Ann Marlowe

Ann Marlowe, a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, is a writer and businesswoman based in New York City. In 2011, she made four trips to Libya to cover the revolution and war and returned twice in 2012. She is working on a book that will follow Libya's first year post-Gaddafi. Between 2002 and 2011 she traveled regularly to Afghanistan and published often on Afghanistan's politics, economy, culture and the U.S. counterinsurgency there. Her articles have appeared in the op –ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and New York Post, and in the Weekly Standard, Daily Beast, Forbes.com, TNR.com,and many other publications. She tweets regularly (@annmarlowe) and blogs on Libya, the Arab Spring, the links between war and art and the cultural aspects of counterinsurgency for World Affairs at: http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/new/blogs/marlowe

Her monograph on the life and intellectual context of David Galula was published by the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College in summer 2010. Ms. Marlowe has also published two memoirs and is one of the contributers to A New Literary History of America (Harvard University Press, 2009).

Ms. Marlowe is a regular guest on the John Batchelor radio show discussing Libya, Afghanistan and counterinsurgency. She has also appeared on Fox's "Happening Now", PBS’s “Ideas in Action” with Jim Glassman, VOA, RTTV, BloggingHeadsTV.com and other television programs. She has spoken at U.S. Army bases, the Army War College, U.S. State Department, the Institut d'Histoire du Temps Present in Paris, and American colleges. In 2009, she was a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution and returned there for a research fellowship in 2010.

Ms. Marlowe was born in Suffern, New York in 1958 and educated at public schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She received her B.A. in philosophy magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1979 and studied classical philosophy there in the Ph.D. program in 1979-80. In 1984, she received an MBA in finance from Columbia University's Graduate School of Business.


Whose Convenience? The Murky World of Bottom-Feeding Shipping Registries

December 5th, 2016

originally published in the December 12 issue of the Weekly Standard: http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/whose-convenience/article/2005622

Whose Convenience?
The murky world of bottom-feeding shipping registries
DEC 12, 2016 | By ANN MARLOWE

Hurd’s Bank, July 2015
Sixteen miles out to sea from Valletta, Malta, safely into international waters, dozens of large ships sit at anchor in July of last year. An hour before the late summer sunset, the sea and sky are nearly the same blue. That day, more than forty vessels are in the free, shallow-water harbor known as Hurd’s Bank. Crew members—pudgy men in cheap sportswear—lounge on the rails of their vessels, enjoying the end of the day. Ship owners often leave skeleton crews on board these vessels, who are supplied with food and water from shore. They wait for the right moment or the right deal for their often-illicit cargos. Hurd’s Bank isn’t the only such free offshore anchorage in the world, but it’s the only one in Europe.

It’s a peaceful scene, but Hurd’s Bank helps keep the slow-burning Libyan civil war going. Many of the vessels here are tankers, and some carry diesel purchased in Libya at the local, subsidized price, diesel which is then illegally exported to be sold for 15 to 20 times as much off the coast of Malta. The tankers that hold Libyan diesel here have loaded it at western Libyan ports, such as Zuwara. Buying at the subsidized price—or simply appropriating the fuel—and selling a few hundred miles away on Hurd’s Bank is an easy way for

Libya’s militias to finance themselves.

Among the ships out on Hurd’s Bank in the summer of 2015 were “two vessels that are involved in fuel smuggling,” according to a recent report by the U.N. Security Council Panel of Experts on Libya. One was the Amazigh F, an oil tanker owned by the Basbosa Shipping Company. The Marshall Islands address of Basbosa Shipping is the same as that of ADJ Swordfish Ltd. (now ADJ Trading, Ltd.), a company controlled by a Libyan named Fahmi Ben Khalifa together with investors from Malta and Egypt. The other of the two ships was the Basbosa Star, then owned by ADJ Swordfish.

Before anchoring off Malta that July, both the Amazigh F and the Basbosa Star had sailed to Libya multiple times. And on each of their trips, the U.N. panel notes, the ships had shut down their automatic identification systems as they approached the Libyan coast, “following the pattern of smugglers.”

