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NATO Naval Groups Drill Together In Mediterranean

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations/Maritime Command

October 31, 2013

STANDING NATO GROUPS EXERCISE TOGETHER IN MEDITERRANEAN
Story and photos by HQ MARCOM Public Affairs Office

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MEDITERRANEAN SEA – Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine-Countermeasures Group TWO (SNMCMG2) met on Wednesday, 30 October 2013, for a joint training opportunity at sea near Crete, Greece.

Both Groups have been operating in the Mediterranean in support of…Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR (OAE), demonstrating NATO’s resolve…

COMSNMG2 Rear Admiral Eugenio Diaz del Rio welcomed aboard his flagship COMSNMCMG2 Commander Matthias Seipel for a brief meeting, discussing ongoing NATO operations and observing the combined twelve ships from eight different countries operating together.

SNMG2 presently consisting of the frigates ESPS ALVARO DE BAZAN (Spain), FGS SACHSEN (Germany), TCG SALIHREIS (Turkey), ITS GRECALE (Italy), ROS REGINA MARIA (Romania), BGS DRAZKI (Bulgaria) and URS TERNOPIL (Ukraine).

SNMCMG2 consisting of the mine hunters FGS MOSEL and FGS ROTTWEIL (Germany), TCG ERDEMLI (Turkey), ITS CROTONE (Italy) and HMS PENZANCE (United Kingdom).

For four hours, the two Groups steamed in close formation while conducting an air defence exercise (ADEX) and a series of tactical manoeuvring exercises (MISCEX).

“It was an exciting and spectacular sight to see and be a part of,” exclaimed Lieutenant Commander Ignacio Nieto, SNMG2 Plans Officer…

The SNMG2 flagship helicopter (TORO) was airborne for most of the morning, and conducted the first two landings of the deployment aboard SNMCMG2 flagship FGS MOSEL, providing an excellent opportunity for training of MOSEL’s Flight Deck Officer and crew.

“It was impressive to see all these units sailing together,” said Seipel. “This was a powerful demonstration of mutual integration, as MOSEL and the mine counter-measures vessels operated professionally in close quarters with the Group of frigates.”

Upon completion of the meeting of the two NATO Group commanders, Seipel returned to his flagship, and the two Groups departed the area to resume their…operations.

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Nicaragua, Russia Sign International Security Cooperation Memorandum

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment

Itar-Tass
October 31, 2013

Nicaragua, Russia sign memorandum of international security cooperation

MEXICO CITY: Another step in the strengthening of relations between Nicaragua and Russia has been made – during a visit to this Central American country of a Russian delegation headed by Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev. The sides held negotiations on Wednesday and signed a memorandum of cooperation, which will allow the two countries to coordinate positions on the main problems of international security.

“I am confident that the signed memorandum will promote cooperation between our two countries,” Patrushev said at a meeting with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. From the Nicaraguan side the document was signed by the country’s army Commander in Chief Julio Cesar Aviles.

Patrushev noted that thanks to the memorandum, consultations between the High Command and the Army of Nicaragua and Russia’s Security Council “will now be conducted on permanent basis.” “This will allow us to coordinate positions on the most pressing issues of international security,” stressed the Russian official.

Patrushev said during a meeting with Ortega that the document, approved by both sides, would make it possible to “expand cooperation” between Russia and Nicaragua. He stressed that this republic “is currently playing a major role in the Central American region, not only because of its geographical location, but also because of the policy pursued by the current government of the country.”

Russia’s Security Council secretary noted that “Nicaragua is an important partner and friend of Russia in Latin America,” pointing to the coincidence of views of the two countries’ authorities “on many issues.”

Patrushev also expressed gratitude to the Nicaraguan government for supporting the position of the Russian Federation, which was the first to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “I am confident that Nicaragua has set a good example to be followed by other countries,” said the Russian official.

Ortega for his part expressed satisfaction with the results of the Russian delegation’s visit to Nicaragua. “We have worked and will continue to work with the Russian Federation with a view to maintaining peace, stability and security of our peoples,” said the Nicaraguan leader.

Ortega once again expressed his support for Russia’s initiative on the settlement of the recent acute crisis in Syria. At the same time he pointed to the “historical ties that exist between Moscow and Managua.” “We are very grateful and very much appreciate the Russian people’s support of our country,” the Nicaraguan president said.

At the meeting the Nicaraguan leader welcomed the arrival in the country of two Russian strategic bombers Tupolev Tu-160, which on Wednesday landed at Augusto Sandino International Airport of the Nicaraguan capital. The visit aims to “maintain peace and stability,” said Ortega.

Before arriving in Managua, the Russian Tu-160 planes visited the capital of Venezuela – Caracas, having made a 13-hour non-stop flight from Russia. The crews of the military aircraft performed flights over the Caribbean Sea, conducting research related to aircraft operation in a tropical climate.

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Interfax
October 31, 2013

Russia and Nicaragua sign cooperation memorandum

MEXICO CITY: Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Nicaragua’s Armed Forces Commander General Julio Cesar Aviles Castillo have signed a memorandum of cooperation, the EFE news agency reported on Thursday.

“I am convinced that this memorandum will help further promote our relations and cooperation in military issues,” Patrushev said at a meeting with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in Managua.

He said that from now on, consultations between the Russian Security Council and representatives of Nicaragua’s Armed Forces Command would be held regularly.

“They [consultations] will enable us to better coordinate our approaches to the main issues of international security,” he said.

Patrushev also said at the meeting with Ortega that “today the Republic of Nicaragua is playing a leading role in Latin America.”

“This is happening both thanks to [Nicaragua’s] geographical location and the policies pursued by the government of this country,” he said.

Patrushev also described Nicaragua as “an important ally and friend for the Russian Federation in Latin America.”

“We see eye to eye on numerous issues. We highly value Nicaragua’s decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states,” he said.

Nicaragua’s president, for his part, welcomed the results of his meeting with the visiting Russian delegation.

“We have always been working with the Russian Federation for the benefit of our people’s peace, stability and security,’ he said.

Ortega said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had sent him a letter, in which the Russian leader reaffirmed his “readiness to continue to work together with our country.”

Ortega also supported Putin’s peace initiative for Syria and reiterated the importance of further promoting ties between Nicaragua and Russia.

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Itar-Tass
October 31, 2013

Two Russian supersonic strategic bombers Tu-160 fly transit mission from Venezuela to Nicaragua

MOSCOW: In accordance with the Plan for the Operational Training of the Long-Range Aviation of the Russian Air Force, two supersonic strategic missile-carrying bombers Tu-160 have made a flight from the Venezuelan Maiquetia airfield to Managua airfield in Nicaragua.

An official in the press-service and information department of the Russian Defence Ministry said Thursday, the two aircraft “flew over neuatral waters of the Caribbean Sea, after which they entered the air space of the Republic of Nicaragua and made a routine landing”.

During the transit mission, the aircraft covered a distance of more than 2,500 km. The duration of the transit flight was about three hours.

All flights of the aircraft of the Russian AF are made strictly in line with the International Rules for the use of air space, the department official pointed out.

The missile-carrying aircraft Tu-160 had taken off from the Engels airbase in Saratov Region, and made the flight in accordance with the Plan for the Operational Training of Long-Range Aviation. They flew over the Caribbean and Eastern part of the Pacific Ocean, along the south-western coast of North America and made the first landing at Maiquetia airfield in Nicaragua. They made a 13-hour nonstop flight from Russia, covering a distance of 10,000 km. When flying over the territory of Norway, the aircraft were escorted by two Norwegian fighter planes F-16 that scrambled from Bodo airf base.

At Maiquetia airfied, the crews of the aircraft were greeted on behalf of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro by the Republic’s Defence Minister Carmen Melendez.

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William Faulkner: To militarists, all civilians, even their own, are alien intruders

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

William Faulkner: There is only the question: When will I be blown up?

Thomas Mann: William Faulkner’s love for man, protest against militarism and war

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William Faulkner
From A Fable (1954)

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[Posted with fair use understanding and with the sole intent of acquainting those not already familiar with the matter William Faulkner’s view of war. Despite the complex and often challenging narrative style and structure, all who can afford to are encouraged to purchase the novel from which the excerpts are taken.]

Then the sergeant saw it too, the cloth he wore. Turning and looking back, not only at the man who had spoken but at all the faces surrounding him, it seemed to him that he was looking, out of a sort of weary, prolonged, omniscient grief and sorrow so long borne and accustomed that, now when he happened to remember it, it was no longer even regret, at the whole human race across the insuperable barrier of the vocation and livelihood to which twenty years ago he had not merely dedicated but relinquished too, not just his life but his bones and flesh; it seemed to him that the whole ring of quite attentive faces was stained with a faint, ineradicable, reflected horizon-blue. It had always been so; only the tint had changed – the drab and white of the desert and the tropics, the sharp red-and-blue of the old uniform, and now the chameleon-azure of this present one since three years ago. He had expected that, not only expected, but accepted, relinquishing volition and the fear of hunger and decision to the extent of even being paid a few sure sous a day for the privilege and right, at no other cost than obedience and the exposure and risk of his tender and brittle bones and flesh, of immunity forever for his natural appetites. So for twenty years now he had looked at the anonymous denizens of the civilian world from the isolation, insulation, of that unchallengeable immunity, with a sort of contempt as alien intruders, rightless, on simple sufferance, himself and his interknit and interlocked kind in the impregnable fraternity of valor and endurance breasting through it behind the sharp and cleaving prow of their stripe and bars and stars and ribbons, like an armoured ship (or, since a year ago now, a tank) through a shoal of fish. Looking about him at the waiting faces…it seemed to him with a kind of terror that it was himself who was the alien, and not just alien but obsolete; that on that day twenty years ago, in return for the right and the chance to wear on the battle-soiled breast of his coat the battle-grimed symbolical candy-stripes of valor and endurance and fidelity and physical anguish and sacrifice, he had sold his birthright in the race of man…

***

‘And now General of Division Gragnon is bringing the whole lot of them back here to ask the Generalissimo to let him shoot them, since that much peace and silence, falling without warning on the human race – “

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Baltic War Games: Culmination Point For NATO Global Strike Force

October 31, 2013 1 comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations

October 30, 2013

LAND FORCES – CONNECTING THE ALLIANCE AND OUR PARTNERS
“From the Cockpit”

Phil Breedlove
General, USAF
Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Commander, U.S. European Command

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
– Spanish philosopher George Santayana, circa 1905

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I’ve used the quote above before and it bears repeating as we again enter a time of transition for our forces and mission. Military historians have cited many examples of great powers adapting too slowly, or not at all, to changes in military affairs. This is why I am adamant that the Alliance must overcome obstacles, including the current economic and political conditions, to ensure we successfully complete the ISAF mission in Afghanistan and transition to the Resolute Support Mission.

We also have an obligation to heed the hard-earned lessons from our past 12-years of operating together and continue to improve the cohesiveness we have created as a coalition. Our land forces – in particular – must maintain the ability to work together in a multinational joint environment as we evolve from a deployed, expeditionary Alliance to a ready and robust contingency Alliance.

In early October I met and spoke with land force commanders and deputies from 35 Allied and partner European nations and we agreed we need to keep collaborating and broadening our cooperative security. We also agreed exercising our capabilities in NATO is the best vehicle by which our armies can maintain their tactical and technical proficiency and edge.

At this conference I charged Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the commander of the new Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) Headquarters in Izmir, Turkey, with the responsibility of ensuring land force readiness and improving land force interoperability among Alliance members and partners. I have every confidence that he will lead effectively to make this happen.

With Steadfast Jazz 2013 beginning this week in Latvia and Poland, we will reach a culmination point for the NATO Response Force exercises that will certify the land force components and commanders from Joint Force Command Brunssum and the Rapid Reaction Corps-France.

Steadfast Jazz is NATO’s largest live fire exercise this year and as we move forward we will increase the scale and complexity of these training efforts to keep our skills sharp as more operational forces currently committed to other theaters become available.

The core of our strength is our ability to jointly conduct operations in any domain – land, sea, air and cyber. To be successful in each of these areas, every individual within our Alliance must be imbued with a teamwork ethos and mindful of the adage that we are only as strong as our weakest member.

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Therefore we will exercise as we would deploy for any contingency using a joint, multinational, multi-echelon framework. And just as NATO is approaching defense in a “smart” way by sharing capabilities, we will approach exercises in a cost-effective, common sense manner by designing exercise scenarios and sequences to challenge all of our forces in order to achieve maximum effect.

We cannot depend on a single nation, a single service or a single capability to secure our future. We must all contribute what we can so NATO forces arrive for an operation ready to win in any domain. We have a very proud history in NATO. Our success lies not in our past but rather in our present and future as we find new ways to ensure our collective defense is able to secure our interests at home or abroad.

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Europe Is Staging Ground For U.S. Power Projection: Top NATO Commander

October 30, 2013 1 comment

Voice of Russia
October 30, 2013

Europe a proxy for projecting US force – General Breedlove
John Robles

The NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe and commander of US European Command, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove recently spoke with reporters from the American mass media in the Pentagon in what appears to be an attempt to assuage fears spreading in the US military industrial complex over a loss of US influence in Europe.

Not only the language of the speech but the timing give very clear signals that the US and Europe are seeing a rift that has been caused by the US’ own actions in the region and their almost “imperialistic” relationship with European leaders and governments. The almost synchronized timing of the statements by Breedlove with visits to the US by European Union leaders and officials, including top intelligence and foreign ministry representatives of key NATO member Germany clearly show that not everything is going according to plan and the backlash for revelations about NSA spying may cause a further chilling in European/US relations.

In his speech Breedlove attempts to paint a picture of “cohesiveness” and “interconnectedness” between “these nations”, as he refers to Europe, and says the US military is at the “pinnacle” of their “absolutely connected” relationship with the military structures of European nations. He cites the over 12 year quagmire in Afghanistan and the dismal failure in that country as the driving force behind this “interconnectedness”.

Such rhetoric clearly runs contrary to the current negative turn of events that is now plaguing the multi-faceted relationship between the EU and the US. Of course for the US military might is tantamount to everything else and the absolute “end to the means” but with the recent events in Syria and the Middle East, the growing economic inequalities among EU citizens and the discovery of the massive spying that the US military industrial complex has been engaged in on European citizens and leaders, it is extremely questionable whether the EU, its leaders and it citizenry will continue to assist the US in their self-serving plan for global domination and hegemony through brute force and military might.

Painting a picture for the media of how Europe is completely connected to the US, and in fact just a proxy, according to the US Command’s site General Breedlove said: “Our ability to work together, our tactics, techniques and procedures, are all the same and forged around what is NATO-standard. And therefore, it is very easy for us to take the field together and do those missions that our nations want them to do.”

He told his audience that “… between 2007 and 2011, United States European Command (EUCOM) trained 42,000 NATO and NATO-partner troops to deploy to Afghanistan. That’s 42,000 Americans that didn’t have to go to Afghanistan,” he said. “Our ability to remain connected to these armies and these air forces [is] directly related to our force structure in Europe.”

Clearly this is an attempt to show Americans that they do not have to worry about US boots on the ground and US casualties as they have their proxy armies all set up and ready to go for the next military adventure. This is against the growing backdrop of growing discontent among the US populace with the paradigm of endless war that the US military industrial complex wishes to continue to force on the population.

That population is increasingly growing weary of the hyper-security state that their country has become and the militarization of their police forces and the way their own government has begun to treat them as if they are the enemy. The people are not the problem in America, the overbearing police state is the problem, and that has been brought home to Europe by the recent revelations of Edward Snowden, who even revealed that of 34 leaders on a long term surveillance list German Chancellor Angel Merkel was among them.

Will Europe and its citizenry do what the American people have not been able to do and say no to the US military industrial complex and their invasive and tyrannical controls? That is a question which must surely be worrying Washington.

With the current climate one might also ask the question whether intelligent, cultured and forward thinking Europeans and their leaders continue to embrace a country with nothing to offer but a mindless culture, military might, endless war and total surveillance, or whether they will look elsewhere?

Now that the US’ favorite bogeyman of “terrorism” has proven to be a self-fabricated one used to strip the world of its sovereignty and the citizenry of their freedom, it is time for the world to take a long hard look at where the future truly lies and what is sustainable for all of us.

With Russia continuing to increase cooperation with its European partners in the cultural, economic, technological, educational, scientific, energy and other spheres on an above board and mutually beneficial basis and with mutual respect and an open adherence to the rule of law and respect for sovereignty, the policies of brutal-in-your-face-domination and clear scoffing at the sovereignty of nations and their leaders by the US are clearly unsustainable if the “special friends” from across the Ocean wish to continue their hegemony over Europe.

