Security Issues Project
by Ronald Bleier, editor
c o n t e n t s
- 40 Wars in 1996-- Project Ploughshares
- Government Accused of Massacres
- Ongoing Fighting in 1996
- Economic Woes and Ethnic Turmoil
- China: Population Issues
- The Collapse of the One Child Policy
- Fishing Down the Line
- Civil War in Chiapas Background to the Acteal Massacre
- No to Nanotechnology
- Population and Immigration Issues
- Operation GET OUT -- Malaysia Returns Migrants
- U.S. Immigration Up
- U.S. Food and Media Issues
- Milk, rBGH, and Cancer
U.S. -- American Farmland Threatened
40 Wars in 1996-- Project Ploughshares
There were 40 wars in the year ending 1996, according to the Project Ploughshares Armed Conflicts Report 1997, down from the 44 wars they counted in 1995.Project Ploughshares defines war as a "political conflict [resulting in] military violence that has produced a minimum of 1,000 deaths and continues with a minimum of 25 deaths per year."
In 1996, by Project Ploughshares's count, Africa and Asia were the sites of 29 wars; there were seven wars in the Middle East,three in the Americas, and Europe had one. According to their reckoning,the Middle East was the world's most warring region with more than 40% of the states there experiencing warfare in 1996.
In their report they added two armed conflicts (fighting in Northern Uganda and in northeast India) over the previous year and dropped four of the post-Cold War European armed conflicts: Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Georgia, although they note that the political and social conflicts that gave rise to the fighting are far from resolved.
The Armed Conflicts Report 1996 may be obtained for $8 (including shipping) from:
Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies
Conrad Grebel College,Waterloo, ON, N2L 3G6, Canada
Tel: 519-888-6541, Fax: 519-885-0806;
Government Accused of Massacres
The Algerian government is accused of responsibility for bombings, massacres and other crimes that most news organizations have been attributing to Muslim extremists. These accusations come in testimony from a former career secret agent of Algeria's securite militaire who defected to Britain in 1995.
According to a November 16, 1997 report in the Manchester Guardian Weekly, bylined by reporters John Sweeney and Leonard Doyle, "Yussuf-Joseph,'who spent 14 years working for the Algerian police state, accuses the government of Algeria of responsibility for the relentless massacres of villagers in Algeria. He claims they are the work of secret police and army death squads.
- He says that the killing of many foreigners was organized by the secret police, not Islamic extremists.
- He claims that the "bombs that outraged Paris in 1995 -- blamed on Moslem fanatics -- were the handiwork of the Algerian secret police. They were part of a propaganda war aimed at galvanizing French public opinion against the Islamists."
- He claims that the Algerian police state is hiding material for President Saddam Hussein's nuclear, chemical and biological warfare programme.
- He claims that Algerian intelligence agents routinely bribe European police,journalists and MPs. Joseph said he paid one French MP more than $90,000 in bribes.
- According to Joseph, the Algerian police state is run by two men much more powerful than President Liamine Zeroual. They are Mohammed Mediane, codename "Twefik," the head of the Algerian secret service, the DRS; and General Smain Lamari, head of the sub-department of the secret service, the counter intelligence agency, the DCE.
Joseph asserts that the Armed Islamic Group or GIA, generally blamed for the massacres which have cost tens of thousands of lives since elections were suspended in 1992, is "a pure product of Smain's secret service....The GIA has been completely turned by the government."
[Joseph's assertions, if accurate, would go a long way toward explaining why the massacres are routinely allowed to proceed for hours on end even when they take place within shouting distances of government troops. --ed.]
The Paris Bombings
- The government of Algeria was responsible for "at least two" of the Paris bombs in the summer of 1995 in which several people were killed, asserts Joseph. He said that secret agents were sent by Smain and that the operation was run by Colonel Souames Mahmoud, alias Habib, head of the secret service at the Algerian embassy in Paris. Two men who were seized by the Paris police, ostensibly for their part in the bombings, were killed or disappeared. [One of the 40 defendants on trial in Paris in connection with the 1995 Paris bombings told the court "that he had been a secret agent in Algeria before coming to France." New York Times, "40 on Trial in Paris on Charges of Aiding '95 Algerian Bombers," 11/27/97]
- All the intelligence services in Europe are aware of the Algerian government's responsibility for the massacres, claims Joseph. "They are keeping quiet because they want to protect their oil."