“One individual stands out in the fuel smuggling business from Zwara,” the U.N. panel writes: Fahmi Ben Khalifa, also known as Fahmi Salim. “He has a long record of smuggling. During the Qadhafi regime he was imprisoned for a period for drug smuggling.” In addition to his Maltese company, Fahmi Salim “also chairs the board of directors of a Libyan company, Tiuboda Oil and Gas Services Limited,” the panel details. Fahmi Salim had tried to get a proper license to bring fuel into Malta from Libya, but Maltese officials rejected the request. That didn’t stop him from doing business.

Both the Basbosa Star and Amazigh F spent most of their time shuttling between Malta and Libya; both operated out of the same Marshall Islands address. But they have something else in common: They are among the hundreds of vessels flying the flag of Palau. The Basbosa Star changed its flag from Sierra Leone to Palau in February of last year; the Amazigh F was Palau-flagged beginning early in 2014. (A year ago, the ship’s name was changed to Sea Master X.) The activities of the Basbosa Star, Sea Master X, and other Palau-flagged vessels point to the larger problem of regulating the world’s many “flags of convenience.” The proliferation of fast-growing, obscure shipping registries offers rogue owners many opportunities to dodge authorities.

The Republic of Palau is a far-flung Micronesian nation made up of hundreds of small islands east of the Philippines. With a population of 21,000, its total landmass is equal to about that of Norman, Oklahoma. Made into an American territory after World War II, Palau became independent in 1994. The country uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, and English is an official language along with Palauan. The cash-strapped little country has relied on fishing and tourism for its scanty revenues. In September 2012, the Palau Registry was launched with two Chinese gambling ships, adding registering vessels to Palau’s endeavors.

Palau is just one of dozens of flags of convenience, many from weak or impoverished—even landlocked—nations desperate for hard currency. Flags of convenience have often been used for legally dubious purposes. The first such registry, in Panama, was attractive as a way to avoid new U.S. regulations on sailors’ working conditions. And from the beginning, it facilitated smuggling: The first vessel with a Panamanian flag of convenience was the aged cargo ship Belen Quezada, which, in the early years of Prohibition, ran liquor from Canada to the United States. Flags of convenience continue to provide cover for owners engaged in criminal enterprises, which include not just smuggling fuel, but such dangerous gambits as shipping weapons to terrorists.

Rogue flag-of-convenience ships tend to be found around the world’s ungoverned or barely governed spaces. They are not, for the most part, a direct menace to the United States, except when we have to go in to clean up the mess created by smugglers overseas. Our Coast Guard—unlike that of, say, Libya—has the resources to protect national waters. According to the Coast Guard, under Port State Control (PSC) regulations, “all foreign-flagged vessels are examined no less than once each year.” A Coast Guard spokesman says, “Generally vessels that have not undergone a PSC exam within 12 months and vessels that are a first-time arrival to the U.S. will receive a Port State Control Safety and Security exam.” Most of those ships are allowed to go on their way: While 8,925 vessels made 73,752 U.S. port calls in 2015, only 202 ships were detained, or 2.2 percent of vessels in American waters. The United States currently bans a grand total of three vessels from its waters.

Flags of convenience range from the big players such as Panama (72 percent of all commercial shipping worldwide) and Liberia, down to landlocked countries such as Bolivia and pariah states including North Korea. Even the big players are vulnerable to misuse. At the end of the ’90s, the Liberian registry of shipping, once the world’s largest, ended up in the hands of convicted war criminal Charles Taylor. The registry was accused of funding U.N.-banned weapons shipments and facilitating the transport of “blood diamonds.” Revenues from the registry provided as much as a third of Liberia’s national income. (The Liberian registry, which is run out of Virginia, was in the news again in 2013 as a donor of $120,000 to Terry McAuliffe’s campaign for governor of Virginia.)

There are several big regulatory bodies that inspect and, when necessary, detain ships, and these rank the flags of convenience by their frequency on the detention lists. Two of the main foreign regulators are the organizations created by the Paris Memorandum of Understanding and the Tokyo MoU, and they represent European and Asian authorities. The U.S. Coast Guard has its own Targeted Flag List that gives special scrutiny to ships flying the flags of Belize, Bolivia, Honduras, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Taiwan, Tanzania, or Thailand. From 2013 to 2015, for instance, 25 percent of Belizean ships and 26 percent of Bolivian ships entering U.S. waters were detained.

