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After a measly 3 months, I have finally finished Daniel Walker Howe’s Pulitzer prize winning ‘What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848′. ‘Wrought’ is part of the Oxford American History series….. This work of history was obviously wide ranging, covering such a long and overshadowed period of American history between the years of our Founding Father to the precipice of the Civil War. This time period contained many momentous events in our nation’s history but has been eclipsed by those two defining events.

Howe’s book has several themes (I would hope so with 850+ pages and 30+years to cover!), but the overriding one can be summed up in one word; Growth. The early to mid 1800s were a time of tremendous technological and societal transformations which when combined with the substantial increases in the American population, economy, and geographic reach showed the world a country on a meteoric rise. Howe specifically focuses on the technological and societal revolutions that took place, with the book’s title coming from the contents of the first telegraph message sent by Samuel F.B. Morse in 1944. The message, ‘What Hath God Wrought’ perfectly combines the theme of technological breakthroughs and the preeminence of Christianity (the phrase comes from the Bible) in American culture.

The book has many strengths; first of which is Howe’s ability to transform years of research into a readable text that is accessible to novice readers, though its length surely scares off many. ‘Wrought’ proceeds mainly in chronological order, starting with the War of 1812 and ending with the Seneca Falls women’s conference, but consists of many subchapters which take the reader from the high politics of American presidents such as John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and James K. Polk to such topics as immigration/migration, religion, Indian removal, slavery, etc. One of the most impressive aspects of the book were the sections covering the substantial number of Christian denominations and revivals that occurred throughout the nation during the early 1800s. It is in these parts that I personally learned the most. Howe’s coverage of John Smith and the growth of the Mormons proved very intriguing reading. Another highlight was the section on the American-Mexican war, specifically General Winfield Scott’s march from the Gulf of Mexico to Mexico City. It is a common mistake to think of wars won in the past as easy victories. We too often forget the unknowns and challenges that were faced at the time and Howe’s description of this water-land invasion and conquer of a foreign capital city does a splendid job bringing to life an impressive and historical feat.

This impressive work of history is not without its faults, however. Disappointingly, Howe’s opinion of key actors and parties is blatantly clear. Howe’s heart bleeds for John Quincy Adams and the Whig Party (and its predecessors) while Andrew Jackson can do little right. From the very first pages, Howe’s skepticism of Jackson is made clear and this continues through the next 800 pages. All writers have opinions and objectiveness can never be fully obtained, but a work of this magnitude deserved a more restrained author. This period in American history is filled with human travesties and injustices. The leaders of America in the early 1880s were as human as our leaders today. There is much to judge in the lives and policies of Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, etc, but ‘Wrought’ is filled with pages denouncing one side while the other side’s intentions are left to the reader to be thought mostly pure and good. I believe Howe let his 21st century mind and sensibilities seep into his analysis of this period in American history as his sympathies so clearly lied with the progressive thinkers and leaders of the day (ie John Quincy Adams). Page after page you read about the devious and dictatorial actions of the Jackson administration, while his popularity with the American people (especially the middle to lower classes) is constantly downplayed. This book could have been subtitled ‘Andrew Jackson: Not So Great’ as Howe seems to have made that an underlying theme. Andrew Jackson surely has many faults, ones that are timeless (overreaching executive power) and ones that are specifically tied to his day (slavery), and his presidency should be scrutinized to the highest degree. But a reader deserves a more impartial, less subjective portrayal from the author.

‘What Hath God Wrought’ is not a perfect work of history, but a worthy effort that will benefit anyone interested in this impactful, if mostly overshadowed, period of American history.


German Arms Sales on the Rise

   Posted by: Pat   in war   Print Print

When one reads the words ‘arms sales’ or ‘weapon systems sold’, one does not usually expect to see the word ‘Germany’ close by. Though it may be quiet global arms dealer, for the past several years (2007-2011) Germany has been the world’s third largest arms exporter. Though Berlin 9% of the total exports trails the United States and Russia by a wide margin, I would think this comes as a surprise to most. According to the latest Arms Export Report, this has been trend that started at the end of the 90s:

The latest Arms Export Report, published by the German government in the middle of this week – as usual with great delay – lists individual export authorizations for military hardware worth 5.4 billion Euros. This is a significant increase over 2010, when Berlin approved arms exports valued at 4.8 billion Euros. This is second only to the arms exports in 2008, when the Federal Security Council approved licenses for exports worth nearly 5.8 billion Euros. This means that German arms exports have nearly doubled since the end of the 1990s, when they fluctuated between two and three billion Euros.[1] German arms manufacturers succeeded in pushing the Federal Republic of Germany to third place in global arms exports – following the United States and Russia, but ahead of its West European rivals, France and Great Britain. From 2007 to 2011, Germany accounted for nine percent of global arms exports – not including arms produced under German license in third countries – from Spain to Saudi Arabia.

This should not really come as such a surprise. Germany’s pacifist constitution and modern culture are prevalent, but that has not curtailed the country from taking advantage of many of its greatest attributes; a skilled workforce, large manufacturing companies, and excellent science and technology sectors. Simply speaking, the Germans have the means to produce high tech weaponry that customers around the globe would like to purchase. Speaking even more simply; money, money, money!

