Leitura para o fim-de-semana: o Willy Wonka que pode ser presidente da Ucrânia

Fez fortuna na indústria do chocolade. Patrocinou os protestos que levaram à queda do presidente ucraniano Viktor Yanukovych. Agora é candidato às eleições deste domingo. Pode ser presidente – mas diz que gostava de ser deputado europeu. 


Ukraine’s Chocolate King to the Rescue

Ukrainians hope that Petro Poroshenko can lead them out of the current crisis. But can one man provide the solution to all the country’s problems?


“Petro Poroshenko has a dream. As the 48-year-old Ukrainian business tycoon told journalists earlier this week, he hopes one day to represent his country in the European Parliament — which was an odd thing to say since Ukraine is not a member of the European Union and has little chance of joining anytime soon. You’d think that Poroshenko would have his mind on a more immediate task: winning election to the presidency in the election scheduled for this coming Sunday, May 25.

Of course, there’s a deeper logic to Poroshenko’s European aspiration: It echoes the longing for a European future that played a part in the protests that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year. The Euromaidan protests, which were actively and visibly supported by Poroshenko, also vaulted him into the ranks of Ukraine’s most popular politicians — and now to the leading position in this weekend’s presidential race. In the run-up to the balloting, eastern Ukraine has been wracked by the worst violence since the political crisis there first erupted earlier this year. On Thursday, at least 13 Ukrainian soldiers were killed by pro-Russian insurgents at a checkpoint 20 miles south of the restive city of Donetsk. The rebel group behind the attack said one of its militants was also killed.

Still, if the vote goes off without a hitch, Poroshenko is so far ahead of his rivals in opinion polls that he could even win in the first round. Last week, a poll put support for him at 54.7 percent among likely voters — embarrassingly far ahead of opposition bigwig and ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was in second place with 9.6 percent.

To be sure, Poroshenko is no ordinary politician (even in a country that abounds in outsized political personalities). He made his fortune, now estimated by Forbes at $1.3 billion, in the chocolate business — an unlikely achievement that has led some to dub him “Ukraine’s Willy Wonka.” That hint of magic befits a man whose followers believe that only he can rescue the country from its current predicament.

After he announced his decision to run for president a few weeks ago, a crowd of supporters began to chant his name. “I won’t let you down,” he told them.

Easier said than done. Winning the presidency is one thing; leading Ukraine out of its crisis is another. Though the Ukrainian media have been speculating about his running for president for months, Poroshenko’s strong lead in the polls does come as something of a surprise. When the protests against Yanukovych began in Kiev’s central square last year, Poroshenko probably wouldn’t have been considered an obvious candidate for future national leadership. Yet his early decision to side with the protesters raised his profile. At the same time, he remained aloof from the three main opposition leaders, all of whom were regarded with various degrees of skepticism by the Euromaidan demonstrators. Poroshenko said the right things but also knew when to stay out of the way.

This ultimately worked to his advantage. The three opposition leaders were left discredited for signing a deal with Yanukovych on Feb. 21, the night before the embattled president fled Kiev, eventually showing up in Russia. (Poroshenko was not among the signatories.) In March, boxer turned politician Vitali Klitschko, who had been the favorite candidate throughout the protests, announced his withdrawal from the race — and threw his support to the more popular Poroshenko, whose ratings then shot up even further. Poroshenko has since widened his lead over Tymoshenko, who was released from jail the day that Yanukovych fled.

The dramatic developments since then — first in Crimea and now in Ukraine’s east — have distracted attention from government business in Kiev and pre-election political scheming. Of course, Ukrainians have long been wondering whether the election will actually take place, and now separatist leaders in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk have said they will boycott the vote.

Poroshenko’s election slogan, promising no less than “a new way of life,” aims to capitalize on the widespread yearning for dramatic reform in the wake of the struggle against Yanukovych. “A new country was born and a new people was born,” he told Reuters in a recent interview. Referring to the casualties incurred during the protest, he added that Ukraine’s future leaders “should know why 104 people gave their lives.” It’s a line that echoes the mood of dissatisfaction among people who backed the protests, who wonder why more than 100 protesters died for the sake of change that is yet to come.

But can Poroshenko deliver? Ukraine is not the same country it was during the Orange Revolution of 2004: Society has evolved dramatically, even if Tymoshenko’s famed hairstyle has remained the same. Yet there is also something distinctly anachronistic about Poroshenko, whose political career dates back to 1998.”

O artigo completo está aqui. 

Leitura para o fim-de-semana: o falhanço da ONU no Darfur

Há uma década, após o genocídio no Darfur, a Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU) enviou para a região do Sudão uma força de 20 mil capacetes azuis. Missão: proteger os civis. Uma investigação da revista Foreign Policy mostra como a ONU falhou os objectivos e o que sabia que tinha acontecido. Este é o primeiro de uma série de três artigos publicados esta semana.