Beneath these flags of convenience singled out for regulatory attention, there are other, newer, privately run registers that are below the international radar, plying waters where they aren’t likely to run into port state inspections that would look too closely at where they’ve been and what they’ve been carrying, and otherwise get them into trouble. Several are associated with budget-strapped, low-population, under-governed Pacific island nations, such as Tonga, Tuvalu, and now Palau.

The Tongan registry at one point had 180 ships. It is one of the very few flags of convenience to be forced by international pressure to shut down foreign registrations. Several Tongan-flagged ships turned out to belong to al Qaeda. In January 2002, the Tongan-flagged ship Karine A was found by Israeli authorities to be transporting 50 tons of weapons and ammunition to the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. That same year, 15 Pakistani men on board the Tongan-flagged Sara were arrested and charged with plotting an al Qaeda attack in Europe (the ship had been on its way from Casablanca to Libya when it detoured into Italian waters and was stopped).

More recently Tuvalu’s flag has had troublesome connections. In 2012, Reuters Freight Fundamentals reported that the National Iranian Tanker Company had flagged 11 of its tankers to Tuvalu, in an apparent effort to circumvent impending EU sanctions.

The Palau registry has had its share of vessels in the news—and not in a good way. A ship called the Lucky Star 8 attempted to conceal a recent visit to North Korea. The Amaranthus was found abandoned, moored along the west coast of the Greek island Zakynthos with a hold full of smuggled cigarettes. Even with innocent cargo there are problems: The Minnath—carrying 200 tons of vegetables—was so unseaworthy it nearly sank off India last year.

The Palau registry claims it cares about safety and legality. “Marine Inspections are required to be done annually at no cost to the owner. If a registered vessel under the Palau Flag has showed good record .  .  . the Flag Inspection may be waived for two years.” The registry even says it has a network of inspectors on-call and ready to go to work. But clearly something has gone amiss with this inspection regime if so many Palau-flagged ships are found in questionable circumstances. There’s also an underlying question about motive when you consider that the Palau registry appears not to be a huge moneymaker: The Republic of Palau earned only $100,000 from its registry in its first two years.

Palau is just one example—and it may be far from the worst—of why policing the murky world of shipping registries needs to be done with new vigilance.

Some Deep Thoughts on “War Dogs”

October 11th, 2016

(originally published on Aug 31 2016 on Tabletmag.com: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/211964/some-deep-thoughts-on-war-dogs)

“People pay money to see others believe in themselves,” the rock musician Kim Gordon has said. More accurate to unpack the thought into two related ideas: first, that people pay money to see others engaged in the struggle to believe in themselves. (Whether it’s a rock star or an athlete, the possibility of failure is part of what draws us in.) And second, that people pay money to see others enjoying themselves—probably because the secret of how to do that becomes elusive after childhood.

This is part of Donald Trump’s popularity. He loves what he does, which is being in the public gaze. Even if that shouldn’t be the president’s main job description, and even from the perspective of a Trump hater, compared with Trump’s enjoyment of the spotlight, all of his competitors for the Republican nomination paled. People simply enjoy seeing him enjoy himself.

War Dogs shows work as fun, and as such, it’s much more subversive than director Todd Phillips’ earlier comedies, like Starsky & Hutch and the Hangover trilogy (none of which I’ve seen). War Dogs is about two 20-something losers who dream big, and what’s riveting is their struggle to believe in themselves, and their pleasure in what they do. (The book on which the movie was based actually features three, not two, main characters.) It’s a feel-good movie for defiant people and outsiders. Yes, it’s about selling weapons, but more about the selling than the weapons, and more still about work in general—a topic perennially underserved by novelists, but given more of its due by TV and movies, as New York Times film critic A.O. Scott recently noted. And as many people know, even the most mundane, unglamorous businesses can be absolutely gripping and full of drama, when they’re yours and there’s a chance to hit big. Think 1992’s Glengarry Glen Ross (based on the David Mamet play) or David Russell’s fine 2015 movie Joy, about a woman whose mission in life was to invent a better mop. Or, for that matter, The Social Network.

Silicon Valley is all about what you do for fun becoming what makes you a fortune; that’s why it’s subversive—mainstream American culture still separates fun and fortune, weekday and weekend. I happened to see War Dogs for the first time on a Friday at 8 p.m., and on the way to the theater I was thinking how much I hate the phrase “have a good weekend!”—a phrase I associate with people doing work they don’t like, living for the Saturday-Sunday respite, and thinking everyone else lives like that too. Whereas I believe the goal in life is to find something you want to do seven days a week, whether it’s trade stocks or write poetry or raise kids or grow organic vegetables. Or be an arms dealer. Something that pleases and drives you so much that you don’t need or want time off.

And Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) the literally oversize protagonist of War Dogs, spends seven days a week selling weapons because it’s what he was born to do; his borderline sociopathy makes him a great salesman and he loves the details of the arms trade, the opportunity for hustling, and the guns themselves. He’s also scabrously un-PC in a way that also calls Trump to mind; he tells a translator to “say that in gibberish” and shoves past the crowd at Amman’s airport saying he’s American, he has to go first. His handsome but bland Jewish grade-school buddy, David Packouz (Miles Teller), with fewer obvious business skills and no love of guns, comes along for the ride. It beats his other job, giving massages (we see him with an older male client who “accidentally” drops his ass-covering towel to the floor).

As we’ll learn, Efraim is a shadow of a human being, without the ability to connect to others through friendship, love, or family. Yet he’s also charismatic because he is someone who loves how he spends his time. We’re supposed to identify with David, an attractive nebbish in a pink polo shirt carting a massage table around, but we’re mesmerized by Efraim, loud, crude and one-dimensional though he is.

Efraim and David spend almost all their waking hours in an office that’s basically a desk and a Scarface poster, staring at a U.S. government defense-procurement website and trying to figure out a way for their tiny firm, AEY Inc., to fulfill the contracts too small for established businesses to want to bid on. The movie makes it look like enormous fun. Because their business day begins again at midnight Miami time, morning in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the boundaries of work and play are diffuse. Because of this, and because these guys are in their 20s, there’s a lot of weed smoked and, eventually, coke snorted. It’s not so different from The Social Network, except that Mark Zuckerberg was creating something, and Efraim is just a middleman between arms buyers and sellers.

But the biggest difference between these guys and Silicon Valley is in style. The dudes are Jewish, just like Zuckerberg, but they’re from an insular, probably lower-middle-class Jewish background, while Zuckerberg went to Exeter and spent a couple of years at Harvard. (It seems Diveroli and Packouz are Sephardic.) They could just as well be Italian- or Irish-Americans—anyone who grew up in a tight-knit ethnic enclave, who got seed capital from a guy with a chain of dry cleaners (in real life, apparently, the financier was a Mormon in Utah) not a venture capitalist. Efraim has more in common with Melanie Griffith’s working-class striver from 1988’s Working Girl than with the privileged wonks of The Social Network; he was kicked out of high school after ninth grade and was just 18 when he started AEY. (The movie has them the same age, early 20, but David is really four years older.)

Of course, Efraim isn’t meant to be a role model. He’s open about his use of prostitutes; in fact, he’s unable to imagine any other kind of relationship with a woman. When he sees a girl he likes in a nightclub, he offers her $1,000 to blow him in his car, saying, “Why don’t we pretend we’ve had the three dates.” (Her boyfriend saunters by and decks him.) There are signs early on that Efraim’s also unable to be the “best friend” to David that he claims.

The two men get a huge, historic ammunition contract—but they make a sloppy mistake, and their comeuppance is only a matter of time. And as the business expands, Efraim spends more time doing cocaine and becomes suspicious and mean. We sense his unraveling in a scene of a trainee orientation. At the end of his spiel, Efraim asks if the trainees have any questions. “What does AEY stand for?” one guy asks. Efraim says, “It doesn’t stand for anything. Like IBM. Does IBM stand for anything?” The trainee says, “Well, actually it does. It stands for International Business Machines.” And Efraim shouts at him, “Get the fuck out of my office!” Then, “Anyone else have a question?” Silence. That bullying moment is, in fact, pure Trump. And you know then that Efraim is killing his newborn company.

Efraim and David get to the point where their work has an effect on the fate of nations. But Efraim is brought down because he becomes a pig. You could say it’s one of the things people do when they become addicted to coke, but you could also say people who want to punish themselves in certain ways use coke to do that. There’s a sadness deep in Efraim, beneath the hustle and the manic joy. The second time I saw the movie, I realized that part of Jonah Hill’s terrific performance is giving Efraim a peculiar laugh that sounds like sobbing. His bravado is a defense against depression.

