Voice

King George: 'Mission Accomplished'?

Britain's counterinsurgency advisor for the American colonies on Washington, Trenton, and the mendacity of the French.

Three years into the continuing rebellion of Great Britain's North American colonies, public and parliamentary criticism of efforts to suppress the insurgency is mounting. FP spoke with General Sir Richard Featherweight, chief counterinsurgency adviser for Britain's North American Security Assistance Force (NOSAF), regarding the state of the conflict:

FP: My Lord, critics argue that the British counterinsurgency campaign in America is foundering. Do you concur?

General Featherweight: Good Sir, this is an absolute falsehood. With the support of our Hessian coalition partners, we have almost broken the insurgency. The army of General Washington...pardon, the so-called army of the so-called General Washington...has been driven into the mountains of the province of Pennsylvania, far from the cities and farms along the coast. His army is depleted, and we are successfully interdicting his supplies and reinforcements. Insurgent strength is melting like snow in June. Mark my words, Sir. By next year, King George III will be able to proclaim "mission accomplished."

FP: But it is now 1779, and hadn't NOSAF assured the British public that the American insurgency would be broken by 1776?

Gen. F: My good fellow, counterinsurgency takes time. One must beware of those peddling quick panaceas like some patent medicine merchant in London. It is true that due to totally unforeseeable circumstances, our security and stabilization efforts have taken longer than expected. But I must protest the negative bias of those in Parliament and the press who are ignoring the immense progress we have made. I am sure you have seen the latest PowerPoints. Tarring and feathering of Loyalist Americans is down 37 percent over last year. Attacks on Coalition supply wagons are down 26 percent. And, reports of Americans singing "Yankee Doodle" have decreased 19 percent. If that last fact alone does not convince you, Sir, I fail to see what will.

FP: My Lord, you maintain that the American insurgents have no popular support. But doesn't the fact that the insurgency continues suggest otherwise?

Gen. F: Rubbish! Our polls show that the vast majority of the American people yearn for the benevolent rule of King George III. They have no desire to live under the oppressive rule of the Continental Congress, or terrorists and criminals like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. It is only due to the pernicious influx of foreign fighters and supplies that the conflict continues.

FP: You mean the French?

Gen. F: I will not identify those outside powers that are responsible for the instability in North America. However, the British government is well aware of who they are and is taking steps to address the problem. We believe the American people reject these meddlers and agitators, and welcome the sovereignty of Great Britain.

FP: There have been reports of a sharp split within the British command over how best to conduct counterinsurgency in America.

Gen. F: I would hardly characterize it as a split. It is more an honorable difference of opinion between those who favor winning the hearts and minds of Americans, versus those who believe a more forceful response is needed. I would say that we have successfully used elements of both strategies. The British Army has kept Washington's army away from strategic areas, which can then experience the benefit of imperial rule without fear of coercion and intimidation by the insurgents.

FP: However, it would appear that the more forceful approach has won out. General Sir Henry Clinton [Combatant Commander for North American Command, or NOCOM] has requested an additional 50,000 British soldiers for what he terms a "surge." Some members of Parliament worry that this would strain Britain's military and financial resources.

Gen. F: I think that we can all agree with King George that Americans have a right to the benefits of monarchical rule. At such a time, it seems unpatriotic to quibble over the expenditure of mere treasure, like some shopkeeper clucking over his accounts. However, as General Clinton has testified, the surge is a temporary measure that will enable us to secure more territory, deprive the insurgents of supplies and sanctuaries, and strengthen colonial authorities until they can assume local security functions.

FP: Some have pointed out that America is a vast, rugged wilderness with rudimentary infrastructure and communications outside of the major population centers. With NOSAF numbering some 90,000 British and German troops, plus some 50,000 Loyalist soldiers, is this not an insufficient number to occupy an area of hundreds of thousands of square miles?

Gen. F: There is no denying that America presents a challenge for a modern European army. The terrain is harsh, and Washington's fighters require much less logistics than British soldiers. They are accustomed to marching barefoot through deep snow and subsisting on a handful of grain. Nonetheless, let us not forget the enormous advantages that Coalition forces enjoy. The Royal Navy confers strategic mobility that allows us to fight at a time and place of our own choosing. Coalition troops are far better trained, equipped and supplied than the insurgents.

FP: And you still maintain that British forces have never lost a battle?

Gen. F: The rebels know they cannot defeat British troops on the battlefield. This is why Washington and his ragtag bands must resort to guerrilla warfare. It is ludicrous that some analysts regard this as clever strategy. It is actually a sign of their impotence in the face of British superiority.

FP: Yet Washington did manage to cross the Delaware and overrun Forward Operating Base Trenton.

Gen. F: As you are aware, our investigation determined that the temporary loss of FOB Trenton was the result of negligence by the local Hessian commander. Of course, this is no way affects our confidence in our Hessian partners.

FP: However, there have been reports of multinational tensions within NOSAF, with the Hessian contingent complaining that they have been sacrificed in battles like Trenton. This has led to speculation that they will withdraw. Does this worry you?

