Archive for March, 2010


March 18, 2010

The Pennsylvania woman calling herself “JihadJane” has reportedly confessed to the FBI that she was involved in the plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks. She did that shortly after her arrest in Philadelphia in October 2009. The artist had published a drawing of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog.

Colleen LaRose, 46, made a trip to Europe and met coconspirators in Ireland.

AP on March 18, 2010 reported that:

LaRose spent most of her life in Texas, where she dropped out of high school, married at 16 and again at 24, and racked up a few minor arrests. After a second divorce, she followed a boyfriend to Pennsylvania in about 2004. As she moved through her 40s without a job or any outside hobbies, her boyfriend said, she started spending more time online.

Before leaving America for Europe she had made an online pledge to try to kill in the name of Allah. A Jihadist had told her in a March 2009 e-mail to go to Sweden to find the artist, Lars Vilks. She wrote back that she would make it her goal to achieve it or die trying. Her blonde looks would help her to blend in.

In Sweden the artist has questioned the sophistication of the plotters. Still, he said he was glad LaRose never got to him. She had written the Swedish embassy in March 2009 to ask how to obtain residency. In September she joined his online artists group. There is however no proof that she got to Sweden.



March 17, 2010

In Washington Post Robert Kagan (March 17, 2010) points out that it is not only Israel that is feeling uneasy about U.S. protection. President Obama has chosen to be critical of Israel in a field where the opinion is very strong in the Jewish state: Jerusalem. For the Israelis Jerusalem has been, is and will be the capital city. It has been strongly demonstrated with the dedication ceremony of the Hurva Synagogue in the middle of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. It is more than a house of prayer. It is connected with important historical events: Herzl’s visit, a recruitment ceremony of Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Jewish Legion and the honoring of pro-Zionist British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel. As far back as in the Second Century CE, a synagogue existed on the Hurva site. Twice destroyed and twice rebuilt Hurva is a symbol of the Jewish people’s tenacious insistence on returning to its rightful land against all odds.

The British are wondering about the “special relationship” with America and why the help in Iraq and Afghanistan has not been appreciated. East European countries are afraid that the United States is abandoning them to Russian encroachment and is not the reliable security guarantor it used to be.

In Asia it is the same thing with Japan. Can America be counted on? President George W. Bush opened a strategic partnership with India. What is happening under the Obama administration? Support of Pakistan in the Global War on Terror is important but what about India. Why is the new strategic partnership with that emerging superpower not continued at full strength?

Kagan is right. There is a global feeling of American declinism since early 2009. Of course the hegemon is still strong both economically and militarily. The only problem is that the traditional grand strategy is lacking, a strategy that resulted in Cold War victory.

Towards the end of the WP article Kagan wrote:

While displaying more continuity than discontinuity in his policies toward Afghanistan, Iraq and the war against terrorism, and garnering as a result considerable bipartisan support for those policies, Obama appears to be departing from a 60-year-old American grand strategy when it comes to allies. The old strategy rested on a global network of formal military and political alliances, mostly though not exclusively with fellow democracies. The idea, Averell Harriman explained in 1947, was to create “a balance of power preponderantly in favor of the free countries.” Under Bill Clinton, and the two Bushes, relations with Europe and Japan, and later India, were deepened and strengthened.

President Obama in 2009 had no experience in foreign policy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s only experience in foreign affairs was as wife of Bill Clinton.

Kagan is correct. What the West needs is an American grand strategy based on a network of formal military and political alliances. The president should be lauded for his war policies in Afghanistan, Iraq and what he does not want to call the Global War on Terror.

A prudent containment on China must in the opinion of this blogger be based on strong relations with Japan and India in an era when the United States is increasingly turning to the Asian rimland for geopolitical strength. This does not mean, of course, that Europe should be left out of the picture completely but the Old Continent should be encouraged to bear more of the defense costs of freedom and democracy on the North Atlantic front.


March 15, 2010

The former deputy commander, Lt. General Sir Robert Fry said in Wall Street Journal (March 15, 2010) of the multinational forces in Iraq that “Europe needs a more unified defense capability if it is to continue to contest a role on the world stage.”

In the emerging new world order Europe should create conventional forces under a European banner. The growing global polarization calls for a more defined European defense capability:

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Europe, he said that in an increasingly polarized world, Europe needs a better defined and more unified European defense capability. Sir Robert further stated in WSJ:

What we don’t have in Europe is any capable mechanism for command at anything other than a small scale.