How about David? There’s the obligatory scene where Packouz comes to his estranged baby mama, Iz, repentant, saying he’ll go back to doing massages, and she says she was always OK with that. Iz (a thankless role played by Ana de Armas) is from a modest Hispanic immigrant background. At the end of the movie, David’s back to schlepping that massage table around. Is Todd Phillips telling us that this is all life has to offer him?

A surprise ending suggests “no.” Because, of course, Todd Phillips’ heart isn’t with the normal, mediocre life. How could it be? What kind of wildly successful comedy director lives that way? War Dogs doesn’t believe that it’s equally good to decide the fate of nations or to give massages, and why shouldn’t we agree? Why do the same old shit for 40 years and then go nameless to your grave?

War Dogs doesn’t offer any easy answers; the potential happy ending for David comes with moral ambiguity. Everything costs something. But the movie forces us to ask: Why not try for the big time, whatever that means to you?

***

A Modest Proposal: The Burkino, for Men

September 3rd, 2016

originally published in the New York Daily News, September 3 2016 (http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/judith-miller-ann-marlowe-introducing-burkino-article-1.2776329)

Introducing the burkino: A modest proposal in the spirit of equality

Why not men too? (NEIL HALL/REUTERS)
BY Judith Miller Ann Marlowe
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, September 3, 2016, 5:00 AM

Fashion Week is coming. So in the spirit of audacious runway creativity, here’s a new sartorial concept for the Muslim Middle East — and a way to at least partially solve the French “burkini” challenge: the “burkino,” full-body-covering beachwear for men.

Brimming with cultural outrage, French officials from 30 municipalities recently decided to protect precious laïcité , or secularism, by banning women from wearing full-body bathing suits, calling the mere choice of modest swimwear a “provocation.”

Free-speech advocates have strongly objected. How can France, which shattered social convention back in 1946 by inventing the bikini and whose national motto starts with the endorsement of of liberté , tell women what they can and can’t wear at the beach or pool? Indeed, France’s highest administrative court recently struck down one town’s burkini ban on grounds that it violates civil liberties and that the garb poses no threat to public safety.

Yet the bathing suit battle seems likely to continue, as towns continue insisting that the burkini is actually a veiled (so to speak) attempt by Islamist fundamentalists to impose religious dress, and hence Islamist values, in what France considers religion-free public space.

Now, with tongue in cheek, a long-time fashion insider, Kym Canter, proposes a bold compromise: appropriately demure beachwear for men.

Rather than making it illegal for women to cover one’s hair and body, why not offer Muslim men an opportunity to express solidarité — another French value — with their shrouded wives and sisters? In fact, in the name of gender neutrality, why should France not insist upon it?

Many Islamic scholars argue that the modesty imperative applies to both men and women (though over time, patriarchies being what they are, women have borne the brunt of the prophet’s insistence that women should cover their “adornments” and that men and women dress and act to avoid temptation).

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest,” instructs the Koran. So let us level the sartorial score.

Canter, a fashion trend-hunter and entrepreneur, thinks the potential market could be huge. She would like to offer the burkino in four basic colors — black, navy, gray and safety orange — and in all sizes: small, medium, large, extra and super extra large. She would also like to offer a paunch-concealing model, in all sizes.

Consider the side benefits. Until now, devout Muslim men have looked enviously at their heavily covered wives and daughters, shielded from public view, wondering how they, too, could enjoy beachwear consistent with the modesty that some interpretations of their faith impose on women in public spaces.

The burkino would also end the fat-shaming that affects so many male beach-goers. No more need Muslim men fear that their imperfect bodies will be the object of scorn or search in vain for an alternative to standard male beach attire — bare chests and baggy shorts, or, worse, form-fitting Lycra briefs.

And European beach-goers will no longer be able to accuse Muslim men of hypocrisy for dressing like secular Europeans while insisting that their wives cover up.

But wait, there’s more. Devout Muslim men, like their mothers, sisters, and wives, would no longer have to worry about getting sunburned.

Yes, it’s a bit tricky to do the breast stroke, or the butterfly, in the burkino. But isn’t that a small price to pay for the psychological, physical — and spiritual — security burkinos would provide?

Some men might resent being asked to give up water skiing, for instance, in the name of Islamic modesty. But others will take the plunge. For the brave, the burkino’s moment has come.

Miller is an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Marlowe is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute.