The New York Times this morning has an article that begs attention–not only for what it says about the mercenary  (i.e. “private security”) firm formerly known as Blackwater, then Academi, merged with Triple Canopy, and now part of a new firm, Constellis Holdings– but for what it says about the state of defense [...]

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The defense of former General of the Bosnian Serb army, Ratko Mladic, began in May 2014 at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Among the arguments his lawyers have already made and are expected to return to is that he suffers from “deception of memory.” As The Independent reported:

His [Ratko Mladic] [...]

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The central lessons are well worn but nonetheless worth re-stating. First, the main effort in counter-terrorism should be social and political reform in affected countries, and second—for the United States—a national security strategy cannot substitute for a foreign policy that is aimed at finding political solutions to political problems.

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Here’s the paradox: successive governments in Khartoum have managed their peripheries on the basis of individual bargaining. It is sometimes derogatively called “Jellaba politics” with reference to the northern Sudanese traders who dominate the retail business in small provincial towns. The ruler cuts deals with members of the provincial elites—administrators, tribal chiefs, militia commanders, rebels—on [...]

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After the end of the oil rents, it has become much more complex… and much more like the 1990s. President Bashir has to bargain both with those making demands on his resources (the Islamists, the Ministry of Defense, and armed rebels) but also with financiers (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, military industries, the government’s financial institutions).

This is not an auspicious context in which to make peace…

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More important for President Omar al Bashir than the shortage of money is the fact that the squeeze is where it hurts him most: the discretionary budget available for him as ruler. How does he obtain his “political budget” necessary to stay in power? That is the topic of the next (penultimate) post.

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