rohan Gunaratna, British Chevening Scholar UK

2 December 1998



Gerillapilot i Biafra INB (Guerrilla Pilot in Biafra)

av Gunnar Haglund

Allt om hobby AB (All about hobby)

ISBN 91-85496-23-5

Swedish with English summary


National Library citation


Operation Biafra Babies: The Swede Carl Gustaf Von Rosen and the Biafran Air Force

The Swedish military aviation page

Text from "Gerillapilot i Biafra" by Gunnar Haglund, 1988

Text last updated 1993 OCT 27


Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Infrastructure Defense Public  Risk Containment and Pricing Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  


  discuss this article

What kitty litter clay does not have in common with platinum and indium, lithium, niobium and tantalum



Recent traffic on the limited or interruptible supplies of platinum and indium, lithium, and niobium and tantalum left me wondering how many buyers at tier were aware of the potential supply chain interruption risks, business continuity impacts and cost spikes in these materials pipelines. If they are not, and I suspect many are not, who is going to inform them - and I mean proactively inform them prior to the emergence of shortage? When will research commence on alternative materials? Have alternative designs emerged using the alternative materials? How cost ineffective is it? How much worse will it get as suppliers begin to pinch? Do buyers understand the geopolitical implications? My experience says no.


For example, when a colleague exulted over the potential for Bolivia to become a Saudi Arabia of lithium, my response was:

On the contrary. Expect Morales to be assassinated, rules shifted, a distorted infrastructure emerging. Expect the general Bolivian citizen's well-being to decline. Expect the Chinese to make a significant third world, anti-western approach to gain access control. Expect the cartels to move in as they are already in the region with sufficient force projection. Surely, you could not have forgotten Congo's coltan curse... All nations funded by primary extraction industries - energy, minerals, timber - have rising GNP coupled to sinking per capita. [private email]

Having supported purchasing organizations and buyers for more than two decades, it is my opinion that the OEM or top tier buyers are eyes-blind to many of these problems as they are too focused on immediate cost reductions, ignore costs and risks beyond the piece part cost, and have extinguished the willingness of suppliers at tier to proactively alert. This note deals with some causes for the refusal of a supplier at tier to alert the OEM or top tier. 


Chain mapping to discover supply chain interrupters


We were studying value chains in earnest by 1994, including the works of Charlie Fine at MIT, many of the threads of which culminated in his 1998 book, Clockspeed: Winning Industry Control in the Age of Temporary Advantage. The soon famous tier three "kitty litter" example was told to Fine by Chrysler’s executive director of platform supply, Barry Price, in 1995: 

As the clockspeed of the automotive industry accelerated in the 1990s, Chrysler and [Thomas] Stallkamp led the field in applying fast-clockspeed principles to supply chain design.


Chrysler estimates that approximately five million people and 100,000 organizations are involved in the company's Extended Enterprise. And each person and organization in this network can affect in some way the customer's perception of quality... Consequently, in the early 1990s, the staff of Chrysler's Procurement and Supply organization decided to begin mapping this enormous system.


The staff began with the jeep Grand Cherokee - one of Chrysler's most important products at the time. Going one step up the chain, they examined the source of jeep's V-8 engines - obviously an important subsystem in the vehicle - which are manufactured in one of Chrysler's own plants.


At the next level of the chain, the team traced the source of a roller-lifter valve - a small but critical component in the engine. This component was supplied by Eaton Corporation, a large global automotive supplier that manufactured the lifters in large quantities.


At the chain's next level, the team visited the source of the raw metal castings that the Eaton Corporation precision-machined for the roller-lifter valves. These castings were sourced by Eaton from a small shop near the Eaton factory. After visiting this casting shop, the Chrysler team chose to go back even further to visit the company that supplied the clay for the foundry where the castings were made.


Upon visiting the clay supplier, the team made a remarkable discovery: This supplier, which provided clay of a unique chemistry needed by the casting company, had for some time lost money in its business. Without informing any other members in the chain, the company owner had decided to get out of the unprofitable casting clay business and reorient his business to processing the same raw materials into kitty litter! Imagine how the Chrysler executives must have looked at each other in horror as they quickly realized that this strategic move into kitty litter could soon shut down manufacturing of one of the most profitable product lines in the entire Chrysler Corporation.

Unfortunately, the kitty litter example is left hanging in space. While supply chain mapping is identified as worthy, the means to get reasonably complete chain data at tier is untouched. One could be excused for assuming that the data was available by request.


Known contextually at the time Clockspeed was released, Chrysler was in the flower of its Extended Enterprise cooperative with suppliers. Information was more freely shared between tier and OEM than in periods before and after. The net opinion from suppliers today is that Chrysler’s supplier relations approximate the scorched earth days of the 'Spanish Inquisition' by GM's Ignacio Lopez de Arriortua's use of the Soviet forced cost reduction negotiation approach (the Lopez effect). Getting suppliers to share more than is required is often rare.


The rubber meets the... air


In our opinion Clockspeed was responsible for more heat than light, kitty litter notwithstanding. Fine had expanded his efforts to understand the rates of evolution of various industries, coming to call them industry 'clockspeeds', a term rising from the microprocessor clock speed. Fine’s Clockspeed proposed an interesting, if limited, model with the right questions but was unable to offer solutions except in very general terms.


