Journal: Yemen and the “Great Game”

02 China, 03 India, 05 Iran, 08 Wild Cards, 10 Security, Communities of Practice, Ethics, Peace Intelligence, Threats
Chuck Spinney

The real motives behind the increasing US involvement in Yemen are obscure, to put it charitably. M.K. Bhadrakuma, retired Indian diplomat, presents a complex and fascinating — and no doubt controversial — hypothesis in this regard. Bhadrakuma, a prolific writer, is an astute observer of the Central and South Asia, and judged by his writings, he is by no means a toady of the Indian government.

Chuck

UPDATED to add critique of the below article by a colleague of Chuck Spinney’s (below the fold).

Full Story Online

Obama’s Yemeni odyssey targets China

By M K Bhadrakumar     Asia Times    9 January 2010

It’s all about China
Most important, however, for US global strategies will be the massive gain of control of the port of Aden in Yemen. Britain can vouchsafe that Aden is the gateway to Asia. Control of Aden and the Malacca Strait will put the US in an unassailable position in the “great game” of the Indian Ocean. The sea lanes of the Indian Ocean are literally the jugular veins of China’s economy. By controlling them, Washington sends a strong message to Beijing that any notions by the latter that the US is a declining power in Asia would be nothing more than an extravagant indulgence in fantasy.

UPDATE Critique of above:  FYI … Attached is an insightful critique of Bhadrakumar’s analysis from a friend of mine who is following the Yemen situation:

Given his curriculum vitae, I’d say this guy is perfectly representative of Indian government thinking (or perhaps wishful thinking), even if he’s not a toady.
He indulges in a little too much facile mind-reading of Obama, as well as assuming that the US government is, like a grand master chess player, assiduously pursuing a grand strategic coup that will contain China. Maybe, but more likely the government and its bureaucratic executors are operating out of habit, empire-building in the bureaucratic sense, shoveling money to contractors, obsessive fixation on terrorism, fear, and fear-mongering. And the writer seems to see no downside to the US perpetually expanding the territory on which it is “fighting terrorism” by military means (even if that rationale is a cover for something else, namely, an ability to strangle China’s SLOCs).
He is also too clairvoyant by half on Obama’s alleged intention not to use ground troops, only drones and spec ops, in Yemen. The option of limiting our Afghan involvement mainly to trainers, spec ops, and drones was pushed by Biden early last year, and as we saw, the permanent government’s default position was to add 30,000 ground troops. And anything at all that involves the Mossad is almost assured to have a boomerang effect. The author thinks it’s so diabolically clever for the Israelis to set up Islamist groups in Yemen – just as they did with Hamas, and, indirectly, with Hezbollah. That sure worked out well. And powering up the Shiites in Northern Yemen, assuming the Mossad is doing this, could spread destabilization into the rest of the Arabian peninsula and completely undo 60+ years of US policy of propping up the Saudi monarchy in return for access to oil.

Phi Beta Iota: The US policy world still does not do intelligence-based policy.  This reeeks of both Brzezinski’s Last Stand, and a very unhealthy Israeli influence on both US and Indian policy makers.  The US has not done–to the best of our open source knowledge–a proper laydown of class, culture, religion, and tribes; nor has the US devised a long-term strategy for co-evolution with the Southern Hemispher as the Northern Hemispher winds down and backs away from its predatory capitalism ways to embrace natural capitalism and the need for a new form of social capitalism that addresses both the nicro-needs of the five billion poor, and the raw fact that the five billion poor have an annual income of four trillion a year versus the one trillion a year that is overly concentrated in the top 1% of the one billion rich.  Yemen has all the makings of a strategic disaster to be followed in quick succession by Sudan and Somalia and then a massive plague out of the Congo…the possibilities are endless.  This would be a good time for the US to launch a strategy-intelligence “lifeboat” that achieves at very low cost and using only open sources that permit the engagement of ALL stakeholders, a proper “intelligence preparation of the battlefield” of the future–a battlefield that is about demographics, not democracy, soft power not hard power (although you need both), non-zero win-win instead of winner take all.  The gap between policymakers with power and those of us in the real world with knowledge has grown catastrophically wide, as we anticipated in1997 USIP Conference on Virtual Diplomacy Virtual Intelligence: Conflict Avoidance and Resolution through Information Peacekeeping.