Director of National Intelligence

Saturday, Mar 07, 2009

Interesting stats from the U.S. government's annual threat assessment (with the natural caveats about the prejudices of the U.S. government):

Statistical modeling shows that economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they persist over a one to two year period.

...

Despite decreases in poppy cultivation in 2008, opium production in Afghanistan remains historically high, and the country produces over 90 percent of the world's supply with 95 percent of the crop grown in five contiguous provinces of southwestern Afghanistan and over 60 percent in one province alone, Helmand. In 2008, farmers grew 157,300 hectares of poppy, potentially producing an estimated 7,700 metric tons of opium.

...

Pakistan's population is growing rapidly at a rate of about 2 percent a year, and roughly half of the country's 172 million residents are illiterate, under the age of 20, and live near or below the poverty line.

...

[In Mexico], nearly 5,500 people -- mostly cartel operatives and to a lesser degree local police -- were murdered in 2008 in cartel-related violence, far exceeding the record of about 2,700 drug-related murders in 2007.

...

Total bilateral trade between China and [Africa] has increased from less than $4 billion in 1995 to $100 billion in 2008, but the EU and US still remain far larger economic partners for the region. China's objectives are to secure access to African markets and natural resources, isolate Taiwan, and enhance its international stature, all of which it has made progress on.

...

The Darfur conflict has become increasingly complicated over the course of the past five years and is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. While bureaucratic and logistic constraints in New York and Sudan continue to delay full deployment of a 26,000-person UN peacekeeping force, the UN mediator's attempt to hold inclusive peace talks remains stymied by rebel disunity and ongoing fighting, which, to date, has displaced more than 3 million people. Chadian-backed rebels based in Darfur have advanced on the Sudanese capital in the past year, risking an escalated proxy war between Khartoum and N'Djamena.

...

Drug trafficking has become a major problem in West Africa, and the emergence of Guinea-Bissau as Africa's first narco-state highlights the scope of the problem and what may be in store for other states in the region.

Director of National Intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, February 12, 2009, Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.