Clockspeed commences with the biology lesson that both binds and blinds Fine to two cyclic dimensions, two degrees of freedom; then a good Intel-Inside chapter (which was the part that most suppliers seized upon), a nice description of the integration-disintegration problem, but then descends into vagueness and high level architectural generalities.


The central message of the first six chapters is that firms oscillate between flat and hierarchical, switching back when the residual cost/benefits tail off. The latter part of the book, chapter seven and beyond, I describe as "Where the Rubber meets the Air..." Clients would read the book and say, "That's what I want," and were then left hanging for a solution.


In 1998, copies of Clockspeed were on every purchasing desk at Ford. I don’t exaggerate; it was often commented upon by visitors. It was like leaflets over Thailand. Ford was so taken with Clockspeed that the firm was trying to do an interlinear translation into Ford-specific tasks, a process which predictably could not go far given the generalities of the book’s solutions. 


We knew the group driving the effort, and the individual charged with the 'translation' – my term, not theirs. Of course, this individual could not succeed but would not let on given that his superiors, with less knowledge of the mechanics, had stipulated it be done. We watched him write note after note about 'progress.' Finally we were in a position to quietly tell a senior manager that it was not doable, at least by this person.


Fine was directionally correct but supply chain tiers do more than oscillate back and forth; firms move in definable three axes according to statistically measurable criteria. Rising from collective research based on work by a colleague's father, Robbin Hough, also from MIT, we had the means to predictably define what a supplier’s structure should be given its purchasing tier, the technology, etc. We had the capability to actually evaluate the organizational capacity of an entire supply chain, to predict what the supplier’s structure should be in order to address the technical needs at tier. Based upon our earlier work at Ford, we were given an opportunity to present a solution to Clockspeed but, in retrospect, I think the solution was 'out of scope' for Purchasing beset with crushing pressure for cost reductions. We shelved it. The clock wound down on its own. Copies of Clockspeed quietly disappeared from the desks of Ford Purchasing.


Corrosive atmospheres in OEM-Tier relationships


It is difficult to get management focus, tools, supplier relations and cooperation aligned to spot kitty litter conditions. This short interchange from a cross-functional team on value chain management comprised of director level staff is all too typical:  

Our logistics are a nightmare. (speaker A) [In speaking of what I called the "historical accident" of their current supply chain:]  We wonder, "How did we get here?"  We take individual decisions, then another, and try to make sense of it. (speaker B) Our cost of linkages between suppliers is enormous. (speaker C) We need to use [value chain analytic tools] to get 'Cost Out' of existing systems and [prevent] 'Cost Ins' from new programs. (speaker D) Our level of sophistication grows [with value chain analytic tools]; we don't look at technology [of our suppliers] today. (speaker B) [personal notes]

Mary Walton's Car: A Drama of the American Workplace laid bare the relationship between Ford and Lear. The Ford-Lear relationship was one of many that prompted Pan-industry “beggar/maker-prince/maker” initiatives in supply chains on OEMs wresting back control of the their supply chains by suppressing the kings into beggars and elevating serfs into docile princes. Intel was on a similar supplier marginalization path, bending their support of the white book/white box architecture as a means to stamp out pesky high value added sub-suppliers.


Walton sets the tension between Ford and Lear:

Seats were the first thing the customer saw on opening the car door, and the biggest... In the past, Ford engineers had designed the seats, Ford purchasing had contracted out frames, cushions, tracks, motors, and other parts to various suppliers, and Ford workers had put them all together at the assembly plants and then installed the finished seat in the car. In the case of the new Taurus and Sable, however, circumstances had dovetailed to put the entire program, with the exception of the power seat tracks, in the hands of a single supplier, Lear Seating, on whom the company was now dependent for some 600,000 units a year. Ford had no fallback position, having disbanded its internal seat-making capacity, indeed, having sold a chunk of it to Lear. You could hear the nervousness in the voice of Shabbir Kathiria, the head of the interior trim chunk team whose turf for a time included seats. "First time we have to trust the supplier; give him the responsibility and just trust him."


There were people at Lear who couldn't believe Ford had gotten itself in this position. One Lear executive [told] Wendy Dendel [that] Ford was crazy - Lear had them by the short hairs. "They can keep saying they need more money and more money, and Ford has nowhere to go"... And indeed, [Taurus programme manager  Dick] Landgraff was already gearing up to do battle over Lear's request for an additional $4 million to cover unexpected engineering costs, plus an additional $70 per seat for content and labor.


It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Having single suppliers who developed and manufactured complex components was the direction in which not only Ford but the entire automotive industry was headed, having been persuaded by the Japanese that it was better to establish long-term, familial relationships with a few suppliers rather than play them off against each other with constant rounds of bidding. The result was supposed to be a harmonious give-and-take between supplier and supplied, not the acrimonious haggling that so far characterized the Lear-Ford union. In the Japanese model, the supplier became almost an extension of the customer's company, working closely to solve problems and reduce costs. Having a single supplier also reduced variation in the product, improved quality, and cut inventories. It was Mom and apple pie.


