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daily archive: 05/29/2005
evariste in Discarded Lies:
The Mini-Me Military Superpower
NATO's Rapid Reaction Force is quickly becoming a reality

The NATO Rapid Wha?

Donald Rumsfeld proposed the idea of a NATO Rapid Response Force in September 2002, and it was inaugurated with 9,500 troops barely a year later. It's expected to gear up to 21,000 men by October, 2006, and is already capable of taking on the full range of its missions or serving as part of a larger force. NATO is a far more credible military power to contend with when it has the ability to rapidly project force globally. The NATO Rapid Response Force should be able to deploy anywhere within 5 days and operate independently for 30 days thereafter. Message: don't mess with NATO...we can reach out and touch you, and we can stay long enough to hurt you.

What's happening to make it a reality?

The troops involved in a multinational force like the Rapid Response Force have to work well together, and training together lets them know what they can expect when they fight together. So large training exercises to shake out all the bugs are an essential part of certifying a motley military force of this nature, especially when the forces are on a rotating basis as they are in NATO's Rapid Reaction Force. The French are in Norfolk, Virginia on board their only aircraft carrier, the nuclear Charles de Gaulle, and a submarine—as are the Spanish. They're part of a just-concluded five-nation, 18-ship, 17,000-sailor NATO exercise (Multinational Maritime Exercise 05-01—MNME, pronounced Mini-me) in the West Atlantic to certify troops for the NATO Rapid Response Force, which is quickly leaping off the drawing board to become a reality. One of the major exercises carried out was landing planes on the decks of each others' carriers, a major step towards interoperability of NATO warfighting assets. Other major recent exercises include Loyal Mariner '05, which ended the 29th of April, in the North Sea and Scandinavian waters, and ending on June 1st, Operation Allied Action to test NATO's sea-based headquarters capabilities, involving 30 nations and 2,500 personnel.

We've got it, let's use it! What's the mission?

It's meant to be able to rapidly deploy anywhere and operate independently for a good long while. It isn't meant to replace a superpower, but it can play one for long enough to make a difference a lot of the time. It is intended to have a very flexible and general list of capabilities, including civilian evacuation, crisis management in the wake of major disasters like WMD detonation, peacekeeping, counterterrorism, embargoes and littoral force projection (sea to land, or in other words, Marines). Allied Action '05 was partially about the latter capability. If several government officials and former government officials including Madeleine Albright and Robin Cook who put their names to an International Herald Tribune editorial have their way, a brigade of the Rapid Response Force may be used to augment the African Union forces in Darfur until they can stand on their own two feet. They're 2,500 African troops trying to protect villagers from militias in an area the size of France. The idea has some merit, though 30 days of NATO's presence might not be sufficient to change things in the long run it'll certainly turbocharge the AU forces' mission. As Rumsfeld said of the Rapid Response Force last year, "Now the task is to use it. There's no use having it if you don't use it." Indeed, Rummy.

What are the strategic implications for the US, the EU, and the world?

The US will still be the superpower of last resort. But this new NATO capability can play the role of a formidable superpower of convenience, handling situations that previously required US intervention as they crop up. If you can project power at will like a superpower, backed ultimately by the full arsenal and might of the superpower, for all intents and purposes, you're a pretty good simulacrum of a superpower. The NATO Rapid Reaction Force is like a UN with teeth, claws, and moral legitimacy—and it's a lot harder to get into NATO than it is to get into the UN. The League of Democracies, introduced by stealth? Perhaps.

What does this bode for Europe's own defense pretensions and ambitions? With Europe's limited defense resources, NATO's gain is the nascent EU response force's loss. There's lots of overlap, and an EU response force doesn't offer enough to differentiate itself from NATO's force. As the US would have no say whatsoever in the decisions, goals, structure and deployments of an EU-only response force, this is a huge win for the US. It keeps NATO relevant, and the US and Europe tightly bound. It's also a huge win for Europe, which I'll get to in a moment.

Whereas the de-facto nature of the NATO mutual defense ties of the past was dramatically lop-sided and not very mutual, from here on out, Europe is contributing mightily to a force that keeps them interoperable with the American military machine, keeps them in the US orbit, and gives them real teeth. Europe can't or won't pay to be the military superpower it could be based on population, technological know-how, martial tradition and economic base. Instead of being America's vassal in NATO over defense matters (including, humiliatingly, in its own backyard in Kosovo), it can now be America's active partner in maintaining the peace and deterring aggression.

Mini-Me is a fortuitous acronym for the Multinational Maritime Exercise, because to me, it looks like, in this new NATO force, a Mini-Me counterpart to the US's Dr. Evil has been created. The ability to rapidly deploy a near American-quality multinational military force under the NATO aegis for up to thirty days is a major event on the world scene. It's a major development in the history of NATO, a qualitative shift the importance of which cannot be understated. Europe has arrived, and they're ready to fight.

Earlier, I said that the US will continue to be "the superpower of last resort"; I made the allusion purposefully (if you didn't get it, a nation's central bank is said to be "the lender of last resort"). In investment terms, this is a major liquidity event, brought about by the invention of a new financial instrument. This new instrument created liquidity where there was none in the defense market by unleashing previously stagnant, locked-up resources: Europe's military might. Europe is a collection of nations with separate, balkanized defense budgets and high social spending. They can't, and if trends hold, never will find room to invest the high levels of sustained spending required to become a superpower. They're too far behind to catch up to the USA.

The world-changing financial instrument that is the new NATO force offers several benefits to the investor. It lets him buy the product called "defense" in the same-sized chunks as before, while contributing to a superpower-like military force, previously an impossible dream. It allows his forces to piggyback on, and keep current with, the most formidable and advanced, battle-tested military hardware platform in existence, provided by the United States at no extra cost. Of course, I'd be remiss in failing to mention the overwhelming advantage brought to forces that link into network of networks, the information and communications platform that has revolutionized the American way of war. Standardization and the network effect alone will continue to keep all of the militaries involved closely tied, interdependent, and more capable than they would be for twice as much money outside the arrangement. And the investor's troops improve by being exposed to training with other militaries, many battle-hardened, and eventually, by going on missions themselves. It gives the investor compelling dividends that the investor cannot easily achieve independently, and makes use of assets that were previously stagnant. Cash under the mattress is now money in the bank, financing ongoing ventures. Everybody wins.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Surging on short notice
Five Navy ships carrying 2800 sailors were ordered to surge on very short notice to the Balkans and Middle East to support Global War on Terror operations, as part of the Navy's relatively new Fleet Response Plan to keep the fleet at a high state of readiness and more rapidly deploy it. The Fleet Response Plan got its first workout last year when seven aircraft carrier strike groups were simultaneously surged in an awesome demonstration of US power and global reach. It was called Summer Pulse '04.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The 2005 Miss Universe contest will be held in Bangkok on Monday.

I don't watch pageants but my grandma does and then talks my ear off about the girls. Well not all of the girls, usually just about Miss Greece, how beautiful she is and how tall she is and how smart she is and how she saved a child from being run over by a truck - several children she's saved!- and how she cured AIDS and how everyone loves her. Grandma was so happy when Greece won the Eurovision contest, she forgot to complain about the weather and the plumbing and the neighbors and the arthritis in her ear. I sincerely hope the Greek contestant wins this one too.

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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Mrs. Myrtle Simpson cares
From brilliantly funny Glen Wishard:
Years ago I was a member of Amnesty International. I bought bookfuls of airmail stamps. I wrote letters to prison wardens in Poland, Peru, and Cuba. They were very nice letters, and I spent hours working on them. I hope the US Postal Inspectors enjoyed them very much.

There was definite focus to AI. The focus was on the prevention of torture and imprisonment for non-crimes. Members did not address letters to their own governments. The point was objective devotion to simple common principles, and politics was right out of it. In fact, AI still claims "A.I. is carefully impartial. It does not support or oppose any government or political system." Only now it's a pathetic lie.

The rot set in the Eighties, and the first indication I had of the calamity was this: Suddenly, every dirtstick Rock Star on the planet was in Amnesty International. This was a fatal and irreversible development. AI might have survived an influx of Bulgarian KGB agents or Cthulhu worshippers, but not the likes of Jackson Browne.

AI had always been based on the power of the ordinary citizen - appealing to reason, not celebrity. It was ordinary people speaking out for ordinary people. Mrs. Myrtle Simpson knows what you're doing to Omar Zamani in your Iranian prison, and Mrs. Myrtle Simpson cares. After all, there but for the Grace of God goes Mrs. Myrtle Simpson. And if she knows and cares, imagine how many other people do.
Enjoy the rest of the post: Goodbye, Amnesty International
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
No Sharia is good Sharia
Canadian Muslim women welcome rejection of sharia tribunals
The Canadian Council of Muslim Women has welcomed the Quebec National Assembly’s unanimous adoption of a motion declaring that no Muslim tribunals for family matters will be allowed in the province, and that the laws of Quebec will apply to all its residents, regardless of religion, ethnicity or culture.
Conservative Islamic groups in neighbouring Ontario province have been campaigning for an enactment that will allow family matters relating to Muslims to be adjudicated upon under sharia. The bid has been opposed by progressive Muslims and several women’s groups, with the latter taking the position that if the move is successful, it would abridge women’s rights and place them at the mercy of those who hold anti-feminist and puritanical views.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Determined to boycott
Jews are evacuating Gaza, Bush is giving more money to Palestinians and Israel is releasing Palestinian prisoners. None of that matters to some people though, the hate must go on: British academics try another boycott
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Le Grand Non
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Junk Science
For over sixty years, women with otosclerosis, a degenerative ear disease, have been advised to not get pregnant because they would lose their hearing completely. Dr. Lippy, a Jewish otologist conducting research in Israel, has found no correlation between pregnancy and progressive deafness in women who have the disease and he says this advice was based on Nazi theories of eugenics.
The 1939 paper described the results of a meeting where such evidence was presented.

"There were nine doctors at that meeting, and only three felt that otosclerosis was made worse by pregnancy," Lippy said. "But, there was a Nazi Party administrator there, and he made a eugenic decision to eliminate the disease from the Aryan race."

All pregnant women with otosclerosis had to report to a government agency, the Nazis decreed. The study reported that 79 such women presented themselves; 69 of them were made to have abortions and 23 were sterilized as well.

Since then, the connection between pregnancy and otosclerosis has been accepted without challenge.
Jewish doc disproves Nazi view of hearing loss
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guest author: longwhitecloud in Discarded Lies:
Speaking up for New Zealand
I did not post on this thread as the suppositions were somewhat simplistic and, dare I say it, unfair. The 'stinky hippy' mentality has never had any bearing on NZ Government policy and, though we do have a Greens Party, they're currently polling at 2.5% . There is always much more to any issue than can be gleaned from one article (and from the Christian Science Monitor at that!). I hope you will allow me to give you some background information.

The nuclear-free policy of the then Labour Government was widely supported at the time and still is to a large extent. Unlike Australia, NZ has no mineral resources and no heavy industry, and relies mainly on agriculture and tourism to survive. We are winning accolades as a desirable tourist destination and people seem to appreciate the country's natural beauty and our 'clean/green' image. We do have a projected energy crisis, but the nuclear option is seen as too high a price to pay. The issue of nuclear-powered ship visits has to be seen in this context, as well as in that of French nuclear testing in our back yard, not as anti-USA sentiment per se. However, it has to be acknowledged that the US would not necessarily come to our aid, or the aid of any other nation, unless it was in their interests to do so and we understand that reality. Furthermore, in a changing world, regional conflicts are increasingly being dealt with regionally; thus Australia and NZ were active in East Timor and more recently in Bougainville and the Solomons. We share a common heritage, and have always had very close relations, economically, culturally and politically.

The issue of beefing up the military has everything to do with NZ's upcoming election and not much to do with other considerations, although the Opposition parties may like to score points by suggesting otherwise. The main purpose of the cash injection is to deal with personnel retention problems and the need to upgrade equipment. Since the end of the Vietnam War, New Zealand has done its fair share in logistical support, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. A national characteristic is that we tend not to blow our own trumpet but just quietly get on with the job. Australia gained a lot of kudos over its enormous level of support for the tsunami victims - over a billion A$ as against NZ$65 million. But what wasn't said was that Australia's contribution was mostly in loans, whereas ours was an outright donation.

You state: "They don't plan on developing the ability to project power or defend themselves from maritime attack, still leaving it to Australia's fighting men". The prospect of maritime attack is seen as fairly remote. Under what circumstances do you envisage such a scenario and for what reason? Australia is geographically extremely close to Indonesia and is a far more attractive and likely prospect for invasion than we are. The perception that NZ is some kind of parasite feeding off its richer neighbour is inaccurate and unjustified. We are not a major power, nor are we remotely like Canada in size, population, influence or wealth, and do not pretend to be. Bear in mind that the total population of NZ is equal to that of Los Angeles or Sydney with a tax base of approximately 2 million people. No one in their right mind would expect LA or Sydney to support a huge modern fighting force independently, and shouldn't be surprised that NZ can't either.

To fill in some gaps, and to put the whole anti-nuclear issue in context, you may be interested in an opinion piece about NZ's disgust with the French (and Chirac in particular) at the time of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. This was during the tenure of the same Labour administration which banned nuclear ship visits. It may also give you some understanding of the difficulties small nations face.

"[French secret service agents] Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur not only evaded justice for their part in blowing up the ship and killing Spanish photographer Fernando Pereira but were honoured by their country and have written books boasting about their roles.

Unfortunately, as New Zealand discovered at the time of the bombing, it is a great deal harder to get any sort of justice in the international arena. Indeed, with the 20th anniversary coming up on July 10 - and Rainbow Warrior 2 in port - it is instructive to recall just what went on. The protest ship was attacked, remember, by the agents of one of our supposed allies, France, a country in whose defence New Zealanders have fought and died in two world wars. Not only that, when two of the agents were caught and pleaded guilty to manslaughter, far from being apologetic, France exerted huge trade pressure in support of their release.

Things got so ugly that United Nations Secretary-General Xavier Perez de Cuellar agreed to act as a mediator and the terms of settlement he came up with were incorporated in a formal treaty between the two countries. The agents were allowed to serve out their prison terms in the French Pacific territory of Hao Atoll while the French agreed to pay some modest compensation and to forgo trade sanctions.

At the first opportunity, however, the French breached those terms and, to add insult to injury, not long after announced the resumption of nuclear testing in the South Pacific. And who presided over that ignominious chapter? Why, none other than Jacques Chirac, first as Prime Minister and later as President, a man of whom David Lange, our prime minister at the time, said: "Chirac is a lying sod. Chirac is the person who brought two people off the island of Hao in absolute defiance of the treaty with New Zealand. He is the ultimate manipulator of opinion in terms of his own self-advancement and I wouldn't trust a word that he wrote or that he said."

I couldn't help recalling those words when our Government was idolising Chirac as a great statesman and noble peacemaker for his opposition to the United States invasion of Iraq. It's awful to be cynical but I do have this faint suspicion that maybe Chirac's stance had more to do with advancing French commercial interests and boosting his own image than any belated conversion to the cause of peace. Then again, cynicism is a useful tool for anyone trying to understand the workings of international relations, in which national interest has always come a long way ahead of noble principles.

Relations between countries have changed little in the 2500 years since Thucydides reports the Athenians telling the Melians: "You know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."

In such a world, small countries have two basic options: place their faith in international bodies such as the UN or hang on to the coat-tails of a bigger power and look to it for protection. Australia, with its memories of World War II - when the likelihood of a Japanese invasion was halted only by American victories at Midway and the Coral Sea - has thrown its lot in with the US. New Zealand, which has always been remote from conflict, looks mainly to the UN. At the time of the Rainbow Warrior bombing we were out of favour with erstwhile allies such as the US and Britain because of our anti-nuclear policy, and they were not prepared to raise a murmur of protest at the appalling French behaviour. [emphasis added]

So, as a firm believer in multilateral solutions to international problems, it was to the UN we turned for help. Unfortunately, as we know, it didn't work out too well. The settlement itself was a disgrace since it's hard to imagine any other circumstance in which international terrorists would be released to their national territory to serve out their terms in comfort. And France was able to ignore even the minor obligations it owed.

The sad reality is that the UN is, in the classic Maoist sense, a paper tiger. It can open its mouth and snarl. But competing national interests mean it is rarely free to bite. And if it ever is set loose it depends on other countries to provide the teeth and ends up with a set of ill-fitting dentures. As a result the UN wasn't able to bring France to heel when it gave the Secretary-General the finger. We were left gnashing our tiny teeth in impotent rage. That raises two questions for New Zealanders to ponder: Is there any prospect of us facing a similar or worse international confrontation in the foreseeable future? And, if one does arise, would the UN be of any greater use next time around?"

Contrary to the 'stinky hippy' stereotype, we have a vibrant society which encourages debate and is highly literate and informed. In the interests of fairness, I hope you will look beyond the stereotypes and have a re-think about NZ's place in the world and our quiet contribution to it.

All the best.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Faithful geriatric soldiers of Japan
It's hard to comprehend in hedonistic 21st century America, but Yoshio Yamakawa and Tsuzuki Nakauchi have been refusing to surrender along with the rest of their country since sixty years ago. They've finally agreed to return home from the hills of the Philippine island where they were found. Japanese individual service to social cohesion is really something. Japanese social psychology plays a strong role in this:
A very important aspect of Japanese culture deals with that of psychology. When logically looking at what influences decision-making in Japan, one must wonder about the relationship between individualness and group dependence that exists in Japan. Doi, a noted Japanese psychiatrist, stated that the "Japanese are less eager to state personal opinions than to form consensus..." {Fetters 1995}, [p. 376]. From this a dependence (amae) on the group is born, where from that, a set of twins are born, tatemae and honne. These two terms are the backbone of much that occurs in Japanese society. Tatemae is the outer, social self, and honne is the inner more private self. These two are used when most appropriate in a given context. I can recall several times in Japan where my heart wanted to go one way, but realization that if that were to occur, my loyalty to the group would be put into question, and in order to stray from possible ostracism, which is not something to be grappled with, I utilized my tatemae. Thus, when conflict occurs between what one feels and what one shows, they must think about how their actions will affect how they are perceived by the entire group.
(A thimbleful of cognac to Joe Katzman for the last link). Read about Yoshio and Tsuzuki after the jump...
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
One click, two quizzes!
Okay, today's quizzes are: "what classic movie are you?" and "which famous leader are you?" But you know what's really cool? If you click here, you get both quizzes for the price of one click! How economical is that?! So economize, comrades! If you have two clicks, give one to your neighbor! Don't click-hoard! And no more washing your underwear with hot water! Hot water is for senior comrades only!

(a bucket of hot water to floranista)
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