Clearly the US will continue to demonize Russia in any way it can, after all the “bogeyman” of Communism is gone, as its geopolitical goal of hegemony and total control over Europe is not one that it will give up easily, but what they US can not understand, and I think the record has shown, refuses to understand is that there are people in Europe and those people think and have opinions and like the people of Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya and Syria, their opinions do matter. And they will never, not in a million years, be able to win the minds and hearts of the people using the end of a gun, or Hellfire Missiles fired from drones, or massive invasive surveillance, these are signs of a tyrannical power desperately trying to hold on to illegitimate power.

The world has other problems, far more important than US military domination, the world has to guarantee the sustainability of our planet and the advancement of the human race.

General Breedlove (no comment on his name) stated: “I think Europe is incredibly important to America, and I think that…the long-standing trust relationships in Europe that allow us to project force into Africa and that allow us to project force into the Middle East are absolutely key to the future.” But will Europe agree and continue to allow the US military to invade their sovereignty and to play the role of US proxy? Perhaps.

Or perhaps they will look a little closer to a country and a leader who are fighting for peace, mutual respect, rule of law and the well being of all of the citizens.

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Russia Concerned Over U.S. Interceptor Missile Buildup In Japan

October 30, 2013 1 comment

Russian Information Agency Novosti
October 30, 2013

Russia to Question US-Japan Missile Defense Plans

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MOSCOW: Moscow plans to take issue with the placement of US missile defense elements in Japan during an upcoming ministerial meeting in Tokyo, a Russian deputy foreign minister said Wednesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will visit Japan on November 1-2 to discuss bilateral relations with their Japanese counterparts within a “2+2 ministerial format.”

“We have many questions regarding the deployment of elements of a US missile defense network in Japan,” Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told RIA Novosti.

“We are ready to share our assessment and carefully listen to what our Japanese colleagues have to say about the subject,” he said.

Russia has been keeping a close eye on US moves to deploy missile defenses around the arc of the South China Sea in addition to the disputed European missile shield.

Washington and Tokyo agreed in October to broaden their military collaboration for the first time in 16 years.

As part of the agreement, the US will deploy a new X-band missile-defense radar at the Kyogamisaki airbase in western Japan’s Kyoto prefecture to join an existing AN/TPY-2 radar in Japan’s northern Aomori prefecture.

Some reports suggest that the US Missile Defense Agency and the US Pacific Command are considering a third such radar somewhere else in Southeast Asia, possibly in the Philippines.

Washington is also planning to expand the grouping of Aegis-equipped US warships that patrol international waters in the region.

All these moves could be seen as a sign of Washington’s increased military, economic and diplomatic focus on Asia, according to Russian military and political experts.

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NATO Warships Visit, Exercise Off Tunisia

October 30, 2013 Leave a comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Maritime Command

October 29, 2013

STANDING NATO MARITIME GROUP PAYS VISIT TO TUNIS
Story by HQ MARCOM Public Affairs Office

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TUNIS, Tunisia: This past weekend, two NATO ships assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2) paid a visit to the port of Tunis.

The port visit provided the crew of the SNMG2 ships a welcome break from the high tempo supporting NATO’s counter-terrorism Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR (OAE), actively deterring threats to maritime security and trade.

Under the command of Rear Admiral Eugenio Díaz del Río, Spanish Navy, the Group included the Spanish flagship ESPS ALVARO DE BAZAN and TCG SALIRHEIS of the Turkish Navy, and the ships’ crews enjoyed several opportunities to interact with their Tunisian counterparts.

While in port, SNMG2 hosted a visit to the flagship by Tunisian Naval Academy students and conducted courtesy calls to the Coast Guard headquarters and the mayor. The Spanish ambassador to Tunisia visited the flagship, and the Turkish ambassador also visited SALIRHEIS while the ships were in port. The visit concluded with a passing exercise (PASSEX) between the NATO ships and their Tunisian counterparts as the ships departed the port.

“It was a very friendly, productive visit,” said Díaz del Río. “We appreciate the opportunity to work together with our valued partner in the Mediterranean Dialogue, which makes it easier for us to operate together in the future.”

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Ukraine: NATO’s New 2,300-Kilometer Border With Russia

October 30, 2013 Leave a comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations/Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe

October 30, 2013

UKRAINIAN MOD AND GENERAL STAFF DELEGATION VISITS SHAPE
Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

MONS, Belgium: A delegation from the MoD of Ukraine and General Staff met with Deputy Chief of Staff Military Partnerships, Major General Haluk Cumali Çetinkaya, and other Staff Representatives at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) on Tuesday, 29 October 2013. Members of the delegation were briefed on ACO current structure and functions, as well on the NATO Force Generation process. Both briefings were followed by a question and answer session, where issues of mutual interest between NATO and Ukraine were discussed.

The recent Ukrainian commitment to participate in the Alliance’s counter–piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, is a recent example of NATO–Ukraine relations. The Ukrainian Navy frigate HETMAN SAGAIYDACHNIY joined Operation Ocean Shield on 10 October 2013, marking the first time a partner nation has contributed to NATO’s counter–piracy effort, which has been operating off the Horn of Africa, since 2009.

Ukraine also contributes to the NATO Response Force (NRF) and is participating in Exercise Steadfast Jazz in November, which is designed to train and certify the NRF.

“For many years UKR contributes to Euro-Atlantic security with respect to both NATO led operations and the NATO Response Forces. We are grateful for continued Ukrainian efforts to work together with NATO in the traditional areas of cooperation of defence reform, interoperability and operations, as well as emerging areas of cooperation”, said General Çetinkaya. “Your visit to SHAPE highlights once again the strength and depth of the NATO-Ukraine relationship” he said. As well General Çetinkaya expressed his gratitude for Ukraine efforts to maintain a permanent UKR Partner Liaison Team and two Partnership Staff Element officers presence in MPD, as it is a key element ensuring a smooth NATO – Ukraine Military Cooperation on a daily bases.

Currently, Ukraine is the only partner nation contributing to all NATO-led operations and the NRF. The Allies and Ukraine discuss issues of mutual interest within the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which provides a forum for consultation between the Allies and Ukraine on security issues of common concern, such as Afghanistan, the Balkans, the fight against terrorism, frozen conflicts and other regional security issues.

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Mikhail Sholokhov: Visit to a military hospital

October 30, 2013 Leave a comment

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

Russian writers on war

Mikhail Sholokhov: Selections on war

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Mikhail Sholokhov
From And Quite Flows the Don (1928-32)
Translated by Stephen Garry

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A high personage, one of the Imperial family, came to pay a visit to the hospital. Informed of this in the morning, the personnel of the hospital scurried about like mice in a burning granary. They re-dressed the wounded, changed the bedclothes before the time appointed, and one young doctor even tried to instruct the men how to reply to the personage and how to conduct themselves in conversation with her. The anxiety was communicated to the patients also, and some of them began to talk in whispers long before the time fixed for the visit. At noon a motor horn sounded at the front door, and, accompanied by the usual number of officials and officers, the personage passed through the hospital portals. She went the round of the wards, asking the stupid questions characteristic of one in her position and circumstances. The wounded, their eyes staring out of their heads, replied in accordance with the instructions of the junior surgeon. “Exactly so, Your Imperial Highness,” and “Not at all, Your Imperial Highness.” The chief surgeon supplied commentaries to their answers, squirming like a grass-snake nipped by a fork. The regal personage distributed little ikons to the soldiers. The throng of brilliant uniforms and the heavy wave of expensive perfumes came toward Grigori. He stood by his bed, unshaven, gaunt, with feverish eyes. The slight tremor of the brown skin over his angular cheekbones revealed his agitation.

“There they are!” he was thinking. “These are the people for whose pleasure we have been driven from our native villages and flung to death. Ah, the reptiles! Curse them! There are the lice on our backs. Was it for them we trampled other people’s grain with our horses and killed strangers? And I crawled over the stubble and shouted? And our fear? They dragged us away from our families, starved us in barracks. Their bellies filled till they shine! I’d send you out there, curse you! Put you on a horse, under a rifle, load you with lice, feed you on rotten bread and maggoty meat!”

Grigori’s eyes wandered over the officers of the retinue and rested on the marsupial cheeks of the royal personage.

“A Don Cossack, Cross of St. George,” the chief surgeon smirked as he pointed to Grigori, and from the tone of his voice one would have thought it was he who had won the cross.

“From what district?” the personage inquired, holding an ikon ready.

“Vieshenska, Your Imperial Highness.”

“How did you win the cross?”

Boredom and satiation lurked in the clear, empty eyes of the royal personage. Her left eyebrow was artificially raised, this being intended to give her face greater expression. For a moment Grigori felt cold, and a queer chopping sensation went on inside him. He had felt a similar sensation when going into attack. His lips twisted and quivered irresistibly.

“Excuse me, I badly want to – Your Imperial – Just a little need.” Grigori swayed as though broken, and pointed under the bed.

The personage’s left eyebrow rose still higher. The hand holding the ikon half-extended toward Grigori was frozen stiff. Her querulous lips hanging with astonishment, the personage turned to a grey-haired general at her side and asked him something in English. A hardly perceptible embarrassment troubled the members of her suite. A tall officer with a snow-white glove thrust under his epaulet looked askance, a second looked silly; a third glanced inquiringly at his neighbour. The grey-haired general smiled respectfully and replied in English to Her Imperial Highness, and the personage was pleased to thrust the ikon into Grigori’s hand and even bestow on him the highest of honours, a touch in the shoulder.

After the guests had departed, Grigori dropped on his bed and, burying his face in the pillow, lay for some minutes, his shoulders shaking. It was impossible to tell whether he was crying or laughing. Certain it is that he rose with dry eyes. He was immediately summoned to the room of the chief surgeon.

“You’re a canaille,” the doctor began, grasping his beard in his fingers.

“I’m not a canaille, you reptile!” Grigori replied, striding toward the doctor. “You’re not at the front!” Then, recovering his self-control, he said quietly: “Send me home.”

The doctor turned and went to his writing-table, saying more gently:

“We’ll send you! You can go to the devil!”

Grigori went out, his lips trembling with a smile, his eyes glaring. For his monstrous, unpardonable behaviour in the presence of the royal personage he was deprived of his food for three days. But the cook and his comrades in the ward kept him supplied.

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Romania: NATO’s Number 2 Helps Usher In Missile Deployment

October 29, 2013 1 comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
October 28, 2013

Deputy Secretary General attends ballistic missile defence groundbreaking in Romania

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NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow on Monday (28 October 2013) participated in a groundbreaking ceremony of the missile defence facility at the Deveselu airbase in southern Romania. “This facility will be an important part of NATO’s overall missile defences in Europe,” said Ambassador Vershbow.

During the ceremony, the Deputy Secretary General thanked the Romanian authorities for hosting the facility and the United States government for its commitment and contribution to missile defence in Europe. The ceremony was also attended by Romanian President Traian Băsescu, Romanian Defence Minister Mircea Duşa and United States Undersecretary of Defence, James Miller. Ambassador Vershbow said the groundbreaking marked an important moment for the Alliance and for the construction of the second phase of the United States’ phased adaptive approach to missile defence in Europe. He added that the Deveselu facility will be “a vital link in the chain of assets provided by members of the Alliance” and connected by the NATO command and control system…

Romania has a bilateral agreement with the United States which sees the construction of an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence system at Deveselu. This will include the construction of a missile defence radar and interceptors. The Romanian site will be part of NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence system and when operational in 2015, will be under NATO command and control. NATO leaders declared the Alliance’s interim ballistic missile defence capability at their Summit in Chicago last year, marking the first step in the development of NATO’s missile defence system.

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Afghan War: NATO AWACS Log 10,000 Flight Hours In Two Years

October 29, 2013 Leave a comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
October 28, 2013

NATO AWACS marks 10,000 flight hours in support of Afghanistan mission

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NATO’s fleet of E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft surpassed a significant milestone this past weekend after reaching 10,000 flight hours in support of the Alliance’s mission in Afghanistan.

The E-3A fleet, based in Geilenkirchen, Germany, passed the milestone on Saturday (26 October 2013), reflecting almost 1,000 missions flown in two and a half years. The AWACS fleet supported the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) during this period without any serious air or ground related incidents. “The E-3A Component can be proud of a remarkable accomplishment in support of NATO’s ISAF mission in Afghanistan,” said Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Philip M. Breedlove.

“The Component’s NATO AWACS aircraft have logged more than 10,000 flying hours under Operation Afghan Assist (AOO), while operating out of Mazar-e Shariff for the past two and a half years…,” he said.

The AWACS planes started support missions to ISAF in January, 2011. Their mission is to provide air command and control, communications relay and radar coverage in the Afghan airspace making sure planes using Afghan airspace fly at a safe distances between each other. The AWACS also help the smooth conduct of aerial refuelling by guiding fighter jets to their tankers. The enhanced situational awareness provided by AWACS to ISAF air and ground commanders enables better control of close air support assets, surveillance and communications support to ground operations, including medical evacuation operations.

Geilenkirchen’s support to ISAF reflects the evolution within the E-3A Component to meet the demands of NATO Commanders. What was envisioned as a force focused on territorial air defence, is now an airborne command and control capability essential to NATO operations today. Component aircrews are conducting operations in support of ground and special operation forces, a role never envisioned when the Component was started in 1982. The NATO Air Base (NAB) in Geilenkirchen, Germany, is home to 17 E-3A aircraft.

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Top Commander: NATO Key To U.S. Global Force Projection

October 29, 2013 2 comments

United States European Command
October 28, 2013

European Partnerships Vital to Global Security, Breedlove Says
Claudette Roulo, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON: It makes fiscal and strategic sense for the United States to continue to base troops in Europe, the officer who serves as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command said today.

Together, the United States and Europe make up half of the world economy, Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove said in a discussion with reporters at the Pentagon. And even as force structures change due to shifting economic climates, he said, the transatlantic bond will remain strong.

“We’re absolutely connected to these nations militarily,” he said. “After 12 years of fighting together in Afghanistan, we are at the pinnacle of our cohesiveness – at the pinnacle of our interconnectedness.

“Our ability to work together – our tactics, techniques and procedures – are all the same and forged around what is NATO-standard,” Breedlove continued. “And therefore, it is very easy for us to take the field together and do those missions that our nations want them to do.”

The general noted that between 2007 and 2011, EUCOM trained 42,000 NATO and NATO-partner troops to deploy to Afghanistan.

“That’s 42,000 Americans that didn’t have to go to Afghanistan,” he said. “Our ability to remain connected to these armies and these air forces [is] directly related to our force structure in Europe.”

The United States has sharply reduced the number of U.S. forces and facilities in Europe, Breedlove said, noting that EUCOM has shed about 75 percent of its infrastructure since the Cold War ended.

“I believe there is more infrastructure that can be cut,” he added.

However, he said, he doesn’t think there’s more room to cut EUCOM’s force structure.

“We are down now to the point where I believe we are at the right size for the mission that we are being asked to do currently in Europe,” Breedlove said. “If we come down too much more [in] Army structure, that will give us some challenges on the connections that we have to our European partners.”

Those connections have forged longstanding relationships built on trust, the general said. Such relationships are essential to guaranteeing that NATO forces can respond rapidly to a crisis, he noted.

Recent conflicts have reinforced the critical global security role played by European partnerships, Breedlove said. During the intervention in Libya, for example, NATO nations – who have been fighting and training together for years – were able to quickly become operational, he said.

“It took a little longer to assimilate some of our other partners,” the general added.

The access that the United States enjoys in Europe should not be taken for granted, he said. Breedlove noted that in a crisis, all of the forces that operate in North Africa will first come from bases in Europe. Most of the forces that would eventually deploy in such a crisis are shared between EUCOM and U.S. Africa Command, he said, but they are housed on EUCOM bases in EUCOM nations.

“You cannot get to the Middle East without using the lens of the bases and infrastructure in Europe,” he said. “Everything I do, and everything European [that] EUCOM forces do in Europe to support [U.S. Central Command] relies on these bases.”

And the United States has begun asking more of its European allies, Breedlove said. Support of North Africa requires that the U.S. be able to move and base forces “in different ways and places,” he added.

Moving forces around inside sovereign nations is not a trivial matter, the general noted.

“It’s those relationships…that allow us to quickly go to an ally and say, ‘We need to move this special purpose [Marine air-ground task force] to this location to be more responsive to something that’s going on. Can you accommodate?'”

NATO’s imminent challenge is to hold on to these hard-fought gains in cohesiveness as force structures change and the mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, Breedlove said. The United States will deploy with its NATO partners for the foreseeable future, he said, and withdrawing from Europe could weaken transatlantic ties.

