Posts Tagged 'NATO'

France’s latest justification for selling warships to Russia

An interesting follow up to a story this blog ran in January last year, when France confirmed it had done a deal to sell the Mistral class amphibious warship to Russia, along with advanced military technology.

The ¡No Pasarán! blog makes us aware that in an interview about the trouble in Tunisia, France’s new foreign minister, Alain Juppé, justified France’s sale of Mistral warships to Russia thus:

In Lisbon, I heard Barack Obama tell Dmitry Medvedev: “You’re not just a partner but a friend.” You can not blame France for delivering boats to a friend.

These are not merely ‘boats’.  These are command and control centres providing a helicopter borne and landing craft based amphibious assault function that fills a large gap in Russia’s military capability, enabling troops and tanks to be deployed from the sea.  The original deal was for one vessel, but now it seems to have grown to four.

As far as friend goes, what kind of friend feels the need to regularly probe our airspace with long range bomber and reconnaisance aircraft?  What kind of friend prevents suspects in the case of poisoning a dissident with radioactive material in this country from being brought to justice?  What kind of friend makes nuclear threats towards a peaceful European country?

Presumably France does not see Georgia as being as valuable a ‘friend’ as Moscow.  Having been invaded by Russia, which contrived a crisis in two breakaway regions in Georgian territory, Mamuka Kudava, Georgia’s ambassador to France, said last March that it would be “incomprehensible” if France were to sell the Mistral to Russia. It is an understandable view given that Russia’s senior naval officer Vladimir Vyssotski said last year that the Georgia conflict could have been resolved in ’40 minutes and not 26 hours’ if his forces had had the ships at the time.

Perhaps for the likes of Sarkozy and Juppé friends are determined by the size of their wallet and willingness to buy French equipment. One wonders how long it will be before Barack Obama revises his assessment that France is the US’ strongest ally as it helps re-arm the Russian military.

Afghan bribes are the last straw. Bring our boys home!

With defeat staring us in the face the time has come to bring an end to our mission in Afghanistan.  The body count is rising and although some infrastructure improvements are being made, the fact is we are not winning the hearts and minds of the population, let alone the war.  The people there are not converting to western ideas of democracy and civic society.  Our strategy, if one existed, was flawed from the start and the efforts of our troops have been disgracefully undermined by the craven politicians and Whitehall bureaucrats.

As an exercise in nation building, Afghanistan is an abject failure.  Today Gordon Brown signalled clearly that Britain is desperate for a face saving way out.  In an interview he said that the only condition where the coalition in Afghanistan will engage with terrorists is “if they give up terrorist activities” and agree to become “citizens”.  But Brown has already run up the white flag.  It’s the endgame now.  These bribes are the last straw.  We must bring our boys home.  Paying bribes in Afghanistan is nothing new, but this overt effort to buy off our enemies with huge sums of money is sickening.

We haven’t brought change to Afghanistan.  While our military and police trainers maintain a stoic silence, when they would be well justified in highlighting major misgivings about the inevitable failure of our mission, in Germany there is no such discretion.  There, the announcement by Chancellor Angela Merkel that Berlin will signal a new ‘strategic direction’ by sending 500 more troops and police trainers to Afghanistan has sparked bitter complaints from the military and policing unions.  The comments of some present the reality of Afghanistan and futility of our efforts in a way our politicians would never allow here:

Rainer Wendt, head of the competing police union, called the German Police Union (DPolG), agreed with his colleague’s assessment. “The incoming Afghan police officers receive just a brief crash course from us,” he told the daily Stuttgarter Nachrichten. “We would already consider it a success if the future security personnel wouldn’t bash people on the head, cut off the hands of thieves and stone women.”

He also voiced concern that many of those trained by German police might join the Taliban once their instruction is complete. “We are training fighters for the Taliban,” Wendt said. “We should be concerned that many of the Afghan police candidates don’t even join the force after their training course. Instead, they go directly to the Taliban. They pay twice as much.” Afghan police officers earn $100 per month, according to the German Foreign Ministry.

It is not the sort of stiff upper lip assessment we are used to here.  Given this kind of insight, it would seem reasonable to assume the announcement today that £87m had been set aside to pay ‘low level’ Taliban fighters to lay down their arms and ‘reintegrate’ into Afghan society, isn’t going to achieve a damn thing.  When are western ‘elitist liberals’ going to understand the ordinary Afghan has a very different mindset to theirs?  When will they stop assuming ordinary Afghans will act with honour?  How many times do they have to witness Afghans switching sides at the drop of a hat during this conflict?

After taking the money we so generously dole out, what do we do if they decide to go back to their Talib masters and continue fighting our troops?  Do we write a bigger cheque?  Well that’s a question that no one seems willing or able to answer.  The Taliban is winning this war of attrition.  We have a paucity of troops, a lack of equipment and the cost of maintaining the military campaign is biting hard into the public purse.  Isn’t it time to dispense with futile gestures and face saving follies and accept that Afghanistan is a lost cause and get out?  This is not worth the loss of one more British life.

