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“Russian Threat” Used To Drag Sweden Into NATO

May 31, 2013 8 comments

The Local
May 31, 2013

Swedish parties want to get closer to Nato

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Prime Minister of Sweden, Frederik Reinfeldt, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

With Sweden’s main political parties in agreement that developments in Russia are going in the wrong direction, a key defence policy advisory committee has proposed Sweden seek closer cooperation with Nato.

“The political developments in Russia are worrying, as are the ambitious modernization plans for its armed forces. This increases insecurity compared to 2007,” Moderate MP Cecilia Widegren, chairwoman of the defence policy advisory committee, said in a statement.

The report by the committee, which includes representatives from the government and the political parties represented in the Riksdag, concluded there was no threat of an attack in the near future, a conclusion also reached in the committee’s 2007 report. Yet the parliamentarians agreed that political developments in Russia were a potential concern and that Russia’ pull towards authoritarianism could bring about potential instability.

The advisory committee went on to propose that Sweden extend its cooperation with Nato.

“The defence advisory committee’s view is that cooperation with Nato should continue to be developed within the framework of Swedish partnership,” the report stated.

The advisory committee brings together representatives of all the political parties, whether they be in power or in opposition, and provides a forum to discuss defence policy across party lines. Its new report was handed to the government late on Thursday and has now been made public.

As well as entrenching Nato cooperation, the report called for greater cooperation across the Nordic countries, with “great possibilities” for greater coordination, and encouraged looking at the possibility of having Sweden reach out to its Baltic neighbours Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

“Developments today take place at an ever more rapid pace, they are ever more complex and they are less easy to predict,” Widegren said on Friday, referencing not only military threats but climate change and natural disasters.

It also noted that Sweden prioritized its work within the EU.

“Our security is increased through European integration and expansion,” the report noted, adding that Sweden must consider that any attack would target more countries in the region than solely Sweden.

There were disagreements in the advisory committee, however, on how to describe Russia’s militarization and the threats it may pose. While opposition parties the Social Democrats and the Sweden Democrats wanted to underscore the potential threat, as did the government coalition parties the Christian Democrats and the Liberals (Folkpartiet), they were tempered by their colleagues.

The Moderates, the Left Party, the Greens, and the Centre Party all wanted a more moderate use of words to describe any would-be Russian threat. They cited the fact that militarization was taking place from a low starting point and that it remained unclear whether the Russian economy could afford to support an aggressive upgrade.

They also noted that Europe was an important export market for Russian energy companies and that there was no financial incentive for Moscow to antagonize relations with its western neighbours.

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NATO Consolidates Partnerships With Bangladesh, Pakistan

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
May 31, 2013

Junior diplomats from Pakistan and Bangladesh visit NATO

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Discussions…touched on the 2011 air campaign over Libya, the possibility of NATO getting involved in Syria, and NATO’s maritime counter-piracy operation off the Horn of Africa… [Which] highlight the need for the Alliance to develop partnerships with countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area.

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A group of junior diplomats from Pakistan and Bangladesh visited NATO Headquarters on 15 May to learn more about the Alliance and its cooperation with countries across the globe.

Briefing the group about NATO’s Strategic Concept, which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, Zsolt Rábai of the Public Diplomacy Division explained that developing cooperation with partners is one of NATO’s three core security tasks.

“New global challenges and threats don’t stop on the border of Europe,” said Rabai, emphasising that partnerships with other international organisations, such as the European Union or the United Nations, are also increasingly important in the unpredictable security environment of the 21st century.Gilles Vander Ghinst of the Political Affairs and Security Policy Division also underlined that “partnerships are a central feature of NATO’s work.”

The group had an opportunity to discuss NATO’s past and current operations with Erik Sandahl of the Operations Division. Given the proximity of Bangladesh and Pakistan to Afghanistan and the central role that NATO is playing…there, the young diplomats were very interested to learn more about NATO’s current and future mission.

Discussions also touched on the 2011 air campaign over Libya, the possibility of NATO getting involved in Syria, and NATO’s maritime counter-piracy operation off the Horn of Africa. International efforts to tackle piracy – a “booming industry with low investment” with links to other forms of organised crime such as trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings – again highlight the need for the Alliance to develop partnerships with countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area.

The half-day visit was organised by NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division, together with the Dutch Clingendael Institute of International Relations, as part of efforts to reach out to audiences in Asia.

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Henri Barbusse: Pay for a glory which is not yours or for ruins that others have made with your hands

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Henri Barbusse: Selections on war

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Henri Barbusse
From Light (1918)
Translated by Fitzwater Wray

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The primeval cataclysm has begun again upon the earth. My vision — beautiful as a fair dream which shows men’s composed reliance on each other in the sunrise — collapses in mad nightmare.

But this flashing devastation is not incoherent, as at the time of the conflict of the first elements and the groping of dead things. For its crevasses and flowing fires show a symmetry which is not Nature’s; it reveals discipline let loose, and the frenzy of wisdom. It is made up of thought, of will, of suffering. Multitudes of scattered men, full of an infinity of blood, confront each other like floods. A vision comes and pounces on me, shaking the soil on which I am doubtless laid — the marching flood. It approaches the ditch from all sides and is poured into it. The fire hisses and roars in that army as in water; it is extinguished in human fountains!

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Nearer, one makes out the human shape of great drifts and hilly fields, many-colored and vaguely floral—the corpse of a section or of a company. Nearer still, I perceive at my feet the ugliness of skulls. Yes, I have seen them—wounds as big as men! In this new cess-pool, which fire dyes red by night and the multitude dyes red by day, crows are staggering, drunk.

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I am wandering on the other side of the immense fields where the yellow puddles are strewn with black ones (for blood soils even mud), and with thickets of steel, and with trees which are no more than the shadows of themselves; I hear the skeleton of my jaws shiver and chatter. In the middle of the flayed and yawning cemetery of living and dead, moonlike in the night, there is a wide extent of leveled ruins. It was not a village that once was there, it was a hillside whose pale bones are like those of a village.

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And I — I am seeking; it is a fever, a longing, a madness. I struggle, I would fain tear myself from the soil and take wing to the truth. I am seeking the difference between those people who are killing themselves, and I can only find their resemblance. I cannot escape from this resemblance of men. It terrifies me, and I try to cry out, and there come from me strange and chaotic sounds which echo into the unknown, which I almost hear!

They do not wear similar clothes on the targets of their bodies, and they speak different tongues; but from the bottom of that which is human within them, identically the same simplicities come forth. They have the same sorrows and the same angers, around the same causes. They are alike as their wounds are alike and will be alike. Their sayings are as similar as the cries that pain wrings from them, as alike as the awful silence that soon will breathe from their murdered lips. They only fight because they are face to face. Against each other, they are pursuing a common end. Dimly, they kill themselves because they are alike.

And by day and by night, these two halves of war continue to lie in wait for each other afar, to dig their graves at their feet, and I am helpless. They are separated by frontiers of gulfs, which bristle with weapons and explosive snares, impassable to life. They are separated by all that can separate, by dead men and still by dead men, and ever thrown back, each into its gasping islands, by black rivers and consecrated fires, by heroism and hatred.

And misery is endlessly begotten of the miserable.

There is no real reason for it all; there is no reason.

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Soldier of the wide world, you, the man taken haphazard from among men, remember — there was not a moment when you were yourself. Never did you cease to be bowed under the harsh and answerless command, “It has to be, it has to be.” In times of peace encircled in the law of incessant labor, in the mechanical mill or the commercial mill, slave of the tool, of the pen, of your talent, or of some other thing, you were tracked without respite from morning to evening by the daily task which allowed you only just to overcome life, and to rest only in dreams.

When the war comes that you never wanted — whatever your country and your name — the terrible fate which grips you is sharply unmasked, offensive and complicated. The wind of condemnation has arisen.

They requisition your body. They lay hold on you with measures of menace which are like legal arrest, from which nothing that is poor and needy can escape. They imprison you in barracks. They strip you naked as a worm, and dress you again in a uniform which obliterates you; they mark your neck with a number. The uniform even enters into your flesh, for you are shaped and cut out by the stamping-machine of exercises. Brightly clad strangers spring up about you, and encircle you. You recognize them — they are not strangers. It is a carnival, then — but a fierce and final carnival, for these are your new masters, they the absolute, proclaiming on their fists and heads their gilded authority. Such of them as are near to you are themselves only the servants of others, who wear a greater power painted on their clothes. It is a life of misery, humiliation and diminution into which you fall from day to day, badly fed and badly treated, assailed throughout  your body, spurred on by your warders’ orders. At every moment you are thrown violently back into your littleness, you are punished for the least action which comes out of it, or slain by the order of your masters. It is forbidden you to speak when you would unite yourself with the brother who is touching you. The silence of steel reigns around you. Your thoughts must be only profound endurance. Discipline is indispensable for the multitude to be melted into a single army; and in spite of the vague kinship which is sometimes set up between you and your nearest chief, the machine-like order paralyzes you first, so that your body may be the better made to move in accordance with the rhythm of the rank and the regiment—into which, nullifying all that is yourself, you pass already as a sort of dead man.

“They gather us together but they separate us!” cries a voice from the past.

If there are some who escape through the meshes, it means that such “slackers” are also influential. They are uncommon, in spite of appearances, as the influential are. You, the isolated man, the ordinary man, the lowly thousand-millionth of humanity, you evade nothing, and you march right to the end of all that happens, or to the end of yourself.

You will be crushed. Either you will go into the charnel house, destroyed by those who are similar to you, since war is only made by you, or you will return to your point in the world, diminished or diseased, retaining only existence without health or joy, a home-exile after absences too long, impoverished forever by the time you have squandered. Even if selected by the miracle of chance, if unscathed in the hour of victory, you also, you will be vanquished. When you return into the insatiable machine of the work-hours, among your own people — whose misery the profiteers have meanwhile sucked dry with their passion for gain — the task will be harder than before, because of the war that must be paid for, with all its incalculable consequences. You who peopled the peace-time prisons of your towns and barns, begone to people the immobility of the battlefields — and if you survive, pay up! Pay for a glory which is not yours, or for ruins that others have made with your hands.

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NATO Chief At White House To Plot Syrian War Plans

May 30, 2013 2 comments

Stars and Stripes
May 29, 2013

NATO head to visit DC amid debate over Syria
By John Vandiver

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NATO currently has six Patriot missile batteries, including two from the U.S., positioned near Turkey’s border with Syria…Russia announced this week it will deliver S-300 long-range air defense systems to Syria, in a move that would greatly complicate any effort to impose such a [no-fly] zone.

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STUTTGART, Germany: NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen begins a two-day visit to Washington on Thursday at a time when alliance members are grappling over how to deal with the situation in Syria and the shape of the mission in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of combat troops next year.

While the alliance remains engaged in Afghanistan, where the combat mission is winding down, it also is faced with new security challenges on the edges of Europe. Most notably in Syria, where the U.S. and its allies in Europe are pondering whether to bolster support for anti-regime rebels in the two-year civil war.

This week, the European Union lifted a weapons embargo, meaning individual member countries could potentially deliver weapons to rebel fighters. Some allies, however, have expressed reluctance about offering such support amid concerns those weapons could end up in the hands of Islamic militants also operating in the country.

During his visit, Fogh Rasmussen is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama, as well as with Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, according to a NATO news release.

Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Monday in Paris to prepare for an international conference in Geneva next month that is supposed to pave the way for a democratic transition in Syria.

NATO currently has six Patriot missile batteries, including two from the U.S., positioned near Turkey’s border with Syria…Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who crossed into Syria on Monday to meet with Syrian rebel leaders after meeting with U.S. troops in Turkey, has called on the Obama administration to widen its support for the rebels by imposing a no-fly zone.

Russia announced this week it will deliver S-300 long-range air defense systems to Syria, in a move that would greatly complicate any effort to impose such a zone.

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U.S. Army Chief At NATO Think Tank: Don’t Rule Out More Land Wars

Stars and Stripes
May 29, 2013

Odierno: Don’t rule out ground wars when cutting Army forces
By Chris Carroll

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Odierno at the NATO Defense College earlier this month

WASHINGTON: Defense budget chaos and bad assumptions about the future of American warfare could result in an Army that’s too small to do its job, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said Wednesday.

The Army is reducing toward an active-duty end strength of 490,000 troops by 2017, Odierno told an audience at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. If Congress doesn’t come up with a solution to sequestration – automatic budget cuts that will reduce planned defense spending by $500 billion over a decade – the Army must shrink even further, he said.

As the United States implements a new defense strategy that de-emphasizes land wars in the Middle East and increasingly casts an eye on the watery expanses of the Pacific, Odierno warned against the assumption that United States has sworn off land wars for good.

“The thing I worry about is that in everybody’s declaration that there’s going to be no more ground wars, we need no more ground forces, that we’re going to make the Army too small,” he said. “I see nothing on the horizon yet that tells me that we don’t need ground forces.”

Keeping a healthy-size Army is doubly important now that some U.S. allies are shrinking their ground forces or considering it, he said. Some of the support the United States has relied on in recent conflicts may not be there if needed in the near future, he said.

“The concerning thing for me is they are significantly reducing their capabilities while we are reducing ours,” Odierno said.

South Korea may reduce its military because of demographic pressures, France and Italy may be forced to do so by budgetary concerns, and Britain is cutting its forces now, he told the audience.

“In a lot of ways, they’re depending on us, especially our ground capability, into the future,” he said.

Although U.S. cutbacks in Europe have resulted in the withdrawal of about 12,000 soldiers, he said, the current Army presence there – with two combat brigades plus logistics and support elements – is “about the right amount.”

Odierno said he joins those who hope for an end to land wars – but not those who suspect the United States no longer needs a large Army capable of fighting them.

“In order for us to deter our adversaries and have the right capacity to protect this nation, you’ve got to have the right number of ground forces,” he declared.

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Partners Across The Globe: NATO Strengthens Military-To-Military Cooperation With Pakistan

May 30, 2013 1 comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
May 30, 2013

NATO strengthens military-to-military cooperation with Pakistan

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On 28 and 29 May 2013, General Knud Bartels, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, made an official visit to Pakistan at the invitation of General Kayani, the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff.

The aim of the visit was to build on the military-to-military relationship between NATO and Pakistan both in recognition of Pakistan’s important role in the region and as enabler to NATO’s Mission in Afghanistan. “It is important for NATO to understand Pakistan’s perspective and views of the dynamics in the region,” General Bartels said. “Pakistan is clearly an important country in the region within which the future stability of Afghanistan will be a key factor. I believe it makes good sense for NATO to strengthen military-to-military cooperation with Pakistan,” he added. To this end, General Bartels held talks with General Kayani, received briefings from the Pakistani Army Principal Staff Officers and had a meeting with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Wynne.

The NATO and Pakistan delegations exchanged views on countering the IED threat to troops and civilian populations, a threat which both parties are facing. The delegations agreed to explore opportunities to sharing knowledge and experience on countering the IED threat.

The importance of close cooperation on border security between Pakistan and Afghanistan and NATO’s current role in facilitating this through ISAF was also discussed.

During the visit, General Bartels paid tribute to the soldiers of the Pakistani Military who lost their lives in service for their country with a formal Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Shuhada Monument. He also delivered a lecture to the Students and Staff of the National Defence University to improve the general understanding of NATO, its roles, operations and future challenges. “I found the audience keen to understand more about NATO, its operations and outreach,” General Bartels said afterwards.

The trip concluded by an operational visit to the Swat valley in northern Pakistan where the General was briefed…Also in the area the General visited a De-radicalization center where he praised the staff for their remarkable work in providing young people hope, skills and the desire to contribute constructively in society. “I have been grateful for the hospitality I have experienced and I will continue to support efforts to enhance military-to-military cooperation between NATO and Pakistan,” Gen. Bartels concluded.

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Romain Rolland: Recurrence of the hell of war

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Romain Rolland: Selections on war

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Romain Rolland
From Death of a World (1933)
Translated by Amalia de Alberti

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Nothingness and death everywhere! This war which is said to be over (it is still going on) has encircled space with its barrage of asphyxiating gases. It blocks the horizon. It is the fact – the only one which imposes itself upon these young men. All the ideologies that deny it, of if they cannot, try to celebrate it, are rotters, faces to be slapped…The war is there. Its claws are in my neck, its putrefying breath in my nostrils.

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Men’s minds were under high pressure in those days. The criminal acquittal of the assassin of Jaurès – that second assassination – during the month of March, had been a blow to the young men…Strange commemoration of a great man, who was defeated not once but twenty million times, defeated in the twenty million assassinated by the war, like himself…

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More than one of our young acquaintances of 1914 threw themselves into the War to escape degrading boredom. If these have, since, purged themselves of their bloody orgy, others have grown up after the War, who, in their turn, are preyed upon by the maddening lust for action.