Financial considerations are not the only reason Germany may be increasing their arms sales overseas. Providing allies with valuable weapon systems is an easy way to bolster their deterrent, defensive, and offensive capabilities. According to the German Foreign Policy website, many of Germany’s (and the United State’s) allies were recipients of German-made arms in 2011. The Middle East and North Africa appear prominently on the list of those receiving German produced arms: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Egypt, Algeria. East and South Asia are also prevalent among those purchasing German weapons: Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia. There is no doubt that the containment of the Iranian threat and emerging Chinese power are key motivators for these target nations.

The militaristic culture of Germany’s Prussian roots may have faded, but Berlin still has interests around the world and the means to make an impact in foreign affairs with its defense industry.

Here is final part of ‘Ungoverned Space: American Foreign Policy’:

Technology and Policing Ungoverned Space

Community policing has more less now become a traditional policing strategy, which has proven its effectiveness in the past and still today, but our modern, globalizing world demands ever more adaptive and innovative policing methods to keep up with criminals/terrorists who continue to utilize ungoverned space and gaps.  In a world with a globalized economy creating ever more state-of-the-art technologies and commodities (cell phones, ipods, Internet, weaponry) there will inevitably be criminal and extremist perpetrators who will try and find gaps in which they can exploit these new-found toys.  As Reid succinctly articulates;

“The unprecedented speed of change and development in the 21stCentury provides us with those unique opportunities.  We’re wealthier.  We’re more mobile.  We’re more knowledgeable than before.  But as citizens benefit from those opportunities, so do the terrorists who exploit them or the criminals who find new paths.”[1]

It is the critical job of law enforcement today in the US, EU, and everywhere, especially in locals experiencing Absolute or Quasi ungoverned space, to fill these gaps created by modern technological advancements, commodities, and globalized networks of trade before criminals or terrorists can abuse them.  The US and British police systems have already done a remarkable job using and adapting their policing methods with modern technologies and techniques, such as the use of Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTC), border and custom patrols have implemented biometric passports and visas, and increased efforts at curtailing the misuse of identification documents.  Partnerships between the public and private sector are vital.  The British government’s partnership and work with Telecom’s Network Providers, which led to the creation of a system to ensure that stolen mobile phones were made unusable by thieves, is just one example of how effective this collaboration can be.  Criminals and extremists will always be looking for a gap, a hole they can slide through to commit their criminal and terrorist acts, and law enforcement need to do whatever it takes to find, analyze, and close that gap as soon as possible.   

Multilateral Groups

To help mitigate the effects and growth of ungoverned space in critical parts of the globe the United States must depend on the efforts, skills, and partnership of many other nations and multilateral groups.  Though the US must lead the charge, it cannot come close to combating this scourge without much international and regional help.

The US government is already a member of several useful organizations and initiatives that if properly led could slow down or contain terrorist and criminal activity stemming from and breeding in ungoverned spaces.  The State Department led Regional Strategic Initiative (RSI) is one such effort that seeks to develop flexible regional networks of interconnected Country Teams to combat and ‘eliminate terrorism safe havens, but also to address the conditions that terrorists exploit for recruitment.’  The State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism works with ambassadors and interagency representatives in key terrorist theaters of operation to assess the threat and devise collaborative strategies, plans, and policy recommendations.  In this regard, RSI strategy groups are already in place for Southeast Asia, Iraq and its neighbors, around the Mediterranean, and the Horn of Africa.  These RSI groupings provide an opportunity for cooperation around shared security concerns, pooled resources, and to strengthen regional and transnational partnerships in areas in need.  We just need to make sure these groupings remain focused on specific Absolute and Quasi ungoverned areas and targets.  The Vienna-based UN Office of Drugs and Crime and its action-arms Global Program on Terrorism and Global Program against Transnational Organized Crime assist member nations in combating both threats and is a program with international backing and legitimacy that the US should support and play a lead role in.  These UN crime and terror programs strengthen the ability of regional and national customs officials, immigration officers, and border guards to counter narcotics, weapons, and human trafficking as well as provide guidance to states in legislating and implementing anti-terrorism measures.  There are many other useful multilateral groupings with institutions that target transnational crime and terror elements which the US is already a member and should deepen relations with, such as the EU, OSCE, and G8.

Concerning international law enforcement agencies which have and been crucial and need our support to stem the tide of transnational crime and terrorism, the Southeastern European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) Center, based in Bucharest, and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), based in Lyon, must be provided greater financial provisions.  SECI takes a strong regional approach in assisting member states trans-border crime fighting efforts and has an Anti-Terrorism Task Force which focuses on helping its members counter the nexus between organized crime and terrorism.  Southeastern Europe has been a transit route for narcotics from Afghanistan and Central Asia and a hotbed of organized crime itself.  The US, Germany, France, and many others are currently observer members and we need to build on this relationship.  INTERPOL’s efforts are well-known, but its Fusion Task Force, which analyzes linkages between crime and terrorism in order to ‘facilitate the disruption and dismantling of criminal entities that play a central role in the funding or support of terrorist activities.’[2]  The Fusion Task Force has six additional regional task forces in Southeast Asia, Central Asia (Afghanistan/Pakistan), South America (Colombia), Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.  The organization’s paltry $33 million annual budget deserves our attention and financial support.[3]  SECI and INTERPOL may have their operations based in rather secure, governed lands, but their presence helps contain, dismantle, and prosecute criminal and terrorist networks that both breed in Quasi and Absolute ungoverned spaces and find gaps in governed lands.  The US should help to bring about, or strengthen already existing, these types of regional crime/terrorism law enforcement agencies in the Middle East, Central Asia, Central America, and South America.