At 6:20 p.m. on March 24, 2013, a convoy of United Nations and African Union peacekeepers escorting three buses of displaced residents of Darfur to a peace conference was stopped by a group of uniformed men in a pair of Toyota Land Cruisers.

Mistaking the heavily armed men for government soldiers, the convoy commander, Lt. Paulinus Ifeanyi Nnadi, stepped out of his armored vehicle to talk them into allowing the vehicles through. As he walked toward the SUVs, five gun trucks filled with armed rebel fighters opposed to the talks roared out of the bush.

The rebels boarded the buses and ordered the drivers to follow them away from the main road. The captives were driven to a rebel stronghold where insurgents opposed to the peace talks stole their cell phones, bags, clothes, watches, and cash. They were then separated into groups of men and women and put into small cells where, according to several victims, they were beaten. Six days later, the rebels released their captives to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Nnadi, the peacekeeper’s commander, later told U.N. investigators that his forces had attempted to prevent the abductors from heading off with the civilians. The victims and bus drivers, though, said they were handed over without a fight. Several said they even saw the U.N. soldiers flashing “thumbs up” signs to the kidnappers as the buses drove off. The U.N. personnel peacekeepers, one of the bus drivers told investigators, “did nothing.”

“[The peacekeepers] made no visible effort to prevent the abduction of IDP [internally displaced persons] conference participants from the convoy,” an unreleased assessment by other U.N. personnel later concluded. “They just stood watching as the gunmen drove away the buses carrying the IDPs.”

The mass March 24 kidnapping — the details of which have never been publicly disclosed by the U.N. — marked a humiliating setback for troops from the African Union/United Nations hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID), a beleaguered, U.N.-funded force that was established specifically to protect Darfur’s citizens from a renewal of the genocide that had raged in the region years earlier, leaving more than 200,000 dead. The peacekeepers, though, have been bullied by government security forces and rebels, stymied by American and Western neglect, and left without the weapons necessary to fight in a region where more peacekeepers have been killed than in any other U.N. mission in the world. The violence that once consumed Darfur, meanwhile, has returned with a vengeance, resulting in civilian casualties and the large-scale flight of terrified men, women, and children.

Drawing on a massive trove of highly confidential UNAMID documents — including thousands of pages of emails, police reports, internal investigations and diplomatic cables — Foreign Policy will over the next three days publish a series of articles that shed light on how Darfur’s combatants, particularly the Sudanese government, have effectively neutered the U.N. peacekeeping mission, undermining its capacity to fulfill its primary duty to protect nearly 2 million civilians displaced by Sudan’s genocide. During the past year alone, more than 500,000 terrified men, women, and children have poured into the region’s already overcrowded refugee camps.

The mission’s former spokeswoman, Aicha Elbasri, provided FP with the documents to draw attention to what she sees as UNAMID’s failings and unwillingness to call out Khartoum for what she views as its deliberate targeting of Darfur’s civilians and UNAMID peacekeepers.

The documents — which track the period from 2012 through the end of 2013 — constitute perhaps the largest single leak of internal documents on an active U.N. mission in the world body’s history.

“It is fair to say that UNAMID peacekeepers largely failed to protect Darfur civilians, and their presence didn’t deter either the government or the rebels from attacking the civilians,” Elbasri, a dual U.S.-Moroccan citizen, wrote last May in an end of mission report weeks after she resigned from the mission in protest. “They sometimes helplessly witnessed the attacks and harassment of civilians, some of which took place near UNAMID team sites.”

U.N. officials concede that the Darfur operation is deeply flawed. The mission, which is administered jointly by the U.N. and the African Union (A.U.), has been hobbled since its birth by a range of disabilities: conflicting visions of its role between U.N. headquarters and African leaders; a lack of cooperation by the Sudanese government; poor leadership; and badly-equipped troops that lacked the helicopters, trucks, and other military hardware needed to patrol a region as vast as France.

“[UNAMID’s] effectiveness is seriously constrained by access restrictions and, in case of the uniformed components, mobility constraints and shortfalls in the operational capabilities of several troop and police contingents,” according to a strategic reviewproduced in February by the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations. In a statement to FP, the U.N.’s top peacekeeping official, a former French diplomat named Hervé Ladsous, said that it was “no secret that the relationship with the government has always been challenging.”

“In every mission there is a tension between the necessity to preserve the consent and good will of the host government required to allow our peacekeepers to do their jobs and the sometimes contradictory imperative to report accurately and candidly on any and all incidents of violence,” he wrote. “Bad relations with any host government can make it impossible for a mission to operate — to move around the country, to have their equipment cleared by national customs, to deploy new personnel.”

Some officials say the mission’s failings are beyond repair, but that the political leadership in African capitals and on the U.N. Security Council is unlikely to shut it down while violence is surging in Darfur. “That would require them to do something about it,” one U.N.-based diplomat said.

Others say that UNAMID — despite its failures and limitations — is vital to the well-being of Darfur’s most vulnerable civilians. “The problems of Sudan can’t be solved by a U.N. peacekeeping mission,” Princeton Lyman, President Barack Obama’s former special envoy to Sudan, said in an interview. “But if you withdraw UNAMID, I would fear for the people in the [refugee] camps. They would have no protection at all; and it’s not even clear they would be fed.”


A decade ago, Darfur was at the heart of one of the world’s bloodiest ethnic cleansing campaigns. Between 2003 and 2005, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir orchestrated a brutal counterinsurgency campaign against the region’s key rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement. Sudanese bombers bombed suspected rebel positions from the air, while fighters from an Arab militia known as the Janjaweed stormed through local villages on horses and camels, burning homes and killing men, women, and children. Members of Darfur’s ethnic Fur and Zaghawa tribes took the brunt of the violence because they were suspected of supporting the rebels.

The slaughter drew widespread international attention, with movie stars such as George Clooney and Mia Farrow using their personal celebrity to raise awareness about the obscure region and apply pressure on governments to deploy peacekeepers in Darfur.

UNAMID was supposed to end the killing. For a while, U.N. and A.U. officials claimed that the peacekeeping army’s 20,000 troops were doing just that. Just before leaving his post, Rodolphe Adada, a Congolese politician and diplomat who ran the mission from May 2007 to late 2009, said Darfur’s darkest years of mass killing were effectively over.

“We can no longer talk of big conflict, of a war in Darfur,” he told the Associated Press in September 2009. “I think everyone understands it. We can no longer speak of this issue. It is over.”

Adada’s optimism was badly misplaced. The current violence hasn’t approached the levels of violence seen during the genocide, but peace remains elusive. The Janjaweed — that iconic symbol of Darfur’s darkest days — have never disappeared. They have simply been given uniforms and integrated into government auxiliary forces, including the Border Guards, the Central Reserve Forces, and the Popular Defense Forces.

The nature of the conflict, meanwhile, has grown increasingly complex as Darfur’s fractious rebel groups formed a coalition, including fighters from outside Darfur, to topple the government. The Sudanese government, facing severe financial constraints, has been unable to meet its payments to the Arab militias, testing its proxies’ loyalty and prompting them to fight other tribes for control over Darfur’s limited natural resources, including farmland and gold mining concessions. Last year alone, there were six major outbreaks of fighting over natural resources. In some cases, the Sudanese government fought alongside the militias, and in others they turned against one another.

But the gravest threat to Darfur’s civilians remains largely the same as it was a decade ago: a government-backed offensive, supported by the Janjaweed, that has used a combination of air power and ground attacks to depopulate large swaths of Darfur, swelling the ranks of the region’s displaced from about 1.2 million people late last year to nearly 1.7 million in 2014.

While UNAMID has helped provide some measure of support to the displaced, it hasn’t been able to fully protect them. In one poignant expression of local frustration with the peacekeepers, victims of a November 2012 massacre by a government-backed militia in the town of Sigili delivered the corpses of 10 civilians, wrapped in white cloth, to UNAMID’s headquarters in the nearby town of El Fasher to protest its failure to act. When UNAMID visited the town of Sigili the following day they were greeted by an angry mob that blocked their movement with burning tires and pelted their vehicles with stones, according to an internal UNAMID document.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, a Ghanaian diplomat who took over the mission in early 2013, conceded that UNAMID has struggled to protect civilians. But he said in an interview that the presence of armed peacekeepers near Darfur’s largest camps for the displaced has nevertheless deterred attacks. When violence strikes, Chambas said, Darfuris turn to UNAMID for protection. “When the population living in villages outside of the IDP camps are threatened where do they run to? To UNAMID team sites,” he said. “There have been problems but one cannot speak of systematic intrusions [by armed groups] into the IDP camps to harm the people. In that regard we are fulfilling our mandate.”

O artigo completo está aqui.


Leitura para o fim-de-semana: o mundo maravilhoso de Teodoro Obiang filho

O texto é de 2012. Mas ganha toda uma nova relevância com a prespectiva da adesão da Guiné Equatorial à CPLP. Na época, Teodoro Nguema Obiang, filho de Teodoro Obiang Nguema, era apenas ministro da agricultura do país governado pelo pai. Hoje é vice-primeiro-ministro para evitar ser preso numa viagem ao estrangeiro. Mas a revista Foreign Policy já escrevia abundantemente sobre a sua relação com coelhinas da playboy, malas de dinheiro, carros de dois milhões de dólares e uma mansão gigante em Hollywood – e sobre a investigação que decorria nos Estados Unidos aos seus bens.


Teodorin’s World

By Ken Silverstein,
The owner of the estate at 3620 Sweetwater Mesa Road, which sits high above Malibu, California, calls himself a prince, and he certainly lives like one. A long, tree-lined driveway runs from the estate’s main gate past a motor court with fountains and down to a 15,000-square-foot mansion with eight bathrooms and an equal number of fireplaces. The grounds overlook the Pacific Ocean, complete with swimming pool, tennis court, four-hole golf course, and Hollywood stars Mel Gibson, Britney Spears, and Kelsey Grammer for neighbors.

With his short, stocky build, slicked-back hair, and Coke-bottle glasses, the prince hardly presents an image of royal elegance. But his wardrobe was picked from the racks of Versace, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana, and he spared no expense on himself, from the $30 million in cash he paid for the estate to what Senate investigators later reported were vast sums for household furnishings: $59,850 for rugs, $58,000 for a home theater, even $1,734.17 for a pair of wine glasses. When he arrived back home — usually in the back seat of a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce or one of his other several dozen cars — his employees were instructed to stand in a receiving line to greet the prince. And then they lined up to do the same when he left.

The prince, though, was a phony, a descendant of rulers but not of royals. His full name is Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue — Teodorin to friends — and he is the son of the dictator of Equatorial Guinea, a country about the size of Maryland on the western coast of Africa. A postage stamp of a country with a population of a mere 650,000 souls, Equatorial Guinea would be of little international consequence if it didn’t have one thing: oil, and plenty of it. The country is sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest producer of oil after Nigeria and Angola, pumping around 346,000 barrels per day, and is both a major supplier to and reliable supporter of the United States. Over the past 15 years, ExxonMobil, Hess Corp., and other American firms have collectively invested several billion dollars in Equatorial Guinea, which exports more of its crude to the U.S. market than any other country.

Energy revenues have flowed into the pockets of the country’s elite, but virtually none has trickled down to the poor majority; since the oil boom began, the country has rocketed to one of the world’s highest per capita incomes — and one of its lowest standards of living. Nearly four-fifths of its people live in abject poverty; child mortality has increased to the point that today some 15 percent of Equatorial Guinea’s children die before reaching age 5, making it one of the deadliest places on the planet to be young.

Teodorin’s 68-year-old father, Brig. Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, seized power in a 1979 coup and has made apparent his intent to hand over power to a chosen successor. Obiang has sired an unknown number of children with multiple women, but 41-year-old Teodorin is his clear favorite and is being groomed to take over. That’s a scary prospect both for the long-suffering citizens of his country and for U.S. foreign policy. As a former U.S. intelligence official familiar with Teodorin put it to me, “He’s an unstable, reckless idiot.”

He’s also, according to thousands of pages of documents I’ve reviewed from multiple federal and congressional investigations of the Obiangs over the last decade, fantastically corrupt. As the minister of agriculture and forestry in his father’s government, Teodorin holds sway over the country’s second-largest industry. Investigators have documented how he has run his ministry like a business, operating several logging companies alongside the agency meant to regulate them. Documents from a secret joint investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency quote sources alleging that Teodorin supplemented his modest ministerial salary of $5,000 per month with a “large ‘revolutionary tax’ on timber” that he ordered international logging firms to pay “in cash or through checks” to a forestry company he owned. Investigators suspect a large chunk of his assets was derived from “extortion, theft of public funds, or other corrupt conduct,” stated a 2007 Justice report detailing the probe, which I first reported on for the Harper’s website in 2009. Teodorin has not only assembled a vast fortune, he’s routed much of it into the United States; a detailed report last year by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that he used shell companies to evade money-laundering laws and funnel more than $100 million into the United States.

All those millions purchased Teodorin a lavish and debauched lifestyle, according to allegations in a series of previously unreported civil lawsuits filed against him by a dozen former employees at the Malibu estate. They claim they were cheated out of salaries, overtime wages, and work-related expenses for items ranging from gasoline to toilet paper, while being forced to support a tawdry setup straight out of the movie The Hangover: There were drug “binges,” as one ICE document claimed, escort service girls, Playboy bunnies, and even a tiger. “I never witnessed him perform anything that looked like work,” reads a legal filing on behalf of Dragan Deletic, one of Teodorin’s former drivers. “His days consisted entirely of sleeping, shopping and partying.” (Without responding to specifics, a Los Angeles lawyer for Teodorin, Kevin Fisher, dismissed the charges as “salacious” and “extreme,” adding, “The allegations have not been verified and the people making them are not subject to perjury, so I don’t give a great deal of credence to them.”)

After years of wrangling, most of the cases have now been settled, and the employees signed agreements that prevent them from speaking about Teodorin. But prior to that I interviewed several plaintiffs and their attorney, Jim McDermott, and read the case filings. I also reviewed thousands of pages of U.S. and foreign investigations that involve Teodorin. They are incredibly damning.

The larger issue raised by all this is why the U.S. government — after going to the effort to produce this mound of information pointing to Teodorin’s flagrant corruption and apparent misuse of the U.S. banking system — has been unwilling to do anything about it. “I’m surprised that he’s still allowed in the country based on all of the information contained in the Senate report and uncovered by other investigators and reporters,” said Linda Candler, a former Justice Department prosecutor who specialized in international criminal investigations. Indeed, legal experts say that Teodorin shouldn’t have been allowed to enter the United States since 2004, when President George W. Bush issued Proclamation 7750, which bars corrupt foreign officials from receiving U.S. visas. “No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves,” said Bush’s successor Barack Obama, whose administration pledged to “vigorously” enforce 7750. “We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don’t.”

And yet no formal action against Teodorin has been taken, despite an investigation whose stated goal, according to one of the Justice Department documents, was to shut down the flow of money into the United States “obtained through kleptocracy” by the Obiangs. Why? U.S. officials declined to discuss the ongoing cases on the record or speak harshly about Equatorial Guinea; it certainly appears to be the familiar story of a U.S. government unwilling to offend an important oil partner — the same coddling that has produced such stellar results in the past with Saudi Arabia and other energy-rich, democracy-poor Middle East allies. The Obama administration last year did help block UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency, from accepting $3 million from Obiang to endow a science prize in his name — but only after a public outcry raised by media reports calling attention to a prize the United States had previously been willing to overlook. Otherwise the administration has said little publicly about Equatorial Guinea’s awful record of corruption and human rights violations, and it has failed to impose sanctions against Teodorin or the state he is set to inherit. As of late 2010, years after the Justice Department probe began, investigators were still seeking to identify expert witnesses who could tell them about the early days of the Obiang regime.

O artigo completo está aqui.

O general bilionário

Leopoldino do Nascimento, um general angolano próximo de José Eduardo dos Santos comprou, em 2010, 18,75% de uma subsidiária da Trafigura – a terceira maior empresa mundial na área do comércio de petróleo e metais precisosos – por 213 milhões de dólares. O negócio, feito através de uma companhia registada em Singapura, foi mantido em segredo. Hoje, essa participação vale 750 milhões de dólares. A revelação foi feita pela revista Foreign Policy, numa investigação do jornalista Michael Weiss. E pode ser lida, aqui.

Ao mesmo tempo, a Trafigura desenvolveu uma relação com o regime angolano que a transformou no principal fornecedor de produtos derivados do petróleo do país. A maioria dos investimentos foi feito através da DTS Holdings, cujos únicos directores são Leopoldino do Nascimento e o principal responsável da Trafigura, o bilionário francês Claude Dauphin. De acordo com a revista, ficou por esclarecer como é que um general conseguiu obter o dinheiro para o investimento inicial que o transformou num dos novos bilionários angolanos.


Leitura para o fim-de-semana: os suicidas nucleares

Conceitos como a Mutual Assured Destruction tornaram-se familiares durante a Guerra Fria. No entanto, poucos sabem que, nessa época, o exército norte-americano desenvolveu engenhos nucleares portáteis, para serem utilizados em caso de uma ofensiva das forças soviéticas. Supostamente, deviam ter ficado nos territórios dos países aliados. Mas, na verdade, os soldados estavam prontos a usá-los por detrás das linhas do Pacto de Varsóvia. Para ler na Foreign Policy.


The Littlest Boy

By Adam Rawnsley,
The 1950s and ’60s were a golden age of nuclear weapons design.Scientists and technicians at the Los Alamos and Sandia nuclear weapons laboratories succeeded in miniaturizing the so-called “physics packages” at the core of atomic bombs from the nearly 10,000-plus-pound behemoth used in the first-ever nuclear test to smaller warheads that could fit atop a missile. And their colleagues in rocketry surged ahead in developing land- and submarine-launched ballistic missiles that, together with bombers, soon made up the nuclear “triad” supporting strategic deterrence against the Soviets.

From the Army’s perspective, the problem was that bombers and missiles were managed by the Air Force and the Navy, leaving the ground force out of arguably the most significant development in the history of war, even as its soldiers would be chiefly responsible for stopping a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. Fortunately for the Army, many U.S. strategists still saw nukes simply as bigger conventional bombs, and America’s post-Hiroshima mastery of the cutting-edge science of atomic destruction had filled weapons designers more with a sense of the possible than the prudent. The result was a series of odd creations that made their way into the Army’s arsenal, from atomic artillery to nuclear-tipped air-defense missiles.

The Army began rolling out atomic demolition munitions (ADMs) in 1954. The early iterations were cumbersome weapons, weighing hundreds of pounds and requiring several men to carry them with the help of trucks and helicopters. They were intended mostly for what you might call nuclear landscaping — to create irradiated, impassible craters or to collapse mountainsides into narrow passes in order to obstruct likely invasion routes and bottleneck enemy forces. One engineer recalls setting up an ADM in the middle of a forest: “The idea was to blow these trees across a valley to create a radioactive physical obstacle for vehicles and troops to get by,” he said.

