Saturday, November 20, 2010

"A Fool's Bargain"? In Years Past, France's New Defense Minister Expressed Skepticism About France Joining NATO Several Times

It turns out, reveals Le Monde, that Alain Juppé, France's new defense minister (François Fillon's entire government was renewed last weekend) heading to the NATO talks in Lisbon, was one of the politicians expressing skepticism in 2008 and 2009 with the idea of having France return to the integrated command in the organization out of which Charles de Gaulle pulled France in 1966.
A peine nommé, le nouveau ministre de la défense français est attendu au sommet de l'OTAN, qui se tient à Lisbonne pour deux jours, à partir de vendredi. Une coïncidence cocasse, quand on sait qu'Alain Juppé avait critiqué le retour de la France au sein du commandement de l'alliance atlantique.

Le maire de Bordeaux, quand il avait pris du recul vis-à-vis de Nicolas Sarkozy, s'était montré peu avenant à l'égard de la politique de défense du chef de l'Etat. En février 2009, dans une tribune au Monde, il se demandait : "La France a-t-elle intérêt à réintégrer en 2009 le commandement militaire de l’OTAN qu’elle a quittée en 1966 ? La question n’est pas sacrilège. Nul ne sait comment le général de Gaulle y répondrait aujourd’hui."

Annoncée disparue par Le Canard enchaîné de mercredi, la note qui reproduit ce texte est toujours consultable sur le blog de l'ancien premier ministre. Le bien-fondé du rapprochement de la France et de l'OTAN, dominée par les Américains, a été mis en cause plusieurs fois, sur divers tons, par Alain Juppé : "Je me demande si on n’est pas en train de faire un marché de dupes en rentrant sans conditions", avait-il lancé en juin 2008 lors d'une conférence. Peu après cette sortie, il avait toutefois estimé sur son blog que Nicolas Sarkozy avait répondu de façon convaincante à ses inquiétudes.

Pourtant, deux ans plus tard, en mai, Alain Juppé fait de nouveau part de ses doutes :
"Je ne suis pas sûr qu'on ait gagné à perdre notre position originale", estime-t-il, dans un entretien à la revue Défense cité par le Nouvel Observateur. Malgré les promesses de Nicolas Sarkozy, "il n'y a pas eu d'avancement sur le plan de l'Europe de la défense", ajoute-t-il.

Hoping to Milk it Until Retirement, Were We?

Icelanders to the EU: keep it real.

Icelandic minister wants to finish EU talks in two months

Iceland officially started face-to-face negotiations with officials of the European Commission on Monday (15 November), but the country's justice minister is already calling for the talks to be concluded swiftly in two months followed by a snap referendum to bring closure to the issue.
Which is a real novelty to the who Empire building exercise.
Describing how the EU bid "fits into the dreams of the old colonial powers powers of Europe," he asked in the article: "Is this democracy? Tough questions arise. What are 300,000 people [the population of Iceland is 320,000] against the empire with a thick wallet?"
Strangely enough, that’s one contry that the vampire squid can’t really tacitly threaten with economic “alienation of affection”, as would be the case of anyone bordering the core EU would. They wouldn’t have to make a choice every nascent Roman province did before absorption: could they survive on the margins of an entity that would exclude from the arrangements it made with its’ pre-Borg-assimilation neighbors and trading partners. Pantalooned boffins with scrolls of rule to be read aloud to the local peasantry might as well show up, and they wouldn’t think to use the term.

Strangely enough, you don’t get hyperventilation over this blatant and naked empire making, but rather a population that are fond of referring (with a “my porridge is too cold” sneer) to the US as an empire.

Two Chirac Allies with Gaullist Tendencies Are Elevated to the Helms of the Defense and the Foreign Affairs Ministries

In the wake of the French government's resignation last weekend, write Nathalie Guibert and Natalie Nougayrède in Le Monde, a couple of nominations in the new administration (François Fillon stays on as prime minister) show the country's turn towards the Gaullist right. Two people affiliated with Jacques Chirac — Alain Juppé and Michèle Alliot-Marie — have been elevated to the helms of, respectively, the defense and the foreign affairs ministries.
Une nouvelle tonalité pour l'action extérieure de la France ? Les nominations de deux personnalités chiraquiennes de filiation, Alain Juppé à la défense, et Michèle Alliot-Marie aux affaires étrangères, confèrent un affichage plus "gaulliste" à la diplomatie du pays.