“I think Europe is incredibly important to America,” Breedlove said, “and I think that…the long-standing trust relationships in Europe that allow us to project force into Africa [and] that allow us to project force into the Middle East are absolutely key to the future.”

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Alberto Moravia: War destroys all things seen and unseen

October 29, 2013 Leave a comment

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

Italian writers on war and militarism

Alberto Moravia: Selections on war

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Alberto Moravia
From Two Women (1958)
Translated by Angus Davidson

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I had brought her up with love; and like all mothers in this world had taken care that she should know nothing of the ugly things of life because I considered that, once she had left home and got married, she would come to know about these things only too soon. On the other hand I had not reckoned with war, which forces us to know things even when we do not want to, and compels us to have experience of them before the proper time, in a cruel, unnatural manner. Well, that was how it was: Rosetta’s perfection was of a kind that was suitable to peacetime, with the shop going well, and me thinking about putting money together for her dowry, and an honest young man who would love her and marry her and give her children, so that she, after being a model baby and a model girl, could also be a model wife. Her perfection was not of the kind that is suitable to wartime, which demands qualities of a different kind – what, I do not know, but certainly not the qualities that Rosetta had.

***

I can truthfully say that in time of war there is no friend that can be trusted, neither man nor money nor anything else. War throws everything into disorder and destroys, together with things that can be seen, a great many other things that cannot be seen but nevertheless exist.

***

“In wartime things like that do happen, my dear child, and others too.” She was silent for a moment and then said, as if speaking to herself: “I should always rather be among the ones who get killed than among the ones who do the killing.”

***

I recalled this spot as being smiling and pretty, and spacious too, and I confess I was surprised when I saw it now, looking so sad and grey and bare and mean. Have you ever seen a woman without any hair? I have; a girl from my village who had typhus fever and lost part of her hair and had the rest shaved off, down to nothing at all. She looked a different person, she even had a different expression, and she reminded one of a big, ugly egg, with a smooth bald head such as women never have and a face with no hair to shade it so that it looked crushed by a light that was too crude. In the same way, without the thick, green foliage of the three plane trees that shaded Tommasino’s cottage, without the green vegetation that hid the rocks on the banks of the stream, without the plants at each side of the road and in the ditches, which I had not noticed at the time but which must have been there because I now felt the lack of them, without all these things the place seemed of no interest and lost its beauty. Just like a woman if you take away her hair. When I saw it looking so impoverished my heart ached, and it seemed to me the place had a resemblance to our lives at that moment, they too being reduced to nakedness and disillusionment, with the war going on and on without end.

***

He walked quietly along, holding the two horses by their bridles; and on that deserted road in the grey, frozen countryside there was nothing to be seen but him and his horses, and it seemed incredible that this very beautiful young man should be already condemned and should have to die soon, probably by the end of the year. At the fork in the road, where we parted, he said again: “These two horses are all that I have left in life and they’re not even mine.” Then he went off in the direction of the town. We watched him for a moment as he walked away, and I reflected that here was another effect of war. If there had not been a war, this handsome young man would have stayed in his own country and would probably have got married and had a job and become a good, honest man like many others. The war made him leave his country and had made him turn traitor, and now the war was going to kill him and he was already resigned to death and this, among so many terrible things, was perhaps the worst of all, for it was the least natural and the least comprehensible.

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NATO Readies Article Five War Games In The Baltic

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Russian Information Agency Novosti
October 28, 2013

Estonia Sends Over 130 Servicemen to NATO Drills in Poland

TALLINN, October 28 (RIA Novosti) – More than 130 Estonian servicemen flew to Poland Monday morning to take part in a NATO exercise, Estonia’s defense high command said.

About 6,000 servicemen from NATO’s 28 states will participate in Exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013, which will take place in Poland and the Baltic States between November 2 and 6.

The primary purpose of the exercise is to test the command and control elements of NATO’s Response Force, the alliance says.

In late July, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov criticized what he described as the “Cold War” spirit of the NATO exercise, specifically its scenario of rebuffing an act of aggression against Poland under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.

Under Article 5, any attack on a NATO member is considered to be an attack on the alliance as a whole.

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U.S. Army Europe
October 25, 2013

USAREUR to participate in Steadfast Jazz 2013
By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

WIESBADEN, Germany: U.S. Army Europe and Fort Hood, Texas, Soldiers will be working alongside multinational Soldiers from 17 countries for the upcoming NATO exercise Steadfast Jazz 13, in Poland and Norway, Oct. 27 through Nov. 9.

Steadfast Jazz 13 trains participants on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners. It is comprised of a brigade-level command post exercise, computer assisted exercise, and a battalion-level live fire exercise.

“U.S. Army Europe’s participation in Steadfast Jazz 13 is one way we demonstrate our strong national commitment to NATO,” said USAREUR Commander Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell. “As the bulk of NATO forces end or reduce our deployments, it’s in our collective security interest to build on the gains we’ve made in our interoperability and combined operations over twelve-years of war.

The multilateral, multifaceted exercise is designed to enhance combined interoperability between NATO and partner nations in the region. It trains, tests and certifies the NATO Response Force, and allows NATO to test interoperability of member nation forces.

“The U.S. Army’s participation in the upcoming Steadfast Jazz exercise provides an excellent opportunity to build partner capacity and enhance regional cooperation,” said Jeffrey Parmer, the exercise planner for the exercise.

The exercise contains a full spectrum of potential conflict scenarios, including collective defense. It is the latest in the Steadfast series, in which U.S. troops train with NATO and partner nation militaries.

“This type of exercise allows USAREUR’s forward-deployed forces, existing enabling and sustainment capabilities, combined with the employment of our CONUS-based regionally-aligned forces, to maintain those gains and have agile and adaptive capabilities to meet future security challenges,” said Campbell.

1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, also known as the “Ironhorse Brigade,” is European Command’s first Regionally Aligned Force and will have approximately 60 Soldiers participating in the exercise. These Soldiers will form the response cells at the brigade and battalion level, which will be part of the command post exercise.

Regionally Aligned Forces is the U.S. Army’s method for providing trained and specialized Soldiers in the regions they are assigned.

Parmer says that the 250 Soldiers from U.S. Army Europe and the “Ironhorse Brigade” represent the reinvigoration of U.S. participation in the NRF and the enduring U.S. commitment to NATO, Europe, and regional stability and prosperity.

According to NATO officials, the purpose of the NRF is to defend any ally, deploy anywhere and deal with any threat. It is designed to be a highly ready and a technologically-advanced multinational force made up of land, air, and maritime components that the alliance can quickly deploy globally.

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France To Assume Command Of NATO Global Strike Force Land Component

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
October 25, 2013

Rapid Reaction Corps France gears up for new tasks

Next year’s rotation of the command of the land component of the NATO Response Force (NRF) will be assumed by Headquarters Rapid Reaction Corps – France. It just completed a series of demanding training exercises to prepare for final certification, which will take place in Poland in November during Exercise Steadfast Jazz. Once certified, the headquarters will be able to command up to 30,000 personnel.

“I am proud of the team spirit and the positive approach shown throughout the preparation for NRF certification,” says General Philip Van Impe, who runs the Training Division and is coordinating preparations. “That was truly the spirit of the musketeers, as we say in France: all for one and one for all.”

Before being placed on standby and potentially being activated in a crisis, the NRF components must undergo a compulsory 12-month training and certification period, including six months of national preparation. This is immediately followed by a joint preparation phase led by NATO.

The headquarters, based in the historic Citadel of Lille, began preparations in September 2012, with a detailed plan that defined individual and collective training needs, along with concepts and operating procedures.

This training programme was dubbed Citadel Pegasus, and involved intense physical preparation with shooting exercises, first aid and protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents. Exercises were also organised to test the whole process of command post deployment and the expertise required to plan and conduct high-intensity operations.

Ready for Steadfast Jazz

“Allied Land Command in Izmir, Turkey, assessed the training carried out by the Lille Headquarters, and the results are positive,” says General Van Impe. “This is encouraging for the personnel and for all of us. We are ready for Exercise Steadfast Jazz!”

During November’s Steadfast Jazz exercise, the headquarters will face the challenge of training and planning for an operation involving land, air and maritime forces from multiple nations in a complex environment.

“The scenario takes into account the reality of modern operations with the need to act in a joint framework and alongside civilian players such as government and international bodies and non-governmental organisations active in these operational theatres,” says General Van Impe.

“Moreover, Headquarters Rapid Reaction Corps – France will have to address threats linked to cyber attacks and the risk of the use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons,” he adds.

France will deploy the CRBN battalion, the 2nd Dragoons Regiment, to the exercise. Its role will be to give the alert, detect and identify chemical agents and implement decontamination measures.

High readiness

Within 14 days of a decision to commit the NRF, Headquarters Rapid Reaction Force – France must be capable of deploying a command post to the theatre of operations.

“For Exercise Steadfast Jazz, this period must allow for the peacetime constraints of air and rail transport availability,” explains General Van Impe. In this case, the full deployment of the command post, its associated command and information systems and equipment will in fact take about a month.

The first elements have already been deployed, including the teams responsible for transforming the Drawsko camp into a command post. Liaison with the host country, Poland, has been established. The headquarters will therefore be fully autonomous upon arrival. The rest of the personnel, consisting of 350 personnel from 12 different countries, will deploy to Poland by military aircraft along with 5 tonnes of freight.

At the same time, an operations centre has been set up within the Citadel to monitor the deployment.
Planning a concept of operations

Before any deployment to theatre, a concept of operations must be drawn up. Planners play an essential role at this stage.

Captain Virginie Meynard is planning officer for the headquarters’ communications service. Posted to the Citadel in August 2012, she has followed the national preparations for Steadfast Jazz and will deploy to Poland with the rest of the headquarters’ contingent to finalise exercise planning for communication during the manoeuvre.

“In the framework of the Steadfast Jazz exercise scenario, I analyse the media context in theatre and make recommendations to command, taking into account the media risks and opportunities that may arise in field operations,” says Captain Meynard.

Like the other planners in their own specialised fields, she began work on this in May 2013. This is when Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum activated its Joint Operational Planning Group to draw up a concept of operations to address the emerging crisis described by the exercise scenario.

In 2014, she will be on NRF standby and ready to leave whenever and wherever needed. “My family is aware and my bags are ready,” says the Captain. She is no stranger to multinational deployments having previously served in the NATO-led operations in Kosovo in 2006 and in Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012.

A certified multinational headquarters

Headquarters Rapid Reaction Corps – France was created on 1 July 2005. The prestigious Citadel of Lille is listed as a historic monument and was built by Vauban, King Louis XIV’s engineer.

Under French command, the headquarters includes some 425 military personnel – at the time of writing, 18 per cent of staff are from 11 NATO member countries.

The headquarters can receive French and Allied operational reinforcements to allow it to conduct sustained high-intensity operations, raising its crisis establishment to approximately 750 personnel.

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Arnold Zweig: War of all against all, jaded multitudes of death

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment

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

Arnold Zweig: Selections on war

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Arnold Zweig
From Education Before Verdun (1935)
Translated by Eric Sutton

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“I call everything good that prolongs my life and destroys my enemy,” said Kroysing shortly, carefully electing a green pencil to sketch in the position of the new mine-throwers – he had used blue for the German line, red for the French line, and brown for the contours of the country – and continued: “This isn’t a girls’ school. The lies about the spirit of the front and the comradeship of war may be all right, and they may be necessary to keep the show going for the benefit of the chaps behind, and the chaps across the way. Sublime self-sacrifice, you know, excellent pabulum for war-correspondents, members of the Reichstag, and the reading public. But as a matter of fact we all grab all we can reach. It’s a war of all against all – that’s the proper formula.”

“Yes, I’ve felt that,” said little Sergeant Süssman dryly.

“Quite,” said Kroysing, and blinked at him. “And so has every man of us, though not so drastically as you have. And anyone that hasn’t felt it doesn’t know anything about the war.”

***

Surely it was ancient respectable tradition that the soldier should lay hands on what he could while risking his life for the Fatherland? Did their masters do otherwise when they swallowed up whole provinces – Belgium, Poland, Serbia, and that lovely bit of country called the ore-deposit of Longwy-Briey? If a man did not make his fortune out of war, he never did; and what a waste it would have been to let the lovely watches and chains and bracelets and necklaces be melted down when the towns were burned out…

***

To Bertin’s vision, as they thronged the fort, they seemed like animated fragments of the wrecked defences, fragments that looked as though disease had eaten them away and broken down their powers of resistance. The shell-holes were almost edge to edge, though scraps of ochrous turf still remained in the shadows of the ramparts; but the brickwork had everywhere been flung outward into the entrenchments or inwards where it blocked the tunnel mouths. The ramparts were no more than mounds of earth dotted with steel splinters – a strange ruin when compared with the subterranean fortress, still unshaken and impregnable. Unshaken also were the fighting men. They looked like jaded multitudes of death, workers in the factory of destruction, marked with the listlessness that industry and the machine impresses on humanity.

***

“…More lies will be told about this war than any other international shooting-match. The survivors must tell the truth, and some of those who have a story to tell will survive…”

***

“I was with our Rhinelanders in Belgium when force was put upon neutrality and justice. What I saw, and what our men proudly did, as being the whole duty of a soldier, was murder, robbery, outrage, arson, sacrilege – every crime that can burden the soul of man. They did these because they were ordered to do them, and they joyfully obeyed because the devil of destruction had possessed himself of men’s souls – German souls not excepted. I have seen the corpses of old men, women, and children; I was there when towns were burned, merely to terrorize a nation weaker than our own into allowing us to march through their country. As a German I was horror-struck, as a Christian I wept…Not a war of Christian powers against each other, but a barbarian foray into a Catholic land. How can this end without lasting damage to the soul of Germany? Thousands of innocent men murdered; thousands of houses burned; the inhabitants kicked into the flames and priests hanged in their own church towers. Huddled hordes of peasants massacred by machine-guns, bayonets, and rifle butts. And the flood of lies we let loose upon the world in our own defence. The brazen face we showed to a world that knew the truth, in an effort to persuade our own poor country that the Belgian atrocities were a fairy-tale. Me dear man…we have outraged our own soul in a way that only a cultured nation could do…We shall be very sick men when we come out of this war. We shall need a cure that is now beyond our imagining. True, the other nations are not in a position to reproach us – the Americans with their Negroes, the English with their Boer war, the Belgians with the Congo, the French with Tongking and Morocco, and the Russians are hardly guiltless. But that does not acquit us…”

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Georgian Defense Chief Meets With NATO Military Committee

October 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Ministry of Defence of Georgia
October 25, 2013

Meeting with Chairman of NATO Military Committee

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Minister of Defence of Georgia Irakli Alasania met with the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee General Knud Bartels. The meeting was held within the frames of the visit of Defence Minister in Brussels.

Irakli Alasania thanked General Bartels for the contribution provided in the development of Georgian Armed Forces. One of the key topics of discussions were current NATO-Georgia partnership and future cooperation plans. The sides also touched upon the NATO-led international mission in Afghanistan in the post-ISAF period as well as training and assisting Afghan National Security Forces. Minister of Defence and Chief of Military Committee talked on Georgia`s new role in the Afghan mission after 2014.

Minister also held bilateral meetings with Permanent Representatives of Netherlands to NATO Marjanne de Kwaasteniet and Ambassador of France to NATO Mr. Jean-Baptist MATTEI. Irakli Alasania introduced current defence reforms to the foreign diplomats.

The prospects of bilateral military cooperation were discussed during the meeting mainly focused on military education. Memorandum of Understanding will be signed with the Kingdom of Netherlands. Irakli Alasania expressed hope that a fruitful cooperation with Netherlands will continue in future too.

The Minister of Defence the underlined importance of the political support of the European countries to Georgia`s Euro-Atlantic membership aspirations. The sides also talked on the upcoming London and Vilnius summits and Georgia`s possible participation in the missions implemented under the aegis of NATO and EU.