It is only if there is a greater sense of a European identity that we can possibly contest a role to play on the world stage and continue to guarantee our trading links in a globalized environment dominated by rising powers.

It has been pointed out on this blog that Europe cannot continue to depend on a U.S. defense umbrella. It has the economic resources for much stronger investments in continental defense. As the United States in the coming decades will more focus on Asia it is important that Europe enlarges its defense spending. It is also most likely that besides East Asia the United States has to provide protection in the Middle East against a nuclear threat from Iran. Arab states would have to strengthen their defense budgets and modernize existing weapons systems.

It is time for Europe to accept more responsibilities for its own defense. History teaches that an almost unarmed power cannot survive. Europe needs to share more of the defense burden of the West.


March 12, 2010

On March 12, 2010, Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court began proceedings on the so called Tiitinen list, which is said to contain the names of 20 prominent Finns, who were agents of Stasi, the notorious East German state security ministry. The court will rule on the question of the release of a copy of the list to a Finnish reporter by Finland’s Security Police (Supo). In 2008 the Helsinki Administrative Court ordered Supo to disclose the list, but Supo appealed the judgement.

A Finnish newspaper has reported that one name on the list is Riitta Juntunen, a spokeswoman of the Central Organization of Trade Unions. Her Stasi code name was “Kati” and she was paid 70 000 West German marks for handing over 940 pages of reports to Stasi between 1979 and 1985.

In November 2009 a former East German colleague of Juntunen, Petra Sauerzapf-Poser, said that the Finnish agent had denounced her to the Stasi.


March 12, 2010

Containment was an important geopolitical weapon of the West against the Soviet tyranny during the Cold War. After the collapse of the regime in 1991 there has been no challenger to Western civilisation and its American hegemon until the rise of China and its civilization after 2000.

China has all the characteristics of a challenger: it is a large landmass in East Asia with the largest population in the world, it has access to the ocean and a strong, growing economy as well as military and the ambition to become number one. The military build-up has been ongoing for two decades and the regime now has access to a network of satellites, anti-satellite weapons, a cyber warfare system, attack submarines, cruise missiles and soon aircraft carriers. Most importantly it is building a huge ballistic missile force. Furthermore, there is a strong naval build-up. Recent naval strategic thinking in Peking has been influenced by the geopolitical ideas of American Alfred Thayer Mahan. Using the ideas of Mahan the Chinese are studying Mahan’s works on command of the sea, control of communications at sea and of strategic passages in the Pacific. Chinese control of the Pacific would be a dangerous challenge to the United States.

Now is the time for the United States to prepare for geopolitical containment of China. It is soon 1948 all over again but this time in Asia. Again the thinking of Dutch-American geopolitician Nicholas Spykman is relevant. Spykman believed the Asian Rimland was of great importance for an American hegemon and warned that China would be the strongest power in East Asia. The United States needed to ensure that no power rose to become dominant in that rimland.

Currently two powers along with the United States and Japan are containing China: Russia in the north and India to the south. In the case of Russia it is doubtful if it has enough military, demographic and economic strength in Siberia. The probable future geostrategic breakout of China will be to the east, into the Pacific Ocean. Here are two important barriers: Japan and Taiwan. They form a kind of Gibraltar to the “Asiatic Mediterranean”. Abandonment of Taiwan would therefore be a “strategic disaster” for the United States and the West. Thus a concentration of containment in the Taiwan and Malacca Straits are of utmost importance.

Other necessary preparations would be the strengthening of U.S. nuclear deterrent forces in East Asia, strategic cooperation with India and the securing of Afghanistan and Pakistan against Jihadist terrorists. The alliances with Japan and South Korea should be strengthened. A strong NATO is needed along with possibly a Pacific Ocean Treaty Organization (POTO). Singapore and Australia are other partners of strategic importance.

During the Cold War the United States and its allies did not use the weaknesses of the Soviet Union until the 1980s during the administration of Ronald Reagan and the premiership of Margaret Thatcher. Containment policies in respect to China ought to include the exploitation of future domestic unrest in China and the economic instability of that country (the economic development in China has been restricted to the coastal areas so that the inland masses are a growing potential danger to the regime in Peking).

It is also time to study more in detail in the United States the shift of geopolitical focus from the North Atlantic and Europe to the Far East and the Pacific. America is a two ocean continent and the Pacific coast in the west is growing in importance as it is becoming a front in the containment policy towards China. In 2001 the ongoing Global War on Terror was the beginning of a growing focus of the United States on Asia. The added focus of containment on China will contribute to the geostrategic shift to Asia and the Pacific. This could be combined with a strengthening of European military forces and a greater European participation in Russia policy of the West. There has for a long time been a need for stronger European defense commitments. A shift of focus from Europe to Asia of the United States would mean greater responsibility of NATO’s European partners for the defense of the own continent while the American partner can concentrate more on the rimland of Asia.


March 11, 2010

The most enduring campaign of slander in recent years has been against Hero of Ukraine Stepan Bandera. Like Hetman Ivan Mazepa he is now a part of Ukrainian history. After Bandera was designated Hero of Ukraine in January 2010 new campaigns of vilification has erupted. The disinformation has even spread into the European Parliament. One fabricated charge against Bandera and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) is that Germans controlled the leadership of the organization. How could that be possible if Bandera and others had already been placed under house arrest in July 1941? These arrests were followed by mass arrests of other leading members of the OUN.

Only Mykola Lebed, who had been designated leader, managed to escape. The German security services issued an all-points bulletin with Lebed’s picture, warning that he was armed and dangerous. Lebed managed to escape but his wife Daria was less fortunate. She was captured and sent to Ravensbrueck concentration camp. So the question is: how did the OUN conduct its collaboration with Nazis – from the underground or inside concentration camps?

The events in July 1941 were triggered by the unilateral decision of the OUN leadership to proclaim in Lviv on June 30, 1941 the Restoration of the Ukrainian State without consulting with the Germans. OUN with this declaration challenged the German policy of converting Eastern Europe into a German colony.

After June 30 German documents described OUN as “Traveling Bandera-Propaganda Groups” and in September 1941 as “Ukrainian political agents of the Bandera Movement”. These were to be placed in the category of undesirable individuals. A German order was issued to the effect that all “functionaries of the Bandera Movement are to be immediately arrested and, after thorough investigation, secretly liquidated as pillagers”. Bandera could not function as leader as he had been placed in concentration camp in Germany in 1941 not to be released until October 1944.

A German report in November 1944 on the “National-Ukrainian resistance movement UPA” concluded that OUN was hostile not only against Poles and Bolshevism but also against the German administration. The fight was directed against the Germans, Soviets, and Poles. After occupation of Ukraine by the Red Army UPA was fighting exclusively against the Soviets. German documents is far better evidence than rehashed Soviet propaganda now used in the campaign against Bandera and other heroes of the Ukrainian liberation struggle.

An important aspect of the new propaganda campaign against Bandera and other Ukrainian resistance fighters is the claim that Ukrainian resistance committed atrocities in Lviv before June 30, 1941. When OUN groups entered Lviv they saw the results of the Soviet reign of terror there. Prisons were filled with mutilated and decomposing corpses of prisoners. In Brygidky Prison the corpse of the brother of the Commander in Chief of the UPA, General Roman Shukhevych, was found. According to the Soviet NKVD director of jails, Filippov, 2,464 prisoners had been executed in the prisons of Lviv before the Germans entered the city.

An important aspect of the present propaganda campaign against Bandera and OUN is that no claims of “OUN atrocities” and “criminal acts” in Ukraine were brought up by the Soviets during the Nuremberg Trials. The fabrications came later. One campaign was started 14 years after the end of the Second World War in connection with a propaganda campaign against Theodor Oberlander, the Minister for Displaced Persons, Refugees and Victims of War for the Federal Republic of Germany, who had served in the German Army in Ukraine. He was accused by the Soviets of organizing mass murders in Lviv in 1941. The disinformation campaign at that time was organized by Soviet State Security, KGB. The objective as stated in a letter to the chairman of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR, Vitalii Nikitchenko, was to compromise Oberlander and the Ukrainian nationalists. In September 1959 Stepan Bandera was assassinated on orders of the KGB by Ukrainian agent Bohdan Stashynsky in Munich, Germany.

In October 1959 East German communist propagandists called a press conference, which marked the beginning of a campaign against Oberlander. He was indicted by an East German court and found guilty in April 1960. In reality KGB and Stasi were seeking to defame Oberlander as federal minister and Chancellor Adenauer of Germany. The East German campaign moved to West Germany when left wing members of the Association of Victims of the Nazi Regime (VVN) delivered evidence to the Public Prosecutor of West Germany, charging him with crimes committed in Lviv in 1941. The trial in West Germany of Minister Oberlander led to acquittal as all accusations against him were found baseless and rejected. After the defection of the Soviet assassin of Stepan Bandera to the West, Stashynsky was tried in Germany in October 1962. The presiding judge, Dr. Heinrich Jagusch, at the time concluded that the Soviet Secret Service did no longer commit murder at its own discretion. Murder was now committed on express government orders. Political murder had become institutionalized.

After the trial of Professor Oberlander he approached URPE, an organization of prominent World War Two anti-Nazi resistance fighters and intellectuals in Duesseldorf, Germany, and proposed an independent international commission to ascertain the truth of what really happened in Lviv in 1941. Commission members were the Norwegian lawyer Hans Cappelen, former Danish foreign minister and president of the Danish parliament, Ole Bjorn Kraft, the Dutch socialist Karel van Staal, the Belgian law professor Flor Peeters, and the Swiss jurist and Member of Parliament Kurt Schoch. The commission met in The Hague and interviewed witnesses and examined documents for four months. It rejected as unfounded the accusation that Oberlander and Ukrainian nationalists were responsible for murdering Jews and Polish professors, as was stated by for instance Alexander Dallin in his book German Rule in Russia, 1941-1945.

The commission further concluded that the Oberlander case was only a side issue. In planning to assassinate Stepan Bandera the KGB wanted to turn public attention away from itself and connect the murder with the Germans through Oberlander. By the slander the Kremlin wanted to defame the symbol of the Ukrainian armed struggle for freedom and General Roman Shukevych, the heroic Commander in Chief of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

Oberlander later sued a slanderer, writer Bernt Engelmann, who in a court decision had to pay monetary damages for character defamation as he could not prove that the stories about Oberlander he was spreading were true.

The case against Stepan Bandera and other liberation heroes should be closed as there is no case. In the materials of the Nuremberg trials (42 volumes) there is not even once mentioned any criminal act by the OUN or any of its leaders. In spite of this there are still individuals in 2009 and 2010 that continue to slander the leaders of the Ukrainian resistance movement.


March 10, 2010

The Aeroenvironment company has been awarded a contract by the US Air Force for the micro-drone “Anubis”. It will when completed be able to kill individual terrorist targets from afar. The contract is for 1.18 million US dollars. It will help the Air Force to attain zero collateral damage on the ground.


March 10, 2010

Associated Press reported on March 10, 2010, that Republic of Ireland police had detained four men and three women in a plot to murder Swedish artist Lars Vilks. The same day three Swedish daily newspapers published the controversial drawing by Vilks, the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. Two of the newspapers are liberal and the third is conservative. One of the liberal newspapers, Expressen of Stockholm, declared that it took a stance for the freedom of speech. The other, Dagens Nyheter also of Stockholm said in an editorial that it wanted to show that Vilks was not alone. A threat against him is a threat against all Swedes.

AP further wrote:

Vilks has faced several death threats since the drawing was first printed by a Swedish newspaper in 2007, a year after separate cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper sparked furious protests in Muslim nations. Al Qaeda put a $100,000 bounty on his head.

Vilks may also be targeted by an American woman, which is under suspicion of recruiting terrorists online. Swedish security police has not commented on the case.

On Swedish television Vilks has been shown arming himself with an axe to fight of Islamist attackers. After the Danish cartoonist Kurt Vestergaard was threatened by a Somali axman Vilks had received threats by phone from a Swedish speaking Somali who said: Now it is your turn.


March 7, 2010

In a series of speeches Adm. Mike Mullen, Chief of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has recently outlined a possible new U.S. war doctrine. It would replace overwhelming firepower with less use of force to safeguard civilian lives.

After World War Two much guerrilla warfare was based on an armed Leninist party controlling what was often called a ‘national united front’. There would be carefully phased forms of revolutionary struggles. Strategically the purpose was to achieve world revolutionary victory by ‘encircling the cities’ in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Although the Chinese regime survived the communist collapse in 1991 the United States is presently faced with a different type of struggle using other methods.

Mullen has recently emphasized the problem of tactical errors:

In this type of war, when the objective is not the enemy’s defeat but the people’s success, less really is more…Each time an errant bomb or a bomb accurately aimed but against the wrong target kills or hurts civilians, we risk setting our strategy back months, if not years.

This would view would probably lead to a controversy, which might be hard to accept: that American troops should take greater physical risk to protect civilians in for instance Afghanistan:

We protect the innocent. It is who we are.

Those who defend Admiral Mullens approach think that a “softer” war would help counter radicalism in for instance Yemen and Pakistan.

The new doctrine would would be adapted to longer future wars, not quick and decisive victories. The new principles seem to be similar to the post-Vietnam thinking of Gen. Colin Powell. He argued that military force would only be used when there was broad popular support for military action and overwhelming force would ensure a quick victory.

Mullen seemed also to think that the line between war and peace had blurred since the Powell doctrine:

Defense and diplomacy are no longer discrete choices, to be applied when the other fails, but must complement one another throughout the messy process of international relations.

Although there seems to be no new “Mullen doctrine” the thinking of the admiral of war of today may play a role in counterinsurgency.

Countering a modern insurgency is however not so much different from such warfare during the Cold War. It was at that time much a countering of the myth of the gunman as a prime factor in solving political problems. Today it is the terrorist that seeks the solution to the problem and the methods are to some extent different. The motives are often religious and the means purely terroristic. The struggle is now basically ”anti-modern” and “anti-Western” but future insurgents might not always be religious fanatics.

Counterinsurgent weapons are becoming more sophisticated. It is to a growing extent possible to use targeted killings by armed aerial drones. These drones can also be used for reconnaissance.

It is however only possible to win so much by military force. Building a democracy, providing schools and better lives generally as well as an infrastructure is as important. In the case of Afghanistan there is a problem which is similar to that in Vietnam. There are adjacent states (North Vietnam then, Pakistan now) where the insurgents can seek protection and support. Before Afghanistan can be wholly safe and free the insurgent support from Pakistan has to be stopped.


March 6, 2010

Since the beginning of the twentyfirst century predictions and recommendations on how to deal with the theocracy/military dictatorship in Iran has abounded. The aggressive regime in Tehran is a threat not only to the West but also to surrounding Middle Eastern states (Israel, of course, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states). With the completing of nuclear weapons by Iran there will be daily growth of the threat.

Recently Democratic hawk Zbigniew Brzezinski , a well-known geopolitician who offered much advise on how to solve the problem of the Soviet empire, has offered his views on Iran. A comment in Wall Street Journal (“An Expert’s Long View on Iran” by Gerald F. Seib; March 5, 2010) offers some clarification. Professor Brzezinski believes the nuclear program can be stopped but does not trust in sanctions. He seems to accept that there will eventually be a nuclear Iran. For this situation he wants an American defense umbrella to protect friendly states in the Middle East (seemingly similar to the umbrella in the Taiwan Strait and in East Asia). It is important with a rhetorical support for the opposition but Brzezinski has little faith in what the United States can do in this respect. He does not want a military strike on Iran and wishes continued talks with representatives of the tyranny.

This sounds much like Western policy against the Soviet regime during the Cold War. Play the long game and hope for change into a democracy. Meanwhile don’t think much of the suffering of the Iranians just as liberals in the West closed their eyes to the brutality of the Soviet regime and the suffering of the peoples in Eastern Europe.

Of course Iran is different from the Soviet tyranny. With a stagnant socialist economy Moscow was in 1980 already on the brink of collapse and suffered from great overstretch, although liberal Sovietologists had not found out. With Iran it is a different game. Globalization has offered the regime in Tehran great opportunities for trade and sales of oil. The dictators of Iran are indirectly supported by autocracies like Russia and China as well as a number of Western states that have for years sold strategic material to the regime in Tehran.

Brzezinski wants to avoid American military strikes on Iran. Rightly it seems clear that a strike would be best undertaken by Israel with silent approval of the United States. Starting in 2010, however, the administration in Washington D.C. should be prepared to use soft power like psychological and political warfare in support of the opposition in Iran. Strategic sanctions, political warfare and a military strike on Iran when it is on the brink of producing nuclear weapons ought to be the alternative. Brzezinski has grown soft since the Cold War.

Sanctions should be concentrated on military and strategic hardware in an effort to weaken Iran militarily. Hezbollah and Hamas ought to be targeted extensively to be neutralized in expectation of a probable military strike by Israel to take out nuclear facilities.
The belief that Iran could develop into a moderate Muslim state is like believing in “moderate communism” in the former Soviet Union. Change in Iran is needed in the coming five years. It is not possible to wait, as in the case of the Soviet Union , for over 70 years. To attempt a slow change Iran is a false policy.