Ungoverned space and the nefarious elements that grow from its loins is not just a US national security problem or even just an international security problem, it is one of the defining challenges of our modernized and globalized civilization.  Earlier centuries witnessed great wars and conflicts between world powers which caused unspeakable horrors and destruction, but that world is largely gone, and our current challenges stem from transnational criminal and terrorist networks that use the shadows and cover of ungoverned spaces to plot their next attack or offense against our society.  To combat this modern scourge the US needs to lead the world in closing these gaps and spaces of poor governance and weak institutions which leave only meager options for many of the world’s citizens.  Accomplishing this will be a long and at times treacherous path, and one in which we will make mistakes in our chosen policies and with the instruments utilized to carry them out, but this does not a mean we can shrink back into our homeland, for the menacing elements that come from ungoverned spaces will find their way back into our lives.

What did you think? How would you define ‘ungoverned space’? What are its major implications? What is the best method for combating its ill effects? What is the most effective long term solution?

[1]  Reid, John, “Crime and Counter-Terrorism Opportunities and Challenges,” Milstein Lectures, June 20, 2007, pg. 14.

[2] The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL),

[3] Sanderson, Thomas M., “Transnational Terror and Organized Crime: Blurring the Lines,” SAIS Review¸Vol. XXIV, No. 1, Winter-Spring, 2004.

Here is Part IV of ‘Ungoverned Space: American Foreign Policy’:

UGS Overall US Foreign Policy Recommendations

We have laid out what ungoverned space consists of, thrives from, and how it threatens national and international security, but how should the United States, its allies, and the global community contain and minimize its presence in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Colombia, small areas here at home, and in the world? The US will need to be the leader in this fight as it is the only nation with the combined resources and will to combat this threat. But the problem of ungoverned space is too complicated and prevalent for the US to take on alone. The use of military force as the dominant instrument to bring good governance to a region, state, or territories has been discounted as military leaders from the US and NATO stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq can attest. To roll back ungoverned space throughout the globe the US will have to lead multiple multilateral groupings with a strategy that consists of hard power, military, law enforcement collaboration, projection of power through bases, and soft power, aid to develop civil society, economic and political structures, and a culture of lawfulness.

Culture of Lawfulness

We believe that where there is ungoverned space, there is an opportunity for a backward, distrustful culture to foment that takes on a life of its own, trapping its people in a cycle of unproductive stagnation, where life is probably harsh, painful, and short. We advocate the aggressive promotion of the Culture of Lawfulness Project led by Roy Dobson’s National Strategy Information Center. This non-governmental organization is publicly and privately funded and has already helped a number of governments, school systems and civil society leaders to improve their knowledge and attitudes toward the rule of law. The Project focuses on educating the next generation of citizens, and through them their parents and community, and also engages with other critical sectors of a society mentioned above, specifically business and labor groups, religious institutions, local non-governmental organizations, and the media. A culture of lawfulness has successfully brought order and a higher quality of life to several locals with diverse backgrounds, including Sicily, Hong Kong, and Botswana and we are confident its reach can go much further. Instituting and growing a culture of lawfulness will have a greater chance of success in Quasi and Governed Spaces where there exists some forms of civil society and law enforcement to build around. In fact, the CoL Project already has ongoing educational, civil society, and law enforcement training programs in Colombia. The US State Department is ‘proud’ to support the Project and in 2004 contributed over $1 million dollars to its cause. (get updated budget) We believe the US government and private donors can do much more to support this project and make sure that its influence and efforts target the strategic areas of the globe in most need of good governance.

Community Policing

A central part of building a society firmly based on the rule of law is a productive and close relationship between the community and local law enforcement. Neighborhood and community policing has proven a successful tool in lowering crime rates and creating an environment conducive to law enforcement/populace cooperation, specifically regarding terrorist activities. Community policing, a police strategy that involves embedding policemen inside targeted neighborhoods and keeping them there, letting them get to know the locals and the ins-and-outs of the area, has proven effective in London and New York City and should be promoted as a method in helping to alleviate areas of ungoverned or quasi-governed space experiencing criminal and extremist elements. Former British Home Secretary John Reid believes that the reintroduction of neighborhood policing has been one of the British law enforcement’s ‘great successes.’ He argues that this is ‘what people want,’ a police force that is ‘visible, accessible, and responsive.’ If done correctly and professionally, community policing can build people’s trust and create breathing space for those citizens who want to support the law and challenge those that desire to circumvent and abuse it. The US should help fund and train law enforcement agencies in Colombia, Afghanistan, Southeastern Europe, and anywhere else where crime and extremists elements threaten the peace and stability of a population.

Final part will be coming soon:

Over the last several decades, a variety of movements have arisen in the Arab and Islamic countries–a radical nationalism (Baath socialist, Marxist, pan-Arab, and so forth) and a series of Islamist movements (meaning Islamic fundamentalism in a political version). The movements have varied hugely and have even gone to war with one another–Iran’s Shiite Islamists versus Iraq’s Baath socialists, like Hitler and Stalin slugging it out. The Islamists give the impression of having wandered into modern life from the 13th century, and the Baathist and Marxist nationalisms have tried to seem modern and even futuristic.

