Category - NATO

Barack Obama: Two Time Nobelist?

You’ll no doubt recall the hue and cry when Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his stand on nuclear non-proliferation and his attempts to engage the Muslim world. Both the right and left in this country had great sport at this — and here I’ll agree — premature awarding of a prize to a man with few signal accomplishments in foreign policy, apart from being “not Bush”.

Six years later and I think it’s time to give him the Prize for real this time. Think about this past year: for a man who started his administration hoping to hit singles and doubles in foreign policy (consumed as he had to be by the domestic economic crisis), he’s kind of knocked a couple out of the park, provoking admiration from aboard and from mainstream Americans, and consternation from the idiot fringe that will sit on perches and poop all day, parroting “Obama bad, BRAWK!” Read More

Fascists and Army Head for Kiev-Maidan

“The best laid schemes o’ mice and men (and US/EU warmongers) gang aft a-gley”.

Looks like events are outpacing plans. Expect a lot of Faux News in the coming days.

I suspect it’s happening too fast for the US/EU to do anything except bitch and moan. I think Putin’s response will be the chief unanswered question of the moment.

As much as US would love to have The Ukraine in NATO, it is not there yet, so even if Russia upped the ante, the only excuse left to the NeoCons is R2P and I think the world – including the American people – have gotten tired of and wise to that ploy, given the situation in Libya, Iraq, Syria and our other failed missions.
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Russia launches large-scale naval drill in Black Sea same day as NATO

RT, July 4

Some 20 warships, over 20 airplanes and helicopters, as well as the marines and coast artillery are taking part in the Black Sea Fleet exercise, Russian Defense Ministry reported. The war games launched the same day as NATO’s military drill in the area.

Starting from July 4, the scheduled training maneuvers are conducted in the whole of the Black Sea, the Ministry told journalists on Friday, adding the drill is being carried out according to international standards.

Tanks, troops, jets: NATO countries launch full-scale war games in Baltic

RT, June 9

A major military exercise [has] kicked off in Latvia, with 10 NATO member countries participating. The war games involve 4,700 troops and 800 military vehicles. Russia sees NATO’s military build-up as a sign of aggression.

The Saber Strike ground forces exercise is being conducted for the fourth time this year and coincides with Baltic Host 2014 and Baltops 2014 naval drills.

Troops from the US, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Norway and the UK are taking part.

The two-week exercise is hosted by the three Baltic States, although some parts will be conducted in Germany.

Former German Chancellor Celebrates 70th Birthday with Putin

Given the current Ukraine crisis, former German chancellor Schröder felt it was inappropriate to invite Putin to his official 70th birthday bash in Germany.  So instead he opted for yet another birthday party with his friend in Saint Petersburg (link to German news article).

Putin, who is fluent in German, hugs his friend Schröder as he arrives to his birthday party in Saint Petersburg.


US Neocons in Irons, Tacking towards Goal: Misery for All

Vlad-the-Invader has been decisive in his reaction to NATO’s attempt to push the borders of Russia west of the Urals and to lose Russia’s only warm water port.

With Russia’s history that decisiveness should have been expected, and we wonder if the US neocons had a plan which included contingencies for that action and the other pressures the Russian Bear could bring to bear on Europe – increased gas prices and demand of repayment of Ukraine’s overdue gas bill and a threat to increase gas prices.
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Syria’s Moonlight

One kind of wonders why both China and Russia are making trouble with the world on Syria:

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich has called on the international community to show “prudence” over the crisis and observe international law.

“Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa,” he said in a statement.

The official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, said Western powers were rushing to conclusions about who may have used chemical weapons in Syria before UN inspectors had completed their investigation.

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Chuck Hagel in his own words

The new Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, is the executive in charge of the largest government entity in the world if you combine budget, personnel, equipment, and the 1,000 United States military installations around the globe. The organization is so large; it is hard to imagine the challenge of knowing what one needs to know in order to succeed as an effective executive. It is even more challenging to grasp the unknown pitfalls and dangers that Hagel will face as the executive in charge of Defense. And then, we have the President, Congress and the corporate providers for the national security state (aka the military industrial complex). (Image: Secretary of Defense)

Hagel endured a bizarre interrogation by former Senate colleagues. John McCain (R-AZ) was apoplectic, at his worst, and disturbing for most of his interrogation. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) somehow combined insouciance and condescension, playing Felix to McCain’s Oscar.

Hagel’s biography is of real interest: raised in a small town in Nebraska; served in combat with his brother in Vietnam; entrepreneur; executive; Senator, and now in charge of defense. He published a book in 2008, entitled America: Our Next Chapter (Hagel, Chuck; Kaminsky, Peter (2008-07-08). Ecco. Kindle Edition)

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General John Allen steps down and declines top NATO appointment

US commander in Afghanistan retires to spend time with family following Pentagon investigation related to Petraeus scandal.