The idea of buying off Taliban fighters is the last throw of the dice for the NATO led alliance to give the illusion that in some way they finally overcame the insurgents.  It’s a waste of time.  This adventure was lost before it started because of the way we went about it.  It’s time to face reality.  Let’s get our fighting men and women out of Afghanistan, learn the valuable lessons it has taught us and come up with a strategy for tackling terrorist training camps and plots in a smarter way, perhaps with the use of special forces and tactics that are cheaper and in all likelihood more cost effective.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Sarkozy says no to more troops for Afghanistan

Visiting this subject somewhat later than one would have wished, but better late than never.  It would have been delightful being a fly on the wall in NATO headquarters on Monday after Nicolas Sarkozy told French television he would not send a single extra combat soldier to Afghanistan.  It is only nine months since France rejoined NATO as a full member, but under this modern day Napoleon, the French are already upsetting the apple cart.  What is it with power crazed, short arsed Frenchmen?

Just weeks ago it became clear that with a classic Gallic shrug, France had done a deal to sell a Mistral class amphibious warship along with advanced military technology to Russia, although the European media corps has pointedly ignored it.  Now with NATO imploring its members to support the military effort in Afghanistan, Sarkozy grandstands for the French media and delivers a resounding ‘Non’ to the alliance.

It seems that under Sarkozy, France’s idea of being part of an alliance is to provide enhanced war fighting capability to its major rival and refuse point blank to send much needed combat troops to help fight the Taliban.  NATO must be wondering what exactly it gets out of France being a member, apart from Parisian petulance and a lot of headaches.  Perhaps Sarkozy would have sent an entire regiment if only the US and Britain had followed Russia’s example and offered to buy some French hardware…  With friends like the French, who needs enemies?  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you France.  Our selfless partners in peace and cooperation.  Santé!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

To Russia with love, warships from France

Another suitable title for this post would be ‘While Europe slept’.

In August 2008 France’s President Sarkozy packaged up and delivered to Russia an EU peace plan to bring an end to the short, one-sided conflict with Georgia.  A quick scan showed the plan had more holes than a sieve and favoured Russia disproportionately.  Eyebrows were raised.  It was no surprise though that Russia flouted its terms brazenly and the EU offered nothing more than a few limp words of disappointment.

Then in November 2008 Sarkozy energetically encouraged his EU colleagues to back Russian proposals for a Pan-European security pact that had previously been ignored by western European countries.  At the same time, despite France being aspiring to rejoin NATO as a full member within months having withdrawn from the alliance in 1966, Sarkozy publicly broke ranks over the proposed US Missile Shield in Europe.  Acting like Medvedev and Putin’s personal ventriloquist dummy, Sarkozy parroted Russia’s well rehearsed position, arguing that:

“Deployment of a missile defense system would bring nothing to security in Europe … it would complicate things, and would make them move backward,”

Russia was delighted that the Élysée was on board, on message and sowing disunity around western Europe.  Sarkozy’s hyperactivity had seen to it that EU backed down from their previously stated position regarding Russia’s aggression in Georgia and agreed to EU-Russian talks on trade and energy before troops had even left Georgian soil.  The obvious conclusion to draw was that French had identified in Russia an opportunity for an advantage and vested self interest was at play

But it is only in the last couple of weeks that the terms of the trade off have become clear.  The Georgian Daily reported on 9th January that Moscow was seeking to modernise its military capability by buying advanced technology in the shape of at least one Mistral-class amphibious assault ship (below), built and sold to the Russian Navy – by France.


It has taken fully 11 days for anyone in the western media to wake up to what’s going on, with the Washington Times finally going to print with a story on Wednesday titled ‘France likely to sell warship to Moscow -Deal raises concerns in NATO pact’.  A Google News search reveals that throughout the collective news media of the European Union nations, there is not a single word on this subject.  This despite the Georgian Daily’s observation that:

Russian officials currently emphasize the value of advanced technology transfers to Russia that would accompany the possible acquisition of Mistral-class ships. According to Pukhov, Russia is interested in the Mistral not only or primarily for its amphibious assault capabilities, but for its value as a command platform with advanced electronics for battle management and network-centric military operations at sea, as well as its hydroacoustics.

It would represent a significant enhancement of Russian offensive military capability that could have been put to devastating effect in Georgia had the vessel been part of the Russian Naval fleet.  No wonder small voices are trying to make themselves heard in an attempt to stop France assisting the military rearmament of the greatest risk to stability facing Europe.  Just ask Poland.

As for the rest of the EU, they are as usual snoozing comfortably at the wheel of the juggernaut, wilfully oblivious to the bigger one coming straight at them from the east.  Those people who keep saying Russia is not the military might it once was and using that as justification to reduce defence spending might want to reconsider in light of France’s traditionally self serving actions.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


Enter your email address below

The Harrogate Agenda Explained

Email AM

Bloggers for an Independent UK

AM on Twitter

Error: Please make sure the Twitter account is public.

STOR Scandal

Autonomous Mind Archive