1. Today is Armistice Day. Americans celebrate it as Veterans Day, for the Polish it is Independence Day and quite a few Germans, who want to forget war, celebrate today instead as the beginning of the carnival season. What hedonistic, ignorant society we are.
2. Armistice Day is an appropriate term, as November 11, 1918 did not really bring an end to the "Great War," at least not lasting peace. Neither did the Treaty of Versailles. The world war was only really over on May 8, 1945. Thirty-one damn years.
James Joyner of the Atlantic Council has a great op-ed on Libya:
Continue reading "Libya Exposes Contradictions"
Yes, Gadhafi was ultimately ousted - after six months - with a European face on the fight. But it came at the cost of undermining our partners' confidence in American leadership as well as rendering hypocritical our complaints about European "caveats" in Afghanistan.
Second, the fight has both reaffirmed my belief that NATO is an absolutely vital vehicle for transatlantic cooperation and underscored my fear that it is structurally unsound. Headline writers to the contrary, the toppling of the Gadhafi regime is an unqualified success for the Alliance. Who else could have, in short order, coordinated a complex operation with American, Canadian, European and Arab states? Certainly, not the European Union. Nor was the French offer to simply lead in an ad hoc fashion acceptable to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and others. Years of working and training together under a stable institutional framework had created vital trust.
Oh boy, what a poor choice of words for the headline in The Atlantic Wire piece published by Yahoo News:
Continue reading ""Germany's War on Facebook""
Germany's War on Facebook
German authorities are now the first to declare the feature illegal. Hamburg's data protection official Johannes Caspar claims that the software violates both German and European Union data protection laws and that Facebook users don't know how to delete the data that Facebook is gathering. "If the data were to get into the wrong hands, then someone with a picture taken on a mobile phone could use biometrics to compare the pictures and make an identification," Caspar told the Hamburger Abendblatt. "The right to anonymity is in danger."
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, calls for a doctrine of restoration that "would help the U.S. shore up the economic foundations of its power." He is basically urging more limited foreign policy engagements, which would mean that the US should act more like the European countries.
Haas wants to reduce wars of choice, like the war in Libya. He also blames Obama for turning the war of necessity in Afghanistan into a war of choice, because of targeting the Taliban rather than Al Qaeda. I understand the logic, but wasn't President Bush going after the Taliban as well?Continue reading "Our Wars of Choice Harm our Interests"
The Daily Beast published the article German Soldiers Can't Shoot by German journalist Stefan Theil about "Leaked reports question the competence of the German army, which has thousands of troops serving in Afghanistan":
"German soldiers mostly don't know how to use their weapons." They "have no or little experience driving armored vehicles." For German field commanders, "the necessity and ways [to protect their units from roadside bombs] are to a large extent either unknown or incorrect." These are quotes from a series of secret internal reports on the German army, the Bundeswehr, whose 5,000 soldiers in the northern Kunduz sector of Afghanistan were supposed to help the U.S. rout the Taliban and stabilize the country over the past 10 years.
The reports are from 2009 and 2010 and were leaked to the Bild, a German tabloid that is Europe's highest-circulation newspaper. [Bundeswehrbericht enthüllt: Afghanistan-Soldaten können nicht richtig schießen] But they are an indication of the poor state of the Bundeswehr, which only two years ago even started fighting in Afghanistan. Before that, they weren't allowed to shoot except in self-defense, and only after they had shouted repeated warnings in the local language.
Only two years ago? Hm, I thought the policy change was earlier, but I must have been mistaken.Continue reading ""German Soldiers Can't Shoot""
Today is the 67th anniversary of D-Day. 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy to fight Nazi Germany on June 6, 1944. Steven Spielberg captured this heroic and scary moment very well in Saving Private Ryan.
Today most US experts -- with the notable exception of Tom Ricks -- do not worry about a war with Germany or a return of militarism and Nazi ideology in Berlin. Instead they are concerned that Germany (and many other European countries) demilitarize so much that we are not of use to the US anymore. Wait for the press coverage of Merkel's trip to the US later this week or read Secretary Gates' speech from last year:
The demilitarization of Europe - where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it - has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st.
Tom Ricks, however, has a totally different view of Germany. Mr. Ricks worries about "Germany's resurgence", which apparently will bring back Adolf Hitler. Or why else did he chose this picture of a Nazi rally in Nuremberg (?) for his blog post on Foreign Policy?
Following are few more strange, offensive, and/or stupid remarks from this senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, who is also a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine and a special (!) military correspondent at the Washington Post, who was part of the teams that won two Pulitzer Prizes:Continue reading "Tom Ricks Mistrusts Germany"
After 9/11, the US Congress realized the need for in-depth knowledge of world affairs and advanced language proficiency and increased the Fulbright-Hays budget. This program "supports research and training efforts overseas, which focus on non-Western foreign languages and area studies."
Apparently the post-9/11 era is over now. A few days after Bin Laden's death, the 2011 Fulbright-Hays dissertation fellowships have been cancelled due to budget cuts. $5,800,000 had been estimated, when the US Department of Education invited applications in September 2010, while pointing out that "the actual level of funding, if any, depends on final Congressional action."
It's a disgrace that this prestigious and important fellowship program does not have secure funding.Continue reading "Tomahawk Missiles Instead of Fulbright Scholars"