Not only was Ford shrinking its supply base, but it was giving more responsibility to those suppliers that remained. Ford wanted to concentrate its resources on "core businesses," ones in which it had a proprietary stake or that were critical to the success of the company... Certain other systems - seats, for example - could be farmed out. Where once Ford handed a supplier the drawings for a part and said, "Make this," now suppliers were to do the up-front design and engineering. So it was that Ford had disbanded its seating unit in body engineering and hired Lear Seating to do everything. In addition, Ford sold Lear three large Mexican plants that made seat covers, armrests, and headrests. Part of the deal was that these plants, which absorbed Ford management, would continue to make products for Ford cars... Lear was willing to design and engineer the seats, as long as they could manufacture them as well, because that was where the profits were... 

OEM-supplier relationships that have a Toyota architecture but an old style tub-thumping management approach do not prosper:

The programme for the new Taurus, Ford's flagship in the US, was based on the soundest principles of modern supply management. You choose a single supplier as a partner in both developing and making what you need... Ford 'had been persuaded by the Japanese that it was better to establish long-term, familial relationships with a few suppliers rather than play them off against each other with constant rounds of bidding. The result was supposed to be a harmonious give-and-take between supplier and supplied'...


Unfortunately, the style of the Taurus programme manager, Dick Landgraff, who believed in the high decibel school of management, was inimical to the new philosophy. If cost overruns were threatened, Landgraff would say, 'Let's bring these guys in and smash them'. At meetings with suppliers, he would 'close the door and yell at them about cost overruns. Landgraff didn't care if he wasn't Mr Nice Guy.' In one sense, Mr Nasty won: the Taurus came in on time and on budget. But Ford lost...

The relationship degenerated further as Ford experienced shock at an unanticipated competitor in an essential sector:

The Taurus held on to number one in sales for several years after the 1992 Camry launch, but this was mostly because Ford continually dropped thousands of units into unprofitable fleet sales just to keep factory lines running and to keep the car artificially on top. The Taurus may have been America’s best-selling car, but as many as 60% of the units sold were to outfits like Hertz rentals. Insiders at Ford knew they had a problem: if the Taurus was not restyled as the best in its class, its future success was questionable. So, in the early-1990s, Ford’s executives authorised one of the most ambitious vehicle initiatives in the company’s history: the Taurus remake.


Initially, the Taurus redesign was intended to best Honda’s Accord, the top-selling car at the time. But when Ford team members checked out Toyota’s new Camry during the research phase, they quickly learned that they had a new car to beat. Customers were still favouring the Accord, but the Ford team knew the Camry would soon take over; the vehicle was undeniably a wonder for the price. No other car in the class came close. When Ford engineers took a Camry apart piece by piece for study, many became mesmerised and others panic-stricken by the obvious quality, suggesting it was frightening to think Toyota could make a car so good.


[C]harged with leading the Taurus restyling programme [Landgraff] wrote the project’s mission statement: "Deliver a product competitive with the Japanese on quality and function and better in styling features and value. Beat Camry.

On the issue of supplier margin, we often cautioned Tier One staffers to avoid the OEMs when the suppliers were trumpeting their quarterly numbers to the street. The displeasure and sometimes blunt language OEM staffers directed at the tiers ran high for a two week period, quarter after (good) quarter. Amid the rudeness, one could hear comments that 'they eat the scraps from our table - while we struggle to make X%, they make 3X - how dare they.' Ford managers were displeased when Lear was advertizing 10 or 11 percent.


The problem is certainly not auto-centric. At roughly the same period, a major manufacturer of power supplies, Delta Electronics, had gross margins of some 30% for what many saw as a commodity component, in comparisons to their systems manufacturer clients had gross margins in single digits. If you are a fractional % business such as PCs, the top tier ODMs/OEMs earning a few dollars per PC are not overjoyed by a 30% margin supplier.


Malevolent or negligent negotiation and competitive intelligence analysis


The OEM-supplier exchange suffers a startling cost of conflict and lack of alignment. Both buyer-seller negotiations and buyer competitive analysis-benchmarking can further sour a supplier's willingness to share information useful to superior tiers in the chain.


 Of all the automotive OEMs, Toyota and Honda have best exerted control in their sector, yet they are the first to try to improve their performance. Getting the OEM's or the buyer's chimneys to align is one of the most vexing areas with which we have to deal.  It's no wonder that internal program staff have no time for it, or wish to endure the political exposure to overcome it. MIT's Lawrence Susskind cites research that 5% of the price of everything you purchase can be attributed to the cost of conflict. Using Susskind's criteria, we believe that this cost is far higher in sectors such as automotive. Certain relationships within automotive, such as that between Ford and Visteon, could be especially contentious.


Susskind's Dealing With An Angry Public lists a few key points for dispute resolution; Unfortunately, the automotive buyer-seller interface is marked by an abundance of what Susskind wants to avoid (defensive responses that try to deny the concerns or points-of-view of critics) and a dearth of what he wants to encourage (take a "mutual gains" approach that brings critics into the decision making process). Susskind’s negative resolution techniques that are frequently used despite their bad results are alive and well in supplier negotiations: 

  • Stonewalling, in which corporations or agencies refuse to answer questions.
  • The whitewash, in which the corporation or agency tries to minimize its responsibility for what may be upsetting.
  • The smokescreen, in which criticisms are deflected by the creation of task forces and "blue ribbon" investigative committees that can be counted on to both delay the process and dilute responsibility.
  • The false front, in which the corporation or agency tries to conceal its true interests behind a veneer of insincere activity for the "public good."
  • The block and blame, in which a scapegoat is selected to take the blame to get the corporation or agency off-the-hook.
  • The slash and burn, in which personal attacks on critics are used to divert attention from the substance of the issue.

