Archive for the ‘Berlin’ Category

Russia Wants NATO, Europe To Ease Moscow’s Suspicions

November 30, 2008

Russia has reason to feel betrayed by the process of NATO expansion, begun in 1997. Seven years earlier, the Russians believe, American and German officials working on German reunification pledged not to take advantage of Moscow‘s weakness by extending NATO into Russia’s traditional backyard. By reneging on that promise, Western leaders have made Russians doubt their trustworthiness.

By Michael Mandelbaum | NEWSWEEK

To the Kremlin, the expansion process has also seemed to be based on dishonest premises. U.S. officials advertised it as a way of promoting democracy, of forcing ex-Soviet states to reform. But the democratic commitment of NATO’s first ex-communist entrants—Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic—was never in doubt. And if the Americans truly believed that NATO membership was the best way to guarantee free elections and constitutional rights, why didn’t they immediately offer it to the largest ex-communist country of them all, Russia itself? Instead, Moscow was told it would never be able to join.

NATO expansion taught Russia another lesson. The process went ahead because Moscow was too weak to stop it. This told the Russians that to have a say in European affairs, they needed to be able to assert themselves militarily. Last summer’s war in Georgia was one result.

Given this history, what should the West do now about Russia? We have no good options. In the wake of the war, some in the United States renewed the call to welcome Georgia into NATO. But NATO is a mutual-defense pact. Making Georgia a member would mean that we’d have to come to the country’s aid should fighting with Russia break out once more. This would require putting Western troops, tanks, aircraft and perhaps even nuclear weapons on Russia’s border—to which the Russians would respond with comparable forces. The U.S. military is already seriously overstretched by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet doing nothing would look like a retreat in the face of Russian aggression.

In the short term, the incoming U.S. president needs to think like a doctor: “First, do no harm.” This means deferring any offer of NATO membership to Georgia (and Ukraine, for that matter). Some may object that this will reward Russia for its belligerence. Perhaps, but the consequences of deferral are preferable to the costs of expansion—including a serious deterioration in relations with Moscow.

At the same time, the West should renew its security cooperation with Russia. NATO must eventually either include Russia or give….

Read the rest:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/171258

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Donald Blakeslee; World War II Combat Fighter Commander

October 13, 2008

By May 1, 1944, his group had become the first in the European theater to record 500 kills, the most in American fighter group history. The group destroyed 207 German planes in one month alone. By the end of the war, Col. Blakeslee and his men had destroyed 1,020 enemy aircraft, 550 shot out of the air and 470 hit while on the ground….

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 13, 2008; Page B06

Donald J.M. Blakeslee, 90, commander of the first American fighter squadrons to reach Berlin during World War II and one of the most successful combat fighter commanders in the history of the Air Force, died Sept. 3 of congestive heart failure at his home in Miami.
Col. Donald Blakeslee receives the Distinguished Service Cross from President Dwight Eisenhower. Col. Blakeslee was commander of the first American fighter squadrons to reach Berlin during World War II.

Above: Col. Donald Blakeslee receives the Distinguished Service Cross from President Dwight Eisenhower. Col. Blakeslee was commander of the first American fighter squadrons to reach Berlin during World War II. (Courtesy Of The Eighth Air Force Historical Society)

Over the years, he shunned would-be biographers and publicity of any kind, said his daughter, Dawn Blakeslee of Miami, his only immediate survivor. She said she did not announce her father’s death last month because of his reluctance to call attention to his wartime heroics.

On Jan. 1, 1944, the Ohio native was named commander of the 4th Fighter Group of the 8th Fighter Command. He assumed command at a time when the German Luftwaffe ruled the skies over Europe.

Roy Heidicker, the 4th Fighter Group historian, recalled that Col. Blakeslee’s message to his pilots was simple and straightforward: “We are here to destroy the Luftwaffe and shoot the Germans out of the sky, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/
article/2008/10/12/AR2008101202095.html


Col. Blakeslee flew Spitfires early in World War II

U.S., allies split over NATO expansion

April 2, 2008

By Jon Ward
The Washington Times
April 2, 2008

BUCHAREST, Romania — The looming vote tomorrow to enlarge NATO over Russian objections accelerated yesterday into a showdown between the Bush administration and some of its strongest trans-Atlantic allies, with neither side backing down.

