Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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RTE vs. Bush

March 14, 2008
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A view from inside the UN

November 6, 2007

The SZ has an interesting interview with the former German Ambassador to the UN. The original can be found on their web-site, a translation can be read here.
Interview with Günter Pleuger
“The disarmament of the Hezbollah is suicide”
The former German ambassador to the United Nations, Günter Pleuger, talks about the Blue Helmets in the middle east, the failure of the UN reform and the nuclear conflict with Iran.
Interview by Nicolas Richter
Günter Pleuger, 65, was until a few weeks ago the German ambassador to the United Nations in New York, he was one of the highest profile diplomats in Germany.
During the red-green Government he was Secretary of State in the Foreign Office before he became leader of the German UN mission in 2002.
Pleuger retired in July 2006.
SZ: The Security Council argues for weeks about UN Peacekeepers for the Lebanon. Should they carry the mission to disarm the Hezbollah?
Pleuger: If the Hezbollah doesn’t agree it would be a suicide mission. Israel hasn’t managed to subdue Hezbollah even with an all out offensive. If the peace keepers are now supposed to disarm the Hezbollah they will find themselves in the same situation as the Israeli Military. In order to disarm the Hezbollah the UN troops would need to in the whole of Lebanon. If he peace keepers only stay in the south as a buffer the Hezbollah will simply fire over their heads into Israel. The UN can only lose.