But all of those movements have followed, each in its fashion, the twentieth-century pattern. They are antiliberal insurgencies. They have identified a people of the good, who are the Arabs or Muslims. They believe that their own societies have been infested with a hideous inner corruption, which must be rooted out. They observe that the inner infestation is supported by powerful external forces. And they gird their swords. Their thinking is apocalyptic. They imagine that at the end they, too, will succeed in establishing a blocklike, unchanging society, freed of the inner corruption–a purified society: the victory of good. They are the heirs of the twentieth-century totalitarians.

Paul Berman, Terror and Liberalism, 2001

The above quote, like the attacks on 9/11, is over a decade old, but in light of the recent violent demonstrations against American people and symbols across the Middle East, its strong theme is sadly showing itself to be just as true today as it was in 2001. Contrary to what the mainstream media and the current US administration are pushing, these recent attacks and uprisings have very little to do with a hateful and ignorant movie (actually a movie’s preview) that has probably been viewed by a minimum amount of those doing the rioting. The murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans in Libya shows planning and the Libyan government claims it was launched by Al Qaeda. The fact that the Ambassador’s murder and the Egyptian overthrow of the American embassy occurred on 9/11/2012 also has to raise concern that this was not some spontaneous occurrence. Paul Berman is still correct. ‘Anti-liberal insurgencies’ in the Arab Muslim world are still alive and well. These attacks and demonstrations are not anti-’latest culture medium to offend Muslims’. These are violent demonstrations that are anti-liberal and anti-American.

The rioters may only represent a small minority of these cultures and populations, but they are significant nonetheless. They view their version of Islam as the only true way and believe that American and liberal ideals, backed by American power, corrupts their way of life. Therefore, American power and liberal values, represented by our Embassies, must be challenged and hopefully removed. There is very little the US can do to appease those Arab Muslims who feel this way. We could tell Youtube to stop showing the video. We could bring all our troops home. We could make a million speeches about how we want to get along. None of it will work. What do we do then? I’m not sure, but I know that the above won’t change a thing and may in fact embolden these radicals.

These events change by the day and creating and augmenting a policy direction toward them is an arduous task, but that is our government’s job. I would recommend that the administration curtail their denouncements of the film as that is just a sideshow, makes America look guilty when we’ve done nothing wrong, and goes against our constitutional rights of free speech. It is easy to defend free speech when no one is offended by it. It is times like these that really put our beliefs and convictions to the test. The Obama administration also needs to make it clear to all governments who host our embassies that they must be protected. Egypt’s President Morsi’s over 24 hours of silence while his citizens were burning our embassy’s flag and replacing it with another is unacceptable. Just imagine if a similar event occurred with the Egyptian embassy in Washington D.C. The future of Egypt will have a major impact on the future of the Middle East and events of the past few days should give us much pause.

The anti-liberal, anti-American voices in the Muslim world are regrettably still vibrant enough to cause much heartache both in their own countries and across the globe in our own. President George W. Bush could not change the minds of these radical Islamists by replacing two tyrannical regimes with fragile democratic governments. And President Barack Obama with his Muslim background and sincere outreach to the Muslim community could not do so either. These efforts may yet bear fruit, and I hope they do, but today there are radical groups attacking American embassies and the ideals and policies they represent in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon, and even Australia. As Berman asserts, these groups desire a ‘purified society’, which by definition cannot include the United States or its liberal values.

The United States has been fighting a war in Afghanistan for over ten years. Over 2,000 our bravest men and women have died there during that time period. We still have over 60,000 troops on the ground fighting in the land that hosted Al Qaeda’s leadership a decade ago. Even though, President Obama, the current GOP leadership, and a majority of the electorate are hoping and planning for an American withdrawal, we will likely be impacted and still have American troops in the country for years to come.

So is it too hard for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to mention the war at least once in his convention acceptance speech? Vice President Paul Ryan also neglected to discuss the war the night before and when asked yesterday on CBS News about his and Romney’s plan for the Afghan conflict, Mr. Ryan, a bright and thoughtful man, had nothing worthwhile to say.
I have been harsh on our present Commander in Chief for seeming to avoid talking with the American people about a conflict he called a ‘war of necessity’ in 2008 and that still stands. I doubt we will hear the President or his party speak much about the Afghanistan during the upcoming Democratic National Convention. I can predict with a fair amount of confidence that if President Obama mentions the word ‘Afghanistan’ it will be closely followed or preceded by the words ‘going home’, ‘drawing down’, and ‘rebuilding at home’. President Obama’s lack of using the bully pulpit to remind the American why we are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan is a major reason for the drop it the war’s support.

But at least President Obama has not dodged the issue as much as the GOP did during their convention. Heck, the only one to mention Afghanistan on the closing night was Clint Eastwood. The American people deserve to hear what Mitt Romney would do differently or the same in Afghanistan. I understand that for Romney and Obama, talking about Afghanistan does them no favors in the polls. Americans are rightly concerned about their struggles at home and likely do not want to hear either party going on and on about a decade long war far away, but doing just that is a commander in chief’s job. The American people need to hear what you are planning to do with our sons and daughters and our tax dollars.

