Political Intelligence Scenarios
Washington, DC, Aug 21st, 2008 -- Many have asked for the most important scenarios being tracked to the end of 2008, and how the November election will affect the scenarios.
First a brief word on Political Intelligence. The sheer volume of political intelligence generated by the many organs of government and trade associations based in Washington, DC make it impossible to track everything for everybody. Political intelligence tends to be collected for a specific media outlet, client or tracking purpose and except for significant changes in direction, personnel changes, or interpretation of the scope or rules. To constantly monitor and analyze the tens of thousands of changes per day would need a very large operation, with massive computer resources. Our computers can, and do much of this but the areas, and number of results are filtered to prevent data overload.
So the collection and analysis of political scenarios is usually undertaken for a specific target, be it a rule making committee, or an approval committee such as the FDA, or FCC, and occasionally as a much larger sample of legislators to sense the direction of potential legislation. This is further analyzed to interpret the effects of the various forms and standards that can be written into the legislation, and identify the effects such changes have on the enterprise. Usually such corporation or fund specific analysis is done by the clients themselves, and not by the Washington based analysts.
The GeoPolitical engine looks at the major influences to global trade, as well as the regional and local influences on the supply chain. This is restricted at ComLinks by the cost of obtaining information, verses the speed and degree of filtering due to translation. To attempt OSINT in every language is for Governments only, and even then to try and monitor 24/7 in local languages would be cost prohibitive for corporate use. We therefore made the decision to monitor in English, and English translations of foreign broadcasts. Today important statements are immediately available in English. Most of the rest just aren't worth analyzing for corporate clients.
Firstly the extent of payback for invading Iraq and having ten years of blockage, bombing and harassing prior to the invasion is starting to be factored in. The Iraqi politicians want the US out, and want their own oil under their control. Bush/Cheney want that oil for their supporters and want to pay the Iraqi's crumbs for it. China and India also want that oil! The "Surge" has worked because the US has bribed most of the Sunni's to be nice. Will that bribery continue, and if not what will the consequences be? What will happen to the huge new air bases being built for the US. The Iraqi's clearly want the US gone completely, and there is multiple versions of the perceived agreements. Rice is, and always has been useless on the world stage. This will probably be left to the next Administration. If McCain is elected and he starts to talk tough, or his violent temper flares up and he demands everything Iraq may be once again a battleground.
The greatest fear is that the Bush Administration in it's final hours will order an attack from the air, and from Carrier Groups against Iranian installations at the insistence of Israel. They will then skulk away leaving the consequences to the next Administration, especially if it is Obama who wins in November. The US has the ability to pummel Iran from the air, and with Tomahawk missiles launched from the huge Armada being assembled near Iran. The US, unless there is a massive Draft does not have the capability to fight a ground war against Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. The country would need to adopt a true War economy, but as the first casualty of an attack on Iran would be the Chinese economy then everything from steel to electronic components would be in short supply or unavailable. The agonizing decision for Bush as the year progresses is that it is either Israel or China. The Israeli's may decide to attack themselves, using US planes, US bombs and US airfields in Iraq to strike at Iran, before their NeoCon friends are out of power and the more balanced Obama comes into power. The alternative a raging President McCain could get us back to the days of his beloved Vietnam, with a real hostile war with huge casualties. Unlike Vietnam there is no place to hide in the desert, like in dense jungle. Iran has Oil and Russia and China as Allies. A very, very dangerous scenario. Cheney of course would love another war front.
Bush has totally underestimated Russia, and the dealings with Georgia have shown his total lack of understanding of geopolitical forces. Georgia has been an Israeli experiment, backed by the USA that has gone too far. The Russians have smelled blood, for the threats against them are hollow and no country dare take action to antagonize them further. They control Oil and Gas flow to much of Europe, and can quickly turn Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon into the Killing Fields of the US Military if pushed into a new Cold War. Just as the CIA armed and funded the Mujahideen the new militant Russia could easily flood the battlegrounds with weapons and explosives. Russia has itself a lot at risk with the rise of Islamic Terrorism, but who knows how far Bush's misguided rhetoric will drive them to action.
The major interest in the Bear comes from Europe, especially with winter approaching and the need for Russian Natural Gas. If Europe starts following the lead of the US and demanding penalties for reacting to the situation in Georgia then Putin knows he can stage "Unforeseen Maintenance" on the gas pipeline and give Europe a deep chill. The US can do nothing to help a frozen Europe.
China is a hair's breadth away from becoming an economic "Basket Case" if the meteoric rise in production capacity is not maintained, and the crucial energy supplies are interrupted. Having so many people to support can be a huge advantage, or terrible burden depending on external forces. One way to bolster failing economic prosperity would be to switch to a military footing, and create a multi million man army. Then what?