SZ: Why, after more than four weeks, hasn’t the Security Council issued a cease fire resolution?
Pleuger: France and the USA are in disagreement about the Israeli pullback and the seizing of any offensive actions. The problem is that Israel can give sufficient reason for every attack.
SZ: Is Israel going to far in their offensive?
Pleuger: I share the critical view of General Secretary Kofi Annan. The border between Israel and Lebanon was never quiet. Now the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers was taken as an opportunity by the Israeli Government to destroy large parts of Infrastructure in Lebanon. If Lebanon breaks up we will be faced with a crisis area spanning from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran to Afghanistan, which will endanger the safety of the entire region.
SZ: In 2004 you voted yourself for Resolution 1559. The resolution demands that the Hezbollah has to be disarmed. Did the Security Council ever discuss who should enforce this?
Pleuger: The resolution was mainly aimed at the sovereignty and independence of the Lebanese government after the retreat of Syria. The internal politics of Lebanon were not the primary motivation.
SZ: Wouldn’t Germany be more likely to have to send own troops if it would have become a permanent member of the Security Council?
Pleuger: Germany is the third largest resource contributor to the UN and thus acts pretty much like a permanent member of the Security Council. The holdback of the Government is appropriate though. The Lebanon-Mission was one of the most critical in the history of the UN. Almost no Government wants to take the risk, until they know the extend of the mandate.
SZ: Do you consider it a personal defeat that Germany didn’t obtain a permanent seat on the Security Council?
Pleuger: No, we looked for a decision at the right time. Together with Brasil, India and Japan we were looking for a permanent seat, for that we required the votes of 128 States in the General Assembly. We kept a detailed list of the States who were supporting us. Based on this we estimated that we had 145 – 155 votes by May and June of last year.
SZ: Why didn’t you bring it right up for a vote?
Pleuger: Nobody in the group of four pushed so hard for it as we. But the Japanese delayed. They were unsure because the African nations couldn’t agree on a general support of the four. We did talk to the Japanese on all levels, but they always said: “We have to be in a listening mode”. They waited too long.
SZ: Until the best moment had passed.
Pleuger: The then president of the General Assembly, the African Jean Ping, met with us in April or May. He literally begged us to bring it to vote right away. “Don’t wait for an African position” he said. “bring it to a vote, then every country will decide based on their own best interest, mostly for the economically strong G 4″. Annan also tried to persuade us to bring it to a vote. We did consider if we should try it without the Japanese, but it would have influenced the vote negatively if the Group of four had broken up.
SZ: In July the US also turned openly against the G 4. Did the opposition of a close Alley surprise you?
Pleuger: To this extend yes. At the beginning of the nineties the Government of George Bush senior told us that we should become a permanent member, we could ease the burden on the US. Today the Government thinks differently. First they wanted to prevent the Security Council reform by delaying it. The sudden strong opposition of the US then showed that the process was going well for us. The Americans wanted to prevent a quick reform.
SZ: But they could have put up a Veto later on, by simply not ratifying the reform.
Pleuger: Then they would have to go up against two thirds of all States, including allies. This kind of isolation is something no Government can sustain for very long.
SZ: You have often openly opposed the US in the Security Council, together with France you have lead the coalition against the Iraq war. Was the “no” of the US not simply a punishment?
Pleuger: Vengeance does play a role in politics from time to time. After the war the US maxim was: Forgive the Russians, punish the French, ignore the Germans. Though the psychology in the UN is different.: Political differences aren’t mixed with personal emotions, instead one tries to find a solution. We have tried this after the Iraq war as well. The US though wanted to prevent the reform because they feared the loss of power. But everybody knows that the Security Council lacks legitimacy and the reform has to happen.
SZ: Was there a moment during the Iraq crisis in the Security Council that you will never forget?
Pleuger: Yes, February 5th 2003, as then Secretary of State, Colin Powell was out to proof with a slide show that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. It was creepy. Everybody in the room knew that his facts were wrong. Everybody also knew that the Iraq war was going to happen.
SZ: John Bolton, the American UN-Ambassador, is heavily disputed. Can you work together?
Pleuger: He is one of the most difficult colleagues I have ever worked with. He is very much coloured by his ideology, he argues not political but in categories of right and wrong, or good and bad. Those are moral descriptions, while politics is about alternatives and compromises.
SZ: Do you have an example?
Pleuger: The debate about the Human Rights Commission. Pretty much everybody had agreed on the formula, it wasn’t ideal, but better than no Human Rights Commission at all. Bolten voted against it, because he didn’t think the compromise was good enough. 170 States voted for it. With this move the US had given up the chance to be elected into the commission. Of all the countries the Americans made this move who always carried the torch for Human rights in front of them. For America this was a sad moment.
SZ: Recently the Security Council demanded that Iran should stop it’s nuclear program. Will the Russians and Chinese carry the sanctions as well?
Pleuger: This resolution demands civil sanctions. I am asking myself what these sanctions are supposed to achieve. The Iranians have lived for decades with US-Sanctions. I doubt that travel restrictions for example will deter the Ayatollahs. And we also shouldn’t forget that Iran with its influence on the Shiite in the region and as an oil producer does posses some ways to defend itself.
Russian and Chinese are in principal for the sanctions, but it is very questionable if they will go any further. The Security Council decides in escalating steps, the resolutions must become more drastic at one point or stop being issued. As soon as this escalation starts happening though, it can prevent a successful negotiation.
SZ: What should happen?
Pleuger: The conflict with Iran can only be resolved through a global compromise. Europe, America and Russia have to find a grand bargain with Iran. Iran would guarantee that they wouldn’t build bombs; we guarantee that Iran can fully use nuclear power and the US will provide the necessary security guarantees. If the Council issues sanctions now though just because Iran is continuing it’s atomic program, it would take elementary rights out of the atomic non-proliferation treaty. Iran did undeniably break rules in regards to the inspections. But this does not imply that they automatically lose rights.
SZ: The US acts though as if Iran has lost any right to use civil atomic energy due to their trickery.
Pleuger: This is written nowhere.
SZ: Iran wants to decide by August 22nd about the cooperation offer from the Europeans. Wasn’t it counter productive to issue an Ultimatum before this date?
Pleuger: It causes additional stress on all parties involved without any benefit. But I doubt it will come to sanctions. On August 22nd Iran most likely won’t answer with a clear No, more with a “Yes, but…”. And then we continue to negotiate.
SZ: At the end of the year Kofi Annan will leave the UN. Does he leave behind a better UN than the one he found when he started?
Pleuger: He is the best General Secretary for a long time. He impressed because he projected Integrity. After he declared the Iraq war for not legitimate a campaign was started in the US against him, which cost him mentally and physically. The Oil-for-food scandal in Iraq was pinned on him, meanwhile the fault lay with the Security Council, more precisely by the permanent members who didn’t prevent the smuggling of oil. Annan started the biggest reforms during his term, they could make the UN stronger and better. If they are going to be implemented though is up to the member states.
(SZ 12.08.2006)

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Quick, throw a party

February 4, 2007

After all, the “conservatives” are:

So, Canada is getting back on “track” by spending it’s way into a military build up. Wow. Amazing…. Who’d known it is so easy for a country to get back on track.

Some choice comments and my answers:

First, there is Speller:

Wars in the 21st Century are come-as-you-are affairs.
We cannot live in security if we do not prepare to fight the next war now.

Right, only problem is: The modern war (aka, 21st Century Warfare) is not between nation states but between smaller groups. The military doctrine of the West (not to mention the Military as an Organization) is not meant to fight like this. They are hellbent on taking out another military, but if there is no military the military proofs utterly useless.