Even more so, what about the actual troops fighting in Afghanistan right now? What if they gave Romney an hour of their time and listened to his speech and heard nothing about why they are across the globe fighting a determined enemy? What about all those Americans who were now at home, but had previously fought in the Afghan conflict and lost dear friends in the fight? What about those who were at home and knew they could be redeployed back to Afghanistan? The American people, and especially our soldiers fighting the good fight, need to have leaders worth following. Governor Romney, Congressman Ryan, and President Obama need to rise to their level of bravery and speak the hard truths.

Here is Part III of ‘Ungoverned Space: American Foreign Policy’:

Ungoverned Space Framework

            We would now like to offer a framework regarding different variations in ungoverned spaces and territories.  As we mentioned earlier, no two cases of ugs are exactly the same, as the extent of governmental control may vary from completely absent to just rather weak.  China may have a problem putting the regions of Tibet and Xinjiang Province completely under control, but no one would call China a weak government.  Many other nations struggle to rein in powerful business interests or rogue gangs, but nevertheless have a decent amount of leverage over most of their society.  Local geography, culture, type of governance, levels of civil society, and individual leaders and groups also differentiate one case of ugs from another.  For example, the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan have a distinct history, culture, and geography from any other place in the world and this makes them a unique case of ugs.

This is an important distinction because different types and levels of governed and ungoverned space beget different types and scales of criminal and terrorist elements.  So we think it is appropriate to create a framework featuring three levels of ugs and connect these individual levels to the criminal and extremist behaviors that are most likely to occur within them.

1. Absolute Ungoverned Space (AUS)—An almost total lack of governmental control over domestic and international security combined with an inability to provide essential services for the population.  Utter absence of authority filled by individuals and groups.

Negative Implications—Deeply rooted criminal and terrorist organizations, capable of independent action, can thrive.  Large scale, cross-border human and narcotics trafficking, organized crime, domestic and international terrorist activities

Examples—Afghanistan/Pakistan border areas, Somalia, Barbary Coast (1700s), Haiti

**Afghan/Pakistan Border

We consider the Afghan/Pakistan border areas to be Absolute Ungoverned Spaces (AUS) because of the inability of the Afghan and Pakistan governments to sustain security and provide essential services for the region’s inhabitants.  The region does have some semblance of governance, known as Pashtunwali, where cultural norms and values are followed, and in many ways very strictly, but this still does not constitute governed space.  The Karzai government in Afghanistan and the newly elected government in Pakistan are still failing to spread their rule to this region and this has had serious implications.  The production and transport of narcotics in this southern part of Afghanistan is increasing to highs never before seen and Islamic extremists are being trained to carry out terrorist acts, including a tremendous rise in suicide bombings, against the Pakistan and Afghan governments, local population, and according to the most recent National Intelligence Estimate, the homeland of the United States.  These extremist elements and drug lords made quick work filling in the gaps of authority and both nation’s governments and NATO forces will continue to be fighting an uphill battle for regional stability and good governance.[1]

2. Quasi Ungoverned Space (QS)—Weak, ineffectual, illegitimate governmental presence.  Competition for control and legitimacy between government forces and the groups and individuals who seek to fill large gaps in governmental authority.

Negative Implications—Presence of nearly identical criminal and terrorist activities as AUS, due to smaller gaps in governmental authority these groups face greater challenges to their operations; largely a difference in degree.

Examples—Hezbollah, Burma, Tamil Tigers, Malay Emergency


Colombia represents an example of Quasi-Ungoverned Space (QUS) as though the Colombian government has taken strides to extend its authority and legitimacy in recent years, large sectors of the country remain largely outside governmental control.  In the Colombian case, as in many other examples of QUS, the central government has been able to establish a foothold within urban centers, where the authority of the state is largely unchallenged.  However, the Colombian government has not demonstrated the ability to consistently extend its control into the rural areas of the country, where radical political parties and criminal organizations openly subvert the authority of the state.  In these rural areas drug cartels, and extreme political organizations such as FARC, exploit the absence of governmental authority and openly compete for direct control of large swaths of territory.  In these regions organized criminal behavior is widespread and violent attacks against public institutions and private citizens are commonplace.  Whether motivated by criminal enterprise or revolutionary political ideology these challenges to the state represent direct threats to the legitimacy and authority of the Colombian government, and the outcome of the struggle for control in rural Colombia will have far reaching national, regional, and international consequences.

3. Governed Space (GS)—Presence of a strong, effective and legitimate government, capable of providing domestic and international security and essential services for its citizenry.  Small gaps in authority can still be taken advantage of by individuals and groups.[2]

Negative Implications—Mainly faced with traditional crime such as murder, theft, fraud and other various misdemeanors, however, small gaps still exist in governmental authority that can be taken advantage of by terrorists and organized criminal elements.

Examples—US, Western Europe, Japan


            Though the United States has tremendously strong, capable, and legitimate government on the federal, state, and local level, it is not immune to small gaps being exploited by criminal, extremist, or both, elements.  There are city spheres in East Los Angeles and Detroit largely controlled by local gangs, where police struggle at times to implement and maintain a hold on power and legitimacy.  The aforementioned nexus between organized crime/terrorism/ugs has occurred within the US border.  Hezbollah supporters have been caught illegally shipping low-tax cigarettes from North Carolina to Detroit in order to earn a profit.  These profits were being used to purchase and then ship to Hezbollah night vision goggles, mine detection equipment, laser range finders, blasting caps, and other sensitive and prohibited military equipment.  Hezbollah, which raises much of its funds with the production of methamphetamines, has also been documented to have labs in the rural western United States.  The attacks of 9/11 could not have occurred without Al Qaeda being able to find small gaps where they could communicate, plan, and execute their nefarious assault.  Lastly, though in decline, organized crime is still present in the country, as the recent arrest of the Gambino crime family showcased, and as was discussed before, its connections and use of ungoverned space has been well-documented.  Once again, we reiterate that the US and other strongly governed nations are not poorly controlled or policed, but we emphasize that criminals and terrorist at times only need a little bit of breathing room to commit dangerous and violent acts.