- The murder of President Mohammed Boudiaf in 1992 was the responsibility of the securite militaire, according to Joseph. He said that "Boudiaf was killed because he had very sensitive files on corrupt generals. The generals have made millions from corruption, held in Swiss banks. Boudiaf started an inquiry."
Note: Corroboration of certain aspects of the charges against the Algerian government for responsibility for the Algerian massacres was broadcast on a segment of ITN TV News (London) on 12/5/97. They cited allegations that the Government had infiltrated the GIS and was in effect largely responsible for the massacres. ITN cited a defecting member of the Algerian army who made a connection between mysterious operation of elite Algerian Army commando units and subsequent reports of a massacre in the area the next morning.
Ongoing Fighting in 1996
Chad (population 6 million, 1997; 3.2 million, 1960) has been embroiled in ongoing but intermittent armed conflict since its independence from France in 1965. Since 1990 the main fighting has been between the government of President Idriss Deby who took power in a December 1990 coup and two major southern factions:the Movement for Democracy and Development linked to deposed President Hissene Habre; and the Committee of National Revival for Peace and Democracy. A third rebel group, the Armed Forces for a Federal Republic, has also been identified.
Continued abuses of human rights by government and rebel forces underscored a lack of resolution to Chad's long-term armed conflict. More than 50,000 have been killed since the conflict began in 1965,with about 6,000 of these deaths occurring since the December 1990 Deby coup.The government has received arms from the U.S., France and the Netherlands. (from Project Ploughshares, Armed Conflicts Report 1997.)
Economic Woes and Ethnic Turmoil
Ethnic clashes between Kikuyu and Kalenjin ethnic groups in Kenya's Rift Valley have taken at least 100 lives in early 1998; In addition, ethnic clashes on the Indian Ocean coast in the second half of 1997 has scared away tourists and led to a decline of $280 million in tourism receipts, according to reports in the New York Times.
The International Monetary Fund suspended a $205 million low-interest loan to Kenya in July 1997 citing rampant corruption among top officials. "A series of disasters have [recently] beset Kenya's economy...Heavy rains and floods wiped out roads and bridges, twice cutting the main highway to the port of Mombassa....The rains have destroyed crops as well, crippling production of coffee, tea, corn , wheat, beans, rice and sugar." The deluges have also caused epidemics of malaria and cholera, and have also led to an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever.
"To make fiscal matters worse, strikes in December forced the Government to agree to labor settlements with teachers and other civil servants that provided for a tripling of salaries, which is likely to add millions in unexpected expenditures to the $3.1 billion annual budget." Kenya's civil payroll totals nearly 485,000 workers. The country pays "horrendously high interest rates of more than 25 percent on its treasury bills and commercial debts....The budget deficit is expected to balloon to around 4 percent of this year's domestic output. Few resources are left over for building roads, hospitals, schools."
The Background of Ethnic Violence in Kenya:
Shortly after President Daniel arap Moi won re-election in January 1998, in a contest that divided Kenyans along tribal lines, ethnic clashes broke out in the Rift valley. Opposition leaders say the "attacks appear to be a well-orchestrated campaign to drive Kikuyu people out of the Rift Valley, a political stronghold of the President."
By and large, the Kikuyu, Kenya's largest tribe, voted for their kinsman, opposition leader Mwai Kibaki, the former Vice President. According to the Times, "the root of the clashes is a struggle for fertile land. Before independence, the grasslands and plains of the Rift Valley were peopled mostly by the Masai, the Samburu and other smaller tribes in the Kalenjin ethnic group. But after Britain granted Kenya independence in the early 1960s, tens of thousands of Kikuyu, who are mostly farmers from the central highlands around Mount Kenya, migrated into the valley, buying up thousands of acres from white settlers and farmers. ... Similar attacks occurred in 1991 and 1992 just before and after the country's first multiparty election, which Mr. Moi, who has been in power since 1978, also won." (New York Times, "Ethnic Violence Flares Anew After Election in Kenya," 1/31/98, by James C. McKinley Jr.; "Almost All the News on Kenya Is Turning Out Bad," 2/15/98 by James C. McKinley Jr.)
Note on Kenya's Population
In 1969 Kenya's population was 11 million. In 1990 it was 25 million. In the 1980s the World Bank concluded that Kenya's population was growing at a rate of 4.1 percent per year, the fastest in the world.