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Ignazio Silone: Resorting to the bloody diversion of war

October 26, 2013 Leave a comment

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

Italian writers on war and militarism

Ignazio Silone: They have been warned of wars and rumors of wars

Ignazio Silone: War with today’s hereditary enemy

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Ignazio Silone
From Bread and Wine (1936)
Translated by Gwenda David and Eric Mosbacher

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The train stopped at every little station and more conscripts got in. Nearly all of them smelled of drink and of the stable. Those for whom there was no room on the seats lay down on the carriage floor. Among them, besides peasants, there must have been builders, mechanics, artisans, but it was impossible to distinguish between them. Poverty had made them all look alike. They all looked ragged young paupers, with bodies molded by generations of famine, scarred by inhuman toil, deformed, tatooed, marked and marked again, by unemployment, alcohol, and epidemics…

By many small signs he was able to distinguish the inhabitants of the villages, those of the plain, those who had descended from their shepherd huts; people whose capacity for suffering was without limit, people inured to isolation, ignorance, and suspicion, to sterile hatred between family and family, to being cheated in isolation, exploited in isolation, insulted in isolation, made miserable in isolation. And now the government bureaucracy, on the brink of bankruptcy, was about to resort to the blood diversion of war. But to do this it had to conscript them, bring them out of their isolation and make them combine. It had to mobilize them and put arms into their hands. One knew how mobilizations of the hungry and poverty-stricken began; how they ended no man could tell…

The country the train passed through was no longer his Marsica, but a new and strange country. It was the Land of Propaganda. Government party war slogans were everywhere, on the train, on the stations, on the telegraph poles, on walls, pavements, trees, public lavatories, church towers, garden gates, bridge parapets, schools, and barracks. Everything belonging to ordinary, humble, everyday life that was able to peep through the rhetorical, artificial landscape that had been superimposed on it looked tamer, more intimidated, more resigned than ever. Forsia was completely unrecognizable beneath its multicolored decorations, its announcements of meetings, its festoons, flags, slogans lauding war and massacre, scrawled in white lead, varnish, tar, or charcoal on every wall…

***

Near the station at Avezzano there was a chemical factory which was now turning out poison gas for civilizing the Abyssinians. That would also be highly inflammable. Perhaps even the illiterate would end by understanding and follow his example.

***

“…When I started explaining that the Church often had to make the best of a bad business in order to avoid worse evils, he interrupted me. ‘The theory of the lesser evil may be valid in a political society, but not in a religious society,’ he said to me. I tried not to argue with him on an abstract level, because the worst heresies are capable of seductively insinuating themselves into abstract discussions. So I replied: ‘Imagine what would happen if the Church openly condemned the present war. What persecutions would descend on its head! What moral and material damage would result!’ You will never imagine what Don Benedetto replied: ‘My dear Don Girasole,’ he said, ‘can you imagine John the Baptist offering Herod a concordat to escape having his head cut off? Can you imagine Jesus offering Pontius Pilate a concordat to avoid crucifixion?'”

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***The*** Military Organization: NATO Prepares For War In “Arabian” Gulf, Middle East

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

The National (United Arab Emirates)
October 22, 2013

Nato must concentrate more on Arabian Gulf to ensure regional security, experts say
Caline Malek

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DUBAI: Nato will have to focus more on issues in the Arabian Gulf to ensure its stability, security experts say.

Counter-terrorism, cyber defence, energy security and weapons of mass destruction are among crucial areas the alliance will have to tackle to improve its relationship with GCC states, the audience at the Nato ICI 2013 conference heard yesterday.

“What’s going on in Iraq and Syria poses serious security threats to the Middle East and the region,” Vural Altay, Turkey’s ambassador to the UAE, said at the meeting, which presented Nato’s approach to the Gulf.

“This necessitates much more collaboration of Nato with regional countries.”

Mr Altay said the partnership needed more engagement from both sides.

Nato is nowadays ‘the’ military organisation’, and beyond that the organisation that can really bring security to all the troubled regions of the world,” he said.

“The first thing that needs to be done is to get rid of some prejudices that exist on both sides.

“Nato should look at this region in a more detailed manner, whereas this region should try to learn more about Nato.

“So more public diplomacy is a must in order to bring this relationship to a higher level.”

Areas that require attention include energy security, piracy and food security.

“Some issues that Nato face include transnational crime, terrorism, cyber-security, weapons of mass destruction and the proliferation part of it, as well as governance,” said Dr Mohammad Amin, vice president of the American University in the Emirates.

“The global security threat has become very pronounced when you look into the current situation and Nato should really assess and look at precisely how they can go about improving it. We have to find out ways so that cooperation can be achieved.”

Dr Amin said promoting security interests on a collaborative form could be the emerging tone.

“Future challenges include counter-terrorism and cyber defence,” he said. “Engagement in security, humanitarian and development challenges must be looked into. We must address common concerns for the stability of the region.”

But Nato said it was ready to develop its Gulf partnerships further in modernising and building defence.

“A challenge will be to develop these areas as well as maritime and energy cooperation,” said Dr Rolf Schwarz, political officer of Mena at Nato’s political affairs and security policy division.

“Cooperation between Nato and the Gulf has evolved and there’s a need to continue building trust.”

But regional experts said more needed to be done.

“You see Nato with all its experience and our region that really needs security and support, and you don’t see much happening,” said Dr Abdullah Baabood, director of Gulf studies at Qatar University.

“There is a need for Nato here in terms of security, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of outreach and public diplomacy.

“There is a need for strategic dialogue – armies, defence structure and establishments welcome Nato – but it’s the political side of things that control them that need to be engaged with more and more.”

Dr Baabood said more focus should be placed on practical cooperation in maritime security and regional challenges.

But Nato officials said there was a need to promote a better understanding of the organisation in the region.

Alessandro Minuto Rizzo, an Italian diplomat who is the president of the Nato Defence College Foundation and former Nato deputy secretary general, said the security guarantee in this part of the world had the “potential to grow with Nato. Security providers are needed in the Gulf”.

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Video: What NATO global wars will look like

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations

October 25, 2013

NATO and partner nations will conduct Exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013 in Latvia and in Poland from 2 – 9 November 2013. The event will mark the culmination of a series of dynamic and demanding exercises designed to train and test troops and commanders from the NATO Response Force (NRF). More in this video (at link above):

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U.S., NATO Shift Operations From Kyrgyz To Romanian Base

October 25, 2013 1 comment

RT
October 19, 2013

US begins shifting Afghan logistics hub from Kyrgyzstan to Romania

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Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld inspecting the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in 2004

The Pentagon has begun transitioning its Afghanistan air logistics base to Romania and plans to complete the shift from Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan by July 2014 when its contract ends.

The announcement of the move to a new air hub in eastern Romania at forward operating site Mihail Kogalniceanu followed a visit to the Pentagon from Romanian Defense Minister Mircea Dusa on Friday.

The site – on the Black Sea whereas the Kyrgyz site was landlocked – has been used by the US since 1999. A 2005 agreement allowed the US to access several Romanian bases for training, storage, and deployments, Reuters reported.

In June, the Kyrgyz Parliament passed a bill that ended the US lease of Manas Transit Center near the country’s capital Bishkek.

The US rented the base near Bishkek for more than a decade as part of logistics support for the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, in order to refuel airlift transports carrying cargo and troops.

In 2009, Kyrgyzstan’s then-President Kurmanbek Bakiev planned to shut down the transportation hub, but instead rebranded it as a transit center in order to allow it to continue operations. This U-turn came after Washington agreed to triple its lease payment to about $60 million a year following Russian promises of $2 billion in loans to the Kyrgyz government.

Bakiev was then ousted in a public uprising, and after a period of turmoil was replaced by newly elected President Almazbek Atambayev. After assuming Kyrgyzstan’s highest office in 2011, he announced that Bishkek does not plan to renew the lease after it expires in July 2014.

The US base has been at the center of several scandals since its opening in 2001, including the fatal shooting of a local man by an American guard at a base checkpoint. The killing was not prosecuted by Kyrgyzstan, as US Military personnel have legal immunity in the country. Critics also voiced concerns over environmental damage and potential threats from US enemies against the stronghold.

In addition, Bishkek took issue with the US paying hundreds of millions of dollars to secretive contractors for fuel supplies. Following the revolt in 2010, the new government accused two contractors – Mina Corp and Red Star Enterprises – of making a deal with the former leader’s son to ensure access to Manas. The agreement with the companies was eventually scuttled upon further scrutiny from Washington.

The US and Romania previously agreed on the construction of a land-based Aegis missile defense system…Work on the system is set to begin later this month.

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Mikhail Sholokhov: Who was he calling for in his hour of death?

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

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

Russian writers on war

Mikhail Sholokhov: Selections on war

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Mikhail Sholokhov
From And Quite Flows the Don (1928-32)
Translated by Stephen Garry

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As the Cossacks marched out of the village they began to fall in with wounded, at first in ones and twos, then in groups of several at a time, at last in entire droves. Several carts filled to overflowing with serious cases dragged slowly along. The mares pulling at the traces were terribly emaciated. Their skinny backs revealed the marks of incessant whipping, and in places the bones showed through the wounds. They hauled the carts along with difficulty, snorting and straining, with their nostrils almost touching the mud. Occasionally one would stop, her sunken sides heaving impotently and her head hanging despondently. A blow of a whip would stir her from the spot, and she would drag on again, swaying from side to side. All around the carts wounded men were clinging, assisting themselves along.

The Cossack company turned off the road and entered the forest. Until evening they were huddled together under the streaming pines. The rain leaked beneath their collars and wandered down their backs; they were forbidden to strike any lights, but in any case it would have been difficult to do in the rain. As dusk was falling they were led off into a trench. Not very deep, hardly more than a man’s height, it was flooded with water and stank of slime, of sodden pine-cones and the moist, velvety soft smell of rain. From the trench the company was led on again through the darkling pine forest. They marched along endeavouring to encourage one another with jest. Someone began to whistle.

In a small glade they came upon a long trail of corpses. The bodies lay flung down shoulder to shoulder in various, frequently horrible and indecent postures. A soldier armed with a rifle, a gas-mask hanging from his belt, stood on guard over them. The Cossacks were led close to the bodies, and they caught the cloying scent of decay already coming from them. The company commander halted the company, went with the troop officers up to the soldier, and stood talking to him for a minute or two. Meantime the Cossacks broke rank and went over to the bodies, removing their caps and staring down at the forms with that feeling of secret, fluttering fear and bestial curiosity which all living beings experience before the mystery of the dead. The bodies were those of officers, and the Cossacks counted forty-seven of them. The majority were youngsters between twenty and twenty-five years old, judging by their looks. Only one on the extreme right, who was wearing the epaulets of a staff captain, was elderly. His mouth was wide open, concealing the mute echoes of his last cry in its yawning depths; above it hung heavy black whiskers; the broad brows frowned across his deathly pallid face. Two or three of them had no covering to their heads. The Cossacks stood staring long at the figure of one lieutenant, handsome even in death. He lay on his back, his left arm pressed against his chest, his right flung out and holding a pistol in an everlasting grip. Evidently someone had tried to take the weapon away; his broad yellow wrist was scratched; but the steel had fused to his wrist and they would never be separated. On his curly flaxen hair was a broken cap. His face was pressed cheek-downward to the earth, as though fondling it, and his orange-bluish lips were contemptuously, amazedly writhed. His right-hand neighbour lay face-downward, his greatcoat hummocked on his back with its tail torn away, revealing his strong legs with their tautened muscles in khaki-coloured trousers and short chrome-yellow boots, the heels twisted to one side. He had no cap, nor had he the upper part of his cranium, for it had been cut clean away by a shard of shrapnel. In the empty brain-pan, framed by damp strands of hair, glimmered rose-coloured rain-water. Next to him laid a stout little officer in an open leather jerkin and a torn shirt. His lower jaw rested crookedly on his bare breast; below the hair of his head glimmered a narrow white band of forehead with the skin burned and shrivelled into a little tube. Between the brow and the jaw were merely pieces of bone and a thick black and crimson mash. Beyond these were carelessly gathered pieces of limbs, rags of overcoats, a crushed leg where the head should have been. Then came a boy with full lips and a charming oval face. A stream of machine-gun bullets had swept across his chest, his greatcoat was holed in four places, and burnt knobs of flesh were sticking through the holes.

“Who – who was he calling for in his hour of death? His mother?” Ivan Alexievich stuttered with chattering teeth, and turned sharply away, stumbling as though blind.

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Baltic: NATO Holds Large-Scale Response Force Combat Drills

October 24, 2013 10 comments

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Transformation

October 23, 2013

NATO Exercise ‘Steadfast Jazz’ Primed and Ready
ACO PAO

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Exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013 is scheduled to commence in Latvia and in Poland on 2nd November. The event that is going to last for a week will be the culmination of a series of dynamic and demanding exercises designed to train and test troops and Commanders from the NATO Response Force (NRF).

The Steadfast series of exercises are part of NATO’s efforts to maintain connected and interoperable forces at a high-level of readiness. To date, 17 exercises have been held in the series, with elements hosted in 14 different countries. The goal is to make sure that NRF troops are ready to deal with any situation in any environment.

The event involves about 6,000 personnel from many Allied [NATO Member] and partner nations. Around 3,000 headquarters personnel from Joint Force Command Brunssum and other headquarters will be involved in a Command & Control exercise on the Adazi Base near Riga, Latvia and at several other headquarters locations across the Alliance. In addition, multinational troops will participate in a live-fire exercise at Poland’s Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area. Air, land, maritime, and Special Forces will also participate from several locations. At the conclusion of the exercise, the headquarters staff from Joint Force Command Brunssum will be officially certified to lead NATO joint operations in 2014.

“The purpose of the exercise is to train and test the NATO Response Force, a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and Special Forces components,” said General Hans-Lothar Domröse, the Commander of Joint Force Command Brunssum. “The live element of Exercise Steadfast Jazz will test the interoperability of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines involved, while the fictional scenario will be equally challenging for those participating in the Command and Control aspects of the exercise,” he said.

The NRF must be able to respond to the full-spectrum of potential missions, including high-intensity combat. This requires exercising complex capabilities employed by interoperable and multinational forces in a demanding environment.

“The NATO Response Force is essential in maintaining and enhancing the ability of forces from across the Alliance to work together,” said General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe. “This will be increasingly important as the ISAF mission in Afghanistan winds-down and NATO prepares to meet future challenges,” he added.

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Kosovo: U.S., NATO, Ex-KLA Troops Drill For Anti-Serb “Crowd Control”

October 24, 2013 Leave a comment

United States European Command
October 24, 2013

525 BfSB and multinational soldiers test readiness at Silver Saber
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Cody Harding 4th Public Affairs Detachment

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CAMP VRELO, Kosovo: U.S. soldiers from Company C, 1st Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, quickly unload their helicopters and with shields and batons in hand, rush towards their staging area.

Just up the road, members from the Kosovo Police and the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) are attempting to calm a growing group of demonstrators. The crowd is becoming increasingly violent and EULEX’s capabilities to disperse the crowd are quickly exceeded.

To help control the escalating situation, EULEX requests assistance from Kosovo Forces and the U.S. soldiers waiting up the road quickly move forward to conduct a relief-in-place with their EULEX counterparts.

Thankfully, the demonstrators here are simply role-players for a training exercise called Silver Saber held at Camp Vrelo Oct. 16. Members from the Kosovo Police, EULEX and KFOR took part in the three-day exercise to help improve the coordination between the different security elements in Kosovo and to test their crowd and riot control capabilities.

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The soldiers from the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade make up part of KFOR’s Multinational Battle Group-East: a multinational task force made up of soldiers from nine different countries as well as National Guardsmen from five states.

Silver Saber brought a number of these KFOR soldiers together with their Kosovo Police and EULEX counterparts to train on crowd and riot control, relieving a multinational unit currently engaged in CRC, breaching various obstacles and medically evacuating a casualty.

U.S. Army Col. David Woods, the MNBG-E and 525th BfSB commander, said this exercise was important because it gave KFOR, who operates as a third responder, the opportunity to work with the other security elements in Kosovo.

“We [KFOR] are in a role as a third responder – and that’s not typical for us,” said Woods, a Denbo, Pa., native. “We are typically the lead and that’s hard for us sometimes to wrap our heads around.”

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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Musil, the noncommisioned officer in charge for Detachment 3, Company C, 1st Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, said another challenge the U.S. soldiers faced was their inexperience in performing CRC as a part of peace support operations.

“Nine months ago, none of us had done anything like this [CRC] before,” said Musil, a Chicago native. “We’re traditionally a light infantry or recon element, so CRC isn’t something we’re used to.”

To help learn escalation the soldiers from the 525th BfSB leveraged the experience and expertise of their multinational partners.

The 525th BfSB soldiers hit the halfway point for their deployment right before Silver Saber, and Woods said he has seen a considerable amount of development within the battle group.

“Our formation has grown significantly,” said Woods. “I’m confident that we are more than prepared and resourced to deal with any circumstance or any situation that presents itself in Kosovo.”

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Russian Diplomacy Stopped Western Invasion Of Syria: Poll

October 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Interfax
October 24, 2013

Russian diplomatic activity prevents foreign invasion of Syria – poll

MOSCOW: Russian citizens are aware of the Russian-U.S. agreements concerning Syria, which are supported by UN resolutions, and think the deal has helped prevent a military operation against Syria, sociologists from the Russian Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) said.