The Guardian, By Chris McGreal, February 19

Washington – General John Allen, the US commander in Afghanistan, has chosen to retire just weeks before he was expected to be appointed the next military chief of Nato.

Barack Obama announced in a statement that he had accepted Allen’s request to retire “so that he can address health issues within his family”. But the marine general’s decision to decline the appointment of supreme allied commander of Nato follows an embarrassing Pentagon investigation into thousands of emails he sent to a woman at the centre of the sex scandal that brought down the CIA director, David Petraeus. The investigation cleared Allen, and the White House said it would press ahead with his nomination to the top Nato military post, but over recent weeks there was speculation within the military that Allen would back out.

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Al Akahbar: Syria – Damascus Repels Another Rebel Attack

By Anas Zarza Al-Akahbar-English Posted by Michael Collins

Remember all those articles over the last few months – Syria to fall soon; what will post-Assad Syria look like? Soon, we were lead to believe, the demands of Former Secretary of State (and neo-colonialism) Hillary Clinton would come true. When didn’t she say – “Assad must go!” Ironically, Assad is still around and Clinton is gone. That’s one big step for mankind and an even bigger step backwards for the Syrian rebels, particularly the very Al Qaeda fighters operating under the name Al Nusra. They fight and win but rely on direct or indirect funding, weapons, and technical assistance from NATO and the Gulf plutocrats. In fact, we now know that Ms. Clinton and the disgraced General Petraeus were pushing for the United States to openly arm the rebels. Cooler heads prevailed. Weapons and other items were stalled. Assad’s military made some changes. And now, voila!, the Syrian Arab Army is defending the capital.

Was any of this dreadful, deadly conflict worth it?
— Michael Collins


From Al Akahbar-English
Creative Commons

By: Anas Zarzar, Marah Mashi

Published Thursday, February 7, 2013

The armed Syrian opposition declared yet another “zero hour” to take Damascus on Wednesday. By nightfall, however, the army managed to restore order in the capital and widen its offensive against the rebels in the countryside. (Image: Syrian Army, Damascus, SANA) Read More

Empire Project Failing in Syria Says French Foreign Minister

By Michael Collins

The survival of the Syrian government represents a major failure of the empire project to recolonize and dominate energy rich Middle Eastern and North African states.

In an abrupt change from months of anticipatory triumphalism, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius admitted that Syrian President Bashar Assad will not be leaving power any time soon.  This is a radical departure from the NATO script and that of their stenographers in the corporate media.   We’ve been fed a mix of articles over the past months predicting Assad’s imminent demise, filled with speculation on how post-Assad Syria will look after he’s gone. (Image)

Reuters reported the Fabius remarks on January 24:

“Things are not moving. The solution that we had hoped for, and by that I mean the fall of Bashar and the arrival of the [opposition] coalition to power, has not happened.”

How quickly “things” have changed.   In a July 2012 fit of grandiosity, Fabius announced that “Bashar Assad does not deserve to be on the face of the planet.” Read More

What Happens If France Asks For Western Ground Troops In Mali?


There’s a real thought-provoker buried in The French Mess In Mali and Libya by Prof. Rajan Menon today – the entire piece about the chances France may find itself in a quagmire in Mali is worth a read but this caught my eye:

France could find itself in just the pickle it wants to avoid. And the United States and Britain, who have said they’ll limit themselves to providing France and the African troops indirect support (logistical and intelligence), may have to decide whether to let France twist in the wind. Doing so would hardly be good for NATO solidarity.

The French exit-strategy from Mali is not well defined: stated objectives include a return to democratic governance and preventing the state becoming a potential launchpad for Islamist terror attacks, but it is very unclear whether local African allies can stand up and do the jobs they’ll need to, while France’s current force of 2,500 is woefully inadequate to do nation-building in a state larger than all of France itself. Still, those troops are probably enough to prevent the Tuaregs or Islamist extremist forces in the North from taking the South (given they are inclined to do so) and to keep the capital safe. The chances of an extended occupation, utilizing local poorly-trained proxies as cannon-fodder a-la-Afghanistan, seem pretty high to me. It’s worth wondering how such a protracted occupation will affect NATO alliance members and their own grand plans.

Well, there’s this from the London Times three days ago:

British forces are on alert for an emergency deployment to Mali as David Cameron commits the UK to a fully-fledged battle against al-Qaeda in northern Africa.

The Times understands that units from the Army, Royal Navy and RAF are on “high readiness” to deploy if requested in support of France, which is attempting to repel Islamist extremists from the north of the country.