In Supply Chain Analysis: Forensics or Fellowship I noted that: 

Kenneth Thomas has observed a family of definitions of conflict, all of which incorporate three themes: interdependence of the parties, perceived incompatibility of interests, and some form of interaction. Like it or not, we have just described a supply chain. Obtaining the necessary data in this environment is as much art as science. Corporations mimic human behavior. The lower the trust between buyer and seller, the greater the likelihood that a buyer’s request is perceived as intrusive and the less likely that data will be forthcoming from the supplier. When information is gathered externally by the buyer and presented to the supplier for comment and response, the lower the trust environment the more likely the supplier interprets it as entrapment or an effort to catch them out.

Conflict management, defined as "the use of strategies and tactics to move all parties toward resolution, or at least containment of the dispute, in a manner that avoids escalation and the destruction of the relationship," is often poorly affected in buyer-supplier encounters. Of the five fundamental modes or approaches to conflict management that Thomas and Kilmann identify, competition is often used by the buyer, avoidance is employed by the seller, and compromise, accommodation, and collaboration are too rare. (NOTE: if readers cannot access Thomas and Kilmann, Aschenbrener and Siders will provide an introduction.)


Again from Supply Chain Analysis: Forensics or Fellowship:

The timing and tenor [of supply] chain analysis can either poison the buyer-supplier relationship or promote the relationship into a sustaining partnership. Frequently, buyers are oblivious to the negative impact of their CI [competitive intelligence/chain analysis] efforts on suppliers. Suppliers may fail to rigorously examine their own costing and so remain oblivious to their uncompetitive position.


When and how CI is used can have an enormous effect on the health and welfare of the supply chain relationship under study... In every industry there is a Toyota [that understands] that supply chain analysis and design is one of their core competencies and one of their greatest strategic assets. [This is in contrast to the] many who seem to forget that trust in the supplier-OEM relationship is the influencing factor of success, and that continuing to focus solely on price is counterproductive.


In the latter group, CI unwittingly acts in a forensic role that damages the long-term health of the buyer-supplier relationship and the competitiveness of the entire supply chain. In the former, the same CI capacity hones the competitiveness and responsiveness of the entire supply chain, further improving the buyer-supplier relationship...


The most successful CI capacity performs a triple role in a supply chain engagements: CI analyst, Business consultant, and Informal ambassador between buyer and seller. This author has observed a common global trait that in dealing with others, "We fill in an unknown with a negative and act to preempt."


If the CI function is reduced to a narrow analyst function, buyers will be left to their own devices in interpreting the information on offer from all sources, the apparent unwillingness or resistance of the seller and its sub-suppliers to proffer information, and will engage by default in a zero-sum game with the seller in a confrontational manner. Supply chain cooperation and responsiveness withers in such an environment.

I fear that kitty litter will be remembered longingly. 


Why sustainable power is unsustainable

by Colin Barras

New Scientist

13:02 06 February 2009


In Bolivia, a Tight Grip on the Next Big Resource


New York Times

February 3, 2009


For Lithium Car Batteries, Bolivia Is in the Driver's Seat

By Jean Friedman-Rudovsky / La Paz


Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009


Coltan, Gorillas and cellphones

Cellular News


Rewards Leaflets Of The Vietnam War

SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)


Last modified 06 September, 2008


How Toyota Became #1: Leadership Lessons from the World's Greatest Car Company

Portfolio Hardcover (November 1, 2007)

ISBN-10: 1591841798


How Curiosity Empowers Toyota

The carmaker's determined willingness to try new ideas has allowed it to build a commercial fortress and an astonishing record of success

by Keith McFarland

Business Week

October 19, 2007, 11:15AM EST


Why Are German Employers Associations Declining?: Arguments and Evidence

Stephen J. Silvia and Wolfgang Schroeder

Comparative Political Studies 2007; 40; 1433 originally published online Sep 17, 2007; DOI: 10.1177/0010414006293444


Purpose, Teamwork and Culture: Management and the vital trio of purpose, teamwork and culture in business

Submitted by Robert Heller

Thinking Managers

Sat, 2006-07-08 21:18


"Forced" Cost Reduction - How to Respond

By Mark S. Miller

Project Magazine



Managing low-to-mid intensity conflict in the health care setting - Part 2: Conflict Management

by Carol A. Aschenbrener, Cathie T. Siders

Physician Executive

Sept-Oct, 1999


Car: A Drama of the American Workplace

by Mary Walton

W. W. Norton & Company (February 1, 1999)

ISBN-10: 0393318613

Clockspeed: Winning Industry Control In The Age Of Temporary Advantage

by Charles H. Fine

Perseus Books

October 1998


Dealing with an Angry Public: The Mutual Gains Approach To Resolving Disputes

by Lawrence Susskind

Free Press; 1 edition (April 17, 1996)

ISBN-10: 0684823020


Conflict and Conflict Management: Reflections and Update

Kenneth W. Thomas

Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 13, No. 3, 265-274. May, 1992


Developing a Forced-Choice Measure of Conflict-Handling Behavior: The "Mode" Instrument

Ralph H. Kilmann and Kenneth W. Thomas

Educational and Psychological Measurement, 37, 2, 309-325, Sum 1977


Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Risk Containment and Pricing Public  Strategic Risk Public  


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Missile design sources for the aspiring asymmetric, amateur or hostile state scientist



Having built rockets in earlier decades as part of an investigation of kinetics, warhead design, fuzing and explosives, I wondered where would the aspiring asymmetric attacker or amateur scientist go now to build rockets capable of offensive capacity? In those years DuPont's Blasters' Handbook and many military field manuals on fuzes and explosives were readily available.


