Iran in Latin America: Threat or Axis of Annoyance?

Senior Fellow Douglas Farah's analysis of the debate over the level of threat posed by Iran's expanding diplomatic, trade and military presence in Latin America, and its stated ambition to continue to broaden these ties.read more

Chinese Naval Modernization: Altering the Balance of Power

Richard Fisher details China's naval modernization program and the potential impacts on U.S. interests in the Western Pacific.read more

Reports

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The 2013 U.S. Department of Defense China Military Power Report: Better Than “Chicken Ribs”
by Richard Fisher, Jr.

Published on June 26th, 2013
At 83 pages, the United States Department of Defense Annual Report To Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2013 is almost twice the length of the 2012 version, and the same length as the 2011 report.  Credit for restoring this report to a useful length goes to the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, led by Chairman Buck McKeon.  The Obama Administration had justified the 2012 report cutback as expense-related, but in a letter to then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman McKeon and his colleagues stated, "It would not appear the justification is cost-savings, but rather an internal decision to limit the amount of information provided to Congress.”  Despite its many flaws, since 1999 these annual reports mandated by the Congress have proven to be the most valid assessment of People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) modernization offered by any government, including that of China. Because China refuses to directly challenge this report by offering more credible explanations of its military developments and intentions, these reports stand as the best open record of China’s military transformation over the last decade.  As such, they have helped to guide debates over defense priorities and expenditures in the U.S. Congress and for other governments, so its 2012 truncation was both widely noticed and rightly rejected.   read more
La Cámpora in Argentina
The Rise of New Vanguard Generation and the Road to Ruin
by Douglas Farah

Published on May 13th, 2013
The rise and growing influence of La Cámpora, is among the least understood but most important aspects of the Fernández de Kirchner’s government, with direct ties back to the turbulent and violent “dirty war” between the Montonero Marxists guerillas and successive dictatorships in the 1970s. In acknowledgement of their absolute loyalty to her, the president fondly refers to the Camporistas as her “little soldiers.” Rather than reporting through normal cabinet chains of command, its leaders respond only to the president and Máximo, operating as a parallel power structure and severely undermining the institutional oversight of their actions.read more
Transnational Crime, Social Networks and Forests: Using natural resources to finance conflicts and postconflict violence
World Bank: Forests Fragility and Conflict
by Douglas Farah

Published on April 1st, 2013
This chapter addresses the role of organized crime and commodity trafficking in facilitating armed conflict and producing cycles of protracted violence that persist in postconflict countries. It does so by looking at three case studies that demonstrate the different factors that drive conflicts and postconflict violence. After presenting a theoretical framework — of positive and negative state influence, the vital role of the criminalized state and transnational criminal substate actors, and the role of nonstate actors — it examines the social networks required at different nodes of the commodity chain. Such networks rely first on traditional elites to act as “local fixers,” supplying the criminal state or nonstate armed actor with connections to the market and financial networks needed to extract and sell the commodity. These local fixers rely on “super fixers” to supply transport and war materiel, as well as to connect them to international “shadow facilitators” who can move weapons and commodities, launder money, and obtain the fraudulent international documents needed. It then uses the three case studies to argue that transnational organized crime networks for trafficking commodities, specifically timber, can emerge in diverse circumstances of state strength — and state absence — that lead to cycles of violence. In Liberia a strong but criminalized state looted the marginalized, resource-rich rural areas, while in the timber-rich Petén region of northeastern Guatemala, and in forested areas of Colombia, criminal nonstate armed actors have operated in subnational territories mostly beyond state control.read more
Ecuador’s Role in Iran’s Latin American Financial Structure
A Case Study of the Use of COFIEC Bank
by Douglas Farah, Pamela Philips Lum

Published on March 12th, 2013
Since November 2008, when the Central Bank of Ecuador agreed to accept $120 million in deposits from the internationally sanctioned Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI), the desire of Iran to use the Ecuadoran financial system to access the world banking system has been evident. In 2008, EDBI was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for "providing financial services to Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL)," in an effort to "advance Iran's WMD programs."  What has emerged since early 2012 is a far more sophisticated plan to use a little-known Ecuadoran bank in state receivership, known as COFIEC, to open correspondent accounts with sanctioned Iranian banking institutions through a state-owned Russian bank. There have also been serious discussions of clandestinely selling the Ecuadoran bank to sanctioned Iranian banks, talks which senior government officials have acknowledged are still underway.read more
Back to the Future: Argentina Unravels
by Douglas Farah

Published on February 27th, 2013
Argentina’s flamboyant president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was indignant when, during a U.S. tour last year, a student at Harvard asked her how her personal wealth had grown more than 900 percent in less than a decade. “I don’t know where you get those figures, but that is not how it is,” the president responded. Such is Argentina in the time of Fernández de Kirchner, where official obfuscation and denial of facts are routine, unexplained acquisition of wealth is the norm, official accountability is rapidly disappearing, the rule of law is eroding, and political enemies are publicly attacked as traitors. During her time in office, Fernández de Kirchner has built a massive patronage system, consistently rewarding close political allies with lucrative business opportunities, often at the expense of foreign investors whose properties have been expropriated in violation of international agreements. read more
Central American Gangs and Transnational Criminal Organizations
by Douglas Farah, Pamela Phillips Lum

Published on February 24th, 2013
On October 11, 2012, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) a significant transnational criminal organization (TCO). The gang was targeted for its involvement in “serious transnational criminal activities, including drug trafficking, kidnapping, human smuggling, sex trafficking, murder, assassinations, racketeering, blackmail, extortion and immigration offenses.” The designation, which came as a surprise to Central American governments, has caused considerable debate within the U.S. policy and law enforcement communities over whether the step was merited and whether it would, or could, have a significant impact. read more
Less Is Not Enough: Reflections on China’s Military Trajectory and the U.S. Pivot
by Richard Fisher, Jr.

Published on November 25th, 2012
While the political and military Pivot by the Obama Administration has generally received a bi-partisan welcome in Washington, one regular criticism is that the new strategy may not realize its full potential due to underfunding, despite Administration promises that defense spending cuts will not affect the U.S. posture in Asia.read more
Shenyang’s New (Stolen) Fighters
by Richard Fisher, Jr.

Published on November 18th, 2012
With the first ten minute flight of its new J-31 Falcon low-observable fighter, on 31 October 2012, China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation is beginning to shed some of its reputation as a replicator of scammed Russian Sukhoi designs. But Shenyang appears to be trading that reputation for one of a recycler of likely stolen American fighter design concepts.read more
Transnational Organized Crime, Terrorism, and Criminalized States in Latin America: An Emerging Tier-One National Security Priority (Spanish Translation)
U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute

Published on November 16th, 2012
The emergence of new hybrid (state and nonstate) transnational criminal and terrorist franchises in Latin America poses a tier-one security threat for the United States. These organizations operate under broad state protection and undermine democratic governance, sovereignty, growth, trade, and stability. Similar hybrid franchise models are developing in other parts of the world, which makes understanding their new dynamics essential, as they are an important element in the broader global security context.read more
Transnational Organized Crime, Terrorism, and Criminalized States in Latin America: An Emerging Tier-One National Security Priority
U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute
by Douglas Farah

Published on August 16th, 2012
The emergence of new hybrid (state and nonstate) transnational criminal and terrorist franchises in Latin America poses a tier-one security threat for the United States. These organizations operate under broad state protection and undermine democratic governance, sovereignty, growth, trade, and stability. Similar hybrid franchise models are developing in other parts of the world, which makes understanding their new dynamics essential, as they are an important element in the broader global security context.read more
Total Records: 37
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