At the end of the day, I think France has Britain over a barrel, and that in turn makes a U.S. refusal to get more heavily involved too unlikely. If France insists that it is a case of  Britain sending ground troops to assist or be seen as breaching the spirit of the 2010  “Entente Frugale”, then I don’t think Cameron will hesitate.  Ending that defense agreement would have two immediate effects – ending the UK nuclear deterrent force, and ending the British navy’s procurement of two new aircraft carriers – which would see Cameron swept from office by a vote of no confidence and a popular nationalist reaction the very next day. The U.S. baseline foreign policy consensus is also heavily committed to Britain keeping its nukes and flat-tops, and Cameron would be frantically calling Obama and asking for assistance. Obama would agree as well – he’d have to – even if he prefers a Reagan Doctrine stance personally.

From there. other NATO members would fall into line – especially the Germans, who are already leaning off the fence about getting involved:

having let down its allies by staying out of Libya, Germany is eager to demonstrate its dependability and readiness to take on responsibility again, as evidenced by its deployment of Patriot missile defense systems and 170 soldiers as part of a NATO mission to Turkey. But Mali is arguably different. Moving beyond logistical and humanitarian support to become directly involved in fighting might lead to an intervention fraught with risk that many Germans fear, for good reason. A lasting defeat of the Islamist extremists and the establishment of long-term stability in Mali will require a lengthy and demanding operation. Hardly anyone believes in the initial French promise of an early troop withdrawal.

Yet Berlin also has good reasons to assume a more active role in the conflict. For one, Germany cannot stand on the sidelines while its neighbor, fellow NATO ally and EU partner France defends African and European security alone. Moreover, an extended conflict in Mali risks destabilizing the Arab Spring transition in North Africa and could result in growing refugee flows to the north, which would affect Germany as much as France. Finally, any German reservations about developments within the mission will carry much more weight if Germany articulates them from the position of a central partner rather than as an external observer.

…Several influential politicians have demanded that Germany act more forcefully in Mali — among them the leader of the Green opposition party Jürgen Trittin, the president of the German parliament Norbert Lammert and the chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs Ruprecht Polenz, the last two both members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union.

With France perhaps still in the lead, we’d then have the U.S. and Europe’s big three all committed to yet another decade-long occupation to build a nation that may not even be buildable and with far more opportunity for mission-creeping into other nations than Afghanistan ever did.

Mali Factor

Remnants of European imperialism are on display this year in Africa, as France (and eventually NATO) draws itself deeper into the morass of Mali:

SEGOU, Mali — Malian and French forces were reported in control of two important central Malian towns on Tuesday after the French Defense Ministry said they recaptured them on Monday, pushing back an advance by Islamist militants who have overrun the country’s northern half.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the defense minister, hailed the advance on Monday as “a clear military success for the government in Bamako and for French forces intervening in support of these operations.”

The developments in Diabaly, about 275 miles north of Bamako, and Douentza, on the eastern bank of the Niger River, some 300 miles to the north-east of the Malian capital, represented a reassertion of government control in areas where a lightning strike by Islamist forces last week prompted France to intervene, initially with air strikes to halt the rebel advance.

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NATO uses Afghan clinic as a firebase, prison

Geneva Conventions? Pah, they’re for little countries.

Nato forces stormed into a clinic in central Afghanistan, damaging doors, windows and medical equipment, before using it as a jail and military command centre, in violation of the Geneva conventions, according to the aid group that runs the facility.

Nato and Afghan troops were dropped off by helicopters late one October evening and headed straight to the clinic, according to the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, which has published details of the assault on their small centre in Wardak province, a few dozen miles south-west of Kabul.

The soldiers knocked down a wall to enter the building, damaged doors, windows, examination beds and other equipment, and detained clinical staff and civilians inside. And for the next two and a half days they brought dozens, maybe hundreds of prisoners through the clinic, using it as a jail, logistics hub and for mortar fire, contravening the Geneva conventions, which protect medical centres.

Let’s try to remember this story the next time the US is backing Israel bombing medical facilities in Gaza because Hamas are there and using the medical personnel as “human shields”.

NATO activates Allied Land Command in Turkey

Stars and Stripes, By John Vandiver, November 30

Stuttgart, Germany — NATO Allied Land Command, the alliance’s new headquarters in charge of land force planning, officially activated Friday at its new home in Izmir, Turkey.

“Turkey has been essential to the effectiveness and viability of NATO since it joined the Alliance because of its geography and its very large military contribution,” U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges, the new commander of the headquarters, said during the ceremony in Izmir. His comments were made available by the headquarters public affairs office.

“It is not an accident that NATO decided to put Land Command here,” Hodges said, according to the remarks provided. “Rather, it represents recognition by all 28 Nations of Turkey’s strategic importance to NATO.”