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Canada’s military hunting for seven new foreign bases


thestar.com

By Allan Woods

June 5th, 2012

OTTAWA—The military is hunting for seven strategically placed nations willing to host a network of Canadian bases aimed at cutting costs and boosting response times to future wars, disasters and humanitarian crises.

Two of those bases — in Germany and Kuwait — have already materialized, but the full extent of the plan to create overseas beachheads for military planes, ships and equipment has not been previously acknowledged.

Defence officials and diplomats, armed with a $500,000 budget, are now working to finalize agreements with governments in some of the most volatile parts of the world.

When the collection of operational support hubs is complete, Canada’s military will also have a permanent footprint in the Latin America and Caribbean region, on both sides of the African continent, in the swath of countries marked by the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as in Southeast Asia.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said last week that Canada is actively seeking a deal to set up one of those hubs in Singapore.

The bases will form dots along the line of what military planners refer to as the Arc of Instability— the parts of the world where future conflicts are deemed most likely to occur…Read more.

Paul Collier – Can a continent harness its resources for development?


By Agnus Taylor

November1, 2011

Analysis

Paul Collier speaks with an authoritative and original voice on the economics of African development. He is the author of The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can be Done About It and Director of Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. He spoke at a Royal African Society Business Breakfast on the subject of whether Africa can harness its resources for development.

The value of Africa’s natural resources – valued in the trillions of dollars – dwarf other sources of capital such as remittances and aid. High commodity prices (despite some variation) ensure that they will remain a valuable asset to African countries. However, these natural resources are substantially unknown (relative to OECD countries.)

The history of resource extraction is however substantially a history of plunder. Plunder has been directed by powerful forces both internal to African economies, and externally from foreign companies, which have largely been the beneficiaries of these resources. The task is to counter this model of plunder.

Collier used the example of Germany – the best run economy in Europe – to demonstrate that the most effective motivation for economic renaissance is to have experienced a period of absolute economic failure. For Germany, this was the crisis of the early 1930s, and for Africa this is the present day.

Collier sought to answer the question: What will it take for Africa to do a Germany? – this was covered in the following four areas.

The discovery process – Africa needs geological information to be made public before it goes to auction with private companies seeking to invest in resource extraction. This will enable it to better the financial returns it gets from what are at present poorly negotiated deals.

Capturing value – Africa needs to institute a more effective tax system. Put simply, African countries must ‘tax what they can observe’ and tax systems must be built with the notion that this is a volatile world. Contracts should be designed that allow for contingent events and contract stability, and must be founded on a well designed tax system…Read more.

Libya can’t start afresh by sticking with corrupt contracts


Moving sand dunes, rocks and mountains in Tadr...
Image via Wikipedia

Guardian.co.uk

By 

September 11, 2011

The National Transitional Council’s pledge to honour contracts signed by Gaddafi‘s regime stores up trouble for the future.

The crumbling of the Gaddafi regime has intensified discussion of the challenges that lie ahead for Libya. Democracy, pluralism, national reconciliation and religion are all critical issues that will need much work. In my own opinion, though, re-establishment of the rule of law is the most pressing of all issues. Corruption, left unchecked, constitutes a threat to the future security of Libya.

A few years into its existence, the Gaddafi regime began to morph into a criminal enterprise that siphoned off Libya’s wealth either for personal enrichment or to buy friends for the regime both at home and abroad.

Naturally, the government controlled all revenues flowing into the Libyan treasury and maintained a vice-like grip on contracts. Over the years, the percentage “commission” on any given contract grew exponentially and, in many cases, was reported to exceed the actual value of the base contract.

We are unlikely to ever know the full details of the financial wrongdoings that have taken place in Libya over the past 40 years. However, what is undisputable is that Libyan government contracts were the primary vehicles for corruption.

Contracts with foreign companies provided an easy and convenient way of laundering money outside the country. At least part of this money was used by the regime to finance international terrorist activities includingsupporting the IRA, the Lockerbie bombing and endless conflicts in the African continent. Contracts with local acolytes provided an equally easy and convenient way of financing the drugs trade, smuggling and other criminal activities.

Much of the corruption in Libya is institutionalised in long-term contracts signed by the Gaddafi regime with companies all over the world, most notably in Russia, China, Italy, Germany, the UK and the US.

The National Transitional Council has been under tremendous pressure from these countries to publicly state that these contracts will be honoured – which it has done, perhaps because of its dependence on the goodwill of the international community. It seems to have done so without placing any condition or reservation. To renew contracts without removing the embedded fraud, where it exists, is a huge mistake…While they might feel they cannot afford to alienate the very countries that have supported them, short-term expediency cannot trump long-term interests and those interests are serving the needs of the people they work for: the people of Libya who will be in no mood for business as usual…Read more.

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