February 10th, 2008

The smart remarks of Robert Gates re-revisited

This is not coming to an end it seems. With the NATO informal meeting going on and not getting any support from the allies he bullied (Germany, Italy and Spain), Gates is now turning indirectly to the European public, doing some fear-talk (“what if the Taliban win?”). France decided to send some extra soldiers, Belgium 4 F-16′s and 100 supporting astaff. Diplomacy at its finest. It’s getting old and a bit sad.

Earlier on the nest: The smart remarks of Robert Gates revisited, The smart remarks of Robert Gates

February 1st, 2008

The smart remarks of Robert Gates revisited

Gates has called on Germany, who is on a rebuilding mission in the relatively quiet area of northern Afghanistan, they should come down to the south and fight. This was done in somewhat un-diplomatic language.

Rotterdam, Feb 1. In exceptionally sharp words, American Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, called on his German colleague Franz Josef Jung to send soldiers to southern Afghanistan. In the letter, viewed by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Gates complained about the lack of European NATO forces in the south, which shows an emerging division between the allies and NATO to lose credibility.

Germany contributes with over 3,100 soldiers contribute to the NATO-led stabilisation Force ISAF, in the relatively quiet northern provinces of Kunduz and Faizabad.

According to the German Ministry of Defence other European allies have a similar call from Gates.

Two comments.

  • Oh, that will certainly go down great after Robert’s earlier smart remarks about the allies.
  • Won’t happen. In Germany, parliament and the public opinion is against this whole thing and the administration is let’s say not enthusiastic. And don’t forget this: Germany overran Europe a few decades ago. Germany + war still raises some hairs here, understandably.
January 30th, 2008

The war in Afghanistan

Let’s not forget, while the Canadians are now threatening to leave Afghanistan early 2009, that if we are true to “bombing rebuilding this country into our values Democracy”, there is a LOT of after care to do.

KABUL – The Meshrano Jirga (House of honored), or Afghan Senate has agreed with the death sentence of 23-year old journalism student Perwiz Kambakhshthat by a court in the province of Balkh for blasphemy.

(…) In a statement the Meshrano Jirga expressed their criticism about the international pressure revolving this case.

Just to be sure, these are not the Taliban, these are the current leaders.

January 16th, 2008

The smart remarks of Robert Gates

The LA times published Gates eyebrow raising critical remarks on it’s allies in Afghanistan. I can tell you this has not fallen well.

WASHINGTON — In an unusual public criticism, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he believes NATO forces currently deployed in southern Afghanistan do not know how to combat a guerrilla insurgency, a deficiency that could be contributing to the rising violence in the fight against the Taliban.

“I’m worried we’re deploying [military advisors] that are not properly trained and I’m worried we have some military forces that don’t know how to do counterinsurgency operations,” Gates said in an interview.

(…) In the interview, Gates compared the troubled experience of the NATO forces in the south — primarily troops from the closest U.S. allies, Britain and Canada, as well as the Netherlands — with progress made by American troops in the eastern part of Afghanistan. He traced the failing in part to a Cold War orientation.

“Most of the European forces, NATO forces, are not trained in counterinsurgency; they were trained for the Fulda Gap,” Gates said, referring to the German region where a Soviet invasion of Western Europe was deemed most likely.

Yeah right. Luckily the US administration is the shining example on how to fight insurgency. Questions were asked, the ambassador was summoned over. Rough translation by me from nrc.

(…) Van Middelkoop [y-t: defense minister] had Arnall [y-t: US ambassador here] summoned over because Gates was quoted in the Los Angeles Times that the NATO forces in southern Afghanistan do not know how they should counter guerrilla insurgency. In the south mainly Dutch, British and Canadian soldiers are active.

These statements also rubbed The Hague politicians the wrong way. Hans van Baalen called the transcripts downright “insulting”, Martijn van Dam found it remarkable that Americans who continuously make the wrong decisions in the “war against terror” criticize their allies.

Arnall made a statement stating Gates was misrepresented by the LA times and was “bewildered” when he read the newspaper.


Added: The LA times maintains that Gates was NOT cited incorrectly.

Added: While defense minister (what in the US is called secretary) Van Middelkoop called the case closed after Arnall’s statement. parliament does not (roar, roar), especially after a spokesman of Gates did not confirm the “misrepresentation” explanation. Some expect the transcript of the interview to be released soon. To be continued.

Added: (ANP)

Washington, Jan. 17. American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates praised NATO allies in Afghanistan, a day after media cited him with critical statements about their efforts.

Against journalists he expressed his praise for the “courage and sacrifices” of partners such as Great Britain, Canada, Netherlands, Australia and Denmark.

I’ll spare you the political comments.

Added: Gates called Van Middelkoop and apologized for the confusion.

January 13th, 2008

The boys in Afghanistan – part 4

Yesterday evening 20 year old soldier Wesley Schol and 22 year old corporal Aldert Poortema died in a fire-exchange in Afghanistan. A third serviceman was severely wounded at lost both his legs and is said to have sustained permanent injuries. These are fatalities 13 and 14 of the Dutch deployment in Afghanistan, more background in the links.

Added: Shit, it was a friendly fire incident.