Depuis 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy avait imprimé un tournant atlantiste. Le retour dans le commandement intégré de l'OTAN, l'emploi de la notion de "famille occidentale", le rapprochement avec l'Amérique de George Bush, le réchauffement des relations avec Israël, avaient composé ce nouveau paysage. Bernard Kouchner, au Quai d'Orsay, était pleinement en phase avec ces choix, au-delà de ses tensions chroniques avec les conseillers de l'Elysée.

Although in years past, France's New Defense Minister Expressed Skepticism About France Joining NATO Several Times, observers doubt that there will be a 180º turn in foreign affairs and defence policies:
Mais l'impression de virage "néogaulliste" doit être relativisée. … Peu d'observateurs s'attendent à ce que les choix opérés depuis 2007 soient inversés. Le nouveau ministre de la défense ne reviendra pas sur le fond.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I’m Here, I’m Sober. What More do You Want?

The European work ethic, explained.

Ignoring the Ramifications of the Viktor Bout Case, Apologizer-in-Chief Calls Russia "a Partner, Not an Adversary"

… just as the United States and Russia have reset our relationship, so too can NATO and Russia. In Lisbon we can make it clear that NATO sees Russia as a partner, not an adversary. We can deepen our cooperation on Afghanistan, counter-narcotics and 21st century security challenges — from the spread of nuclear weapons to the spread of violent extremism. And by moving ahead with cooperation on missile defense, we can turn a source of past tension into a source of cooperation against a shared threat.
As Barack Obama heads to Europe for his second visit abroad since the mid-terms shallacking, the Apologizer-in-Chief has authored another feel-good homily for the benefit of the European allies — something that is far easier to do if you ignore the ramifications linked to the case of Viktor Bout — which promptly made (a huge headline on) the front page of Le Monde.
"Notre relation avec nos partenaires et alliés européens est la pierre angulaire de notre engagement dans le monde" affirme le président américain dans une tribune au journal Le Monde sur le sommet de l'Alliance.

This Just in From the “Things one is Obliged to Say in Public Department”

In other words: ritual parroting.

Some countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany and Norway believe that “these weapons have no military purpose.” However, given their proximity to Iran and Russia, Turkey and the Baltic countries are staunchly opposed to any withdrawal.
Staunch opposition presumably because... they have no purpose ?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Neutering Iran: How Obama Could Get Support from the Republicans and Possibly Win Reelection

What happens if Barack Obama keeps U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the long haul, modernizes the American nuclear infrastructure as a counterweight to the signature of the New Start treaty with Russia, and gets tough — real tough, going beyond sanctions — on Iran?
That is the question asked in the International Herald Tribune by John Vinocur. And the reply he gives is:
The president gets stand-up support from a group of Republicans who are concerned about a potential wave of isolationism coming from “an unholy alliance” of right- and left-wing outriders in Congress who disdain the country’s engagement in the world.

And Mr. Obama receives an acknowledgment from one of the Republican Party’s leading spokesmen on national security that, “If he does a good job in keeping us safe, I would not be surprised if he gets re-elected.”

Of course, some not-so-small fine print slips in here: A second-term Obama White House, in this view, also presupposes an economic rebound and avoiding a major terrorist attack.

But Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — described by Bob Woodward in his book “Obama’s Wars” as regarded by Mr. Obama as “the most reasonable Republican ally” on issues like Afghanistan — is saying these days that his party’s ascension in Congress can mean foreign policy support for the president in exchange for clear demonstrations of a new firmness, particularly on Iran.

… according to Mr. Graham, the Republican notion of a swap in their cooperation with the president involves Mr. Obama’s “need to start talking more openly” about possible military solutions.

“That’s what I mean by being tough,” the senator said.

Very tough. If Mr. Graham were giving advice to the president, eventual strikes would not just be to neutralize the Iranian nuclear program, “but to sink their navy, destroy their air force” — and, “in other words, neuter the regime.”

Those Bible-Thumping “Faux News” Worshipping Americans are Such Prudes

As if Europeans were just as likely to be fat, violent, stupid oafs as any other sample of humanity. One town in Italy prudishly clamps down.

In a seaside town in Italy, officials of local body administrations have decided to ban miniskirts and low cut tops to clean up the raunchy image of the town
In fact the entire continent is one big whinging, walking, talking Yemeni toner cartridge magnet.

Elsewhere, another “Daddy drinks because you cry” argument:
Rise in Anti-Semitism linked to rise in Islamphobia
You’ll note that those most likely to attack those assumed to be Jewish or Gay in the Netherlands aren’t mentioned: feral man-boys of origin in the Muslim world who’ve been fed hatred by cowardly Fagans, and violent leftist adolescents spoon-fed hatred by revolutionaries.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Because Hating Happy, Normal People Makes Them Feel Smart

Leftist harbor a special venom for Sarah Palin, more incisive than other identifiable objects of their fixations and fears. S. E. Cupp writing in the New York Daily News plausits that Sarah Palin's happiness is what really irks liberals.

Liberalism, after all, needs to imagine an unhappy populace. Passing sweeping entitlement programs and convincing voters that big government is the answer only works if people are frustrated with their stations in life.
Of course there are always “the comments”, founded in reason, thoughtfulness, and so forth:
Oh, and one more comment Ms. Cupp. All of Sarah's smiling - it is my understanding that the village idiot is always smiling.
It's clear that hating happy, normal people makes him "feel smart."

It also validates the idea to themselves that they are apart and above others. It is a defense against the possibility of anyone you disagree with ever being right about anything. It is an inversion of the humanistic reasoning that the hater claims to have a monopoly on.

Pope, Gods of Olympus, Drop a Deuce on the Elfen King

Europe’s George Washington, speaking at Berlin’s once-Commie-run Pergamon museum tried to sum up European values. George Weigel tried to sum up Van Rompuy:

Here is the post-modern theory of the triumph of “narrative” run so far amok that it becomes self-parody. Putting aside the question of whether, on present demographic trends, there will be all that many “children and grandchildren” to whom to tell stories of Attic courage, or the figure-skating gold medals of Sonja Henie, or the fall of the Bastille, or the breaching of the Berlin Wall, Van Rompuy’s European Story Hour is just that: a disconnected conglomeration of “narratives” telling no one compelling tale.
That’s because he was prattling on about “diversity” as if one could celebrate a stationary object, something that just IS, invoked Homer, yadda, yadda, yadda, thus as newly redefined virtues:
Courage, respect, responsibility, tolerance, a sense of the common good.
Evidence of which are hard to find.

The simpler question still is asked by Weigel:
What, in fact, is “Europe”?
The irony is that one cannot even begin to hint at an answer to this question without receiving a raft of complaints that one might alienate someone.

Coming on the heels of another notable address, the Pope appears to retort Herman’s drivel:
But Europe must also reclaim the fullness of the riches of her civilizational patrimony: “not only the Biblical . . . but also the classical, the medieval, and the modern, the matrix from which the great philosophical, literary, cultural, and social masterpieces of Europe were born.” Thus “the Europe of science and technology, the Europe of civilization and culture, must be at the same time a Europe open to transcendence and fraternity with other continents, and open to the living and true God, starting with the living and true man.”
By “true, living man”, I don’t think he meant “the animation you feel when your welfare payment clears at the bank.

Blinding Revelations, a continuing series

Who knew this information, why have they been hiding it?

We look back on the late 1990s as a rare time when the federal government ran budget surpluses. We tend to forget that those surpluses came as a surprise to almost everybody.

As late as 1998, the Congressional Budget Office was predicting a deficit for 1999. In fact, Washington ran its biggest surplus in five decades.

What happened? Above all, economic growth. And that may be a big part of the answer to our current problems.

In Europe, "Let's roll" Means “Let’s Roll up into the Fetal Position”

"New Orleans! Haiti! Pakistan!... Flanders!!"
Heavy rains have provoked floods in northern Belgium, leading to three deaths.

In a nutshell, "Israelification" is a system that protects life and limb without annoying passengers to death

While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.

Almost one year after it was published, Cathal Kelly's Star article is more relevant than ever (toda raba to Hervé).

…in a nutshell … "Israelification" [is] a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.

…All drivers [coming to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport] are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," [Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy] said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"

Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour.

…Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben-Gurion Airport shares with Pearson — the body and hand-luggage check.

"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.

"First, it's fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

…[All this] doesn't begin to cover the off-site security net that failed so spectacularly in targeting would-be Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — intelligence. In Israel, Sela said, a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies.

"There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none."

…So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive, so un-Israelified?

Working hard to dampen his outrage, Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.

"We have a saying in Hebrew that it's much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it's dark over there. That's exactly how (North American airport security officials) act," Sela said. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."

And rather than fear, he suggests that outrage would be a far more powerful spur to provoking that change.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

“We went it alone – and there was progress”

Even to Europeans, going into conflict without “Europe” is like going fishing without an accordion. Thank goodness for the boots on the ground for flipping off Brussels, because in their deeds, they want the mission in Afghanistan to fail:

The European Union’s high-profile police mission in Afghanistan is ineffective and suffers from top-down management from Brussels, where those without any knowledge of local conditions limit local officers in carrying out their jobs, according to the former head of Eupol in Kabul.
Yes, THOSE “internationalist”, lesson-giving sophisticates.
As an example of the difficulties, Vittrup says that NATO and the Afghan government wanted the EU to start training and setting up a 5-6,000 officer Afghan CID department. The EU waited so long to handle the issue, that Vittrup decided it was better to seek forgiveness after the fact, than to wait for the go-ahead.
And they imply that they’re some sort of divine example, a inspiring light in the world.
Discontent with Eupol in Afghanistan is one of the reasons that NATO is expected to set up its own civilian task force at the NATO summit in Portugal next week. Cooperation with the EU just doesn’t work.

It seems as though 'Hope' is a strategy afterall

Ireland's day of reckoning has arrived. When Brian Lenihan meets his fellow European Union finance ministers in Brussels Tuesday, he will find himself in the surreal position of being begged to accept a European Union bailout, despite the fact Ireland doesn't need to tap bond markets until the middle of next year and his government will next month deliver a budget which it believes will enable the country to bring its borrowing under control. But this crisis is now about the survival of the euro zone. Mr. Lenihan should take the money — and the rest of Europe must hope that does the trick.

Other approaches under discussion: wearing cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt over the shoulder, spitting if you see a black cat, touching wood.....

No need to worry, our betters are obviously on top of things.

Monday, November 15, 2010

San Francisco’s Regression into an Evolutionary Dead End

Don’t get all surprised, now, it was only a billion dollars:

The stimulus money generated in Washington that came to San Francisco was used entirely to subsidize the pensions of city employees.
’Cause they’re all about the future. N’ stuff.

Continuing to Miss the Point

The Guardian, AKA the media mouthpiece of al Queda’s cheering section, mapped every casualty found in the mass of field reports stolen by Wikileaks. One of the usual masturbatory comments went:

This data should be looked at in every classroom in America.
I suppose they like the idea that children should be programmed using operant conditioning into doing their political work for them, but that aside, the commentator, Roger Blank is almost right.

It should be shown to every autocrat in the world who abuses their people – as in “this could happen to you.”

That aside, the morons promoting the potentially lethal release of informants’ and citizens’ identities in the Wikileaks war on democratic societies (that aids and abets the enemies of human rights) are no different than anyone else who constructs delusional, self-aggrandizing notions of who they are. Take for example this factually inverted political cartoon from the Guardian:

The US military using force against the imaginary “martyr,” Julian Assange? Grow up! Assange should be shown driving the armor on behalf of the world’s mass-murdering tin-pot strogmen.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A President and His Pooch

Makes you wonder to what extent it was deliberate: I kind of like the way that Dubya's "W" seems to highlight the commander-in-chief's canine companion (it doesn't look like Barney, does it?) on the cover of the French edition of George W. Bush's Decision Points


After a debate which virtually ripped apart the NP editorial offices, we have decided to open up the following unedited and shocking video for the thoughts of our readers. Is it high art? A complex reading of contemporary mores? A stupid video with no redeeming qualities? You the reader decide.

Warning: Video contains graphic depictions of a bromance