Should civil war break out as Americans depart, Iran would move to fill the gap with weaponry and perhaps volunteers to assist their Shia brethren in keeping Iraq in friendly hands. A Sunni-Shia war in Iraq, with Iran aiding one side and Arab nations the other, becomes a real possibility.
I agree with Pat. Things are looking dire. Our controlled chaos exit strategy may collapse into full chaos (particularly given any action relative to Iran's nuclear program).
My big question is: can the government (NASA) build a dynamic platform for a space industry? Historically, it hasn't and that is the root of our current problem. What would need to happen to make NASA into a keystone species in a space industry ecosystem? Here are some ideas: Competitions. A repository for open source technology generated via competition. Acquisition and operation of launch facilities and launch/landing corridors (a regulatory intensive process). Basic science (always a government chore). Emergency recovery and monitoring (applicable to all players). Security (both physical and a means to acquire the necessary clearances to launch classified projects). A common communications network (to enable both global terrestrial and orbital communications). Safety inspections and flight regulations (like those mandated by the FAA).
Gangs in fast launches armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, some backed by sophisticated criminal syndicates, have murdered mariners, kidnapped crew, and even hijacked ships and steered them to ports run by corrupt officials where they have their cargoes unloaded. Afterwards, the vessels are repainted, ready for sale on a shady international market. But now the level of violence has escalated to the point where Lloyd’s Market Association has designated the Malacca Strait a warzone, classifying the waters as a high-risk area for war and terrorism on a par with Iraq for insurance purposes.
In an attempt to control the alarming rise of piracy, shipping companies are being forced to turn to a radical new solution – private navies. As many as five companies have set up in the last year, including three British firms and an American security company. Other security firms are now trying to get into the lucrative new market, where the price of missions to protect cargo ships starts at US$50,000. Heavily armed special forces veterans are among the Western ex-military personnel, some with experience in Iraq or Afghanistan, who will either ride shotgun on the vessel or patrol alongside it in their own craft. Some even claim to be able to rappel out of helicopters to recapture ships or oil rigs hijacked by pirates.
A new TAZ: There are around 12-15 pirate gangs operating in the strait, based in lawless parts of southern Thailand and Indonesia, each about 50-men strong and some with links to terrorist organisations, such as Jemaah Islamiah or the Achenese insurgent group GAM. The growing Islamist insurgency in Thailand, where gangs have lopped the heads off Buddhists and government supporters, has given the pirates a new base to operate from.
The Italian media quoted police sources as saying that Osman denied any link to the July 7 bombings or al-Qaeda, and said that religion had nothing to do with the attacks. Rather, it was the war in Iraq, with its injured and murdered women and children, which had spurred the action. The July 7 bombings had served only as “a signal” for the second wave of violence, he said.... He claimed he was shown videos with images of the war in Iraq and was told that he “had to do something big” – that he had to carry out an action but not provoke any deaths.
The Italian magistrate assigned to the case called the second wave of bombers, DIY (do it yourself) copycats.Police still don't have a firm connection between the bombings:
In Britain, officers continued to search two addresses in west London where three of the bombing suspects were arrested, and an address in the Old Kent Road, south London. Police say they are still looking for firm evidence of a link between the July 7 and the July 21 attacks. “There are similar patterns and we are looking for concrete evidence of a direct connection,” a senior officer said.
The situation (it's pretty hilarious to see the state department build and army bigger than most of the world's nations):
"The U.S. State Department is very interested in saving money on security now," Shippy said. "Because they're driving the prices down, we're seeking Third World people to fill the positions."
The market (this isn't limited to Columbians, there are people from all over thte world working as part of the US effort in Iraq):
The recruitment of Colombians shows that although "there's still a local demand" for high-end military services in Colombia, "the global demand is far higher," he said.
The market's distortion:
"We're training foreign nationals … who then take that training and market it to private companies, who pay them three or four times as much as we're paying soldiers," Schakowsky said. "American taxpayers are paying for the training of those Colombian soldiers," she said. "When they leave to take more lucrative jobs, perhaps with an American military contractor … they take that training with them. So then we're paying to train that person's replacement. And then we're paying the bill to the private military contractors."
And politically, the guys in charge of the cow don’t want anybody inside the company competing with them: no new products, no new power centers, no one else to set strategy, no one else to use resources. They win because, of course, they’re the ones bringing in the cash. Nevermind that they’re the ones stopping the company from building for the future. They’ll tell you that’s not their job. They’re there to protect the cow.
New, less expensive but more effective programs don't get funding. They are below the radar of the big budget power brokers. One way to look at this is through economic ecosystems analysis. In this model, the DoD is a Landlord (an organization that sucks all the value out of an ecosystem). Landlords make niche creation impossible. Innovation is crushed.Landlord strategies work as long as external pressure is absent and the source of cash flow is not tied to results. However, change will come either through defeat or when the well runs dry. Personally, I would like to see the DoD and NASA adopt a Keystone strategy.
Keystones can increase ecosystem productivity by simplifying the complex task of connecting network participants to one another or by making the creation of new products by third parties more efficient. They can enhance ecosystem robustness by consistently incorporating technological innovations and by providing a reliable point of reference that helps participants respond to new and uncertain conditions. And they can encourage ecosystem niche creation by offering innovative technologies to a variety of third-party organizations. The keystone's importance to ecosystem health is such that, in many cases, its removal will lead to the catastrophic collapse of the entire system.