China: Population Issues
The Collapse of the One Child Policy
A top Chinese demographer is quoted as saying that the one-child policy has long been "more slogan than reality," in an article by Mark Hertsgaard, "Our Real China Problem," (The Atlantic Monthly, November 1997). Hertsgaard explains that in 1984, five years after the one-child policy was inaugurated, government officials were forced by popular resistance to relax restrictions in rural areas where nearly three out of four Chinese live.
Hertsgaard writes that despite the relaxation, there is competition among local Party leaders to post lower birth rates. This competition leads to "renewed coercion of women, continued abortions of female fetuses, and underreporting of the nation's true birth rates."
In his travels in the provinces, Hertsgaard found that every family he met had at least two children, many had three or four and some had five or more. The collapse of Beijing's population control policy puts into question official Chinese claims that Chinese women average only two births each; that the population will not reach 1.5 billion until 2030; and that it will peak at 1.6 billion in 2046. "The truth is that no one knows exactly how big China's population is, or how fast it is growing," said a Chinese official. Even if current government claims that China's one child policy has reduced fertility to an improbably low 2.0, the Chinese population is so large that the official fertility rate would still mean an increase of 15 million Chinese a year.
According to Hertsgaard, in the 1950s, Mao brushed aside warnings about overpopulation and not until 1971 was the "later, longer, fewer," population stabilization program instituted. It turned to be was less coercive and more successful than the subsequent one-child policy, remarkably reducing average births per woman from 5.8 in 1970 to 2.8 by 1977.
Hertsgaard calls population growth China's most important environmental issue because it magnifies all others. Hertsgaard's article, a report on his six week trip to China in 1997 to investigate China's environmental crisis, details unimaginable environmental insults that he observed first hand. He also gives a hint of the intractability of the problem by pointing to the economic pressures on national and local leaders which make Chinese environmental laws often a sham. Hertsgaard notes that "eighty percent of the coal in China isn't "washed," and that one of every four deaths in China is caused by lung disease, brought on by the air pollution and by the habit of smoking." He quotes Chen Qi, the top environmental official in Liaoning, a region of bitter winter cold and 30 percent unemployment. "Heavy pollution may kill you in a hundred days, but without enough heat and food you die in three."
Fishing Down the Line
"For over 200 years, whalers have methodically hunted down to commercial extinction every species of great whale in order of size. They started with the largest, the Blue whale, then, when such could no longer be found in profitable numbers, they turned to Fin whales, then Sei whales, and so on down the line, to the smallest one that remained in any substantial numbers, the Minke.
It was a harbinger of things to come for all of the world's fisheries. As one commercial species after another has been fished out, the trawlers are turning to formerly ignored "trash fish" and crustaceans. The boom in lobster and shrimp, cheap and ignored until the late 1960s, is now filtering down to sea urchins, rock crab, dogfish, moon snails, and squid. The most ominous target of this trend is krill, the small, shrimp-like creature that is a dietary mainstay of whales, seals, penguins, and many species of fish and seabirds. It is going to fish farms and animal feed. Should krill join the growing lists of "overfished" fisheries, the entire marine ecosystem will be at risk." (From an article on "Krill Overkill" in the Sea Shepherd Log, Spring 1998, the newsletter of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, International Headquarters, PO Box 628, Venice, CA 90294; Fax:310- 574-3161;
Civil War in Chiapas
Background to the Acteal Massacre
The December 22, 1997 massacre of 45 villagers in Acteal, a small town in the Mexican province of Chiapas highlighted the smoldering civil war between Zapatista supporters and villages affiliated with the Government's party, the PRI, according to a report in the New York Times.
Times reporter, Julia Preston, quoted the Reverend Michel Chanteau, the Catholic parish priest of Chenalho, a small town near Acteal, who said that before the twelve day Zapatista uprising of 1994, "this [the Chiapas area] used to be a monolithic world. Every Indian used to say, `I am Tzotzil, Catholic and PRI.'"
Down a rocky back road not far from Polho, a nearby Zapatista controlled village in north-central Chiapas, pro-government peasants set up an anti-Zapatista roadblock and defended the PRI to a reporter. "`We want the justice of the Government,'" said a PRI supporter translating in shaky Spanish for a group of women from their Tzotzil language. "`We don't want the justice of some Zapatista official who doesn't have a real position. The Zapatistas just want to get rid of all the PRI supporters once and for all.'"
"PRI followers were especially antagonized when in August 1996 the Zapatisa authorities seized a sand mine in the middle of the country. Official documents show that, years earlier, a federal agency had granted the mine to a cooperative of villagers associated with the PRI."