Spotting a short piece on engineering sources for missile design in Arms Control Wonk in which contributors commented on titles of seminal, still applicable - though often out of print - sources for missile design, I decided to chase them down in order to see what was available to an asymmetrical missile builder.


Many of the initial links had inaccurate titles and/or lacked full provenance or sources. All are properly sourced below. Having been a builder, I’ve added items from the amateur side which can have asymmetrical applicability.


The best were indeed a short list, with many key works rising in the 1960s. Here they are, divided into three sections: 

  • For launcher design
  • For engine design
  • From applied theory to beginning practice

Perpetual threat of hostile IP collection


The NASA Special Publications cited here are but an infinitesimal fraction of the IP housed at NASA facilities and subject to repeated attacked by Chinese and Russian assets. A highly recommended article is Epstein and Elgin’s Network Security Breaches Plague NASAYou know things are bad when the then head of IT security for the Ames Research Center rings the network admin in the middle of the night to demand, "Disconnect us!...Disconnect us from the Internet!":

By early 1999 the volume of intrusions had grown so worrisome that [Talleur], the most senior investigator specializing in cyber-security in the Inspector General's office at NASA, wrote a detailed "network intrusion threat advisory" [describing] the sly tactics behind a particularly virulent series of attacks on agency networks, which he said had been perpetrated by Russians...


[Starting] in May 1997, virtual intruders masking themselves and their IP addresses slipped undetected into networks at the Goddard center, a hub of space science activity. The trespassers penetrated computers in the X-ray Astrophysics Section of a building on Goddard's campus, where they commandeered computers delivering data and instructions to satellites. Before being discovered, the intruders transferred huge amounts of information, including e-mails, through a series of stops on the Internet to computers overseas. The advisory stated: "Hostile activities compromised (NASA) computer systems that directly and indirectly deal with the design, testing, and transferring of satellite package command-and-control codes"...


Talleur, now 59, retired in December 1999, frustrated that his warnings weren't taken more seriously. Five months after his advisory was circulated internally, the [GAO] released a public report reiterating in general terms Talleur's concerns about NASA security. But little changed... "There were so many intrusions and hackers taking things we had on servers, I felt like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike," he explains, sitting on the porch of his home near Savannah, Ga. On whether other countries are behind the intrusions, he says: "State-sponsored? God, it's been state-sponsored for 15 years!"


Huntsville, Ala., known as Rocket City, is home to the Marshall Space Flight Center, [home to] one of the richest lodes of high-tech secrets anywhere in the world. Around the clock for four days in June 2002, a prowler methodically probed enormous volumes of proprietary information at Marshall, according to NASA documents. The electronic intruder, without setting foot anywhere near Rocket City, gained access to servers handling sensitive work on new versions of the Delta and Atlas rockets that power intercontinental missiles, enhancements of the Shuttle's main engines, and Lockheed's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an advanced fighter jet that remains in development...


The secrets from Marshall could have helped the Chinese design engines and fuel to lift heavier loads beyond the atmosphere, according to NASA documents. Investigative case files prepared for a federal grand jury following the Marshall intrusion [include] information from the statement of an unidentified witness under the heading "Allegations of Sale to a Foreign Government."

Readers are recommended to pursue this and other links in the bibliography below for the greater national security IP threat. The balance of this note returns focus to open source materials available to the asymmetric attacker:




Handbook of Astronautical Engineering

Edited by Heinz Hermann Koelle

McGraw Hill. 1961

Out of Print – used copies about a $100-150 dollars

Here and here

Best overall missile design. Much "relevant material, terse summaries and collections of tables, graphs, and reference material not found elsewhere."


Aerospace Vehicle Design: Volume II - Spacecraft Design

by K. D. Wood

Johnson Publishing Co. (1964)

Out of Print – used copies about $150 dollars



For general launcher design. Despite its title, "almost entirely a launcher book, and the only real tutorial overview of launcher design.  Long out of print and quite scarce. (Beware, vol. I is an aircraft-design book; it was a standard text in its time and is okay, but it has nothing to do with launchers, so know what you're buying.)" Many empirical relationships.


International Reference Guide to Space Launch Systems

Steven J. Isakowitz, Joshua B. Hopkins, Joseph P. Hopkins

American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA)

1999, Third Edition

ISBN: 1563473534

Out of Print – used copies about 40 Pounds



Reference book "on existing launchers... interesting technical material... 3rd ed. is much better than earlier editions."


International Reference Guide to Space Launch Systems, Fourth Edition

Steven J. Isakowitz, NASA

Joshua Hopkins, Lockheed Martin Astronautics

Joseph P. Hopkins Jr., Andrews Space and Technology

Library of Flight Series

Published by AIAA, 2004, 4th Edition

ISBN-10: 1-56347-591-X

ISBN-13: 978-1-56347-591-7


Ballistic Missile and Space Vehicle Systems

Edited by Howard Stanley Seifert, Kenneth Brown

Wiley (1961)


Out of Print – used copies about twenty five dollars



"Uneven quality... chapters on liquid propulsion are nearly useless... some of it is excellent, e.g. a chapter on predicting ascent losses"


Space Vehicle Design Criteria, SP-8000 series

NASA Special Publications

Introduction and General Series

by Donald Boggs


When the United States Congress created NASA, part of its charge was to disseminate to the public the product of its research and exploration. NASA began almost immediately to do so and its publications have continued to this day. Although there are a variety of NASA publications, the ones of most interest to collectors are the Special Publications (SPs), Educational Publications (EPs), Conference Publications (CPs), Reference Publications (RPs) and Technical Memoranda (TMs).


By the spring of 1966, the number of SPs was large enough to warrant the printing of a small (35 page) booklet listing each of them with a short summary of its content. By 1983, it took a 127 page Special Publication (#470) simply to list the titles. This essay is meant to provide some modest information on the NASA Special Publications to those who seek to collect them.


The newest of the NASA SPs are available from the NASA Information Center in Washington, D.C. (see their website for a long out of date listing) or through the Government Printing Office (GPO). All of these publications are available from the NASA Center for Aerospace Information (website), in the original edition, if available, or on microforms or Photostat. Prices are significant higher than the original price and in some cases even higher than the current market value.


Lunar Missions and Explorations

Edited by C. T. Leondes and R. W. Vance

Wiley (1964)

ASIN: B0007EJ5P0

Out of Print – used copies about 40 Pounds



Launch centric with "excellent chapter on launcher design, and a somewhat shorter one on launch facilities... biased toward very large launchers" but still useful


Fundamentals of Astrodynamics

by Roger R. Bate, Donald D. Mueller, Jerry E. White

Dover Publications; 1 edition (June 1, 1971)

ISBN-10: 0486600610


Good section on trajectory computation


Scud Ballistic Missile and Launch Systems 1955–2005

New Vanguard 120

Author: Steven J Zaloga

Illustrators: Jim Laurier Lee Ray

February 2006; 48 pages; ISBN: 9781841769479




Rocket Propulsion Elements, 7th Edition

by George P. Sutton, Oscar Biblarz

Wiley-Interscience; 7 edition (December 29, 2000)

ISBN-10: 0471326429


For engine design. The 6th and 4th editions were favored. Huzel and Huang is better for liquid propellants.


The Design of Liquid Propellant Rockets

by Huzel and Huang

NASA SP-125: "The Design of Liquid Propellant Rockets"

2nd edition by Huzel and Huang 1971

Available online download



Good for liquid propulsion


Space Vehicle Design Criteria, SP-8000 series

NASA Special Publications

Introduction and General Series

by Donald Boggs


Items from this series also address motors/propulsion


Mechanics and Thermodynamics of Propulsion (2nd Edition)

by Philip Hill, Carl Peterson

Prentice Hall; 2 edition (September 27, 1991)

ISBN-10: 0201146592


Said to have better coverage of some theory areas than Sutton, but note "unit-conversion errors in some of the engine specs given as examples."


Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants

by John D Clark

Rutgers University Press (1972)

ISBN-10: 0813507251

Out of Print – used copies about a thousand dollars





The AROCKET Discussion List

Since early in 1996, the aRocket e-mail list has been active, providing a forum for discussion for all sorts of experimental rocketry topics worldwide. There are almost 400 people using this free service.




Copyright 1967 by Leroy J. Krzycki

Printed in the United States of America

First Printing: March 1967

Second Printing: March 1971

First WWW Edition: June 1996

SBN 9600-1980-4


Amateur Rocket Motor Construction

A Complete Guide to the Construction of Homemade Solid Fuel Rocket Motors

David Sleeter, Teleflite Corporation

ISBN 0-930387-04-X


Also here


Ball Milling Theory and Practice for the Amateur Pyrotechnician

By Lloyd Sponenburgh

Also here


Grinding your own materials, making better black powder


See also Ball Milling 101 in Skylighter Fireworks Tips

March 10, 2008 -- Issue #91


Rocket Science Books Catalog

Catalog Updated 10 July 2007


Note: Ignore the category/section links as they are null. Scroll down to the individual book descriptions. Many good basic texts on the basics of physical design.


Solid Rocket Motor Internal Insulation

by Hercules Incorporated, Aerojet-General, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and NASA Lewis Research Center


Also scroll down to bottom of page for companion volumes: Solid Rocket Motor Metal Cases, Solid Rocket Motor Nozzles, Solid Rocket Motor Performance Analysis, and Solid Rocket Thrust Vector Control.


Solid Rocket Motor Internal Insulation can also be read online at SCRIBD.


