Maurizio – Omnologos

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Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Lessons to the World from Union of Otherwise Inconsequential Nations

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I wrote a few months ago: “As a sort of grass-root United Nations, the EU could then become the first gift to Humanity by a more peaceful, re-born Europe“.

And there it is: “Emulating the EU, countries join forces to speak with power and focus” (Stephen Castle, IHT, January 22, 2008):

“Europe’s attempt to weld 27 disparate nations into one bloc is being imitated around the globe, from Asia to Africa, as countries experiment with new ways to maximize influence.

[…] the European experiment with integration is being copied most successfully by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, [aiming for] a single market by 2015.

The African Union, conceived in 1999, while bigger and more unwieldy with 53 members, also borrows from EU structures, including its most influential bureaucracy, modeled on the European Commission and known as the AU Commission. The Latin American dream is to have something like the EU. […]”

There are some comments in the article along the lines of having a more centralized EU structure to achieve the goal of continental thinking.

I do not see that as a must: what is important, is for all the EU (and AU, and ASEAN) members to realize each of them is too small to be of any consequence compared to the Powers called USA, Russia, China, India, maybe even Japan.

Co-operative behavior will then be a natural consequence of that realization, without any need for cohercion.

I still believe that is the main reason why the British are reluctant to fully enter the EU: because that will mean them accepting that the days of the Empire are really a thing of the past.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jan/23 at 22:51:42

Posted in EU, Europe, International, Politics

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What Did They Kill One Another For?

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The Croatian Parliament on Saturday backed the new government of Prime Minister Ivo Sanader […]. Serb official Slobodan Uzelac [of the Independent Democratic Serbian Party (SDSS)] was designated a deputy premier.”

During the wars that dissolved Yugoslavia in the 1990’s, more than 140,000 people died, and more than a million were displaced. And the Croatian War of Independence, fought mainly between Croatian and Serb ethnic nationals living in the present territory of Croatia, was “striking for its brutality and intensity“.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jan/13 at 23:26:36

On Nuclear Hypocrisy

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Letter published on the International Herald Tribune, Dec 14, 2007

Regarding “Get Tehran inside the tent” by Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh (Views, Dec. 7): The one underlying issue that the writers do not mention, and that does not appear in the article by Valerie Lincy and Gary Milhollin (“In Tehran we trust?” Views, Dec. 7), is that Iran is alone in a sea of hostile neighbors.

Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb is as logical as Israel’s or Pakistan’s. For the current Iranian regime, and perhaps even for a hypothetical Iranian democracy, it would be extremely foolish to leave the fortunes of the state to the whims of the United States, Europe, Russia, or the Sunni Arab states, especially with troubled neighbors like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It is obvious that the West needs a new policy for Iran. Perhaps once – just once – the powers that be will pay attention to the basic needs of Iran, starting by ruling out an invasion.

Isn’t it telling that Nasr and Takeyh repeat the old fairy tale that during the Cold War “confronting Communism meant promoting capitalism and democracy,” forgetting to mention an egregiously contrary example? In a most tragic decision 54 years ago, the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh was toppled and an autocratic monarch reintroduced, all in the name of fighting world Communism.

Maurizio Morabito, England

Written by omnologos

2007/Dec/26 at 21:41:45

Iran: Security, Not Insults

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Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh’s op-ed on the IHT (“Get Tehran inside the tent“, Dec 7) may be finally pointing to the obvious: provide stability to the Middle East by realizing that Iran is not going to move elsewhere any time soon.

But for that be achieved, a better vocabulary wouldn’t hurt. In fact, what would any Nation make if not insults of words such as “opportunistic“, “seeking predominance“, “to be contained“?

The one underlying issue that Nasr and Takeyh don’t mention, and does not even appear in Valerie Lincy and Gary Milhollin’s other op-ed in the same newspaper about Iranian nuclear activities (“In Tehran we trust?“) is that the former Persian state is alone in a sea of neighbours all of whom are hostile to various degrees.

Its pursuit of a nuclear bomb capability is as logical as Israel’s or Pakistan’s. For the current Iranian religious regime, and perhaps even for a hypothetical fully-fledged liberal Iranian democracy, it would be extremely foolish to leave the fortunes of the State to the whims of the USA, Europe or Russia, or of the Sunni Arab states, especially with troubled places like Iraq immediately to the West, and Afghanistan and Pakistan just to the East.

With the recent collapse of years of strong-armed American attempts at isolating Iran, it is obvious that there is a need for “a new policy now for going forward“, as one European official is quoted saying. Perhaps once, just once, the Powers will pay attention to the basic needs of Iran, starting from the elemental security of not risking any invasion, war, or foreign-concocted “regime change“.

Isn’t it telling that Nasr and Takeyh repeat the old fairy tale that during the Cold War, “confronting communism meant promoting capitalism and democracy“? Forgetting therefore to mention an egregiously contrary example.

In a most tragic decision 54 years ago by the CIA, the democratically elected government of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh was toppled and an autocratic monarch reintroduced, all in the name of fighting world communism.

And where did that happen? Why, in Iran.

Written by omnologos

2007/Dec/08 at 00:43:41

After Iraq – Six Points for a New Approach to International Military Interventions

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-If President Bush had followed his “Mission Accomplished” message! He may have been celebrated to this day as an accomplished Statesman

The situation in Zimbabwe appears so dire, even Pius Ncube, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, is calling for an outside intervention to free the locals from the overpowering elite that has ruined the Nation.

Unfortunately, no outside intervention appears forthcoming.

For each Sierra Leone where foreign troops got rid of murderous rebels, there are innumerable counter-examples of places abandoned to the rule of unsavory characters: Afghanistan until 2001, the Kurdish villages in northern Iraq until 1991, Rwands in 1994 of course, and nowadays Darfur.

Despite the experience of the appeasers in the 1930’s, the temptation is always very high towards opting against direct intervention. Especially so now, with no end in sight for the military adventure in Iraq.

But think for a minute: if only President Bush had followed through the message bourne out of the “Mission Accomplished” May 1, 2003 banner on USS Abraham Lincon to its obvious consequence! He may have been celebrated to this day as an accomplished Statesman: having successfully completed the mission of toppling Saddam Hussein.

In other words: in case of a dire humanitarian crisis caused by egregiously unlawful behavior, there is a way to intervene: by setting ourselves to fight the criminals against humanity, and to accomplish the goal of defeating them: and then, to subsequently go back where we came from.

To understand how can this be done in practice, let’s imagine that there is a need to rapidly convince a State to change its tactics.

Sadly, that is not difficult: candidates abound, where humanitarian aid is not allowed to a wayward province, or wholesale killing is still considered an option, or otherwise part of the local population is criminally treated.

1-Start by establishing a clear measurable objective (eg “remove tyrant”…and that’s it!)

This is a basic principle of management so obvious, and yet betrayed at least as often as proven correct. How many targets can one hit with one shot? Hence the objective should be “Free the Zimbabweans from the rampant inflation”. Or “Remove the Iraqi individuals that will build a nuclear arms capability at the first occasion”. Vaporous stuff such as “exporting democracy”, etc should be forgotten altogether.

2- To avoid war, use a credible threat of war

If the counterpart is hell-bent in their devilish actions, scare them by showing seriously-ready-to-use violent means. Seriousness and readiness are imperative.
In truth, the actual start of the war is a sign of failure, because evidently the actions put in place were not scary or credible enough: just as good crowd control involves showing off truncheons to frighten, rather than actually beating people up.
On the other hand, if a war looms anyway, it has to be started. Otherwise, any threatening posturing will be even less effective next time around: and therefore the risk of future misbehaviors (and wars) much higher.

3-Get in quick, get out fast

Conduct the war by getting in, shocking, aweing and then leaving.
George HW Bush understood it in 1991. George W Bush declared just as much in that banner in 2003, but then carried on with the occupation regardless. And a never-ending occupation can only erode political support at home, while keeping the troops in danger of being attacked by ever-more-empowered insurgents.

4-Stand-by, ready to invade again very quickly

Once the enemy country has been left to its own devices, the usual cliques could simply regain power (see Iraq 1991). This can be prevented by keeping alive a credible, ready-to-strike threat.
Admittedly, that can evolve into a tragically ironic, revolving-door situation, with several rounds of invasions and retreats. But then, one hopes even the most recalcitrant political elite may opt for a different take, after suffering the umpteenth invasion.

5-Prevent civilian casualties

The death of any innocent “enemy” civilian is a fiasco akin to bombing one’s own cities.
Civilian deaths have boosted rather than weakened their Government since time immemorable (think the USA’s reaction on 9/12). This is contrary to the stated objective of changing a State’s criminal ways.
The absolute reduction of “collateral damage” to the utmost minimum is therefore not just an ethical goal, it makes good political and military strategy. And it will definitely help in preventing an organized insurgency to form.

6-Invade by land, avoid aerial bombings, and stay away from big equipment as much as possible

The threat and practice of repeated invasions is only feasible if the conflict can be carried out without the use of large, hard-to-position, hard-to-move, maintenance-hungry equipment, bombers included.
Apart from logistical considerations, in fact, if we want a quick conclusion with no “collateral damage”, i.e. precision and speed, bombing cannot be an option. In fact, whatever Air Force generals have been saying for the past hundred years, the effectiveness of bombing in preparation of a later invasion has been tragically debunked in the Flanders, in Normandy, and even in the first Iraq war.
After all, the objective is change the ways of a State, not to destroy it wantonly, the latter is the only thing bombing is good at in a modern war (if anybody believes in “precision targeting”, I’ve got a bridge to sell)

Will the above ever become reality? It is well known that we are always ready to fight the last war. And so there is some hope indeed, that will have to wait for the time when it will be possible to analyze the Iraq conflict with pragmatic-historical rather than political eyes.

Written by omnologos

2007/Aug/14 at 22:15:40

Suicide Bombers Few and Far Between

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There is something rather odd in the field of terrorism via suicide bombing.

Possibilities are aplenty, but few opportunities are being taken, strangely everywhere but in Iraq and possibly Palestine. Why would that be so?

If there really is a lot of people trained to explode themselves in the middle of innocent civilians, where are they? Anywhere in the world, what is preventing them to walk into a crowded market (as in Iraq), or a hotel’s lobby (as in Jordan), or an airport (as in Rome), and pop themselves (into Hell) and some luckless bystanders (into Heaven)?

After all, to create terror one doesn’t have to kill 2,000 or even 200 people. Just a couple of deaths twice a week or more in wholly unrelated, preferably urban environments, such as train stations (as in Madrid) would be more than enough to establish one’s terror group strength and political importance.

The USA and the world economy suffered because of 9/11, but I am sure the collapse would have been far greater if instead of 4 planes in a day, there would have been 4 al-Qaeda attacks in the space of a month.

Such a tactic would also obviate at the second-most immediate downside of terrorism via suicide bombing, namely the need to hide, from police and other security forces, the procurement and management of explosive material and the bomb manufacturing.

And yet, all of that is not happening. Iraq aside, and Israel and 9/11 included the number of deaths by suicide bombing may add up worldwide to less than 5,000 in the past decade. In the meanwhile, tens of thousands have died in car accidents, by AIDS and other curable or incurable diseases, etc..

The best possible explanation for such a situation, is that in reality, very, very few people are willing to kill themselves.

After all, the topmost immediate downside of that kind of terrorism, is that it takes at least 20 years to replace any suicide bomber. Whatever the propaganda or the inspiration, numbers can only dwindle down to zero in the medium term (a fact explaining, alongside the Wall, the recent sudden mellowing of Palestinian terror groups, after the large rate of suicide bombings in Israel a few years ago).

That of course raises the question of how much propaganda we are getting about Iraq?

How many terrorist attacks over there have actually been committed by suicide bombers, rather than far-easier-to-manage remotely-controlled explosive devices?

It may take hours, not months and definitely not years to find and prepare a new car bomb.

Is anybody playing to us the dangerous game of showing suicide bombing as easy and common in Iraq, thereby increasing our fears and willingness to give up civil rights, but also inspiring a whole bunch of untrained idiots to cobble up the crudest of bombs, as in the Glasgow airport accident?

One day, even the idiots will manage to kill somebody, by chance or mistake.

Written by omnologos

2007/Jul/25 at 12:17:44

NATO’s Historical Blunders

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Sarah Chayes may be right in defending NATO’s contribution to the war in Afghanistan, and in pointing out the USA “snubbing” of its allies immediately after 9/11.

But one cannot blame the situation on a callous/gung-ho American administration.

NATO was in fact not snubbed at all during the Kosovo conflict. The USA did their utmost to present and conduct that campaign as part of the larger NATO umbrella.

Unfortunately, few if any of the other members of the alliance seemed to understand much about military strategy, and they all preferred to play their own form of national politics.

The result was a nightmare for the American commanders, evidently more at ease with fighting an enemy than having to accommodate all the quirky requests and vetos of their own allies.

Having then shown itself excessively argumentative to the point of being almost ineffectual, little wonder NATO was mistrusted by the USA at the beginning of the latest Afghan conflict.

Written by omnologos

2007/Jul/13 at 11:31:55