President Bush, just days before his final meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as head of state, vowed to counteract Russian influence on the expansion eastward of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Mr. Bush will deliver a speech today here in the NATO summit’s host city calling on the 26 member nations to “make clear that NATO welcomes the aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine for membership in NATO and offers them a clear path forward toward that goal.”

And the White House sounded a defiant note in the face of comments from France that it would oppose the invitation of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO’s membership process.

Russia, whose huge oil output gives it leverage over European customers, has pressured Berlin and Paris to resist NATO’s continued addition of former Soviet blocs and communist countries.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080402/NATION/212608778/1001

China’s True Face

March 19, 2008

 The Host of the Olympics or the Thug of Tibet?

By Wei Jingsheng
The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 19, 2008; Page A15 
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As what the Dalai Lama has called “cultural genocide” goes on in Tibet, it is wholly unacceptable that Jacques Rogge, the head of the International Olympic Committee, refuses to take a stand against the Beijing government’s current crackdown on Tibetan protesters. In fact, this is completely at odds with the “spirit of the Olympics.”

Chinese riot police march through the city of Kangding, located ...
Chinese riot police march through the city of Kangding, located around 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of Chengdu in Sichuan Province March 17, 2008. Chinese officials declared a “people’s war” of security and propaganda against support for the Dalai Lama in Tibet after the worst unrest in the region for two decades racked the regional capital Lhasa over the past few days, killing at least 10 people. The convulsion of Tibetan anger at the Chinese presence in the region came after days of peaceful protests by monks and was a sharp blow to Beijing’s preparations for the Olympic Games in August, when China wants to showcase prosperity and unity.
REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA) 
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Far more than Steven Spielberg, who quit his advisory role for the Summer Games because of China‘s unwillingness to pressure the Sudanese government on genocide in Darfur, the IOC has a special obligation to act. Since promised improvements in China’s human rights were a quid pro quo for awarding the Games to Beijing, how can it proceed as if nothing happened when blood is flowing in the streets of Lhasa?
 Steven Spielberg 
Above: Steven Spielberg, seen in 2006, cut his ties with the Beijing Olympics. The director, while working for China, came to believe that China is not doing enough to help end the conflict in Darfur. (Associated Press photo).And if the Dalai Lama resigns from all his public positions in response to the violence, as he said yesterday that he might, the prospect of resolving the Tibet issue peacefully will be even more hopeless. We will feel very sorry if that comes about — for Tibet and for China.

If the IOC doesn’t move to put pressure on Beijing consistent with its obligations, it risks this Olympics being remembered like the 1936 Games in Berlin. Already, the spirit of the Olympics in Beijing has become associated with the word “genocide,” thanks to Spielberg and the Dalai Lama. Indeed, if the IOC and the rest of the world do not pressure Beijing to stop the crackdown and improve human rights now, a boycott of the Games will widely be seen as justified.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/18/AR2008031802596.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Peace and Freedom wishes to thank  Wei Jingsheng  who we consider a special friend.

The writer, a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, lives in exile in Washington. He was first arrested in China in 1979 for his activities with the “Democracy Wall” movement and was released in 1993 nine days before the International Olympic Committee voted on Beijing’s bid for the 2000 Games. He was arrested in March 1994 for “plotting against the state” and released in 1997.

NATO urged to do more in Afghanistan

February 7, 2008

From combined dispatches
(Peace and freedom thanks AP, Reuters, CNN, ABC)
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Senior U.S. officials yesterday turned up the heat on NATO allies to do more in the war against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, warning that a planned influx of 3,000 Marines is unlikely to halt the deterioration of security there.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Organisation du traité de l’Atlantique Nord

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in London that Western countries must prepare their citizens for a long fight, while in Washington, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said a failure in Afghanistan would put “a cloud over the future” of NATO.
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The remarks came amid a drumbeat of discouraging news on several fronts, including a new U.N. report predicting another bumper opium crop that will help to fund the insurgency.
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Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said during a visit to Tallinn, Estonia, that more foreign troops are needed. The threat from the Taliban “is much higher than anticipated in 2001,” he told reporters.
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Germany agreed yesterday to boost its force in the country by 200 troops but refused to let them serve in the south where they might face combat. In Canada, which has 2,500 troops fighting in the south, it became clear that an effort to extend the mission could bring down the Conservative-led government.
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A British think tank said that country’s relief efforts in Afghanistan were failing, undermining military gains.
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Britain’s Department for International Development in embattled Helmand province “is dysfunctional, totally dysfunctional. Basically it should be removed and its budget should go to the army, which might be better able to deliver assistance,” said the president of the Senlis Council, which has long experience in Afghanistan.
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The Taliban staged more than 140 suicide missions last year, the most since it was ousted from power in late 2001 by the U.S.-led invasion that followed the September 11 attacks. “I do think the alliance is facing a real test here,” Miss Rice said at a press conference with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband in London. “Our populations need to understand this is not a peacekeeping mission” but rather a long-term fight against extremists, she said. 

Mr. Gates said he was not optimistic that the addition of 3,000 Marines to Afghanistan this spring will be enough to put the NATO-led war effort back on track. He has sent letters to every alliance defense minister asking for more troops and equipment but has not received any replies, he said during a Senate hearing. 

All 26 NATO nations have soldiers in Afghanistan and all agree the mission is their top priority, but only the Canadians, British, Australians, Dutch and Danes “are really out there on the line and fighting,” Mr. Gates said.

He said he would be “a nag on this issue” when he meets NATO defense ministers today and tomorrow in Europe.

But there was little evidence yesterday that the allies are prepared to increase their contributions.

In Berlin, Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung told reporters Germany will send around 200 combat soldiers to northern Afghanistan this summer to replace a Norwegian unit, but would not move them to the nation’s endangered south. 

“If we neglected the north,” where conditions are relatively peaceful, “we would commit a decisive mistake,” Mr. Jung said. 

In Ottawa, a spokeswoman for Opposition Leader Stephane Dion said Mr. Dion had been told by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that a parliamentary vote to extend Canada’s mission would be treated as a matter of confidence, meaning the minority government will fall if it fails. 

Canada has already said it will not extend the mission if other NATO countries do not increase their contributions.

In Tokyo, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime predicted that this year’s production of opium poppies would be close or equal to last year’s record of 477,000 acres. Taliban rebels receive up to $100 million from the drug trade, the agency estimated. 

The Taliban “are deriving an enormous funding for their war by imposing … a 10 percent tax on production,” said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. agency.

Mr. Gates told the Senate hearing that he worries “a great deal” about NATO evolving into “a two-tiered alliance, in which you have some allies willing to fight and die to protect peoples’ security, and others who are not.”

Overall, there are about 43,000 troops in the NATO-led coalition, including 16,000 U.S. troops. An additional 13,000 U.S. troops are outside NATO command, training Afghan forces and hunting al Qaeda terrorists.

Related:
SecDef Gates, Admiral Mullen Testify Before SASC

Libya and Vietnam Elected to Two-Year Terms on U.N. Security Council

October 18, 2007

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 17, 2007; Page A14

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 16 — Libya and Vietnam were elected overwhelmingly on Tuesday to serve two-year terms on the U.N. Security Council, marking the diplomatic revival of two of the United States’ former Cold War enemies, and raising the possibility of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi one day presiding over the world’s premier security body.

The vote in the U.N. General Assembly showed how much the ideological map has been redrawn at the United Nations since the Cold War, when U.S. troops battled communist forces in Vietnam and U.S. fighter jets bombed Tripoli in retaliation for Libya’s 1986 attack that killed two Americans at a Berlin nightclub frequented by U.S. servicemen.

Read the rest at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/16/
AR2007101601996.html

Countdown to Beijing Olympics

August 8, 2007

By Victor D. Cha
The Washington Post
Wednesday, August 8, 2007; Page A15

One year from today, Beijing will host the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Olympics. For two weeks we will be treated to athletic performances that animate dreams and inspire the world, set against the backdrop of one of the world’s most ancient and celebrated civilizations. That, at least, is the way Beijing would like to sell the Games. For better or worse, they will mark a critical crossroads in China‘s development as a responsible global player.

The Olympics have historically been a political event. Fascist and communist regimes tried to use the Games in Berlin in 1936 and Helsinki in 1952 to demonstrate the superiority of their political and social systems. The U.S. and Soviet boycotts of the 1980 (Moscow) and 1984 (Los Angeles) Olympics, respectively, were hardly the first time the Games were used politically. Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon did not participate in 1956 (Melbourne) because of the Suez crisis; Germany was banned from the 1920 Games for its actions in World War I; and South Africa faced bans because of its apartheid policy, to cite a few examples.

Read it all:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/07/
AR2007080701289.html