Unfortunately, the world has seen that all types of crimes can happen in all types of societies and political systems.  The 9/11 hijackers may have trained and planned in the ungoverned spaces of Afghanistan, but they also convened in Germany, and stayed for months and learned to fly in the United States.  But this does not mean that certain types of crimes and terrorist activities aren’t more likely to occur in particular levels of governance, or the lack there of.  Plain and simple, narco and human trafficking is much more likely to be seen in AUS or QG spaces, such as Myanmar or Colombia, than in GS lands, such as Canada or Japan.  Governed areas may have small holes, but QG space has deeper pockets and AUS Grand Canyon-like crevices where criminal and extreme elements can operate.

[1] For further research: Groh, Ty, “Ungoverned Spaces: The Challenges of Governing Tribal Societies”, Naval Post Graduate School, June 2006.; Jones, Seth, “The Rise of Afghanistan’s Insurgency: State Failure and Jihad”, International Security, Vol. 32, No.4, Spring, 2008.; Schweich, Thomas, “Is Afghanistan a Narco-State,” New York Times Magazine, July 27, 2008.; Johnson, Thomas, Mason, Chris, “No Sign until the Burst of Fire: Understanding the Pakistan-Afghanistan Frontier,” International Security, Vol. 32, No.4, Spring, 2008.; Rubin, Barnett R., and Siddique, Abubakar, “Resolving the Pakistan- Afghanistan Stalemate,” United States Institute of Peace, Special Report No. 176, October, 2006.; Rubin, Barnett R., “The Search for Peace in Afghanistan: From Buffer State to Failed State,” Yale University Press, 1995.

[2] Sanderson, Thomas M., “Transnational Terror and Organized Crime: Blurring the Lines,” SAIS Review Vol. XXIV No. 1, Winter-Spring, 2004, pg. 52.


Ungoverned Space: American Foreign Policy (Part II)

   Posted by: Pat   in Uncategorized   Print Print

Here is Part II of ‘Ungoverned Space: American Foreign Policy’:

UGS Implications & the Crime and Terror Nexus

            Just by seeing the list Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and warlords and Islamists in Somalia, it does not take long to see how UGS has affected the US’s security and policy.  As Greenstock exclaims, these ungoverned spaces are local issues comprised of local actors, however these local issues have proven to have worldwide implications, as 9/11 and 7/7 dramatically showed, and are therefore vitally important for the global community to address.  Greenstock elaborates;

“People who reject the traditions of their society or resent the way they find the world treating them move out to the extremes and find that they’ve got an advantage there; in fact, two advantages.  One is that the world is freeing up and allowing a greater choice in what people do.  That is good if people obey the law, not so good if they don’t.  Second, those who do not want to obey the law or the rules of the international community find that they can accumulate weaponry in the hands of a small number of people that is more powerful than it has ever been.”(5)

Al Qaeda could easily fit into this description.  When government’s fail to provide security and basic goods and opportunities for their citizens and some of these citizens choose a life of crime or terror, it can be very dangerous for us, because although the origins of their motivation are local, globalization is exploding that outward.

Failed and failing states featuring ungoverned territories dot the globe.  Take a quick glance at the US foreign policy landscape; it is dominated by failed or failing states.  Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, and many more are all central to our foreign policy and national security.  The thought of any one of these states collapsing keeps policy makers up at night.  UGS creates several problems for the international community and for US interests.  UGS has proven to lead to human and drug trafficking, mass migration, humanitarian crises, piracy, regional instability, and of course can provide sanctuary for terrorist and criminal operatives.  When UGS creates or foments these types of occurrences, the US in one way or another is called into action and its chosen action can lead to unintended and tragic consequences, as the Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia showcased.  In fact, over the last twenty years a large majority of US military actions have been in what can be categorized as failed states with UGS.(6)

The most crucial part of US security interests in regards to UGS is the threat of criminal and terrorist elements reaching our shores or vital allies and interests abroad.  The US National Security Strategy stated that ‘if left unaddressed, regional conflicts can lead to failed states, humanitarian disasters, and ungoverned areas that can become safe havens for terrorists,’(7) and therefore must be avoided or at least contained.  In concurrence, the US National Strategy to Combat Terrorism stated that one of its most vital short-term priorities was ‘to prevent terrorists from exploiting ungoverned and under-governed areas as physical safe havens.’(8)  Ungoverned spaces have strong links to criminal and terrorist behavior and elements and in many ways they all feed off each other.  London Police Commissioner Ian Blair, former Chief of the MI6 Richard Deerlove, and British Home Secretary John Reid have all made references to the connections between criminality, terrorism, and UGS.  John Reid states this point emphatically;

“Now if I just say something briefly on the crime side.  It would be naïve to look at terror as a threat which is independent of the other challenges we face in the world.  It is international – and organized crime very often supports and fuels the actions of terrorists.  And only by addressing all of these issues can we defeat the terror threat.”(9)

When one combines these with the observations of Greenstock, clear links between crime, terrorism, and ungoverned space emerge.  For example, there are numerous cases of unemployed youth finding sanctuary in international criminal and terrorist networks.  In many cases these youth and their criminal/terrorist networks move beyond the borders of their own states, and have come into conflict with US national interests and citizens.

When space opens up there is an opportunity for profit and criminal/extremist elements have usually proven to be quicker than lawful participants in filling it up.  Reid specifically discusses the effect new commodities create in opening up new venues for profit, some legal, some not. Bootlegging, identity theft, credit card fraud are just a few examples of crime adapting to changing technological commercial advancements.  Of course, the situation becomes a lot more serious when the people that fill this gap have more sinister motives than just money and profit.  Terrorists have used theft, fraud, and technology to help them commit atrocious acts.  The 9/11 attackers used identity fraud and raked up thousands of dollars on credit cards to assist them in their task.(10)  They were able to obtain some of these things in the United States, utilizing small gaps where the US government was not omnipresent.  The perpetrators behind the Madrid bombers made their living selling drugs in the city before they moved on to terrorist acts.  Tamara Makarenko, an expert on the connections between transnational organized crime and terrorism, argues that there is a growing nexus between the two activities and groups and lists eight areas of congruence: both utilize network and cell-based structures, have activities that cross national-regional-transnational divides, require safe havens, take advantage of diaspora communities, use similar targeting, deployment, intelligence, counterintelligence techniques, have a program of government and public relations, and both have an absolute dependence on external sources of funding.(11)  The exploitation of ungoverned space is easily seen in these areas of criminal/terrorist connections.  Of course not all criminals are terrorist, but terrorists inevitably utilize the same space, gaps, and tools as criminals, whether it be in purchasing a fake passport, trading for weapons, or hiding from the authorities.  Areas which are not governed effectively provide ample opportunity for both criminal and terrorist elements to thrive and prosper.

The US government is not naïve to the connection between crime and terrorism. Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky makes a dramatic claim of the link between the two in ugs;

‘Corrupt states attract terrorist operatives, just as they attract money launderers, drug and human traffickers, and other international criminals.  In weakening people’s faith in government and limiting economic opportunities, corruption also breeds resentment that can at times, provide a fertile recruiting ground for violent extremist ideologies.  This resentment and the ensuing political instability can create other dangerous security problems even in the absence of a specific terrorist threat.”(12)

Indeed, the US State Department’s official list of foreign terrorist organizations features 14 terrorist groups that are well-known narco-traffickers.

[5] Greenstock, Jeremy, “Globalization or Polarization: Where Are We Heading?” International Relations, Vol. 21, No. 103, 2007, pg. 106.

[6] Thomas, Troy, “Control Roaming Dogs: Governance Operations in Future Conflict”, Military Review, Jan/Feb 2006, pg. 80.

[7] United States National Security Strategy, March 16, 2006, pg. 2.

[8] United States National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, September 5, 2006, pg. 2.

[9] Reid, John, “Crime and Counter-Terrorism Opportunities and Challenges,” Milstein Lectures, June 20, 2007.

[10] Ibid, pg. 17.

[11] Makarenko, Tamara, “Terrorism and Transnational Organised Crime: The Emerging Nexus,” 2002, pg. 8.

[12] Dobriansky, Paula J., “Promoting a Culture of Lawfulness,” US State Department, Remarks at Georgetown University, September 2004.


Ungoverned Space & American Foreign Policy

   Posted by: Pat   in Uncategorized   Print Print

A couple years back, I wrote a paper examining ungoverned space and how it impacts American foreign policy and interests that was never published. Well, today’s the day! Below you will find the first of several installments of my article on ungoverned space.


“Across the globe, the continued fragmentation of nation states, the increase in ungoverned space, and the crime and terrorism that these conditions breed continue to compel attention.”
–James Dobbins
“The rise of Hezbollah [non-state actors] indicates the fed-upness of people with their governments, their ineffective, self-serving, unchanging governments in the Middle East is leading ordinary people to look for other sorts of champions.”
– Sir Jeremy Greenstock

In November 2006, former UK and US ambassador and Foreign Service expert Sir Jeremy Greenstock presented his views on the current state of the world’s political and social system to the Citizen’s Crime Commission of New York City. What he saw was a tremendously important effect of the modern world’s process of globalization that was and will continue to have crucial and dangerous implications for the United States and the world at large, and that phenomenon was the growth of ungoverned space throughout the globe. Ungoverned space (UGS) is not new to our times, but its ability to negatively impact the international system and US national security has never been more powerful.


Much has been written about failed states and why they matter to US foreign and domestic policy, but this paper will be different as it concentrates on not just failed states, but on all ungoverned spaces or gaps, whether they be in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Columbia or even in parts of the United States. Even so-called strong states may contain small gaps where the government does not have complete control, and in the world we live in today, these small gaps could have tremendous consequences. The connection between criminal and terrorist elements that grow and prosper in and from ungoverned space is a crucial element of this topic we intend to emphasize and explore. We will also offer a framework in order to more clearly portray and evaluate UGS and the negative elements it fosters. To conclude, we will provide policy recommendations specifically for US foreign and domestic policy and general prescriptions for decreasing and mitigating the negative effects and growth of ungoverned space.