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Masson’s bitterness had the advantage over Marc’s of being more cruelly justified. The young workman had been gassed in the war; death was in his blood. He burned with indignation against the abominable selfishness and apathy of all these young Frenchmen who had gone through such trials, and did nothing to prevent their recurrence.

His comrade Masson, the compositor, had just killed himself. Thee poor wretch was eaten up by the double poison of syphilis and gas, both of which he had brought back from the War. His burnt-up body was unable to bear the furious assault of the mind. His disappointments and rancors to awaken old fighters were like oil to the torch. He spat blood, in useless barking at meetings, from their indifference. They turned from him with annoyance, they were angry with him for reminding them of what they would rather forget; and more than one hid discomfort with insult. He came away, worn out, choking with his pain and impotent rage, his brain in a fever, which insomnia increased to madness. A clear hallucination showed him the return of war, making fatal the hypocrisy of the peace of rapine, and the complicity, through weakness, of the French nation. The recommencement of the hell from which he thought he had escaped three years before was beyond his endurance. And the moral treason of his own people deprived him of all reason for existence. He could do nothing. And had he been able, for whom could he have found the energy to fight? For these traitors – traitors to their cause, traitors to their class? For these cowards – One night, choking with coughing and despair, he cut his throat with his trench knife.

Marc found him on his straw mattress, soaked in blood, like a sponge, his body drained, his contorted mouth still barking at the treason of the living.

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NATO Shifts Central Asian Liaison Office To Uzbekistan

May 29, 2013 1 comment

Trend News Agency
May 29, 2013

Media: NATO Liaison Officer’s regional office to be relocated to Uzbek capital
D. Azizov

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Uzbekistan, Tashkent: In June or July of this year, the NATO Liaison Officer’s regional office will move to the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, due to a regional rotation policy laid out in the contract with the government of Uzbekistan, according to a number of online publications referring to NATO representatives.

Uzbekistan has not commented on the relocation of the NATO Liaison Officer’s office.

Previously, the office was located in Astana [Kazakhstan], where it coordinated all activities of the alliance in Central Asia.

According to the report, the office will have the status of “diplomatic mission”. It will be headed by a citizen of one of the NATO member-countries, who will be assisted by a small staff.

At the initial stage, the NATO office in Tashkent will undertake the coordination of all stakeholders under the planned phased withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as well as the export of arms and army property.

Along with working with the governments of NATO partner countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) with the aim of strengthening long-term bilateral cooperation, the NATO Liaison Officer will also provide support for initiatives of the Alliance for Public Diplomacy as well as provide coordination with international players in the region.

Uzbekistan joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program in July 1994. Since 1996, Uzbekistan has been cooperating with NATO in the framework of annual individual partnership programs developed for the training of military personnel and peacekeeping battalion.

Uzbekistan participates in the work of the various committees of the NATO in the EAPC format, including the EAPC meetings at the level of ambassadors, political, military and political steering committee and the Committee on Science.

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Mediterranean Dialogue: NATO Forges New Military Partnership With Algeria

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
May 29, 2013

Algerian high-level delegation visits NATO to discuss NATO-Algeria Cooperation

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Algerian delegation at NATO headquarters last November

On 30 and 31 January, an Algerian delegation from the Follow-up Committee for the Mediterranean Dialogue, including representatives from several ministries visited NATO Headquarters for discussions with officials from the Alliance’s International Staff and International Military Staff.

The discussions focused on political and practical cooperation between NATO and Algeria in the framework of the Mediterranean Dialogue; the development of an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme between NATO and Algeria; NATO’s scientific cooperation with Mediterranean Dialogue partners; and opportunities for cooperation in the fields of crisis management, civil emergency planning, counter-terrorism, border security, arms control, training and education, energy security and cyber defence.

During the visit, the high-level delegation met, among others, Ambassador Dirk Brengelmann, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, Mr Nicola de Santis, Head of the Middle East and North Africa Section in NATO’s Political Affairs and Security Policy Division, Col Giuseppe Di Maio, Head of the Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative Section in the International Military Staff, Ms Juliette Bird, Head of the Counter-terrorism Section in the Emerging Security Challenges Division, Mr Guenter Bretschneider, Head of the Civil Emergency Planning Outreach Section in the Operations Division, Mr Suleyman Anil, Head of the Cyber Defence Section in the Emerging Security Challenges Division, Mr Michael Ruhle, Head of the Energy Security Section, Emerging Security Challenges Division and Mr. Mihai Carp, Deputy Head of the Operations Section in the Operations Division.

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Georges Duhamel: The demon of war had imprisoned us under his knee

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Georges Duhamel: Selections on war

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Georges Duhamel
From The Heart’s Domain (La Possession du monde) (1919)
Translated by Eleanor Stimson Brooks

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It is repugnant to the spirit to admit that anything can be a blessing which the war has given. The desperate folly of the Western world has engendered and still holds in reserve such great misfortunes that we cannot ransack all these ruins, these heaps of bones, with any hope of extracting from them, as ragpickers do with their hooks, some fragment that is good, some useful bit of waste. No! There is no excuse for this ferocious, immeasurable stupidity.

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At the beginning of the month of June of this year 1918, I found myself hard at work during one of those overwhelming afternoons that seem, on our barren Champagne, like a white furnace, a glistening desert. There were many wounded and the greater part had been uncared for for several days; the barrack that served us as an operating-hall was overcrowded; our task was a tragic one; the demon of war had imprisoned us under his knee. We felt crushed, exasperated, swamped in these immediate realities. Between two wounded men, as I was soaping my gloves, I saw my young comrade looking far away through a little window and his gaze was suddenly bathed with calm and peace. “What are you looking at?” I said to him. “Oh! nothing,” he replied; “only I’m resting myself on that little tuft of verdure down there: it refreshes me so much.”

It seems childish and paradoxical to oppose to all the concrete and formidable realities that are considered as the hereditary wealth of mankind an almost purely ideal world of joys that have no price, that remain outside all our bargainings, that are unstable, often fugitive, and always relative in appearance, whenever we put them to the test. Yet they alone are absolute, they alone are true. Where they are lacking there may be a place for amusement, there is no place for true happiness. They alone are capable of assuring the salvation of the soul. We ought to labor passionately to find them, to amass them as the veritable treasures of humanity.

The future we are permitted to glimpse seems the very negation of happiness and the ruin of the soul.

If this is true, we must examine it with open minds and then, with all our strength, refuse it.

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We shall have great misfortunes and we shall often be bitterly deceived. It is because the war has succeeded in depriving the simplest and the most sacred things of the light of eternity. That is not the least consequence of the catastrophe. We must make a painful effort to recover that light and clear it of its blemishes. Silence, solitude, the sky, the vestiture of the earth, all the riches of the poor have been sullied as if forever. The works of art have been mutilated. They have taken refuge under the earth where they seem to veil their faces.

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During the cruellest hours, when the war about me has been heaping agony upon agony, when I have been able to find nothing, nothing to which I could any longer attach my confidence and my need of hope, I have often been surprised to find, running through my head, one of those airs that I know so well, those airs that I love and that escort my soul, like watchful and radiant personages, through the chaos of the days. And I would think bitterly: “Just fifteen quite simple notes! but they carry a meaning so beautiful, so profound, so commanding that they would suffice, I am certain, to resolve all conflicts, to discourage all hatreds, if men knew them well enough to sing them all together with the same attentive tenderness.”

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Afghanistan: Germany To Prolong First Post-World War II Ground War Mission

Stars and Stripes
May 28, 2013

Germans prep for post-2014 role in Afghanistan
By Alex Pena

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As of now, it’s likely that the Germans will be the second largest supplier of troops to the mission in Afghanistan after 2014. The armed forces also are engaged in other deployments around the world, including Kosovo, Lebanon and the Horn of Africa. Of the country’s 195,000 servicemembers, 6,500 are deployed on missions abroad at any one time.

“These are nations where my grandfather fought the grandfather of [current soldiers from] some of the other nations,” he said, adding that his staff included officers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro, nations that gained independence in the civil wars that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia 20 years ago.

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MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan:— The German armed forces will continue as the lead forces in the north of Afghanistan after 2014, ushering in a new era for the country’s military operations abroad.

Maj. Gen. Jörg Vollmer, regional commander north for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, noted that Germany was the first to announce participation in a follow-on assist-and-advise mission in 2015, after the deadline for the withdrawal of NATO combat forces.

The number of German servicemembers — currently headquartered at Camp Marmal in Balkh province, near the capital city of Mazar-e-Sharif — in the new mission will be small in comparison with the current contingent — slashed from about 5,000 at the height of the war, to just 600-800. The government has also said that the troops would be there for about two to three years, after which the commitment would be re-evaluated.

Still, the decision has highlighted Berlin’s willingness to continue participating in the international war effort in Afghanistan — something German public opinion has long frowned upon. A recent German Press Agency poll found that just nine percent of respondents said they expect a successful completion of the NATO mission.

“It’s in our interest, and in the [German] population’s as well, that they ascertain that this was not something that has been done just for a certain time, and then we leave it alone,” said Vollmer. “Germany is taking it very seriously.”

The low profile of the German military role in the international community may be something of the past. For a long time after World War II, German military missions abroad were publicly touted as purely defensive or humanitarian.

As of now, it’s likely that the Germans will be the second largest supplier of troops to the mission in Afghanistan after 2014. The armed forces also are engaged in other deployments around the world, including Kosovo, Lebanon and the Horn of Africa. Of the country’s 195,000 servicemembers, 6,500 are deployed on missions abroad at any one time.

According to Vollmer, Germany’s decision to continue investing time and money to provide ongoing assistance to Afghanistan is a strong statement of political will.

“In such a situation, where one mission ends, and you have the upcoming elections (in Afghanistan), and Germany decides to open a consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif, it’s a very strong political sign,” said Vollmer. “We have already announced that we will, per year, give another 430 million euro. That’s quite a number. Therefore, it’s important to have that linked up with a small, but as we see it, important, military engagement as well.”

…The military has sustained 54 deaths, including one in early May, the first fatality since June of 2011.

The vast majority of its patrols are focused near the base, providing security for the facility. Other nations, including the U.S. and Sweden, routinely patrol farther away from their bases, for such missions as route clearance and EOD operations.

On the Afghan side of things, they’re much more vocal on the list of things they need.

“Sometimes we dig up IEDs (improved explosive devices) by shovel, but the Route Clearance Company should have special things to do this with, not shovels,” said Capt. Abdul Qaher, with a demining company from the Afghan army’s 3rd Brigade, 209th Corps, based at Forward Operating Base Spann.

“We need everything from air support, to even small cameras just to take pictures of the IEDs, so we can learn and show our partners. These are things we need,” he said.

…There are currently 17 nations serving in RC-North, more than any other regional command.

Vollmer uses the example to show the Afghans how they can overcome their rivalries, and some even deeper tribal and ethnic conflicts.

“These are nations where my grandfather fought the grandfather of [current soldiers from] some of the other nations,” he said, adding that his staff included officers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro, nations that gained independence in the civil wars that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia 20 years ago.

“When I was a lieutenant colonel I was in Yugoslavia, and we tried to bring peace to this war-torn country then. And imagine, 15 years later, officers from these countries, who fought each other…are serving here [in] Afghanistan.”

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NATO Renews Partnership Invitation To Libyan Leader

May 28, 2013 9 comments

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
May 27, 2013

Libyan Prime Minister visits NATO

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NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan on Monday (27 May 2013) that the Alliance was proud of the role NATO played to protect the Libyan people…Stressing NATO’s expertise in the reform of security and defence sectors, especially when it comes to institutional education and training, Mr Fogh Rasmussen told the Prime Minister: “We stand ready to help the Libyan government in these areas, where you need us and where we can add value.” The Secretary General said, “I am confident we can develop our relationship to help build the new Libya…”

NATO is also ready to develop political links with Libya, Mr Fogh Rasmussen said. He noted that at the Chicago Summit last year, Allies invited Libya to become a Mediterranean Dialogue partner, if it so wishes, and that invitation stands.

The Secretary General stressed that Libya has come a long way since the start of NATO’s Operation Unified protector just over two years ago…

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Leo Tolstoy: Idealization of military malefactors is shameful

May 28, 2013 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Leo Tolstoy: Selections on war

Henri Troyat: Thoughts stop with a shock: War!

Russian writers on war

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Henri Troyat
From Tolstoi (1965)
Translated by Nancy Amphoux

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Painting by Ilya Repin

1857

At the sight of Napoleon’s tomb, he was seized with indignation…How could a people who claimed to be peace-loving, freedom-loving and reason-loving dedicate this haughty sarcophagus in red porphyry to a man who had drenched all Europe in blood? “This idealization of a malefactor is shameful,” he thought. He scowled furiously at the names of the victories carved in the walls of the crypts…He left in a rage, and the sight of two old disabled veterans sunning themselves in the courtyard merely fanned the flames of his wrath. That evening the man who had once sung hymns to the bravery of the Crimean troops – whatever their nationality – wrote of these cock-hatted and medallioned derelicts, “They are nothing but soldiers, animals trained to bite. They should be left to starve to death. As for their torn-off legs – serves them right!”

1876

While the final chapters of Anna Karenina were being published, the public was badly shaken by news of the uprising of the Serbs and Montenegrins against the Turks. Could the Czar turn a deaf ear to this, could be abandon his traditional role of protector of the faithful in the Balkans? Aroused by the journalists’ call to arms, scores of Russians volunteered to serve under General Chernayev and defend their “little Slavic brothers.” Collections for the downtrodden rebels were taken up at church doors. The officers of the guards had visions of a short military tour through the land of the miscreants, complete with distributions of the St. George Cross. Tolstoy, who was writing the Epilogue to Anna Karenina, dared to express his disapproval through the mouth of his hero Levin, who said the volunteers for the front were “misguided…hotheads,” always itching for a fight on the first pretext that came along; nothing could be more scandalous than these ladies in sable capes and trains behind their dresses going to extort money out of the peasants, when their total collection amounts to less than the price of their train”; he even proclaimed that “the good of society is dependent on scrupulous obedience to of the moral law engraved in every human heart” and that “no one, therefore, should desire or advocate war, whatever generous aim it purports to serve.”

1900

The quelling of the Philippine uprising by the United States, and the British expeditions against the Boers in the Transvaal shocked his sense of justice. “They are horrible, these wars that the English and Americans are waging in a world in which even schoolchildren condemn war!” he wrote.

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NATO Completes Large-Scale Military Drills In Estonia

Russian Information Agency Novosti
May 26, 2013

Estonia Completes Military Drills with NATO Allies

TALLINN: Estonia completed on Saturday large-scale military drills, which began on May 9 and involved some 5,000 military personnel, including from NATO allies, the General Staff of the Estonian Defense Forces said.

The Spring Storm (Kevadtorm) drills have been held annually in different parts of Estonia since 2003. This year they were held in northern and central Estonia and involved for the first time units from the UK, Belgium and Poland as well as the Estonian navy.

“Our military servicemen gained experience of cooperation with pilots from Poland, air defense experts from Belgium, infantrymen from Britain, Latvia and Lithuania by participating in joint drills,” Estonian Commander in Chief Gen.-Maj. Riho Terras said at a line-up in the village of Kuusalu.

NATO allies were represented by an infantry company from the UK and Latvia each, a reconnaissance platoon from Lithuania and an anti-aircraft missile platoon from Belgium.

The exercise also involved Polish attack aircraft SU-22, Estonia’s training jets L-39, light helicopters R-44, light transport planes An-2 and French Mirage F-1 aircraft, according to Estonian newspaper Postimees.

President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves attended the large-scale military exercise on May 17.

Estonia, as well as two other ex-Soviet republics in the Baltics – Latvia and Lithuania – joined NATO in March 2004.

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Henri Barbusse: Blood-stained priest of the God of War

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Henri Barbusse: Selections on war

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Henri Barbusse
From Light (1918)
Translated by Fitzwater Wray

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An inexorable religion has fallen from them upon us all, upholding what exists, preserving what is.

Suddenly I hear beside me, as if I were in a file of the executed, a stammering death-agony; and I think I see him who struggled like a stricken vulture, on the earth that was bloated with dead. And his words enter my heart more distinctly than when they were still alive; and they wound me like blows at once of darkness and of light.

“Men must not open their eyes!”

“Faith comes at will, like the rest!” said Adjutant Marcassin, as he fluttered in his red trousers about the ranks, like a blood-stained priest of the God of War.

He was right! He had grasped the chains of bondage when he hurled that true cry against the truth. Every man is something of account, but ignorance isolates and resignation scatters. Every poor man carries within him centuries of indifference and servility. He is a defenseless prey for hatred and dazzlement.

