Archive for the ‘Britain’ Category

Don’t rush Georgia and Ukraine into NATO

December 2, 2008

Several scholars have recently come forward to say it may be too early to bring Ukraine and georgia into NATO — and thus anger Russia….

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By Michael O’Hanlon
The washington Times
According to press reports, the Bush administration is pursuing a final bold foreign policy move in its last weeks. Bypassing normal procedures, it wants European allies and Canada to agree to offer Georgia and Ukraine rapid membership into NATO.

This is a singularly bad idea, much more likely to worsen U.S.-Russia relations and increase the risk of war than to do any real good for the new democracies of Central Europe.

The idea might seem a natural response to Russia’s brutal invasion of Georgia in August, by any measure a disproportionate and unwarranted action in response to tensions over the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But as most now realize, Russia’s aggression, while unjustified, was not unprovoked. Among other things, Georgia had fired artillery rounds carelessly into disputed regions at the outset of the crisis. President Mikhail Saakashvili’s desire to reintegrate South Ossetia and Abkhazia back into Georgia proper, while understandable at one level, has been pursued with wanton disregard for the role of the international community and for the need to pursue this goal carefully and peacefully. Future policymaking must seek to deter not only Russia, but other regional actors, from the kind of irresponsible behavior that pushed the Caucasus toward all-out war just three months ago.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/200
8/dec/02/dont-rush-georgia-and-ukraine-into-nato/

 

By Charles King
The Washington Post
Sunday, November 30, 2008; Page B02

The tiny village of Ushguli lies in an emerald-green valley in the far north of the republic of Georgia. Hemmed in by the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus mountains, it’s a jumble of slate buildings flanking a glacier-fed stream. When I last visited, local elders showed me around the medieval stone towers that dot the countryside. A millennium ago, defense was a self-help game, and families erected private fortresses to guard against vengeful neighbors and foreign raiders.

Political leaders in the United States and Europe are careering down a path that could make faraway Ushguli the eastern border of NATO. Foreign ministers from the transatlantic alliance’s 26 member states will meet this week in Brussels to decide whether Georgia and Ukraine should take an important step toward membership. But Western leaders would be wise to act slowly, or the world’s most successful military alliance could become as irrelevant as the ancient watchtowers of the upland Caucasus.

Last April, NATO put off both countries’ applications but promised to revisit the issue in December. The August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia has sharpened the debate. To some Western observers, Russia’s intervention in Georgia demonstrated the need to expand the alliance and block Moscow’s imperial ambitions. Without the security guarantees provided by NATO membership, the logic goes, both Georgia and Ukraine will find themselves increasingly threatened by the bear lumbering forth from the Kremlin.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/2
8/AR2008112802251.html

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Massive Public Spending Hoped To End Global Recession

November 29, 2008

In a bid to jump-start the beleaguered global economy, countries around the world are introducing massive public spending programs aimed at creating millions of jobs, boosting the use of green energy and modernizing infrastructure in a way that could transform urban and rural landscapes.

The viability of some of the plans remains unclear. But observers say the number of countries moving in tandem underscores the perceived severity of the coming global recession and the view that governments must at least temporarily pick up the slack as the hard-hit private sector sheds jobs and cuts spending. 

 

By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 29, 2008; Page D01

It is time “to invest massively in infrastructure, in research, in innovation, in education, in training people, because it is now or never,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a recent public address.

World leaders are pursuing a variety of strategies to tame the economic crisis, including moves to unclog credit markets, strengthen financial institutions and ease monetary policy. But fiscal stimulus packages, in particular, have emerged as a favorite tool of policymakers. Some countries’ plans are particularly bold: China is accelerating projects to build more nuclear power plants and a vast natural gas pipeline; Italy may erect the first bridge connecting Sicily to mainland Europe.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/28
/AR2008112802660.html?hpid=topnews

Can You Name World’s Most Spoken Language Or Nations That Make Great Britain?

November 20, 2008

Most people do not know how many countries make up Britain or which is the world’s most spoken language, a national survey has found.

Telegraph (UK)
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More than half wrongly believe that English is the most common language, while just over a third (37%) correctly identified it as Mandarin Chinese.

And less than a quarter correctly identified England, Wales and Scotland as being the countries that make up Great Britain.

The poll of 2,000 adults was commissioned by geographic technology company ESRI UK to mark Geography Awareness Week.

It found that a quarter of people would like to be an explorer – although many have trouble identifying where cities such as Leeds and Sheffield are in England.

When asked to rank a list of UK cities, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham and Luton, in the order they are located, from north to south, eight in 10 correctly placed Newcastle and Luton.

But only half could only identify Leeds as the second most northerly, while a similar number put Sheffield correctly in third place.

The poll found that just under a quarter of people have visited a local attraction or museum in the last month.

Dr Rita Gardner, director of the Royal Geographical Society, said: “The poll raises some questions about how engaged people are with the many geographical issues in the wider world and about geographical factual knowledge.”

She added: “Good geographical knowledge and skills are vital for all of us, as responsible citizens, if we are to fully understand the nature of change in the world’s people, places and environments.”

Angela Baker, community programmes manager for ESRI (UK), said: “Geography helps us make sense of both our local surroundings but also the world’s bigger challenges like climate change, war, energy and poverty. It’s remarkable that so many people don’t know some simple facts like how many countries make up Great Britain.

“What is encouraging is that explorer came top in people’s preferred careers and that map-reading and compass skills beat being able to use a sat-nav.”

REFILE - CORRECTING FULL NAME OF APEC Chinese President Hu Jintao ...
There are 1.3 billion people in China and Chinese people live world-wide.  Here Chinese President Hu Jintao greets members of the Chinese community in Peru upon his arrival at Lima’s airport November 19, 2008. REUTERS/Handout/Andina Agency

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat
/3486403/Three-quarters-of-Brits-unable-to-name-Great
-Britains-three-countries.html

Somali Pirates, After Grabbing Biggest Prize, Negotiate for Loot

November 18, 2008

Vela International Marine Ltd, a Dubai-based marine company which operates the Saudi-owned Sirius Star, said it was working to secure the release of the supertanker and her crew.

A spokesman for the company said all 25 crew were believed to be safe.

The Saudi-owned vessel was hijacked on Saturday, 450 nautical miles south east of Mombasa.

The large oil tanker is owned by Saudi oil company Aramco but was sailing under a Liberian flag.

The Telegraph (UK)

Earlier, a spokesman for the Foreign Office had confirmed that two of those on board are British but could not give any details of their role on the ship.

US Navy spokesman Lieutenant Nate Christensen, of the 5th Fleet, said: “We don’t know the condition of the crew on board or the nature of the pirates’ demands. In cases like this what we typically see is a demand for money from the ship owners but we haven’t had that yet.

This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the Sirius ... 
This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the Sirius Star tanker conducting a trial run in South Korea. Somali pirates have hijacked the Saudi-owned oil tanker the Sirius Star off the Kenyan coast, the U.S. Navy said Monday, Nov. 17, 2008. The tanker owned by Saudi oil company Aramco, is 330 meters (1,080 feet), about the length of an aircraft carrier, making it one of the largest ships to sail the seas. It can carry about 2 million barrels of oil. Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, said the Sirius Star was carrying crude at the time of Saturday’s hijacking, but he did know how much.(AP Photo/ Newsis via Daewoo shipping yards and commissioned )

“We don’t know exactly where they are taking it but we know the town of Eyl is a pirate stronghold.”

Eyl is in the northern Puntland region of Somalia and has become notorious for pirate activity over the past months. Dozens of ships are thought to be being held captive there.

The supertanker is the largest ship to fall victim to pirates, the US Navy said. It is 1,080ft (330m) long and can carry about 2 million barrels of oil.

The hijack, which was the first successful attack so far out at sea, raises fears that international patrols nearer the coast and in the Gulf of Aden will not be enough to protect vital trade routes as pirate gangs become ever more audacious.

The Sirius Star was carrying a cargo of crude oil and had 25 crew members on board when it was attacked.

Related:
Somali Pirates Capture Biggest Prize Ever: “Supertanker” Loaded With Oil

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaand
indianocean/somalia/3475792/Somali-pirates-open-t
alks-for-release-of-hostage-crew-on-oil-tanker-
Sirius-Star.html

Mass Migration, Internet Threatens Britain’s National Security

November 17, 2008

Mass migration and the internet are increasing threats to Britain’s national security, according to former Home Secretary John Reid.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
The Telegraph (UK)

National crises which threatened the UK were happening far more than people thought, he added, and were no longer “one-off events”.

The MP for Airdie and Shotts, who will leave the House of Commons at the next general election, said he is setting up a new think tank called the Institute of Security and Resilience Studies.

The new centre will assess long term threats against the UK and other countries.

International migration had increased the range of threats against the UK after the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, he said.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “The chief characteristic of the world we have to face is mobility.

John Reid says mass migration threatens Britain's national security

Above: John Reid listed cyber attacks, pandemics, global warming and energy shortages as threats Photo: PHILIP HOLLIS

“Forty years ago, the Cold War meant that the borders were inviolate, extremist religious groups and ethnic tensions were suppressed, there was no internet and travel was difficult.

“Now you have a completely mobile world. So the great questions of mass migration, international crime and international terrorism were much higher than they were previously.”

The result was “far more sources of insecurity than ever before”, made worse by the advent of the internet which increased the interdependence of the world.

He said: “We have to recognise that on the net you can practically get the full DNA of the First World War flu that killed 24 million people.”

National emergencies were no longer one-off events, he said. “Crises are looked upon as very exceptional circumstances.

“Actually they occur a lot more than people think, a lot more often than people know and they are getting more regular.”

Threats were now cyber attacks, pandemics, global warming and energy shortages.

Politicians were forced to make key decisions under “huge pressure” from the internet and 24 hour news media. Too often Governments were “behind the curve” when trying to deal with new threats, he added.

“Countries, societies and economies that cannot develop better the capacity to prevent, resist and recover will be left vulnerable and exposed.”

The new institute would work on long term solutions with academics and the private sector to try to come up with long term solutions to help ministers on a “non-partisan” basis.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/
labour/3467978/Mass-migration-threatens-Britains
-national-security-says-John-Reid.html

British Troops Forced to “Make Do” Killed in Afghanistan by Taliban

November 15, 2008

Capt David Hicks, who was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry, told his girlfriend Nicola Billen that his men were “sitting ducks” at their makeshift base just days before he was killed in an attack.

In letters to Miss Billen, seen by The Daily Telegraph, he repeatedly spoke of his “frustration” that requests for equipment went unheard.

On several occasions he had asked for a doctor for be sent to the remote outpost called Inkerman base because they were being attacked twice a day by the Taliban.

But it was not until the officer was killed while leading the counterattack against the enemy on Aug 11 last year that a doctor was permanently stationed at the base.

By Thomas Harding
Defence Correspondent
The Telegraph, London

The coroner at Capt Hick’s inquest earlier this week criticised the Ministry of Defence for forcing troops to “make do” on the front line after the court also heard that the sand-bagged fortifications were poor.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/3459999/Officer-warned-of-equipment-
shortages-on-the-frontline-in-letters-to-his-fiancee.html

Russia minister says Moscow against new Iran sanctions

November 14, 2008

Russia is against fresh sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear programme as demanded by some Western powers, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov said on Friday.

“Russia is against the sanctions pushed forward by some of the six” powers involved in negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear programme, the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

“The Western countries are for the sanctions. China like Russia did not back it,” he added, a day after a meeting in Paris over the issue.

The political directors from China, Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States along with France and a representative for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana Thursday reaffirmed their twin-track approach of dialogue and sanctions.

A French foreign ministry statement stressed that the UN Security Council “reaffirmed the importance of the dual-track approach,” namely talking with Tehran while also considering imposing more sanctions on the regime if it fails to halt sensitive nuclear work.

Tehran maintains that it is enriching uranium only for peaceful purposes to generate power, while Western powers, especially Washington, suspect Iran of trying to develop an atomic bomb.

British troops out of Iraq by end of 2009

November 14, 2008

All British troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year, Iraq’s national security advisor said on Friday, days before Baghdad was expected to vote on a controversial US military pact.

“By the end of next year there will be no British troops in Iraq. By the end of 2009,” Muwafaq al-Rubaie said, adding that negotiations between London and Baghdad on the pull-out had begun two weeks ago.

AFP

A defence ministry spokesman in London said in response that Britain has “no timetable” for the withdrawal of its roughly 4,000 troops in Iraq, the vast majority of which are based in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

 

“At the minute, we have no timetable,” the spokesman told AFP.

“We are hopefully making progress, we have made progress in Basra, and we are on course to meet the prime minister’s fundamental change of mission in 2009,” the spokesman said, reiterating previously-stated plans.

Baghdad has been racing to secure separate agreements with both Britain and the United States to replace the UN mandate currently governing the presence of foreign troops in the country, which expires December 31.

Iraq’s cabinet was expected to vote on the so-called Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a wide-ranging US military pact, either Saturday or Sunday. The two sides have been wrangling over the document for months.

 

Rubaie insisted however that the agreement Iraq sought with the British was simpler and would not take as much time to complete.

“It will be a much shorter agreement with the UK,” Rubaie said. “And it progresses quite nicely. It’s much shorter and much simpler.”

He added that by the middle of next year there would be a “dramatic” reduction of British troops.

Read the rest:
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=081114152119.wticcipl&show_article=1

Global Economic Mess Makes G-20 Summit Sober, Serious, Anti-Junket

November 14, 2008

There are no plans for sightseeing tours, shopping sprees or three-anything lunches when leaders from 20 countries, accompanied by large delegations of officials, business people and journalists, visit the capital during the next two days for a world economic summit.
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By Pamela Constable 
Washington Post Staff Writer

Instead, the event promises to be brief, sober and businesslike, in keeping with the grim financial outlook facing every country at the summit, including the host, and the timing of the meeting during a power lull between administrations in Washington.

“There will not be much time. Our delegation will arrive at 6 p.m. tomorrow and leave right after the meeting and possibly a press conference Saturday,” Emanuel Lenain, a spokesman for the French Embassy, said yesterday. Between formal discussions, he said, President Nicolas Sarkozy “will work and work.” His glamorous wife, former model Carla Bruni, will not be with him, and he will attend tonight’s White House dinner alone.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/13/AR2008111304039.html

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G-20 To Consider Monitoring World Banking Among Proposal

By Anthony Faiola and Glenn Kessler

Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, November 14, 2008; Page A01

Nations are close to adopting a series of measures aimed at combating a global recession and laying the groundwork for a broad reconstruction of the international financial system, as world leaders arrive in Washington for a major economic summit this weekend.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/13
/AR2008111303844.html

Ministers must not resort to ‘cheap options’ on defence, says British Army chief

November 14, 2008

Ministers must not take “cheap options” when it comes to equipping the Armed Forces to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the head of the British Army warns today.

By Con Coughlin
The Telegraph (London)
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In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, General Sir Richard Dannatt says the Government has an “absolute responsibility” to provide the best training and equipment for the British men and women serving on the front line.

“If you are committing young people to battle they have to be given the best, and when circumstances change they have to be given the best again,” he said.

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt warns ministers must not take

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt warns ministers must not take “cheap options” when it comes to equipping the Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

His comments came as the Ministry of Defence announced the death of two Royal Marines in southern Afghanistan, taking the British death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan to 300.

Gen Dannatt, who will retire from the Army next year, has been outspoken on defence issues since taking up his post in 2006.

In 2006, he warned that the Army could ‘break’ if British soldiers were kept too long in Iraq.

And in a leaked report last year, Gen Dannatt warned that years of Government under-funding and overstretch had left troops feeling “devalued, angry and suffering from Iraq fatigue.”

With Britain now preparing to withdraw its 4,000 troops from Iraq next year, pressure is mounting – from sources including Barack Obama, the US president-elect — for more British forces to be sent to Afghanistan.

But Gen Dannatt said that no more British troops should go to Afghanistan, insisting that the Army only has the manpower and resources to fight one foreign war at a time.

“The reason the Army has been under such pressure for the past three years is that we are committed to fighting two wars when we are only structured to fight one,” said Gen. Dannatt. “If we were to move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan we would simply replicate the problems.”

He said that many improvements had been made in equipping front line troops during the past two years, but serious consideration needed to be given as to whether it was sufficient that only 5 per cent of the government’s budget was devoted to defence spending.

“Is the amount the government spends on defence the right proportion?” he asked. “There are no cheap options on defence.”

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/
defence/3454085/Ministers-must-not-resort-to-
cheap-options-on-defence-says-British-Army-chief.html