Earlier on the nest: The boys in Afghanistan, The boys in Afghanistan – part 2, The boys in Afghanistan – part 3

September 22nd, 2007

The boys in Afghanistan – part 3

This week our 11th soldier died in Afghanistan. He was the first killed in direct enemy contact (either mortar or gunfire). The numbers (and the story) are steady. Two days earlier he had called with girlfriend and had stated he wouldn’t mind to “see some more action”.

June 18th, 2007

The boys in Afghanistan – part 2

As I wrote earlier, we have about 1500 soldiers in Afghanistan. Today, the 8th died. 4 in accidents, 1 suicide, 1 roadside bomb, 1 attack in a suicide-attack with a car-bomb, that also killed 5 children. Todays victim was probably killed in an accident with ammunition, news is still sparse.

Let me see. 8 dead in 10 months on a group of 1500, so that is 6.4 killed per 1000 per year. As a comparision, 3526 US soldiers died in Iraq in 1550 days *), on a force of I think (correct me pls) 200.000, that makes about 1.1 killed per 1000 per year. Another math trick? How about killed per year per 1.000.000 inhabitants? Our boys: approximately 0.56, US troops in Iraq about 2.8. Kinda logical is we’ve sent about 1/10000th of our population to Afghanistan, where the US deployed approximately 1/1500th.

*) I am not entirely sure if this number also includes the non-combat deaths.

Tough eh? War in numbers?

Added: As you realize, I like to find links between the US and my country. David Axe is a US correspondent based in the Dutch stronghold, called “Camp Holland”. Here is one of his reports.

June 16th, 2007

The numbers in journalism

The project for excellence in journalism is an interesting site. Instead of focusing on the rhetoric it does a quantitative analysis on where the focus is in the media. Last week:


Interesting huh? PH outdoing the cause of the king being a lame dead duck, and the demise of state finances by a long shot. What a mess. Speaking of finances. I tend to support the idea that it will be the Reps killing the $ for the war in Iraq, in a desperate move to cut loose the weight. Unless Cheney, who has been blatantly ignored the last couple of weeks, talks the crooks into bombing Iran; he’s already spreading (false) claims Iran is supplying the Taliban with weapons.

On a funny sidenote. Bush did get a ovational reception the other day. Where you ask? In Albania!

OK, I’ll stop. I have no right to comment on foreign leaders, although my government is so influenced by U.S. politics, I think I can now and then. 600 days to go. It’ll be a long 600 days.

December 1st, 2006

The secret prisons – continued

Let me try to translate and condense this newspaper item, which I am pretty sure did not run on your end.

In the first half of this year, European Union chair Austria  proposed to the the US in a meeting with John Bellinger to make some sort of arrangement for the so callled “renditions”, the secret transport of terror-suspects. Bellinger answered the US needed to “think about it”.

According to a EU Parliament member, high EU officials, a.o. foreign affairs coordinator Javier Solana have withhelt information. “There has been structural talks between the EU and th eUS about this”, where Solana had mentioned the subject was only touched once and with Condolica Rice.

A commision concluded some member states administrations must have known about the existence of those prisons, naming the UK, Poland, Italy and Germany. There is “serious circumstancial evidence there was a secret [CIA] prison in Poland. Also, there have been at leats 1245 secret transport flights over EU territory.

Solana and the Dutch EU anti-terror coordinator de Vries are said to have have insufficiently cooperated with the comission.
A rather vague newsitem, but something is cooking IMHO. I wrote about this earlier.
November 2nd, 2006

Bush and Cheney should listen to “the music”

My M1 does my talking - small They (our Federal elites) just don’t get it. Perhaps they’d be in a better position to make decisions if they listened to some music. If I were an Iraqi I’d be fighting against the “Americans” who invaded my country. Perhaps Bush and Cheney would have a better sense of where the Iraqi resistance is coming from if they listen to “The Partisan song?” The version I’m listening to at the moment is performed by Joan Baez. Leonord Cohen recorded the song too. The song comes from those who fought in the European resistance during WWII. Here are the lyrics – we will NOT prevail in Iraq:

As sung by Lenord Cohen:

Leonard Cohen – The Partisan Lyrics

I was cautioned to surrender,
this I could not do;
I took my gun and vanished.
I have changed my name so often,
I've lost my wife and children
but I have many friends,
and some of them are with me.

An old woman gave us shelter,
kept us hidden in the garret,
then the soldiers came;
she died without a whisper.

There were three of us this morning
I'm the only one this evening
but I must go on;
the frontiers are my prison.

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we'll come from the shadows.

Les Allemands étaient chez moi, (The Germans were at my home)
ils m'ont dit "Résigne toi" (They said, "Give up")
mais je n'ai pas peur; (But I am not afraid)
j'ai repris mon arme. (I have retaken my weapon.)

J'ai changé cent fois de nom, (I have changed names a hundred times)
j'ai perdu femme et enfants (I have lost wife and children)
mais j'ai tant d'amis; (But I have so many friends)
j'ai la France entière. (I have all of France)

Un vieil homme dans un grenier (An old man, in an attic)
pour la nuit nous a caché, (Hid us for the night)
les Allemands l'ont pris; (The Germans captured him)
il est mort sans surprise. (He died without surprise.)

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we'll come from the shadows.