After the seizure of the mine many PRI leaders began to arm themselves. "At least one armed group in Chiapas had the public approval of the man who was then the Governor, Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro, a PRI politician. In August 1997 he gave $575,000 in state social program money -- a fortune in rural Chiapas -- to an organization named Development, Justice and Peace ... even though the group had long been accused by human rights monitors of harassing and sometimes killing Government opponents."
Armed pro-Government (PRI) gunmen forcibly collected war taxes ranging from the equivalent of $1.25 to $40 a family with no hindrance from the police despite repeated complaints by Zapatista supporters. In September 1997 anti-Zapatista fighters began burning and looting Zapatista's houses and committing several killings. Some armed Zapatistas responded with attacks that forced PRI supporters out of hamlets they controlled. In the last half of 1997, before the Acteal massacre, at least 24 people were killed in Chiapas in increasingly deadly shooting raids by both sides. According to the government, the Acteal massacre was an act of vengeance by a father from a pro-Government hamlet who believed his son had been slain by Acteal villagers.
Early in January 1998, President Ernesto Zedillo dismissed Governor Ruiz Ferro. The Acteal massacre prompted mass evacuation of Zapatista supporters. There are now as many as 7,000 refugees in Chiapas whose population is 30,000. (New York Times, February 2, 1998, "Feuding Indians Bringing Area Close to War, by Julia Preston.)
No to Nanotechnology
In an age of growing awareness of the impact of human activity on the earth's diminishing resources, many look to more powerful and expanding technologies in order to maintain our standard of living as our populations and economic activity continue to grow.
Nanotechnology is a process based on micro-electronic systems which manipulate particles as small as the atom and its constituent particles, For many, nanotechnology represents a leading hope for a breakthrough technique promising a revolutionary impact on the quality of our lives.
From a theoretical viewpoint, however, it is inconceivable that nanotechnology can deliver on the promise that many hope for, argues Robert Mueller, a science writer and a former NASA scientist, in an article adapted by Real World ("Just a Waste of Energy," Winter 1996/7) from an article in Earth First Journal.
Mueller points out that the second law of thermodynamics raises fundamental questions about the premise and the promise of technological systems like nanotechnogy to dissolve the contradictions between growing human demand and the finite limits of the earth's resources.
The second law of thermodynamics "states that the disorder or 'entropy' of any isolated system always spontaneously increases. In practical terms this means that although we can create technological order in local parts of the environment (e.g. an industrial site) there inevitably will be created a concomitant greater quantity of disorder, not only at that site, but in external regions from which ordering elements such as energy and materials were drawn.
Mueller illustrates his view that greater disorder is caused by attempts at technological control, by pointing to some examples which are commonly regarded as marvels of human ingenuity. He argues out that current attempts at "supercontrol" of medical procedures like organ transplants and life support systems are so costly in terms of their material requirements that they drive up the costs of medical care beyond the reach of many who will never need these extreme procedures.
Mueller also points to the enormous expense of maintaining the "monotonous monocultures of agribusiness" and to the "trimmed herbicide and pesticide-saturated yards, roadsides and other artificially vegetated areas," and the "inefficient estates of 'hobby agriculture', like golf courses, that destructively enslave more thousands of square miles, as well as the large expanses of public land devot ed to deficit timber, grazing and mining operations by the federal government.
Mueller argues that proponents of technology tend to ignore the importance of wilderness as a crucial locus originating and sustaining life. He concludes with his view of wilderness as the place wher e the natural regimen of harmony between order and disorder can operate. He believes that if humanity is to flourish, we must preserve wilderness and not continue to destroy it.
Population and Immigration Issues
The world's population reached a record 5.9 billion people in 1998 and is expected to reach 6 billion people in 1999. According to the US Census Bureau estimate, 79 million people a year are addedto the world's population, down from a high of 86 million a year in the late 80s. The United States is the world's third most populous country after China and India. It's population reached 268.9 million in January 1998 and is growing by about 2.4 million a year, the fastest rate of the industrialized countries. More than half the yearly increase is a consequence of legal and illegal immigration.
Operation GET OUT -- Malaysia Returns Migrants
Malaysia has begun returning illegal Indonesian migrants due to a downturn in the region's economy. "But even as they are being sent back, more migrants are coming...Officials say as many as 300 or m ore people are landing every day," according to a report in the New York Times. Unemployment in Indonesia (pop. 200 million) has been estimated at 8-10 million and could be made worse by hundreds of thousands or even millions more returnees from other countries.