Some 68% of the respondents showed an interest in Syrian events, among them, 15% constantly monitor the developments and 53% do so sporadically. Thirty-one percent have no interest in Syria, the sociologists told Interfax. The poll was held in 130 towns and cities in 42 regions in the middle of October.

It appeared that the Russia-U.S. agreements on Syria were known to 58% of 1,600 respondents, and Muscovites and St. Petersburg residents were better informed than others (78%). Some 41% of the respondents, mostly people in small towns (50%), learned about the deal from the sociologists.

Thirty-six percent of the well-informed respondents said they knew about the decision to scrap Syrian chemical weapons, and 17% knew that the situation had been resolved peacefully. Seventy-seven percent knew that Russia had initiated the agreements.

Twenty-four percent of the respondents said Russia was seeking a peaceful solution to the Syrian problem, 17% noted Russia’s opposition to military operations on Syrian territory, and 15% said that Russia was a leader in the settlement of that conflict. A quarter of the well-informed respondents could not say exactly what the Russian position was about.

Sixty-three percent of the well-informed respondents said the agreements could really stop an international military operation, and 23% argued that an invasion was still possible. Most of such respondents were between 18 and 24 years of age (33%), the sociologists said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of the supremacy of diplomatic measures in the Syrian peace process. “Russia unwaveringly supports the diplomatic approach. Most importantly, this approach gained support of the majority of countries with regard to the complex situation in Syria,” the chief of state said on October 23, while receiving credentials from foreign ambassadors in the Kremlin.

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NATO Warships Exercise With Royal Moroccan Navy

October 24, 2013 Leave a comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Maritime Command

October 23, 2013

NATO Group Exercises with Royal Moroccan Navy

SNMG2- PASSEX - Casablanca  21 OCT 2013 (NATO photo by Flt.SGT ARTIGUES/FRAF)

Yesterday, three ships of Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2) conducted a multi-faceted passing exercise (PASSEX) with the Moroccan frigate SULTAN MOULAY ISMAIL.

This engagement was the culminating event in a port visit to Casablanca that began Saturday and further enhanced a common understanding between Morocco and NATO. The exercise featured high-speed tactical manoeuvring of the ships off the Moroccan coast.

Led in the formation by SULTAN MOULAY ISMAIL, SNMG2 ships ESPS ALVARO DE BAZAN, FGS SACHSEN, and TCG SALIHREIS conducted various tactical and complex manoeuvres at differing speeds and courses in close formation. This precise coordination had been planned between the NATO and Moroccan crews during the port visit.

Aboard the four warships were observers from each of the participating vessels. It was a unique and professionally rewarding experience for the officers involved. They witnessed every manoeuvre from the bridges of the ships…

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Giuseppe Berto: It was a good night for an air raid. Somewhere or other there would be terror and death and destruction.

October 24, 2013 Leave a comment

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

Italian writers on war and militarism

Giuseppe Berto: Selections on war

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Giuseppe Berto
From The Sky Is Red (1946)
Translated by Angus Davidson

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The siren sounded once, then stopped for s few seconds, then sounded again; then again stopped, and sounded again. When the siren stopped for the third time, there were a few moments of absolute silence in the town. Then the men on duty started walking again, and their footsteps echoed in the streets.

Everything had now assumed a shadowy appearance, because the lamps had gone out. The men could scarcely see the dark arches of the arcades, or the line the houses made where the roofs jutted out, or, if they looked down, even their own feet, which looked like mere shadows on the ground. Nevertheless, as they became accustomed to the darkness it seemed to them that the light from the clear sky was stronger now, and now they were able to see many more things. It was a good night for an air raid. Somewhere or other there would be terror and death and destruction.

***

From the skylight came a luminous whiteness like moonlight, but brighter and more diffused and throwing hardly any shadow. In a light so white everything had an evanescent, alien look.

They went down a few steps. The woman walked with difficulty and the man went close beside her, supporting her. Meanwhile the sounds outside became louder. Hundreds of engines were in the sky over the town. Then, in addition, came the sound of falling bombs, like something sucking in the air in a horrible fashion.

The woman realized at once that they were bombs, although she had never heard a noise like that before. It seemed to be right above her head and it became more horrible every moment. First she felt a rush of wind on her face and heard glass breaking, and then every other noise was drowned in the explosion of the bombs. The house shook and the stairs rocked under her feet. She stopped and leant her back against the wall, her arms outstretched. She looked at the man imploringly, with dilated eyes, her mouth wide open so that she looked as if she were screaming.

The man shouted something that was lost in the din, and shook the woman and struck her. She clung to the wall with all her strength, and all the time she looked at him imploringly.

The man made as though to lift her in his arms, but he could not, because now the house was reeling beneath him. Then he too leant with his back against the wall and took the woman in his arms. She suddenly lost all her rigidity and abandoned herself to him, panting, her eyes closed. Ah, that was better, she thought; now she would not mind anything. He held her tightly as though trying to protect her, and he was quite calm, because he had never loved her so much, in all his life.

The last thing of which he was conscious was a hot wind which came up from below and lifted them up against the wall; and the wall at his back slowly, slowly gave way, till it no longer supported them.

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Russia Not Sure NATO Missiles Not Aimed At Nuclear Forces

October 24, 2013 2 comments

Russian Information Agency Novosti
October 23, 2013

Moscow Needs More ‘Predictability’ in NATO Missile Defense Plans

MOSCOW: Russia aims to cooperate with Western powers on security issues but needs guarantees that a US missile shield in Eastern Europe would not target its nuclear forces, Russia’s defense minister said Wednesday.

“We have failed to work jointly on this issue. The European missile defense programs are developing, and our [Russia’s] concerns are not being taken into account,” Sergei Shoigu told journalists after a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels.

“Before launching missile defense projects, we need to have firm judicial assurances that the US missile defense system will not be used against Russian nuclear deterrence forces,” he said adding that Moscow “does not have enough predictability regarding the US and NATO missile defense plans.”

Shoigu also stressed that “mutually beneficial cooperation” would contribute to the strengthening of each state’s security.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said: “It is no secret that we have not yet found the way to work together [in this area].” But “ministerial discussions are valuable in addressing existing concerns, and we need to continue to engage frankly and directly to overcome our differences.”

The US missile defense system in Europe, which NATO and the US say is aimed at countering threats from North Korea and Iran, has been a particular source of friction in US-Russian relations for a number of years.

Russia and NATO formally agreed to cooperate over the European missile defense system at the 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon, but talks foundered, in part over Russian demands for legal guarantees that the system would not target its strategic nuclear deterrent.

In mid-March, the US announced that it was modifying its planned missile defense deployment to Poland, dropping plans to station SM-3 IIB interceptors in the country by 2022.

Russian officials responded by saying this did nothing to allay their concerns over US missile defense in Eastern Europe, and reiterated their demand for legally binding agreements guaranteeing that Russia’s strategic nuclear forces would not be targeted.

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NATO Inches Georgia Into Alliance Pen

October 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Trend News Agency
October 23, 2013

Georgia, Portugal discuss military cooperation
N. Kirtzkhalia

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Tbilisi: Georgian Defense Minister Irakliy Alasaniya within the meeting of Defence Ministers in NATO Headquarters in Brussels holds bilateral meetings with foreign counterparts. In particular, he met with the Portuguese Defence Minister Jose Pedro Aguiar Branco.

As the Georgian Defense Ministry told Trend on Wednesday, the sides discussed prospects of cooperation between the two countries in the military sphere. Irakliy Alasaniya offered to his Portuguese counterpart to cooperate in military education . The Portuguese Defence Minister became interested in cooperation in the military-technical sphere as well.

Irakliy Alasaniya thanked his counterpart for political support and participation in the EU observation mission.

The ministers of the two countries have paid special attention to the upcoming summits in London and Vilnius.

“We discussed the prospects for Georgia’s accession to NATO. Portugal supports Georgia’s course of Euro-Atlantic integration. Following all today’s meetings, the upcoming summit will be productive for Georgia, and another step will be taken on the way to our integration into NATO. We also discussed future operations in Afghanistan and cooperation which is expected in this format with the NATO member countries,” Alasaniya said.

Earlier, he held a meeting with his Greek counterpart during which he thanked Dimitrios Avramopoulos for support in the process of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic Integration.

The sides noted the importance of the EU observation mission. Nine Greek officers work in the EU observation mission in Georgia.

The Georgian Defense Minister proposed to use Sachkhersky mountain training base for summer and winter courses for Greek militaries.

Irakliy Alasaniya will also take part in the North Atlantic Council of NATO non-member countries participating in the ISAF mission. As part of the ministerial, he will meet with the head of the alliance’s military committee, General Knut Barthel and the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai.

Irakliy Alasaniya to hold bilateral meetings with Foreign Ministers of Albania and other courtiers in the region in NATO headquarters.

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Interview: After 70 years, Germany And Japan Meet In Georgia

October 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia
October 23, 2013

After 70 years, Germany and Japan meet in Georgia – Rick Rozoff

Audio

As the US and NATO begin to pull out of Afghanistan what might wonder and attempt to fathom what they have achieved by invading and occupying the country for over a decade. According to Voice of Russia regular Rick Rozoff, the owner and manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list, the entire campaign has been a debacle. Mr. Rozoff is another voice repeating what has clearly been discovered to be the US strategy in the Middle East: import murderous terrorists and Al-Qaeda fanatical mercenaries into a country and use them to destroy it and divide it up.

Hello, this is John Robles, I am speaking with Rick Rozoff, the owner of Stop NATO and the Stop NATO international mailing list.

Rozoff: The US supports what are clearly unprovoked, armed attacks by insurgents who are in most instances based in outside countries, usually contiguous ones but not necessarily, and then they launch what are just murderous raids inside the country. When the government then takes measures to protect the civilian population and government personnel including elementary letter carriers or school teachers or police officers.

They are then accused of disproportionate use of force, of gross human rights violations and then the US, increasingly now and recent years under the so-called Responsibility to Protect proviso, then intervenes militarily on behalf of these armed brigands and bandits, calling them rebels in most cases. That’s what happened in Libya.

So what you had was for 19 days the fairly recently inaugurated US Africa Command, that’s the first overseas regional military command created by the United States since the end of the Cold War, we should note, has to then be tried out, has to be tested and it was. For 19 days they launched so-called Operation Odyssey Dawn and absolutely blistered Libya with Tomahawk cruise missile attacks, bombing raids, Hellfire missiles and drones, without any…long surpassing any pretense of their intervening to protect the civilian population, and then NATO picks up under Operation Unified Protector and launches something like 30,000 air sorties over the country, almost 10,000 combat sorties.

This is a small country of six million people. And this goes on for six months, of concentrated NATO air bombardment. And the end result is, not surprisingly, people like ourselves warned people exactly what was going to come out of this, which is what we see now: is that the country is divided into three basically, based on tribal and other differences, that rival militias and little armed groupings that may vary from day to day in terms of their allegiance or their composition are fighting over the spoils.

But at the same time, again, NATO was reiterated, just in recent weeks in the last two or three weeks, NATO has reiterated they’re prepared (NATO is prepared) to provide military training and guidance to the armed forces of Libya, where there are no armed forces of Libya, you indicated that in your comment.

So what you have instead is something, almost like the Thirty Years’ War in Europe in the early 1600s: Rival groups of looters fighting for dominance in a given area.

Robles: Let’s not denigrate the Libyan people too much here because I mean, there is an army in Libya. I mean it’s fragmented, it’s weak but there is a loyal core army in Libya but they are having a very difficult time fighting all these groups that were armed to the teeth.

Rozoff: Then NATO steps in and arms them and trains them, much as they did with the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, and they walk in and they train a central army, central armed forces in Libya, to fight the very same Islamic extremists that you indicated, that they bombed the country on behalf of for six months.

Robles: About NATO and Georgia, now it seems like they are focusing very closely on Georgia. Where do you see that going? Japan has been there recently. A post on your site says that they are going to be included in the Global Strike Force. Can you tell us about that?

Rozoff: Yes, Georgia remains a major linchpin for US and NATO interests. In the words of various pro-US Georgian officials, really proxies, like Mikhail Saakashvili, who has repeatedly referred to his country as being the gateway between Europe and Asia, which in fact it is geographically, and politically perhaps less so, but the intent is, the geopolitical purpose of Georgia, is to plant the US and its NATO allies squarely really where not only Europe and Asia meet but Europe and Asia and the Middle East meet with Africa not too far away, and of course we know there has been a whole series of pipelines: gas, natural gas, rail lines, other fairly strategic enterprises under way, or projects under way, of which Georgia is the pivot or the centerpiece. But what is happening most recently is just today one of the NATO websites announced that Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announced Georgia will now join the NATO Response Force to bring this discussion full circle. That is, the global military expeditionary force that NATO is crafting, even though Georgia, of course, is not a full member of NATO at this point.

The other allusion you make is even more fascinating. The fact that the Japanese delegation met with the Defense Ministry, meet at the Defense Ministry in Georgia and the photograph on the Ministry of Defense of Georgia’s website showed a Japanese officer in a military uniform shaking hands with the defense minister of Georgia.

Japan has insinuated itself into Georgia for energy purposes. You know that ultimately the oil and natural gas that’s to flow from the Caspian Sea through Georgia into the Eastern Mediterranean or Eastern Europe…

Robles: Yeah, but Japan?

Rozoff: … could also go in the opposite direction, into East Asia.

Robles: I suppose. Very strange to see Japan in Georgia, I was quite astounded by that.

Rozoff: Well, this is where Japan and Germany finally link up, how many years later, almost 70 years later. Whatever they had intended during World War II, here they meet in the Caucasus. The German military influence already established there and a Japanese military official, that was the phenomenal thing about that photograph.

Had they even simply sent a civilian in Japanese defense (so-called Self-Defense Force), their equivalent of a defense ministry, over there, that’s one thing, but to send a military official suggests something is on their mind and in the post-Afghanistan world, post-Afghan war world, NATO in it’s own words -and I’m roughly paraphrasing it – is looking for some way of applying the lessons of Afghanistan elsewhere in the world and the Caucuses, the South Caucuses may indeed be where they intend to move.

Robles: The lessons of Afghanistan? A more than decade long quagmire!? What lessons are there to be applied? I think the main lesson to be applied is fight for peace and keep the soldiers at home. And stop invading other countries.

Rozoff: That’s how a sensible and sane and humane person would look at it, that’s precisely why NATO views it from the opposite perspective, and what NATO officials talk about, Rasmussen in the first place, is Afghanistan. This is something I’ve contended from the very beginning and we do have to note that as of October 7th, that is at least hear in Chicago three days ago, we are now in year 13 of the US and NATO war in Afghanistan. Year 13.

Robles: It’s longer than Vietnam already.

Rozoff: It has been for a while, but this is certainly the longest war in American history. It’s NATO’s first war in Asia. It’s NATO first ground war.

Prior to this NATO essentially waged air wars over the Bosnian Serb Republic and then in Yugoslavia in 1999, but what NATO officials are alluding to is the fact that under the structure of the International Security Assistance Force, that NATO took over shortly after the invasion of the country, that troops from over 50 countries, over 50 countries were integrated into a common military command under NATO leadership and that’s something that the world has not taken note of sufficiently in my estimate, and it’s a fact that NATO in fact has reached that degree of integrating a global military force. And when the NATO officials talk about deriving the necessary lessons and so forth from Afghanistan that’s what they are talking about. They are talking about the ability to put out an integrated military command including troops in over a quarter of the countries in the world.

Robles: Another point I think that no one is paying attention to though: I would say, Afghanistan, was a complete failure.

Rozoff: Yeah, it has been a debacle, it truly has. You know, for a while I think there was a fallback position which was: the US and company didn’t want to win the war, they wanted to maintain military presence in that general area, but now it looks like they may well leave with their tails between their legs. And hundreds of thousands of Afghan people killed, maimed, displaced, traumatized, an entire generation of Afghan children who in many parts of the country never been to school, have no future. This is the legacy that they are going to leave behind. And they could leave, callously indifferent to the consequences of their intervention. But you know, the Afghan people are going to bear the consequences, of course.

Robles: Okay, Rick, I really appreciate you speaking with me.

Rozoff: Yes, thanks for the opportunity. I appreciate it. What I said about the invigorating conversations, the sort creating new ideas is absolutely the truth.

Robles: Thank you very much, Rick. I really appreciate it.

Categories: Uncategorized

Georgia, Missiles Cyber Warfare: NATO Continues Encirclement Of Russia

October 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Ministry of Defence of Georgia
October 22, 2013

NATO Defence Ministerial in Brussels

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NATO HQ is hosting a Defence Ministerial on October 22-23.

Defence Minister of Georgia Irakli Alasania will participate in the Ministerial.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will open the working session.