We will have to invade and fight in Pakistan to win this war if the Pakistanis don’t deal with the Taliban/al-Qa’eda soon.

You and who’s army? And no, I do not mean that as a joke. Who has the resources to spare to actually do that? Not to mention, what is there to gain for us?

The world is getting smaller as technology spreads. Either we buy C-17A Globemaster IIIs which will allow us to fight limited conventional wars or we will need to buy or develop and build ICBMs with nuclear warheads.

So here’s a thought: We do not buy the Globemasters, instead we invest the money into a good intelligence service (yes yes, Oxymoron) and make sure that the police has all the equipment they need.

What’s the Taliban et. al going to do? Invade Canada by Air? Build a large Fleet and land in Halifax? If this is about National Security then there are way better ways to spend the money.

Eventually we will have to do both.

Is this an ICBM I see in your pocket?

—————-

Next one: Zebulon Pike:

“Do we really want to eventually spend $30 billion a year on defense when the only enemies we have are Afghan peasants 8,000 miles away…”

Short answer: yes. The Taliban are not the only enemy out there; they’re just the current one. Who knows what could happen in the near future. We could go to war with Iran as part of a large coalition – if Iran did something real to provoke a war. North Korea too, although that is less likely. Other emergencies like natural disasters could occur at any time, at home or abroad.

Little news-flash. Your planes are useless if you don’t have the soldiers to actually put them into the planes. From a military standpoint three planes are a drop in the bucket, although the C-17s are fucking big, they aren’t nearly enough to keep a supply line open in a time of conflict.

Yes, for disaster relieve they can work, but a way cheaper way is to just lease civilian planes and get support moved this way.

The best answer is, be prepared. The C-17s go a long way to helping the CF’s preparations for war and other emergencies.

The simple answer is, the C-17s are jerk-off material for military wannabes who think that buying those toys will transform the CF into a fighting force to be reckoned with.

What else could they use?

More toys? More toys? Please, do tell.

Army: new tanks (Abrams), more LAVs, more M777 artillery pieces, new trucks.

First of all the Abrams is a horrible piece of equipment. Not so much because of it’s use a weapon, but because of it’s gas turbine. When the US Army developed it it was done in pure American arrogance, with the idea that they will have unlimited supply lines to support their tanks no matter what.

Small quote from Wikipedia (I am sure you can find the same info on Janes):

The gas turbine propulsion system has proven quite reliable in practice and combat, but its high fuel consumption is a serious logistic issue (starting up the turbine alone consumes 40 liters of fuel).The high speed, high temperature jet exhaust emitted from the rear of M1 Abrams tanks makes it difficult for the infantry to proceed shadowing the tank in urban combat. The turbine is noisy, comparable to a helicopter engine, although the noise character (pitch) is significantly different from a contemporary diesel tank engine, reducing the audible distance of the sound, thus the nickname, “whispering death”. Future US tanks may return to reciprocating engines for propulsion, as 4-stroke diesel engines have proven quite successful in other modern heavy tanks, e.g. the Leopard 2, Challenger 2 and Merkava. The small size, simplicity, power-to-weight ratio, and easy removal/replacement of the turbine powerpack does, however, present significant advantages over any proposed reciprocating replacement.

The Abrams can be carried by the C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III. The limited capacity (one combat-ready tank or two transport-ready tanks in a C-5, one combat-ready tank in a C-17) caused serious logistical problems when deploying the tanks for the First Gulf War, though there was enough time for 1,848 tanks to be transported by ship. Tanks shipped in the transport-ready configuration require depot-level maintenance to install a number of sections of armor, and need to be fueled and loaded with ammunition. Tanks shipped in the combat-ready configuration can enter combat immediately.

If Canada needs a new MBT, get a Leopard 2, after all Canada is already successfully using the Leopard 1 and had extensive experience with it, though what exactly a MBT is useful for in this changed war environment is a bit beyond me.

Air Force: new fighters (F-35s), new C-130Js, tankers, Chinooks (also on the way), maybe some attack helicopters (AH-64s my choice) or Black Hawks.

The need for transport helicopters I can sort of see, but why replace the planes? Unless Canada plans on invading every little country people like Zebulon Pike et. al. are threatened by it’s a waste of money.

Navy: maybe a large amphibious ship like this – http://tinyurl.com/2qae9j – scrap the subs and destroyers, concentrate on frigates; supply ships as well.

See Air Force.

Also: don’t worry about “Arctic sovereignty” – it’s a non-issue. The only two countries on the other side of the issue (I don’t want to say enemies) are the US and Denmark, HARDLY a realistic threat. Besides, Denmark could beat Canada.