The Army’s countermobility field manual taught soldiers to use ADMs for “stream cratering,” in which atomic explosions near small waterways would “form a temporary dam, create a lake, cause overbank flooding, and produce an effective water obstacle” for enemy forces.

If worst came to worst, the Army’s atomic engineers planned to deny advancing forces the use of friendly infrastructure by destroying allied bridges, tunnels, and dams. Railroad yards, power plants, airports — all were ripe targets for preemptive nuclear destruction.

But the Army wanted a more proactive nuclear role as well. Army partisans argued that the doctrine of massive retaliation left America unprepared for the full spectrum of conflict. Documents from the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) show that America’s nuclear weapons developers were happy to support the Army’s quest for tactical nukes. In 1957, according to an AEC history, Sandia Corporation President James McRae lamented that “indiscriminate use of high-yield nuclear weapons inevitably created adverse public opinion.” Since the future of war lay in an “unending succession of brushfire wars, rather than large-scale conflicts,” McRae recommended that “greater emphasis should be placed on small atomic weapons,” which could be used in “local ground combat.”

McRae’s urgings paved the way for the development of the Davy Crockett, a sub-kiloton-yield nuclear rocket that could fit on the back of a jeep. In 1958, when the Army came knocking for an atomic demolition munition that could be carried by a single soldier, the AEC looked to the Crockett’s lightweight Mark 54 warhead for its solution. The resulting weapon would be a smaller, more mobile version of the ADMs. The Army, though, would have to share the device with the Navy and Marine Corps.

The AEC’s final product — the B-54 Special Atomic Demolition Munition — entered the U.S. arsenal in 1964. It stood 18 inches tall, encased in an aluminum and fiberglass frame. It rounded to a bullet shape on one end and had a 12-inch-diameter control panel on the other. According to an Army manual, the weapon’s maximum explosive yield was less than 1 kiloton — that is, the equivalent of a thousand tons of TNT. To protect the bomb from unauthorized use, the SADM’s control panel was sealed by a cover plate secured by a combination lock. Glow-in-the-dark paint applied to the lock allowed troops to unlock the bomb at night.

As Soviet forces advanced into such countries as West Germany, theSADM would allow Special Forces units (dubbed “Green Light” teams) to deploy behind enemy lines to destroy infrastructure and matériel. But their mission wouldn’t have been limited to NATO countries alone. What many nuclear historians don’t realize is that Special Forces Green Light teams were also prepared to use SADMs on territory of the Warsaw Pact itself in order to thwart an invasion. The teams prepared to destroy enemy airfields, tank depots, nodes in the anti-aircraft grid, and any potentially useful transportation infrastructure in order to mitigate the flood of enemy armor and to allow allied air power to punch through. According to an internal report, the Army also considered burying SADMs next to enemy bunkers “to destroy critical field command and communications installations.”

O artigo completo pode ser lido aqui.

Leitura para o fim-de-semana: Bush e Putin, tão amigos que eles foram

O jornalista Peter Baker foi o chefe da delegação em Moscovo do The Washington Post. Agora é o principal correspondente na Casa Branca do The New York Times. O seu novo livro chama-se Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House e estes excertos, publicados na revista Foreign Policy contam como George W. Bush olhou Putin nos olhos e viu a sua alma – e como uma amizade surpreendente acabou por gelar.


The Seduction of George W. Bush

How the president of good and evil bromanced Vladimir Putin. And how a warm friendship turned to ice.


In the summer of 2006, President George W. Bush was relaxing at Camp David with the visiting prime minister of Denmark when the conversation turned to Vladimir Putin. It had been five years since Bush memorably peered into the Russian leader’s soul. But now hope had been replaced by exasperation.

Bush regaled his guest with stories of aggravating private dealings with Putin that underscored their growing rift. Bush was astonished that Putin had tried to influence him by offering to hire a close friend of the president’s and he found Putin’s understanding of the world disconnected from reality. “He’s not well informed,” Bush groused. “It’s like arguing with an eighth grader with his facts wrong.”

Putin was on his mind because Russia was about to host the annual summit of the G-8 powers for the first time and Bush feared that the session would be dominated by questions about why an undemocratic nation was hosting a gathering of democratic nations. Bush had been trying to get Putin to relax his authoritarian rule to no avail. “I think Putin is not a democrat anymore,” Bush lamented a few weeks later to another visitor, the prime minister of Slovenia. “He’s a tsar. I think we’ve lost him.”

Whether Bush or anyone else ever actually “had” Putin in the first place is debatable at best. But the story of Bush’s eight-year pas de deux with the master of the Kremlin, reconstructed through interviews with key players and secret notes and memos, offers lessons for President Obama as he struggles to define his own approach to Putin and shape the future of the two nuclear powers. The last few months have become another dramatic juncture in the volatile Russian-American relationship, with Moscow defying Washington by offering shelter to national security leaker Edward Snowden, Obama becoming the first president to cancel a Russian-American meeting in more than 50 years and then, suddenly, improbably, the Kremlin throwing the American leader a lifeline when his confrontation with Syria took a wrong turn.