Malaysia (pop. 21 million) has relied on foreign workers as it binged on construction projects. Foreign workers make up one-fifth of the workforce including an estimated 1.2 million Indonesians, 800,000 of whom are illegal. Malaysian Foreign Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said: "It is dangerous to have too many people unemployed. It can cause instability in Malaysia socially and even politically. We have to take care of our own people first; charity must begin at home."
Malaysia has announced that it will not renew the work permits of as many as 850,000 legal foreign workers when they expire in August. But there are logistical problems in expelling such numbers. "If we want to send back even half the illegal workers, how are we going to transport 400,000 people?" asked Razak Baginda, a Malaysian political scientist.
Malaysian police reported a dramatic rise in the number of boats bringing illegal Indonesian migrants. In the last three weeks of February 1998, they counted 332 such boats carrying 3,971 migrants compared to all of 1997 when they counted 444 boats bringing 5,432 migrants.
"I have every sympathy for Indonesians looking for work, said Rahim Noor, a political commentator. "I'm extremely sympathetic. But to be swamped by them would be to have a breakdown of the infrastructure. It's bad for us too. Our economy is getting worse too."
Also Thailand has one million illegal workers, most from neighboring Mayanmar. Economists forecast a doubling of Thai unemployment to two million. Thai politicians have said that they will expel 300,000 foreign workers this year.("As Boom Fails, Malaysia Send Migrants Home," by Seth Mydans, New York Times, April 9, 1998)
U.S. Immigration Up
Legal immigration to the United States increased 27% to 916,000, in 1996, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Chain migration, admissions of relatives of American citizens, rose 30% and accounted for two-thirds of the total. Immigration levels will continue to rise over the next few years in consequence of the 1986 amnesty since many newcomers enter the family preference category and gain quicker entry to the U.S.
An estimated 5 million illegal aliens currently reside in the U.S. and a net total of 150,000 to 400,000 new illegals settle in the U.S. every year. These figures do NOT include tens of thousands of migrant workers who travel back and forth across our borders. (from NPG Letter, Summer 1997, a publication of Negative Population Growth; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ; WWW: www.npg.org
Historical Note: From 1820 to 1930, the time of the so called "Great Migration" about 38 million people, mostly from Europe, migrated to the U.S. bringing our population to 123 million. By comparison , some 18.5 immigrants have entered the U.S. since 1980. (From Carrying Capacity Network's "Network Bulletin, Vol 8, No. 1, Winter 1998 [March]. email:email@example.com; WWW: www.carryingcapacity.org)
U.S. Food and Media Issues
(from Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly,(REHW) #593, April 9, 1998)
Milk, rBGH, and Cancer
"Two veteran news reporters for Fox TV in Tampa, Florida have been fired for refusing to water down an investigative report on Monsanto's controversial milk hormone, rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone). Monsanto's rBGH is a genetically engineered hormone sold to dairy farmers who inject it into their cows every two weeks to increase milk production. In recent years, evidence has accumulated indicating that rBGH may promote cancer in humans who drink milk from rGGH-treated cows. It is the link betwenn rBGH and cancer that Fox TV tried hardest to remove from the story....
"The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved rBGH for use in cows in 1993, but the approval process was controversial because former Monstanto employees went to work for the FDA, oversaw the approval process,then went back to work for Monstanto."
Subscriptions to REHW may be obtained for $25. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. -- American Farmland Threatened
The U.S. has lost more than 4.3 million acres to suburban sprawl over a ten year period, from 1982 to 1992, according to a 1997 report by American Farmland Trust (AFT), a private nonprofit membership organization (htttp://www.farmland.org).
The study found that American farmers will have to feed 130 million additional Americans by 2050, but with 13 percent fewer high quality acres of farmland. Lands listed as highly threatened by AFT pr oduce nearly 80% of our nation's fruits and 70% of vegetables. Additionally, over half of US dairy products are produced on these lands.
The following is a list of top 10 most threatened agricultural areas in the U.S. according to AFT (Winter 1997)
- Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys in Central California
- Northern Pidemont -- primarily parts of Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia
- Southern Wisconsin and Northern Ilinois Drift Plain
- Texas Blackland Prairie -- Eastern Texas
- Willamettte and Puget Sound Valleys -- Parts of Oregon and Washington
- Florida Everglades and Associated Areas
- Eastern Ohio Till Plain
- Lower Rio Grande Plain
- Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain -- primarily parts of Delaware and Maryland
- New England and Eastern New York Upland, Southern Part -- primarily parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island