Gen. F: Not at all. Our Coalition partners fully understand the importance of securing stable and lawful rule in North America, and stemming the spread of democracy. They know that the loss of America would jeopardize Europe's overseas colonies and eventually our monarchial system of government in Europe. We must defeat the American insurgency, or jeopardize our European way of life.

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Interview

'There's No Such Thing as a Failed State'

The father of emerging markets says we shouldn't give up on the world's Somalias and Zimbabwes.

Mark Mobius is the kind of guru to whom other gurus turn for advice. With his signature white suits and gleaming, clean-shaven pate, he very much looks the part too. Executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, managing some $45 billion and 18 overseas offices, the half-German, half-Puerto Rican Mobius is a legendarily farsighted investor who sees opportunities around every corner, often in places that aren't for the squeamish. After four decades at the top of his field, his name is on pretty much every list of people who matter in global finance. There's even a comic book on his life that has been translated into six languages: Mark Mobius: An Illustrated Biography of the Father of Emerging Markets Funds. Foreign Policy spoke with him about China's forays into Africa, how to make money in failed states, and why no country is too hopeless. Here are the edited excerpts:

Is Africa a basket case or an opportunity? I would say it's both. In many cases it's the basket case and it's the next best thing, so what's happened is the change in attitudes, the change in perception. But on the ground, of course, things are still not hunky-dory.

Probably the defining variable is what is happening in other emerging markets. China, Brazil, Russia, India -- these countries now are getting to a point where they have excess reserves. They have money to put into other parts of the world. And of course they have been putting money into America, into Europe, but they also are now going into Africa. On the one side they need the natural resources -- China. On the other side they see an opportunity to make money and make better returns.

The range of what's possible in these countries is quite tremendous simply because they are building from such a low base. In the last 10 years, for example, six of the fastest-growing nations of the world were in Africa. But also it's the fact that the printing presses are working overtime in America, in Japan, and even in Europe. There's a lot of money to be invested, and a lot of that is because of the fears of inflation finding its way into equities. So you have a very unusual situation where pension funds are really buffering because investments like U.S. Treasury bills are paying such a low interest rate -- which leads them into emerging markets and frontier markets, with frontier meaning Africa, Central Asia, far Eastern Europe.

The African countries most on my mind right now are South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt. They're important markets, and they're getting their act together. I know many people don't have nice things to say about Egypt these days, but at the end of the day they will get their act together and they will continue to work.

We were in Rwanda about six months ago, and we were all really shocked at all of the infrastructure, at least in the capital, and the degree of governance, the way law and order was in that country. There are such huge differences in Africa from one country to another: differences in temperament, differences in behavior, and so forth. And Rwanda is a great example of a country that's really got itself in order and is a reminder that, again it has this background, this image of the genocide and all the rest of it.

If you take Somalia, they have natural resources. Large companies want to go in there and drill and look for those resources. And that means money goes into the country, people begin to raise their living standards, and then you have a market. We're not writing off any of these countries. In my opinion, there's no such thing as a failed state. It may be in trouble, but it hasn't failed. The mere fact that it is a state means that it's alive.

Another good example would be Zimbabwe. You mention the name and people just think, "God, what a basket case," but we are investing in Zimbabwe. And again, it's an example where you have to pick and choose the right companies with the right management. Then you can do pretty well.

China is a very positive element to this whole picture, and there are two sides to this: There's the Chinese government and the Chinese entrepreneur. The Chinese government goes in and they say to a country, "Look, we want to be friends." And then they say, "Look, we know you've got this coal, and we need this coal. We can do a deal with you to export the coal into China, but in order to get it out of the country we've got to build a railroad. If you'll do a long-term deal with us, we'll build the railroad." Once that begins, then you have Chinese contractors, Chinese workers coming in and establishing small businesses and trading. And their relatives come in and they see the opportunities. So you begin to get a private market in Chinese products and to expand and attract other people, and you begin to have more of a market economy. Then you have people like retail outlets in South Africa wake up and say, "Hey, they're in the market here. The Chinese are selling this and that. Why don't we go in and set up a business?" So I would say that generally speaking, the influence of the Chinese has been very positive for these countries. Of course there are some downsides. Some countries say that the Chinese are doing all the work and we don't have any jobs and so forth and so on, but these are things that can be ironed out.

The State Department is very much aware of what's going on, but at the policy level they have not committed the kind of resources that the Chinese have committed. And that's highly unfortunate, but I think going forward there will be more private-sector involvement from the U.S. in particular. There also has to be leadership in terms of analyzing what's happening on the ground and conveying that to the American people. A good example would be Sudan. I mean, suddenly, unexpectedly, things have changed in Sudan. Now there's a South Sudan. And the Chinese are saying, "We can work with these people," even though the Chinese were accused of committing genocide by trading with the Sudan government. The Chinese are better [at working in Africa] because they are building whole entities around accepting what's on the ground and then working with that, the local environment. That can lead to accusations that they're corrupt, that they're working with dictators, etc. But I think, personally, if you want to see change, you've got to accept what's on the ground and then work with that.

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