Cyber defence, NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence system and ISAF international mission are on top of the agenda of the two-day NATO Defence Ministerial.

Within the framework of the Ministerial, Irakli Alasania is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee General Knud Bartels, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai, the minister’s foreign counterparts and ambassadors of various countries to NATO.

Categories: Uncategorized

Arnold Zweig: Keep the war going to the last drop of – other – people’s blood

October 23, 2013 Leave a comment

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

Arnold Zweig: Selections on war

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Arnold Zweig
From The Crowning of a King (1937)
Translated by Eric Sutton

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After seven o’clock a special permit was needed for such citizens as wanted to be out and about; the pretence being that this was enemy territory, as a bright young soldier like Lebede had long since realized. Some affected to believe it, some jeered or shrugged their shoulders; there was also a pretence, thought Lebede as he ran, that these occupying troops were a belligerent army, whereas they were no more than civilians under arrest, a nation pressed into war service by the ruling classes: princes, manufacturers, officials, officers, Junkers, bankers, professors, pastors, journalists, and their wives and satellites. They stood in with one another that they might get power and keep it; there were quarrels among them, but in actual fact they balanced one another like two teams in a tug-of-war which pull back and forward, back and forward, yet never let go. Not until one side lets go, and the other side falls backwards, is the rope clear and then perhaps something sensible can be done with it.

***

“Can it be that you are after a little job here, and mean to keep the war going to the last drop of – other people’s blood; and by other people, I mean the Müllers, the Schulzes, the Levys and the Lehmanns?” Winfried blushed at the recollection of certain pleasant dreams and prospects held out to him a little while ago by an old gentleman in bed. Bertin took this blush as a mark of the young officer’s shame at a world in which such brigands could sate themselves with conquest, outraging humanity and mishandling the spirit that was Germany, the eternal achievements of a great people, its technical gifts, its dumb devotion, and its good faith.

***

It was not long ago in Kovno. There, on the street, he had met an apparition, a spectre. He was trotting off to his office, when he was confronted by a lanky form in a blue cloak with high red collar, black breeches, varnished boots, and a high peaked cap with a tall silver cockade; a Guard officer in peacetime array. The purple tunic reached to above the knee, and the hands, the gloved hands, were thrust into a muff, a muff of marten or fitchew fur, hanging from the neck in proper feminine fashion. The passers-by grinned, the school-children nudged one another with bony elbows, the market-women gaped and recoiled, their hands firm clasped beneath their aprons; the ruddy-cheeked Guard Officer from Ober-Ost, this light red, light blue apparition with the silver epaulets and trailing sabre, did not notice. His pale eyes glanced a sleepy acknowledgement to Bertin’s salute, and he disappeared into the frosty morning mist of Wilhelmstrasse, while Bertin the clerk was already sitting at his writing-desk, deeply concerned to understand what he had seen: the image of a conqueror. “Something seemed to snap inside my head, Lebede. For such as him we had been sweating all these years, abandoned our work, our future, our intellectual life, and our women, so that a fellow like this could prance around like a stork in a clover field. For such as him we had lost so many comrades, who had stood beside us while they were still living men…”

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Romania: Pentagon Chief Consolidates Military Presence On Black Sea

October 22, 2013 1 comment

United States European Command
October 18, 2013

Hagel, Romania’s Defense Chief Reach Significant Agreements
American Forces Press Service

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Standard Missile-3 launch

WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Romania’s Minister of Defense Mircea Dusa today at the Pentagon, a meeting that produced a number of significant agreements, which Pentagon Spokesman George Little said will enhance the strong and productive partnership the U.S. enjoys with Romania.

Among the agreements reached Little said, is for Romania to support logistics in and out of Afghanistan, including both personnel and cargo movement.

“Secretary Hagel praised this agreement, which is particularly important as the U.S. prepares to wind down transit center operations at Manas, Kyrgystan, next year,” Little said in a statement issued after the meeting. “Secretary Hagel highlighted this agreement as a further testament to Romania’s steadfast commitment to the ISAF mission and its commitment to regional and international security,” he added.

In addition, Little said Hagel thanked Romania for its decision to host the Aegis Ashore missile defense system, emphasizing that the agreement reaffirms and strengthens the collective defense upon which NATO was founded. “This system represents an important component of the larger European Phased Adaptive Approach and is expected to be operational in 2015.” At Hagel’s direction, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James N. Miller will attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Aegis Ashore system at Deveselu later this month.

Little said Hagel further praised Romania’s decision to purchase 12 F-16 aircraft from Portugal. He added that this significant investment in air superiority capabilities will open the door for greater regional collaboration and will be valuable to future NATO and coalition operations.

“Secretary Hagel reaffirmed that Romania is one of the United States’ staunchest allies. The two leaders also agreed to look for ways to expand our strong military cooperation as well as to support Romania’s efforts to become a leader in the region and in NATO.”

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After Twelve Years Of Afghan Training: NATO Increases Global Combat Readiness

October 22, 2013 1 comment

Stars and Stripes
October 21, 2013

As Afghanistan war ends, NATO shifts focus to preparation for future ops
By John Vandiver

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STUTTGART, Germany: As NATO shifts away from a war-fighting footing with the end of combat operations in Afghanistan approaching, the alliance must find new, more affordable ways to maintain combat readiness, according to NATO’s commander of land forces.

“In order to prevent that [post-war] drift into our own little corners, you’re going to see a reinvigorated exercise program,” Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges, who oversees NATO’s land forces, said in a telephone interview on Thursday.

On Monday, NATO Allied Land Command held a ceremony at its headquarters in Izmir, Turkey, to mark the one-year anniversary of merging the responsibilities of separate Force Commands in Heidelberg, Germany, and Madrid, Spain. In the year ahead the Izmir headquarters is expected to become fully operational in its mission to ensure the readiness of NATO forces.

Now, Hodges is looking for ways to ensure NATO’s land forces retain all the lessons learned during more than a decade of fighting in Afghanistan. Going forward, the key will be finding affordable ways to sustain the alliance “interoperability,” Hodges said.

“What we want to do in Europe is connect our existing NATO training centers and connect them” with the U.S. training grounds in Grafenwöhr, Germany,” Hodges said.

With facilities in places such as Norway, Poland, Turkey and Germany all connected into the same NATO network, opportunities for more collaboration among armies should increase, Hodges said. That would also cut down on costs by reducing the amount of travel necessary, he said.

“We need to make the case that doing this is cheaper and more efficient in the long run,” Hodges said “If we’re going to fight together, we need everybody on the same net.”

Hodges said it will take a couple of years to get such technology to all the training centers, but work is underway.

For NATO, achieving total “interoperability” has long been elusive. Commanders complained that training standards differed, available ammunition didn’t always correspond to the types of tanks and guns being used, aerial tankers from one country could not refuel warplanes from another, and field radios could not communicate with each other, causing a range of organizational and logistical problems and degrading combat readiness.

Now, with NATO’s long campaign in Afghanistan nearing conclusion next year, the alliance has made strides in how it fights together, Hodges said. As NATO shifts to a contingency footing, it also will put increased focus on the NATO Response Force, a multi-national force capable of conducting rapid crisis response operations.

“That means the NATO Response Force is going to be much more important in the scheme of things,” Hodges said. “I anticipate a lot more visibility on it.”

Approved by NATO in 2003, the NRF has struggled with manning, and U.S. interest has been negligible.

That appears to have changed as the U.S., for the first time, has dedicated forces — Army elements based out of Fort Food, Texas — to the Response Force.

Still, the overall U.S. military presence is on the decline in Europe, which has prompted questions about U.S. commitment to the region. Hodges contended the Army’s new commitment of sending U.S.-based troops on rotational training missions to Europe, coupled with its commitment to the NATO Response Force, should counter concerns that the U.S. is moving away from Europe.

“It’s reasonable to expect some skeptics as well as some worry, but there are still 30,000 U.S. Army personnel in Europe,” Hodges said. “That’s bigger than the militaries of many alliance members.”

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NATO Defense Chiefs Discuss Further Integration After Afghan War

October 22, 2013 Leave a comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
October 22, 2013

Defence Ministers discuss ways to enhance NATO forces training, exercises

nato-planes

NATO Defence Ministers will discuss ways to bolster and improve the training, education and exercises of Allied forces at the start of a two-day ministerial on Tuesday (22 October 2013) which will also review progress on cyber defence, ballistic missile defence and capabilities. “We will discuss our approach to our training and exercises, to build on the lessons we have learned in two decades of operations as Allies as and with partners” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

The Secretary General, who will chair the meetings, said improving the training, education and exercises of NATO forces through the Connected Forces Initiative will ensure the Alliance “is ready and able to address twenty-first century challenges.” The initiative is to ensure NATO forces stay strong, ready and connected after the completion of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

Defence Ministers will also discuss cyber defence –“our constant efforts to protect our own networks, and how the Alliance should address this growing threat through an enhanced cyber defence”, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen told the media before the opening of the NATO Ministerial.

On Wednesday (23 October 2013), the NATO-Russia Council will meet to look at ways to expand practical cooperation. “This will be a good opportunity to take a broad look at our practical cooperation, which is greater than ever. We are making significant steps in areas such as counter-terrorism and support for the Afghan forces”, the Secretary General stressed.

He added that “this is also a good opportunity to discuss areas where we have not reached agreement such as missile defence. NATO has invited Russia to cooperate in this field, and that offer stands”.

The same day, NATO Defence Ministers will meet with their ISAF partners and their Afghan counterpart to discuss progress in Afghanistan. “Afghan forces are now in the lead, showing courage, confidence and increasing capability. And we will advance planning for a post-2014 mission to train, advise and assist them as part of our enduring partnership”.

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Mediterranean Mission: NATO AWACS Visit Malta

October 22, 2013 Leave a comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations

October 22, 2013

A combined task for NATO AWACS: Operation Active Endeavour and Malta International Air Show
Staff Sgt. Richard Longoria

Nato_awacs

VALLETTA, Malta: NATO AWACS has been patrolling the Mediterranean Sea on a regular basis in support of NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour (OAE) since December 2009.

OAE is part of NATO’s multi-faceted response to current terrorist threats. The mission is to conduct maritime operations in the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar to actively demonstrate NATO’s resolve to help defend and protect against terrorism by deterring and disrupting it.

Earlier this month, it was Squadron Two’s turn to cover the assigned sectors of the Mediterranean Sea.

When doing so, NATO AWACS collects valuable information which helps build the maritime surface picture for NATO commanders. This time, the OAE had an out-of-the-ordinary Op-Stop on Sept. 28-29 in Malta, a small island-state located south of Sicily. The reason: participation in the 2013 Malta International Air Show with the E-3A on static display.

The second part of the OAE mission started with an early show time on Monday for the Squadron Two crew. The E-3A aircraft is well equipped for these missions with its radar tuned to maritime mode, the Automated Identification System, and CHAT capability in place. The information collected by NATO AWACS is transmitted directly to the Allied Maritime Command Headquarters in Northwood, United Kingdom, where data from various contributors are fused into a recognized maritime surface picture.

Major Charles Riffou, the tactical director and deployment commander, explains, “The data that we collect during these missions completes the picture of ship movements in the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar. Together with the information obtained from our other onboard sensors, we can plot the location, heading and speed of unidentified vessels in our area of responsibility and take appropriate action such as vectoring other assigned flying assets to take a closer look. The mobility of the E-3A allows enhanced coverage in areas less visited by allied forces…”

Surveillance Operator Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Obers explains, “It is our task to identify ships. If our system detects a vessel but cannot identify it, and we don’t get a positive reply, we ask NATO assets to visually go check the situation…”

The navigator on the flight deck performs an important function in this. During this mission it is navigator Lt. Col. Patric Wurmbach who explains, “I operate the navigation systems and solve navigation problems if they occur. I’m coordinating constantly with the mission crew and the aircraft commander about the route of the flight and whether it is in line with the mission tasking. Fuel availability, alternate and emergency airfields and weather updates are also tracked.”

Since December 2009, the E-3A Component has flown more than 2,000 hours in support of NATO’s OAE.

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Mediterranean: NATO Warships Dock In Morocco

October 22, 2013 Leave a comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Maritime Command

October 21, 2013

Standing NATO Maritime Group Ships arrive in Casablanca for Port Visit

SNMG2 conducts port visit in Casablanca

Three NATO ships assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2) arrived in Casablanca for a scheduled port visit last weekend.

Under the command of Rear Admiral Eugenio Díaz del Río, Spanish Navy, the Group includes the Spanish flagship ESPS ALVARO DE BAZAN, FGS SACHSEN of the German Navy and TCG SALIRHEIS of the Turkish Navy.

“We are very happy to be visiting Casablanca,” said Díaz del Río. “Morocco is a valued partner in the Mediterranean Dialogue, and we appreciate every opportunity we have to engage with our Moroccan Navy counterparts. Working together in peace better enables us to jointly tackle crisis situations in a cohesive, rapid, and effective manner.”

During the visit, the NATO forces will exercise together with the Moroccan Navy, conducting personnel exchange visits in port. The port visit will also mark a welcome break for the crew of SNMG2, which has been operating at a very high tempo during the past few weeks.

In addition to supporting the counter-terrorism Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR (OAE), the Group has just completed participation in the major maritime exercise BRILLIANT MARINER, a multinational force of 21 ships and submarines that worked together to ‘stress test’ the crisis reaction capabilities of the NATO Response Force (NRF). Upon departing Casablanca, SNMG2 will return to the Mediterranean to resume support to OAE, actively deterring threats to maritime security and trade.

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Frigyes Karinthy: Lost his mind on the battlefield, thought he knew what he was fighting for

October 22, 2013 1 comment

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

Frigyes Karinthy: Started war of self-defense by attacking neighbor

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Frigyes Karinthy
From Voyage to Faremido
Gulliver’s Fifth Voyage (1916)
Translated by Paul Tabori

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At the beginning of the war our ship was not engaged in any fighting. We took on board some wounded off the French coast and transported them to England. As a surgeon, I consequently acquired extremely interesting and useful experience. I think I can speak for all my colleagues when I state that there is nothing more conducive to the development of the fine art of surgery than a modern war which provides with its innumerable weapons, machine-guns, hand-grenades, mortars, fragmentation bombs, dum-dum bullets and poisoned darts medical cases, each more interesting than the other, each new and individual and all contributing to the instruction and enlightenment of any industrious surgeon. In this instance alone I met with no less than thirty-four unusual external and internal fatal injuries and diseases which had never figured before in any medical encyclopaedia, and I can claim without any false modesty that my notes and records made a considerable contribution to medical science. There were broken bones, shattered livers, extruded intestines and gouged-out eyes. There was a man whose face and chest had swollen to a barrel’s dimensions because his windpipe had been transfixed by a bullet, and the air penetrated half into his lungs and half under his skin; and another whose left arm had withered because a shell splinter had destroyed the artery of his right shoulder. There was no dearth of bullet, cut and stab wounds; and there were several cases of considerable physiological importance, demonstrating the amazing strength of the human jaw when the area around the neck muscles is damaged. Though, strictly speaking, it was not my special field, I also noted some interesting neuro-pathological case-histories. For instance, one of my patients was a Japanese soldier (for, as we all know, we called in the Japanese to help us save European culture) who had lost his mind on the battle-field – he had the fixed idea that he knew what he was fighting for.

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NATO To Create Libyan Proxy Army

October 21, 2013 1 comment

Stars and Stripes
October 21, 2013

NATO to help set up new Libyan military
By Cid Standifer

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany: NATO said on Monday it would help Libya rebuild a functioning military amid warnings about worsening turmoil in the country.

“We will establish a small advisory team to conduct this effort,” said a statement released by Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “(We) stand ready to consider providing assistance to Libya in areas where the Alliance can add value.”

The statement said NATO will respond “positively” to Libya’s request to provide advice on the building of defense structures.

Libya, which has barely had a functioning state since the fall of the Moammar Gadhafi regime in 2011, requested NATO’s help in May to set up its new armed forces.

NATO’s air support was instrumental in helping rebels overthrow Gadhafi’s regime. During a seven-month campaign NATO warplanes flew thousands of attack sorties against regime forces, eventually grinding them down and allowing the rebels to enter the capital Tripoli in October 2011. That same month Gadhafi was captured and killed following a NATO airstrike on his fleeing convoy.

But since then the security situation in Libya has grown increasingly chaotic, with armed militias and Islamist extremists controlling various parts of the nation and ignoring the weak central government in Tripoli. The authorities have sought to disarm the militias by paying them to hand in their weapons.

On Oct. 10, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was captured and briefly detained by an armed group in the capital. This came in the wake of a U.S. special operations raid there that captured and whisked away an accused al-Qaida operative.