If you have the United States snared in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and who knows where else the obvious outlet is to go for either Taiwan, or demand massive compensation for the Invasion of Manchuria and go for Japan. Japan still hasn't been punished for the atrocities of the Occupation of Manchuria. The riches of sparsely populated Siberia are also tempting if you have a huge, trained army wanting to invade something.
The wealth in China is now becoming a burden, as more and more people want the fruits of economic success.
Quiet at the moment but the many confrontations with Pakistan not that far under the surface. India is quietly building up it's claim to be a future Superpower, and does not need any conflicts for the immediate future. If China begins to have problems, then India will not be that far behind. Even an Elephant can be attacked by a frantic Tiger.
Watch for Pakistan to fall apart as the most possible worst case scenario. The next military coup may have a western leaning leader such as Zia, or Musharraf or it may have a radical Islamic leaning one who will side with their Islamic brethren against the Infidels. The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been strained to say the least, and as long as huge quantities of loosely controlled monies were deposited the US was tolerated. A military Pakistan will totally "Freak Out" India and will start another spiral to conflict the region does not need.
There are many more regions under scrutiny and many more conflicts identified that can erupt at very short notice. Watching US News networks to monitor global news is a complete waste of time. The same can be said for most domestic trends that affect corporations.
The FDA, legislative bodies and organizations such as PhRMA, HIPPA and the many lobbying interests are primary focus for Healthcare and Pharmaceutical. Sarbanes-Oxley, Reporting and record keeping.
The Healthcare crisis is growing daily as the population ages, jobs disappear and companies just can't afford spiraling healthcare costs. Unfortunately the country has squandered it's reserves on feel good Warmongering and just can't afford Universal Healthcare as it could when Hillary tried to ramrod it through. Had she been a little more subtle, and been more open, then the crisis would have been well on the way to being fixed by now. The healthcare crisis coincides with the retirement of a large number, some say over half, the aging Doctors in the United States. If Obama is elected then the promises of Universal Healthcare will be expected to be delivered.
The Pharmaceutical Industry is truly in free fall and the future looks bleak unless the current marketing model is changed. There have been significant layoffs in the sales force (Drug Reps) over the past couple of years reducing the all time high figure of 100,000 to today's 80,000. Some believe this could plunge to 30,000 if a centralized Universal Healthcare plan is adopted. WalMart and major retail chains are offering generic pharmaceuticals for $4 a prescription, undercutting a once lucrative Goldmine. Much manufacture is moving offshore to China and India, thus gutting the argument against importing pharmaceuticals from abroad.
Regulation and investigation are the primary interests here.
The Financial Sector estimates that around 200,000 jobs will be shed as it goes through a period of fallout from it's run of greed and speculation.The industry is bracing itself for long overdue regulation of many areas that have led to skyrocketing prices for the consumer. With the ongoing concentration of wealth in America many political groups are seeking more safeguards, and more restrictions on unfettered speculation.
The perceived link between Political Intelligence and Insider Trading continues to raise it's ugly head, as Lobbying Law Firms swing legislation towards their clients interests, then capitalize on the outcome. often making their position long before the legislation is made public. Considerable amounts of cash can change hands in this process, disguised as contributing to reelection funds.
Renewable Energy and Energy Policy, Coal and Nuclear. Political leanings of regulatory bodies.
The Bush Energy Policy has proven to be the biggest money maker for their supporters, and windfall profits beyond belief for the select few. The unforeseen consequences of huge subsidized investment in Corn Ethanol has sent food prices to dangerous levels around the world. Any reduction in these massive subsidies will make Ethanol production barely viable and result in the failure of many new start ups.
Wind Energy has issues needing long term investigation, especially concerning large wind farms. The same with massive solar installations and their effects on the environment.
Coal promises to clean up it's act, but has yet to deliver any large scale clean coal plants.
Nuclear promises to be the short to mid term salvation for the world's electrical energy needs, especially in the form of a decentralized supply model. The US is way behind the rest of the world in developing this technology, even though it has some outstanding engines that would benefit major urban areas.
Satellites and Surveillance
For over twenty five years we have been at the cutting edge of satellites and terrestrial surveillance technology. These sectors are in transition, because of new technologies, vulnerabilities and lower costs. The low costs of components provide many looming problems for the future. Careful monitoring of satellite and surveillance capabilities gives advance warning of political intentions.
The Moving Target
Political Intelligence is never boring because things change by the day, even by the hour. We get requests to advise on many areas for critical periods of time. An expensive way to replace ongoing monitoring, but one thing about Washington politicians is that they can be full of surprises.
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