Looked at in the context of time, Obama’s own dashed aspirations to build a new partnership with Moscow seem to echo his predecessor’s experience. Bush thought he could forge more meaningful ties with Russia in his early years, particularly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and for a time seemed to make significant headway with a nuclear arms treaty and cooperation on Afghanistan, only to become frustrated as the two countries diverged, eventually coming into overt diplomatic conflict during the Georgia war of 2008. Obama likewise came into office intent on pushing the “reset” button and similarly saw early progress with a nuclear arms treaty and cooperation on Afghanistan, only to find his efforts increasingly thwarted by the same Putinist revanchism. Whether the recent Russian-American collaboration to disarm Syria’s chemical stocks will turn out to be a more enduring foundation for change remains to be seen.

If Obama were to look back at his predecessor’s experience, though, he might recognize how easy it is to misjudge Moscow’s intentions by superimposing American ideas of what Russian interests should be rather than understanding how Putin and his circle of KGB veterans and zero-sum-gamers actually see those interests. Again and again, Bush and Obama have assessed Russia through an American prism and come away disappointed that the view from the Kremlin looks different than they thought it ought to.

* * *

Bush came to office wary of Putin — “one cold dude,” he called him privately — but he was interested in forging a working relationship if only because at the time he saw the real threat to the United States elsewhere. When he met with Russia scholars before his first encounter with Putin in 2001, Michael McFaul, then a Stanford University professor and later Obama’s ambassador to Moscow, told him that keeping Russia “inside our tent” was the best course.

Bush agreed. “You’re absolutely right,” he said, “because someday we’re all going to be dealing with the Chinese.”

So when he sat down with Putin in a 16th-century castle in Slovenia in June of that year, he was predisposed to find a partner in the former KGB man even before his counterpart told him about saving his Orthodox cross from a dacha fire, a story appealing to Bush’s faith. Bush’s later public comment noting that he had gotten a “sense of his soul” disturbed many inside his own team. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice stiffened even as he said it, worried that the answer might be too effusive — but she said nothing. Back in Washington, Vice President Dick Cheney and his staff were even more bothered. “A lot of us were kind of rolling our eyes about that,” Eric Edelman, then the vice president’s deputy national security adviser, recalled later. Every time Cheney saw Putin, he privately told people, “I think KGB, KGB, KGB.”

Bush nonetheless stepped up his courtship, inviting Putin to his ranch outside Crawford, Texas, and later to Camp David. Putin liked to brag that he was the first foreign leader to reach out to Bush after the World Trade Towers fell and that he had overruled his own hardliners to allow American troops into former Soviet-controlled Central Asia as a jumping off point for Afghanistan.

Even when Bush abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty over Russian objections, the two tamped down the dispute and agreed on significant reductions in their respective nuclear arsenals. Cheney resisted codifying those cuts in a treaty, but Bush decided to sign one anyway, because Putin insisted. “Putin is at huge risk,” Bush told aides, “and he needs to fight off his troglodytes.”

Then as later, Bush would attribute Putin’s demands or paranoia to those around him, essentially exonerating the Russian president himself. During a trade dispute when Russia cut off imports of American chicken drumsticks (known colloquially within Russia as “Bush legs”), Putin in a private conversation with Bush asserted that Americans deliberately sent bad poultry to Russia.

“I know you have separate plants for chickens for America and chickens for Russia,” Putin told Bush.

Bush was astonished. “Vladimir, you’re wrong.”

“My people have told me this is true,” Putin insisted.

If Bush was willing to blame that misinformation on Putin’s advisers, he could hardly have missed the fact that it was the Russian president who fought him publicly and powerfully on the Iraq War, joining his counterparts in Paris and Berlin. Even then, Bush was forbearing, intent on preventing a broader rupture in the relationship. Rice at the time privately summed up the policy this way: “Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia.”

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Leitura para o fim-de-semana: os espiões israelitas em Damasco

O conselho de segurança da ONU já acordou uma resolução para a Síria. O regime comprometeu-se a entregar as armas químicas. Mas para isso foi preciso utilizá-las e matar milhares de pessoas. No meio de todo este processo, um país manteve-se nos atento e influente nos bastidores: Israel, que há anos lida com a possibilidade de a Síria usar armas químicas e fornecê-las ao Hezbollah. A história já tem umas semanas e foi publicada na Foreign Policy. Mas continua a valer a pena ler.


The Spies Inside Damascus

The Mossad’s secret war on the Syrian WMD machine.