Rasmussen said after Zeidan’s kidnapping and release that the alliance had already sent a team to Libya to assess conditions on the ground.
“I think it is clear to everybody that something needs to be done to ensure security in Libya,” Rasmussen said in a press conference from Brussels.

In September, Zeidan told CNN, “Libya is not a failing state. The state of Libya doesn’t exist yet. We are trying to create a state. And we are not ashamed of that.”

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Lithuania: NATO Opens New Headquarters For Baltic Air Patrols

October 21, 2013 1 comment

Lithuania Tribune
October 21, 2013

New headquarters of NATO’s Air Policing mission opened in Šiauliai Air Base

On 18 October a new headquarters building was opened at Šiauliai Air Base of the Lithuanian Air Force for NATO’s Air Policing mission in the Baltic States, the Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania has informed.

The new object, a part of the vital infrastructure of NATO’s Air Policing mission, will ensure more convenient service conditions for air contingents deployed to protect the Baltic airspace.

The building covering over 1,000 m2territory is located in the Quick Reaction Area (QRA) where NATO fighter-jets stand on duty and scramble in case of a necessity. It houses facilities for fighter-jet pilots on duty and technical personnel who prepare aircraft for take-offs, also offices, and other premises.

Financing of approximately five million litas for the constructions was allocated from the funds the Lithuanian Government Budget and NATO Security Investment Programme. The part of financing covered from the Government Budget amounted to LTL 3.7 million and from the NATO funds – to LTL 1.3 million. Contractor JSC ‘Konsolė’ implemented the constructions within one year.

The development project for the infrastructure of Šiauliai Air Base of the Lithuanian Air Force commenced in 2004 when personnel and assets of the first NATO Air Contingent were deployed to carry out NATO’s Air Policing mission.

Since then four hangars, aircraft shelters, emergency arrestor gear on the main runway, and auxiliary runways stretching to the main landing strip have been built to ensure the infrastructure necessary for conducting NATO’s Air Policing mission.

In addition to the objects for NATO’s Air Policing mission the basic infrastructure of the Air Base used for national and contributing allies’ needs has been renovated too: the main and auxiliary runways have been reconstructed, platforms for military and transport aircraft, operational centre for the air squadron, munitions storehouse, grounds for loading and removing aircraft weapons, engine testing, fighter-jet parking, new roads for accessing the Air Base have been constructed, etc.

New maintenance equipment has been acquired for fighter-jets and the Air Base to improve its infrastructure and the quality of the Host Nation Support rendered: fire-fighting and quick medical aid, snow blowers and loader vehicles, equipment for jet- fuelling, aircraft landing, and other.

The major portion of investment into the development of the infrastructure at Šiauliai Air Base has been made from the NATO Security Investment Programme so far – in 2004–2012 it amounted to approximately LTL 121.5 million, and respectively – to LTL 59.9 million from Lithuania’s Government Budget.

Lithuanian companies ‘Šiaulių Plentas’, ‘Panevėžio statybų trestas’, ‘Konsolė’, and others, have contributed to the infrastructure development projects for Šiauliai Air Base.

As the renovation of the Air Base is planned to be continued till 2015, a jet-fuel storage is planned to be built for enhancing Lithuania’s capacity to accept strategic allied capabilities at the Air Base. A new railway siding is also planned appear for fuel transportation and new electricity lines to supply the storage. A sports grounds and facilities for accommodation of air personnel deployed on the Baltic Air Policing mission throughout the rotation period will be installed in the future to provide better service conditions.

Since early 2004 NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission has already been carried out by 33 rotations, the majority of countries delegated their troops to protect the Baltic skies more than once. The Baltic Air Policing mission was extended indefinitely in 2012.

On October 18 a combat flag will be bestowed on a unit at a formal ceremony at the Air Base of the Lithuanian Air Force.

The headquarters building will formally opened and the combat flag bestowed on the Air Base in the presence of the Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas, Commander of the Lithuanian Air Force acting Chief of Defence Major General Edvardas Mažeikis, Commander of the LITHAF Air Base Col Vidmantas Raklevičius, representatives of various embassies and other guests.

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Jean-Paul Sartre: When the rich fight the rich, it is the poor who die

October 21, 2013 2 comments

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

Jean-Paul Sartre: They lift their heads and look up at the sky, the poisonous sky

Jean-Paul Sartre: When staging a massacre, all soldiers look alike

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Jean-Paul Sartre
From The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)
Translated by Kitty Black

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ARCHBISHOP: No, no! No details! Especially, no details. A victory described in detail is indistinguishable from a defeat…

***

THE WOMAN: Nasti! Nasti, the baker!

NASTI: What do you want?

THE WOMAN: Baker, my child is dead. You must be able to say why, you who know everything.

NASTI: Yes – I know.

HEINRICH: Nasti, I implore you, say nothing. Woe to those through whom evil comes to pass.

NASTI: He died because the rich burghers of our city revolted against the Archbishop, their very rich overlord. When the rich fight the rich, it is the poor who die.

THE WOMAN: Was it God’s will that they should wage this war?

NASTI: God has forbidden them to wage it.

THE WOMAN: This man says nothing happens except by the will of God.

NASTI: Nothing, except evil, which is born of the wickedness of man.

HEINRICH: Baker, you lie. You are confusing the false and the true in order to betray the souls of men.

NASTI: Dare you assert that God permits this mourning and this useless suffering? I say that God is innocent of our sins.

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Enhanced Integration: NATO Warships Dock In Finland

October 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Finnish Broadcasting Company/YLE News
October 19, 2012

Watch: NATO anti-mine vessels on show

Six anti-mine vessels from the military alliance NATO docked in Helsinki this weekend. Members of the public were able to board the vessels for a close-up view.

The mine-seekers hail from the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Germany and Estonia and all docked at Helsinki’s Katajanokka harbour for the weekend.

The routine visit is being hosted by Finland’s Naval Academy and will see the vessels replenish their stores and give the 260 crew members on the board the ships much needed shore leave.

According to the Finnish Navy the NATO fleet will participate in joint operational exercises with their Finnish counterparts before continuing on to Poland and Germany Monday.

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Erich Maria Remarque: The war has ruined us for everything

October 20, 2013 Leave a comment

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

Erich Maria Remarque: Selections on war

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Erich Maria Remarque
From All Quiet on the Western Front (1929)
Translated by A.W. Wheen

kinopoisk.ru

These first minutes with the mask decide between life and death: is it air-tight? I remember the awful sights in the hospital: the gas patients who in day-long suffocation cough up their burnt lungs in clots.

Cautiously, the mouth applied to the valve, I breathe. The gas still creeps over the ground and sinks into all hollows. Like a big, soft jellyfish it floats into our shell-hole and lolls there obscenely. I nudge Kat, it is better to crawl out and lie on top than to stay where the gas collects most. But we don’t get as far as that; a second bombardment begins. It is no longer as though shells roared; it is the earth itself raging.

With a crash something black bears down on us. It lands close beside us; a coffin thrown up.

I see Kat move and I crawl across. The coffin has hit the fourth man in our hole on his out-stretched arm. He tries to tear off his gas-mask with the other hand. Kropp seizes him just in time, twists the hand sharply behind his back and holds it fast. Kat and I proceed to free the wounded arm. The coffin lid is loose and bursts open, we are easily able to pull it off, we toss the corpse out, it slides down to the bottom of the shell-hole, then we try to loosen the under-part.

Fortunately the man swoons and Kropp is able to help us. We no longer have to be careful, but work away till the coffin gives with a sigh before the spade that we have dug in under it.

It has grown lighter. Kat takes a piece of the lid, places it under the shattered arm, and we wrap all our bandages round it. For the moment we can do no more.

Inside the gas-mask my head booms and roars – it is nigh bursting. My lungs are tight, they breathe always the same hot, used-up air, the veins on my temples are swollen. I feel I am suffocating.

A grey light filters through to us. I climb out over the edge of the shell-hole. In the duty twilight lies a leg torn clean off; the boot is quite whole, I take that all in at a glance. Now something stands up a few yards distant. I polish the windows, in my excitement they are immediately dimmed again. I peer through them, the man there no longer wears his mask.

I wait some seconds – he has not collapsed – he looks around and makes a few paces – rattling in my throat I tear my mask off too and fall down, the air streams into me like cold water, my eyes are bursting the wave sweeps over me and extinguishes me.

The shelling has ceased, I turn towards the crater and beckoning to the others. They take off their masks. We lift up the wounded man, one taking his splinted arm. And so we stumble off hastily.

The graveyard is a mass of wreckage. Coffins and corpses lie strewn about. They have been killed once again; but each of them that was flung up saved one of us.

***

We agree that it’s the same for everyone; not only for us here, but everywhere, for everyone who is of our age; to some more, and to others less. It is the common fate of our generation.

Albert expresses it: “The war has ruined us for everything.”

He is right. We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.

***

We must look out for our bread. The rats have become much more numerous lately because the trenches are no longer in good condition. Detering says it is a sure sign of a coming bombardment.

The rats here are particularly repulsive, they are so fat – the kind we all call corpse-rats. They have shocking, evil, naked faces, and it is nauseating to see their long, nude tails.

They seem to be mighty hungry. Almost every man has had his bread gnawed. Kropp wrapped his in his waterproof sheet and put it under his head, but he cannot sleep because they run over his face to get at it. Detering meant to outwit them: he fastened a thin wire to the roof and suspended his bread from it. During the night when he switched on his pocket-torch he saw the wire swing to and fro. On the bread was riding a fat rat.

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Interview: Time To Look At Human Dimension As Afghan War Enters Thirteenth Year

October 19, 2013 Leave a comment

Press TV
October 19, 2013

US troops pullout misnomer: Rozoff
Interview with Rick Rozoff

Video

Press TV has conducted an interview with Rick Rozoff, from Stop NATO International Network, from Chicago, over the United States calling for legal immunity for any US soldiers left in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 withdrawal.

What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: The US insists that their soldiers will not have legal immunity from prosecution if they committed any crimes, yet they have to be tried in the US courts. Do you believe the US stance?

Rozoff: No, I don’t believe that claim at all. The US has been operating with veritable impunity into its thirteenth year now. We have to recognize, rather, that as of eleven days ago the US-NATO war in Afghanistan has entered its thirteenth calendar year.

So, we have some period of time in which to judge what the track record i,s and it is, despite times fulsome assurances to the government of Kabul about the US consulting with its proxy regime, which is almost risible, laughable, that the US, nevertheless, and its NATO allies continue to perpetrate acts of what can only be characterized as war crimes.

Press TV: Well, we want to take a look at the track that the US has left in Afghanistan, I can go down the list but one of them that caught my attention was ‘the US Kill Team’; you might be aware of them, composed of five US soldiers, in which they said, “all you have to do is to toss a grenade and kill a bunch of Afghans,” and treated killing as sport.

One of the verdicts, 24 years in prison, in which this particular soldier said the plan was to kill people in a conspiracy with these four fellow soldiers. Is that fair in terms of the verdict that he received?

Rozoff: I would just say I do not have any particular expertise in the jurisprudential aspects of this. I can only say that we do know that for twelve years there have been air raids, there have been the sorts of night raids you described, that quite clearly have resulted in widespread loss of life among Afghan civilians and we will have opportunity, I hope, later in the show we talk about the drone Hellfire missile campaign in Afghanistan and other countries.

So, there is a clear-cut pattern of callous disregard for civilian life in Afghanistan, which has been sanctioned if not ordered by the highest military officials amongst the US and NATO commanders in Afghanistan. That is indisputable.

Press TV: Do you agree with what Lawrence Korb [the other guest of the show] has said there that in times of war these types of acts may it be illegal or immoral do happen; the basis of what I believe one of the points Lawrence Korb made there?

Rozoff: Assuredly. Yes, and unavoidably, and that’s the best argument in the world against war: that war itself is the crime and any particular manifestations of violations of the established rules of war are almost secondary to that.

Let’s step back a moment. It will soon be, next month as a matter of fact, the second anniversary of a NATO helicopter gunship attack, actually by several aircraft, against a Pakistani post where they killed twenty security personnel of Pakistan. Is this a mistake?

If Mexico or Canada were to be pursuing alleged insurgents and make a mistake by striking inside the United States and killing twenty servicemen, I think we would view this is as much more serious than simply a lapse in protocol.

The problem is the war itself, and the problem is you now have the longest war in America’s history; it’s in its thirteenth year; you have the longest war in the history of Afghanistan. Please for a moment, let us look at the human dimension about what we are talking about rather than getting into abstruse arguments about legality.

Since 1978, since the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan, which brought to power a government the United States did not like and that Washington immediately went to work with this Pakistani military ally to undermine that government and to wage war effectively uninterruptedly under one guise or another in that poor country for 35 years.

The Afghan people suffered for that period of time, three and a half decades of uninterrupted armed hostilities Please, it is time to withdraw the last American and NATO troop from that country, to fire the last Hellfire missile, to launch the last night raid in small village in the early morning hours and bring peace and some semblance of security and development to that country. That I think should be the overriding issue.

Press TV: I would like to get the reaction from Rick Rozoff to what Lawrence Korb said there at the end, in which the Afghan president, if he were to say to the US and its troops who leave, that they would leave, do you think that would happen if [Hamid] Karzai made such request?

Rozoff: US troops are leaving for domestic political purposes, I would argue, more than any other reason. However, it is of course within the realm of international law that the host government has the right to ask foreign troops, occupation troops to depart and indeed that’s what happened in Iraq in the case of the [Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri] al-Maliki government.

However, we do have to remember that the US and NATO expect to maintain from 8 to 14,000 troops in the nation under one pretext and another, as well as maintaining a presence at massively upgraded airbases in Shindand, in Bagram, north of the capital, and Kandahar and elsewhere in the country, where the US will have an airstrike capability within striking range of neighboring countries like Iran and Pakistan, surely, but within reasonable striking range of countries like Russia and China.

So, the US and NATO, I firmly don’t believe, are going to totally leave the country under any circumstances. As a matter of fact a leading US military official stated a couple of weeks ago, even referring to the so-called drawdown or withdrawal of troops has been, in its own words, a misnomer, because the US military and NATO intend to stay there.

The other guest has made much of the fact this is not a unilateral US undertaking or project in Afghanistan, that it in fact is conducted under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is true. I don’t think that makes it any more excusable.

What you are talking about is a US-dominated military bloc set up – ostensibly – in 1949 to protect Western and Southern Europe, now, as of 2001, is engaged in active ground war in Asia. So, two Rubicons have been crossed, if you will. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, which has been fashioned in the post-Cold War era by the United States into a global military strike force which has now waged war in three continents: in Yugoslavia in 1999 and Afghanistan, in Asia, over the last twelve years and Libya for six months in 2011, and Afghanistan has been the testing ground for the US building an integrated NATO rapid response force which can be deployed most anywhere in the world for long periods of time.

And we have to understand that some of the cynicism underlying the US policy and the NATO policy in Afghanistan and throughout South and Central Asia – we have to recall there are NATO bases in countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan; there were NATO forces in Pakistan until recently – is what the US has done is fashion a post-Cold War global military bloc out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the last twelve years in Afghanistan have been employed to integrate military forces from fifty countries – and I repeat, fifty countries – under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and it is its global military power the US has used Afghanistan to foster and to train, which is I think really the most significant fact to come out of the Afghan war.

Press TV: If you have a statement, do you want to make elaborate more on the use of drones as being done in Afghanistan which today claimed the lives of two people. If you like to expand on that ?

Rozoff: Yes, it was an elected official in the United States, as a matter of fact a firm defender of drone warfare, who estimated, I think fairly accurately, maybe six or eight weeks ago that US drone warfare has accounted for the deaths of at least 5,000 people in the past decade. That may be a slightly conservative figure; let’s say 5 to 7,000 people in seven nations.

The Hellfire missiles fired by the unmanned aerial vehicles, the drones, have been employed in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Libya – actually a drone was implicated, as a matter of fact, in firing a missile that hit the convoy of Libyan head of state Muammar Gaddafi and ultimately led to his brutal death – but also of course in Somalia and increasingly in Yemen.

So, what you’ve seen is the expansion, by the way there has been a forty-fold increase in the amount of drones the US military has at its disposal since the year 2000. Forty-fold increase.

So that what we’re seeing is a transition to what is basically risk-free, from the American perspective, at least in terms of its military personnel, what could be seen and what I would advocate is a cowardly method of waging warfare which has targeted assassination through the use of missiles fired by surveillance drones.

But we have seen them employed now in seven different countries – in North Africa, the Middle East, in South Asia – and we see a callous disregard for civilian collateral damage, so-called, one of the more gruesome euphemisms in our lifetime, where Pakistani sources, including government sources, have claimed at some points that up to 95 percent of those people killed by drones in their country, where the amount of the people killed is over 3,000, are not Taliban and are not al-Qaeda. They may be local militia, they are may be non-military personnel, whatsoever.

So, what you are seeing is the US president condescending to conduct weekly kill meetings, where people, including US citizens in some instances, are targeted for assassinations by Hellfire missiles fired by drones.

You know, the world should scream its outrage over this sort of violation of the most basic norms in international relations – and decency.

Press TV: The US went into Afghanistan with the name of fighting terrorism and terrorists, but we can see that some are saying this war on terrorism is an ideology of fear. Do you think that it has created actually more terrorism and ultimately more of a threat to US’s national security, not to mention the other countries in the world?

Rozoff: On the first half of that question, I think Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently stated that’s exactly what has occurred, is that far from diminishing the threat of Taliban, it’s increased it and even implied if he didn’t insinuate pretty clearly that the US may be conspiring with the Taliban.

But you know my fellow guest alluded to the “brave” US role in supporting the Mujaheddin in the 1980s and obliquely alluded to the fact that people like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, who are leading two of the three forces that US and NATO forces identify as their the main enemies in Afghanistan were recipients of generous US largess in the past. The US creates the very terrorist threats it then invades countries ostensibly to fight.

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Giuseppe Berto: A universal evil has given them the power to kill unknown people, people very like themselves

October 19, 2013 Leave a comment

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

Italian writers on war and militarism

Giuseppe Berto: Selections on war

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Giuseppe Berto
From The Sky Is Red (1946)
Translated by Angus Davidson

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Hundreds of planes had flown a long distance during the night in order to reach the little town. Inside each plane was a crew, every man with his own job – pilots, observers, radio operators, bombardiers – highly trained specialists, reliable, efficient.

The men think, as they fly through the night. Underneath is the dark earth, and nothing can be seen. Above are the stars, and the stars help a man to think. As they fly through the night, these men have thoughts of far distant things, of places in another part of the earth, places to which they belong and to which they hope to go back some day. There exists in them an immeasurable longing to go back home, a longing which makes them a little melancholy but which is at the same time a shield against the difficulties of life. Always, whether in weariness or pain, they think about going back home.

As they approach the town, the men abandon their thoughts of distant things. The planes get ready for the bombing. Formation, timing, target-sighting. They are all easy in their minds because it is an easy job which will not spoil anyone’s chance of going back home.

A light plane has gone on ahead and has dropped clusters of parachute flares. The others take their direction from these flares. From the ground one or two machine-guns have started, quite ridiculously, to fire at the flares. Their bullets rise in a continuous string and die in mid-air.

The observers look down and recognize the places they have studied on their maps at the briefing. They are now following the railway. In front can be seen the station, about the size of a packet of cigarettes, with its marshaling yards and its railway bridge. A little further on there should be the iron bridge over the river.

Now they are ready. All on board are conscious of a moment of tension. The planes are over their target.

Their target is a station, a railway bridge, another bridge, some marshaling yards. From above they look like children’s toys, these things that have to be destroyed because the enemy is using them for purposes of war. But all around, and close behind them, there are other things which also look as small as children’s toys. These are the houses of the town, which are not marked on the maps with the special signs that are used to pick out the target. They are therefore ignored, and it is as though they were not there.

Another thing that is ignored is that inside these houses live people, large numbers of people. The little town has, perhaps, more than a hundred thousand inhabitants, now that so many refugees have come there from the neighboring cities. More than a hundred thousand people are smitten with terror. They have seen the flares and heard the engines, and have understood.

But the others, up in the sky, do not think of that. They know nothing of the people they are preparing to kill. They do not know how they speak or how they live, with what hopes and with what miseries. They have never seen a single one of those hundred thousand people.

They are people who speak with an ancient grace, who aspire to a leisurely, quiet life, who are no longer able to accomplish much, whether from hatred or from love. For the moment they are content merely to live, merely to reach the end of the war alive, so that they may live better afterwards. And the hopes of so many of them, for a better future, are centered precisely upon those men who are waiting, tensely, in the moment before they touch the levers.

The men of the sky know nothing of all that, and they do not think of it. They too, when they picture their own lives, picture them as leisurely and quiet, with a nice house and the right sort of work and people round about them with whom they can live in peace. And yet a universal evil has given them the power to kill unknown people, people very like themselves. An evil so enormous that, because of it, they bring terror and death and destruction without thinking about it, with a consciousness of performing a duty.

Their hands make only a simple gesture to move the levers. The bomb-doors under the fuselage open, and the bombs slip into the air. They cannot hear the noise the bombs make as they fall.

The planes drop their bombs in formation, and each formation is very wide, covering the station and many houses round it. The men who have pulled the levers look anxiously down, watching the sudden flashes of the explosive bombs and the luminous bursts of the incendiaries. The hits are well concentrated in the neighborhood of the target.

The formations make a wide circle and return over the town. Even the ridiculous machine-guns have stopped firing now. Down below there is a cloud of dust and smoke through which the fires and the bombs which are still bursting can scarcely be seen. The station, the railway lines, the bridge, are all covered by the cloud, which the light of the flares does not succeed in penetrating. They drop their bombs into the middle of it. With such a large number of bombs dropped over such a wide area, the target must surely have been hit.

Now they are on their return journey. For many miles they can see behind them the glow of the burning town. The men feel satisfied. No anti-aircraft fire, no night fighters, a mission well accomplished. For a certain time the enemy will not be able to make use of the station, the railway-lines, and perhaps the bridge, if it was hit. And if, in order to achieve this, they have produced a sum of human misery that nothing on earth, even the greatest good, can ever wipe out, that is a thing that has no importance. They do not think of it, and it is not their fault, because of the universal evil.

In a short time the glow of the fires is lost in the distance, and the men fly on under the stars.

And the stars fly too; they fly at a fantastic speed towards the places to which those men belong, in another part of the earth. In a matter of a few hours, the stars which are now above their heads will be above Kentucky, Missouri, California. And each of those men who have destroyed houses and human creatures can still think lovingly of other houses and other human creatures.

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U.S. To Sell Bunker Buster Bombs, Missiles To Gulf States

October 18, 2013 2 comments

Voice of Russia
October 18, 2013

US Defense to sell bunker bombers and missiles to Gulf countries for $10.8 bn

Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates soon would be having their own advanced weaponry: the Pentagon plans to sell its bunker buster bombs and cruise missiles for $10.8 billion.

The deal follows a series of US weapons trades in recent years that have bolstered the air power and missile arsenals of Gulf states, which view Iran as a menacing rival with nuclear ambitions.

It includes shipping 1,000 GBU-39/B bombs to Saudi Arabia and 5,000 to the UAE. They have air-deployed wings, which allow them to strike targets as far away as 110km. Their warheads can penetrate up to a meter of reinforced concrete.

The planned sale also includes Standoff Land Attack Extended Range (SLAM-ER) and Joint Standoff Weapons (JSOW) cruise missiles. Both are meant for destroying surface targets from a long distance, allowing warplanes to stay out of the range of enemy air defenses.

The Saudis will purchase 650 of the Boeing-manufactured SLAM-ERs and 973 Raytheon-made JSOWs, as well as other missiles. They are to pay $6.8 billion for the hardware, parts, training and logistical support.

The United Arab Emirates is due to buy $4 billion worth of weaponry, including the bunker buster bombs, 300 SLAM-ERs and 1,200 JSOW missiles.

Back in April, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans to sell $10 billion worth of arms to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This week’s announcement details the munitions that the Gulf monarchies are seeking.

The arms sale is expected to prompt renewed criticism from human rights groups and opponents of rulers in both Gulf states, which have cracked down on internal dissent and backed repression by Egypt’s military-backed leadership.

The United States recently scaled back its military assistance to Egypt in the wake of a military coup that ousted the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

Congress has 30 days to block the sale but most lawmakers have endorsed previous weapons deals with the Gulf countries.

Voice of Russia, RT, AFP

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NATO Expands Military Integration of Armenia: Caucasus Representative

October 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Panorama.am
October 18, 2013

James Appathurai: NATO wishes to expand cooperation with Armenia

I have had excellent meetings with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and other senior officials and we discussed a broad range of issues related to Armenia-NATO cooperation, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai told reporters in Yerevan.

Mr Appathurai noted that NATO wishes to expand and deepen cooperation with Armenia and the Armenian leaders have said that there is no problem between membership to CSTO and cooperation with NATO.

Regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, James Appathurai said that NATO is not involved in the settlement process and supports the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group.

“We cooperate with both Armenia and Azerbaijan and during all meetings stress peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” he said.

There is no military resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and compromised political settlement is the only way, he concluded.

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Alberto Moravia: Even in uniform and with a chest covered with medals, always a thief and a murderer

October 18, 2013 Leave a comment

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

Italian writers on war and militarism

Alberto Moravia: Selections on war

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Alberto Moravia
From Two Women (1958)
Translated by Angus Davidson

moravia-760x1024

As long as he had been playing the accordion, he had been the man who in time of peace had been a blacksmith; when he took the shirt he had been the soldier who does not know the law of meum et tuum and who has no respect for anyone or anything. In short, as I have already said, war means not only killing but stealing as well; and a man who, in peacetime, would not kill or steal for all the gold in the world, in wartime rediscovers, at the bottom of his heart, the instinct to steal and kill which exists in all men; and he rediscovers it just because he is encouraged to rediscover it; in fact he is told all the time that this instinct is the right instinct and that he must trust to it, otherwise he is not a real soldier. So he says to himself: “I’m at war now. I shall go back to being what I really am, when peace comes. For the moment I can let myself go.” Unfortunately, however, no one who has stolen or killed, even in war, can ever hope to go back, afterward, to what he was before – in my opinion, anyhow. It would be – if I may make a comparison – as though a woman who was still a virgin allowed her virginity to be broken under the illusion that she could go back to being a virgin again later, by some extraordinary kind of miracle that has never been known to happen. Once a thief and a murderer, always a thief and a murderer, even in uniform and with a chest covered with medals, always a thief and a murderer.

***

The sky seemed like a drumhead with the guns resounding dully and somberly upon it. It was very moving to hear so gloomy and menacing a sound on those days of brilliant weather; it suggested the thought that the war now formed part of nature, that the sound was in some way connected with the sunlight and confused with it, and that the spring, too, was sick from the war, just as men were sick from it. The rumble of gunfire, in fact, had entered into our life, just as rags and famine and danger had entered it, and, since it never ceased, it became – like rags and famine and danger – a normal thing to which we had become so accustomed that, if it had ceased – and indeed one fine day it did cease – we should have felt almost surprised. What I mean to say is that you can get accustomed to anything and that war too is a matter of habit, and what changes us it not the extraordinary things that happen for a time but this very fact of becoming accustomed to a thing, which shows, in fact, that we accept what happens to us and cease to rebel against it.

***

Ah, beauty can be appreciated on a full stomach; but when your stomach is empty. all your thoughts turn in the same direction and beauty seems a deception or, even worse, a mockery…One afternoon I went down, as often, to Fondi, in the hope of buying some bread, and, as we came down into the valley, we were flabbergasted to see three horses belonging to the German army quietly gazing in a field of corn. A soldier without any sign of rank, possibly a Russian renegade like the one we had met on that other occasion, was in charge of the horses, and was sitting idly on the fence with a blade of grass between his teeth. To tell the truth, never had I realized, as I did at that moment, what war means, and how, in time of war, the feeling heart no longer feels, and a man’s neighbor no longer exists, and everything is possible. It was one of those brilliant days, full of sunshine and flowers, and we three – Michele, Rosetta and I – stood near the fence and gazed open-mouthed at those three well-fed horses which, poor things, unaware of what their masters were causing them to do, innocently cropped the tender corn with which, when it ripens, bread is made for human beings. When I was a child my parents used to tell me that bread is sacred and that it is a sacrilege to throw it away or waste it and that you are committing a sin even if you place the loaf upside down; and now I saw that this bread was being given to beasts, when so many people in the valley and up in the mountains were suffering from hunger. Michele at last expressed all our feelings by saying: “If I were religious, I should say that the Apocalypse had come, when horses shall be seen grazing upon corn. Since I am not religious, I say merely that the Nazis have come, which, perhaps, is the same thing.”

***

…I also felt that people ought not to think that everyone loves peace. There are plenty of people who feel very much at their ease during a war, if only because it enables them to give vent to their own violent and blood thirsty instincts. That was how I argued, until I saw real war.

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Armenia: NATO Completes Conquest of the South Caucasus

October 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Aysor.am
October 17, 2013

S. Sargsyan receives NATO secretary general’s special representative

Visit to NATO by President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and NATO’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2012

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan received today Special Representative of NATO’s Secretary General for South Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai.

At the meeting, the sides attached importance to efficient cooperation with NATO in all spheres.

The interlocutors noted with satisfaction that the political dialog with the Alliance is of a continuous nature.

James Appathurai highly appreciated Armenia’s participation in NATO peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The PR and Information Department of the Presidential Staff reported that Serzh Sargsyan and James Appathurai said that such a level of relations shows that a deep and comprehensive agenda had formed as a result of Armenia’s close cooperation with NATO, which helps improve and upgrade the defense and security system of Armenia.

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Armenpress
October 17, 2013

Armenia’s Minister fo Foreign Affairs to receive NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative

Yerevan: On October 17, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, Eduard Nalbandyan, received the Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy and the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai.

As Armenpress was informed by the Information and Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, welcoming the guest, the minister has given a positive assessment to the results made in different spheres of cooperation between Armenia and NATO.

During the course of the meeting the interlocutors touched upon issues regarding the cooperation between Armenia and the North Atlantic Alliance, namely, the cooperation realizing within the frameworks of the Partnership for Peace, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP).

The Minister of Foreign Affairs introduced the of the implementation of the settlement processing the issues concerning Nagorno-Karabakh. In this contect, the NATO Secretary General’s Representative reconfirmed the support of the alliance to the efforts by the co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk group.

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New Great Game: Syrian Crisis Shows Mediterranean Still Geopolitically Crucial

October 17, 2013 1 comment

Global Times
October 17, 2013

Syrian crisis shows middle sea still crucial to geopolitical ambition
By Andrea Fais

The Syrian crisis and its repercussions demonstrate that politicians and analysts cannot ignore the Mediterranean if they really want to face global challenges.

After the Egyptian military coup against former president Mohamed Morsi, the media consensus on Syria has shifted, with people becoming more aware of the dangerous role of Islamic extremism among elements of the Syrian rebel movement.

And the consensus was strongly against Western involvement in any renewed war.

Although there is some ambiguity, the Italian and German governments remain opposed to any military intervention in Syria without UN Security Council approval.

Even if Rome and Berlin have never seriously questioned their Atlanticist-oriented policies, they cannot afford to intervene in Syria through military means.

After the approval of EU sanctions against the Syrian government, Italian trade balance is down about $2 billion.

If the US and France intervened, Italian commercial losses would increase, and collective security would be significantly compromised.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also expressed her fears of a military escalation in the Middle East.

Ten years after the US invasion of Iraq, a new political consciousness seems to be increasing in the region that the US, France and the UK should not decide by themselves to attack a sovereign country.

Southern European countries like Italy, Spain and Greece are experiencing a hard economic crisis, and currently they still lack the means or credibility to discuss a common Mediterranean policy aimed at the stabilization of the region.

Nevertheless, Washington, Paris and London cannot adequately understand and represent the interests of the Mediterranean peoples.

To Southern European critics, these three world powers are just readapting the old colonial Sykes-Picot plan to current times and establishing new spheres of influence without any regard for local populations, their rights and their sovereignty. Syrian territory seems to represent the pivot of this new Middle Eastern great game.

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the southern Mediterranean has become a geopolitical hell.

The violent uprisings left thousands of people dead. The economies of many Middle Eastern states have been shaken. And Islamist terrorism has spread fear and violence not only in Muslim countries but also in Europe, not only against peaceful Muslims but also against Christians.

One year ago, then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said that the Pacific would be the most important maritime theater of the 21st century. This is true but only in part because the latest escalation in Syria shows also the huge importance of the Mediterranean.

“What is the Mediterranean?” French historian Ferdinand Braudel wondered many years ago in his classic history of the region, answering that “It is a thousand things together. Not just a landscape but innumerable landscapes. Not a sea but a succession of seas. Not one civilization but a series of civilizations stacked on each other. For thousands of years everything has flowed toward this sea, upturning and enriching its history.”

The future of this region must be built through development, inter-religious dialogue and mutual comprehension, not through imperialism and fanaticism.

The author is a journalist and foreign affairs analyst based in Perugia, Italy.

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