***

And the great voices, the poets, the singers — what have the great voices said? They have sung the praises of the victor’s laurels without knowing what they are. You, old Homer, bard of the lisping tribes of the coasts, with your serene and venerable face sculptured in the likeness of your great childlike genius, with your three times millennial lyre and your empty eyes — you who led us to Poetry! And you, herd of poets enslaved, who did not understand, who lived before you could understand, in an age when great men were only the domestics of great lords — and you, too, servants of the resounding and opulent pride of to-day, eloquent flatterers and magnificent dunces, you unwitting enemies of mankind! You have all sung the laurel wreath without knowing what it is.

There are dazzlings, and solemnities and ceremonies, to amuse and excite the common people, to dim their sight with bright colors, with the glitter of the badges and stars that are crumbs of royalty, to inflame them with the jingle of bayonets and medals, with trumpets and trombones and the big drum, and to inspire the demon of war in the excitable feelings of women and the inflammable credulity of the young. I see the triumphal arches, the military displays in the vast amphitheaters of public places, and the march past of those who go to die, who walk in step to hell by reason of their strength and youth, and the hurrahs for war, and the real pride which the lowly feel in bending the knee before their masters and saying, as their cavalcade tops the hill, “It’s fine! They might be galloping over us!” “It’s magnificent, how warlike we are!” says the woman, always dazzled, as she convulsively squeezes the arm of him who is going away.

And another kind of excitement takes form and seizes me by the throat in the pestilential pits of hell — “They’re on fire, they’re on fire!” stammers that soldier, breathless as his empty rifle, as the flood of the exalted German divisions advances, linked elbow to elbow under a godlike halo of ether, to drown the deeps with their single lives.

Ah, the intemperate shapes and unities that float in morsels above the peopled precipices! When two overlords, jewel-set with glittering General Staffs, proclaim at the same time on either side of their throbbing mobilized frontiers, “We will save our country!” there is one immensity deceived and two victimized. There are two deceived immensities!

There is nothing else. That these cries can be uttered together in the face of heaven, in the face of truth, proves at a stroke the monstrosity of the laws which rule us, and the madness of the gods.

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Greater Middle East War: Pentagon Leads Black, Caspian Sea Basins Military Symposium In Georgia

Ministry of Defence of Georgia
May 24, 2013

Security Symposium of Black Sea and Caspian Sea Basins

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The attendees of the Symposium are discussing a number of issues like regional stability…and the possible shift of Middle East crises to the Caucasus region.

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In the Hotel Sheraton, Batumi, the Security Symposium of Black Sea and Caspian Sea basins has opened.

Representatives of the United States European Command Intelligence, high-ranking intelligence officials of Black Sea and Caspian Sea basins countries – Georgia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan – military attaches and experts take part in the Conference held by the organization of Military Intelligence Department of Ministry of Defence. The Head of Military Intelligence Department of JS of GAF [Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces] Col. Roman Jokhadze unveiled the Conference.

The attendees of the Symposium are discussing a number of issues like regional stability, security of the Sochi Olympiad and associated threats and the possible shift of Middle East crises to the Caucasus region.

The Symposium is the project of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency which is held once a year and aims at rapprochement of military intelligence services of Black Sea and Caspian Sea basins` countries and consolidation around regional security issues. The Symposium was founded in 2006 and first was held in Washington. DIA National Intelligence University and J-2 Intelligence of the United States European Command provide organizational support for the Workshop.

DIA carries out the projects of similar format with intelligence agencies of Asia-Pacific Ocean and South-American countries.

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Jules Romains: Destruction of war itself, its deletion from the pages of history

May 25, 2013 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Jules Romains: Selections on war

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Jules Romains
From Verdun: The Prelude (1938)
Translated by Gerard Hopkins

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The “duration” began to be reckoned in ever increasing lengths of time; foundation stones were laid for buildings intended for war production; orders for munitions plants were given abroad – at first the machinery had to be made outside the country – much as trade agreements are signed for long-term deliveries; financial transactions were set on foot with the slow deliberation usual of the building up of political alliances or the plotting of international treacheries, the benefit of which will not be felt for several years, or in the methodical dissemination of ideas among distant peoples, which can lead to action only after much patient waiting. In this way, slowly and piecemeal, the whole world was gradually caught up in the chaos of war.

***

The average soldier had, at first, been to a certain extent deceived, but not entirely. God knows he had had no love for war, but he had, to some extent, believed in it. Now he could no longer be in two minds about it. He could see that war was something positively evil, an enterprise of sheer stupidity. Its benefits were as nothing compared to its cost. Nothing in the world could be worth a war, unless it was the destruction of war itself, its suppression for ever, its deletion from the pages of history.

***

The new method was tried in January in the Champagne. On a short length of the German trenches the High Command poured a hundred thousand shells in forty-eight hours. Meanwhile assembly trenches were dug close to the enemy front line. At the last moment, just as the assault troops were preparing to swarm over the parapet, a completely new device was employed – that of rolling, or drum, fire, a sudden acceleration of every battery engaged, on the point to be attacked. The object of this was to give to the few men remaining alive in the opposite trenches, the handful who had survived the rain of a hundred thousand shells, the impression that this time the very heavens were falling on their heads, that the world was collapsing upon them in a torment of flame, that a vast hand of earth and steel armed with a million clutching fingers was about to crush them finally, and that it would be sheer childish folly to try to escape this ultimate hurricane of death. The final convincing touch was given to the picture by the detonation of a number of mines which turned communication trenches, front line and parapet into one huge crater and hurled into the air fragments of dismembered men.

***

These small-scale massacres set the men brooding. The more they thought the thing out, the more bitter did their reflections become: “The truth is they want to leave us lying out there; they want to get rid of us. That’s what’s really behind it.”

They could not help guessing too that the motive for much of this minor slaughter lay in the personal ambition of some local commander. It might be that a brigadier was impatient for a third star. In such a case he would not hesitate to argue that the capture of a strong-point would advance him with his friends at headquarters. Since he was not naturally cruel, he carefully avoided considering the fact that his promotion would be obtained at the cost of a hundred killed, eighty “missing,” and three hundred wounded. A divisional general’s expectations were pitched higher; a corps commander’s higher still. A strong-point would not be enough. The enterprise must be planned on a bigger scale – and so, too, the losses (but it didn’t do to think about that). Such a line of argument very soon came to envisage hundreds of yards of trenches and thousands of casualties.

But quite often these small-scale attacks owed their inspiration to General Headquarters itself, whence they filtered down the various degrees of the military hierarchy. Now, if General Headquarters wanted, quite naturally, to put a feather in its own cap, small local operations certainly would not do the trick. Nothing really was of any use short of a major offensive with a casualty list running into tens of thousands killed.

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Azerbaijan: NATO’s Outpost On Caspian, Iranian Border

AzerNews
May 24, 2013

Azerbaijan’s security minister meets senior NATO official

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The minister informed the NATO official about…the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and its consequences, and stressed that this factor is also a serious threat for the security of the whole of Europe.

Then Mahmudov touched upon the issues of security of oil and gas pipelines…

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Azeri president and NATO chieftain at NATO headquarters last year

Azerbaijan’s Minister of National Security Eldar Mahmudov has met the Deputy Secretary General of NATO Iklodi Gabor, who is on an official visit to Baku, the ministry reported on May 23.

Mahmudov noted the successful implementation of the Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO and the development of bilateral relations, stressing that in this case the important role is played by the directions given by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his decisions to intensify cooperation with NATO and accelerate integration into the Euro-Atlantic space.

The minister said…that Azerbaijan attaches great importance to strengthening ties in international security with the relevant structures within the Euro-Atlantic partner countries.

The minister informed the NATO official about the measures undertaken by Azerbaijan on security issues, as well as the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and its consequences, and stressed that this factor is also a serious threat for the security of the whole of Europe.

Then Mahmudov touched upon the issues of security of oil and gas pipelines and other projects of international importance, stressed the importance of close cooperation and mutually coordinated activities in this direction.

Iklodi noted that NATO is satisfied with the work carried out by the relevant government agencies, including the Ministry of National Security on the implementation of the Individual Partnership Action Plan.

The sides also discussed the issues related to subsequent development of relations between Azerbaijan and NATO as well as issues of mutual interest.

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U.S. Nominates Ex-General, Afghan Hand As New NATO Ambassador

May 24, 2013 1 comment

Stars and Stripes
May 24, 2013

White House adviser on Afghanistan nominated as new US envoy to NATO
By John Vandiver

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Daalder’s departure after a four-year stint as ambassador comes just weeks after the parting of Adm. James Stavridis, the soon-to-retire former NATO supreme allied commander. The two men and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who took over as commander of the international force in Afghanistan, were appointed at roughly the same time by the incoming Obama administration to conduct the NATO-led war.

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STUTTGART, Germany: Retired Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, who for the past six years has served as a White House adviser on Afghanistan, was nominated by President Barack Obama on Thursday to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to NATO.

If confirmed, Lute will replace current ambassador Ivo Daalder at the Brussels post, where the focus in the coming year will likely be on crafting drawdown plans in Afghanistan.

Daalder’s departure after a four-year stint as ambassador comes just weeks after the parting of Adm. James Stavridis, the soon-to-retire former NATO supreme allied commander. The two men and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who took over as commander of the international force in Afghanistan, were appointed at roughly the same time by the incoming Obama administration to conduct the NATO-led war.

During Daalder and Stavridis’ tenure, the U.S. surged into Afghanistan as part of an effort by the Obama administration to refocus efforts on the neglected “good war,” which critics say was under-resourced as a result of the military campaign in Iraq. While the U.S. boosted its troop presence in Afghanistan, U.S. officials also urged its European allies in NATO to bump up their troop contributions, getting mixed results in the process.

Now, as NATO shifts from a combat mission to one focused on training Afghan forces to provide for their own security, the question will be whether NATO’s security gains can hold in the years ahead. For Lute, and new SACEUR Gen. Philip Breedlove, the focus will be on pushing ahead with security transition plans while still maintaining enough of a troop presence to keep the training mission on course.

If confirmed, Lute also will serve at a time of instability in other areas of strategic concern for NATO. Chief among them is the ongoing civil war in Syria [which] threatens to destabilize the region.

Lute, who retired from the Army in 2010, brings more than 30 years of military experience to his new diplomatic post. Last year, Lute was even rumored to be under consideration by Obama for the position of SACEUR, which would have required the unusual step of a return to active duty.

Meanwhile, Daalder will take up a new position later this summer as president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a nonpartisan group focused on international affairs.

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Louis Aragon: The military: parasite and defender of parasitism

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Louis Aragon: Selections on war

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Louis Aragon
From The Bells of Basel (1934)
Translated by Haakon Chevalier

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“If I lend money not to Pierre de Sabran but to the Turks to massacre the Greeks, or to the English to make hash of the Hindus, or to the French – let’s not forget the French! – to enable them to treat themselves to morocco leather vests? Then I’m no longer a usurer, I ‘live on my income,’ I go and clip my coupons, I am respected by my concierge. I can do even better if I chuck enough cash into some racket or other in which the government is interested. I’ll be given the Legion of Honor on the 14th of July, and I’ll have the right to be buried at the state’s expense with a lot of poor idiots in the procession who’ve been grabbed for two years to be taught to defend the Gauloise bicycle, Job cigarette paper, and Meunier chocolates!”

“An anti-militarist to boot!” General Dorsch managed to stammer.

“You’ve got me wrong, General! The Army is an institution that is much too useful to usurers for me to be an anti-militarist. I see no objection to maintaining armed bands who year in and year out do nothing but pretend to work, present arms, do right and left turns and indulge in other pastimes that combine the useful and the agreeable, provided these bands with their chiefs and subordinates are ready to protect me, my complicated operations and my usurer’s’s rates, as in case of need they will protect Monsieur Peugeot, and the Isola brothers, and the owner of the Dufayel Establishments and the Chabanais brothel. Labor leaders, agitators, strikers, and other rabble rousers have hit on the idea of lumping all of us together as parasites – you as well as me, General, Monsieur Lebaudy as well as the nearest grocer – and they’re right. Why not admit it? I don’t see anything shocking about it. I’d like to know why it’s any better to be the animal afflicted with parasites than the parasite on the animal’s back. On the contrary, I personally think this is what is called civilization. We have reached a period of culture and refinement which necessitates a great division of labor. Why, just look – commerce used to be despised, it was closed to the nobility. All that has completely changed. Parasitism is a superior form of sociability, and the future belongs to parasitism – the whole problem is continually to invent new forms! I drink to parasitism, and you’ll agree that I’m right!”

General Dorsch was trying to find some gesture by which he could get out of this gracefully. He accordingly took the glass of fine Napoléon (which Brunel was handing him, remarking that there was a fellow – Napoleon – who had been a parasite of the first water) and, raising it, with a certain majesty, he finally found a formula:

“I drink,” he said, “to patriotism!”

“There! exclaimed Georges, “just what I said!”

***

“Get this my friend: right now all our resources are none too great to help carry out the armirable work which France is undertaking in Morocco…

“Old man, you’ve got to understand that it’s not that I believe in all the twaddle, all the big words that are used to stir up the crowds…When I say France, it’s a very simple manner of speak, which means we – a certain group of common interests…It’s at least a little more exciting to lend money for an enterprise of this kind than to play your little skin game at 100 per cent interest with boobs like Sabran, who spoils the whole show by blowing out his brains. In my game, hundreds of Sabrans are pawns in a game that is incomparably more interesting, and if any of them break their necks at it, well, at least it’s not for nothing! Killed in action on the field of honor – that’s much more swanky than suicide! And after the smoke has cleared away you still have left a real honest-to-goodness colony, mines, cultivated land, towns, ports, roads, railways…”

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U.S. Military Base In Uzbekistan Would Destabilize Region


Daily Times

May 22, 2013

Uzbek quest for US weapons could dent Central Asia
Farooq Yousaf

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Uzbek President Islam Karimov and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

2014 is approaching, and so is the deadline for the withdrawal of US-led coalition forces from Afghanistan. Leon Panetta, the then-US Defense Secretary, in 2012 announced that by the end of 2014 coalition forces would cease any combat operations and would be limited to normal military duties in the country. Moreover, [Afghan President] Hamid Karzai, in a recent interview, gave approval to allowing nine US military bases even after the pullout.

With the United States wary of transporting heavy weaponry out of Afghanistan, offers have been made by the Central Asian states, such as Uzbekistan, in return for some of the latest arms and equipment that they lack. According to a report by The New York Times, policy makers in Washington took Uzbekistan’s offer so seriously that the United States has partially lifted a set of arms sales restrictions that has been in place for about a decade.

Last year, in June, reports started to surface that Uzbekistan that faces international arms embargoes due to widespread human rights violations, started negotiations for a possible arms-transit and military base deal with the USA, that would help the coalition forces take its equipment out of Afghanistan, whereas Tashkent would benefit by acquiring the state-of-the-art weaponry. Kazakhstan’s newspaper Liter, on August 15 last year, predicted that a possible deal for a US base in Uzbekistan could be reached when US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake visited Tashkent.

Uzbekistan, for long has been indicating shifting its alliances and partners. One of such indications was its withdrawal from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military cooperation initiative between Russia and Central Asian states [as well as Armenia and Belarus]. It would have been difficult for Tashkent to enter into military negotiations with the United States if it were a member of the CSTO, but abandoning the CSTO freed it from coming under any pressure.

In terms of geostrategic importance, the most feasible gateway for cargo withdrawal is Pakistan, yet it seems that the coalition forces want as many alternatives as possible, such as Uzbekistan, in case Islamabad decides to go against its deals with NATO and close the NATO supply line, or even ask for more money.

Such a move by Uzbekistan would mean it wants to turn its back on Russia, a neighbour that supports much of the Uzbek workforce. Russia, even after the Soviet disintegration, has maintained a substantial influence over some of the Central Asian states, but this influence has mostly been in the form of mutual cooperation and better relations.

In another move, NATO’s representative for Central Asia James Appathurai held meetings with Uzbek ministers in March this year, in what seemed to be a move to gain Uzbek support against Russia.

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James Appathurai, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy and NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, in Uzbekistan on March 27, 2013

If the United States is successful in establishing a military base in Uzbekistan, it would entail bad political consequences, and hence play a role in destabilising not only Central Asia, but also South Asia, as the anti-US sentiment and motivation for radical Islamists could fuel a wave of militancy that could also spill over into Russia, one of the most important states in the region. Such concerns were raised by a Russian military expert, Lt Gen Leonid Sazhin¸ saying, “Although Americans claims that they are fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan today, it will be them who, by deploying their facility in Uzbekistan, will lead Taliban members there.”

A base in Uzbekistan, that neighbours Afghanistan, could also be used for surgical strikes, and even drone attacks, into neighbouring Afghanistan, that could also raise major human rights concerns and sour relations with Kabul.

If the United States is successful in establishing a fully operational base in Uzbekistan, this would also worry China, another regional power, as it has already shown concerns over the bases surrounding it, known as the ‘ring of fire’. In any case, Uzbekistan needs to decide whether such a venture would be beneficial for the country and the region or will bring chaos in the long run.

The writer is a Programme consultant and Content Editor at the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad, belonging to Frontier Region of Pakistan. He is currently pursuing his higher Studies in Public Policy and Conflict Management in Germany. He tweets as @faruqyusaf and can be reached at farooq@crss.pk

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Interview: From Kosovo to Missiles, U.S. Works Against Russian Interests

May 23, 2013 2 comments

Voice of Russia
May 22, 2013

NATO has never offered to cooperate with Russia – Rozoff

AUDIO

Western support for KLA terrorists and support for the self-declared independence of Kosovo are part of a pan-Albanian plan for the region, NATO is reaching its tentacles into space and there has never been any real offer of cooperation by NATO to Russia, all of these issues were recently discussed with regular Voice of Russia contributor Rick Rozoff, the owner and manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list.

You’re listening to an interview in progress with Rick Rozoff, the owner and manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list. You can find part 1 of this interview on our website at english.ruvr.ru.

Robles: So they needed a base somewhere in that area, geographically, and Kosovo fit the bill, right?

Rozoff: Fairly much that. Again, I think we have to understand that there’s no supervision, there’s no oversight in terms of what’s going on in Kosovo. Certainly there’s no real government in Pristina. I mean the Thaçis and Haradinajs and these other terrorist cutthroats from the former Kosovo Liberation Army are neither able to question the US, nor would they have any desire to. I mean they are simply puppets.

Robles: Right. That was a terrorist organization and it always was. It never was anything else.

Rozoff: An American official in 1998, Robert Gelbard, actually at the time, and he reversed himself subsequently, but at the time stated that the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army was a terrorist organization in his estimate. In fact it was and is. I mean it’s formally disbanded, but in effect I’m sure there are late night meetings where they get together and reminisce over dragging people on barbed wire and murdering them to harvest their organs and dealing in narcotics and women and weapons and body parts and so forth. This is the nature of the monsters that the U.S. and its NATO allies have waged war on behalf of.

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Hashim Thaci and former secretary of state, current presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton

Robles: That would explain, I think, to a lot of people who might not understand why the U.S. would have supported, what I could describe as Muslim terrorists against Christian victims.

Rozoff: I would de-emphasize the religious aspect, I truly would, in this sense: Kosovo was an amazingly rich and diverse mosaic of ethnic and religious cultures prior to the U.S. and NATO intervening. That is, in addition to ethnic Albanians who comprise the majority and ethnic Serbs…

Robles: I just mentioned that because even at the time a lot of Americans themselves couldn’t understand why the US was supporting Muslims against Christians.

Rozoff: We have to recall that other ethnic minorities – Roma (so-called Gypsies), Egyptians, Ashkalis, Bosnians, Gorans, Turks and others who are predominantly Muslim have also been harassed and killed and driven out of the province by Thaçi and his former KLA officials. So, it seems to be more racial, in terms of pan-Albanian than it is religious.

Robles: Do you really think there’s that angle there? Or is it just whoever cut a better deal with the United States?

Rozoff: There is an Albanian American Civic League, former U.S. Congressman Joseph DioGuardi is the godfather of that. And he’s been amazingly successful at lobbying, and I use that term loosely and perhaps charitably, but influencing American politicians: everyone from Robert Dole to the current Vice President Joseph Biden, who is someone who has appeared at the Albanian American Civic League functions and fundraisers, with hefty honoraria I am sure. And I’m sure Mr. Biden walked away with a lot of money.

I’ve heard them, I’ve seen the videos on YouTube, and some amazingly provocative statements, openly calling for the use of military force against the government of Yugoslavia and Serbia at that time but clearly on behalf of a pan-Albanian agenda. And I think that’s very important to realize. That the five stars on the Kosovo flag supposedly represent five different ethnic groups within the province, but I think the more seasoned observer realizes that that means five different nations in which ethnic Albanians reside and which are envisioned by the likes of Hashim Thaçi to be united in one greater Albania.

Those would of course be not only Kosovo and Albania itself, but parts of Montenegro, other parts of Serbia and Macedonia and Greece. So, you have an irredentist, expansionist mindset there and you have NATO go to war for 78 days on behalf of that project.

Robles: I see, Rick, we have to move on because I want to ask you a little bit about the US Strategic Command. Now it appears that NATO and the US are planning to not only take over the world, but take over the universe.

Rozoff: Very good. That’s it. Do you want me to comment on that?

Robles: Sure, can you give our listeners some details about what is going on with NATO and space, if you would?

Rozoff: That’s true, nott content with expanding its tentacles around the earth, now the heavens are going to be an area for NATO expansion. And I’m thinking particularly about a story that came out yesterday. It was issued by the press wire service of the U.S. Armed Forces, what’s called American Forces Press Service from the Pentagon. And a deputy commander of the US Strategic Command, and it is one of nine unified combatant commands the Pentagon has, and most of them tend to be regional in nature: Northern Command, Southern Command, Africa Command and so forth. But this one is strategic and as you are indicate covers not only the entire world, but reaches into space.

Strategic Command was actually…replaced the former Strategic Air Command during the Cold War period. In 1992 it was renamed Strategic Command and then in 2002 it merged with US Space Command. So, it is a command that takes in all nuclear weapons, you know, strategic forces, the so-called missile defense, which we’ve talked about many a time before, that is encircling the planet with interceptor missile systems. But also takes in the heavens, takes in space.

And the statement was made by the deputy commander of the Strategic Command or at least the the report on it was two days ago – he is actually the Deputy Director of Global Operation – and he talked about building an alliance in space, partnerships in space comparable to what the U.S. has on earth. So, I think we’d be safe in understanding that being some approximation or a parallel to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other military alliances the US has.

And again, when you read the Pentagon’s own accounts of these things, oftentimes the statements are amazingly candid; I mean they would be cleaned up appreciably by the time they got to the mainstream media. But this fellow in question, the Deputy Commander of Global Operations, actually this is a paraphrase, but he said that space is vital to military operations providing an array of capabilities that give space-faring nations’ forces a military advantage. In other words, if you control space you could win a war on earth, I think it is essentially what he was saying.

And you know, he again drew the parallel that just as on, paraphrasing again on this of the same account, he said, recognizing the value of multinational coalitions for operations in the land, maritime and air domains, the officials of U.S. Strategic Command here hope to forge a coalition that shares assets and capabilities in space. That’s the opening sentence of the article.

Robles: Listen, one more question, I just recalled this, now, the U.S. made a statement a couple of weeks ago, I don’t know if you recall this, that they were thinking of declassifying some missile parameters to assuage Russia’s concerns regarding the ABM shield. Have you heard anything about that? Can you comment on that? Do you think that’s sincere and…any ideas?

Rozoff: I’m vaguely familiar with that. Is it sincere? No it’s not. I mean they’ll try to assuage Russian concerns by giving them a sense of false confidence, perhaps, but there’s no indication that the United States intends to fully incorporate Russia as a partner even in regional missile defense systems, such as that in Europe, much less into a global missile system, which Russia would be kept quite clearly outside of.

So, assuaging Russian concerns, that sounds like more talk to me and we’ve had several years of that talk without any results.

FTM-19_STBD24_BN3H8829
Missile Defense Agency photograph

Robles: I see. This was after the recent Russia-NATO Council meeting. And that was supposed to be one of the results from it, but you think that’s just hot air, right?

Rozoff: It is. It is window dressing, it’s cosmetic and it is meant to make the U.S. and NATO look like they are trying to reach some understanding with a “paranoid” or “recalcitrant” Russia that “refuses to work with them”. We know how these propaganda tricks work and this is simply another indication of it.

So that U.S. and NATO officials can go back and say: “We’ve made repeated offers to our Russian partner which, unfortunately, misinterprets what the intent of the global interceptor missile system is.”

Even though, every now and again Ronald Reagan is invoked or evoked as the inspiration for this program, which means Strategic Defense Initiative, which means Star Wars.

Robles: I’ve read a news item last week titled something like: “Russia refuses NATO offer of cooperation.” Do you know of any NATO offers of cooperation that Russia has refused?

Rozoff: None whatsoever. There are no such offers. Again, when Russia has asked to, if you will, compartmentalize the missile defense of Europe, to engage into what is called sectoral or regional components where Russia takes responsibility for a certain area, what we hear time and again is: “NATO will not outsource its security to a non-NATO member”, meaning Russia. So, that Russia will have no role whatsoever in any joint or collaborative efforts to create a genuine missile shield, but instead it will be consulted, as you were alluding to at the beginning of the discussion on this subject. Russia will be consulted or, in other words, the U.S. and NATO will tell Russia damn well what they want to tell them and nothing else.

Robles: What exactly would you say to someone who says: “NATO has offered to cooperate with Russia?”

Rozoff: John, we are next-door neighbors and I’m building a shield over my house as I’m arming myself to the teeth. And I’m telling you: “Don’t worry about it because I’m not your enemy”. And your weapons very shortly will not be able to retaliate against me if I should open fire on you first, but “Don’t worry about it because we are friends and partners.” I mean nobody falls for something like that.

Robles: Okay…

Rozoff: I mean, if you make yourself impregnable, if you make yourself invulnerable as you are moving – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov again, just three or four days ago, said NATO military hardware is moving up to the Russian border, as indeed it is. And this includes the fact that just a couple of days ago the U.S. moved the first squadron of F-16 strategic fighter jets into Poland for permanent deployment, in a country that borders Russian territory, the Kaliningrad district. And already, as of three years ago, the U.S. moved interceptor missiles into Poland, maybe 35-40 miles from the Russian border.

Robles: I wanted to underline that fact for some people who may not really follow NATO and maybe don’t really know what they are really doing. And people might actually believe that for some reason Russia refused to cooperate. That’s why I just wanted to get that point very well across.

Rozoff: Russia has been begging for genuine cooperation and has been rebuffed at every turn, as, again, the U.S. and NATO are saying “This is our operation and we’ll tell you what we want to about it, but you are not going to influence it in any way or form.”

Robles: Okay. I know that. You know that. I just want to make sure our listeners know that as well.

Rozoff: Good.

Robles: Rick, thank you very much. Unfortunately, we are out of time.

Rozoff: I understand. But thanks again John, I appreciate it.

You were listening to an interview with You’re listening to an interview in progress with Rick Rozoff, the owner and manager of the Stop NATO website and international mailing list. You can find the part 1 of this interview on our website at english.ruvr.ru.

Read more: http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_05_23/NATO-has-never-offered-to-cooperate-with-Russia-Rozoff-088/

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Romain Rolland: Pacifism only allowed when it is not effective

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Romain Rolland: Selections on war

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Romain Rolland
From Mother and Son (1926)
Translated by Van Wyck Brooks

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Since 1900 Roger Brissot had enjoyed a brilliant career. His resounding case, his success in the Palais de Justice and then in Parliament, had carried him to the first rank. In the Chamber, he kept within the limits of the radical and Socialist parties, watchful lest either spring a leak, always ready to pass from one boat to the other. Minister several times and of all portfolios, public instruction, labor, justice and even, once, the Navy. Like his colleagues, he was as comfortable in one seat as another, they fitted every one. After all, whatever the department may be, it is all the same machine under the same management. When one knows how to handle it, the rest – the personnel under one’s administration – is of little importance. The only thing that counts is the administration.

In treating so many subjects, he had enriched his store of ideas, or, more exactly, his repertory of words – without learning much that lay beneath them, for he was too busy talking to have the time to listen. But he talked very well. On one point, however, his knowledge was really profound, the breeding of the electoral cattle and their exploitation. On this subject several statesmen of the Third Republic were past masters; they had the keyboard of the masses at their fingers’ ends, they had the secret of touching its weaknesses, passions, and manias. But no one was a more accomplished virtuoso, no one could set vibrating with more sumptuous sonorities the sovereign chords of democracy, the brazen-tongued ideologies that overlaid, evoked and over-excited the virtues of the race and its hidden vices, than the honorable Brissot. He was the greatest parliamentary pianist. His party, his parties – for he permitted himself to claim more than one! – appealed to his talents on every occasion for resounding discourses, those chamber concerts, the music of which, spread out on the great white placards (voted by acclamation, at the expense of the electors), made the tour of France. He never refused; he was always ready. He was equally competent on all subjects – aided, of course, by active and well-informed secretaries. (He had a whole crew of them.) His devotion to his party – to his parties – and to his own glory was only paralleled by his lungs. The latter never tired.

This zeal and this voice, equally magnificent, were very useful to the Republic during the Great War. The war mobilized them. Roger Brissot was charged with convincing the world and the people of France of the high truths for which they were driving themselves to ruin. He was sent on missions to distant parts. He had taken the precaution to resume, at the beginning of the war, his stripes as a Major of Reserves in the cavalry; and in this quality he was even attached for some time to the General Headquarters…But they led him to understand that he would serve the country more efficaciously in the trenches of America; and he had lavished his breath there without ever exhausting it.

***

Brissot’s career had been unclouded – save for the clouds that envious rivals tried to throw over his oratorical past, which was marred by a few ardent flights, certainly a little imprudent, towards the empyrean of international pacifism. But it is fatal for a man who is always talking to talk about everything, and one cannot expect him to be bound by every one of his words: he would be drawn and quartered by more than four horses. And then pacifism is, as its name indicates, a harmless potion the use of which is lawful in times of peace – prohibited only when war has sounded: for only then would it be efficacious. That was what the great orator had no difficulty in demonstrating – except to his faithless enemies whom nothing could convince, not even the burning zeal that Brissot used in denouncing his former companions as infatuated pacifists, disguised Germans, who maintained their right to pursue their game in times of war at the risk of unnerving a fatigued people and taking away from them the costly fruit of victory.

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Pentagon To Continue Supporting French War Effort In Mali

Stars and Stripes
May 22, 2013

US to continue supporting French air force ops in Mali
By Adam L. Mathis

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As soon as French President Francois Hollande announced his country’s military intervention, the Armee de l’Air (air force) started bombing rebels in strategic locations across the country. Since then, the 351st has flown more than 200 missions and provided more than 8.8 million pounds of fuel to the French.

In addition to fuel, the U.S. flew more than 1,000 people and 1,500 tons of equipment and supplies for French and Chadian forces from January 21 to March 7…

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French Rafale fighters over Mali after refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron on April 23, 2013

RAF MILDENHALL, England: Although France is withdrawing its ground troops from Mali, there is no indication its air force will stop requesting U.S. aid in support of operations there.

The Department of Defense announced Friday that the U.S. will continue to provide mid-air refueling to French planes. The refueling operation has been going on since January, almost immediately after the French intervened in Mali…

To support French air power used in that operation, the 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron was deployed to Morón Air Base, Spain, to fly KC-135 Stratotankers over Mali and refuel French planes.

“We’re here as long as they need us,” squadron commander Lt. Col. Tim Kuehne said. “So, I don’t have a projected end date.”

French warplanes must transit significant distances to reach Mali. Consequently, they’re operating at the edge of their range once they arrive in its airspace and don’t have enough fuel to patrol or conduct attack missions.

“Without our gas, they basically would have to turn around as soon as they got there,” said Capt. Tim Gerne, an aircraft commander with the 351st who flies over Mali. “They couldn’t even make it back all the way back to the place that they left.”

…France intervened in January, when…rebels appeared poised to advance on the capital.

Since the start of the conflict, France relied heavily on air power to defeat the militants and retake the occupied territory. As soon as French President Francois Hollande announced his country’s military intervention, the Armee de l’Air (air force) started bombing rebels in strategic locations across the country. Since then, the 351st has flown more than 200 missions and provided more than 8.8 million pounds of fuel to the French.

In addition to fuel, the U.S. flew more than 1,000 people and 1,500 tons of equipment and supplies for French and Chadian forces from January 21 to March 7, said an official with U.S. Army Africa command. Troops from Chad have also fought in Mali against the militants.

Despite an announcement that France will withdraw the majority of its troops from Mali by the end of the year, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said his country was committed to staying in Mali for an “undetermined period” to prevent a “revival of terrorism.”

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Azerbaijan, NATO and Caspian-Black Seas Energy Strategy

News.Az
May 22, 2013

Romania to further support Azerbaijan’s cooperation with NATO

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NATO International School of Azerbaijan

Bucharest has a significant role in enhancing the relations between Azerbaijan and NATO, and it is aimed at further development of this trend.
“Romania will continue to support development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO,” Romanian ambassador in Baku Cristian Ciobanu said.

Addressing the conference “Emerging Challenges: Improving Energy Security in XXI Century” in Baku, the ambassador emphasized Azerbaijan’s active participation in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan.

Ciobanu also pointed to high level Azerbaijani-Romanian cooperation in the political and energy spheres.

Energy security issues are of great importance for Azerbaijan and partner countries around the Black and Caspian seas. The region will continue to play an even more important role in ensuring the energy security of Europe, Ciobanu believes.

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Henri Barbusse: All battles spring from themselves and necessitate each other to infinity

May 22, 2013 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Henri Barbusse: Selections on war

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Henri Barbusse
From Light (1918)
Translated by Fitzwater Wray

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They are motionless at last, they who forever marched, they to whom space was so great! I see their poor hands, their poor legs, their poor backs, resting on the earth. They are tranquil at last. The shells which bespattered them are ravaging another world. They are in the peace eternal.

All is accomplished, all has terminated there. It is there, in that circle narrow as a well that the descent into the raging heart of hell was halted, the descent into slow tortures, into unrelenting fatigue, into the flashing tempest. We came here because they told us to come here. We have done what they told us to do. I think of the simplicity of our reply on the Day of Judgment.

The gunfire continues. Always, always, the shells come, and all those bullets that are miles in length. Hidden behind the horizons, living men unite with machines and fall furiously on space. They do not see their shots. They do not know what they are doing. “You shall not know; you shall not know.”

But since the cannonade is returning, they will be fighting here again. All these battles spring from themselves and necessitate each other to infinity! One single battle is not enough, it is not complete, there is no satisfaction. Nothing is finished, nothing is ever finished. Ah, it is only men who die! No one understands the greatness of things, and I know well that I do not understand all the horror in which I am.

***

The clouds are crowning themselves with sheaves of stars. It is an aviary of fire, a hell of silver and gold. Planetary cataclysms send immense walls of light falling around me. Phantasmal palaces of shrieking lightning, with arches of star-shells, appear and vanish amid forests of ghastly gleams.

While the bombardment is patching the sky with continents of flame, it is drawing still nearer. Volleys of flashes are plunging in here and there and devouring the other lights. The supernatural army is arriving! All the highways of space are crowded. Nearer still, a shell bursts with all its might and glows; and among us all whom chance defends goes frightfully in quest of flesh. Shells are following each other into that cavity there. Again I see, among the things of earth, a resurrected man, and he is dragging himself towards that hole! He is wrapped in white, and the under-side of his body, which rubs the ground, is black. Hooking the ground with his stiffened arms he crawls, long and flat as a boat. He still hears the cry “Forward!” He is finding his way to the hole; he does not know, and he is trailing exactly toward its monstrous ambush. The shell will succeed! At any second now the frenzied fangs of space will strike his side and go in as into a fruit. I have not the strength to shout to him to fly elsewhere with all his slowness; I can only open my mouth and become a sort of prayer in face of the man’s divinity. And yet, he is the survivor; and along with the sleeper, to whom a dream was whispering just now, he is the only one left to me.

A hiss — the final blow reaches him; and in a flash I see the piebald maggot crushing under the weight of the sibilance and turning wild eyes towards me.

No! It is not he! A blow of light — of all light—fills my eyes. I am lifted up, I am brandished by an unknown blade in the middle of a globe of extraordinary light. The shell – I! And I am falling, I fall continually, fantastically. I fall out of this world; and in that fractured flash I saw myself again — I thought of my bowels and my heart hurled to the winds — and I heard voices saying again and again—far, far away — “Simon Paulin died at the age of thirty-six.”

DE PROFUNDIS CLAMAVI

I am dead. I fall, I roll like a broken bird into bewilderments of light, into canyons of darkness. Vertigo presses on my entrails, strangles me, plunges into me. I drop sheer into the void, and my gaze falls faster than I.

Through the wanton breath of the depths that assail me I see, far below, the seashore dawning. The ghostly strand that I glimpse while I cling to my own body is bare, endless, rain-drowned, and supernaturally mournful. Through the long, heavy and concentric mists that the clouds make, my eyes go searching. On the shore I see a being who wanders alone, veiled to the feet. It is a woman. Ah, I am one with that woman! She is weeping. Her tears are dropping on the sand where the waves are breaking! While I am reeling to infinity, I hold out my two heavy arms to her. She fades away as I look.

For a long time there is nothing, nothing but invisible time, and the immense futility of rain on the sea.

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NATO’s Top Governing Body To Visit Georgia

Rustavi 2
May 21, 2013

Two senior officials to take part in Georgia-NATO commission

The Prime Minister`s Special Representative in Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia Davit Zalkaniani have left for Brussels, where they will participate in the session of the NATO-Georgia Commission.

The main issue of the meeting will be preparation of the visit of the [North] Atlantic Council to Georgia. The sides will also discuss the Geneva negotiations on Georgia-Russia conflict and the process of restoration of relations between the two countries.

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The Messenger
May 17, 2013

Georgia mourns its soldiers
By Salome Modebadze

salome

May 16 is a day of mourning for Georgia. The bodies of Junior Sergeant Zviad Davitadze, Corporal Alexandre Kvitsinadze and Corporal Vladimer Shanava, who were killed earlier this week in Afghanistan, arrived in Georgia for burial on Thursday.

Georgian Minister of Defence Irakli Alasania visited the 4th Infantry Brigade in Vaziani where the late soldiers had served in the 42nd Battalion. After a moment of silence in respect of the memory of those slain, the Minister addressed their brothers-in arm stressing that this is the heaviest day for the Georgian Armed Forces and the country as a whole.

US charge d’affaires Bridget Brink expressed condolences towards the families of the fallen soldiers on behalf of the U.S. Embassy. Head of the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia William Lahue also expressed his respect towards the Georgian heroes who he said have sacrificed their lives not only for the security of Georgia, but for the entire world.

National flags were lowered at every state building in Georgia to honor the three Georgian soldiers as well as at all Georgian embassies abroad.

With its 1,560 servicemen Georgia is the largest non-NATO troop contributor in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. 22 Georgian soldiers have been killed as part of the ISAF mission.

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Henri Troyat: Thoughts stop with a shock: War!

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Henri Troyat: Selections on war

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Henri Troyat
From Sowing and Harvest (1953)
Translated by Lily Duplaix

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Amelie wouldn’t listen to the idea of war. Amid the uproar around her, she held the child she bore as a pledge of security. A world prepared for birth, she thought, could not welcome death.

***

“France doesn’t want war,” said the painter. “It’s Russia. They have too many strikes there. They don’t know what to do with the workmen so they send them to the slaughterhouse.”

***

Amelie looked at a newspaper stand lighted by a lamp. Big headlines jumped from the page: “ARMED VIGIL IN EUROPE!” “CIVILIZATION AT EDGE OF A CRATER!” She walked heavily, clutching Pierre’s arm. Around them the multitude breathed regularly and patiently trod the ground. Where were all these people going? No one seemed to know. They were hurrying along, not strolling. They were in the street because they could no longer stay home. They were all talking of the same thing.

***

The ringing sound of hammers on iron broke through her profound sleep. For a moment she thought she was a little girl again. The lavender lozenges on the faded yellow paper, the ray of sunshine through the disjointed shutters, the small table covered with ink and school notebooks – all confirmed the illusion. She rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed. The noise of the hammers sounded louder. Jerome and Denis were at work in the forge. She felt happy. Then her thoughts stopped with a shock: War! she hung on that terrible word.

***

Wasn’t it strange that they had taken Abbé Pradinas and that he, Jerome, was left? The priest they had sent as a substitute was old and half deaf…He felt stronger at fifty than a lot of young puppies they were sending to the front. He had been too young for the war of seventy and he was too old for the war of fourteen. But what did age mean? He detested the Army, but he felt uncomfortable in his privileged position – almost as if he had stolen Pierre’s place beside Amelie. He was being foolish and he knew it. Amelie herself would never have such a thought. But, all the same, he felt guilty in her presence. He thought of her alone in that room, waiting for her child to be born, while the father might already be dead. He clenched his fists. His uselessness, his impotence were hateful to him. He wished he could complain to Abbé Pradinas. He would have liked to ask a few questions about this slaughter which so dishonoured the Christian world. If there were a God, why did He allow this?

***

“My poor Antonin! They’ve taken you away and you will never be among us again. And I can not even see you in death. We must have the wake without you. We will weep your absent body. Nothing is left for your poor mother.

“Calm down, Matilde,” mumbled M. Ferriere. “It doesn’t do any good upsetting yourself like that.”

“You must remember it’s for France!” whispered Calamisse.

She raised her head and sniffled loudly. “Yes, of course.”

“You have given your son to France,” said M. Calimisse more loudly.

“I gave nothing. They took him.”

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Pentagon Advances Global Interceptor Missile System

Missile Defense Agency
May 16, 2013

Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Completes Successful Intercept Flight Test

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This test exercised the latest version of the second-generation Aegis BMD Weapon System and Standard Missile, providing capability for engagement of longer-range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles.

Other Aegis BMD intercepts have employed the ABMD 3.6 and 4.0 with the SM-3 Block IA missile, which is currently operational on U.S. Navy ships deployed across the globe.

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sm-31
Standard Missile-3 Block IB launch

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS LAKE ERIE (CG-70) successfully conducted a flight test today of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system, resulting in the intercept of a separating ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean by the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System and a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB missile.

At 5:25 p.m. (Hawaii Time, 11:25 p.m. EDT), May 15, a separating short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, on Kauai, Hawaii. The target flew northwest towards a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean. Following target launch, the USS LAKE ERIE (CG-70) detected and tracked the missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The ship, equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD weapon system, developed a fire control solution and launched the SM-3 Block IB missile. The SM-3 maneuvered to a point in space based on guidance from Aegis BMD Weapons Systems and released its kinetic warhead. The kinetic warhead acquired the target reentry vehicle, diverted into its path, and, using only the force of a direct impact, engaged and destroyed the target.

Initial indications are that all components performed as designed. Program officials will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

This test exercised the latest version of the second-generation Aegis BMD Weapon System and Standard Missile, providing capability for engagement of longer-range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles.

Last night’s event, designated Flight Test Standard Missile-19 (FTM-19), was the third consecutive successful intercept test of the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System and the SM-3 Block IB guided missile. Previous successful ABMD 4.0 SM-3 Block IB intercepts occurred on May 9, 2012 and June 26, 2012. Other Aegis BMD intercepts have employed the ABMD 3.6 and 4.0 with the SM-3 Block IA missile, which is currently operational on U.S. Navy ships deployed across the globe.

FTM-19 is the 25th successful intercept in 31 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002. Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programs, this is the 59th successful hit-to-kill intercept in 74 flight tests since 2001.

Aegis BMD is the naval component of the MDA’s Ballistic Missile Defense System. The Aegis BMD engagement capability defeats short- to intermediate-range, unitary and separating, midcourse-phase ballistic missile threats with the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), as well as short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase with the SM-2 Block IV missile. The MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program.

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Anatole France and Michel Corday: War is a crime, for which victory brings no atonement

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Anatole France: Selections on war

Michel Corday: Selections from The Paris Front

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Michel Corday
From Under the Rose (1926)
Translated by J. Lewis May

france_anatole2

“War is a crime, for which victory brings no atonement.”

“Man is not more intelligent to-day than he was of old…He has more industry, not more brains. He makes war with more devices, but not with more intelligence, than the savage.”

“It is a certain fact that men will continue to be cruel and blood-thirsty so long as they go on eating the flesh of animals. Killing animals and killing men – there is but a step betwixt the two.”

***

It was toward the end of 1919 that Anatole France conceived the idea of writing a novel to be entitled The Cyclops – a tragi-comic satire on mankind after the style of The Revolt of the Angels and Penguin Island

“How comes it that they find a Cyclops in Trinacria, just as in the fabulous times? The explanation is that the Cyclopes, who had disappeared before civilization, reappear now that war has plunged the world back into barbarism.”

In November of that same year [1921] he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature; and on that occasion he was interviewed by certain journalists to whom he made known his intention to write a book against war.

***

The last time he put in an appearance at the Academy, a certain Marshal told him he read, admired and loved his work, and then added: “You’ll never be so anti-militarist as I am, for, you see, I know what military people are.”

***

Later generations must know the unparalleled violence, the savage hatred and envy, the mad injustice with which the writings and the memory of Anatole France were assailed as soon as he had breathed his last…Truly it is a tremendous piece of irony that the war, the war which Anatole France so bitterly hated, should have loaded his memory with this missing link in the chain of monsters – the unadulterated cad.

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Audio And Text: European Guantanamo Or Why The U.S. Wants Serbia To Give Up Kosovo

May 17, 2013 3 comments

Voice of Russia
May 17, 2013

European Guantanamo or the reason the US wants Serbia to give up Kosovo

AUDIO

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Aerial view of Camp Bondsteel

The U.S. military base in Kosovo was constructed in 1999 without consulting with the government of Serbia and is the largest U.S. military base built outside of the U.S. since the Vietnam War. The site was apparently used for extraordinary renditions and has been referred to as a “little Guantanamo”. This is a very little known fact as NATO, the U.S., the European Union and the West are in the process of forcing Serbia to effectively give up Kosovo, and indicates the real motive for the West’s support of the Kosovo Liberation Army which it had deemed a terrorist organization in the past.

Rick Rozoff, the owner and manager of Stop NATO spoke about this and more in an interview with the Voice of Russia.

Hello! This is John Robles, I’m speaking with Rick Rozoff, the owner of the stop NATO website and international mailing list.

Robles: Hello Rick. How are you?

Rozoff: Very good John. Thanks for having me on.

Robles: It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you. How much importance would you give to the 200 US-NATO troops being stationed in Italy? And why US-NATO troops? These troops are being stationed for possible operations in Libya. How do you think that reflects on the operations to remove Muammar Gaddafi by the US?

Rozoff: It’s a continuation of that policy, of course. And as it is now, you know, two years ago and two months, 26 months ago that the military campaign against Libya was launched, initially, as we have to recall, by US Africa Command (AFRICOM) that began it for the first 19 days and then it was taken up by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for six months thereafter. And this was meant to signal and meant in fact to be the first activation of AFRICOM as a war-fighting force on the African continent, and also NATO’s first open military incursion into Africa and certainly not the last. This was meant to be an opening salvo and not an isolated incident.

What is significant about the impending deployment of what is minimally, and I think we should emphasize, 200 US Marines, and some reports estimate up to 500, these are members of what the US Marine Corps refers to as the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force that only recently was moved into Spain, and then it is being transitioned from Spain into Italy for use in North Africa. So, I think we can see the push to the south and the east, to employ State Department slogan or expression of few years ago, where the US is going to deploy very shortly four guided missile cruisers to the Naval Station Rota in Spain, a Marine expeditionary strike force, really, of the sort we are talking about going to the Sigonella base in Sicily.

This is the same base that the US has another Marine Corps detachment already deployed to. And this is actually a separate one that has already been assigned to the same naval station Sigonella. We should also recall that in the beginning of this year, in January, the governor of Sicily put a stop to plans that the US had for putting a satellite surveillance facility in Sicily, on the island.

You know, big plans are afoot and the US was going to move in something called the Mobile User Objective System, global satellite facility, to Sicily. That seems to have been stopped but troops are coming in, with the avowed purpose, John, of intervening in Libya – Benghazi or elsewhere – as the U.S. sees fit.

Robles: What exactly is that system that you just mentioned?

Rozoff: The photographs I’ve seen of it suggest that it truly is mobile, I mean it is something comparable to some of the Patriot Advanced Capability missile systems that the US has put in Poland and Turkey and Israel. It is described as being a satellite communication system. I’m not sure what precisely it was meant to monitor in Sicily, but I would guess the entire Mediterranean Sea, perhaps most notably part of the eastern Mediterranean. But as to the precise range and purpose of the missile system, I’m not familiar with that.

Robles: I see. So, this is some new technology?

Rozoff: Yes. There are similar ones, that are called Mobile User Objective Systems, deployed in Australia, as well as in the US states of Hawaii and Virginia. But I’m not sure how they are integrated with other military capabilities.

Robles: What else has happened with NATO in the last month that you think our listeners should know about?

Rozoff: They’ve had a series of meetings of foreign ministers, of chiefs of defense staff and others in recent months. The focus, according to NATO of course, is wrapping up the Afghan mission which I don’t think will ever be definitively finished. But the drawing down or the eventual phased withdrawal from Afghanistan, the continuation of the operation in Kosovo, the Serbian province (the province wrenched from Serbia), and continued naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea, what is called Operation Active Endeavour, and ongoing, presumably permanent, naval operations in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, so-called Operation Ocean Shield.

So, NATO is still in ways that we have discussed on many an occasion in the past continuing permanent military operations way outside the area of the North Atlantic Ocean, ultimately globally. Nothing outstanding in any particular regard but the continuation of these policies.

Robles: How many bases was NATO going to leave in Afghanistan? And what can you tell us about Kosovo, can you give us some details on that as well?

Rozoff: The statement about the US maintaining military bases in Afghanistan after the complete withdrawal of US-NATO troops, well, we can’t say complete – I mean there are estimates that as many as 14,000 US NATO troops will stay in the country – but after the bulk, at one time 152,000 US and other NATO troops, in Afghanistan are withdrawn, according to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan the US has clearly indicated to him, I think the word “demanded” would not be too strong a word, that the US or the Pentagon wants to maintain nine military bases inside the country. And they are situated in the north, south, east and west, and that is near the borders of the former Soviet Central Asian republics, but also Iran and Pakistan, and in some cases not terribly far from the narrow strip of land that connects Afghanistan to China.

And they include of course the major, arguably, at any point in future, strategic air bases like Bagram and Kandahar and Shindand and elsewhere in the country. As we’ve talked about on many occasions, I think any sensible person has figured out that the US and its Western allies don’t intend to vacate the South-Central Asian region in the imminent future, if at all.

Robles: You just mentioned Karzai. I was just reminded about his recent revelation that he’d been receiving garbage bags full of money from the CIA for over a decade. Can you comment on that as far as NATO goes? And regarding US-NATO troops, do you think there is any specific reason why only US-NATO troops are going to be staying in Afghanistan?

Rozoff: Let me start with the second one first because I think it is the easiest. The facts are fairly incontestable, It is not going to be only US troops. The US will maintain nine military bases evidently, that’s what it intends to do. But NATO itself is transitioning from what is currently known as the International Security Assistance Force, initially it was presented, if you can believe this, under the rubric of a peacekeeping force in the early part of this century, and it quickly devolved into a warfighting force and to a combat force. And once that mission, ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), is finished, then NATO will continue in Afghanistan training the Afghan National Army and other security personnel basically to be a Western proxy army in the South-Central Asian region. That’s the easy part.

The question about Mr. Karzai being lavished with a good deal of American largesse, that shouldn’t surprise anybody. It is to be assumed, I suppose, that the US buys off foreign leaders, certainly those it’s implanted in power, like Mr. Karzai, who is not a foreigner, is not an alien to American shores. One of his brothers for example ran, for years, a restaurant pretty much in my neighborhood here in Chicago. And the family, I’m sure, already has mansions set up in this country to flee to when they have to and to take as much of the CIA cash as they can with them back home – repatriate it if you will.

Robles: You mentioned Kosovo a few minutes ago. You said that NATO had met regarding Kosovo and KFOR. Anything new there?

Rozoff: The US and its Western allies, in the latter case I’m talking about people in Brussels whether they are wearing the European Union or the NATO hat, it doesn’t seem to matter much, but I’m sure they employed all their typical subversive powers of persuasion, if you will, to convince the coalition government in Belgrade, in Serbia, to acknowledge the independence of Kosovo, if not formally, practically. And NATO has pretty substantially withdrawn its troops in Kosovo because they turned the province over to their proxy forces there, the former leaders of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, whose leaders are heading up the Kosovo Security Force, which is a fledgling army being trained by NATO.

So, once the country is turned over to surrogates, the NATO troops can clear out and go on to the next war zone which is effectively what happened since 1999. At one point, in June of 1999, there were 50,000 troops in Kosovo under NATO command or under KFOR, the Kosovo Force. And that number has dwindled down to perhaps a tenth of that right now. But the US still maintains Camp Bondsteel and Camp Monteith. The first, Camp Bondsteel, is reputedly the largest overseas U.S. military base built since the war in Vietnam. And there is no indication that it intends to vacate that base. As to what it is doing with it, that’s a question worth pursuing.

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Vice President Joseph Biden at Camp Bondsteel in 2009

Robles: Where is that base?

Rozoff: In Kosovo.

Robles: And you say that’s the largest foreign base that the U.S. has?

Rozoff: What I’ve read and, given the acreage, the size of the base, it seems to be the case. It is the largest base that the U.S. has built overseas since the war in Vietnam. Since the 1960s.

Robles: And that’s in Kosovo?

Rozoff: That’s in Kosovo. It was constructed in 1999, I think it was with Kellogg, Brown & Root, that built bases almost everywhere else. It’s in Kosovo and it is a fairly mammoth complex. Camp Monteith is a sister base considerably smaller than Bondsteel. But Bondsteel, which is by the way named after a US serviceman who was killed in Vietnam, there’s been speculation that Camp Bondsteel could have been used for extraordinary renditions during the so-called global war on terrorism.

There’s also been discussion from the sources in Russia amongst other places that should the US want to deploy strategic resources in Camp Bondsteel. And by that we mean either interceptor missiles or perhaps even nuclear weapons. Who would be the wiser and who in the inner circle of Hashim Thaci in Pristina would say “no”.

Robles: When was this base built?

Rozoff: In 1999 it was constructed and it’s been operating ever since. So, you are talking about 14 years now. And there is no indication, you know, unless you accept the US and NATO line – matters have been stabilized in Kosovo and they are going to step down troops, again, which I think they have I think about 90% of the initial deployment, amount of troops rather, 50,000 troops have been withdrawn but Camp Bondsteel – is still there. It is in the eastern part of Kosovo. And in addition to being a US military base it is also NATO headquarters for what’s called Multinational Brigade East.

I am looking at the exact size of the place: it is 955 acres. That’s pretty sizeable. And it was built on Serbian land without consulting with the government of Serbia. I guess the KLA official in Pristina rubber stamped it. By August of 1999, two months after the US and other NATO troops came into Kosovo, the construction of the base was pretty much under way. Apparently 52 helipads were constructed and shortly thereafter franchise restaurants were added.

Robles: Right there at the beginning, was it like that it was already constructed as if it would be a permanent fixture?

Rozoff: By all indications exactly that. I cannot see what the motivation would be to build something that large which is still operative to this day…

Robles: You said they had “franchise restaurants” and things like that in there?

Rozoff: I’m looking at it on the computer now. You know, Burger King, Taco Bell and so forth built in there. Gymnasiums, health clubs. It is a whole city practically. And evidently, somebody with the Council of Europe, Álvaro Gil-Robles (There’s a name for you, John!), human rights envoy to the Council of Europe, referred to Camp Bondsteel in 2005, and this is a quote, as a “smaller version of Guantanamo” after visiting the facility. So, evidently the US did use it for extraordinary renditions, and so-called black operations or black sites.

Robles: So, that would give us a very, very, very clear and undisputable reason why the West is so interested in guaranteeing the independence of Kosovo.

Rozoff: Right. And that was the statement made by many of us who opposed the war against Yugoslavia in 1999. When the US constructed that base, it was almost began immediately after NATO coming into Kosovo, that it was ex post facto proof that the US had military designs in the region and that the war against Yugoslavia was simply an opportunity to expand its military into the region.

Robles: I see.

Rozoff: Which in fact is what has ensued.

You were listening to an interview in progress with Rick Rozoff the owner and manager of the stop NATO website and mailing list.

You can find part 2 on our website at english.ruvr.ru

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Pentagon Shepherding Bosnia Into NATO

May 17, 2013 1 comment

United States European Command
May 17, 2013

Firm support for NATO and EU integration efforts

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NATO HQ Sarajevo: BiH Minister of Defence Zekerijah Osmić paid a visit to the Pentagon where he met with US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel, Fena reported. Osmić noted that a way out of the current impasse in the NATO integration process, meeting the MAP condition, ensuring the continuation of reforms, strengthening of AFBiH demining and civil support operation capabilities, and further participation in international peace support operations, particularly the ISAF mission, are immediate BiH MoD and AFBiH priorities.

US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel congratulated Bosnia for its deployment of an AFBiH Military Police unit to the ISAF mission where they are now contributing to NATO’s efforts [in]Afghanistan.

He also noted the importance of BiH and Maryland’s cooperation that, within their State Partnership, celebrates its 10th anniversary. Secretary Hagel reiterated the United States’ commitment to Bosnia’s progress toward NATO and EU integration, fulfilling the requirement for the activation of the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP), further logistics reform, and the continuation of the overall reform process in the BiH defence establishment.

The meeting was also attended by Jadranka Negodić, BiH Ambassador to the US; Major General Anto Jeleč, acting AFBiH Chief of Staff; Brigadier General Dragan Vuković, acting Commander of the AFBiH Operational Command; Zoran Šajinović, Assistant Minister of Defence for International Cooperation; and LTC Božo Skopljaković, BiH Defence Attaché to the US.

On behalf of the US Department of Defence and Armed Forces, the meeting was also attended by Admiral James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; James Miller, Under Secretary of Defence for Policy; Derek Chollet, Assistant Secretary of Defence, Evelyn Farkas, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence; and Colonel Scott Miller, US Defence Attaché to BiH, reads a BiH MoD press release.

Categories: Uncategorized

Henri Barbusse: Jesus on the battlefield

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Henri Barbusse: Selections on war

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Henri Barbusse
From Light (1918)
Translated by Fitzwater Wray

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I had seen Jesus Christ on the margin of the lake. He came like an ordinary man along the path. There is no halo round his head. He is only disclosed by his pallor and his gentleness. Planes of light draw near and mass themselves and fade away around him. He shines in the sky, as he shone on the water. As they have told of him, his beard and hair are the color of wine. He looks upon the immense stain made by Christians on the world, a stain confused and dark, whose edge alone, down on His bare feet, has human shape and crimson color. In the middle of it are anthems and burnt sacrifices, files of hooded cloaks, and of torturers, armed with battle-axes, halberds and bayonets; and among long clouds and thickets of armies, the opposing clash of two crosses which have not quite the same shape. Close to him, too, on a canvas wall, again I see the cross that bleeds. There are populations, too, tearing themselves in twain that they may tear themselves the better; there is the ceremonious alliance, “turning the needy out of the way,” of those who wear three crowns and those who wear one; and, whispering in the ear of Kings, there are gray-haired Eminences, and cunning monks, whose hue is of darkness.

I saw the man of light and simplicity bow his head; and I feel his wonderful voice saying:

“I did not deserve the evil they have done unto me.”

Robbed reformer, he is a witness of his name’s ferocious glory. The greed-impassioned money-changers have long since chased Him from the temple in their turn, and put the priests in his place. He is crucified on every crucifix.

Yonder among the fields are churches, demolished by war; and already men are coming with mattock and masonry to raise the walls again. The ray of his outstretched arm shines in space, and his clear voice says:

“Build not the churches again. They are not what you think they were. Build them not again.”

******

There is no remedy but in them whom peace sentences to hard labor, and whom war sentences to death. There is no redress except among the poor.

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Interview: Pentagon Plans to Penetrate Africa

Press TV
May 16, 2013

‘US plans to militarily penetrate Africa’

AUDIO

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The U.S. is preparing “to militarily penetrate the African continent” by building up its military resources within the Mediterranean Sea, says Rick Rozoff, manager of the Stop NATO organization.

On Wednesday, Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino announced that the U.S. was transferring 200 marines and two planes to its base at Sigonella in Sicily to deploy in Libya if U.S. diplomats come under attack as they did on Sep. 11, 2012.

The U.S. is also deploying four guided missile destroyers to Naval Station Rota in Spain which is the Atlantic gateway into the Mediterranean and one of the most important shipping corridors in the world.

The destroyers include three from Norfolk, Virginia; USS Ross, USS Donald Cook, and USS Porter, and one from Mayport, Florida, USS Carney. Ross and Donald Cook will arrive in fiscal 2014 and Carney and Porter in fiscal 2015.

“The U.S. is positioning itself for a military intervention inside Libya by building military forces in Sicily,” said Rozoff in a phone interview with the U.S. Desk on Thursday.

“Potentially, other interventions in Northern Africa and even the Sahel region could be staged.”

According to Global Research, the U.S.’s intervention in Africa is driven by America’s desire to secure valuable natural resources and political influence that will ensure the longevity of America’s capitalist system.

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U.S. And Polish Warplanes Practice Against Russian Models

United States European Command
May 16, 2013

115th FW Airmen train with Polish air force
Tech. Sgt. Kenya Shiloh 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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Polish air force Col. Krystian Zięƈ, 32nd Tactical Air Base commander, said this is a unique opportunity for the United States and Poland to strengthen interoperability as NATO allies…”If we need a huge coalition going somewhere to make peace. we’re going to have some good quality aircraft,” he said.

Training opportunities like these were made possible after former Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich signed a memorandum of understanding allowing the establishment of a U.S. Air Force aviation detachment in Poland.

The next fighter rotation is scheduled to take place in July were an F-16 flying from Aviano Air Base, Italy, will travel to Poland to conduct air-to-ground training with their Polish counterparts.

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U.S. and Polish F-16 Fighting Falcons

Nearly 100 Airmen assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, arrived at Lask Air Base, Poland, to train in a joint theater security cooperation event with the Polish air force.

This event, hosted by the U.S. Aviation Detachment 1, is geared toward enhancing the skills of U.S. and Polish F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilots as they conduct simulated air combat scenarios with other aircraft to include MiG-29s and Su-22s.

“We brought six F-16s here to work on a partnership-building opportunity with the Polish air force,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Parker, 176th Fighter Squadron commander assigned to the 115th FW.

“We’re doing things like air combat maneuvers, basic fighter maneuvers and tactical intercepts,” Parker said. “It’s a building block approach so we’ll start out with the basics and increase the tactics as we go through the two weeks; and then we’ll go to doing individual ranges sets where we can see each other – kind of ‘dog fighting.'”

Operations, maintenance and support Airmen were able to start flying training sorties shortly after arriving thanks to the enduring presence of the 10 members of the 52nd Operations Group’s Aviation Detachment 1 already in place before 115th FW’s arrival.

“We have everything we need,” Parker said. “The support structure is completely in place. Having an aviation detachment here that helps with the long term [coordination] of rotating fighter units like ours through here is set up to have a seamless operation…we were able to start flying operations from day one flawlessly.”

Polish air force Col. Krystian Zięƈ, 32nd Tactical Air Base commander, said this is a unique opportunity for the United States and Poland to strengthen interoperability as NATO allies.

“Frankly speaking, the U.S. Air Force, as far as I’m concerned, is the best air force in the world,” said Zięƈ. “If we have the opportunity to fly and train, we want to do that with the best.”

Zięƈ said building a partnership capacity with countries like Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia will make forces stronger.

“If we need a huge coalition going somewhere to make peace. we’re going to have some good quality aircraft,” he said. “Therefore, what we do here is important, because we are bringing the quality to a higher level.”

This joint training event sets a milestone for the aviation detachment given that it’s the first fighter rotation for the unit and the second rotation so far this year. The first unit to train here under the Av-Det was a C-130J Super Hercules cargo aircraft unit based out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Training opportunities like these were made possible after former Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich signed a memorandum of understanding allowing the establishment of a U.S. Air Force aviation detachment in Poland.

“This is different from our first rotation from the standpoint that instead of an airlift asset, we have brought in a fighter asset to train with the Polish air force,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Spears, Av-Det commander. “What we want to do is lay the foundation with one of our staunchest allies. We’ve trained together and we’re now prepared to fight together. It’s this type of training that takes place, having Airmen on the ground interacting day-in-and-day-out that really strengthens that partnership.”

The next fighter rotation is scheduled to take place in July were an F-16 flying from Aviano Air Base, Italy, will travel to Poland to conduct air-to-ground training with their Polish counterparts.

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Romain Rolland: The enormous iniquity, the ignoble calculations of war

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Romain Rolland: Selections on war

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Romain Rolland
From Mother and Son (1926)
Translated by Van Wyck Brooks

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A ball had gone through his temples, from one side to the other. He had been left for two days, blind, on the battle-field. Slowly the sight had seemed to come back. And then it waned again. It had gone out for good and all. Losing it, he had lost everything. He was a painter. It was his joy and his livelihood. And he was not sure that even his brain was not affected. He was living in torture.

But this was nothing. In his night, he wept, without tears, sweating blood. He had nothing left. Everything had been taken away from him. He had gone into the war without any feeling of hatred, through love for his own people, for humanity, for the world, for sacred ideas. He was going to put an end to war. He was going to free humanity from it. Even his enemies. He had dreamed of bringing them liberty. He had given everything. He had lost everything. The world had made sport of him. He had seen too late the enormous iniquity, the ignoble calculations of those who played at politics – in which he had been a mere pawn on the chess-board. He had ceased to believe in anything. He had been tricked. And he lay there, broken, with no desire even to revolt…To sink down swiftly as possible into the quicksand, where one ceased to exist, where one no longer remembered that one had existed – at the bottom of the abyss of eternal oblivion!

***

“It’s strange! Before the war neither of us was a pacifist.”

“Don’t utter that word!” said Annette.

“True enough. They have dishonored it. Those who used to have it in their mouths have denied it.

“If they had only the frankness to deny it! But they have been false to it, they simply go on dressing themselves up in it.”

“Let them keep it,” said Marc. “But we, who disown the war, did not use to be against it. I remember it made me very happy when it began. And you accepted it. What has changed us?”

“The baseness of it, said Annette.

“Its falseness,” said Marc.

“When I see,” said Annette, “that contempt for the weak, for the unarmed, for prisoners, for human suffering, for sacred sentiments, that exploitation of the basest instincts, that oppression of consciences, that cowardice in the face of public opinion, those sheep who are painted as heroes and become so in their very sheepishness, those good people who are driven to killing that feeble mass which does not know itself and allows itself to be led by a handful of misled men – my heart sickens with shame and misery.”

“When I see,” said Marc, “this ignoble war that hides its snout, this troop of masqueraders, these merry-andrews of a rapacious Right who, behind their backs, pick the pockets of the world, this atrocious slavery that imagines it is fooling us by gargling its throat with that empty word Liberty, that hypocritical heroism – I laugh in all their faces!”

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Sweden: “It looks like NATO proponents have advanced their positions”

The Local
May 16, 2013

More Swedes in favour of joining Nato: poll
The number of Swedes who support joining Nato has gone up by 9 percentage points since 2011, a new opinion poll has revealed

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The Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reported on Thursday that support for potential membership of the military alliance has increased.

Thirty-two percent of survey respondents stated that they were in favour of Sweden joining Nato. Two years ago, that number was 23 percent.

The proportion of Swedes who firmly want to stay out of Nato has gone down in the same period. The new poll showed that two in five Swedes say no to joining, down from 2011 when half of Swedes had the same attitude.

“It looks like Nato proponents have advanced their positions,” political scientist Ulf Bjereld told SvD.

He said that debate in recent months about Sweden’s military capacity had likely stirred Swedes’ thoughts about Nato. The Armed Forces’ ability to defend Sweden if it came under attack has been under scrutiny since Supreme Commander Sverker Göransson in January said Sweden could hold out for maximum one week.

The poll also looked at feelings towards Nato within Sweden’s different political parties. It found that one in four Social Democrats supported membership, while as many as one in two Moderate Party supporters wanted to join.

While the Moderates are officially in favour of joining, it’s the party’s coalition ally the Liberals (Folkpartiet) that has at times lobbied for membership and made it a talking point on the political agenda.

Bjereld noted that the principle of non-alliance and neutrality had long been a cornerstone of Swedish national identity.

“To join a military alliance would be a big psychological step for many Swedes, and I also think there is significant concern that Swedes would risk being pulled into warfare against its will,” Bjereld said.

Categories: Uncategorized

Pentagon’s Strategic Command Developing Space War NATO

U.S. Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service

May 14, 2013

Stratcom Strives to Build Coalitions for Space Operations
By Donna Miles

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“Our intent with combined space operations is to mirror some of the partnerships we have in other mission areas that are long-term and enduring.”

Space is vital to military operations, providing an array of capabilities that give space-faring nations’ forces a military advantage…

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OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. – Recognizing the value of multinational coalitions for operations in the land, maritime and air domains, officials at U.S. Strategic Command here hope to forge a coalition that shares assets and capabilities in space.

The United States and its allies are discussing details for the first agreement of its kind promoting combined space operations, Air Force Brig. Gen. David D. Thompson, Stratcom’s deputy director of global operations, told American Forces Press Service.

The agreement could spell out specific areas in which the participating nations will work together, and what each will contribute to those efforts, Thompson said.

The agreement will formalize an arrangement tested last year during a period [of?] discovery. Based on the findings, the U.S. and its allies agreed in September to continue working toward closer combined space operations.

Thompson said he hopes the agreement will be the first step in forging international military-to-military cooperation in space that is essential to all. The Stratcom staff already is promoting the concept with what is hoped to be the next wave of nations to join the coalition.

“Our intent with combined space operations is to mirror some of the partnerships we have in other mission areas that are long-term and enduring,” Thompson said.

Space is vital to military operations, providing an array of capabilities that give space-faring nations’ forces a military advantage, he said. These include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that enhance warfighters’ situational awareness, space-based communications that provide them instant, global communications, and global positioning systems that deliver highly accurate navigation and targeting positions.

“This gives them an awareness and understanding that enhances their capabilities to conduct operations the way no other armed forces can today,” Thompson said. “That’s why it’s vitally important to our military forces.”

However, as more nations, organizations and commercial companies vie to take advantage of space-based capabilities, the once-pristine space domain is becoming increasingly congested and competitive, Thompson said.

And of particular concern to military leaders, space is an increasingly contested domain, with potential adversaries hoping to level the playing field by denying access to space and space-based capabilities, he said. The response, Thompson said, must be the same unity in numbers that has proven itself out in every other domain. Coalitions provide more capability than any one nation can provide alone…

Unlike recent coalitions, formed for specific periods to accomplish specific objectives, Thompson said he hopes those formed for operations in space endure.

“Joining together in a coalition is a statement of assurance that each nation is committed to effective, mutually supportive conduct of operations in space,” he said. “We are united in a coalition sense when it comes to operations in space and providing those capabilities for each nation.”

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Interview: U.S., NATO Kill Afghan Civilians, Blame Taliban

Press TV
May 15, 2013

‘US denial of Afghan civilian deaths absurd, ludicrous’

AUDIO

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U.S. accusations that the Taliban killed civilians in air strikes on April 6 are “absurd” and “ludicrous”, says Rick Rozoff, manager of the Stop the NATO organization.

U.S. commander Gen. Joseph Dunford has officially denied that the April 6 air strikes in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, which killed 17 civilians including 12 children, were the U.S.’s fault.

However, the Afghan government has repeatedly confirmed the deaths were caused by air strikes.

“They [the U.S. and NATO] are launching absolutely absurd and ludicrous accusations that local militia fighters or Taliban fighters somehow managed to bring fighter jet into the area and launch missiles or drop bombs. That’s beyond contempt,” said Rozoff in a phone interview with the U.S. Desk on Wednesday.

“It [the U.S. denial] again accentuates the need for the world community to demand full and immediate withdrawal of U.S., NATO, and other occupation troops from the long-suffering land of Afghanistan,” he added.

Rozoff said that there have been many instances like the Kunar “carnage” over the course of the war, which are “reflective of a total disregard for human life.”

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U.S. Moves NATO Troops To Sicily For Libyan Intervention: Italian Foreign Minister

International Mediterranean News Service
May 15, 2013

Bonino confirms 200 NATO troops in Sicily
US forces near in case of escalating violence in Libya

Rome: Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino on Wednesday confirmed that only 200 American NATO troops were being moved to Sicily to be ready for rapid deployment if any new attacks occur in Libya.

“It is taking place in accordance with bilateral agreements (with the US),” Bonino told a joint session of the House and Senate foreign commissions. Earlier reports said 500 soliders were being transferred from Spain to the Sigonella NATO Base. Sigonella, which is southwest of Catania, is a major NATO base used by the US navy and air force as well as the Italian air force. On Monday up to 15 people were killed when a car bomb exploded outside a hospital in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi.

The country has shown increasing signs of turmoil since strongman Muammar Gaddafi was removed from power and killed by rebels in 2011.

Last week three police stations were bombed in Benghazi, causing no casualties.

A car bomb exploded outside the French embassy last month in the capital Tripoli, wounding several residents and two French guards.

Last September, the American diplomatic facility in Benghazi was attacked by gunmen, leading to the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other consular officials.

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Stars and Stripes
May 15, 2013

Marine rapid reaction unit moved to Italy amid escalating crisis in Libya
By John Vandiver

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Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force

STUTTGART, Germany: Just weeks after arriving in Spain, a “small element” from a new 550-Marine-strong rapid reaction force has repositioned to southern Italy amid deteriorating security conditions in nearby Libya, where there have been a series of recent evacuations by western diplomats, defense officials said Wednesday.

“The unit, which is temporarily deployed to Sigonella, is aimed at providing a quick response in the region if required,” said Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Naval Station Sigonella already serves as home to a separate Marine Air Ground Task Force, which is focused on a range of training missions across the African continent. While that unit provides a limited crisis response capability, the new Morón, Spain-based task force is focused mainly on crisis response, according to Marine officials.

Pentagon officials did not specify how many had been moved to Italy, but described the team as a “small element.”

The need for such a contingent was underscored in September when the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, came under attack leaving four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The attack exposed AFRICOM’s lack of crisis-response capability.

The new Marine MAGTF, which includes six MV-22 Ospreys and other aircraft, has the airlift capability to deliver Marines to hotspots across Africa.

“If something happens, you now have an asset you can move very quickly, along with the C-130s, tankers and MV-22s, you can move very quickly to the African continent in response to a crisis,” Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos said last month.

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Aldous Huxley: One cannot be ruler of militaristic society without being militarist oneself

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Aldous Huxley: Selections on war

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Aldous Huxley
From Ends and Means (1937)

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Our world oscillates from a neurasthenia that welcomes war as a relief from boredom to a mania which results in war being made.

***

A machine may be exquisitely ingenious and of admirable workmanship, but if people refuse to use it, or use it badly, it will be almost or completely useless. This is true of the machinery of peaceful change and international co-operation. It has been in existence for a long time, and if the governments of the various nations had always wished to make use of it, it would have served it purpose – the preservation of peace – with admirable efficiency. But governments have not always wished to make use of it. Whenever ‘national honour’ and ‘vital interests’ were concerned, they preferred to threaten or actually make use of violence. Even in cases where they have consented to employ the machinery of peaceful settlement, they have sometimes displayed such bad will that the machine has been unable to function.

***

It is one of the absurd paradoxes of the present situation that those Englishmen who are most anxious to establish friendly relations with the dictatorships, especially Germany and Italy, are precisely those who are loudest in their denunciations of the only scheme by means of which these Have-not states might be placated. Being militarists, they want to make friends with other militarists; being jingoes, they cannot accept the conditions upon which such a friendship might be formed – the conditions upon which, incidentally, it might be possible to get rid of militarism altogether.

***

The machinery for peaceful change is ready and waiting; but nobody uses it because nobody wants to use it. Wherever we turn we find that the real obstacles to peace are human will and feeling, human convictions, prejudices, opinions. If we want to get rid of war we must first of all get rid of its psychological causes.

***

That those who rule…essentially militaristic societies should take the initiative in eliminating the causes if war is, of course, enormously improbable. One cannot be the ruler of a militaristic society unless one is oneself a militarist, unless one accepts the beliefs and cherishes the sentiments which result in a militaristic policy.

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Public Debate: Ireland Being Pulled Into NATO

May 15, 2013 1 comment

An Phoblacht
May 15, 2013

Neutrality debate: ‘Cold War relic NATO should be shut down’
Heated exchanges at Dublin meeting
Mark Maloney

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There was tension in the air on Tuesday evening as scores of people packed into Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin, to listen to a debate chaired by Irish Times journalist and security analyst Tom Clonan on whether or not the Irish state should join NATO.

Sinn Féin Justice and Defence spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD was first up to speak and said Ireland should be proud of the role that the Irish Defence Forces play in UN peace-keeping operations. He said there is an increasing push for an EU army and that Irish neutrality is being gradually eroded, noting the deployment of eight Irish troops to support French and British troops fighting rebels in Mali.

Mac Lochlainn also noted recent comments by Defence Minister Alan Shatter who told NATO Review that neutrality “doesn’t have any major relevance” in the West’s “war against terrorism”.

“We never stood idly by,” said Mac Lochlainn. “We play our part in conflict resolution and active neutrality. NATO is a relic of the Cold War and should be shut down. What the UN and the world needs to do is address the causes of war, which include poverty and discimination.”

Dr Bruno Tertrais of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Paris and a former NATO committee director, argued that neutrality “makes no sense”. Tertrais claimed Ireland is no longer neutral as it allows US forces to use Shannon Airport and its airspace and is a member of the NATO ‘Partnership for Peace’ programme already.

“You are a de-facto member of the EU security alliance already,” he said. “Membership of NATO will give Ireland influence and help tip the balance towards Europe and away from the USA.” {!} He also said that it would allow Ireland to keep a “well-trained and well-armed force”.

Joe Higgins TD of the Socialist Party said that NATO and similar organisations just divide the world into militaristic blocs and that, were it not for the staunch opposition to NATO membership from the people of the state, the political establishment would have joined up already.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD of People Before Profit and the SWP argued that we should not have to choose “the lesser of two evils” and highlighted many NATO atrocities and also those that have been abetted by the Irish state despite it being officially neutral. Barrett said the fact NATO has a first-strike nuclear policy against other nuclear states should be reason enough alone for any state not to join.

Declan Power, a former Irish Army officer and author, argued in favour of NATO membership but could give few positive reasons. Instead, he argued that the state “cannot be a little bit neutral” and said it is out of touch. “We either engage or become irrelevant,” he said.

He claimed benefits would include better training and equipment for Irish soldiers. He then faced a grilling from the floor from a female former soldier who asked how he would justify sending young Irish men and women to fight wars for US interests. Power’s answer was that they should know there is a possibility of death or injury when they sign up.

Roger Cole of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) told the audience that “NATO needs war like Dracula needs blood” and outlined NATO indiscriminate attacks which have killed and maimed civilians.

Many audience members took the opportunity to highlight the waste of money on military equipment and argued that technology and research should be used for the benefit of people rather than to create weapons of war. Others called for the complete abolition of Ireland’s defence forces, something which only Joe Higgins agreed with.

The Irish Anti-War Movement said that a number of pro-NATO Labour Party representatives had been invited to talk at the event but responded by saying they had their views but are not willing to attend to air them publicly.

Fine Gael, which has publicly called for debates on whether the state should remain neutral, did not take part.

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Three Georgian Soldiers Killed, Several Injured In Afghan Base Attack

Ministry of Defence of Georgia
May 14, 2013

Georgian Servicemen Killed in Afghanistan

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Three Georgian military servicemen were killed as a result of the insurgent attack on the Georgian military base in Afghanistan.

The killed soldiers served in the 42nd light Infantry Battalion of the IV Infantry Brigade.

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Ministry of Defence of Georgia
May 14, 2013

Three Georgian Military Killed in Afghanistan

Today, at 16:17 o’clock, one of the large-scale terrorist attacks was carried out on the military base where the Georgian contingent is deployed in Afghanistan. Suicide bomber and a group of insurgents attacked the military base of the 42nd Battalion.

On receiving the information, the leadership of the Joint Staff of Georgian Armed Forces was tasked to check the details of the attack. Special security measures have already been taken. Irakli Alasania talked to the Commander of the 42nd Battalion Major Kalandadze. According to the existing information, the combined attack was carried out on the base via detonation of the explosive device installed on the truck…

Minister of Defence of Georgia held a special briefing today: “It is a sad fact that we suffered casualties and three Georgian soldiers were killed…”

“According to existing data we have also several wounded and lightly injured soldiers…”

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Jules Romains: War means a golden age for the munitions makers

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Jules Romains: Selections on war

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Jules Romains
From The Black Flag (1937)
Translated by Gerard Hopkins

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Champcenais went into a book-shop on the boulevard des Italiens with which he had got into the habit of dealing regularly. Business was far from bad with him; in fact, the ease with which he was making money was a little disquieting. Without being a pessimist, he was not one of those people whom success makes careless of the future. There were special reasons why petroleum should be booming. The consumption of fuel was constantly increasing. But petroleum was now the least of his concerns. His chief activity lay in the manufacture of armaments, and results in that field were excellent. Every country in Europe was busy buying machine-guns, armour-plate, torpedoes, and shells…Conditions in the industry couldn’t be better. The chief producers all over Europe, though naturally out to attract custom to themselves, had come to a more or less definite arrangement to keep prices up, and even in some cases to share the available orders. The various governments, intent on getting quick delivery, were not disposed to haggle. Subsidies to newspapers and, in certain countries, bribes paid to politicians, officials, and army chiefs were having the effect of keeping discussion to a minimum. High wages had reduced labor troubles. Champcenais had even found that it was possible to buy the support of some trade-union leaders, provided it were done tactfully. “If only things go on like this it’ll be all right!” he reflected. He had never really wanted war, not even when it had seemed the only cure for social unrest. But now he was actually afraid of the possibility. Not that, viewed superficially, a war wouldn’t mean a golden age for the munitions-makers. But the war contained too large an unknown quantity to be viewed with complacence. A state of increasingly armed peace would be very much better. But he did not disguise from himself the fact that the game couldn’t go on indefinitely. Sooner or later the nations, faced with the alternative of war or bankruptcy, would choose war, if only to justify the sacrifices they had made to be prepared. He sometimes thought that if the manufacturers were really wise they would work for the convening of a new Hague Conference and the signing of a pact for the limitation of armaments. He had hinted as much to Zülpicher, who had taken the suggestion as an example of French humour and laughed in his face. But then Zülpicher believed that war was inevitable. According to him, they would be better employed, instead of uttering amusing paradoxes, in starting to work out means of dealing with the complex situation which was bound to arise, and not waiting until the conflict was on them, and improvising machinery at the last moment. They ought, for instance, to think out some way of ensuring unbroken communication between the industrialists of the warring countries; for some communication there would have to be if they were not to be embarrassed by a shortage of raw material, the awkward topographical situation of many of the factories, and the general complications resulting from hostilities.

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Outgoing NATO commander will miss “50-nation coalition taking on jobs like Afghanistan”

May 13, 2013 2 comments

U.S. Department of Defense
May 13, 2013

Stavridis Highlights NATO’s Progress as ‘Force for Good’
By Jim Garamone

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The admiral said he looks at the alliance effort in Libya with quiet satisfaction…Aircraft, aircrew and ships from NATO and partners such as Sweden, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates worked together to protect life in Libya, he added.

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MONS, Belgium: As the flags of NATO’s 28 nations cracked in the wind during a change of command ceremony here today, the alliance’s outgoing and incoming supreme allied commanders noted the symbolism.

Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis passed the flag of Allied Command Operations to Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, who becomes the 17th commander of alliance forces, following in the footsteps of General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower and Army Gen. Matthew Ridgway.

Stavridis was the first U.S. Navy officer to hold the position. The flags, he said “are a beautiful, powerful symbol of how we sail together.”

The 28 NATO flags, joined by the flags of 22 partner nations, also fly in Afghanistan, and “they represent why we will succeed in Afghanistan,” Stavridis said.

“I will miss being part of a 50-nation coalition taking on jobs like Afghanistan,” the admiral said.

The admiral said he looks at the alliance effort in Libya with quiet satisfaction…Aircraft, aircrew and ships from NATO and partners such as Sweden, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates worked together to protect life in Libya, he added.

Along with the European Union, Stavridis said, NATO has made great progress in Kosovo…

Looking ahead, Stavridis said he sees great challenges in Afghanistan and the need to protect NATO ally Turkey from the civil war in Syria spilling over its borders. NATO still needs to train together to be able to work together, he said, and this will be a problem as troops deploy out of Afghanistan and financial pressures cause governments to look for easy ways to cut defense budgets.

“NATO matters to the world,” he added. “NATO brings security. NATO is a force for good in the world. I’ve been proud to be a part of it for four years.”

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Henri Barbusse: Cold death sits brooding, great and sumptuous bird of prey is in the act of taking wing

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Henri Barbusse: Selections on war

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Henri Barbusse
From Light (1918)
Translated by Fitzwater Wray

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Am I going to die, yes or no? Where can I be wounded? I have managed to look at my hands, one by one; they are not dead, and I saw nothing in their dark trickling. It is extraordinary to be made motionless like this, without knowing where or how. I can do no more on earth than lift my eyes a little to the edge of the world where I have rolled.

Suddenly I am pushed by a movement of the horse on which I am lying. I see that he has turned his great head aside; he is mournfully eating grass. I saw this horse but lately in the middle of the regiment — I know him by the white in his mane — rearing and whinnying like the true battle-chargers; and now, broken somewhere, he is silent as the truly unhappy are. Once again, I recall the red deer’s little one, mutilated on its carpet of fresh crimson, and the emotion which I had not on that bygone day rises into my throat. Animals are innocence incarnate. This horse is like an enormous child, and if one wanted to point out life’s innocence face to face, one would have to typify, not a little child, but a horse. My neck gives way, I utter a groan, and my face gropes upon the ground.

The animal’s start has altered my place and shot me on my side, nearer still to the man who was talking. He has unbent, and is lying on his back. Thus he offers his face like a mirror to the moon’s pallor, and shows hideously that he is wounded in the neck. I feel that he is going to die. His words are hardly more now than the rustle of wings. He has said some unintelligible things about a Spanish painter, and some motionless portraits in the palaces — the Escurial, Spain, Europe. Suddenly he is repelling with violence some beings who are in his past:

“Begone, you dreamers!” he says, louder than the stormy sky where the flames are red as blood, louder than the falling flashes and the harrowing wind, louder than all the night which enshrouds us and yet continues to stone us.

He is seized with a frenzy which bares his soul as naked as his neck:

“The truth is revolutionary,” gasps the nocturnal voice; “get you gone, you men of truth, you who cast disorder among ignorance, you who strew words and sow the wind; you contrivers, begone! You bring in the reign of men! But the multitude hates you and mocks you!”

He laughs, as if he heard the multitude’s laughter.

***

Heavy night is implanted everywhere around us. My hands are bathed in black blood. On my neck and cheeks, rain, which is also black, bleeds.

The funeral procession of silver-fringed clouds goes by once more, and again a ray of moonlight besilvers the swamp that has sunk us soldiers; it lays winding-sheets on the prone.

All at once a swelling lamentation comes to life, one knows not where, and glides over the plain:

“Help! Help!”

“Now then! They’re not coming to look for us! What about it?”

And I see a stirring and movement, very gentle, as at the bottom of the sea.

Amid the glut of noises, upon that still tepid and unsubmissive expanse where cold death sits brooding, that sharp profile has fallen back. The cloak is quivering. The great and sumptuous bird of prey is in the act of taking wing.

The horse has not stopped bleeding. Its blood falls on me drop by drop with the regularity of a clock, — as though all the blood that is filtering through the strata of the field and all the punishment of the wounded came to a head in him and through him. Ah, it seems that truth goes farther in all directions than one thought! We bend over the wrong that animals suffer, for them we wholly understand.

Men, men! Everywhere the plain has a mangled outline. Below that horizon, sometimes blue-black and sometimes red-black, the plain is monumental!

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NATO Interoperability: U.S. Deploys First Detachment Of F-16s To Poland

U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa
May 9, 2013

Av-Det partners with Poland as first F-16 rotation arrives
By Senior Master Sgt. Sarah Webb
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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U.S. aircraft, service members and civilian contractors will rotate to the Av-Det on a quarterly basis to foster bilateral defense ties, enhance regional security and increase interoperability among NATO allies through combined training exercises.

The training plan for Av-Det Rotation 13-2 will integrate U.S. and Polish aircraft, to include F-16s, MiG-29s and Su-22s, in simulated air combat scenarios…

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SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany: The first rotation of U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the 176th Fighter Squadron, 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, departs for the U.S Aviation Detachment, Lask Air Base, Poland, this week.

More than 90 men and women from the 115th FW will train and integrate with their coalition partners at the Av-Det Rotation 13-2 joint theater security cooperation event.

U.S. aircraft, service members and civilian contractors will rotate to the Av-Det on a quarterly basis to foster bilateral defense ties, enhance regional security and increase interoperability among NATO allies through combined training exercises.

The first fighter rotation is designed to demonstrate the Air Forces’ total force concept, as the Air National Guard and active-duty components team together and integrate with coalition partners to meet combined operational requirements.

“The arrival of the 115th FW represents the next iteration in the aviation detachment’s role as the host and lead coordinating element for bilateral training exercises between the USAF and Polish Air Force,” said Maj. Matthew Spears, Av-Det commander from Pueblo, Colo. “With each rotation, the Av-Det works to improve our processes and build a stronger partnership.”

This is the second of four quarterly exercises hosted by the Av-Det who recently supported C-130J Hercules cargo aircraft from Ramstein Air Base during Exercise Screaming Eagle V.

“Unlike our first rotation consisting of C-130 aircraft from within Europe, the Av-Det faced new and unique challenges with the deployment of a stateside unit,” Spears said…

The training plan for Av-Det Rotation 13-2 will integrate U.S. and Polish aircraft, to include F-16s, MiG-29s and Su-22s, in simulated air combat scenarios with both nations’ forces working toward a common objective.

“The scenarios will challenge our pilots, not only as a test of their skill and knowledge, but in their ability to overcome differences in language, aircraft capabilities, communications systems, and tactics – a true test in interoperability,” said Spears.

The Av-Det rotation 13-2 exercise is scheduled for May 13-24. The unit’s parent wing is the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB.

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Georges Duhamel: No end to war without moral reeducation

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Georges Duhamel: Selections on war

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Georges Duhamel
From The Heart’s Domain (La Possession du monde) (1919)
Translated by Eleanor Stimson Brooks

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Here should lie the lesson and the one benefit of this war: that we should undeceive ourselves about ourselves and about our ends! Let us not devote our courage to choosing a ferocious discipline devoid of the ideal. Let us once for all reject our calculating and demoralizing intelligence. Let us organize, in the peace that returns, the reign of the heart.

The search for happiness cannot ignore the conditions of the material life. Undoubtedly, well-being, comfort, dispose us to a happy view of things; but will they ever replace what a poet has called “the contented heart”?

The Anglo-American peoples, susceptible as they are to all the moral and religious revolutions, have applied themselves to altering the original sense of simple well-being so as to identify it with luxurious comfort. That is a way of giving a moral aspect to pleasure, making an honest bargain with the corruptions of money.

The exigencies of this sort of life have largely contributed to involving these peoples in a frenzied whirlwind of business that wears a man out and bewilders him.

***

The dramatists and novelists of our time who, by the quality of their opinions or by their political positions are ostensibly laboring for a moral or religious end, have betrayed, in most of their works, a servile and ill-concealed love of luxury. It is useless to give names; let us say only that none of the modern novels of certain of our authors lack those descriptions and professions of faith that reveal the quivering longing of the pauper for the delights and enjoyments on which all his eager desires are fixed.

It is partly to the influence of this literature that our old world owes the headlong rush of all classes of humanity toward those pleasures that are only the phantom of happiness and will never be anything else.

If genius wishes to consecrate itself to a labor that is truly reconstructive, truly pacific, it must discover other subjects for its works.

If the future laws governing labor do not allow enough time for the cultivation and the flourishing of the soul, a sacred struggle will become inevitable.

The organizers of the modern world, who have shown themselves powerless to avert war and did not realize the vanity of our old civilization, do not yet seem to foresee the urgency of radical changes in the moral education of the peoples.

They continue to talk to us about the superhuman efforts we must make in order to redeem their faults.

No one shrinks before these efforts. Society is weary of crime but not of peaceful tasks. Everyone prepares with joyous energy to take up his former position and his tools again.

It rests with us all to mitigate the severity of economic conflicts by working to transform the current idea of happiness.

The possessors of material wealth have, in general, for centuries, given to those whom they employ and direct so scandalous and basely immoral an example that they themselves are the principal fomenters of the attacks which they will henceforth have to undergo.

In the machinery of modern industry, work has lost a great many of its attractive virtues: all the methods in force tend to diminish the part played by the soul and the heart, and the workman, imprisoned in an almost mechanical function, no longer expects from work the personal satisfaction he once obtained; as a poet has said: “His empty labor is the fate he fights against.”

France has suffered, suffers and will suffer more deeply than all the other countries of the world. She is at once the altar and the holocaust. She has sacrificed her men, her cities, and her soil. It is in the heart of her beautiful fields that the devastating storm whirls and roars.

In the depths of my soul I hope that, because of this great grief, it will be France that will give the signal for redemption. I hope that the reign of the heart will begin just here where the old civilization will leave imperishable traces of its murderous folly.

The resources of the French people in perseverance, in self-reliance, in goodness, in subtle delicacy are so great that one feels a word would suffice to rally all hearts and give them their bearings. One feels that at the mere phrase “moral civilization” thousands and thousands of noble heads will nod approval, thousands of hands will reach out to find each other.

People who have obstinate views on the political meaning of wars, on the eminently economic nature of the peril that has been run by humanity, and on the efficacy of the industrial and scientific civilization, will not fail to proclaim that France ought first of all to return to its furious task and apply itself to surpassing the peoples that have outstripped it along this path.

But France has always been the country of initiation and revelation. It is the chosen land of spiritual revolutions. May the bloody baptism it has received give it precedence in the discussion of the future!

If the destiny of our country is to make a humanity that is plunged in affliction give ear to the words of peace, consolation and love, let it accomplish this beautiful mission, let it teach the other peoples the generous laws of the true possession of the world.

It is late. The night is drawing to a close; it is calm and yet penetrated with a vast, subdued murmur of joy. They say it is one of the last nights of the war.

I hear about me the panting breath of the wounded. There are several hundred of them; they are sleeping or longing for sleep and rest. Their burning breath is like a lamentation. Many of them will never see the peace they have so dearly bought. They are perhaps the wounded of the last battle, the last victims, the last martyrs.

Over the whole face of the world souls are suffering with them, for them, souls which the angel of death laboring here this night will not deliver.

My work is finished. It begins to withdraw from me. If it can bring any consolation to a single one of these suffering souls, let me believe that it has fulfilled its destiny.

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NATO’s Military Infrastructure Moving To Russian Border: Foreign Minister

May 10, 2013 2 comments

Itar-Tass
May 10, 2013

NATO’s military infrastructure moving to Russian borders – Lavrov

WARSAW: NATO’s military infrastructure is moving towards Russia’s borders, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

“When the military infrastructure is moving towards borders, this always evokes questions,” he said. “Russia and Belarus protect their borders.”

“The alliance’s military infrastructure is really moving eastwards, to the borders of Russia,” he said adding that NATO violates previous obligations.

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Tanjug News Agency
May 10, 2013

“NATO infrastructure is moving towards Russia”

WARSAW: NATO’s military infrastructure is moving towards Russia’s borders, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

“When the military infrastructure is moving towards borders, this always evokes questions. Russia and Belarus protect their borders,” Itar-Tass quoted him as saying.

“The alliance’s military infrastructure is really moving eastwards, to the borders of Russia,” Lavrov said adding that NATO violates previous obligations.

He made the statement after the meeting on Friday in Warsaw with his German and Polish counterparts Guido Westerwelle and Radoslaw Sikorski, called to discuss relations between the Russian Federation and NATO.

“Today I discussed very complicated issues with my colleagues. We agree that Russia and NATO are not enemies and that this has been made official in documents adopted at a high level. We also agree that diplomats should do everything they can to help build trust,” Lavrov stated.

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NATO, Persian Gulf And Asia-Pacific: Pentagon Steadily Expands Global Interceptor Missile System

Department of Defense
May 9, 2013

Officials Call for Continued Ballistic Missile Defense Modernization
By Donna Miles

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The proposal also includes funding to implement regional missile defense approaches that Creedon said will be tailored to the unique deterrence and defense requirements of Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific regions.

Syring reported, for example, that the Missile Defense Agency “is engaged either bilaterally or multilaterally with nearly two dozen countries and international organizations,” including NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“Our most vital security commitments – the defense of the United States and the protection of our allies and partners and our forces around the world – demand nothing less.”

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WASHINGTON: Senior defense officials underscored the importance of ballistic missile defense modernization efforts requested in the fiscal 2014 budget proposal during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

The budget requests $9.2 billion in fiscal 2014 and $45.7 billion over future years to develop and deploy missile defense capabilities.

Madelyn Creedon, assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs, told the panel these capabilities will both protect the U.S. homeland and strengthen regional missile defenses.

Navy Vice Adm. J.D. Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, joined Creedon during the afternoon hearing in citing disturbing trends in Iran, North Korea, Syria and elsewhere around the globe.

The administration remains committed to developing proven and cost-effective missile defense capabilities through the phased advance approach to regional missile defense, Creedon noted in her written statement.

“This approach puts emphasis on a flexible military toolkit with forces that are mobile and scalable,” she said. As a result, “they underwrite deterrence in peacetime, but can be surged in crisis to meet defense requirements,” she said.

Creeden reported on progress on three policy priorities: sustaining a strong homeland defense, strengthening regional missile defense and fostering increased international cooperation and participation.

She emphasized the importance of continually improving the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system…

The budget request, she said, supports this effort as well as enhancement of ground-based interceptors and deployment improved sensors, she said. The proposal also includes funding to implement regional missile defense approaches that Creedon said will be tailored to the unique deterrence and defense requirements of Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific regions.

Missile defense, she noted, is an integral part of a comprehensive U.S. effort to strengthen regional deterrence, and plays a central role in DOD’s strategic guidance released in January 2012.

While promoting these efforts, the United States is striving to build stronger relationships with allies and partners to cooperatively address the ballistic missile threat, and to help build partner capacity to do so, she said.

Syring reported, for example, that the Missile Defense Agency “is engaged either bilaterally or multilaterally with nearly two dozen countries and international organizations,” including NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council. “We have made good progress in our work with our international partners, and I want to continue those important efforts,” he said.

The fiscal 2014 budget request reflects DOD’s goals of retaining the flexibility to adjust and to enhance its defenses as the threat and technologies evolve, she said.

“Our most vital security commitments – the defense of the United States and the protection of our allies and partners and our forces around the world – demand nothing less,” she said.

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