Postscript: As it turns out the Blasters' Handbook lives on, the International Society Of Explosives Engineers (ISEE) having purchased the rights to publish the Blasters' Handbook from Explosives Technology International (ETI Canada) which consolidated DuPont's US and Canadian commercial explosives business.See also: 

International Society Of Explosives Engineers (ISEE)

ISEE Library 

Institute of Makers of Explosives (IME) 




Three Wonks Walk Into a Bar…

by Geoffrey Forden

Arms Control Wonk

posted Friday January 16, 2009


Obama Moves to Counter China With Pentagon-NASA Link (Update1)

By Demian McLean


Jan. 2, 2009


Analysis: China space launch raises fears

by Sara Sargent

Washington (UPI) Oct 3, 2008


Report: U.S. vulnerable to Chinese cyber espionage

Posted by Elinor Mills


November 24, 2008 5:12 PM PST


Network Security Breaches Plague NASA

By Keith Epstein and Ben Elgin


November 20, 2008, 5:00PM EST



U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

November 20, 2008


China launches space walk mission

By David Barboza


Published: September 26, 2008


Blasters' Handbook

by Robert Hopler

International Society Of Explosives Engineers (ISEE)

17th edition, 2003

ISBN-10: 1892396009

ISBN-13: 978-1892396006


Books for aspiring rocket scientists?

Henry Spencer

Aug 20 2000, 3:00 am


Shenzhou and China’s Space Odyssey

By: Jing-dong Yuan

China Brief Volume: 5 Issue: 24


December 31, 1969 07:00 PM


Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Infrastructure Defense Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  


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Near-term global risks in the early weeks of the Obama administration


This is a brief thought piece. A colleague called to ask what my near-term global risks in the early weeks of the Obama administration. My reply started with the shortest term risk that was already in countdown: 

  • An Israeli strike against Natanz, Iran before Obama took office, while Bush43 was still president.

Assuming that we get past that hurdle, my risks list adds: 

  • India-Pakistan
  • Mexico

Not on the short term risk list is the DPRK despite their public pronouncement by a uniformed military officer (a first) that they had "weaponized" (hardened and miniaturized the detonation and implosion mechanics necessary to deliver a fissile package in a conventional missile warhead) sufficient plutonium to create five packages. The DPRK will become a rising risk but at the moment I put them down to ratcheting up their 'salami negotiation' strategy of driving a wedge between ROK and the US, then seeking to arbitrage the difference. Having got all that was possible from the Bush43 administration, they are opening negotiations with the Obama administration.



Israel was both practicing and signaling its capability to attack the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in 2008:

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and over Greece during the first week of June [2008]... The exercise also included Israeli helicopters that could be used to rescue downed pilots. The helicopters and refueling tankers flew more than 900 miles, which is about the same distance between Israel and Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Natanz...

While timing is not clear from the unclass press, the US had denied a key Israeli request for weapons for the raid:

Israel's effort to obtain [deep-penetration bunker-busting] weapons, refueling capacity and permission to fly over Iraq for an attack on Iran grew out of its disbelief and anger at an American intelligence assessment completed in late 2007 that concluded that Iran had effectively suspended its development of nuclear weapons four years earlier.

A key window was closing:

With the incoming U.S. administration of President-elect Barack Obama pledging to pursue a policy of "tough diplomacy" with Iran, including opening the possibility of direct talks with Tehran, Israeli leaders appear to be warily bracing for the expected shift in the U.S. approach to one of Israel's most serious security concerns...


A number of Israeli officials have questioned the utility of U.S. dialogue with Iran... In particular, Israeli officials appear wary that a shift in policy toward engagement may weaken the current sanctions efforts aimed at Tehran. Israeli Foreign Minister and potential prime minister Tzipi Livni urged caution about the timing of direct talks, telling Israel Radio Nov. 6 that "premature dialogue at a time where Iran thinks that the world has given up on sanctions may be problematic," adding that such dialogue may be construed as "weakness." When asked if she supported U.S. dialogue with Iran, Livni responded, "[T]he answer is no."


In recognition that U.S. and Israeli aims regarding Iran may diverge, part of Israel's security establishment also appears to fear that a U.S.-Iranian dialogue may be successful in addressing U.S. concerns, but not those of Israel...


Former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations John Bolton suggested in June that the "optimal window" for Israel to strike Iran would be after the U.S. elections and prior to the inauguration of the new president Jan. 20, noting particularly that "an Obama victory would rule out military action."


Israel has said that it reserves the option to take such an action. In a Nov. 18 Der Spiegel interview, Commander in Chief of the Israeli Air Force Ido Nehushtan said that the air force is "ready to do whatever is demanded of us" to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, but that such an action "is a political decision."

One of the things one quickly learns about the Israelis is that they rarely ask for permission, or do so on such narrow grounds that they retain an option to ignore a 'no' answer. One the Israelis commit to a mission, the issue becomes what tools are at hand to use to achieve its aims. Denied conventional weapons in the face of an 'existential threat', the use of nuclear weapons has to enter the tool set, with all the physical and political collateral damage that implies.



Many have scoffed at our projections for the impact of Mexican violence (2006 release to clients), just as they had for the al-Qaeda precursors (1999) and LeT threats against India (2005). US response in the face of Mexican violence has now come to the public comment that the US has "completed a contingency plan for border violence, so if we did get a significant spillover, we have a surge - if I may use that word - capability to bring in not only [DHS] assets but even to work with the Defense Department" in suppressing cartel violence.


Drugs have superseded immigration and commerce to unilaterally define US-Mexico relations. In December 2008, "the U.S. Justice Department called Mexican cartels the biggest organized crime threat to the United States, saying they are increasingly pairing up with the Italian Mafia and other gangs to control distribution in American cities."


The Joint Operating Environment (JOE) 2008 raises criminal gangs to a national threat level:

A serious impediment to growth in Latin America remains the power of criminal gangs and drug cartels to corrupt, distort, and damage the region's potential. The fact that criminal organizations and cartels are capable of building dozens of disposable submarines in the jungle and then using them to smuggle cocaine, indicates the enormous economic scale of this activity. This poses a real threat to the national security interests of the Western Hemisphere. In particular, the growing assault by the drug cartels and their thugs on the Mexican government over the past several years reminds one that an unstable Mexico could represent a homeland security problem of immense proportions to the United States.

Mexico is on the verge of destabilization and ranks only below Pakistan as a failing or failed state:

In terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.


Some forms of collapse in Pakistan would carry with it the likelihood of a sustained violent and bloody civil and sectarian war, an even bigger haven for violent extremists, and the question of what would happen to its nuclear weapons. That "perfect storm" of uncertainty alone might require the engagement of U.S. and coalition forces into a situation of immense complexity and danger with no guarantee they could gain control of the weapons and with the real possibility that a nuclear weapon might be used.


The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone.

The criteria by which I separate Mexico and Pakistan is that Mexico has no nuclear weapons. Had they fissile packages in their possession, I would rank Mexico as a higher risk than Pakistan.


The US is on the edge of a Pakistan, Iraq or Lebanon on its borders. My curiosity has shifted beyond when and what level to such topics as what scale of communications intercept are the US and cartels (who can buy the best) practicing against one another and to what tactical result; what level of commando teams are already operating in-country at a recon level; and what will our response be to captured US forces by the cartels.


Think Hezbollah with billions of dollars and less scruples. Ugly.



We have covered Pakistani sponsored threats to India for some time:

The most recent attack against Mumbai show an impressive learning curve on the part of the Pakistani assault team. Again from the 2008 JOE:

Some forms of collapse in Pakistan would carry with it the likelihood of a sustained violent and bloody civil and sectarian war, an even bigger haven for violent extremists, and the question of what would happen to its nuclear weapons. That "perfect storm" of uncertainty alone might require the engagement of U.S. and coalition forces into a situation of immense complexity and danger with no guarantee they could gain control of the weapons and with the real possibility that a nuclear weapon might be used.

India cannot relent and Pakistan cannot disengage without one or the other governments falling. Ugly.


North Korea Says It Has 'Weaponized' Plutonium


New York Times

January 18, 2009


Report: Mexico at risk for 'rapid' collapse

Stars and Stripes

Mideast edition, January 15, 2009


Israel's losing media strategy

Keeping journalists out of Gaza hurts more than helps its cause.

By Jonathan Finer


LA Times

January 14, 2009


U.S. military report warns 'sudden collapse' of Mexico is possible

By Diana Washington Valdez

El Paso Times

Posted: 01/13/2009 03:49:34 PM MST


2,000 fresh troops sent to Juárez as violence continues

By Daniel Borunda

El Paso Times

Posted: 01/13/2009 11:17:46 PM MST


Pakistan acts on extremists but military support in doubt: analysts

by Masroor Gilani Masroor Gilani


Dec 12, 6:40 am ET


Obama-Calderon talks to focus on Mexican drug war

Associated Press

Posted on 01.11.09


A Gaza War Full of Traps and Trickery


New York Times

January 11, 2009


U.S. Rejected Aid for Israeli Raid on Iranian Nuclear Site


New York Times

January 11, 2009


Iran Using Fronts to Get Bomb Parts From U.S.

By Joby Warrick

Washington Post

January 11, 2009


U.S. Plans Border 'Surge' Against Any Drug Wars


New York Times

January 8, 2009


Pakistan, Mexico and U.S. nightmares

By: Bernd Debusmann

The Great Debate/Reuters

January 7, 2009


For Israel, 2006 Lessons but Old Pitfalls


New York Times

January 7, 2009


Pakistan Is Given Evidence on Attacks


January 5, 2009


India eyes 2009 with trepidation

AFP/Gulf Times

Latest Update: Monday29/12/2008 December, 2008, 12:39 AM Doha Time


India's Singh Plays Down Possibility of War With Pakistan

By Rama Lakshmi

Washington Post

December 23, 2008; 2:30 PM


Daily Describes Activities of ISI in India

Posted by Defense-Technology News at 1:42 AM

December 21, 2008


Mumbai Attacks Expose an Enemy Who Learns

Posted by Paul McLeary


12/10/2008 7:00 AM CST


Codes for Armageddon: A new president to hold nuclear launch 'football'

By David Wood

Baltimore Sun

November 30, 2008


The Football



The Joint Operating Environment (JOE)

Challenges and Implications for the Future Joint Force

United States Joint Forces Command

Center for Joint Futures (J59)

November 25, 2008


U.S. Says Exercise by Israel Seemed Directed at Iran


New York Times

June 20, 2008


Emerging Threats, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Middle East

Featuring Donald Kerr, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence

Soref Symposium 2008

Washington Institute for Near East Policy

May 29, 2008


Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Risk Containment and Pricing Public  Strategic Risk Public  


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