You forgot Russia my friend. And I take it if the US takes over security of these sea ways that’s just fine with you. Heck, why not simply merge the two militaries?

Next up: Jack Macleod:

Fact is we have the same problems as all Countries in the Western World with ruthless militant and fanatic Islam. The Western World is required to defend itself, it’s citizens, resources and values
against overt agression which is much worse now, than when we were faced with a misguided country
stolen by ignorant Communists whose lack of historic perspective compelled them to threaten a real superpower which thanks to Ronald Reagan put them out of business. Defence of our free world is not going to go away. MacLeod

I just have one word: Delusion (actually I have more words, but considering that I don’t want to waste an entire evening on this bullshit I just stick with that).

rockyt is also insightful (not):

Canada is like a fat, rich, squealing pig in the world of today. And therefore, Canada needs the necessary resources to defend itself.

Sorry, I have no words.

The Quebec Perspective, courtesy of Remy Houle:

With Iran threatening the middle east and China supporting terrorists and NK still at war (no peace treaty ever signed, they are still ready to assault their neighbour), we cannot let our army down.

I suggest the situation is now heading towards another ww if we cannot find a way to disarm Iran, change regimes in China and North Korea.

I see, so now Canada gets into Nation Building. Five years of Afghanistan and three years of Iraq has proven how well we are doing there.

Oh, more Jack McLeod:

I agree with Michael Shannon’s initial post but his assessment of the Red Army’s ability to fight the NATO allies in Europe and win in “five hours” is nonsense. NATO led by the US had no intention whatever to attempt to fight the Red Army on European soil on their terms. The entire Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union would have been attacked with nuclear munitions. The RCAF F-104’s in Germany were programmed in the Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS) created at RCAF Cold Lake and targeted in Europe against Cities like Praha, Warsawa. But Canadian politicians were taken aback
when many, many senior RCAF Commanders flatly refused to destroy over half of Europe. None of the Russian veterans I’ve met over the years felt that a war between the Soviet Union and the “West”
was winnable. Aside from that they were greatly admired in most Western Air Forces – Macleod

History books are an interesting thing. The reality is that the “defence” plan for Western Europe (that’ll be Western Germany) was to keep the Soviets from reaching the Rhine before additional forces could have made it from the US to France. Meaning, to hold Germany for a week, and if that meant to turn it into a parking lot that would have been a-ok.

Soviets, fully aware of the fact, realized that they had approx. one week to make it to the Atlantic in order to prevent American troops from landing.

The reason it didn’t happen was ultimately the realization by both sides that they could at best achieve a no-win outcome.

And always good for entertainment: Liz J:

Canada is on it’s way BACK to the great country it was before we got some panty waist governments lead by people more interested in pandering to certain elements for votes. We all know bloody well who they were on both sides of the equation. The same elements are still with us to some degree.
Harper will not be influenced by them.We will be a country with a military to defend and protect us and do our share on the world stage, to stand with our allies when needed.

We have the best Prime Minister in many of our lifetimes and we had better work hard to ensure we keep him in office for some time to get the Country back on track. There is NO ONE in the wings to compare.

Sorry, I feel off of my chair laughing so hard <wipes tears from eyes>

Oh I could go on, but there are funnier things to do on a Sunday night. Go, read it yourself, jump into the Echo Chamber…..

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Billy Joel speaking for me.

November 11, 2006

Some things were perfectly clear,
seen with the vision of youth
No doubts and nothing to fear,
I claimed the corner on truth
These days it’s harder to say
I know what I’m fighting for
My faith is falling away
I’m not that sure anymore

Shades of grey wherever I go
The more I find out the less that I know
Black and white is how it should be
But shades of grey are the colors I see

Once there were trenches and walls
and one point of every view
Fight ’til the other man falls
Kill him before he kills you
These days the edges are blurred,
I’m old and tired of war
I hear the other man’s words
I’m not that sure anymore

Shades of grey are all that I find
When I look to the enemy line
Black and white was so easy for me
But shades of grey are the colors I see

Now with the wisdom of years
I try to reason things out
And the only people I fear
are those who never have doubts
Save us all from arrogant men,
and all the causes they’re for
I won’t be righteous again
I’m not that sure anymore

Shades of grey are all that I find
when I look to they enemy line
There ain’t no rainbows shining on me
Shades of grey are the colours I see

Shades of grey wherever I go
The more I find out the less that I know
There ain’t no rainbows shining on me
Shades of grey are the colors I see

Billy Joel: “Shades of Grey”