On Aug. 20, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama declared that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began shifting around or using his chemical weapons, Obama would consider that “a red line.” The implication was that such a move would lead to American intervention in Syria. Some officials from the Israeli Foreign Ministry believed that Obama drew the line because he believed it would never be crossed. If that was his assumption, he made it based, in part, on assessments received from the Israeli intelligence services, which have waged a multidecade clandestine campaign to strip Assad of his deadliest weapons — and which also have emerged as the United States’ primary partners in collecting information on Middle Eastern regimes.

According to two former high-ranking military intelligence officials with whom I had spoken recently, Israeli intelligence agencies believed at the time that Assad would not use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and would keep his chemical arsenal as a bargaining chip to be traded in exchange for political asylum for himself, his loyal wife, and his close associates, if necessary. Israel was wrong.

On March 10, 2013, Israeli intelligence sources began reporting that the Syrian regime had made use of chemical weapons. A number of different and cross-checked sources produced this information. Among them: sources that eavesdropped on the Syrian army’s tactical frequencies and surveillance satellites that monitored movement out of a bunker known to protect chemical weapons.

Israel shared its findings with the United States, but Washington would not acknowledge those findings’ veracity. It was clear to the Israelis that the Americans saw those findings as a hot potato that the president was in no mood to hold. Without grasping the deep political significance of publicizing this material (or perhaps doing so intentionally to put pressure on Washington), Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, the head of the Aman, the Israeli military intelligence corps’ research division, stated clearly in an April 23 speech at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons on its citizens.

This utterance angered and embarrassed the U.S. administration. Washington stuttered for a few days and demanded clarifications from Israel. In the end, and following areport submitted to the United Nations by Britain and France, the Obama administration had to admit that the informationwas in fact correct. Since then, to avoid similar commotions, Aman officers are forbidden to appear in public conferences.

Either way, the intelligence coordination between Israel and the United States has not suffered, and Israel continues to share the vast amounts of information that it has about Syria with the United States. Published reports credit Israel with giving the CIA, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “intelligence from inside an elite special Syrian unit that oversees Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons” after the massive Aug. 21 sarin attack outside Damascus.

“We have a very extensive knowledge of what is happening in Syria. Our ability to collect information there is profound. Israel is the eyes and ears, sometimes exclusively, sometimes as complementary aid, to what the U.S. intelligence is able or unable to collect itself,” Maj. Gen. Uri Sagi, Israel’s former chief of military intelligence, told me on Sept. 19. While the threat of an American attack on Syria — and a possible Syrian counterattack on Israel — has subsided for the moment, the Israeli-American efforts to penetrate the Assad regime continue. This is a history of those efforts.

American and Israeli spies have long been partners. “Information we collected, especially by Unit 8200 [Israel’s eavesdropping corps], has always been of the highest value to the NSA [U.S. National Security Agency] and other U.S. intelligence agencies,” Sagi noted. A top-secret memorandum, recently revealed by theGuardian, shows that the NSA passes along raw intercepts to Unit 8200. But the partnership hasn’t always produced results. Regarding the 1990-1991 Gulf War, for instance, “one must honestly admit that when it came to Iraq back then, both Americans and Israelis had very little information to share,” Sagi said.

At the time, the joint effort to spy on Syria’s weapons of mass destruction wasn’t much better.

In March 1990, North Korea’s premier visited Damascus, and the two states signed a secret deal for military and technological cooperation that centered on the supply of Scud C missiles and launchers to Syria. In early February 1991, the first consignment of some 30 missiles was shipped to the Syrian port of Latakia. The NSA, Israeli intelligence later learned, was aware that something was going on, but Washington refrained from informing Tel Aviv because the Americans feared that the Israelis would try to intercept the shipment and start yet another Middle Eastern brawl.

However, Israel had sources of its own. The Mossad — Israel’s national intelligence agency — was keeping an eye on the ship. Agents of the Mossad’s Caesarea division, who are trained to penetrate Arab countries, were waiting in Morocco for the vessel that had set sail from North Korea and had docked in a number of African ports en route to the Mediterranean Sea and Latakia. Two Mossad operatives, working undercover as tourists, successfully dove under the ship and attached a powerful transponder to it. An Israeli F-15 fighter jet was supposed to launch a missile to hone in on the beacon signal on the ship and blow the vessel to smithereens. In the end, however, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir decided to call the operation off out of a fear that it would spark a major conflagration in the Middle East due to the fact that the Gulf War was under way.

In retrospect, two former Israeli intelligence officials with whom I spoke in early September — one from the Mossad and one from the Aman — expressed regret at Shamir’s decision.

“If we were to make a point at that time,” one of them said, “that we will not allow Syria to further develop missiles to deliver WMD, we might not be threatened today by a huge arsenal of missiles able to strike any place in Israel with chemical agents.”

For now, the Israeli assessment is that Assad will not attack Israel, even if he is attacked by U.S. forces. Israel, however, is preparing for a counterstrike. To some degree, Israel is already involved, as it is helping the United States to collect intelligence on Syria.

O artigo completo está aqui.