What is ungoverned space? What does it look like? What causes it to come about? Why is it important for the US? Defining ungoverned space is not an easy task, as no one case looks or comes about exactly like another. Many leading scholars, institutions and US government agencies have attempted to define and describe this phenomenon, including Sir Greenstock. There are definitions as simple as ‘regions not governed by central authority’(1) and others that can fill a whole chapter of a book.(2) The President’s National Security Strategy and Strategy for Combating Terrorism do not outright define/describe ungoverned space per se, but they do discuss its implications and the fact that it can exist in non-physical spheres, such as in legal, cyber, and financial systems.(3)


The most well-rounded and encompassing definition of UGS comes from the RAND Corporation, and when combined with Sir Greenstock’s input, one can start to see what UGS is all about and why it is so important to the world’s current and future security. RAND’s Project Air Force report ‘Ungoverned Territories’ is in agreement with Greenstock’s assessment that after the Cold War, UGS has become an increasingly more common phenomenon. Their definition of ungoverned territories is as follows:

‘Ungoverned territories are areas in which a state faces significant challenges in establishing control. They can be failed or failing states, poorly controlled land or maritime borders, or areas within otherwise viable states to which the central government’s authority does not extend.’(4)


Greenstock views ungoverned space within the context of globalization, which though has brought a tremendous amount of positive outcomes for many, has also had a polarizing affect on political and culture structures. The governing of states and territories is becoming harder as state institutions and policies are being challenged by groups and individuals. In other words, the monopoly of the state over the use of violence, information, and community leadership has faltered in recent years and even more important, groups and individuals have risen up and taken advantage of this newly ungoverned space or gaps, and unfortunately, some of these groups and individuals choose to follow a path of criminality, terrorism, or both.


Many modern states are not just weak or ineffective, but also have lost some of their legitimacy because of their failure to meet the basic needs of their citizens. Where a government loses legitimacy and its ability to control and provide services to its citizens, a vacuum is created, and groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and various warlords in Somalia have stepped in to fill the void.


1. Groh, Ty, “Ungoverned Spaces: The Challenges of Governing Tribal Societies”, Naval Post Graduate School, June 2006.
2. Rotberg, Robert, When States Fail: Causes and Consequences, University Press, 2004.
3. United States National Security Strategy, March 16, 2006.; United States National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, September 5, 2006.
4. RAND Project Air Force, “Ungoverned Territories,” RAND Corporation, 2007.

The next section ‘UGS Implications & the Crime and Terror Nexus‘ will be coming soon. Comments? Questions?


The Olympics and Great Power Politics

   Posted by: Pat   in China, Culture/Society   Print Print

The Olympics have finally concluded. These 2012 London Olympics will be remembered in many ways: NBC’s recorded coverage, Michael Phelps, Gabby’s 10,000 watt smile, 100 foot tall Valdemort, Usain Bolt, and British rock band after British rock band performing with strange props. It was an inspiring couple of weeks and I enjoyed watching these amazing athletes do amazing things. As a proud American, I also took joy in watching my country win the medal account yet again. A country’s performance at the Olympics does not always mean that it has reached success at more meaningful metrics of well being and power (economic growth, employment, health, safety), but the two are not mutually exclusive. Creating and sustaining world class athletes takes resources and a culture that promotes competitiveness. The Olympics’ wide variety of events, from ping pong to weightlifting, also allows a country to showcase its diversity.

The Olympics provides a peaceful venue for the world’s great and not so great powers to put to the test their national resources, culture, and diversity. Though the Olympic spirit of goodwill is strong, each country desires to show themselves well. In the case of the United States and China, though not as intense as the Cold War battles between Russia and America, the fight for eminence is strong. Can we view the results of this latest Olympics in the prism of great power competition? Of course we can! Will Inboden of Shadow Government does a service in ranking the top medal winners of 2012 along with their nominal GDP and defense budget size to give a high level view of current status of today’s great powers. Here’s his list:

Country 2012 Medal Rank GDP rank Defense budget rank

USA 1 1 1

China 2 2 2

Russia 3 9 3

United Kingdom 4 7 4

Germany 5 4 9

Japan 6 3 6

Australia 7 13 13

France 8 5 5

South Korea 9 15 12

Italy 10 8 11

India 37 11 8

Brazil 16 6 10

My takeaways:

- China and United States are in a fierce battle for Olympic and world power. This is not a hot conflict, but it is a cold one, with each side trying their best to top the other.

- Russia has a million problems, but her competitive spirit and commitment to invest resources on their athletic programs still keeps her at a high level not only at the Olympics, but in the game of thrones that is great power politics.

- The sun may have set on the British Empire always, but it is still a vibrant nation with great rock bands.

- Japan & Germany: What can you say, near the top as always.

- India & Brazil: Two rising powers that still have a ways to go to reach the status of the big boys. Brazil had a nice showing at the Olympics and as host to the 2016 games will have their chance to show their growth and prosperity very shortly. In regards to India, which only received 6 medals (1 gold), I asked an Indian friend why his home country fared so poorly. He replied, ‘Unless its cricket, we don’t care’.

I can sympathize. Where was the baseball?!

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