Chinese Assassination Squads

To: Leon Panetta, Langley HQ
From: Operative 650, Shanghai office
Re: Memo XE1250

Leon:

I just received the memo on the latest Blackwater scandal. Talk about embarrassing! Why did we outsource assassination to those bozos? Remember in 2006 when a Blackwater guy, drunk as a skunk, killed the Iraqi vice president’s bodyguard? And we were going to deputize these trigger-happy Rambos to take down America’s Most Wanted? I wish we could simply put all the blame on the last administration. But we’re still shelling out millions to the company to provide “security” in Iraq.

Look, if we’re going to outsource, we should outsource to the experts. The Chinese. They make our clothes. They make our computers. Heck, they even supply the components for our weapons systems. Why not give them the task of assassinating jihadists?

Here are the top five reasons to go with the Chinese:

1. It’s an easy way around the 1976 executive order banning us from conducting assassinations. We keep our hands clean. What’s a little more blood on the hands of the Chinese?

2. We’re cooperating with the Chinese on everything these days: the global economy, climate change, those pesky North Koreans. I hear that there is even talk in Washington of a G-2, in which Washington and Beijing set up a formal structure to manage the world. Let’s seal the relationship the good old-fashioned way: with a covert op.

3. The Chinese dislike the jihadists as much as we do, if not more. They’re cracking down on their own Muslim population in Xinjiang. Why not give them a shot at going global?

4. Plausible deniability: No one would expect us to partner with the Chinese on this. And the media expects the worst from Beijing, so revelations of an assassination squad wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.

5. We’ll save money. Blackwater — I have a hard time using the company’s new name Xe since it makes them sound like a cologne — has been ripping us off for years. The Chinese give good product at a reasonable cost. Which reminds me: send me your measurements and I’ll get you a top-quality suit.

Leon, I know this suggestion will encounter some resistance in Langley. But we have to start thinking outside the box here in the Agency. I’ve developed a great network of Chinese colleagues in Shanghai. We’ve got an active Container Security Initiative program here. The FBI has a counterterrorism office up in Beijing at the U.S. embassy. Let’s bump the relationship up a notch.

If it’s good enough for Wal-Mart and the boys over at DoD, then it should be good enough for us.

Sincerely,
Operative 650 in Shanghai

The Politics of Oil

The Obama administration is casting around for non-military options for dealing with Iran. Top on the list is an international embargo on gas sales to the country. Sanctions are, of course, a lot better than war. But what if such an embargo leads to war?

“More frightening scenarios could unfold if the United States and its closest allies seek to enforce an embargo by establishing a naval blockade in waters off Iran and stopping ships thought to be violating the ban,” writes Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Michael Klare in Iran Gas Ban: Step toward War with Iran? “Given the high likelihood of cheating, such a blockade would probably be necessary for the embargo to prove effective. But such a move could be considered an act of war, and might well invite retaliation by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard — which sports its own small-ship navy.”

Meanwhile in Africa, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently wrapped up an 11-day trip to Africa, where she was careful to touch down in some key oil-producing countries such as Angola and Nigeria. Clinton’s lectures on human rights and her administration’s lack of new initiatives, however, don’t measure up well against Africa’s other major suitor: China.

“At a time when Western countries are reducing their investments, China announced a $5 billion China-Africa Development Fund that has already spent $400 million and will add another $2 billion to help promote Chinese investments in Africa,” writes FPIF contributor Francis Njubi Nesbitt in Clinton Tone-Deaf During Africa Trip. “The Chinese strategy is to provide resource-rich countries with loans for infrastructure development in exchange for raw materials like oil and other minerals to fuel its industries. China announced numerous trade and investment deals while in Africa, including a $3.6 billion copper mining agreement with Zambia. China buys 60% of Sudan’s oil and 30% of Angola’s. China recently provided Angola with $5 billion loan to rebuild roads, bridges and housing projects.”

Lively Debate

Noam Chomsky and Ian Williams, both FPIF contributors, have been going back and forth on our site about U.S. responsibility for killings in Kosovo and East Timor. It began with Williams challenging the Chomsky claim “that that the NATO air raids on Serbia actually precipitated the worst atrocities in Kosovo. This latter claim isn’t only untrue but morally unpalatable in its spurious causality.”

Chomsky responded, in Kosovo, East Timor, R2P, and Ian Williams, that the “worst atrocities began as the bombing started (to be precise, there was a slight increase a few days earlier when the monitors were withdrawn, over Serbian objections, in preparation for the bombings). On March 27, NATO Commander General Wesley Clark informed the press that the vicious Serbian reaction was ‘entirely predictable.’ He added shortly after that the sharp escalation of atrocities had been ‘fully anticipated’ and was ‘not in any way’ a concern of the political leadership.”

In Response to Chomsky, Williams quotes the UN war crimes tribunal, which argued that “the NATO bombing provided an opportunity to the members of the joint criminal enterprise — an opportunity for which they had been waiting and for which they had prepared by moving additional forces to Kosovo and by the arming and disarming process described above — to deal a heavy blow to the KLA and to displace, both within and without Kosovo, enough Kosovo Albanians to change the ethnic balance. And now this could all be done with plausible deniability because it could be blamed not only upon the KLA, but upon NATO as well.”

Coming soon: Chomsky replies.

After Sunshine

Meanwhile, in After the Sunshine Generation, I look at the death of South Korean leader Kim Dae Jung and its implications for relations between the two Koreas. “In South Korea, Kim Dae-Jung’s death comes hard on the heels of Roh Moo-Hyun’s suicide,” I report. “In North Korea, meanwhile, Kim Jong-Il has been planning for his own succession. These three men were responsible for two inter-Korean summits and a host of agreements, exchanges, and political breakthroughs. As the ‘sunshine generation’ — named after the ‘sunshine policy’ of Kim Dae Jung — they worked together to show Koreans a glimpse of the light at the end of the long tunnel of the Cold War. The recent progress in North-South relations — a released South Korean detainee, an agreement to reenergize several key projects — suggests that the policies of this generation are still bearing fruit.”

On this same issue, check out the recent transnational statement on peace and security in Northeast Asia from prominent Korean, Japanese, and U.S. signatories that calls on the Obama administration to seize the opportunity created by the recent visit of former president Clinton to Pyongyang.

This week, I also look at a new book by Terrence Edward Paupp on The Future of Global Relations. “Rising regions are Paupp’s key to the future,” I write. “Regional economic organizations (such as ASEAN), regional security organizations (such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization), hybrid regional formations (such as the European Union), and regional powers such as China, India, and Brazil have all challenged Washington’s preeminence. ‘As American hegemony declines,’ Paupp writes, ‘there shall be a corresponding rise in South-South regional alliances that will constitute, de facto, a new counter-hegemonic alliance against the U.S. Global Empire.’”

Finally, a quick note on last week’s issue from World Beat reader James Rose. He points out that the recent Foreign Affairs article on the influence of foreign governments on U.S. foreign policy abuts a glossy insert by the Moroccan government. Brilliant editorial move by the Foreign Affairs staff or inadvertent demonstration of the article’s thesis? You decide…

John Feffer is co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus.