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Europe Loses Afghanistan and America Looks at Nice Pictures

"The American ambassador to Kabul has accused European members of Nato of jeopardising the future of the alliance by refusing to send troops to Afghanistan, or banning their forces from entering areas with heavy fighting." writes the British Telegraph:
Ronald Neumann, who has survived two attempts on his life this year, said European nations must not turn "coward" and "run away" from fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, Mr Neumann said some Europeans "obviously resist the idea that you have an army in order to fight. And I have very little patience for that". (...)
In Germany the lower house of parliament voted by a large margin to extend the peacekeeping mandate of the 2,750 German troops serving with Nato for a further year. The German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, told the Bundestag that Nato had no choice but to stay. "Afghanistan is only lost if we give it up," he said. (...)
Spanish officials briefed the Madrid press that their government -- in conjunction with France, Germany and Belgium -- had seen off a request from the military commander of Nato, Gen James Jones, to mobilise ground forces from the "Eurocorps" -- a rapid reaction force made up of troops from several European nations. Spanish sources told El Pais newspaper that the four European nations had told Gen Jones the rapid reaction force was for unforeseen emergencies, and not for propping up an existing mission.
Clearly, more troops are urgently needed. Even compared to Iraq, there are too few troops in Afghanistan. The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and all three international editions of Newsweek's latest issue have "Losing Afghanistan" on the cover. "The Rise of Jihadistan" is the cover story: "Five years after the Afghan invasion, the Taliban are fighting back hard, carving out a sanctuary where they -- and Al Qaeda's leaders -- can operate freely." The U.S. edition, however, has a cover story about Annie Leibovitz's Amazing 'Life in Pictures'. This is not the first time for Newsweek: See the Atlantic Review post: "Dream on America".

President Bush is often asked why he does not send more troops to Iraq (Afghanistan does not seem to be that much of an issue compared to Iraq). He often replies that he would send more troops, if the military commanders would request them. Well, U.S. generals request more troops for Afghanistan, but it seems primarily the Europeans get blamed for not sending additional troops. More about NATO's Increasing Involvement in Afghanistan, NATO's Difficulties to Get More Troops for Afghanistan, and A Global NATO for more Burden Sharing?

Elite Schools seen as "Bastions of Privilege" rather than "Engines of Social Justice"

The Economist's columnist Lexington highly recommends a new book about an old problem: "The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges—and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates" by Daniel Golden (Amazon.com, Amazon.de):
Mr Golden shows that elite universities do everything in their power to admit the children of privilege. If they cannot get them in through the front door by relaxing their standards, then they smuggle them in through the back. No less than 60% of the places in elite universities are given to candidates who have some sort of extra “hook”, from rich or alumni parents to "sporting prowess". The number of whites who benefit from this affirmative action is far greater than the number of blacks. (...)
Social inequality is rising at a time when the escalators of social mobility are slowing (America has lower levels of social mobility than most European countries). The returns on higher education are rising: the median earnings in 2000 of Americans with a bachelor's degree or higher were about double those of high-school leavers. But elite universities are becoming more socially exclusive. (...)
Two groups of people overwhelmingly bear the burden of these policies -- Asian-Americans and poor whites.
The above quote -- including the comparison with Europe on social mobility in the brackets -- is from the review in the respected British The Economist. (HT: Don)
Daniel Golden was awarded the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for his "series of stories that exposed huge college admissions advantages enjoyed by some privileged white students", available for free at the Wall Street Journal.

UPDATE:
Check out the response from Mad Minerva, an Asian-American grad student.

Iraq War Made the Global Terror Problem Worse

UPDATE: The Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte has declassified the Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate (pdf). Excerpt with emphasis in bold addded:
    • The jihadists regard Europe as an important venue for attacking Western interests. Extremist networks inside the extensive Muslim diasporas in Europe facilitate recruitment and staging for urban attacks, as illustrated by the 2004 Madrid and 2005 London bombings.

We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.
    • The Iraq conflict has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate.
    • Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement: (1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness; (2) the Iraq "jihad;" (3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and (4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims—all of which jihadists exploit.

You could read the entire four page document, but it does not contain anything new. It confirms, however, what many experts have concluded and many Americans and Europeans believe. Why were these "Key Judgements" classified? The Instapundit opines: "If this is the quality of intelligence we're getting, no wonder we haven't won yet." [End of  Update]

Michael Scheuer served in the CIA for 22 years before resigning in 2004; he served as the chief of the bin Laden unit at the Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999. He is the formerly anonymous author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America (Amazon.com, Amazon.de). He told Harpers Magazine:
Continue reading "Iraq War Made the Global Terror Problem Worse"

Fourth Carnival of German-American Relations

Outstanding Bloggers from both sides of the Atlantic (and the Pacific) have submitted more than 20 blog articles on German-American Relations. The topics include the meaning of September 11th, a world without 9/11, Anti-Americanism, Pro-Americanism, free speech, cultural diplomacy, remembering John F. Kennedy, Old Europe, NATO, the Geneva Conventions, Soldiers Angels Europe, getting the first banana from a GI, civil rights, Berlin, and patriotic Muslims. The two carnival hosts have picked the submissions they liked best and present them on their blogs:
Dialog International has written an English carnival post introducing both English and German articles about transatlantic relations. And Liberale Stimme has written a German carnival post (English translation by Google) introducing both English and German articles.
Please read both carnival posts, since they introduce different articles. Besides, check out our Carnival Submissions Blog, which lists ALL submissions in the right column.
The Atlantic Review would like to thank all bloggers for participating in our carnival and thank both hosts for presenting the carnival and thereby improving the transatlantic dialogue! The next Carnival of U.S.-German Relations will take place on December 11th. You can already submit relevant article now. Just send a trackback to the Carnival Submissions Blog.

NATO Response Force to Darfur? A Global NATO for more Burden Sharing?

Recently the Atlantic Review wrote about NATO's difficulties to get more troops for Afghanistan. Would globalizing NATO help?
Ivo Daalder, a senior fellow at Brookings, and James Goldgeier , professor at George Washington University, write in the September/October 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs is freely available at Brookings (pdf-file):
With U.S. forces stretched thin in Iraq and European states failing to invest enough to participate significantly in operations far away from home, NATO is struggling to fulfill even its current commitments. And while the alliance has increasingly recognized the necessity of operating far from Europe—or "out of area," in NATO parlance—it has been limited by the requirement that its member states be North American or European. NATO leaders are expected to address this problem at a summit in Riga, Latvia, in November. They will consider a proposal to redefine the alliance's role by deepening relations with countries beyond the transatlantic community, starting with partners such as Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. (...)
If the point of the alliance is no longer territorial defense but bringing together countries with similar values and interests to combat global problems, then NATO no longer needs to have an exclusively transatlantic character. Other democratic countries share NATO's values and many common interests -- including Australia, Brazil, Japan, India, New Zealand, South Africa, and South Korea -- and all of them can greatly contribute to NATO's efforts by providing additional military forces or logistical support to respond to global threats and needs.

Howard LaFranchi, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, writes about "NATO's 21st-century task: going from 'Europe' to 'global'":
The fact that the transatlantic alliance has gone in less than a decade from doubts about its purpose to requests for its participation in even the most intractable international disputes - from the Darfur region of Sudan to the recent Mideast war - suggests the pact's transition is considered a success. "It's no longer 'What's its purpose?' when the topic turns to NATO, but rather 'How can we best use it?'" says NATO spokesman James Apathurai. "That's a big transition."
But officials say the transition from "Europe" to "global" is still incomplete, with major challenges remaining in areas ranging from capacity for intervention to efficiency and member financial commitments. Some observers worry that demands on NATO are surpassing its abilities and jeopardizing its transition process. The Afghanistan assignment, which involves 16,000 NATO-led soldiers now and a projected 25,000 by the end of the year, has the leadership of some member countries holding their breath, as NATO forces face increasing attacks and an entrenched enemy.
Peter Beinart, author of The Good Fight: Why Liberals---and Only Liberals---Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again (Amazon.com, Amazon.de), writes in TIME Magazine (HT: Bill) that genocides (Rwanda and Darfur) "come at inconvenient times." "Genocidal dictators are generally not impressed by tough talk", helping Darfur is complicated and would be a long-term committment. Yet, in his conclusion he advocates a NATO invasion:
The U.S. military is buckling under the strain of Iraq. NATO has all it can handle in Afghanistan. Barely anyone wants the U.S. and its allies to attack another Muslim country--except for the black Muslims of Darfur, thousands of whom were seen this summer chanting "Welcome, welcome, U.S.A." Yet a ground operation in Darfur is well within NATO's capacity. The newly created 25,000-member NATO Response Force, which reaches operational capacity this October, is made for situations like this. It can deploy in five days, fight its way into a hostile area, and stay for a month before needing to be resupplied. That would be long enough to decimate Darfur's militias and secure its refugee camps before handing the job over to U.N. peacekeepers.
So far, only the boldest politicians will even whisper about such things. It's easy to see why. NATO intervention would be aimed at saving Muslim lives, but that wouldn't stop al-Qaeda from screaming about the West's recolonization of the Islamic world. Bringing stability to a region as complicated and brutalized as Darfur could take years, if not decades. U.N. peacekeepers still patrol Kosovo today, and that's an easier case.
You could fill volumes detailing the geopolitical reasons America should abandon Darfur to its fate. The argument for military action, by contrast, rests on just two tarnished words. Last week a small crowd gathered in Kigali, Rwanda. "If you don't protect the people of Darfur today," said a man named Freddy Umutanguha, "never again will we believe you when you visit Rwanda's mass graves, look us in the eye and say 'Never again.'" Try offering a geopolitical answer to that.
So, Beinart says on the one hand "NATO has all it can handle in Afghanistan", but on the other hand he thinks NATO's new Response Force should and could go for a month long combat mission to "decimate Darfur's militias." He is quite optimistic in assuming that UN peacekeepers would be able to deploy within a month and could continue the job NATO started. Mark Fiore has a sad and funny animation about "Never Again." I think Beinart's entire article in TIME Magazine is worth reading (like all articles recommended in the Atlantic Review) because he captures the predicament the United States and Europe are in: We have to help, but we don't have enough military ressources and we don't want to make matters worse for the long-term by sending too few troops without much of plan into a combat mission and we are scared of a quagmire and are haunted by the failures and the defeat in Somalia and the daily images from Iraq. However, the relief effort to stop the famine in Somalia could be considered a success since many many lives were saved. The failures came afterwards. Likewise NATO could provide some much needed security for the refugee camps in the short term and impose a no-fly zone over Darfur etc. It is key to put more pressure on the Sudanese government and on China and Russia (who support the Sudanese government). Peace negotiations  have to continue. More African Union forces with a tougher mandate and better rules of engagement are needed. It is doubtful, however, whether they are willing to actively pursue the militias and government forces and risk being torn into a messy conflict.

Contrary to Beinart's claim: Not UN peacekeepers, but NATO troops still patrol in Kosovo, primarily Europeans. (Perhaps he meant that they operate under a UN mandate.) Lieutenant General Roland Kather, German Army, took over command of KFOR on September 1st. On that day also Ambassador Joachim Ruecker from Germany took over as Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The German Bundeswehr has 2,901 soldiers in Kosovo (KFOR) and 850 in Bosnia (EUFOR). I could not find out how many American troops are still serving on the Balkans. Anybody know anything?

Will Germany Promote the Creation of a Transatlantic Free-Trade Area?

[UPDATE: The idea is not new. Already in 1997, Germany Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel "proposed that a transatlantic free-trade zone, TAFTA, be created in the long term."]

"Spurred by concern about China's growing economic might, Germany is considering a plan for a free-trade zone between Europe and the US," writes the Financial Times (FT) in an article availabe at MSN Money:
A senior aide to Angela Merkel said the chancellor was "interested" in promoting the idea as long as such a zone did not create "a fortress" but rather "a tool" to encourage free trade globally, "which she is persuaded is a condition of Germany's future prosperity". Separately, on Friday, the US, Canada and the European Union complained to the World Trade Organisation about China's tariffs on car parts, raising the prospect of Beijing facing its first WTO dispute.
China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was on tour in Europe. Hopefully he was pressured on Darfur as well. Global Darfur Day was on Sunday and Jewels in the Jungle has a news round-up. Die Zeit's Kosmoblog criticizes a lack of attention for Darfur in Germany. The FT mentions only that Chancellor Merkel criticized China's poor human rights record and restrictions on foreign news agencies. [UPDATE: The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes that Darfur was discussed and that Prime Minister said China supports UN troops in Darfur] The FT concludes:
As German perceptions of China have grown more American, Washington's approach has shifted too. Speaking before his first trip to Beijing, Hank Paulson, US Treasury secretary, this week outlined a more balanced policy mixing traditional US criticism with praise for China's reforms.
Prof. Drezner sees "many reasons to believe that TAFTA [Transatlantic Free-Trade Area] will never get off the ground", but finds the idea "very intriguing. Even if it takes ten years to negotiate, the combined weight of a TAFTA in terms of both market size and rule-setting behavior would be formidable." (HT: ROA) The FT advises caution:
Ms Merkel's aide said it was "far too early" to tell whether the project of a transatlantic free-trade zone would be part of Germany's priorities when it assumes the six-month presidency of the European Union and chairs the G8 group of leading industrial nations from January.

Darfur: Finally some Transatlantic Cooperation to Discuss "the Next Steps"?

Darfur"Britain called on Friday for world leaders to prepare a summit on easing the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's violence-torn Darfur region." writes Reuters:
"International leaders should be ready to meet soon to consider next steps," a spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters, adding that no agenda or date had yet been set for such a meeting. He did not elaborate on what "next steps" meant but Blair has suggested a carrot and stick approach that included incentives for Sudan if it allows U.N. troops into Darfur.
The United States and Denmark host a meeting on Darfur in New York on Friday as the government in Khartoum continues to refuse any U.N force into its western region to stop fighting that has killed an estimated 200,000 people and displaced 2.5 million. (...)
U.N. human rights monitors on Friday accused Sudan's army of dropping bombs on villages in North Darfur, killing and injuring civilians, and driving hundreds of people from their homes. They also reported continuing rapes and sexual violence against women by military or militia known as Janjaweed around camps for the displaced in South Darfur.
Organising a meeting of world leaders is not much, but better than the constant calls for the United Nations to "do something."
Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
Rallies to help Darfur across the United States. And in Germany? and Why is Abu Ghraib a cover story again, but not Darfur? and Europe's Moral Outrage.

"Sweet Relief" - A New Book about Humanitarian Activist Marla Ruzicka

Various search engines continue to send many readers to the Atlantic Review's past posts about Marla Ruzicka, which indicates that there is fortunately still a lot of interest in this "youthful representative of a certain kind of not-yet-lost American idealism" (Rolling Stone Magazine).
Marla founded the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) and convinced Congress to create an Iraqi War Victims Fund, which was named in her honor after her tragic death in April 2005.
"Marla was alienated from much of the human rights community because she chose to work with the military instead of always against it" said Newsweek's Baghdad bureau chief.

Her friend Jennifer Abrahamson has just published the book Sweet Relief: The Marla Ruzicka Story (Amazon.com | Amazon.de):
Marla Ruzicka was a free spirit, a savvy political operator, a wartime Erin Brockovich. Fiercely determined to improve the lives of the less fortunate, the twenty-something blonde was instrumental in convincing the U.S. government to pass historic legislation aiding civilian victims of war.
Sweet Relief recounts Marla's journey from an idyllic childhood in a small California town, through Latin America and Africa, and finally to the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether she was Rollerblading the halls of Congress to secure funds for civilians in Iraq or throwing parties for journalists in Kabul to raise awareness of her cause, no one who came within a hundred yards of Marla missed her. Her friendly smile and indefatigable pose were ubiquitous in Afghanistan and Iraq where Marla managed a door-to-door effort to identify war victims. While Marla worked tirelessly to care for others, in many ways she neglected herself. A diagnosed manic-depressive, Marla battled extreme emotional lows and an eating disorder. And although she brought love into the homes of the aggrieved, she often struggled to find a love of her own. Marla gave the invisible victims of war a voice and, in the process, helped to win them millions of dollars in unprecedented aid. Tragically, Marla was killed by a suicide bomber on Airport Road in Iraq in April 2005. Weeks later, the U.S. government named the program she fought so hard to establish The Marla Ruzicka Fund. Her life and legacy are an inspiring reminder that love and determination can conquer all.

                          
A movie about Marla Ruzicka, starring Kirsten Dunst, is in the making. "The screenwriter is finishing up her script and has relied heavily on the book", writes Jen Abrahamson.
For more background on Marla's life, work and achievements, here are two of the Atlantic Review's previous posts: Marla Ruzicka, Civilian Victims and Reconciliation and Marla Ruzicka and the Iraqi War Victims Fund.